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S A N T A F E L I T E R A R Y R E V I E W 2 013

S A N TA F E L I T E R A R Y

S A N TA F E L I T E R A R Y

2013


El Pescador Cover Photo: Gabriel Melcher Book Design: David Faulkner Logo Design: Jane Dill Design Printing: Vision Media Rio Rancho, New Mexico Copyright Š 2013 by Santa Fe Community College


Santa Fe Literary Review 2013 Faculty Advisor: Miriam Sagan Fiction Editor: Meg Tuite Poetry Editor: Sudasi Clement Editors-at-Large: Jessica Homeyer, Ana Terrazas, Tashi Swierkosz and Julie Yowell Art Editor: Isabel Winson-Sagan The Santa Fe Literary Review is published by the School of Liberal Arts and Core Studies of Santa Fe Community College. With special thanks to Margaret Peters, Dean of Liberal Arts and Core Studies, and Julia Deisler, Co-Chair of English, Speech and Reading. Santa Fe Literary Review invites submissions of poetry, fiction and non-fiction of a general literary interest, as well as visual arts. Unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope, submissions will not be returned. Submissions are accepted on a year-round basis, to be read in the fall. Please address all correspondence to: Miriam Sagan Santa Fe Literary Review 6401 Richards Avenue Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508

Santa Fe Literary Review

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Contents Untold Cosmology

Ann Filemyr

A Note from the Class Laureate Mating

8 David Wagoner

9

Dena Rash Guzman

Marathon Man Jane Doe

10

Dave Morrison

11

Dana Garza

Crater Lake

13

Kate McCahill

Stone Stories

16

Dick Altman

The Hiss of the Lily Mirror, Mirror

17

Marmika Paskiewicz

20

Libby Hall

22

Am I Supposed to Know These People? Ruth A. Sabiers

25

R&R

29

Elizabeth W. O’Brien

Epidemiology The Great Joke

Jessica Smyser

34

Donald Levering

36

For the Muse with Folded Arms, Bowed Head Janie Oakes Interview with Sheila O’Connor The Assassination Hidden Drives

38 Meg Tuite

40

Sheila O’Connor

43

George Longenecker

One Hundred Orgasms with Strangers

46 Jon Wesick

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Opening Lines

David Tomaloff

Digging for Wasps Good Neighbor

50

Mary Stone Dockery

51

Jack Cooper

Good Help is Hard to Find In This New Universe

52 Michael Gillan Maxwell

Michael G. Smith

Now That There’s Water on the Moon I Am Ready to Make Contact Alien Fiesta

53 55

Behzad Dayeny

Paul Freidinger

Sharon Guerrero

57 58 60

Alien Interview

Steven Ramirez

66

Tea Room Tales

Jessica Homeyer

71

Man in a Wal-Mart Parking Lot Everything is Broken

John Brandi

Alex Pruteanu

The Peripatetic Man at the Library Buffalo Bill’s Defunct Script

80 David Parlato

Stephen Malin

87

Why Raindrops Don’t Kill Mosquitos Be Careful

Ann Hunkins

89

Salve Regina

James Claffey

Catherine Ferguson

Cigarettes in the Volkswagen Caroline LeBlanc

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90

The Bitter Light of the Single Bulb

4

Michael Blaine

Charles Harper Webb

Fireworks All My Life

84 86

K.A. McGowen

What We Have Grown

77

Jennifer Phelps

91 93 94 96


Snow-Woman Cave Canem Squid

Mary B. Moore

98

Mia Avramut

99

Agnes Marton

List Service

101

Steve Dahlman

103

Dream Entanglement

Stephen R. Roberts

105

Don’t Kiss Life’s Sister

Tashi Swierkosz

106

The Bridge

Barbara Robidoux

Holy Subaru At the DMV

Shari Hack Jones

109

Mark DeFoe

111

Athletes at the Post Office The Gabor Sisters My Life’s Worth Spectacle

107

F. Richard Thomas

Linda Ferguson

113

Nathaniel Tower

117

Robert Tremmel

120

while reading Love is a Dog from Hell Engineering Sweet Dreams Sleeping with Horses Patient Zero Bliss

112

Rick Smith

121

Gary Metras

122

Lyn Lifshin

123

Laura Bogart

125

James Joseph Brown

Works of Fiction Placenta

128

Lucy Biederman

130

Wayne Lee

Thick Green Vine

131

Paul Milenski

Let Me Not Sleep Alone

132

Jane Lin

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Simon Perchik

135

Holding Your Leg The Lost Cap Whistlestop

Donna Pucciani

Joani Reese

138

Elayne Clift

143

Think of Me Babe Whenever All the Years

Alan Gartenhaus

Dennis Trudell

Christien Gholsen

Page Lambert

Picture Window

153

Timothy Gager

157

Nancy Stohlman

The Very Second

151 152

Mitzi McMahon

Where (in the) House

148 150

Crows Cross the Moon

The Fox

Barbara Tate

Barbara Hill

Herd Dispersal

145 147

Virgil Bloodsong- Going Home Magnolia

136

159

Lauren Camp

160

Exiting the Glass Coffin

Pamela L. Laskin

161

Overthinking Little Red

Frank H. Coons

162

Fever Dreams: Window Shopping Walking Out With You Maypole Ellipse

MerimĂŠe Moffitt

Jim Nawrocki

Birds of Paradise Flophouses 6

John Grey

Mathieu Callier

Angela Woodward

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Jon Kelly Yenser

163 164 166 167 169 173


Eliza

Kris Crews

176

Testing Heaped Earth Birds Visit Yo Yo Ma Sleep/Balm

Barbara Rockman

Jane Lipman

Good Poison Canto 1

179

Jim Daniels

180

She Wears Me Like a Coat Cheerios

178

Robert Vaughan

181

Julie Yowell

182

Teisha Twomey

189

Tom Crawford

Eating Winter

190

Jamie Figueroa

At Fat Albert’s, Sellwood Drowning by the Dike Last Reflections of a Scientist

Kirby Wright

193

Susan Volchok

194

Roman Gulati & Basia Miller

Tale of the Iguana

196

Gayle Dawn Price

Project Runway: Barbie Edition The Sea was the Cure Mal de Mer

191

199

Terry Wilson

204

Ana Terrazas

207

Fred Yannantuono

208

Bios

210

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Untold Cosmology by Ann Filemyr

Dogs growl. Cats purr. The dull blade of the can opener dents the soup can. Cream of mushroom. Worn out metal teeth barely grip the lid. We're hungry and dig the thick goo out trying not to cut our fingers on the jagged lip. I leave one baby tooth beneath the pillow praying for fairies to leave their pot of gold. But the little hoarders hide what we want in the rut of rainbows. Half moon shines like a cracked quarter in the crowded sky. We hide in the highest branches of the backyard climbing tree our bellies rumbling trying to stay free from trouble. Supper is late. No lunch. The interior Gods of the house determine these things which we mere mortal children have no control over. That's when a gigantic green meteor streaks down practically hitting the neighbor's house, a boiling ball of lime fire. We freeze, point, mouths gaping like dead fish. No one sees it but us shaking in the dusk of that trailing star. Dinner! Mother God bellows out the back door. Father God stomps out the front the belch of his backfire his tires spitting gravel blue chicory blooming in the ditch beside the foxtail.

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Santa Fe Literary Review


A Note from the Class Laureate The 64th Reunion of the Class of 1944 is cancelled because of low attendance. –– Class Secretary by David Wagoner After we’d gone to school and had learned to read and write, my classmates went on writing from margin to margin, never stopping short except for reports, reminders, or the last lines of letters. They tried hard to think and speak for themselves while they became breadwinners, leaders and followers, believers and good neighbors. They had children and then their children, and some could make old words behave, and some would shout for joy or justice, and some spoke volumes with looks alone and were quiet. Now most of them have closed their books and their eyes, and most of those left still read and write and talk, but some have forgotten how, have put aside their ideas and don’t remember the answers to any questions. From somewhere among them, I still stop short of the margin in their behalf.

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Mating

by Dena Rash Guzman I was only a cold coyote breathing desert dust, sharp and gray on a red hill. You were only another coyote, head down and tail up, sniffing a mouthful of kill. I watched your silence fifteen yards below me. You didn’t sense my footfall down the rocks. You bolted at the sight of my eyes, but came back moonlit brightly, broached the idea of mating, a vow I took as ordinary coyotes do, for I was only.

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Santa Fe Literary Review


Marathon Man by Dave Morrison

God, I loved to run. Ever since I was young. I was built to do it. It took me away from my worries and fears, real or imagined, and left me too winded to care about small problems. Running didn’t just take me away from troubling situations or people; it felt great - the dizzying speed, the sweet blur, the rush. I ran and ran and it barely showed - I made it look easy. I discovered that I knew lots of people who loved to run, some as much as I did. It got to the point where I’d rather run than eat, rather run than sleep, rather run than just about anything. It kept me young and loose, or so I thought. At some point I realized that while my desire to run wasn’t aging, my body was. There were fewer people to run with. I didn’t bounce back as fast as I once had. Too much of a good thing.

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So running isn’t a part of my life much any more, even though I still love it. Things change. Maybe I changed. Sorry, did I say running? I meant drinking.

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Santa Fe Literary Review


Jane Doe by Dana Garza

She lives in an abandoned elevator in an abandoned building in an abandoned part of the city where the store fronts are boarded up and covered with graffiti. It feels more like an urban ghost town then the bustling Harlem of the west it once professed to be. She claimed it as her own when she found the elevator doors open and the top of the lift peeking out at the fourteenth floor, suspended above the twelfth. There was just enough room for her slim frame to enter but not for much else. She had been looking for a safe place for shelter scoping out abandoned buildings, warehouses, under bridges, and in aqueducts, but most were too dangerous in their design or filled with other street kids and junkies. She didn’t use drugs or alcohol and didn’t like people all that much, so she kept to herself. She was surprised no one had already staked a claim on this building. Before setting up home, she made sure she wouldn’t be found; so she scouted out the place for a couple of days. No one but the rats came and went. While wandering around the building she found a set of keys that didn’t look like they went to any regular doors and established that they opened and closed the elevator doors. It was settled: home sweet home. She stole candles, a flash light, and batteries from the five and dime to light up the place, made a bed out of some scavenged sofa cushions, and a nightstand out of a cardboard box. She collected magazines from the free rack at the library and wherever else she could find them and covered the walls and ceiling in spring time greenery. Green grass from rolling hills, ancient forests, manicured lawns, and shrubbery from magazines like Conde Nast, Travel & Leisure, and English Gardens. She had never seen such greenery in her life. The candle light reflected off of the glossy greenery and made it radiantly incandescent. She had tried so hard to forget her past that she managed to forget it completely. All she had was the moment. She wanted for nothing. She got all the food she needed from the food bank; clothes and blankets from the shelter. A generous donation of art supplies at the shelter gave her plenty of paper, sharpies and water color pencils so she didn’t have

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to steal those. She didn’t like to steal, but it’s difficult to find such treasured and necessary items. She drew pictures of mystical creatures and fantastical worlds and hung them up amidst her garden. She was happy then and her contentment grew into something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. If she had known it before she would have known it was joy she was feeling. She left her sanctuary very little these days and when she did, not for long. The only things she needed to replenish were food, batteries, and candles. She never ate much; having learned at an early age that to go without made things last longer. One day while wandering about the building she heard someone yell at her. She didn’t use her voice much these days, and she wasn’t about to use it now. Before she bolted away from the voice she turned to get a glimpse of its origin. He was a sturdy man built like an ox who looked like a construction worker complete with boots, a tool belt, and a hard hat to prove it. She knew he wouldn’t be able to keep up with her so she ran. Not to her elevator for fear of being found out, (she always made sure the doors were closed whenever she left it), but out and onto the street and down an alleyway. By the time she caught her breath her heart had caught up to her. She didn’t know what he was doing there, but it didn’t look like he was staying. She killed time in the park until dark and went back only to find that all the entrances had been securely boarded up. That didn’t deter her. She climbed up onto a dumpster positioned under the emergency stairs and hoisted herself up. By the time she got home she was exhausted and hungry. She opened up a can of Dinty Moore stew, ate it and fell fast asleep, exhausted from her day. She dreamt of lying in tall grass, the blue sky above with the wind giving a cooling breeze under the hot sun. If she had come and gone from the front she would have seen the sign posted by the city for over a week now, but she always went out through the service dock where there were a lot less eyes to see her. Even if she had seen the sign she wouldn’t have been able to read what it said, and she would have ignored it with a front of indifference to hide her illiteracy. And even if she could read it-- what was she to do about it? She had nowhere else to go; she was home. So when the wrecking ball came early the next morning, it didn’t manage to wake her before the building turned to rubble and she was forever entombed in her eternal spring. 14

Santa Fe Literary Review


Are You Listening?

Photograph by Marilyn Stablein

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Crater Lake by Kate McCahill

Beyond this bleeding canyon lies a river, and at the end of that a lake. You can swim for miles down, the old women say as their hands shuck invisible maize and thread needles too narrow to see. Down, they say, in the night-like depths you’ll find tunnels, crystal caves. You can breathe there, they will whisper, drawing down a final husk. At this prickly edge, goats drink dainty; crickets lick the drops, and in the shallows leeches glide. Now you’re remembering that summer, how her cool hand slid upon yours, her eyes flickered so gray they shone of coral and her dress pooled up around her, polka dots, the ribbon cream. You thought you’d found it, but be careful, the women murmur. We hear the lake gets deeper every year.

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Santa Fe Literary Review


Stone Stories by Dick Altman

From a pile the size of a house, he selects the biggest. At a distance, they look like small hogs. One by one, with the help of a crane, he arranges them Japanese style, burying a third of each, in odd-numbered patterns of three, five and seven. As a Westerner, he grew up in an evennumbered world. Things divisible by two, he was taught, had harmony and balance. But the Japanese had a point: boulders in nature created random landscapes. He found the look calm, stable, even comforting. Sometimes, he would study a rock for hours, the Japanese way. He would dream of the perfect backdrop for its size and shape, pock-marked face and curiously deformed body. He loved the asymmetry, like an overly large nose. Great rocks didn’t wait to be picked by the roadside. They had to be hunted and tracked for miles, down long-forgot wagon paths and logging trails, secret places beyond his reach. His friend Ernesto knew the land, could read the sign, corralled rare, odd giants for money.

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After these forays, they would argue like fishermen over the day’s trophies. Nothing topped the time Ernesto nearly killed himself, snaring what he called “the king of the hill,” a boulder that flipped his 50-foot flatbed. As it hung in the air, a gust sailed it. He barely jumped clear. Ernesto didn’t tell him right away, not until he visited the stone yard and spotted the new prize. Bigger than a car, he thought, with a kind of doughnut hole you could soak in if you wanted. Too big, on second look, to be anything but rock candy, dimming everything around it. He knew Ernesto knew it too, but that didn’t stop him from amazing over its size. It was, after all, a catch, even if it did crush the exhaust stack, passenger door and front fender of the truck. Some rocks were just worth the price. You never knew when you’d find another. The idea worried him. Outside his porch stood the biggest crystal he ever saw, a miniature iceberg the span of his arms and nearly as high. He hadn’t needed it, didn’t have a place for it, couldn’t resist it. Two years in the same spot it sat. He has moved it three times since.

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Santa Fe Literary Review


Rocks and death. We go, they stay. More asymmetry, he thinks, the natural order of things. Perhaps for his finale, the crystal will yet solace him. Japanese read stories in the heart of stones. He stares at the rock, its erratic planes flashing, waiting.

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The Hiss of the Lily by Marmika Paskiewicz

My mother pulls on white gloves, thin, not for gardening, but for pleasure. She doesn’t care if she gets the entire weed or if it shares a bed with a lily. She ignores the weeds really Lights the cigarette with the recessed filter sits in the curved lime green lawn chair next to the lime green table under the arbor kicks at the cactus inhales The man in a striped shirt brings a large round glass with the drink called Margarita after a flower or a girl from Torreon, the glass flavored with coarse salt and sour lime My mother takes a sip, Smiles at him, leaves red lips on the glass Stares at the distant shadows slithering across the mountain

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Santa Fe Literary Review


Brooklyn Fairytale

Photograph Model: Ayla Parker Photography: Lavenda Memory

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Mirror, Mirror by Libby Hall

The mirror of my youth cruelly reminded me that I wasn’t ok the way I was. Growing up as a short, plump girl with rough skin and unruly curly hair, the kind of cute daughter of a tall, very glamorous, and beautiful mother who had a flawless complexion and good hair was difficult. When we were out, people would actually stop and ask her for her autograph believing she was Ava Gardner. She generously signed their autograph books. She’d throw her head back saying, “Anything for the little people.” Winking conspiratorially she’d grab my hand and off we’d go as she laughed about how gullible people are. It was fun in a confusing sort of way. The downside was knowing that beauty and desirability were the currency of approval and acceptance in my home and I had insufficient funds. I spent hours in front of the mirror learning make-up tricks, dyeing my hair, scrubbing my skin raw to rid it of blemishes, perfecting a mask. I wasn’t a beautiful woman but with enough make-up, hair straightener, different hair colors, and diet pills, I could pose as one. I was always looking in the mirror, posing, examining, evaluating and rehearsing. Today I have an aversion to mirrors. My home has three mirrors. Two are over bathroom sinks and one lives quietly, unnoticed at the end of a hallway. It is a curious phenomenon to study the face of someone I know so well but only from the inside. I don’t know what expressions cross my face. Do I look puzzled, tired, or angry when I frown? Do I look happy or manic when I laugh? What are the expressions that cause you to pause, to react, or get upset with me? What do I see when I look in the mirror today? What am I looking for? Food caught between my teeth. Stiff black and white hairs popping out on my chin or above my lips. Has gravity created an even more dramatic rendering while I slept? Sometimes I’m just grateful that bushy hairs have not sprouted in my nose or on my ears while I’ve slept. Who was I expecting to see? Me at 35 or even 55? Sometimes I’m startled to see this white haired old woman returning my squinting gaze.

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Santa Fe Literary Review


Where did she come from? I’m not displeased with her but curious. It seems this transformation occurred when I was paying attention to something else. My obsession with my looks began to dull a few years ago. Vanity has taken a step back but not disappeared. I began buzzing my now white hair about nine years ago when it felt hip and edgy. Today, it’s just so easy. I can’t imagine going through the trauma of growing it out again. I love lipstick. Glossy pinks and reds that cheer me up and make me smile. I confess I do darken my white eyebrows and then worry that I have gotten carried away and look like a caricature of myself - a kind of Bette Davis in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” look. I use a tinted moisturizer w/sunscreen to help even out those brown spots and blotchy areas. “It’s just sun damage and old age,” my dermatologist cheerfully informs me. I have loved getting older. It has meant freedom, re-defining myself, becoming confident and really liking the woman I’ve become. Aging is different. It’s a strange process but one I am growing comfortable with. I am not the woman I was at 55 or even 65. I have faced my mortality in a more realistic way. I have limitations I once disdainfully observed in others. It’s falls that just happen for no apparent reason. It’s injuries that take too long to heal and never get quite right again. It’s when youthful problems return as serious situations. When colds and coughs become pneumonia and COPD. It’s when my previously strong, sturdy, healthy body begins to slow down and arthritis moves in where those old accidents and injuries occurred. It’s not being able to read anything without glasses. It’s those humming noises and muted musical sounds I hear when it’s quiet. It’s an intense reality check. After years of being fat and losing a lot of weight in the last few years my body resembles an over-inflated balloon after someone let the air out. I have “good-by” arms - the flabby flesh of my upper arms waves good-by right along with my hand. My great grandmother had arms like mine and when I was a young girl I prayed and prayed that I would never, ever have arms like that. Oh well. My face is lined from years of sun worship, stress and laughter. Those fines lines of living that would fade after a good night’s sleep are Santa Fe Literary Review

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now permanently etched into my face. I have wattles of skin hanging below my chin. On a good day my eyes still have that sparkle and other days they’re pale and tired. I’m always surprised by the deep purple bruises that simply appear on my hands and arms. “Oh, that’s just old age,” says the relentlessly cheerful dermatologist. Not such a pretty picture, you might say, but I have accepted it. The good news is I haven’t gone outside to chat with the neighbors wearing only a blouse as my mother did when dementia was taking over her life. Not yet anyway. Each morning around 6 a.m., I grope my way into the bathroom. Holding onto the sink I lean towards the mirror squinting hard in the too bright light at the old, androgynous crone returning my stare. There is a scene in the film “Milagro Beanfield War” where Amarante, the ninety year old farmer peers into the mirror above his wash basin. Scratching his chest, he mutters, “Thank you, God, for another day.” This scene delights me. Each morning I smile at my reflection and say, “Thank you God, for another day.”

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Santa Fe Literary Review


Am I Supposed to Know These People? by Ruth Sabiers

My mother read obituary columns the way her friends watched soap operas, the way my father watched the 11:00 evening news before he began losing his mind. "Harold Mann died yesterday, out mowing the lawn," my mother told my father. "Wasn't he Shorty Steiner's father-in-law?" she asked. "Seems to me Shorty married old Pee-High Bronson's daughter," my father said, rubbing his head. "I can't keep these things straight anymore." I wrote my mother's obituary in the baggage-claims area of the Toledo airport while I waited for my brother Howard to pick me up. Howard had paged me on a white courtesy phone in the reception area. "No use in you going over to the hospital now," he said. "Mother died about an hour ago, about the time you were flying over Chicago." Howard is 7 years younger than me. I have 2 other brothers. They died when they were babies. Every week my mother sent me manila envelopes, stuffed with stories about dead people. She started mailing the obituaries to me when I got my job with hospice. "Am I supposed to know these people?" I asked her. "If you don't, you should," she said. "I lost three patients of my own this week," I told her. "Don't send me any more obituaries for a while." Howard took me from the Toledo airport to the funeral home. "Let me handle this," he said. "I play poker with Digger Doyle's son on Wednesday nights." Howard ordered a bronze casket with a pink satin lining; and a dozen, long-stemmed, white roses with a pink ribbon that said, "Wife and Mother." He ordered spaces in two newspapers for the obituary I had written at the airport, seven notarized copies of our mother's death certificate, and a leather-bound guest book for the wake. He reserved

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two black limousines to lead the procession to the cemetery, and he reserved the church hall for a catered luncheon after the funeral. He decided that my mother wouldn’t need the extra-firm, coffin mattress that Digger Doyle recommended for back support. The last time I talked with my mother, I asked her how my father was doing. She said he wouldn’t go to Russell Ott's funeral with her the week before - a pity, she thought, because there had been a good turnout and he would have enjoyed himself. "All your father does is sit around and rub the top of his head," she complained. "Why is he always doing that?" I asked. "He says he’s looking for the line down the middle, the line that separates the side of his head with brains from the emptied-out side," she replied. My father went to my mother's wake. He sat in a high-backed chair, next to Howard and rubbed his head all afternoon and evening. I stood next to my mother's coffin, shaking hands with people lined up all the way out to the sidewalk, people I should have known. "We read about your mother in the obituary column," they said. I recognized my favorite high-school teacher, Miss Steele, whom I hadn't seen since she boycotted my wedding to David, twenty-five years ago. “I thought you had better sense than to marry the classmate voted least likely to succeed," she had written on the reply card. "David and I were married for fifteen years before our divorce," I told Miss Steele at the funeral home. "The best years of your life, right out the window," she said. My lover Travis and I have been living together for a decade. My mother wanted us to get married. She refused to write his name in ink on her perpetual birthday calendar until we did. Travis and David look alike. Travis didn't come with me to Toledo, so David sat beside me during my mother's funeral. "Which one is that?" I heard people whisper to each other. After the funeral, my brother told me that he planned to move into the family home with my father. "Someone has to take care of him, now that Mother is gone," Howard said. "We need to keep everything here, just like it is. Otherwise, Dad might get confused."

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Santa Fe Literary Review


The day I left, I found an old photograph of myself in my mother’s cedar chest. I was five years old, wearing Shirley-Temple curls, a velvet dress, and a heart-shaped locket on a gold chain around my neck. I showed the photograph to my father before I put it into my suitcase, beside my mother's obituary. "Who's that?" he asked. "It's me, Daddy,” I said, “When I was a little girl. Do you remember me when I was a little girl?" I asked. My father rubbed the top of his head. "I can't say that I do," he said. "You used to call me Tootsie," I said. "Do you remember that?" "I don't remember you at all," my father said. "You must have lived somewhere else when you were growing up."

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Classified

India Ink by Gabriel Melcher

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R&R

by Elizabeth O’Brien I am on my way to Carmel and the Pacific Coastal Route with happy memories from our few hours there in ’92. At the San Francisco airport, I rent a car and drive through mist and fog toward the Monterrey Peninsula—do you remember that horrible, mildewed motel in Monterrey, an AAA three - star? At least we found delicious bouillabaisse on the pier! Along the way, I glimpse slices of a green Pacific, feathered in foam, but most of the journey is wrapped in a soft, gray blanket of fog. I arrive in Carmel at dusk, nervous about staying alone in a hotel. Nervous, not about safety (which will surprise you, having suffered through my many bouts of anxiety), but how would I feel being alone or how would people treat me—the lone woman at the bar or breakfast or sitting in the lobby. Having been part of a pair for so long—or this past year surrounded by family or friends while traveling— I feel naked, exposed, ashamed at being alone, as if I were doing something wrong or illegal. I am no longer part of a couple—that iconic expectation nurtured by the Midwestern dogma that looks askance at single women, tsking “what is HER problem.” And besides, I miss you desperately. I am surprised when the desk clerk is genuinely engaging and welcoming, as if I were a normal guest. I look for signs of criticism or dismissal—my Charlie-Brown-I–feel-a criticism-coming-stance—but none appears. After managing to complete the details of check-in, I am shown a small room stuccoed in pale yellow. A vase of peach- colored roses rests on the night stand by a four-poster bed covered with a soft blue comforter, its pillows and bed skirt trimmed in creamy lace. A small mahogany writing table with an electrified gas lamp stands in one corner, under a leaded window that looks out onto a lushly planted courtyard. A blue brocade easy chair with inviting puffiness sits under the other window through which dawn will break. I feel an overwhelming invitation to take off my shoes, lie on the down comforter, write at the desk, read in the puffy chair, as if all this were waiting just for me. My heart rate returns to normal, and I breathe a deep sigh. I am not sure I had ever stopped moving this past year. This feels

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like the first moment of solitude in a peaceful place in which nothing is demanding an immediate decision or my time or my energy that seemed to fail so often over the last twelve months. I had to hire four people to do the legal and financial work you did as one. I apologize that I ever ever complained. This softly decorated, warm, enveloping space is empty of concerned family, friends, colleagues, lawyers’ demands, moving boxes, a house to sell, a house to buy, sorting through documents, signatures, taxes, debts, new job, teaching, obligatory travels to showers, weddings, a baptism, family reunions—all the time gnashing my teeth and periodically screaming “where the **** are you, anyway?” This past year I have felt bandaged, tightly. Yes, I have made a new home in my little red Cape cottage. I have moved forward with my work and the challenges of meeting the needs of so-called “challenged” students—ironic, when I needed a place to heal, I was called to heal instead. I have stayed engaged in my journaling groups, my teaching, Christ Church, poetry seminars, yoga retreats, time with family and friends. But I have felt a gauzy layer between me and my encounters. Sometimes the bandage cuts and I can’t breathe; I have to leave the party, or the book groups; something clogs my throat and I can’t speak; sometimes I feel so claustrophobic I am sure I am dying. But here I am now, in Carmel, CA, choosing to spend time alone on one of the most beautiful peninsulas in the world—at least my limited exposure to the world. I lie on the bed and close my eyes. I see brightly colored triangles, squares, squiggly lines pouring over and through me as if wayward pieces of myself are returning in this warm shower. Or are you sharing this moment with me from some cosmic perch, and you want to let me know? Whatever the vision is, my body relaxes so completely I almost levitate. After an hour’s rest, I venture down to the bar to see if there is any food being served. The sandy haired bartender talks and smiles as if I were not the fish that has landed unexpectedly on his dock, line and hook stuck in its mouth, but as a friendly guest having peanuts and a scotch on the rocks, 3,000 miles from home. Maybe this can be normal, I think as the bandage of pain and aloneness loosens a notch in this amazing, almost magical, place. I wake in pale gray light tinged with silver. Water drips from the hi30

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biscus in the courtyard and the eucalyptus trees that line the hill to the east of the inn. I move slowly, to match the soft fog and silvery morning. You would have been up at dawn and run up and down Ocean Avenue three times by now, but I enjoy this lingering. Breakfast is almost over so I am alone in the dining room—but I no longer feel so alone. I sink back into the soft leathered-back chair and finger the lacy tablecloth. Eggs over easy, crisp bacon, hot Sumatran coffee and ripe strawberries suddenly take on the taste and feel of ambrosia as if I had never tasted them before—as if every sense is being laundered in cool spring water. My fingertips tingle as they butter the wholegrain toast. I feel unplugged from some gigantic generator and placed softly in a cocoon—no rough edges. I walk out into a pale sun and meander through the streets of Carmel most of the day. People nod and smile at me as if there were nothing wrong with taking a walk alone—the word that had cut and strangled me for over a year suddenly seems unordinary in their eyes, and perhaps mine—at least now and in this place. The shoe salesman offers two pairs for one because “you just must hike out to Point Lobo.” The woman in the knitting shop suggests a chestnut silk yarn that “highlights your hair.” The sushi man who moved to Carmel from New Jersey laughs with me about “going down the shore.” After a long nap under the blue down comforter—missing you but knowing you probably would have been checking out the cars throughout the streets of Carmel—I walk the beach—the sky now a hazy pink, the ocean bottle green, the cold sand strewn with kelp, wet pine cones and white stones. A young boy and girl in red fleeces throw a Frisbee to a golden retriever, their laughter warming the cool December air. The Frisbee lands at my feet, so I throw it to the dog while the children shout “thanks”—this you would have particularly loved, probably getting into the game for awhile. And now I sit on the patio of Casanova’s with my chardonnay and crustini with basil pesto, the gas heater overhead warming the table, the waiter offering the special seafood risotto, topped with grilled calamari. Maybe it’s the chardonnay, but I feel like that fish on the dock, but this time carefully opened and spilling diamonds and swallowed pearls. As I savor the risotto, the full moon appears over the patio wall, so enormous it fills the slice of the eastern sky above my head. The waiter points out

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Jupiter just to the left of the moon. “Hasn’t been in this configuration since 1752 and won’t be again until 2084,” he says. “Humm. 2084— wonder what the world will be like then,” I answer. We sit staring at yellow Jupiter and the huge moon. I start to tear and for a brief moment I am sad that you are not here to share this moonlit moment the way we shared so many—in Chamonix, in the Michigan dunes, on the tree-covered patio with our evening scotch. But the sadness is fleeting. Wrapped in moonlight and sated with crème Brule, I realize with a jolt—I am happy. I am alone and I am happy. I wrap my sweater tighter against the evening chill, close my eyes, and sit awhile longer on Casanova’s patio, bathing in moonlight, hoping some of my joy is reaching you in the cosmos.

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Untitled

Artwork by E.M. Wingren

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Epidemiology by Jessica Smyser

What is on and in the people, broken down into digits on a spreadsheet. Comfort and order in these little boxes. Calculable into conclusions. Neat and tidy. This was why he loved his work. So different from the mess of life at home. Full of emotion, grappling with sweat and fear. Fisher’s exact test, commonly used when you have two nominal variables like sex or condition, could not stop his girlfriend’s tears or his neighbor’s threats to call the cops. Nothing outside of his observations fit into a model. His outcomes so unpredictable, his intern shook her head, she could not get over the results. Why would anyone prefer a capsule? A neat delivery method of unknown materials popped in the mouth,

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washed down with six ounces, of Dixie cup. When the same result could be achieved from fifty grams of dark chocolate melting on the tongue. He knew that she still embraced the romantic over the manageable. She had not yet been in love. Had not tasted the blood-filled lips of someone you could not bear to lose but could not control. He already had everything she dreamed of when he followed her back to her dorm room that night but what he dreamed of was little boxes, neat formulas known factors and percentages.

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The Great Joke by Donald Levering

Rivers of people pouring into my home— dusky rose sellers with yellow eyes, make-over artists, hustlers, whistlers, idlers, and procrastinators, girls with nestlings, boys with fire sticks, con men, coughing hypochondriacs— all familiar, none I want to claim. They keep rushing in one after another, milling and poking about, mishandling keepsakes, mocking family photographs, everything grist for their jest. Even as they deride the makings of my life, they assume it, dropping crumbs on my rugs, lounging on my sofa, mooning around in my housecoats, staring out my windows with the same vacancy I had thought mine. They drive me to leave my house. I slip out with a single suitcase. Deserted platform: a breeze lifts the litter and with it the musty smell of coming rain. Instead of my train, down the rails the jiggling lamplight and laughter of three approaching women. They are repeating a great joke, laughing so hard they stop walking and double-over.

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They keep saying it over and over, whooping and crying. Big drops of dusty rain spatter my plexiglass shelter. By the women’s shaky lamp I see them as giant birds come to take me to their nest. But they pass without a glance my way, their joke dwindling as I grow smaller.

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For the Muse with Folded Arms, Set Jaw by Janie Oakes

I courted her

bowed to nodding onions at her feet water snake wriggling in a ditch

Honored her in the dandelion's thousand seeds waiting for a gust Freed a swallowtail from her tangled hair looked for her deeply in aspen eyes Sought her in the river's watermarks on stones in the blue electric on the wings of dragonflies Listened for her in the duet of redwing blackbirds or silent does in early light It wasn't until I heard her branches rub together the creak of an old lady shifting in her chair A screen door squeaked

swung wide to let me in

I climbed into her ample lap the empty singing bowl refilled

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Hourglass

Collage by Marilyn Stablein

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Interview with Sheila O’Connor by Meg Tuite

Sheila O’Connor has had a huge impact on my writing. When I first read her novel-in-stories, Tokens of Grace, that was published in 1990, it was a revelation to read chapters that stood alone as stories and were no more than two to three pages. A compact, but fully actualized life of a family was encompassed in every chapter. I was mesmerized and read it over and over to see how O’Connor had created so much history in such a concise book. My copy was underlined, highlighted, coffee-stained, dog-eared and a few dogs and cats actually bit at its corners. In other words, it was well-loved and dissected. And now I teach a class on flash fiction and flash novels that are no longer rare. She was one of the pioneers of a whole genre that was to follow. If you haven’t read this collection, get on Amazon and order a copy. It’s an entrancing story of a family told through the oldest daughter of three. O’Connor has a gift of speaking through a child’s voice, who is left to her own devices to create her world. Where No Gods Came was published in 2004 and she has since written two young adult books, as well. –– Meg Tuite Meg: Thank you so much, Sheila, for this interview. You really were one of the first to create a whole new genre that was rarely available before 1990. What was your inspiration for these short chapters and the depth of these characters, minor as well as the main characters, Callie and her family? Sheila: The truth is I was getting my MFA in poetry at Iowa, but my drive for story was high. I wanted characters and conflict in my poems, and the poems I was writing couldn’t achieve the kind of story I longed to write. Some of the pieces in Tokens of Grace began as prose poems, and morphed into stories. I didn’t invent the genre, but I’d never seen it—so I invented it for myself. For me it was a marriage between poetry and fiction, and the fragmentation and small epiphanies mirrored the characters lives. Meg: When did you decide to get an MFA and how was that experience for you? Sheila: I was out of college for a couple of years, working an office

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job, writing on my own, when a former professor, a wonderful mentor to me, encouraged me to apply to graduate school. This was the the mid80’s when there were very few MFA programs—only a handful—and except for professors, I didn’t know a soul who’d gone to graduate school, let alone for creative writing. I’m so grateful for his guidance. I made some treasured friends during my time in Iowa City, began Tokens of Grace, worked as a poet-in-the-schools (a long-time dream)— in other words things happened there that wouldn’t have happened had I stayed home. I’m glad I went. Meg: Did you have any major influences in your writing that motivated the novels you wrote? Sheila: As a young writer, I loved Jayne Anne Phillips’ Machine Dreams—a beautifully poetic novel about an ordinary family and the way it cracks with time. It was the kind of book I dreamed of writing, and I’d still love to write. Before Machine Dreams, she had written a little book, almost a chapbook, called Sweethearts that I admired. Meg: My favorite work of Phillips’ is Black Tickets. Another book that I dissected and read again and again as I did Tokens of Grace. What inspired you to start writing young adult novels? Sheila: Well, I’d written two novels for adults with children as the protagonists, so obviously the lives of kids was dear to my heart. I’d also spent more than twenty years working with young people as a poet-inthe-schools, reading their words, hearing their stories. When I retired from that work, I began Sparrow Road as a kind of gift, a way to keep in conversation with kids when I wouldn’t be in their classrooms any longer. That was followed by a second book, Keeping Safe the Stars, so suddenly, I was working in two worlds, adult lit and kid lit, the same way I was writing poetry and fiction. I think I’ll always be a writer who moves between forms and audiences. I like the challenge. Meg: Tell us how the publishing world has changed for you in the last decade? Sheila: Oh wow, that’s a big subject. When Tokens of Grace came out there was no internet. My publisher called me one day and said, “The New York Times reviewed your book. Go pick up a copy.” I put my infant daughter in her car seat and headed for the book store. Maybe afterward I told a couple friends by phone. Now of course, everything is on line, reviews, readers’ comments, news about the book. The books

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succeed or fail in a very public way that still feels strange to me. Meg: Who are you currently reading? Sheila: I’m thinking today it would be better to ask—Who are you not reading? Tell us what books are piled up on your shelf just waiting to be read? I’ve got so many great writers sitting in the same room with me and I can’t get to their books because I’m teaching and writing, and reading the work of my MFA students, and generally trying to survive. I read. I read many hours each day, but its rare that I have time to follow my own reading desires. Books I’ve read or reread more recently and loved: The Known World, Edward P. Jones; We the Animals, Justin Torres; Miles From Nowhere, Nami Mun; Strange as This Weather Has Been, Anne Pancake; Pink Institution, Selah Saterstrom. And of course books by former students, including a stunning collection of short stories The Galaxie and Other Rides by Josie Sigler. Read that if you have time. Meg: I need to put all of these on my list. I can relate to the piles of books everywhere that I’m dying to get at. Give us a quote that helps to keep you moving forward as a writer when times are tough. Sheila: “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” Louis L’Amour Meg: That is beautiful and so, so true. What would you like to share with young writers who are just starting out? What is most important to their development as published writers? Sheila: Trust your voice. Trust your experience. Write the story that no one else can tell. Believe. Work hard. Always work hard. Meg: That advice is as good as it gets. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your time, inspiration and experience with us. And of course, very excited to have one of your chapters from Tokens of Grace in this issue, as well. Am reading Where No Gods Came and loving it! Another huge thank you for responding to a long lost fan who, while reading her tattered copy of Tokens of Grace, found you on Facebook and your gracious, exquisite being actually answered! Wow! Now, that does say a lot about how rapidly things are moving online, the part of the internet that will never cease to amaze me. Looking forward to reading all of your novels, Sheila. Thank you again, for all! For those of you who want to pick up a copy of Tokens of Grace, it is out of print, but thanks to Amazon you can get a used copy. Sheila O’Connor’s other three books are all available new and as e-books.

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The Assassination by Sheila O’Connor

The assassination happens in their sleep. In the murky light of Callie and Ryan's bedroom, they open their eyes to their mother's face hovering above their beds. Other nights have been the same. A desperate voice dragging them from dreams. Hurry up. We're leaving. Baby Tessa's head smothered in blankets so their father doesn't hear his family disappear. Their car rolling down the driveway before the key is turned. The nights of streets, her sisters huddled in the back seat, Callie up front, trying to talk their mother into going home. The old, frantic question--What would you do if you were me? Off the highway there is always a morning, and they go back to Frosted Flakes and the sun washing across the knife nicks on the breakfast table. Their father, stretched out face up, snores on the living room floor. Callie and Ryan deal out hands of Go to the Dump on his stomach. In the daylight, the nights are a secret they keep, a lie that belongs in a story. But tonight their mother does not take them from their beds; instead she covers her eyes with her robe and repeats: They have shot Bobby Kennedy. They have shot Bobby Kennedy. Callie pulls her mother into bed, smells the night skin of salt and summer. Not again, not again, her mother cries, burying her sharp wet nose in Callie's neck. A small breath rises from Tessa's crib. Quiet, Callie says. You'll wake the baby. Who is Bobby Kennedy? Callie remembers the other Kennedy killing and how the cartoons were cancelled for days because of the funeral. At kindergarten they recited The Pledge of Allegiance over and over, and Mrs. Weebush said they were living their own history. They cut out pictures from magazines, Caroline and John John next to the flag-draped casket and John John's brave salute. That salute made the whole country sorry. In Callie's baby book there is a newspaper clipping of Jackie Kennedy expecting. But who is Bobby Kennedy and why was he shot in the middle of sleep, and does he have his own family? Into the sheets her mother mumbles clues about a woman in a polka-dot dress, the woman is a piece of the mystery.

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Tonight Callie feels scared for Bobby, but she is glad they won't have to leave. Asleep, she dreams of her mother's hair, combed into a high, ratty beehive, and a polka-dot dress that follows the bones of her mother's body. A black revolver shakes in her mother's hand. There is a slam like a closed door, and her father falls without speaking. Callie opens her eyes to her own whispered, Daddy. Her mother's leg drapes across Callie's leg, hot and heavy. And Callie, pinned by the weight, understands that somewhere on a kitchen floor one man's story is ending.

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Headdress

Graphite, charcoal, digital by Gabriel Melcher

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Hidden Drives by George Longenecker

We sped past signs for Hidden Drives on the winding road between Marlboro and Heartwellville and wondered what secrets lay up those gravel ways, what compulsions and perversions hid behind the sugar maples around the next curve. There it was—the sex drive— I shifted the Mini-Cooper into second and braked fast as two bucks and a doe darted across the road. The deer darted into the maples and my Cobra tires didn’t even squeal. Hidden Drives Right, warned the sign near Howe Pond —I told you my therapy isn’t working dear, she screamed then unbuttoned her blouse and turned on more air. I grew hard and clutched for the spear or rifle I didn’t have in the back seat of the Mini but anyhow the deer were already deep into the forest and coitus is difficult in a racing Cooper. Still she grabbed me as I grabbed the shift and went into fifth. If we thought therapy had cured us, not much farther on Vermont 100 south of Heartwellville a sign taunted: Hidden Drives Left Were we driving through an allegory where turpitude or murder lay in wait beneath the sugar maples up some dark drive round the next bend, where perversions dart out like deer on a curve? Don’t stop now! I hit the gas and we rolled down windows as the October afternoon warmed. Mini-Cooper purred; we inhaled

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the fragrance of southern Vermont autumn, ignoring signs to Yield, racing around curves, oblivious of signs to Stop, tearing through intersections, heedless of signs for Hidden Drives.

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One Hundred Orgasms with Strangers by Jon Wesick

She was the Shahrazad of phone sex her words falling on the ear like wine on the palate. On nights I couldn’t sleep because there was no God I stole into her room while she made nameless men tremble through her microphone. And I would pull down her taffeta freight panties, freeing tattooed hummingbirds to drink from sacral dimples, and entering. Her body swallowed me like the Mediterranean eating an orange. When a customer cried out, I put my sex drive in park and waited for the crisis to pass. But I had to keep moving before the fear came and the razor blades of frustration cut again. You see, I have no scissors. Though I tried to quit her the casual inspiration of jealousy forced me back again and again seeking power from this broken thing as if worshipping at the Church of Upright Demons. Utah lipstick, idiot compassion hair the color of Valrhona chocolate I loved her like a traffic jam. Men’s tinny voices, our seesaw bodies car bombs of anger, face mottled with tears You cannot win wrestling with ghosts.

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Untitled

Artwork by Noah Wingren

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Opening Lines by David Tomaloff

He made a sweeping motion with his hand, pointed into the center of her malleable palm with his eyes, said, All of Summer is but a fraction and Here, I’ve saved this piece for you. What remained, now stuck to the dulcet of her skin, was a radiant orange glow—what was not lost there on the beach, or in the forgettable places where she’d slept. She imagined the traffic coming to a full stop in the city. She felt a touch of hurried water fall upon her lip. I’ll show you where the sun hides, he told her. She hadn’t the heart to tell him she’d seen this place before.

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Digging for Wasps by Mary Stone Dockery

I’ve never said this to a stranger before: it’s best to ignore sounds in a neighbor’s backyard, the rusted swing sets, ghosts on another’s doorstep. Houses smile from the front sidewalk. Work your way back and find gutters fallen, so many dead limbs bent across a lawn, like reaching arms. At night, a hum releases from cracked foundations, and in basements, black mold spreads its spackled tongue. Keep walking when you find children under porches feeding on wasp nests, fathers with guns, mothers sewing fences within fences. No matter how hard you stop and look, how much water you find in the lungs of a newborn, there is only the nest. There is only so much sifting. Only twigs and sand.

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Good Neighbor by Jack Cooper

He was a motor driven guy with an Evinrude 88 torn apart in the drive, Kawasaki three wheelers parked on the lawn, and an old Harley tuned up in the garage for a tour up the coast in his leathers, his woman with arms around his authoritative back, her purple hair flying like a foreign flag in the wind. He was a builder of houses by trade, a cutter and a digger, a hammering, drilling, grinding, sawing, sanding kinda guy who went to work wearing Levis and a bandana in a Ford truck with a dog, and a good neighbor who fixed broken sprinklers, trimmed trees and once lifted our big ol’ grandpa from floor to bed in one swift move. I never thought.... I was so busy admiring his authenticity, his Thoreauness, his male solidarity that I never once thought to ask if he himself needed any help, even after the economy hit the wall, after his house went up for short sale, after his woman left and he had to let his bike go. I never thought to ask until the day after he hung himself with enough three-stranded polypropylene rope to tow a barge.

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Good Help is Hard to Find by Michael Gillan Maxwell

Some of them are notorious tweakers. Nobody epitomizes the cowboy-outlaw biker more than the ironworkers, who are wired on Black Beauties they sell on breaks. Bulldozers rumble over loose red soil, kicking up dust and spewing acrid exhaust. Machinery clamors and clanks in pandemonium. Heavy metal blasts from a boom box with such fury that it overpowers the machine gun roar of jackhammers. The ironworkers sing along at the top of their lungs as they climb the latticework, and Dave leans on his shovel, staring in disbelief at the pink slip in his hand.

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Ring A Round Graphite by Gabriel Melcher 54

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In This New Universe by Michael G. Smith

Albuquerque, NM The yellow sign declares Universe Closed Use Rainbow Extant before this sign could be erected, the old universe feigns emptiness. Not so here in this new universe, our nights punctuated by bits of light and planets, some ringed, all believed to be blemished. We rove on two, trap beaver and mosquitos on one, search for a breed of glass migrating warblers won’t fly into. Our malfunctions just glitches, we dream parties party nonstop somewhere, grills flaring with dripping steer fat,

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electrons and dinosaurs consumed as if endless, no one yet thinking how to tell the inhabitants of the next universe to emblazon our sign with rainbows and gold.

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Now That There’s Water on the Moon by Behzad Dayeny

Let’s till the bright side of the moon Plant red roses in thousands of rows So on every Fourteenth night We can see the full moon blush When the craters on the moon Fill with water we can go Moonbathing under Earthlight You can take me for a Moon-Walk In Lune dessert at high noon Picnic at the oasis Under Lunar-nut palm trees Or go for an evening stroll Along the banks of Moon River To watch the natives Moonfishing And …. A thousand years from now When we have sky scrapers Lunar warming and pollution Super advanced technology And…of course… democracy The moon people (the Moonlings) Camping on the crater beaches Will look up at the cheese colored Earth And ask one another laughing “You think there is life on Earth?”

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I Am Ready to Make Contact by Paul Freidinger

I am a disciple of all dimensions. I follow the lines in my palm into darkness. I eat the night with my bare hands. I put all of the stars in a row, like dominoes. With my eyes closed, I salsa-dance with the moon. Before dawn, I take a chance and compose three wishes. When the grass swishes in the wind, the windows rattle with dread. The dead speak to me as a confidante; out of loyalty I don’t repeat their secrets. I am in love with black ink, the exclusive drink of the poem. I whisper prayers like recorded messages to aliens, carried on satellites sent to make contact. I listen with a clear mind and quiet heart— I am ready to make contact

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Grafitti in TLV #1

Photograph by Isabel Winson-Sagan

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Alien Fiesta by Sharon Guerrero

Fade in Int./Ext. convertible car - New Mexico - early afternoon Cheryl Adams, a twenty-something blond woman drives fast down a rural road. Jason Doyle, a thirty-something handsome well-built man sits next to her. Their recent model convertible displays Connecticut license plates. The radio features two local disc jockeys, Blake and Brad. Blake (OS) Hey guys, can you believe it... another flying saucer has been spotted... Brad (OS) ... And someone reported the Taos hum was so loud he couldn’t sleep last night. Blake (OS) Brad... aliens and green chili are New Mexico’s hottest items these days... Cheryl reaches to change the channel. Jason Flying saucers, it’s like... an interesting phenomenon in New Mexico, hon. Cheryl shows her disinterest, pushing down on the gas pedal. She lays tracks as Jason holds tight to the door handle. Cheryl Jason, don’t forget that I’ve got to catch that plane today... Jason stares straight ahead, his jaw set.

Ext. rural New Mexico - continuous Cheryl and Jason walk up to a prefabricated cabin style home. The heat 60

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rises up and the wind blows dust into the couples eyes as they knock on the door. Maury Santiago, a fifty-something Hispanic male answers in his undershirt and shorts. His hair stands on end, a butt of a cigarette hangs from his mouth as he clutches a beer can. Maury Hey... come on in guys. How ’bout a beer? It’s damn hot out there. Jason signals he’s interested but Cheryl puts him off. Cheryl frowns as she looks around the messy cabin. Beer cans, uneaten food and clothing litter the surfaces. Jason Uh..Maury, we’re excited about the casita and we’d love to move in as soon as possible... Maury ... I guess you want the keys? I have to look for them, have a seat. This might take awhile. Cheryl displays her disgust by side-stepping the trash. A gun rack is visible on the back wall filled with rifles. While Maury hunts for the keys, Cheryl motions Jason aside. She jerks her head toward the gun rack. Cheryl What do you think Mr. Santiago is doing with all those guns? Jason shrugs. Jason Babe, I don’t know... this is the wild west. People still shoot their dinner out here. Cheryl’s face screws up like she just ate something vile. Cheryl You can’t mean...

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Jason ... now don’t judge, these people are living off the land. Jason raises his voice to address Maury. Jason Isn’t that true, Maury? Maury looks up clueless. Maury What’s that, kids? Jason I was just explaining to Cheryl that you use those guns for hunting... I mean because you need to kill for food. Maury swings around toward the gun rack and winks. Maury Oh those... keep ’em just in case. (beat) You know, store bought food is a luxury here...along with indoor plumbing and heat. Jason and Cheryl give each other a shocked look as Maury digs under a pile of clothes and pulls out the keys. Score!

Maury

Jason signs a check and hands it to Maury and takes the keys. Jason Thanks Maury. Cheryl’s booked on a flight today but we’d like to get over to the casita before she leaves. The couple quickly exit the cabin to their convertible.

Ext. casita - mid afternoon Cheryl and Jason drive up to the casita and park. As they walk up to the door people are strewn all over the yard in various stages of drunkenness and undress, everything trashed. Cheryl grabs Jason’s arm wild eyed on

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the way to the door. Loud music blares from the house. They watch speechless at a crowd of people dancing, drinking and partying through the open windows. The door swings open and a beer bottle sails past their heads and crashes at their feet. Marta, a beautiful foreign-looking woman stands in the doorway wearing a see-through top and short shorts. She holds a drink in her hand and appears slightly drunk. Marta eyes Jason with a come-hither look ignoring Cheryl. Marta Heeeyyy... look at you. Snapping out of her stupor, Cheryl tries to push her way into the casita. Cheryl This is my house... Marta ... and you’re in my way, bitch. Marta blocking Cheryl, points a red painted finger at Jason. Marta This fine piece of beefsteak is smokin’. I gotta get a taste before he cools off. Smacking her painted red lips she turns and yells at no one in particular. Marta Someone get me the steak sauce, pronto. With lightening speed Marta grabs Jason and pulls him into the house and slams the door. Cheryl screams, pounds and kicks at the door. The party continues full blast, no sign of Jason or Marta.

Ext. Maury’s cabin - late afternoon Cheryl stomps up the path to Maury’s place. Standing by his truck,

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Maury pours gas into the tank with a lit cigarette hanging from his lips. Maury Woman, where you goin’? Cheryl screams, her head moving from side to side. Cheryl I’m getting one of those rifles. Maury stares, immobile. Maury You’re not makin’ any sense... Cheryl ... They’ve trashed my casita... Maury, stupefied, soon realizes what’s happening. Maury Oh shit. He lurches into the house, Cheryl follows. Maury and Cheryl emerge toting rifles with a vengeance. Maury This is the last straw...I’ve had it with those God damned aliens... Halfway into the driver’s seat of her car, Cheryl snaps her head toward Maury. Cheryl Aliens... Are you fucking for real? Maury jumps in beside her urging her to drive. Cheryl fishtails as she guns the motor speeding down the lonely road.

Ext. casita - continuous The convertible approaches the casita. Cheryl parks and jumps out with her rifle at the ready. Maury trails behind, stalking the yard. The yard and house show no signs of the wild party witnessed by Cheryl

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only a half hour before. Not a person in sight. The couple approach the door and Maury kicks it open revealing a house so clean that you could eat off the floors. Maury What the... They did it again. Moans come from the back. Cheryl investigates, finding Jason laying on the ground, his clothes in shreds, lipstick all over his face, he reeks of alcohol. She throws her rifle down and leaves in a huff. Fade out

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Alien Interview by Steven Ramirez

Do you believe that we are currently being visited by intelligent beings from other planets? When I was ten years old my friend Oscar and I rigged a Styrofoam cereal bowl to some fishing line. We cast our clumsy flying saucer from a rooftop and as it wobbled this way and that, snapped pictures with a Polaroid camera. We raced to my house and showed the evidence to my family, screaming, “We are not alone! We are not alone!” My mother smacked me for being mentidoso. My father laughed that the only aliens around here are waiting outside the Home Depot. That evening, when Oscar’s mom came to pick him up, she took one look at the pictures and gasped. She’d never seen a real U.F.O. before. “Relax, Mom,” said Oscar. “It’s just a stupid cereal bowl.” Given that the nearest star system within our Milky Way galaxy is 30 trillion miles away, what kind of technology must these travelers use to cover such vast distances in such a short amount of time? One evening Oscar and I decided to skip another 8th grade dance and watch Dinosaur Island for the twelfth time, a ridiculous skin flick about a tribe of busty women at war with a lost species of monster reptiles. His mom eventually shut off the movie. She promised us a tribe of real women not too far away, waiting to do the Macarena with us. And so in her ancient car, we sped through stop signs and intersections and even jumped a few curbs. We zoomed down an especially steep hill and I felt a strange sensation in my crotch, not unlike a thousand pins and needles. I could tell Oscar felt it, too, and we pressed upon our laps with the palms of our hands, doing our best to stay in the shadows of the backseat until his mom adjusted the rearview mirror and laughed at us. “That’s the blood rushing to your scrotums,” she said. “It’s a very normal and funny thing. Haven’t you ever been on a rollercoaster?” 66

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Sure we had. But at the dance that night, as I held onto different girls for dear life, I thought about other normal things that could be so funny. I still praise and curse our beautiful, hell-bent pilot for introducing me to this mode of travel. Stephen Hawking recently stated that if extraterrestrials do exist, we have every reason to consider them extremely hostile. Do you fear the swift and imminent annihilation of the human race? There’s a right and wrong way to tell an invasion story. Take the 1953 film War of the Worlds, for example, where Earth is caught off guard by an army of Martians determined to destroy all humans so that they may have this fertile planet to themselves. Not the happiest outcome for us, but goddammit if it doesn’t make sense. Or if you want to get microbial about it, take Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the story of a million freaky seeds floating through space, wriggling their way into our biological systems and making prisoners of us all, trapped within our own failing bodies. Again, sucks for us, but if we can maintain some amount of objectivity we might understand that these invaders—the creepy assholes that they are—want the same thing as any other pathetic collection of cells. Survival. The oldest story in the book. Did you know the human body harbors a 10:1 ratio of bacterial to human cells, a symbiotic relationship, and perhaps God’s million-year-old answer to the question, Can’t we all just get along? I was in college when my mother phoned to inform me about Estelle, a name that didn’t click until she asked if I’d spoken to Oscar yet. “You should call him,” she said. “This is scary news. His mom is being invaded by kamikaze alien pilots interested not in survival, only conquest.” Okay. So she didn’t say that last part. But cancer, you see, is the worst invasion story out there. That greedy little wad of primordial slime. That invader from Planet You, breaking all the rules, chewing and chewing away at its own damn tail until there’s nothing left, not even Santa Fe Literary Review

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the cancer itself. And if that’s not the stupidest, most illogical, most poorly devised brand of invasion out there, then fuck if I know what is. In 1977 NASA sent into space a gold-plated record containing, among other things, the sounds of birds, whales, and music ranging from Beethoven to Chuck Berry. If you could add one thing to this cosmic entertainment system, what would it be? After hanging up with my mother, I didn’t call Oscar that night. Or any night after that. That’s not to say I wasn’t constantly thinking about my friend, my former partner in all things paranormal and parahilarious. I just wasn’t sure how he’d respond to my recent fantasies of his mom, of Estelle, scantily clad in animal skin, her breasts ballooned under a hot island sun, directed like two middle fingers at the hungry reptile monster roaring before her in all its Claymation glory. “Dude, does my mom’s disease turn you on?” “No! You’re missing the metaphor. I’m saying all will be normal on Dinosaur Island. We’re going to laugh about this someday.” “I guess. Hey, my grandma’s got hemorrhoids. Can she be on your island, too?” Throughout history, credible witnesses have reported establishing communication with extraterrestrials via telepathy. Do you consider language Man’s greatest accomplishment, or most glaring blunder? Of course I flew in for the funeral, which took place at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in El Paso, Texas. The place was packed—some people I knew, most I did not—and I’m ashamed to admit it was the first time I considered the possibility of Estelle existing beyond a couple of amateur ufologists. Oscar’s older sister delivered a eulogy in English, then Spanish. I can’t say which I understood less. Mostly because I wasn’t listening. Mostly because I was staring ten or twelve pews up, into the back of my friend’s head. His hair, I noticed, was freshly trimmed. His neckline squared off. I wondered why, in all the books and movies, aliens were never depicted with hair. Is there an inverse relationship between active 68

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follicles and efficient interplanetary travel? The next day Oscar sent an email to me and a few other friends who’d flown in for the funeral. He wanted to thank us, treat us to dinner before we left again. So we met at an Olive Garden. Or maybe Red Lobster. I don’t know. The point is if I were writing this story it would have been me inviting Oscar to dinner, and no one else. And over never-ending breadsticks, I would’ve reminded him about the time we faked a photo of a U.F.O. using fishing line and a Styrofoam bowl. I’d ask him if he thought Estelle really believed it to be authentic. “She was so impressed,” I’d say. “I mean, maybe she was just being nice, but her jaw dropped to the floor. Remember?” “Not really.” “You don’t remember that?” “I already told you. But it doesn’t surprise me. She always believed in that sort of crap.” Instead, when our small and nervous group wasn’t talking about college and jobs and trumped up sex lives, we stared into our menus. The most grownup thing I could do was order a dirty vodka martini, straight up, two blue cheese stuffed olives if you got them. Our waiter’s name was E.J. E.J. looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. If the belief in an ongoing relationship between Earthlings and extraterrestrials became established as a capital-r Religion (tax purposes), would you be more or less inclined to embrace the theory? I’m becoming less and less of a good traveler, and my return flight was an especially turbulent one. I shut my eyes and gripped both armrests. I imagined a couple of stupid kids gazing up at the sky and mistaking our battered plane for an E.T. mothership. The truth is, airplanes crash sometimes. Engines malfunction. Systems fail. But if there’s any hard evidence of a downed alien craft then, brother, I’d like to see it.

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Grafitti in TLV #2 Photograph by Isabel Winson-Sagan 70

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Tea Room Tales

(Or how not to behave in an English Tearoom) Excerpt

by Jessica Homeyer Everyone has a unique place they visit with someone special growing up. Mine was a quaint tea house decorated like an English cottage on the outside and filled with quintessential trinkets of English taste where my mom and I would go to spend some special mother-daughter moments together. Located in the middle of the downtown social life of Salem, Oregon, it felt like an English resort in a sense, equipped even with the spontaneous splatter of rain that provoked an occasional scowl from those who had counted on their afternoon teatime to be spotless and beautiful. From the moment you left the busy city street and turned into the parking lot, it was like you were transported to another country, back to an untouched moment in time. Parking the car in the gravel parking lot, we passed a small manicured flower garden. In the center stood the tall, elegant sign of the teahouse, formally and officially welcoming us in for a time of special, pleasant fellowship. Several attempts were made to enter the cottage, but it was not until we saw the “Pull” sign above the handle that we had success. We walked through two sets of doors one would expect to find at a local grocery store, the second of which had a sign that read “Silence Your Cell Phones” in large print, and were immediately greeted by an array of merchandise imported from England and arranged in a way that kept the onlooker moving through each nook and cranny to see what treasures might be hiding amongst the shelves. The moment we were inside, a bell above the door summoned a seating hostess from where she had been organizing merchandise on a shelf. We gave her our name and she hurried off to prepare a table for us. We were in no hurry, and leisurely roamed about the gift shop as we made our way back to the room sectioned off for dining. As we waited, I examined and admired the trinkets of English culture that had been assembled. I passed a corner full of beautiful porcelain dolls who were Santa Fe Literary Review

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dressed in their best. Some looked at me excitedly, hoping to be taken home, others appeared to be as bored as could be, sitting on their fancy, uncomfortable whicker chairs, obviously detesting the fact they had to wear that dress, sit in that chair, or simply that no little girl had come to take them home yet. To my seven-year-old heart, there was hardly a more perfect place to be than this unusual, adorable, and culturally appealing setting. I could sit for hours examining their exquisite detail and try to discover what type of personality each refined doll had. For the time being, however, I carried on, knowing I did not have that much time. Next to the dolls was a large cupboard full of cloth, pictures, and baskets. Leaning against the door sat a stuffed Paddington Bear, smiling happily at me as I passed by. I turned a corner full of paintings which captured moments in English gardens, city streets, and lone country lanes. The next wall contained aisles of dish ware, teapots, clothes and eventually a section outside the tea room that sold pies and cakes. Here we rested on a bench and waited to be seated. Beside the entrance into the tea room, on a thin silver stand that no more fit with the setting than tea cakes with coffee, stood another sign bidding all who entered to “please silence their cell phones at that time.” It was not long before the seating hostess returned and informed us our table was prepared. ******** Nearing the end of our meal, our waitress offered an array of desserts for us to choose from; many of which were located just outside the dining room in a case. “We have lemon pies, coconut cake, double chocolate fudge cake to name a few. Are there any that interested you in particular?” “Hmm, those are difficult to choose from.” Mom replied, chewing her lip in thought. “I’d like some coconut cake.” I answered while she thought. “Alright, I’m going to do it.” Mom stated with a hint of defiance in her voice. She laughed as she glanced up at waitress. “Could I try your double chocolate fudge cake, please?” “Of course. I’ll have those right out.” She took our dessert menus 72

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and was gone in a moment. “Oh, boy! This’ll be fun!” Mom looked at me and smiled. “I can hardly wait!” Fortunately we did not have to wait terribly long, and when our desserts arrived, utter excitement overwhelmed her momentarily and a squeal escaped her. Then in response of the size of the portions, “Oh! I don’t think I’ll be able to eat all of this!” It was true, the one slice of cake did appear capable of feeding a group of two to four, and my piece was no different. I was lucky to eat the one-third portion of my own cake, without thinking of attempting to assist with her’s. One would think such a proper and elegant English tea room would serve more petite slices of sweets, but perhaps it was the affect being in America had bestowed upon the mindsets of the owners. I recall the fluffy, heavenly goodness of the cake as it collapsed in my mouth. And the sweet vanilla frosting with coconut shards that crunched ever-so slightly and delectably. It was an amazingly sweet sensation. The chocolate cake, while Mom loved it, I found too thick with an overpowering sense of dark chocolate. It left an undesired taste of semi-sweet darkness in my mouth I detested. Even though the cake was wonderful, my favorite sweets to eat were the Walkers shortbread cookies. They were so delicious, we would often buy a box of them to take home and enjoy at our own tea parties. They came in an array of shapes, which made the meal even more enjoyable. At this time, I received several rectangular cookies, while my mom enjoyed circular cookies that to an extent resembled a sun with sections of the cookie pressed out in a sense like the sun’s rays. While there were countless ways to enjoy this delicacy, my favorite was to dunk them in tea for an average of five seconds and let it dissolve in my mouth. Any less time, and it would still be too hard to eat. Any longer and I ran the risk of having the cookie break and fall into the teacup, thus needing to be rescued by a spoon before its demise as a crumbled heap. Although I did enjoy cookies and tea, nowhere on the menu was there an advertisement for shortbread stew. ******** Nearby, a couple who appeared to be in their twenties or thirties were escorted to their table and the manager’s daughter came out to Santa Fe Literary Review

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serve them. “Welcome to the Tudor Rose. My name is Matilda, and I’ll be your server. What can I start you off with?” She sounded decent enough, although there was a slight edge to her voice. The couple place their order in a pleasant enough tone and she went to the kitchen to fill it. Unfortunately upon her return with their food, something seemed to be amiss. “Excuse me,” the young man called, “I didn’t get what I ordered.” The waitress peered down at the table, then up at the couple, then back at the table. Without any warning, we could hear her bellow, “Well, what do you want me to do about it? If you haven’t noticed, I have a lot more customers I need to serve.” “I just want what I ordered.” The young man said, his shock blatantly evident. “I don’t have time for this! I have too many other customers to take care of for you to be so nit-picky.” “Fine, then we won’t leave you a tip and tell the manager the service was unsatisfactory.” Anger built in the man’s voice. The waitress threw up her hands and with an air of injured dignity retorted, “I can’t believe I had to come out and serve people as ungrateful and who possess such outrageous standards and expectations of others! I’m trying to serve you, the least you can do is appreciate the time and effort I’m putting into this job!” “What effort? You haven’t brought my order correctly! I just want what I asked for.” The waitress rolled her eyes and impatiently stormed off, leaving the young couple staring at each other in disbelief and amazement. Returning to their tea, they attempted to finish their meal with restrained anger and poised politeness, however, when they reached the checkout counter at the end of their visit, one could describe the moment only as a manager’s worst nightmare. “We’re not paying this bill!” The man spat out angrily. “The service was deplorable!” “What exactly was wrong?” The owner asked calmly, maintaining a professional attitude, although I could tell he was slightly annoyed and confused by this unexpected, yet not unseen situation. “She made it clear we weren’t worth serving by refusing to bring us 74

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what we ordered! You know, a place could close down because of this kind of service!” “I understand, and I’m terribly sorry the service was unsatisfactory. We’re lowering your bill to accommodate for the service flaw. Again, please accept my deepest apologies.” “It’s not your apology we want, it’s hers!” The young lady snapped. “Yes, I see, she’ll be out momentarily.” He hurried off to get his daughter. The couple stood a little straighter with slightly smug expressions. These drained away quickly, however, when the owner had expressed the issue they had with her service. Standing behind them in line, it felt like an inescapable battle between opposing forces, each determined to be the champion. “This couple says you did not serve them well, is that true?” The girl cut her eyes at the customers. “I did everything I could for them. Their demands were unreasonable. They were asking for things we couldn’t offer them.” “We were asking for our food and reliable service. Now we know this isn’t the place to come for either. We’ll never come here again!” “Fine!” the daughter exploded. “We don’t need your charity!” “Fine!” The couple stormed out of the tea house and the owner turned and said some sharp words to his daughter. Needless to say, we never saw her on the floor again. When he finished, and she had returned to the back, he turned to us and attempted to regain his professional composure. We empathized with him, aware of the embarrassment he must have been feeling and hung back from the counter a ways, slowly inching our way forward. Seeing us patiently anticipating our turn, he smiled. “Are you all ready to check out?’ he inquired pleasantly. “We are.” Mom answered, pulling out the money as she spoke. “Was everything satisfactory?” There was a kind, yet slightly anxious quality about his tone that dwindled when my mom assured him our meal and experience was as wonderful as always. “Fantastic! I’m glad you enjoyed it.” He pulled out the receipt for the meal and handed it to Mom who in turn rolled it up and stuck it in her wallet. We thanked him once again for the service and made our way towards the door. Santa Fe Literary Review

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I walked back by the Winnie-the-Pooh merchandise, marveling over how much smaller the depiction of this lovable bear in this culture was in comparison to the American reproduction. I passed by the fancy dish ware that drew me into the places and scenes they portrayed. Once again moving along the tiles beside elegant, crisp, vibrant and subdued moments in time, forever captured in stills for all to enjoy. I ventured further down the aisle where I was reacquainted with Paddington Bear. He remained in the spot I saw him in earlier, only this time he appeared more relaxed as he sat in a sort of lounging position, with his arm resting on the shelf beside him, his paw dangling over the edge in a casual manner. He smiled up at me as if to tell me he had had the most exciting day where he got to meet and visit with many people. I smiled back at him, disappointed that I could not bring him home with me. I said farewell to him and drifted to the end of the hall where the porcelain dolls still stood or sat as proud, hopeful or bored as ever. Some glared at me with a fire in their eyes that confirmed my suspicions they would never feel welcome in my room, needless to say how my other dolls would take to them and the sour attitudes they would disrupt the household peace with. Others remained as sweet and gracious as ever; staring up at me with eyes that let me know they would be very compliant with the other girls if I would only give them a chance. I sighed as I was called away, wishing I could have them to be sisters or friends to my own dolls. Before I could get too broken-hearted over not having one to take home, I tore myself away from the display and followed my mom out the front doors, which were amazingly easier to navigate from this angle, got in the car and we drove away. Not long after that visit, the tea room was torn down. I hated to see the dear place go, but Northwest Realty insists you can’t stand in the way of progress, and, in a sense, I suppose progress has its virtues. Today there is an up-to-date, technologically sound, business tower in its place. It stands there like a professional monument to a new era I don’t want to think about. All that’s left of that quaint little tea room is what is preserved in my memory, and there it will always have a home. Looking back on it now, I suppose I would say the tea room was an acquired taste; and I loved it.

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Man in a Wal-Mart Parking Lot by John Brandi

He’s sitting in the passenger seat of their Country Squire while his wife unloads a shopping cart into the rear hatch. His eyes are fixed on me with a dirty look because I’ve just looked over at him with a kind of comic despair from the passenger seat of our Subaru, unable to get out because his wife has left her door open against mine while she deals with the groceries while my wife stands waiting for me. “You got something wrong?” “Just waiting,” I say, shrugging my shoulders. “Looks like you got something wrong. You get outta there and I’ll show you something wrong.” His wife returns to the driver’s seat and tries to calm him while I get out. But he’s already opened his door and is hoisting his big bulk of a body up, his face turning red while my wife says, “John, please, let’s go—“ The man is in a ferocious rage, but he can’t come after me because he’s only got one leg. And he’s pointing at it, his finger shaking madly. “You see that, buddy. I’ll show you something wrong. I’ll show you what I did for this country.” I get the point, but can’t help making my point, which seems to be what men of little enlightenment do—especially those who went or stayed during the Vietnam War. And I am ashamed of this, that his fury

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has become mine, that I can’t hold my tongue, that I have to tell him what I didn’t do for this country. And so I have provoked him more— and provoked myself, too. Now everyone in the parking lot is looking at these two men, and when his wife finally calms him back into his seat and reaches across his lap to pull closed the heavy door, my wife takes me by the arm and hurries me into the store. And we both know this is America, this is how soldiers come home, war after war, this is what this country is filling with, the idea of loss, the pent-in fury, what can’t be won, the way a wedge has been slammed down the seams of society, how the man could have had a gun and pulled it from the glove compartment. How this is America, how this is routine.

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Kevin’s Storm

Oil on panel by Coulter Prehm

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Everything is Broken by Alex Pruteanu

It takes Dylan crowing in the brain to cheer me up in an electrical storm with no lights and only three green Mickeys left out of a twelve pack. You better drink up quick brother, else they'll get warm in the Florida August night. Everyone is gone. The kids. The wife. Their ghosts. They took their shit quickly and left out the front door, leaving behind moth holes in winter coats and cigarette butts. The sink spews water with sediment. The pumps are not working. The fans are not working. The stove. The lights. The everything. You better drink up quick brother. Piss warm beer is a sin. Nights are the worst. And nights blacked out by electrical storms are below even that. Holes. Cicadas. The smell of insect repellent being pumped out of stealthy airplanes over this peninsula at midnight. The voices come out, the succubi, the laughter. My skin hurts from all of it. Someone is running a TV off a generator. The ice inside the freezer pops. Again. Sirens cut the thick air. There is sediment in my head. Nothing works right. The women. The jobs. The no jobs. The dogs. There is no city here to even laugh at you. Just an immense sea of red roofed sprawl with decrepit men rocking on lazy boys and dying inside, swinging golf clubs in meek, mortal protest. How'm I gonna charge my phone? And then one by one: first the stoplights outside, streetlights, private homes slowly illuminated, fumbling down the block. You can see it coming. And then mine. Everything is up again. The fridge cranks. The air cranks. The fans. Television. The small transistor radio gives weather updates. We're back. Like that, we're all back. That night I dream of the cat with bursting kidneys I buried in the

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back yard during the hurricane. She digs herself out and licks her paws of black, soft earth. She runs after a palmetto bug and squashes it under its tremendous weight. The insect cracks, as if it has an exoskeleton. And then I see my son taking a bullet in the front teeth. It goes through clean, and out the back of his head. He smiles and blood rushes out of his mouth. Falls. Gets up again, like when he was a toddler. Falls... ...into the snow and I am running around a statue of a famous Hungarian poet in a park just outside the Prague opera house. I am four. A German couple stops. Snaps a Polaroid. Gives me the photo. It's my son, in goal, stopping a shot from thirty yards. His teeth are intact, white, clean. They are not broken. Nothing works.

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Untitled

Tattoo by Coulter Prehm 82

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Untitled

Tattoo by Coulter Prehm Santa Fe Literary Review

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The Paripatetic Man at the Library by David Parlato

I first spot him gesticulating by the dumpster just off the main public library parking lot downtown. He leans his elbows on the edge of the dumpster as if it is a balcony and he is giving a speech. At times, to engage his audience more effectively with the inherent power of his well reasoned arguments, he walks from behind the dumpster, his balcony, first to one side, then the other. His lips move. He smokes and appears to be listening to something in his earbuds. There's a certain confidence in his bearing, how he moves, holds himself, that belies his appearance. His clothes are torn, soiled, and he is unshaven. His hair, light and wispy, transparent even, stands out from his head as if under the influence of some mysterious electromagnetic field. A few days later, I see him again. This time, he paces up and down the sidewalk that borders the south side of the library. He is relaxed, unhurried, yet somehow intense, sure of himself. Again, he smokes, talks to himself, wears earbuds, gestures with hands and arms, making this point, then that one. Now I ask myself: “Does this man really exist? Or does he exist only in my imagination?" When I see him, I look around to see if other people see him. I think others can see him. But maybe their brains filter out having seen him. I go to the library at least three times a week to do research for a book I'm writing. I'm attempting to select the ten most influential speeches, delivered by presidents, in the history of the United States. My current short list includes Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. If available, I listen to recordings of the speeches. I even memorize lines that I feel are particularly powerful. I've been working on this book ever since I returned from the war in Vietnam. Two weeks later, as I walk to the library, smoking a cigarette, listening to the news with earbuds, arguing with myself, waving hands and arms, I turn my head to the side, and there, reflected in the glass of a

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storefront window, I see an unshaven man dressed in torn and soiled clothes. His hair, light and wispy, transparent even, stands out from his head as if under the influence of some mysterious electromagnetic field. Looking straight ahead, I accelerate my walking tempo. I'm a little behind schedule and I don't want to keep my audience waiting.

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Buffalo Bill’s Defunct by Stephen Malin

as mister cummings pointed out but without mentioning the terms of bill’s transition which began with word from his doctor that he needed to alter his diet to one of mush and milk thus assuring him of lasting longer thus causing bill to snort that it would cursed certain seem longer and removing him a short distance to the saloon across the street where he ordered up a buffalo steak and a bottle of whiskey demolished both in an hour and himself in a few more and was I trust content with the trade getting a few hours burnout in red flame cramps and goddammits in exchange for escaping a pale procession of mornings of milksop and months of all day greys be seein ya bill

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Script

by K.A. McGowan Once I find my true north I’ll be okay, she says, the Ritalin talking again, and I’m thinking paper clips and plastic compass in a crackerjack box. I’m thinking narcotics anonymous, community coffee in styrofoam cups, thirty satsumas stacked like a pyramid. The last time she disappeared for two months. Reports of madness browsing the French market in black curls and a green knit cap. Back on the grid, she called me six times in the span of a car wreck. So many moments we missed out on love, her head lost in a bad neighborhood.

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Why Raindrops Don’t Kill Mosquitoes (for my first daughter)

by Michael Blaine Listen. Life has evolved to live on a planet inundated with fluids. Like when a raindrop hits a mosquito, they join together for a moment before little wings, which act like tiny kites, pull it out of the drop. Imagine how tough life would be if raindrops weighed 3 tons apiece as they fell out of the sky. That’s how raindrops look to a mosquito. Yet a raindrop can hit the insect and it will survive. To them it’s like getting hit with a feather. And most of them fly away as if nothing happened. But if they don’t peel off in time, or they fly close to the ground they get crushed. And that’s what happens to mosquitoes or little girls, holding fast to first boyfriends, waiting for wings to pull them free.

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What We Have Grown by Ann Hunkins

I think of my father, rowing against the current in the St. Lawrence Seaway as a child. I think of my grandfather, who didn’t rescue him, and my grandmother, who was busy making hot cocoa under the pines, head down. I think how a war was created: four rivers, three mountain ranges, a high pass, some children, a few police. For the war I brought a blue vest, the memory of a white rose, a notebook, two pens, a VHS radio. I was growing something large in place of a baby, in place of the baby born two hours before the battle, in place of the baby torn apart by the helicopter bomb. I had a handful of condolences, an extra language, a lack of identity. Jupiter and Venus rise over a lake one morning and I think of my aging father, lost in a men’s room on the Thruway. I think of my grandfather, all the grandfathers who said nothing, who did not save their sons, who said nothing except when they couldn’t be interrupted at dinner. I think of all the things we have grown instead of babies, instead of pine trees, instead of joy.

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Be Careful

by Charles Harper Webb Hold my hand tight when we cross the street. Don't reach in holes, or step on sticks that glide. Don't pick up spiders you happen to find. Give bees some room. Step gingerly into the bathtub; like life, it's slippery. Steer clear of strangers and their cars. Brakes may fail; drivers, desire what they see. Beware of swimming pools. Lungs can't breathe even the brightest blue. The sparkling that feels so cool on a hot day can't carry you. Avoid electric sockets and bouncing on beds. (You'll fry your fingers, crack your head.) Be cautious with crayons and paints. Don't pour juice on the couch or in the VCR. Don't guzzle; sip. Don't play dodge-ball with a brick. Hit only baseballs with your baseball bat. Lacking the instinct that makes turtles slam shell-doors (don't jab curious fingers in there), you could Superman off your slide, and never feel your legs again; you could de-rail the choo-choo chuffing toward adulthood, and stay three-years-old until you die. "Please be careful," Mom cried every day as I climbed on my bike and pumped to school, every day more full of care.

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The Bitter Light of the Single Bulb by James Claffey

I don't know how she got there from the graveyard, but there was a bumping and a rattling in the boot of the car on the way home. The bones awake at night and my heart flutters—a guttering candle on the bedside table protects me from all evil. Running the gauntlet to the toilet at night means finding a way past the loose boards and the possibility of being caught and dragged under like a drowning victim. No lifeguard stands sentinel on the landing, only the bitter light of the single bulb— 40watt—flat shadows cast to the walls. We’ve lived in the house for ages. Ever since the Old Man had to leave his old hometown behind. He often speaks of missing the landscape of the midlands, the wide spaces of the Bog of Allen and the giant turfcutting machines, the magic hills where at night faeries come out to cause mischief and dance in the moonlight, and the whitewashed cottages and houses of the town with their meticulously-kept windows. When his health slowly deteriorates, fingers curled from the arthritis despite the ancient potato in his pocket to ward off such maladies, my parents decide to sell the house, to downsize, and move closer to the country, closer to the stark graveyard on the hillside in Horseleap. When the house sells, the next-door cat pees all over the couch in the sitting room, proof positive of the unsettled nature of felines. We spend days cleaning floors, soaping walls, removing the grease of tenthousand fried breakfasts, and in our feverish state we ignore the increasingly hostile sounds from under the upstairs' floorboards. The moving truck bulges with headboards and mattresses, dining tables and mahogany chairs, grandfather clocks and knick knacks, and when the buzzer sounds to lift the last load to the truck, we stand in the stripped-naked house and the memories wash over us like flowing silk sheets. The tinkers come for what is left behind—broken chairs bore teethmarks, the foot of the piano stool that rocks precariously, and other banjaxed items—and they take them away on their horse and cart. The ancient horse struggles to pull the wagon away from the footpath and the

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old tinker with the porkpie hat angled on his head flicks the horse’s rump with a bamboo switch. “Hup, yeh gluepot bastard,” he says, and tips the hat towards me as the cart rumbles off and turns in the lane opposite our house. He must have seen me peering at him, because he spits on the road and says, “What are yeh looking at yeh wee pansy?” I turn around and run for the safety of the house where Mam has taped several wooden tea-chests shut with black insulating tape from the Old Man’s toolbox. The Old Man locks the front door and pushs the key through the brass letterbox, the solicitor already having given the new owners their keys. The red-bricked walls seem to draw him in, as if he is shrinking in front of our eyes. He bends down and peers in at the empty hall for a moment. “It’s the old dog for the hard road, I suppose,” he says, and takes Mam’s hand, steering her toward the silver-painted gate. The linen curtains wave slightly in the upstairs window, even though the window frame is shut tight. Whether it’s the late-evening sun playing tricks on the eyes, a liver-spotted hand with its long fingernails waves from the window. Part of me wants to stay, for the forgotten treasures buried in the back garden: the toy gun with the faux-pearl handle, the Dinky Batmobile stuck in a cinderblock, the biscuit tin with the remains of the hamster inadvertently buried alive, the skeleton I drew on the side of the coal shed with left-over paint from when we painted the garden shed last year, the fireworks we bought from the sellers in Moore Street. The greater part of me longs to escape, to leave Granny’s ghost behind, praying the Holy Water I sprinkle on the landing will be enough to stop her from following us like she did from the graveyard. I don’t think they noticed, but, before shutting the door for the last time and driving to the new house in the countryside, I climbed the bare staircase to the landing and in a last act of selfish charity slipped an Old Jamaica Rum and Raisin chocolate bar, her favorite, between the cracks in the floorboards.

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Fireworks All My Life by Catherine Ferguson

I am a swallow a hiccup a nightmare. I drown in bursting lights. A constellation? A Catherine Wheel? A giant father turns his back to me against velvet blue. Spinning giants as powerful as my mother or my uncle only they are gods crowding the sky. A thousand drive-in movie pictures high, movie stars I know as well as family and the man I’m with who isn’t my husband is laying his head on my lap. I start to touch his lips with my fingers but an umbrella the size of the universe bursts overhead. I cry, my tears fall on his mustache. Overhead the god of July beats his drums. Sonic booms burn the basement of night.

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Cigarettes in the Volkswagen by Jennifer Phelps

She found them between the front seats of her mother’s old VW bug: two dry husks of cigarettes, long forgotten, discovered as she dutifully detailed the car – a teenager’s task – cramming the vacuum crevice tool into that awkward abyss, sucking up tarnished pennies and old French fries, the Volkswagen an accidental time capsule, the Viceroys evidence of the free spirit her mother was once, before she became wife, Mom, perfectionist, tyrant – maybe even before she became unhappy. Back then she was just a kid selling records at the music store on Fourth Street, listening to Janis Joplin wail and sob on LP, staying up late, talking and smoking, making plans as if her ideals could never be bruised with the blunt force of disappointment, as if she would never assume the heavy veil of responsibility, as if the day would never come when she could love her unborn daughter enough to quit for good the carefree nicotine habit, as if that daughter would never grow up to write

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reminiscent poetry labeling her mother tyrannical, unhappy; the same daughter who took a moment’s pause from her cleaning chore to pick up those cigarettes – those tattered testimonials to a long-forgotten innocence – touching them briefly to her lips in a kiss before reluctantly letting them go.

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Salve Regina by Caroline LeBlanc

The mysteries of the Rosary have faded in a way the Hail Mary rhythms have not. I still finger beads— one, three, one, ten for five decades and more that my mother prayed to the Mother of Jesus. She prayed for the Virgin to intercede with her son, Jesus that is, to help her son, my brother that is. These women shared the heartbreak of raising a son who lost his life to a mystery hard to fathom.

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In hymns we hailed Mary, Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, the woman who gave divinity form after nine months of counting her moons without blood of feeling her backbone arc against the weight of bearing god below her ribs.

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Snow-Woman by Mary B. Moore

It’s a woman made of winter. There’s both opacity and translucence. Coal-eyed, her brows furrowed, the deep-set eye-holes are blackened like worry. But she sees nothing she does not already own. In her translucent phase, she mimics light on tree-limbs, which, abstracted from leaf-flesh, inks a tangle of consonants, lavender shadow, on the snow of her skin. Falling, she has the transparency of ideas, fleshless. But caught by earth and trees, she too is subject to time. Still, she does not mind the slow dissolution which is nearly rapture the gradual ascent into air, the seepage into earth. And memory, an empty house the birds fly through.

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Cave Canem by Mia Avramut

I. When the men return They say where’s the babe. When men return they’re other men. She wears her damp postpartum with veiled embroidered boredom. They seek fresh heirs. There is but one, spall of her rib. Lust vortex in chafed smell bores this acrimonious birthing. Slick caul shrill bloodroot blossoms shout from her rudimentary outward creation. “Ghost husbands of my fantasy, It is for you, one of you, that I bore this.” Widow bereaved of afterbirth gone glimmers much too violin much too loins hears the cries: “We’ve far arrived covered in static snow. His name shall be January third.” Will he survive this winter? Lock the gate, sweet somber, sweet mother!

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It grows dark. Unchain the inward dogs now. II. Nine centuries later that morning at the cathedral she cuts through window bars, pries iron ribs loose, makes off with the saint’s heart still four-chamber young in fractured wooden box. Faces driveling, working, would dissect each other if this meant knowing once and for all what relic hearts dread, what blood violins, and what the times miraculous will cease. Heal thy son: “Feeble wee January: heart pillars will now buttress your chest. It should resonate soon, have no fear.” An amethyst drunk wedding –– never yours –– vibrates outside the gates on the main street. Accordion players cradle tone-deaf serpentine shadows and bloody their solesteps on icy mother-of-pearl canine shards. Pistols bark into the sunset. Regrets gather to plot the horizon. Lock the gate, sweet enrapt mother, sweet thief! and promise me never to –– word for word word for teeth –– feed faceless dogs.

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Squid

by Agnes Marton The thrill has gone. Keep your cool, Think outside the hotbox. Up. I've been hacked, working on it, pay no attention to my calls. Love. I've painted a squid for you to say good-bye, in decay, atishoo-tensioned, full-spread, shrieking towards the air, transparent. There's no frame just the bare skin of the canvas, with the thread, like us, woven apart, and on the squid. Float-ashore, the flutter-bounced shell chamber. For beachcombers to find, maxed out on breath.

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Santa Fe Literary Review


List Service by Steve Dahlman

“Right now is not soon enough!” emphasized Hannah to her next best friend. “I’ve put the cat in the microwave and flushed a whole box of tampons down the toilet.” A stream of extra punctuation gilded the pronouncement. “Don’t put me on your Waiting List.” Hannah’s cat, Bingo, also known as The Bongo, Mr. B, The Big One and a myriad of other names, made his way across her bed, finding a home amid the menagerie of the less animate animals. The collection had grown from the day Hannah was born, first a haughty European bear, then, acquired in phases, micro animals and miniatures, stuffed with beads or contrived to look handmade, huge animals for hugging, key chains. “I’ve had it with them all. It’s the same damn thing all the time.” Something had to be done. Her story was alive and growing, independent of her now. There were sagas and songs, legends, myths. In truth her room was a construction of phases. Under the sedate paint of today were the brights, the limes and pinks, then the Barbies, the stickers, and the ‘tiny baby’ printings. It would be easy to believe the room had been home to many girls and, in a way, it had. The young shown through the old. That’s the way it was with some kids, they never lost all the emotional baby fat of growing up. “Ain’t no baby in me,” thought Hannah. The sweet smell of tangerine and strawberry girl perfume mixed with the savory and salt of her snack chips. They were her favorite. All her friends packed them in their lunches. That’s why she was beginning to hate them. Once everybody loved the same thing, it wasn’t very lovable. As she was quick to tell all her friends, “I never had a real childhood… I was forced to get old, quick… My world was just a bag-o-hurt.” She had to break away, her independence was at stake. It was understandable she’d be mean, what with the dire straits she’d had to navigate. Cue the sounds of the world – a television, laughing, a dog – outside her room. Some of her friends had stories, real stories, stories scarier than any-

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thing you’d heard at any summer campout. Hannah was so tired of her friends’ one-upmanship. They could make the girls just groan. There were fights and lies, in one case there was even a stabbing. It was so dramatic, exciting. She’d been planning. The mother of all s-- was about to rain on everyone in this d--- family. They won’t even know what’s coming. She had her lists, the targets. She had all of her Dad’s contacts, from work, from the team. She had her Mom’s lists, from all her groups and gatherings. Everyone would know. Communication was her thing. She had more friends than almost everyone she knew and she was in constant contact. From her friends at school to the lists of lists she’s copied from everyone and anyone she could, she had the longest list of anyone she knew, anyone. She’d let them have it. They’d get all the dirt. When she’d been up all night drinking energy drinks she poured it on. They heard about Bingo, they heard about school, but mostly they heard about her family, her awful terrible family, the worst family, ever. They were all a bunch of liars. They made it sound like they were ohso-goodie goodie, but they cheated on their taxes, cheated on each other, cheated everyone… and embezzled from work (that’s right embezzled, millions – not that she’d see any of it). She was not going to be a vanilla teen. She’d never be ‘known’ that way. She would scandalize them all. It was her turn in the lights. Sure, it looked fine from the outside, but that was not Hannah’s perspective, that was not Hannah’s story. She had had it with all their meddling. Always correcting her, as if she were the one making mistakes. They weren’t mistakes. It was intentional. She was going to be honest; brutally, starkly, breathtakingly, honest. “Hannah, time to leave for your softball game,” called her mother. She read her posting again. Yup, it was all there; all her evidence, all her facts, her story. She’d move to the head of the line with this one. She’d be the top of the list, online. Her father’s clients, her mother’s friends, her father’s boss, they’d all hear her story. She clicked send. “Coming, Mother!” she called.

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Dream Entanglement by Stephen R. Roberts

Upon awakening I meet the person of my dreams. The one with me here dreaming the same dream that melts as my eyes open into a lovely confusion. I try to remember, as she awakens, mouthing the words of her dream, in this moment, telling a story of how we were entangled in her mind and it was all so precarious and wonderful in ways she can’t explain, can’t put into words now, except to say that my dream, as I told it in hers, confounded everything she remembers. I remind her, she was in my dream too, asleep, though I was certain she was dreaming she was awake, telling me, as I tell her now, how confused, chaotic, and perishable all this will be unless we happen to awake precisely at the same time, within dream and out, to begin, in that common moment, to reminisce, bewildered.

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Don’t Kiss Life’s Sister by Tashi Swierkosz

Life is a bitch and death is her sister She's the end of the flame in the dark Better pay attention so you don't kiss her Everyday is a game of twister Played by those with no internal spark Life is a bitch and death is her sister Tell me what you think you know, mister See her sister staring you down while you try for the arc Better pay attention so you don't kiss her Life scorches you leaving blisters Eventually, by her sibling you'll be marked Life is a bitch and death is her sister Noticing events can turn you into a lister Eventually your time will come and for her you bark Better pay attention so you don't kiss her Everyday you come closer to the end so be bestir You must watch out for more than just the sharks Life is a bitch and death is her sister Better pay attention so you don't kiss her

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The Bridge by Barbara Robidoux

The old wooden bridge is never silent, never still. It sways with the weight of Jensen’s oil delivery truck carrying winter fuel to the residents of Indian Island. Its frame is outlined white against a gray November sky, the river below, dark and icy, dares the old bridge to let go, to surrender to its raging waters. But the bridge prevails. This is a one-way bridge connecting residents of Indian island to the mainland. Years before the bridge was built, a ferryman transported people on the small island across the waters of the Penobscot river on a wooden barge. In winter when the river froze, people walked the ice to town for supplies. Some never made it home. The wooden planks of the bridge have loosened over time. They rise and fall back as traffic passes. The low metal railings along its sides provide safety for pedestrians who walk this bridge. Still a fierce northeast wind sometimes carries people off into the river. There are gaps where sections of the rails are missing and nothing defines the sides of the bridge. There is a solitary figure making her way across the bridge. She stops to watch two cars approaching in opposite directions. “Play chicken,” she mutters. There is room for only one car at a time to pass. She waves them on as if to dare them. Both cars accelerate and meet mid-bridge. They stop only inches away from colliding. The woman wears a red and black checkered woolen jacket typical of deer and moose hunters in the region. Her black hair is streaked with gray and hangs in a long braid down her back. On her head she wears a man’s beaver hat trimmed with a broad red cloth band. Some say she is a medicine woman with healing powers. Others call her a witch and keep their distance. Whenever she appears along the banks of the broad river, most children scatter and run into their homes. The woman continues on her way. She does not look back. Instead, she walks to the end of the bridge and climbs down the steep embankment towards the river. She is careful not to lose her balance as she stumbles over rocks and pieces of rotten wood.

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The belly of the bridge is exposed. From below she examines thick sheets of ice that coat the rotten wooden planks. “That’s what holds this damn bridge together,” she tells herself. “By spring when the ice melts, this bridge will give itself to the river.” The river rages but the old woman seems not to notice as she moves to its edge. “More white folks than trees,” she mutters to herself. It has begun to snow. The flakes stick to her face cold and wet. Snow falling on the river becomes one with the water and disappears. On the far shore three crows gossip in a tall pine tree. They watch as the old woman steps into the icy water and slides into the current. Her beaver hat leaves her head and goes its separate way down stream towards the falls near the bridge. She does not cry out for help, does not try to swim but allows the river to take her and she disappears.

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Holy Subaru by Shari Hack Jones

Lola Joy spent a lot of time in her car. Driving to and from work, driving to the grocery store, running errands, and of course there were the weekly appointments with her therapist and her acupuncturist. Not on the same day of course. She was too busy to waste time with friends, none of which she had anymore anyway. She didn’t need people when she had Buster, an elderly orange tabby. Buster had been with her since his kitten days. He was always faithful and loved her more than anyone. Lola Joy’s therapist said she needed to get out more, make friends, and go shopping. All were stupid suggestions. She wondered why she even went to him anymore. She’d started going years ago and it had become a habit. Luckily one her health insurance paid for. Lola Joy loved to drive. It made her feel fulfilled. Often her mind would wander while sitting at a red light or waiting to make a left turn. Eventually she started playing little games while she drove, such as counting out-of-state license plates or reading bumper stickers. There was a lot of wisdom in bumper stickers. Like the day she was particularly worried about Buster. He hadn’t eaten for two days and so she took him to the vet on her day off. They wanted to keep him overnight for observation. As she drove slowly home, her mind fretting, she found her answer on the back of a Chevy Cavalier. The bumper sticker read, ‘Pray Hard’. She did. She went home and prayed for Buster’s recovery. The next day the vet’s office called her to come pick him up, he was fine. Then there was the time she couldn’t decide what vegetable to have with her fried chicken that night. The answer stared her in the face from the back of a VW Vanagon, ‘Visualize Whirled Peas’. Yum. Lola Joy’s most memorable driving experience occurred during evening rush hour at a metered freeway entrance ramp. Two lines of cars were pushing their way toward the green light that would set them free. Her eyes glanced at a battered station wagon ahead of her in the next lane. A bumper sticker proclaimed, ‘Honk if you think I look like Jesus’.

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She pondered. Wasn’t it supposed to be ‘Honk if you love Jesus’? They must have gotten it wrong. The line moved and she edged in next to the maroon wagon. She looked over at the driver. He had long hair and a thin angular face. The light turned green, and he was gone. Lola Joy was never the same after that. She’d seen him. She knew the truth. Jesus drove a Subaru.

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At the DMV by Mark DeFoe

Ah, citizens, we have come to get our ticket to ride, to update our photo that mocks our hidden splendor, come straight from divorce court, from the snarls of a tyrant boss, bringing our squalling kids, our half-senile granny, our 12-year-old we cannot trust at home. We come in soiled parkas, rumpled suits and muddy boots, in hoodies from colleges we’ve never seen, in our R-rated halter tops and our bling-bling-bling, to hear a robotic voice at long last calls our number. To renew our right to haul re-bar from Youngstown to Newark, to fetch the kids from soccer, to whip into Get and Grab for a Big Gulp, Doritos and another shot at lotto. This is our first American freedom, to blaze the path, to mark our map. Oh, take away our vote, tax away our homes, march us off to plunder and pillage, but Boss, just leave us petrol, traveling tunes and the open road. We embrace this tedium and indignity, Just grant us our license to roll. Only when wrapped in the skin of our cars can we see the spacious skies, can we be beautiful, and full of hope and maybe even brave.

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Athletes at the Post Office by F. Richard Thomas

I count myself lucky to be waiting in line behind two very tall college girls leaning over the counter, volley-ball players straight from practice in black spandex shorts and sweat-stained T-shirts, midriffs and arms torn off to uncover tight biceps and hard bellies. And below the waists, well-defined, long thigh muscles tucked up under the curved buttocks and down to the ripped quads— solid bodies smoothed by the extra layer of subcutaneous tissue that gloves a woman. I am counting myself lucky, until one of the girls glances at me, and I became embarrassed for staring, for seeming old and bewildered, perhaps by vague memories of the testosterone thrill, but more, I think, by a fantasy of health and strength, something they probably would not understand. Looking away quickly, I reach into my shirt pocket for glasses and hang them over my drooping nose so I can study the envelope that only wants a zip code and a stamp.

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The Gabor Sisters by Linda Ferguson

My neighbor said her church once had a lady minister who “made the rounds.” “Nobody minded,” she told me, “either that or they didn’t know what ‘made the rounds’ meant.” We must have looked like a couple of crazies, doubled over, laughing like that on her porch steps, my gray-blond hair poking out from its braids, her gray-brown hair springing from its high, messy bun. “Why ‘once’?” I asked her. “Why don’t you still have the lady minister?” “She had to move onto another church after she got married.” I cocked my head as if to ask ‘why’ again. My neighbor dunked a tortilla chip into the tub of salsa we were sharing. “He wore Hawaiian shirts,” she explained, “even in winter.” She bit her chip, snapping it in half, and I admired her decisiveness, the way she moved with the sureness of a surgeon. “It was too bad,” she said. “He was a nice guy. And really good looking. But those shirts!” “I could never marry a man with a mat of hair on his chest,” I said. She shuddered. “I could never marry a bald man.” “I wouldn’t even date a man who wore seersucker,” I said. “I might date one, but I wouldn’t kiss him—or hold hands. What I really hate, though, are those guys who are shorter than me.” “Or the ones who wear their pants pulled up to here,” I said, holding my hand to my ribs. This cracked her up. “How about the ones who strut around with their chests puffed out?” she laughed, miming the action from the waist up. “I know! I know! But the worst are those men who can’t stop talking about their cats. How cute their paws look batting at his bathrobe tie. How still they get when they’re watching squirrels.” My neighbor got quiet, but I kept it up. “How they went from store to store to find the right toy to put in the cat’s Christmas stocking. And those names! Mitten, Muffin, Socks!” Even as I yapped, I was remem-

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bering her late husband. In the photograph on her mantel, he’s cradling a ginger-colored cat. “Why not call them Veronica or Mildred or Janice, for heaven’s sake?” “Well, nobody wants to be called Mildred,” my neighbor said. She snatched up the bag of chips and the tub of salsa. “I have things to do,” she said. As she was going in the house I wanted to touch her arm, to blame it on the wine, only we’d been drinking the iced tea I’d brought over. Afterwards, I was bereft. We were both turning fifty-five that fall and had been planning a double party for ourselves, with hats and favors and pin-the-tail-on- the-donkey. “We won’t even need a blindfold,” my neighbor had said. “We’ll just make all the guests take off their glasses!” We’d also vowed over our “holiday cheer” to stay single. There’d even been talk of taking some kind of trip together next spring. Now that would never happen. I could never ask her for a cup of milk when I had a hankering for rice pudding, and she would never knock on my door after a visit with her aunt, who lived on the memory floor of a care center. I’d even miss Eve, the aunt, whom I’d been hearing about so long I almost felt like she was my relative. Like she’d given me the check to pay for my first year of college, like she’d taken me to the spring luncheon at the Benson Hotel every year so she could show me off to all of her old friends. Now I couldn’t tell my neighbor my stories, either. How my cousin recently called and asked if I could send him our grandmother’s wedding ring. Apparently his son wants to give it to his fiancée, but for all I know, my cousin plans on hawking it for beer money. What’s more, I wouldn’t be able to tell my neighbor about Matthew, the Korean boy I’d snubbed when I was sixteen. How I saw him standing in line at the movies last month. How I was afraid to ask if it was alright if I sat with him, and then I couldn’t concentrate on the movie, so I went out to the lobby early and pounced the minute he emerged and asked if I could buy him a cup of coffee. How he agreed and how we talked so easily an hour passed in a blink. Now my neighbor would never know that Matthew had been cooking dinner for me a few evenings a week, and that last time we’d left the 114

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food in the oven and just sat and kissed, and I forgot that I was taller than him and that the hair I was touching was thinning, and he forgot that I’d said I had too much homework when he’d asked me out in high school. It would be nice to say all of this to my neighbor, to ask for her forgiveness. But I know better. After all, she and I are so much alike. “Zsa Zsa and Eva,” Joe, our much younger mailman, a Green Acres fan, calls us. “Now I’d sleep with him,” I once told her as we sat outside, admiring his brown calves. “Me too,” she’d laughed, mouth opened wide, her red lipstick setting off the dull green of her eyes. “Oh wait,” she’d added, “I already have!” and at that moment I knew. If she ever sold her house and moved, I’d have to pick up and follow her because she’s the sun in winter and just knowing she’s near stirs the green life poking from the old roots buried deep inside of me.

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My Life’s Worth by Nathaniel Tower

When the doctor diagnosed me with some deadly disease I couldn't pronounce, I didn't bother to learn how to pronounce it. Without using the words "deadly" or "disease," he told me I had a month left. "I want a second opinion," I told him. "Okay." He looked at me closely. "I don't think you'll make it a week." And there it was. "So what should I do?" "Anything you want. It's your last week on Earth. As they say, go big or go home." I wasn't sure how the old saying applied. "What would you do?" "I don't know, but I've got plenty of time to think about it. Sometimes this job really puts things into perspective, doesn't it?" He slapped me on the back, wished me good luck, and walked out of what was left of my life. When I returned home I couldn't think of anything to do, so I sat down and turned on the TV just as someone knocked on my door. "Must be the UPS man." I shrugged and figured it was more junk, although I wasn't sure what I'd ordered. The knocking continued. "Just leave it on the doorstep." More knocking. "Seriously, I'm trying to reflect on my last days," I yelled. The door swung open. A clean-cut man stood in the doorway. He wasn't menacing or tough or anything. Just a regular-looking dude. "What do you want?" "The better question is what do you want," he responded. "I want some peace and quiet to think about my life." "We both know there's no time for that." He wiped his feet and came in. He glanced around my house. "Interesting, interesting." "What's interesting?" "How much for the whole thing?"

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"It's not for sale." "And what do you plan to do with it next week?" he asked with a wink. "C'mon. How much?" he said when I didn't respond. "Make an offer," I managed to spit. I reached for the remote and turned off the television, suddenly embarrassed that sitting around watching TV was what I had chosen to do during my final week alive. "A thousand bucks." "For everything?" I stood up. "Yes, for everything. You're lucky I offered that much. You should pay me to take some of this junk off your hands." "If I accept, when will you get it out of here?" I looked around, trying to figure out what it was actually worth. He laughed. "I don't think you quite understand. I give you a thousand bucks. In cash. And you get out." "You mean you get the house too?" "Of course. What good is it going to do you?" "I could at least give it to a friend. Or a relative. Or to some local charity." "And what good will any of that do for you?" "I don't know. Maybe the satisfaction of knowing my whole life wasn't worth just a thousand bucks. Maybe I'll feel like I contributed something to a cause." "Suit yourself," he said, turning for the door. "Don't expect me to come back with a higher offer. I didn't really want it anyway." He left before I could say anything else, closing the door gently on the way out. I sat back down for a moment, picking up the remote. My finger reached for the power button, but I didn't press it. Instead I stood up and examined the things in my house. After about ten minutes of evaluation, I knew he was right. I wanted to call him back and tell him he could have the whole lot for five hundred, but I didn't know how to reach him. Defeated and depressed, I went to bed even though it was only four in the afternoon. I expected to toss and turn all night, but I must've fallen asleep the moment I hit the pillow. Fifteen hours and zero remembered dreams later, I woke up. "Six days to go," I said, trying to figure 118

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out if yesterday counted as one of the days of my last week. I thought about emptying the bank account, hopping to Vegas on a first-class flight, hiring a few hookers, putting the rest of it on number thirty-seven on the roulette table. If I won, I'd buy a yacht and sail it until I died. The hookers would come with me. I shrugged at my dream. Not only was it not very exciting, but it wasn't even practical. Just the time to buy the tickets, get to the airport, fly to Vegas, find hookers, buy a yacht, get a boating license, etc. etc. would end up wasting half my leftover life. Besides, I knew I wouldn't win. Not with number thirty-seven. Not with my luck. "What if he's wrong?" I said out loud. "What if I have a month? Or two months? Or a year?" I decided I wouldn't do anything different. I would just live my life. I went to the post office and bought stamps to mail my mortgage payment. I ate a microwave dinner that I bought on sale. I cleaned out the fridge, finding some moldy cottage cheese. I watched reruns of Matlock. Six days later, I was still alive. The clean-cut man returned, this time waiting until I answered to come in. "So, it's time," he said. "What do you mean?" I wondered if the man was Death, there to take me away. Where was his scythe? "It's almost been a week. Do you want to sell it before it's over?" "Before what's over?" "You know, everything," he said awkwardly, looking at the floor. "No, I think I'll keep it," I said. "Okay, you drive a hard bargain," the man said. "I'll give you twelve hundred." I thought about it for a moment, staring him straight in the eye. I figured that was worth at least one more hooker. "Deal," I said, and we shook on it. Then I hopped on a flight to Vegas.

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Spectacle by Robert Tremmel

There is a naked man grieving the loss prostrate on the sand. Carrion birds circle above him, worms dig from below. Well behaved crowds gather behind ropes to watch, speaking in muffled voices about the naked man’s posture, the tears that look like blood swelling at the corners of his eyes. Tastefully, nearby vendors sell funnel cakes, popcorn, hot dogs and beer, count change and keep their eyes on the weather.

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while reading Love is a Dog from Hell by Rick Smith

She hands me a note that says “Can we make an arrangement?” I say “I think so” and then I’m undoing clasps and buttons in the alley behind the Hong Kong Café. We drive to Fullerton and cap it off. In her apartment, life size plaster models of dogs, dogs in repose dogs on guard dogs on duty and off. Now I stand with the pack howling into the cloudless sky, to a handful of stars, long gone.

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Engineering Sweet Dreams by Gary Metras

So I ate my son-in-law’s mint chocolate after a cigarette. It was the last one. He will not be pleased, but won’t say so. I let the chocolate sit on the tongue, slowly vanishing the way morning fog slips between trees and is gone, until all that remains is a memory made sweet by the play of sunlight and shadow, or the way saying ‘I love you’ disappears into a kiss. But what else could I do— it was time to give the baby her noon bottle. When I snuggle and feed her, do you think she wants stale tobacco on my breath, or the aroma of chocolate? She doesn’t know either, but we want her dreams to be sweet.

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Sleeping with Horses by Lyn Lifshin

though I never have, I dream of such warm flanks, pulse of blood deep enough to blur night terror. I want my own mare, sleek, night colored to block memories of the orchard of bones, the loved-lost under leaves, under a quilt of guilt. I think of cats, long slept with then gone, how the Egyptians buried not only wives but their favorite pets near them to cushion their trip to the underworld. I want this mare, velvety as the dream mare’s nose, nuzzling my skin in the black that braids us into one so I won’t move unless she does

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Untitled

Artwork by E.M. Wingren

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Patient Zero by Laura Bogart

He could only taste his own spit, but they called him a miracle. Women’s voices lilted around him when he let his eye drift shut. They’d clip through syllables and he’d feel the pinch of a needle in his arm. Warmth rushed over him like tidewater sweeping the shore and pulled him down to sleep. Sometimes he heard a word that could’ve been his name. The sounds that sifted through his bandages could’ve come from those collectibles he brought home from the shop. Pull a string and a long groan crackled from the chest of a plastic walker or meatsack or ghoul. Whenever he heard himself, he remembered the boxes they came in: “Night of the Living Dead” scrawled in letters of dripping blood. His lipless mouth was a door with broken hinges. Sometimes, the women’s voices became hands that hoisted him out of his cocoon of wires and sheets; they’d strap him to a cold, flat board. The blood packed into his feet, and though they’d tell him it felt good, it didn’t: He preferred being a bloodless husk. But he wasn’t dead. He was something else. His left eye had become a sinkhole; the right one was a camera lens fuzzed with dust. He could only see people as bodies: backs of heads and limbs in motion; their faces were haloes of grimy, granular hospital light. Silhouettes of hands wiped his ass, threaded in catheters; though he couldn’t see, he could smell: apple blossom and jasmine, watermelon and honey thistle. He held an image of himself, back when he was purely alive, sniffing all the testers at the Bath and Body Works across from the comics shop and imagining a woman at home. Someone he could give gifts to. These smells, chemical and saccharine, attached themselves to the girlfriends in his dreams. Now, he dreamed when he was wakeful. His tongue mutinied through the bandages, pining for the nurses’ wrists. He tasted fruit, flower and salty skin. Fingers condomed in plastic gloves teased his mouth. They smoothed salve over the scars where his lips had been, squeezed the nub

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of his tongue. He gummed them from hunger; his belly, pinched and puckered. He’d never known such a savage need to eat, only the drowsy peckishness that comes from the comfort of a stocked fridge. Then the store closed and he lost his job. Then he sold all his furniture to pay rent and after a month and a half of cheap carpet chafing his back, he lost the apartment, too. He bummed bathroom breaks and hot water from coffee shops and slept on benches. He hadn’t thought that spring nights got so cold. His bodily needs startled him with their sudden insistence. In the movies he’d marathoned until his ass went numb, the loners who’d survived when the earth churned out its dead never stopped to take a piss. They scavenged bombed-out shopping malls and dilapidated farmhouses with machetes and crossbows. Despite themselves, they became the guardians of orphaned children, old men, and pretty women who’d been “esquires” or “directors” before the end of days. Muscular hands pried his limbs upright, danced them side-to-side. They bent his fingers, pulled his knees into steeples, kneaded his feet. Once they let go, he fell limp. Hunger was all that animated him. Still, he remembered moving his body, pounding his thumbs into the console as, with the flick of a switch, he dispatched hordes of walkers or meatsacks or ghouls. He’d fist-pump the air or swivel his hips in a victory dance as ribbons of their blood filled his computer screen. He always fancied himself the loner. Never thought he’d become what he killed. Days waned into darkness as he’d stood on meridians bearing cardboard signs. If he was lucky, a day’s haul got him a Happy Meal and a Coke: never enough to satiate him, just enough to stoke his appetite. Used to be, he could eat until he was sleepy. He couldn’t remember how long it’d been since he licked grease from his fingers. He had a dog’s sense of time. Couldn’t say if he’d spent weeks on the street, or if it’d been a matter of months before the biter found him. There was a code among stragglers. Give a nod, not a smile. Keep your hands in plain sight, but don’t get too friendly. He’d first learned this when he’d ceded a park bench to an elderly woman with swollen feet and a face full of soot. She charged him with her cart, spat an “asshole” at him as he fled toward the trees. “First come, first serve” became his words to live by. 126

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Still, he should’ve run when he saw the biter lope across three lanes of traffic toward his concrete perch. His heart became a rabbit who’s heard the hound’s bay. A form he’d only seen onscreen—pocked-up cheeks and pits for eyes, sinewy limbs hindered by some unseen weight—was coming for him. No gun ever ran out of ammo, no limitless arrows. No rock he could throw, only the gust of cars behind him. Front bumpers came within inches of this walker, this meatsack, this ghoul, and yet it did not relent. It was on him in a frenzy of hands and teeth. Blood bloomed from the first bite, trickled between his teeth in a shock of coppery sweetness. His body blazed with pain. The throb of his pulse was lost to the clicking of jaws. Then sound itself was lost to a cottony hum. A fractal of light flashed pink, then yellow, then green—then gone. It was his last look at the sun.

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Bliss

by James Joseph Brown I found it this year, not a place on the map, but a way of walking through the world, making my way through cobblestone streets, into the courtyards of centuries old brick and stone churches, lazy leaves blossoming, strong spirits, the full, joyful tears threatening just below the brims of my eyelids, as if I had been filled like a teakettle being brought to a boil, after sitting on a frozen stove all my life, not knowing how to become warm. Forty years in a house without power, living in cold water, day after day, as the years went by, not knowing there was any other way to live, and then to feel that water slowing warming, and to think, well this will get cold again, it’s barely been lukewarm, but then to feel it brought to a boil and to feel the lid pop and the delicious warmth and the pressure finally released and to know, this is what I’ve been missing. No wonder I could barely hold back. I told Andrius, I feel completely content, at peace, for once in my life. He smiled, put one hand on my shoulder, looked deeply into my eyes. His eyes were the same as mine, the exact same shape, in this country of cousins, except his were brown, since he was half Armenian. He was only half Lithuanian too, like me, but the genes are strong in this part of the world. I can spot my own kind from across any crowded airport. There are very few of us left in the world, after wars, genocide, mass deportations and migrations brought us to the brink of extinction. But here we were like a miracle and I had found myself, the world and Andrius looked right into the center of me and said in Lithuanian there is a word that means all those things, do you know it? I shook my head, it was taking some time for it all to come back to me. Polaima, he said. Polaima, I repeated, weighing the word on my tongue. I sat on a bench in front of the church, while lazy flower blossoms fell from the trees above me. Andrius snapped my picture. Polaima, I said. When I got back to the States, I rode my brother’s bike through my hometown and everything looked brighter, more beautiful. I hadn’t been able to explain to Andrius, that when I was growing up, in this

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dead end, abandoned mill town in New England, I barely survived. I was sent to therapy at 13, overdosed on everything in my chronically sick father’s medicine cabinet at 15, finally made it out of the psych ward at 16. He couldn’t know that to reach 40 was another miracle, and then to finally find out what happiness felt like, for the first time in my life, at that moment, with him. People like me, we don’t usually get to know what happiness feels like. I could have looked it up when he first told me, the word polaima, google translated it, or something, but we were so busy wandering around old town Vilnius, gathering photos and video of the churches and medieval walls and the parapets of the brick castle on top of the hill near the cathedral, we were so busy with the World Cup games on the flat screens in the middle of the Town Hall square beer gardens and the open air cafes and the late night conversations as we strolled down Gediminas Avenue, remembering, in case it slipped away, this is what happiness is, this is what the rest of the world knows, this is what people like me have never been able to find, until now, it just got lost in the shuffle. But I knew it wouldn’t slip away. People like me, we fight for every shred of happiness, burn through every inky tentacle of despair that held our hearts in icy paralysis. We can never go back. As I rode my bike through my hometown, up steep hills where Lithuanians came to settle because it reminded them of home, where my grandfather escaped from his house in the old country that the Nazis shot full of bullets and built his own house, just up the hill, I stumbled upon a street sign with a name that I’d never noticed until then, around the corner from the spring where we got our water, the school where I played kickball in 5th grade. I rushed home to get in touch with Andrius and let him know I’d discovered what polaima means in English, because we had a street in my hometown in Massachusetts with the same name. Bliss I wrote. It means bliss. Today I found bliss for the second time in my life. And I didn’t have to go all the way back to Lithuania this time, it was right here under my nose the whole time.

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Works of Fiction by Lucy Biederman

scattered on the windowsill, spines cracked but unread, the kitchen archeological, complex with layers of spatters, the macaroni fused to the bottom of the pot more likely to be set on fire than scrubbed away, this was a begging-arrangement: Please, please. A few years of reruns, but eventually time turned over. Despite the absolute lack of knocks at the door, phone calls, or meaningful encounters, a new era, perhaps undeserved, seems, in retrospect, to have arrived after a while, most noticeable in the ineffably altered inner climate. Now you smile. I’m well, thank you.

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Placenta by Wayne Lee

You walked across town in nothing but a blanket. That was the morning after they released you from solitary confinement. That was the bottom. Pissing yourself in the cell. Hallucinating slits on your wrists, becoming the face of Jesus. Having to be pronounced sane by a colleague at the clinic. The knowledge of the depth of your addictions. That was the day before you quit booze, joined AA, flushed your pot down the john. Before your boss gave you a month of mandatory R&R, the acupuncturist prescribed cleansing herbs, the shaman smudged your house. Before your ex-wife and children, your brothers, sisters and friends formed a circle around you, let you fall where you would. You’re still falling. Weightless, certain you’ll be caught, held, healed. There will be time to lie in the sun by the cottonwood that grows where you buried the placenta of your son, where you plant the memories of a life half-lived.

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Thick Green Vine by Paul Milenski

At sunrise I climb out of my crib, run along the cold floor to the bathroom to pee into the oval rim of the toilet. Done, I shiver. I try to wash my hands as Mom has instructed, but I cannot turn the water faucets. I wipe my hands on my pajamas. Uncle Etzie’s bedroom is past Mom’s at the end of the hall overlooking the street and Shorty’s Bar and Grille on the other side. At night neon flashes red and green into his room: Utica Club, Genesee, Pabst Blue Ribbon. The neon is off. Uncle Etzie lies on his back on his bed. His feet are big – heels, soles, toes. The rest of his body is distant. Shirtless and uncovered, he stares at the ceiling. “Psst, you all right, Uncle Etzie?” No response. “Hey, Uncle Etzie!” I see his eyes, one unimpeded, the other blocked shut with a giant bloody brown patch. He smiles. “Hi, Uncle Etzie.” “What the hell you want, y’little whiny, soft-eared shit?” “You okay?” “Eh?” “Are you okay, Uncle Etzie?” “Gotcha!” Uncle Etzie springs up. Grabs me, throws me onto the bed. “There, you little whiney-eared shit.” His eye up to mine, I see swelling, red swirls, purple filaments, blue and yellow tentacles. “Whatcha think on that?” “Uh, what’s it, Uncle Etzie? What’s it?” “I lost the inside of my eye. Look!” From his eye, he pulls off a slab of meat, red-veined, bloody brown and blue. “Help!” “Shaddup!” Uncle Etzie puts his hand over my mouth, dangles the ugly meat one inch from my nose. “Look, you little skinny-eared shit,

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right from the back of my eye.” I telecommunicate with my friends from Mars. Steak. Just steak, they say. I smile. Uncle Etzie smiles. He has also lost a tooth in back so the inside of his mouth looks empty. “Stanley, you little shit. You know everything, don’t you?” I nod; telecommunication too late. “How’d you like to eat this steak? Raw!” I say nothing. “Well?” I am silent. “Hararh!” he yells out. Then, behind him, I see Grandma Babci. “And what are you doing to this little boy?” she says. “Not enough you coming in so late and making everybody to screaming and yelling about you. Not enough all those stupid women all the time causing trouble around here, so we are giving you steak yet from the refrigerator that should be going into our own bellies. Get on off of that boy.” “Whiny weasel.” “No, he is not.” “Ear ache King.” Uncle Etzie rolls over, slaps the steak back over his eye. “Where are you hearing such a dumb thing, steak to fixing an eye? Ever trying not to drink so much? Ever trying to keeping away from those women?” “Ever trying to shut up, Ma?” “To me, your mother, you should not be speaking like that. No.” “Sorry.” “You being nice to that good child.” “Good for what?” Uncle Etzie pokes me in the ribs. “Just you being nice to him,” Grandma Babci says as she leaves. “What do you think, Stanley? Women or no women? Is that a choice? Do they think I’m a priest?” As the rising sun enters the room, Uncle Etzie flexes his biceps, so his yellow tattoo snake climbs up a thick green vine.

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Let Me Not Sleep Alone by Jane Lin

Between the pink unicorn with sparkle harness and the bumble bee that converts to a pillow with the release of a velcro clasp, there is a place of happiness perfectly machine washable. Happy first day of proclaim the construction paper letters on the closet doors. Glory be to Scotch tape and scissor skills, celebration in the smallest of things.

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*

by Simon Perchik This school bus learned nothing about aging slows down in both directions at once -stars never seen this early stop then stop again the way hillsides take their place behind folding doors and funerals -you approach this step-by-step and mothers waiting everywhere as if once upon a time there was an immense forest, an enormous lake with water lilies that never die -you almost hear what could be birdcalls and for those few minutes your breathing stops then yellows though it's the moon holding you back the dark sky in the roadway.

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Holding Your Leg by Donna Pucciani

The physical therapist wants all the weight on the bad leg. You need to re-grow the muscle that disappeared as you limped for five years bone-on-bone. I help with the exercises. You lie flat on your back with ankle weights strapped on. I hold the good leg to make sure it is not doing the work. I cradle it in my arms like a newborn, a warm loaf of bread, a favorite book, a spring bouquet, folded laundry. It is not swollen or red as the other, that wounded animal trying so hard to lift itself from the bed. The specter of disintegration haunts us in old age, with death waiting just behind the scrim. But now we perform, you and I, counting repetitions and sets, your brow furrowed against pain, as if all this mattered, spotlit, in the greater scheme of things. The sunset appears in crimson blush, embarrassed

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by its own brevity but as proud of its brilliance as you, lifting your leg to feel new strength, welcoming the strange metallic hip. I hang on to the other, owning its goodness for a few minutes, praying for equilibrium while night obscures tree, flower, sky.

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The Lost Cap by Joani Reese

It was dinnertime in the summer of 1931, and Johnny Gundlach was eight years old. He and three neighborhood pals had just finished a pick-up game of baseball using a handy stick and a few rocks they'd collected in the vacant lot a block behind their Mound Street houses. As the boys headed home, Gato Slindy was using one of his suspenders as a slingshot, drobbing pebbles he'd dig from his pockets into the white lilacs perfuming the air around the neighbors' clapboard houses. Tommy Christiansen trotted behind the rest, one hand holding up a pair of hand-me-down trousers. He'd lost a precious button during a slide into first. Scooter Schmidt stopped to laugh at him and gave his back a shove, knowing if Tommy tried to retaliate, his pants would sink to his feet and he'd be butt naked right here on Mound Street. Underwear was a luxury many in the neighborhood could not afford, and Tommy's Dad was laid up after an accident at the John Deere factory took his arm at the elbow. "Cut it out!" Tommy said. "I'm already in hot water for losing that button, Scooter, and my pants got a slide stain all the way down my leg. If I rip 'em cause of you, my Ma'll beat me bloody." The boys picked up the pace. No one wanted to be late to the table, as food was scarce, and he who sat down first got to help himself first, after parents and grandparents and the nightly prayer. Windows along the street were open to catch slight breezes, and the occasional smell of pork roast or chicken in a pot made the boys' mouths water. Many kitchens filled with the steam of boiled potatoes while mothers sliced fresh tomatoes and peeled carrots picked from backyard gardens. For many in Madison, there was no meat except perhaps on Sunday afternoons after church if the man of the house had managed to get temporary work. Johnny's Dad worked for the city, so there was always some meat on the table, and he felt luckier than his friends who often went without. His Ma would invite Tommy over to eat dinner once in a while, portioning out the meat, enough for seven, into smaller amounts for eight, telling Johnny "We should all help if we can."

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Gato flicked a well placed shot under a huge lilac bush in front of Mrs. Peterson's house, and the boys heard muffled cries and saw brown and white movement deep beneath the lower branches. Gato slid beneath the bush and came out clutching two spotted puppies in each hand. Puppies! The boys looked around, expecting a fierce mother dog to come bounding around a corner, growling her anger at them. They knew of no one rich enough on this block to own a dog, and though they called, "Here pup! Here doggie, doggie, doggie!" and waited, none came. The puppies wriggled in Gato's palms, each no bigger than a teacup, their tiny snouts rooting among the buttons of his shirt for a nipple on which to feed, their eyes barely open. "What'll we do with 'em?" Johnny asked, knowing in his house of seven people a dog would not be a welcome addition in these food hungry days, even though he'd do just about anything to have a puppy of his own. "I can't take em," Gato said as the puppies squirmed in his hands. Gato's dad was handy with a belt, especially on Friday nights after he'd been down to the tap for a few Pabst's. The boys knew the rages of that house so said nothing, knowing the puppies were better off alone under that bush than anywhere near Gato's front door. "Poor things. They look hungry," Johnny said. They stood in a huddle around the brown and white pups, each boy reaching out to pet them as they nuzzled Gato's hands and licked at his fingers. "Evening, boys," Officer Schwartz strolled up behind them twirling his baton on a chain attached to his belt. "What's that you got there?" "It's puppies!" Scooter said. "We found 'em in the bushes." The three boys stepped back from Gato to give the policeman a better view. "I found 'em, not you," Gato said, and then ducked his head as though expecting the policeman to give his ear a swat, but Schwartz only leaned over to have a look and smiled, his square white teeth glowing in the evening dusk. They all imagined themselves grown up to inhabit the same navy blue uniform, every button attached, wearing shiny black shoes and a great cap with gold braiding around the brim, a huge gun slapping against a hip as they strolled the neighborhood, watching out for bad guys. Santa Fe Literary Review

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"We can't take 'em home. Our Ma's would kill us. What should we do?" Gato asked. All eyes looked up at Officer Schwartz, taking in his brass buttons, his knife-creased uniform pants, his revolver sleeping in its holster, his kind brown eyes. "The poor little things. Don't worry, boys," he said, reaching out to Gato for the puppies, his hands so big both fit easily into one palm. "I'll take good care of them and find them a home." He hugged the pups against his massive chest and smiled at the boys again. "Heck, maybe I'll just keep 'em. Ever man oughta have a dog. Yessir, man's best friend." Gato handed them over reluctantly, knowing this was the best thing for the puppies but wishing he could take them, and the boys turned for home again. As Schwartz walked around the corner toward the precinct, they heard his soothing voice talking to the puppies, "There now, poor little doggies. We'll find you a home, won't we? Good doggies." Johnny thought of the past few Sundays when Officer Schwartz had come calling on his sister Helen, sitting down for a Sunday dinner with the family, how Johnny's mother always remarked after Schwartz had tipped his hat and thanked her for a lovely dinner that he was "the perfect gentleman," and how "Helen could do a lot worse than him." Having this connection to the hero of the neighborhood puffed Johnny up in front of his friends and made him feel important. "What a great guy!" Gato said. "I wanna be a policeman when I grow up, just like him." "Yeah," said Tommy, "I wanna own a gun and shoot bad guys." He cocked his hand at Scooter, his thumb a trigger, "Bam! Bam!" laughing as he ran up his front stoop, still clutching his outsized pants and disappeared into the screen porch. Just as they reached Scooter's house, Johnny raised a hand to his head. "My cap!" he shouted. He'd forgotten it in the dirt lot and knew he'd better run back before someone found it. "See you after!" he shouted over his shoulder and left the other two boys at a run, headed back the way they'd come, hoping the cap would still be lying where he'd left it. Just as he rounded the corner, Johnny pulled up short. He stepped off the sidewalk and crouched behind a parked sedan. Officer Schwartz,

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just ahead, had also stopped. His back to Johnny, the policeman stood facing a telephone pole, sleeves rolled to the elbows. Raising an arm, he wound up as though he were about to throw a pitch. The man's arm shot forward, and Johnny caught a blur of brown and white hanging by tiny back legs from a fist. He heard a wet thwack of flesh against wood before he realized what he was seeing. Suddenly, Johnny could not catch his breath. There wasn't enough air in the universe to breathe. The man lifted his other arm, a second mewling puppy dangled by its tail, and then he swung it, too, against the hard wood, his body twisting delicately away from the fine red mist that flew into the evening air. His uniform remained immaculate. Schwartz walked over to a sewer drain and dropped the little bodies in, wiped his hands on the grass, rolled down his sleeves, buttoned them, and then turned again toward the precinct, twirling his baton, a whistled tune floating behind him, Dream a Little Dream of Me. Johnny whirled back toward Mound Street and ran home. His cap lay at the edge of the barren field, forgotten beneath the gathering dusk.

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Derelict Space Ship Photolithograph by Gabriel Melcher

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Whistlestop by Elayne Clift

Six miles out of New York, the train grinds to a halt. No power, no fans, no phone, nothing. Luckily, it is September and there is still evening light. The conductor comes through the Club Car. "Accident up ahead," he says. "Tractor trailer hanging off the railroad bridge. Could be hours." Groans. On a cell phone, a man's voice. Finishing his call, he gets up, walks up the aisle and back again. She watches him, head down in her New Yorker. Hot. She begins to feel claustrophobia creeping up her throat. She gets up, moves to the back of the car. If the door is sealed, she thinks, she will have a panic attack, will have to scream at the conductor, "Get me out of here!" It is open. The air, in the middle of nowhere where the tracks and hedgerow are strewn with trash, feels like fresh dew on a country morning. The man with the cell phone is stretching his neck to peer toward the front of the train as if straining will reveal the status of things. She notices the way his khaki pants hug his ass. A nice ass. Round and firm. He shrugs his shoulders at her, smiles. She likes his green eyes, big and round behind wireframe rims. "My luck!" he grins. A TV exec, she thinks. She wonders if he is having an affair with his secretary, or whoever it is he was speaking to on the cellular about ratings, reviews. Probably not. He spoke nicely to his wife, asked about the kids, said, "Tell them I'll be home soon." Forty-four or five, she figures, looking at the flesh above his belt line. Jewish. Nice hair on his arms, all going neatly one way towards the underside, away from the wrist. Good hands. Long fingers, clean nails. Wedding ring. Wonders what it would be like to have those hands under her shirt, moving rhythmically up and down her back and around her breasts. Long time since she felt that way. Nice.

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A line forms. "I'll buy you a drink for the use of the cellular," they say to him. "Don't worry about it!" he says, handing each of them the phone. A regular Club Car Santa. Go away, she thinks, he's mine. When the queue subsides, he smiles. She'd like to kiss him, full on the lips, her tongue sliding from one corner of his mouth to the other. Wonders what it's like when he makes love to his wife. Slow, tender thrusts, she thinks. Lots of foreplay. Very nice. Such a long time since anyone did that for her. Hungry. She'd like a stiff scotch, maybe a bag of salty pretzels. Nothing doing till the power comes on. Small talk. "Could be hours." "Yeah." "Lucky I don't have any appointments." "It'll be midnight before I get to DC, if I'm lucky." The power returns. Cheers. "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience,� says the conductor. "We'll be on our way shortly." She takes her seat. He follows, sits behind her. The evening light wanes. The train lurches forward into the sooty tunnel of Penn Station. He gets off. She reads her magazine. Already, she misses him, mourns that he is gone from her life. Still, it's nice to know she is capable of love again.

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Think of Me Babe Whenever by Alan Gartenhaus

She asks for his name without looking up. He waits for her to make eye contact. “You don’t recognize me, do you?” She raises her head and smiles. “This is our thirtieth reunion.” “Imagine darker hair and more of it.” Her eyes narrow. She stares. She sticks a finger in the air and twirls it. “Turn around.” He snorts as he turns with hands out to his sides. She shakes her head. “Can you give me a hint?” “Love will keep us together.” Her eyebrows arch. “I beg your pardon.” “You know, Captain and Tennille.” Confusion appears on her face. “It was our song.” “Our song?” “Yes, Claire, we had a song.” She touches the nametag attached to the strap of her dress. “I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage.” She holds up her hand and waves to a couple standing behind him. They approach. She smiles, hands them nametags, tickets, and points toward the open gym doors. “So, you’re saying we dated?” she asks. “Jeez, I must really look different.” “You’re sure you haven’t mistaken me for someone else?” “Of course not. You’re Claire Connor. You still look terrific.” “Claire Connor O’Rourke.” She points to her nametag. “My husband’s inside.” “Well, I’m . . .” “No, wait!” she insists, “don’t tell me!” She scrutinizes him again. “Of course!” She claps her hands, “you’re Johnny Bender.” “Johnny Bender? Were you seeing Johnny Bender back then, too?” She glances down. “Now you really do have me at a disadvantage.” His arms drop to his sides. “I’m Geo. Geo Fletcher.” “Oh my goodness, of course you are. How have you been?”

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His smile is crooked. He pretends to mop his brow. “Sorry, but you threw me off when you said we’d dated.” “Threw you off? We dated for almost a year.” “Not seriously?” His smile fades. “I thought so.” Claire runs her finger down the list she holds. “Of course, sure! Here you are!” She hands him a nametag. “These tickets are for the bar. Each will get you a drink. Anything you want. Alcoholic or not, your choice.” He peels the backing from the nametag and sticks it on his chest, as his smile flickers. “Good to see you again, Claire. You know, I’ve often wondered what might have happened had we . . .” “We?” she interrupts. “You and I were never actually a ‘we,’ were we?” She watches him fumble with the drink tickets. “Go on in, Geo,” she says, smiling and pointing toward the gymnasium. “Enjoy your evening.” When certain he is out of sight, she takes a halting breath. That hadn’t felt nearly as good as she’d hoped.

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All the Years by Dennis Trudell

He heard a wild laughter in the rain, and heard rain in her wild laughter. Now he hears just silence, and how distant his death will be from hers. “We walked naked in the rain; then ran naked to a wild sound of waves at an edge of Ireland,” he murmurs to rain in his mind and on tame walls of a senior home. Six decades now since she wouldn’t tell him her name. “Will we walk together in the rain?” he heard the young redhead call who had winked serving him inside as he moved from a pub in thunder toward his pack and bike. “Will we strip then? And let this rain feel us, gaze at a sleek other we don’t know?” she asked soon after. Had to shout above thudding waves ahead. “And run, hold each other, howl, laugh – do nothing else? And in all the years we live, remember when we wish or need to, how we were wild and chaste as rain?” He heard himself call out one short word, and he hears it now. And everyone he’s loved since then seems named in the loud, wild sound.

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Virgil Bloodsong - Going Home by Barbara Tate

Virgil Bloodsong Jr., was the residue of 53 years of hard living and was back from wherever he'd been, it was doubtful he knew. Now he was back where he started, a stranger in town. No one asked and no one cared that he'd tramped 254 miles across hot west Texas in mid-August to get home. He couldn't remember the last time he'd had a shower. Maybe at the rodeo up in Amarillo. He needed one and so did his dusty sweat stained shirt and jeans, his boots with the cracked turned up toes and worn down heels had seen better days ten years ago. A truck driver had picked him up but shoved him out after five miles, said he couldn't stand the stink of stale beer and greasy hair, wished him luck, threw a ten at him and drove off. No hard feelings. He'd watched as taillights disappeared. It could have been worse. Except for those five miles in the truck, Virgil had trudged every step of the way. He'd walked into the mirages of 14 days, sat on a rock in the shadow of a dozing mare and popped a pebble in his mouth to help with thirst. A chocolate bar had gone liquid in his pocket. He listened to voices on the wind, they told him things. He had heard them years ago along the banks of the Little Big Horn River, he heard the old ones whisper as he sat under a cottonwood at Wounded Knee and they stayed with him. They were there in the shadows and in stretches of silence he remembered their secrets, they kept him going, those secrets. One step at a time. One more step, but it seemed he was always one step in back of himself. He'd had dreams. He dated a girl once but it hadn't worked out. Her parents didn't like that 'cowboy drifter' so he'd drifted on and traveled dozens of lonely roads till he'd gotten used to it. It was easy to disappear when no one was looking. If he remembered right his mama's cabin was four miles out of town down a dead end road. He was almost there. One step at a time, one more step. He hoped his mother would be home. He knew she was still alive, if she wasn't he would have known. He would have heard it on the wind. He kept a picture of her safely tucked in his left boot, not a photo

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but a drawing he'd done on the back of an envelope she'd sent him six years ago. The note inside told of his brother and sister's death in a car accident. He'd thrown the note away, borrowed a pen, sat behind the bucking chutes and sketched the face he remembered, the face of an angel. Cowboys didn't cry, but Virgil did that day. He hadn't been a good cowboy anyway but it was all he'd ever known along with aches, pains, hitching rides and wondering when he'd eat and where he'd sleep. Now he took care of the stock instead of riding broncs and sometimes worked the concession stand. Day money had never gotten him very far, just kept him going down the road to nowhere. It was time to quit. It was time to go home. One more step, one step at a time. She was a strange little lady, all of five feet one if she could stand straight, but since she couldn't she looked even shorter, bones held together by blue veined twine wound around under skin holding in aches and pains she felt but couldn't see. The product of 80 winters. She once had the face of an angel or so her husband said, but she hadn't heard that voice in 52 years since he'd died and left her alone with three kids and a funeral bill. She'd heard the whispers, it was that old cottonwood again, it told her things when breezes blew. Almeda Bloodsong cut potatoes into her old black cast iron skillet adding bacon grease, onions and chopped Spam just as Virgil liked. He'd be hungry and thirsty so she put ice in a glass for tea. Biscuits were ready for the oven and could wait till last. Pear preserves were already on the table. She killed a couple of flies, swatted a few more and sat down in her rocker wondering when that old skillet had gotten so heavy and she had gotten so old. Last night she'd heard an owl. He'd whispered soft as a ghost, almost like an apology letting her know she wasn't alone. He was near, he was there and she wasn't alone.

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Magnolia by Barbara Hill

I buried the sparrow under our magnolia tree. No one saw me do this. No one saw me take him from a garbage can lifting him gently by one foot stroking his mangled feathers. I lined his grave with green leaves and rested his head on a fat fallen bud. The magnolia is extravagant in its blooming blooming, blooming; my sparrow had only the one brown bloom of its body, and now that is past. No one saw me cover him with pink and white petals before the dirt. Still there was a knowing.

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Crows Cross the Moon for Kirsti & Chris

by Christien Gholson What do they think the moon is? Some say it’s the eye of the first crow, opening and closing. Some say it’s the eye of the first crow’s lover, keeping watch. Some say it’s all talk, that the sheen of moon on black feather is inseparable from the feather. A lone crow flies to the bare peak of a black oak. He calls twice. He waits. He calls a third time. Someone answers on the next street over.

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Herd Dispersal by Page Lambert

Alone, after fifteen spring calving seasons twenty-four married winters I step out the barn door pieces of alfalfa cake in my pockets specks of manure on my boots. Cow eyes peer through narrow slats as he leaves pulling the first trailer-load to the sale barn. It's hard is all he says. Bittersweet, being so at home here, among coiled bridles and calico cats breathing hay and grain and grass. In the sun, I sit in the shadow of our life, watch slow dust rise from horses’ hooves, feel the drought spreading, the roots dying, hear the next load of mothers milling in the corral.

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Picture Window by Mitzi McMahon

Tom stood in the living room of his parents’ 50’s style ranch house looking out the picture window. The frame showed signs of rot, but the glass was just as he remembered: big, revealing. He scanned the front yard, acknowledging the maple now full grown, noting the blacktop driveway crumbling and bleached gray. Sealing the driveway had been his chore. Every Labor Day he spread the black-tar sealant on with a push broom while his father and kid brother watched the Jerry Lewis telethon. His father meant the chore as punishment for breaking curfew, but the truth was he’d enjoyed the back and forth rhythms of the work. He closed his eyes and tried to reconcile this moment with how he’d imagined it. He wanted this to be cathartic, or, as his therapist liked to say, releasing. He’d driven two days to get here, his visions of the homecoming changing with each bend in the road. Three weeks back, when the news arrived from the estate lawyer that his father had left the house to him and Brian, he’d been surprised at his willingness to come back. His life in Amargosa was good, quiet. But he was ready for a change, ready to reconnect. His eyes drifted to the flowerbeds lining the walkway, remembered how his mother insisted on shredded bark instead of landscape stones, said organic was better for the soil. Every June a dump truck emptied a huge pile of mulch onto the bottom of the driveway, and he’d climbed it—up and down, up and down—until his father threatened him with the belt. He remembered the time his father chased his mother over the pile of mulch, how she’d hit him with a pitchfork, how he tripped her as she turned away, straddled her, then smashed her head against the driveway. He pinpointed the spot on the driveway, recalled how he’d covered the rusty brown area with an extra coat of sealant that year. Tom turned away from the picture window and sat on the edge of the battered couch. The air was musty, heavy on his skin. The walls were faded yellow; he remembered them being a pale blue. He’d left when he was 17. Begged his mother to come with him. She’d stood in the doorway in jeans and a white floral shirt—the gauzy material bright and

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ethereal against her tanned skin. She’d twisted the frayed edges of a dishtowel slung over her shoulder, said she couldn’t leave Brian behind. The look on her face—love tangled with fear—scarred him. He’d carried it with him as he drove west. She died six years later. He stood, rolled his shoulders, and checked his watch. Brian was late. Out west, Tom had found his way into the dot-com business, then left right before the industry went belly up. He landed with an insurance company and it was there, amid the routine and predictability, that he’d thrived. He checked the time again and felt the telltale quiver beneath his right eye. His therapist’s tinny voice echoed in his head: feel the emotion, release the emotion. He circled the living room, then headed down the hallway and into his father’s bedroom. It was dark, plain. He wasn’t sure what he expected. Opening the closet, he found his mother’s clothes waiting. A hint of stale perfume floated out. He skimmed the pads of his fingers across the sleeves: solids and flowers, long and short. He heard a car horn, pushed the closet door shut, and returned to the living room. Tom stood again at the picture window and watched as Brian exited a huge pickup truck and clomped up the walkway in steel-toed boots, jean jacket flapping. His hair was crew-cut short. It’d been 12 years. Brian entered the house and spread his arms wide. “Tommy!” Tom gave him a hug, noticed that Brian was now taller by at least an inch. Brian squeezed, then clapped him hard on the back and said, “How the hell are you?” “Good.” There was so much more he wanted to say, wanted to know. He sensed movement behind Brian and stepped back. “Who’s this?” Brian reached down and unclamped two tiny arms attached at the spot just above his knee. Twisting, he grabbed hold and dragged a little boy around, deposited him in the space between them. “This is Garrett.” He cuffed the boy on the head. “Quit being a wuss and say hello to your Uncle Tommy.” Tom squatted and extended his hand, but Garrett withdrew, flattening himself against his father’s legs. Brian bucked him off. “Go on. He won’t bite.” “That’s okay.” Tom stood but kept his eyes on Garrett. “How old is he?” 154

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“Four in June.” Tom moved to the couch, patted the cushion. “Why don’t you jump up here and take a peek outside? The view’s pretty great. Your father and I used to do it all the time when we were your age.” Brian stepped into the middle of the room, puffed his chest out and looked around. “The old man left a lot of junk, didn’t he?” Tom gave Garrett a gentle smile and joined Brian. “Yeah. Not sure what we should do with it all.” Brian lifted the framed picture of their mother from the top of the console TV, ran his finger across the glass, cocked his head. “How come you didn’t come back for her funeral?” His tone was hard, flat. Tom’s eyes flitted around the room: the ceramic pigs on the shelf, the remote control velcroed to the arm of the chair, the flowery lampshade atop the end table. “Didn’t see the point,” he said, finally. “She was already gone.” Brian gave him a look Tom couldn’t quite decode, then set the frame down with a clunk. “Right.” Pushing past him, Brian walked to the basement door, yanked it open and turned back to Garrett. “I used to have some pretty cool stuff. C’mon, let’s go see if it’s still here.” When Garrett didn’t respond, Brian slapped his hand against the wall. “Garrett, get your ass over here.” Tom watched as Garrett scrambled down off the couch, watched as they both disappeared, their steps echoing on the basement stairs. He felt heat, like an old friend, begin a slow burn up his spine. He slid his gaze along the shadows stretched over the floor, noticed the edges were both crisp and soft, and realized that in all the apartments he’d looked at renting after leaving home, he’d avoided those with picture windows. He filled his lungs, released the air, and walked into the kitchen. He touched the table, scratched and dented, ran a finger along the counters, opened the cupboards. A dog barked outside and he paused, recalled how they used to eat on the patio, recalled how his mother saved an extra ear of corn each Labor Day for him to eat after he finished his chores. His brother and nephew emerged from the basement and Garrett’s nose was running, his cheeks red. “What happened?” Tom asked. Brian waved the question off with a flick of his wrist. “The boy’s got

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a little scrape is all. Told him to stop his crying or I’d take him outside and rub dirt in it, give him something to really cry about.” He fished a small tin out of his back pocket and stuffed a pinch of chew inside his lower lip. “Remember how the old man used to do that to us?” Tom remembered. Brian drifted over to the window, placed his forearm against the dingy white frame. He peered out into the backyard for a minute and then turned back to Tom. “So, what’s the plan? You going to buy me out?” Tom looked at him, remembered the freckles Brian used to have across his nose. He thought about the grand ideas he’d had during his two days of driving, how he would put the past behind him, how he and Brian would make up for lost time. He ran his hand through his hair, then pressed his forefinger against his right eye. It was twitching so hard he was surprised Brian hadn’t noticed. He lowered his hand and looked at Brian. “I don’t want it,” he said. “You keep it or sell it. Up to you.” He left the room and walked down the hallway and into his father’s bedroom, slid the closet door open. He tugged the overhead pull chain and searched the space, his fingers clumsy, impatient, until he found the white floral shirt.

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Where (in the) House by Timothy Gager

I have a box in the attic with some things which belonged to the boy who took my virginity. He’s not important now and neither are his things but I have his toothbrush, a box of dental floss and the cap off the Bacardi rum we drank as foreplay. That was all there was of that. I never threw any of it away. He took a part of me, now I have a part of him. I have a box in the closet from the boy I fell in love with in college. He was my first real love and in the box I have his favorite t-shirt with The Buzzcocks logo on it. It’s yellow with purple letters which now smells like a combination of four of the closets it’s been housed in. I also have his journal of poems which he wrote all in lower case letters. He fancied E.E. Cummings, which made me try E.E. Cummings. I no longer read the boy’s poems. It made me realize how self-centered he was. His work was nothing like E.E. Cummings. He was sensitive. I looked for more examples of his simmering ego because I didn’t know a better way to break up with him. I was a Psych major. I took his stuff. I have a box in my underwear drawer from the boy I was going to marry. It’s a small box which jumps when I slam the drawer. It holds an engagement ring and a tiny sampler bottle of the cologne he enjoyed. I stole it from Rite Aide because his bottle was a very, very large one. I thought he bought his cologne from Costco. My best girlfriend started to smell like that same cologne. I told her that I knew that smell. Sometimes I spray it on my underwear. It reminds me of her. I have a box in my garage with a coaster and a glass mug in it. I keep it close to my car. When I was cheated on by the boy I was going to marry, I went to a bar. The mug is inscribed with the bar’s name, Frowns, on one side, and Because We’re Not Cheers on the other. I found these two things in my car the morning after I asked the grad student to fuck me in there. I used to keep those items in my car’s glove box, but now it’s not that important. The box is on the garage shelf next to a jar of screws. I have a backpack over my shoulder with items of my current boyfriend. He doesn’t know me well but he knows all about the other

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boxes in my house. He gives me things to store in my backpack. I didn’t have to steal anything from this one. I miss that part. It’s too easy. My backpack has shells from our first time together at the beach. That was thoughtful but the shells started to break. He went to the beach for new ones but it wasn’t the same. He also gave me a bottle of cologne and a Buzzcocks CD to store in there. He said he didn’t wear cologne and he also doesn’t know who the Buzzcocks are. He’s not very creative or smart. He’s terrible in bed but he’s nice and safe. I thought I wanted safe. I’m hardly ever right. I have items in my purse from my current lover on the side, who works at a funeral parlor, also on the side. He’s not safe and he can’t be my boyfriend. I took the inside pocket of his jeans I cut out when he was asleep, his razor because I like him scruffy and his wallet because I like his credit card. He makes good money. When my current boyfriend becomes suspicious he searches my purse, and asks me if I was seeing anyone. I told him that he’s extremely paranoid and only looking for things to find that are wrong. I yelled at him for going in my purse. I move my lover’s items from my purse to a box behind my shoes in the closet where my boyfriend won’t find it. I have an urn in my living room but I don’t know what’s going to be kept there. Ashes are real things I don’t think will ever be produced by someone I’ll share my life with until they die. When I move to a new place, I’ll want to move the urn along with the boxes from the attic, underwear drawer, garage, closet and of course, the backpack. I move a lot which seems to suit me. My boyfriend once told me to let things go and if you move without ever re-opening a box you should just throw the box away because it can’t be that important. The urn is important. It was a gift from my lover who’s so less important than an urn. I can’t seem to picture him in there. I know I should trash the boxes and keep the urn because that seems to be a better plan. Tomorrow is garbage day. Everything stays put.

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The Fox

By Nancy Stohlman I first saw him on the dirt bike path by the ditch, behind the Light Trail. He was 50 yards away in the sun, scratching, yawning, a reddish brown coat, black paws, white underbelly. I stayed very still, and when he didn’t run I took a soft step, wondering how close he’d let me get. He preened until I was quite close; his nose was long and sweet. I took another step. Another. And then, when I was just 10 feet away, he excused himself into the bushes with calculated nonchalance, a final flick of his thick, white-tipped tail. I walked the rest of the way home feeling exquisite. Later on my porch, in the sad nostalgia of September, I sensed him before I saw him, emerging from the overgrowth and into the din of the streetlights. He had the curious look of a boy, new and fresh and wild and sensuous, with vulnerable brown eyes and black-tipped ears. I thought about leaving food but I was afraid the squirrels would get it. So instead I left my pillow—covered in the smells of me at my most peaceful and innocent. An invitation. That night he entered my dreams and I embraced a coarse lean body, strong, wiry legs wrapped around my waist in an almost human way. That morning the pillow on my porch had been nested in, a few scattered white hairs left in the circular impression of his body. I held it to my nose and inhaled the musky, wild smell. Each night I left the pillow out and each night he returned, inching it closer to the front door until the night I left the door open. That night the moon cast a square beam onto the living room floor, and there I lay, almost sick with nervousness when I felt bristly fur tickle the edge of the sheet. His nose brushed my toe, then touched my hair. I held my breath. I felt him circle a few times, gently trampling down the bedding, then settle behind me, his face tucked into the crook of my neck. I tried to settle my breathing as the wind blew through the open door and smoothed our entwined faces. I surrendered to sleep in the hazy, bird-chirpy morning, and he was gone when I woke. But I found his gift left lovingly for me on the pillow: my black cat, lifeless. I felt strangely unmoved as I sniffed it, nudged it with my nose. Santa Fe Literary Review

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The Very Second by Lauren Camp

Driving home you are a princess, This town fits like a tight shoe you’re thinking when the car swerves, and only when the wheels stop shrieking crosswise on the road, when the car crumples, and you sit completely still next to doubt, fading into the upholstery, looking at the intricate road outside your hollow body, only when the sun perches dirty on the dashboard, each moment filled with splintered radio music, a sound that keeps subtracting from itself, do you begin to speak to the clouds about irrelevance and how to get there, how you don’t want to climb into expiration this way. Your strange white face stares back from the rearview mirror as you brush the dry grass of daylight away with cold hands, and look through the windshield at the dry pile of lazy clouds resting darkly on the engine.

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Exiting the Glass Coffin by Pamela L. Laskin

Sleeping Beauty rises from the glass coffin like a corpse, only this time there is no prince hiding around the corner (he didn’t want to wait one hundred years). Instead the forest is filled with possibility: to the left she can murder the mother who supported the stupid king’s demand to rid the kingdom of all the spindles; to the right a race right out of the fairy tale and into a life real, not imagined.

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Overthinking Little Red by Frank H. Coons

The story teller begins, “once upon a time”, and she has already lost you as you dissect impermanence, perishability. Which time is it that was once upon? There are objects pushing against each other here, there is mystery, instability. Some things are lost in translation. Still, minutes pass and you’ve stayed too long on the previous page. You miss the nexus when little red has seen those eyes, deep in cross-dressed shadows. Grandma is dead. You’re still thinking about her in pajamas, how she came to be alone in the forest; still wondering if her life flashed before her, before the gnash of teeth on brittle bone. You consider the difficulty of eating all that flesh, dressing without opposable thumbs, where to stash the mess, the thin white hair, whatever happens next, there will be no happily ever after.

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Fever Dream: Window Shopping by Jon Kelly Yenser

I dreamed we were shopping in the colonnade, the hour before dawn. You walked arm in arm with two men I’d never met, all of you speaking Spanish so quickly I couldn’t follow. I had no idea you had such command. I fell behind, called out, “Wait, wait up,” but you kept going. I stopped to look in a window. I stood beside a man, a giant, whose top hat grazed the latilla. He was glossy black, in evening dress, cigar in his teeth, a fifth of Old Crow in hand. It's Maximon! The Mayan god of cuckoldry, his limbs restored, admiring a hat tree of fedoras. He looked me over and said, “We are both giants, in a way.” I smiled, studied a cabinet of folding knives and multi-purpose tools. When you walked by the other way, he followed with his eyes, then turned and nodded at a sign on the door -Hours: 9 a.m. to Life and Others by Appointment. “I like a shopkeeper who knows his clientele," he said. "Take care, amigo. Take heed.”

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Walking Out with You by John Grey

When I walked out with you, we were ridiculous. We claimed the balding fat man on the bench was Buddha. “Tell us, oh wise man," we giggled, just beyond his hearing. "Is the road to Samarkand?" When I walked out with you, we were angry. Not with each other necessarily but our ire toward others refused to link our hands together. And our pale faces pleaded to sky for color. When I walked out with you, we were magicians. I made a coin disappear. You showed me your right shoulder where the tattoo was no more. And yes, nothing up my sleeve but your frisky fingers. You entered my mind to read it for a while. You enjoyed yourself so much, you stayed. When I walked out with you, we were musicians: humming, whistling. we were vagabonds: what say we do this

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all day, every day. we were criminals: I stole glances, you wasted time. When I walked out with you, we were bored. You saw one pigeon beyond having seen them all I admired grass for its greenness then left it at that. But really, we were in love: we hugged and kissed, toppled over the guy sweeping the sidewalks. But we were the sweepers, I, the broom, you, the dishpan, everything as clean as how we found it. When I walked out with you, it was around the park, or three city blocks, it didn't matter it was you and me, the seeds of a destination we had walking convinced that we were there already.

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Maypole by MerimĂŠe Moffitt

While they lined up for gas in ‘72 I pushed you in a vintage buggy our only wheels—no man, no car we meandered our way recession inconsequential to a welfare mom steeped in categories like poor and single serene as tiny daisies in the grass I had nothing to squander sewing dresses and skirts selling at the Saturday market annoying everyone living on so little yet I returned I the pretty maiden holding you like a ribbon dancing round and round waving feathers as if I needed you to burn us alive

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Ellipse

by Jim Nawrocki My first neighborhood, my solar system. I enter its far edge with you, show you the market, now abandoned, the drugstore, defunct too, these, the outer belt’s dead ice. Houses flake into pale acedia. March relentlessly delays spring. All along these streets I revert to memories you never knew. We cross ancient orbits: the Jupiter circuit where I once circled in glee on hand-me-down bikes, the martial boundaries where I battled over yards’ territories. And then the center, my old house, now foreign, empty. A brown vine rattles up brick beside the porch, something we would have cleared long before it could climb.

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I see my two brothers, myself, again, we three, directed to pluck Autumn’s fallen flames off of our lawn, my mother upstairs, my father down, each of them at their own window. Walking here now through this late winter, you stop me, point up to a cardinal – as bright as fire – singing from a bare branch. I’ve brought you here as my witness, but now you show me the world.

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Birds of Paradise by Matheiu Callier

Today’s Thanksgiving. I’m back in town, visiting my folks for the first time in maybe eight, nine years. All I know is that a new president’s in charge and I’ve had to renew my passport, so, yeah, it’s been a while. My flight touched down about an hour ago, and I’m driving a rental, a blue Mustang convertible. It’s not warm in LA today, but I put the top down anyway. The previous renter programmed all the presets to mariachi stations. The accordions and trumpets and ay ay ays don’t scream pilgrims or Indians, which is why I don’t change a thing. Driving the car feels liberating. I get off the freeway and take side streets. I’m on Crenshaw, heading north. Chinese restaurants, supermarkets, churches, bus stops, and gas stations flank the street. As I near Whiffletree Lane, I think of Cole, the man who encouraged me to get away, the man who freed me. My mother’s told me that the bird and trimmings will be served at three. It’s only two, and I don’t need the extra hour with my parents, so I pull down Whiffletree Lane. The street’s bowered by oaks of all the same size; it’s as though the trees had a meeting and said, “Let’s all grow like this, with our branches fanning out like menorahs.” I park in front of his brick house with large windows, crisscrossed by panes. The driveway is empty. The leaves rustle; the wind sighs. After a few deep breaths, I inspect my teeth in the rearview mirror—they’re crumb free. I smooth my thinning hair and cup one of my hands around my mouth and exhale. My breath’s subpar, so I pop in a mint. As I walk to the door, I notice the grass isn’t as green as it used to be, and that some of his flowers, his favorite ones—birds of paradise, I think they’re called—are dying. How long’s it been since I walked this walkway? Too long. I was a confused twenty-something with a tight jaw, long lashes, and creamy skin. We never slept together because I wasn’t ready, but I’ve never felt closer to anyone else. I ring the bell. I’m nervous, scared he won’t recognize me. Age has

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picked on me with expression lines and dark bags that hang under my eyes like hammocks. There are some sounds coming from behind the door: the creaking of wood, the shuffle of feet. The latch is unfastened; the door is pulled open slowly. “Cole,” I say as he continues to open the door. “It’s me— ” “I know that voice,” he says softly. “Gregory.” He’s not the same man. He’s standing there, in the doorway, leaning against the frame in stained, navy sweat pants. He doesn’t have a shirt on and his shoulders, his what-used-to-be 44-regular shoulders are tired. The thick black chest hair I used to run my hands through is gray and thin, and the medallions that used to rest in the center of it are dull. His ribs are exposed and his arms are no thicker than his wrists. With his face angled at the brick, he says something. “What?” I say. “AIDS,” he says. “A couple years back.” I want to say something, but I don’t. I can never seem to find the right words when it matters. Instead, I just reach over and grab his hand. I hold it. What once was a thick man’s hand, is now brittle. His knuckles are bumpy as challah bread and his veins are plump and squishy and run together like tributaries to a stream. “I always hoped you’d come back and ring this bell,” he says, and I can tell the sentence takes a lot out of him. “Come in.” Inside, everything is as it was—the oriental rugs are rich and red and feel plush under my feet. The couches are brown and as weathered as he is. His baby grand’s in the corner, and I can see myself sitting on the couch next to it, writing term papers, asking him for help. He leads me into his bedroom. I drag my left hand along the curves of his sleigh bed, and help him in. He lies down and howls till he has no more air in his chest. I sit in a recliner, off to the side. The TV’s in the corner and the mute icon dances across the screen. A cooking show’s on and a chef chops scallions and flashes a big smile while doing so. He struggles to pull the sheet up, so I hop up and help him out. “How long’s it been?” he asks. “Too long,” I say. “You look good,” he says.

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“Your eyes are closed,” I say. “I think of you often,” he says. “Me too,” I say. “Never met another like you. Not even close.” “Will you stay a while?” he says, removing his hand from the covers and searching for mine.

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The Sound of Time Passing Collage by Marilyn Stablein 172

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Flophouses by Angela Woodward

Mostly men came, old men, single men, and men who had abandoned their families. Though they could get on without a lot of comforts, it soon became impossible for them to sleep in the city. The hotels had burned down or become fortresses, and the city council put a ban on private rooming houses and transient shelters, hoping in this way to discourage the influx of immigrants. As there were no beds to be had, people slept on the sidewalks, but the police found it their duty to rouse them with their batons and fine them one hundred dollars. Greek Street soon became a central corridor for sleep walkers. Since it was illegal to lie down, the transients slept standing up and shuffling along the sidewalk, the force of the crowd keeping the staggerers upright. Thousands of destitute souls stumbled up and down the street nightly, their eyes closed, their feet nosing numbly for the drops in the curb. The sound of snoring and rasping breath, the smell of open mouths, gave the street the familiarity of a bedroom. The night wind flapping against the men’s soiled overcoats imitated the sound of curtains in a cool room at home, lending the street an overall peacefulness. The sleeping men walked at roughly the same slow pace. The tall ones stepped on the short ones, and sometimes one became rabid and anxious in a dream and started running and shouting, but the crowd adapted itself to these interruptions, opening and closing in pockets of unconscious motion so that even if the sleepers were often jostled, they did not usually fall down. Eventually some charitable crusaders defied the city ordinance and opened a flophouse: a hundred beds crammed together in a warehouse over a car parts store. A careless cigarette soon set the whole thing on fire, and the building burned to the ground. The mayor excoriated the crusaders for having dared to house such irresponsible, reckless people. They were not deterred, and opened another flophouse a few weeks later. The new space was a small second-story apartment, in which stood only a single bed. Men lined up early in the evening for a chance to sleep in the bed, and at midnight the line snaked down around the

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block and into the alley. Some of the men demanded that everyone should draw lots, and the lucky card would win a night's sleep in the apartment. But the crusaders found this too like gambling, and stuck to their own plan. They promised anyone who would wait calmly in line a four-minute rest in the bed. While the men waited on the stairs, the crusaders sang hymns and preached their gospel. One of the staff escorted the person at the top of the line to the bed, where he lay down and immediately began to dream vivid adventures of flying over huge stone walls, wrenching fierce birds from their nests, throwing molten gobs of mud. Each sleeper saw friends from his childhood or ate a tremendous meal in the grass at the edge of a wood. Just as the vision reached its peak—the birds diving for his face, or the hamburger nearing his lips— the missionaries grabbed the sleeper by the shoulder and turned him out of the bed. He stumbled away down the back stairs, eyes clenched against the dim bulb on the landing. The four minutes in the bed seemed like an entire night to these men used to sleeping while walking, and the privacy of the little room was in itself heavenly. But the flophouse fell out of use after several months, when enterprising gangs began organizing the homeless men into work squads. Since most of the men were too sick and exhausted to do any labor, they had been unable to work even when it was offered. The gangs enticed the men to take a stimulant that gave them a calm, drugged attention for twelve hours. The organizers rounded up teams in the morning and shot them up, then sent them out to do contracted work like cleaning factories and chemical plants, butchering animals, welding steel drums, or packing and unpacking crates. Business owners were eager to deal with the sensible gang managers, and the city council made no effort to deter them, as at last the hapless transients were productive. The gangs opened their own flophouses, far superior to the single room the religious folk ran. Each worker got his own bed for a full twelve hours. However, it was not possible to sleep under the influence of the morning drug. Its effects grew stronger throughout the day, and if it went unchecked, it led to heart spasms. The gang leaders paid the workers in cash every evening, but then they had to turn most of the money over again if they wished to receive a second shot that counteracted the first and induced sleep. The men who had staggered around the hostile city

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night after night for close on a year were not too unhappy to pay out their day's wages to be allowed to sleep. It seemed to them basically fair, and neither the crusaders nor any other activists were able to organize dissent. Sullen, dreamless sleep became just another expensive utility, like gas and light. With the transient population finally under a yoke, the city began to regain some of its lost efficiency, and within several years it had returned to its former place of honor.

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Eliza

by Kris Crews This was how she knew she hadn’t lost her mind. When she touched the cool smooth white skin of the tree, her arms branched out to the moonlit heavens. Against her cheek, the aspen bark felt like cool water gliding along the canyons of her face. It was like being touched by cocooned serenity. Serenity wrapped in marbled angel skin. Above her, the tiny green dish leaves wavered and shivered in the barely perceptible breeze. Inside her trembled a multitude of tiny fears that clung to her whitewashed bones under the full mountain moon; small fears, like leaves fluttering to the beat of her heart. Beneath her feet lay the history of moth and worm, of storm and wind, of decomposition in the name of regeneration. Fragrance of breakdown, perfume of death, worn heavily on the cool night air. Her nostrils widened to capture the message of it, to extract the meaning of decay mingled with loam: the composting soul of the forest. Within the thin white pages of this treestory, she convinced herself, lay the salvation of herstory. The moon rose higher, the stark white trunks bristled like quills from the humped back of the hill. There was no need to dance from trunk to trunk. She felt no urgency to rediscover the path. The longer she stood starkly pressed against the one tree, the stronger she felt the quivering of the multitude. The higher the moon climbed, the whiter and more rigid shone her pale thin skin. Even as she closed her gauzy eyelids, she felt her moonstruck gaze burn through tissue and capillary until she could see the forest whole, with her eyes closed. In the shadow of hertree, with thighs pressed tightly together, she stood mighty and tall, taut, yet yielding, cool yet fervent. She rooted the soles of her shoes firmly in the rot. Beneath the spongy layers, she sensed the flowing aquifers streaming icy waters through rock solid veins, pulsing gently toward the heart. Fibrous fingers and toes scrabbling long and longingly through pebble and clod. Her blood, the sap. Her veins the xylem and her arteries the phloem. Her breath‌ the breeze. Her tree story. Her story.

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They found her the next afternoon after much searching. A white haired lady, tall and slender for such an old woman. Alzheimer's, some mumbled. Dementia, her daughters sobbed. They had great difficulties prying her stiff fingers from the cleft in the trunk of the white barked aspen. They felt morbid appall at the manner in which her dead body had stiffened, her arms like brittle branches. They carried her solemnly off the mountain. The grove of trees sparkle in the bright sunlight. The small green leaves shiver and smile. The dry tinkle of laughter rides tenderly from leaf to leaf on the breeze. Etched into the silvery bark of one amongst the many aspens is the name. Eliza.

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Testing Heaped Earth by Barbara Rockman

The yard had been trenched and loam delivered. My family slept. It was spring. I lifted my gown overhead. Naked, I sniffed the composted and combustible. Eyes closed and arms wide, I fell the way a diver swans. Small brown clouds puffed up as my thighs sank into it, breasts relieved of carrying. I smelled what worms smell. Fingers like cropped rakes. Nipples, miniature trowels. And hips tilling. The neighbors might have claimed suicide by dirt but hearing dawn dogs start up, I pressed out of the mess, blurred silhouette. Loam strewn, went in. Down the hall, dark leavings. I might have made them breakfast, might have mixed berries into batter.

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Birds Visit Yo Yo Ma by Jane Lipman

Birds perched on klieg lights outdoors at the Santa Fe Opera listened to Yo Yo Ma play the cello and as they grew confident in music they did not know began singing along with him louder and louder until he had to stop and look at them and laugh. When he resumed playing so did they all afternoon. They’d never heard a bird like that before.

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Sleep/Balm by Jim Daniels

When my son was still a believer in parents’ love and steady embrace I gave him sleep balm to rub on his temples when he could not— when he stirred with the lack of light and dark space dizzied around him. He believed in sleep balm and thus drifted off to its menthol magic. And when I entered later to listen to him breathe—the rise and fall of what sustains me too— I thought I knew a few things. * He’s outgrown the bed, spread the mattress askew across the floor, and what I smell and he does not is the reek of pulling away. I hear him storm the steps into early morning on those sleepless nights we share. Rigid in my bed, afraid to find him twinning my lack of dreams. Sleep balm. Honey dreams. A child’s damp forehead. A father, excommunicated, remembers worship at the temples.

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She Wears Me Like a Coat by Robert Vaughan

The first time it was one of those cucumbers wrapped in plastic. I stuck it down my pants when no one was looking. We ambled through the store, my heart beating a million times a minute. I kissed her in the check-out line, world spinning away, some actress’s boob job gone wrong. I wondered what might happen if I got a cucumber hard-on. We never said a word about it once we got home. We lived with another tool, one of her friends from college. Slade was always there. I’d suggest studying at the library, or checking out a band at the Nugget. He was cemented to the kitchen nook. Later that night we’re out looking for astronauts, and she said isn’t it a little too late for this. We sat under the picnic table, shared a cig, the smoke lit her turned-up nose pink. “That was stupid,” she said. I nodded. It was the cucumber. “Yeah.” “What? It’s not like we can’t afford it.” “It isn’t about that.” She punched my arm. “Everybody knows you never, NEVER EVER lift from a store you frequent.” She was our shopper. “I don’t frequent them. You do.” “Look, you want to do this, fine. But spend some gas, drive to Dover. It’s a town filled with lifters, grifters, and swindlers.” I mulled it over, ground out the cigarette. That night, after she drifted off, I lay awake. It wasn’t the small stuff I was concerned with. Twinkie’s, or gummi worms. I had grander goals. My neighbor’s chainsaw. Our babysitter’s scooter. Finally, I fell asleep imagining a world in which everything was mine, anything I wanted came instantly. Rooms of senseless stuff. And for this, I would get severely punished. Yes, old school style.

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Good Poison by Julie Yowell I once found myself in the middle of a terrifying clip of time when I cut a large rattlesnake out of a chicken wire fence. Tangled and woven into the chain like a ribboned basket, it took me over an hour to release the snake. I went into a kind of functional shock, where I could attend to the task, yet felt as though I moved in a dream—a scary dream. My loyalty to this creature saved its life. For many reasons, I could not have left it to die. My fifteen-year association with this snake began in 1996, when I moved to a small, rustic cabin in the high mountain desert south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I left behind a two-bedroom house in town, complete with all the amenities—television, computer, running water and central heating. My new home, five miles off road, was a severe divergence. Neither phone nor electric lines had made it to the territory, and the road could be impassable at times. I soon realized that it takes a hardy soul to live at 8,200 feet in a remote location. Having reached my fortieth birthday that year, I doubted my tenacity and struggled to adjust. I hauled water from long distances, adapted to zero electrical appliances, and built sputtering, smoky fires in an old wood stove. I read and painted by candlelight, then went to bed when the fire went out. I often felt lonely and isolated—foolish to have left the posh lifestyle I’d taken for granted. One afternoon during my first spring on the land, I carted several loads of books and winter gear to a storage shed on the west side of the cabin. I dropped a book near a bed of spiky yucca and prickly pear. I froze. A large, glossy rope lay coiled on the ground; a thick cord that had shiny scales, liquid-gold eyes, and rose and fell with breath. My heart stood alert in my chest, all my senses vigilant...a breathing rope? Instantly, I realized I was inches from a huge rattlesnake. I didn’t see or hear a warning rattle, but the flat triangular head was all the information I needed. This was a toxic visitor. My trance ended abruptly and I leapt ten feet with a gazelle-like grace. I pressed my hand to my chest to

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catch my breath. I remembered reading about the chameleon-like ability of snakes. One could train your eyes on a snake while you walk backwards, and the critter mysteriously vanished right before your eyes. This was definitely an invisible snake; after all, I must’ve passed within inches of it several times without seeing it. I wiped the sweat from my brow and raced into the house to grab my binoculars. Through the window, I observed dark camel-colored diamonds spaced along the coils, and a hint of the rattle tucked under its body. Maybe it wasn’t afraid of me and that’s why it didn’t rattle at me. I had so many questions about this reptile: What kind of rattlesnake is this? How toxic is the venom? Most importantly, why is it here? Aren’t they supposed to avoid humans? I just wanted to get rid of it. My hands trembled and I hoped I’d have some cell phone service as I punched in the number for Santa Fe Animal Control. An older gentleman answered the phone and I explained the situation. “Where do you live?” he asked. I paced and pushed my hair back, “I’m out off Goldmine road, a ways up the mountain.” I was tired of explaining to people just how far out in the wilderness I lived. Yes, yes, I know I’m crazy. Of course, you’re right. He laughed, “Remote and rocky, little darlin’. There are hundreds of abandoned gold mines up there and it’s out in the sticks; you’re in rattler territory. If I come up and remove that snake, seventy-four more will replace it. Buck up and get used to it. You can always move into town.” Yeah, I thought, I could move back into town…now there’s an idea. I stammered and tried to bargain with him, “Sir, don’t hang up. I can pay you to come get it. How much…” I twisted my hair around a finger. I could hear his radio crackling in the background—a call for some creature he would be willing to relocate. The guy laughed and the line went dead. I sighed, tossed my phone on the bed and paced. I pulled the Samsonite out and clicked it open. Then, I remembered numerous snake dreams from my childhood; symbolic visions that inspired an early fascination. I took a deep breath; I wasn’t going anywhere. I decided to look at this as an opportunity to study this species. I shrugged, Why not make the best of this and learn something new? BeSanta Fe Literary Review

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sides, it will probably be gone tomorrow. Yeah, it will be gone tomorrow. However, the mysterious creature lolled in the sun a few feet from my front door the whole next day. I went to the library and checked out every book I could find about reptilian types and devoured the pages. My childhood interest sprang back to life as I sloughed off my fear. I felt rejuvenated, like a snake shedding her skin. First, I determined which rattler I’d tangled with. I knew there were many genera in the northern hemisphere, and some were more toxic than others were. I hoped I could classify my new neighbor as one of the more docile, less venomous varieties out there. I read there are one hundred and fifteen species and sub-species of rattlesnakes in the northern hemisphere. My choices narrowed, as there are only seven types in New Mexico, and only two take to the high hills: the Prairie Rattler (virdis virdis) and the Western Diamondback (Crotalus atrox). I identified this snake as a Diamondback by the distinctive black and white stripes at the end of the tail. Sometimes called a Coon Rattler, I gasped when I read that this particular snake is supposedly one of the most aggressive rattlers on the planet, and the second largest snake in the country. (The Eastern Diamondback is a good two to three feet longer.) The female Diamondback can push five feet in length; the males nearly seven, and weigh up to fifteen pounds. That’s a huge snake and my friend Ray salivates when he sees my four-footer. He suggests that we just, “Throw her on the bar-b and get it over with.” On top of that, the field guides state the Coon Rattler’s venom is not just toxic, but “Extremely toxic. Beware!” Just my luck: a toxic mean pit viper. At this point in my study, I considered Ray’s grilling ideas: Teriyaki Rattler, Sautéed Snake, Shish-kabob Serpent. However, I shuddered when I imagined chopping its head off; I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Another fact I discovered is that this was a female. Photographs and text in the books indicate that the female’s tail tapers dramatically just before the rattle beads. I did not have a male rattler on hand (yet) to compare tails with, but shortly thereafter, she gave live birth to almost ten babies in my yard. There’s a serious problem with having numerous baby rattlers on your doorstep and this is one reason why—an adult rattler knows that it takes nearly a month to rejuvenate venom. The snake learns over time that if she bites and injects venom into a being that is 184

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too large to eat, like a horse or a human, it’s just a waste of good poison. An adult rattler can control the flow of toxin, and usually deliver what’s called a “dry bite.” They will bite a human in defense, but won’t inject and squander their venom on a large mammal. The neonates, or baby rattlers, are not born knowing this, and they will inject the whole quantity of venom, almost as if they’re practicing. Born with only one rattle bead, they couldn’t sound a warning even if they had good reason. Obviously, this makes them more dangerous than the full-grown critter. Fortunately, the day the babies arrived on my doorstep the birds found the ten-inch snakes easy prey. A pure irony since birds and their eggs are some of the rattler’s favorite foods. I continued my study and realized that what first attracted this female to sprawl on my path was the seed and water I put out for the birds every day. The birds ate the seed and the rattler ate the birds. On occasion, I’d see her snatch a bird out of the air, like the best player on a team catching a low ball. Once, a Mourning Dove flew into my window and broke its neck. I retrieved the warm body and tossed it in front of her and she gulped it right away--manna from the gods. The fangs are used only for injecting venom, they are retracted as they swallow their prey whole. Small teeth on the lower jaw are curved toward the throat and assist in gripping the prey. Then, the snake seems to crawl over the victim. In addition, I noticed a marked absence of rodents when the rattler hung out in my yard; a definite advantage since the deadly Hanta Virus is common in the field mice and Kangaroo Rats of New Mexico. When I mentioned this to my father, he argued that I was trying to justify having a rattler live so close. He insisted I hire myself some “Paul Bunyan type” to come up and whack her head off. He tried to scare me with a ghastly account of a friend who’d been bitten by the same type of “varmint” on the thigh. The man’s leg swelled to elephantine proportions and turned black. He went through an agonizing year, which ended with amputation. Venom has enzymes much like human saliva that work to break down flesh and bone even before the prey hits the digestive tract. Hearing this made me nervous, but I still was not willing to call Paul Bunyan. Shortly after hearing this horror story, I dreamt that I attended a Hopi snake dance. This annual event, now prohibited to outsiders, for Santa Fe Literary Review

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many years invited people of all races to the sacred ceremony. The dancers clench live rattlers between their teeth while they dance. In my dream, one of the medicine men waved a squirming snake in my face, and I opened my mouth and bit into its thick body, blood dripping down my chin. Instantly my saliva reacted with its nervous system and the serpent writhed in pain. The shamans were not sure what to do and called a council to discuss it. They bathed the wounded snake in milk and discussed treatment in whispers. “We can’t amputate; this isn’t an appendage, it’s the whole body.” Then the scene switched, and men in white coats and surgical masks paced and squinted at detailed charts. They decided to euthanize the snake. My dream ended with my jaw clenched and face soaked with sweat. I’m not sure my bite would kill a snake and this junior scientist is not willing to experiment! As I turned the compost pile on a hot Saturday afternoon, I heard my neighbor’s dogs barking and went over to find out what caused the ruckus, suspecting my problematic reptile. The dogs growled and lunged viciously on their chains, teeth bared. At first, I couldn’t see what antagonized them. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the snake wildly spring up, swaying in an S formation, nearly two feet off the ground. She bridged herself, puffing up her body with air to exaggerate her size. A forked tongue flickered and her rattle buzzed like a June bug. She made a steady hissing sound reminiscent of a cat’s spit. I locked the dogs in the house and sat down near the snake. I cooed and chortled at her until she calmed and sunk to the ground. After a few minutes, she cautiously approached me and then nosed up next to my thigh. She rose up and tried to climb into my lap. Shivers flowed up my spine and over the top of my head. If I let her crawl into my lap and then I sneezed, or had an itch, her natural reaction would be to bite me. She persisted over the years in an attempt to cuddle with me, but I never had the courage to allow it. In the middle of a hectic day, my neighbor, Carrie, called me at work. “You have to come home right now. Your snake is in my house!” She had a terrible fear of anything reptilian, especially rattlesnakes. She explained that she’d propped her screen door open while she swept her floor. She turned to see her cat’s tail held high, and her fur puffed out like a dandelion ready to blow. She followed the cat’s gaze and saw my 186

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little problem child slithering into her cabin. I told her I’d be home soon to lure the snake out. Later, she explained that she couldn’t wait for me, and ran to a neighbor’s house to ask for help. Russel came and brought a shovel and a five-gallon bucket. As he scooped the snake into the pail, she made quite a racket, rattling and hissing. Promptly, a coyote arrived, and he danced and yipped at the end of the driveway. Later, we agreed that the noise of the rattler must’ve attracted him, since this wild dog will follow any clue hoping for a snack. We joked that we’d have to be pretty hard up for food to tangle with a rattler. The snake continued to be a nuisance, her reputation growing in the neighborhood. The incident with the chicken-wire fence left her with an identifiable scar. At first, I’d tried to cut her from the wire using a long-handled lopper. I soon realized I needed tin snips; and poked my fingers against her flesh to push it away from the wire so I could make clear cuts. I believe she broke about a dozen ribs, and this caused the long dark scar on her back. Usually she hung out in my yard, but occasionally made short visits to the surrounding neighbor’s properties looking for prey. Anyone who lived within a mile radius from me knew I belonged to this snake. Working on an art project one afternoon, I heard someone scream from a quarter-mile away. Then my phone rang. I rolled my eyes and guessed the purpose of the call. “Please come and get your snake,” my neighbor, Melissa pleaded. It seems that she found her cats in the yard sitting next to the coiled brat. Mysteriously, the cats purred. She still wanted me to come fetch my rattler. Then, Carrie screamed one afternoon and raced over to tell me her dog was asleep in the garden, her head resting on the snake for a pillow. On a cool evening in the fall, I heard a swishing noise under the hood of my car. I couldn’t imagine what could cause such a sound. I should’ve known. My heart flipped as I popped the hood. I often sprayed the engine with peppermint oil since it deterred the mice that are apt to devour electrical wiring like so many hors d'oeuvres. The oil’s spicy smell wafted up as I raised the hood. I didn’t see any mice in the mechanics, but my snake’s head popped up suddenly, like a jack-in-thebox, startling the crap out of me. I screamed and jumped backwards. As soon as she saw me, she plunged into the workings of the engine like a Santa Fe Literary Review

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naughty child and continued her search for mice. When I recalled this story to my father, he admonished me for not cranking the engine, which may have sliced her to bits. Dad just didn’t understand my growing affection for this creature. Apparently, the rattler did not feel threatened by me, since she rarely warned me she was nearby. This worried me, since I’d find her continuously underfoot, like a clinging, curious cat. Once, I came around the corner of the house too fast and halted abruptly when I heard a whispered, lazy hiss. There I was, with my foot poised right over her, about to step on her. She’d barely warned me. I found myself talking to her, explaining that she needed to use her voice, a loud hiss or a rattle just to let me know she was there. Early in the spring of 2009, I looked out the window and saw her resting peacefully under a Buddleia bush. As I watched, a large roadrunner, tail straight back like a rudder, ran at the snake. I knew this bird to be an aggressive predator of rattlesnakes. I held my breath and watched, not wanting to interfere. I could hear my father whisper in my ear, “Let nature take its course. You’ll be rid of the foul beast!” The luminous colors of the bird transfixed me as I watched an ancient dance unfold, a game of serious tag. The roadrunner darted in and pounced and the snake lunged, punching at the bird with her fangs. Back and forth for hours. I kept up a constant prayer interspersed with foul profanity. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer and stomped outside. The roadrunner must’ve been hungry since he had no fear of me. I tossed gravel at his feet, but he stood his ground. I knelt and talked to the obstinate little bastard, explaining that this was my rattlesnake and he’d best go find his own. Then I said a Hail Mary and crossed myself even though I’m not Catholic. He turned rudder and ran and I could finally breathe. I last saw my rattler in September of 2011. I walked in my garden under a full moon, admiring the beauty of “Luna Glow” morning glories in the silver light. I almost tripped over her. She reared her head and hissed at me, long and loud. She’d finally found her voice. I thought we were saying goodnight, but when she didn’t arrive the next spring, I realized she’d been saying goodbye.

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Cheerios by Teisha Twomey

In the morning, we had Cheerios. I marveled at the full bowl, the unfamiliar spoons and whole grains too stunned to notice either nut or honey. Just each tiny loop a bewildered vowel burbling, Oh? Oh? Oh? How many times have I been here? Astonished by how much the heart is like a swinging door, closed and then suddenly open again, barefoot at a table, not my table, speechless. I had hoped the Cheerios might have more to say, not the chattiest of cereals. No snap, crackle, or pop. But then, how appropriate they are, those little Oh’s. Each one floating like a mind blown away.

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Canto 1

by Tom Crawford The damn poem comes back to me. Your stainless steel, water driven, automatic potato peeler. For fifty years, getting the rotten eyes out of my own poems, old man, no different. Ordinary water pressure you explained to all of us kids at the kitchen table that day in Flint—you were dirty and tired, your big hands around your invention— would push the interior double blades inside the round housing. I was nine. I didn’t know it was my first lesson in poetry and booze as you fed the potato in. Or that Christ, who understood hope, was on to something. That a flawed potato, if that’s what it is, is a thing of beauty, pure white, coming out the other side.

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Eating Winter by Jamie Figueroa

a clot of horses. nine. the youngest, male and dun. snow sweeps beneath barn door, breath clouds gather above tips of ears. orion hunts while they shift, hindquarters lean north—a change in tide. i hesitate, my gloved finger on the light. january midnight, blue and cuts the massive outline, 36 hooves, a forest of matted manes, and all those eyes wet, flashing white, while water freezes and the memory of chokecherries scratch along splintering fence. i divorced my father, married my husband and buried them both on deer hill. always death in winter. skulls of ox and elk still crest soil every spring. ransom road is dirt under snow and unmowed ditchweeds bear ice hoods. if i hum the beasts neigh, all nine. a language that pulses for thousands of miles, like whales as they glide beneath winter, beneath the pleiades, beyond graves, beyond clocks that hesitate when counting down night.

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Untitled

Artwork by Noah Wingren 192

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At Fat Albert’s, Sellwood by Kirby Wright

Happy birthday, Dadio. I’m playing counter boy in memory of you at this greasy spoon. I squeak on my vinyl stool and toy with a paper napkin. I try folding it into an angel. You’d tell me to act my age. My counter mates? A model-thin blonde in a Reed College sweatshirt and a bald man thumbing The Oregonian. The stink of fried eggs makes me nauseous. The waitress slides over a menu—she’s doubling as the cook. I contemplate specials as steam fogs my cup. Moments of indecision always summon you. “Learn to be decisive,” you barked. I was your thorn, a chronic pain infected by the disgust of never making you proud. “Worthless,” you mumbled one New Year’s Eve. I learned defeat in our closed-door sessions, when screams and I’msorry-Daddy’s joined the beat of the belt. I touched my wall and felt sorrow moving in waves through the redwood. I vow to quit remembering. Memories send me beyond blue, into the indigo sky before twilight. Dadio, you carried hate into the hospital bed, where I spoon-fed you vanilla pudding and rubbed your feet under the sheets. Cold feet, I thought, icy heart. A nurse checked your pulse. “No more flowers,” you scolded when my Christmas antheriums arrived. I swore you’d never die but, if you did, I’d lug you like an overstuffed suitcase into the future. A coffee refill comes—steam rises like a ghost. The blonde leaves and I crumple the angel napkin. The bald man retreats to the restroom. I feel as if I’m not human at all but a cold-blooded creature propped on a stool. The truth? Dadio, I’ve been shaped by you, folded by a lifetime of disappointment into a wrinkled toad.

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Drowning by the Dike by Susan Volchok

...a dog and a man: the dog an aged, black bitch, a darling she’s adored since her first days on the farm; the man, a farmer, formerly the love of her life. But he’s sending her away, he can’t do the distance anymore (though it’s she who commutes between New York City and the Noordoostpolder.) This is their last summer, he insists, and this is the last week before her scheduled final flight back to the U.S.A. The woman has no idea how the dog and man have come to be floundering together in the foam, she thought they were both strong swimmers, or would’ve thought so, if she’d literally thought about it, though now that she thinks of it, it’s true, she’s only ever seen the man swim; the dog generally avoids water altogether, including the new ponds the farmer’s proudly developed around the property, behind the house and the barn. Bordered by reeds and lilypads, stocked with freshwater fishes from local canals, they’re glorified swimming holes meant for quick plunges on stifling August afternoons. Needless to say, there’s no current, nor much depth to them. This expansive lake, though, is more like a sea, blue-black and choppy, with treacherous drop-offs and rip tides. The woman never dives from the rocks here as the water-enthusiastic Dutch do, rarely even eases herself all the way in. Rather, she tends to perch on the rough sea-ledge, trailing her feet, watching everyone else swim out and back. Waving, not drowning. This day, she’d taken her time wandering about, looking for these two, off on a long walk without her—she was supposed to be working at her desk—and here they are, god knows why, both in the inky drink, in danger of being dragged down, evidently, with the dog drifting west and getting the worst of it, going under, going under. The woman steps out of her clogs, strip off her jeans, jumps, launching herself into the depths beyond the point where the dike-boulders slope beneath the surf but as close to the drenched dog’s dark, bobbing head as she can get. The poor creature paws frantically at the waves, perhaps realizing how near the jagged shoreline actually is and yet: somehow, she can’t

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seem to paddle in, can’t make it back to that slippery verge, much less clamber up onto dry land. It is a desperate, thrashing animal panic. There is no way for the woman to get her arms around the dog’s sodden bulk. But she manages to grab the collar, hold the gray muzzle above the spray, kicking and side-stroking and kicking some more until she feels her own body smash against submerged dike. Then, cursing, sputtering (whitecaps still cresting around her, slapping her full in the face) she works to heave the half-dead weight up, up, out of the wild water, onto a safe, wind-dried slab of whitening stone, wide enough to hold her, too, once she’s hauled herself clear of the breakers. It takes no more than a few moments to maneuver onto her belly, slide along the gritty rock face, stretch out right beside the best and dearest of dogs. Resting her cheek on one splayed hand, she kisses the cold, canine nose, caresses the soaking coat with her free hand, pleased to feel the agitated panting slow to something more regular. And now, in the sudden calm, at her back, she can hear the man calling to her: Help! he cries in English. And then, he shouts her name, once, twice... What the hell? Kom op! (as he might say.) Who does he think he’s kidding? It’s inconceivable that he could be in trouble here; ridiculous, that he hasn’t yet contrived to rescue himself. He’s always crowed about his prowess in the water (and everywhere else), and he certainly always looks out for Number One. Not to worry. He’ll be all right, he’s never anything but. Oh yes, oh yes. This must be just another of his stupid pranks. Men. She sighs, arches, then contracts, her aching back, and lets her eyelids shutter down, her right palm riding the dog’s gently rising, falling ribcage. What a shit he is, though, dragging dear old Birdie into it!

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Last Reflections of a Scientist by Roman Gulati and Basia Miller

The scientist looked out of the tall laboratory windows to the quiet town below. His deep-set eyes singled out the promontory where his own residence stood wrapped in late-evening mists. He imagined the family room where his wife sat reading by the fireplace, gently rocking the cradle that held his newborn son, peaceful after a long day of exploration and play. He wondered about the life his son would lead. He wondered whether his son would some day understand the choice he was making. He wondered whether his wife would forgive him. A hairline crescent of moonlight peered through the window as he turned to the instrument on his work table. Surrounded by tall bookcases on the left and banks of files on the right, the scientist grasped the prototype camera obscura in his hands, his rounded shoulders and bent back resigned to the burden of his decision. He had carefully crafted each component in the assembly. The lens design was based on his investigations into the properties of light for the Teylers Museum in Dutch Haarlem. Rembrandt, whose etchings made sketches permanent, was his inspiration. The image plate was carefully prepared following detailed study of two recently published Italian manuscripts. Now, in March 1822, the scientist was about to test his invention. By morning, he will have produced the first permanent photograph. The toxicity of the fixatives, sulfate solutions, and other chemicals to which he will be exposed, however, will be lethal. The scientist had undertaken systematic calculations that led to his decision. He had estimated the time it would take to develop a safer fixative, and weighed it against the likelihood that a rival would achieve success before him. He gauged the probability that he would have another opportunity to tie his name to an invention of such far-reaching historical impact. In the end, the choice was clear. This was his one shot at immortality. Tonight was the night. He would sacrifice himself to secure his legacy. He took a deep breath. He uncapped the beakers and poured them one by one into the pans in his darkroom. Back at his desk, gas lantern

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at arm’s length, eyes level with the lens opening, he tried his best to maintain a natural-looking smile. The moon descended. The muscles in his face and extended arm grew tense. Finally he stirred, set down the lamp, and carefully transferred the glass plate to the chemical bath in his darkroom. The odor of singed skin from his fingertips mingled with heavy fumes in the air. During the long process of developing the photographic plate, the stars slowly disappeared and dawn overtook the sky. At last, the scientist staggered to his desk and opened the hinged plate. Complete success. His own eyes twinkled in the perfect facsimile of his face. Tears wet his cheeks. He set the photograph on a manuscript he had prepared describing its methodology, reclined in his chair, and closed his stinging eyes. He died with no regrets. But he had failed to turn off the lamp. The heavy chemical vapors continued to accumulate until, just before sunrise, they ignited in a crackling explosion. Gigantic flames razed his lab, library, and darkroom, obliterating every record created in his lifetime of research. At a small family funeral, his wife wept for him. The small number of friends and colleagues in attendance expressed deep respect for his devotion to science and lamented the tragic loss to the research community. Less than two months later, the French inventor Joseph NiÊpce safely and successfully produced the first permanent photograph of an etching of Pope Pius VII.

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Crow Time

Photograph by Marilyn Stablein

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Tale of the Iguana by Gayle Dawn Price

Mark tosses a joint out the window just as he sees the flashing lights closing the distance behind him. He’d purposely taken this route to avoid the hassle of driving through Tijuana. Shit, just 25 more miles to the U.S. border. Now this, he thinks. Just stay calm, open the windows to air out the car. Get the car papers out of the glove compartment. Damn, I wish Chad hadn’t decided to fly back to San Diego. So close to being the perfect spring break—good surf, great weather, partying every night, lots of babes, sex, and cheap tequila. “Shut up…Stay focused,” he snaps out of his reverie. Officer Luis Alvarez, hikes his belt and holster over a middle-age beer gut as he approaches the Honda Accord with California plates carrying two surfboards on the roof. He peers in at the blonde gringo and doesn’t even bother to speak Spanish: “Name, driver’s license and papers. Where you from?” “Mark Benson. San Diego, CA.” “Where you been in Mexico and for what purpose your visit?” “A friend and I were surfing north of Ensenada for 10 days. He decided to fly back.” “Where you going?” “Back to school in San Diego.” “Do you know why I stop you?” “No sir.” “You were speeding and you have a tail light out.” “I didn’t realize that.” “I know, they all say that. The fine is $100 if I take you to the station…or, you pay me now $75 cash.” “But I only have $50 left in cash.” “You prefer to go to the station? It’s late. They might keep you overnight in a cell ‘til morning.” “No, please. I don’t want to go to the station. How about you take my surfboard it’s worth hundreds.” “You bribing me kid? That’s a major offense. Muy estupido.”

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Mark grips the steering wheel and clenches his jaw to stop shaking. “I..I’m sorry, I don’t want any trouble. I’m just a college student.” “Listen, I’m tired, it’s late and I wanna go home, too. I’m gonna make you a final deal. You do me a favor and I forget about the speeding ticket and the tail light. Okay?” Mark starts to panic, conjuring up images of this cop asking him for a blow job or worse. “What do you want me to do?” “I have something I want you to take to my girlfriend across the border. It’s a pet iguana. You deliver the iguana at the first fruit stand across the border on your right. Entiendes?” Mark’s breathing relaxes a notch. “Yes, I understand…okay, I’ll do it.” “Good boy.” He pulls a black trash bag from the cruiser and stuffs it on the floor behind Mark’s seat. Mark could hear the lizard thrashing around inside the bag. “Be at the border crossing in Tecate at 8:30,” Alvarez adds. “There is only one customs agent at 8:30 when the other guy takes a break.” Mark nods and they both drive off in opposite directions. He turns up the radio to shake off the shock of what just happened. He’s still a little stoned, and paranoia soon gives way to nervous laughter—releasing the fear of what the policeman might have wanted him to do. Miles pass. He starts to think about what an iguana might sell for on craigslist or maybe at a pet store in San Diego. Maybe he could just keep driving and skip the delivery. No one would know and he’d make a few hundred. Maybe this trip back could be salvaged. 8:30 arrives and he pulls into the Tecate U.S. border station, gets his papers ready, and turns down the music. Only one booth with a green light at this time of night, just as the cop said. The iguana, which is over 2 feet long, is getting restless in the back. It manages to shake the loosely tied trash bag open enough for its tail to stick out, but not enough room to turn itself around to escape. Customs agent Joe Davis takes Mark’s papers and asks the routine questions: what were you doing in Mexico, where are you going, are you carrying any undeclared items, drugs, meat products, fruit, exotic fauna and flora, etc. Mark answers “no” to everything. Then the agent shines a flashlight into the back seat, telling Mark 200

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to open the window. “What’s in the bag?” “Nothing, just trash.” “Trash with a tail, huh. Pull over to the side. I’ll be right there.” Davis, a five-year veteran at the MEX/CA customs station gets another agent to cover, then follows Mark to his car. Fresh panic sends Mark’s heart pounding again so loud he can hear it. Fuck, I can’t believe this. Now I’m really fucked. The customs officer pulls the bag from the back seat and peers inside. The iguana makes a lunge for the opening, but he cinches the bag tight. “Do you have a permit to bring this animal into the U.S.?” “No, I didn’t know I had…” “You didn’t know you had an iguana in your back seat, right,” the agent smirks. “Do you know that smuggling native species from Mexico to the U.S. without a stack of permits is a federal crime, punishable by fines up to $10,000 and a 2-year jail sentence?” Mark is now dripping with sweat and feeling light headed from shallow breathing. His thoughts racing, why was I too cheap to buy a friggin airline ticket and rent equipment? “Answer me, kid, this is nothing to joke about.” “I’m sorry, but a man gave me this iguana and threatened me at gunpoint if I didn’t take it to his girlfriend. I didn’t mean to…” “Cut the crap, I’ve heard enough lies,” the agent shouts. “You ever been in big trouble before kid?” “No nnnever.” “Well, you’re in big trouble now. You’re gonna need a lawyer and thousands of dollars, and it could take months even years to settle.” Mark starts to cry—thinking it works for women, but he isn’t pretending. The agent stares at him in silence. “You go to college, right? I’ve gotta son at the community college. I tell you what…I’m gonna make you a deal.” Mark’s shoulders drop an inch and he takes a slow breath and swallows. Here it comes, he cringes. “Look, I’m really sticking my neck out here,” says agent Davis. “If Santa Fe Literary Review

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you promise never to smuggle anything ever again, I’ll let you go just this once. Do you promise?” “Yes, sir, I promise, it won’t happen again, ever. Can I go now?” he pleads. “You just better not be lying. Okay, go, git, vete!” Mark praises the God of unbelievers, then vanishes into the California landscape like a dazed rabbit darting for shelter. Joe Davis heaves the iguana into the dumpster, blending in with all the other trash bags. When his shift ends, he walks to his red Dodge pickup parked in the shadow of the dumpster, and slides the iguana bag from the dumpster into his truck bed and drives home. At home, just five miles into California, he hauls out the iguana by the tail and places it on the kitchen table in front of a bowl of fresh greens. It wears a tiny collar surrounded with cone shaped spikes like those worn by pit bulls. He removes the collar and locks the iguana in a cage on the floor. Then one by one he unscrews the hollow spikes in the collar and pours the white powder onto a piece of paper. “Gracias Luis, mi compadre.”

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The Undertaker

Photograph Model: Ayla Parker Photography: Jess Ruby

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Project Runway: Barbie Edition by Terry Wilson

My sisters’ kids have been having a lot of babies. It’s a Catholic thing. And I am the crazy aunt who buys them all presents. Fifteen of these kids live in Buffalo. So my mission is to buy gifts for three boys and twelve girls from the ages of two to nine. I’m going broke being Santa Claus, but they’re all so adorable and they love me. As soon as I alight from my car when I visit, they yell, “Aunt Terry!” And they jump on me with hugs. “Run with us,” they say. “Let’s play tag—you’re IT!” Or, “We’re putting you in jail!” And two different ones take my hands and march me away. Hannah is eight and sturdy with blonde curly hair pulled back. She reads three levels higher than her grade, which is 3rd. She’s not easily ruffled, unlike her three younger sisters and her cousin Molly who has huge blue eyes and even lighter blonde wavy hair. Molly is seven with pierced ears and she gets wound up very easily. So do her two younger sisters, all of whom have halos of curly brown hair. “I’m having a sugar meltdown,” Molly told me one day. Every girl does Irish dancing, and excels at high pitched screaming, especially when I’m chasing them. I was short on money last month before my Buffalo visit, so I went to the Dollar Store. I found 12 dolls that were low rent Barbies with long platinum hair in a ponytail and glamorous pastel gowns. I also bought them little mermaid dolls with purple hair, fruit flavored chapstick, hair clips, sidewalk chalk and stickers. Maybe these were not as politically correct or feminist or ecologically wise as I would have hoped, but I was in survival mode before this insane family trip to Buffalo where I’d be taking care of my 95 yr. old Mom who has Alzheimer’s and I’d be seeing about 40 relatives at the family reunion. I persuaded my husband to mail off my huge box of presents for kids; I’d gotten each boy a robot. Finally in Buffalo, the day came when all the kids gathered around to receive their gifts from Aunt Terry. Though for days Molly had been asking me, “Aunt Terry, just tell me one thing that’s in the box. I promise I won’t tell anyone.”

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I stood at the head of the table, then opened the box and told them to sit down or they wouldn’t get anything. Their Moms took photos and I pulled out the dolls, hearing a collective gasp: “Barbies!” as I handed them each one. I never got to have a Barbie myself because they arrived after my time. My Mom only gave me a rotten Tiny Tears who peed out all the grape juice I gave her. “It’s like Christmas!” little Megan said. They loved their mermaids too, and I’d bought each of them a princess tote to hold all their treasures in since often the day after the gift giving, one of them, usually Molly, would come running up to me. “I lost all my toys, Aunt Terry. Can I have more?” “There are no more,” I have to tell her. But that day, all the girls clutched their Princess bags with their dolls, mermaids, and Snow White chapsticks, but shortly afterwards, 3 yr. old Kate began to cry. “What’s wrong?” I asked. I then noticed she had pulled off the rubber band holding the doll’s ponytail together and the Chinese manufacturer had only given the doll hair plugs around the top and sides of her rubber scalp, not in the middle. “My doll is bald!” Kate yelled. A few of the other girls yanked their dolls’ ponytail holders off and wailed, “Mine’s bald too!” “No, they’re just the type of doll who prefers ponytails!” I said. I felt bad, but my sister in law Bonnie saved the day. “Let’s have a fashion show with the dolls!” she said. So we all sat in a circle on the lawn. “What’s your doll’s name?” I asked Megan, who just graduated from kindergarten. “Tiffany!” she said. “Now presenting Tiffany,” I said, as Megan walked her across the dirt runway. “Tiffany is wearing a red organza evening gown with taffeta trim from New York City!” Bonnie announced. Megan looked proud till the tenuous stitching at the back of the gown ripped and out came Tiffany’s butt. “Her dress tore!” Megan cried. “Don’t worry; I’ll fix it!” I said and began pinning the doll’s dress up Santa Fe Literary Review

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the back with tiny hair clips of green and pink. “My doll’s butt is coming out too! And she has no underpants on!” four year old Hope complained. Bonnie and I spent the next few minutes repairing evening gowns with hair clips and repairing alopecia with strategically styled hairdos. We were fine till the next crisis hit. “Her leg fell off!” Hannah squealed. “Oh, no,” I said. “Let’s get her directly to surgery. She needs a hip replacement.” Later an arm came off, but luckily some of the dolls were EMTs and we had learned how to cope with trauma by then.

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The Sea was the Cure Ana Terrazas

I see in my mind the never ending blue of the sea. It is so bright colored it’s better than high def. T.V. It was my sixteenth birthday when I first saw the ocean. It was Mazatlan’s salty sea. It was a trip of hope, one that would cure me of overactive thyroid. I had heard sea salt was good for my condition, and Mazatlan’s ocean had enough to spare. I saw the streets filled with water and salt was left on my toes. I felt salt on my mouth every time I came up for air. Later I would remember Mazatlan’s ocean being more salty than Venice, or Redonda beach in L.A. The air was also cleaner, and the beach wasn’t so crowded. Mazatlan was fresh, while Redonda beach was much more turbulent. I believe it was the ocean that cured me. My thyroid is now completely normal. I believe it represented a new start for me, one where I would be healthy and new. I believe it is when I finally wanted to leave the girl behind and embrace the woman. It was time when I first drank tequila on the beach. My father finally allowed me to wear a real bikini, (well, kind of). I also tried to learn the art of makeup, (I said tried). I believe in new beginnings and in a brand new me. I believe that we can never stop getting stronger. I see now the new life I wanted for myself that year. I know I’m not quite there yet and that many trials have held me back, but I see it. I see it in the morning when I open my eyes. I see it when my arms are left with little dots reminding me of those monthly regular blood tests. I see it when I don’t have to be afraid that I’m dealing with an amateur holding a needle. I see it when my neck is lump free. Most of all I see it when a wave crashes my way.

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Mal de Mer by Fred Yannantuono

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. —O Little Town of Bethlehem He marched down to the lake at midnight, thinking if all were well, I’d be writing Christmas cards now, then spun out his coil and splashed, waiting for hypothermia to set in. Waugh came to mind, yet nothing stung him. He warmed up fast, then, going down, fought. Life force, what a joke! His last thought was of a phonograph needle, gently raised.

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Horizontal Strength

Photograph Circus Art: Toby Sagan-Katz Photography: Rose Devore

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Bios Dick Altman of Santa Fe loves boulder-scaping, a pastime not with-

out its dangers, since the rocks can weigh several tons. When not writing about them, he consults on global and multicultural branding. Despite flirting with geology, he wound up with an MA in English Literature from the University of Chicago. Dr. Mia Avramut is a Romanian expatriate who worked in North American laboratories and autopsy rooms and now writes poetry and prose in Germany. She is Associate Poetry Editor for Connotation Press and interviews authors for Scissors and Spackle. Her literary work has appeared in places such as Conclave: a Journal of Character, A-Minor Magazine, Crack the Spine, and several anthologies. Her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2012.

Lucy Biederman lives in Lafayette, Louisiana, where she is a doctoral student in English Literature/Creative Writing at the University of Louisiana. She is the author of The Other World (Dancing Girl Press, 2012) and has poems forthcoming in The Literary Review, Handsome, SCUD, Bone Bouquet, RHINO, and others. Michael Blaine enjoys life on the Delmarva Peninsula with his

beautiful wife and three wonderful children. He teaches English at Laurel High School and adjuncts at Delaware Technical and Community College. His chapbook, Murmur, won the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, and he was a Delaware Individual Artist Fellowship recipient. He has English Degrees from Ole Miss and Salisbury University.

Laura Bogart has been published in various journals and she is a

regular contributor to The Nervous Breakdown. She is currently at work on a novel.

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John Brandi moved to New Mexico in 1971, built a cabin in Coyote Canyon, founded Tooth of Time Books, and began teaching as a poet in the schools. A recipient of an NEA Poetry Fellowship, he has published over 30 books of prose, travel essays, and haiku. His new collection of poetry, The World, the World, is forthcoming from White Pine Press. James Joseph Brown received his MFA in creative writing

from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he still lives and works as a casino dealer. He has taught English at a Russian medical university, a Thai bank, and a Korean language academy. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The Whistling Fire, Red Rock Review, Canyon Voices, Connotation Press, Hot Metal Bridge, and other journals.

Mathieu Cailler attends Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he is hard at work on a short-story collection. His work has appeared in various literary journals, including Sleet Magazine, Two Hawks Quarterly, Epiphany, and Scissors and Spackle. Recently, he was awarded the Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction. Lauren Camp is the author of This Business of Wisdom (West End Press). She blogs about poetry at Which Silk Shirt, and teaches creative writing at numerous venues around Santa Fe. On Sundays, she hosts “Audio Saucepan,� a global music/poetry program on KSFR 101.1FM Santa Fe Public Radio. http://www.laurencamp.com. James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA, with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, their daughter, Maisie, and Australian cattle-dog, Rua. His work appears in many places, including The New Orleans Review, Elimae, Necessary Fiction, fwriction review, Connotation Press, and Word Riot. His website is at www.jamesclaffey.com.

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Elayne Clift is an award-winning writer and journalist whose work is

published internationally. Senior correspondent for the India-based Women's Feature Service and a frequent contributor to Women's Media Center, she is a columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel and a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books. Her latest book and first novel, Hester's Daughters, based on The Scarlet Letter, was published in 2012.

Frank H. Coons is a practicing veterinarian and poet in Grand Junction, Colorado, and a graduate of Colorado State University. He was raised in New Mexico, and practiced in Albuquerque for many years. He has had work published in The Eleventh Muse, Willow Creek Journal, Malpais Review, Imprints, and others. He was honorable mention for the 2011 Mark Fisher Poetry prize in Telluride. Jack Cooper's first formal collection of poetry, Across My Silence,

was published by World Audience Publishers, Inc., New York, NY, 2007. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. His poem “All of the Above� was chosen as a finalist in North American Review's 2011-12 James Hearst Poetry Prize. His work has also appeared in Santa Fe Literary Review, South Dakota Review, Bryant Literary Review, Muse & Stone, Argestes, The Evansville Review, Tundra, Runes, The MacGuffin and many other publications.

Tom Crawford is the author of six previous books of poetry, and the recipient of the Pushcart Prize, ForeWord Book of the Year (The Temple On Monday,) the Oregon Book Award for Poetry (Lauds), and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. His most recent collection is The Names of Birds. Kris Crews has spent the better part of her life wandering the hills and the mountains of New Mexico. She currently writes from her home south of Santa Fe where she lives with her husband, 3 dogs and 2 cats.

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Steve Dahlman was born to a small unimaginative clan of omnivores based in Northern Minnesota. Forced by an environment based on committed pedestrianism he spent the rest of his life moving up and down the Pacific Coast; California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, inhabiting non-traditional abodes. Now residing in Santa Fe, leading the non-fictional life of a middle manager, he has realized there has got to be something more. Jim Daniels’ recent books include Having a Little Talk with Capital P

Poetry, Carnegie Mellon University Press, All of the Above, Adastra Press, and Trigger Man, short fiction, Michigan State University Press, all published in 2011. Birth Marks, BOA Editions, will appear in 2013.

Behzad Dayeny is Director of Food Services at Santa Fe Community College, born in Iran, has been living in Santa Fe since 1984. Mark DeFoe is Professor Emeritus at West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he is a mentor in Wesleyan’s low-residency MFA Writing program. His tenth book, In the Tourist Cave, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2012. He has new poems in tigerburning, Hiram Poetry Review, Potomac Review, Amoskeag, and 10X3 plus. Rose Devore is a photographer working in Ohio. More of her work can be seen at: www.rosedevore.com. Mary Stone Dockery is the author of Mythology of Touch, a po-

etry collection, and four chapbooks, including Blink Finch (Kattywompus Press) and Aching Buttons (Dancing Girl Press). Her poetry and prose has appeared in many fine journals. She is the recipient of the Langston Hughes Award in Poetry, and a Pushcart and Best of the Net Nominee. She currently lives, writes, and teaches in St. Joseph, MO.

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Catherine Ferguson is a poet and painter, living in Galisteo, New Mexico. Inspired by landscape, animals, and the people of her village, she creates watercolors, oils, retablos, and poems that express her love of nature. She has written numerous chapbooks and won the New Mexico book award for poetry for The Sound a Raven Makes, a collection with two other poets, and for You who Make the Sky Bend, written by Lisa Sandlin with retablo illustrations by Catherine. Linda Ferguson has been published in many journals including Perceptions, Imitation Fruit, Fiction at Work, Four and Twenty, Saranac Review, and Square Lake. She also teaches after-school dance classes and creative writing for adults and children. Jamie Figueroa is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts where she majored in Creative Writing. Her work has been published in various literary journals including Split Oak Press, The Yellow Medicine Review, and Ekleksographia. Jamie is an artist in the schools at Ortiz Middle School and also teaches creative writing at New Mexico School for the Arts. She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Scholarship. Ann Filemyr is author of the poetry book, The Healer's Diary (Sunstone Press, 2012). She has published two collaborative fine arts press illustrated books of poetry with LaNana Creek Press: Growing Paradise, 2011; On the Nature of Tides, 2012. She serves as the Academic Dean at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Paul Freidinger is a poet residing in south suburban Chicago. He

has poems recently published or forthcoming in After Hours, Basalt, Bayou Magazine, Big Muddy, Cold Mountain Review, Confrontation, Eclipse Existere, 580 Split, Florida Review, Grist, New York Quarterly, South Carolina Review, and South Dakota Review.

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Timothy Gager is the author of nine books of short fiction and

poetry. He has hosted the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts every month for the past eleven years and is the cofounder of Somerville News Writers Festival. He has had over 250 works of fiction and poetry published since 2007 and of which nine have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has been read on National Public Radio.

Alan Gartenhaus served as an educator at the New Orleans Mu-

seum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution before starting his own museum consulting business. The recipient of a Dow Creativity Fellowship from the Northwood Institute, he has authored such non-fiction books as Minds in Motion: Using Museums to Enhance Creative Thinking, and Questioning Art, and was the publishing editor of The Docent Educator, a journal for those who teach with museum collections. He currently writes fiction while farming and raising sheep on the island of Hawaii.

Dana Garza is a bi-racial, queer, feminista who’s a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll. Christien Gholson is the author of the novel A Fish Trapped In-

side the Wind (Parthian, 2011) and On the Side of the Crow (Hanging Loose Press, 2006), a book of linked prose poems. He has been many shapes before he attained congenial form...

John Grey is an Australian born poet, playwright, musician and

Providence, RI, resident since late seventies. He has been published in numerous magazines including Weird Tales, Christian Science Monitor, Agni, Poet Lore and Journal Of The American Medical Association as well as the horror anthology “What Fears Become” with work upcoming in Osiris, Pinyon and the Potomac Review. He has had plays produced in Los Angeles and off-off Broadway in New York.

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Sharon Guerrero is a native of the Southwest, having lived in

California, Colorado and New Mexico. She weaves myth and mystery into her stories and screenplays writing from the perspective of “magical realism.” Her short story “Raven Trickster” was given honorable mention in Accolades, the 2012 Santa Fe Community College Student Writing Awards.

Roman Gulati is a medical researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. His mother, Basia Miller, who lives in Santa Fe, has explored creative writing since her retirement from St. John’s College. Their story, “Last Reflections,” plays with the ambiguity of "no regrets" as it is layered over the sense of the unique moment in time, which stayed with them after a visit to the Getty Museum exhibit of early photography. Dena Rash Guzman is a poet living on a sixty acre organic farm near Portland, Oregon. Founding editor of the literary journal Unshod Quills, she is also Managing Director for Shanghai, China’s HAL Publishing. Her first collection of poetry is forthcoming from Dog On A Chain Press in 2013. Libby Hall is a 72 year old inspired new writer. She has lived in New Mexico since 1973, working as a massage therapist for 32 years. When she took a class on memoir and personal essay from Miriam Sagan at Santa Fe Community College a love affair was born. She decided then and there to call herself a writer and continues to do so. Her work has appeared in The Sun Magazine, Adobe Walls, Moonbathing and several other publications, including this one. Barbara Hill: I wanted this poem, “Magnolia,” to express my sense of the Holy in nature and how I have responded to Her with private adoration and ritual since I was a girl playing in the woods. I am an Interfaith Minister and a poet. I live in Wequetequock, CT and Santa Fe, NM.

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Jessica Homeyer was raised in Oregon and moved to Santa Fe to

pursue an Associates of Arts degree in Creative Writing. It is her goal to write entertaining stories that raise peoples awareness about societal issues that need to be examined and dealt with. She derives her inspiration from traveling, her friends and family, and the spontaneous quirkiness one is bound to find in his or her surroundings if only the time is taken to see it and hold onto it.

Ann Hunkins is an award-winning poet and translator of Nepali. A

former NEA and Fulbright grantee with an M.A. in poetry from UC Davis, she has been published in various journals. She also enjoys documentary filmmaking, animal tracking and deer hunting.

Shari Hack Jones lives in Boulder, Colorado and earns her living

writing software. Her writing has appeared in Fast Forward, Holistic Horse, Savvy Times, Labrador Quarterly, and The Sun magazine (“Readers Write”).

Toby Sagan Katz is a high school student living in Columbus, Ohio. He is an avid circus performer specializing in Chinese pole.

Page Lambert grew up in Colorado where she fell in love with harebells, wild onions and gangly ponderosas. In her teens, she courted the North Platte River, cottonwoods, horses and frogs. She’s been “writing nature” since the mid-80s when she moved to a small ranch in the Wyoming Black Hills, the setting for her memoir In Search of Kinship. Her essays and poems are widely anthologized. In 2006, Oprah’s O magazine featured her River Writing Journeys as “One of the top six great allgirl getaways of the year.” www.pagelambert.com. Pamela L. Laskin is a lecturer in the English Department, where

she directs the Poetry Outreach Center. Poetry collections include: Remembering Fireflies and Secrets of Sheets (Plain View Press); Van Gogh’s Ear (Cervena Barva Press), Daring Daughters/Defiant Dreams (A Gathering of Tribes) and The Plagiarist (Dos Madres Press). Several children’s books have been published.

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Caroline LeBlanc

— workshop leader, writer, artist, military spouse/mother, former Army nurse and psychotherapist — leads Writing for Your Life © Circles for Women Veterans in Albuquerque. Her writing has been published in the US and abroad. Her chapbook, Smoky Ink and a Touch of Honeysuckle was published in 2010.

Wayne Lee (wayneleepoet.com) is an educator/journalist living in Santa Fe. Lee’s poems have appeared in Tupelo Press, The New Guard, Sliver of Stone, Slipstream, and other publications. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was awarded the 2012 Mark Fischer Poetry Prize and SICA Poems for Peace Award. Donald Levering’s 4th and 5th full-length poetry books, The Number of Names and Algonquins Planted Salmon, were published in 2012. Also in 2012 he was a prizewinner in both the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition and the Hackney Award, as well as a Jane Kenyon Award finalist. His web page is donaldlevering.com. Lyn Lifshin has published over 130 books including 3 from Black Sparrow. Recent books: Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness and The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian. Recent books: Ballroom, All the Poets (Mostly) Who Have Touched me, Living and Dead. All True, esp the Lies. Just out, Knife Edge & Absinthe: The Tango Poems. NYQ books will publish A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also just out Hitchcock Hotel. And For The Roses. Jane Lin teaches poetry writing at UNM-Los Alamos. Her poem

“Signs and Portents” was transformed into an art song by Emmy-Awardwinner Glen Roven for his composition “The Santa Fe Songs” and recorded by soprano Talise Trevigne in 2012.

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Jane Lipman's first full-length poetry collection, On the Back Porch

of the Moon, was published by Black Swan Editions, 2012. Her chapbooks, The Rapture of Tulips and White Crow's Secret Life (Pudding House), were finalists for New Mexico Book Awards in 2009 and 2010, respectively. She has published widely in journals and anthologies.

George Longenecker chairs the Department of English, Humanities and Social Sciences at Vermont Technical College. His poems have appeared in Anderbo, Atlanta Review, ABZ, Dos Passos Review, Patterson Review, Slipstream and occupywriters.com. He was the City Works Literary Journal national winner in 2011. Stephen Malin’s work has been seen in such journals as Antioch

Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Green Mountains Review, Sewanee Review and many more. Appearing several times on Verse Daily and other electronic outlets, his poems have also been anthologized in Poetry Southeast and in the Southwest Review’s half-century collection, while more of his work, translated into Russian, was reprinted bilingually in Amerika Illustrated.

Agnes Marton is a Hungarian-born poet. She participates in exhi-

bitions, art projects and readings worldwideand is a member of the Federation of Writers Scotland. Most recent publications: Sculpture/poésie (France), Gateway (USA), Estuary: A Confluence of Art and Poetry (USA), Penning Perfumes (UK), Poems for Pussy Riot (UK), Binders Full of Women (UK).

Michael Gillan Maxwell is a writer and visual artist who lives

in the Finger Lakes Region of New York state. His work has been featured in a number of journals and anthologies and he serves as associate flash fiction editor for JMWW Quarterly. A teller of tales & singer of songs, he’s prone to random outbursts, may spontaneously combust or break into song at any moment and can be occasionally found ranting and raving on his website, Your Own Backyard. michaelgillanmaxwell.com.

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Kate McCahill grew up in Lake Placid, New York, and now writes and teaches in Santa Fe. Her essays have been published in The Lowestoft Chronicle, The Evening Street Review, Best Women’s Travel Writing, The Hawaii Women’s Journal, and others. “Crater Lake” is her first published poem.

K.A. McGowan was born and raised in Scranton when The Office wasn't cool, and currently teaches in Lafayette, LA. His two poetry chapbooks are Rubric and No Passengers, and his novella Beyond the Chicken Factory was recently published by TheWriteDeal. Mitzi McMahon lives near Lake Michigan in a city famous for its

Danish kringle. Her stories have appeared in The Evansville Review, The Bitter Oleander, Prime Number Magazine, and elsewhere. She blogs at mitzimcmahon-lifeinwisconsin.blogspot.com.

Gabriel Melcher is an artist and designer living and working in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work often involves the combination of traditional and digital mediums to create complex representational work. Gabriel is interested in publication on the web and in print as a medium. He believes that art, text, and design can be combined for combinative effect greater than the sum of its parts. Gary Metras is the author of sixteen books and chapbooks of po-

etry, most recently, Two Bloods: Fly Fishing Poems (winner of the Split Oak Press Chapbook Award, 2010). His poems, essays and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, Poetry East, Poetry Salzburg, and Santa Fe Literary Review. His new book, Captive in the Here, is due from Cervena Barva Press in 2013.

Paul Milenski has placed about 500 short fictions world wide, re-

cently in the Santa Fe Literary Review 2012 and in Global Outlook, McGraw-Hill (Singapore) 2013. Paul conducts investigations on assignment with the Massachusetts Trial Court and writes fiction fulltime. He lives in Dalton, MA with his television celebrity wife, B-Mile.

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Merimée Moffitt has lived in New Mexico since 1970. She has

published three chapbooks of poems and has appeared in numerous local and national journals, including Persimmon Tree, Pemmican, Adobe Walls, Mas Tequila Review and El Malpais. She gives poetry workshops locally at the Open Space Visitors Center and for New Mexico Poetry Society and other places upon request. She co-hosts an open mic for 3minute prose called Duke City Dime Stories; see dimestories.com, and was a featured reader on the first edition of Virtual Dime Stories which aired premiered Nov.23.

Mary B. Moore’s poems appeared recently in 10 x 3, Evolutionary Review, Nimrod International Journal Awards Issue 2011, Cavalier Literary Couture, Connotations Press (with interview), 2river view, American Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, Kestrel, Sow’s Ear Review, and earlier in Field, Poetry, New Letters, Negative Capability, Nimrod, and more. Cleveland State U. Poetry Center published The Book of Snow (1997). Dave Morrison is like a carpenter missing fingers – do you worry about his ability or applaud his devotion? Morrison’s poems have been featured in literary magazines and anthologies, and read on Writer’s Almanac. fail, Morrison’s eighth poetry collection was published in 2012. www.dave--morrison.com. Jim Nawrocki’s poetry appeared in the anthology, The Place That

Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (2010, Sixteen Rivers Press). It has also been featured in Kyoto Journal, Poetry, Chroma Journal, Ricepaper, modern words, and the website poetry daily.com. He lives in San Francisco.

Elizabeth O’Brien is a retired professor of American Literature

from Drew University, Madison, N. J. who now lives in Santa Fe. She now teaches at IAIA and lectures at Santa Fe's Renesan and Albuquerque Oasis. She has been studying poetry and memoir with Miriam Sagan, Joan Logghe and John Davis for the past three years and is a member of the High Desert Poets.

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Sheila O’Connor is the award-winning author of four novels:

Keeping Safe the Stars, Sparrow Road, Where No Gods Came and Tokens of Grace. Her poetry and fiction have been recognized with fellowships from the Bush Foundation, Loft McKnight and the Minnesota State Arts Board. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is a professor in the MFA program at Hamline University where she also serves as fiction editor for Water~Stone Review. Sheila’s books have been honored with the Michigan Prize for Literary Fiction, Minnesota Book Award, International Reading Award, Midwest Booksellers Award finalist and Best Books of 2012 from VOYA, Bank Street Books, Booklist and Chicago Public Libraries. You can visit her website at sheilaconnor.com.

Janie Oakes is a storyteller, mentor, a lover of words, memory, land and image. She has "made meaning" in varied forms, from autobiographical monologue to poetry, collage to improvisation; land sculpture to authentic movement. She lives with her partner, Joa Dattilo, on the outskirts of Santa Fe, where she wanders ridges and arroyos with her dog, Audrey, observing the holy. Ayla Parker lives to find, admire, and create beauty in this world. I

have been lucky to have worked with many amazing people who have helped me create these and other images that embody a look or a feeling that is beautiful.

David Parlato, as a studio musician in Los Angeles, played electric bass for many well known artists, including Barbra Streisand, Jerry Lee Lewis and Frank Zappa. He earned his BA Degree in English from California State University at Northridge. He is a jazz musician, a visual artist and a writer of short fiction and poetry. David's fiction has been published online by Apocrypha & Abstractions and Orion Headless.

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Marmika Paskiewicz lives in Santa Fe, where she has just com-

pleted a memoir, Our Dark Matter, about a more difficult time in her life, to be available in e-Pub format through the usual sources. Now that this book is complete, she plans to write more poetry and to laugh a lot.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, New Letters, The Nation, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. For more information, including his essay Magic, Illusion and Other Realities and a complete bibliography, please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com. Jennifer Phelps is a devoted lifelong writer living in northern California. She writes personal essays, articles, and fiction, but her first passion is poetry. Several of her poems were featured in the 2008 anthology Hair Pieces. Her poetry has also appeared in The Hot Air Quarterly and Trajectory journals. Coulter “Colt” Prehm is a painter and tattooist who is currently working and residing in Santa Fe with his wife Liz. He works in an optical method of painting and drawing from observation that he received from his teacher and mentor, Tony Ryder. Coulter has been featured in many publications around the world for both his fine art and tattoos. His work is based on his own particular views and study of God, Light and beauty. For more on Coulter Prehm or to commission a painting or tattoo visit his website at coltprehmart.com. Gayle Dawn Price has lived in Santa Fe for 25 years. A true Santa Fean, she's worked many jobs, including English teacher, technical writer, B&B owner, massage therapist, legal assistant, and urban gardener. Most recently, she taught ESL Academic English at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Finally, she has time to do what she's always wanted to do –– write fiction.

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Alex Pruteanu is author of a novella Short Lean Cuts, a story col-

lection from Independent Talent Group, Gears, and a forthcoming novel, The Sun Eaters. He has published fiction in Guernica Magazine, Pank Magazine, Connotation Press, FRIGG, Specter Literary Magazine, and others.

Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based poet, has published poetry in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Asia in such diverse journals as International Poetry Review, The Pedestal, Shi Chao Poetry, Spoon River Poetry, Journal of the American Medical Association, and Christianity and Literature. Her work has been translated into Italian, Chinese and Japanese. Her books include The Other Side of Thunder, Jumping Off the Train, Chasing the Saints, and To Sip Darjeeling at Dawn. A four-time Pushcart nominee, she has won awards from the Illinois Arts Council, The National Federation of State Poetry Societies, and Poetry on the Lake. Stephen Ramirez is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

His fiction has most recently appeared in the North American Review, Indiana Review, Blue Mesa Review, Puerto Del Sol, Midway Journal, and Stumble. Steven teaches literature and creative writing in Chicago, and is currently working to complete his first novel. His wife, Michelle, is the most supportive individual in the known universe.

Joani “JP� Reese has poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and writer interviews published or forthcoming in many online and print journals such as Metazen, Blue Fifth Review, A Baker's Dozen: Thirteen Extraordinary Things, and The Pinch. Reese is an Associate Poetry Editor for Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, www.connotationpress.com. She is also an editor for scissors & spackle. Reese's poetry chapbook, Final Notes, was published by Naked Mannekin Press in 2012, and a second chapbook, Dead Letters, is scheduled for publication in 2013 by Cervena Barva Press. Reese's flash fiction has won the Patricia McFarland Memorial Prize and her poetry The University of Memphis Graduate School Creative Writing Award. Her published work can be read at Entropy: A Measure of Uncertainty, jpreesetoo.wordpress.com. 224

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Stephen R. Roberts has had poems published in Rain City Re-

view, Sulphur River Review, Blackwater, Black River Review, Talking River, WaterStone, Riverrun, Connecticut River Review, and, to get away from all the moisture, Dry Creek Review. His first full length work, Almost Music From Between Places, is available at Amazon, from Chatterhouse Press.

Barbara Robidoux lives in Santa Fe but comes from northern

New England. She has been widely published in journals and anthologies world-wide. Her first book of poetry, Waiting for Rain, was published in 2007. Her second book of poetry, Migrant Moon, was published in 2012. She is currently working on a collection of interrelated stories set on a reservation in northeast Maine where she once lived.

Barbara Rockman teaches poetry in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her

poems appear widely in journals and anthologies and have received two Pushcart Prize nominations, the New Mexico Discovery Award, The MacGuffin Prize and the Baskerville Publisher’s Prize. She is the editor of the anthology, Women Becoming Poems, and author of Sting and Nest, which received the 2012 National Press Women Poetry Book Prize and the 2012 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. She can be contacted at motherpoet@aol.com.

Ruth A. Sabiers is a retired medical social worker. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband R. French Leger.

Michael G. Smith’s poetry has been published in literary journals

and anthologies including Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, the Kerf, Nimrod, the New Mexico Poetry Review, the Santa Fe Literary Review, Sulphur River Literary Review, and Superstition Journal.

Rick Smith is a clinical psychologist specializing in brain damage and domestic violence and practicing in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. He writes and plays harmonica for The Mescal Sheiks. Recent books include The Wren Notebook and Hard Landing, both from Lummox Press. Lately, poems in Blueline, Hanging Loose, Malpais Review… Santa Fe Literary Review

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Jessica Smyser moved to New Mexico from New England and

prefers sunshine to slush. She makes her living in non-profit marketing and communications. Jessica graduated from Smith College where she was an Ada Comstock scholar and a Kahn Fellow.

Marilyn Stablein’s collages, assemblages and photographs have appeared on the covers of Rattle Magazine, Malpais Review, Gargoyle Magazine and in numerous publications. Her award-winning artist books have been widely exhibited and published in LARK’s 1,000 Artist Books, The Bone Folder and Bound and Lettered magazine. She is the author of eleven books. Splitting Hard Ground: Poems won the New Mexico Book Award and the National Federation of Press Women’s book award. For a schedule of workshops, readings, talks and art exhibitions visit her website www.marilynstablein.com. With her husband Gary she co-owns Acequia Booksellers, a used bookstore in Albuquerque’s North Valley and online at acequiabooksellers.com. Nancy Stohlman's books include Searching for Suzi: a flash novel, Live From Palestine, and Fast Forward: The Mix Tape, an anthology of flash fiction that was a finalist for a 2011 Colorado Book Award. She is a co-founder of Fast Forward Press and the founder and curator of The FBomb flash fiction reading series in Denver. Her work has been published in over 40 journals, anthologies and magazines, and she was the winner of the Stories on Stage Flash Fiction contest. This piece is from her working collection, The Monster Opera and Other Bible Stories. She's currently a writing professor and the lead singer for the lounge metal trio Kinky Mink.www.nancystohlman.com.

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Tashi Swierkosz is a 17 year old currently attending TMP, a char-

ter high school based in the Santa Fe Community College. Tashi has always expressed herself creatively, beginning with several forms of dance ranging from African dance to Belly-Dance, and now she has found herself expressing herself through language.

Barbara Tate is an award winning writer and artist. She is a mem-

ber of the Gulf Coast Writers Assoc., Society of American Poets, Haiku Society of America and the Alabama Writer's Conclave. Her stories have appeared in True Story, Mature Years and True Confessions, among others. She has written articles for Full Cry, Dog World and Cat's Magazine and has seven poetry chapbooks published. Barbara resides in Winchester, TN, with her husband Randall, and is currently working on more poetry and short stories.

Ana Terrazas is a student at the Santa Fe Community College. She is an aspiring writer who has been published in the previous edition of the Santa Fe Literary Magazine. F. Richard Thomas has nine collections of poetry, including Frog Praises Night (Southern Illinois University Press), Death at Camp Pahoka (Michigan State University Press), and his latest book, Extravagant Kiss. He is co-editor of Sin Fronteras Journal/Writers Without Borders in Las Cruces, NM. David Tomaloff builds things out of ampersands and light. His work has appeared in several chapbooks, anthologies, and in fine publications such as Mud Luscious, Metazen, A-Minor, >kill author, PANK, and elimae. He is also co-author of the collaborative poetry collection You Are Jaguar, with Ryan W. Bradley (Artistically Declined Press, 2012). Send him threats: davidtomaloff.com.

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Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the

online literary magazine Bartleby Snopes. His fiction has appeared in around 200 online and print journals, and he has a novel and novella out through MuseItUp Publishing. When he isn't writing or doing any of the other standard things writers do, he can be found joggling (running and juggling simultaneously) through the streets. Visit him at www.bartlebysnopes.com/ntower.htm.

Robert Tremmel teaches at Iowa State University and coordinates the teacher education program in the English Department. Poems about the life (and death) of the naked man (and naked woman) can be found in Rattle, Pearl, Aethlon, The Listening Eye, Red Mountain Review, Lalitamba, Alimentum, The Silt Reader, Chiron Review, and the anthology, A Cadence of Hooves: A Celebration of Horses. A chapbook titled There is a Naked Man was published by Main Street Rag in 2010. Dennis Trudell has published poems in many journals, recent and forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Saranac Review, Hopkins Review, Bryant Literary Review, etc. His Fragments in Us: Recent & Earlier Poems was published by University of Wisconsin Press. He edited Full Court: A Literary Anthology of Basketball for Breakaway Books. Meg Tuite's writing has appeared in numerous journals including Berkeley Fiction Review, MadHatter’s Review, Epiphany, JMWW, One, the Journal, Monkeybicycle and Boston Literary Magazine. She has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. She is fiction editor of Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press, author of Domestic Apparition (2011) San Francisco Bay Press, Disparate Pathos (2012) Monkey Puzzle Press, Reverberations (2012) Deadly Chaps Press, Bound by Blue and other stories (2013) Sententia Books and has edited and co-authored The Exquisite Quartet Anthology-2011 and 2012 from her monthly column published in Used Furniture Review. Her blog: http://megtuite.wordpress.com.

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Teisha Twomey was raised in the Berkshires as well as Boston. She

graduated from MCLA in 2010. She is currently working on her MFA in Poetry at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Recently she has appeared in Ibbetson Street #32 Fall/Winter Issue as well as in Fried Chicken and Coffee in October 2012.

Robert Vaughan leads writing roundtables at Redbird-Redoak Writing. His writing has appeared in hundreds of journals. His short prose, 10,000 Dollar Pyramid, was a finalist in the Micro-Fiction Awards 2012. Also, Ten Notes to the Guy Studying Jujitsu was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award 2013. He is senior flash fiction editor at JMWW and Lost in Thought magazines. His book, Flash Fiction Fridays, is at Amazon. His poetry chapbook, Microtones, is from Cervena Barva Press: http://www.thelostbookshelf.com. Susan Volchok is a New York writer, mainly of fiction, who has published widely in journals and anthologies ranging from The Kenyon Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Confrontation, The Massachusetts Review to Best American Erotica, in mainstream magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, and online, including @ n+1, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, and Byliner. Her personal website is www. susanvolchok.com. David Wagoner has published 19 books of poems, most recently After the Point of No Return, (Copper Canyon Press, 2112). He has also published ten novels, one of which, The Escape Artist, was made into a movie by Francis Ford Coppola. He won the Lilly Prize in 1991, six yearly prizes from Poetry, two yearly prizes from Prairie Schooner, and the Arthur Rense Prize for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2011. In 2007, his play First Class was given 43 performances at A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle. He was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets for 23 years. He edited Poetry Northwest from 1966 to 2002, and he is professor emeritus of English at the U. of Washington. He teaches at the low-residency MFA program of the Whidbey Island Writers Workshop. Santa Fe Literary Review

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Charles Harper Webb's latest book, What Things Are Made Of, will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in early 2013. Recipient of grants from the Whiting and Guggenheim foundations, Webb directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at California State University, Long Beach. Jon Wesick is the host of the Gelato Poetry Series, instigator of the San Diego Poetry Un-Slam, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He has published over two hundred fifty poems in journals such as The New Orphic Review, Pearl, Pudding, and Slipstream. Jon has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest. Terry Wilson has done stand up comedy and theatre in Los Angeles,

and she’s performed autobiographical monologues in New Mexico, most recently, her one woman show, “Confessions of a Failed Saint.” Her pieces have been published in local publications like The Santa Fe Reporter and Santa Fe Literary Review, and nationally in Silverleaf Humor Anthology and Artemis Literary Journal. She taught creative writing to women in New Mexico jails as an Artist in Residence through the New Mexico Arts Division and has taught creative writing at SFCC for many years. Her new book, published in 2012, is also called Confessions of a Failed Saint.

E.M. Wingren. I'm conscious matter. https://vimeo.com/dreamofdreamofdreamer. http://dreamofthedreamofthedreamer.tumblr.com/

Noah Wingren is a 16 year old artist in New Mexico / CEO of the Illuminati.

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Isabel Winson-Sagan graduated magna cum laude from the Uni-

versity of New Mexico with a degree in religious studies and anthropology. She is currently a woodworking student at Santa Fe Community College, and the art editor for this issue of the Santa Fe Literary Review. Her photographs feature street art from residential neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Angela Woodward is the author of the fiction collection The Human Mind (2007) and the novel End of the Fire Cult (2010), both from Ravenna Press. Kirby Wright was a Visiting Fellow at the 2009 International Writ-

ers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii. He was also a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha’s Vineyard Residency in Edgartown, Mass., and the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic. He is the author of the companion novels Punahou Blues and Moloka’i Nui Ahina, both set in the islands.

Fred Yannantuono was fired from Hallmark for writing meaning-

ful greeting-card verse, and has published 300 poems in 80 journals in 30 states. His book, A Boilermaker for the Lady, has been banned in France, Latvia, and the Orkney Isles. Was recently Featured Poet at Light Quarterly. To Idi Amin I’m a Idiot –– and Other Palindromes is due out in 2013.

Jon Kelly Yenser was born and raised and educated in Kansas. His poems have appeared in a number of places, including Imagination & Place: Weather, Diagram, The Massachusetts Review, Natural Bridge and Adobe Walls. A chapbook, Walter's Yard, is forthcoming from Kattywompus Press. He lives in Albuquerque with his wife, the writer Pamela Yenser.

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Julie Yowell lives off-grid in the Ortiz Mountains south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she tends a garden and studies and documents wildlife. She’s an aspiring geologist and has a rock collection worthy of the title. She is an artist and storyteller and has been published in the Ruidoso News and The Sun magazine. She graduates from SFCC with honors in the spring of 2013 with a degree in General Studies with a concentration in Creative Writing.

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Cover Photo: Gabriel Melcher Book Design: David Faulkner Logo Design: Jane Dill Design Printing: Vision Media Rio Rancho, New Mexico Copyright Š 2013 by Santa Fe Community College

This book is printed on elemental chlorine-free and acid-free stock to meet and exceed archival standards. Contains 30% post-consumer waste fiber and 50% total recycled fiber.

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Santa Fe Literary Review  
Santa Fe Literary Review  

Poems, stories and essays from Santa Fe's up and coming writers.