2021 SFCC Literary Review

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SANTA FE

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Faculty Advisor: Kate McCahill Creative Non-Fiction Editor: Tintawi Kaigziabiher Fiction Editor: Austin Eichelberger Poetry Editor: Jade McLellan Art Editor: Brittney Beauregard Editors at Large: David Joplin, Susan Joplin, Marguerite Kearns, and Sibel Melik With special thanks to Deborah Boldt, Juli-ann Burgett, Bethany Carson, Emily Drabanski, Tracey Gallegos, Andrew Gifford, Julia Goldberg, Sarah Hood, Shalimar Krebs, Shuli Lamden, Todd Lovato, Lucia Lucero, Laura Mulry, Rob Newlin, Val Nye, Amy Pell, Margaret Peters, Becky Rowley, Kelly Smith, Laura Smith, Emily Stern, Roxanne Tapia, Nick Telles, and Amy Tilley. We’re also grateful to the folks at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), the Santa Fe Public Library, Pasatiempo and the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Santa Fe Reporter, and the Santa Fe Writers Project. Santa Fe Community College acknowledges that the grounds upon which the college is built are the unceded sovereign lands of the Pueblo Nations of Tesuque, Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Ohkay Owingeh, Cochiti, Kewa, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Zia, and Jemez. SFCC recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as the original and current stewards of the land upon which we create and publish. The Santa Fe Literary Review is published by the School of Liberal Arts at the Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Copyright © 2021 by Santa Fe Community College

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This past year marked profound differences in the way we all operate—and

FROM THE EDITORS

producing the Santa Fe Literary Review was no exception. As an editorial team, we read submissions, accepted work, collaborated with writers and artists, and worked with our printer and designer without ever meeting in person—or even leaving the safety of our homes.

Producing this issue of the SFLR, themed “Tapestry: Diversity, Culture, and Common Ground,” was a shot of hope for everyone who participated. As we scoured the news, watched our family members and loved ones fall ill, and struggled to maintain our own physical and mental health, we found deep solace in the tapestries of words and images delivered to us. Amidst grief, fear, and inertia, we used the editorial process to ground ourselves. Poring through submissions as they streamed in from around the world, we were reminded over and over that the human spirit is a tough and resilient thing, capable of creating and inventing even in times of darkness.

In this year’s issue, we share stories, poems, essays, and images depicting the poles of loss and light that have so characterized these extraordinary pandemic times. A testament to the raw sense of wonder that exists within every creative soul, this issue lies rooted in the common ground upon which we all reside.

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The stars we are given. The constellations we make. Rebecca Solnit

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

CREATIVE NON-FICTION

MARISSA FAE MYERS Fire Burns in the Heart of a Woman 68

BELINDA EDWARDS Grief Bundle

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GAIL McCORMICK Truth Telling

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BRI NEUMANN Nose

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JENNIFER FURNER Female Stamina 54 ROBERT KOSTUCK A Brief Guide to September 1980 92

FICTION ZANZIA EKLUND Winter Sun 6

RESHMI HEBBAR Why Deny the Obvious 78

INTERVIEW The Santa Fe Literary Review Speaks with Kirstin Valdez Quade 98

POETRY

JOE NAVARRO Word Murals

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BETHANY CARSON Underwater Explorer 4 YEVA CHISHOLM La Loba

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ROXANNE SEAGRAVES To Touch Their Hearts of Gold 25

YUSEF SALAAM Somewhere Nowhere 18

ADELE OLIVEIRA Ouija 42

BRANDON KILBOURNE Frau Kahnt 21

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ELIZABETH REES Tuned In 33 KELSEY HENNEGEN I shrug into you like a winter 39 BETH PAULSON Les Carottes Sont Cuites 51 SHARON M. CARTER Sorting My Parents’ Possessions 61 FERGUS McALISTER Ghost Story 64 KATE PASHBY victor 71 SUSANA GONZALES My Hands are Getting Softer 75 ANDREANA THOMPSON Mother/Land 84 MORGAN LIPHART In your brownstone on Mill Street 91 S. RUPSHA MITRA Dashami Delight 97

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VISUAL ART SHEENA CHAKERES: An Artist’s Statement

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SHEENA CHAKERES When My Father Died 3 SENA CHANG: An Artist’s Statement 10 SENA CHANG Through the Looking Glass 11 JESSEBOB: An Artist’s Statement 16 JESSEBOB Untitled I 17 OLIVER AGUSTIN KAUTTER: An Artist’s Statement 22 OLIVER AGUSTIN KAUTTER The King 23 MELANIE LAMB FAITHFUL: An Artist’s Statement 30


TABLE OF CONTENTS

MELANIE LAMB FAITHFUL Circles of Days 31

OLIVER AGUSTIN KAUTTER Mademoiselle X 67

TICK: An Artist’s Statement 40

AMIRA ALSAREINYE: An Artist’s Statement 72

TICK Remember 41

AMIRA ALSAREINYE Self-Portrait of an Arab Mexican Woman 73

PI LUNA: An Artist’s Statement 46 PI LUNA Taking Back the Field 47 OLLIE ROLLINS: An Artist’s Statement 52 OLLIE ROLLINS Dinner Party JESSEBOB Untitled II

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TIM MAXWELL: An Artist’s Statement 62

THOMAS BARTH: An Artist’s Statement 76 THOMAS BARTH Hidden Journey 77 AARON LELITO: An Artist’s Statement 88 AARON LELITO Stasis

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TIM MAXWELL Untitled II

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CONTRIBUTOR BIOGRAPHIES 103 TIM MAXWELL Untitled I

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JOE NAVARRO

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WORD MURALS I bleed Con la sangre De mis antepasados Alive with each beat of Mi corazón I sometimes paint With each stroke Of my pen Mi pluma, a feather That magically Paints murales De palabras En espacios libres Word murals Recitando poemas De lucha, de paz Of oppression and liberty Hate and the power of amor Mujer y hombre Las palabras pintadas De todo lo que Tiene que ver Con la vida humana Por eso...that’s why I write poesía Because in those Moments of poetic liberación Where my blood Adorns a page I feel liberated, too

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SHEENA CHAKERES

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT

I’ll never forget the first time that I photographed the night sky. Back in March, right at the beginning of the pandemic, I went out to the Galisteo Basin Preserve before dawn, set up my tripod by an old windmill, and took a long exposure of the Milky Way. In the months that followed, I spent several nights under the stars, and I realized that what I love about night photography is how it brings me to meditate on time. This image was taken a few days after I got the call that my father had passed away. His passing was sudden, and I didn’t get to say goodbye. My father loved the night sky, and growing up he would often call us out to the backyard to look through the telescope. He had been encouraging me to try star trails, as he himself loved astrophotography. In honor of my father, I went out to Abiquiu and pointed my camera to shoot continuously for four hours towards the North Star. It was a beautiful moment to sit in stillness, feeling the Earth’s rotation and meditating on my father and Father Time. I then stacked the images to create star trails, and added one twilight photo to lighten the foreground.

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SHEENA CHAKERES

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WHEN MY FATHER DIED

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BETHANY CARSON

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UNDERWATER EXPLORER Just below the surface Of the six baths I’ve taken These eight years Since my children were born, I become the stonefish again. The other mothers In the sea of air above Move like bright fish— Flash and quicken. They are singing mermaids, Jeering sharks. Even their shadows At this height, This depth, Dance. Their teeth smile Or gnash, As a mother’s should. But we Who are the stonefish Have only one still face, stare At the sand, Feel the easy water slice Against each of our spines— That liquid flow cut Over and over By our backs that are a thousand knives. We who are the stonefish Hear our own heart thud

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Against the ocean floor Like a smothered clock. From the world above the water, though, Where the sun moves And the moon, I have learned to sing the mermaid’s song. I listened for years From beneath the surface Until I had it right. And now I sit with my son on his blue bed As he turns the pages and recites: Cone fish, box jelly, angel fish, eel. When he grows up, he says, He’ll be an underwater explorer. Will he someday find me there, In my true form?

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ZANZIA EKLUND

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WINTER SUN It’s so cold that icicles are hanging from Baby’s beard. He won’t shave. I’m glad he didn’t shave. I told him to because those whiskers are ticklish as heck, but I’m glad he didn’t. Because gosh, it’s cold, and those icicles there are coming straight from his breathing, straight from his nostrils. Could you imagine those on his naked skin? His face is flushed beneath all that hair, and his mustache twitches. He’s smiling. He’s holding a disc of ice, a disc the shape of our green glazed birdbath. He’s explaining water structure and molecular structure and how hailstones form in the sky. I’m dizzy. I can’t breathe properly because all my love for him is plugging up my trachea and choking me. My eyelashes flutter, and I’m not flirting but maybe this is why people flutter their eyelashes, maybe it’s because when you’re so in love and you can’t breathe, you start to feel a little faint. The top crust of the snow isn’t as soft as snow should be, but that’s because it hasn’t snowed in a few days and the snow crust is really ice crust. The back of my head breaks the crust with a light pop and my cap slides up and the ice bites the nape of my neck. His concern, it is sickening. He looks sick and it makes me feel sick because I’m fine, I just want to hear him talk. I don’t want to see anything but joy and wonder on that man’s face. And he kneels, bent over me, red beard and red cheeks dripping with worry. I can see his icicles and beard melt away, I can see the clean ruddy face that I stained with concern the first night, the night we met, the night I stumbled on the riverbank and my head hit a rock. I wish I could still see that face, the one that had only witnessed one accident instead of half a dozen, and then maybe I could will myself to still my heart, I could will my lungs to fill to capacity. But this face, right in front of me, is the one I have. There’s no fooling him, he knows how lovesick I am. I’ve fainted many times in his presence. I awake in his bed, in our bed, tucked beneath four quilts, a bag of hotrocks at my feet, a big black warm dog draped over my chest. The sun and crystal-white snow shine together through the window into my eyes. It’s so clear out, I can see the neighboring mountain’s peak. Baby’s by the hearth, poking the embers, bringing water to boil. I groan, not because I

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hurt but because I want his attention and I don’t know what to say. He stills, but he doesn’t turn. This time, I choose to audibly yawn, which makes me yawn in earnest. He pokes the fire. I ask him, Baby, will you please come here? And at this, he turns. His icicles have melted and there’s water in his beard but there’s also water on his cheeks and water in his eyes. There’s mucus under his nose. He turns away and wipes his face on a red flannel-rag hanky. He thinks he’s gotten everything and he comes to my bedside, but the tears are still rimming his white lashes and there’s a small booger on his upper lip. I laugh and immediately my chest hurts; I laughed at his tears and that was wrong, and my heart is sad that I laughed at his pain. But I didn’t, though. I laughed at the booger. My chest doesn’t care why I laughed. My chest hurts. My heart hurts. Baby’s wide full-moon face warps and drips. He buries his face into the dog’s black fur and he grips that fur like it’s the only sure thing. But I’m a sure thing. I’ll never leave you, Baby. A sob detonates and an avalanche falls onto the dog, falls onto me, onto our bed and our lives. He cannot contain himself. He is also heartsick. His heart hurts so much that he’s coughing it up, slowly, with each howl of pain. The dog awakes and howls, too. I cry. I cry and I lose my breath and choke. My breathing trips. Baby convulses; his breathing is sick, too. Water boils out of the pot and into the fire, and now the fire’s breathing is sick, its oxygen is depleting. In unity, we ache. We gasp, we wanted to fight but now, we keen. It’s what we must do. We mourn what life could have been if maybe I wasn’t so in love. His eyes are red. As red as his face and beard. He brings me a clay mug of mulled wine. I sip it, my left eye watching as he kicks off his boots and peels off his outer clothes, wet jacket and snowpants. He drapes them next to mine, all on the woodstack and the chairs that face the fire. He wipes his face again, this time getting everything. I peel back the quilts and he tucks himself inside. He jostles me a little. Some wine spills onto my shirt, spreading quickly, never pooling. I knock back the last bit and Baby

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takes the mug and puts it on the floor. He brushes a clove from my shirt and chases it off the sheets. We re-situate the blankets as best we can with the big oaf dog still stretched as he is. Baby pulls me against him. He always says I’m cold as death, but I never believe him until his hot skin touches mine. This time, his thighs feel hot as coals and I worry that my hands might melt in his. Our bristly legs pattern, his-mine-his-mine, and the ice in my blood starts to melt. There is a roaring furnace in his chest cavity, I think, one that keeps him alive and keeps the love hot and warm, keeps it runny so it doesn’t stick in his trachea. Now, his furnace burns hot enough for the both of us. We tuck the blankets so that none of the heat leaks out and like this, we bask in our own heat, in our own winter sun.

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YEVA CHISHOLM

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LA LOBA La Loba indicates what we are to look for—the indestructible life force, the bones. —Clarissa Pinkola Estés Under a never-ending desert sky rich with moonlight she holds me in her arms and feeds me a spoonful of stars which taste like piñon and sweet corn she sings as if her voice is coming straight from the stomach of the earth and every living being trembles the coyotes and the wind echo her song they sing of the bones of the life that can’t be stamped out the life that remains after the flames

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SENA CHANG

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT “Through the Looking Glass” aims to highlight the duality of nature as well as to capture fleeting momentary lapses in Tokyo, a bustling, fast-paced city. Through finding the perfect angle to capture both the branches that hug the trees above and the koi (Japanese fish) that swim below, I managed to photograph two sides of nature—one that is constantly in motion, and one that is breathing, but unmovingly so. Additionally, as I enjoy writing poetry relating to my Asian heritage, I sought for the koi to symbolize that, rooted as it is in Japanese culture. Because the type of fish is not explicitly pictured in this photograph, I meant for the koi to inadvertently be a symbol of Japan.

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SENA CHANG

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THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS


BELINDA EDWARDS

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GRIEF BUNDLE

i. My body is a glazed black pot. Inside it is damp, dark, mysterious, with blue veins crisscrossing like rivers. It is shaped by the hands of an old lady, her fingers digging in the damp clay, squeezing wet earth through old fingers, pinching and shaping with flat thumbs. She beats clay into shape, working day and night creating; touching dewy, sticky places; kneading broken, unmended shadow. Before I was born, hyenas howled at my door, threating to pull me into the underworld. A brown baby girl born in the “colored” ward, pulled from the womb by white hands. Slapped. I sound the alarm in this black and white world. At one year old, the only child of Eara and LeRoy Frances, I stand on a pedestal, in a flowered Easter dress, holding my stuffed bunny as the photographer takes my picture. This image echoes the black and white picture of my mother taken when she was five years old in 1932, standing in a torn flowered dress next to her father, Monroe O’Conner, and another picture taken of my granddaughter in 1993 when she was one year old, sitting on a pedestal in a flowered dress with a hat on. Three generations stare into the camera, watching. Until September 13th, I am an only child, with all eyes focused on me. Disruption, chaos: a boy is born. I never forgive him. I am five. A man with a sandy complexion walks into a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. He places a Nehi orange soda and a pack of cookies on the counter and watches the shadows of Carolyn Bryant’s white hand move on the counter as she places his items in a paper bag. ln the city, he dances with white girls like her, holding them close, smelling their hair, allowing his hands to run up and down their back as he presses his thighs into their bodies. Here in Money, a wink calls the hyenas, who, during the dark moon, with lit touches and white hoods, drag him screaming from his great-uncle’s house. Did he call out for his mother, for mercy? Beaten, mutilated, and

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shot in the head, his bloated body is recovered from the river and flown home to Chicago. His open coffin howls the secrets of the South. I am in third grade. 1958: Rows of desks, with groomed black bodies raising their hands, answering Mrs. Bradshaw’s third grade questions. Snarling and spitting, she singles me out, shaking me by my neck. Is it because I am a teacher’s daughter? Is it because I am darker than my high yellow classmates? I do not know, but I decide that I cannot win in this environment. I hide. For ten years, I am silence. Staring, watching for another sneak attack, while white people carry signs and spit on black children escorted into school by the National Guard. Hyenas howl and howl. In the small bedroom I share with my brother, I wake. The door is open to the cedar chest at the foot of my bed. White light fills the cabinet. Chatty Cathy, my blonde, blue-eyed doll, is talking. She is pulling her own string, asking questions. It isn’t the oddity of a six-year-old black child with black hair and brown eyes, hugging and cradling Cathy’s white pale body, but that Cathy speaks. ii. 1963: In a church, four young girls were in the bathroom. They were combing their hair, and one was putting on forbidden lipstick while another waited impatiently for church to start. A flash of light, a sound of lives shattering before Sunday morning services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four girls’ bodies broken. Hyenas retreat. 1966: My grandmother never believed the government even as they sent her packages of processed cheese and powdered milk, and men went to the moon. While she ignores the government, the inhabitants of the last two streets of the black community bordering the white are allowed to go to the white school. Ten of us, dressed in our best, walk forty-five minutes through hyena territory to get a better education.

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1968: For graduation I want to go to Big Bend, a national park in Southwest Texas, with my white classmates. My mother refuses to let me. I cannot see. My crack baby eyes are closed. I argue constantly with my mother, demanding freedom, pulling away, tumbling into the world. Leaving home for college, freedom—the bird has flown the coop. Vietnam; Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination; students protesting all over the world; Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination; and the Chicago Democratic Convention greet me at this threshold. iii. I dreamed that my father’s brass clock was sitting on the mantle in the living room of the house where I grew up. The large clock filled the room, marking time. I dreamed that my father, LeRoy, was a slave to the clock. He wound it every day, making sure it was functional. He spent hours, years, turning the key in the side of the clock, which slowly counted the time in our lives. My father did not have an actual brass clock. He worked at Amoco Chemical Corporation, a global chemical and oil company, as a janitor. He spent years pushing a broom, cleaning up other people’s messes. He went to school to be a tailor. By the time I was conscious of him as father, his dream of being a tailor had evaporated. I imagine that if my father were white, he would have been a university professor. He loved math. Through his vision, he invested in the stock market, making money that would comfortably support him and my mother in their retirement. After he died, it supported Mom in her old age. He was a man whose life, like the brass clock, ticked away, daily unwound by cultural norms. In the 1960’s, with Affirmative Action, he was selected for a Lab Technician position, which was still beneath his capabilities. He took samples in tiny vials, checked their chemical content, and processed them in the laboratory. As the white community separated him into unknown pieces, the black community stitched him back together. Stitched him back into a recognizable whole. A man who, like the brass clock, would stand the passing of time.

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iv. I remember the call on February 10, 1997 late afternoon. I was working at the University of California - Santa Barbara. In my office, I could see the ocean, the bell tower, and who was having affairs with whom. The receptionist called me; my mother was on the phone. Faint voice, holding back panic and fear, she told me my father who walked that morning at the Mainland Mall had a heart attack while taking off his running shoes. He tumbled from the bench, hitting his face on the cold concrete floor. Like a whooping crane flipping its wings, Mother hovered over the memory. Finally, his body was moved. He was buried on Valentine’s Day. She, aging, with sagging body and crinkled hands, stands next to the coffin on wobbly feet, hopping from memory to memory. My clay heart shatters as my mother holds on. Holds on. v. A great river swells up inside me: I am drowning. This river lives between the walls, lives between lives, where waters thump and tug. It lives in my body, a song, nestled in my throat, singing the blues. This great river whistles a tune over and over, shrill to the touch, icy to watch, decaying to taste. This river swells. Sadness marches across my life behind eyelids. I hear Sadness’ laughter, smell her dreams, and wonder who she loves. Sadness: tall and thin, dark as twilight, with braids dancing to the tune of regret. She twirls faster and faster, shattering rain drops, becoming familiar, becoming wind, becoming danger, becoming me. vi. A chilled January morning in 2008. Barack Obama, the first Black President, is sworn into office. My mother says, “I never thought I would see this happen in my life.” Neither did I. One year later my mother leaves her home, her friends, the land where she was born, and comes to live with me. For three and a half years, we dance as mother-daughter partners, stepping on each other’s feet until we learn the right moves. My feet are sore and flattened.

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JESSEBOB

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT In the past, tattooing was considered sacred, ceremonial. The tattoo was seen as a talisman for protection or good fortune. I try to recreate that experience. When I tattoo, it is as an offering. My hope is that the tattoos I do will remind the wearer of their connection to the divine, and therefore will protect them and keep them on a path towards spiritual progress.

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UNTITLED I | JESSEBOB Santa Fe Literary Review

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YUSEF SALAAM |

SOMEWHERE NOWHERE

Don’t shop for a poem. There are no cage-free or certified organic inscriptions like on a carton of eggs. No aisles to saunter & purchase a washing powder poem. Or a verse for dessert. A poem lights on your heart like a gentle breath of air. Don’t visit a park looking for a poem. Musing squirrels hoisted on hind legs smiling & chewing acorns. Yielding your ears to the ballads of birds. Or ogling the grandeur of a Giant Oak. The most meditative poem alights on a mother as she feeds baby her breast. I saw a poem composing on a poet’s spirit. Her eyes gazed glazed out to somewhere nowhere. A glorious twinkling of radiance explored triple darkness. A seed inseminated & a poem bloomed from the womb. I saw the poem resonate on her face. She stared out the window of a train bound for Vienna. A blurry of trees flashed. Heads drooped & heads held high. Logs locked in boxcars. Shipped to somewhere nowhere. I heard her poem weep profusely. Railroad tracks of bodies nailed across mud of the Atlantic. Timber tossed into furnaces. Fruitless Evergreens in barbwire forests. Wood, iron, & steel battling in Gettysburg & Normandy. I tasted the sour salt of the woman’s poem. The puke of obliged sterility. 1/8 of a Cedar in a Pine makes it a Cedar. The Lemon Tree will defile the Fig Tree.

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I was there when the poem glowed in the poet. A North Star glint in her eyes from Bolivia to across Canada border. Fugitives grinding onward under roots and shadows of leaves. Refusing to be made lumber for plantation porches & dining tables. I was there when the poem lifted the poet To grayish blue clouds of confusion & clarity. A sacred & scared hallucinatory vision. Out there. Somewhere. Nowhere.

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BRANDON KILBOURNE | FRAU KAHNT Again her voice aged soft tries out my ears, hopeful for a breakthrough while I open a can too much for her arthritis; neighborly, her syllables don’t shy away from my scant vocabulary, as she copes with loss leaving her marooned in her ninety-two years. Hearing me out in the hallway, she tethers greetings to old books, fresh strawberries, and birthday cake, only to watch sound German words founder as emptied sounds butting an English impasse – Supplanting language, a rust-shut penknife speaks fluent goodwill, leaving her hands. * I listen to your plangent eyes, your voice blind in my feckless ears – Witness imprisoned in your tongue withers to sparsely strung atoms: U-Boot. Bomben. Dresden. Mutter. Mein Mann ist tot seit acht Jahren. Trembling eyes crave life for the dead in graves sealed by my poor German. * Undeterred, she ventures outside zeitgeists standstill in furniture, photos’ inhabitants, knick-knacks gilded with memories, her steps retreading the path to my door: with a doorbell’s press, her finger translates beyond all words spoken the loneness shawling her shoulders. Santa Fe Literary Review

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OLIVER AGUSTIN KAUTTER

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT

Somebody’s always got to be on the job, because there’s always a job out there to do. —Gil Scott-Heron Living in downtown Portland, I am immersed in a community of neighbors living on the street, many without resources for help or opportunity. Increasing class separation magnifies the perception of us and them, a duality indicative of our world at large. Having moved from the east coast to New Mexico, and then again to Oregon, I am engaged with the world around me through a strong desire to observe, explore, and critique. My work is driven on both the hope from an inspired young generation and a seemingly insurmountable climb others confront. These are the faces and stories of everyday people contending with an uncertain future. My paintings tell a true story, giving a platform to the relatable and underrepresented who need to be heard.

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OLIVER AGUSTIN KAUTTER

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THE KING



ROXANNE SEAGRAVES | TO TOUCH THEIR HEARTS OF GOLD There are places so far away from anything that it seems a miracle that anyone would live there. But they do, way up in the back hollows, behind piles of coal slag as high as the mountains they tore apart to get that coal. There in those tiny hollows where nature has slowly reclaimed her kingdom from the indignities of greed, people live. I was born in such a place, Independence, West Virginia. A town so hidden it won’t show up on your GPS, yet so real that I wake each morning startled by the sounds of traffic outside my window, having dreamt myself back there in the hidden hours of slumber. I dreamt I wandered up to the country store, barefoot like we did as children for a Coca-Cola and a package of nabs, fingering the quarters in my overall pockets, clutching yesterday’s bottle put in the dusty wooden rack by the door. I see the old men with their hats tipped back on their heads, shirt sleeves worn thin, frayed at the cuffs sitting there on the porch sliding handfuls of peanuts into the cola before each sip. Someone will mention a pain in their shoulder that the county doctor failed to diagnose on his semi-annual visit. One of the women leaning on a cooler will say, “You best take that to Miz Nettie, she’s the one who can fix it.” That’s when I wake, startled that I’m not there with them, those faces of old, probably dead, now calling me home. I call my office, “Yes a family emergency. They called last night. Well it’s a long drive down there; I’ll probably be gone all week. Yes, I’ll let you know.” I don’t tell them there’s no cell service anywhere in the county much less in the high country. Where I come from everybody knows that all you have to do if there is trouble in your house, or a weight on your heart, you go visit Miz Nettie. She’ll pray for you. Lay her hands on your furrowed brow. Stare deeply into you with her rheumy hazel eyes, and you will feel better. She’s available twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days out of the year. Some say that if you don’t have the time to spend the full hour in her company, all you need to do is park at the end of her driveway and touch her mailbox post with your right hand and she will somehow heal your suffering. It’s the kind of miracle you don’t hear about in the city where charlatan palm readers and psychics will take your cash and tell you what you want to hear but

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never risk saying what will actually make you better. Miz Nettie’s not like that. She deals in the unvarnished truth of your troubles, meets you there, and leads you home. Miz Nettie’s fame started in 1968 at the big tent revival they hold at the high school over in Sparta. She was twenty-four years old and pregnant for the second time. Some claim it was only the heat, or maybe the bad air down there in the bottom lands by the creek, but all of a sudden, in the middle of singing “Precious Lord,” Miz Nettie threw her hands up in the air hollering, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! I see him! He’s right here! Come to live among us! Lord don’t leave me here in this valley of trials and tribulations!” And then she fainted. When she came to, she had the touch. The healing touch that only comes to a very few. Right then and there she started healing the persistent cough, the fainting spells, the cataracts, the broken hearts. Jewlie Rankin got bit by a copperhead that was hiding under the pulpit up there at the front. Miz Nettie laid her hands on that swollen ankle, prayed in tongues, and the swelling went down. She drew the poison out and cast it away. When I was young we all had stories to tell of Miz Nettie’s healing gifts. Someone in our family or someone we knew from the hollow or Galax had been cured through her touch. We all believed in Miz Nettie, even if our mothers dutifully took us to the vaccination clinic held at the elementary school twice a year, to the dentist at Black Mountain, and scrimped to buy glasses if needed. We saw these tools as the necessary substitutes to prevent us from wearing Miz Nettie out with problems we could solve ourselves. Miz Nettie specialized in the unsolvable problems. Her house sat up on the hill on the other side of the New River. A swinging bridge hung from old wooden posts driven into the bank was the only way over to her door. You parked on the road, took the path through the pokeweed to the bridge, crossed above the rapids, then climbed the steep stone path to her porch. She was always waiting for you. I don’t know how she knew folks were coming. She didn’t have a telephone, nor electricity. But she was always there watching for us to park before we even got out of the truck. The pain I felt that could not be healed was eating a hole through my stomach. The virus that threatened so many lives was raging and killing off

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the friends who had become my family, one after another. Some called it the gay disease, only there wasn’t a happy thing to say about it. I had left Independence with my tail between my legs when my father found out that I was one of those men. He cast out the demon son who brought desecration to his house. My mother cried, pushing three hundred-dollar bills into my palm as she held me close to say good-bye, knowing that it would be our final farewell. I left. The fear of what might happen flew out the open windows as I drove up Highway 81 to Pittsburg, then northeast to New York City. They didn’t call when my brother got married. Nor did my brother call when the semi jumped the median and crashed into the truck killing both mama and daddy one cold January day. I found out about it through the friend of a friend who owned a hiking business in the Shenandoah, two years after the fact. I thought I’d never go back. But here I am, a reasoned well-educated being, in a shiny red rental sedan, driving south towards springtime in Appalachia. Watching as the first dogwood and redbud make their promise known through the baren forest. I parked by the road. Her mailbox was papered with petitions for succor and notes of thanks. Two garish wreaths of faded red and green plastic flowers stood sentinel on either side of the rutted path trailing through dry weeds to the bridge. Here and there, green ramps, the first signs of spring coming, poked their heads up through the newly thawed earth, otherwise winter still held close. She was sitting on her porch wrapped in a bright crazy quilt, rocking slowly back and forth in a split-back rocker. I waved, but she did not respond. I pick my way across the bridge, stopping to stare down at the crystal-clear water breaking over the rocks and the stony river bottom. When I step up onto the porch itself, she raises her eyes to look at me. Thick Coke bottle glasses, the old-fashioned kind they used to use for cataracts, magnify the green in her eyes. “I have come for healing a revelation,” I said, dropping to my knees. “I humbly request your assistance in lifting this plague from my body and freeing my soul to do its work.” She smiled, seeing right through me. I felt a warmth filling me from within, like a fire that had grown cold, down to its last ember suddenly bursting into flame. My fingers and toes tingled, the hair

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on the back of my head stood up. I trembled but not from the cold. She said, “Last night, when I was praying for my son, the Lord came to me in the mirror. I saw my own face, old, withered from the bone so that the flesh hung loose on my jaw. Jesus stepped up behind me and knelt so that our faces became one in that reflection. And I saw my son’s face.” She stared out at the blue ridgeline, watching a pair of buzzards drop from a bare oak, flap lazily, and rise on the current off the ridge. The whole mountain hung silent for that moment, watching her, listening to her breathe. “He’s dying, you know. Just like you are, and so many like you.” She looked at me through eyes that have held more suffering than I believed a body could bear alone. I caught myself for the first time in ages praying to Jesus to lift her pain. “At first I thought he must have been sent by the devil to tempt me.” She continued, “There’s a sin to loving a body before the soul and I loved my children as they were in their bodies, a part of me. I would do most anything I could to keep them alive and well. Most people think I’m all goodly and a saint, but that’s not the truth. I have my sins the same as anybody. When he came home from school that day and told me that he was one of them, well like you. I set him aside. I blamed the devil and him for being as he was. I sent him away.” She strained her eyes toward the ridge, watching for something that wasn’t there. “But now I’m not so sure. You see, I have seen Jesus a thousand times and I know his face. And it was Jesus that come to me last night and showed me the face of my son in mine.” Tears rolled down her wrinkled cheeks, fell like dew on her upturned hands. Two blue jays took up a quarrel on the far side of the river as the sun crested the ridge turning the whole valley golden. “The Lord brought my son back to me last night, and I’m sitting here wondering if I have strength enough in my heart to love him. It’s a terrible thing to shut someone out of your heart.” I would like to say that I was the source of my own courage in that moment, but I would be telling you a lie. I led Miz Nettie down off her porch, guided her over the bridge and into the bright red rental car. We drove in silence down to Wake County Memorial Hospital where her son lay, skeletal and alone, waiting to die from the same virus that coursed through my veins. We prayed for an end to his

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suffering. We prayed for all the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers who can’t see through their anger and pain to love their kin. We prayed till the sun cast its golden parting light through the room, and the first star of evening appeared. “Make a wish,” she whispered. We held hands tight till the second star appeared beside the first. The night radio played softly as we carried him home. The headlights carved a path up the mountain. I drove with Miz Nettie snoring softly beside me.

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MELANIE LAMB FAITHFUL

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT

Every morning, I open one of the seven little windows that corresponds to the day of the week from the round plastic container that holds my daily supplements and meds. I have two of them, and every two weeks I count out the doses. Every single time I run out and need to restock the circular pill holders, I am astounded at how quickly the weeks have flown by. Round and round. Week after week. During these days of pandemic, time is out of whack, and so is my understanding of it. Capturing moments, images, and impressions about time was the intention of this collage. As a teenager I used to do a lot of collage, and am only now rediscovering this fun artistic pastime. Visually creating and delving into art are sure-fire solutions to writer’s block.

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MELANIE LAMB FAITHFUL | CIRCLES OF DAYS Santa Fe Literary Review 31


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ELIZABETH REES

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TUNED IN

Stooped over all afternoon mending—me, a doctor of flowers!—bending between shadows, across beams of a loom, I stretch strings, sweep dust from the sun. A spine straightener, I fix flowers, scratch the cat’s back. I have a boyfriend on the sea who spins love songs to landlocked truckers driving flowers from Zohar to Haifa, and to me. He likes to sit on the hatch and watch stars drop over the western deck, but tonight, surrounded by clouds, star on either ear, he will air his show from The Voice of Peace. Radio on high, I melt into my flowers, leaving a path of purple ducks and chickens down the rows, smells of Sabbath hanging from the Clementina tree. I sweep through underbrush and seaweed, evening in three stars on these branches, a full moon filling the ark of his boat.

I work in a field, he on the sea, we seam together, each step up an iron spine sharing airwaves, sea miles apart, unraveling strings, seasick again. Song by song, we send each other dreams: if people were prayers, we wouldn’t need poets.

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GAIL McCORMICK

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TRUTH TELLING

There was a full house. I stepped onto the podium and turned to face the crowd. The tableau of brown faces sent shockwaves through my heart. After a stunned pause, feeling vulnerable and naked, I took a deep breath, raised my voice to the mic and voiced a shameful truth: “My ancestors were dreamers with guns and the prerogative to kill dark-skinned Natives whose land seemed an answer to their prayers.” I had hoped to reach a racially diverse audience with the story I’d written about the social injustices of my northern European ancestors. That opportunity came when it was published in Santa Fe and I was invited there to read excerpts to an audience that would include Native and Latino people. I had practiced for this moment, reading aloud over and over to get the tone and pace just right. When I approached the podium my confidence felt solid. But I hadn’t anticipated a tsunami of shame and fear to strike. Until this moment, I hadn’t considered the personal ramifications of exposing my history in front of this multihued group. The packed room went still, as though everyone had ceased breathing. Or was that my imagination? Concern dizzied me. Why hadn’t I realized how awkward this would be? With no warning, a burst of adrenaline distorted my vision. I could no longer see the people I faced, not even my husband. My legs quivered as if I were a criminal, standing before a jury, confessing to a crime. No longer anonymous, I was a woman raised as a white AngloSaxon Protestant in America’s heartland, speaking about race to descendants of people some of my ancestors had feared and maybe even killed. This was personal. A legacy of fear and violence had flowed in my mother’s blood. On our Midwest farm, she’d slept with a gun under her pillow and a shotgun by her side. Over the years I’d told the story of my gun-toting mom many times, humorously describing her as a fearful but gutsy woman with a pioneer spirit. Yet her proclivity to keep firearms at her bedside whenever Dad was away had stoked my own anxiety as a child. I had tried to accept her behavior as normal and reasonable for a woman with children on an isolated farm. Now, as if guided by an invisible power that had steered me toward this moment, addressing

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Indigenous people, I sensed there was a larger context for my mother’s actions. Behind the icon of the fierce pioneer woman is the haunting violence of massacres. Everyone, on all sides of the divide, felt—and still feels—the erosion of trust and abuse of power created by colonization. To my knowledge, my mother never understood how that trauma was passed from one generation to the next, or how it related to her persistent fears. That fear and mistrust was my inheritance. I took a breath and continued reading. “Unspoken rules governed the behavior of the Mexican migrant workers who weeded our fields: Stay out of the farmer’s yard. Don’t speak to his children. Bring your own water.” A strange notion gripped me: I’m throwing myself on a fire. My face flushed. A confusion of emotions blasted me from head to toe. Still, I read on. “As a child, I had unconsciously absorbed the attitude behind those rules: Brown-skinned strangers were not to be trusted.” Standing at that podium, I knew I was perfectly safe, yet I felt afraid and exposed. I had pierced the wall of silence my ancestors had set in stone. And I had spoken to Indigenous people about the awful but simple truth of a child’s unconscious indoctrination to racial injustice. Only at that moment did I consider potential consequences. Naïvely, I worried that someone in the room might feel offended, as though they didn’t already know, too well, the truths of this story. And I wondered what my family would say if they were present. Would they accuse me of distorting reality? On the farm we were dependent not only on the mercy of weather, but also bankers and grain operators who didn’t always treat us fairly. We had seen ourselves not as privileged people but as victims. Now, I could almost hear some of my relatives hollering from their graves: There were no unspoken rules! Those migrants needed jobs to support their families. They were grateful for the opportunity to earn money. We were barely getting by, ourselves! Their protests would have merit. Until recently, I wouldn’t have described my parents, my siblings, or myself as racist. We didn’t speak hate or provoke violence. We abhorred bigots we saw on the news, people who used “the N word,” the Ku Klux Klan. Every morning in our one-room country school, I stood facing

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the American flag with one hand over my heart and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I truly believed the USA was “…one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” My family believed in the pioneer myth and had blindly followed the only option we thought possible: Stick to the norms and rules established by our sodbuster ancestors. We didn’t yet understand the many forms of racism that impacted our relationships with others. It would be decades before I learned that laws had been designed to benefit people whose skin looked white and to disempower people of color. When our founding fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” they didn’t intend for it to include Natives and other people of color. To make matters even more complicated, my father, adopted as a toddler, didn’t discover his heritage until he was in his sixties. Because that birthright had been lost to him, he and I both suffered a kind of estrangement. Dad was a devoted family man who seemed out of step with our culture, confused by the nuances of social interaction and forming bonds. He had dark eyes and olive skin. I was a blonde with green eyes and my mother’s Scottish complexion. I didn’t see myself when I looked at him. I’d always attributed his otherness to the shame he carried from his early life as an orphan. But there was more. Eventually we learned that my father’s ancestry included a greatgrandfather who was an Ashkenazi Jew, and a great-great-grandmother who was Native. When Dad learned of his rich ancestral bloodlines, he seemed more comfortable in his own skin, as though, for the first time, he belonged. Awareness of our mixed heritage provided me with a thread of connection to the fabric of wholeness I was trying to stitch together. And I began to ponder questions I had never previously considered. What cultural instincts and memories did Dad carry in his DNA? How would my relationship with him have been different if we had been joined with Jewish and Native kin to celebrate life and bury our dead? Could my own DNA be the source of my lifelong yearning for connection to people who were different from me? Though I was a child taught to keep my distance from the brown-skinned

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migrant workers on our farm, my natural instincts pulled me toward them. I played as close to the fields as possible so that I could hear them speaking in Spanish. I couldn’t understand the words, of course, but I was drawn to the musical tone of their language, and hungry to learn about a different culture. On weekends when the men and their families celebrated with food and music in the church yard across the road, I watched with fascination from behind our living room curtains. I knew there were rules that prevented me from crossing that road to learn to say hello in a new language. But I couldn’t have known that it was our “white” identity that kept me disconnected from them and most others. It would be many years before I’d realize we belonged to each other, and I would need to cross those artificial boundaries in order to feel whole and connected to humanity. Now, as I stood at the podium, I had a clearer understanding of what I had written and was now reading. Telling our truth was a kind of medicine vital to my ancestors and me. We needed this audience to hear our testimony spoken aloud. My discomfort told me I was exactly where I belonged, breaking out of a capsule of time spanning hundreds of years of America’s history. Taking a deep breath, I told of my return to the farm when it was sold, to say goodbye to the land that cradled the bones of my family and ancestors. On that day, near the woods, in the liminal space where Queen Anne’s lace flowered like summer snowflakes, I stood on the land my family had claimed as their own and listened. Though I was alone, voices all around me whispered, Arm yourself! They were the voices of those whose terror still lay festering in fertile soil. I wanted to distance myself from their legacy of fear and violence that had fueled my mother’s hypervigilance and my own anxiety. But now it was mine to heal. Baring my soul to those gathered, I sensed the guidance of some force I couldn’t name. Had troubled ancestors led me to this moment so that my humanity and theirs might be restored? Had this audience been summoned by ancestors to witness our story? Were those ancestors present, thankful for this moment of truth?

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A soft wave of cool air skimmed my face, my throat, my arms. A whisper of hope steadied me as I brought my reading to a close with one last revelation: “The land that raised me had led me to my life’s work of healing history and heart by facing fear not with guns but with truth, curiosity, and open arms.”

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KELSEY HENNEGEN

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I SHRUG INTO YOU LIKE A WINTER I shrug into you like a winter coat fished from its bin under my bed when the flush of summer fades lonely winds soon to lash my arms thread the sleeves shoulders edge as I settle into you familiar like you remember my body I zip clear up to my chin I could love you though I’m not sure I buy into all that it’s more that I’ve frozen before your care drapes over me snug and sure how could I go it alone you’re right here and ready— heavy bones a nervous heart kind hands and your belief in me I knit my limbs through yours make a knot of us against the storms let’s leave the questions for spring

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TICK

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT When I create a tattoo, my first interest is how the tattoo will read on the body. I want it to become an extension of the person’s body and not a hinderance there. It should feel right, first and foremost. Execution of the tattoo is the secondary goal. The process of tattoo is a very strong and personal binding of two people: the artist and the client. The bond and collaboration informs what the tattoo will become. This tattoo was a collaboration with a wonderful human and Tebori tattooer who has become a friend over the years. I was humbled to be asked to tattoo her, and I think we captured something beautiful in both the tattoo and the picture of the tattoo. I’m hoping that the composition of the picture gives the viewer an exciting and ephemeral understanding of the tattoo itself, even if the tattoo might feel very simplistic. Every tattoo holds importance.

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REMEMBER | TICK Santa Fe Literary Review

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ADELE OLIVEIRA

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OUIJA After a minute Cole said, “I don’t feel anything.” “Shhh!” Aurora hissed. “It takes longer. You’re not going to feel anything if you expect not to. Give it a chance.” Cole swallowed and closed his eyes, adjusting his fingertips on the planchette. His hands were cramping and twenty seemed too old for séances, but anything for Aurora. “Come at me, Randall Davey,” he said. “Tell us about the beyond. Or the here, I guess, if you’re still in this dimension. Are there paints in the afterlife? Do you even care about painting, when you’re dead?” “You’re not taking this seriously,” Aurora shoved the game board and the planchette away from her, hugged her knees in close to her body. “It won’t work if you think it’s a huge fucking joke. I knew I shouldn’t have asked you.” They sat facing each other on warped wood floorboards of a very old house that had been an old sawmill before that. The house was a museum now, run by the Audubon Society, but in the 1920s, when Santa Fe was still remote, the painter Randall Davey lived on the property with his family, nestled into the foothills below Picacho Peak. In those days, the reservoir brimmed high just across Upper Canyon Road, and Davey held champagnesoaked parties under the stars, swinging croquet mallets by torchlight. He was buried, with his second wife and stillborn daughter, in a small plot bordered by lilacs that lay just beyond the orchard. “Hey,” Cole reached across the air between them and brushed the back of her wrist. “I’m sorry, Ror. Just messing around, getting in the spirit.” He paused, but she didn’t acknowledge his pun. “Try again?” Aurora looked at him over her knees, eyes green and flashing, hair dyed a lurid dark red, reminding him of a dragon. Since they left for college two years ago, she’d gone bonier: her face suspended between precise collarbones, sharp as paper airplane wings, and her hipbones made steep mountains, mirror images of each other, when she lay flat on her back. “One more chance. But if you pull any more shit like that, I’m going to actually be mad,” Aurora said. “I’ll make you sleep outside if you do.”

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Sleeping outside didn’t sound too terrible to Cole, but they repositioned the board and the planchette, and, as they had before, sleepily lowered their eyelids, squinting through their lashes at the blocky black letters, making them go blurry. Cole heard Aurora taking deep breaths through her nostrils; it reminded him of the way she snored when she slept, a low, throaty rattle. “Randall Davey,” Aurora started. “Or anyone really, but especially Randall Davey. We are artists, we are here, and we are listening… ” She trailed off. “Oh! If you’re here, please give us a sign.” Cole waited, knowing better than to snort. He wasn’t an artist, but he was keenly aware of the soft, barely-there feeling of his cotton t-shirt against his chest, his toes going to pins and needles under crossed legs. Aurora had feigned an interest in birds and trail maintenance in order to spend the summer living on Davey’s property, to be as close as possible to his paintings—which lined the walls of the house’s upstairs salon—to be alone with them. The paintings (all portraits in oil) unnerved Cole: there was the little girl, dressed for her First Communion, looking like both a child bride and a ghost, and another of Davey’s second wife, Isabel, nude and staring at the viewer from a green velvet settee, her round rosy breasts as frank and as fixed as a second set of eyes. Cole’s arms started to prick with the strain of holding his fingertips daintily aloft when the planchette began to drift. Surprised, his eyes shot open and searched Aurora’s. Hers were also wide and red-rimmed like she’d been crying, though she hadn’t. She looked back at Cole and shook her head. “I’m not doing anything. I swear.” Rationally, Cole knew how this worked, he’d read about it. Something about your hands falling partway asleep and moving the planchette unconsciously—he knew this, and yet he felt the planchette floating beneath his fingers without his effort, soft and easy as a kiss. The planchette wandered over to the Yes corner of the board, danced near the image of the sun with a smile, knowing and almost cruel. It was making a path for the letter C when they heard a muffled thud somewhere beneath them, on the first floor or in the cellar, cut into the eroding hillside.

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“Fuck this,” Aurora said, kicking the board and planchette under a credenza as she rose to her feet. “Let’s go.” “You want to go?” Cole said. “Now? But it’s like, working?” “Yes,” Aurora said. She grabbed his hand and took quick strides across the salon, her flip-flops loudly smacking the soles of her feet. The no-longer-functioning kitchen was upstairs too, all paned windows and white tile. They exited the way they’d come in, through a back door. Aurora’s hands were shaking as she produced a large ring of keys and slid the deadbolt into place. Without waiting for Cole, Aurora ran, first down a flight of stone steps and then a grassy hill flanked by twin cottonwoods to her seasonal quarters, a low-ceilinged adobe structure that had served as a chicken coop in Davey’s time. No sooner had Cole closed the door behind him that Aurora pinned him to it, came at him with her mouth open. Cole hadn’t been frightened, but her adrenaline and arousal were contagious. He kissed her back, thrilled, and opened his eyes to look at her, but she dropped to her knees. “Wait,” he said, as she undid his jeans. “What?” “You don’t have to,” he nodded, embarrassed, toward the ground. “We could just kiss. Or not even. You don’t have to,” he said again. Aurora tilted her neck back so she could look him in the face and rolled her eyes. “Stupid. I know I don’t have to.” Then she took him in her mouth. The bedroom was small, and they only had to shift to the left to collapse on Aurora’s single bed, shoved up against a window which faced the main house. Cole knew he was going to come very quickly and worried that Aurora wasn’t interested in fucking him as a person, that her attraction to his body lay primarily in its availability as a safe place to practice. In six weeks they’d both be back at school, Aurora regaling him late at night on instant messenger with the details of her latest conquest. He came, and out of habit, he closed his eyes. Had they been open, he might’ve seen a light in the house, no bigger than a candle flame, faint and indistinct through the second-floor curtains.

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Cole pushed Aurora to the bed and raked her shorts over the jagged peaks of her hips. He didn’t see the light because he did not believe in its possibility, yet on it flickered through the small hours, disappearing briefly sometimes but always reigniting, until sunrise streaked the sky.

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PI LUNA

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT Every painting starts with a problem in Pi’s life. Instead of focusing on the details and particulars of the problem, she dives deeper. Pi becomes interested in the emotions that arise and how her life is connected to universal experiences she sees with those around her. Often imagery and metaphor come to her and there begins the story. Stories are powerful because they take us out of the particulars of our lives. Once we are not tied directly to the events and opinions of a situation, we have freedom to explore. Universal metaphors and archetypes can be played with to find new insights and new ways of thinking. Which can then be applied to our lives. As Pi paints, she cuts up many pieces of colors out of magazines to assemble them into the imagery of the painting. She imagines cutting up the energy of the problem to release its hold on her. While she paints, she writes, and new insights come forth. By the time the painting is complete, she sees from a new perspective. She sees in a way that solves the original problem in her life.

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PI LUNA

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TAKING BACK THE FIELD


BRI NEUMANN

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NOSE The Bambara have broken the human body down into four essential parts, the four ‘workers’, which allows us to function as a whole. The tongue, the legs, the sexual organs, and the nose. I picture these parts flashing in my brain like a PowerPoint, and it is only after the presentation is over that I realize it’s not my own body parts I have been seeing, but yours. Your tongue, against my skin, and your chest, small and bony, and your legs, spindly and thin, only growing a little thick at the thighs. And your nose, always your nose. Do you remember how we used to lay on our backs with our feet in the air, staring at the shape of our bodies, comparing them? Your feet were long, Roman, statuesque. Low arch and toes shaped long and squarish, shrinking as they went down, while my feet were stubby, rounded, my toes curled and stout and my feet so arched that there is a part which will never touch the ground. We used to wind our fingers together and look at the big, flat surface of your palm against mine, so small, dipped away. There was always a little part of my hand that would never touch yours, the center. And our noses. I could stare at your nose all day. A big classic nose, like something from a museum. From the side, it curved out from your face and I always pictured you, centuries earlier, draped in a hand-woven dress with thick jewels around your neck, the subject of a royal painting. I think back then I thought you were a queen, royalty, and like some wide-eyed peasant I would do anything for you. Your skin translucent and pink-toned, your ears folded like seashells, and the dark flow of your hair. I was hypnotized when you stood before me. I thought I was gazing at something divine. That is what the peasants once thought, didn’t they? That the royalty were the descendents of the divine. In my brain, you were the original human, you were more than Eve, you were the lineage of God. Tribes in Siberia believe that we are keeping our souls hidden in our noses. Watching you paint self-portraits, I know you thought this too because you’d spend the most time perfecting the slope of your nose. Your mom always wanted you to get work done, but you thought your whole being was tucked into your nose. A self-portrait of yours had an Impressionist body and

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a Da Vinci nose, the face getting clearer and clearer at its center, for you couldn’t keep yourself from congregating there. When you cross your eyes, do you see yourself sitting at the point of your nose, gazing out at me, your loyal subject? I swear you do, because so many times I felt I was not talking to the big you but to that little you, that tiny you wavering on the front of your face that couldn’t hear a thing I was saying, could only hear the big wobble of my voice, far away. After I left, and the worship ended, I was reading about noses and I learned that Japanese folklore does not trust those with big noses. A long nose is an indication of pride, boastfulness, arrogance; they even have a word for it. They believe that evil spirits, mountain demons, are known for their hook beaks, that same center point. I doubt the Japanese believe there is a soul inside those enormous beaks, and I should have listened to them this whole time. The soul in your nose, the you that you think perches above your nostrils, is nothing more than a mountain demon, dressed as royalty, unable to hide her beak.

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BETH PAULSON

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LES CAROTTES SONT CUITES It was what she called her special dish she’d made for family dinners and for friends. Buy fresh ones, not too thick or thin she said peel and leave whole, then simmer in a pan. A pinch or two of sugar sweetens them. Everyone is eating more a la maison keeping off the streets and out of stores making meals of what’s in fridge or cupboard. The carrots are cooked for tout le monde this year humble veg that springs from humble roots. A virulent virus rules—can’t change our situation so phone up good friends, light a few candles pour wine, listen to Piaf, dine on good bread and these young carottes.

Note: The French idiom, “Les carottes sont cuites,” means “you can’t change the situation.”

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OLLIE ROLLINS

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT Through illustration and textile art, Ollie creates scenes in which he attempts to emphasize the more magical and mysterious aspects of reality in order to make the viewer feel as if they are looking through a window into another world. His art contains elements of realism, fantasy, and horror. He draws from his own observations of scenes that stand out to him in real life, combined with his imagination. His work also often contains pieces of other people’s worlds, such as photographs or objects, that are just as much of a mystery to him as to the viewer. As an artist, he relies on the viewer’s curiosity and desire to understand what they are looking at. Ollie uses distortion of perspective and color to convey a particular emotion or mood in a work of art. Bright, warm colors pull the eye, and warped buildings make one feel as if they are looking in on a scene from the outside, which engages them with the composition. This adds an element of fantasy within reality. He also uses simple motifs that are reminiscent of childhood to maintain a feeling of nostalgia—one of the sources that moves him to create. Among other things, his primary goal is to create an atmosphere of familiarity and comfort.

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OLLIE ROLLINS

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DINNER PARTY

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JENNIFER FURNER

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FEMALE STAMINA We entered the busy restaurant and walked right past the host stand to the first table inside displaying a sign on it with our tour group logo. The restaurant walls looked to be made of plaster or some type of adobe, and I could see bricks in the ceiling above me. The front of the building had large wooden beams across the ceiling, and colorful flags and piñatas hung from them. This place wasn’t air conditioned, and it was ninety-five degrees outside, so I pulled an elastic from my purse and collected my hair in low ponytail as our guide disappeared for a moment. A mariachi group entered the establishment mid-song as our guide returned with bottles of beer, already wet with condensation. As I took a sip, I looked around at the dining families—the restaurant was full of adults and children for a Thursday night. One of the waiters, an older man, balanced a full margarita on his head; he blew a whistle to the beat of the band. This restaurant was a neighborhood party, and everyone was invited. The guide looked at us, waiting for our opinion of the beer. Chris and I both hummed an “mmm” as we went to take another sip. Our guide stepped away to place our order, and when he returned, he had a strange gadget in his hand—a type of a battery. It had two cables snaking from it, and both ended in metal cylinders. A sly smile came across our guide’s face as he began to explain, in good English and with a thick accent, what it was. “So, uh, this is a game we like to play. This box generates electricity, and you hold onto the handles, and then you move the dial up higher and higher and see who is the first who cannot hold on any longer.” In other words, they were going to intentionally electrocute themselves. I looked at our guide and his two friends across the table through squinted, doubting eyes, but they all smiled back at me excitedly, as if they couldn’t wait to play.

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Chris and I had come to Cancún to celebrate our ten-year wedding anniversary. We were interested in relaxing, yes, but we were also interested in eating the best and most authentic Mexican food, so we registered for a food tour. We were the only two to sign up to play the game that night, so our guide brought along two of his buddies to fill up the table; we were able to chat with three local men all night long and trusted them to show us the real Cancún. Apparently, “the real Cancún” included playing a game where people electrocuted themselves. “Here, we show you,” our guide said. He took one of the metal cylinders in his hand and gave the other to his buddy next to him. The third man held each of their free hands, so he would feel the electricity, too. The guide turned on the dial. “We usually start at five,” he said. The dial went to the halfway mark of five; it could go as far as ten. The men laughed nervously through their smiles. It had been a while since I found myself the only woman in the company of a bunch of men. In high school, that was my normal clique. I liked hanging out with the guys. They were less dramatic than high-school girls; they just wanted to joke, have fun, laugh. I had found it necessary every now and again to forget about the complexities of growing up female and instead be one of the boys. “Are you ready to go more?” the guide asked his friends. They nodded enthusiastically, and he increased the dial to six. “Ooh!” they all said, clearly feeling the increase of discomfort. This was our fourth stop on the tour. We had already devoured pork tacos and brisket tacos. The third stop had been for “mystery” tacos; our guide said he’d tell us what they were after we had eaten them. The squishy consistency gave it away: it was obviously some of kind of offal, but I bit into it without hesitating. When the guide revealed they were “head tacos” (beef brains, eyes, and cheeks), I didn’t flinch. “I figured,” I said, and took a swig from my bottle of local beer. The three men nodded to each other, as if I had

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just been initiated into their group. Now we were at our last stop, but it wasn’t the food that was shocking this time. “More?” the guide said. They nodded. Up to seven. I swear I saw all their eyes slightly bug out from their heads. But still they smiled. “More?” the guide said. They nodded. Up to eight. The man all the way on the left, the one holding the free hands of his two friends, closed his eyes and shook his head. “Okay, okay, stop, stop,” he said. And they all laughed as the guide turned the machine off. “See? It’s fun,” our guide said. And my husband and I stared blankly at him, not sure how it had been fun. I wasn’t even sure how it had been a game. I suppose the one man lost because he gave up first, but what had the other two won? Bragging rights, I guessed. “When we bring this out at bars, people always want to play,” the guide continued. “Even the waiters want in.” Then with his sly smile again, he looked at us. “You want to try?” I looked at my husband skeptically. I didn’t want to be rude and refuse, but I also wasn’t sure I wanted to “play.” My husband threw up his hands immediately. “I’m good,” he said, excusing himself from participating. I’m pretty sure his refusal was just because he didn’t think the game looked like fun. But he was also a slender man; his muscles were toned, not bulging like the other guys at the table. Perhaps he was intimidated; perhaps he knew he couldn’t compete. Not that the game took physical strength, exactly, but it seemed obvious to me that they were measuring and comparing stamina and all that implied. Our guide looked at me. “You know, a lot of times, the women can go longer than the men. Women are usually very good at this game,” he told me, gesturing the cylinder in my direction. Well, now that was a direct challenge, wasn’t it? Here I was

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at a table with three bulky men, the physical embodiment of the Mexican machismo stereotype, essentially daring me to test my will against theirs. Could I tolerate the pain or the discomfort of being electrocuted longer than they could, these three men who played this game regularly for fun? There was no way for them to know what kind of pain and discomfort I had already endured in my thirty-five years of life. I had a good idea why women could usually outlast the men in this game. We tolerate pain in unique and varied ways from the time we are born until the time we die, ways these men could not even imagine. They wanted me to prove how tough I was, and I decided to show them. I gave my own sly smile to our guide and said, “All right, I’ll do it.” His eyes lit up. He looked to his friends. “You want to do it again?” The man who said to stop during the last round wasn’t interested, but the other man, a bald Mexican version of Mr. Clean, was ready for another go. He held a cylinder, the guide held a cylinder, and I held their free hands. “We’ll start you off easy at one,” the guide said, and moved the dial very slightly. The electricity was instantly flowing under my skin. It felt as if every atom in my body had begun to vibrate, as though bees were buzzing just outside my ear. It didn’t hurt; it tickled mostly. I hate being tickled. But I smiled as they had done before. “More?” the guide said. I nodded. He increased the dial to two. The vibrating became faster, the buzzing, louder. It wasn’t painful, but it was uncomfortable, not unlike a pelvic exam. No pain, but certainly pressure. A sensation these men didn’t have to put up with regularly, like I did. I smiled anyway. “More?” the guide asked. I nodded. Up to three.

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The same sensations, only more now. “Ooh!” I shrieked, playing it up, and the men laughed. “More?” I looked at Chris, whose smartphone was up in front of him, recording, and gave him a wink. “I can take it.” Up to four. With the increase, I felt the impulse to clench: clench my hands harder around the hands of these men, their hands larger and stronger than mine. Clench my abdominals, as I did when I felt a severe menstrual cramp coming on. I smiled through my clenched teeth. “More?” I nodded. Up to five. My arms shook uncontrollably, as my legs had done in labor when my cervix started to stretch. Still, I smiled. “More?” And I nodded. Up to six. There was still much more my body had suffered: five hours of pushing in labor, surviving and recovering from a C-section, surviving and recovering from an oophorectomy after a cancerous tumor was found on my ovary. I was used to discomfort. I was used to going on despite it. I was confident I could make it to ten. But I wasn’t playing along to prove anything. I was playing along to joke, have fun, laugh. So instead, I screeched and shook my head. “I’m good,” I said, and the dial went back to zero. The Mexican men around the table smiled and nodded at me, impressed with my effort. I enjoyed being “one of the boys,” but they didn’t understand that in order to be truly strong, you need feminine strength. My husband patted my shoulder and told me, “Good job.” He

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was not surprised I had lasted. He has seen a lot of my pain. He knows my true strength. As I chewed my final taco, the meat and corn tortilla melting together in my mouth, I sat satisfied: satisfied with the tour, the food, the company, the fun, but most of all, with my female stamina.

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60 Volume 16 • 2021 JESSEBOB

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UNTITLED II


SHARON M. CARTER

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SORTING MY PARENTS’ POSSESSIONS

Let’s be blunt. Less reminiscing, more dismembering. Gold photo albums— the happy pair sun-scalded in Ibiza; our history in second-hand cars. Her scarf, three blond hairs. Table lighters, cigarette case— their faint tobacco ache. Suitcased for decades, akin to sanctifying a silver-encased relic. This winnowing, a reluctant preamble to confronting my own gathered life, the whole steak and kidney taste of it. Unraveling memories— every Sunday lunch, broken bone, blind date.

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TIM MAXWELL

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT

Tim Maxwell’s hand-drawn pieces present a dichotomy of geometrical order alongside unexpected, even playful, spontaneity. Described as “beautiful chaos,” Maxwell’s work explores the nature of direction, disappointment, and personal autonomy. Through this isolating quarantine year, Maxwell has continued to create, seeking solace in the repetition of line. “Art cures all,” he writes. “It always has and always will. This has been empirically tested through death, divorce and pandemics and art was always there to supply the antidote.”

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TIM MAXWELL

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UNTITLED I


FERGUS McALISTER

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GHOST STORY

I. Transient The man who turned the tables on temptation Turns his face to the sun in summer But takes his leave in the dead of the year, Keeping to places nobody visits, Preferring to walk when the weather Is fine, but also when it isn’t. Alone, footsore and chilled to the bone, The man who turned the tables on temptation Forgets who he is but knows all along How luck, in time, plays out for everyone: At the end of his road he will come To the place where he seems to be going, And knock at the door where nobody’s home. II. Survivor Five of us were hanged and six were shot, And I, a loner all my life and known To none as one who only lost his light, Survived in darkness for the height of hate And tapped the surface of the ice To sound a way around a world of lies.

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For some held true to truth, others That love was something larger than it was, And just a few forebore to throw a stone, While I alone adhered to wise advice: Keep left against the traffic in the night; Watch out for cars with guns that like to hog The road; beware of friends in fair weather; And whether lost or lonely, trust only in your dog; Walk slowly first, then run for what remains of life Along the backroads till you’re out of sight. III. Lost The man who wished he’d never been Has lost his dog named Ben. He can’t explain, for all his good intentions, Just how or why the whole thing happened — So many crowded streets to cross, And, in wait for them, a hell of intersections. The man who wished he’d never been Wishes it were all a dream instead But knows it’s not, and fears how it will end: His friend, the best he’ll ever have, is lost; His Ben, who moves him then to add He’d give his life to have him back again.

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IV. Ghost Digressions of the lost and circumventions Shaped for strangers the street, till this: The one reflecting on his hang-dog other, Nose to nose with only storefront pane between, No longer panic-paced nor trusting of the twin No longer kin. For only one exists, while one Dissembles, can, if conversation ends, dissolve From consequence, and thus give up the ghost The other knows from someplace: some nemesis, Perhaps, without the heart to ease another’s, Some hounding from within, or just the afterword Of silence, a face that fades beyond the glass Absolved from ordinary hunger and the world Of pale foreknowledge flowered in the host, A shadow land where none pretend, where love Is never found again and nothing lasts.

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OLIVER AGUSTIN KAUTTER

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MADEMOISELLE X


MARISSA FAE MYERS

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FIRE BURNS IN THE HEART OF A WOMAN

I am a liar. Cleaved between two worlds, minds, bodies, and souls. My life has been shattered on the white tile of my kitchen floor, bursting into millions of pieces and glittering in the sun. I’m not a person, but rather a watcher of lives, peering into shattered glass and mudfilled pools and grime smattered on my bathroom floor and fog collected on the edges of my mirror. I watch, react, and feel, but I am not there; it is not real. I am stuck, trapped in an endless maze of feminine cruelty and contorted by my responsibility to be nice to look at and easy to digest whole. I look into the pupils and minds and flaws of those who live on the outskirts of society and see myself reflected in their somber pictures, finding myself buried in the folds of their wrinkles and whites of their eyes. If I could be real, strip the layers from my skin and brazenly call myself a real woman, would I not be ridiculed and crushed beneath leering eyes and lolling tongues? If I could tell the men who claim my hair, body, and sexuality that I am an immortal creature bound to this by a mortal body, would my days not be spent in the bleached, stinking cell of a mental asylum on the dredges of society? I am tired of being pretty. I am tired of being worthy; I simply want to be, and yet I lie. I fold myself into small pieces, my arms and legs and wishes and dreams flattened into fragile origami swans collected on the edge of a windowsill. I tell myself that I am happy and wipe away the tear stains on my wrinkled bed sheets and cream pillows, knowing that tomorrow morning there will be more. I am a spectacle. A circus attraction, someone to be locked up and jeered at behind the guise of my mental illness, queerness, and femininity. My mind and body turned into experiments, crowds of people sneering from the operating theater and spitting into the opened cavern of my decomposed chest. Their vile conformity poisons my heart, turning it black as it abandons my body and drags itself along the dirt-ridden floor toward the pale blue doors of freedom. I look into the crowd, watching as their faces turn into shadows and their eyes desperately avoid mine, voices quieted until I turn my head. I beg of them, “Look into my eyes as you would a man’s and tell me I am crazy.” They shrink in their red velvet seats, hands

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folding back into the crux of their laps. They do not speak again. And yet they do not need to, for my throat has already been corroded by their venom and my tongue has been split into two by their lies. Their pernicious philosophy has woven itself into the deepest recesses of my innocent mind, taking root when I was a child and still carefree enough to play in the dirt and snow. They laugh to themselves as I attack my soul in their stead, engraving their words on the insides of my ribcage and watching as my organs begin to fester and leak from my skin. They have infected my mind and made it so I cannot look into the mirror without seeing their handprints painted over my body. Telling me that I’m too fat here, too see-through there, not smooth enough in a tucked-away corner, and too loud and too human to be considered a real woman. I have done their job for them, convinced the stinging whispers in the back of my head came from my own conscious instead of their rotting teeth. I’ve turned against myself: against my wild hair, scabbed knees, freckled face, and dirt-stained hands in favor of their tightly-woven plaits, pink skin, barren eyes, and fragile voice. I stare up into the operating lights, blinded by their aggressive plea for compliance. I speak a promise: “I will break you on my sharpened teeth and spit your festering blood into the streets where you have raped and oppressed without apology.” The operating room hangs in silence. I am a force of nature. Wild, spitting blood-flecked froth into the dirt and clawing at any who come too close with too dangerous a glint in their eye. My sides are gashed, dripping blood into my boots, and I proudly track blood-stained footprints across the polished linoleum of my workplace and the darkened wood of my classroom lectures. I sit on the blue plastic of a bus seat and collect stares as the blood begins to pool and drip over the edge and onto the dirt-trodden floors. I mark my survival with the thick scars across my throat and face, mark my resilience with the flash of my eyes and snarl of my lips. The streets around me are barren, people gathering instead to capture my image from the large windows of a coffee shop or from the doorways of run-down convenience stores. The muscles of my jaw and tongue flex underneath my skin, ready to bite through bone and

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gnash through flesh. I cannot be destroyed. I set my gaze on the world in front of me and yet again make a promise. I shall set your cities on fire: sins repaid as the land turns to ash, the final stage of eradication before rebirth. My bloodstained hands will wipe my face with victory, and you shall tremble before the woman in front of you, for I carry the souls of my ancestors tucked into my breast. My hand, hardened by matronhood, will crush your windpipe as you seduce another child with your schemes of a false femininity. I will make you beg for mercy, let you believe you achieved it, and then rip your spirit from this world and spit on the hole left in your wake.

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KATE PASHBY

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victor my father the usher strolls down the burgundy-carpeted aisles, wielding the woven basket with a handle like an oar abandoning me in the back pew with marshmallow cereal bits and a coloring book colors that could never live up to these stained-glass saints Peter Paul Matthew Mark Luke John Mother Mary gazes down on me a vision in blue, watching me unlike my own mother shepherding my baby sister at home at 7 am my family must owe a debt to this church, for my uncle is the lector sitting in the front row at the 8 am Mass and my cousins, my sister, and I will all become altar servers angels in ill-fitting white robes fearing unholy red stains for the entire congregation to see cradle the cruet, caress the crucifix brass seashells to catch the host should it fall from someone’s lips

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AMIRA ALSAREINYE

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT Although our thoughts may be mesmerizing and absurdly beautiful, my art works with the concept that we are not our thoughts. Ninety percent of my works are based off of intense memory-fueled visualizations that are scientifically termed as involuntary semantic memories. These memories may present themselves as random text, images, sounds, and more, suddenly coming to mind. Many times, these visualizations are contrary to natural order; like dreams, they are odd, fantastic, vivid, and sometimes frightening. Because they are memories, some of them may be exclusive to my perception of the world, which is very unique, because I am a firstgeneration American with immigrant parents from very different culture: my father is Syrian and my mother is Mexican. I was born and raised in America; all of these cultures melded together create a distinctively creative world view. I seek to ground these vivid memory mixtures in the present, sharing them with the world, to reflect on the amazingly ridiculous patterns of the mind. In 2014, I graduated with a degree in biology, adding to the constant representation of anatomical figures within my art.

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AMIRA ALSAREINYE

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SELF-PORTRAIT OF AN ARAB MEXICAN WOMAN


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SUSANA GONZALES |

MY HANDS ARE GETTING SOFTER My hands are getting softer like my mother’s. She said—Look. This is how you knead the masa. You fold the dough into itself. But I bought cold tortillas wrapped in plastic. She said—Look. This is how you make fideo. You know it is finished when the flesh is so soft it falls away from the bone. But I tossed frozen chickens into my cart. Mother, you have kneaded me, folded me into your heart and body. And to lose you now feels as if my flesh is falling away from the bone.

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THOMAS BARTH

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT “Hidden Journey” is one of my favorite pieces and I had quite a bit of fun making it. It took me a couple weeks to finish it because at time I would second-guess myself and not draw; however, when I would stop thinking and just draw, I somehow knew what I was doing and would go with it. I feel I am a little chaotic when I make art; I’ll make some line or shape or sometimes I’ll see a new picture and try and go with that. Even then I may stray even further if something new comes forth with my imagination. When I started this drawing I had just learned of what a zentangle is, and I had made one before it, and after getting the feel for a zentangle, I wanted to try one that I spent even more time on and put fourth an effort I felt proud of. My goal was to try and be really random with my lines and choices about whether something should be filled in or decorated with pointillism—all while trying to focus on how my hand moved in various ways when drawing. While creating “Hidden Journey” I would listen to music and look at books for some inspiration for whatever I thought would be fun to try and draw—all while putting my own twist on it.

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THOMAS BARTH

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HIDDEN JOURNEY


RESHMI HEBBAR

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WHY DENY THE OBVIOUS Shruti Raman had known the Reddys her entire life. Their family had adopted hers as if she and her parents were tragic orphans instead of just another clan of middle class Indians in Western Pennsylvania trying to get ahead. And yes, what had happened to the Ramans was sad enough for another family to take a charitable and then long-term interest in, the loss of the baby that would have been Shruti’s much younger sister. But decades had passed since then. The “children” were educated, out of the house and working. Though Shruti hadn’t been close to Pallavi Reddy since they were teenagers, Pallavi’s latent lesbianism introducing enough complexity into the equation without the other main thing that Shruti was never able to address, it seemed wrong to her that not a single Reddy was with her on this mission in Bangalore. Every topic that had ever mattered—from the best elementary schools to affordable graduate programs—had always been discussed between their families. Usha Reddy and her husband, Manu, had been the authorities because they were the ones with more children, with the eldest child, the couple with the husband breadwinner who managed to avoid the layoffs of the 1980s. What was the hidden framework of rules, then, that had kept the subject of love and marriage off limits? “Shruti’s put on weight,” Vanita Auntie observed from the middle seat of the car as it jounced away from the airport towards Shruti’s fate. Shruti sat with her head against the glass, jetlag dulling the panic she’d nursed across terminals and continents. “Looking good,” her aunt finished. “Tell me, Radha. How’s everyone there?” Vanita Auntie went on speaking to Shruti’s mother. “How are the Reddys?” “Usha is very busy now with the grandchildren,” her mother answered. The envy in her voice pricked through Shruti’s rising anguish. Her words had touched too close to the main thing. “Careful, Bipin!” Vanita Auntie scolded the driver as he narrowly missed two schoolgirls who were walking together, their looped braids swinging forward.

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“The Reddys’ eldest son, Ravi, just started his own medical practice,” Shruti’s father added from the front seat. Surprise jolted her so forcefully, the whiplash stirring some sense of betrayal— her father hated the gossipy kind of talk that illuminated his own failures—that she leaned into the conversation like Vanita Auntie. “Oh ho,” Shruti imagined her aunt exclaiming next, but instead Vanita Auntie shouted too loudly for the car. “Bipin!!” The car’s side mirror thwacked the shoulder of a pedestrian in a bush shirt, who tripped lightly and gave them a pointed frown. “Bipin, this is not the way!” her aunt reproached, and Shruti understood too well the reflex of his “Yes, madam” as they drove on through the maze of traffic circles, the models smiling down on them from the latest billboards, more cosmopolitan looking than on her last trip. Despite the certainty that she would have been more comfortable traveling in a sweatshirt and jeans, she knew that her aunt’s compliment about her looks was because Shruti’s otherwise bony figure, even at thirty, looked curvier in the stiff cotton salwar kummies she’d worn for the past twenty-two hours, just as her mother said it would. What was Shruti except a dutiful child, no matter what her parents and their friends thought about Indian versus American kids? “Vanita, later on we will need to find the paperwork for Shruti to get dual citizenship,” her father said. “Shruti should talk to Prakash and see what he wants to do,” her mother added gently. Nobody mentioned what they’d told Shruti back home, the fact that she could always say “no” if she didn’t like him. Shruti’s head lolled back now in the car, and she released herself to the vortex unleashed by her parents’ and aunt’s chatter. How would Shruti know if she “liked” Prakash and whether that would be enough? This was not something that could be taught and learned in a class. The youngest Reddys, Pallavi and her twin brother, Arjun, both above average students, hadn’t mastered this

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skill, because both were still single like herself. Yet Shruti and Ravi Reddy had always excelled, had always achieved. Could it really be seen as an achievement, though, what Shruti was ready to do, and what Ravi had done, even if it had gotten his parents grandchildren? Would anybody have cared, in the future, if Shruti lacked a romantic story of how she had met the man who would become her husband? Who would even know about the old fantasy she’d been nurturing, well after the chances of it becoming reality expired? That portrait of herself and him as young kids, weekend after weekend, running up the stairs to hang out in different parts of the house after dinner, she to Pallavi’s room to play Sorry and he to the boys’ room to put the Graceland album on for the millionth time. It would have made a lovely anecdote, and Shruti would have been earnest in its recollection, sincere in relating how with every word of “You Can Call Me Al” being sung down the hall, she was convinced that she knew not only what it meant to “like” someone, but what it meant to love. And these citizenship discussions sparked in Shruti’s mind yet another way she fell short. She could never help but think of the prize for “good citizenship” whenever her parents brought it up, because this was one award at school that she had never won. The nonacademic distinction had been typically given to provocateurs, or students who didn’t seem to apply themselves. Shruti knew who would have won such an award if the Hindu temple’s school had ever given one out. The car careened now off M.G. Road, and Shruti sank back and let a decades-old memory continue. “Kalyanadbhuta . . . gatraya . . . karma . . .” “Keep going, Arjun,” the Hindu temple Sunday School Auntie had urged. “Lord Srinivasa needs the whole prayer.” “Kalayanabhuta gatraya . . . karma chameleon?” The students in her Sunday School class had laughed, and then Ravi walked in with worksheets for everyone. He corrected his younger brother before walking out.

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“Karmitata pradiyine.” “Very good, Ravi!” the Auntie had called after him. “What a douche bag,” Arjun muttered. “Shut up, Arjun,” Pallavi had warned. Shruti had been eager to hide the flushing of her cheeks as she registered how much Ravi’s outfit reminded her of Michael Jackson, and the less important shame of her not knowing what a douche bag was. She had gotten used to the odd fact that the twins, one year younger than herself, knew things before she did, like when Pallavi had told her the truth about Shruti’s baby sister who died when Shruti was almost nine years old. “It didn’t really die,” Pallavi had explained one evening when they were spreading Shruti’s sleeping bag out in Pallavi’s bedroom. “It was stillborn,” she finished. But like other things, Shruti never discussed it with her parents, not even during those first several weeks, when Usha Reddy dropped off food for the Ramans, and her mother would transfer the meals to clean plastic yogurt containers and then stand for minutes on end at the sink, forgetting herself in the faucet’s spray gushing over Usha Auntie’s white Corelle ware. Not even when Shruti was fully an adult and at her worthiest, just having completed an MBA, and Usha Reddy phoned to share the news that Ravi had gotten engaged to a “girl” they’d found for him through relatives in India, and Shruti’s mother had become so incongruously happy, smiling in a way that Shruti hadn’t seen for years. Not even then had Shruti sat her mother down and demanded that she explain herself. How could she have begun then? Where could she have found the words to ask whether she herself had ever been considered? How many people, including herself, might the question have wounded? “Home again, home again,” sang Vanita Auntie as the driver brought the car to a stop. And it felt like it was in a way—the children playing badminton in the dusty road, Bipin hauling the luggage up the stairs, the teasing of the crows from the balcony where Shruti

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removed her shoes and listened to the sounds of her aunt calling to her servant to boil water for tea. Maybe it required no more of a shift than the cyclical turning of night into day, this matter of dispelling her old hopes and beliefs and securing her allegiance to a more rational system of coupling, a husband selected in India from choices curated by those who claimed to know her well enough. Maybe it was as easy as leaning her elbows onto the balcony rail and opening herself to the wonder of what others thought of as ordinary, the open windows, the noisy street life, the uncollared pets. Then, as Shruti was about to step inside her aunt’s apartment and trying to adopt an expression of placid adaptability, she heard an unmistakable rat-a-tat of drums coming through a neighbor’s widow, the equanimity of Paul Simon’s voice whisking her back home, to what would always be her home. She could hear her aunt calling her, could sense her cousins rising from their studying at the kitchen table to come and greet her, could anticipate what would happen over the next few hours, the tea and delicious stuffed parathas, the catchup about her cousins’ “exams,” and then the confab in Vanita Auntie’s bedroom over which of the two saris Shruti should wear to meet her suitor. She knew her mother would lean down while they pleated the fabric around her, as she had done one or two times in the past, and whisper in their mother tongue that she looked pretty. But it wouldn’t have been true. Shruti knew this as she stood at the threshold, listening to the plaintive chorus of a once popular song too old now to be playing by accident. It was a message for her to move on and get on with it. She’d had her chance. As the chorus swelled, she stayed to listen one last time, remembering herself at fifteen, on a school bus headed to the bonfire site during temple summer camp, Ravi Reddy, then a veteran counselor, crooning with abandon to the tape playing on someone’s boombox, drumming his hands on the bus seats, free of his little brother’s teasing because Arjun had been kicked out of camp by

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then for delinquency. Ravi had thrown himself into the open place in Shruti’s seat, the space unoccupied there because Pallavi, in solidarity with her twin brother, had decided to dump camp for the summer. His arm in its Henley had been so close to her that she had stopped breathing—what’s going to happen now? she’d asked herself—but then Ravi had turned his knees away into the aisle and continued singing, like the seat had only been a matter of convenience. It was perhaps then that she began to realize the extent of her failures, to be beautiful, to be interesting, all things that Usha Reddy likely figured out over the next decade in her quiet quest for her eldest son’s future wife—how the woman must have known that it would be impossible for Shruti to be enough to get him to turn around and warble those last bars at her (“Why deny the obvious child?”) instead of to the general crowd on the bus, who were pleased to join in, charmed by his appearance as always. It seemed everyone, be they smart or average, even those who scored no gold stars on their tests but impressed their teachers with the strength of their promising hearts, good citizens and indifferent ones, everybody but Shruti was able somehow to open up their mouths to show their delight, to show how much they loved something.

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ANDREANA THOMPSON

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MOTHER/LAND

Santa Fe, I love you, and you are killing me. You— who bore me, dripping in primordial ooze; wiping clean the excrement of a thousand souls off the small curves of my body You— who cut my edges in red dirt, overwhelming me with chile-laden kisses and the grainy masa of matriarchs unnumbered How did we come to this? I hate you in a way that only small children "hate" their mothers, as they beat their fists against busy ruffled skirts— it is one thing to love a place, and another to know it, it is one thing to have loyalty, another to have obligations. I have obligations I have axes to grind and endless scars I have seeds to sow and circles to close. When I die, I will be buried here in the land of my ancestors alongside their oppressors and more importantly, beneath these mountains and eternal skies. This land knows my name.

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Santa Fe, when did I stop adoring you? You used to taste of monsoons, of a fierce love kindled in the fires of deprivation and endurance. Now you stink of old plastic and decaying encyclopedias, of mothballs and mold, Your once desirable curves—now sharp edges that cut and distort. It disgusts me how you Glorify all the wrong. damn. people. Buried beneath statues of Don Diego De Vargas, so deep that we cannot hear their screams, Our forgotten mothers, brown as the dirt they lay in: Santa Fe's best kept secret. I'm so sick of all your lies You terrify me, Fires Lit, Hispanio-proud boys rattling chains of ancestral blood lust, echoing the broken narratives of men who murdered for God and glory— they rake their fingers over dirt, trying to cover the cracks in the earth, trying to convince us that the cracks never existed. What will they ever know of severed ties and severed hands? What will they ever know of O'gah' po' geh; of stolen lands? Santa Fe, I no longer recognize your face. Here, gentrification is a four letter word—

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Invaded in great clamor by outsiders: fat takers, blue-eyed bohemians and—Madre de dios! Rich Texans! Property taxes created solely to cut away unwanted roots “¿Dónde están los sistemas antiguos?” Those who were around long enough to remember will tell you that lateral despair is a dish best served cold, preferably with a side of pozole Where have all the abuelitas y abuelitos gone? Santa Fe, Must I carry you to the chalice of accountability on my back? Must I drag my bloodied feet through broken effigies, raking through burnt peach trees and desecrated kivas just to find one small patch of the red dirt that I am made of, the same dirt that knows my name? And what of my bloodied feet? Problems, yes, we have many— beating on our connecting walls, threatening to rip all doors from their ancient hinges, they fester silently in the darkness and hide behind tradition and pride, perpetually growing in size as we brush them out of sight. Problems, yes, we have many— But we are each others’ and no one else’s. This is the land that cut my edges; shaping me to fit its’ own design We have no ownership of each other. We have obligations: to change, to remember what was and what can never be again. That is the difference between love and the idea of love. Santa Fe, I reconcile you.

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AARON LELITO

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AN ARTIST’S STATEMENT In my photography and digital art, I am primarily drawn to the patterns and imagery of nature. This subject matter has become a way for me to reflect on the larger themes of environment, climate, and ecology. Along with this macro view, however, there is the micro—one’s personal, subjective relationship with nature. There are restorative, therapeutic, and transcendent aspects of interacting with the waves, flowing water, leaves, and branches. To me, these simple patterns have a deep resonance with the transformations that are a part of the human condition. I often engage with these fundamental shapes and patterns because I tend to see creative potential in these images, not only in the narrative sense of “telling a story,” but in their ability to express what often lays dormant in our everyday surroundings, a vision of what remains unseen by a passing view. Naturalist and writer Henry David Thoreau emphasizes this renewed sense of vision and exploration that is embedded within the world around us: “Nature will bear the closest inspection; she invites us to lay our eye level with the smallest leaf and take an insect view of its plain. She has no interstices; every part is full of life.” I feel that my artwork embodies this principle and draws inspiration from the seemingly ordinary—the more one looks, the more there is to see.

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AARON LELITO

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MORGAN LIPHART

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IN YOUR BROWNSTONE ON MILL STREET You roll in bed both directions while dreaming of a bird in a nest flimsy, little bones soft, sticky feathers nosing his way out of the leaves and sticks to find air, to fall and fall. When you wake why you’re so obsessed with breaking.

you wonder

In the shower, you remember today is the day—April 5th— the Vedic reader told you you’d meet the love of your life. So you use the honey shampoo, extra sweet and extra soft, as if the waiting hadn’t hardened you in some unknowable way already. By noon, you’re stirring your microwave tikka masala with a plastic fork instead of your silverware so this feels less like home, so this feels less like how it’s always going to be. Outside smells like damp spring. Tiny miracles fight through thawing earth with a reckless belief that if they reach hard enough they will be able to touch the sun. But when the crickets start to chirp at the doused daylight, you sit on the edge of your bed, toes kissing the hardwood and know this day, too, was not for you.

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ROBERT KOSTUCK

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A BRIEF GUIDE TO SEPTEMBER 1980

Not here, nor here, nor what ensues, but have a fog in them that I cannot look through. —Cymbeline Launch Hitch a ride up a winding in-need-of-grading eroded road into what appears as a mountain to my Midwest mind. Late afternoon storm clouds. The unknown driver grinds gears, crisscrosses ruts deep as shallow graves. We pass a stunted lake and earthen dam, switchbacks into the quintessence, glowering light of a late Neolithic childhood scratching ocher bison drawings on the surface of my heart. My sleeve. Sequential numbers drop away, illustrate the passage of days which I will not remember. A dead trout next to a lake, crayfish scurry in cold water. Bright yellow columbine sway at a sharp hairpin turn: Wordsworth’s American cousin. Cicadalike rattlesnake buzz is a ‘haunting melody,’ and there are true-to-life cicadas scoring tree bark with their latent husks. Late afternoon and looking down from the top of the mountain: a flock of turkey vultures wheel above the thin dry twigs of her wrists. She pulls herself up the juniper flank of this life. Honesty prevails; and that’s something worth having: honesty. Imagine pockets of dirt, pocket gophers, on a mountainside of decomposed granite, cactus, yucca and century plants, javelina and thirdhand stories of scruffy lions. Every new face in equal parts good and evil, riddled with riddles, evidence of currently unimaginable snow-melt erosion. Days click on like clocks, footsteps click, ashes fall into place, book pages flutter. Bonfire, warm beer in aluminum casks, pungent odor of tobacco and marijuana. Handfuls of stars, identity of constellations and latitudes, lassitude in the warm August night—shift into a chill. Jab a fork in pine needle aroma, the edible scent of the high desert. People I’ve recently met give conflicting advice. “I thought everything would be sand dunes in Arizona,” I say. No voice responds. The temperature drops a few more degrees. I’m unprepared, starting to shiver, dizzy.

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I’m buried under the sea of stars, misplaced constellations, fragmentary moon disappearing in the west. Obviously, they bear down: Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Polaris—ha ha, that’s north I think—but where is the town we left behind? Colder air—yes, gradations of cold exist in Arizona—pours down from higher up: tangy, sharp; consistently visible and wait! She leads me into a set-apart clearing in the trees, points straight up into the sky. “There,” she says. “And another!” “What are you—where—” “The mountain air—so clear—you can see satellites from here.” Breadbasket, bicycle, barn: dimly remembered sizes of Sputnik, Explorer. Something about reflected light in space, retrograde movement of planets, inert gases, Van Allen radiation belt, lines of magnetic polarity unseen, blurry telescope images distorted by pulsating convection cells. All that. I can only imagine the pulsed radio signals, beep beep, beep beep. A child not knowing any better would say: Twinkle twinkle little star. They’ve a trajectory and speed which cannot be mistaken for a meteor, rocket, UFO, or weather balloon. A blurry relationship spirals down from heaven. The heat tears off ceramic shield plates, antennae, radar dishes, camera lenses. Atmospheric friction fragments, infinitesimal confetti-like slivers of honesty and ecstatic delight fall like metallic snow, sprinkle sprinkle little star. Shivering from the loss of something nameless: heart, family, sexual seedling, spyglass, chemistry laboratory, snow. Movement in the night sky, or, the ground beneath my feet. Breath condensed and remembered: echoes of that ‘ecstatic desire,’ false and unencumbered with the necessities of commitment. Pulsed radio signals explain how everything works, how everything fits together. I stare hard, hours pass but time stands still for the first and only time: the night sky makes hundreds of circular arcs like an overexposed photograph. Rarified air steals my hours, ka-ching!, somewhere, they say, there is an accounting for the soul; I lick stamps and mail desert postal cards featuring generic endless vistas of pseudo-Monument Valley—reproduced here at two-for-the-price-of-one. Two-dimensional ‘game shows’, streets unchanged from the time of the railroads, Hoovervilles at the edge of awakening. Unseen Aurora Borealis hisses above tundra and taiga, here reduced to a whisper above my Ponderosa pine, scrub oak, quaking aspen. After years of Midwest snow and rain, cornfields, hay bales, sharp-angled roads following original township lines of the once Northwest Territory, now, placed thus: satellites careen above the unnamed mountain

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where Laurel flees, finally faithful to wanderlust and the call o’ the wild, true-to-her-word, taking the vivid and easily traveled roads which I do not and never will find steadfast or easy. “Everything you say comes from books,” she says. “I didn’t think you were listening,” I say. “Even when you’re not talking, I’m listening.” She disappears in cold mountain air. Place my book down open-face in the dry loam, particles of pine sap stick to the leaves. Listen: high pressure at the leading edge of a storm. Cicadas freeze into silence. Unimagined fresh weather. Pole Star. Ground Crew Our temporary home—with separate guest cottage in the back, strangers—sags with its own memories—undefined pre-WWII neighborhood the size of a prairie dog town, a cylinder lawn mower that weighs sixty pounds, hollyhocks in woven wire corrals, sparklers on the fourth of July, summer baseball games in the park across the street. Mountain thunderstorms floods channeled into streets and gushing downhill, tearing up poorlypatched asphalt, curbed cars that might be abandoned, parted curtains, prying eyes. Laurel works at Super Carrot, a family-owned hippie-health food shop just as dusty as Woolworth’s or a generic five-and-dime. I’m escaping early-onset alcoholism, diluted drug addiction, and labor-intensive dead-end factory and foundry jobs in Wisconsin. The first new part time job is an on-call delivery van driver for a furniture distributor, ended after a couple of weeks. A day unlike every other day: rain, muddy alleys, ex-capitol ‘city’ of Prescott, Arizona. We cross flooded Granite Creek on a dense rusted iron pipe. Laurel leads me on a zigzag through a town I do not recognize to a one-level brick apartment duplex on another one of those streets that looks older than anything I’ve ever seen before: crumbled concrete; torn, patched, and repatched asphalt; no-longer-reflective street signs—above, a sky more brown than blue. Yet everything looks new: curbs, sidewalks, street signs, traffic lights, pavement—seeing roads for the first time and wanting to and not wanting to walk down each one to a logical and unfortunately preordained conclusion. People tamp resinous sage-colored leaves in a glass water pipe, which I decline. “Enjoy,” says Laurel. “Hey.” A stranger nods either at or to me. “Come and look.”

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An open patio, a cardboard box, a litter of puppies. I’m entranced momentarily, but the narrow world draws me away. Scuffed dirt instead of green grass, another cinderblock wall, and at the base of the wall, a dead puppy. A bleary-eyed omen, a brief life. A shovel, a hole, newspaper wrapping, a grave. Inside I slip an arm around Laurel. “Wash your hands before you touch me.” Why dwell on the death of a new-born animal so soon after my arrival in a new town? One thousand eight hundred miles from what was once familiar and already I am lost and lacking fingerprints. Laurel does not let me touch her until I wash again and again at a kitchen sink. A kitchen, a home, a way of life. Dish soap equals happiness and yet another day unwinds. A disconcerting lack of shadows in the middle of the day sends semaphore lingo from the ‘gut instinct’ to the brain but nothing happens. The immediate future—I shan’t say seduces—but definitely entices. Go up, young man. Escape Velocity Beyond the heartland, grass-fire smoke rising, quavery light seen from behind the window of an over-Mingus-Mountain bus. Yikes, its chalky-blue juniper berries littering every rill and cranny, decomposed granite, lifeline into the actual watershed. Broken glass, dribbled blood on the pavement, breath of tanned leather from a shop door, four-day-old slice of pie in the coffee shop. High desert lessons come at dear prices. Payment is the relinquishment of preconceived beliefs which were never tested outside the laboratory. Here’s the test: it’s a maze with rodents and rotted milk products. I recall Harlequin diamonds against lazy forgotten cornfields. I level a mountaintop and correctly position the telescope. What I expect: stars, planets, moons. Directly overhead something parses my leftover words: a tiny planetoid trailing a migration of heart-on-the-sleeve greeting card solipsism kitsch, rinsed and ready to spindry. Pulsed radio signals explain how everything works, how everything fits together. Soon enough it’s at the edge of sight, rocketing past Venus, Pluto, termination shock, heliopause, Oort Cloud, Alpha Centauri: it stutters, shudders, careens without a discernible rhythm; fails to arrive at the westward sunset rendezvous point. Santa Fe Literary Review

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TIM MAXWELL

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UNTITLED II


S. RUPSHA MITRA

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DASHAMI DELIGHT

We are not used to this But yet we are masked and Well veiled, Like peering through a jharoka We look down gazing at the chaotic euphoria on the ground. It could be no better to celebrate a Dashami in lockdown— We let the hushed whispers of the windy night blend With the incredible volume of repetitive songs playing For the inevitable Dashami partying. Cracking jokes melting in the merry mirth of Alighting into the breezily enlightening charm of the day. Our hearts—thrumming joy, Our laughter gaudy with the occasional frisson of jolting jokes. This is how we chart the way into celebrating This day of bidding adieu to the Goddess— And there’s always a lore—the obscure musicality of the mind Pressing itself like a flower petal adorning The museum of the heart—echoing like a euphony, declaring ‘these are memories that we cannot do without’ And we look at the sky—molten viscous grey Embracing us In the soothing safety of its eternal grace—as if Assuring the making of more memories.

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KIRSTIN VALDEZ QUADE

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On Family History, Teaching the Craft, and Bouncing Back: Santa Fe Literary Review Speaks with Kirstin Valdez Quade Kirstin Valdez Quade received a “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation, and was the recipient of the 2013 Narrative Prize. She’s the author of the short story collection Night at the Fiestas (Norton), and her novel, released this year, is The Five Wounds (Norton). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. Members of the Santa Fe Literary Review were honored to interview Valdez Quade over Zoom on February 23, 2021. SFLR Staff: To begin, please tell us about your connections to New Mexico in general and to Santa Fe in particularb—and how those connections have influenced your writing. Valdez Quade: My family has a long history in New Mexico. I was born in Albuquerque, and most of my extended family is in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. My parents and I moved away when I was a child, and I had a pretty itinerant childhood. We lived in many different places, mostly in the Southwest, but through all of those moves, my grandmother’s house in Santa Fe was the place we returned to, the place my sense of home and family and belonging centered on. I went to third grade at the St. Francis Cathedral School, I spent summers with my grandparents, I would go for extended stays. I loved—still love—being surrounded by family, and from the time I was a child, some part of me has been waiting and expecting to move back. I’m lucky to be very close to the elders in my family, to my grandparents and my great aunt, and when I was little my greatgrandmother took care of me while my mother worked. That sense of history and proximity to earlier generations and their stories of the small towns where they were born has been really important to my sense of my place in the world—and it absolutely comes out in my writing. So much of my fiction is about family and family history. On the page, I am able to return to this place that I love and that I left, and that I’m always longing to return to.

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We’re very excited about the release of your second book and first novel, The Five Wounds. Could you tell us about this book and your process of creating it? My novel The Five Wounds is an extension of a story with the same title that appeared in my story collection, Night at the Fiestas. It centers on the Padilla family. Amadeo is an unemployed alcoholic, and he has not been present in his daughter’s life. At the beginning of the book, Angel, his teenage daughter, shows up on his doorstep enormously pregnant and announces that she’s moving in. The relationship between father and daughter forms the center of the novel as they both navigate what it means to be a parent and a child. The story is steeped in Catholic tradition, especially New Mexican Catholic tradition. Amadeo is a penitente (a member of a fictional community of penitentes resurrected by his great-uncle) and he’s thrown himself into his role. He thinks that it will help him turn his life around—and he feels derailed by his daughter showing up. About a year after I published the short story, “The Five Wounds,” my editor emailed to ask if I would consider turning into a novel. I said, No, absolutely not, it’s a story! And I moved on to other stories. A year after that, though, I was looking at some stories in progress, I realized that in these three stories I was dealing with essentially the same family dynamic: a mother and her grown codependent son, and his estranged daughter. I realized, I’m clearly not done with these characters yet. There’s something about these characters that still has a hold on me. So I thought, Maybe I am writing a novel, after all. I had a summer without teaching, so I told myself, This summer I’m going to give it a try and see where this goes. The novel picks up where the story leaves off, and it follows the first year of the life of Angel’s baby. As a writer, what are some of your goals and aspirations? What’s next for you? My main goal is to continue growing as a reader and a writer. So many of the writers I admire continue to develop and change

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and to deepen their work over the course of their writing lives, and that’s what I hope for. The English writer Penelope Fitzgerald started writing fiction at age sixty, and from then until her death she wrote ten beautiful novels that are all really different. I admire that so deeply. I hope to keep challenging myself to explore new forms and subject matter. You teach as well as write. How does teaching influence your writing—and vice versa? I feel really lucky to get to spend my days talking about literature and helping new writers to discover their material, hone their craft, and learn how to bring each story closer to the fullest and most complicated and most interesting version of itself. Teaching is one of the great gifts of my life: I get to be immersed in language and story and to spend my time with really interesting people who have really interesting stories to tell. My students remind me of how exciting writing was when I first started writing, what it’s like to have that “beginner’s mind” and to be discovering and playing. I find [my work with them] to be a really helpful reminder of that state. As writing became my career, the stakes felt higher, the expectations felt scarier, and there have been points when I’ve been in danger of losing that sense of play that drew me to writing in the first place. I’m really grateful to my students for reminding me that at the root, writing is about exploring, asking questions, and being curious about the experiences of other people. Talk to us about writerly rejection. If you pursue writing, or any artistic path, rejection will be a part of it. It’s always a part of it. Learning to bounce back from rejection is a skill like any other that you must develop as you’re learning to write. You have to learn to write dialogue, to construct a scene, to write specific sensory detail—all these skills need to be developed, and rejection is just another. When rejections come, I think it’s really important to let yourself feel sad—it is disappointing! it is hard!—and

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then set that aside and keep going. It helps to realize that you don’t need to take it personally, and a rejection of any one manuscript is not a global verdict on your talent or character or promise as a writer. If you are ever in a position to choose from among a pile of manuscripts for publication or a prize or admission to graduate school, you understand how many compelling, wonderful pieces don’t get selected. I have a friend who makes sure she always has a story out on submission. Having something out there being considered is a hopeful state for her, and as soon as something is rejected, she revises and sends it out again. Rejections can also be a gift—they can teach you something. As an editor was rejecting the first story in my collection, “Nemecia,” he said, “And by the way, I think your story ends here.” He marked a spot about two-thirds of the way through the story. He was exactly right! I revised it again, ending it right on the image he had pointed out, and I sent it out again and it was eventually taken. So practice rejection, and then get good at bouncing back. What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Along with the usual advice—treat it as a job, remember that writing is a long game, be patient—my main piece of advice is to be observant. Ask questions. Get in the habit of really looking around you. One of the practices that I’ve had for years now, and that I make my students do, is to write down one interesting thing a day. I’m not much of a journaler, but I do keep a notebook and I try to notice and record one interesting thing a day. It can be anything: an overheard exchange, a line I read and loved, a scandalous anecdote. I call them my Notable Items. Many of mine seem to involve animal attacks. I’ve found that when I fall out of practice, I notice less in the world. It’s a little trickier during the pandemic when we’re not out and about and constantly talking to new people, but so much is happening to us and around us, even if we’re spending a lot of time in our homes, and we can witness that.

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CONTRIBUTOR BIOGRAPHIES

Amira Alsareinye descends from two cultural backgrounds, Syrian and Mexican, and was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word with a B.A. in biology in 2014. She creates surreal floral escapes and cosmic figurative paintings, mainly in acrylic and watercolor. The various styles, colors, and patterns present in traditional Arabic artwork have definitely influenced her color choices, as do traditional color patterns and styles of Mexican artwork. Frida Kahlo and María Izquierdo are amazing examples of Mexican Surrealist painters that have brought Alsareinye much inspiration. Thomas Barth works in pencil and ink. He hopes his art will be fun for the viewer and will give them something new to look at. He’s from Middlebury, Indiana, and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he works at La Montañita Co-op. JesseBob has been tattooing for eighteen years. In the course of that time, he practiced various styles and techniques before finding his own voice and purpose. He has traveled and tattooed in several countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. He has always made a point to visit sacred sights wherever he goes, including ancient and modern temples or places of worship, as well as natural sights such as mountaintops, beaches, waterfalls, and springs. It is from these experiences that he draws artistic inspiration. He documents temple decor and artwork for reference in his design process. He is inspired by spiritual art that is created to honor the divine—art evocative of a time where everything was done as a form of worship or as an offering. He is still traveling the world but spends most of his time between Tucson, Arizona, and Taos, New Mexico. Follow him on Instagram @sita_rama Bethany Carson has taught English at Santa Fe Community College for nineteen years. Before falling in love with the southwest, she worked on small farms in Maine and taught English in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. She has previously been published in The Chronicle of Higher Education and has poems appearing in upcoming issues of Constellations: A Journal of Poetry and Fiction and The West Trade Review. Sharon M. Carter is a poet and visual artist. She worked in various non-profit systems after graduating with a medical degree from Cambridge University. Published online and in many literary magazines, including Terra Nova, Pontoon, Raven Chronicles, Ars Medica, and the American Lung Association, she was fortunate that Hedgebrook and the Jack Straw Writers program supported her early in her writing career. A manuscript entitled Quiver is forthcoming.

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Sheena Chakeres is a mother, photographer, and teacher who has spent the last fifteen years capturing the vibrance of people and place. Inspired by New Mexico’s beauty, Sheena loves spending time in wilderness spaces and photographing a range of subjects in and around Santa Fe, especially aspen groves, adobe walls, and her expressive toddler. Sena Chang is a Japanese writer, artist, and musician. In addition to writing poetry related mainly to her Asian heritage and Kafkaesque scenarios, Chang is the founder of The Global Youth Review. Her most recent works have appeared or are forthcoming in Raised Brow Press and The International Educator, amongst others. Yeva Chisholm is a writer and dancer currently residing in Oghá P’o’oge (Santa Fe, New Mexico). She grew up on the occupied land of the Chinook and Kalapuya, known as the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and was profoundly shaped by the beauty and the richness of that area. She is currently studying dance at Pomegranate Studios while simultaneously pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Art and Social Change at Prescott College. Susana Gonzales is an emerging poet who has retired from teaching English literature for 24 years. She lives in southern California with her partner Suzanne and her German Shepard Kennedy. She has spent the pandemic lock down contemplating and writing about her military upbringing, her Mexican American heritage, and her lesbian/feminist identity. Her work has been published in Dress Blues Press and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Reshmi Hebbar has a Ph.D. in English from Emory University and is an associate professor of multicultural literature at Oglethorpe University. She has published nonfiction at Slate and fiction at Funicular Magazine, The Account, and Parhelion, and has fiction forthcoming at West Trade Review. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives with her husband and two daughters outside of Atlanta. Belinda Edwards is from “the red earth of East Texas, where the peanuts grow dreaming of a winter harvest; and blacksmiths, farmers, teachers, and janitors with strong backs and quick wit toil.” She currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She earned her M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is currently an Amherst Writers and Artists Group Facilitator and offers writing groups for seniors. Zanzia Eklund is from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has grown two cacti from seed and hopes to have another sprouted by the next time she’s published.

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Melanie Lamb Faithful lives in Santa Fe, but her roots are deeply Appalachian. She, along with the NM photographer and artist Sally Kruse, created a full color book of art and poetry published by Western Edge/Mountain Press in 2019 entitled Saints and Sinners. Her poetry has been published in journals, periodicals, anthologies, chapbooks, and has been featured in galleries and art venues. Read more on her blog, https://thetonepoet.com/. Jennifer Furner holds an M.A. in Literature, and she lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband and daughter. She has published essays in the anthologies Art in the Time of Covid-19 and the upcoming A Teenager’s Guide to Feminism. Furner has been published in HuffPost Personal, Sammiches, and Psych Meds, as well as in multiple Medium publications. For more of her writing, visit www.jenniferfurner.com. Kelsey Hennegen is an Artist in Residence with the Historic Santa Fe Foundation. The foundation’s Canyon Road gallery, El Zaguán, is hosting a show of her work for the month of June 2021. She is a current graduate student in Eastern Classics at St. John’s College, where she also earned her M.A. in Liberal Arts in 2020. In addition, she studies English at Middlebury and attends Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Oliver Agustin Kautter is a visual artist based in downtown Portland, Oregon. Kautter grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, but spent much of his young life drawn to the energy and personality of the urban world. After earning his B.F.A. at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania in 2014, Kautter started his new life in Santa Fe, New Mexico, studying and working under painter and bookmaker Christopher Benson. After a year, Kautter moved to Portland, Oregon. There, his work has been published in literary and arts journals, has been featured in two solo exhibitions in addition to juried group shows, and was selected to contribute to a collection of thematic murals in North Portland. Kautter seeks to be a voice through reason and equity and live a meaningful existence through visual expression. Brandon Kilbourne is a biologist—a morphologist in fact—who calls Berlin, Germany home. When not in the company of various mammal skeletons or chasing down leads for roadkill to dissect, he spends his time writing poetry. His work has previously appeared in Sky Island Journal, Beach Reads, Naugatuck River Review, Catamaran Literary Reader, Panel Magazine, Sea to Sky Review, and Tahoma Literary Review. Robert Kostuck is an M.Ed. graduate from Northern Arizona University. Recently published fiction, essays, and reviews appear or are forthcoming in the anthologies Everywhere Stories, Volumes II and III; Manifest West, Volume VI; and DoveTales, Volumes IV–VII; pieces also appear in many print and online journals, including Louisiana Literature, Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Southwest Review, High Desert Journal, Zone 3, Saint Ann’s Review, Bryant Literary Review, and Concho River Review.

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Aaron Lelito is a visual artist and writer from Buffalo, New York. In his photographic work, he is primarily drawn to the patterns and imagery of nature. His images have most recently been published in High Shelf Press, About Place Journal, 45th Parallel, Alluvian, and EcoTheo Review. He is editor-in-chief of the art and literature website Wild Roof Journal. See more of his work at www.aaronlelito.com. Morgan Liphart’s contemporary poetry has appeared in anthologies and journals across the United States, such as The Comstock Review, Third Wednesday, and Off the Coast. Her work reflects on experiences and circumstances that she believes can connect us all, no matter our differences. When she’s not writing, Morgan enjoys her career as an attorney and adventuring in the mountains surrounding her home in Denver, Colorado. Discover more work at www.morganliphart.com. Pi Luna pursued a B.A. from Prescott College and then an M.F.A. from Goddard College. While in school, she studied the integration of art, math, and Jungian Psychology. She learned about the archetypes, our unconscious emotions, and how those surface as symbols in our dreams. By painting dreamlike metaphors, she can invoke these archetypes and bring insight to viewers. Tim Maxwell was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1978, and lives and works in New York City. He received his B.F.A. from Penn State University in 2002, and an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2004. He has had solo shows at Marvelli, Derek Eller, and RARE Gallery, and has been included in group exhibitions at White Columns and Massimo Audiello Inc. in New York, as well as at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen in Brussels. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Art on Paper magazine. Born in Kentucky, Fergus McAlister (J. M. Ferguson, Jr.) grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he won the annual literary prize in poetry in his senior year at the University of New Mexico. His poems have appeared in several periodicals, including, most recently, December, Rhino, and Mississippi Review, and he is currently seeking a publisher for a book-length manuscript. Gail McCormick is a Seattle writer, psychotherapist, and witness for social justice. She has published essays and a nonfiction book, Living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Narratives of Coping. She is currently writing a memoir about a childhood dream sparked to life by the explosion of Chernobyl. Excerpts from this story, One Woman’s Bridge: Memoir of an Honorary Chernobyl Mother and Babushka, are featured on McCormick’s website, www.gailmccormick.com. S. Rupsha Mitra is a student from India with a penchant for writing poetry and essays. Her work is published or upcoming in Blue Marble Review, Madras Courier, North Dakota Quarterly, and Ethel Zine.

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Marissa Fae Myers is a creative writing student at the Santa Fe Community College. She writes mainly poetry, although recently has been working on creative writing prose. The 2021 edition of the Santa Fe Literary Review will contain her first publication in prose, although she’s previously been published for her poetry. Marissa was also the recipient of the Silver Key Award from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in 2019 for her poem “Bus Stops.” Joe Navarro is a Literary Vato Loco, poet, creative writer, and teacher. He currently lives with his family in Hayward, California. Navarro integrates his poetic voice with life experiences while blending culture and politics with a humanitarian vision. His poetry is often inspired by people’s struggles to achieve human dignity. Bri Neumann is a queer writer currently based in Denver, Colorado. She finds herself drawn to the lyric nature of the everyday, and writes fiction, non-fiction, and hybrid works. Her current work is an attempt to mix her normal life with things that aren’t quite so normal. She has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, as well as in Glyph, the literary journal of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. She also served on the editing staff for Glyph. She is currently attending Metropolitan State University for her M.A. Adele Oliveira is a freelance writer. She holds an M.A. in journalism from New York University and this spring, received her M.F.A. in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her nonfiction and essays have appeared in Bitch, Marie Claire, and Salon, among other publications. Her fiction also appears in Texlandia, and she is at work on her first novel. Adele was raised in Santa Fe and lives here with her husband and two children. Kate Pashby (they/them) is a queer Mexican-American poet from San Jose, California, who resides in Washington, D.C. Their work has been published in Burrow, Rogue Agent, and Rabid Oak, the latter of which nominated Pashby for Best of the Net 2020. Pashby’s work is forthcoming in Genre: Urban Arts’ House and Northern Otter Press. Beth Paulson’s poems have been published widely and four times nominated for Pushcart Prizes. She recently co-authored, with Don Paulson, Images of the Mountain West in Photographs and Poems (Twain Publishers, 2019). Paulson co-founded the Open Bard Literary Series and leads Poetica, a monthly poetry workshop. In 2019, she was named the first Poet Laureate of Ouray County, Colorado. Her sixth collection, Luminous, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in early 2021. Kirstin Valdez Quade received a “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation, and was the recipient of the 2013 Narrative Prize. She’s the author of the short story collection Night at the Fiestas (Norton), and her novel, released this year, is The Five Wounds (Norton). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.

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Elizabeth Rees is the author of Every Root a Branch and three award-winning chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, The Southern Review, Partisan Review, and Kenyon Review, among many other journals. She has taught at many universities, as well as at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Since 1994, she has worked as a poet-in-the-schools for the Maryland State Arts Council, and she teaches privately. Ollie Rollins is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he currently lives. He spent two and a half years at Ontario College of Art and Design University, living first in Toronto and then spending a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, before returning to Santa Fe to attend St. John’s College. Yusef Salaam is author of the play/book, The Devil & Elijah Muhammad, twice-produced by the Harlem, New York-based H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players. He is also author of the children’s book, Elijah Muhammad: Builder of a Nation, a bio-poem. He writes regularly for the New York Beacon. He was writer-in-residence at the Paden Retreat for Writers of Color in Essex, New York, in 2019, and is a recipient of a Puffin Foundation Grant. A retired teacher at Clara Muhammad School, Harlem, and Adjunct English Professor at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey, Salaam is former co-director of the National Writers Union Steering Committee, Chapter ’85, and a member of the Harlem Neighborhood Writers Group. Salaam is currently completing a volume of poetry, The Holocaust of Enslavement. Roxanne Seagraves is a storyteller, teacher, and historian. As a bisexual elder, she lived through the AIDS pandemic, watched as friends and acquaintances passed from this earth. This story is a homage to those lives lost. The characters and setting are fictitious but drawn from her life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Tick is a tattoo artist in southern New Mexico with over twenty years of experience in the tattoo world. She studied fine arts at New Mexico State University with an emphasis in drawing, and graduated in 2005. She specializes in custom-drawn tattoos that are based in traditional tattoo methods and iconographies. She owns and works out of Black Rat Tattoo in Mesilla, New Mexico. Andreana Thompson is a queer Diné artist and writer who graduated from the Santa Fe Community College in 2018 with an associate’s degree in Fine Arts. Thompson specializes in sculptural clay handbuilding, but currently spends most of her free time creating mixed media art pieces and ‘writing her feelings’ out between snacks. She is an avid supporter of several Indigenous rights movements, including the ‘Land Back’ and ‘MMIW’ (Missing/Murdered Indigenous Women) movements.

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SUBMIT TO THE SANTA FE LITERARY REVIEW The Santa Fe Literary Review (SFLR) is published annually by the Santa Fe Community College (SFCC). An in-print literary journal, SFLR features work by local, national, and international writers and artists. From June 1 to November 1 each year, we invite submissions of poetry, fiction, dramatic writing, and creative non-fiction, as well as reproducible visual art. At SFLR, we aim to promote a diverse range of writers and artists, and to present a wide variety of stories, styles, and perspectives. We’re especially committed to promoting voices that aren’t always empowered in the publishing world, so if you’re a writer of color, an Indigenous person, a non-native English speaker, a female, a member of the LGBTQIAPK+ community, a disabled person, a trauma survivor, or anyone else frequently silenced or ignored by the modern media, please submit. SFLR cares about sharing your voice with the world. Our 2022 theme is “Resilience: Adaptation, Empathy, and Hope.” Our submissions period opens June 1, 2021, and closes November 1, 2021. We accept electronic submissions of poetry, prose, dramatic writing, and visual art. Contributors receive two copies of the magazine and are invited to present and share their work at the annual SFLR reception, hosted each fall. Poetry, Prose, and Dramatic Writing Submission Guidelines SFLR has begun accepting emailed submissions only. To submit, address your email to the appropriate editor: Poetry: sflrpoetry@gmail.com Creative Non-Fiction: sflrcnf@gmail.com Fiction and Dramatic Writing: sflrfiction@gmail.com In the subject line, write “SFLR Submission 2022” plus the title(s) of your submission. In the body of the email, paste your submission—please do not attach files. Paste your bio and/or cover letter at the bottom of your email, beneath your submission itself. Word limit per prose submission is 2000 words per submission period; poets may submit up to five poems per submission period. Dramatic writing should not exceed ten doublespaced pages; we encourage submissions of full-length works or standalone scenes. Please format your submission for twelve-point font or similar, to ensure legibility.

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Because of the risk of viruses, we regret that emails containing files attached will not be read. If you’re submitting something with special formatting that cannot be reproduced in the body of an email, please write to sflr@sfcc.edu for submission instructions. SFLR accepts simultaneous submissions, but please email sflr@sfcc.edu if your work is selected elsewhere. We do not accept writing that’s been previously published. Visual Art Submission Guidelines SFLR invites visual art submissions, including but not limited to graphic novel excerpts, photographs, digital media, and photographs of produced art from any media. Aside from our cover, we’re only able to print in black and white. As such, we ask that artists submit works in black and white, or else ensure their works will reproduce well in black and white before submitting. Kindly send visual art submissions as emailed attachments in .jpg or .tif formats, at 300 dpi. Please include a subject line that reads: “2022 Art Submission.” In the body of your email, include the title of your submission(s), the estimated dimensions, your full name and contact information, and a brief biographical statement. Visual art submissions should be emailed to sflrartsubmissions@gmail.com. Learn More Pick up a free copy of the SFLR at the SFCC Library or any of the three Santa Fe Public Library branches, or write to SFLR, 6401 Richards Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87508. Our editorial team is dedicated to promoting and celebrating the contributions of SFCC students, Santa Feans, and writers and artists from around the world. To learn more about SFLR, visit us online at https://www.sfcc.edu/santa-fe-literary-review/ Facebook @SFLRSF Twitter @SFLR_ Instagram @santafereview

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SUPPORT THE SANTA FE LITERARY REVIEW To support the Santa Fe Literary Review, consider making a donation. Your gift will help students and faculty members to continue creating, printing, and distributing this publication, and will empower writers and artists from Santa Fe and around the world to showcase important work. To donate by check: Checks should be made payable to “The SFCC Foundation—SFLR/ ENGL Fund,” then mailed to: SFCC Foundation, 6401 Richards Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508. Kindly write “SFLR/ENGL Fund” in the memo. To donate by credit card: Call (505) 428-1855 or visit https://www.sfcc.edu/give-now/. Be sure to indicate, over the phone or in the “Comments” section online, that you’d like your gift to be designated for the SFLR/ENGL fund. For other ideas about how to support the Santa Fe Literary Review, email sflr@sfcc.edu We look forward to hearing from you!

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