Issue III, Volume 3 Table of Contents Fiction Pg. 3 Pg. 4 Pg. 5 Pg. 6 Pg. 8 -
BEHIND THE TREE; Edith Gallagher Boyd BOYS AND THEIR DOLLS; Yanick Cadieux COBALT; Yanick Cadieux THE VEST; Dennis Milam Bensie THE SEMICIRCLE COURT; Logan Murphy
Non-Fiction Pg. 9 - I COME FROM A WORD ON A MAP; Miriam Matejova Pg. 12 - APRIL COME SHE WILL; Tom Loughlin Pg. 14 - SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS; Catherine Foster Pg. 15 - STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT; Lauren Jonik Pg. 17 - MANURE; Bill Vernon Pg. 20 - FOOT-STOMPIN’ MUSIC; Terry Barr Poetry Pg. 22 Pg. 23 Pg. 25 Pg. 27 Pg. 29 Pg. 31 Pg. 32 Pg. 33 Pg. 34 Pg. 35 Pg. 36 Pg. 37 Pg. 38 Pg. 39 -
BE THAT; David Poston WILLIAM HARVEY’S DOG; Benjamin Harnett MRS. HAVISHAM SPEAKS; Stephanie Renae Johnson TISQUANTUM AKA SQUANTO; Thadra Sheridan ELEGY SHORTLY AFTER MIDNIGHT; Aidan Forster SHELTERING IN, IN SEVEN STEPS; Erica Charis CONFESSION; Eliana Dianda POLLEN; Emma Rebholz THE BEAUTIFUL; Allyson Whipple PROPER ABECEDARIAN 4: ELEVEN; Devon Miller-Duggan THE CROW’S SONG; C. Noel Carson MIDDLE GROUP; Kayli Wren CONFLAGRATION; Brad Garber HOW TO BUILD A FIRE; Neil Silberblatt
Pg. 40 - EDITORIAL STAFF Pg. 41 - CONTRIBUTOR BIOS
Fiction BEHIND THE TREES Edith Gallagher Boyd Max held Daddy's little shovel, digging in the dirt. "That's Daddy's shovel, Max." "Lexie, it's a trowel, and Daddy won't mind." I knew Max was right about Daddy. Saturday morning he caught us eating chocolate ice cream for breakfast, and he just patted Max's head, when he took Harry for his walk. And when Miss Dixon called Daddy into school cause Max wasn't doing his homework, Max was still allowed to ride his bike and play basketball. "You should wear Mommy's gardening gloves," I said as he poured the seeds into rows he had dug. He handed me Mommy's sprinkling can and asked me to pour a little water on the rows. "Why aren't you planting them in the regular place?" I asked. "Cause I want it to be a surprise," he said, gently rolling his hand over the dirt. Ruby caught us behind the trees Kentucky Derby Day. Daddy was at a party up the street. Ruby was stricter than Daddy, and didn't want us that far from the house. She got tears in her eyes when she saw the rows of yellow on their little stems. "Y'all need to come back near the yard where I can see you." On Flag Day, it took both Daddy and Ruby to wheel Mommy out to see the flowers my brother had planted. Max didn't even bother to change out of his Safety Patrol belt, he was so excited. When he got the belt muddy, Daddy didn't say anything bad. Daddy didn't say anything at all.
BOYS AND THEIR DOLLS Yanick Cadieux It began with Madeline an exquisite porcelain doll, sitting atop a shelf. Her skin was milky white and smooth as glass. The dress she wore was handcrafted of the finest cloth, and trimmed with superior lace. She had silky brown hair styled in fancy braids and covered in a beautiful bonnet. The boy was allowed to look at her, but never to touch. In the beginning he pretended he didn’t enjoy dolls and wasn’t bothered if he couldn’t play with her, but this wasn’t true. He began to stand in the doorway and gaze at the doll, but he couldn’t see the colour of her eyes from there. He would sit on the couch and pretend to read or watch television and stare at the doll, but he couldn’t tell if her nails were painted from his seat. He stood at the shelf and examined the doll for hours, but he couldn’t judge how soft the porcelain was, how silky her hair was or how fine the lace was, so he picked her up. The boy was very careful. So careful that it was decided another doll could join the shelf; this one a little girl. She had freckles on her smooth face and pig tails with bows in her soft hair and the boy loved her. He loved her so much he began to get careless with Madeline. He no longer gingerly approached Madeline and softly fingered her lace, instead he saved his care for the little girl doll, Tessa. Madeline’s dress was soon torn. The little boy cared for Tessa with such love, though, that soon another doll appeared on the shelf. This doll was the sweetest little baby he had ever seen. She wore a luxurious christening gown and a white bonnet. Her cheeks had been painted rosy pink and had she wings; he would have thought she was an angel. He named her Angela. The boy did not like others to touch Angela. He would let them stand at the shelf and gaze upon her, and if they wanted, they could hold Tessa or Madeline. It was at this time that someone noticed Tessa had a crack in her porcelain. Her poor little arm had been damaged and would never be the same. The boy did not seem to mind; he had Angela. Another friend held Madeline and spotted a tear in her dress and a chip on her cheek. The boy paid no attention to the damage, as he fussed over his newest doll. It was considered that perhaps the boy should return to the practice of looking at the dolls and never touching. After much discourse, it was agreed that just because he broke some of the dolls, it was not certain he would break them all. In no time, however, each doll that was presented to the boy, was chipped, cracked or broken because the boy was careless, and careless with one, is careless with all.
COBALT Yanick Cadieux We’d left the karaoke club late, too late. I would probably have cared more if I hadn’t had so many of those chi chi’s sugary sweet drinks or shi shi powdery white rails, but it was so hard not to have too much of either, when they were offered. The karaoke bar was not so much a bar as it was an awful Vietnamese Restaurant in some skeezy part of Vancouver. Beggars can’t be choosers though, and fifteen year olds that want to get wasted have limited options. Plus, my boyfriend was Vietnamese. And he liked Karaoke. But most importantly he had the cocaine. So off we went on the long drive home from the depths of Vancouver toward the Suburbia I grew up in. Of course, being female, in a car, and on a time limit, I needed to pee. It started out as a slight nagging feeling. I announced to the car load of people, “hmmm, I might need a stop to pee.” Within minutes the litres of chi chi’s I had consumed were taunting me; the 80 kilometer drive ahead was mocking me and I found myself shouting, “I need to stop NOW!” My boyfriend veered the car to the curb, and looked to the building we had pulled up to. “I don’t think you want to go in there.” He looked me up and down. “What are you talking about? I’m dying here.” I was shifting back and forth in my seat and squeezing my legs shut. “I don’t think you‘re going to fit in with that crowd.” I looked over and saw we were at the Cobalt, a punk bar, I‘d never been to, but that wasn’t going to stop me from using the little girls room. I jumped out of the car and ran to the door. Once inside I heard screaming punk music. The place was packed with crowds of people in leather, chains, boots, and tattoos. I took two steps into the bar and…. silence. The band stopped. I looked to the right where the band that was screaming a second ago on a shitty wooden stage was now standing still, looking at me. Every person in the Cobalt turned to see what had distracted the ear-splitting band. They looked at me in my tight black dress, nylons, high heels, fancy hair and way too much make-up. The band remained silent. I could feel a thousand eyes follow me across the room. Time stopped. The world froze. Hearts in sync all skipped beats. Then the moment passed and I moved on. I walked across what felt like the entire bar to the bathrooms. The little girl’s room was no worse than the one at the Vietnamese restaurant. While I was inside the bathroom, I heard the music begin again. I washed up, and wondered if the band was going to stop when I left the bathroom. They didn’t. Presumably, I was no longer interesting. I was thinking to myself that the Cobalt was all kinds of strange. I shared the story to the car while I cut lines on a CD case then passed it around. We pondered how peculiar people and places can be.
THE VEST Dennis Milam Bensie It was a cinch to make, really: eight loaded pipe bombs, one detonator circuit, a broken battery pack and some copper wire all rigged to a utility vest purchased from a big box store. The tutorial from YouTube was quite helpful. I’m dead inside. I’m so fucking hurt by my own people. I swear it used to be better when we were suppressed. Being gay was sexy and dangerous thirty years ago. My community stood up for each other back then. Now we are our own worst enemy. We’ve become monsters: square-headed Frankensteins with six-pack abs judging each other. Failing history because it got old. No longer relevant after forty. I don’t have a twenty-nine inch waist anymore. My hair fell out years ago. I’m don’t have a fashionable closet or car or house or job or friends or life. I’m worthless. Unlovable. Their world would be better if I weren’t in it, so they think. I suppose, I’m just as bad as “they” are, you know …but I can’t take this any more. Something must change tonight. Yes, I’m scared, but I have to. Swish. The vest adds forty pounds to my frame. How do I look now? I offer my ID and pay the ten-dollar cover and no one bats an eye. “Ever see anyone wear cleats to a gay bar?” I ask the bouncer as he stamps my wrist for the last time. I’m furious, but all I want is a hug. I just want someone to look me in the eyes and stop me or love me. Instead I’m ignored by the throws of trendy men in their labels and tees. A fruit loop around the club: there are distinct rooms for me to choose from. I could detonate upstairs where the leathers hang out or on the patio with the young pups. How about right in the middle of the dance floor with all the tweaked twinks? I wish I had four vests, but I only have one. I pick the main bar by the pool tables with my least favorite bartender: theone-who-rolls-his-eyes-at-everyone-unless-he-wants-to-fuck-you. I put my earplugs in and goggles on and order one last drink. “Rum and Diet Coke, please.” Asshole slides the drink across the bar to me. I yank the cord on my vest for all that I’m worth and I’m lifted six inches off the sticky floor. My knees buckle a bit and my arms bounce out like wings. I see through my mean goggles that my vest was a success. I just bombed a thick coat of glitter all over everyone and everything within a hundred feet of me.
There’s spitting and coughing, slipping and sliding, but no one is really hurt. Asshole takes his glasses off and shakes his hair and clothes. His eye sockets are the only thing not caked in glitter. I’m shaken, but I feel more alive than ever. I won’t be coming back here ever again.
THE SEMICIRCLE COURT Logan Murphy The court was built high on the planet Earth to please the boy king, because high was where he liked it. Cold and true in the way that only the pure north can be— sometimes he was brought things in order to judge them. The things were kept in a certain room, slick and dense, and this time the thing was a girl-thing, eyes bugged and glistening and cold like metal, a brittle little girl-thing for him to judge. Understand this: beyond the slick room is snow, a vast field of it frozen into shapes right up to the exterior walls, then down the slopes away. A white drift banked against the north wall of the compound where the boy king’s quarters were kept, apart from the rest, and filled the little crevices at the window's base where scant light could come when the curtains were pulled back. The radio tower was a few more feet outside the gate lodged firm and straight in the rock beneath the layer of ice and throwing its shadow, linear, against the eastward face of the girl-thing's basement walls where the air vent just barely breached above ground level and she would sometimes go to it to suck more of the air when her cage became soiled and brown, the pinkish sliver of a nose pressing into the snow. So at a certain time, long after her arrival, the girl-thing was brought up from the slick room. Where the boy king held court was like the bowl of a half-dish with his courtiers, and one brought the girl-thing up there to be judged, and the boy king tapped his boy chin. “What do you think of my court?” he asked her. The classic first question. “If you could please hurry this up. I have three other courts to visit today,” she said. No one had spoken to him like this before. He thought condensed thoughts. He thought about how the girl-thing’s hair reminded him of the sea, of a landing seaplane; the licks of her bangs were cargo crates. He felt warm and warmer. He began to judge her. “You are distinct, like a point,” he said. “That’s it?” she said. “I’m like a point?” “Yes.” “I prefer not to be categorized. Thank you, though.” The girl-thing opened the door and slid away. The mountain was tall. The boy king was confused, but said nothing. He decreed that the next thing be brought to him to be judged. It was a small, interesting stone someone had found at the base of the mountain, and it preferred not to be categorized either.
Non-Fiction I COME FROM A WORD ON A MAP Miriam Matejova Immigrants are permanent outsiders. Their past lives, experiences, skills and worldviews are often misunderstood, ignored or discarded in their new countries. Their old homes, no longer “theirs”, become not much more than a fading memory. Their new homes, not yet “theirs”, are the grounds of everyday struggle for acceptance. I am an immigrant. In formal correspondence I refer to myself as a naturalized Canadian. My friends teasingly call me a foreigner. My Canadian partner sometimes introduces me as “a halfie.” Even after eleven years, my mother, who has never emigrated, refuses to accept any of the above. Although I was born into the former Soviet Bloc, I have no thrilling emigration story to tell. No climbing through barbed wire, no sneaking in the shadows to cross a patch of an unwatched border at night, no sewing of documents into car seats. I was a preschooler when the Wall crumbled, but I do have some memories of the communist times in the former Czechoslovakia: beef and bananas that my grandmother used to get under the counter, gas street lamps with eerie green flickering light, and films where crowds of common workers randomly broke into catchy, proletariat glorifying work songs. I was eighteen years old when I was welcomed in Canada by a brisk Calgary winter. It was immediately obvious to me that my thin winter jacket, a loosely knit set of hat and mittens, and a pair of bright red (and barely waterproof) snow boots were not made for weather above the 48th parallel. In Bratislava, my home town, winter is annoying – the wind whips your face, the rain gets into your eyes, and the dampness sneaks into your bones. In Calgary, winter hurts. “Imagine this,” I later told my family and friends back in Bratislava. “At minus ten, it’s just really cold there. At minus twenty, your nose starts freezing from the inside when you breathe. At minus thirty, your eyelashes freeze together.” They gaped. I beamed in their open acknowledgment of my newly acquired toughness. But the stereotypical harshness of the Canadian winter is not the largest shock an immigrant may receive. Other baffling phenomena include cheerful bus drivers, lack of female inhibitions about sporting slacks in public places, a general infatuation with peanut butter, and that famous and frequently mocked Canadian politeness. The last
one perhaps shocked me most, and not because of its mere existence but because of my incredulous conviction that this superficial kindness was just that – superficial. In Canada, I found kindness openly displayed in stores, at bus stops, at administration offices, with strangers proudly wearing it as a badge of their Canadian identity. Having grown up in a fundamentally opposite social system – in a nation stinting in kind words and generous with biting remarks – I eyed this kindness with sharp suspicion, scrutinizing it, evaluating the level of its genuineness as low and, in the process, unintentionally backing myself into a self-imposed social vacuum. That isolation stung me more than Calgary’s January wind. There is a dark side to leaving one’s home and making a new one within someone else’s borders. An immigrant is a foreigner in her own home, whether the one she’d abandoned or the one she created anew. An immigrant is often excluded from the bubble that others live in. An immigrant is very quickly recognized for who she is, and then often judged for who she isn’t. An immigrant is sometimes listened to with awe, her past life reduced to an abstract concept, a story from a word on a map. An immigrant feels perpetually guilty for leaving the loved ones behind and for constantly failing to reach what she has left them for. An immigrant never stops being afraid of returning home to realize that no one is waiting for her. An immigrant is forever lonely. I often feel this loneliness crawling toward my heart, nesting itself at the top of my chest and from there spreading to other parts of my body. Often, it squeezes my throat as it advances to my face, freezing my features in a scowl. People then assume I am angry. I am not angry. I am terrified of my inability to shake off uncertainty and its trusty sidekick, the pervasive fear of failure. The duo is draining, menacing; it feeds on my past choices and keeps casting an unnerving shadow that clings over the future like a static plastic wrap. I am not angry. I am fragmented. I never cease to feel the incessant pull of two worlds. The first is the one where I keep returning with an anticipation of finding it the same as when I first left it. The Danube River slightly less polluted, the spaces between concrete high-rises filled with fewer new constructions, the city’s walking trails less neglected, a neighbourhood bakery still selling fresh plum cakes, a neighbourhood boy not commemorated by a plastic cross placed at the intersection that took his life.
In the other world, I am a stubborn woman with a European accent and a tendency for outbursts of unfiltered thoughts. I can buy a cup of coffee every day. I can put up Christmas decorations in November without cringing at spoiling a family tradition. I can eat summer produce in winter. I cherish my ability to choose the hockey team I want to support, the traditions I want to adhere to and those I want to dismiss. That ability tastes like freedom. The friction from the inter-world tugging has, however, left a hollowed out space in which I now exist. Canada has dulled the sharp edges of my tongue and prompted me to smile at strangers. But Canada has also injected me with a sense of distrust. Now, when I return to Bratislava, the streets seem narrower, the alleys darker. The patches of urban grass, framed with cracked urban concrete, have faded from lush green to a dull yellow. Bus drivers are not cheerful, servers at restaurants rarely smile, and commuters at bus stops don’t initiate conversations. In Canada, upon hearing me speak, strangers ask me where I am from and I struggle to find the most accurate answer. My home is not a distinct spot on a map. My culture can hardly be expressed by a simple definition. My “self” does not belong to a single place but is splintered, its fragments scattered across two diverse countries, cultures, worldviews as well as the space between them. My mother refuses to call me a naturalized Canadian, a foreigner or a halfie. Regardless, that is who I am: a foreigner, a dreamer, a deserter, a visitor, a spectre of my former self clinging to the future while refusing to let go of the past. I am an immigrant.
APRIL COME SHE WILL Tom Loughlin She’s come to chat, she says. Paperwork is everywhere on my desk, all of it having one deadline or another. I made the mistake of leaving my door open, so, according to the rules, I have to offer her time to chat. She closes the door, and we chat, mostly about nothing. She’s nineteen; she likes to chat. Twenty minutes pass. I make some poor joke about the paperwork in an attempt to chase her out. Go ahead and do the paperwork, she says; I’ll just sit here and wait until you’re done. She sprawls herself out across the two-person couch in my office, grabs her phone, and becomes engrossed in its contents. I go back to work. I am checking graduation applications for approval. Each application has to be checked to ensure all requirements are fulfilled. It’s tedious. Transcripts have to be checked for all required courses. Waivers have to be verified. General education, major requirements, minor requirements, electives. This is not a labor of love, but it’s critical to get it right. There are about 28 of these things to get through, and I already know I won’t make the stated deadline. Her phone drops to the floor. She’s fallen asleep. Her breathing is rhythmic, even. Her head rests on the arm of the couch. Her long blond hair is cascading down over the side of the couch’s arm like a waterfall. There is a slight natural curl to it. She has little makeup on, just a touch of eye shadow. Her nose is small, delicate, turned up. Her lips are small but full, slightly apart as she breathes. Her breathing is silent. The overall effect is one of homespun beauty; a plainness mixed with a delicate innocence. The day is warm. She is dressed in athletic clothes: running shorts, a loose top, sports bra, white anklet socks, neon orange sneakers. She is in a slightly fetal position, knees bent and drawn up towards her chest. She fits nicely within the couch. Her curves are evident, alluring. The effect is wonderfully, alarmingly sensual. I catch myself staring. I put my pen down. Suddenly I am overwhelmed with a piercing sorrow, and then with anger. I curse my age. I curse my aloneness. I curse a universe that thinks it’s somehow funny to place such young, tender beauty in front of me. I sit motionless in my chair, trying to channel hundreds of tawdry thoughts and unkempt emotions into something cohesive and sane. What should I do? Should I wake her up? She must be awfully tired to fall asleep like that. I should leave her sleep. So pretty. I have to get this work done. What
is the reason something so gorgeous, something that I cannot touch, or taste, or feel, or possess, has been offered to me? I breathe for a moment, then breathe again. I begin to match my breath to hers, slowing down the rhythm and pace of my breath to match her deep-sleep breathing. A few breaths more, and I am in sync with her. She breathes, I breathe. Slowly in, slowly out. Deep, penetrating, even, rhythmic. The breath moves, flows between us. I pick up my pen. I am less anxious. The work is lighter, easier, and somehow peaceful. I work and breathe; she sleeps and breathes. I sense a tranquility I have not felt for some time. Twelve minutes pass. She wakes up, looks about, gets her bearings, sees me working on a folder. Are you done, she asks. Not quite; I still have a few more to go. She grabs her phone from the floor, flips a few screens about, says she can’t wait anymore. She’ll come back to chat more later. No problem, I say. Whenever. Sorry I fell asleep, she says. I must have been more tired than I thought. No problem, I repeat. That’s what couches are for. She giggles, says bye, and heads out the door. Once she leaves, I set the pen down. No more work today. A walk is needed, something to clear my head and my heart. Outside, it’s spring. I hadn’t noticed before now.
SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS Catherine Foster I saw your ghost today. That’s a little melodramatic when we both know it was just a memory, but there’s hope in thinking there’s enough of you left out there somewhere to justify that “we” could come to a conclusion; the alternative is unbearable. I was at the corner, waiting for the light to turn when I thought of you. It was an innocuous place and time: it wasn’t your town and there was no trace of you anywhere at hand. You’ve been gone long enough that casual reminders don’t often crop up anymore. And yet. And yet, I was hit with your essence like a punch to the gut. Surely I could spin a loftier simile to elevate the common experience. It was as arresting as the engagement of teeth on interacting gearwheels. That has just the right ring of poetry to it, but words fail in those most important moments. There are only those elemental emotions. It’s a bit like that time in third grade when that kid who was a head taller than the rest of the class pushed me down and I landed, hard, and the wind rushed out in an audible gush from my lungs. Did it hurt or was I just shocked? I can’t remember now, but I can recall sitting there, stunned, trying to pull air into lungs that resisted the effort to breathe. I remember the times I plunged into frigid water and it sucked every thought from my body except shock. That’s how my lungs seized at the corner of Main and Old U.S. 12 on an ordinary Tuesday morning when the memory of you surfaced for no reason other than to sear a raw nerve. The man on the radio was singing something about everything looking perfect from such great heights—the lyrics seemed fitting, somehow, but it was the sort of drivel you would have hated. I remembered taking you to that selfsame pharmacy on the corner to pick up your prescription when you were too sick to drive. I don’t think I’d ever been behind the wheel with you as passenger before; you’d always driven everywhere, of course. That day you complained about how I parked. I’d snapped back at you, glad to finally have to nerve to stand up for myself. I couldn’t have known then that it would be one of our last conversations. How could I know which memories I would keep and which I would lose to the slow erosion of time? A car honked and I saw that the light was green. I drove through the intersection and left your ghost in the parking lot of the pharmacy where it belonged. I realized with some surprise that there were tears on my cheeks. I had done all my crying for you already. It must be the song on the radio. Such great heights, indeed. I switched off the dial and merged with traffic. Together we flowed towards our various destinations for the day. When I checked the rearview, the drugstore was lost in the sea of cars behind me.
STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT Lauren Jonik The tiny glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling hover above my bed. I forget about them until my bedroom is totally dark and stillness descends. In the first moments that I see them, I still have hope. Maybe this will be the night I fall asleep with ease. Star light, star bright. . . I glance at the red LED numbers on the small alarm clock on my night stand. My determination and resolve are strong. I will conquer this. Tonight will be the night. I pull the sheet and blanket over me and adjust my pillow. I am semicomfortable. For now. The stars look like a constellation. First star I see tonight. . . I tilt my head to the left and imagine I am spelling out a word. What word? I don’t know. Those three in the middle throw off the pattern. I should have arranged them more carefully when I was 13, but standing on tip-toes on my bed, I barely could reach. That was two years ago. The crickets outside are loud. I can feel the darkness blanketing me. My eyes close. Nothing happens. I wait. Inhale. Exhale. I twist the bottom of the sheet around my toes. I kick it off and roll over. Inhale. Exhale. It never used to be like this. Before Lyme disease, I never liked going to bed—something my childhood babysitters could attest to after I pleaded for the fifth glass of water and inevitably then had to get up and go to the bathroom one more time—but it wasn’t so difficult to fall asleep. The battle of going to bed that I fought with my parents has become a war I fight with myself nightly. I wonder where Diana Savage, the girl I was best friends with in preschool, is now. Do any of the Founding Fathers have living descendants? What does my cat do when she stays out all night? Why can the word gray be spelled with an “e” or an “a?” Do polar bears ever get cold? Stop thinking. Just stop. Wait, how do I get my mind to listen to my mind? The sound of a train whistle echoes in the distance. I roll over again. I adjust the soft, beige sheet. The room is warm, but not too hot. A faint breeze has cooled my skin to its pre-sleep temperature. My body knows what should be happening by now. Laying on my stomach, I feel my rib cage press into the mattress as I inhale. I slide my arms under my pillow. My cheek greets the smooth surface and I am comforted by softness. My knees ache if they are bent too much or if they are too straight. I move them carefully and deliberately, like walking on a balance beam while laying down. One wrong move will illicit searing pain. What should I think about when I am not thinking? Inhale. Exhale. From the belly. The stars have gone dim, losing the light that they gathered during the day. I lost the health I had gathered for fourteen years. How do I get my light back? I wish
I may, I wish I might. I want the things that should be simple actually to be simple. Why is this so hard? Another indeterminate block of time passes. I avoid looking at the clock. It makes my body tense. I roll over again. I can’t get comfortable enough now. I am the only person awake in the world. Stillness is a blanket twisted around my body. I sit up and turn myself over and around, so that I am lying with my head at the end of the bed. I slide back under the covers. I smooth them out. I can reach my radio from here without standing up. I turn the power switch to “on,” when all I really want is to be “off.” I keep the volume low—so low that only I can hear it. I don’t want to wake my family. I wait for my favorite song. Eagle 106 always comes through eventually—even though they keep playing a new artist named Celine Dion at the top of every hour. The voice of the overnight deejay makes me feel less alone. I start to drift into the music, my alternative rock/pop lullabies. I like this song. I like this one too. A third starts and now, I don’t want to fall asleep. I want to listen. My eyes feel heavy. Yawning, I rest my hand on the power switch. I will turn it off in a moment. Just. . . one. . . more. . . song. Okay, one more. I negotiate with myself. But, now sleep is winning. Turning the radio off, laying at the foot of my bed, I don’t think about being ready to drift off. I don’t think about glow in the dark stars, being in pain or the bright red numbers on the clock that remind me each moment is unrepeatable and already slipping away. I don’t think at all. My mind has stopped thinking. And at last, my body has too. In the morning—late morning—I will resolve once again to go to bed earlier that night. To find a way to get comfortable sooner, to fall asleep quickly, to have the wish I wish tonight—and every night.
MANURE Bill Vernon The millionaire guy I worked for, Mr. Eustis, baled hay with us like a common laborer, but kept himself aloof from most familiarities. I mean he didn't joke around with us very often, and his Yale University education, his eastern accent, his art, the statues of animals that he made, his precision pistol shooting, all set him off from us as different. But there seemed to be something almost ha-ha funny about the job he gave me and my friend Jim, forking manure and soiled straw into the manure spreader, cleaning out some stalls in the barn's unused basement. I'd asked the farm manager Merle why not the regular horse stable. It had empty stalls already cleaned and available. These ones in the barn hadn't been used in decades. "Because Mr. Eustis wants to put a couple horses in here. Don't ask me for more details." The details came out from the man himself. While we worked, he stopped in as if to supervise us and started talking in a tone like it was all a big joke. His wife had ordered him to get rid of the two palominos he kept in their little (I'd heard) 10-acre estate near Cincinnati. She'd called them useless animals just taking up room on her place. She was the boss there. Well, this farm's 300-plus acres were his, and although he'd promised to sell the horses, he was going to hide them here to get her off his back. He meant to keep them, probably as models of some artful thing he was working on, like the little statues he did. "You boys understand?" Jim and I said sure and grinned. We didn't mind helping with his deception. Although it was odd, he seemed to like having us in on his scheme, and we liked being his pals. He added, "Don't tell anyone else about the horses or take them out for a walk or something without asking Merle first, okay? You never know when my wife might stop in here to check on things." Mr. Eustis watched us throw more forkfuls into the manure spreader. With him there, we worked fast. It wasn't hard. The straw and everything else were dried out, even odorless, whereas the stuff we cleaned out of the regular stalls in the horse stable was wet, heavy, and stinky. The wagon was nearly full when Mr Eustis said, "You guys can spread the manure yourselves, can't you? You know how to drive the tractor?" "Sure," I said. "I been driving a car for almost a year now." "Me too," Jim said. "Okay. I'll tell Merle to show you how to operate the spreader. I want him and Wayne to work on repairing the baler. We need that this afternoon." Then he walked off to see Merle.
My work was maybe more enthused than normal because Mr. Eustis was treating Jim and me like full-grown adults, and that impressed me. Plus we enjoyed driving anything, even a tractor. I figured Mr. Eustis must have known that new drivers felt that way so this driving job might be his way of repaying us for helping him hide his two palominos in these stalls. I remembered him laughing. It was like a game to him. When Merle showed up, he explained about the beaters that shredded the manure, the raised beaters that flung the manure out and up, and the floor and apron chains that dragged the material to the rear. "Don't get close to any of these moveable parts. If they grabbed loose clothing, it'd be all over for you." He showed us how to operate the tractor and the manure spreader. "Got it," Jim and I said, eager to drive the big red Farmall. Merle said, "I'm not crazy about having you handle this thing. It's dangerous. You have any trouble, just shut down, come back here, and get me. Don't try to fix anything yourself." "Okay." "Oh, one other thing, he wants you to enter the field through the far gate, the one closest to the field where we bale alfalfa this afternoon." A few minutes later I took the first load down the lane, passed the first gate, which was closed, and turned through the farther-away gate into the designated field. In the stiff wind blowing, I held my hat on and drove into position for a straight shot down the field from one end to the other. Then, as instructed, I tripped the lever, engaged the gears, and started spreading. Immediately, debris rained down on my back from my head to my waist. I hunched over the wheel but looked behind several times. That let stuff, whose nature I didn't want to think about, hit my face. Halfway across the field I disengaged, stood up, faced behind into the wind, and brushed off the trash. Spreading in the direction I'd been instructed to use was stupid. I should spread by driving into the wind, not with the wind, so that's what I did. Twice crossing the field emptied the load. My arrival back at the barn, surprisingly, brought Merle and Wayne and Mr. Eustis to my side. They were all smiling. "How'd you do, young man?" Mr. Eustis said. "Any trouble?" All three men stared at me. What was going on? Wayne said, "You got something on your hat." He picked off a long straw stuck in a small dark chunk that he held up in front of me. Wayne and Mr. Eustis laughed. Merle chuckled. "You didn't unload the whole wagon with the wind, did you?" There was more laughter.
Then the truth. Driving in the direction they'd set me up for by using the farther away gate was a prank. I shook my head and dismounted from the tractor. Immediately, gloved hands brushed off my back. Glancing around, I saw it was Mr. Eustis himself. He said, "There, you're good as new. It wasn't so bad was it? The shit was dry so nothing stuck to you." He squeezed my shoulder and smiled. So I smiled back. He said, "Go on and rinse off. You know every farm kid has that joke pulled on him. It's a rite of passage. I was just a twelve-year-old back in Maryland when it happened to me." I cleaned off at the spigot outside the dairy barn, dried off with the dirty towel hanging there, and returned to clean out the horse stall. All the time I was deciding if I ought to feel offended? put upon? angry? No such negative reaction occurred to me. I was proud. My millionaire boss, a kingpin of Cincinnati high society, had pulled a fast one on little old me. He'd brushed me off. He'd squeezed my shoulder as if he and I had a special relationship. Okay, his joke was crude, but even rich people need a laugh now and then. Couldn't blame him for that. In fact, I'd have pulled the joke on Jim myself if he hadn't heard the men's laughter and found out the truth.
FOOT-STOMPIN’ MUSIC Terry Barr My Dad walked very fast normally. I remember trying to keep up with him when he’d take me to Kiddie Land or to Alabama football games. He’d reach out and take my hand, and I can’t believe that I ever kept two feet touching the ground. Once, he almost lost me, so much of a hurry he was in to find our car and exit the parking lot ahead of everyone else. He hated traffic and could weave through crowds almost as if he were carting a wounded boar, seeking the entrails of a lesser creature. When he almost lost me that cloudy November day after Alabama held off LSU 16-7, I wondered how I’d find him. But only for a few seconds, as trench-coated throngs parted to let this felt-hatted trailblazer through to get back to his boy. In his later years, he’d walk the streets of our neighborhood for exercise, Four miles, five, his stride never changed. A bit slew-footed, picking up and never shuffling his feet, I wondered if his gait came from marching off to war in Patton’s army. At age eighteen, he marched along for months to liberate a continent and to give a son he wouldn’t have for another twelve years on another continent a chance to walk in his wake. He marched in his high school band, too, Ramsey High, while playing his beloved clarinet. So my Dad was a marcher, a strider. Someone who never let anyone cow him or get in his way. Twice, though, I saw him moving his feet to a different rhythm. We were driving back from Charleston some thirty years ago, and he took a wrong turn in Columbia, trying to rendezvous with his older brother Shirley. Before Google Maps or GPS, you could know someone’s address, but not have a clue how to get there. “We’re lost again,” my mother cried from her passenger-side view. “Stop and ask someone or use a pay phone.” I’ll never know why, but he did stop at the shadiest, sketchiest convenience store known to Columbians and beyond. We all wondered if he’d be robbed or knifed; still, we let this man exit the car; we relocked the doors, and then we watched as he trudged the fifty feet into this store. Like a last mile trudge. He came back to us that night, walking briskly, with directions to his brother’s house. We weren’t that far away after all. And then there was the other night, a twilight in a November fifteen years ago. My wife, daughters, and I, were leaving and my mother had him out on the drive in front of the house, walking. With Parkinson’s disease, you know about the hand
tremors. What you don’t know so much, however, is the shuffle. The feet scuffling, skidding. The one leg dead, dragging behind the other. It’s a horrible image to see upon one’s leaving: The final walk of a man who always came back, until the day he couldn’t.
Poems BE THAT David Poston Day says nothing, but it’s bright Enough to make me look away. Night says doubt. Be doubt. Be that. Let’s poetize. The years, like birds in flight, Admire the hawk they drive away. Day says nothing, but it’s bright. Well, I’ll look deep into myself. The sight Of that would melt you, little man of clay, Night says. Doubt. Be doubt. Be that. A bit more study all these years could Have left you more than these clichés, Day says. It’s nothing if not bright. At 3:00 a.m. there is a pill for that, So you won’t bother asking why Night says doubt. Just doubt. Be that. I’ve earned what sadness lies with me each night. There’s something hollow in all that’s light, you tell yourself. It’s easier that way. The day says nothing but is bright. Night says doubt. Be doubt. Be that.
WILLIAM HARVEY’S DOG Benjamin Harnett “I found the task so truly arduous…that I was almost tempted to think…that the movement of the heart was only to be comprehended by God.” —William Harvey, De Motu Cordis, 1628 Erasmus had taken in a stray, and marked down every whimper as he peeled flesh away, then wrote, at terrible end, “Never again.” William Harvey’s brutal persistence, though, first understood the pumping action of the heart. “Please, stop!” the doctor cannot speak, strangled up in his dream, all night, their wild faces; blood gushing in streams, recalled at breakfast table, turns his head to frost-licked panes, to hide a weak-eye from grandson, blond, bent over steaming venison stew. There is nothing of dawn yet, in November, in Vermont, just black and the yawning chill. He waits for the question, “Why do we have to kill?” Sometimes, almost always, you must have the will to destroy so that you can save the better part—to the boy he’d say, “We go hunting to forge a bond. Together, in nature, to appreciate. I took your father and my father took me.” But the boy says nothing, then asks “What makes the bullets go?” So he repeats the story, trigger to sear to spring-loaded hammer, pin to primer, gunpowder, bursting flame, the boy, happily, mouths “Blam!” The doctor’s wife watches them, two, through lavender light depart, shotguns broken over shoulders,
camo draped in orange. Later years, she remembers only, of their going, the chestnut tree in the drive, one armlike branch begins to tremble as it sways above the van, and, of the woody hand, an index finger curls, as against the trigger of the world.
MRS. HAVISHAM SPEAKS Stephanie Renae Johnson Look at the white sugar mess you've made, Victoria. That crumbling cake. This sordid lace. That fucking broken clock. Some days, I want the sun on my skin. I know he knows, underneath his black suit, how he's made my bones thin with hate. Out the blurry window, I see the corners of him— the uneven jaunt of his hat. Always, floating behind him: pink ribbons. I can smell the sticky sweet of her. That acrid, soft-footed woman. I have raised my dark Estella to be all powder and hips. This is the only way I gift forgiveness: through spite like a black spider from a white cake. From knowing she will leave hearts in the streets, in puddles, run over. Victoria, remember summer briars? Nanny chased you, kissing your cheeks until they were stained blackberries.
No. My skin is too cracked to remember youth. I'm too far sunk into these gray walls. I have this cake and its dust only. I am the witch of this place.
TISQUANTUM AKA SQUANTO Thadra Sheridan Squanto wasn’t his name. but the Algonquian language can strangle a western tongue. The Pilgrims gave him a more palatable title. He is remembered as their friend, when the New World ravaged their numbers; a guide and translator, he taught them to plant and hunt, connected them to the nearby tribe. But people rarely wonder how the Pilgrims could communicate with a member of the Wampanoag tribe, when they could not even manage his name. Nquitpausuckowashawmen There are a hundred of us. Ntanneteimmin I will be going. This is a language ill-suited for entitled European mouths. When we do wonder, we assume they must have picked up some of his words after awkward exchanges of gestures and stick drawings in the dirt, Patting his chest Me Squanto. Pointing to objects Tree Bird Boat. We fail to consider
That as he approached these weakened travelers He was already fluent in English and Spanish. They were not the first. He’d been kidnapped and sold twice before, spent fifteen years in England and Spain, returned to find his tribe exterminated by Smallpox, this forgiving man. Lesser fellows would have left them to starve, and who could have blamed him if he did.
ELEGY SHORTLY AFTER MIDNIGHT Aidan Forster â&#x20AC;¨ -Matthew Shepard, 1998 (18 hours) Cyclist I mistook him for a scarecrow. Fluty Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no straw in all of Laramie. Cyclist Neither of us can breathe. Fluty I am putting my fingers in his mouth. (fingers go in, come out/Red) Fluty The inside of a body. Cyclist Where are your gloves? Fluty Now everyone can breathe. (everyone breathes/Shepard is still) Cyclist Notice how his whole face is red. Fluty Like looking at a poisonous insect. Cyclist The ambulance?
Fluty I wonder if he can see the moon? Shepard (awareness of the tongue as the only living thing) (sirens/moon)
SHELTERING IN, IN SEVEN STEPS Erica Charis Boston, April 2013 1. Give in to compulsive news sharing and endless page refreshing. Wrap each small fact and hollow finding around each helpless minute like gauze. 2. When the woman who went to the same school five years after he graduated is expert, stop wrapping. This is no longer gauze. This is rolling paper. Refuse to wrap your fear in something they can light. Refuse to go up in smoke. 3. Make a list on a piece of paper. Write things like “cook,” “vacuum,” and “clear inbox.” When you write “call mom,” pick up the phone. 4. Call it meditation, though the silence doesn't suture and you pack empty ears with white buds of directionless droning. Don't call it failure. At least you're breathing. 5. Send your sighs across your beer bottle. Let them moan gently across glass lips crossing the distances between bodies: yours, full of sideline adrenaline, and the friend’s it took hours to find; his, bleeding in an explosive vest, and the officer's by the overturned boat. 6. Fill in a tub with steaming water and design a tattoo on the mirror that will make sense of this moment. Find the body part that could carry it. 7. Let your body sink under the surface. Sing a wordless prayer to the bath tile.
Wrap the resonance around your heart like gauze. Offer each sound like holy smoke. Leave what cannot be lifted.
CONFESSION Eliana Dianda i think of you and the butterflies, swarming my stomach, swim up and up to my throat in a tornado. my gums are growing flowers, making meadows of messages i can only wish to speak to you. the petals drift down and down to my collarbone, cracking until i curl into myself, craving your care. i don’t look at you the same way i look at them. these hums are not insignificant but they do hurt— oh how the pain pierces my spine striking every vertebrae of mine! i stand straight around you, yanked by a string. there is nothing unnatural, yet i know not how to breathe. please take my ribs and rip out these intuitions! make a new person better fit for your fingertips! i cannot give everything you need; i do not want it all. at night, i am haunted by the curves of your skeleton and the soft songs soaking into me from your secrets. the things i would give to merely dream of you and turn every future feeling into a fake reality, untouched by fear (and by you).
POLLEN Emma Rebholz the problem with dead things is they don’t get a chance to explain themselves that bee sting on your arm is a suicide note is a wordless way to remind you that pain demands payment but there is no good translation for a broken body the next time you look over that ledge and think of how loyal gravity is to things like falling boys I hope you taste honey in your mouth I hope you feel gold-coated glorious I hope you live I hope you keep living
THE BEAUTIFUL Allyson Whipple America can cane nice fear into you wait a minute past tense all pretense Firemen, their lean frames make it rain yearn for another turn free brawn after a flat fee Ten tin soldiers shudder
rank and file aim at the rift cut her down
Brace against vice burn the barn the beer tainted claim to nature even the wind has sinned against you no cure for all these impurities nail yourself to a cross crumble the rite ran off the rail Eve’s free rib all fall The curt curtain lifts get ready for the main event cast your bet for the better no mean feat you can’t bear the rust the rumble of fleeting fame leer at the wheel leer at the wall cry man cry create crime at the end of the line flutter don’t fly rile the regal in their denial turn the tides trim time try but tumble feel failure Grapes gone
PROPER ABECEDARIAN 4: ELEVEN Devon Miller-Duggan Again: Poppies and Flags for a war whose soldiers gone by into the bield of forgetting remembrance forgetting. I am not certain how spring bulbs’ leaves bayonet up through soil without grinding down their tips, raggeding them like dried blood. Each eleven seemed sufficient for peace. Bones and old shells still push through French soil, ragged as dry blood. Gather, Old Soldiers, 100 years and the same war push up bloodied, same how same millions, row on row. How bulbs lance upward; spring. I learned to recite “In Flanders’ Fields” in 8th grade. Gave it justice best I could. It’s all armistice, all kenosis, each soldier relinquishing divinity, each leaf within bulb gives up milky safety of sleep, pushing upward. Meanwhile: Omaha, Nagasaki, Pusan, My Lai, Rwanda, West Bank, Helmand, or genocide, genocide, genocide, cleansing, genocide—forced kenosis. Nay bloom in 100 years not red. Perhaps this time. Perhaps un-red blooms spear through some spring. Quiet as rows of white stone. Rows of returning bulbs planted wrong season, heads down. Some numbers: 11/11/11; 21 (years not at war); 86,600,000 (deaths in I&II)—always come down to one and one and one and will until Ground demands ploughshares, and gods require no bloodcleansing. Vent-able—everything that lives can be pierced. Whether anything survives kenosis, beyond keening, breaking apart even xylem, draining fluids until even wood weeps. Yet more. Yet poppies and bloodgrounds. Zenith, n. The peak at which lesson spears ground, unshredded, blooms.
THE CROW’S SONG C. Noel Carson I want, I want Mine is a dry tongue in a thirsty desert Press your ear to my heart divine the rush of colored rain I’ll drink the mist with saguaro mouths Fall on me with flashing wings-you dizzy me with your circles, babe Break me open, please suck the marrow down Prick your palms on the hostile spines Test my feverish flesh and scatter my empty, ecstatic bones to scorch in the gleam of your hungry eyes
MIDDLE GROUP Kayli Wren I read a poem about a fish caught with four hooks already embedded in his lip, the strings dangling and broken from when he got away. He never fought this last time, which means he gave up. And I started thinking. Here is this fish, swimming around the ocean, clearly in pain. (Animals obviously feel pain, but do they suffer? Baby gorilla have been known to grieve for lost mothers.) But animals don’t commit suicide or think to hurt themselves. They live through the pain. Humans have the logic and sense enough to want to stop and end it. I heard of a movement where people drew butterflies on their forearms. (Who would want to cut something as beautiful as a butterfly?) Animals’ greatest instinct is to survive. It would be nice to find a middle, a species with the blind sense to live even through suffering, and the sense to live instead of survive. *Inspired by “The Fish,” by Elizabeth Bishop
CONFLAGRATION Brad Garber The rhythm of a frightened heart the first finch on the island. When the match hit the tinder grass I ripped off my clothes to stop the fire from killing me learned how to dance. The explosion of my variation inhabits every niche of a life blown in mad dervish whirls set in careless motion by curiosity. Things destroyed in my passing returned miraculously as if fear was a laughing matter my screams yet another joke the smoldering imprint of my blistered feet the punch line. The embers of my burning flew from island to island. I gaze back at my passage waiting for the next gust spotting through the smoke another new species.
HOW TO BUILD A FIRE Neil Silberblatt Start slowly, no, slower with longing or, perhaps, a lemon cut along its pregnant midsection and squeezed over plump scallops seared to a walnut finish while their flesh recalls the ocean. Nurse it with desire or, perhaps, garlic roasted until its sweet pulp emerges Minerva-like from its parchment skin, like Torah scrolls whose crowned letters leap from flames. Only then, add touch or, perhaps, logs whose air pockets wait to be emptied by pickpocket flames, releasing ash fireflies like so many copper pennies scattered onto the night’s floor. Skip the big-assed fire pit. You don’t even need matches. Just start with kindling or, perhaps, a poem about kindling.
Editorial Staff EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jordan Rizzieri is the 90’s-loving, 5’10” founder of The RPD Society. She was raised on Long Island, NY to love Alice Hoffman & Billy Joel. She was educated in Western NY to eat Garbage Plates & Buffalo Wings. She currently resides in Arlington, VA where she can be found regularly shouting at live wrestling events as pro wrestling’s sassiest critic, The Lady J or working on freelance editing/writing projects with Gizmo the Dog.
NON-FICTION EDITOR Jennifer Lombardo resides in Buffalo, NY, and works at Rosen Publishing. She graduated from the University at Buffalo with a B.A. in English in the hope of becoming an editor. When she isn't reading, she cross-stitches and goes adventuring with friends. She is especially passionate about AmeriCorps, Doctor Who, and the great outdoors. Ask her any question about grammar, but don't count on her to do math correctly.
POETRY EDITOR Bee Walsh // 27 // Queer Babe // Capricornsun, Cancer-moon, Scorpio-rising // She on her best days, They on all the others // Bronx-native living in Washington, D.C // Advocates for ALL GRRLS // Aspiring sentient sea mist // Talk to her about fourth-wave feminism, the tattoo of the vagina on her finger, or the Oxford comma.
POETRY EDITOR Wilson Josephson is a young sapling spreading his roots in Minneapolis. Born & raised in New England, he appreciates the finer things in life: potatoes, strawberry stems, sparsile stars, & ampersands. He is an author of Literary Starbucks, which he hopes will encourage everyone to take neither themselves nor anyone else too seriously.
Contributors Terry Barr’s essay collection, Don't Date Baptists and Other Warnings From My Alabama Mother, has just been released by Red Dirt Press. My home is still in Greenville, SC, and you may visit me at terrybarr.wordpress.com. Dennis Milam Bensie’s poem “Eight Ball” was published in Greater National Society of Poets, Inc in 1980 when he was a freshman in high school. It was featured thirty years later in his memoir, Shorn: Toys to Men. Short stories and poetry by Dennis have been featured in numerous publications and his essays have been seen in The Huffington Post, Boys on the Brink, and The Good Men Project. He currently writes a weekly column for Queen Mob’s Tea House called “30 Years a Dresser” about his career working backstage in professional theatre. Dennis’s latest book Flit: A Poetry Mashup of Classic Literature was featured in Kolaj Magazine and was a part of Tribe Magazine’s “Anti-Shame Week”. Dennis has been a presenter and panelist at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans and at Montana’s very first gay pride festival. Edith Gallagher Boyd is a graduate of Temple University and a former French language teacher. She is the author of "Dancing In Winter," "Dr. McGill," and other short stories. She lives in Florida. Yanick Cadieux is a 34 year old artist, writer and photographer living near Vancouver, Canada. She writes so that she can share her stories but I will never admit which stories are fact, and which are fiction. C. Noel Carlson is a totally original Millennial who (predictably) blogs about herself. Her poetry and fiction sometimes appear in the Rain, Party, & Disaster Society. Her first horror novel glowers from her laptop screen, daring her to quit. She works in Colorado Springs, serving beer in an ill-fitting corporate button-up. Erica Charis holds a B.F.A. from York University. Her poetry has been published in Borderline, Crab Fat, Broad! and FUSION. Her cross-disciplinary collaborative work has been performed at Lesley University, the Lydia Fair, and the Dance Complex among other community venues. She’s an alum of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and she posts excerpts of and links to her work at lettheceleryrot.wordpress.com/poetry.
Eliana Dianda is commonly described as three things: emotional, neurotic, and contemplative. Words are her remedy for this; unusual poetry tends to be the result of her constant anxiety. She feels passionately about almost everything, yet nothing evokes her passion like the act of feeling itself. Her poetry is an attempt to capture the beauty of this messy and sometimes painful life we all are living. Aidan Forster is a sophomore in high school. He studies creative writing at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, South Carolina, where he is the managing editor of Crashtest and the blog editor of The Adroit Journal. He is a 2015 Anthony Quinn Foundation Scholarship recipient, and the 2015 winner of the Say What Open Mic: Fresh Out the Oven Slam. His work appears or is forthcoming from The Adroit Journal, Assaracus, DIALOGIST, and Verse, among others. A contributor to almost fifty compendiums in her career, Catherine Foster is the submissions editor at Bedlam Publishing and also co-founded the editing business The LetterWorks. She enjoys playing piano and lives in rural Michigan with her family. You can read more of Catherine's work at keppiehed.com. Brad Garber has degrees in biology, chemistry and law. He writes, paints, draws, photographs, hunts for mushrooms and snakes, and runs around naked in the Great Northwest. Since 1991, he has published poetry, essays and weird stuff in such publications as Edge Literary Journal, Pure Slush, On the Rusk Literary Journal, Sugar Mule, Barrow Street, Aji Magazine and other quality publications. 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee. Benjamin Harnett, born 1981 in Cooperstown, NY, lives in Brooklyn with his wife Toni. He holds an MA in Classics from Columbia University, and works as a digital engineer for The New York Times. His writing has appeared in Brooklyn Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Queen Mob's Tea House, and (his best work) on Twitter, @benharnett. Stephanie Renae Johnson is a freelance writer and editor living in the mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina. An avid lover of young adult literature, she is the Editor-in-Chief of The Passed Note, a YA lit mag for young adult readers by adult writers. She is also pursuing her Masters in Writing at Lenoir-Rhyne University and completing her first book of poetry while there. Her work has been published by Slink Chunk Press, Parenthetical, Prick of the Spindle, and Six Penny.
Lauren Jonik is a writer and photographer in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in 12th Street, Artemis, Calliope, Panoplyzine, Caravel Literary Arts Journal and on Ravishly. 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. Miriam Matejova is a PhD student of Political Science, a Vanier Scholar, a Killam Laureate and a Liu Scholar at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Her creative writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Her Circle, the Inconsequential, and several travel magazines. She is also one of the contributors to a recently published travel book titled This Place a Stranger: Canadian Women Travelling Alone, and an editor of the upcoming anthology Wherever I Find Myself: Stories by Canadian Immigrant Women. Devon Miller-Duggan found herself with a rainy afternoon at the beach, a bag of children's plastic ABC sandmolds, and a copy of Twyla Tharp's book on creativity. Over the next year, 52 disorderly and proper abecedarians happened. She blames it on turning 60. Her book, Pinning the Bird to the Wall, was published in 2009. A chapbook, Neither Prayer, Nor Bird, was published in 2013. She teaches Creative Writing for the University of Delaware. Logan Murphy is a graduate of the University of Tennessee's MFA program. His work has appeared in Pithead Chapel, The Masters Review, Five 2 One Magazine, and others. David E. Postonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new poetry collection is Slow of Study (Main Street Rag Publishing), and he has work forthcoming in The Well-Versed Reader. He is still in North Carolina, working in small ways with like-minded people to counteract the reactionary forces of recent notoriety. He'd like to see everyone in America disarm: http://blackheartmagazine.com/shop/disarm-2/. Emma Rebholz is a sophomore Writing, Literature, and Publishing major at Emerson College who uses too many exclamation points. Her poetry has been previously published by or is forthcoming from Voicemail Poems, The Emerson Review, The Misanthropy, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Souvenir. She probably wants to be your friend.
Thadra Sheridan is a writer and performer from Minneapolis, MN. Her work has appeared in Rattle, The Legendary, Blotterature, Specter, The Pine Hills Review, on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, Button Poetry, UpWorthy, and in several anthologies. She is the recipient of the Jerome Foundation's Verve Grant for spoken word and a past weekly columnist for Opine Season. Neil Silberblatt’s poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in various journals, including Poetica Magazine, The Otter, The Aurorean, Two Bridges Review, Verse Wisconsin, Naugatuck River Review, Chantarelle’s Notebook, and The Good Men Project. His work has been included in the anthology, Confluencia in the Valley: The First Five Years of Converging with Words (Naugatuck Valley Community College, 2013); and in University of Connecticut’s Teacher-Writer magazine. He has published two poetry collections: So Far, So Good (2012), and Present Tense (2013). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and one of his poems received Honorable Mention in the 2nd Annual OuterMost Poetry Contest (2014), judged by Marge Piercy. Neil is the founder of Voices of Poetry - which has presented poetry events, featuring distinguished poets & writers, at various venues throughout CT, NYC and Cape Cod. He has taught a three-part class on the Poetry of War - from Troy to Afghanistan as part of the Lifetime Learning Program at Snow Library in Orleans, MA Bill Vernon served in the United States Marine Corps, studied English literature, then taught it. Writing is his therapy, along with exercising outdoors and doing international folkdances. His poems, stories and nonfiction have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, and Five Star Mysteries published his novel OLD TOWN in 2005. Allyson Whipple is a student in the online MFA program with the University of Texas at El Paso. She is co-editor of the Texas Poetry Calendar and author of the chapbook We're Smaller Than We Think We Are. Her second chapbook is forthcoming from Five Oaks Press. Allyson teaches at Austin Community College. Kayli Wren is in her senior year of high school in Virginia. She has previously been published in Teen Ink, Literary Orphans, and anthologies connected with Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center and the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. In her free time, when not writing, she enjoys watching movies, acting in theater productions, eating Pad Thai, and baking lemon squares.
The content of this magazine was published under first Internet rights ÂŠ The RPD Society 2016