February 2016

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Table of Contents Pg. 4 - Triggers, Jen Escher Pg. 6 - Hands, Adam Bogar Pg. 8 - apology to old kings, Isabella Neer Pg. 10 - Divorce Stats, Jessica Barksdale Pg. 11 - The Case of Rosie Pings, Allison Sobczak Pg. 12 - Love Letter, Tom Loughlin Pg. 14 - A Poet’s Manifesto, Shloka Shankar Pg. 15 - Apostrophe Reflected in Laundry Pail, Elizabeth O’Brien Pg. 17 - Route Talk, Adam Kane Pg. 19 - Highways and Byways, Terry Barr Pg. 20 - Black ad Bluets, Emily Why Pg. 21 - The Hero Falls, Cathy Ulrich Pg. 22 - EDITORIAL STAFF Pg. 24 - CONTRIBUTOR BIOS


Triggers Jen Escher Day One – She’s made the decision. She’s done. (That’s a lie. The decision was made for her.) She’s been cut-off -- cold Turkey. What a stupid phrase. Battle-field amputation feels more apropos. She crawls through the discarded and musty smelling jeans/skirts/panties/ bras on her bedroom floor to her bed. Trigger She climbs up. She curls into herself like a bean sprout or a fetus. Trigger She dreads sleeping. She dreads waking even more. Sleeping will bring relief, but dreams. Trigger Morning will bring the worst of the sickness. She’s always had 12 hours from her last fix until the real pain begins. She used up five of those hours trying to drink away the realization of her predicament, to be numb, to be drunk enough to slip into unconsciousness for the remaining seven hours. Day Two – She’s awakened by the burning of her stomach eating itself and releasing gastric acids up and in to her chest cavity. She stumbles to the bathroom to vomit. She rinses her mouth with medicinal-flavored Listerine from under the sink. Trigger She wraps herself in an afghan from the back of her second-hand couch Trigger and steps out onto her balcony. With shaking hands she lights a cigarette and Googles her symptoms. Her agony spelled out in simple, black font through the cracked screen of her cell phone Trigger makes it all seem less devastating somehow. Google tells her that it is the loss of dopamine firing between neurotransmitters that is compelling her to entertain fantasies of stuffing the muzzle of her dead father’s military-issue pistol between her teeth and painting the wall of her tiny kitchen with her useless brain matter. Google tells her these are perfectly normal thoughts/reactions/symptoms of withdrawal. It is perfectly normal. “I am perfectly normal,” she tells herself. Day Three – She can’t stop her eyes from leaking or her nose from running. She hasn’t slept. She wants to relapse. She wants a fix if for no other reason than to relax, to sleep, to take a breath that doesn’t sting her scream-raw throat. The neighbors have starting calling the cops/complaining/pounding on her door and their ceiling. She uses her couch cushions and pillows to muffle herself. Trigger Google tells her to leave the house. Go for a walk. Avoid environments/people/situations which could trigger a memory/ image/relapse. She can think of nowhere to go. She needs bread, beer, cigarettes, and coffee, but she is afraid to go to the grocery store. They play music over the intercom system. Trigger She remembers conversations she has had with people who never noticed the music playing. She wonders sometimes if she’s the only one who can hear it. To get to the store she would have to drive by the lake, Trigger the park, Trigger work, Trigger their apartment complex, Trigger and the bar, Trigger. Google gives her an alternate route. She passes an antique store she had forgotten about. Trigger She wants 4

to relapse. She needs to feel quiet/content/body weightless, if only for a few precious hours. Day Four – She tried. She failed. She begged. She cried. She received. She relapsed. Her big vulnerable eyes -- wet and greener from crying -- were always her best currency. The dopamine released in floods between her receptors fills her with the familiar sensations of buzzing skin and the soft, sharp scent of lavender – all the more blissful after being denied the pleasure. She wants to stay floating there forever. She feels full and soft. Her stomach and chest cease to ache. Her mind slows to a soft whirring, like the sound of the ceiling fan on low. Trigger He pulls out of her, rolls off of her, moves away from her. He tells her in a quiet/ashamed/angry voice that she should go. He tells her it was a mistake. He tells her his wife will be home soon with the groceries for dinner. He slides his jeans up over his hip bones Trigger (still glistening from their contact) Trigger and tosses her a damp towel from the floor. Trigger She dresses in the dark. She hears him pissing in the bathroom. Trigger She steals the lavender scented satchel Trigger from the nightstand on his side of the bed and shoves it into her bra. He holds the door open for her and lets loose an exasperated sigh when she stops walking out to look up at him. Her eyes plead for a word, a single word of reciprocation/love/understanding. He gives her nothing. She hears the lock latch behind her as she descends the stairs. She walks to the bar on the corner. Trigger She orders a beer and a shot of cheap rail vodka. Trigger Her stomach is empty. She knows it won’t take long for the alcohol to take effect. She knows she has 11 ½ hours until the worst of the sickness will begin again.


Hands Adam Bogar My goodness I was never asked to speak so this gave me the briefest of a certain grim, Darwinian satisfaction. It is an invention a mosaic composed of bits bits of trash taken from tales of either the warden or a guard. That is no disgrace. Oh, my God My goodness We are here for no purpose unless we can invent one. I spoke to the lilies of the valley with the quick grace of a magician treated them like dirt but they just came back for more. Speaking of my fictitious father massively dependent on tomatoes I looked at my reflection in the black marble faรงade, freakish even without the bullet holes, a glass partition between myself and my father Oh, my God My goodness The partition had not seemed strange or even suggestive to me. The same nice manners the same bright smile 6

equally ridiculous commitments waiting for the guard to come. “Oh, my God!” “My goodness!” in my head by an alien voice And I lifted my old hands at the end of every futile day and the hands were dancing as hers were. A tiny woman, incidentally. (All text excerpted from Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut.)


apology to old kings Isabella Neer One can trace my family tree back one thousand years to see I am descended from old kings. I walk through museums past statues of my ancestors, their marble faces frozen in cold expectation. When I look in the mirror I wonder if by some genetic coincidence any of them used to look like me. Shakespeare said that some are born great some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. I am somewhere in between. I wait here for greatness, noble blood diluted by generations. Robert Bruce how many children do you have? William Wallace how many grandchildren? Charlemagne can you count your descendants? And what sets me apart? In multitudes my footprints here are lost Here are no wars to fight No castles to storm No songs to sing No honors to be won. I wait here for a match to light my veins I am no Queen Elizabeth No Joan of Arc. I am no Helen bringing Troy to its knees. 8

No thousand ships will sail for me. William you fought for freedom Robert they crowned you king Charles they named you holy. Among these ghosts of history I await prophecy, tug at my sword in the stone. I write my name in the sand and watch the waves wash it away. Eyes of statues watch me as I turn my palms upward, show them empty hands.


Divorce Stats Jessica Barksdale Agencies contacted, offices visited, emails sent to change name back to maiden: 17 Apologies still owed (mine): 26 Bottles of wine consumed alone: 104 Boyfriends with a hair-pulling problem: 1 Dating sites joined: 3 Difference in age between ex-husband and his new wife (he older): 17 Difference in age between my second husband and me (he older): 7 Debt incurred: 32,000 Husbands: 2 Moves since I left my first husband: 6 Number of years before it seemed reasonable to keep on living: 1.2 Perfect first dates that never turned into second dates: 1 Perfect first date that turned into a marriage: 1 Projected age of baby, the one he pleaded for in those last days: 9.5 Really bad, sometimes scary dates involving toupees, brown teeth, sad lives (mine included): 12 Sons who think parents ended up with better partners: 1 Sons who blamed me for everything: 1 Sons who are okay with the way things are now: 2 Sons: 2 Students who deserve a partial tuition refund (2005-2006) due to insanity, absence, and erratic behavior (mine): 242 Time it took for my mother to forgive me: Unknown Times I slept with soon-to-be ex-husband: 3 Times it was a mistake: 3 Times my heart broke and broke again: 123 Years since I gazed out at a brilliant fall morning, certain I wasn’t going back: 8 Years between date of separation and marriage number two: 5 Years taken off life due to self-pity: 3.2 Years added back to life span due to better circumstances: 3.6 Years it will take before I stop flinching at memories, before I stop rehashing terrible conversations, before September is only the end of summer, the leaves and earth turning and not because of me: 1. Maybe 2.


The Case of Rosie Pings Allison Sobczak Rosie Pings was found in Hibernia Park on March 20, 1978, lying facedown on the bank of a river. She had washed up halfway on shore, with her lower half remaining in the water, bobbing with each passing ripple. She wore a white cotton dress that had yellowed and greened from the elements, and her head was encased inside a filthy plastic bag. Short, brown hair haloed her head in strongly clumps, and although her face couldn’t be seen (a small blessing), her skin had shrunk to her bones, gray and stiff. Rosie Pings’ parents were devastated. They kept themselves collected in front of the media, but aired their grief behind closed doors in the comfort of their home. Mr. Pings drowned in his work, going in early to his job and leaving as late as possible. He entered the house in a brooding silence, never addressing his wife, and locked himself in his study with a bottle of Scotch, wilting in solace. As though to counter this, Mrs. Pings went in the opposite direction by going outside and involving herself in anything and everything. When she wasn’t focused on some task or another, she became mute, immobile, turning herself off until it was safe to come back out. Rosie Pings wasn’t an unusual case – children went missing every day, and some stories don’t get an ending. This ending, while horrific and terrible, provided closure for her family, although it destroyed them in the process. And the killer, if they play their cards right, may never even be found out. They’ll continue on through their days under a new name and a new life, never looking back, leaving broken and crippled things in their wake. It’s cruel, it’s unyielding, and it’s wrong. But it’s reality, and nobody ever said things in life had to be right.


Love Letter Tom Loughlin Dearest Annie, I am writing to apologize to you for burning all the love letters you wrote me. It was a rash emotional decision at the time. I was hurt, angry, heartbroken, and having those letters in my possession did nothing but remind me minute to minute how much you once loved me. They carried your scent, your heart, your soul - every last one of them. They took no more than 10 minutes to burn, and in that 10 minutes I lost an eternity with you. I do not know what you have done with the love letters I sent you. Perhaps you burned them as well, or perhaps they lie in some sort of hiding place known only to you, where your daughter or your grandchildren will not find them until you pass away. Perhaps you intend to let your family know of my existence only when you’re gone, so that they can finally solve the mystery of why mom/grandmother never married. I would like to think that is the case, and that one day they can read the words I wrote you many years ago. A dream, no doubt, but a pleasant one that fills the lonely hours of a snowbound evening. I would like to apologize to you for burning your love letters by writing one to you this evening. It’s been quite some time, and I fear I may be out of practice. I will try to write this as I used to, in a rush, without careful consideration, without the measured tones of the careful man I’ve become, without fear of the consequences. My wish is that this love letter will touch your heart enough that you will forgive me for the stupidity of my youth. Forty-four years have passed, and I love you no less today than the day you asked me not to see you anymore. I have respected that wish; I have not seen you since. I think the hardest part of admitting I still love you is that it makes my entire life from that day on appear to be a lie, a shallow attempt to replace what I could not have with you. But I would not want you to feel that way at all. You remain forever frozen in my mind, forever 19, forever smiling. You have that mischievous Irish glint in your green eyes that you used to get when you were about to tell me you loved me, or about to kiss me. The laughter is always a girlish giggle, a laughter that echoes from a time when life was slower, more poetic, less visible. The laughter always brought that one dimple on your right cheek to life, the one I used to love to poke my finger into. We were terrible at making love too, weren’t we? I chuckle now to think about all the fumbling that went on, the total failures, the partial successes, and the times I think maybe we actually got it right! But you know, I was never really after the sex; not 12

really. You know what I enjoyed most of all? The passionate kissing. Long, long sessions of kissing, and quietly caressing your breasts under your blouse. That was heaven on earth. Parked along the curbside three houses short of your own, or in the parking lot of the West Bathhouse at Jones Beach, or under the porch at the Southhold summer cabin, or at the point of Sands Point, overlooking the Manhattan skyline through the Throgs Neck Bridge. Those times are what I remember most, feeling you squeeze me to you as close as you could, as if somehow there was some pain you needed to release by kissing me forever. I imagine if we had had more opportunities to practice, the lovemaking might have gotten better, but I can’t say it would have mattered. It was the soul-on-fire feeling of loving you that mattered most to me. You broke my heart, yes; but you should know what became of that broken heart, and how your love continues to strengthen me and guide that heart. I never bothered to repair or sew up my heart. As you know, I teach, and I have come to be a good teacher. But if I am any good at all, it is not because of any skill I possess in my subject matter. It is because you gave me so much love as a young boy, that when you broke my heart, it was all that love that came flowing from it that I learned to take and channel into my teaching. I do the best I can to offer to each student I come across whatever amount of that love they need. It always has its disguises; they really don’t know that what they are receiving is a small piece of you and me. I guide them through difficult situations, talk with them about their fears, share their excitements and breakthroughs with them, laugh with them as often as I can. They seem to like my laugh the best, the one you taught me. Remember? There has been enough love so far to sustain my career to this point; only now do I sense the supply fading. I think the reason for this is not the students’ faults so much as it is the culture. It is a culture that does not know how to write love letters. That is a shame. Love letters are tl;dr (if you know what I - and that - means). This culture has a cold, calculating, technological heartbeat, emanating from a heart that can’t be broken because it is too self-possessed. There is little warmth in people today, and even our love is not enough to bring some heat to the people I encounter these days. I have come to the time in my life when I need what’s left for myself to get through the darkness that lies ahead. Don’t ever feel sorry for breaking my heart. As I think about it now, it probably was the greatest gift you could have given me. So much of human mythology from so many different cultures speak of dying only to rise again, more powerful, stronger: the legend of the phoenix; all of Catholic theology and mysticism; Hindu reincarnation stories; Sioux and Arapaho spirit warriors; Obi-Wan Kenobi. Perhaps it is not really you I love, for who can really love someone you haven’t seen in 44 years? Perhaps it’s the mythology of you, of what our time together has come to mean to me, of what you symbolize for me in my daily life. But is there truly a difference?


Would I rather have had you love me for all this time? Yes. Yes, I would. I think I would have given all this up for that. But, as that was not what life had in store for me, there is little reason to deal with the question. I am grateful for the time we had together. The paradox is how I received so very much in so little time. The wind howls outside. Tonight we are receiving the first snowfall of the year. What little greenery remains will be left a white, outlined vision, a contour of what lies underneath. Such is the love I have for you; visibly outlined as I walk through life, the contours of which all can see, but no one can truly know what lies beneath. This is what sustains me, this is what feeds my art, this is what gives me the greatest joy. If such things as soulmates exist, then you are mine. I will never find another. Remember always that I love you, I have loved you, and I will always love you. All my love, Tommy

A Poet’s Manifesto Shloka Shankar Enter a word undeviating, fervent. Believe every I. Write alone. Pierce silence. Note: An erasure culled out from Captain Wentworth’s love letter to Anne (Persuasion by Jane Austen), after it was passed through the Reverse Text Generator, and set to reverse wording. 14

Apostrophe Reflected in Laundry Pail Elizabeth O’Brien O broken moon you are a white tooth whose mouth I want to peer into. When’s the last time a wish landed in a place like this? Think back. But you’ve hunkered down for the night your black atlas unfurls its only page and I’m afraid I’ve left my home. It was a mistake, I’ve seen better heads on nickels I didn’t pick up. At the back of your throat a key-wound silhouette hangs laundry, stooping and jiggering up for the line which goes somewhere far from here. O rootless moon, hang your whites. I’m shaking the last coins from my pockets— their tiny heads roll in the street. Let’s decide now who’s at fault. I’m lost here 15

in the dark everything is about to crack: the page, the line, the surface of water in the pail.


Route Talk Adam Kane I spend a lot of time in the car. My wife and I commute together to work, which is a 45minute endeavor on a perfect morning, and a 45-minute return voyage home in the evening. (Not accounting for the 15 minute walk from our parking garage to the office.) We live six miles from the office. The most frustrating part of our journey involves a combination traffic circle/highway overpass/ highway on and off-ramp work of infrastructure wizardry. On a good day, we sit for 10 minutes in a crawl, waiting for our turn to get to the front of the line and into the elevated circle, which takes all of three seconds to get through. A few months ago, we noticed a man standing on the overpass holding a wooden sign against the fence on the overpass sidewalk. The man leaned on the fence, facing those of us waiting to get on the circle and using his back to brace his sign so that the people passing under our cars on the highway could read it as they sat in traffic on their way into Boston. Those of us mindlessly waiting for our turn in the circle couldn’t read the sign, which I liked, kind of. It was a mystery, and my wife and I would offer hypotheses as to what message this man chose to share with rush hour traffic. “Make America Great Again” was an early thought I had. Massachusetts is the bluest of the blue states, but the Commonwealth’s Republicans are really republican. This theory didn’t last long, as I noticed the man’s reusable coffee mug, his bushy mustache and shaggy gray hair. Clearly, he must be “Feeling the Bern,” we surmised. We decided that he must be recently retired, and after a few months, his wife encouraged him to find something to do other than sit at the kitchen table, drink coffee, and yell at the television. “Feel the Bern” was the only possible explanation. Well, that, or “Keep the Whalers in Hartford.” After a few weeks, he moved position. Now, instead of sharing his message with the cars on the highway, he stands at the entrance of the traffic circle, his sign in plain view, the mystery gone forever: “Climate change is real.” My wife recently read a book called Packing for Mars, about the elements of space travel we don’t often consider while we’re watching footage of three Air Force pilots with crew cuts sit on top of a Saturn 5 while it launches them toward the moon. One concept described is “irrational antagonism,” which is what happens when a small group of people are in isolation with one another for an extended period of time. It’s something that needs to be considered when planning for a manned mission to Mars: all the calculations are correct, the instruments perfectly engineered, and the food


supply perfectly airlocked, but there’s no accounting for when the engineer hates the payload specialist’s stupid face. I have developed an irrational antagonism for the “Climate Change is Real” guy. It didn’t happen right away. At first, I was happy to see a reminder of the realities of climate change every morning, especially knowing how many elected members of our national legislative branch and major presidential candidates deny that climate change is even happening. Good for that guy, I thought as I slowly approached his perch. It dawned on me one morning: he’s directing his protest, his vitriol, toward me. He must see hundreds of cars every day, each spitting toxins into the atmosphere. He would be singing a different tune, I thought, if he had tried to take the subway during the deluge of snow last winter. (I’ve thought more than once about holding up a sign that says as much as we creep by him.) Clearly, he’s not talking about us, I would tell my wife, since we’re carpooling. It made us both feel better. To his credit, he stands in that patch of grass every morning. To his discredit, he doesn’t even hold the sign anymore. He’s got it on a wooden stake, and rigged to the guardrail with bungee cords. He just stands next to the sign, judging us and sipping his coffee, holding his mug with two hands. Meanwhile, he’s surrounded by litter in his grassy protest zone. I don’t know if picking up the garbage he’s standing in would improve the outlook on climate change, but it certainly couldn’t hurt. The worst part of this irrational antagonism is that I agree with him. He’s right. Climate change is real and it’s scary. But he’s also ignoring the reality of the state of public transportation, the housing market, and the logistics of getting anywhere in Greater Boston. I wonder how he’s made his living, how his kids got to soccer practice, how he travelled to his spot every morning. I’d love to hear what he thinks we should do about climate change. I admire his persistence, but what comes next? Stating facts is all well and good, but doing something, being the change, that’s going to take more than sipping a coffee next to a sign he’s not holding. I don’t know. Maybe I need to find a faster route to work. Maybe I need to move closer to the office. Or maybe I need to start bringing a travel mug of my own in the car with me. I’ll hold it up and smile as I drive past the man with the sign every day. Climate change is certainly real, but at least we’re both caffeinating with reusable cups.


Highways and Byways Terry Barr The sign on the interstate pointed to Athens, home of The University of Georgia. We passed by, not even stopping at Starbucks as we normally do. Ready to be home; ready to see my wife, my daughters, and my American Dingo, Max. “This might be the wrong thing to say,” my mother acknowledged, “but do you wonder whatever happened to Deanna?” I find that whenever someone begins a sentence with “This might be the wrong thing to say,” or “Don’t take this the wrong way,” my world goes on pause. I hear that sucking sound the garbage disposal makes when you’ve dumped in the liquefied remains of something you no longer want. As real time begins again without my willing release of the pause button, I hear myself say, “No. I have no idea. Why would I? That was over 33 years ago.” “A few years back [and I’m thinking, how many? 5, 10, 25?], a friend of yours from Athens called me, looking for your address. We talked a few minutes and he said that Deanna had loved you so much.” I thought I had put an end to this shit when, after the fifth or sixth time my mother lamented to my face her sorrow that I had broken up with Deanna, I looked directly at her and said, “You have no idea what you’re talking about. We would have ended in divorce. She was sweet, but too neurotic. Now I don’t want to hear any more about it. Ever.” That was a year after Deanna and I had broken up; a year before I married my current wife, a woman I’ve been with for 31 years. A woman with whom I’ve raised two happy, well-adjusted daughters. A woman who is even more gorgeous now than when we married. A woman who is an accomplished, self-employed psychotherapist and who makes twice what I do even though I have a more advanced degree. But I suppose what really matters is that Deanna looked like Princess Diana, the closest thing to royalty that my mother was likely to get. “She’s just crazy,” my own therapist says about my mother. “She’s trying to keep you under her control. To keep you undifferentiated. She has no idea what she’s doing. It’s just her way.” It’s a difficult task, telling your mother to shut up, to keep her damn opinions to herself. To keep out of your life. To quit crossing the boundaries that lead into emotional incest, as she did by informing me of the men who made passes at her before my father died. We made it to my home that day, where my mother visited for the next week, wreaking havoc in every path she crossed, but not of course in any physical way. Just in the ways of possessive love. I know I took charge of my life when I married without her knowledge or approval all those years ago. Yet her voice keeps finding my vulnerable place, on the


standard interstate roads I travel; in stories I never wanted to hear, and in memories I’ll never forget.

Black ad Bluets Emily Why listening to the soft alarm of the building song drowning out the wailing of our bodies i keep track of my horoscopes & hormones she flogs me in spondees, never trailing off, insistent raw cowhide heartbeat, --idling motor but disgust is the kissing cousin of desire and the hierarchy of desire is alphabetical -"me" comes before "you" I've carved a small hook from my belly for you, fat rendered under the light of the eclipse, crystalized bone-knife pneumatic dreams of walking out of my life and not looking back , the leather contours her form-- a couture moment she bruises gently into night black and bluets: cloying the sharpest things into shadow 20

The Hero Falls Cathy Ulrich The hero is thrown into the bottomless pit. Falling gives him the time to ponder certain things: how it would have ended up if he weren’t the hero, for instance. If he had become a CPA like his mother hoped. It’s steady work, George, she said. The hero’s mother was the only one who ever called him George. I just can’t wrap my head round this hero business, she’d say when they’d meet for coffee. The hero ponders his mother as he falls: her round face, her dimpled elbows. She never approved of the girlfriend. The girlfriend was always getting kidnapped, always sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. The girlfriend was for rescuing, then kissing after. The girlfriend was finally killed by the hero’s arch-nemesis. The girlfriend ceased to exist, except as motivation for the hero’s revenge. As he falls, the hero begins to wonder if the girlfriend really ever did exist. He cannot, when he tries, conjure up an image of her face. He thinks she liked popcorn. If he had been George the CPA, he would have sat beside the girlfriend on the couch to watch a movie, her bare feet tucked up under her body, and shared a bowl of popcorn. The hero has never sat beside anyone on the couch and shared a bowl of popcorn. The hero is struck with a craving for popcorn, and for couches, and for movies so bad you couldn’t get through them if the girlfriend wasn’t there, laughing where she wasn’t supposed to laugh. The girlfriend, he thinks, must have had a beautiful laugh. He ponders his mother’s dimpled elbows. The way she hung her apron over the edge of the chair after putting a pie in the oven. The way she said George. The way she tucked books under her pillow at night instead of putting them on the nightstand. The hero contemplates his arch-nemesis. The villain. The villain has always been the hero’s arch-nemesis. He realizes there isn’t much to ponder about the villain. He thinks again of his mother’s dimpled elbows and the smell of baking pie. He tries to remember the sound of the girlfriend’s laughter. He tries to remember if he ever heard the sound of the girlfriend’s laughter. He ponders the futility of being a CPA. He ponders the futility of being a hero. The futility of falling. The hero’s body crumbles bit by bit. He loses his big toe. He loses his pinky finger. He ponders his mother’s dimpled elbows. He falls.


Editorial Staff

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. 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. FICTION EDITOR Adam Robinson is an aspiring writer and barista languidly skulking the wetland void of Western Michigan. Following acceptance in 2012 to Grand Rapids' Kendall College of art and design in pursuit of an education in graphic art, his love for language and literature was made priority. Now, an English major on sporadically perpetual hiatus, you can most often find him pulling shots of espresso, keying long paragraphs in the dark, secluded corner of a local café, or taking lengthy walks through the dense Michigan woods conveniently placed in his own backyard. Monotoned, fond of the semicolon and existentialist literature; listen closely and you can sometimes hear him beseech advice from the ghost of Dostoevsky (who tends not to reply).


POETRY EDITOR Wilson Josephson splits his time between the backwoods of New Hampshire and Northfield, Minnesota, where he attends Carleton College. Wilson spends the majority of his waking hours swimming back and forth over a line of black tiles, so he spends any dry hours he can scrounge up flexing his creative muscles. His prose and his poetry have appeared in Carleton’s literary magazine, he regularly performs in the student dance company, and he even directed a play once. Wilson is also the laziest of all the founding members of Literary Starbucks, and he still writes jokes about obscure literary figures when he has a little free time. His newest passion is making people laugh, usually by making himself the punchline, occasionally via the clever deployment of a slippery banana peel. SOCIAL MEDIA MISTRESS Kaity Davie is an overly enthusiastic gal taking on the world of the ever-evolving music industry, talking music by day and lurking venues, NYC parks, and pubic libraries by night. Currently, she makes magic happen across a number of social networks for a number of bands, brands, and writers. After having several poems published in The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society, she began managing their social accounts in early 2015. Kaity keeps her sanity by writing rambling lines of prose and celebrating the seasonal flavors of Polar Seltzer.


 Jen Escher is an adjunct English professor and a writer of memoir, poetry, and thinlyveiled memoir touted as fiction. She lives in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin (in a quickly emptying nest) where she cheerfully writes about the dark, dense, and complicated human magic that is love, sex, and self-destruction. Adam T. Bogar holds an MA in English, his research articles, essays, and poetry have been published since 2007. He is the Head of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library's Budapest Chapter, and he's currently editing a volume of essays and a visual art & poetry chapbook, both on Kurt Vonnegut. He drinks coffee and walks on the seaside whenever he can. Isabella Neer is a writer and amateur filmmaker from Newell, West Virginia. She is the Drum Captain in her high school's marching band and she doesn't like her dog v much. Jessica Barksdale's 14th novel, The Burning Hour, comes out March 2016. She is an English professor at Diablo Valley College and teaches online novel writing for UCLA Extension. She lives in Oakland, CA with her (second) husband. Allison Sobczak is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago where she earned a BA in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Story Week Reader, Rollick Magazine, and Intrinsick Magazine. She grew up in a small suburban town outside of Philadelphia, but the Windy City has become her second home. Learn more about her at allisonsobczak.com. Tom Loughlin lives in the economically depressed city of Dunkirk NY, on the shores of beautiful but polluted Lake Erie. He works on occasion with the theatre community in Buffalo NY. He has a few more years left teaching at the State University of NY at Fredonia. Shloka Shankar is a freelance writer from Bangalore, India. She loves experimenting with all forms of the written word, and has found her niche in Japanese short-forms such as haiku, senryu, haibun, and found/remixed poetry alike. Her work has most recently appeared/forthcoming in Sein und Werden, the other bunny, Poetry WTF?!, Window Cat Press, After the Pause, and so on. She is also the founding editor of the literary & arts journal, Sonic Boom. Elizabeth O’Brien holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota, and her work poetry and prose - has appeared in The New England Review, Diagram, and Sixth Finch, among many others.


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. Terry Barr's essays have appeared most recently in Red Savina Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, The Bitter Southerner, and Coldfront Magazine. His essay collection, Don't Date Baptists and Other Warnings From My Alabama Mother, will be published in 2016 by Red Dirt Press. He lives in Greenville, SC, with his family. emily why is an erotica artist and graduate from the school of visual arts living and working in brooklyn. a hybrid of writing and lens-mediated imagery, her work explores the fluctuating relationship between memory, image, and language. her self-published chapbook "daydream" (2013) is available for download on her website, www.emilyyost.com. Cathy Ulrich has falling nightmares sometimes. She never wakes up until after she lands. Her work has recently been featured in ExFic, The Literary Yard and The Citron Review.



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