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Table of Contents
THEM, Nels Hanson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 FOR THE BIRDS, Tom Loughlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 A PAIR OF SPECTACLES, Susan Taylor Suchy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 14., Erin Jendras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 AKELDAMA, Ellyn Touchette . 8 CAFE POCA, Rachel Mindell . 10 DREAM FLYING, G.D. McFetridge . 11 IN PRAISE OF NOT FINISHING, Edward Dougherty . 12 FROM WHERE YOU LIVE NOW, Anne Spollen . 13 RIMBAUD, Patricia Connolly . 15 O’KEEFFE AND STEIGLITZ AT LAKE GEORGE, Emily Strauss . 16 EXCERPTS FROM FISHING LAKE, Katie Gorrie . 17 SUPPRESSED MEMORIES, André-Naquian Wheeler . 19 STORIES LIKE THESE, Claire-Madeline Culkin . 22 NOSTALGIA PORN, Adam Kane . 23 PUNOGRAPHY, Scott Malkovsky . 25 GATHER, Robert Vivian . 26 BARBERSHOP PROTEST, Trish Hopkinson . 27 GORDON REYNOLDS, P.J. Sambeaux . 28 INTIMATIONS OF MORTALITY, Louis Gallo . 30 GLEAMING LIKE A BLUEBOTTLE AMONG THE WAVES, Austin Eichelberger . 31
EDITORIAL STAFF . 33 CONTRIBUTORS . 34
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THEM" Nels Hanson"
"Like Spinoza’s deity insects don’t love
or hate us in their lust for food though peskily suggest an evil motive, trying our skin and eyes for salt. Avid gnats
in black clouds above fields of rotting peaches find the syrup sweet but flies on winter sills or panes cease striving, now resigned and turned reflective as
Shakespeare’s defeated kings. An early morning I found furred solitary bumble bee asleep at red center of an open rose and wondered if it dreamed of sleep or
distant nectar. Brown mantis with front claws raised in blatant parody of silent prayer waits frozen long hours, Master Eckhart’s adept famished for the divine,
watching cat-like a mouse hole in a wall. Electric turquoise, emerald and lavender dragonflies skimming the pond appear too vain, flamboyant but obey only God
or Darwin. At night I’ve heard scuttling feet of roaches large as beetles in Africa searching endlessly the kitchen’s clean- swept floor. Black widow spiders, eight
arachnid legs and stored rattler’s venom, belled abdomen bearing Infinity’s scarlet violin, know Wagner’s music. Does time seem instant or centuries for new-hatched
Lace-Wings at dusk when swerving bats and frantic returned swallows like blown fall leaves rise, dip to no obvious design, hidden Something’s perfect explicit map?
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FOR THE BIRDS Tom Loughlin
I recently bought three new cedar bird houses at Lowes. Despite my general incompetence with tools, I am going to attempt to put them up along my back fence. I’ve been experimenting with several different types of bird feeders to see which are the most squirrel-proof. Through trial and error, I have discovered that the ones that feature spring-loaded doors which close down the feeding holes when the weight of the squirrel is placed on it work the best. Personally, I prefer the ones that look like small cedar cabins, but the squirrels get at that those too easily. One bird feeder sits on a pole by the side fence, while the other I have dangled from a tree limb using fishing line. Through all this, I have discovered why birds exist on the earth. They exist to keep old men company. They are the only creatures, and the most beautiful creatures, left on earth who will sing sweetly to an old man.
I never cared for birds much in my younger days. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say I never noticed them. Certainly they were beautiful to look at, and lovely to listen to, but the idea of feeding them never crossed my mind. An occasional, casual toss of leftover popcorn to the pigeons in Central Park Zoo, perhaps. Or maybe bread for the ducks at summer camp. But some months ago I found myself wanting to set up a bird feeder in my backyard. I have no explanation for why that urge came about. It was just suddenly there, much like a budding teenager suddenly discovers they have pubic hair, as I was sipping coffee and absent-mindedly staring out the kitchen window one winter morning. The yard seemed empty, devoid of life. Two days later I had a short bird pole, two feeders, and two sacks of seed. One sack of seed contained a mixture suitable for short-billed eastern songbirds, while the other contained nyger seed to attract finches.
The finch feeder has been a complete failure. The nyjer seed sat untouched in the mesh feeder for weeks. I eventually had to empty it out. It remains mournfully empty, awaiting a second attempt. The sunflower/millet mixture, however, was an immediate hit. Sparrows, young cardinals, and the occasional finch came to feast. I get a certain contentment in seeing them stuff themselves with seed. Sitting on my porch or in my kitchen, I watch, fascinated, as they come and go, grabbing a snack or a complete meal, no doubt bringing some home to the hatchlings.
And they sing. Not fancy songs, mind you. My backyard is not a particularly upscale place for attracting the finer songbirds of nature. The plainsong does nicely and seems to fit right in with the working-class neighborhood. Mourning doves, unable to set on a perch but willing to peck side by side with the squirrels below, contribute to the chorus, cooing sensually as they scoop up their repast spread amidst the blades of grass. Chirping away, the birds dart in and out, round about the feeder, getting their fill. Sometimes a little competition breaks out as to who gets a particular perch, but no one ever goes away empty or hungry. The birds are quite democratic about sharing perches and not hogging too much time on one perch.
I suspect old men feed birds to escape from the cacophony of modern life. Twenty-first century living is a decidedly noisy and trivial affair, catering to the intense passions of the young. Birds cater to the old. They offer their thanks for their meals through their singing and their delicate colors. They will eye you with a certain quizzical look, but more often than not they remain content to conduct their business under your gaze. They produce inner smiles.
Spend time with them, and you will begin to see in their activities an existence you once hoped would be possible for people, an existence you realized a while ago would never materialize. The feeder does not discriminate by color, species or gender. Birds are never outraged, nor do they concern themselves much with what rights they have and don’t have. They tend mostly to their responsibilities. They feed their young and keep their nests clean. They do not grasp for what drops off their table, but are content to let those unable to eat from the feeder glean from the leftovers. Their tweets and twitters carry a music and a romance that humans cannot seem to muster in their daily lives.
Go deeper into the play of birds, and you will recapture your youth in them. There’s Jimmy, a bit overfed and slightly lost. There’s Patty, small and quick through the air, with a short but determined song. There’s Annie, with the most sublimely green feathers around her neck. There’s George, who has the best riffs songwise. There’s Mark, shitting all over the feeder. There’s Kevin, at a distance, skeptical that the feeder holds anything of value or worth. But he eats nonetheless. They play, soar, and skitter across the yard, much like I recall skittering across a gentler Long Island landscape, carrying no notion of anything so horrid as a future.
I must add a bird bath, as I would like to see them dance as well as hear them sing. And I must solve the mystery surrounding the failure of the finch feeder. And I should plant a few more shrubs about the yard to provide cover, for they are shy creatures at heart. And maybe a hummingbird feeder, just to see what might come around. And one day, an open hand with seed in it. And she will perch in my hand - green feathers shimmering about her neck - feed, and sweetly sing to me.
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A PAIR OF SPECTACLES Susan Taylor Suchy
Sir John Worthington Smyth stood in the rain on the corner of Aberdare Road, the telegram from the War Office clenched in his right hand. Unlike the three other men waiting for the seven-fifteen bus to the city center, Sir John did not huddle under the bus shelter, nor did he lift an umbrella over his head.
Sir John did not notice the other three men staring at him. He did not notice the cars racing past, splashing water over the curb and onto his pants. He did not notice that the rain and his breath had fogged his spectacles. He could not see the bus approaching. He did not see anything of this moment.
For John, the sun shone bright in his eyes as he looked out over the gentle ocean waves. He watched John Junior splashing, and heard him laughing and calling: “Dad, come in. The water is great.”
So, in his moment, John stepped into the ocean, to be with his son.
And, at that moment, the bus arrived.
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14. Erin Jendras
But wearily she wags her head, “what school did you attend?” What right had you to sneak about, put thoughts inside my head?
The whisper wound its way around from toe to top and then, Cemented every deed that made a dent in how and when
I bide my time, I wonder why, when rent from loving fools, Loved fools that loving caused my folly, I would love to fool
But wearily she wags her head, my compass verily: What’s right is mine by her insight, What road, is hers instead
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AKELDAMA Ellyn Touchette
1. There is a god in Canal Plaza. 2. The god has fifty-two white teeth. 3. Of course, it also has the body of a god. 4. This god has four wooden legs that look, of all things, like the legs of a piano. 5. On the day I met God, I found three dead things. 6. This is something you have to do before you can meet God. 7. The dead things were only a carcass, a femur, and a third of a fish. 8. But each of these things still counted. 9. Four strangers and I found the god together. 10. Strangers are also on the list of things you need to find in order to meet God. 11. Somehow, every one of us was a pianist. 12. The interesting thing about our god was that it was so very young. 13. A plaque on the side of the god said that it was a hundred years old. 14. One hundred years is a long time to people. 15. But not to gods. 16. We took turns touching the god. 17. When you touch the teeth of God, God sings. 18. God sings, of all things, just like a piano. 19. So we called it the God of Canal Plaza. 20. We were children in the face of God. 21. One of the strangers suggested we chain our god to a lamp post. 22. So that no one could take our god from us. 23. I said no, that we loved god too much to bind him. 24. We loved the god because it was mortal. 25. Which meant it could be killed. 26. We asked the god what it was really the god of. 27. Other than Canal Plaza. 28. The god asked if it could be The Touchable God. 29. Everyone agreed that that was very good. 30. Then we began to wonder if we had been the first to find God. 31. We thought that might make us apostles. 32. We could not bring ourselves to ask the god if this was true. 33. Because we were afraid the god had already been found and touched. 34. The God’s teeth were sticky. 35. Sticky teeth is a sure sign of an already-touched god. 36. Then the god said that it was getting very late. 37. The god said, please, would we leave him right there. 38. No one questioned God. 39. But I hid and I waited for the strangers to go home. 40. I went back and touched the god by myself. 41. The god sang again for me, but it was not beautiful. 42. This was because I had betrayed God. 43. I had betrayed the god, of all ways, by turning back. 44. The god’s teeth were sticky in the same way salt water is sticky. 45. The next day it rained hard enough to make music in every room of my home. 46. I stayed inside and worried about God. 8
47. I stayed inside because I was afraid to get wet. 48. I was being selfish again. 49. It rained for three days. 50. This story would be more romantic if it had been forty. 51. I went back when the rain stopped. 52. God had vanished. 53. Even though I had taken a child with me. 54. I had wanted to show God a child. 55. I thought this would be a good way to make it up to God. 56. All there was in Canal Plaza was a lot of suited men. 57. I wasn’t sure whether the men knew they had replaced a god. 58. The child asked where the promised God had gone. 59. This person named God. 60. I told the child that God had not been a person. 61. God had been, of all things, a piano. 62. I told the child how I had loved this god so very much. 63. More than anyone could imagine. 64. And that because of me, it was gone. 65. The child asked how I could love God if God was only a piano. 66. Children do not understand God. 67. I said that it is very easy to love something that can be killed. 68. I said this only makes sense when you yourself have killed a god. 69. The child asked how it, too, could kill a god. 70. I said that I did not keep the instructions. 71. I said that I needed to be responsible for one good, forgotten thing. 72. The child looked up at me with its large, sad, child eyes. 73. It said something very important that I did not write down. 74. But it sounded, of all things, just like a piano.
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CAFE POCA Rachel Mindell
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DREAM FLYING G.D. McFetridge
Blinky Davis snaps his purple suspenders. Then he pulls all the bills toward himself while the others watch. “Lucky seven hits for me again, brothers. What can I say?” Poorboy steps back from the red brick wall in the alley where they shoot dice. I’ve lost eighty-five bucks, he thinks to himself. That’s more than I can afford. “I’m out of here,” he says. “Check you all later.” Blinky grins. “So long Poorboy. Better luck next time.” That night Poorboy dreams. He’s standing at the line rolling and watching those pearly dice spin off his fingertips and come dead still on big eleven. But nobody wants to bet with him—he’s too hot. Poorboy can’t win, not even in his sleep. Then the dream transforms into another scene. Poorboy’s on the rooftop, looking out over 14th Avenue, about five stories up. “Go ahead, my man, jump—take the leap. You can fly.” Poorboy swivels his head. Blinky stands behind him, clad in his leopard skin jacket, mirrored shades and golden-yellow vest. “Right. Like I’m going to jump. When I was a kid, Bruce Lee dodged bullets. He watched for the first sign of white smoke out of the barrel. But it don’t work like that, man. If Digger hadn’t pushed me sideways, I would’ve been run over by that semi-truck.” “You’ll be fine if you believe what I say. Just like Bruce. Watch real close until you see that first little puff of smoke—that’s all, man. Go ahead, jump. You can fly.” There’s traffic moving slowly on the avenue below. Above, Poorboy sees a million stars. It’s the starriest night he has ever seen in the city. “Get real. People can’t fly.” Suddenly Digger appears, standing behind Poorboy, his jacket spread over him like the wings of a falcon, yellow and white. His eyes? The eyes of fierce predator, glimmering and sharp, looking right through Poorboy. “Fly! This is your last best chance.” He rushes forward and shoves Poorboy. Poorboy plunges over the lip of the roof and into the dark void above the street. “Spread your arms!” Digger hollers. “Flap for all you worth. You got three seconds, so make up your mind. Look at the stars, not the street.” Poorboy twists his head around and looks up to the blaze of tiny diamonds that fill the inky sky. He stretches his arms out and feels the air beneath him for a moment. He’s ready to cry out with joy. But then there’s a loud crash and a splat! Poorboy’s head throbs where it touches the bed. He untangles himself from the sheets and feels pain enveloping his entire body. He wobbles to the bathroom and peers into the mirror. His face? Black and blue. Blood runs from cuts and punctures like red candle wax. A feathery blur appears behind him, then a big toothy grin. Digger’s strong hand grabs hold of his shoulder and drags him to the stairwell and up to the roof. “You got to try again, my man. You almost had it.” “But it’s foggy tonight—there’s no stars. Not a one. Maybe tomorrow would be better. Let’s wait until tomorrow.” “Ain’t no tomorrow, Poorboy, come on! Try harder—flap those arms.” And he shoves him over the edge. Poorboy looks down at the street. There’s a clog of cars bumper-to-bumper and a haze of neon lights. Then he swivels his head and catches a glimpse of the sky. There’s a hole in the fog where stars shine through, like glittering shards of beautiful moon-ice. And Poorboy starts flapping those arms.
IN PRAISE OF NOT FINISHING Edward Dougherty
I want to not do many things. There are many achievements I want to not accomplish. Many chores, like mowing or shoveling snow. So much of what we do, once completed, is undone, like making the bed or washing dishes. But that’s what I mean: too many actions must be repeated to think they’re finished. The delay varies from a well-taught class to a fresh coat of paint. Don’t even consider weeding. Dust gathers on the chair’s arm even as the cloth hits the table top. But the task must be done again at some point. Once, I spent a whole day with boiling hot water and strong cleaner, stretching upward to clean the ceiling of our kitchen, making sure to go over each section in two directions to eliminate streaks. Loud rock music urged me on as I reached high and bent over backwards to reach into corners. Back aching and fingers dry as paper, I stood for a moment before taking on the last square because the difference between the now-clean region and the last patch of yellow-gray was so stark. I felt great. We had never cleaned the ceiling since moving in. Didn’t know it needed it—the patina grew so slowly and relatively evenly. I touched my toes to ease my back before climbing the step stool for the final bit. Then, within the month, steam from the pasta water roiled upward and across the white, white ceiling. I knew then that no action is final. The satisfaction of the lawn’s neat, even pattern is temporary. But I don’t want to do nothing. Don’t want the sink to fill with egg-smeared plates and finger-smudged glasses. A bed with smooth covers and sharp lines under the pillow pleases me. Clean shirts and the occasional polished pair of shoes please me. What I want to be done with is not the task itself, but the idea that any task can be “accomplished.” The root of this word also gives us “complete,” and it begins with the image of being filled up. But being full means I’ll be hungry again sometime. And being done means I’ve got to start the engines all over again when I have to re-do it. If I could free myself from such cycles, I could avoid the wasted inner grumbling when I notice the spider webs in all the porch corners and now I’ve got a chore. I could silence the internal motivational speeches that exhort myself to Do! Do! Do! anything. There’s a mentality that’s really a log-splitter, designed for one task: taking a whole field of experience which is one continuous flow and cutting it so that “fun” falls clean away from “duty.” It’s the weekend mentality that divides days and hours into “work” and “leisure.” The world on this chopping block become “sacred” and “profane,” which go their separate ways. This way some experience is good and preferable while others are unpleasant and bad. And it starts with “done.” A poem is never finished. The writing of it could go on endlessly, but at some point it’s “abandoned,” as Verlaine said. But then there are all those efforts to have someone read it (or to be sure no one reads it), and then if it’s published it waits patiently for readers to start doing their thing, and if the exchange goes well, someone may pass it along to a friend. The process is continuous. It just has many parts. A friendship, even if contact has been severed and ill feelings linger—especially if animosity continues, in fact—a friendship is never finished. Dishes are clean, for now. But they are never done.
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FROM WHERE YOU LIVE NOW Anne Spollen
There are mornings when the air is lush with the fragrance of laundry detergent. Its scent moves in clouds through your kitchen, thick and acrid with insecticide sweetness. It comes from the “Tuesday morning free soap until 2 pm!!!” laundromat three buildings down from your apartment. No one who shows up to do laundry on Tuesday has a car or a house or any problem with a morning that lasts until 2pm. They stroll into the lemony light of the laundromat, their wheeled carts tumbling dirty clothing. They drink coffee outside the deli and bum loosies from the wild-eyed Iranian who runs the deli. He is in a constant state of frantic suspicion; his two sons shadow customers buying tissue boxes and cans of cat food. A few trees and a roof that resembles the crooked peak of the boarding school in the Madeline books complete the view from your kitchen window. If you move into the bedroom and do a slumpy yoga pose, you can see most of the lights on the Verrazano Bridge. You spend a lot of time looking out windows. Most days, the street is quiet, but the air is always ticking, waiting for the next clash. Some days, shouting fills the air; it comes from the “crack house,” a rooming house of sorts, that sits directly across from the laundromat and deli with the wild-eyed Iranian. Despite having no permanent residents and a visceral air of chaos, the house and its inhabitants are tolerated by the neighborhood. You think of it as a bed-and-breakfast for the broken. The structure is in a state of disrepair; mattresses flump on the sidewalk alongside window frames and empty orange juice cartons. The house never looks less cluttered, despite the mounds of garbage that line its crumbling sidewalk. Around dusk, the light trembles along with everything else. If you’re returning books at the library or walking down to the ferry for coffee, you start to hurry once the sky begins to darken. It’s not the kind of block you want to walk alone at night: at the bottom of the hill, the ghetto simmers, and once the light leaves, so will any sense of order. You slip back inside my small apartment, escaping the darkness and all it brings. Streetlights click on and You look out from the warmth of my kitchen. The night is theirs, but this place is yours. Two years ago, you had a house with five bedrooms, a balcony and a kitchen outfitted to feast Vikings. That house had a fireplace and a sunny breakfast nook. The bathtub was threequarters of the size of your current bathroom; it was one of those huge built-in tubs with its own wall of tile. That house had skylights; even the bathroom had a skylight. No one locked doors on that block. Everyone had basements and attics and closets the size of Jupiter. Here, you look for new spaces to stash things: maybe raise the beds for storage underneath, squeeze a shelf into the few inches over the door, double-hang skirts and blouses, roll towels into a basket. You gave away dozens of bags of clothing that used to hang in your closet at that house; you filled an entire garbage bag with sweaters you’d forgotten about. You had to wash the dust from your unworn dresses before packing them. You were shedding; you understood the relief animals feel as their fur thins. One night in that house—you remembered this only recently—you were thinking about your closet. You were in bed, kind of asleep, looking at the closet, thinking about cleaning out all the unwanted clothes, feeling kind of dreamy, in that space when word leaves you for image and symbol. Then you sensed his presence. Earlier that night, you had thrown away his pipe along with a bag of weed; he had left them out on his desk, with a pair of socks over them. He must have been high already to be so careless. He’d be angry. You heard his feet. Heavy, but fast. You sat up. Seconds become red and have weight; you fought time, moving your feet until you get 13
behind the door. Lock. He is close. You pull the dresser across the door. All sleep has left you. He pushes through the doors; they are the kind of doors that never fully lock. Why would a parent’s bedroom need locks? He pushes past the doors; the dresser falls forward as if it’s made of cardboard. And then he is there. He pushes you into the bathroom with the big tub and the tiled wall. You look up through the skylight that holds the night; a sliver of moon is visible, white with shadows moving past. He’s punching now, into your arms. You are screaming for him to stop, pushing back, but he is so much bigger than you are. Now he stops. He spits in your face. “Fat cunt!” he screams, and spits again. He leaves. The tile is cool against your skin. You know this will bruise by morning. You keep lying there. His bedroom door slams. You remember how once you carried him to his room after he fell asleep listening to you tell stories. How once you nursed him. How once your bodies had melded into one. You wash the spit off your face, glad he only got your arms. You go to the closet and find one of the long-sleeved shirts you keep buying. Even in the heat of summer, you need to cover your arms. You remember all of it. Sirens sound outside your window in the switchblade dark. Sounds of drunken fights drift up from the street. This is not the whisper shush of pine trees you had back in that big house with the air and space. This is not a place where you could live without doors that really locked. But as you pull the quilt over you and look at your small, pared down closet with the bare bulb, you think: I’m safe here. I’m finally safe.
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RIMBAUD Patricia Connolly
Rimbaud, Rimbaud, Rimbaud with my best middle west all nose, Rim-bow, a W so bedraggled, so bent from your unmanned bed I don't love you. I never did and when I hugged you the sickness came indiscriminately almost to the point of being really nice
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O’KEEFFE AND STEIGLITZ AT LAKE GEORGE Emily Strauss
Stieglitz’s family had 40 acres of property, complete with gardens, pastures and a studio for O’Keeffe. She began visiting the lake in 1918, and continued going there until 1934, when her attentions began to turn to the West.
let me wed the artist and so capture her moods, the abstract and objective both, the definite form of her intangible colors spilling across the lake farm
she embraces my subconscious with her young orange and dark shapes, her skin seeks mine, her specifics, our universals— internal realms as she sits on dry leaves
we watch the sun rise on the flat water she paints blue orifices and purple buds I hold her at night as the moon light reflects her breasts, hills under the stars
her immersions my own, her white birches I claim, even the black rain, dark burning reds, deep yellows— all mine now, wedded.
I see her painted clouds like my own work white feathers, profound, I try to capture her breath, her flesh, long and pale flowing like her flowers, the centers, the hearts
slitted like her, violet at dusk, lit from within— my images can't compete with her red cannas, apple blooms, petunias, she smells of all of them and the lake's faint glowing
but I will try, she gripping the trunk's bark staring away in black and white, the dying chestnut massive, later she gathers hickory leaves and daisies, colored maple and oak
drifts further into our hills, her forest alone I can't capture her fragile petals anymore her greens, the lake receding now, the wedding dying like Autumn, my gelatin slides melted.
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EXCERPTS FROM FISHING LAKE Katie Gorrie
In ditches, in churned fields of standing spring water, in the great glass-bottomed sky,
Arctic Swan, Wigeon, the white necklace of the Mallard.
A third eye opens in my chest--
what my collarbone’s been pointing to, all along.
The sunset was painfully long. I was antsy, with nowhere to go.
Honey light, blackberry light, bolts of silk thrown across the lake.
Three black mallards, high above the water.
A small moon surprised me amidst a school of minnows. Which moon was reflected, which reflecting?
Rusty boatlift caught up in transcendence.
Our car stumbles down the highway like an ancient baby carriage. We lean over the dash cursing the muddy windshield as three tundra swans cross from the far north.
Gravel grid, our daily walk, we turn a right angle as a doe steps from a stand of bare aspen. 17
With a flick, she fades into shelterbelt.
We stay a while, not sure how to go forward.
Chickadees inspect branches like portly security men.
Garters hurry across the road.
Gangly shorebirds wait.
Driving to town for drinking water, I pass a sort of baptism-- pelicans in a flooded field.
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SUPPRESSED MEMORIES André-Naquian Wheeler
At 11 years old, I told my mom and step-dad that I wanted to kill myself. I had been standing in the living room hallway because it gave me a good view of Phillip and Mom arguing. Phillip was sitting at the dining room table with a beer bottle in his right hand. He had been blasting blues music and Mom had asked him to turn it down because she had to go to work the next morning. Then she started bothering Phillip some more about getting drunk all the time. These were the usual opening statements. Sometimes it felt like they were arguing for my personal entertainment. The furthest they would ever go in trying to hide them from me was closing their bathroom door when they shouted at each other. When they did that, I would go to my bathroom, which was adjacent to theirs, and stand in my bathtub and place my ear against the cold bathroom tiles. I had discovered it was the perfect spot to hear what ugly things they were saying to each other. Also, I always wanted to be ready in case Mom started hitting Phillip once again and Phillip finally started hitting Mom back. I imagined myself swooping in brave and strong with a baseball bat in my hand. Finally being allowed to pay him back for making my mom so sad. But Mom wasn’t completely innocent herself. She could be such a drama queen about it all sometimes. She liked to trap me in her car and make me listen to her sadness. As if she was the only one with problems. She was too busy hating Phillip to see that I was sad too. And I never told her because she never asked. I was being bullied at school. One day I had been grabbing books out of my locker when two boys, Sam and Tanner, came and kicked my binder down the hall and stepped on my papers. It was normal behavior towards me from the two. The only embarrassing part had been the fact that I had made eye contact with Ms. Ratcliff, who was on hallway duty. I ran away to the bathroom and cried. So my self-confidence was a bit low. I would lie in bed and imagine Mom finding my lifeless body in the bathtub. I wondered if Mom would feel guilty for whooping me or if Sam and Tanner would feel bad for saying I was a queer. Those kind of thoughts had begun to wear on me. Mom braided my afro into cornrows every Sunday night. One week Mom noticed a bald spot the size of a quarter on the back of my head. It was as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Mom took me to to see the doctor. He had no explanation for it, only suggestions. He said the bald spot could have been either an allergic reaction or from stress. I knew which one it was. “What does he have to be stressed about? He’s eleven. It’s his shampoo,” my mom explained to the doctor, as if she had gone to medical school herself. “He’s been using Garnier shampoo even though I told him not to. I’ve been washing his hair with V-05 ever since he was a baby.” So I went back to washing my hair with V-05 and started rubbing the bald spot with Rogaine. It took two years for the bald spot to disappear. I’m convinced I was losing my hair because of how depressed I was. I was getting screwed both ways. I would go to school from nine to three and face bullying. Then I would come home and watch Mom argue with Phillip. Or sometimes make Mom angry enough to throw a glass at me because I didn’t wash my dishes in the sink. And then at night I would lay in bed and cry, saying to God: “Since it’s a sin to kill yourself, why don’t you just do it for me?” And since I never talked about or dealt with any of this, my hair loss was my body’s way of dealing with it. I was like a balloon filled with too much air; the angst had to come out of me some way. The summer of my eleventh year had been a particularly angst-filled one. All summer long Mom and Phillip had been attempting to outdo each other with anger like thunder and 19
lighting. But neither one of them seemed to notice that their arguing affected me. I wanted to make them notice me. To have Mom hug me and fix all my problems in that magical way mothers are capable of doing for you at that age. But I couldn’t simply tell Mom and Phillip their arguing made me sad. Our family didn’t sit on couches and talk about our feelings. That was what white people did. We told each other feelings through hoarse voices and tears and calling the cops. So one night when Mom started yelling at Phillip again for sitting in the dark and blasting his blues music while drinking, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to steal the show and shock everyone with the sadness I had been hiding. “Stop it!” I yelled as I ran out and collapsed on the living room floor. I cried into my knees. Mom and Phillip went silent. Mom asked me if I was okay. “Why do you guys have to argue all the time?” I used my t-shirt to blow my nose. “I think you two should just give up and go your separate ways. Some people just aren’t meant to be with each other.” Phillip leaned against the wall and watched. “See what you did?” There was a smirk on his face. “Me?” Mom yelled back. “This is you. He’s tired of seeing his mother treated badly.” “Stop fighting!” I screamed out. “Sometimes I think the world would be better off without me. If I was dead then maybe you could leave Phillip.” I inhaled my snot back into my nose and swallowed it. They were finally quiet. “Don’t say that, André,” my mom said, suddenly tender. “You know people who kill themselves go to Hell, right? And you don’t want to go there, do you?” I shook my head. “Now get up.” I got up, expecting everything to be changed. Now they would stop arguing all the time since they knew what it did to me. “Now go to the bathroom and wipe your face.” While I was in the bathroom I heard Mom sigh. “I can’t go through this tonight. I have work in the morning.” All Phillip said was “Hmph.” Mom and me went to her friend Larry’s house. I sat in his living room and pretended to watch T.V. as I listened to Mom tell him about what had just happened. When she came out of Larry’s bedroom, she said we were going to move in with Larry and I nodded my head. Moving in with another man meant potential new arguments, but I figured it was a step towards Mom and me living on our own. In the car, Mom told me she was sorry I had to go through this. That this is why she wanted me to get a good education and be something. So then I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone. She asked me if I meant what I said earlier. I knew what I was supposed to say. “I was just trying to make you and Phillip stop arguing,” I lied. “I thought that. Well, I don’t ever wanna hear you talk like that again, you hear me?” I nodded. “You’re too young to be thinking like that, and besides, if I lost you I would kill myself and you don’t wanna make your mother go through that, do you?” I shook my head. “Okay, and what me and Phillip go through is between us. It has nothing to do with you. Phillip is just an alcoholic. Plain and simple. I just don’t want you to think I’m okay with that. That’s why I argue with him about drinking in the house.” I nodded my head again. When Mom came home from work the next day I asked her when we were going to start moving into Larry’s house. “I thought about it,” she said as she collapsed on the living room couch. “I don’t want to move in with Larry. I rather live comfortable in my own home with drunk Phillip then have to 20
depend on another man. You know Larry might get mad at me and say, ‘You and your son need to move out,’ and then we’d be up shit creek. No, I’ll just let Phillip think everything is alright and stash my money to the side. Then one day he’ll come home and this whole house will be empty.” I nodded my head. It took six years for that day to occur.
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STORIES LIKE THESE Claire-Madeline Culkin
Love happens slowly. Earth folds in on itself, lifts itself up, collapsing under the weight of its own elevation. At
best love fossilizes: an empty space shaped like this or that other thing, just barely. The way I imagine her:
taking her time maneuvering sediment, moving with a seductive delicacy. The way she could never touch you the way I could. The way you hate me, reminded about “ashes to ashes we all fall
down.” And of the photographs that are not hung up “with love from Jesus,” and other euphemisms for “hush, little baby
don’t say a word.” The photographs are still in the attic collecting dust “and to dust we will return.”
“Sometimes, an elephant forgets: that’s what a wrinkle is,” I was told. In other words:
we tell ourselves stories that start with “on the third day he will rise,” or
“there once was an old man who lived in a shoe, he had so many children he didn’t know what to do.”
And the consequences are always written slowly, like love.
The way the earth turns: over and over.
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NOSTALGIA PORN Adam Kane
Ten years ago, having apparently run out of episodes of Pop Up Video, VH1 gathered a few marginal celebrities and some comedians, put them in front of a green screen, and had them talk about the 1980s. Past is prologue, as a great man once said. Plus, the ratings were strong. A sucker is born every minute, after all. (Said by a different great man.)
So they made more specials. About the 70s, more about the 80s. About the 90s, and, for whatever reason, the 2000s. (That's right, a nostalgic look back at the year 2007, filmed in 2008.) And just for good measure, they made one more about the 80s, at which point they were talking about bolo ties and the artwork of Bob Ross. And we all kept watching. But it goes further than that. Popular fashion in recent years has been inspired by the 70s, and after that it was inspired by the 80s, then the 90s, and then, just to confuse, inspired by the 1960s. We put filters on our photos taken from our smartphones to mimic the look of cheap film photography. These rectangles we keep in our pockets are able to take remarkably sharp pictures, and we can show them everyone we know instantly. And we’ve decided that those pictures would be even better if we all pretended they were really old.
We clamor for televised reunions of the kids’ shows we watched on Friday nights and long for days gone by, when life was simple and the world was a better place, and nothing bad ever happened.
The problem is that none of that is true. I am a child of the 90s, so I watched Boy Meets World, I saw The Lion King in the theatre, and got free pizza when I read an arbitrary number of books. (25 Things Only 90s Kids Will Remember!) But I also watched, with limited understanding, the daily Sportscenter updates on OJ Simpson. I watched partisan bickering and a sexual harassment lawsuit lead to a presidential impeachment. The funeral of Princess Diana. A pipe bomb at the Atlanta Olympics.
The same is true of every decade. Before too long, we’ll look back fondly on the 2000s: Harry Potter! iPhone! American Idol! We’ll pay lip service to the terrorism and the controversial wars that followed, so we can spend more time on the fun stuff like Flavor of Love and Mariah Carey. It seems preposterous now to look back on the immediate past decade through rose colored lenses, but it’s already started, and one single statistic proves it: George W. Bush’s approval ratings, which were about 25% when he left office, are above 50%! He’s higher than President Obama! This was unthinkable years ago: GWB was so toxic late in his presidency, he didn’t even appear at the 2008 Republican National Convention. And we were quick to forget: during the 2011 World Series, he sat near the Texas Rangers dugout for a few of the games. He waved, did an in-game interview about his paintings, and seemed pretty relaxed. “I don’t really have a problem with him,” I thought. When you’re not giving an address from the Oval Office about a troop surge, your image tends to soften.
One of my favorite movies is Back to the Future. Marty McFly travels back in time, accidentally prevents his parents from meeting, and has to fix the whole mess. His present day, the dirty, rundown 1985, is replaced with a pristine 1955. Marty can use his knowledge of the future to stay one step ahead of everyone else, and the unintended consequence of his interference is a massive improvement in his life when he returns to 1985. Time travel is a popular trope in science fiction, dating back to the days of HG Wells and his book The Time Machine. It’s a 23
popular topic mainly because we’re all fascinated by the idea of going back and getting a doover. Who hasn’t thought about going back to that high school soccer game when you missed a wide open goal? Or preventing ourselves from saying something regrettable? Or warning a friend about a car accident?
There’s a basic problem with time travel that often gets overlooked in hypotheticals and fiction. I’m no Neil deGrasse Tyson, but it’s my understanding that planet Earth is orbiting around the sun. The sun itself is part of its own, much slower orbit in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is also orbiting. It’s all part of an infinite universe, which itself is slowly expanding. In other words, even though we can’t detect it, we will never again be in the exact cosmic location we are in right now. As we advance through our lives, we're also moving . . . somewhere. So even if the most brilliant physicists in the world figured out a way to travel backwards in time, unless they also can determine the subtle, constant movement of the planet, solar system, galaxy and universe, time travel will remain a fantasy. Yet it remains understandably appealing. Who wouldn't take a mulligan on a bad day at work or something stupid said in anger?
But how can there be progress if we can hop in a souped up Delorean, fixing all our mistakes? If our lives, our stories, are written in pencil, they're worth much less.
This whitewash of recent history has that exact effect, and it’s a phenomenon that’s older than dirt. Forget about the Baby Boomers, this attitude was lampooned by Aristophanes in 419 BC. We all long for the days when everyone behaved perfectly, and nothing bad ever happened. Nobody ever got cancer, no marriages ever ended. Not one single eighth grader went to the funeral of a classmate. Those days don't exist. That bygone era is as fictional at Marty McFly's time machine. And besides, considering my admittedly armchair astrophysics, the fact is, there will never be a moment exactly like this one. You will never again be in the exact same spot you are in right now. Everything that is is traveling through time and space, one microsecond after the one before.
So we can look back all we want and wish for mulligans. But we're all here, in this place with each other. It's time we remembered that.
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PUNOGRAPHY Scott Malkovsky
Don’t mind my dumbfounded look The absence of life on my face while you talk I’m simply undressing your sentences Removing the garments that cover each word
I nod as to not be rude But in all honesty I’m in a different realm
I’m sitting under the letter tree that grows out of your mouth To catch the most plosive of consonants as they fall Arms wide open to comfort the juiciest of your vowels My jaw hangs open in awe of your naked syllables
I’m not a pervert, I’m working on a pun
I know you came here to talk But I came here to twist your words Rebuild your breath in a clown suit And spike the punch line
P.S. Metaphors make one hell of a mixer
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GATHER Robert Vivian
Gather the least not and the want not and gather the fear not and the be not and gather the ghosts, yes, every one of them, for they are sure to drift away on errand of distant haunting in a theatre near you, and gather the end all and the be all and the lovers and the leaves and the pages tumbling down from notebooks and gather the flowers and the blossoms and sprigs of lilac soft as a hush in a church and gather the nuts and bolts and the little red wagon piled with dolls and gather the cardigans and T-shirts and gray matching socks whose yarn is a story of wool and fiber and gather the hymns and warbles and every sad or funny sound, even sob, even whisper, even dirty cuss word uttered under oneâ€™s breath, and gather the silly top hats and silk scarves and jigsaw puzzles with their archipelagos of partial features, only gather, gather, gather and hold them and hold her, hold anyone and gather the gloaming and the goatherd and fussy britches and icy cold stars and gather stones and pebbles as precious weight in whose pockets it matters not and gather clover and shovel and gather the blade of a windmill that has spun for its supper out on the plains and gather every turning and every falling and scraped knee and the gather the breeze wafting through the screen at night and the night itself that has turned off all the lights except the one inside its ink black heart, and then open your arms, oh, circumference so wide no harsh word could close it and gather the kisses and the touches and the deep throated groans of release and when you have gathered them all for the space of a breath let them all go, each and every one to fly back to tumbling and wild surcease giving way to surrender and back alley stairs and a street corner where a dog wanders wagging his black tail under an almost full moon and drooling for he is so happy to be alive smelling the ten thousand things and more and whimpering in lonely delight, he without home or master and no place to die in the love whose innocent ache he shares so nobly that will one day gather him up in its basket full of falling stars.
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BARBERSHOP PROTEST Trish Hopkinson
Aspen safety matchstick strikes protest signs within ignites sulfur friction at paraffin combustion. Exclamation points put across headstands dangling to the neck. Smoking barrels sucks in oozing wafts in whiskey drink down exhaust to the Glencairn glass.
Amber termites bend and break in scraped sandpaper. Roughsawn feet faces pavement, crowds cram catchphrases under fingernails. Rip out teeth in drunken insects, chew on smoke signals under rawhide flags stolen at masts. Breathe in buffalo feathers and beads stuck at oyster tongue. Calloused borders snap off scabs at fingertipped bloody newspaper clipped. Thumbtack sun to eyelids toothpicked, thirsty nightsticks torch pepper gas constellations padlocked to bike racks. Spoked shadows make the moon. Snap to it. Rubber quartet. Haircut.
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GORDON REYNOLDS P.J. Sambeaux
At one time, the small town I grew up in had the highest unsolved murder rate per capita in the entire country. We were the perfect blend of an insular society, a police force that was underfunded, understaffed, and – even worse – mistrusted to a large extent, and a distinctly Appalachian mix of apathy and fatalism. Who was getting killed anyway? Who cared about poor people killing poor people? Drugs always seemed to be somehow involved, and those kinds of people were nuisances, so no one was really going to get that bunched up if their murder went unsolved. It was something for adults to shake their heads over while they muttered something it being a damn shame but you got what you had coming. One murder that went unsolved for quite a while was the case of a woman whose body began surfacing in the river, one dismembered piece at a time. There were a couple of reasons why this particular murder drew more attention than others, made this more of an oddity. The first was that, of all the body parts that were recovered, the head was missing. I was a freshman in high school at the time, and I remember one of the running jokes was “What’s the missing head’s favorite song? I ain’t got no body.” (You know, like the song, “I ain’t got nobody, nobody cares for me, nobody…”) Another factor that set this murder apart was that everyone knew who did it. The reasoning was circumstantial – the supposed killer was the ex-boyfriend of the victim, and the breakup had not been amicable. This tiny piece of information was spun into a complete yarn that wove itself into our consciousness. Nobody thought he did it, they knew he did. Soon they remembered all the things that should have recognized as warning signs, all the ways in which they should have known it would come to this. As teenagers, when we saw the guy driving down the road, we would all shout, “Hi, Gordon Reynolds,” and cheerfully wave. We thought of him as our pet serial killer, even though he had only (probably) killed one person. The whole town persecuted him for seven years in ways which were much less friendly than ours – small town persecution, a shunning from the herd. He walked into a store, people stopped talking, some left, most stared – maybe they wouldn’t even wait on him. A steady stream of prank calls. Trash or eggs or shit thrown on his house in the middle of the night, amid screaming accusations and peeling tires. Truthfully, it was a relief to me when he was finally arrested and later convicted of the murder, because I had begun to have this (tiny) kernel of worry that maybe he didn’t do it and everybody was persecuting an innocent man. Luckily, he had done it, and he was no sooner in handcuffs than the police were digging up the ground on his property, searching for the missing head, which I don’t believe was ever recovered. Turned out it was both insurance fraud and a love affair gone awry. They burned down the house she owned and collected the insurance money, but she had apparently either gotten cold feet or had taken exception to being spurned by her boyfriend (he married another
woman), and he killed her so she wouldn’t turn him in. He got the death penalty, but was in the appeals process when he was found dead in his cell one day – apparent heart attack. We grew up in the foothills of the Appalachians, where one of the strangest parts about this case was that it was eventually solved. This was the world we lived in: murders happened and we still went to the mall, to the movies, to the prom – carrying on with our lives and accepting the place and the circumstances we found ourselves in as a matter of course, pet serial killers and all.
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INTIMATIONS OF MORTALITY Louis Gallo
1 Mr. Moose, believe the name or not, sat on a green three-legged stool and threw shreds of cardboard boxes into a fire too hot to understand. There was I, invisible at every recess, sulking in the doorway of his great boiler room wishing I could destroy something too – not knowing I had. 2 Perhaps I was never a child. It happens. Why do poets insist that childhood is blessed? I’ve only begun to learn to escape my own, that chaos which for years I mistook as paradise. I fell into a hole and cracked my teeth on a sewerage pipe. My sister spilled off a swing and lost consciousness for hours. Did I swing her too high toward heaven? And what about the time one of us sliced our feet to shreds on the floor furnace grill? It’s true, every wound is a small death – and a frenzy to squeeze life clean. If only death were an ugly, stinking bird we could crush with our bare hands. But death is not a bird. It is a six-year-old child bobbing against a tree stump in the fetid canal. 3. And yet, and yet . . . how sweetly the magnolias flared on Esplanade Avenue on warm summer evenings, how splendid our treks to Katz & Besthoff for malteds and banana splits, our grandmother trailing in the distance with her purse fat with money. Nothing ever changed in those days, we lived forever, we cast no shadows, we glowed on Columbus Street like radioactive potatoes in the moonlight.
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GLEAMING LIKE A BLUEBOTTLE AMONG THE WAVES Austin Eichelberger
When Kevin thinks of Jason—of his curly brown hair and burning blue eyes, of the upturn in his voice or the way he used to reach over and squeeze Kevin's hand or thigh no matter who was watching—he also thinks of those goddamn leggings that Jason wore all summer their last year together, printed with vibrant purple and hot pink man-o-wars. Then he thinks of the marine biology professor he had for “Principles of Hydrozoan Adaptation” the year he and Jason met, who taught an entire lesson about the “jellyfish that isn't a jellyfish,” the Portuguese man-o-war—which is “actually a siphonophore,” he could still hear Dr. Casings saying, “a collection of four different entities so evolutionarily tied together that they can't live on their own. They are adapted specifically and solely to a life of companionship.” Kevin probably only remembered this specific lecture because of the time he saw his tio stung by a man-o-war in Brazil while visiting his mother's family. It was a bright-hot beach day in December, cut through by the sudden shrieks of his tio, who lunged for shore, kicking like mad. “Their stings hurt much worse than those of a jellyfish,” Dr. Casings had told the class, “and if the victim—fish or human—thrashes, the tentacles move about and the man-o-war's nematocysts envenom the victim even further.” Before he was pulled away and cocooned in a towel by his tias, Kevin saw fat tears rush down his tio's face as he cursed in three languages, legs laced with red welts. “They float on the surface, though they can deflate to drop below,” chimes in Dr. Casings, “and the pneumatophore, or the sail, is perhaps their most recognizable feature.” In Brazil, the pneumatophore resembled a half-deflated balloon laying limp on the sand, already drying, the Atlantic leaving behind a thin layer of opaque minerals. As muscular twenty-something men in little red shorts and large black sunglasses cleared everyone from the water, the slender woman in thick gloves helping to treat his wailing tio's leg said that the man-o-war was probably dead, that sometimes they float for a while after they die, but dying doesn't make their poison any less painful. Wind and sun batter the gas bladder that crowns the majestic being, luminous colors painted along the delicate bubble of the sail; the twenty-, thirty-, fifty-foot-long tendrils spiral down to where the water gets cooler, the venom still potent though all the life connected to it is gone. The vision of those coiled tentacles always gives Kevin the sensation of cold water down his back. His mind plunges into the cooler depths he secretly visited on those family vacations— out further than his tias allowed him to go, past the lagoon's sandy peninsulas, where the bright green turned to blue and darkened as you looked toward the horizon, and then under, where the bottom turned to rough coral and the current pulled at his thin limbs like a spirit, a lemanjá beckoning him onward, deeper, onward—except now he sees Jason floating there in those fucking leggings, gleaming blue and purple in the gloom as he reaches out for Kevin, tentacles drifting forward. “And inside the man-o-war’s venomous arms are muscles that contract after a sting, pulling paralyzed fish up to the the gastrozooids to be digested.” Each time, Jason looks somehow ethereal and inviting and familiar, even as Kevin struggles toward the surface, his eyes burning and lungs shuddering as he beats his limp arms against the current, even as he feels Jason stinging along his legs, searing across his skin as the muscles underneath tremble and seize, even as he looks down through the pitch at stingers anchoring, tying themselves into knots around his ankles and thighs, binding him as close to 31
another living thing as he can be, even as he feels the scorching yanks and jolts of tentacles contracting, like needles tearing his skin, pulling him further from the sun and into the gaping cold of green-black water below, dragging him deeper, closer, onward.
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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jordan Rizzieri is the 90's-loving, extremely tall founder of The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society. After a having brief love affair with Western New York, Jordan now resides on Long Island, NY. She holds a degree from SUNY Fredonia in Theatre Arts (aka lying before an audience) with a minor in English (aka lying on paper). Jordan briefly experimented with playwriting (The Reunion Cycle - 2011 Buffalo Infringement Festival) and her mother's primary caregiver for over two years. She has been running a caregiver's blog on her experiences since 2011, as well as publishing essays on the topic. Now, Jordan spends her daylight hours arguing with her boyfriend's cats and at night takes on the identity of Pyro & Ballyhoo's sassiest critic, The Lady J. When she's not watching pro-wrestling or trying to decide what to order at the local bagel shop, she is listening to Prince and writing letters to her pen pals. Feel free to contact her with questions about the Attitude Era, comic book plot lines involving Harley Quinn, The Twilight Zone and the proper spelling of braciola.
FICTION EDITOR Alecia Lynn Eberhardt is a writer and editor working out of a little blue cabin in the Catskill Mountains. After receiving a writing degree in Boston, she fled to New York City before quickly realizing she'd rather have dirt under her fingernails from the garden than from the subway. She founded Eberhardt Smith, whose projects include Diner Porn and Catskill Made, with her partner-in-crime, Tom Smith. She is the copyeditor for Architizer and a staff writer and women's health curator at Luna Luna Magazine. You can find her drinking white wine and dancing in the kitchen with one Dachshund and one
pleasantly plump cat.
NON-FICTION EDITOR Jennifer Lombardo, Buffalo, NY resident, 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 "Internet Coquette" Walsh is a New York-native living in Bedford–Stuyvesant. 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 staring into the faces of people in each of them who ask her about her "career goals." An Executive Assistant in high-fashion by day, you can find her most nights working with the V-Day team to stop sexual violence against women and young girls, eating vegan sushi in the West Village or causing mischief on roofs. 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.
"Nels Hanson has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received
the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award, Pushcart Prize nominations in 2010, 12, and 2014, and has appeared in Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, Southeast Review and other journals. Poems appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Pacific Review and other magazines, and are in press at Sharkpack Review Annual, The Straddler, Revolver, Meat for Tea, and The Mad Hatter's Review. Poems in Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine and Citron Review have been nominated for 2014 Pushcart Prizes.
" Tom Loughlin is a teacher, actor and writer living in Dunkirk, NY. "
Susan Taylor Suchy’s work is strongly influenced by writers who work in the genre of magical realism such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Herbjorg Wassmo. She is also influenced by the ideas of the American Transcendentalists as well as a range of writers who explore ideas of seeing including Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and Aldous Huxley.
By day Erin Jendras helps students at her local community college decide on a career path. By night she mostly sleeps, but sometimes can be found writing stories and poetry while eating snacks made from bizarre combinations of food. By day or by night, Erin’s goal is to uncover emotional truths that turn a light on in your soul. You can find out more about Erin via her linkedin and on her blog.
Ellyn Touchette is a biologist and behavioral health professional from Portland, Maine. Her most recent work is present or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Black Heart Magazine, and Drunk in a Midnight Choir. More Ellyn Stuff can be found on her Tumblr.
Rachel Mindell is an MFA candidate in poetry and MA candidate in English Literature at the University of Montana. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Horse Less Review, DESTROYER, Anti-, Cream City Review, Delirious Hem, interrupture, Pity Milk and elsewhere.
G. D. McFetridge, iconoclast and philosopher, writes from his wilderness home in Montana’s majestic Sapphire Mountains. His fiction and essays are published in academic journals and reviews, and commercial literary magazines, across America, in Canada, India, Ireland and the UK.
Edward A. Dougherty's new collection of poems is forthcoming from Plain View Press at the end of 2014/start of 2015. You can join the Indiegogo campaign to cover production through Sept 15th. He is the author of two poetry books (Pilgrimage to a Gingko Tree, and Part Darkness, Part Breath) and five chapbooks, the most recent of which is Backyard Passages.
Anne Spollen is the mother of three children and the author of two novels, The Shape of Water and Light Beneath Ferns. She lives in Staten Island where she is currently working on a book detailing the toll addiction has taken on her family. This piece is from that collection.
Patricia Connolly is an associate professor teaching sociology and literature at a community college in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Other Rooms Press, Askew and The Bend. Despite living, working and studying in cities, the quieter, more subtle and unseen forces inspire her writing. 35
Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. Nearly 200 of her poems appear in over 100 online venues and in anthologies. The natural world is generally her framework; she often focuses on the tension between nature and humanity, using concrete images to illuminate the loss of meaning between them. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California. This poem was written during a visit to the San Francisco De Young Art Museum and a special O'Keefe exhibit held there in the spring of 2014.
Katie Gorrie is the editor of The Filid Chapbook, and teaches creative writing at St. Stephen’s University.
André-Naquian Wheeler is currently an NYU undergrad studying Writing. He has appeared, or will appear, on Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, Forth Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Linguistic Erosion, and The Drunken Odyssey. You can find him via his wordpress blog or in his room dancing to Beyoncé.
Claire-Madeline Culkin is an author and student of psychoanalysis. Her writing explores the way we give ourselves a sense of historicity in the telling of stories, as if we are little God’s, creating more earth with our words. In her academic studies, Claire-Madeline explores the basic human desire, in the telling of them, to survive the past; to defy time; to be made immortal. To read more of stories like these, like her author page on Facebook. She can also be found on Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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.
Scott Malkovsky is an actor/poet living in California. He suffers from pun vomit, which is the inability to hold back a pun. You can find him on Twitter (but he probably won't be there).
Robert Vivian has published four novels and two books of meditative essays and is currently working on a collection of dervish essays.
Trish Hopkinson loves words and digs poetry slams. Her mother tells everyone that she was born with a pen in her hand. She has been published in several journals, including The Found Poetry Review, Chagrin River Review, and Touchstones, the latter in which she won second place for poetry twice. She recently received awards in the Utah Arts Festival’s IronPen competition and from the League of Utah Writers for her poetry anthology, Emissions. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and two outstanding children.
P.J. Sambeaux spent her childhood running feral in the foothills of the Appalachians, where much of her writing - both fiction and nonfiction - takes place. Her work has appeared most recently in Citron Review. She is currently working on her second novel, The Art of Gift Giving and Saying Goodbye.
Louis Gallo's work has appeared in Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, 36
storySouth, Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review,and many others. Chapbooks include THE TRUTH CHANGES and THE ABOMINATION OF FASCINATION. He is a founding editor of the now defunct journals, THE BARATARIA REVIEW and BOOKS: A NEW ORLEANS REVIEW. He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
Austin Eichelberger is a native Virginian who completed his MA in May 2009 and is happily still teaching as much English and writing as he can manage. His creative work has been published or is forthcoming from dozens of journals and anthologies including Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Cease, Cows, Gone Lawn, Extract(s), Eclectic Flash, First Stop Fiction, and others. You can find more of his writing at austineichelberger.wordpress.com. He currently lives in sunny, sprawling New Mexico.
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