Vol. I, Issue V - April 2014

Page 1


"" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "




" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " 2


Table of Contents

TRUTH LIKE LIES, Tom Loughlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 EARTHQUAKES ARE GENETIC, Dalton Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 DEAR DAN AKROYD, Krista Farris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 SNOW ANGELS, Erren Kelly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 SHADOWBOXING, Emily Corwin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 WHEN WE GREW, Amanda Rogers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 A POEM CAUSED BY LISTENING TO A CHILD BOUNCE A TENNIS BALL ON THE ASPHALT AND I THINK OF HOW, David Spiering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 WICKER GIRL, Janna Vought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 HAMISI, Graham Abbott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 THE PROCESS OF STRUCTURING, Scott Malkovsky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 THE SLEEPING CHILD, Nels Hanson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO SOME NEW FRIENDS, Bec Everett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 THE SKY AT THE END OF THE WORLD, Jessica Leigh Hester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 THE BEACH, Sarah Jones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 FRAGILE FEATHERED FRIENDS, Kelly Jones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 WIND-UP, Andrew Davis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 STAY LIKE THIS, Mark Gould . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 THREE GHOSTS OF THE POWDER HOLLOW, William Doreski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 CRISIS, Shane Chergosky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 THE DENVER AIRPORT, Adam Kane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 I WISH I HAD JUST SAID YES, Krista Farris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 THE COLD WAR, Gemma Fisk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39


EDITORIAL STAFF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 CONTRIBUTORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

" " " " " " " " " " " 3

Note: All images appear courtesy of the photographer Tom Smith ©2014

 Tom Loughlin Truth: the most odious word in the English - or any other - language. The search for truth has produced more human stupidity and misery than any other intellectual concept I can think of. We’d all be better off without it. The reader is hereby advised that there is no truth to be found in any of the following words. What’s most true about me right now is that I am a man striving to live without truth. There is nothing I truly believe in, nor is there anything out in the world as far as I can tell that I want to believe in. There are principles I have to guide my actions, but I do not pretend that they are anything more than choices I have made to accommodate myself within the realm of human existence. There are only two truths of which I am aware: things change, and we all die. Beyond that, I can’t see any truth that is of use to me, even truths about myself. Perhaps the single most onerous aspect of living on Earth is having to deal with the constant barrage of everyone else trying to sling their truths, like arrows, out at me and getting me to accept or acknowledge them. The reason I find truth to be a particularly insidious concept is that it has the tendency to give people the illusion that they understand the universe, that they comprehend the incomprehensible, and more often than not, this illusion turns many people into self-righteous assholes. Such people feel the need to proclaim their truths to others, and not only that, they begin to believe they must punish those who do not accept their truths. If they cannot punish them physically, they can certainly punish them emotionally and psychologically. And this reality spans the spectrum of truths from the radically conservative to the radically liberal. There is no immunity from self-righteousness. It is one reason I attempt to minimize to whatever extent possible my interaction with the World Wide Web, since that has morphed into nothing more than an impossibly loud and obnoxious megaphone for people to blast their truths out to each other. It amplifies self-righteousness like nothing humanity has ever seen, and promises nothing but more of the same. Morality, politics, religion, literature, art - all of these human endeavors purportedly seeking the truth about human existence have been miserable failures. The insistence on a particular set or collection of truths has constantly brought to humanity war, desolation and privation. Human history is, in its essence, nothing but a chronicle of humanity’s constant efforts to inflict one sort of truth or another forcibly on each other. Even those things we believe to be true in nature are not actually the truth. Because human life spans over such a miniscule slice of time relative to the existence of the universe, we are fooled into believing that those things in nature that change far slower than we have the time to witness them seem to be absolute truth. Sunrises, change of seasons, geography, astronomy - all these sciences seem to present us with conditions that carry with them illusions of absolute truth. Not even science can present us with truth. We simply won’t be around long enough to witness what will inevitably change, decay, and become not true. As I’ve aged, I discovered something that was at first scary, but ultimately became liberating. At the start of my teaching career, I believed it was my job to get in the classroom and pass on a set of principles and truths that had been passed on to me. I felt this was “important work.” I 4

felt I could make the world a better place if I could instill in more people these truths I had. But beginning in my late 30s, I began to have the feeling that all the truths I had so carefully built up over the preceding years were slowly being stripped away from me. While I have always had something of a rebellious streak in me, the experience felt different from simply rebelling against a set of principles or beliefs. I found myself rebelling against the very idea of rebelling. Something was changing. I experienced a crisis of confidence in my late 40s, when the act of passing on these truths began to feel like nonsense, an exercise in absurdity. But I had nothing to offer in its place. Only by slowly accepting the idea that I had absolutely no truths of any sort to offer anyone have I been able to continue teaching. That process took another eight years or so to solidify within me. What is most difficult about my current situation, however, is that I am attempting to teach young people who are hungering for a truth, any truth, and now I have none to give. Every day, in every class, my task now is to express to them somehow that any so-called truth they are hungering for does not exist in me, but in themselves. I’ve often compared the work I do in the four short years I get to spend with students to that of a farmer who sees the potential of a piece of land, but who first has to clear out all the rocks and boulders and stumps to prepare the soil to receive the seed. These days I often have to field the question “When are you retiring?”, and the answer is some variation on “When I can no longer lift boulders.” If there is no such thing as truth, is there then anything for humans to strive for? I would submit that there is, and that something is wisdom. In our 21st century culture, wisdom is not a prized virtue. Young people do not appear to have this virtue either in their lexicon nor on their horizon. There is a vague notion that wisdom somehow belongs to the old, and in a culture that worships youth above all else, one probably does not want to be wise because it means one must be old. Boomers are failing millennials in countless ways, but perhaps the way we are failing them most is by refusing to become wise. We chase experiences and opportunities that try to give us the illusion that we remain young (“60 is the new 40”), and the marketplace is more than willing to indulge us in that illusion. Pretty shameful behavior, when you think about it. I have spent the last 20 years of my life shedding truths like a snake sheds skin. What I have discovered is that this process, while it has been at times emotionally and psychologically painful, has offered the opportunity for me to find a way toward gaining some shred of wisdom. People also ask me what I think I will do when I retire. At the moment, my answer is “Grow old gracefully.” That will require a combination of luck, health, awareness, and discipline. And probably a small dose of wisdom. My last word? Fuck truth. Take experiences for what they are. Don’t look for any truth in them. You’ll eventually be disappointed. Let go of your own truths, even your personal ones. They are not as precious as you think. The relentless combination of death and time will render them meaningless. If you want to do something useful with your truths, stick them in a metaphysical blender every once in a while and mash them all up. You’ll get a metaphysical wisdom shake. Drink one every day. Combine that with a 30-minute technology-free walk every day. It’s the best remedy that I know for avoiding the truth. Good for hangovers, too.

" " " " 5


1. My mother drinks the sun
 over the course of the whole day.

" 2. This is why she can’t sleep.

3. Without her, the night would
 never be born. We would
 not know stars. Or what being young
 is like.

" 4. Her heart is an earthquake.

5. Deja Vu isn’t magic.
 Deja Vu is an untangling of synapses.
 Deja Vu is a moment ago.
 Deja Vu is we were children.


5. My mother forgot to drink the sun
 yesterday. We were left stranded
 in sunlight.


6. The longer we stay awake, the
 younger we become.

" 7. My mother has never been born. " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " 6


February 28, 2014


Dear Dan Aykroyd, I owe you and your lovely family a long overdue apology. In truth, I should probably be writing to your wife or her brother, but I fear they might still be upset, if indeed they remember. In June of 2001, your gregarious brother-in-law invited a crew of us to a cookout/ pool party at his home to celebrate the culmination of a blues fest in the Virginia town where I live. My husband and I showed up with our 4-month-old baby boy and a stroller with shock absorbers filled with every baby contraption and cream to deal with all known infant-related catastrophes. I’m tempted to use the baby as an excuse for what happened next, but really I should take full responsibility because I made several poor decisions. Though being postpartum and suffering from severe sleep deprivation and absurd hormone shifts likely spurred the physical situation, it doesn’t explain away my lack of morality. We staked out a place for our stroller and our family of three at a poolside table. There were a couple of extra seats and your beautiful wife, Donna, sat down to welcome us. (She rocked in Bosom Buddies, by the way. I give her some credit with opening up the door for my younger brother to become the happy transgendered woman he is today.) She gazed adoringly at my beautiful boy and stated eloquently that “babies are the dawn of life.” I felt incredibly welcomed and started to feel way too comfortable at the party. I left my son in the competent hands of my husband and the angelic eyes of your wife and went to the pool house to change into my one-piece bathing suit. I was, after all, postpartum and still avoiding the way more sensible bikini because of my vanity. (I mean, holy cow, I was poolside with your gorgeous wife, 1st Runner Up Miss World! A little insecurity can be excused, right?) Remember that fact: a one-piece. That decision would come back to haunt me. On the way back to the poolside table, I passed your brother-in-law, who suggested I come smell the meat. This was no ordinary barbecue. His enthusiasm for Latin American cuisine had led him to cook the most glorious-smelling slabs of beef I’ve ever sniffed. It trumped anything I’d ever seen during the years I lived in Costa Rica. It was an astounding meat pile. His enthusiasm for his meat was contagious. So contagious, in fact (and I’m not blaming him or the meat, I am taking full accountability for what happened next), that I put several pieces on my plate and headed back to the table. You know him. He’s a persuasive guy and an incredible host. Please understand, I hadn’t eaten red meat for a few months. I should have known better than to have dined on half a cow after a several month hiatus. See, I craved Hunan Beef on a daily basis for the majority of my pregnancy, so much so that the manager of China Jade still calls


my son “Hunan Beef Baby.” The child is 13 now. After I had my child, I stopped eating beef. Didn’t crave it. Didn’t want it. Until your family’s wonderful party, when I got carried away. It was indeed some of the best meat I’ve eaten. I thank your brother-in-law for the meat. Here’s the hard part. About 10 minutes passed and my husband suited up my son in a little Speedo that fitted just right over his swim diaper. Oh dear, he was cute - a mini Mark Spitz. It would be his first pass in an outdoor pool. I got up, fully intending to ease his sunscreen slick body into the sparkly waters. However, once I stood, my bowels announced other intentions. I frantically whispered in my husband’s ear that I’d be right back and beelined into your family’s house to find the nearest bathroom, which, gratefully, was a straight shot down the hallway on the left. This is where it gets troubling. Remember, I’d put on a one-piece suit. Which meant I had to get half-naked (please don’t share this with your wife, she was so beautiful and clean) in order to accommodate my needs. There’s nothing like sitting topless on the toilet in a stranger’s house wondering if you locked the bathroom door in your haste to get to the pot. I know both of you have a sense of humor that you both acted in comedies, but not dark ones. What happened next? It was definitely dark, but if it was comedy is debatable. It was also a brush with stardom, but not the type I would have expected. One might say I was the superstar that day when my lower intestine stole the show, exploding in a supernova soon-to-be-black-hole sort of a way. It was not, shall we say, a “Starbucks poo.” Instead it was akin to violently “bucking stars.” Think “getting slimed” a la Ghostbusters, but you’re the exploding entity doing the sliming. I got tunnel vision and was sucked into an experience like none before. My body was doing what it would with the meat, taking what it wanted and violently expelling the rest. Meantime, I could hear my baby, that sweet baby boy, who was supposed to be giggling and splashing in his inaugural outdoor swim, start to cry. Have you ever nursed a child? Dumb question. Well, maybe you’ve witnessed such events. At the moment my bowels went galactic and my son started bawling, my stress level shot up to stellar heights and transformed my boobs into a mutant Milky Way. See, normal nursing boobs light up when a baby’s sirening cries commence. The system is faster and more powerful than the overhead sprinkler system at the Ritz. But this situation wasn’t normal. As such, this is perhaps the most difficult part of the story to believe, since 13 years later at the age of 44, my breasts don’t fill an A cup. But at the time, the B’s grew to D’s and morphed into firehose- powered shower heads that shot milk at the shower curtain opposite the toilet five feet away. I couldn’t get up to grab a towel because my bowels were still executing their chacha. Even if I had reached one, where would I have put a milk-drenched towel? Handed it to your brother-in-law by the grill and said “whoops?” Anyway, I’m making what I think are quick decisions, but they say time passes differently in black holes. I must have been in there a while making deals with God for it to end, because all of a sudden there were voices, lots of voices. But your wife’s worried calls (at least it sounded like her) still echo in my brain - calling “Daddy, Daddy, is that you in there? Daddy?” I. Was. Mortified.


I didn’t answer. Her sweet calls started to sound panicked and I knew I should have said something to assuage fears. But I was, I don’t know . . . more and more embarrassed by the minute. There was whispering outside the door. More pleas. “I swear, God,” I whispered on my side of the door, “I’ll call my own father if you just let me get out of here. I swear I’ll go vegan. Just please make it stop.” The prayers worked, or maybe it was luck. Doesn’t really matter. I heard fast footsteps run down the hallway, away from the door, and just knew someone had gone to find a key or drag in reinforcements. I had a very brief moment to wipe and run. I got out, ran down the hallway, made a right out of the house, down the walkway to the pool deck, grabbed the gear-packed stroller, hissed at my husband, “Let’s go! NOW!” and sprinted to the car still barefoot. He chased me to the driveway, baby in hand. We buckled and bolted. About what went on that day . . . I hope Daddy was o.k. I have always presumed it was your father-in-law. I could hear the love for him in the frantic voices that pled with that locked door. Time has shown me your wife was right about babies being “the dawn of life.” Even on the worst day with my kids, it’s the best. Even a literal shit storm is made better if those I love are willing to hightail it out of a party in a weird dine and dash, no questions asked. I could hear that same love in the voices that were searching for “Daddy” that day. For this reason, I wish I hadn’t gone all “Jake and Elwood” on ya and had been calm enough to just say “I’m not your Daddy.” I should have ’fessed up that it was me in the bathroom and owned the situation. I am sorry. I guess the upside is that I found out that day there is an Elwood to my poorly behaved Jake. Ha! All this time, I’m assuming you were there, Mr. Aykroyd. But, come to think of it, I don’t recall. I’m not very good with details. At any rate, from my point of view, it was one hell of a party. P.S. I learned your wife studied anthropology. I’d love to get together and talk about Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas of habitus and cultural capital next time you’re in town. Call me? Peace, Krista

" " " " " " 9



we're making snow angels
 you lie down in the white
 powder, fearless
 as you move your arms
 up and down, like a child
 as if the years lost between us
 never happened
 i manage to brave the cold
 even though people like me
 don't like places like this
 i make a snowball
 white as your breasts
 before i can throw it
 i turn around to get hit
 between your legs, i work you
 the sounds coming from your
 are not of an angel's
 but of an animal
 who finally saw daylight
 years in the dark

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "




Fast traveling sky,
 wet leaves, crow song,
 a brew of bad luck and omens.
 I tried to glean the colors on my way—
 mustard, plum, burgundy, squash—pulled them
 from the dull November, souvenirs for my shadowbox,
 save to show you later.

The bubbling brook
 slithered past. Dead fish, footbridge,
 dead end.

Long skirt curled behind me
 in a blue cursive, the hem drenched, annoyingly.
 I get cranky when my clothes are soaked
 and you’re nowhere in sight. Cold puddle,
 broken stems, all this strange fruit spinning
 like tops on the ground.

An aisle of trees, their bodies stiff as church pews,
 I crossed paths with a family of deer.
 I think we'd met before, that familiar glinting look
 like stones plucked from a dark shore, a hand,
 maybe yours, skipping them beyond reach.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "


WHEN WE GREW Amanda Marie Rogers


We put on our best dresses and left the house. It was midnight when we took the playground by force. Woodchips dug in the cracks between my toes, for we had gone out into the night without our shoes. But the ground was still warm from the heat of the day, so I was happy. We weren’t doing any harm, just sitting on the swings and talking. The last year of high school was coming quickly, and for all that learning I was further away from any of the answers I really cared about. I realized then how fragile and beautiful we were, three friends with all the determination and hope that clings to youth. Despite the unknown of the future, we would always have these otherworldly nights, when we tried to find meaning where there may have always been none. Wedged between the small rubber swings we no longer fit into, I turned these thoughts of the future over in my head, and I kneaded them down into the oblivion of the subconscious, and I hoped they would not surface. Because we were singing then, and our voices were swallowed whole by the night: we traded this mixture of music and carbon dioxide with the trees for new air. I don’t know how long it was before a flashlight disrupted us. “What are you doing?” the policeman asked. We looked at each other, eyes shining with mirth and fear. “What are you doing here?” he repeated. Now that my eyes had adjusted to the flashlight, I could see that he was wearing glasses, and the bottom of the curved glass reflected in the light made his eyes look hollow. Suddenly it seemed we were stars in some B-rated horror film, attacked by a zombie or some such nonsense. I had the urge to burst out laughing. Instead I tried for an innocent smile. “Can’t you read?” the policeman continued. It seemed that all his sentences would actually be questions. He moved the flashlight across the park, and on a far building, words appeared in its light. I hadn’t noticed them earlier, never thought to look. We probably technically knew that we weren’t supposed to be there, but small breaks in the rules sometimes define us. “Go home, okay?” he said. The words were lost. We were unstoppable. We were free. We didn’t go home. Instead, we called a guy friend, who had always been complicated and a bit more than a friend to me. He was home from college for break. We walked toward the local college campus and met him along the way. 12

We found the tallest hill. At our backs were three towering tin men, an artist’s creation. They guarded us from the outside world. We looked down across manicured soccer fields and far out at the blinking lights from the thruway and farther out towards the lake. Those few miles between our bodies and civilization could become whatever we wanted. We lay down on the ground and laughed together. I watched as the two girls took off down the hill, rolling. Their bodies became smaller, horizontal whirling dervishes. I could hear their laughter at the bottom. “You coming?” I asked him. He was standing away, looking put out. Maybe he thought we were drunk. It didn’t matter. He shook his head, no. I realized right away that it was a test I had administered. He had failed, and I had wanted him to. I didn’t want to have to explain myself to anyone, least of all a romantic partner. “Suit yourself,” I said. I stretched myself out over the cold, freshly cut grass. It tickled, and I could feel the clippings stick to the skin of my arms and legs. It tangled in my hair, and the sensitive spot between my shoulder and neck itched. I propelled myself down. I kept my mouth clenched tight, but I opened my eyes slightly. Through a web of eyelashes, my vision fell into a pattern of earth and sky: the wet, dark green grass below and the winking stars above. At the bottom I joined in the hysterical laughter. We walked back on the concrete strip of the curb, like we all do until we can’t anymore because of age or mentality—like everything else. My hands were stretched out to either side, keeping the balance. “Are you okay?” he asked when it was just the two of us. He wanted to know why we had called him to come out – he wanted to know where he and I stood. I wanted to say something that explained it all, but I didn’t. “Good night,” I finally said, to everyone. I didn’t go straight home. Instead I found the pier. I sat still in the car, listening to the lake through rolled down windows. It sounded so big, more like an ocean, which made me feel small. My thoughts rolled over just like those waves, and maybe the universe was telling me something. Or maybe there was nothing to tell. Finally I turned the key in the ignition and the engine rolled over. I left. It was over, all of it, but I still had plenty to learn.

" " " " " " "




a poem caused by listening to a child bounce a tennis ball on the asphalt and I think of how

robert frost
 plays tennis with the nets pulled tight
 the ball and the racquet strings rhyme with the court’s surface
 the time between strikes seems measured and chimes as if syllables
 the constant cacophony of ball off strings off the court and back to the strings
 he scores his games in quatrains and sonnets and couplets


I’m tired of poems with sounds of tennis balls rebounding inside them
 I tear out the net
 and the posts too
 and I paint new lines
 my winners may bounce out of bounds
 I’ll rhyme from the hash mark or the alley
 the service line won't speed bump my caesuras
 my game scores may change over time and because of my racquet’s mood swings
 I'll volley off the walls
 the ceiling
 tree branches
 blue skies and clouds
 off the night sky and starlight and down the river currents
 and off the dumpsters trashcans bricks and fire escapes
 in bad neighborhoods and good
 between anger’s stones and off the drunkenness of disillusionment
 my final winner will be a backhand that breaks the confines of this court 14

WICKER GIRL Janna Vought


Colors dim in artificial light. A still life, small window in top. I was new, the other end of time.


Instant yellow reflects: lightening. Wait for (1 Mississippi...2) thunder. Sit vigil inside heap of stuffed animals, fingers in my ears provide a barrier to rage coming through the closet door in waves. Summer exodus from fear: school nurse's scavenger hunt for scoliosis in my spine, Barbie's impossible pink lipstick, Daddy's belt buckle on my backside. Don't cry.
 Stand straight, rigid on the pyre.

Burn, burn, Wicker Girl, bone, ash, fire.

Face, paper and paste. Three feet tall: patent leather, tortoiseshell, lace. Hand hovering above my head. Trust. How to get there: Drive through tunnels in a Ford Country Squire. Copper sunlight in a thick white sky. Gulf dissolves shore. Grandma pulls white roller shades tight. Darkness. Refuse breezes and wandering eyes. Dodge ball lost in palmettos. Adults in aluminum chairs, weave misinterpreted history. Hot day: walls swollen with summer. Cows toasted (warm) shift their heads. Coon hound confined under siege of flies, thankful for potato peels, stale Wonder bread, turkey thighs. Supper different than dinner—Southern tradition. "Family" dines: canned pears pregnant with cottage cheese, powdered pink lemonade, potatoes fried with bacon grease, cornbread dipped in butter.
 Saw grass laced with gull cries. Salt water ribbons on my skin. Giant oak a bounty of switches for tender skin. Like father, like daughter. Afraid. Bloated bull snake burrowed beneath porch stairs; monsters breed beneath the bed. Grandpa extracts a quarter from my ear.

Burn, burn, Wicker Girl, flesh, blood, fire.

Sing. Happy Birthday. Seventeen going on nothing. Overweight, clothes too tight, blue eye shadow revolution. Lovely secret between her teeth. Choose a grave in which to slumber. Daddy offers advice (condemnation). Father's disappointment grabbed hold by the roots of my Sun-In streaked hair. Shower rod across my back. Discipline for his disgrace a blood web on my skin, purple viscous threads. No one spoke of it. No one called police; it was his right. Christmas Eve: send God a message, clutching Dixie cup candelabra dripping hot wax onto my hand. No answer. What's it like to be happy? I'll be happy sometime tomorrow. I live on the needle of a pine tree Daddy planted, beetle-infested, seeking light. Bone flute gathers wind.

Burn, burn, Wicker Girl, twisted wick, gown of fire.

Doors swing wide. God fragments at twilight. Gold orbs flash in the lawn. Birds erupt, pure sound—invisible. Slip into the rabbit hole. Years tied to a gasoline stake. Daddy, who can love you as much as your child? Flesh loses life. Mortal skin, spirit crouched inside.
 Butterfly packed into a chrysalis. My swallowed twin. I resemble NOBODY. Surrender reflection. Burn the house down, toss it all into the bonfire. Abandon silence, each storied page fed to flame. Stenciled flies land on burning shoulders: blistered, rotted, mottled crystal sheen. Words, words, thirst for truth never more.


Burn, burn, Wicker Girl, eat ash forged by flame.
 Expand body, widen to the sea,


from me.

" " " " " " " " " " " "



The land here is greener than I expected. It resembles images of the Scottish highlands that I've seen. The endless hills that crash into each other like grassy waves are covered in tea fields and sugar cane, and you can see women in these fields hard at work from sunup till sundown. The giant boulders scattered across the tiered farmland are as big as the thatched-roof mud huts the people call their homes. Driving on the red, rocky country roads of Kenya gives me the feeling I've travelled back in time. It reminds me of old sepia-toned photographs of some long past relative walking along the road with a walking stick and bushel of wheat on their back. This is an image I see almost every day here. Patrick, the bus driver for the school, is a tall, thin and weathered man of an ambiguous age. He is quiet and dignified and I have grown to sense the loyalty and selflessness of a protector in him. A true Kenyan lion. Six days a week, Patrick wakes up at 4 AM to drive the kids to school. His bus is a micro van which holds at the very least 20 children per load. He makes several trips each morning to ensure all 367 student get to school by 8am and the same again to get them home in the evening. Patrick is just one example of the people working at Crossroads. No one here is without character. Everyone from the custodians to the teachers is treated equally and with respect. They believe that every person has purpose and without them the machine wouldn't work. What they believe in, they believe vehemently. 16

One day Helen, one of the school founders, invited us to lunch at her house to celebrate her grandson Travis's fourth birthday. Almost all of the teachers were already there, eating a rare banquet of chicken, bread, and soda. Goat was also served, which is traditional to slaughter on special occasions. When it was time for cake, everyone sang “Happy Birthday� as many times as it took to cut the cake. Travis, with some motherly help, went around the room and handed a small piece of cake to each person there. I greatly admired this. In the western world, your birthday is about you. Your friends bring you presents and praise you throughout the day. Here it's the other way around. What, on my birthday, can I do for you? We enjoyed some South African wine, which was very sweet. Everyone drank and was happy. Helen ran out of cups by the time the wine got to her and, not letting that stop her, drank a small amount off a plate. We all had a good laugh at this sight. Helen's property is just as beautiful as the surrounding country. There are tall trees and maize crops. Chickens and cattle wander the property, keeping the grass at a low level. There is an avocado tree that, after asking permission, I took some fruit from. They are not the avocados from home. They are large and gourd-like. I was told It would need a few days to ripen. Helen is well educated and and a paragon of wisdom. She is certainly a local sophisticate. Her concrete house is very uncommon for this area. Next to the mud huts, her house is a palace. People know she has some money, which makes her a target for thievery. I was told that her home was recently attacked in the night by a group of men. After this incident, she decided to employ a few Masai tribesmen to guard her home and live on her property. "I hire them to protect my home because, you know, they are very fierce and good protectors," Helen says. The three Masai, who had attended Travis's party, speak no English, but Jan, a fervent nurse who was with us, talked to them with some help from a local who spoke a bit of Masai. She asked them about their shoes, which were made of old tires. The tires had been cut to the shape of a foot and fitted with rubber or rope straps. This, as it turned out, was a very common form of footwear in Kenya. I saw them at most markets we passed through. After a couple hours, we headed back to the school and watched some of the extracurricular activities the students participate in. I saw some scouting activities, which made me want to go camping. The students had built almost everything one would need to survive in the wilderness, from a makeshift tent to a stove made of sticks and rocks. We also watched a lively and informative debate club, which ran like Kenyan Parliament. They debated about President Obama not coming to Kenya on his recent trip to Africa. I was already impressed with the students of Cross Roads, but after watching their debate club I was even more so. Some of these kids will grow up to be great men and women. They are smarter than any American student of the same age I have ever met. When the debate was over, we stood for the Kenyan National Anthem. I can’t help but notice the ecosystem of this small community. Everyone from the bus driver to the president of the school is a critical element in its design. They have a mentality I associate with a past time in America when you were either honest or not, and people held integrity over their own self interests. Everyone that is honest is very quick to tell you so. All they have are each other and their word, so everyone must do their part. If they don't, the community withers. Everyone I have met here is nothing but sincere. They each understand how important a person is to the community and that "It takes a village" is a cliche for a reason.





when the sun goes down i lose my motivation
 crawl into a blanket not under but into 
 recall the day i forgot how to fly

 it was all about the process

a peer wrapped his hand around my throat told me he’d kill me
 first grade
 “i’ll kill you” he growled with an enraged throat
 and i believed him i always believed him

my mind is drunk on sleep and ambivalence
 at present i’m mentally a toddler typing truths
 cheap keyboard made out of plastic

last night
 my brain told itself to quiet down
 not the thoughts mind you no the process dear poet,
 poetry needs solid metaphors
 poetry needs structure
 even free form thrives on structure
 where’s the imagery? poetry needs imagery

dear brain,
 i’ll fix it in the morning
 the sun went down and coffee hasn’t helped
 since i saw snow in california yesterday i locked myself out of my apartment
 no keys no wallet no shoes 
 just pink socks in sandals

laundry spun
 half roll of quarters in my sweatpants pocket 
 clothes getting drier than dry in the dryer
 pulled out a sweatshirt hotter than gossip watched the sun

for three hours i watched the sun
 sat on my steps
 for three hours i sat on my steps and watched the sun
 phone in the red percent couldn’t waste it
 waited for a text that never came





Last night I dreamed again of Sleeping
 Child Lake, snow clouds white-gray
 low above the water, red sweater, Levis,

both boots, Emma’s high socks strewn
 across the yellow boat’s ribbed floor
 the green waves rocked. Waking late

in the empty bed I rose and racing up
 the dock to jump and pull the motor’s
 rope and steer I stared down the blue

boat’s special periscope where to dive.
 Again in the spotlight’s shaft too late
 black hair swayed, white arms opened,

fading wrist flashed silver, turquoise
 bracelet, and Emma’s found child flew,
 shot straight up with bubbling contrail

as I blinked, tried to cry out, my forehead
 frozen to the visor, the brown-eyed boy
 rushing like an angry doll with raised

hands spread to clasp, choke the cruel
 father who shouted the boy wasn’t his
 and slashed Emma’s stomach’s scar I’d touched and held all night, and raving
 took him in the car to Sleeping Child.
 But this time was different, I saw

something else, dark wood color with
 a boat’s prow. A closed tight-woven
 basket burst the surface and bobbed

beside me as I heard a cry and rode
 a growing wave of joy and strange
 relief and woke laughing so happy

I wanted to run outside to shout
 the good news to the forge and anvil,
 hammer and barn owl, the sleeping


Appaloosas in the blue white-fenced
 pasture and hurry past the corral to
 the main house and wake the Carlsons

who’d been good to me and should
 be first to know. I lay a second longer
 in the small house in northern Arizona

remembering Emma Little Bear
 and wise Charles Two Hats, saw her
 new smiling face and open chestnut

eyes, her stomach smooth and never
 hurt by a husband’s drunken knife
 that stole the boy she’d never have.

I’d jump up and dress to spread
 the Word I’d never told anyone, only
 Charles and I knew. It was past time

to share our glorious Earth-shaking
 secret after I called Joyce and Tug
 in Butte and asked them to tell Hugh

Edwards at the bar in Ingot and Wes
 Blackdeer’s mother on the Cottonwood
 Reservation. Before the brilliant dream

bled sepia I breathed deep again and
 leaned back into the dark. Like Emma
 now I didn’t need to do or say anything

anymore. By morning the whole world
 would know the weeping boy who
 dreamed so long of us and cried at all

the wrong we did had wakened, dressed
 in clean deerskin, a necklace of blue
 stones, grasping the buffalo-horn rattle,

sailing home green waves Emma no longer
 feared and had to search in my repeating
 nightmare. Charles said we’re always

watching for her son to wake and rise,
 who isn’t hers and is, ours and Emma’s,
 your lost and crying Sleeping Child.

" "



" " "

Where is the Western Sahara? Try to picture it on a map in your mind’s eye. Can you see it? If not, you’re not alone. I’ve asked a lot of people this question and the closest they usually get is to be able to name the continent it’s on, Africa. However, I’ve also gotten, “Uhh…Asia, I think,” as well as, “That’s like, a desert somewhere, right?” Most people have a vague image of a dry, sandy, uninhabited landscape when they hear the words “Western Sahara,” when in fact it’s so much more than that. It is a country on the northwestern coast of Africa that has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. These people have been suffering hideous human rights abuses under Morocco’s oppressive regime since then, and I’d like to tell you their story, starting from the approximate beginning of the problem. In the late 19th century, Spain colonized the Western Sahara, since that was the ongoing fad with Europeans at the time: “Hey look, a country with brown people. They must be inferior, let’s exploit their resources, brilliant!” Eventually, about eight decades later, the United Nations realized that colonization did, in fact, infringe on the human rights of the indigenous peoples that had their land and dignity stolen. They decided it was time to form the “Special Committee on Decolonization.” Yes, super-duper special indeed. The UN asked and asked and asked Spain to give the people a free and fair vote for self-determination, but after about thirteen years of nothing happening on the diplomatic front, the Sahrawis understandably got a bit ticked off. They then formed the Frente Para la Liberación de Saguia Al Hamra y Rio de Oro, which is a bit of a mouthful so you can just call them the POLISARIO, and they kicked a little Spanish butt, guerilla style. Two years later, they were just about to get their wish to have their country 21

back again after nearly 100 years of colonization. The International Courts of Justice had heard their pleas and seen the bloodshed and they had issued a statement of the side of the Sahrawis. Enter moustache twisting villain, King Hassan II of Morocco. Hassan II decided that this moment of political upheaval, right before the government was supposed to change hands, was the perfect moment for him to march about 350,000 civilian Moroccans just a few miles over the southern border of Morocco into the Western Sahara. Of course the military was ordered not to shoot because it would have been barbaric to gun down thousands of unarmed innocents. So with no bloodshed at all, Hassan II was able to occupy two thirds of the Western Sahara in what is known as the Green March. Spain accepted the loss, legally signed the territory over to Morocco, and just like that the Sahrawis were colonized again. A month later, a bloody war started between the Moroccans and the POLISARIO. It would last sixteen years before there was finally a cease fire. Just because there is no more active bloodshed does not mean the suffering has ended. Many Sahrawis ran to the Algerian desert to escape the war and to start new and peaceful lives. About 160,000 of them are still there, living in multiple refugee camps to this day. They will have been living there for 38 years this coming May. They are never allowed to visit their former homes in their occupied country because of continued political tension. The leadership of both the Moroccan government and the POLISARIO prefer that people stay on the side of the border they are already on. Since the Sahrawis ran in desperation from the occupied territory thirty eight years ago, they have not seen their spouses, children, cousins, and friends that were left behind. They ran with only what they could carry on their backs and in their hands, many without the chance to even say goodbye, for fear of dying in the Moroccan bombings. That means that a generation of children has grown up never having seen their rightful home except in pictures and stories. There is another generation of children being born now who will grow up the same way. There is added danger for anyone traveling across or alongside the border because of leftovers from the 16-year-long war. There is a wall made of sand called a berm that stretches the entire border between the occupied Western Sahara and the land of the free Sahrawis in the desert. That berm is surrounded with at least 38 known minefields from the military conflict, and they pose an enormous, lethal threat to any who try to cross the border into Moroccan-occupied territory. The mines have and continue to kill and maim plenty of people who weren’t even trying to cross over, such as nomads tending their livestock and small children who were interested in the shiny metal they saw in the sand. For all the bloodshed and oppression these people have faced, they are enormously hopeful that they will one day go home and that they will have the right to self-determination. I have been privileged to be part of numerous group conversations via Skype between human rights students at my alma mater, Adelphi University, and film students from the Escuela de Cine Efa Abidin, which is in one of the desert refugee camps. We have shared music, drawings, personal stories, short films, and a great deal of inspiration with each other. The stereotypes of tribal, fundamentalist Muslim culture do not exist among the free Sahrawis who live in the refugee camps. Yes, they’re Muslim and they speak Hassaniya, which is an ancient dialect of Arabic, but they are not an oppressive people. They are a matriarchal culture in which women are totally emancipated. Women have positions of high esteem within


their government. Their education is phenomenal; the literacy rate is at almost 100 percent. Women and men often speak multiple languages, play music, write poetry, and create art. However, for all of their fantastic culture, they have almost no economy because there are no real careers to be had in a refugee camp. The desert is a hostile place without water or agricultural resources. The refugees are forced to live almost entirely off of food donated by other countries. They need to have access to the rich fishing waters along the coast of their country and the fertile ground for growing crops. Instead, they must live in the desert. The refugee camps have been standing for almost four decades at this point, so the idea of sprawling nomadic-style tents that I had in mind when I first imagined them is no longer the case. There are five permanent camps spread across the desert. Four refugee camps, as well as one other administrative camp for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’s government, are grouped in a cluster around the vicinity of Tindouf, Algeria, within about an hour’s drive of the city. The fifth refugee camp is quite far off from the others, about 100 miles to the southeast. They are almost like miniature cities with houses, schools, and small markets. They are mostly constructed with bricks made from sand. Many non-governmental organizations are interested in the welfare of the people there, so items besides food, such as books and computers, get donated to the camps for educational use. One of the camps is particularly close to Tindouf, Algeria and they actually get internet and electricity from the city; however, both connections are extremely unreliable. The proximity to the city is also good for those who wish to work, since there are very few jobs besides teaching and health care work available in the camps.There still isn’t even much work for the refugees who do venture into the city. There is a system of “credit” that the refugees use to purchase food and other items from each other because there is so little actual currency in circulation. The lives of those on the other side of the berm under Moroccan occupation are horrific. Those who protest their oppression vocally, or do so quietly by wearing the Sahrawi colors or flying the Sahrawi flag are subject to arrest, brutal beatings, and being spirited away to prison for years of torture with no visitation, and sometimes even death. The families of those who have been “disappeared” often have no idea where their relatives are or what crime they have been charged with. No Sahrawi is allowed to share his or her story with journalists, and journalists suspected of reporting on the Moroccan occupation are detained. Morocco has effectively censored this situation from most major media sources. People in power who do know about this conflict, such as the governments of France and the United States, are a huge hindrance to Sahrawi freedom because they are terrified of losing Morocco as an ally. Our government is willing to support Morocco, in turn allowing thousands and thousands of people to suffer illegally, so they don’t step on any diplomatic toes. The UN has also been vastly ineffective as well. The Sahrawis are desperate to share their story. The students that I met made me promise I would spread the word, so here it is. I beg you to do more research about this. This essay is the tiniest tip of the iceberg and I would have to write a book to cover the entire conflict, maybe several books. There are loads of websites out there that have a wealth of facts, and there is an excellent movie by Javier Bardem called Sons of the Clouds that I challenge you to watch. In fact, if you have Netflix, you really have no excuse; it’s on instant watch. Knowledge is power, so go out and get some, and then use it to stand up for human rights.

" "




All of the trains rumble towards the water.
 We’re going treasure hunting,
 I’d told you.
 Wear snow boots.
 You laughed, kind of, up high in your throat.

And when I get to the platform, you're already waiting,
 hands jammed into your pockets, knit cap pulled down tight around your ears,
 studying the concrete.

The train creeps past the skeletal carnival city,
 arthritic tracks groaning under our weight.
 We lurch past quiet roller coasters and then tumble out into the sunshine.
 The boardwalk creaks and crunches beneath our shoes
 as we stride towards the wind-whipped shoreline.

You retreat into the collar of your coat, blinded by the chapping breeze.
 That’s no way to look for treasure!
 I wade towards an inlet
 And pluck shells from the surf, heavy with jagged shards of ice.

I hold one to my ear, and laugh
 I can hear the city!
 My teeth are briny, salt-stained from smiling into the wind,
 bare hands red and numb from plunging fingers into the cold sand
 again and again.

I shout to you to catalogue the bounty.
 A speckled crab shell!
 A pincher, with the tendon still attached!
 Silver-bellied clams!
 Driftwood as smooth as boiled bones.

Cold waves lash the shore,
 and maybe they drown me out.
 You don't turn around.
 Here, I call, hold them.

And you sigh and shove out a mittened hand, floppy and clumsy,
 and suddenly, I am sure that if I let you hold the shells, they’ll shatter.
 You aren’t looking at the marbled, scalloped edges, or the crab’s claw.
 You squint at something I can’t see,
 and I want to grab your wind-blistered cheeks and yell,

Listen, look, this is everything.
 I stoop and scoop and take inventory, and you walk on ahead,

until you are at the end of the peninsula.

I watch your back, so straight and still,
 in case you slip or topple off the end of the world.

It’s almost sunset, I call.
 In the distance, the sky is flecked with constellations of con trails, like suspended
 and my words hang in the icy air between us.
 You are hungry and cold,
 and scale the dunes and drifts and retreat like the tide.

I stay behind, watching the tangerine sun slink
 beneath the horizon and melt the sky into creamy sherbet puddles.
 And when it's over, I sidestep your footprints
 and wonder when you’ll be warm and full.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "


 Sara Jones We moved to Chicago in the dead of winter; cold, barren, and lonely. And we started looking for a home, our home, our first home together. We were not picky; we looked at beautiful studios and tiny hole in the wall joints. We looked all over Chicago, from Logan Square to Lakeview to Wicker Park. And every door just kept closing, unanswered emails, voicemails unreturned; no matter what we brought to the table, we couldn’t seem to sign a lease. We went from excited to desperate, looking for any glimmer of a dotted line to sign and finally a place to call our own. We signed for the apartment on Lunt on a Monday and moved in on a Wednesday. We didn’t have a stick of furniture, just some boxes and an air mattress. But at the end of our street, right past the turn around, lay the Lake of Michigan. Water spread out across the horizon like an ocean, beachfront property. It wasn’t a beach at the moment; it was frozen tundra, forlorn and icy. No children with their sand castles or bronzing college students or moms toting sunscreen. It was no man’s land now. Every morning I would come out my door and look down past the end of our little street and see the grey waters washing up on the icy shore, with the little fence reminiscent of Chesapeake Bay, and I would be still for a moment. Somehow we had ended up in a little bit of paradise. Every day as I parked the car to go home, I would peer over the steering wheel into the great grey beyond to take in the sight. I was in awe - speechless, breathless awe; awe of what was coming and what we had right now. Enjoying each step along the way to golden warm sands and blue water. One night I even trekked out to the water’s edge, across the hills and valleys of slippery ice and frost. I stood there, freezing in the fierce wind and spray from the tide, unable to imagine how a few short months would transform this landscape into a summer destination. See, I had grown up near the Gulf of Mexico, where summers were spent eating sandy hot dogs, soothing constant sunburns, and splashing through the muddy brown waters. We would go a couple times every summer and I can still remember the smell of salt that would signal our imminent arrival. Those trips were the very highlight of my year; we didn’t really take vacations anywhere else. As an adult, I still long for that smell, for the faint taste of salt in the wind that speaks of carefree sunny days with no agenda except saltwater soaked adventures. I can’t recall which morning I awoke to find a magnificent beach spread out at the end of street. I can remember jogging along the deserted pathway that separated the grassy lawn from thawed sands for many mornings, though. The waters turned a delicious blue and the sands tan long before the weather began to warm. But slowly it did warm and people began to trickle onto our little piece of heaven. Now it’s a hot commodity; sometimes finding a little spot to toss your towel can be a challenge. We think of hope as something reaching, holding out, a daring, desperate waiting for the dawn in the midst of the night. We reach for something better, for something to change, against all that we know and see, against all odds and every bit of reality. But maybe hope is gentle too. Maybe it’s subtle and glimmering and it can be satisfied without you realizing, 26

‘cause you have chosen to find beauty and worth with the state of things are they are. Not that you are content with grey, ice reality around you, but that you learn to appreciate it as you wait for the sun to break through. Like the beach, our house was full of dreams and anticipation. I had never lived with a partner before. I had had roommates my whole life, but this would be the first time I’d be sharing my space with the person who was sharing my heart. I was so full of anticipation, not of how everything would work, but of the moments. The little moments like coffee in bed on Saturday morning with nowhere to go. Breakfast at our table over the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Discussing all of the current events that mattered and what we planned to do about them. The snuggling on the couch after a long day. Coming home to a familiar face, to familiar arms. All I had was moments. Moments that I had been dreaming about since I had dared to believe that I could spend my life with the person of my choosing. I had been told my whole life that I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t spend my life with the woman I loved because I wasn’t supposed to love a woman. Until somewhere in my 20s, until I finally made space for myself to have that. See, I am a moments person. And I looked for those moments and I dreamed of those moments. And that’s what filled that space of our apartment, in the dead of winter in Chicago: dreams and anticipations. Have you ever done that? Have you ever moved in with a partner for the first time? Gotten rid of half your stuff and packed up the rest, and lugged that onto an airplane and flew halfway across the country in the dead of winter, where you didn’t know any soul except the one soul that you loved? Lived in a hotel for what seemed like forever until finally you jiggled your keys in the locks for the first time and you moved in? That’s what we did. With hopes and dreams, but not a lot else. And so we started slowly because neither one of us had any idea what we were doing. We didn’t know what this was supposed to look like. We only knew that we loved each other. And so slowly couches and desks and a bed emerged. A few months later, even a dining room table. And dishes and silverware and pans and sheets and hangers and shoe racks. All the little things that make a house a home. Painstakingly, we chose our wall art and where to hang it. And slowly it began to happen. Slowly the emptiness began to fill. Slowly we found routines. And some of those routines came the hard way. Some of those things came from doing it wrong and upsetting each other and hurting each other. But like the ice on the beach thawed, and like our empty apartment slowly became our home, we found our rhythm. We had our personal rhythms, but we had to learn what our rhythm looked like. A new rhythm with four feet instead of two. We found our ebb and flow. It was different than I expected. It wasn’t like all of those moments I had in my head and my heart. Some of them were. Some of it was more beautiful. Some of it was more real. Sometimes that was more beautiful. And as the sun beat down on the beach, golden sand and blue water, we built a home together. We figured out her and me.

" "




Last week on the dunes at Carolina Beach
 I found a bird's wing in a clump of sea grass.

I was still in Seattle when Lance died,
 got home and found a crow on my porch.

When the crow flew at my screen door
 I asked what it wanted.

When Lance enlisted,
 I told him it’s your funeral.

When the crow cawed a reply I said sorry,
 I don't understand, there’s nothing I can do.

I took the beached wing home with me, turned the bones
 into a wind-chime to hang by my window.

My wind-chime never makes noise,
 but on gusty days it spins around beautifully.

In Seattle I called a friend to tell them about a bird I saw
 flying against a building repeatedly, they told me I was crazy.

That crow stayed on my porch all night
 as I sat in the kitchen, drinking Lance goodbye.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "


WIND-UP Andrew Davis


I’m like one of those toys that need their key wound. It’s how I live like the rest.
 Karen said, I can’t turn it.
 Of course you can, I said. You did it yesterday. I squirmed like a bug.
 Its handle cuts me, she said.
 I know, sweetheart. But I need you to try harder. Or else I’ll get stuck.
 She grunted as she simultaneously pushed and pulled. I encouraged her and told her I needed her. She made progress. I felt my gears turn: pressure built, bands tightened, springs coiled. Soon I would move with the fluidity I obsessed over. The crusted oil in my joints would flake away.
 But she stopped. You’re lying. You don’t need me. You just need someone. Anyone will do.
 This isn’t the time. Can’t this wait, I said.
 I could feel her eyes roll. She took motion for granted. I was jealous.
 Someone will eventually find you, she said. Wind you up like I do.
 I could hear her drumming her fingers on my key. But I want you, I said. My bottom jaw loosened. I drooled on myself.
 She laughed. Do you? She yanked the key out of my back. My jaw loosened more. The muscles in my back began to snap the teeth off my gears. Yes, I tried to say.
 Speak up, Billy. She came around, so I could see everything I didn’t know. She had chopped off her blonde hair. It was dark purple now.
 What did you do? I tried to say.
 Speak up, Billy.
 Look, I grunted.
 She threw the key across our apartment and grabbed my hands, jerked them around, ran them down her body until the machinery inside me—starved for power—crackled and snapped and pulled under my skin. This is a waste of time, she said. You’re a waste.
 She let me go. Speak up, Billy. She walked to the door. I had frozen in a way that said it all.
 She pointed to where the key was. If you want it, Billy, then you get it. You, stick it in your back. You, turn it. I felt her watching, waiting for me. Was the key actually where she had pointed? I couldn't know. Scars were what I knew, all over her hands. She opened the door with one of them and she closed it with the other. My vision got blurry, then dark. I listened to her footsteps until they disappeared. Was she really gone? Or was I gone? I feared scavengers were coming to pick me apart, but I couldn’t know. I could only know the shadows I imagined.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " "




In a generation where “watch a movie”
 is code for “bury my bones in your worst intentions,”
 a place is reserved for those who will, and those who maybe
 possibly could. A hand amongst the bubbling stormy 
 skies of trepidation shall place a bouquet of roses 
 next to a hypothetical choke-you-to-death. All foresight 
 is irrelevant. The hand cannot hold the future. All thought
 is useless. There is only this ungodly mess called a body. 
 There I am, somewhere in between. Rubbing your shoulders,
 like a good lover would. Placing all emphasis on an apparition,
 a hand that slips away faster than I know where it is going.

In a generation where “feeling lazy tonight”
 is code for “would rather be covered in undiscovered flesh,”
 there is no room on the mass highway of intermingled youth
 for a driver so anhedonic. How I want to want
 to treat the city like an orchard. Picking the ripest
 fruit, clenching down for merely a bite of each, until the lot
 has become rotten and bruised. How I want to want the lot.
 There I am, more in your body than my own. I have lost
 all feeling in the irrational need to give the feeling
 a name. The body begs, “stay, stay like this.” But I am gone.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "




We’d smoked half the pack of Luckies Jerry had stolen from the supermarket. Outside the summer air smelled of pine and hickory, but in the hideout the smoke hung in a greasy haze. We had just discovered this odd structure, half above, half underground, a rain shelter built by older kids to conceal and focus their sleazy passions. A litter of semi-pornographic magazines covered the dirt floor. Cigarette burn-holes scarred the semi-naked women, and three empty beer cans, crushed against some bony forehead, lounged in a corner. Jerry’s older brother probably belonged to the gang of high-school punks that had dug this shallow hole and boarded it over, but Jerry knew better than to tell him we’d found his hideaway. “Hey. Geez. What’s that?” Brian peered from the scrap lumber doorway.
 Jerry and I crouched beside him and stared into the woods. Light and leaf-shade quivered in the hot August breeze. I didn’t exactly see, but I vaguely sensed something watching us. “What is it?” I asked Brian.
 “Something’s watching us. Something creepy.” Jerry and I crawled out of the dugout. “Hey, you!” Jerry shouted. Nothing but the breeze stirred. Yet something was really there. We all knew it. We crawled back inside.
 “Hey creep! Pervert! Molester!” I yelled through the doorway without showing my face. But we knew that what was watching us wasn’t any molester, wasn’t some tough high school kid, wasn’t a deer or bear. It was a ghost. Nothing else on this planet looked so vague and smoky and hard to define. Ghosts were plentiful in the Powder Hollow, a deep trough in the Connecticut Valley in Hazardville, Connecticut. Thanks to Colonel Augustus Hazard, its founding industrial baron, Hazardville for many years was literally a hazardous place to live, named with deliberate or unconscious irony for a man who brought danger, jobs, and years of risky prosperity. 
 At Hazardville, the Scantic River stumbles over a dozen burly sandstone ledges. Along this source of waterpower, Colonel Hazard built a series of black powder mills compounding sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter into explosives. The Hazard Powder Works had at one time more than a hundred buildings sprawled beside the river. Fierce and frequent explosions had rocked the village. By the time Brian, Jerry and I met our first ghost, nothing remained of the powder works but debris-filled canals, odd jumbles of brickwork, four or five small brick office or storage buildings, and a large red wooden barn later used for square dancing. People fished and swam in the river and skated on the remains of the old millponds. Although more than 60 people had died in mill explosions, no one thought of this rugged, woodsy ravine as a graveyard.
 Amid the birdsong, the wildflowers growing in the ruins, the frogs and turtles thriving in the ponds and river, ghosts abounded. My friends and I knew they flourished around us, even in the bright summer sunlight, and that we walked right through them when we poked around in the ruins of the mills or walked down the channels of the dry canals. But until that hot afternoon in the dugout, we hadn’t actually seen one. The three of us that summer were ten years old, and although convinced that ghosts were everywhere, we weren’t sure anyone could see them, except in the pages of the gory comic books we loved.
 Before school opened, we visited the dugout three or four more times, and the ghost followed us. We knew it followed us; it didn’t just hang around the dugout but trailed us back to Brian’s house and lingered in the yard before disappearing, fading in the summer light. We weren’t especially afraid of it. Since we couldn’t see it clearly, and since it wasn’t hideous, mangled, bloody, or warped, we didn’t take it too seriously. We told a couple of other kids about it, but they laughed and told us there was no such thing as ghosts. Brian got so mad he 31

tried to pick a fight, but the others just walked away sneering.
 The following summer, the hermit hanged himself. The hermit had a shack and two acres of potatoes deep in the woods, a mile from the dugout, off a rutted dirt road too rough for anything but a Jeep. No one ever went there except us kids. Brian, Jerry, and I had often passed the hermit’s shack the summer we found the dugout,. Sometimes he was out hoeing his potato field and we’d wave to him. He waved back but never spoke to us.
 One day at supper my father said, “Don’t want to spoil anybody’s appetite, but old Henry’s killed himself. I don’t know who found him, but Arbie told me he’d been gone awhile.” Arbie, our constable, was a sworn enemy of every kid in town. He gossiped about everything, and loved spreading grim news.
 “Too bad,” my mother said. “He was nice enough before he went off by himself. I haven’t seen him in years.”
 “Who’s old Henry?” I asked.
 “You wouldn’t know him. Before your time. He had a shack way in the woods and grew potatoes. He never came to town.” My father didn’t know how deeply we’d explored the woods, and was always warning me to keep away from the river, so I kept quiet.
 One steamy July afternoon, the three of us were crossing Henry’s weedy, unplanted potato field. We planned to search Henry’s abandoned shack and loot whatever we could, though we didn’t expect much. As we approached the gray, weathered building, I saw something sway in the doorway. Squinting against the bright sunlight, I thought for a moment someone with a weird sense of humor had hung a scarecrow in the doorway. The thing swung on its rope and offered a ruddy grimace. It was Henry, eyes wide open and twisted leer drooling. Every muscle in my body froze. I couldn’t speak, and if Brian hadn’t screamed I would probably still be there, a skeleton half-buried in the dust of the abandoned potato field.
 We ran. We ran hard and seriously as far as we could, then fell panting into the leaves. “It looked at me. It looked right at me!” Brian was weeping.
 “It knows us,” Jerry said. “It knows where we live and it’s coming after us right now.”
 “It can’t be real. It has to be a joke. Somebody made it and hung it there to scare us,” I said, though I knew I was wrong. It wasn’t a dummy, or flimsy scarecrow flung together from old rags. It didn’t look ghostly, either, but solid and heavy, as if Henry’s corpse had exhumed itself.
 “Wanna go back and look? Go ahead,” Brian said.
 We didn’t go back that day, but a week later we crept up to the shack from the other side and, after much daring of each other, peered through the back window. Nothing. We walked boldly around to the open door and walked in. And then backed out in a hurry. Looking through the doorway from a few feet outside, we could see the place had been trashed. Older kids had been there and taken whatever there was of value. But Henry’s ghost still lurked there. Although we couldn’t see it anymore, we knew it was watching us, thinking about us, maybe wondering who we were and whether we’d someday hang ourselves, too.
 The last of our ghosts disappointed us. Brian’s family house abutted the woods near the river. A path cut directly to the steep river bank where the Scantic rapids tumbled over sandstone ledges. We often went there on long autumn evenings to skip stones and watch the moonlit white foam curdle down the rapids.
 One night we wandered through Brian’s yard down the path to the river. A thick layer of stars encrusted the moonless sky. The path was so dark we kept bumping into each other. We sat on the riverbank a while, talking about girls and the things they supposedly did with older guys. We found the stories we’d heard hard to believe, though we knew that sex, in theory, was required of the human race. Still, it was hard to believe that the snooty girls we knew would ever do that.

“Mindy would,” Jerry claimed.
 “Sure, but she’s a skag. And she never takes a bath,” Brian retorted.
 “You been watching to make sure?” I asked.
 Before Brian could respond, the bushes behind him began shaking. We stood and gaped as a hideous white face floated out of the sumac and drifted toward us, moaning. For a moment we couldn’t find the path and raced in little clockwise circles, screaming. Then Jerry surged up the bank and Brian and I followed. We stumbled and clawed along the rough ground, finally bursting into Brian’s back yard like three corks from one bottle.
 “Geez, that was awful. Oh God,” Jerry groaned.
 “Those dumb kids ranking on us. We know for sure ghosts are real. No matter what anybody says,” Brian said.
 “Yep. Real,” I agreed. “Let’s sneak back and see what it’s doing.”
 “Not me,” Jerry said.
 “Chicken!” Brian and I yelled at once. The ghost had startled us, but we were too close to home to stay frightened for long. The three of us, Jerry in the rear, crept on all fours down the path. We had only gone about thirty feet when we heard the moaning, followed by a gross and unmistakable sound.
 “The ghost is puking!” Brian said. “Ghosts don’t puke, do they?”
 “Don’t think so,” I said. We crept a little further and observed the hunched-over figure of Buster White, the homeless town drunk, coughing up the last of his night’s snootful of Thunderbird.
 That winter Brian moved away, and Jerry and I weren’t friends anymore. Entering high school, we no longer thought much about ghosts, and the loss of that interest separated us, as though that childish faith had been all we had in common. Yet recently I climbed the bluff to find the dugout I hadn’t seen in forty years. There it was, right where we’d left it, the roof collapsed, the lumber rotted almost to oblivion, the pornographic magazines buried under a tangle of weeds. A sour reek of something dead rose from the mess. For a moment I stood looking into the shallow hole, and then felt something watching me. When I turned and caught a glimpse of the ghost, light and shade flickering, formless and poised, I was glad to believe in it again.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "


 Shane Chergosky

My housemate is cutting up
 squash for an omelet.

All I can see is the blade
 rock over his finger

above the first knuckle, the nub
 rolling off the cutting board,

blood all over the counter top
 and my shirt—both robin’s egg blue.

It’s cold in here. I step out onto the patio,
 think about cancer and vitamins.

There’s grapefruit scattered
 in the backyard and I turn each one over,

finding rind after rind voided
 and stinking beneath the tree.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "




On November 22, 1963, at approximately 12:30 pm central time, the President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was killed by an assassin in Dallas, Texas.

Without doing a shred of research, it’s fair to say that 99.9% of adults with a basic knowledge of American history accept this fact as true. Many of us, myself included, were not alive at the time of the Kennedy assassination, nor have I ever met an eyewitness to the assassination (I would have a lot of questions). The number of people who did not see President Kennedy assassinated is far greater than the number of people who witnessed the event firsthand. Nevertheless, we accept that it occurred. In other words, we are not living in the Matrix.

(If you believe that we are living in the Matrix, this essay might not be for you.)

It’s not surprising that Kennedy is such a popular subject for scholars and storytellers alike. He was a young, attractive, powerful man with a beautiful wife and children. And he was shot and killed; his legacy as a man and politician remains forever unfinished. This horrible event demands an explanation, and fifty years later, it is unlikely we'll ever get a satisfactory one. Of course, there is an official explanation, but to many, that raises more questions.

Conspiracy theories spread almost immediately after the events took place. As a history enthusiast, they are fascinating to read about. Various nefarious characters and attentionseekers have claimed involvement over the years, though none have sufficient evidence. I am especially intrigued, though thoroughly unconvinced, by the theory that claims the president was wounded once by Oswald, then wounded a second time by a panicked Secret Service agent reaching for his firearm and mistakenly pulling the trigger.

Do you find any of this plausible? Welcome to your new world as a conspiracy theorist. It’s harmless, really. After all, a bit of skepticism is a good thing. And you’re not alone. Polls have indicated as many as 75% of Americans believe Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone, and 95% of Kennedy Assassination literature is pro-conspiracy. Undoubtedly, this curiosity is a good thing. Our history doesn't just belong to those who write about it. It's good to want to know the how and why, and not just the what.

The number of easily accessible conspiracy theories is seemingly endless. Do a small amount of digging on the internet and you’ll find alternate explanations for nearly every major event in world history. Every assassination in American history has seen its share of alternate explanations, including the attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981. (There are some very strange coincidences there.) There are people who believe that Paul McCartney was killed in the 1960’s and replaced with a duplicate and that the failure of “New Coke” in the 1980’s was a publicity stunt developed to increase demand for Coca-Cola. There are people who believe there is a secret government bunker in the Denver airport, and others who believe said bunker houses an entire shadow government. Aliens, symbolism on currency, men in black suits, you name it.

In his TED Talk, “The tribes we lead,” Seth Godin said, “The internet was supposed to homogenize everyone by connecting us all. Instead what it's allowed is silos of interest. . . . People on the fringes can find each other, connect and go somewhere.”


There is great value in finding a group of people with a shared passion. For some of us, it was the only way to get through high school. Finding fellow enthusiasts of new-age baseball statistics or Settlers of Catan or The Doors is a good thing. The internet is an incredibly useful tool in that regard, so it's a perfect home for conspiracy theorists to share their passion and engage in debate.

But too much conspiracy theorizing can be a bad thing. At a press conference hours after the Boston Marathon bombing, government and law enforcement officials were asked if they believed the tragic event was a “false flag,” or staged incident. The victims had yet to be identified, and yet some were already discrediting their mere existence. A former state legislator from New Hampshire, who was still in office at the time, went on record saying she didn’t believe the bombing actually happened. The only proof that would convince her otherwise? She requested to meet some of the victims so she could discern whether they were actors. Somehow I doubt even a face to face visit would convince her.

This false flag phenomenon is an old one, but it’s become more noticeable in recent years. In my estimation, it’s a particularly dangerous accusation to make. Anytime there are victims of a horrific and unspeakable act, there exist a handful of “deniers” who refuse to believe such an event occurred. Imagine having lost a loved one and now being forced to deal with that. It’s shameful.

What’s more, it’s not really a debate if both sides are in agreement. If I believe tacos are the most delicious food, and you believe tacos are also the most delicious food, any discussion we have about tacos will be well-informed, but ultimately won’t be substantive. And if I only talk to other people who love tacos, I’m going to be increasingly reluctant to ever eat sushi. So when a group of people discuss a conspiracy, and refuse to accept the possibility of anything other than a conspiracy, to them it becomes fact. The official story? That’s a lie. Proof of the official story? That’s been fabricated. President Obama’s birth certificate? Falsified.

The dirty little secret, though, is that these “Truthers” don’t actually want to know the truth, unless it aligns with their story. The Truthers will tell us that the “official story” is what the people in power want us to believe. They point to actual cover-ups. They bemoan the Big Lie and believe in a New World Order, or in reptilian aliens disguised as celebrities and politicians trying to enslave us all, and that tragedies such as the Marathon Bombing were staged events designed to scare the public.There’s even a theory that President Kennedy, weary of his life as a public figure, orchestrated a faux assassination and lived a quiet life in seclusion (probably down the street from Tupac and Elvis). The 0.1% that believe this have no interest in being dissuaded. This is a dangerous way of thinking, if for no other reason than it destroys the credibility of actual whistleblowers.

Skepticism can be a good thing. And the desire to learn more about events in our past is critical, as our collective attention span seems to grow shorter by the minute. At the same time, it’s important not to immediately dismiss any official story as nothing more than a piece in the grand deception of the masses. Why? Because there are actual documented cases of proven conspiracies. Parts of our history which were once rumor are now fact. The Earth isn't flat, it's not hollow, but Richard Nixon did spy on his presidential opponents. And the Manhattan Project actually happened. So assuming everything is a lie is harmful to those actually seeking the truth. Completely dismissing the official story is just as damaging as completely buying it.

So where is the line? To borrow from Justice Potter Stewart, you should know it when you see it. Of course there aren’t shape-shifting lizard people secretly trying to enslave us. (I mean, don’t you think they would have by now?) Is it possible that the President forged his birth certificate? Sure, it’s possible. But we’ve seen insurmountable evidence that proves he didn’t.

As for JFK, the Holy Grail of conspiracy theories? Maybe we’re collectively grasping at straws. In 2014, it’s incomprehensible to think that something like this could happen to an American president. In 2014, presidential protection is so meticulous, so well prepared, that the idea that one lunatic in the window of his own place of work could commit such an act and not tell a soul is incomprehensible. Maybe there is more to the story that will someday be revealed. But maybe the public, by and large, believes in a conspiracy because the idea that the official story is also the accurate story is too simple. We think there is more to the story because there just has to be more. Each new theory whets our appetite for the truth we desperately need.

And is it implausible to think that there might be secret bunkers around the country, built in the event of a military catastrophe? Doesn’t sound too crazy, especially considering a Congressional fallout shelter (now decommissioned) was once built in West Virginia, hidden in plain sight at a fully functional country club. It operated as a secret government location for nearly 50 years.

And then there’s this:

In the fall of 2011, a comet called Elenin was projected to pass nearer to Earth than any previously recorded comet. Some were fearful of a catastrophic event. And when the comet passed closest to Earth, who happened to be in Denver, Colorado?

President Obama.

I’ll let you decide what that means.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "



" " " " " " " " " 38

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "


It's 1:30 AM. I'm sitting on the toilet, regretting that chilli wrap. My work is done, I'm off for the weekend, but home is cold. I look to the clock sitting on top of the mirror, dusted in a light falling of talcum powder like everything else. It's got a neat little thermometer built in: big numbers. It says ten with a tiny ‘c’ beside it. That's because I used the heating oil for downstairs. Warm the room you live in, they say. But what about when you have to go for a crap and your knees are turning blue because you've been sitting there shivering for five minutes?
 You turn to that holy grail of moderately cheap heating, that's what you do. You turn on your wall-mounted fan heater, no bigger than a Bible. It's just above the loo. I can feel a drift of warmth on my shoulder and it's good. The thermo-clock says twelve now. Ten minutes have passed. So, for every ten minutes, I get two little c's of warmth. I know that in the summer when it’s warm enough to dance nude in here, it usually reads twenty. That means I've gotta wait… something like...
 I hate math. I give up on working it out and instead pull off a reel of thin loo-roll, five pieces long. I grumble something about Neanderthals using leaves, then cut down my selection to two pieces, daydreaming about three-ply, velvet soft, absorbent, luxury toilet paper. But The Wipe cometh. Wiping is boring. It passes another few minutes and my chill parlour has imbibed another few centigrade, so all is not in vain.
 Now, with butt clean and toes numbing, I face that dilemma which has haunted procrastinators for centuries: do I fumble off all clothing and jump into the shower in a rush of foolhardy bravery, or do I peel off the woolliest items of protection first, whimpering as I approach the mouldy faucet?

I pull one sock off, then the other. I roll my trousers down my goose-bumped calves and throw them in the corner. For the first time in a long time, I remove my backside from the now toasty toilet seat, leaving behind such vital body heat as I stand, arms clenched about me. Damn you, cruel world - it's 2 AM. I'm only now removing my jumper and bra. But lo! What joy is this as I look to the clock again? Apparently we are at summer's heat. It does not feel that way and so the thermo-clock is immediately discredited and will never again be consulted for accurate measurements. Let that be a lesson to all thermo-clock youths.
 A hop and swear get me over to the bath, where a bargain-buy shower head has been attached by way of a suspiciously skin-coloured rubber tube to the bath tap. State of the art, ma’am. Only takes fifteen minutes to heat up, ma’am. Why not stand under the icy waters of Niagara whilst you wait, ma’am!
 It's lukewarm, barely bringing a blush to my skin. Though I'm pretty sure I enter the first stages of hypothermia on a nightly basis because of this jolly conservative idea of a routine, I wash and try not to let the air get to me. Stiff upper lip. It will have to do. It does for so many.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "


" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " 41

Editorial Staff

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jordan Rizzieri (Long Island, NY) is a 26-year-old caregiver and writer. After graduating from SUNY Fredonia with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and a minor in English, she spent over a year in Buffalo, NY honing her playwriting skills. In 2011 she saw the staging of her first full-length play, The Reunion Cycle, as part of the Buffalo Infringement Festival. Upon her return to Long Island, she began blogging about being a young adult caring for her ailing mother, as well as publishing essays on the topic. As she prepares to return to the work force, Jordan spends the evening hours writing, watching WWE wrestling with her boyfriend and listening to spooky podcasts. On the weekends she drinks a lot of craft beer, listens to the radio and has arguments with her boyfriend's cats (which she almost always loses.) Feel free to contact her with questions about flannel, grunge, The Twilight Zone and the proper spelling of braciola .


FICTION EDITOR Kay Kerimian (Buffalo, NY), just freshly turned 25, has gone from Long Island native & bagel aficionado to hippie-dippie Hudson Valley student before ultimately taking a chance on The Queen City as a professional go-getter. Holding degrees in Performance & Gender Studies while carefully considering a literary escape route, Kay currently resides in Western New York with her partner in crime; the two share plans to explore the great unknown together by this time next year. After hastily publishing a small collection of short stories independently at the ripe old age of 17, Kay quietly abandoned her lifelong ambition of becoming a celebrated writer for an equally quixotic career in the performing arts while adopting a new name. When not on stage or on a proverbial soap box, Kay spends her free time reading (a lot), traveling (as much as possible on an artist's income), & thinking up the next big project (currently attempting to try something new every day for a year). She prefers using lower-case, enjoys coffee, whiskey, & sweets (respectively & in no particular order), & pines for never-ending libraries. Always interested in a dialogue, Kay welcomes discussions involving disability awareness, heteronormativity, & hypothetical super powers.


NON-FICTION EDITOR Jennifer Lombardo (Buffalo, NY) is 25 years old and works full time at a hotel in order to support her travel habit. She graduated from the University at Buffalo with a B.A. in English in the hope of becoming an editor. When she isn't making room reservations for people, she reads, cross-stitches and goes adventuring with her friends. She is especially passionate about AmeriCorps,Doctor Who and the great outdoors. Ask her any question about grammar, but don't count on her to do math correctly.

POETRY EDITOR Bee Walsh (Brooklyn, NY) is a 24-year-old New York native living in Bed-Stuy. She graduated from SUNY Fredonia in 2010 with a B.A. in English Literature and a B.S. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Reciting her two majors and two minors all in one breath was a joke she told at parties. The English Department played a cruel trick on her and pioneered a Creative Writing track her final year, but she charmed her way into the Publishing course and became Poetry Editor for the school’s literary magazine, The Trident. Bee has spent the past three years trying different cities on for size and scoffing at people in each of them who ask her about her "career goals." An Executive Assistant in publishing by day, you can find her most nights stage managing non-profit theatre, eating vegan sushi in the West Village or causing mischief on roofs with her boyfriend, Brian. Run into her on the subway, and she'll be nose deep in a book. She holds deep feelings about politics, poise, and permutations. Eagerly awaiting winter weather and warm jackets, she’d love to talk to you about fourth-wave feminism, the tattoo of the vagina on her finger, or the Oxford comma.




Tom Loughlin is Chair of Theatre and Dance at the State University of NY at Fredonia. He also works professionally as an actor in the city of Buffalo, NY. He has written extensively on the state of American theatre and theatre education at www.apoorplayer.net. He currently keeps an irregular blog. Other social media outlets include Twitter (@apoorplayer) and Tumblr. He is not on Facebook.


Dalton Day lives in the mountain of North Carolina. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hypothetical, Former People, and Cap, among others. He can be found on Tumblr.


In addition to past issues of The Rain, Party and Disaster Society (rock on), Krista Genevieve Farris' poetry, stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the Tribeca Poetry Review, The Piedmont Virginian, Albion Review, and Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. She received a BA in English and Anthropology/Sociology from Albion College and a Master's Degree in Cultural Anthropology and Social Change from Indiana University. She was born in the Detroit area, was raised a Hoosier, traveled a bit, worked a lot, and now writes from her perch at the top of Virginia in Winchester. If you'd like to know more, Krista's Spotlight can be found at the RP&D Tumblr Artist Spotlight.


Erren Geraud Kelly is a work in progress who is constantly seeking new adventures. His work has been featured in Similar Peaks, Drunk Monkeys, Toasted Cheese, Landfall, Red Fez Review and other publications in print and online. He is the author of the chapbook, "Disturbing The Peace" on Night Ballet Press. Kelly received his B.A. English Creative Writing Degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.


Emily Corwin works as a graduate assistant at Miami University in Ohio, teaching first year composition and literature. Most recently, she’s been published in Neat Literary Magazine, Lipstick Party Magazine, and Bluestem Magazine. For the near future, she looks forward to warmer weather, getting started on her thesis project, and co-authoring a book as part of an upcoming research assistantship at Miami.


Amanda Marie Rogers spends most of her time working in publishing and acting out (i.e. she’s pursuing a career in acting). She is a contributor to New York States of Mind Magazine and the Social Media Manager for Letters to My 25-Year-Old Self. Follow her on Twitter to read regular snarky comments and opinions.


David Spiering’s last full-length collection is called My Father’s Gloves, published by Sol Books of Minneapolis, MN. 2010. He has work coming out in the Avatar Review later in the spring of 2014. Currently, he is working on completing three full-length collections of poetry and novel and a flash fiction collection. Over the years he has worked as a university English lecturer, a produce and natural foods clerk, a cook and a food service assistant to make money while he has written and published his works.


Janna Vought currently lives in Colorado with her husband and two daughters. She received her MFA from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri where she was nominated in 2013 for the AWP Intro Journals Project in Poetry. She has more than fifty works of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction published in several literary publications. You can find her full length works, Evolution of Cocoons and Welcome to the Dollhouse on her website. She is completing her third full length collection of poetry titled Wicker Girl. Follow Janna through her website and on Twitter.



Graham Abbott was part of a group that spent two weeks in Kenya working with the Crossroads Springs Institute in July 2013. This excerpt is from the journal he kept on his visit. If you're interested in learning more about Crossroads Springs, visit their website. Graham is also an illustrator and you can see his work on his CarbonMade portfolio or follow his Tumblr.


Scott Malkovsky is an actor living in California who found a love for poetry after taking creative writing classes in college. On occasion, you can find him on Twitter.


Nels Hanson’s fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart Prize nominations in 2010, 12, and for 2014. Stories have appeared in Antioch Review, Texas Review, Black Warrior Review, Southeast Review, Montreal Review, and other journals. Poems appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Heavy Feather Review, Meadowlands Review, Ilanot Review and other magazines, and are in press at Pacific Review, Heart Online, Pavilion, Sharkpack Review Annual, and S/tick. A poem which appeared in Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine and one in the Citron Review have been nominated for 2014 Pushcart Prizes.


Bec Everett is a struggling actor in New York, NY. She lives with her actor/playwright/director fiancé in the very last neighborhood in Manhattan before you hit the Bronx. She has a habit of being a very opinionated human rights advocate and occasionally, on a good day, she's even an activist. She has a BFA in Theater with an emphasis in Acting and a minor in Peace Studies from Adelphi University.


Jessica Leigh Hester is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. She loves flea markets, breakfast food, and Coney Island in the snow. Say hello via Twitter or her website.


Sara Jones was born and raised in Texas, where the people are kind and gracious, but unforgiving of dissent or difference. She spent a few years in New York City trying to live the meaningful life, but resorted to just surviving for most of her time there. Sara resides now in Chicago with her wonderful fiance beside the lake. By day she runs a pet store and by night she rallies folks of faith to fight against the injustices in her city. She loves whiskey and the sound the rain makes against the windows. She wants to change the world when she grows up.


Kelly Jones works and plays in New Orleans. A good deal of her adult life has been devoted to obtaining pieces of papers that verify her knowledge of things (resulting in an MFA in Poetry and a BA in Literature and Social Justice). She is terribly fond of manatees, glitter, Wild Turkey, and dance parties. In her spare time she runs The Gambler Mag, lazes by the bayou, and tries to come to terms with the concept of infinity.


Andrew Davis is an MFA graduate of Pine Manor College. His short story "Peter's Glasses" is forthcoming in The Oddville Press, and his poem "First" is forthcoming in the Apeiron Review. He loves picking through the frayed strands of his imagination and making random notes in order to remember what he finds. He is currently working on a collection of short stories in the bowels of Lowell, Massachusetts. He can be found on Facebook and or reached at davis.andrew19@gmail.com.


Mark Ian Gould graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in English which graces his wall. He currently is a licensed massage therapist in New Jersey, working with the body while struggling with the mind. He is a believer, a lover, and can't hold a conversation without quoting cartoons or 90s songs. For proof, follow him on Twitter.



William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals. He also has a blog.


Shane Chergosky studies Creative Writing at Arizona State University. He has worked as an opinion columnist for ASU's State Press and appeared in Kalliope: A Consortium of New Voices and The Path. He plays drums in post-everything music group, Toast Ghost and the Spooky Buddies and hopes to someday return to his native Minneapolis.


Adam Kane is a pop-culture enthusiast, essayist, and recovering actor living and working in Boston. You can follow him on Twitter, where he tweets about the Red Sox, Syracuse basketball and the line at Starbucks.


Gemma Fisk studied an English Literature degree alongside the Humanities at Anglia Ruskin University and decided to continue being boring by combining both subjects in her writing. She now writes amid a multitude of chickens and dogs and can be found blabbing about updates on her website and on Twitter.

Tom Smith is an editorial photographer in Woodstock, New York. He co-founded Eberhardt Smith with his partner in crime. He edits a blog called Diner Porn. When he’s not taking photos, he’s on Twitter, drinking coffee, or trying to get is dog to exercise.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "