SAND issue 13

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Contact: SAND Journal c/o Lyz Pfister Prinz-Georg-StraĂ&#x;e 7 10827 Berlin Germany Connect with us for news and events: ISSN 2191-429X Published in Berlin Copyright Spring 2016 Designed by Angelique Hering Printed by Solid Earth Cover image by Angelique Hering


Lyz Pfister

Stephanie Hannon

Florian Duijsens

Editor in Chief

Managing Editor

Fiction Editor

Jake Schneider

Angelique Hering

Louis Labron-Johnson

Poetry Editor

Design Director & Art Editor

Copy Editor

Isaiah Lee

Ashley Moore

Simone O’Donovan

Events Manager

Media & Communications

Media & Communications

Sara Bellini

Andrew Scheinman

Mary Quigley

Distribution & Finance Manager

Distribution & Finance Assistant

Editorial Assistant

Tommaso Zuffa

Christina Wegener

Grants & Funding Coordinator

Verein Coordinator


Editor’s Note Lyz Pfister

“Let’s talk about desire.” With these opening words, Sophie Atkinson takes us to “Wonderland,” whirling us into a willful world where desire is akin to possession, but it’s never quite clear just who’s possessing whom. Amara may have captured Ginny’s heart, but in a world where reality flickers like a poorly-wired TV, maybe Ginny’s really just possessed by her own obsession; there’s a fine line between getting what we want and letting our wants consume us. And SAND Issue 13 is all about consumption, from feeding a hunger to falling into a feeling. In Ann Manov’s “The Beach,” the speaker is overwhelmed by a vision – a silent, empty shore superimposed on a rich and syrupy Paris summer. The poem takes us right into Patrick Kelling’s frightening universe, where a family trapped in a freak ferocious squall is picked off one by one: “Something out there is eating, digesting, and later we hear its hunger returning deep enough to rattle loose nails from the floorboards.” Sometimes, we are completely consumed by an experience, or a place. In Shayne Laughter’s story “Into Kansas,” Eli is swallowed up by the vast prairies. Confronted


with who he’s becoming in this primal landscape, he’s unsure of whether he can get out of Kansas before too much of it gets into him. In her non-fiction account of eating mind-altering substances, on the other hand, Danielle Zaccagnino consciously dives into another realm, finding transcendental beauty, but encountering danger, too. She risks getting lost: “Some new reality is created every second, and the scene falls like a set of Polaroids. Danielle. The man puts water in front of me. I ask him if my face is moving. I think of asking: Is this body mine?” The idea of ownership weaves through these poems and stories like a tight white thread. Can we possess the ones we love? Tammy Ho Lai-Ming explores this idea literally in her soft, pleading poem “A Captive’s Dove Message to Her Mother.” Here, the speaker is utterly possessed by her captor: “If he could, he would press my body flat: a dry leaf for a bookmark / in his personal briefcase.” And yet, reading Nina Budabin McQuown’s “On the Perpetual Motion Machine,” possession of any kind seems hopeless. Everything we want is moving too fast for us to hold on to. “When you pay for a study, you get what you want,” says E.M. Schorb in “Moontime.” But what if we can’t afford what we want? Would we resort to weaponry? Of course there’s the cold, hard reality of a gun, like the one that punctuates this issue in Darren C. Demaree’s “What the Gun Eats” series. But a gun isn’t the only way to control a situation – there may be a gun in E.G. Willy’s “Black Friday,” but the story’s real weapon, used to manipulate and deceive, is love. Are we defined by who we love or who loves us, by who we eat, or who eats us? Looking at two of the artists in this issue, Aurim Ra’s tattoo designs reveal masks cracked open over faces, two identities fighting to assert themselves, while Allison Chaplin’s warped and woven portraits ask us to question how we see each other and ourselves. We are not so easily defined, it seems. “I’ve been thinking about how to explain / myself,” as the speaker of Mallory Imler Powell’s poem says. A way to start is to dive headfirst into our desires, wrap ourselves in our obsessions, keep a record of everything we own. But is anything ever really ours to keep? Maybe just the hunger. Maybe it’s just the wanting that we keep.


Contents 9



What the Gun Eats #85


Little Mouth

Arkaye Kierulf

Robert Vivian




Into Kansas

Where is Your God Now? // Inner Sketch

Manic // Number 9

Darren C. Demaree

Shayne Laughter

Allison Chaplin

Aurim Ra


The Beach Ann Manov


Black Friday E.G. Willy


in appreciation of your form Redscar McOdindo K’Oyuga






How to Explain

Patrick Kelling

Gustavo Barrera Calderón

Mallory Imler Powell

43–45 trans. Kathleen Heil




What the Gun Eats #86


Cat Nap

Sophie Atkinson

Phillip Sterling

Darren C. Demaree



The Basis for Evil Machinations KJ Hannah Greenberg



If You Speak Truth, Have a Foot in the Stirrup—

Moontime E.M. Schorb

Molly Bess Rector




Edibles: A Primer

After the Delhi Rain


Danielle Zaccagnino

Amita Murray




Old Fashioned

A Captive’s Dove Message to Her Mother

Gone off to Return with Second Life and Habanera

Emily O’Neill

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming


Butterface Alexis Zanghi


Who Killed Basquiat // Who Killed Hitchcock

N. West Moss

B.B.P. Hosmillo 112–113

On the Perpetual Motion Machine

Stephanie F. Scholz

Nina Budabin McQuown




What the Gun Eats #87

A Bend in the Arc


Darren C. Demaree

Mark Terrill


Darren C. Demaree

What the Gun Eats #85 The quiet, the accompanied chamber & the champion of the barrel, you selfless projection, you’re going to need all of your friends if you’re aiming at my hands.


Ann Manov

The Beach It was Paris, mid-August. The French had caravanned To the rocky Midi. Boulangerie Saison was papered up; The fruit stands, too, where galaxies of flies Shot around mirabelles. We foreigners were left, Paying out-of-town landlords a thousand euros rent and conjugating Our inquiries about Chavez’s view on cocaine And the sultan’s on the Pill. On Wednesdays I’d go to market, Swinging a bag around my index finger in the discount periphery Of five-for-five panties and Téléphonez au Maghreb load-as-you-go’s. The fruit was syrupy, crushed pulp, the sky bullet silver On the threshold of storm. I trod as if through heavy waves, Perched in kitten heels, flushed in moth-wrecked wool that reeked of me. Every limestone church smelled of piss. Arabs in windbreakers snaked past knockoff TV shops. Then the vision came, with the smell of turpentine by a half-painted housing project: An empty beach stacked with sandbags, The fuchsia pin-cushion of a sea-urchin, My silent parents before standing water – There was none of Yeats’s O sea-starved, hungry sea. The memory set like aspic on the limp, dusk hour home: A family trip to the shore, before the fear set in.


Patrick Kelling

We have seen sun nor stars since the blizzard avalanched over the southern mountains, covering everything in ice and black snow. Stan left to check the livestock when we heard their screams. We watched through the cracked door as the storm ate his lantern’s light before it should have. We told ourselves that the milk cow was in with the horses again, that the goats had upended their trough, that Stan would be back soon because he was the eldest. That was four days ago. When we are brave enough to listen hard, past the winds, we hear it. Not Stan, we say. He was never so feral. But something out there is eating, digesting, and later we

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hear its hunger returning deep enough to rattle loose nails from the floorboards. So we stop listening, and when that isn’t enough we stuff our ears with handfuls of wool from a pillow. That was two days ago. We didn’t need to saran-wrap the windows because the ice did it for us. In them we are fractured reflections and vipered conversations. But when we turn the lights off we feel things slithering by our thighs, insectoid legs climbing our own, until they breathe our breath back into us. So we fear ice-heavy power lines, the tink of an exhausted bulb, the mountains that keep the sun behind their peaks. We don’t trust the slush of toilet water either, because if it’s liquid it’s permeable, and that’s why we all sit with one eye watching the space between our legs. We all saw what happened to Father, whom we’ve locked in the back room, and when that wasn’t enough we broke the window, left him to the storm, which we took to calling the hunger, because James, the smallest, the one who doesn’t know enough, wormed his way past the wardrobe we’d stacked against the door, peeled away the tape we’d run along the cracks – our version of a hermetic seal – and smelled the corrosion before he saw it, the ironframed bed and Father’s naked, bubbling muscle. To pass the time we tell variations of Grandpa’s stories, which we all know, which we have to alter because they weren’t meant to shoulder this heaping darkness. Yesterday we found an ear in a can of beans that had an expiration date that had passed before any of us were born. Yesterday we found a petrified hornet’s nest below the hallway floorboards, and below that a photo of a family that wasn’t ours. The middle children have taken to burrowing into the far corner of the cellar, saying that the only way out is down, away from the mildew we scoop from our eyes every morning. We watch as they use the earth they mined to seal the tunnel behind them. If we were brave enough to hold our ears to this newly made wall, to listen for their progress, we would have been brave enough to join them. Perhaps they made it, but we don’t speak of such things, or speak at all, because yesterday the ice lifted the front door clear off its hinges, and now the only thing between

23 Consumption

the living room and the storm is a drift of black ice. So we retreated to the pantry and eat from half-opened cans without looking inside. This isn’t sustainable, but we tell ourselves that the storm isn’t either, that the harder we are to digest, the longer we’ll last, but now the wind is peeling the ceiling back, the upper floor already gone. Some of us have taken to holding our breath. Others hold their eyes open between their thumb and forefinger because a blink is too long to await the return of sunlight. One, the closest to the door, hasn’t stopped humming for days. So far we know that we don’t speak the correct language; hopefully the right tune will start a vibration that will carry the last of us away.


Aurim Ra


Where is Your God Now? Overleaf:

Inner Sketch


E.G. Willy

You can stop being a punk. You can stop being trash. You can stop being a lot of things. But you can’t change ugly. Ugly is permanent. I know this. I’m skinny, pimply, greasy, frog-faced, and smelly. I’ve been this way long enough to know nothing has changed, nothing ever will. My bitch mom knows I’m ugly too. She reminds me of this two, three times a week. She dropped me off at my dad’s house in Concord with the excuse that I needed time with my father, but what she really meant was that she needed time away from me. She looked straight ahead when I got out of the truck. Rich, her fuckwad boyfriend, pulled my garbage bag full of clothes from the cab. He glanced at the half-open door of the house, said, “Right, see you.”

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My bitch mom leaned over to the passenger window, said, “Remind your dad I need the support check. Don’t forget, I need that check.” “Right, bye Mom.” “The check.” “Right.” “No fucking around. Get the check.” “Yeah, I heard you.” They didn’t wait for me to get to the door before driving off. They dropped me off like you would a bag of trash. They didn’t drive away quick though, like you would if you were trying to hide that it was your trash. It was more like when you go to the dump and leave something there. That’s what you do. I didn’t blame them. I didn’t want them hanging around and talking with my dad. Talking usually means fighting. The house was empty. I had to pass through the house and go out back before I saw anyone. When I got there, it was kind of like a, what you call, pastoral scene. Dad was standing by the barbecue with Sheryl’s son, Danny. Sheryl was having a smoke by the fence. Though Danny is only fifteen, he was having a beer. In any other house this would seem strange, I suppose, but not in my dad’s house. If Danny gets a hold of a six-pack, the rule is he has to share two beers from the pack with my dad. I think the rule works for me too, though I’ve never gotten a hold of a six-pack. I’m only thirteen, so my beer consumption is kind of limited to what I can steal. Danny’s the lord of all fuckdicks. I know I’m a punk, but he’s a hundred times more of a punk than I am. And he’s kind of good looking. I ain’t into telling if other guys are good-looking or not. I ain’t into guys like that. But I can see Danny is almost handsome in a crooked, busted way. He hasn’t been to juvie yet. But he will. Where he will get assraped. I am so ugly, no one would consider assraping me. One look at my pimply ass would pretty much kill all desire to rape me. “Jesus, Victor, good to see you,” said my dad, then he came over and gave me a monster hug. “You little bastard, you’re growing like a weed.” “Hi, Dad.” “My son. Goddamn, I love you, you better fucking believe it,” said my dad, still hugging me. He smelled of barbecue smoke, gin, dope, and Old Spice, a real dad smell.

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Sheryl hugged me too. She said, “My God, look how handsome you are.” I winced. Calling me handsome doesn’t make me feel better. But it felt okay having Dad and Sheryl hug me. I don’t get hugged much. Dad said, “Get ready, Victor, we’re going to church in a few minutes. No hanging around like dopes. It’s Thanksgiving, time to celebrate and give thanks.” We went to church half an hour later. We served the homeless guys from the shelter, then we ate. The shelter had prepared turkey, sweet potatoes and syrup, stuffing, five kinds of salad, jello, and pumpkin pie. The food wasn’t too bad. I ate a lot of sweet potatoes. The pastor came over and talked to us, thanked us for helping out. Dad told him it was the least we could do, how important the holidays were for people in need. The pastor mentioned how the holidays can be rough for lots of folks. Dad agreed, said more people should see that. After we finished up, we washed dishes, then drove home. “Going hunting in the morning,” said my dad as we drove home. “So don’t think you’re sleeping in. We’ll be getting up around three. No staying in bed late and jerking off.” “I don’t ever jerk off,” said Danny, then pointed at me. “Victor is the meat man, you know… seeing as he doesn’t get any.” “Yeah right,” said Dad. “You don’t jerk off. That’s a good one. Go to goddamned bed early if you have to whack it. We got hunting. That’s more important than jerking off.” “Hell yeah, going hunting,” said Danny, his voice going up. “Hell yeah,” I echoed, though not as enthusiastically as Danny. I like the idea of going hunting, just not going to bed early. I have to share a room with Danny, Lord Fuckdick. The least amount of time spent in that room as possible is a good thing. Contrary to what he was saying about me jerking off, Danny is a jerk-off genius. He jerks off more than anyone I know. I wish there was another room to stay in. It’s my dad’s house, though Danny’s room is Danny’s room. I don’t get a room. I’m a guest. My mom’s house is actually Rich’s house. I have to share a room with Rich’s son, Howard. He’s eight and he won’t shut up. Ever. Most of the time I feel like a guest in that house too. Sheryl woke us up at three. She had some eggs cooked up and some kind of squeeze cheese thing she’d gotten from the Dollar Store. All breakfast long Lord Fuckdick made

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squeeze cheese comments, how that cheese looked like a big dollop of jizz. He thought he was being funny. I guess he’ll think that in juvie too when he gets there. Those jizz comments will get him a long way. Dad came to breakfast last. He was wearing a Carhartt work jacket. I knew without being told that he would have a flask of booze in there. When we went hunting, he stuck mostly to hard alcohol. Danny sat at the table shirtless and showed off his Lord Fuckdick muscles as he ate. He could do this because he was starting to fill out, preparing for his time in juvie. I was fully dressed in my jacket, jeans, and tennis shoes. Dad sat at the table for about a minute, then said, “Right, let’s roll. I got the guns in the truck.” Dad has a red 1995 Ford 150 with a camper top. Me and Danny were in the back while my dad drove us downtown. It was around four in the morning when we stopped at the back parking lot of Sun Valley Mall. Dad drove to the farthest end of the lot, said, “Right, pull those windows open and ping away like motherfuckers.” “Roger that,” said Danny. “I’m going to show Victor how this is done.” We opened the windows and started firing. Both Danny and I have Ruger .22 rifles. They’re precision scoped, equipped with high-capacity magazines, and we’ve placed Arnold Corp M-110 lawnmower mufflers screwed on the end of the barrel that work as silencers. You would think it only takes a few minutes, but shooting out every light in a mall parking lot takes at least an hour. It should take less but Danny, though he thinks he’s a hot shot, can’t shoot worth shit. I do most of the kills. Lord Fuckdick might have muscles and look good, but he sucks at firing a weapon. By five we were done. Dad drove us to a breakfast spot in Pleasant Hill that opens early. We had a second breakfast. I had pancakes and eggs and a milkshake, which is about the best breakfast a guy could have. Dad tousled my hair, said, “Nice shooting, son.” “Hey, what about me?” asked Danny. “Not bad, Danny, you’re getting there.” Danny scowled, didn’t talk the rest of the breakfast, which was okay by me. After breakfast we went downtown and looked at store windows. When the barbershop opened up, Dad had me and Danny get cuts.

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“How’s it going to be?” asked the barber. “Make them look like decent boys,” said my dad. “No buzz cuts, just regular, part on the left side. No long fem bangs. Standard cuts.” “I don’t want a queer cut, hell no,” said Danny. “Victor here, he might be thinking of one, though.” “When you get done blowing me, I’ll let you know,” I replied. “In your dreams,” said Lord Fuckdick. “Boys, shut the hell up and let the barber do his thing,” said my dad. “Show some respect.” “They sound just like my boys,” noted the barber. “Christ, it’s tough,” said my dad. “Reminds me of when I was a kid. Full of piss and vinegar,” said the barber. “Goddamned teenagers,” said my dad. “Yep,” said the barber. “Growing up.” After our haircuts, Dad got his hair done. Me and Danny looked at the girls in Playboy while Dad talked with the barber about football. “Big day today,” said the barber. “Black Friday. Christmas shopping starts. Might want to be home before the craziness hits.” “Hell, it already has,” said Dad. Lord Fuckdick laughed at this, one of those shitass in-the-know laughs. My dad gave him a look. I kept my mouth shut. I knew better than to advertise or jinx the crew. No sense in letting people know you’re up to something. St. Vincent de Paul was open at ten. Dad picked us out some clothes. They always have good stuff in that time of year. I got a couple of collared shirts, two pairs of wool slacks, a blazer. Danny got the same. Then we drove back home and Dad sent us in to get washed up. “I want you boys clean,” said Dad. “This is a big shopping day.” We cleaned up and stuck around the house, playing video games and watching TV until it got dark. Dad came in at six with new pairs of shoes for me and Danny. He gave Danny a pair of Hush Puppies. I got a pair of Ferragamo shoes. I didn’t know what they were when my dad showed them to me, but when I saw the receipt in the box, I figured

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they were something special. Seven hundred dollars. I didn’t know they had shoes that cost that much. Shit, I’d never seen seven hundred dollars before. “Try them on and see what you think,” said my dad. I held up the shoes. “These are size eleven. I’m a ten.” “You’re still growing. You’ll look good in those for a few years. Just put on a couple of socks on each foot to size them up. Then tell me you don’t fucking like them.” “I don’t know if I should put them on. I don’t want to ruin them.” “Look, people judge you by your shoes. That’s what makes you stand out. Ain’t no waiting on special shoes. Try them on, see what you think.” I slid the shoes on. Even with two pairs of socks on, I could feel they were the most comfortable shoes I’d ever worn. “I want both you boys putting on my deodorant in the bathroom. No smelly teenage shitweasels riding with me. Fucking clean, clean, clean, proper, proper, proper.” Me and Danny did a final check in the bathroom, checked out our new outfits, pulled our coats on, looking in the mirror longer than most guys would because we looked that good. I mean, I was still ugly and all, but I was one step up the non-ugly rung, which was something. I had decent clothes. My hair was clean. And I didn’t look so damned skinny with the blazer on. So, yeah, I checked myself out. Danny Lord Fuckdick checked himself out more than me, though, kept running his hands through his hair like he was a male model. “Come on, it’s getting late. We’re going shopping,” said Dad. “We’re not primping like faggots all day long.” Danny punched me in the arm, said, “Here’s the faggot.” I punched him back. “Fuck you, Lord Fuckdick. Wait till you get to juvie and they see your sweet ass. Man, you’ll get pounded by like ten guys your first day in.” “Get in the damned car,” ordered Dad. The mall was dark when we arrived. No one had even noticed the lights were shot out. There were thousands of cars in the lots surrounding the mall. You could feel the winter coming. It was chilly cold, and you could smell the stink of the refineries from Martinez in it. “Walk and check. Count ten cars. Move on. Stay cool,” coached my dad. “It’s seven

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o’clock now. Most folks are hungry. They’ll be inside. You boys move quick but not fast. Look deliberate. Think every car is your car. And no fuckups. I don’t want fuckups.” Danny and I set out like Dad told us. We had on our St. Vincent De Paul duds. Our shirts were pressed, our shoes looked sharp. No one questioned us or gave us looks. You’d be surprised who forgets to lock their cars on Black Friday. Folks are so tired, they leave things open. When two young men in suits open the door to a car that doesn’t belong to them, no one sees a thing. We went up and down the lots, even the ones along Contra Costa Boulevard, right out in the open, a couple of nice young men boosting shit. It was almost too much. Folks had bought more that year on account they said the economy was turning around. But we were prepared. Dad and Sheryl had separate cars. They drove by every fifteen minutes, then drove the take home, loaded it in the garage. On our final run behind Macy’s, I got made by an old lady who looked like she was eighty years old. “What are you doing in my car?” she asked. Her voice was a little wobbly, and I could tell she was trying to hide her fear at seeing me rifling through her car. I stood up straight like my dad had shown me. When you stand up straight, you look more honest. “Sorry, ma’am. Is this your car? I saw your lights were on, went to turn them off.” “My lights?” asked the old lady. “Yeah, I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to run down your battery. I hope you don’t mind. I apologize if I did something wrong.” “My, that’s sweet of you,” said the old lady, relieved that I was a good kid and not some shitass punk who was going to jack her up. “Just didn’t want you to get stranded here,” I told her, then pushed one of my new shoes out for her to get a look at. They said everything. What’s a kid with $700 shoes doing boosting shit from her car? “Well, thank you so much. There’s not many nice young men left any more.” “Sorry if I upset you, ma’am,” I said. We said goodbye, and I started walking slow-fast like my dad had said to do in these instances. I had it worked out. A couple more steps, I’d slip behind a car. She

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wouldn’t see that Danny had already cleared out our take while I was distracting her with my shoes. But when I turned around a column to get away, I saw the old lady running towards me. “Wait! Wait! Someone’s taken my shopping!” she cried. So I started moving. But not so fast as to be too obvious. She started running faster. So I went faster. I turned a few times to see where she was at. Each time I turned, she was farther and farther away. I could hear the pain in her voice as she called after me. “My grandchildren’s presents!” she cried. “It’s all I have!” When we got in the truck, Danny told my dad how an old lady had chased us, how I’d fast-talked her. I didn’t say much, just listened to Danny tell the story a few times. “She have a phone?” asked my dad, worried. “Did you see?” “Naw, no phone,” said Danny. “Most old ladies don’t have phones. Fucking bitches are clueless.” “You little bastards did good, real good,” said Dad, tousling my hair. “I think Victor here looking kind of faggy helped out a lot,” said Danny. “Old ladies like that faggy shit.” “Fuck you, dicklips,” I told Danny. “Guys, shut the hell up and chill out,” said Dad. “This ain’t a competition. We’re a team. Hell, you boys moved fast. I ain’t ever seen such a quick crew. Come on, we’ll have a beer when we get back to celebrate how fucking team we are.” When we got home, we checked the swag. Sheryl had the side door to the garage open. We took in the load from the truck. I couldn’t believe how much we’d taken in just a few hours. We had all kinds of stuff, most of it with receipts, stacked right up to the windows. We popped beers out on the porch. I got a Miller. Dad and Danny drank Sierra Nevada. I got a little drunk, so did Dad because he was hitting his flask too. We danced around the barbecue a couple times, made jokes. Dad said, “Get inside and get changed. Don’t want you messing up your good clothes. We got folks showing up soon.” We changed as Dad put sausages on the barbecue. Then folks started to arrive. Miss Dee came over from next door, then the couple from the other side of the house. Dad

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had gifts for them wrapped up nice in holiday store wrapping. Miss Dee and the folks from the other side knew the gifts were stolen but they took them anyway. This was Dad’s way of keeping everyone in the loop, making sure his neighbors were cool with us. We ate all those sausages, a bunch of mashed potatoes from the Dollar Store, canned soup, and Doritos. It was a feast. Dad even let me have another beer after an hour or so. I got pretty drunk on those two beers. I’m big for my age, so you would think I could handle it, but I’m still a lightweight in the drinking department. Then a few more neighbors came over. Dad had gifts for all of them, said he believed that everyone should have a great Christmas no matter what the circumstances. Later Miss Dee told me, “Your dad is the most generous man I know.” She said this because Dad had given her a gift-wrapped box from Macy’s that had a cashmere sweater in it. I didn’t say much because those two beers had put me in a janky mood. I kept thinking of that old lady running after me. I fell asleep early on the couch because it had been a long day. Sheryl woke me up at midnight and made me go to bed. Danny was already in bed, snoring lightly. I couldn’t sleep even though I was tired. I told myself it was Danny’s snoring but I couldn’t stop thinking of that old lady, how she’d found me going through her car, how she’d worried I was taking something from her until I told her I was checking on her lights. For a second she got to believe I really was a good boy even though every sign told her I was ripping her off. People are like that. They want to think you are there for them, that you will do them no wrong, even when they see you’re messing with them. I didn’t think people would trust me much if they really knew me. I’m ugly on the inside too. A goddamned mess. Clothes can fix the outside, but the inside, it still looks like shit. I guess I got to sleep around dawn, because suddenly my dad was at the door, shouting, “Drop your cocks and grab your socks.” I rolled over, checked the time. It was a little before eight. Danny pulled his sheets over his head, groaned. I could tell he’d been under those sheets, whacking off. I’d spent enough time sharing rooms with him to know he was a veteran under-the-sheets morning whacker. “Put on your good clothes and your new shoes, Victor,” said my dad. “Your mom’s coming in half an hour. I want you looking good for her.” When I got to breakfast, Danny and Sheryl were smoking. Dad was having a beer.

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Both he and Sheryl looked bad. I could tell they’d been up all night doing crank. There was a chemical odor coming off them that I couldn’t mistake. Dad and Mom used to do the same thing when they were together. It was mostly a weekend thing, stretching Friday out until Sunday. Breakfast was good. Sheryl had gone the extra mile for me, made pancakes, sausages, eggs, strawberries, whipped cream. Even though I wasn’t hungry after the feast from the night before, I wolfed it down. My mom had Rich honk the horn when they arrived. Bitch wouldn’t come in to get me. She never does. I went out in my new clothes. Dad came out with me. He was carrying a pile of packages, stuff for Rich and Mom. She hardly looked at the packages, said, “Darryl, I hope this isn’t the only thing.” “Hey, Maya, this is my gift for you and yours. I know how important Christmas is to you. I want you to know that,” said my dad, then smiled a big old warm smile. Mom looked at me, said, “Did you ask your dad for the check?” “No, jeez, I forgot,” I said. And I had forgotten. Maybe all along I knew I was supposed to ask for the support check. Maybe deep down I did, but somehow I never let it come up. “Dammit, Victor, I asked you to do one thing,” said my mom. “And you fucked that up.” “Hey, calm down, Maya. Victor did a lot,” said my dad. “He’s a great kid. And here’s the check. I got that too. No reason to take this out on our son.” Dad handed the check through the window. Even before my mom looked at it, I knew it was short. It was always short. Dad had never given the full amount, ever. “Two hundred dollars?” said my mom. “Do you know how much you owe? Jesus, are we back to this now, your typical line of shit, pissing on me and calling it lemonade?” “Wait a minute, Maya. Look at Victor’s new shoes. Look at that. I got him all new clothes. I got you clothes too, you and Rich. And there’s receipts in those packages. You can take them back if you want. Receipts are as good as cash. And you got a check. It’s only two hundred, I know, but this is high season. I got a lot to take care of.” “Yeah, thanks a fucking lot, Darryl,” said my mom. “You don’t change, do you?”

39 Black Friday

“Come on, I need some time, Maya.” “Victor, get in the fucking truck,” said my mom. It’s an extra big cab with seats for four, but there wasn’t much room there in the back with all of Rich’s hydroponic stuff. I scrunched up against some bottles of IndoGreen, listened to my mom shout at Dad. They went on for a few minutes until Sheryl came out. Then Mom said, “Come on, Rich, let’s get going.” “Bye, Dad. Thanks for the shoes,” I said. Dad reached through the window and gave my shoulder a squeeze. He’s got big old hands. I loved him so much as he squeezed my shoulder, as much as a boy could love his dad. He knew I’d look better in my new clothes. It was a hell of a Christmas gift, not looking so ugly for a change. I felt for a second I was going to get all drippy eyed. “Victor, you’re the goddamned best son a father could ask for,” he said. “Come on, Rich, let’s get out of here before I choke up,” said my mom. Rich nodded. The truck pulled out. I turned, gave my dad a wave. He waved back. For a second I saw how old he looked. I had never seen him like that. He reminded me of that old lady, how she wanted to believe that I was a good boy. I waved again. Dad smiled. Then I turned and looked down at my feet. I didn’t want to look up, didn’t want to see my mom and Rich exchanging looks. “I hope you’re not falling for his bullshit,” said my mom. “That man can con the stripes off a skunk.” I didn’t answer, just kept my eyes on my new shoes.


Danielle Zaccagnino


On Acuity

I could spend my first time in a gondola, at the Van Gogh museum, or on cobblestone streets, but I love nothing more than privacy and I choose the hotel room. I share a bed and a brownie packed with THC with a girl I barely know. A waif with graham-cracker hair. There’s a movie on TV – Brad Pitt as Death personified. It takes a long time, but when it hits, there’s no mistaking it. Every second starts to stretch. Each muscle makes itself known. The night gets a strawberry glow. Death, his girlfriend, and her father are

66 Zaccagnino

still on the screen, but I’m confused. It’s their prosody. Are they all slam poets? Her eyes, swollen shut, overflow at their equator. As she laughs, the box spring creaks. II.

On Measuring

I’m curled up in a ball on my foam IKEA mattress. There’s a zipper along the side. Sometimes I stroke it when I’m feeling anxious, but not right now. Right now there’s a war on US soil. I don’t know the particulars, and there’s no room for them anyway. My body lurches in that way it does before I vomit, but there is no such relief. It stays hypertonic. They’re gonna kill us all. My boyfriend climbs the ladder to my lofted bedroom, a plywood structure that can’t be trusted with stacks of books, and puts his hands firmly on my face. We’re in your apartment on Eldert Street, he says, to orient me, Brooklyn. Everyone is okay. He tells me what happened. We poured cannabutter oil on my mock chicken. There’s a party on the roof above us. Hundreds of people are up there, walking, dancing, drunkenly stumbling, and every few seconds new fireworks burst. I convulse and he grips my arms. It’s not a war, he repeats, it’s the Fourth of July. We poured the oil freely, to make sure it would work. III.

On the Buddy System

The tall one won’t stop staring. He’s trying to read my expression. The shorter one is inching closer. I’m in Jersey City with friends of friends, mostly programmers. Around my age. Everyone is telling diving-board stories. The shorter one puts his hand on my leg. The hairs on his lip are wet. How about you? the tall one asks me, but I can’t answer. I don’t know how to talk. The movements involved are too complex and foreign. I realize that I’m not in a group anymore; I’m in a corner with two men. I bet you understand everything we’re saying, huh? the tall one says. I move my head a little. They look at each other. I reach for my phone. I try to text help.

67 Edibles: A Primer


On Assertion

My neighbor is hosting a party. He divvies up the responsibilities. I’m on haunted-house supplies, minus the worms. Park Slope’s pet stores are all sold out. My boyfriend bikes around Brooklyn looking for dry ice. A friend makes popcorn balls, each kernel stuck to another by weed-infused caramel. Someone comes through with the worms last minute. All the ingredients for a perfect night. I practice sign language with my boyfriend, for when hands work better than vocal cords. I close all the fingertips of my right hand together, the way my family does to prove a point, and move my hand from chin to cheek. This means home. He mimics the gesture. When I do this, you walk me back. V.

On Communion

Alone, his hands are ocean. Us and a song, twenty-five minutes long. Don’t be distracted. Two people can balloon. Can rise. Can spill like paint, thick, indiscriminate. Console crannies. It’s not so impossible. VI.

On Depersonalization

I’m in a kitchen. As I look at the person across the table, the room keeps shifting. Danielle. Some new reality is created every second, and the scene falls like a set of Polaroids. Danielle. The man puts water in front of me. I ask him if my face is moving. I think of asking: Is this body mine? Who is this? He looks concerned. My boyfriend comes. I move my hand from chin to cheek. VII. On Permeability Everyone is really friendly and I feel confident. A recording plays in the background. It’s someone’s voice. I’m so free today I could probably do a dance recital and not fuck it up. The voice continues, and I realize it’s me. I don’t know what I’m saying. Like with stroke

68 Zaccagnino

survivors, some things are automatic. The alphabet, for example. I examine the faces looking back attentively. I try to figure out if I’ve told any secrets, if they can hear what I’m thinking – they nod their heads enthusiastically – who, if anyone, I’ve insulted – their skin is smoother than I thought – and whether or not they’ve earned my intimacy. The voice sounds happy. VIII. On Amplification It starts in an ovary, or maybe both. There are strains for pain. Clearly this isn’t one of them. It travels around my hips towards my coccyx; down my thighs, spear-tipped. Loud. A hangman stick figure, stiff, I worship the moments between memory. IX.

On Reframing

I scarf down a summer supper. Watermelon, falafel, grainy garden burgers. I eat a cookie someone baked that morning. Hours go by. A bust. I try another. Flooded, I hit capacity. Skin, sound, whirl, shut down. This time I know what to do. These are the words: I need to sleep. I find the girl I want to hear them. She walks me to her room and I lock the door. I lie awake but breathe easy alone. I don’t know who I am, and who cares? Electrical impulses are firing everywhere, my body the carnival grounds. I grin under the covers and let my limbs jump. X.

On Knowing What You’re Getting

Driving back from Seattle’s first dispensary, New Year’s Eve, I suck on skunky cinnamon candy. Five milligrams, sativa. The buzz is playground gentle, spinning in circles. Two hours turn it into a body high. My shoulders drop. My boyfriend fries spinach while his dad tries a hybrid. He shows me old pictures (cheeks low and pale beneath a bowl cut), swivels slightly in a computer chair. The family mills around. I take a shower with lemon shampoo. Yellow fills the room.


Emily O’Neill

Old Fashioned I bought a bottle of rye tonight / some dark salted chocolate, a plate of linguini / a seat for three hours after hearing you sigh from Chicago little lemon tongue floating / could I ever impress you when you are a perfect last name / when you know everyone sitting & every rotten part of me make the bed with us in it always / furnace / you make me furious / porter risotto at two in the morning / sherry vinegar peanut butter / second city shouldn’t get to keep your heat from me / my hand hooked under your left ear or / what you called the worst part & the most comforting thing of all / sorting sage leaves / propping up a thought / could I arrive in time to catch your suitcases / the correct garnish for an unexpected delay / as if I’ve known for years how to carry this / a letter delivered by hand / copper patina conducting me towards the wrong sleep / ungated flight / unabated sugar here the ice is not enough / I know to pour too generously / I know it’s only one or two more days / this waiting / I know how I am greedy / what work starving takes


Nina Budabin McQuown

On the Perpetual Motion Machine The elevator moves you to the dining floor and perpetual buffet. When the doors close some insidious energy hums you up and down. The treadmill’s like that, natural. Imagine, your soles know where to land. So you’re hardly ever missing anymore. These days nature’s even up here, even in your inner ear, even between your t-shirt and your outside’s many openings. Physics is fabulous, friction in particular brings that particular hum – all the furniture in here, but especially the bed is a vehicle sleeping being traveling, also the body, you can fill with its diminutive bang. Most of this room is blankets performing sea weather and firmament. You want of course just to stay here, stroking her hair but you’re always moved, look you can fit two fingers in among one atom and another.


It’s shallow, you know, a wading pool in the middle of the ocean buoyant with negligent retinues and their children whose weight is negligible – wait, there’s a bang here somewhere, everything hurtling outward and glomming and going so fast like the advent of history that happened on your birthday the first day, little one.


Sophie Atkinson is a copywriter, journalist, and writer who lives in Berlin. Her fiction has previously been published in minor literature[s]. Gustavo Barrera Calderón (b. Santiago de Chile, 1975) writes poetry and prose. He is the author of Exquisite, Adornos en el espacio vacío (Premio Revista de Libros 2002), Primer orificio, Papeles murales y tapices, Mori Mari monogatari, Creatur, and Cuerpo perforado es una casa. In 2015, Das Kapital published Inmuebles, his collected works. Allison Chaplin studied painting at the Australian National University school of art, graduating with honours in 2011. She has since been living and working in Berlin, and has had solo exhibitions both locally and in Prague. The artist’s primary practice is based around the theme of the distortion and fragmentation of both human and animal subjects, investigating the nature of identity within the self. The process begins with collage in order to combine multiple images onto one plane. These compositions are then translated into paintings. She is interested in a less traditional form of portraiture, portraying several views of the subject in the one completed work. See more of her work at Darren C. Demaree is the author of five poetry collections, most recently The Nineteen Steps Between Us (After the Pause, 2016). He is the managing editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. Currently, he is living in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and children. KJ Hannah Greenberg shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Hannah’s poetry books are: A Grand Sociology Lesson (Lit Fest Press, 2017), Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2016), Dancing with Hedgehogs, (Fowlpox Press, 2014), The Little Temple of My Sleeping Bag (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), Citrus-Inspired Ceramics (Aldrich Press, 2013), Intelligence’s Vast Bonfires (Lazarus Media, 2012), Supernal Factors (The Camel Saloon Books on Blog, 2012), Fluid & Crystallized (Fowlpox Press, 2012), and A Bank Robber’s Bad Luck with His Ex-Girlfriend (Unbound CONTENT, 2011). Kathleen Heil is a writer and translator of poetry and prose. Her work most recently appears or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, FENCE, The Guardian, and elsewhere. She is a 2015-2016 Sturgis International Fellow in Berlin and a 2016 NEA Translation Fellow. More at Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born poet and editor. She is the founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. She is also a translator, and her translations can be found in World Literature Today, China Literature Today, and Drunken Boat, among other places. Ho is an Assistant Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, where she teaches poetics, fiction, and modern drama. Her first collection of poetry is Hula Hooping (Chameleon Press, 2015).

115 Contributors

B.B.P. Hosmillo is the founding co-editor of Queer Southeast Asia: An Oppositional Literary Journal to be launched in late 2016. Anthologized in Under the Storm: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry (2011) and Bettering American Poetry (2016), he is the author of two forthcoming books, The Essential Ruin and Breed Me: a sentence without a subject; the latter of which will be released in summer 2016 by AJAR Press with Vietnamese translation by Hanoi-based poets Nhã Thuyên and Kaitlin Rees. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Margins (Asian American Writers’ Workshop), Palaver Journal, and minor literature[s], among others. Contact: Patrick Kelling received his doctorate in creative writing from the University of Denver and is the fiction editor for the literature magazine Gambling the Aisle. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and to Best New American Voices. Arkaye Kierulf is a chemist in Metro Manila. Redscar McOdindo K’Oyuga (@RedscarMcOdindo) chases dreams and writes in English and Swahili. A winner of the Fern Poetry Prize, his work has appeared in Jalada, Brittle Paper, Kwani?, KUT, Lawino Magazine, EXPOUND, Mandala Journal, Praxis Magazine, Boda Boda Anthem and Other Poems: a Kampala Poetry Anthology, Best New African Poets 2015 Anthology, Taifa Leo & Taifa Jumapili, and Hivi Sasa Magazine, among others. Shayne Laughter is native to Bloomington, Indiana. Like many Hoosiers, she returned to the limestoneand-beer-can-strewn homeland after living elsewhere. Her karmic mystery novel, Yü: A Ross Lamos Mystery, was published by Open Books Press in 2010 and can be found on Amazon, Kindle, and Nook. Her short fiction has appeared in print in Bacopa Literary Review, Fiore Bloomington, and Talking Raven Quarterly, and online at She was a 2014 artist in residence at Can Serrat International Arts Center in Barcelona, Spain. Shayne’s voice is heard at as a reader for the literary radio series Books Unbound. Ann Manov is from Boca Raton, Florida. She studies English, French, and Spanish literature at the University of Florida. Her polemics can be read in the Independent Florida Alligator, or heard in Rennes, France, where she currently studies. Nina Budabin McQuown is a poet and essayist living and working in Washington, DC. She holds an MFA from Hunter College, and a PhD from University of Western Ontario, where she wrote a dissertation on soil and subjectivity in eighteenth-century British literature. You can see the same obsessions at work in poems published at THEThe Poetry and at the Peacock Online Review.

116 Contributors

N. West Moss’s work won the 2015 Great American Fiction Contest, two Faulkner-Wisdom Gold Medals, and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Saturday Evening Post, Salon, and elsewhere, including on Radio France International. “Milagro” is from a collection of short stories called The Subway Stops in Bryant Park, due to be published by Leapfrog Press in the spring of 2017. Moss can be found online at: Amita Murray is a writer, based in London. Having lived in and around Delhi, London, and California all her life, she often finds herself writing about the comedy and tragedy of cultural encounters. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in J-Journal, the Berkeley Fiction Review, the Hawaii Pacific Review, Brand, Inkspill, and others. She teaches at Surrey University and as a guest tutor at Cambridge. In 2015 she was a Leverhulme Artist in Residence at University College London, where she worked on a collection of stories called Marmite and Mango Chutney. Her story in this issue is part of that collection. Emily O’Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in The Journal, Redivider, and Washington Square, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize. She is the author of two chapbooks: Celeris (Fog Machine, 2016) and You Can’t Pick Your Genre (Jellyfish Highway, 2016). She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit. Mallory Imler Powell’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Contemporary Verse 2, The Offing, PRISM international, and Synaesthesia Magazine. She was longlisted for the 2016 DISQUIET Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the 2015 Sequestrum New Writer Award for poetry. Her writing has also been published by the Journal of Emergency Medicine, eGEMs, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the University of Kentucky, Vanderbilt University, and others. She studied at Transylvania University and received a Fulbright award to Vietnam. Find her at Aurim Ra is an artist from Corrientes, Argentina. To him, art is therapeutic and acts as a meditative medium. His quietly surreal and esoteric pieces draw from mythology, nature, and the mind. A constant traveller, he continues his nomadic journey to this day. He tattoos under the name TwinTempleTattoo. See his work at Molly Bess Rector lives and works in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she runs a poetry reading series, Open Mouth Readings.

117 Contributors

Stephanie F. Scholz was born in 1983 in Japan, grew up in Australia, and now lives and works in Berlin. She studied drawing and printmaking at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin as well as the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna and received her diploma in 2012. After completing her studies, she illustrated several books, worked for newspapers and magazines, and began a series of computer cut-outs. Her work has been published in die Zeit, die Tageszeitung, Musikexpress, Luna Magazine, Missy Magazine, and Firewords Quarterly. She is a founding member of Studio Spektral and has participated in several solo and group exhibitions, including most recently the Berlin Art Prize 2015. See her work at E.M. Schorb is a prize-winning poet, novelist, and short-story writer. Murderer’s Day was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press; his collection Time and Fevers was the recipient of the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Award for Poetry and also an Eric Hoffer Award. Most recently, Words in Passing was published by The New Formalist Press. His most recent novel, Resurgius: A Sixties Sex Comedy, was published by Rainy Day Reads Publishing. But Schorb maintains that he is first and foremost a poet, and his poetry has appeared in numerous publications in the US and abroad. Phillip Sterling is the author of In Which Brief Stories Are Told (fiction, Wayne State University Press), Mutual Shores (poetry, New Issues), and four chapbook-length series of poems, the most recent of which, And for All This: Poems from Isle Royale (Ridgeway Press, 2015), is a selection of poems written during his artist-in-residency for Isle Royale National Park (MI, USA) in August 2014. His series of micro-fictions, titled Amateur Husbandry, was runner-up in the 2014 Rusty Toque chapbook competition, and his story “” was winner of the 2015 Monstrosities of the Midway contest. Mark Terrill is a native Californian and ex-merchant seaman stranded in Germany since 1984, working as a shipyard welder, road manager for rock bands, cook, and postal worker. Holding no degrees or diplomas whatsoever, he has authored numerous collections of poetry, prose, and translations. Some “career highlights” include getting drunk with Gregory Corso, getting stoned with Paul Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet, and being anthologized by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. See Wikipedia for a complete bibliography. Robert Vivian has published four novels and two books of meditative essays. His most recent book, a collection of prose poems called Mystery My Country, came out in April. E.G. Willy is a San Francisco Bay Area writer. His short stories in English have appeared in Zyzzyva, The Berkeley Review, and the Redwood Coast Review. His pieces in Spanish have appeared in Azahares

118 Contributors

and Acentos. Anthologies that have included his writings are Stories From Where We Live (Milkweed Editions), The Breast (Global City Press), Creatures of Habitat (Mint Hill Books), and in the forthcoming Lock and Load, a Second Amendment Reader (University of New Mexico Press). He is also the winner of the Laine Cunningham Novel Award and the 2015 Trajectory Journal WildBilly Short Story Contest. Danielle Zaccagnino is from Queens, New York. She graduated from NYU and is currently working towards an MFA in poetry at Texas State University. Her recent work can be found in Puerto del Sol, Front Porch Journal, and The Butter. Alexis Zanghi is a writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Full Stop, Midnight Breakfast, Guernica Daily, The Point, the Washington Spectator, the Los Angeles Times, and Le Monde. She once had a zine store.

Sophie Atkinson

N. West Moss

Gustavo Barrera Calderón

Amita Murray

Allison Chaplin

Emily O’Neill

Darren C. Demaree KJ Hannah Greenberg Kathleen Heil Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

Mallory Imler Powell Aurim Ra Molly Bess Rector Stephanie F. Scholz

B.B.P. Hosmillo

E.M. Schorb

Patrick Kelling

Phillip Sterling

Arkaye Kierulf

Mark Terrill

Redscar McOdindo K’Oyuga Shayne Laughter Ann Manov Nina Budabin McQuown

Robert Vivian E.G. Willy Danielle Zaccagnino Alexis Zanghi


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