P. Q. Leer Spring 2012

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Volume 1, Issue 1 I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit. P. G. Wodehouse



Art & Photography After Mark Peria


Martyr from Planet-X Mike Pennekamp


A Side of Reality Ernest Williamson II


Exodus Kieron Cropper



Poetry The Butterfly Dreams, Always Katarina Shih


Touch Me Crystal Lane Swift


there are things you hear and things you know Thomas Pescatore


Modeling On The Spanish Steps Michael Berton


Prose The Contest Kevin P. Keating


Perfect 10 Dani Grant


Throwback Mutability Percy Bysshe Shelley


From Our Staff

Sergey Kalugin's “Ahead and up!”, and the Possibility of a Compassionate Poetry R. Joseph Capet


Our Contributors


Our Staff


Call for Submissions

33 3

The Butterfly Dreams, Always Katarina Shih She’s beautiful like forsaken cities are, all stark visages and empty spaces. A memory lingering in a long abandoned house, surrounded by crumbling walls and the sting of broken glass. Her dress is faded white linen, grown delicate and exquisitely old, embroidery frayed and thin as spider’s silk. Eyes shine pale blue like winter frozen sky. Her hair is a tangled halo, round bent, brittle shoulders, held in broken stance. Artificial light has drained the life from her, prisoner chained by nothing, kept in her cell by pledges, promises of freedom she will never see.

... Touch Me Crystal Lane Swift She started as a seed, took root, and only grew strong and colorful because of the perfect combination of light and rain. In the shadow of a mighty oak, the daisy bloomed year after year in her season. As she blossomed again and again, despite those who plucked her petals and carelessly stepped on her leaves, the oak sprouted even more limbs. Each season she returned to oak leaves shadowing her even closer than the season before. One season when she bloomed the daisy whispered to the oak, “If we get any closer, we’re going to have to touch.”


After Mark Peria


The Contest Kevin P. Keating -1We began playing our epic game when we were still young, not long out of college, and my opponent (for once I’ll abide by the rules of civil discourse and refer to her by the nom de guerre Camilla) proved to be the stronger player, at least initially. Back then her strategy was to make me jealous, and I must admit that, for a strategy so simple and obvious, it certainly had the desired effect. On Friday nights, when we still attended those rollicking parties together in the city, she would push her way through a crowded warehouse apartment, an imposing figure, tall, broad shouldered, almost Amazonian in her war-like gait, and without pausing to acknowledge our inebriated host, march over to a card table that served as an impromptu bar where groups of men circled around the alcohol like a herd of stamping, snorting, fly-swaddled wildebeests protecting a coveted watering hole. Only after fixing herself an obligatory pink martini and taking a few immodest sips would she then carefully assess the other players in the room and contemplate her first move. From my vantage point as an eager novice, but one who possessed limited skills in mounting a clever defense, I could tell that Camilla had a natural gift for coquettish conversation and an infuriating way of laughing too loudly and too lustily at every adolescent joke that popped into the minds of those drooling brutes yearning to nuzzle her perfumed throat. It almost made me sick to watch her work. I hated the way she pretended to surrender to these men, moistening her lips with a slow, deliberate tongue and sweeping aside her chestnut hair to reveal those delectable earlobes and the tattoo of a small, blue butterfly at the nape of her neck, hallmark of the bad girl. She stroked and squeezed and slapped their arms in such a way as to suggest that, if they played their cards right, there could be more intimate physical contact later in the evening. Never once did she shoot a furtive glance over her shoulder to see if I was looking. Of course I was looking, and she knew it. With a salacious smile she continued to flirt and tease and tantalize until, at some point in the night, she disappeared from view, not for very long, ten or fifteen minutes, just enough time to drive me insane with suspicion, and the scenes I envisioned were, even by the depraved standards of the Internet age, vivid and appallingly pornographic: a former jock with small, murderous eyes rubbing against my darling; a trust fund kid, wearing a tailored sport coat and a smug smile, offering her illicit substances on the bathroom counter before unbuttoning her blouse; a little troll of an artist, an emaciated bug of a boy with greasy black hair and bad skin, asking her, with the nervous laughter universal to all sexual deviants, for a sloppy smooch. When Camilla reappeared at the card table, fixing her third or forth cocktail of the night, she looked terrifically guilty, her cheeks burning, her hair unkempt, her new skirt wrinkled and askew. I admit that, on a few occasions, I grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her from these raucous proceedings. She protested loudly—all shrieks and screams and clumsy karate chops—but it was all an act, scripted well in advance. For her this was most enjoyable part of the game, the part at which she truly excelled, and like any formulaic drama it had a predictable ending.


During the miserable cab ride back to her apartment, she reached for my hand and in suddenly soothing tones told me that I could put a stop to this nonsense by proposing marriage. I tried to reason with her. We were only twenty-five years old and flat broke, we needed time to begin our careers, save money, plan for the future, but this kind of talk only made her more determined, and to my unbelieving eyes she turned away from me and started flirting with the turbaned cabbie, twisting beard in her fingertips and whispering to him in Farsi, her minor as an undergraduate. This was more than I could bear. I shouted to the driver to stop the car, threw a few crumpled bills across the seat at Camilla’s smirking face, and like a sullen child I walked the rest of the way back to my squalid studio apartment and empty bed. -2The gambit came soon after. At this stage of the game, cohabitation seemed a better strategic move than marriage, and so before my twenty-fifth year was over, I decided to sacrifice what remained of my independence and packed up my things. Camilla occupied the top floor of a duplex in a quiet part of town populated, it seemed, almost entirely by married couples in their mid-thirties with small children. The neighbors were friendly to me after I moved in with Camilla, and whenever they spotted me on the street, they smiled and waved and asked when “the young couple might tie the knot.” I laughed and made excuses, but I couldn’t help notice how, as they pushed their wailing, lunatic toddlers around the block in unwieldy, puke-splattered strollers, these supposedly happy people looked imploringly at me as if begging for rescue from some forced labor camp and warning me of the nascent hell of domesticity. Though our new arrangement made me nervous, Camilla became utterly convinced that cohabitation was the next logical step in our evolution as a couple. Her devotion to me was unwavering, only now—and this is significant, play close attention! —whenever we went to those wild soirees with the other smartly dressed couples and the sinfully sweet smoke of marijuana wafting from great, gurgling bongs and the sound of seductive laughter ringing through the halls, Camilla never once left my side. In fact, she looked at no one else in the room, her intense eyes fixed always on my own, her sinewy arms wrapped so tightly around my torso that I felt pinned by a crafty wrestler who knew every hold, throw and takedown. These constricting, pretzel-like configurations made me claustrophobic, and I found it necessary to untangle myself, whenever I could, and sneak off to some dark corner where I might have a brief conversation with old friends, some of whom happened to be female. There was a kind of danger in this. Camilla was always lurking nearby and had an almost preternatural ability to sniff me out. One night, after using the restroom, I found her standing guard outside the door, waiting impatiently for me, her eyes red-rimmed and ruminative. She glanced inside as if to confirm that I was alone and said with a manic grin, “What the hell have you been doing? Fucking one of your little whores? Come closer. Let me smell you. Give me your hand.” When I noticed our friends staring, I led her over to a corner and whispered, “Would you please stop being so goddamned possessive.”


She crossed her arms and nodded. “I see. So I finally caught you. Got something to hide this time. Well, I sure as hell hope you brought your own cab fare, because you’re on your own.” With a theatrical flourish she had long since perfected, she grabbed her purse and coat and stormed from the apartment. Our friends watched closely to see what I would do next. If I pursued too quickly I might be labeled, to use the lingua franca of my philistine buddies, a total pussy; on the other hand, if I didn’t give chase and gallantly see my darling safely home, I might forevermore be labeled, by the sensible ladies, as just another drunk asshole. They talked it over, made predictions, placed their bets. After waiting a full sixty seconds I casually walked downstairs and out to the street. I spotted Camilla a block away, teetering in her high heels and trying unsuccessfully to hail a cab. The oncoming headlights made her skin look orange and her eyes black and empty like a hastily made-up show girl. Her tiresome drama had turned into a hideous burlesque, and in her drunken rage she was nearly indistinguishable from the chorus of shady characters shambling along the litter-strewn streets during the midnight hour. An old man, reaching into his back pocket for a flask, drifted toward her and, after clearing his throat in preparation for a well-rehearsed speech, intoned, “Excuse me, miss. I mean no harm. Can you spare some change? Hey, now, there’s no need to cry. Why you crying? There, there, darling. Hush.” I stood on the corner for five minutes, shouting her name, but she ignored me. Eventually I gave up and returned to the party. “Everything’s under control,” I told our friends. “She had a little too much to drink, that’s all. I made sure she got a cab.” Now that she was no longer around to pester me, I managed to relax and have some fun, but after a few more glasses of cheap scotch I felt, in the pit of my stomach, a small bubble of guilt that slowly expanded into shame and then alarm before it finally burst into outright panic. How in the world could I have let a beautiful, twenty-five year old woman walk these streets alone? Making inane apologies to my protesting friends, I left the party and hurried home, but when I burst through the door, gasping for breath, I discovered the apartment empty and our bed still made. -3Why I didn’t contact the police I do not know and dare not think about, but the following morning, just after dawn, I received a call from Camilla who wanted to know just that—did I, in fact, phone the police? Did I go to the station and file a missing person’s report? Did I confess that I was a pitiful loser, an irresponsible bastard, a selfish lout? I could hear her on the other end of the line, waiting expectantly for the correct answer. Everything hinged on my response. I could, of course, pretend to be remorseful. I could swear up and down that I had called the police and that even now the city’s finest were searching the streets and alleys, but this would have been playing by her rules, and there didn’t seem to be anything sporting in that. It then occurred to me that the game Camilla and I were now playing was a dangerous one. I had a few acquaintances who maintained an almost dogmatic belief that games, to the extent that one may describe them as such, must include some element of danger, a hint that one’s circumstances, when they change, 8

may not change for the better and that some kind of serious toll, whether physical or psychological, must be exacted in order for the game to really matter. After a prolonged silence I decided on a risky tactic. Trying to control my wavering voice, I said, “Call the police? Why in the world would I do a crazy thing like that?” “Can you possibly be serious?” she huffed. “You do realize that I’ve been gone for hours, don’t you?” I yawned loudly. “Have you? What time is it? I just woke up.” I heard her catch her breath, a sweet little gasp of disbelief that made me shiver with satisfaction. “Listen, asshole,” she said. “Are you listening? Good. Because I want you out. Out of my apartment. Out by the end of the day. Is that clear?” I laughed. “Oh, come on, Camilla, stop it. Do you need a ride home or something? Where are you?” “You’re a real jerk. Everybody warned me, all of my friends. And now that I know what kind of person you truly are, I want you the hell out. Out of my life. In fact, after I hang up, I’m going to call the police and tell them that you’re an intruder.” “Well, could you tell them not to knock too loudly? I’m going back to bed.” “An intruder. Your name isn’t on the lease. You have five minutes. Exactly five minutes before the squad car gets there.” The line went dead, and I knew she wasn’t joking. I was crushed, irritated, maybe even a little frightened, but mostly—and some of you will know exactly what I mean when I tell you this—I was incredibly relieved that we had reached the endgame. -4After a few days of sofa surfing in the apartments of various friends, I decided to deliver the final blow by taking the downstairs unit in the same duplex. This wasn’t playing nice, not at all, as Camilla was quick to point out in a nasty note she slipped under my door one night. She accused me, among other things, of being a stalker and threatened to obtain a restraining order. She would, so her note promised, force me out of the building and have me branded a sexual predator, and just in case I “became aggressive,” she had taken several precautionary measures—she changed the locks on her door and installed a state-of-the-art alarm system and bought a big bottle of pepper spray that she carried on her person at all times. Fortunately, she never made good on these threats, never served me with papers or blinded me with mace as I tried to collect my mail in the hallway. Like any cruel competitor, she exacted her revenge in ways that were far more subtle and sadistic. Within days of the move, Camilla started bringing men—total strangers—back to her place. In the evenings, while I dozed on the couch in front of the TV, I would suddenly awaken to the sound of Camilla and her latest paramour engaging in very vocal lovemaking. To describe her screams as blood-curdling would not be too great an exaggeration. At first I thought a robbery was in progress or that she had paid someone to attack her so she could later pin the blame on me and have me hauled off to jail. I turned off the TV and listened. Careful not to let the floorboards creak, I positioned a wobbly chair directly beneath her bed and on tip-toes pressed my ear against the ceiling so I could decipher her tortured bellows. 9

How, I wondered, could anyone be so foul, so base, so unsanitary? As a parade of degenerates came and went from her apartment, I trembled with jealousy and self-pity, and I vowed to match her, lay for lay. A lofty goal, no doubt, and not without its challenges. I am no Casanova and have never been particularly skillful when it comes to talking women into the sack. What’s more, my sudden breakup with Camilla made our mutual friends feel uncomfortable, and because they wanted to postpone for as long as possible the awful business of choosing sides, they no longer extended invitations to those swanky parties where I might actually meet an available woman. In the end I was forced to frequent those sordid meat markets where a man, if he waited long enough, could entice certain lonely ladies by offering them bribes—shots of top shelf tequila, prescription pills, a night of companionship with plenty of foreplay— but the selection was always slim. One night I settled for a woman twice my age and drunk out of her mind. “Oh, you dirty boy, I’m gonna make you so happy,” she slurred before staggering over to my bed and passing out. Not to be outdone, Camilla brought home three scruffy outfielders from a local softball team for a lubricious saturnalia that lasted an entire weekend. She was no slouch, she kept pace with me, and when I lagged behind in the body count I decided to really play dirty. I shelled out small amounts of cash to emaciated junkies who haunted a desolate strip of road near the airport. These paid professionals, to my surprise, worked very hard for their wages and knew how to put on a good show. They suggested we screw on the floors next to the heating vents so our amorous howls would travel more effectively up to Camilla’s apartment, and by the end of the night I had these floozies in a fantastic frenzy. They rammed the heels of their lethal stilettos into the plaster walls, and through a horror of crooked teeth they made a hundred mad pleas: “Ruin me! Destroy me! Split me in half!” Performances so convincing that I nearly believed I was a slick and accomplished Lothario. -5Our game continued in this fashion, month after month, but a definitive end never seemed within reach. Evidently, we needed to increase the stakes, but just how far were we willing to take things? I will tell you: After our year-long tournament, we both renewed our leases, prepared to go one more round, hoping to morally bankrupt the other. Only then did Camilla announce to our scandalized friends that she was pregnant. With whose child she did not know and did not seem to care. I was so outraged by the news that I immediately dispensed with condoms and swiftly impregnated not one but three women, the weird sisters I called them, all former housemates in the same sorority at the same middlebrow college. Here was a sinister turn of events that Camilla simply could not abide, and after having her first child, she spent the next five or six years bearing the babies of men she barely knew. Yes, much has changed since we first started dating so many years ago. Instead of a typically discontented middle-aged married couple living in the suburbs we are a pair of rapidly aging adolescents. We are prematurely gray now and grossly overweight. Every two weeks a social worker visits the duplex to check on Camilla’s feral litter of hectoring, underfed brats, and the weird sisters show up unannounced at my door to demand an increase in child support payments. Money is scarce these days, 10

I am unable to meet all of my financial obligations, and just the other day I received the third and final eviction notice from the extortion company that owns this crumbling duplex. In preparation for another move, I took inventory of all my worldly possessions and discovered in the corner of my closet a box stuffed with old love letters from Camilla. Outside, cold rains pelted the window and strong gusts of wind slapped wet leaves against the filthy screen. Imprisoned in my dark little room, I decided to read through the letters one at a time. The paper on which they were written had turned brittle and yellow, and the words sounded so alien to me, so overblown and sentimental (“Have a wonderful day at work, my love. I miss you terribly and cannot wait to hold you later tonight”) that they may as well have been penned by some silly schoolgirl in a jumper and knee highs with dreams of one day becoming a romance novelist. I wanted to read through the letters a second time, but the naiveté of this youthful voice was suddenly drowned out by a much older, hard-hearted one. Upstairs, Camilla was chasing her obstreperous crew of unwashed scamps with a broom, threatening as usual to beat them senseless and shouting a refrain that by now had become all too familiar to me: “You monsters, I hope you’re satisfied. You ruined my life, you ruined my life, you ruined my life!”



there are things you hear and things you know Thomas Pescatore The guy that stole the diamonds was 6 feet 4, he had eyes and hair, he passed me on the street and slit my tires later that night, I asked the newspaper stand man on the corner a question about immortality, the clouds were a gray 17 degrees and dying, he grinned and tipped his cap with my car deflated in the street, and the diamonds got away


Martyr from Planet-X Mike Pennekamp


Modeling On The Spanish Steps Michael Berton next to the Keats Shelley museum of literary manuscripts bacchanalia memoirs John’s death mask and bandages Byron wore through Italy into a Greek uprising history’s last stand of warrior king poets who once portrayed the persona in a careless bravado their breath on the page attracted what politicians of leisure have ruminated about while literary egos straddle borders revolution foments


A Side of Reality Ernest Williamson II


Perfect 10 Dani Grant Allison Kreutz was a connoisseur of bathrooms. She knew every bathroom on campus, and ranked them according to size, smell, lighting, accessibility, cleanliness and, of course, privacy. Privacy was the most important ranking, of course. There were bathrooms that, at first glance, might seem a 9 or 10, but Allison was not a casual user. The restrooms on the first floor of the new Student Union Building, with their bright, efficient LED lights, sensor-flush toilets and automatic faucets, were probably the mostused facilities on campus, and if anyone had thought to take a poll, the most popular. Situated between the cafeteria and common area, their brightly-painted concrete walls and rows of gleaming, brushed-aluminum stall doors were familiar to every student on campus. Allison ranked them a 2. They were huge and modern and teeming with students, and Allison avoided them at all costs. The ladies’ lounge in the basement of the old theatre annex might have faired better, especially when the new auditorium was built and the drama department moved to that building. The theatre annex was one of the oldest buildings on campus, and electrical problems, outdated heating and ancient plumbing made it difficult to maintain. Originally scheduled for demolition after the auditorium was complete, it had been saved by a coalition of sentimental faculty and alumni, and measures has been taken to preserve its turn-of-the-century opulence. Someone had even found and restored an old, over-stuffed velvet round bench, and it stood tall and proud in the center of the powder-room adjacent to the ladies’ lounge. Although attractive, the colorful tile mosaics and art-nouveau fixtures could not mask the overpowering smell of damp and age and rot. Allison found the odor both oppressive and depressing, and reluctantly ranked the ladies’ lounge a 5 (she would not consider using any bathroom under a 6). She consoled herself with the fact that the theatre annex was in the far southeastern corner of campus, away from most of her classes. Allison did not discover the bathroom in the top of the lab tower until her sophomore year, when she took her first biology lab course. Her lab was on the second floor, and for the first few weeks of the course, she had used the bathroom on the main floor, next to the elevators. The lab tower was not as old as the theatre annex, but it was still one of the older buildings on campus. The first-floor bathroom was nothing special; three regular stalls and one handicapped stall, flickering fluorescent lights, and a mingled odor of disinfectant and the formaldehyde smell that permeated the entire tower. It was usually empty during class periods, so Allison rated it a 6 and used it when she had to. One day in early October, about a half-hour into her lab, Allison excused herself to her partner and took the stairs down to the first floor. Allison preferred early classes; there were less students awake and about, and the chances of finding an empty bathroom were much better before noon. Her biology lab was only available on Fridays from 12:30 to 2pm, but it hadn’t bothered Allison immensely. Most classes were scheduled Monday through Thursday, and the lab tower, like many buildings on campus, was relatively quiet on Fridays. Allison rounded the corner from the stairwell and froze. Voices echoed up and 16

down the first-floor hallway. They were coming from the women’s bathroom. There were at least three girls in there, giggling about some football player or another. Allison studied a display case full of beetles and other insects that had been captured and mounted by the entomology lab. The iridescent corpses gleamed like jewels against black velvet boards. Why were they taking so long? Why couldn’t they just go back to their class and take their silly conversation with them? One of the girls had said something that sent the others into gales of shrieking laughter. Allison checked the time on her phone: 1:04pm. She began to panic. She would need to find another bathroom, and fast. She had eaten her first meal of the day on the way to her lab, a cheese danish and small black coffee purchased from the espresso shack outside of her dorm. Time was running out; she calculated another ten minutes at the most. She knew she couldn’t reach her dorm room in time, and the only other suitable bathroom on this side of the campus was in the basement of the library, which had recently flooded and was closed for repairs. Her mind raced. Maybe the girls would leave once she entered, not welcoming an intruder to their conversation. Then again, maybe they wouldn’t. She could pretend she was sick, hungover from the night before...but it was a small campus, and word got around. She was pretty and pleasant and got good grades, a favorite with students and teachers alike. Although she might not recognize any of the girls in the bathroom, they would probably recognize her. Popularity came with a price. It was nothing new to her; she had paid it her entire life, without complaint. The pros of popularity usually outweighed the cons, and college had not changed Allison’s opinion. But she also knew how fragile popularity could be, how easily it could be made ugly, devastating. There was a burning in her stomach, directly under her ribcage. Its urgency grew with every passing second. It was a familiar, twisting thing, like a snake or one of the centipedes in the entomology lab’s display case. Less than ten minutes now, maybe only five. The first floor bathroom was clearly not an option. Inspiration struck; maybe there was an empty lab room with a sink or chemical shower she could use. It wasn’t ideal, but it would do in a pinch. She dismissed the elevators (she was deathly afraid of them) and raced back up the stairs, bypassing the second floor and heading directly to the third. The tower had five floors. Each floor (except the first) had a classroom to either side of the elevator doors, and one large lab room on the other side of the hallway. She reached the third floor, and cursed under her breath. The lab door nearest her was open, and she could see two groups of two in lab coats, bent over microscopes and taking notes on what they found. She continued to the fourth floor and had no better luck there. The lab doors were closed, but there were lights shining through their frosted panes and she could hear the sonorous drone of a lecture in progress. She was now in full-scale panic mode, and the creature in her stomach was slithering it’s way up her esophagus, made strong with adrenaline and fear. She reached the fifth floor and stopped. She had never had reason to venture to the top of the tower, and had assumed that all the floors above the first were situated in the same manner. The fifth floor had a smaller footprint than the other floors, with what looked like a utility closet on the left of the elevator door and small projection room on the right. The projection room was empty and looked disused, but there was no sink and the wastebasket was a small, wire-mesh thing with no liner. Desperately, she swung open the single door on the wall opposite the elevator and uttered a small whimper of relief. 17

Here, in this unlikely spot, was an equally unlikely bathroom. It was huge, for one thing. It was a vast rectangular room covered floor, wall and ceiling in small white tiles. The early-afternoon autumn sun shone through the single window, making the tiles gleam (the window itself a novelty; she couldn’t think of another bathroom in campus with a window, although a few had skylights). There was one toilet, in the far right corner of the room, and a urinal about four feet from it. Both were situated along the right wall, facing the two sinks that were mounted to the left wall, along with two metal soap dispensers and an old hand-dryer. The toilet, urinal, sinks and dryer were all white with chrome fixtures, and gleamed like the tiles. There was a garbage can with a swinging, triangular lid to the left of the door. It was also white. The bathroom didn’t smell like much of anything, which was surprising considering the rest of the building smelled strongly of the various chemicals used by the students in their lab work. There was a very faint smell of lavender, which Allison would later learn was from the powdered soap in the dispensers. All of the other bathrooms on campus that Allison knew of were fitted with liquid soap dispensers, and the soap they contained was pearly in color and smelled like almonds. The thing in her esophagus writhed again, almost in her throat now, and Allison realized that she had been standing in the door of the bathroom, staring like a child. Self- consciously, she looked behind her, but the fifth floor was still empty and quiet. She closed the door and turned the lock in the center of the doorknob. Without further hesitation, she rushed across the room, knelt in front of the toilet, and her body did the rest, emptying the contents of her stomach into the bowl. It took no time at all; she was, after all, an old hand at this, and had been doing it for so many years that her stomach would automatically purge itself within an hour of eating if she didn’t initiate it sooner. Her stomach muscles were strong, there was no need for a finger or toothbrush. When she had finished, she flushed the toilet, made sure the seat and rim were clean of any food particles or splattered bile, and turned toward the sinks. She stopped at the window that was the sole feature of the wall opposite the bathroom door and looked out. She could see quite a bit of the campus from here. Two young men in sweatshirts (both maroon with gold lettering, the school’s colors) threw a football back and forth on the library lawn. A tai chi class was stretching beneath a tree near the tennis courts, taking advantage of what was probably one of the last sunny days of the year. A few smokers huddled over their cigarettes in the gazebo in front of the registrar’s office. The leaves of the trees lining the pathways were turning orange and red, and blue aphids flew in small clouds here and there. She knew from experience that walking through those clouds could result in tiny blue smears all over your clothes if you attempted to brush the insects away, or worse, a coughing fit if you forgot to close your mouth and inhaled a few. They were considered a nuisance of the season, but from up here they were beautiful. The sun glinted off their wings as they dipped and soared, and it was easy to imagine they were fairies, bringing the colors of autumn to whatever they touched. Allison smiled, taking it all in. From up here, the college campus was beautiful, and more. It was magical. She continued to the sink, letting the water run until it was warm. It took her a minute to figure out how to use the soap dispensers. They were cylindrical metal canisters, with the word “Boraxo” embossed on their polished metal fronts, and you had to push a scalloped lever like a skinny shoehorn up into the canister to make the 18

soap fall out. It was gritty at first and didn’t really lather so much as turn into a slightly slimy (but surprisingly not-unpleasant) film that washed away to leave her hands feeling smooth and soft. She dried her hands at the dryer and returned to the sink to brush her teeth. She took extra care to brush the backs of her teeth, where the bile and acid was most likely to eat them away, and her tongue. When she had finished, she rinsed her mouth with a small travel bottle of mouthwash she kept in her purse, reapplied her lip gloss, and stared at her reflection in the mirror. Pretty, pleasant, popular Allison Kreutz stared back. She smiled at her reflection; it smiled back. She looked great, felt great. She turned around and surveyed the bathroom, her bathroom. This bathroom was something special, with its white tiles, its window, it’s very vastness. It was, she realized, a 10. She had never given a bathroom a 10 before. Even the bathroom in her dorm room was only a 9. Her freshman year, she had shared a quad with three other girls. The bathroom was always filled with primping, giggling girls, and she had ranked it a 3 and used the ADA bathroom on the first floor. It was poorly ventilated and the RAs would give her dirty looks if they saw her using it, but it was a single-stall bathroom with a locking outer door, so she gave it a 7 and used it until the school year was over. The next year, she had moved into a double with a girl who spent most of her time at her boyfriend’s off-campus apartment, and had both the living area and the bathroom almost completely to herself. But it was small and had a high- efficiency toilet that would occasionally require two flushes, so Allison gave it a 9, which was still quite an honor and made it, until the discovery of the bathroom at the top of the lab tower, the highest ranking bathroom on campus. The bathroom at the top of the lab tower became a part of her, and she looked forward to her Friday visits there. She thought about it often, and occasionally visited it earlier in the week, although she had no other classes in or near the lab tower besides her biology lab. Sometimes she didn’t even have to use the bathroom, and would just go up there to look out the window and reflect. It was a respite from the grind of classes and student activities and her part-time work-study job at the library, which had now reopened. She would stand up there, alone in her private observatory, viewing the campus in all of its glory. It was a good semester, the best one yet, and she was happy. All of that changed with her biology lab midterm. Allison was studious and took her coursework seriously, and had never received anything lower than an even B (and that only due to a case of mono her freshman year that had laid her low for almost a month, causing her to lose several participation points that her health sciences instructor had not allowed her to make up). However, her biology lab midterm required her to dissect a house cat. She had been aware of this when she had signed up for the course, and had not expected it to be a problem. However, she was unable to make even the first incision, and when her lab partner had cut into the belly of the cat, she had barely managed to make up the stairs to the fifth floor, where she had proceeded to dry-heave into the toilet bowl until her insides ached. She had eaten early with friends in the cafeteria, and had already deposited her breakfast (half a bagel with cream cheese and a hot chocolate) into her dorm- room bathroom toilet before class. When the tremors in her stomach subsided, she went to the sink, removed her 19

blue neoprene lab gloves, completed her hand-washing and teeth-brushing routine, and went to stare out the bathroom window. The leaves were mostly gone from the trees now, and although it had not yet snowed, she could see the breath of the few students who had ventured out on this cold December day. She could see the stately M. William Howard Memorial Hall and the clock tower on top of the registrar’s office through the bare limbs of the trees. The college had a grey, austere beauty today. She pressed her face against the cold glass pane and looked out, wondering, not for the first time, if anyone could see her from down below. She had looked up from the ground on several occasions, but had never seen anything through the window. From below, it was nondescript, just another window in a short tower full of windows, and throughout much of the day there was a glare preventing anyone from seeing into any of the windows on the lab side of the building. At night, she could see up into the labs if the lights were on (it was not unusual for professors to open the labs at night, especially at this time of year, so students could make up missed experiments or study for their midterm exams). She never saw a light on in her bathroom at night, and suspected that few people besides her, some faculty, and the custodians knew about the bathroom. What would she do? She could go to her instructor and request an out, some way to pass the class without completing the midterm. It would likely do her no good; he had made it very clear at the beginning of the course that the complete dissection of a house cat and correct labeling of its organs would be required to pass the class. He had given everyone notice in plenty of time to consider and drop the class if they felt they could not participate; the lab was not a requisite for any major and there were plenty of alternative labs available. Maybe she could tough it out, now that the initial shock and repulsion had passed. She thought about her lab partner’s scalpel slicing into the white belly, the calico’s green eyes open and glazed, the mouth stretched wide in it’s deathsnarl, sharp teeth exposed. The image made her stomach flip again, and she hurried to the toilet in case the dry-heaves returned. So. Was there an option she was missing? She couldn’t fail the class, she would lose her work-study and be placed on academic probation. The work-study wasn’t a big deal, her family had money and were paying her tuition, but it gave her a sense of independence and some extra spending money that she didn’t have to account for. Besides, what would she tell her boss, a kindly older librarian with thick glasses and a soft voice that Allison adored. What would she tell her family? It hadn’t always been easy to live up to her family’s expectations. Her father had been a well-respected lawyer before being appointed an even more well-respected judge, and her mother was a socialite who occasionally wrote articles for a major fashion magazine. Her brother, six years older, had been a handsome college football star before marrying the daughter of a Wall Street broker and following in his new father-in-law’s footsteps. She had struggled her whole life to be pretty enough, and smart enough, and good enough, and although it had never come easy, she had considered herself, until now, a success. She arose from the toilet and went back to the window, putting her lab gloves back on as she did so. It felt like there were bees in her head, buzzing around and around, stinging her brain, making it hard to think. Fresh air. She needed to breath, to clear her head. She had never opened the bathroom window, never cared to let the outside in to her haven. It had never crossed her mind to do so. She inspected the 20

window; in old buildings the windows were often painted shut, but this one did not appear to be. There was a small latch in the middle of the meeting rail on the lower sash of the window, at about eye level. It appeared stuck at first, but Allison worked it a little with her thumb and it came open. She gripped the meeting rail and pushed up. The window had not been opened in a while, perhaps in many years. It opened about two inches and stopped. The cold winter air rushed inside. She could see no one outside. The few students she had seen earlier were now gone, tucking themselves away someplace warmer, and from this vantage point the campus appeared empty. She grabbed the bottom of the sash with both hands and heaved upward. The window flew open another three feet, almost as if it had been pulled from above. She braced her legs below the sill and held on to the sash, now well above her head. She had almost tumbled out. She looked down and experienced her first case of vertigo; if she had fallen she would surely be dead now. She closed her eyes and slowly eased herself down to the floor. She took deep breaths of the cold air until her heart stopped pounding. As she knelt there, her breath and heart rate returning to normal, she heard a noise behind her. She turned clumsily, in a half-squat, to face the sound. Someone was opening the door! The door to her bathroom! In her haste, she must have forgotten to turn the lock. Stupid! In slowmotion, the door opened, and her professor stood there, his surprise at finding the the bathroom occupied turning to concern when he saw Allison crouched on the floor in front of the window. “Allison?” He walked with a cane, although he was not an old man. Allison didn’t know why, had never considered what kind of an injury or disease might have crippled him so. He was not an attractive man; besides the limp he was starting to go bald in front and he was short, shorter than Allison by about an inch. “Allison,” he said again, “what are you doing up here? Are you all right?” “I...I wasn’t feeling well...the cat...” “You should move away from that window. There’s no screen or railing or anything.” Allison didn’t move. Her professor began walking toward her, slowly, putting his weight on his cane with every other step. “Please. Here, let me help you,” he had reached the window and stood before her, his left hand extended, his right hand firmly gripping his cane, ready to bear down on it as he helped her up. She shook her head. “No, I’m alright now. Really. Please, I’ll be fine. Just give me a few more minutes, and I’ll come back down to class,” she ignored his proffered hand and remained crouched on the floor. She tried a smile, but it felt ghastly, more like a grimace than a smile. “I just need some fresh air.” It was her professor’s turn to shake his head. “I’m sorry, I don’t feel comfortable leaving you up here with that window open. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but...but it’s clearly a hazard. I’ll have a word with the custodian. I’m afraid this old bathroom will have to be locked up until they can do something about this window.” He smiled back at her. “It’s a deathtrap, the way it is.” Suddenly, Allison was enraged. She had never felt anything like it before. Who was he to call her bathroom old? How dare he call her window a deathtrap? What was he even doing up here anyway, this...this cripple, this cat-murderer, this destroyer of lives. She glared up at him. The light from the fixture overhead gleamed off his bald 21

patch. He was still smiling at her. Ridiculous. “It’s a 10,” she hissed through clenched teeth. He frowned, bending further down to hear her better. “I’m sorry? I don’t-” “A 10!” She kicked out with her foot, knocking the cane out of his hand. It went skittering across the floor, landing a few feet away, near the toilet. His frown froze, twisted, began to turn into something else...and then he was gone, out the bathroom window and into the afternoon below. She had lost her balance with the kick, and was now sitting on the floor. She was shocked, dazed. But not for long. Carefully, she stood up, making sure not to stand in front of the window. She backed away toward the door, thinking fast. She had been wearing her gloves when she opened the window, a blessing. There would be no fingerprints. But she had been missing from class at the same time he had fallen. Someone would surely have noticed. The downstairs bathroom. She might have a chance. She opened the bathroom door and looked to the stairs. Too slow, and too risky. Someone might see her. The elevator was a better choice. She raced over and hit the button. The doors opened right up, the car was on this floor. Of course, he had taken it up. She braced herself and stepped inside the car. Funny, she wasn’t nervous at all. Usually the thought of stepping inside an elevator made her insides turn into ice. Was she in shock? Allison didn’t think so. She felt strong now, unafraid. Unafraid, but not reckless. She was not out of this yet. The elevator doors closed, and she pushed the button labeled “M”. She held her breath as she passed each floor, willing it to continue to the next. Suddenly, the car stopped. She waited. The doors slid open; she’d made it to the main floor. She peeked around the door and couldn’t believe her luck. The hallway was empty, although she could hear several footsteps descending the stairs. She exited the elevator quickly and slipped into the women’s bathroom. It was empty as well. She checked under the stall doors; there was no one there. She was alone. She breathed a sigh of relief. She’d made it. She checked herself in the mirror. Pretty, pleasant, popular Allison Kreutz stared back. She winked at herself, something she had never done. Another first in a day of firsts. She took a deep breath, turned, and headed out the bathroom door. There was quite a commotion now, the hallway was full of people. She stopped the first person she saw, a nervous boy with acne standing in front of the bathroom door. “What’s happening?” she asked. “What’s going on?” The boy was clearly agitated and spoke with a stutter, but Allison thought he seemed almost morbidly pleased to relate the tale. Someone had fallen. He was in class on the fourth floor and had seen them go by the window. Allison realized how fortunate she’d been. If the blinds on the second floor lab windows had been up, she wouldn’t have made it to the first floor before the crowd. The body was soon identified. Allison almost smiled when she heard the word “body”. It was silly, of course. No one could survive a fall like that, but she had been worried. Now there was nothing to fear. He was dead, had fallen out of a window on the fifth floor. She had been sick, sick in the first floor bathroom, with three floors between them. The boy with acne would remember her; everyone remembered talking to Allison. 22

Allison caught sight of her lab partner crying by the entomology case. She considered going over to her but thought better of it. She had no tears to share with this girl, who had so cheerfully been mutilating a household pet just moments before. Now it was Allison’s turn to be cheerful. There would be no more class for the rest of the day. In fact, her biology lab midterm would likely be cancelled. Her grades had been superb until now; without her midterm she would receive an A+ in the class. She turned and headed up the stairwell to collect her things. She had several hours free before her shift at the library. Maybe she’d stop by the cafeteria and grab something to eat. There would be plenty of time to find a bathroom afterward. It wouldn’t be a 10, of course, but Allison wasn’t bothered. There would be other 10’s, when she needed them. She was sure of it.



Exodus Kieron Cropper


Mutability Percy Bysshe Shelley We are the clouds that veil the midnight moon; How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver, Streaking the darkness radiantly!—yet soon Night closes round, and they are lost forever: Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings Give various response to each varying blast, To whose frail frame no second motion brings One mood or modulation like the last. We rest.—A dream has power to poison sleep; We rise.—One wandering thought pollutes the day; We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep; Embrace fond foe, or cast our cares away: It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow, The path of its departure still is free: Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Nought may endure but Mutability.

Throwback 25

Ahead and up! (For those, who see dreams) Sergey Kalugin, translated by Artem Portnoy

Вперёд и вверх! (Для тех, кто видит сны) Сергей Калугин

(...Namu Amida Butsu...) Becoming an ocean, Are the rivers saddened By the loss of their shores? Chrysanthemums in the snow, Oh, how lucid is this night before the battle. Ahead and up! In the divine winds! The seven rainbows are bursting out of my chest, The Gates of Beginnings are covered with snow They are receding down below... We fly! Inside me there's half a ton Of awakening spring For those, who sleep in the mist, For those, who sleep and see dreams... Blinding light of spring! For those, who see dreams. Decade after decade, Like rocks into the millstones Fly the living fates of those, Whose joy and love are still alive But the circle runs around, And only sand streams between the millstones, And the world lies in the mist, And there's no end to love Your great Love! Inconceivable love... That's the essence. Simple essence Shed your blood for heavens. Death and love is our path! Love is strong as death!

Становясь океаном, Сожалеют ли воды реки О своих берегах? Хризантемы в снегу, Как светла эта ночь перед боем. Вперёд и вверх! В божественных ветрах! Семь радуг рвутся из груди, Врата Начал в снегах Уходят вниз… Летим! Во мне полтонны Пробуждающей весны Для тех, кто спит во мгле, Для тех, кто спит и видит сны… Слепящий свет весны! Для тех, кто видит сны. Из века в век, Как камни в жернова Летят живые судьбы тех, В ком радость, в ком любовь Его жива — Но круг бежит, И лишь песок струится между жерновов, И мир лежит во мгле, И не кончается любовь — воя великая Любовь! Невероятная любовь… Вот суть. Простая суть — Пролей за небо кровь. Смерть и любовь наш путь! Сильна, как смерть, любовь!

(...Namu Amida Butsu...) (...Tenno Heika Banzai...) Love is strong as death His great Love...

Сильна, как смерть, любовь — Его великая Любовь…

Cockpit canopy punctured, Direct fire from the destroyer Blood gushing into my eyes, I am here! Destroyer accept my love!

Пробит «фонарь», Прямой наводкой бьёт линкор Мне хлещет кровь в глаза, Я здесь! Линкор — прими мою любовь!

My great love, Inconceivable love...

Мою великую любовь, Невероятную любовь…



Sergey Kalugin's “Ahead and up!”, and the Possibility of a Compassionate Poetry R. Joseph Capet With the English-speaking world blockaded by a fleet of confessional poets— dark, bulky, and unmoving at anchor—the work of Sergey Kalugin comes from across the Pacific like a divine wind to smash the cordon and free us once again to gaze out upon the horizons of the human experience. As their hulls creak and their first sailors are thrown overboard, we hear the confessionalists begin to compose rhapsodies upon their suffering, tearing their chests open with wild abandon that we might hear their failing heartbeats, and that the sudden inrush of seawater might give them a new source of complaint. But we, having read Kalugin, care nothing any longer for their effeminate self-pity; we have heard the song of man actualized. I draw my metaphor, of course, from the destruction of the Mongol fleet outside Japan by the divine wind—the kamikaze—in 1281 and, indeed, the pilots later named for it are the subject of the song “Ahead and up! (For those, who see dreams)”, from Orgia Prevednikov's 2010 album, For those who dream. The band, fronted by the poet Kalugin, is among the most successful post-Soviet rock groups, known especially for their blending of hard rock and progressive metal with very serious lyrics on spiritual and religious subjects. What sets “Ahead and up!” apart among many fine songs, however, is its total commitment to its subject matter. As the video shows us a young pilot taking his final pre-flight ritual among his comrades, the text opens in a question that might easily have come from a Buddhist sutra, and that bears more than a passing resemblance to a parable of the Taoist writer Chuang Tzu, although it is now to be answered after a fashion which neither Buddhist nor Taoist could condone. Just as the collision of pacific Christianity with the martial culture of the Germanic and Celtic peoples produced the chivalric code and the beauty of the troubadours, so the arrival of these peaceable Chinese teachings in warrior Japan gave rise to the Bushido code and the aesthetic of mono no aware—the recognition that the beauty of things comes from their impermanence. 27

This latter was classically symbolized by the metaphor of the falling cherry blossom, an image which Kalugin ingeniously dances across without setting a clichéd foot upon it through his invocation of chrysanthemums—a flower traditionally associated with the imperial throne and which, during the war, was stamped upon all military issue small arms (it also appears in the crest of the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, infamous for its honoring of the war dead). In place of the image of the falling blossoms of spring, Kalugin gives us rocks ground between the millstones but, in the context of the image these replace, the essential similarity of these disparate things in their transience is highlighted and Kalugin thus, by the rules of Japanese aesthetics, claims for what is superficially the ugliest and most soulless of processes the beauty typically associated with flower festivals. Why? Because only in this way can we understand what it means to carry “half a ton of awakening spring” as the pilot makes his way to the American carrier group. Only then can we know how the heart of the kamikaze overflows, not with the malice of the contemporary suicide bomber thinking only of his own reward for the punishment of his enemies, but with the love of the sincere warrior who believes that, in fighting with honor, he sends his opponent as well as himself to a better place. In his own mind, the pilot is not a murderer, but an opportunity for others like himself to meet an honorable death—a death that, in the teachings of Bushido, fulfills them all as warriors. He is the killing frost that gives beauty to the blooms of spring—blossoms which, were they to bloom forever, would no longer be beautiful. All of this is quite clear in the mind of our pilot as the antiaircraft guns unleash their terror upon him, but he knows that it is inconceivable to those he goes to kill, and so he cries out to them. This is where the skill of Kalugin the poet seals the insight of Kalugin the philosopher. The heart of our hero is full to the point of bursting, but his conscience may only be placed at ease when his foes understand the supreme beauty of this celebration of their impermanence. He must know that they are as willing to die as he is, and so he must make them feel, in mere moments, what he has been raised all his life to understand. It is this fusion of exuberance and desperation that gives the poem its sublimity of tone. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Kalugin's use of the word love. What a paltry word for so grand and complicated a concept as that of the kamikaze's death! It is certainly not le mot juste, and yet human speech contains no nearer word. The pilot's response is, fittingly, not to grope about for a phrase or a metaphor which might more adequately convey his thought; he has taken the advice of the samurai master Yamamoto Tsunetomo, that “By thinking you must complete the job you will run out of time... in the end you will give up.” Instead, he seizes upon the word, as inadequate as it may be, and pours his desperation into its two shallow syllables, like a man pouring the ocean into a pair of teacups. This is against the accepted wisdom of the poets, but perfectly in line with the counsel of the famous master, Lord Naoshige, “The Way of the Samurai is in desperateness... Common sense will not accomplish great things. Simply become insane and desperate. In the Way of the Samurai, if one uses discrimination, he will fall behind.” This desperation is precisely what is missing from so much of contemporary American poetry. While some precious few exceptions come to mind, such as the work of Vandana Khanna, on the whole we have been put to sleep by a school of 28

confessionalism that thinks it enough for the poet to open himself in a spirit of maidenish victimhood to be voyeured by the reader. The average American reader, however, is nowhere near so prurient, nor does she have the time in her twenty-first century life to indulge such torpid hedonisms. Indeed, she has turned away from poetry to music over the past decades partly because it has only been there that she has found poets who needed to speak to her. What use has she for a self-involved soul-baring confessionialist? She has enough going on in her own life without the burden of his puerile angst. If she is to spend her precious minutes upon a text, she needs to know the writer needs her—that he is desperate for her. She can feel the desire of Kalugin's pilot —the groping reach of his final moments—and so will gladly give him the moments of her own life in return. It is this—what I might call the foundation of a compassionate poetry—that we are so desperately in need of. We need writers who can make us believe that every word is important, that every thought must be shared though hell should bar the way. The time of passive poetry is over. If we, as poets, are to be relevant, we must tear ourselves down from the pedestals upon which we have sat, baring our sins like stylites, and again beg our human readers to accept our love... our inconceivable love.



OUR Contributors

Michael Berton grew up on West Texas slang and Mexican chicanery. His poems have appeared in Pacific Review, Ouroboros, Venereal Kittens, Cirque Literary Journal, REM Magazine, Night Bomb Review, Perceptions, LSR, 4th Street Journal, Sin Fronteras Journal, The Blinking Cursor and other small press journals/magazines. He lives in Portland, OR where he is an educator, percussionist and performance poet. Collage artist Kieron Cropper (CUR3ES) creates work that’s influenced by science fiction, astronomy, woodland creatures, B-movies, and occult imagery. He’s involved in the DIY and experimental music scene, producing artwork for various bands and tape trading labels.


Dani Grant is from Seattle, WA. She lives in Seattle with two horrible dogs and is afraid of black holes, rogue planets and gamma rays. Kevin Keating’s essays and fiction have appeared in a number of literary journals, including Identity Theory, Perigee, Slow Trains, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Subtle Tea, Ascent Aspirations, The Mad Hatter’s Review, The North Coast Review, Tattoo Highway and many others. His stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize (by Thomas E. Kennedy) and the StorySouth Million Writers Award. His novel, The Natural Order of Things, is scheduled for publication in November 2012 by Aqueous Books. He currently teaches English at Baldwin-Wallace College. Mike Pennekamp earned his BFA in Printmaking in 2010. He currently works as a press assistant for Tom Huck's Evil Prints in St. Louis, MO. Oh, and he also sells his own prints and stuff online. Check out his site at www.ihatemikepennekamp.com. Mark Peria is a self-taught artist. He currently works as a Graphic Designer and in his spare time likes to play music and hike around the Patapsco. Would you believe that he is colorblind? Thomas Pescatore grew up outside Philadelphia, he is an active member of the growing punk/lit scene within the city and hopes to spread the word on Philadelphia’s new poets. He maintains a poetry blog: amagicalmistake.blogspot.com. His work has been published in literary magazines both nationally and internationally but he'd rather have them carved on the Walt Whitman bridge or on the sidewalks of Philadelphia's old Skid Row. Katarina Shih is a high school freshman from Seattle, Washington. When she isn't writing she can be found perusing crafting mail art, perusing thrift shops, or walking her cat. Her poetry has been previously featured in Black Words on White Paper. More of Katarina’s work can be found at www.adstilta.wordpress.com. Crystal Lane Swift, PhD, is a professor at Mt. San Antonio College and California State University, Northridge. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies, Speaker & Gavel, on poemranker.com, and at the Poet’s Perch. She enjoys painting, writing, singing, acting, modeling, and producing all kinds of art. She has published an academic book, several academic articles, and a book of poetry, God Bless Paul (2008). She has also produced three films (Sculpting the Rhetorician, Debating Christianity from Below, and It’s Never About a Boy) and an album, On Going Battle. She lives in Hollywood, CA with her best friend, Elba Soto-Quinones. Learn more at www.crystallaneswift.com. Dr. Ernest Williamson III has published poetry and visual art in over 365 national and international online and print journals. Some of Dr. Williamson's visual art and/or poetry has been published in journals representing over 30 colleges and universities around the world. View over 1000 of Dr. Williamson's paintings/drawings on this website: www.yessy.com/budicegenius



Editors R. Joseph Capet is a poet, playwright, and essayist from the West Coast whose work in English and Esperanto has been published in a variety of magazines all over the world, including decomP, The Montreal Review, Taj Mahal Review, and ITCH. A former editorial assistant for the Alaska Quarterly Review and guest editor for KannenBright, he is currently an editor for The 22 Magazine and a poetry editor for P.Q. Leer when he is not teaching English to students at North Salem High School in Oregon or, by the power vested in him by modern technology, to students across Latin America. S. D. Capet is a poet and writer originally from Anchorage, Alaska whose poems have appeared in publications such as River Poets Journal and Midwest Literary Magazine. She began writing songs and poems in elementary school, and has never stopped since. She also has an awesomely useless degree in philosophy, enjoys debating feminist philosophy and metaphysics, and hates writing bios. Miranda Davie is a barista, writer, and freelance costume designer in Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not peddling coffee across the street from Wrigley Field she spends her time daydreaming about Honolulu, running, and looking for a wealthy benefactor to trick into marrying her. An avid procrastinator, she is very pleased to have finished writing this bio, and now plans to go back to talking about working on her novel. Ivan Kuletz: Combine equal parts naturalist soul, scientific mind, and excess body hair in a shaker. Agitate for 26 years, adding sense of humor once the shaker gets a dent or two. Pour over rocks (granite works best) in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a turn of phrase and serve with a grain of salt. Food pairing suggestions: sushi, lamb, ribs, pie, pizza, corn dogs, fruit, seafood, land food . . . really any sort of food. Editor-in-Chief Elayne V. Kuletz is an artist, editor, and instructional designer from semi-rural Oregon. An avid reader and a self-professed technology addict, she hopes to see paper books and modern communication technology complement one another (rather than grudgingly coexist) to create a beautiful reading experience. She also teaches education and technology courses at her local university. 32


We accept submissions year-round. The deadline for our next issue is May 15, 2012.

Submishmash! It may sound like a kitchen gadget designed for flattening potatoes, but it’s actually our new submission management system. We are currently accepting work in all categories for our next issue. Please visit pqleer.submishmash.com/submit to review submission requirements, login, and upload your work. We welcome submissions (in English, Spanish, French, German, and Esperanto) from around the world. We DO accept dramatic works, musical compositions, and rhyming verse. We also accept simultaneous submissions at this time.

Color Images Artwork and Photography Submissions We are now accepting full color images (i.e. photography, collage, pen and ink drawings, computer generated graphics, and other two dimensional art forms) as standalone submissions. We do not accept pornographic images or images containing logos or trademarks unless you own the rights to the logo or trademark or the logo or trademark is included as a form of social or political commentary. Please refer to our submissions page for more information: pqleer.submishmash.com/submit