October 2015

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Table of Contents Pg. 4 - SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON, Tom Loughlin Pg. 6 - ARRASTRADA, Vanesa Pacheco - GRETA’S SONG, Mark Benedict Pg. 8 - BUTTERFLY’S LAST WALTZ, Janna Vought Pg. 9 - DARK WATER, Stephanie Niu Pg. 10 - A BRIEF HISTORY OF COWBOYS AND INDIANS, Howie Good - ON ENGAGEMENT, Laurie Kolp Pg. 11 - DOWN TIME, Matt Kolb Pg. 12 - A WORTHWHILE CAREER PATH, Melissa Parietti Pg. 14 - THE COLUMN OF AIR, Anders M. Svenning Pg. 17 - GOD THAT I AM, Jessica Morey-Collins Pg. 19 - GOD THAT I USED TO BE, Jessica Morey-Collins Pg. 20 - SEARCHING VS. FINDING, OR: WHY I DIDN’T DO THE ASSIGNED READING, Charlotte Gross Pg. 23 - DIONYSIS AND EURUS WALK INTO A BAR, Matt Kolb Pg. 24 - WHALE SONG, Nate Maxson Pg. 25 - MOSS, Jessie Rice-Evans Pg. 26 - MOTHER FIGUREStephanie Niu Pg. 28 - ON HIS WAY TO ELYSIA, Anders M. Svenning Pg. 31 - LETTERS TO MY DAUGHTERS, Janna Vought Pg. 34 - SPRING, Laurie Kolp Pg. 35 - THE WATER DIVIDES US, Matt Kolb Pg. 36 - UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES, Tom Loughlin Pg. 39 - VOX POPULI, Adam Kane Pg. 44 - EDITORIAL STAFF Pg. 46 - CONTRIBUTOR BIOS


 Tom Loughlin We dream in darkness. From the darkest recesses of our psyches our dreams arise in a mad attempt to make sense of the senseless. This is a dream born from my darkest hours: I am sitting in a theatre, awaiting the beginning of a show. I am sitting in the orchestra section, floor level. It is clearly an old-style theatre, one of those beautiful Broadway theatres from the golden age. The main curtain is crushed red velvet. It is down, hiding whatever is behind it. I have a playbill, but the pages are white, blank, empty. An actor appears from between the curtain and requests a volunteer, saying the show can’t be performed without help from an audience member. I raise my hand, am selected, and find myself walking up the house left aisle towards the stage. The minute I step on the stage, everything goes to black. As the lights come up, I find the set is a replication of my high school sweetheart’s bedroom. She is sitting on the edge of her bed. I am in my worker greys, the uniform of my college summer job. She is sitting there, smiling, but nothing more. I move toward her. As I do, the set flies away in all directions, and she is standing there, naked, in front of me. I discover I am naked as well. She laughs and runs away from me, but turns her head back, as if beckoning me to follow her. I do so. We are now caught in a chase around the stage that is at once balletic and manic. I sense a desperation rising in me that I will never catch her. Just as I have that thought, she stops, smiles once again. She has sparkling green eyes and beautiful dimples. She lays down on the stage floor, her back slightly arched, anticipation on her face. I approach and attempt to make love to her, but fail. A second and then a third attempt fail. She sits up and begins to laugh at me, but the laughter is not earthly. Its tone is mocking, sarcastic, humiliating. My anger and frustration grows to a point where I grab her around the throat and begin to choke her. As I do so, her laughter increases, and her body begins to lose its features but retain its female form: a living mannequin. Her face becomes the Greek mask of comedy, and now the laughter increases until it becomes deafening, echoing around the theatre. She reaches up to grab my neck, and I find I am instantly paralyzed. I lose my grip around her throat. She forces me into lying back on the stage floor, straddles my hips, and uses her knees to pin my arms down. Her strength is enormous. In her hand appears a screwgun, such as are used to build flats and screw them to the stage floor. She begins to screw my face and head down to the stage floor, driving screws around and through the perimeter of my face and 4

head, stretching and spreading my face out as she moves along, as if stretching canvas on a frame. I feel no pain as this happens. With each screw driven into my head and face, a small rivulet of blood begins to flow from out each hole. Simultaneous with this action, my face begins to transform until, by the end of the operation, it is now the Greek mask of tragedy. Comedy has screwed Tragedy because Tragedy failed to screw Comedy. She completes the job by screwing my hands and feet to the floor so that I present a crucified figure. The section of the stage to which I am screwed down now rises up until I am at a ninety-degree angle to the floor. She disappears. A spotlight colored with a special lavender gel catches my crucified figure, and then the iris of the spotlight begins to close down until there is nothing but a pin spot on my face. The Mask of Tragedy, screwed to the plank, red streams of blood dripping down the mask. One single tear falls from the right eye, and the spotlight’s iris closes down - blackout. The lights return, and I am on the stage again, dressed as I began, as if nothing happened, facing an audience clapping furiously in a standing ovation. I walk off the stage and return to my seat. The audience leaves. No one talks to me. The playbill remains blank. The dream concludes. Fall will arrive soon. It is the start of a new academic year, a new theatre season. Somewhere she is lurking for me, waiting in the dark recesses of the stage, waiting once again for me to fail to satisfy her.


ARRASTRADA Vanesa Pacheco Ser arrastrada clung to cracked concrete - toes stained paint of verdant fields.

GRETA’S SONG Mark Benedict Life is for larking, was Greta’s mantra after her divorce. She drank and slept late and lived on the alimony. Then, on her thirtieth birthday, she went with her girlfriends to a choir concert at the local community center. The pretty female soloist, lit by a spotlight and accompanied by a lonely piano, sang high and sweet and received thundering applause after each of her songs. Greta was powerfully moved but felt she was prettier and could do even better; at the bar on karaoke night, after all, she entranced the crowd without even half trying. Visions of wild success rose up before her like brightly colored smoke. When the soloist finished, Greta excused herself and made for the lady’s room. She stared at her face in the mirror, lightly stroking her red lips and flushed cheeks until she started trembling. Then she took shelter in a stall and violently loved herself. 6

Twelve years later, she was less lovely but still hopeful. The gigs, the demos, the meetings: none of it had led to a contract, but a career as a folksinger took time to build and she was in it for the long haul. Persistence pays off, was her motto. She had mostly forsaken men and was giving everything to her career; it would pay off. Then one day her agent took her to lunch at a fancy Italian restaurant and told her it was maybe time to get realistic. Greta couldn’t even speak. When he said he could no longer represent her, she pitched forward and vomited linguine all over the table. But after she got home and took a steaming shower to clean up and calm down she decided she was better off. She would soar on like a lone white dove. She would be a singer or she would be nothing. By fifty, she was nothing. She spent her days drinking whiskey and looking through her wedding album. Her brief early marriage to a wealthy businessman, so effortful at the time, such a mismatch, now looked like her peak. At least she had been pretty and had a halfway intelligent person to talk to. Now she was like a pink flower fading to white and talked only to the television. Busy with her career, and embarrassed by it, she had distanced herself from her girlfriends, but privately vowed that she’d come roaring back into their lives after she’d made her success. Ambition is friendless, defeat is the same. One afternoon she was about to do her weekly cleaning but decided the shit with it. She grabbed a bottle and turned on reality TV. When the bottle was empty she started singing quietly to herself. Then she went to the kitchen, took a knife from a drawer, and sliced into the side of her arm. Dripping, moaning, she dialed 911. After two years the psychiatrists at the asylum felt she was ready to leave but Greta didn’t care. The low-security wing, her home, was cozy and filled with friends. Her therapist was young and charming. There were board games during the day and old movies at night. She was back to just trying to enjoy herself, and she felt powder-pink and fuckable again. But one day her therapist just wouldn’t let up about her discharge: she was well and would have to leave soon. Greta nearly burst into tears. Instead she took a pair of scissors off his desk and plunged them into his neck. The blood flowed and flowed, like the sweetest song, like never-ending alimony. She frowned, then smiled. The spice of life, she thought, and laughed out loud. Variety is the sweetest, spiciest life.


BUTTERFLY’S LAST WALTZ Janna Vought Beyond the goldenrod and roses, past the sunflowers and wheat grass spears stabbing pastel painted sky, he kneels in prayer by her side. Last breaths shudder her tragic face, blue gossamer wings: lush, iridescent, crumpled in the gutter. He remembers eternal summer days, drifting down, gliding across air. (fleeting beauty) She never touched the ground. Subtle in their dance, silver silhouettes in the night sky caressing each other, bodies overlapping, tangled, bare edges entwined—dip and sway. And the music played its mournful song. Shadows lengthen— darken. Never more will sun shine on her face. She slips along the wind’s currents, gone now, bits of dust floating through violet air. No amount of love or nectar from the dying blossom can save her. Twirling. Spinning. Rising. He can’t contain her.


DARK WATER Stephanie Niu I never know what to call that time between nightfall and sleep, that sheet of elementary loneliness that sometimes stretches to cover hours. It’s so easy to drown in the darkness and its insistent swirl of invisible perfumes: heady silence urging my strange desire to entomb myself in something worth remembering, alluring incense of black promising that nothing is being recorded. That the moon forgives my sins. Drowning itself is a way of healing, an art I have not yet mastered. I practice when I can’t sleep. I found a dime in the carpet today. Today? Tonight? Todark? Sometimes I think hope is translucent, the color of water when there’s no moon out and the trees are splashed with shadows. That’s why I keep a glass full by my bedside tableso that I can swallow what I’m swimming in until sleep takes me like a thief.


A BRIEF HISTORY OF COWBOYS AND INDIANS Howie Good My mother sits at the kitchen table leafing through an old issue of People. If this is dying, I don't think much of it. Staring out the window above the sink, I count eight deer grazing in the yard where I used to play cowboys and Indians with my brothers. How many Indians I slaughtered! How many! Trees begin to shake in a spectacular display of empathy. The name of a thing just barely disguises the nature of the thing itself. What’s been called my heart serves also as a wine glass, a highway, a urinal, a bed.

ON ENGAGEMENT Laurie Kolp Forget conventionalisms. Dive into wistful sighs— the figurative rock awaits a tangible reply. Paramount, the question as skeptical as your admission. My uncertainties, a propeller in slow motion. Source text: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 10

DOWN TIME Matt Kolb A boy sits on the porch of a wooden house reading War and Peace. A maple leaf cartwheels between the gutters and comes to a halt under the resting Cavalier. His mother calls for dinner. Napoleon, left to his own devices, stands on the rooftop across the street peeping at the girl next door through his looking glass and Alexander the Blessed lounges on an aluminum lawn chair in the adjacent yard casually smoking a cigarette waiting for winter.


A WORTHWHILE CAREER PATH Melissa Parietti Bella Rosa is a name no one says without feeling bitter about what was lost by her community upon her leaving. Not one person wanted to admit wrong-doing. There is milk, room temperature, with one cube of ice rattling in the glass. On the table by the milk a bunch of papers are strewn about. They’re music sheets in a lofty language – poetry. This is Bella Rosa’s soon-to-be eighth book of verse. “I see beyond,” said a woman, full of lust for her life, strife, finally she ushered pain from the picture – she stopped reading the lousy material she’d find in banks and bookstores. “There’s always a sight-seeing aspect to me scenes, complex participation for the reader.” “He refused to make love to me because I refused to hurt him, physically – so I stopped letting him harm me emotionally by letting him know in a dream, about me; I let him pick between myself and a woman who was more beautiful than me. One month later, in another dream, I had him imagine he was seeing this woman for several weeks now, and asked him to tell me how he felt about me.” “There was a lot of anger in his dream body when he told me he never wanted to see me again.” That song, Mrs. Rosa titled, “False Love in C Minor.” The italian woman at the pizza place called me “Bella,” then asked what I wanted. uncertain if I am “Bella” in another’s view, or, if some man or woman is trying to communicate that he or she sees me as an italian beauty, I dine on the spinach pie.


I hardly recognize my nationality but I know my admirer wishes for me strictly to be a categorization of ‘italian’ because it appears exotic. I also know that he or she sees italians as vampires. Likewise, my recent vampire fascination warrants his or her attestation that I crave blood, or exist in a hyper-sexual state. Mrs. Rosa writes music and poetry – I over analyze, through dreams and dine strictly on blood.


THE COLUMN OF AIR Anders M. Svenning Jessica stands upright and spits in the sink, looks into the mirror. A thousand different thoughts have come to mind, sparks ricocheting from her eyes, a thousand different vantage points, areas of conquest, tribulations, triumphs. She splashes water in her face. Silver lining has always been a dream, and liquid. Liquid: what flows underneath the volumes and volumes of human emotion. And underneath that: fire. Light blue water dribbles down her chin as she washes her face, with soap. The suds stick to her cheekbones like tape, slide down like windblown tickers in an alley, reading different tones and shades. Blue mostly, and ice, enters her brain—the water is freezing. In fact, she can’t imagine what can be colder on a morning like this one, after a night of fun, a greasy dinner, a club, and what came after—the fire—and the more densely trapped flame, the temptation, the anger, the consequential effect of a thought borne wrong, in a wrong world, at the wrong time. Outside, the church bells toll. For the first time in her life she’s moving outside the City limits. It’s not much the anticipation, or the harpsichord tunes, that are escorting her mind to this forsaken corner of thought. It’s the thought that she may not return. The time grows later, but seems to stand still, but at an elevated height. Time must be on a vertical axis. It doesn’t go forward. If anything it goes in. Into the heart, into the belly, into where the flame exists and where the mind churns, grows, emulating thoughts and feelings. Today she leaves, and today she flies. Gray walls and coffee shops have kept the young woman here in a stasis, the appreciating beauty that has grown on her, like mercury in an ocean. Surrounded by water, she breathes; she calls, builds golden bridges over waters, existential blades of grass. A thermal is what she needs, but the wind here keeps her anchored. An upward draft, a spiral of piping hot air, rising, up above the tree line, above the concrete and metal framework, over the mirrored buildings that reflect her body, up over the rails, where time travels lighter. She can feel it, the moist crocheted clouds as she dries her face, willowy. She will remark at the birds flying there, through where time, as she sees it, will take her. But it burns, the flames from last night, and the short notice, and her fortress, gone, now a home made of water. What will take her to the new place, outside the limits, her companion and life, shines pearly, in her whispers.


She places down the hand towel, returns to her bed, pulls out the duffel bag from underneath her bed, musty and brown. Right through her City, her desire is dispersed by a column of air—rising, rising. Washing her hands, she stands and looks herself over in the mirror. They’re still there, the pockmarks, the swollen glands of her tear ducts, the thin and all too pleasantly cleaned eyebrows, tweezed and glossy. And there, just added are the streams of emotion running from her eyes, her awareness of her age. There seems not to be an end to all these thoughts, these feelings, ever-gliding, eroding the beaches and riverbeds of her old life. They’re still there, the tears and her imagination, all too resplendent to be forgotten, but livid, bucking like a wild animal, needing to be released into an eternal world and clean air and a breathable existence. On this day it is easy for her to keep the emerald energy afloat. It is easy to see her reflection. It is easy not to hear whispering words. For today, she is leaving. Today, she is taking it for granted, this life, these thoughts, these welling, budding tides of emotion, which spiral to the top of her thoughts and energy. There is an open window. And the Bohemian sun shines through, the days hot. Looking through the window, time is omnipresent. Stretching out into the everlasting plane, her vision is carried away by the birds overhead, the clouds above theirs. A past life. What is a past life? A dormant pocket of psyche. Dormant until roused in a vision or a dream. What is a past life? A forgotten smidgen of truth or the coughing notion of desire. What is a past life? To her, it’s the air. The knowledge that whatever has happened is only an illusion— an illusion taking the form of evaporation. Finding the spaces in between knowledge and foreknowledge in which to live and relax for a moment, in between the particles, the atoms, where the real magic occurs, is tantamount. It is real attraction. And here, she is taken by a knock at her door. The hotel is bountiful. She has won a prize. A sweepstakes that has brought her to this forsaken island, save the water, to learn the art of yoga and appreciation albeit alone and without a master. The only master is the one in the reflection. However, underneath all that skin and hair and organic flesh and water, is more. A backdrop of the real Jessica. Behind the scenes. A backdrop made of light and emotion. Another knock. She answers and the man who has been knocking has pockmarks, swollen glands, thin and all too pleasantly cleaned eyebrows, easy and tweezed.


The window to the crown, a knock in her chest. She recognizes this man. Jessica takes a breath, wipes her water from here face with her sleeve, looks behind her, through the open window upon the turquoise waters, which will never ever be the same, never be different, always alike in one regard—they will always support life and the endearing fortune of it. She reads the clouds distantly, hears the birds distinctly. And a word trickles, having been let out, tremblingly, a word that has escaped from her interior dam of emotion, trickling, “Hello? Do I know you?”


GOD THAT I AM Jessica Morey-Collins The sun screams up before it begs to split into infinity, a me that bleeds dirt.

Planets jitter closer to absorption. Let’s flicker. Skim up my paradoxes so everybody wins.

Remember how sweet we

leeched the evening sky?

Come here. Howl from yin

w/ me

into our best lip positions, cumbersome w/ dusk until that too runs out. Come here, my shadow. Your mouth is my ascent toward coma, my home


in all this lovely nowhere. Come here.

It wasn’t me - that hue is too mortal. Dictionaries:

whispers from unromantic hometowns: all the words I know are only handfuls of glitter.


GOD THAT I USED TO BE Jessica Morey-Collins Weeks plead with the internet - make me feel, sleep me under whatever memes persuade a whale-dirge toward yesterday. I binge on pixels, intent

to forget about rain. In other words, I slip into the second person. You slip into whatever lecture apt to evaporate from asphalt, when suddenly, back in the cupboards

my accidents begin to rattle. I run home to nowhere, and it’s too late, as usual. I flew already in or out of one flood or another, understood, limned not in tinsel

or tryptophan, not bothered much by oblivion. In other worlds, rumors of you inferno: I fall from my mouth by thousands


SEARCHING VS. FINDING, OR: WHY I DIDN’T DO THE ASSIGNED READING Charlotte Gross For the modern college student, Amazon sometimes seems like the source of all that is good in the world. It can give solace with just the thing you never knew you needed. It can provide distraction when it leads you from item to related item, all of pressing interest. It provides answers and materials when other sources, like, say, the university bookstore, fall short. However, similar to older institutions of comparable might, like the papacy, for example, Amazon is not exactly infallible. Sometimes it does not give you what you thought you asked for. Sometimes it sends you a romance novel set during World War II instead of the avant-garde story of a blind masseur that you had ordered for Modern Lit class. Such was the case for me when I tried to order The Blaze of Noon by Rayner Heppenstall at the start of my term abroad at Glasgow University. The wrong book arrived, classes started up, and I threw the romance novel into a pile for later. I would deal with that when the time came. Week eight of classes, and it is, well, later, and the time has come. We are to read The Blaze of Noon for Wednesday’s class. I figure a quick stop by Oxfam Books charity shop in between lunch and my planned afternoon reading session should give me what I need. Surely I can grab a copy of the book there. I have discovered that not even a summary of it exists online. Neither, would it appear, does a copy of the book exist within the walls of Oxfam. I find and subsequently purchase a collection of Ursula LeGuin stories, though, so the journey is not a total waste. Including the romance novel from Amazon, this would be book number two that I have accumulated so far in my search for The Blaze of Noon. I leave Oxfam, and type “bookstores Glasgow” into my phone to see if I can find any place else close by. There is Voltaire & Rousseau Used Books down the hill from the university… but I consider that a last resort. I’ve never been inside, but have passed by and taken note of their piles of inventory spilling out onto the cobbled lane. In the world of bookstores, there are the close, musty kind that are a pleasure to wander through on a rainy day (not exactly a rarity here in Scotland), the kind where you just happen upon old volumes of mystery novels you never knew existed or ordinance surveys dating from the Thatcher era. Then there are the kind of bookstores you go to that are brightly lit and well-organized and have bustling clerks who know the store’s computer system—the store has a computer system— and can tell you if they stock the book you need to have for class on Wednesday. Voltaire & Rousseau is distinctly not the latter sort of bookshop. I stopped by the Glasgow Uni book store, where they regretfully informed me that no, they did not have The Blaze of Noon in stock. In fact, someone else had asked about 20

that same book earlier today… it was on order but shouldn’t be in for a week or so. As consolation, I bought the book that followed Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses (a favorite of mine from high school literature), adding it to the collection as book number three. I set off for one of the search results my phone had turned up for me. Thistle Used Books and Music was atmospheric enough to entice me into aimlessly browsing their shelves for a bit too long, and was well-ordered enough that the aged Glaswegian proprietor knew his store’s contents. He knew it well enough to tell me that The Blaze of Noon was not in the store, not even in the hardcover section or with the classics. Another young lady had asked about the very same book, too… he was sorry he could not help me, even after calling up Caledonian Books down on Great Western Road. They did not stock the book, either. “You could try Voltaire & Rousseau, ’round the corner,” he suggested. “But, you know, they tend not to be the most organized… if that’s fair to say.” I laughed in agreement. It would appear I was at the last resort stage. I chatted with the proprietor about Scottish literature, and he pointed me toward an old James Buchan novella with tweed-clad gentlemen hunters on the cover. I happily forked over a few pound coins for it—book number four, this was, and still not The Blaze of Noon. I thanked him, and made my way around the corner. I paused at the entrance to Voltaire & Rousseau, wondering if I should bother to sift through the piles of books inside the entryway. Nah, I thought, why bother. Surely the interior must be somewhat easier to navigate. I opened the door, setting off a tinkling bell in the process. I almost missed the shop’s proprietor—another elderly Scot— couched as he was behind stacks of books. He was asleep. His snores provided the shop with a soundtrack of sorts. I whimpered a little when I looked around at the rest of the inside. It was not just that there seemed little rhyme or reason to the books’ ordering. No, more than that was the fact that there were stacks on stacks of books in front of, as well as on the actual shelves. There could have been a hundred copies of The Blaze of Noon and I would not have even seen them, supposing they were in the second or even third layer back. The shop’s bell chimed. The proprietor did not awaken. I peered around a teetering pile to see what other poor soul had braved the labyrinth and its disappointingly hornless and decidedly inattentive guardian. A grubby-looking man stood in front of the counter (which was, I noticed, actually a counter-sized pile of books amid the taller piles). It seemed like the new arrival was waiting for the proprietor to notice him. The old Scot let out a particularly noisy snore. The other man cleared his throat. “Ahem. Eh-excuse me?” The bookseller started up. “Mhmfmmh?”


“Yes, I was wondering if you’d be hiring any staff?” “Hrrm?” “Staff?” The grubby man repeated. “Are you hiring?” “Ah no, no we’re quite overstaffed already, thankee,” mumbled the bookseller. I eyed the stacks of unshelved volumes. I looked down at the book on Scottish place-names that I held in my hand. Neither the author nor the subject matter matched anything in the terraces of books in front of me. “Alright, well, thank you anyway then.” The inquirer shuffled out, bell clamoring behind him. By the time I had edged my way through the book corridors and up to the counter, the proprietor was snoring again. I did not bother to wake him to ask about The Blaze of Noon. I did not take the Scottish place-names book, either. I dodged a final stack and left Voltaire & Rousseau, bell jingling behind me. Maybe my professor will like what I have to say about a certain romance novel with shirtless GIs on the cover…


DIONYSIS AND EURUS WALK INTO A BAR Matt Kolb I think it was Echo or maybe the sound of a bird overhead that caught my attention and caused me to look skyward at the same time that Eurus upended his jar from the heavens and gallons of Xinomavro spilled down my throat. Shocked by this development I staggered from the roadhouse patio as the unlucky east wind continued to blow. Tipping west and leaning east I teetered north up the centerline of Harrison Avenue past the Greek houses expecting a brawl to break out between Apollo and Zephyr over who would get to take me home– But I’m no Hyacinth– no Spartan prince to be fought over– only a stumbling conspiracist mulling over who put the wine 23

in Eurus’ vase– and why.

WHALE SONG Nate Maxson Deep inside the whale, so deep you’d never know you were inside because it’s where it keeps its light Jonah never escaped, so here we are Some homegrown DIY Tesla invents the spirit radio Anticipating his someday being spat out Premonitory birth of static, the sixth extinction and the fifth column Oh yes, we know all about these things down here We know the whale is moving, testing the currents with long splinters of wood (you can feel the vibrations) And ever since that subtle engine started blowing bubbles Odd things happening among the redwood ribcages, children spraypainting Sonic Youth lyrics on the barnacled meat, “spirit desire, FACE me” while their older siblings call their names all over town like dogs to be beaten out of gratitude We know the whale is moving, snapped off antennae twitch like cellos in the current We know 24

MOSS Jessie Rice-Evans My attempts to draw water from a wall of slate have left my hands cracked. In fairness, you warned me against clawing: not here you said, always hesitant to teach me anything. Miles deeper, moss blooms pungent, emerald-wet, ripe as new skin. Kneeling, I whisper something like a prayer, before the language of the day enters my body, I sing hymns, fingers bleeding into streams.


MOTHER FIGURE Stephanie Niu this is how she breathes. alone and insect-like in the gray-white dark: it will rain soon.

back curled like a shrimp protecting the glass ribcage. the feathered heart.

chilled by the ceiling vent even though the world is gently steaming itself away, her arms bristle in divine static. she is safeveins laced under the pull of skin pulsing the color of verdigris.

she perplexes us like a fluorescent-lit amphibian. calm in her transparency, nearly invisible-

the way we wish to be.


how we envy her slow heart, her chilled blood. she buries herself to see what she can weather.


ON HIS WAY TO ELYSIA Anders M. Svenning Now, they have wrinkles, blemishes on their skin, and bags under their eyes. Here, in this concrete jungle, this twisted metropolis made up of red bricks, phone lines, and cracked concrete, they’ve aged. They’ve been here for years. “Too many years,” says Lewis, his eyebrows loose and patient, while his love, Marge, brews espresso on the stove. “Way too many.” It is nighttime. She’s said it many times before. “Lewis, you want to leave?” she asks. “And where will we go? Back to Greece? The place is a free-for-all. They’re stealing from the museums, Lewis, stealing their own past. I’m ashamed, Lou, ashamed.” She says this again, clutching two cups filled with coffee, and Lewis knows the coffee will be perfect because it’s like she can read his mind, read how much sugar he wants, how sweet he wants his coffee. Three teaspoons of sugar she spoons into his cup and sighs, “ashamed,” as an afterthought; and he takes a sip. It is perfect. He’s aging, he knows. He’s eighty-four and tomorrow is his birthday. The future has been pulling at him, like thread. He can feel the pulling above his crown, like a calling from angels. “How many years do we have left, Marge?” he asks, but she does not speak. Far off, the shallow rushing of cars breathes on. Two eggshells broken on the counter lay peacefully. It is morning, Lewis’s birthday, and she pours into a pan more olive oil. “Scrambled, eh, Lou?” Marge asks, already beating the eggs. With the arms of an antique clock ticking away, reading 5 A.M. above the window, Marge says, “Happy birthday,” brightly. “It is my birthday, isn’t it?” “It is,” she replies. They stay in the kitchen, Lewis reading his paper, looking at an advertisement for a cruise ship. It’s in color, so the ship pops off the page; and Lewis can’t imagine how big the ship really is. It is hard to tell just by looking at it. There’s nothing beside it to gain perspective. The ship is just floating in the water. Ships are entertainment when they 28

used to be transportation. Immigrating here, spending five weeks on a ship and crammed together with people you don’t know, eating bread and salty rice and undercooked potatoes day in and day out leaves a bad taste in your mouth. He’d almost rather swim. “Here, Lewis,” Marge says. “To many more.” She is holding out a cupcake with a lit candle in its center. “To many more,” he replies, blows out the candle. He envisions different places, which have escaped him in his life, places he hasn’t touched, and some places he has touched. The wheat fields through which he used to run and work; mountains he used to gaze upon thoughtfully; the cruise ship. The printed water in which the ship floats, all seep through his eyes and into his stream of memory, like water through a sieve, and leave him at his kitchen table. Marge’s large face is smiling down at him, with soft eyes that look almost concerned. She is scared. So am I, he thinks, and his heart swells with her breath. We’re here in the dark, and she’ll stay here until the stars fall. She won’t move. And again I am promised the future and I hear, Could this be my last? He does make a wish, finally—the beach. He wants to see the water; he wants to be in the water. He wants to feel himself become absorbed by the ocean, its suppleness receiving him, the salt water like cotton swabs on his skin, cleansing him, washing him. Stepping from the kitchen table, he is on his way out the door when he catches a glimpse of his wife’s green eyes, eclipsed beneath half-slit eyelids; the beach is shimmering behind her. She is standing on the sand; and her feet are sandy. Plants sprout beside her. Shrubs and seaweed wash ashore in a crescendo of willpower. He wants to swim. Pink crabs sidestep in front of her and sunshine has spread across her back, her face at an angle that makes her skin look divine. The image is lingering as he breaks through the first wave. He has left his wife in the kitchen, and he, waist deep in water, is growing into the vast blue plane. He has left her without a word, only a look, knowing their time together has come to this place—the beach, him in the water and Marge behind him, her toes buried in sand. He is swimming and the shore is a painted line on the horizon. “Have you heard of Elysia, Marge? The place where the heroes go?” He is thinking between his swimming strokes. “I am no hero, but I am searching anyway. Maybe I will find it. Maybe I will find where the gods have placed our childish dreams, somewhere deep in this ocean. I am striving, my dear wife, and hoping that you take your time in finding me, where I’ve gone. As I swim through these troughs and swells, 29

I’m reminded of what I’ve left behind—you and other things, which are important. But not as important as this moment.” He belches swallowed water. “The most important moment of my life,” he says. “Just know, Marge, that I have never felt more alive.”


LETTERS TO MY DAUGHTERS Janna Vought Kamryn and Jordan: My Love, My Life Elegance of my body, flesh of my soul, blue-eyed girls, you warm the frozen part of me. I am your keeper, custodian of each membrane, pore. Remember me when I pass into silence. Do not grieve as I dissolve into ash. I’m already gone, a bird taking flight, a dying star disappearing into white light. I fear becoming an apparition, a ghost of who I once was, terrified to go on without you. Will you miss me, recognize I’m no longer? I have nothing to leave you, no wealth or worldly possessions, just wisdom accumulated throughout my fractured life: Awaken, glad for the day. Dance among the flames. Time passes. Throw the scale away. Weakness emboldens strength. Get out more, savor the day. Accept hugs. Pay a compliment to a stranger. Buy a sandwich for the homeless man on the corner. Eat cereal for dinner. Leave the dishes in the sink until tomorrow. Let the wind have its way with your hair. 31

Say thank you. Learn a new word every day. Refuse to be a victim. Never allow yourself to be taken to a second location. Put away your laptop, pads, and cell phone. Let a great book become your lover. Listen. Smile, laugh, scream, cry without inhibition. Be chaotic. Make friends with the Rainbow Coalition. Let your heart be broken‌just once. Dare to eat a ripe peach in public. Harbor memories Own a dog. Watch a hummingbird drink from a flower. Recycle. Leave the laundry. There is always another day. No means no. You have the right to never remain silent. Don’t let a house become your prison. Go out to dinner on Thanksgiving. Life exists in other galaxies. The sun is made of liquid fire. Stick with your first instinct. Use pencils with no erasers. Never jog without your pepper spray. Your body is a blessing, not a portal for sin.


Tell your children bedtime stories. Celebrate your need to swim upstream. Never betray your authentic self. Ponder the reflection of the woman before you. Never stop chasing rainbows. Empathy over apathy. Faith dies; feed it to keep it alive. God laughs in heaven. Everyone has days that suck. Master the art of the eyelash curler. Don’t do drugs. Exercise. The dead float. Life is hard, and simply beautiful. Praise the morning. Mourn the night. Choose life. Strong women show strength in words and actions. We’re all beautiful. Rage. Rise. Embrace your crowns, my daughters. Be in me—free.


SPRING Laurie Kolp hidden twigs push dogwood high honeysuckle layers bark, builds foliage pointed needles, lined grapevine tangle sapling without breeding trash the territory a fighting song people assess perplexed reflections visible in windows the mirrors of later sight


THE WATER DIVIDES US Matt Kolb 1 Discreet Telemachus gazes out over the wine-dark sea from the grass splotched rock of water-ringed Ithaca while Antinous plots 2 On the seaboard of Long Island Sound Jay Gatsby stands in West Egg hands raised parallel to the ground pointing east over the black water toward his lost paramour 3 The multitudes on the shore of the cerulean Galilean Sea strain to hear Nazareth’s prophet deliver his sermon from Simon’s fishing boat 4 A tin can gently raised to my lips Reading Bukowski I pour as she glares from the couch


UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES EVERYONE’S A LITTLE BIT FASCIST Tom Loughlin George Orwell, in a 1944 article published in the British magazine Tribune, tried to discover if the word “fascist” had any meaning. He came to this conclusion: By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come. The rise of the Internet, and by extension the rise of social media, has created one of the most intriguing and perhaps one of the most dangerous unintentional consequences imaginable: by Orwell’s definition, everyone’s a little bit fascist. Social media is often touted as a positive technological development, as it appears at face value to promote personal connections. Grandma and Grandpa can keep up with the grandchildren, friends can easily stay in touch with each other over time and distance, organizations can have greater reach for their particular messages, and information can be disseminated quickly and easily. A couple of years ago I gave up Facebook because I couldn’t abide the mining of my personal data, but found that I was missing being able to keep up with nieces and nephews (my own children are not heavy users of social media), so I created a pseudoaccount with false data, and limit access to family and to people I actually know and see on some regular basis. I have a personal Twitter account which I use mainly to share articles I’ve read or offer small observations on life’s trivialities (or get free pie). So yes, I can agree that social media keeps us connected (but doesn’t get us free pie). The trouble comes when we begin to mix our pleasures and passions with our politics. For reasons I am not quite sure of, but which I am sure smarter people have written about, social media seems to elicit the bully/fascist tendencies inherent to human psychology. There is a certain passive aggressive nature to this tendency, in that we believe we are only talking to our followers (who, by extension, are our friends, and so believe what we believe), but we are also subconsciously aware that we are talking to the world at large, giving it a “piece of our mind.” At times, these expressions of solidarity, while appearing to people who agree with us as passionate messages of principle, become a form of cyberfascism, because the inherent worth of the person or persons who are the targets of the message is disregarded or ignored. This is a classic case of demonization, where we take the “other” and strip them of their humanity to make whatever point we wish to make. Perhaps most troubling is that this tendency is not simply restricted to right-wing ideologues (who historically you might expect to behave in this manner); it is now seeping its way into left-wing progressive rhetoric. 36

The most prominent and recent example of this phenomenon surrounds the actions taken by Kim Davis, the county clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples wishing to marry. This was a violation of the law, because Obergefell v. Hodges had in April of 2015 established nationally the right of gay couples to marry. She took what I consider to be a principled stand based on her conscience. While I do not agree with the cause for which she took such a stand, I respect the fact that she took her stand (see Patrick Henry). Left-wing Twitterati, however, do not see it this way. They have pilloried, demonized, and yes, persecuted Ms. Davis personally simply because they disagree with her. I need not cite examples; no doubt you can find plenty with even a cursory glance of your Twitter feed. These are fascist/bullying tactics designed to paint her as somehow less than human, and force her out of office, even though Ms. Davis is following nothing but the tried and true American process of filing court appeals, engaging in civil disobedience, and taking the consequences of her actions imposed by authorities. Social media has thus exposed the fascist tendencies (which we all possess by virtue of being fallible humans) of wellintentioned progressives who, in trying to stamp out what they perceive as social injustices, sink to the level of demonization to win their cause. Why would I support, if not the cause, at least the stand of Ms. Davis? Because I grew up in an era where people took much the same stand for liberal causes, and because, as an 18-year-old conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, I took an unpopular principled stand myself. Civil disobedience to the laws of that era was what won a lot of the freedoms and rights people have today, and which people continue to pursue. I am quite sure that anyone crying out for punishment for Ms. Davis today for taking a conscientious stand against a law she believes unjust would be crying about injustices against those who took a conscientious stand against Jim Crow laws - and let me emphasize that they were duly constituted laws. If today you are not subject to mandatory military service forcing you to serve in one of our several conflicts around the world, it’s because people like myself took principled stands against compulsory conscription laws, and many (not me) paid the same price as Ms. Davis - jail time, or in other cases, exile from their homes. Want another example? How about the use of the word “fuckboy”? No doubt Orwell would have the same reaction to this word as he did to “fascism,” a word devoid of meaning, but clearly intended to be a slur used to demonize a certain class of people. It’s a pretty hip word to use these days, but again, I fail to understand what difference there is in using this word to offer a generalized, and mostly negative, description of a collection of male humans than using the word “spic” to offer a generalized, and mostly negative, description of people of Hispanic descent. I imagine one defends the use of “fuckboy” based on the belief that the behavior implied by its use (whatever behavior that is, given the undefined nature of the word), needs to be eliminated, and so we are justified in using a little fascism and demonization to do so. 37

It is not only intellectually dangerous but hypocritical to pick and choose which stands of conscience you will or won’t support, or which types of slurs you can or cannot use. Intellectual rigor and clear critical thinking require you be able to separate the nature of the principled stand from the cause for which the stand is being taken, and to recognize a slur for what it is. Social media makes it all too easy to lose sight of these differentiations. The initial hateful, negative thought finds its way too easily into a quick, unthinking tweet, before we have time to consider its consequences as a little sliver of fascist bullying. And that’s part of the problem: we think our slice is small, going out only to our friends/followers. But as the viral nature of social media attests, the sum of all these small expressions of fascist bullying is large and significant, and is quite revealing of the workings of the human mind. The unintended consequence of being unable to make these distinctions will be the loss of the right to take a principled stand on any cause at all. Avenue Q gave us the song “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” to express the notion that people are not blind to color or ethnicity, from time to time have racist thoughts and impulses, and we’d be better off if we recognize this and chill about it. In the same manner, no one is immune from fascist tendencies unless one makes the conscious effort to be so. We need to remove the blinders to our own fascist/bullying tendencies, and chill a little bit when it comes to situations such as Ms. Davis’s. We need not pillory nor demonize her to continue to support gay marriage. The amplification effect of social media, if not monitored for these kinds of tendencies by its users, will have the long-term unintended consequence of creating an even more polarized society, where each side is equally fascist in their political tactics. The seeds for this result are being planted today by well-intentioned people unfortunately caught up in their own selfrighteousness. I, for one, hope to be dead long before that seed grows and takes root.


VOX POPULI A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING I NEVER CHOSE TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE Adam Kane Quick note: I changed all the names in this piece. In the fall of 2011, I departed Boston on a massive cruise ship called Norwegian Dawn, bound for the island of Bermuda. I wish I could tell you this was the beginning of a Hunter S. Thompson-style adventure (only much tamer), where I wore Hawaiian-print shirts unbuttoned all the way and an unironic Panama hat in the afternoon and a white dinner jacket in the evening. I wish I could tell you about the irresponsible amounts of money I spent, the wild characters I became best friends with, only never to see or speak to them again. My trip was certainly an adventure, but for not one single reason listed above. Two months prior, I took a new job as Assistant Program Coordinator of a group home where three twenty-something men with severe autism lived. None of the residents could talk, each required a lot of supervision, and one was prone to bolting out the front door and sprinting down the street without warning. When I describe the job like this, it’s clear that it would require someone with a real passion for working with the developmentally disabled to volunteer for that gig. I did not have that passion. But it was a bit more money than my last job, and included some office work. It was a job that could get me out of human services, which is what I was looking for. I found out early on that a group of 20 or so from affiliated homes would be going on a cruise in a few months, including Mike from my group home. I smiled when I heard about this. What a cool opportunity, I thought. What I should have thought, instead, was: “There’s no way I’m doing that.” Not because I don’t think those with developmental disabilities shouldn’t get to go on cruises, but mostly because I had no desire to ever go on a cruise. I had heard enough stories about power outages, diseases, or outright weirdness that I had been placed firmly in the “No thank you” camp on the cruise debate. I had no problem - still don’t - with people who go on cruises, or the cruise industry, or people who give up six months to a year of their lives to work on a cruise. It just wasn’t an experience I was itching to have. When the house manager and other staff members at the house all had legitimate reasons (second jobs, kids, etc…) to bow out of the cruise, the “opportunity” fell into my lap. I was completely honest about not wanting to go. I said that, as a new employee who had just started working with Mike and the other residents, I felt I didn’t know him well enough to be his primary caretaker for seven days. While legitimate, it fell below children and second jobs on the excuse hierarchy. I didn’t like it, but it made sense. 39

Adding to my anxiety was the fact that Mike, normally very calm and cheerful, had a violent outburst about three weeks before we were due to depart. On a Monday afternoon, without warning, he started hitting one of the other residents before I restrained him with the help of the other staff member on duty. We held him back, trying to calm him down, all while being scratched and screamed at. We took him to the doctor the next day, and as it turns out, Mike had an earache. We were helpless: he couldn't tell us his ear hurt, and we would have never known. Still, I tried to muster some excitement for my trip. At the very least, it would be a new experience, and I would be on the clock the whole time, with meals covered. There were certainly worse ways to spend a week, I thought. My worst fears were realized after standing in the line to board the boat and sitting through the safety demonstration, which, combined, amounted to the worst theme park attraction ever. Mike and I arrived at our room to discover two comfortable looking twin beds, a TV and a small bathroom. It wasn’t so bad. Until Chad, a similarly sized and exceedingly energetic autistic gentleman, arrived with his assigned staff person. There were no mixups to uncover: the four of us would be sharing this room for the next seven nights. Each afternoon, while we were out having fun (more on what we were doing to follow), a porter would come to the room and reveal two additional beds: one that folded out from the wall directly above one of the twin beds, and one that was somehow extracted from beneath one of the twin beds, that fit perfectly between the two nice, comfortable looking actual beds. (And each morning, while we lingered at the breakfast buffet, the porters came and expertly hid the beds. “Nothing to see here!”) We agreed that the two actual beds should belong to the two people actually on vacation (Mike and Chris), so we were left with the cot between the beds and the loft, which left its occupant looking a little like he was hung from a hook on the wall. I’m not sure what the discussion was, but I ended up on the cot sleeping between the two fully grown men with limited understanding of their own strength. I didn't sleep well all week. Mike could speak, but nothing beyond people’s names, reciting Weird Al lyrics, and answering yes or no questions. This left me in charge of our itinerary for each day. Keep in mind, this was not a cruise designed with people like Mike and Chris in mind. This was a regular cruise: full of retirees, bachelorette parties, and gay couples without children. There was no organized plan from the agency I was representing: no agenda, no staffing plan. There were plenty of great things to do: standup comedy shows, high end restaurants, spots to play poker or blackjack. None of these, however, were of any interest to Mike. We did eat well: the buffet in the morning was unlimited, and there was an omelet station manned by a short and friendly gentleman who mindlessly sang new jack swing songs while casually flipping my eggs. We sat with the others from the agency, occasionally forming loose plans with the others in the group. 40

Our first two days were out at sea: a floating purlieu bobbing in the choppy seas. Our cruise had been booked in early October because it was potentially cold and rainy in the Northeast, so the prices were lower. And as promised, it had been stormy in the days leading up to departure, gifting us a vacillating sojourn to Bermuda. These were the walking days. Lap after lap, with brief stops to refill our bottomless cups of soda or to sit and people watch. We arrived in Bermuda on the third day. After breakfast, we disembarked with others in the group and went to the beach. I was able to relax a bit here. And I understood the appeal: we rode a bus from the dock to the beach, passing small houses owned by women in sundresses and men in pleated shorts and knee socks chewing on the end of a cigar, surely without a care in the world. There were no massive diesel trucks with oversized tires or vulgar things dangling from the trailer hitches. We were six hundred miles from North Carolina, but it might as well have been a different planet. The beach was horseshoe shaped, with white sand welcoming the crystal blue water. The sky was the same shade of blue, patched with large white clouds. The whole group was excited upon arrival; we all had a long winter in New England to look forward to. The cold winds and snow in our futures could wait, at least until after we finished enjoying a few hours at this perfect beach. I flattened out a towel for Mark to sit on, and one for myself. Arms outstretched, I laid back to let the sun wash over me. My meditation was immediately interrupted by an armful of sand landing flat on my chest. I shot up and locked eyes with Danny: non-verbal, 25 years old, and built like a linebacker. He smiled and used Mike’s towel to wipe the sand off his hands and forearms. I quickly remembered that Danny was looking for a reaction, and smirked at him, offering a high-five. Danny accepted. At that moment, the staff member with Danny, somehow even larger, turned and said to him, “What did I tell you about doing that?” Danny looked sheepish and signed a half-hearted “I’m sorry.” Fortunately, the water was warm, so I didn’t mind washing the sand from my chest, neck, and face. And Mike, as it turned out, would stand in the knee deep water and let the waves crash into him as long as we'd let him. The next two days in Bermuda were uneventful. The beach was closed due to storms in the area. We explored Hamilton, the capital city, a bit, which mainly consisted of walking into all the t-shirt shops and pointing at souvenirs that Mike might like to give to his mother. We settled on a visor. The already choppy seas had grown angrier for our slow journey back. My endless walks with Mike became slower and fewer. Our breakfasts grew smaller. By the penultimate night on board, I restlessly attempted to toss and turn on my bed, but lacking the space to do so, I just allowed the ship to do it for me. I dreamt that night I was sleeping in the spinning hotel from Inception. The final night, an especially stormy 41

and unstable one, we decided as a group to eat dinner together. I struggled through my steak, and decided it would be best not to make a spectacle in the dining room and attempt dessert. It took a surprisingly long explanation before the waiter took away my untouched slice of cheesecake. We woke up the final morning already docked. I felt I was robbed of the experience of what exactly it feels like to be on a floating city as it pulls into its parking spot. Our ride back to the group home found us easily, and I smiled and told tales of the pristine beach and the breakfast buffets. (We found out a couple days later that Mike gained six pounds on the cruise. Oops!) My car was waiting for me untouched at the group home. I didn't know it was possible to be excited by a 1998 Saturn in 2011, but somehow I was. I couldn't wait to go be by myself for the first time in seven days. I couldn't wait to eat a Reuben in silence. I put my key in the ignition and turned. My car remained still, not even a click. I was stuck. At least, that's how I felt, even after I got a jump and sat in the drivethrough at Kelly's Roast Beef. I fell into my work in human services, and almost four years later, I couldn't see a way out. I dreaded going to work, even when it took me to Bermuda. That wasn't fair to people like Mark, who deserved to spend their time with people who are passionate to work with them. I felt like I was taking up a spot. But looking back three years later, I'm glad I spent that time working with the developmentally disabled. Even at its hardest - living in a strange city, making an hourly wage nowhere close to reflecting the difficulty of my job - I've had a charmed life. And I have no way of ever knowing, but I hope Mike had fun that week. I hope he's gotten to take many more trips, on cruise ships and fast trains and airplanes. He deserves it just as much as anyone else.



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).


ASSISTANT 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.


 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. Vanesa Pacheco is a Bostonian wanderlust. She graduated from Wheelock College where she received her BA in Literature and Communications. Her poetry has appeared on Delirious Hem’s 2014 advent calendar series and in The Rain, Party, and Disaster’s March and July 2015 issues. She currently writes for Bustle’s fashion and beauty section. Mark Benedict is a graduate of the MFA Writing program at Sarah Lawrence College. He has previously published in Bird's Thumb, Catch & Release, and Swamp. Janna Vought is a poet, nonfiction, and fiction writer with more than 50 pieces published in various magazines and literary journals. She graduated from American Public University with a bachelor's degree in English and from Lindenwood University with an MFA in creative writing. She is an Association of Writing Professionals Intro Journals Project in Poetry nominee for 2013. This poem, "My Friend Anna", is part of her fifth book of poetry in progress. She and her husband raise two daughters in Colorado, the eldest who suffers from chronic mental and developmental illnesses. Stephanie Niu is an undergraduate student from Georgia who attends Stanford University who loves to write about moss, cirrus clouds, and finding peace in solitude. Stephanie also likes to program and wants to convince the world that literature and tech can be friends. Stephanie's poems have been published in CICADA Magazine, Black Fox Litmag, and Writer’s Block Magazine, among others. Howie Good is the recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his collection Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements. Laurie Kolp is an avid runner and lover of nature living in Southeast Texas with her husband, three children, and two dogs; author of Upon the Blue Couch (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014) and Hello, It’s Your Mother (Finishing Line Press, October, 2015); president of Texas Gulf Coast Writers; recently published in the 2015 Poet’s Market,Scissors & Spackle, North Dakota Quarterly, Blue Fifth Review,Pirene’s Fountain, and more. Learn more at http:// lauriekolp.com. Matt Kolb lives in rural Michigan. He is the winner of the 2014 Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Poetry Contest. His work has been published by The Michigan Poet, and in The Offbeat, by Michigan State University Press. His twitter handle is @mkolb. Melissa Parietti is from Long Island, though she is a native of Melville, New York. She attended business classes and writing workshops at SUNY Geneseo. At 24 years old, her poetry has received several acceptances to print and online journals. Her Twitter handle is @MelissaParie.


Anders M. Svenning lives in a small town in south Florida. His work has appeared in Forge Journal, Grey Sparrow Journal, and is up-and-coming in Bahamut Journal and The J.J. Outre Review. His motto: What is evident rarely is the case. Jessica Morey-Collins is an MFA student at the University of New Orleans, where she works as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. She received a scholarship to attend the NYS Summer Writer's Institute and blogs on craft for the North American Review. Her poetry and nonfiction can be found or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Vinyl Poetry, ILK Journal, Cleaver Magazine, Animal Literary Journal and elsewhere. From her earliest days, the outdoors and the arts have twined their way through Charlotte Gross's life. In her work, she seeks to explore the natural world, the human world, and their sometimes otherworldly intersections. As a student of English - specifically creative writing at Dartmouth College, Charlotte's most recent efforts attempt to bridge the gap between image and narrative. She hopes her offerings here ignite the same sense of wonder in the viewer that she experienced as their interpreter. Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. He is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently "The Age Of Jive" from Red Dashboard Press, and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. You can follow him on twitter @lizard194 Jesse Rice-Evans is a queer Southern poet currently based in New York. The nonfiction editor of Identity Theory, her work has appeared most recently in the Queer Girls Raised in the South Anthology from Freeverse Press. When she isn’t working or reading, she’s listening to Drake and advocating for active verbs. 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.