Oxford Magazine Summer 2016

Page 1

From The Nest

Oxmag Issue 38 Summer 2016


Dear Readers,

Over the course of a summer, often a period of restoration and change, decisions must

be made. During the off season, we must assess our deepest, most immediate desires. In doing so, we must mend, maintain, and sever relationships based on these cravings. These searches for purpose and meaning often lead us back to our beginnings, back to where our journeys began. Summers mark our returns to the metaphorical nests of our beginnings.

In this issue, you will find mother-child relationships vitalized by unique points of

view, characters struggling with the realities of untimely deaths, and the metaphysical journey of a droplet of water in the summer heat. Wherever you are in the waning moments of summer, you will be faced with the choice of what to take with you and what to leave behind.

Best Wishes, Carly Plank Editor-in-Chief, Oxford Magazine

Table of Contents Cover image: Untitled One by Tyler Steimle Yukiko Tominaga The Death of a Fish ....................................................................................................5 Tyler Steimle Untitled Two ...............................................................................................................9 David Rushmer THE MOTHER ..........................................................................................................10 Graham Coppin CLYTEMNESTRA’S MILK TART .................................................................................11 David Rushmer Double Enso ............................................................................................................12 Mary Black He Thinks He’ll Keep Her ..........................................................................................13 Cynthia Aarons Women Impressionists .............................................................................................17 Francesca Brenner THE HOUSE IS A BROKEN TIFFANY LAMP (UPON RETURNING, ONCE AGAIN, TO HER MOTHER’S HOUSE AFTER HER MOTHER’S DEATH) ........................................18 Faith Dornbrand WHOOSH .................................................................................................................20 David Rushmer Blue Horizon ............................................................................................................22 Blake Kilgore Bloody Indigo ...........................................................................................................23 Rachelle Jewel Shapiro PROOF .....................................................................................................................26 FUNERALS ...............................................................................................................27 Tyler Steimle Untitled Three ..........................................................................................................28 Marcia LeBeau I AM NOT ROB LOWE’S MOTHER ............................................................................29

Timothy Kercher Dark Esperanto ........................................................................................................30 Tyler Steimle Untitled Four ...........................................................................................................31 D.C. Wiltshire “happy� ....................................................................................................................32 William Auten From the Top ...........................................................................................................33 David Rushmer Enso 1 .....................................................................................................................43 Christos Kalli Palm trees holding hands .........................................................................................44 Contributor Bios ..............................................................................................................45

Masthead Managing Editor Joe Squance Editor-in-Chief Carly Plank Digital Editor Darren Thompson Fiction Editor Justin Chandler Poetry Editor Isaac Pickell Creative Nonfiction Editor Katy Shay Art and New Media Editor Tammy Atha Events Coordinator Tatiana Silvas Staff Readers Andrew Bergman Chris Cox Erin Jamieson Katarina Morris Kendall Neubeiser Eric Rubeo Kaylee Via

The Death of A Fish By Yukiko Tominaga The day after Alex’s fifth birthday, he asked me if he could have a fish for his sixth birthday. A boy his age changes his wishes often so I assumed he would change his mind by his next birthday. He not only remembered, but also began writing about the fish in his journal. It started with one simple line, ‘I want a fish.’ As his birthday neared, it turned into a story called,‘How to Teach Guitar to My Fish.’ Alex won a school writing contest with the story. *** The weekend Alex turned six, we were at the pet store.

In less than five minutes, he spotted a fish and said, “I want this fish.”

He pointed to a shiny blue body with a long wide tail and red fin. A sign read “Beta.”

It said that as long as it stayed alone in a fish bowl, it would be easy to maintain. Before my son could change his mind I placed the fish container in my basket, got a small fish bowl, water solution, fish food, some decorations, and went to the cashier.

“I want to hold it,” he said to the cashier who was about to put the container into a

plastic bag.

“Of course,” she said and handed it to him.

Alex cradled the fish container the way he would hold a kitten.

“It is easy to take care of, right?” I made sure.

“Oh yes, all you need to do is be careful with the water. They are a tropical fish so

they like warm water,” the cashier said as she put the rest of our things into the bag.

His fish, named ‘Coodybug,’ was placed in the center of the dining table. Inside the

bowl the fish seemed to love the single leafy plant very much. He often hid in its rolled-up leaves. Alex said that Coodybug was playing hide-and-seek. Before Alex left for school he said good-bye to the fish and when he came home, he gave him five tiny nuggets. The fish sucked up the nuggets one by one like a vacuum.

After two weeks, the water was dirty so I suggested that he change it. Alex carefully

scooped up the fish with an empty yogurt container and dumped the rest of the dirty water. I cleaned the fish bowl with a brand new sponge then filled it with warm water. Alex 5

dropped in exactly seven drops of water solution. We waited five minutes, then we put the fish back into the bowl. He happily splashed for thirty-seconds, then we saw him sinking to the bottom. I shook the bowl but the fish was no longer scared of the shaking. He swayed right and left, with the water. No way, I thought. I rolled up my sleeve and put my hand into the bowl. The lukewarm water was not warm but hot. Looking at the poached fish in my palm, I grappled with how to explain this to my son.

“Is he dead?” Alex asked. ***

The summer he turned four, it was a baby blue flower. I cannot recall the type of

plant, but Alex named it, Fluffy. He often squatted on the ground, trying to smell Fluffy. ‘If you touch the flower it will die.’ He listened to my warning. He never even tried to touch it. The tip of his nose only came so close, yet never kissing the flower. After a vacation to see my parents in Japan, we found Fluffy in the garden turned into a dried flower. My son and I covered Fluffy with dirt and buried it where it was. We gave a short Buddhist prayer. ***

The first time we visited my parents’ house was the fall he turned two. My husband

Michael had to work so he stayed home. Michael, who couldn’t stand for a day to go by without talking to us, did not call for three days. He had not answered the home phone, his business phone or his cell phone so I called my mother-in-law and she called the police. Back then a 1964 Chevy Impala, as big as a boat, occupied our garage. I will never know what Michael was trying to do under the car. The jack slipped and the 5,000 pound Chevy crushed his chest.

“He lost consciousness. Within three minutes he was dead. He did not suffer.” I was

told after the autopsy. The medical examiner told us that Michael was in no condition to be seen just then. Despite the suggestion, I pleaded, then went to see Michael.

The gray walled hallway continued as far as I could see, then a cold metal door

appeared in front of me. I opened the door and in the corner of the room, I saw a body covered with a white sheet. Except for the bruise on his left eyelid, he looked in good 6

condition. He might have been sleeping, I thought. With my ring finger, I touched his cheek. He was cold. It was not the coldness that sinks into your bones, and not the coldness that children bring after coming back from snowball fight. It was a coldness I could never warm – never change.

I haven’t found the words to describe this sensation, yet when I think about that

moment, my now empty finger feels the chill. ***

“Even though he’s a child, it’s always better to tell the truth,” my therapist told me,

so I explained to Alex what had happened to his father. I even brought him to my therapist once or twice. Alex loved the tiny figures in the sand box so much that he did not want to leave the office. The therapist gave him a red lollipop at the door. I asked her if it was some kind of medicine to ease the sadness. She said no. I licked it once and gave it to him. ***

“Alex, the water was too hot. I killed Coodybug. I am so sorry.” I fought the urge to

say more. “Yeah.”

“You can be mad at me. You can scream at me or hit me. Anything.”

“Okay,” Alex said but just looked at the fish.

“What should we do?”

“Return him to the water.”

“The ocean?”

“In the toilet.”

We walked to the bathroom and returned the fish to the water in the toilet, gave a

short prayer, and flushed.

“Good-bye Coodybug.” We waved as he turned in the swirling waves.

“Are you sad?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Let me read you a book.” I held his cheeks in between my hands and kissed his 7

forehead, thinking the book would comfort him.

I brought a book which my therapist had given me. It was about a leaf on a tree

losing his friend in winter, but gradually accepting the death of his friend and happily going back to the soil when it was his turn.

We sat on his bed, reading. In the middle of the story he laid on his back, moving his

arms and legs, made a snow angel, and said,“Did you know that Luke can touch his nose with his tongue?�


Untitled Two by Tyler Steimle


THE MOTHER By David Rushmer

reading your mother in a poem

a book of water another current threaded full moon blossomed


laced through with blood dust the colours of butterflies

like ribbons of air memories evaporating


CLYTEMNESTRA’S MILK TART By Graham Coppin [Milk Tart: A South African dessert consisting of a sweet pastry crust with a creamy filling.] She spent her life amongst yellow tchotchkes and a photo of a shirtless Agamemnon. The calendar on the wall announced my birthday and my homecomings. Put the milk onto boil with butter. The girl I was going to marry found her dead in the kitchen. The girl whose lover jumped from a hotel window. She found her facedown on tiles dirty with dog’s mud. Mix remainder of ingredients to a smooth paste and add to boiling milk stirring all the time. She never grew anything. Here’s hellebore for her. Here’s bindweed for me. Add vanilla, then remove from stove. One day she drove me to the end of the world. She gave me her knife and bade me good-bye. Mother, I’ve removed it from its sheath. I’ve cut many a kneeling man’s throat for you. Pour into baked pastry shell. He kept her saddled even when stabled. He kicked her sides and yanked the bridle. He made her bleed. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar (opt.) I saw her wild eyes. She climbed into my bed once. Made drunk love to me. Makes 2 large.


Double Enso by David Rushmer


He Thinks He’ll Keep Her By Mary Black

My escape cannot happen until my husband Tom stops eating his breakfast. While

I wait, I pack his lunch the way I have for twenty-three years. I carefully arrange the ham and cheese sandwich on the left and exactly twenty-five chips in a bag next to it with a twoinch square of cake in the bottom of the large black plastic lunch box. Suddenly the phone rings. It breaks the silence like a shot.

I grab it and say hello in the most normal voice I can find. The voice on the other

end is the manager of the apartment complex where I have just rented an apartment. I had paid the security deposit with a secret bank account where I have hoarded fives, tens, and twenties for five years.

A cheery voice now chirps in my year, “Good morning, Mrs. Miller! I just wanted to

confirm that you and your daughter are moving in this afternoon.” The woman then asks if I want to move into a ground-floor apartment or the third-floor one I’d looked at earlier.

I quickly think about how I can answer this question without causing Tom to start

paying attention to the conversation. I shift my body slightly to the right so I can see his face more clearly. With alarm I notice he has stopped shoveling eggs into his mouth and is listening to see who is calling at 7 a.m. The yellow yolks drip from his raised fork onto his plate.

“No, third floor is fine.” I finish the sentence in my head. It is much harder for

someone to get through the security door and up three flights of stairs without warning. She assures me that she certainly understands and will be glad to have me join their little community of residents.

I lay the phone gently back on the hook. I return to the sink and start washing a cup,

taking a long time.

“Who the hell was that?” He carefully lays down his fork and brings his plate to the

sink, standing inches from me. His dark eyes stare into mine. I stare at the patch of pink scalp beneath his thin brown hair.

“Oh, it was my principal, Mr. Johnson. He wanted to make sure I was okay with his

moving me to a classroom on the third floor next year.” For a moment, I feel triumphant in my ability to create a lie so quickly. Then I remember that any slip can be as dangerous as 13

an acrobat falling from the high wire.

Tom stares at me closely. I absorb myself in removing every speck of food on the

plates and mugs.

He jerks my right arm out of the soapy water. His fingers dig into my wrist. He stares

at me. I blank out any emotion on my face. Water drips slowly onto the floor. We stand in silence as minutes tick by. Finally, he drops my arm with a flourish, and it bangs painfully against the edge of the counter. He steps away from me to avoid getting water on his starched blue shirt.

“Wipe the water off the floor.” He walks away from me.

I stand frozen as I listen to the garage door roll up with a groan. Then I hear his car

start, and the sound of the motor growing fainter as he pulls out of the driveway. I look out the window over the sink and watch the birds fly and dip over the newly green grass in our backyard. In my head I count off the minutes until it is safe to move.

When enough time has passed, I yell down the stairs to my daughter Stephanie to

start bringing her stuff up to her car. I help her load her small car, shoving boxes and clothes on hangers in every inch of space.

I open the driver’s door for her, and she hugs me. Her eyes are big with fear but

also a little excitement at running away with her mother . I know it has been hard for her keeping this secret from her father and even her brother. Tom has never been a father who hugs his children, but he has saved his anger for me.

I will call her brother and my first child Steven now living on his own as soon as I

stand safely in my new home. I know how angry he will be that I have left his father. I had told him in advance the last time I tried to leave. It had cost me bruised ribs and a twisted arm.

Now I watch Stephanie climb into the car and screech out of the driveway, clothes

fluttering in the wind. Thumping music trails behind her as she pulls onto the road and heads to school. She is a sophomore at a private high school in the Missouri town where we live. She’ll come to the apartment this afternoon after we unload the truck.

Within minutes my mom and my cousin Bryce swing the top-heavy U-Haul I’ve

secretly rented into the driveway and back it up to the front door. I have stacked the dishes and other things I’ll need from the kitchen on the counter. I had agonized over whether to take the coffeepot. I decide to take it. 14

Now they bring in empty boxes, and we develop a rhythm of packing. Wrap in

newspaper, and place in box. Wrap and place. Wrap and place. Go outside and stack the box in the truck. Moving quickly we soon have everything packed. The back of the truck is filled with a small stack of boxes of my personal belongings.

“What furniture are we going to take?” Bryce asks.

“The guest room’s bed and dresser. The couch in the basement. Stephanie’s bedroom

stuff. My favorite reading chair.” I name some other smaller pieces. My list represents exactly half of the furniture in the house. It does not include the bed we shared. I’m careful not to take too much.

With strength we didn’t know we possessed, the truck is loaded in two hours. An

added incentive for our speed was our finding his carefully packed lunch box in the garage, which probably means he’s coming home at lunch to check on me. The phone call this morning had not been forgotten. Since my ultimate betrayal of going to college and getting a teaching job six years ago, he has been on a careful watch for other abnormal behavior.

I can’t think about this now. Time marches forward while my heart beats furiously

against my ribs.

As I finally stand by the loaded truck, Mom hesitates at the truck door as she starts

to climb up into the passenger seat. Surprisingly, she reaches for me and hugs me tightly. I am folded into the softness of her large warm body. We had lived apart for fifteen years after my father’s suicide, and we have only recently begun to feel like mother and child again.

When she releases me, we both have tears in our eyes. “Mary, you’re going to be

behind us, right? You’re leaving now?”

I assure her I will be since I only have one more job to do. I walk back into the

partially empty house and look around the rooms where I first came as an eighteen-yearold bride. I had known on that day that I hadn’t felt the passionate love other brides felt. I felt I had traded that for safety from the battlefield of my parents’ marriage. Now I notice that everything that reflected me has been stripped from the house.

I take a deep breath and remove a letter from its hiding place in the lining of my

purse and put it in an envelope. “Tom,” I write on the front. Inside, in a few sentences I tell him that when he reads this, I will be gone. That this is not my home now. I don’t ask for his forgiveness. None will be given. 15

I gently close and lock the front door. I get in my car and sail out of the driveway. I

push in a cassette tape and Mary Chapin Carpenter sings: He thinks he’ll keep her.

I fly out of the driveway into the unknown future and whatever lies there for me. I

leave behind an abandoned house and husband.


Women Impressionists By Cynthia Aarons The portraits of women at the De Young aim their gaze at the viewer, unashamedly, as though they are close to liberation. Even in the profiles, the sitter knows we are watching, gawking at their lives hampered by men. My mother complains about the hands– She pulls me over to one of Cassatt’s women sitting prim in a shawl a needle pricking the fabric on her lap. She has trouble doing hands, she says. The impression of a hand, the light and shadows of a hand, are not good enough for my mother. They are too big, she points out, too wide in the joints. A hand would never look like that, too blocky. It should be more distinct, more accurate, she says. Others around us scoff. They think my mother does not understand Impressionism. I have to agree with my mother as always though I do not see it. I see light and shadows; I think there are things in the painting, in life we cannot understand. But the hands of my mother like her mother’s once were, are hands that work soil, rock babies, wash windows, can peas, sew quilts, write letters pinch crust, cut flowers. They show age brown spots and wrinkles pressing up against the dull silver of her wedding ring. It would seem a little thing to ask— that the hands of a woman look right.


THE HOUSE IS A BROKEN TIFFANY LAMP (UPON RETURNING, ONCE AGAIN, TO HER MOTHER’S HOUSE AFTER HER MOTHER’S DEATH) By Francesca Brenner She stands on the stoop, key in door wills yoga breath to expel Medusa mind writes on the blackboard suspended in space: I will not go mad I will not go mad I will not go mad You see, she loses her mind a little each time she returns fish hooks dangling from a wirechicken egg basket, cat and nine tails eaten to the spine and why do all the windows have to weep and stain the walls mascara after a rain? But the point is to enter with suitcase and magnifying glass in hand the point is to meet her maker for the trillionth time failed copies of herself from parallel universes where at the same time, the laundry is and isn’t being washed and Schrödinger’s cat drags in a dead squid from the bay She wonders if she is afraid or just undeveloped evolution not having whittled her, yet, into a being able to grasp why she is and is never always the same If Time were truly an entity —as she has come to suspect— Would she have an Ebenezer Scrooge encounter touch the spirit’s hand


propelled through dark, hallucinatory space? (would her brain break open touching the umbilical cord of the universe?) Could she ever come back or want to? Beyond the front door she imagines the dining table the tarnished, silver dollarsized tea strainer her mother’s Earl Gray tea bag like a tiny paper pillow squeezed and hardened, brown at the folds, drying there for a year She still doesn’t know if she’ll ever throw it away


WHOOSH By Faith Dornbrand

When she stepped out of the shower, dewy and warm, the fan was on, drawing the

moisture out of the bathroom, and only seconds passed before she was herself pulled gently up through the ceiling vent. As she reached the attic, she began to tumble slowly like the other droplets around her. The attic was dark. She was mildly surprised to see there was a hole in the ceiling above her husband’s side of the bed in the master bedroom. He was probably sleeping peacefully, even after their row. He faded from her thoughts like a shadow fades with the sunset, as the richness of her new state filled her with wonder. She felt like giggling as she and a group of droplets were sucked in together, bumping and tickling each other, a kind and steady draft pulling them through the roof vent. Whoosh! Then she was outside, rolling gracefully into the welcoming July night. How nice that it’s summer, she thought, her skin temperature one with the night air.

Around her the other droplets of shower water dispersed, some moving toward the

cell phone tower, others toward the children’s tree house next door, and she herself in the direction of her flower garden. She felt a tinge of regret for the loss of companionship as the other droplets floated off.

The tumbling of her head over her feet, then her feet over her head, was pleasing. She

traveled through a thin wisp of cool cloud, and the cinnamon-brown nipples on her breasts hardened momentarily, then flattened against her moist, encircling membrane.

The night air was fragrant with muted scents of flowers. Above, the moon shone in

an intense waxing crescent. Venus was sharp and bright. Stars dotted the sky and she saw that they throbbed, actually throbbed. How lovely, she thought. Her tumble-up continued, and now she could see the entire block, all her neighbors’ homes and their yards. How high will I go, she wondered, mildly curious. She felt content, caressed, and complete.

Gracefully, after an arching curve so beautiful her wet skin quivered with

sensation, with, perhaps, pure joy, her trajectory flattened. She swayed back and forth ever so slightly, a tiny orb cradled by the breeze. Time passed. A moment, perhaps, or an hour, or an eon.

The morning sun—which morning sun?—began to top the horizon, and gentle

glimmers made her sparkle and shine. She rolled, luxuriating in her new form. Suggestions 20

of sunshine washed the lightening sky with cerulean highlights. All was tranquility. All was beauty.

She realized, surprised, that she had a choice. She could keep floating, ascending.

Forever. A forever that would fill her senses, take over her being. Oh, the joy! The escape! The birth!

Birth. Farhad. Yasmine. Her heart swelled with love just thinking of them, and she

rolled over in two easy somersaults. She wanted more than anything to remain in this state of effervescence, of sensory ecstasy.

If only there was a way to have them join her here! But she knew there was not.

She made her choice. Her sadness was acute, piercing, and immediate.

She began a downward roll, long and languid, until she reached her garden, touched

on a rose, bounced ever so slightly, and finally settled on a pink petal. It was soft like the fleece blanket on her bed.

No, this wasn’t her garden. The rose on which she perched was one of a bouquet

of pink buds that were lying on her kitchen table, still in their crinkly plastic sleeve. She recognized these roses, these twelve apologies from her husband, these twelve pleas for forgiveness, these twelve offerings of fragrant beauty that she was not sure would sway her this time, not after his latest broken promise. She could see their thorns.

The LED clock on the microwave cast blue numbers into the kitchen. Loudly, in

the direction of the stairs, she called, “Farhad, Yasmine, get down here. You’ll be late for school.” She walked into the laundry room, where yesterday’s whites were still in the dryer, and put on a robe to cover her shimmering nakedness.


Blue Horizon by David Rushmer


Bloody Indigo By Blake Kilgore Quiet classroom, unruly school. Sudden outburst from seventy-five pound Tiny – little girl with cute braids and green bows - matching the uniform. Her words aimed at hundred and fifty pound Tuffy, heavy eye-liner and big fists, head and wrist bands flying banners of the street. “What you lookin’ at, bald head bitch?” Tuffy’s head drops, confession of fear. Mean mug from Tiny. Bewildered, I pray for peace. Little ones and loners usually don’t win. It ain’t fair, but it’s nature. *** When she can stop groaning enough to find breath, Tiny pleads. “Oh Lord, the pain! Pull him out! Make it stop, now!” *** Tuffy and Tiny in the hall talking trash, aggravated smiles. Instinct pushes me forward, to squash the coming storm. “Naw Teach, don’ worry, we ain’t gon’ fight!” Nervous chuckles, the bell rings, I sigh, and close the door. *** Too long wrapped too tight by bloody cord. A cobalt limb appears, and suffocating fear comes with the shadow. 23

“Doc, he gon’ die? Please don’ let him die! Kill me if you hafta, just save my baby prince!” *** Tuffy takes off her rings. Tiny keeps her jewelry on. The swarm begins. I can’t part the sea, don’t make it in time to stop the ferocious arc of ringed knuckles into Tuffy’s brow. A loud crack, a violent lurch, a hole opening like a zipper, and then, the steady crimson flow. Tuffy on my shoulder, my dress shirt soaked in blood, her litany screeched with fury. “Let me get that bitch! Let me get that bitch!” Snarls and tender hearts, children gladiators trained to kill. Each is bleeding out, and hope puddles at their feet. It dries and crusts and gets swept away by lonely janitors pushing rusty brooms, like it was never there. *** Agitated creasing around Doc’s steady eyes. Fear restrained by discipline. But worry runs round the table, gathers steam, becomes a palpable stampede. Bells and buzzers expel auntie and sis, grandmoms and pops, and the bed roars and wobbles to the ER between jogging, green-blue-clad healers. Tears on drained Tiny’s cheeks; a steady whimper. She survived, so can he. Please. *** Tuffy’s eyebrow scarred. That groove of defeat cast an aura of strength, and later, she rode hard beside the west side alpha of the year, until he was shot, through and through, just below the ear. A soupy mix of brains and bone covered her belly, home of their son. But upon its exit, the mangled lead found stasis in Tuffy’s left lung. Wheezy gurgle, time 24

runs out, mother and child suffocated by fate. *** Tiny made it through the adolescent gauntlet of posse and po-po violence, of hateful blocks and corners, of treacherous alleyways and parks. Her baby prince was locked at the gate - bloody indigo, oxygen deprived. Today he is suckling; alive, and luscious caramel. Smiling and grateful, Tiny’s vigilant mind yet ponders the law-breaking neighborhood hues and law-enforcing blacks and blues? She cannot hear the thunder, but knows that somewhere, there’s a hard rain falling. For nowshe cherishes this moment between wars, this eye of the generational storm.


PROOF By Rochelle Jewel Shapiro Our curls are blown skyward. My mother’s shadow is riverine, spreading, swelling over the hillocks of sand. Squinch-eyed in the sunlight, but smiling, I, almost three, sit on the hull of an overturned rowboat. Mother leans into me, her knees dimpled, her bare feet wreathed with sand, our matching two-piece bathing suits like diagrams for big and small. The corners of her Clara Bow lips turn up. I hold this photo close, proof that once my mother was happy.


FUNERALS By Rochelle Jewel Shapiro Back then, a grandmother was born brined in wintergreen and eucalyptus liniment. Her neck was wattled. Nights, her teeth with their fake gums bobbed in a fluted glass. When you arrived at the novelty of her house from your apartment, you raced up her porch steps, through her front door, her dining room with its lemon-oiled breakfront and roll-top desk, her yellow kitchen with the Bakelite radio on the sill, the red-and-white-checkered tablecloth; then out the back door, around the house again. Crouched in her backyard, making funerals for dead ants your big sister stepped on, you knew Grandma would someday be buried next to Pa with a small headstone matching his, like the headboards of their twin beds. But what you believed was that one day a door in the sky would open. She’d limp toward it. Pa would stand in the doorway, round and pale as ever, waiting.


Untitled Three by Tyler Steimle


I AM NOT ROB LOWE’S MOTHER By Marcia LeBeau Or so I keep telling myself as we drive along the majestic shoreline of Lake George, pine trees and tackle shops whizzing by. Rob Lowe has just revealed, on the audio book piping out the speakers of our Subaru Outback, that his mother spent every free moment, when not being consoled by her psychoanalyst husband, writing. While little Rob was being driven to audition after audition by a drunk guy in a beat-up pink Caddy, his mom was holed away in some room of their house scribbling pages and pages of God knows what, because no one ever saw them. I look in the backseat at our sleeping boys. They are too young to have decided whether I’m a “real writer.” As we pass The Indian Tepee Gift Shop, Rob admits that after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and hooked on pain meds, he is too caught up in Princess Stéphanie of Monaco to realize he should have dropped everything and helped. Will one of those sleeping nuggets ditch me for a girl? I rest my forehead on the cool glass as we near our destination. I read recently that teenagers have begun berating their stay-at-home mothers for staying at home. We crunch down the gravel driveway of the cottage we booked for the weekend. The boys begin to stir, then blink awake as the dome light clicks on. These are the moments I want to capture before all hell breaks loose. My husband pulls the key out of the ignition, Rob Lowe disappears behind a spruce, a nest tucked in the highest bough.


Dark Esperanto By Timothy Kercher Today I feel a dark Esperanto forming in my throat, one I’ll reenter America with like a troupe of locusts, and when I speak a suitcase will burst forth from my lips, the green armies of grass under my feet will be scorched. I fear what I say will act like a lance, and I’ll want to be as quiet as a snail when I step off the plane, the scissor wings cutting the cord of my travel like the warriors of old cut off a scalp. The boroughs of my last six years lies within a man without a country, but I will buckle myself into the thickest of thickets and stand like swan in my new America. I will sing a dark Esperanto only to the pages of my passport, which I’ll hide by candle light in my new back yard.


Untitled Four by Tyler Steimle


“happy” By D.C. Wiltshire sun-piqued pinpricks of sweat 20-piece orange-bearded chicken nuggets in a soggy paperboard box with half-hearted tabs, ears that listen for thick foggy breaths up eight, nine, ten steps to a tenement brick box charcoal industrial carpet turned up at the edge like a smiling wispy flyaway mouth with no good advice you are a rhythm in your sitting a homeward plodding a slow bother the creaks of old stairwell floors a single screech of couch coils to accept you and silence ‘til tomorrow


From the Top By William Auten

Death came for America’s astrologer last week. We know Patricia Falkner died

of natural causes and was 85. Brooke Starke, her granddaughter, who, along with her wife, Melissa, found Falkner, confirming what we have from others. “We visited her last Wednesday, like we do every week, after dinner, to help her prep her documents for her editor,” Starke wrote on Falkner’s Facebook page. “She was hard at work drafting her next column. She had on her space heater near her feet and a blanket wrapped around her legs. She had her favorite cup of tea on her desk. We believe that she passed peacefully. She was a vibrant woman and remained prolific in her career up until the end. She will be missed so much by her family, friends, and the people she loved to serve. Thank you for your continuous support. She will live on because of all of you.”

After arriving in Southern California, we know that she had stints as a secretary, a

copyeditor, and a store manager. According to her Wiki and IMDB entries, she had roles in a few movies produced by Blunderbuss Bros. Films, including 1953’s Tell No One. She played one of the models who refused to reveal the names of politicians and judges requesting personalized photos from the agency. The movie was a landmark for its gritty portrayal of pin-up and fetish culture and also caught the eye of the House of Un-American Activities, spurning controversy, hypocrisies, finger-pointing, censorship, and decades later, feminist scholarship. “I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done,” Falkner’s Bunny Vegas tearfully but resolutely said to the camera.

In 1956, we know she attended her first astrology conference, because, as president

of NAAA (North American Astrologers Association) from 1980–1985, she said of the experience in an annual newsletter, “It was like everything about me glowed, just like when the sunlight hits the coast. All the things I had experienced up until then were loose but were suddenly connected, and I felt compelled to follow this. I certainly had somewhere to get to.”

She studied with Paul Duquette, the leading astrologer at that time, but she soon

developed her own style, separating herself from his orthodox stance that focused on the mechanisms and positions of the heavens as they affect people and events. The Falkner Method, as it became known, provided more internal self-reliance and intuition. “Very 33

polemic at that time,” Louise Mendez, former director of the International Organization of Astrology, told NPR. “Ms. Falkner’s process was about exploring, coloring outside the lines, whereas Mr. Duquette’s was about maintaining and not diverting.”

And we know, because of her method, that she wanted us to know that other things

emerge as inspirations from the central source, organizing themselves on their own time, recycling, bundling us tightly at times, loosely at other times, prodding us towards the right path, because for too long we’ve assumed we’ve been cut off from the source, and yet despite this, we feel clues asking us to simply step forward, just a few steps forward, as plainly as going for a walk in the woods, until we detach ourselves and have a bird’s-eye view, seeing that meaning needs rearranging and repetition before believing, not digging for more or digging deeper, that we speak to something outside us, our questions shifting from How do we get back to there? to How are we to use it? until the answers speak for us and we, in all our expressions, trickle down and disappear from the narrative.

We know that once she found this, once she latched onto it and made it her own,

she sent it out into the world through her writings and lectures, culminating as a guest on The Maury Povich Show in 2000 when she said to the packed studio, “We like to think the sun passes over us, but rather we pass it.” Dressed in a shiny floral dress, her hair in tight blue-tinged white curls, she was America’s astrologer and somebody’s grandma by then.

And it isn’t inconceivable to think or accept her method is right: we can’t ignore that

we’re made of stars. But even with all of this, with what we know, what we really want to know, of course, did she see death coming? Did she really see it coming the way that one can stand in an open field and can see the dark clouds rolling in the background, in the days before meteorology and radar, when all that was required of knowing what could happen was to step out and intuit what was ripe enough to fall from the air? Did death wait to embrace her until she turned around in her chair and faced a deeper, darker cold? Was it a kind greeting, polite? How do you do? I’ve been waiting for you. We know neither her nor death stopped, because neither could stop, regardless of whether she knew the date and the time and the place.

And this Sunday’s late-night radio program reminds us of this, its intro music’s wind

chimes and panpipes dissolving into voices chanting and then into ocean waves tumbling, fire crackling, and a Theremin vibrato sustaining in our heads as cosmic contact coming from and going back out into deep space, messages getting clearer with each pulse. 34

“Welcome, everyone, to another installment of One Mind, your weekly discussion

of all things metaphysical and spiritual. I’m your host, Michael Hirsch.” The local advertisement for tours and tastings at the microbreweries along the Brew Ridge Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia immediately follows before the sound returns us to the studio mic. “Patricia Falkner, long-time, revered astrologer, joined the heavens this past week. Generous and faithful, warm-hearted is what so many of those she came into contact with called her. She teased many, many times that her mother’s midwife must have had the wrong calendar, being born on the cusp when she was born, because she exhibited Virgoan traits of practicality, diligence, and analyzing.

“As we all know, this was the start of Pat’s last year of writing ‘From the Top,’

syndicated across this nation, her highly regarded column that so many, many of us have come to love. Her granddaughter, Brooke Starke, was gracious enough to pass along a copy to us of Pat’s final draft, the one she found that night. And I’m just going to read it here.” Hirsch clears his throat. “She wrote, ‘Here we are, Aries. We’re back, and you’re back. Are you ready? The wheel has rotated around once more, illuminating all that was hidden, all that was forgotten, and all that needs to be seen again. You’re the first in, going where others fear to tread.’ Isn’t she great? That Southern polish of hers. Makes me want to read that again,” Hirsch disrupts his own flow, and there’s a short pause at the mic, and we can assume Hirsch is gathering himself and his emotions before speaking again. “And,” his throat scratches, “I can see that cursor blinking on her computer, as March twenty-first lingered around the corner. She was ready for it…she was ready. I’m looking at the Word doc, and it says it was last saved at seven-twenty-seven PM on March nineteenth, and, she must have been in a good groove that night, writing away until the moon was bright.” Hirsch pauses again. “Where she was, spring was ready to push out the remains of winter’s rainy season. That’s the City of Angels for you listeners, where Pat built much of her professional and private life.” Hirsch reminds us about the winter season out there, what we know as the Los Angeles Basin, the desert mountains trapping the Pacific’s moisture until it falls as rain, leaving flowers to bloom year-round. “I can see the rose bulbs split a little more at their green seams on Pat’s front porch. She had a classic, Spanish-style home up there in the Hollywood Hills. Let me go back to reading her draft. So, she left off with wishing a heartfelt parting to Pisces. ‘Until we see each other next time, but remember it’s never goodbye.’” 35

After another commercial break, Hirsch recaps that we have so much she has

given us. We are all in better places because of her, and for those of us who haven’t been touched by her yet, those of us listening for the first time or returning to the program, for those of us who are regulars or are turning over a rock of curiosity that life has exposed, listening in the car or listening on the Internet to the broadcast from the studio of WHOO in Charlottesville, Virginia, it’s never too late to jump in with what she started, because she’s always available to us in one of three forms: strictly facts, stories that belong to someone else, and poetic tensions that pull in and let out, like a winch, things that seem certain once they emerge from under a lyrical veneer.

Hirsch goes on, “With her pragmatic, no-frills approach, she brought a true American

spirit to astrology. She had a way with words, of tying meaning to images all the time. She said the future was just a matter of getting to the right spot at the right time and seeing what was being uncovered in front of you. Being uncovered,” Hirsch extends, a slight reverb to the air in his words. “Here’s a clip from an interview I did with her back in 1997 at an expo in Tulsa where she was the keynote speaker.” MH: How does it feel to be America’s most famous astrologer? Grandma Starlight, they call you, Grandma Guide. PF: Well [laughter], I suppose I’m famous, and that’s very nice to hear that, but at the end of the day, I focus more on family than anything having to do with this. I have to. It keeps me grounded. I have a lot of strong memories of family, and that’s what sticks with me more. Family’s first. That’s what I know. MH: Where did you grow up? PF: My dad was a bank executive in Knoxville, Tennessee. He came from a long line of Southern gentry. My mother was the daughter of a prominent town doctor, and she was a debutante and socialite, which is a nice way of saying she had the time to be interested in things for the community, like art or schools, libraries, and such. Because of all this, I was fortunate enough to go to a private all-girl’s school and met my husband through an alumna association. We moved out West just in time, I like to say, when everything was taking off. My accent is all that I have from those old days [laughs]. 36

MH: Siblings? PF: No…only child. MH: What do you love best after all these years? PF: Oh, people want to know as much as possible about their lives, why things happen or what will happen. And I love helping them with that. MH: You’re now sixty-seven now, retirement age. Do you feel like hanging it up? PF: Oh, it’s fine, just fine. I don’t mind being this age. I know I’m supposed to retire and be put out to pasture, but I don’t feel that way. I’m not ready just yet.

Hirsch’s 1997 voice is clearer, fewer rasps and rattles underneath each utterance.

The other voice in the soundbite sounds like a Southern lady asking us if we’d like cookies freshly pulled from the oven and a tall glass of milk to wash them down.

“I just want to tell one more quick story about Pat,” Hirsch jumps back in. “We

were talking about Ronald Reagan. This was back, oh, I don’t know, 1982, I believe, when I was just starting out, and she brought this up. She winked at me and called him ‘the sweetest ol’ teddy bear.’ I asked her, ‘Did he ask you anything?’ and she said, ‘Oh, sure.’ I remember her laughing about this, and she says one of her colleagues was connected to the movie industry. Well, you know, one thing leads to another, and pretty soon, she’s being introduced to then movie star Ronald Reagan. She told him what she did, and she says he seemed interested. So, she asked him when and where he was born, he tells her, and she writes him a letter after some research. Now get this, she told him politics were definitely in his future, maybe even something high ranking on the national level.”

After laughing, Hirsch settles back in. “I know that all of us will maintain her

name and her work, making sure that her one-hundred-thousand-plus subscribers… yes, you heard that…one-hundred-thousand-plus continue to receive her great content, the readings, the audio, the video. If you get a chance, stop by her Website and fill up the shopping cart. It’s loaded with so, so much. She has membership discounts, she has this Early Bird Special, and it notifies premium members of upcoming conferences and workshops before they are known by the public. Great stuff from her, great stuff.” Hirsch 37

composes himself once more. “OK, we’ve got some callers. Roger from Phoenix, who says he knew Pat very well. Go ahead, Roger.”

“Look, that whole image…that she was this sweet, doting, old grandmother…this Pat

Falkner, that’s the image you all want us to have, but got news for you…it ain’t true. She did nudies for a while before she made it big. And that story about Reagan? Let me tell you, she told him to avoid Dallas, Texas, and any building having to do with books at all costs around Labor Day 1963. She got the wrong president, bud.”

“OK,” Hirsch scrambles across the airwaves to be polite, “thank you for your opinion

and thanks for calling in…”

“Don’t hang up on me. This is Roger Reynolds, Patty Lou’s ex-husband. She was

nothing but trouble, a liar, and a charlatan.”

“Well, OK,” Hirsch offers, stunned, and we can imagine him slicing his hand across

his throat in front of the show’s assistant.

“She was always chomping at the bit to get out of Chattanooga, not Knoxville. We

got married and moved out to Santa Monica after I got back from Korea. I got a good job down there on the line at Douglas. She never used my name on any of her, quote-unquote, projects, because she wanted to be known as Patricia Falkner, not Patty Lou Reynolds, daughter of a sharecropper and a drunk school teacher. We grew up together…high-school sweethearts. Hell, they lived down the road from my family…and yes, it was a dirt road. And let me tell you, there we are one night at a year-end party for Douglas, and one of the wives there…I think it was Buster Porter’s wife…mentioned this paranormal or ghost or something meeting in Pasadena. She said celebrities and rich people pay big bucks to know something about their lives, even who they were in the past. I thought it was all phooey, but guess whose ears perked up? So, off she went on a bus one weekend and came back ready to tell fortunes.”

“She divorced you in 1975, if I recall, on grounds of spousal abuse,” Hirsch counters

in monotone.

“Now, hold on, I divorced her. She’d sent her thugs and intimidated me.”

After a second polite acknowledgement from Hirsch, the phone on the studio’s end

clicks dead. “God—!” Reynolds cuts himself off, unable to finish his cursing, spit collecting at the back of his throat. Setting down the rotary phone, he slides the amber ashtray back from the edge of the living room’s end-table. His pasta chills in his lap and to warm 38

it would mean that he would have to stand up, shuffle five yards, avoid the stacks of papers and manila folders and newspapers on the shag-carpet floor, and pop the bowl in the microwave, crunching fish-fillet crumbs and the brown-and-green glob of tartar sauce stuck on the rotating tray. “Whitewashed, liberal hippies,” he grumbles and stares at the marinara sauce. He scratches his groin through his grey sweatpants a few times before leaning back in the La-Z-Boy, slinging his oxygen mask on its tank and re-capping his medication bottles, his feet lifting off the ground, bunions facing the muted television. Bruce Willis’s John McClane has just told Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber that he’s a cowboy.

Reynolds, we must understand, wants so badly to call back. He’s amped up at this

point and ready to tell it like it is, like it really was, pulling back the curtain, scraping off the sugar caked on Patty. He’s on his way out too, and he has nothing to lose. He wants to take the same things Hirsch and everyone else has talked about—the legacy, the conferences, the books, the DVDs and CDs, the horoscopes, the abilities—and flip them over to show the underside, the roots and tendrils of how they came to be, of how too many storytellers got involved, that only one matters.

“How do I know?” he mumbles to himself, hunger finally driving him up out of the

chair, feet stepping on the bristled shag carpet, his bunions spiking, “‘Cause Marvin knew. He was the one with this gift. Marvin laid it all there to me before he died back in…when?” he asks the microwave for a year and turns around, asking again, but with a tone as though he is not alone, as though a ghost has spoken to him. “He got it all out there for us to know.” His greasy baritone slows down and he stares straight ahead, pointing his finger into an invisible face. “I’m the one who found you and kept you afloat with money. Always money. You been doing this since you’s a child. And you ain’t no only child.” He watches Bruce Willis scramble to safety under a shower of gunfire as the over-heated marinara sauce explodes onto the microwave’s white walls. He coughs, clearing his throat, “They don’t know nothing about you. But I know.”

And so Reynolds keeps this conversation going as he moves from the microwave to

the faucet where the water rushes down like the river that he knew growing up, the same river where Marvin told Roger that he and Patty Lou made money when they were younger, where they had had lots of ideas and plans and started the ball rolling with just one. Believing Marvin is in the water and talking to him, Reynolds nods at the water, leans in closer so he can listen to it as it opens up, disclosing to him again the story about the river 39

being low that day in spring, how Patty Lou and Marvin crossed it, and how this place will soon be the only thing left to fall quiet.

And so one by one, they slowly balanced on the wet rocks in the middle of the rolling

water. On the other side, they found the old Confederate munitions depot and the prison for Union soldiers. The stone buildings had slumped down into the ground, leaves and creeper vines smothering them. Blown-out windows, skeletal bricks and wood frames, hollow, the places where the prison riot started and ended with the munitions supply exploding after a Union soldier escaped and threw a match into it.

“You sure? Around here?” Patty Lou asked, her pigtails thumping against the base

of her neck, as she led the two young boys who had fallen behind her in the woods to the river.

“I’m sure,” Marvin mumbled, rustling out birds and squirrels in the trees as he

picked up some sticks and transformed them into swords and guns before tossing them back down. His chestnut hair flopped over his head, a face lean and narrow like a wood post.

The Townsend boy’s face turned pallid as he slid down the small hill, piling up wet

leaves and mud. “Hey,” he said, wheezing, gaining traction, and sprinting up next to Patty Lou, “hey, we still fifty-fifty on this, right?”

Patty Lou looked at him, shocked and disappointed, and then raised her eyebrows,

shaking her head. “Well, now, look, she’s around here, and well, we’re doing all the work of finding her, right?” She looked at Marvin whose attention idled behind a fox scuttling through the trees. He started to follow it. “Stay here, baby brother,” she said. “We know this place pretty good. We’ve been here lots and lots of times. The police can’t find her. But we’re close. Right?”

Marvin confirmed, nodding, walking back to them, and then stared at the tightness of

the trees.

“You’re here to help,” she turned to Jeremiah, “like the girl holding the hat for the

magician.” She stared at his shaking hands stained with peat and dirt. “I was going to make it seventy-five-twenty-five, but I’ll do sixty-forty.”

“Sixty-forty?” the Townsend boy exclaimed. “That’s a whole lot for you. That’s not


Patty Lou wiped the bottom of her nose. “Well…,” she shrugged, “we’re doing all the 40

finding, we’re close, and we know this place, and the police can’t find her. That’s all I can say.”

The Townsend boy looked down at the ground. “It’ll be night soon,” he said, looking

into the woods. “It’ll be too dark.”

“Show a little faith,” Patty Lou smiled.

“Over there.” Marvin yelled, pointing to a spot in the woods, amongst the dense limbs

and leaves, where the ground darkened as it dipped slightly like the shadow of a crescent moon. “She’s over there. It looks like a well. She’s barely alive.”

“How do you know?” Jeremiah asked, squinting at him and at the dark spot.

“I can feel it.”

The Townsend boy stared at the flies bouncing off Marvin’s smooth face. He then

looked at Patty Lou as she hugged her brother.

“Mama said not to get too close. Don’t touch,” Marvin said. “Just find her so we get

paid like she said.”

Breaking her embrace, Patty Lou glared at him. “No, she didn’t.” She turned her

bright brown eyes to Jeremiah. “It’s all right,” she quickly replied. “Just get a little closer and tell us if you can get her out.”

The Townsend boy swallowed and inhaled deeply before walking towards the dark

spot in the ground. “Yeah, it’s an old well,” he yelled, facing them. He scooted closer to the edge, his legs quivering the closer he got. The girl looked like a rabbit asleep on the bottom of the well. The blood on her knees and forehead glistened in the last hours of the daylight. One leg remained frozen in stride, shin vertical to the invisible ground underneath her stride, the heel twisted and forever facing the front. “She’s down there pretty far,” Jeremiah said, gasping for air after he ran back to them. “We need the police.”

“Can’t get her yourself?” Patty Lou asked.

The Townsend boy shook his head.

Pressing her lips to the side of her mouth, she said, “OK…” Standing on her tiptoes,

she looked at the dark spot again. “It’s looking like eighty-twenty now.”

Jeremiah’s shoulders slumped. “Come on…that’s robbery.” The Townsend boy

became angry. “I think you’ve been lying about this the whole time. This here’s a ruse. You just wanted me to get her out so you could have all the money. You fake,” he pushed Marvin. “You just some dumb, slow-boy. Your daddy ain’t yours, and the whole town knows 41

it.” He stood over Marvin, who started to whimper. “You came out here before all this and found her and then dragged me in here.”

Marvin lunged at the Townsend boy’s legs, dropping him to the ground. The two boys

scuffled, rolling about, until Patty Lou peeled them apart.

“Not fake,” Marvin sobbed, kicking the leaves in front of Jeremiah. He wiped blood

from his puffy bottom lip.

“OK, OK, stop,” Patty Lou raised her hands between them and kissed her brother on

his forehead. “Look,” she turned to the Townsend boy, “we’ll stay here while you get the police.”

“Nuh-uh,” he shook his head. “I don’t know my way back here. You go.”

“I’m not leaving my baby brother, and he’s not going by himself.”

The Townsend boy swallowed hard. Another defeated look descended on his face.

“Well…I guess I’ll stay. You go.”

Patty Lou cocked her head. “If you want that...”

“But only if you change it.”

“Change what?”

“Back to fifty-fifty.”

“I can’t do that,” Patty Lou shook her head and closed her eyes. “Our momma’s off

her feet again.”

“Again?” the Townsend boy smirked.

“We need all we can get.”

“And we don’t?” Jeremiah shot back.

Patty Lou looked at him. She then watched her brother pull up a fistful of wildflowers

and set them down, one by one, the colors pointing to the places near the river where they had been. “OK, you’re right…fifty-fifty.”

After they shook on it, they waved goodbye. “I sure do hate to leave him in there,” she

said, walking briskly until she and Marvin reached the trail that brought them inside. “But we’ll be back after he’s been missing for a few days and everyone’s worried about him. We’ll know where he is.”


Enso 1 by David Rushmer


Palm trees holding hands By Christos Kalli us in the cemetery cinema, wishing to be


in bed instead, in a bed and breakfast

in other bodies, inside her breath

with no desire


someone else.

a fence, the snakes hissing

the snails slower

like snakes,

than passion, than silence,

us in the cemetery

looking like

without torso, with

or without polished nails.

palm is ore dressing,

her other palm wishing

dressing herself where


always releasing holding hands,

sand. they stand

leaves, the sun simmering there were lions

arms and legs

shades of shame

her organs use to act


like jabbed

the palm trees

her it was dance

sandbags are

in the symmetry

of limb

their dress erect,


beneath the skin to roar

like lions.


Contributor Bios Cynthia Aarons, a recent MFA graduate from San Francisco State University, teaches creative writing and composition at a local Bay Area community college. Her most recent publication is in Forum magazine. William Auten is the author of the novel Pepper’s Ghost (Black Rose Writing, 2016), and his work has recently appeared in District Lit, Origins, Rum Punch Press, Canada’s Saturday Night Reader, Sliver of Stone, and SunStruck Magazine. Work is forthcoming in East Bay Review, Red Earth Review, and Sequestrum. Mary Black studied English and journalism as an undergrad, and went on to pursue a master’s in English with a concentration on creative writing. She taught writing and literature at the high school level for fourteen years and currently works as a literacy specialist for the state of Texas. She has attended Joyce Maynard’s Memoir Workshop in Guatemala, the Creative Nonfiction Magazine Conference, and Florida Writers Association Conference. She recently completed writing her first memoir Kick Ass Harley with an essay from it published in Shark Reef Journal in July 2016. Francesca Brenner has studied with Jim Krusoe and Jack Grapes and attended writing workshops with Mark Doty, Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joe Millar. For over twentyfive years, she has been an active member of a monthly journal group created by poet Holly Prado. Her work has been published in FRE&D, and is forthcoming in Cutthroat and Crack the Spine. Francesca can be heard during many of the readings given by the LA Poets and Writer’s Collective, of which she is a member. Graham Coppin was born and raised in South Africa. After receiving a master’s degree in mathematics, he emigrated to the United States where he has lived for the past two decades. When working as an engineer in corporate America grew tedious and souldestroying, he quit all that to become a writer and leadership coach. He lives in Brooklyn. Faith Dornbrand is a writer of short fiction and poetry. When not creating fictive worlds, she is usually found hiking a trail to a spot with a spectacular view or practicing law in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Christos Kalli, born in Larnaca, Cyprus, is currently studying for his undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. He is active in the English and American poetry scene, and he is always trying to broaden his network. Recently his poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in The Minnesota Review, Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal, London Journal of Fiction, Hobart, Stoneboat, The Hartskill Review, and Sunset Liminal, among others. He is currently one of the reviewers of Prole Magazine. Timothy Kercher lived abroad from 2006 to 2012—four years in the country of Georgia and two in Ukraine—and has now moved back to his home in Dolores, Colorado. He continues to translate contemporary poetry from the Republic of Georgia. He is a high school English teacher and has worked in five countries—Mongolia, Mexico, and Bosnia being the others. His essays, poems, and translations have appeared a number of recent 45

literary publications, including Music & Literature, Crazyhorse, Versal, Plume, upstreet, and others. Blake Kilgore enjoys living in the Garden State with his wife and four sons. His lingering accent, however, verifies that his heart is still Texan and Okie. Blake’s writing has appeared in Forge, The Bookends Review, Thrice Fiction and other fine journals. To learn more, please visit blakekilgore.com. Marcia LeBeau has been published or has work forthcoming in Burningword, Crack the Spine, East Jasmine Review, Handsome, Hiram Poetry Review, Inertia, Moon City Review, NOON, Poemeleon, SLANT, and others. She received an honorable mention for the Rattle Poetry Prize and a Pushcart nomination. Marcia’s poems have appeared in Oprah’s O Magazine and have been read on the radio. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ creative writing program. Marcia lives in South Orange, New Jersey where she plays viola in the local symphony and raises her two young sons. For more information, look for her as a featured writer in the “Wordsmith” section of Crack the Spine or marcialebeau.com. David Rushmer’s artworks and poems have appeared in many journals and websites including; Angel Exhaust, Archive of the Now, BlazeVOX, E.ratio, Molly Bloom, Oasis, and 10th Muse. His published pamphlets include The Family of Ghosts (Arehouse, 2005) and Blanchot’s Ghost (Oystercatcher, 2008). He works at the English Faculty Library, University of Cambridge. Rochelle Jewel Shapiro’s novel Miriam The Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award. Her short story collection What I Wish You’d Told Me was published by Shebooks in 2014. She has published essays in NYT (Lives) and Newsweek. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary magazines including The Iowa Review, The Doctor TJ Eckleberg Review, and The Los Angeles Review, among others. Her poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. She currently teaches writing at UCLA Extension. Tyler Steimle is a photographer, web developer, writer, and musician living in Grand Rapids, Michigan and working on the internet as Ghost Code Studios. A digital creative with an entrepreneurial spirit and a raging coffee addiction. Guzzling from the carafe; dreaming in semicolons…You can contact him and view more of his work at ghostcodestudios.com. Yukiko Tominaga was born and raised in Saitama, Japan. Her stories have appeared in Passages North and Kyoto Journal. She works as an associate editor for a McSweeney’s’ ‘Voice of Witness’ project; an oral history of Port-au-Prince, Haiti to be published later this year. D.C. Wiltshire is a sometime poet, preacher, and chaplain living in Durham, NC. He has poems published or forthcoming in Blast Furnace and The Cincinnati Review.


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