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Santa Fe Literary Review Volume 1 1, 2016 SFLR Faculty Advisor: Kate McCahill Fiction Editor: Courteney Handy Non-Fiction Editor: Holly Baldwin Poetry Editor: Miriam Sagan Editors-at-Large: Carrie M. Cannella, Jessica Doolittle-Burton, and Johnathan Perez Art Editor: Kate McCahill Designer: David Faulkner Cover Artist: Israel Francisco Haros Lopez Printing: Starline Printing, Albuquerque, New Mexico The Santa Fe Literary Review is published by the School of English, Reading, Speech, and World Languages at the Santa Fe Community College. Thanks to Julia Deisler, Chair of English, Reading, Speech, and World Languages; Bernadette Jacobs, Dean of Arts, Design, and Media Arts; Margaret Peters, Vice President of Academic Affairs; and Randy Grissom, SFCC President. Special thanks to Miriam Sagan, SFCC Creative Writing Program Head. Copyright Š 2016 by Santa Fe Community College

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Santa Fe Literary Review 2016: Invisible Borders This year, Santa Fe Literary Review contributors were invited to submit work that reflected our chosen 2016 theme, "Invisible Borders." We received writing and art from around the world, and much of it spoke of pain: poems of war, stories of incarceration, drawings exploring physical confinement. Yet there also arrived much beauty; submissions described profound migrations, productive mistakes, and the quirkiness of love. Borders frame and contextualize our lives in endless ways. Language, geography, money, and even our own families form the invisible borders that guide and shape our imperfect destinies. For some, crossing a border means entering new territory. For others, borders define and maintain what we celebrate in our tiny, individual universes. This issue of the Santa Fe Literary Review is a testament to all borders, tangible and otherwise. It is at once a criticism and a celebration, and it is proof that the human imagination is the one endless landscape where borders fail to define us. The Editors

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"Our lives, our stories, flowed into one another's, were no longer our own, individual, discrete." — Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown

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Contents Spilled Ink Miriam Sagan September Eleventh Samantha Hardcastle Before the Fall Holly Baldwin Low Roof Aly Kreikemeier A Soulful and Majestic Place Louisa H. Fisher On Pills Michael McCusty Aspen Grove David Johnson Koromo, The Robe A Japanese Choka Ava Daysa Rasa Memory Barbara Robidoux The Kiss I Meant to Give Sarah Brown Weitzman Prejudice: A Reality Check Courteney Handy Postcard Monique Sanchez Blindfold Deanne Richards Elegy from an Archaeological Field School Tony Luebberman Our Lady of the Chronicles Linda Scheller The Serpent Johnathan Perez Some Incidents Richard Hartshorn Taste of Hate Behzad Dayeny Untitled Christopher Locke How the World was Ordered Robert J. Barba Blue

Tony Luebberman

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Sans Everything

Cullene Bryant

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Winter Monody

Sean Brendan-Brown

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The Letter J Keeps Appearing In Your Dreams Andrea Watson

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Blank Stare, No Peach Fuzz

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Milk Ghosts

John Ballantine, Jr.

Michaela Kahn

Leaving Mississippi The Double

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Gayle Newby

Gina Valdés

Apartment 203

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Deanne Richards

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Of Moths, Junkies and Other Ephemera Krikor DerHohannesian

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Vagabond Breakfast

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The Comal

Juliana Wilde

John Crain

Joshua Tree Shadows

72 Juliana Wilde

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The Dream from Which I Never Awoke Marti Mills

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The Fall

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Behzad Dayeny

Desert Sky

Mike Gallagher

Bailey’s High Ground Loving Stone

E. Beebe

Margaret Miles

To Be Read Aloud So Many Roads

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Gerald Friedman

Juliana Wilde

The Fulcrum and the Bear

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Michaela Kahn

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How I gave My Cat Bulemia and Other Weird Tales Deborah Stehr Listening to Patti Smith Lorraine E. Leslie Amsterdam Sounds Sophie Sagan-Gutherz The Tattletale Turquoise Tennis Shoes Meg O’Brien Afternoon

Rob Cook

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Morning That Has Yet to Be Printed Rob Cook

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Arroyo Dew Drops

Mike Andberg

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In the White Night

Miriam Sagan

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Interview: Miriam Sagan A Beautiful Woman Says Aspens in Winter Three Haiku

Mike Gallagher

W. D. Erhart

Asymptope of Affection The Art of Flight

Daniel Kilpatric

Elizabeth Jacobson

Bad, Bad Bodhisatva Chapel of Sorrows At the Boardwalk Ice Cream Stand August

Miriam Sagan

Sondra J. Byrnes

Long Time Gone

Original Sin

Miriam Sagan and SFLR Staff

Elizabeth Jacobson

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Sally Stevens

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Ann Howells

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Cheryl Marita

Kathamann

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Comely

Kathamann

The Complete Man Susan Duke Island in the Sky Johnathon Carabajal Always Believe that You Can Do Anything Louisa H. Fisher On the Borderline with Pancho Villa -- for Lawrence Welsh John Macker I My Two Gods of Chance Michael G. Smith Boarded the Train Phillip Parotti Blossoms Rushing By Barbara Ruth On Hampstead Heath Ruth Holzer Fireball Jack Cooper Leap Year Russ Whiting My Day Karla Linn Merrifield Us. Jessica Doolittle-Burton Starwalker Deanne Richards On His Departure Linda Whittenberg Invisible Borders of the Heart Dawn Wink The Veil of Mana Gerald Friedman Fallen Libby Hall Melting Away the Surface of the Earth Marti Mills An Ache in the Bones Susan Thornton Uprising Daniel Kilpatric Scripture: Wind JosĂŠ Angel Araguz

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Nature’s Course Kudra Hernandez The ‘96 Storm Jennifer Dickerson Night and Its Trains Christien Gholson The Idiot’s Guide to Dispossession Shuli Lamden

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Incipient Dementia

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Stuck in a Box Church Door

Shuli Lamden

Carrie M. Cannella Mike Gallagher

Berlin Perambulation Four Drawings Lunar Eclipse

Tings Chak

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Mike Gallagher Basia Miller

Simon Perchik Jeanne Simonoff

Kathleen Gunton

The Moon, This Morning In This Moment

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Tears Stain My Cheeks Outside Moon

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Christien Gholson

Two Still Lifes: Deer, Hen

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Mark Terrill

Choose the Right Path

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Shebana Coelho

Lawrence Gregory

Contributor Biographies

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Spilled Ink by Miriam Sagan Shadow of my hair across a blank page moss as dusk darkens into velvet deciduous hardwoods on an Appalachian ridge mountains worn soft by time. This moment was no pebble in the stream of memory no tiny thing that turned events or fate the Japanese master’s basin is perfectly still water left to calm overnight on an island prone to earthquakes, magma sea’s unrest. A drop of black turns to concentric circles while red turns pink and I’ve floated polychrome maple leaf, sumac red, and oak in the soft water from an unknown watershed. Three generations of paper pulled through a design intent on unraveling no matter what we add or subtract — my daughter mentions her grandmother a blot becomes a Rorshach of black corsets imprisoning a pink waist. There’s no way out of language

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how it replicates itself like a fast growing lichen decorating bark or stone like double helix come undone unlaced, the corset’s buttons snap, the strings trail lace. A drop of blood in water tells you what — that you’re a woman now can bear a child, or hemorrhage that sick you’ll bleed and cannot be staunched or cured. The master throws the ink against a void, a woman walks down a street alone inhabiting public space veiled, raped, or left untouched a headless Aphrodite in the sand. Waves make a pattern, don’t tell me that I’m wrong, the radio wave telescope points to empty space that isn’t empty, the old woman, in calligraphic rage, writes something even the illiterate can read. What comes to shore is what we cast away, what comes to white page is the mark on ink, what comes to darkness is the light of day, what breaks the chain is just the soldered ink.

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September Eleventh by Samantha Hardcastle

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Before the Fall by Holly Baldwin September 11, 2016, will mark the 15th anniversary of the twin towers destruction. For over a decade, I’ve struggled to feel emotionally tied to the attack the United States suffered because I was living abroad in Mexico when it transpired. In January of 2001, after discovering I was pregnant, I moved to Puerto Vallarta to be with my fiancé. We had considered applying for a K1 Fiancé Visa through the Department of Immigration, a process that could take from a few months to years, without a guarantee that he would be granted temporary permission to live in the United States in time to witness the birth. While I could travel to Mexico just by flashing a passport and stay for a greater length of time, he could not come into the U.S. for any extended length, unless he had the right paperwork. In Mexico, the right paperwork cost time and money, and often involved political connections. Instead, I opted to go to him. Moving to a foreign country I had only visited twice felt like the epitome of romantic travel. At the time, I had seen the best of what Americans felt Puerto Vallarta had to offer: timeshare resorts with luxurious amenities, built on prime real estate along the ocean-side of a former quaint fishing village. Ventures off the property to eat at local tourist trap establishments offering tableside guacamole, and nightclubs lining the Malecon with cheap drinks, music pumping into the streets, chiseled doormen beckoning ladies with flowery phrases and compliments. Day trips to Yelapa and into the Bay of Banderas with free drinks and shots passed at the ready as the sun slowly put itself to bed in a blaze of fiery orange and flamingo. In my early twenties, I was smitten by the poeticism of what had been placed in front of me to consume, and I bit hard: I carried the assumption that the life I was accustomed to living would magically materialize once I arrived on foreign soil. Not yet aware of Mexico’s pecuniary underbelly, I was led by a naïve vision of expectation. My first indication that I had arrived with a head filled with naive dreams came in Mexico City, where I had travelled to meet Marcos and his family. Driving around the monstrous metropolis, the economics of the city were clearly presented: the neighborhoods along the outskirts of its huge span suddenly became filled with handwritten, clapboard business signs, junkyards piled high with metallic limbs for cars, citizens

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panhandling in the middle of the high speed beltway, and mounds of overflowing garbage. On the rolling hills outside the city, trash was scattered along the surface, with shanties constructed from worn boards dotting the countryside, housing the impoverished cast out from the city. I had never seen such desperation and depravity. Once we settled in Puerto Vallarta, my dreams officially vaporized when the reality of living in a tourist town settled into my bones. For a few weeks we rented a room in a no-frills hotel for around $20 a day. My fiancé worked in ‘marketing’; with exceptional English skills, he was able to peddle free tickets to the region’s most popular excursions in exchange for attendance at timeshare presentations. It was seasonal work, unpredictable money and often required him to be out on long afternoon and evening treks to the ocean boardwalk to solicit. But it was quick and lucrative when he could hawk, and we finally saved enough to rent an apartment in Caloso, a neighborhood tucked back into the mountains where many of the indigenous families lived. It was sparse: no phone, television or microwave. Our water had to be purchased in huge jugs, ‘bombas’, to guarantee it was safe to consume. Most of the homes were concrete slabs where families slowly built vertically as their lineages grew, the metal skeletons peeking up through the rooftops awaiting the time when there was enough money to expand with more cement. At the bottom of the cobblestone road leading to our tiny space, a river ran through town, trash tossed along its narrow banks, a wooden bridge connecting our world to the larger beachfront neighborhoods. On a flat field by the river lived a mechanic who attempted to revive my fiancé’s dead Wagoneer. He had a small shed that housed his various equipment, while his family lived in a teetering shack constructed from uneven, wooden beams with gaps between where I could faintly make out movement from his wife and young daughters. Every time we stopped to see him, my heart ached for their situation and their life. His girls, with permanent patches of dark grime along their plump cheeks, often carried their snow white, perfect kitten around outside, watching us with bottomless, chocolate eyes that flickered with speculation. Marcos’s car sat there for months as their alcoholic father produced laundry lists of why he could not get a part or why he needed more money to fix something else he found, until we finally towed it elsewhere. It was easy at first for me to judge him and be appalled by their situation. I came from a country where one was expected to succeed by

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any means possible, and my upbringing in a middle class, steel mill town only reinforced this ideal. Further, even in our moments of feeling the pinch of poverty, I had family who were willing to help, wiring small sums of money when emergency struck. I had never experienced poverty so raw and unfiltered, sitting in the open for everyone to drink in with his or her eyes. It hurt to swallow. After a few months, tired of relying on my husband and being stuck at home, I landed a job at a hotel in old town Vallarta. For $1.00 an hour, I manned the front desk, solved the petty problems of tourists, made sure guests were comfortable in their suites, which were twice as big as the shack of the family who lived by the river. I roughly earned $30 a week, grateful that I was making ‘good’ money. Many of those who were employed by the giant, chain resorts were paid $1 a day, with the expectation that those travelling from the U.S., Canada and abroad would fill in the wage gaps with tips for their services. From our tiny apartment in Caloso, where we paid $300 a month in rent, I was travelling a grueling half hour to get to my job, and we were forced to move closer. We lucked out finding an apartment directly across the street from The San Franciscan, so I could rise, prep and walk across the street to work, but at twice our rent. Then, September 11th hit, the town just revving up for tourist season, a hush falling over its usually bustling streets. Americans and others from abroad flocked to Internet cafes to watch mounted televisions replay images of the destruction. When Marcos came home, his tone was an “I told you so” litany of how America had finally gotten what it deserved. After the initial shock of what he described, I hustled to the closest cafe where I watched the towers as they eventually fell after the second plane crashed. Shortly after, I ran to the phone banks to call my family, where all I received was a busy signal over the next twenty-four hours. The day after, despite its quiet, Puerto Vallarta rustled with the same undertone of reckoning my husband vocalized. People went about their lives as if my country had not been damaged in a crucial, violent way. On the newspapers, editorials coldly pronounced that what devastated America had been a long time coming. American tourists and ex-patriots suddenly no longer felt at home in the silence. Shopkeepers began hanging apologies for their wooden reactions to the events: they had needed time to ‘digest’ the event before reacting and denouncing the

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horror. For the first time, I saw my country through the eyes of the world, un-buffered and naked: we had taken so much, for so long, that it felt satiating that someone finally took something from us. Our colonialism, its roots visible in the raw moments of 9/11’s aftereffect, had finally rebounded in a horrific way. It felt like a terrible karma burning off the centuries of wrongs that had propelled us to the financial and political powerhouse that the twin towers represented. On foreign soil, I processed the aftermath alone and in private, never connecting to the nationalism that the rest of our nation shares yearly from remembering the collective fear. In truth, in the shadow of the tragedy’s events, I discovered that I had never quite felt at home in a bubble of red, white and blue. The global ‘dream’ my country promoted in an effort to secure its own materialistic, consumptive needs, despite the effects its capitalistic policies unleashed across the rest of the world to realize this vision, had always felt more like a nightmare. While I could theoretically say these things out loud without penalty for what would be considered an unpatriotic view, I’ve kept them to myself, because my country is masterful with keeping the appearance of freedom. In truth, the act of speaking ill against the United States draws ire, and it has become increasingly harder to question the status quo since that fateful day. My heart mourns for all those who lost precious lives from a battle that they may have never realized existed, because we have mastered the ability to polish our image even as it rots under the surface. My soul aches for the nearly 3,000 lives that were sacrificed because of greed and determination for dominance at any price. When I see remembrance pictures splayed across social media, the images I conjure are not the same: I see people digging through trash mountains outside Mexico City; the destitute, ebony haired girls with the ivory kitten by the river; and the broken backs of hospitality staff as they trudge home from lush hotels with morsels of cash lining their pockets. I feel the ambivalence of the people when our country’s spirit was torn, when the world flashed its eyes upon us and saw how the trail of blame ran full circle, grief blinding us to our own complicity. I carry deep shame having witnessed atrocities caused by my country abroad; I can never truly feel at home in the United States of America. I will, through a distinctly divergent lens, ‘always remember’ as the rest of my countrymen never forget.

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Low Roof by Aly Kreikemeier We built our love on spaces between unspoken words, undanced rhythms questions never asked. We made ease our constant forged a home of somnolence a low roof tolerated lies. The indifferent foundation held steady each year the desert forgot its name, surrendered to monsoon rains, the low roof kept lies dry. When snow caressed mountain’s cracked skin we built cold fires and huddled; wondered why we weren’t warm. Spring arrived overnight the low roof crushed us from within

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A Soulful and Majestic Place by Louisa H. Fisher

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On Pills by Michael McCusty Today, and every day. At this hour, and at every hour. A number of psychotropic medications are coursing through my system. I take pills. I take them morning and night. Without them, I’d be an even bigger (Fluoxetine 40mg capsules — generic for Prozac — Take 2 capsules by mouth every morning) fuckup than I already am. I never wake up “right,” but when I do, it’s important (Lamotrigine ER 100mg tablets — generic for Lamictal XR — Take 1 tablet by mouth every morning) to get my meds in. Meds, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine. This is how I prepare to face the (Lyrica 150mg capsules – Take 1 capsule by mouth twice daily) world. This is how I (Alprazolam 0.5mg tablets — generic for Xanax — Take 1 tablet by mouth four times daily) start the motor, rev the gas, and invariably stall out. Some meds before food (or “food,” as it is usually not really food. It is usually Pop-Tarts [raw, fuck your toaster], or something from the Little Debbie or Hostess family of nutritious snacks, or — if I’m feeling particularly health conscious — microwaved Superpretzels and those stupid little cheddar cheese sticks. I suppose cheese is really a food, but that isn’t my point. How long can I make a parenthetical before I lose my balance [Clonidine 0.1mg tablets — Take 1 tablet by mouth at bedtime]? At least this long, apparently), some of them after food (judgmental quotation marks may be placed around that at the reader’s discretion — a discretion which, as it happens, I find highly suspect, because for Christ’s sake look at this thing you’re reading). There’s over-the-counter stuff in there, too, of course. A men’s multivitamin because I’ve bought into that marketing. Vitamin D because the doctor said so. Advil for the headaches and Aleve for the bodyaches because my history with actual (prescription, narcotic) painkillers could most charitably be described as “checkered” — I’m not sure these two actually even do anything, at this point. Claritin for the allergies in the morning. Benadryl for the allergies in the evening. They say you have to be in New Mexico for a few years before you start getting allergic to the local shit, and I’m coming up on a few years, and I’m definitely getting allergic to the local shit. I’d take the Claritin anyway because hey, maybe I’d go home with a girl that had a cat. My

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cat allergy is legendary, swelling my eyes and dulling my senses, making the world all haze and itching and ghostly throbbing. I’m safer driving drunk than I am after having hung out with a cat, and a lot of girls have cats. I swear I’ll never understand why. I’m like the 12-yearold boy that carries the same condom in his wallet for three years. By and large, women haven’t been interested in me since I was on the good side of 30. I was cute until I was about 24, but let me tell you something about cute people — cute people don’t age well. I hit the wall, and hard. By 30, the wall had fallen on top of me. No, I’m fairly certain I’m going home alone. Which is probably for the best, because there aren’t any cats at my house. Because of the horrific allergy, you see. And also because cats are assholes. Do you have any allergies? Are you allergic to tangents? If so, I am deeply sorry, for I have probably sent you to the emergency room by now. To which one will you be going? Please tell them “hello” for me, and if you think of it, ask them if anybody ever found my keys. I’m not going to sweat it. I’m going to get back to writing on pills, while on pills, because I’m always on pills, remember? Growing up, I hadn’t much use for pills. At that time, at least, pediatric medications tended to be liquids. Whenever we were sick, my mother would buy us liquid OTC stuff — cough syrup, cold medicine, even liquid acetaminophen. Nowadays, I always get everything in pill form. I did have terrible hay fever growing up, though — all three of us did — and Mom would try to keep us in the house as much as she could from mid-August until the first frost. The first pill I remember taking daily was Seldane, which was damn near revolutionary with regards to my hay fever, like someone was pulling me from the bottom of a lake. After a couple of summers of Seldane — which isn’t even on the market anymore — we switched to Claritin, which was still a prescription medication. I stayed with that for years, clearing the fog from so many late Midwestern summers, but I didn’t bring you here to talk about my fucking allergy medications. That’s pedestrian shit, and if this paragraph has put you to sleep, well, then, you’re welcome. It was coming into the mid-1990s when the very word “pill” would take on a new dimension for me. See, my parents and I had never really considered medication for any of my psychiatric issues, because “oh,

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he’s just a moody teenager,” and “oh, he’s just like his dad,” and “oh, he’s just really tired,” and and and and. It was April of 1995 when I ate my first “wafer” — a larger-than-expected pill that was presumably mostly 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (we called it “E,” for “ecstasy”) but was also sure to contain any number of mysterious bonus adulterants. Let me tell you, the world changed that night. Changed like a motherfucker. At first it was awesome. A veil had been lifted. I suddenly saw the good in everyone. I dove headlong into the rave thing, and I didn’t come out for about six years. I’d move into stuff that was much worse for me later, chaotic stuff that tore up my body and my brain, but we’ll save that for another essay, and I suppose it will be called “On Powders.” (Is this even an essay, or is it more of a memoir? Are you sorry you got put in a group with me, sorry you have to read this, sorry you have to sit near me because I wear too much cologne and you’re hypersensitive to fabulous designer fragrances? Are you aware that such hypersensitivity is isolated entirely to Santa Fe, NM, US? Are you aware that I actually smell like a million fucking dollars? Perhaps you should take a pill for that. Another tangent. Sorry, not sorry. Am I being too “meta” for you, addressing you directly like this? Do you feel assaulted? Fuck you. Meta is my thing. As the renowned American philosopher/pugilist/pigeonfancier Mike Tyson once said, “You have a problem? Turn off your station.”) I don’t know how many hundreds of E’s I would consume over the next several years. 1995 was all enormous trousers and shrinking weight and long drives and busted parties and strange looks and missed classes and lost jobs and crazy girlfriends. I’d like to think that, if my parents had been more tuned in to my “moods” and “peculiarities” as a child and a teen, I’d have known that I suffered from a number of serotonergic disorders. I’d have known that I probably ought not fuck with a recreational substance whose primary pharmacological mechanism was the artificial, forced release of serotonin, norepinephrine, and of course dopamine. But that’s not the world we’re living in. That story is a different pill. It was 1998 when I was first prescribed pills for my head. I probably wasn’t totally honest with the psychiatrist about my recreational drug use, but he (Paroxetine 20mg tablets –– generic for Paxil –– Take 2 capsules by mouth every morning) wrote me my first selective serotonin

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reuptake inhibitor. It seemed to help a great deal, actually. It was the first step on a long road of daily medications — a road I’ve stepped away from at various points, with severely mixed results — but a road I’m still on, all these years later. It was April of 2000 when I, locked in the bathroom of my tiny studio apartment, backed up against the door with two exes (one of them is dead now, I wrote about her in that other class, in what was ostensibly fiction, but I mean, c’mon. Were you in that class? I’m sorry if you were) screaming on the other side. I took three months’ worth of paroxetine, because it was the only thing in the bathroom that I thought might kill me. Ironic that, with all the habits I had by then, I’d try to exit stage whatever with a megadose of what most people would call a fairly innocuous antidepressant. But none of the fun stuff was in the medicine cabinet. That was the night my story was meant to end, but they had to interfere. The deus ex crapina showed up to sentence me to another 15 to life, because I hadn’t yet suffered enough to atone for the misery I’d wrought. Those pills, the ones that the lawmakers say are bad for you. Those other pills, the ones that the doctors say are good for you. Too many pills, too many pills, but where might I be without them? She doesn’t like pills. I met her under the influence of those other pills. Now I’m on these new pills. She needs a different pill, she needs The Pill. She’ll take it under protest, but she’ll stop taking it when she wants to stop taking it, and she won’t tell you because fuck you. Here’s another pill that’s going to drastically change the course of my life, and I’m not even the one (not) taking it. Here are articles concerning the male-to-male geneticism of serotonergic disorders. Here’s her not reading them. Here’s nobody caring. Here’s a tiny human. He’s got his mom’s hair. He’s got has dad’s methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase polymorphism. Here he is growing up. Here he is melting down. He cannot deal with a world over which he cannot exert his own control. Because he is young, they don’t say “mood disorder.” They say “tantrum.” They say “biting.” They say “he can’t come here anymore.” He’s not old enough to know if he likes taking his pills. They definitely make him “better,” and some of them are the same medicines that Dad takes, which he thinks is “cool.” His mother doesn’t like him taking pills. His father doesn’t know if he likes taking pills himself, and

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his father doesn’t know if he likes his son taking pills, either. His pediatric neurologist is being drummed out of UNM for being too progressive, for advancing the idea that the simple application of L-methylfolate might eliminate the need for so many pills. Big Pharma doesn’t like that kind of talk. Big Pharma is going to have that paper buried. Big Pharma is going to have those doctors buried. “My dad takes a lot of pills. He abuses the Xanax, but not as badly as he used to abuse the Klonopin. He washes them down with bourbon because he’s anxious, he’s panicking, and people are after him. He thinks he’s some kind of tortured artist. He thinks he’s Bukowski or some shit. He thinks I might be able to escape this horrible cycle that goes back to at least my paternal great-grandfather. He thinks too much. I’m only seven, so I don’t actually talk like this, but hey, close enough, right? My life was ruined before it began, and it’s thanks to Dad and his pills and his alcohol, and Dad’s dad and his rage and his alcohol and his ‘blah blah I served in Vietnam,’ and Dad’s dad’s dad and his despondence and his alcohol and his ‘blah blah I served in World War II.’ I come from a long line of fuckups. Wanna play Sorry!?” Innocuous pills. Insidious pills. Impractical pills. Impossible pills. They fix. They break. They fix what they broke? Thank whomever for science, right? Do I want him to grow up like this? Do I want him to grow up? Do I want to grow up? Do I want to continue like this? Do I want to discontinue like this? Do I want to go back and make revisions? Do I want someone else to do it for me? Do I want a pill that will perform a factory reset? Do I want one pill that will break everything and another pill that will fix everything? Do I want the option to choose between the two? “Shut the fuck up. Take your medicine.”

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Aspen Grove by David Johnson

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Koromo, The Robe A Japanese Choka by Ava Daysa Rasa In the month of leaves, wrapped in ink-dark robe — prayer threads, I wait for rising, crimson moon. At dusk, amid fields flat from harvest, wild geese migrate, dragonflies dart. Cicada chant songs — clear-toned. Autumn’s vigil! Twilight lays bare-white, a burning-ground in my heart; summer’s heat lingers. Sleeve-to-sleeve, I rest fingers, one inside other, hidden from full tawny moon. All night, my lantern’s aglow, beneath ink-dark robe. At dawn, blood moon wanes. I surrender smolderings: no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind. Emptiness. Then, without warning, a solitary orchid blooms. I smell white morning dew.

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Memory by Barbara Robidoux and I lay down in the tall grasses flattened by beavers who came ashore to gather saplings for their home. They rested here and now I rest and watch the meandering Rio Chama make its way to the Rio Grande. The river knows me by my breath. It slows me and settles me into sleep. Water dreams. I wake. Step over a barbed wire fence, push aside river willows and cattails until I reach the shore. I bend to touch the water. It has lost its chill this autumn day. Overhead a great blue heron flies to the other side of the beaver dam, stops to fish. The elders say the land and water remembers us. We leave our breath and our sweat wherever we walk. Memory lives in the place, ancient cottonwoods and the black bear remember your laughter

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The Kiss I Meant to Give by Sarah Brown Weitzman That was not the kiss I meant to give but the one you took, lingering in my thoughts as suddenly more between old married friends than we could answer for. Your mouth on mine was held too long and too hard it was for me to breathe you away from me or breathe at all with ease. They saw it, too, I think. At least, she did. Perhaps men do not notice such open display of mouth. But then he never said. I laughed and spoke such nonsense that you finally understood what was at work was your imagining that was the kiss I meant to give, lingering in your thoughts later in the dark, long and full and thrill, when you old married friends kiss goodnight the kiss I meant to give while I, in another dark, keep still the one you took.

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Prejudice: A Reality Check by Courteney Handy I should’ve done more for Laura, because now she has transferred from the Santa Fe Community College to New Mexico State University, and never received the justice she deserved. She ended her English class with a D and had to retake it at her new school. I guess that injustice just happens, but there are times in your life when you just have to suck it up and get the hard stuff done, forget the dreams that you once thought were the ones that would make you happy and successful. Through her, I learned that the hard way. The sense of shattered dreams and desires was obvious as I went to the cafeteria at the Santa Fe Community College and waited for my best friend, Laura. Every single person in that room seemed worn out from midterms. I heard bickering about how this teacher screwed this student over or how this teacher made the class too challenging or how… this list went on and on. Some people were even stifling tears as they looked at their grades and realized that there was no way that they could bring that grade up before the end of the semester, they would have to drop their classes. I really hoped that Laura was exempt from the fear of failing her classes, like I was. It was around 11:30 on a mild but windy Tuesday. This luncheon with her was a sacred Tuesday ritual. We have never broken this ritual. So, when I saw her pull up next to me, she looked different, as if she had aged at least five years. Her face was tight around her cheekbones and she had the deepest hue of grey underneath her eyes. She looked like she hadn’t slept in a few nights. I instantly wondered where my incredibly nerdy, science loving best friend was. She crashed into me as if she had no more strength in her body and started to cry… “What happened? Are you ok?” I asked, worried. In between sobs and small but powerful bursts of clenched hands around my back and shoulder blades, she whispered, “No… I’m not.” “Tell me. What happened? Was it your English teacher? Did she commit another hate crime against you?” I asked, instantly becoming defensive, tense and worried all at the same time. Her English teacher had been making her feel unsafe and in danger of getting attacked because of her identity: pansexual — a sexual attraction, romantic love,

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or emotional attraction to people of any sex or gender identity. She’d only been out of the closet for a year and her life had been hell ever since. She had had her family disown her, discrimination from her “friends” on Facebook and many other instances of hate crimes. Her latest incident occurred this semester when she came out to her English class; the topic was “When was the first time you were in love?” She was in love with a woman. To say the least, because of this, things have not gone well in that class. Laura simply shook her head and refused to reply. I was dumbfounded and didn’t know how I could help her. “I hate that teacher so much! She’s screwing me over, so much. If I don’t pass this class, I lose my scholarship and financial aid,” she muttered. “What do you mean? How much are you going to lose?” I asked. “Courteney. I’m going to lose my lottery scholarship if I don’t bring up that English grade from a D to a B. I have a 2.4 GPA right now because of that dick physics teacher who doesn’t know how to teach and that idiot Trig teacher who screws me over after every test. I NEED to have at least a 2.7 GPA to maintain that scholarship. And now, because of that English teacher’s discrimination, I won’t be able to maintain my financial aid… there goes the $4,000 that was saving my ass from dropping out of college. Damn. What am I supposed to do? What the hell am I going to do?” She broke down and cried on my shoulder. It appeared that the English teacher’s attitude and behavior also affected Laura’s attitude in her studies and may have enhanced her negative outlook on the other teachers. There was a sudden moment of bonding, as she cried, and whispered incoherent words of worry, depression and hopelessness. I hugged her back and replied, “Everything will be alright. I promise. Let’s go talk to her boss and report what’s going on. This isn’t right and you deserve better. ” “No.” “What?” I asked, as I turned back and did a double take. “I don’t want to be a bother to people. There were those two different discrimination incidents with two coworkers. The first incident with Victoria which was a few weeks ago and that recent fight with Taylor, both which ended with their terminations from their jobs. I don’t want to be known as the girl who goes and stirs up trouble. I don’t want

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to be a nark. That’s not me and I just want this semester to be over. I’m so done with this semester.” “Laura. Stop. This isn’t right and you know it. If you want to keep your scholarship and financial aid so badly, then grow some balls and go talk to the Admin. If you won’t do it, I will. You know I will. So stop crying, get up and come with me. We’re getting some damn justice, even if it puts us on the shit list for the rest of our college careers. Let’s go.” After Laura sniffled, sighed and wiped her tears, she looked me dead in the eyes and nodded. We both got up and headed to the Admin’s office, where the fate of her college career waited patiently. When we walked to the Admin’s office, all I could think was how sad it was, that when you look at all of the humans, all of these souls and people who pass by you, and you see all of the pain, the façade of confidence that covers fear and the stress that plagues all of them, and you say nothing. Do we do it because we can’t fathom the idea of having to share their burdens? Maybe. Sometimes, I wonder if there is even a point of dreaming anymore. You, however, can do it, Laura… After the conversation with the Admin, Laura seemed less than thrilled to have had her story told and her be known as a “trouble maker.” I asked her, “What did the Admin say?” “Nothing, much. She just said that she would confront my teacher and go from there. She said that she would contact me via phone or email to let me know how it went by the end of the week.” “Good. See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” I asked. Laura shook her head. “I don’t know. You know my luck. Nothing ever goes as planned.” “Hey, have a little faith, will yah?” Two weeks went by. “Laura, you’re still having problems with your English teacher? Didn’t the Admin talk to her?” “I don’t know. I still haven’t heard.” “Dude! That was two weeks ago! She should’ve called you by now.” “I know, I know.” “Come on, Laura. Let’s go talk to the Admin.”

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“Just let it go, Courteney. Seriously. It is what it is.” “Sorry, but no. I’m going to go asked her myself, since you won’t.” I got up and started to head to the English department. “Wait!” Laura yelled and ran to catch up to me. “Fine. I’ll go talk to her, just calm down and wait for me.” Twenty minutes later, I asked, “Tell me what happened.” Laura had come out of the Admin’s office looking distracted and pissed. “Nothing. The Admin said that she had talked to my teacher and the teacher denied discriminating against gay people.” “Of course she did, but why didn’t the Admin contact you and let you know that she had talked to your teacher?” Laura laughed. “Because she thought that it was irrelevant and pointless to let me know. She thought that the matter was handled and that was that. She did what she was asked to do and she was done.” A rage that I hadn’t felt in a long time surged through me as I heard Laura’s answer. “Are you serious?! Let me go talk to her; that is bullshit!” “Stop, Courteney.” Laura grabbed my arm and pulled me back to her. “It’s pointless. There is no point anymore. The semester is almost over and there is no way that I could bring up my grade, even with the Admin’s help. I’m done. Let’s just go. Please.” “Laura…” “Let’s go. Don’t interfere, ok? I’ll never forgive you if you do. It’s done. I’m done. It’s time to move on.” In silence, she pulled me away from the Admin’s office, the whole time with me feeling silently pissed, defeated and powerless. I could only image what Laura was feeling. I still remember the last thing Laura said to me: “Sometimes, Courteney, it’s better to just walk away.”

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Postcard by Monique Sanchez Decay lives here, across the bamboo and seep field. Remember mistaking the bones for sand? Remember how each tiny fracture felt underfoot?

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Blindfold by Deanne Richards

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Elegy from an Archaeological Field School by Tony Luebbermann Grasshopper Pueblo, c. 1300 AD Cibecue, Arizona

They lived hard, high on the Mogollon Rim among dark pines. They painted pottery in polychromes of red and white, finely shaped, and planted corn in spring soil cool after rain. Shells from salt seas adorned their arms, and, from the tropics, bright feathered parrots perched in their homes. Too often, mothers young with newborns buried on their chests, their rib bones woven with the baby’s — a bone basket of mother and child gathered together, cloistered in bone song. Too often too, children under ten buried in graves empty of offerings, empty of comfort for one last journey, empty of the pueblo’s grieving for death close to birth was further from love: two large pottery shards used to scrape a fetus from a dirt floor uncovered in a garbage pit, and between the shards, tiny notes of their song — like those from a small bird.

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Our Lady of the Chronicles Murasaki Shikibu (978 - c.1014) by Linda Scheller An offering of white chrysanthemums for you, translucent sister My brother’s lessons taught me Chinese. Father sighed, Pity you’re a girl • Lake Biwa, widowed — the full moon whispered to me The Tale of Genji Lord Michinaga, my patron, brought me to court to teach his daughter Though he pursues me, he has neither read my book nor captured my love • One courtesan’s sleeves layered orange, green and mauve presage her swift fall Clamorous cracked bell — I wince, smile and nod at some inelegant verse A drunken courtier mauls his concubine, roaring at her frail protests

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The Serpent by Johnathan Perez Cradled high above a sapphire pool Rests the serpent Of summers in this pueblo valley. My father had told me The stories that were born From the leviathan that nests on the cliff’s scarred face. Etched and aged rests The beast in the rock side That overlooks the lake of native souls. I remember fearing the rage that could come From that cliff, that beast, The one they called the Avanyu. Was it a guardian or a Punisher that was sent from the World beyond the mists of this mountain ocean? I would wonder such things as my father and I Fished on the banks of the river that Flowed in from the evergreen canyon. The stream I played in, the pure water of blue ice And cloud bursts which Cried rain from their soft wounds. Algae swayed with the lakes movement As silver fish feast on its green Skin. Skin that could feed schools of huddling friends.

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Small waves would collide with the Shore. Mica seemed to float In the waters face as the sun touched it. The clouds crawled over the mountains All curious of what I was thinking As I sat in the breeze that whispered to me. The serpent slithered in my mind And coiled in the valves of my Indigenous heart, resting. Where will I be when the beast comes As the stories have told? I can only hope For I wish not to be unaware.

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Some Incidents by Richard Hartshorn I His mother takes him to the Soapstone Shipwreck when he is old enough. He is sixteen, this is the coast, and he has never kissed a girl. The shipwreck, he thinks, looks like a discarded spine. It's smaller than the brochures, with their fancy camera angles, make it out to be, but he can't help imagining what the rest of the ship looked like when it was a three-masted schooner instead of a rotted keel. He doesn't know that everyone who has ever visited Soapstone has thought the same thing, nor that you can use the Internet to look up pictures of it. The wreck of the Lady Rusla is covered with bodies. He's not yet worldly enough to tell the tourists from the locals, but he knows the legend: anyone who sits on the ship's keel until high tide and then dives into the Ol’ Briny will see the faces of the ship’s crew – the Captain, with her hair in a tight ponytail behind her tricorn, blue officer’s jacket with buttery lace spilling out at the wrists and throat, palm cap pistols crossed at her chest, and her Mates, First through Third, following her, awaiting a command that will never be issued — hovering in front of your eyes just before you surface. He’s almost out of arcade coins and had planned on wasting the rest of the afternoon onboard the keel. But it’s crowded. Some are thumbing away on phones, some absorbed in magazines, some squinting out at the sun as if they don’t know what it is. A heavily sunscreened family of three wear identical straw hats and deal playing cards upon folded legs. A woman with a half-shaved head holds a book in front of her face, pretending she's alone. Only one other is hitting the Skee-ball lanes today. She’s a girl about his age, in a zebra print bathing suit, brown hair tied back in a ponytail, flip-flops on sandy feet. “Weird,” he says. “There’s as much sand in here as there is on the beach.” She launches one of the wooden balls up the lane and scores forty points. “I guess,” she says. She lets him tell her everything he and his mother have done so far this weekend, then she shares the fact that

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she’s also here alone with her mother, and that hers has a rule against eating out. “It’s a waste of money,” she says. He asks what do they eat, then. “We cook in our room at the motor-lodge.” “I’d be sneaking out every morning for those continental breakfasts,” he says. “Okay.” He rolls three of his own balls and ends up in the gutter each time. He’s awarded with ten pity points for his efforts. “Do you believe all those suckers out there? Wasting their whole vacation. Like, what’s supposed to happen? The dead Captain makes you a part of the crew? Do you get a share of the plunder?” “No,” she says. She hits the fifty-pointer. “You just see their faces.” “I’m sure it makes a great story.” “It’s true.” She cups the final ball in her palm. “My mom and I do it every year.” He rolls the rest of his balls rapid-fire, and lands twenty on the final roll. He hopes that she saw it, but also hopes that she didn’t. Her final ball nicks the one-hundred hole, but lands in the gutter. “See you around?” Then he blurts it out, as he must: “Want to hang out later tonight?” It turns out she does, but only after he apologies for calling her tradition ridiculous. On the beach after dark, she brings along a plastic container full of oysters she fried herself, and shares with him. He squeams a little, but muscles them down. They sit on the edge of the Lady Rusla’s keel. “It must’ve sucked,” he says. “They sailed all the way from wherever they came from, and then shipwrecked here and died. I bet if someone had told them their lot in life was to give bored tourists something to talk about, they’d have stayed in front of the fireplace.” She says nothing to that at first, but then she says, “Dive in. I can tell you want to.” He doesn’t do it, and they don’t talk about the ship again. She doesn’t kiss him or even set her head on his shoulder, but she does agree to meet him for breakfast before she and her mom take off tomorrow morning.

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In the morning, though, the keel is once again full of people and empty of her. He and his mother spend the rest of the day together, and she knows exactly what he’s moping about. They leave the following afternoon. As they ascend the highway, he watches trees and guardrails slowly overtake the view of the coast. The ocean finally slips out of sight, and he feels a weight in his chest, as though he’s leaving something behind. He will never be so emotionally involved again. Then he thinks on those sailors, how if they’d had a better Captain, they never would have been smashed upon the rocks of this stupid tourist town. What he doesn’t know is that no one died in the shipwreck: the Captain wrung out her jacket, adjusted her tricorn, extended the gangway, and walked off into history. II The kayak collides with the sailboat because the kayaker is staring at a woman with a half-shaved head sitting on the spinal column of the Lady Rusla, her legs stretched out so that the flocks of tourists awaiting the tide have to maintain a certain distance, and this is what the kayaker is enamored with, probably — her legs, not the hairdo, not what she’s reading or where she’s set the two-dollar bookmark she bought at a local rip-off-out-of-towners store, but because she’s stretched out like that, she does stand out from the tourists, one of which she is, of course, and if you were the kayaker, you wouldn’t see that her legs were unshaven or know that she buzzed her own skull in a hand-mirror or that she’s stretched out because she’s recovering from a gymnastics injury and can’t cross her legs, and you wouldn't think to yourself that no one actually wants to be called Belle of the Beach or Lily of the West or, indeed, Lady Rusla, because names like that would historically get you killed, but the blood would be cascading moronically inside you, to parts you have no use for right now, and you wouldn’t hear the sailboat operator call you a Yankee jerkoff because you’d be too busy toppling out of a capsizing kayak, and once you were totally submerged, you wouldn’t think about sharks or the furious foreign sailboater or the fact that the kayak is a rental and you have to pay if you bash it up, because there’s something you’re trying to hang on to, something up there, something like the oil paintings they have in the hotel lobby of an old wooden ship staring mightily into a gale, something that can’t be

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forgotten, something that can’t just mean nothing. III I shaved it myself. It just had to be the same weekend as the New England Shipwreck Tour (one of the geekier things I’ve done in my life as an involuntary loner) that I tore my hip flexor and gashed the side of my head on the corner of the beam. It would start bleeding again when I did the most minor of things: get out of bed too fast, settle into yoga postures, shower. By the time I realized it, my hair would be caked with blood. So I took out the clippers, and here I am, hobbling to Soapstone Beach from the inn, hoping whatever’s left of the Lady Rusla is clear of, erm, crew, as it were. A woman sits alone on the wreck. The tide’s going to be in soon, and she looks like she’s been waiting awhile. She fidgets. Candy bags peek out of the backpack that leans against her thigh. I sit on the other end of the keel and crack my book open. Three chapters in, the sea is up to my ankles. A plastic cup snarled in seagrass is taken by a wave. The woman ties her hair back. Her shoulder muscles ripple under her skin, and something about how carefully she knots her rope of hair makes me think she’s felt me noticing her, and now I can’t look away from her. I notice a mole just above her bikini line. This performance, with me as audience, goes on until the tide has drowned the keel up to the waterline. Then my woman stands, grips the splintered edge with her toes, and dives. It hasn’t happened yet, but once the waves slam her into the jagged wood that makes up the keel’s side, she’ll surface, sputtering up salt and dignity, and will hear nothing but my laughter. Then I’ll see the blood leaking from her sliced torso. I’ll wrap her in my skull-andcrossbones beach towel, and hurry her to the ER. Five stitches later, on the car ride back, I’ll introduce myself: “I’m Miri, by the way.” We’ll just so happen to be staying at the same inn. We won’t leave the lobby until long after the clerk has killed the lights and the reggae muzak. She’ll be giddy on pain meds, and will reveal that she doesn’t speak to her parents. I’ll try to empathize, but will feel a crush of jealous guilt at my lack of childhood trauma. All this time, we’ll be sitting under an oil painting of the Lady Rusla’s captain: a stylized alkyd portrait in which she glares despondently past the viewer, her tricorn in

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place, a blue powder-burn around the left corner of her mouth. “Did you see her down there?” I'll ask. “What?” “The Captain. You’re supposed to be able to see her face when you dive.” But my woman’s never heard of the legend. She just dove. Then she’ll do a kiss lean, and I’ll see tangled fingers and a tossed bouquet in a banquet hall. I’ll see myself in a lacy dress, leaning against the bar, and someone behind me will say something about fate, and I’ll laugh even though I’m not supposed to. Here in the lobby, though, I put my finger on her lips and push her back – maybe tomorrow, when the drugs are washed away and we’ve had one of those continental breakfasts together. Maybe when I ask you why you dove, and you can’t answer, and the next time we look out at that broken wooden spine, we’ll see three masts and ruffling canvas in place of abalones and baking seaweed, hear a real song, something imperfectly timed, bellowing to the turning of the capstan just as it must have when the Lady Rusla plunged into her final port three hundred years ago. But for now, in this moment, I set my book down, and she dives. Oh yes, she does.

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Taste of Hate by Behzad Dayeny I tasted hatred once Placed in my mouth And I began to chew, A lot like tough meat Stringy and chewy Although, I must admit It was well seasoned to A kind of bitter sweet. As I swallowed it down Like an energy drink It got my heart racing What an invigorating feeling Felt like I had just received A big shot of courage I wallowed in this feeling Till it worked its way through Then I began to feel the pain. Like a bleeding ulcer It began to cut me to shreds Making me want to scream. Since then I’ve been more careful I have learned to avoid it I’ve learned to refuse it Though on countless occasions It has been offered to me On a silver platter

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Untitled by Christopher Locke

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How the World was Ordered by Bob Barba When I rode my bicycle through England, Belgium and Holland the summer that I turned twenty-five, I was weeks late for the fields of tulips that I had seen in photographs, and I think that I never actually saw a single tulip blooming in that dry August of 1984. But one morning, as I rode north from Watervliet, the town that my grandmother was born in, to catch a ferry to Holland, I did finally see a small farmhouse well off the road with waves of flowers between it and the road, and knew that here at last was a garden like my grandmother’s, blooming in succession throughout the long spring and summer, the tulips long past but their stalks and dull green leaves still discernible in the middle ground. I realized that day looking out over those stunning open fields lit by that particular light off of the North Sea how I had come to be born in Northwestern Ohio. I could see my young grandmother Zelma coming by boat to New York, the first of her family to leave home, then by land across to Montana where my grandfather Auggie worked as a copper miner, and simply saying, “No, this won’t do — too big, too bright, too dry.” I imagine them traveling east then across the Great Plains and stepping off the train every morning and gazing out over the topography and then getting back on the train. Auggie had chosen America and came ahead to earn her passage and the children’s, but Zelma got to pick the place in America, a place she could feel at home. And so I understood for the first time why anyone would settle in Northwest Ohio, with its open fields and the light reflected off the distant Great Lakes, and the latitude. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan writes of the tulip, “The modern tulip has become such a cheap and ubiquitous commodity that it’s hard for us to recover any sense of the glamour that once surrounded the flower,” and in fact it is impossible for me to reconcile any notion of the tulip as glamorous, since Zelma spent her life surrounded by tulips, and Zelma was pure peasant. There is a picture I have of her and some friends standing in a garden, all of them in shapeless dresses, all of them shapeless, with their waists right up under their breasts and their identical hair done up in the same buns under the same hair net. I was never taught any Flemish, not even a word or a phrase, and the little

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English she spoke was so heavily accented that I rarely understood a word of it. Each time we arrived at the house she would meet us on the porch or in the yard and ask me, “Cookie, boyka?” and I would say yes, and that was the extent of it. Her gardens were legendary even among the garden-mad Belgians of my home town, and the design of those gardens has me thinking lately not about tulips, but about marriage and how it works. My grandparents’ house was on a side street on the very edge of my town, and the fields around them had begun to fall to warehouses and grain elevators. Theirs was one of the last houses left on the street. Way back behind their small white house with green shutters and a green roof was a great green barn where my grandfather’s racing pigeons were kept. Next to the barn was a row of dog houses and a dog run for his hounds and across from them a row of rabbit hutches, where they kept rabbits for meat. This is how the world was ordered: The house was Zelma’s. The barn was Auggie’s. There was a concrete sidewalk that ran from the back of the house to the barn. On one side of the sidewalk was the vegetable garden. This was Auggie’s. On the other side was the flower garden. This was Zelma’s. The rabbit hutches were Zelma’s. The dog pens were Auggie’s. They met three times a day at the kitchen table and late at night climbed the stairs to their bedroom and lay down together. I never saw them touch. I hope you know that I’m not saying that I long for this kind of marriage. They were, I think, isolated, not only from their country and their families, but even from their children and from each other, and I think there is something to be said for striving to have some more comprehensive understanding of marriage than theirs. But some days complexity and richness are too daunting, and I think with envy on the neat diagram of their lives. I could go on labeling almost every part of the house and yard with one of their names and it would barely be an oversimplification. In the kitchen, which was almost entirely Zelma’s domain, Auggie’s shotgun leaned between the wall and the refrigerator, one narrow slice of maleness back there in the dark. Each time I went to the refrigerator to get a glass of milk, I would lean first to the right and steal a glimpse back into that darkened corner and marvel at the beauty of the wooden stock and the blue-black steel of the barrel, all of that coiled destruction and misery. Just outside of the kitchen and before the dining room was a narrow set of steps that descended to the cellar, yet

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it seems to me as if Auggie only ever entered the cellar from the bulkhead outside, and that only Zelma used the stairs, to fetch a jar of pickles or green beans or a handful of potatoes. They barely ever touched, they barely even grazed each other in passing. And yet when one Sunday morning during my mother’s weekly visit, Zelma coughed up blood into the sink and was dead within weeks from lung cancer she had been concealing for months, Auggie took to the upstairs for days and would not come down and could not be consoled. I remember too, after he was several months in that house alone, sitting downstairs in the kitchen waiting for my mother to bring him down and home to stay with us, and he shouted at her and wailed and sobbed and would not leave their house. I was suddenly taken by a terrible fear brought on by his great grief, so unlike anything I’d ever seen in him before, and I went to the refrigerator and checked for the shotgun, relieved when I saw it glinting back there in its narrow space. We did eventually get his body out of there and home with us, but not much else of him. He lived with us for a few months, maybe as long as a year, and he sat mostly in the darkened living room on the sofa and stared off into the middle distance. In the spring, when the weather got warmer, he started to wander off in the late afternoons to explore the grid of our neighborhood. Shortly after that we sent him to a nursing home in the next town over. One morning he escaped and was not found until evening, walking along the shoulder of Route 23 near the edge of our town, almost home. I wish he’d made it, if only to see where we would have found him back at the old house. By then my mother and her brother and sister had sold it to the phone company, which had turned the house into offices and paved the gardens for their fleet of vans. I can see him turning up sitting in his old lawn chair where the vegetable garden used to be, facing east toward the imagined flower garden, the tulips and iris still stretching off toward the barn, the grey and black and iridescent pigeons wheeling in the evening sky, the whole world, its two halves, arranged.

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Blue by Tony Luebbermann To comprehend a nectar Requires the sorest need. -- Emily Dickinson

There is little to say about dry chicken bones except that their splinters are hard and sharp, and how these make such a painful connection to the harsh retching sounds of a dog’s struggle as he opens and closes his mouth. Yet, if I did not believe in blue, I could not have seen my love’s dark eyes in that moment of shimmer, the intimate luminance that brushes the heart the way birds flying dawn will sketch the sky, a completeness that radiates in colors and form for a picture more brilliant than light, and because of this I understand better the import of foregrounding clouds, how grey will shape and flatten the infinite, shadow the clearness we hold, shift the perspective of hope to hardness and all too quickly arrive at the yawing mouth of a struggling dog, here, on a kitchen floor canvas, with a brush of red splintered bones.

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Sans Everything by Cullene Bryant I married Carter at the age of sixty. He was sixty-five. A healthy sixty-five, or so it seemed. His six feet towered above me; his arms were muscular from working on the family farm in Alberta where he had been raised. Silver hair gave him a king’s dignity. My first husband of fifteen years divorced me as quickly as scissors snip a useless thread. After that, there were long term liaisons and lovers. Perhaps that’s why I wed Carter so quickly. I longed for permanence, companionship and commitment. When he has recovered from the heart surgery, we decide to celebrate by going on a cruise to Alaska. On the first afternoon, we wander into the gift shop and Carter points to a diamond necklace. The saleslady picks it out of the display case and slides it onto a red velvet cushion. “We could buy new furniture for the apartment.” I hold up my hand to signal, no. There are still so many memories of his first wife in the place. Her silver tea set and tea table still sit in our living room. Their old venetian blinds hang over our windows. The saleslady winks at me. “Shh.” “We can always buy furniture. This is for the lady I love.” Carter pulls out his wallet. The saleslady clasps the jewelry around my neck. I look in the mirror. The gems are heart shaped. How romantic! Who is this woman who looks back at me, her necklace gleaming in the neon lights? This woman who used to be so lonely? I will never hum “Good Morning Heartache” again. We spend our first night in port in Skagway. Everyone is visiting the Red Onion Saloon and though Carter doesn’t drink alcohol, we go along. I relax with a coffee and enjoy the quaint atmosphere reminiscent of the 1890’s. Our waitress, dressed in a corset and long skirt, tells us about the tour of the bedrooms or cribs, as they were called, upstairs. “I want to go.” I sip the last of my coffee. “Sure. I’ll wait for you.” He pays the girl the small fee. We climb the narrow stairs as the tour guide tells us that in the early days, ten dolls stood in the back of the bar downstairs. When the

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“sporting woman” had a client the barman laid one of the dolls on her back. When the john left, the doll was put upright again, signifying the woman was ready for her next client. A man paid five dollars for fifteen minutes with the girl of his choice. When she received her pay, she slipped the coins or the gold dust into a copper pipe which was connected to the bar through a hole in the floor. Tips and gold nuggets were kept under the floor boards. Wallpaper covered the loose planks. White curtains flutter in the breeze over the brass bed as the tour guide continues. “The Red Onion boasts one of the most famous women, Diamond Lil. Her brothel, a luxury house, employed the best pianist in Skagway. Lil, a statuesque beauty, had the bearing of a queen. She only took the wealthiest clients and proudly displayed her diamond collection to her patrons. She even embedded a flashy jewel in one of her front teeth.” I can’t help but think of my own diamond necklace, an extravagant token of Carter’s love and affection. Do Lil’s diamonds represent something else? Payment for services rendered? How then could she be so pleased with them? “When she returned home to Chicago, she lost her fortune to Big Joe Hopkins, her gangster lover. Some say she ended her colorful career as a cleaning lady in Seattle.” The tour guide asks if there are any questions. I wonder what was it like for the women of long ago, real women made of flesh, who lay on their backs for fifteen sweaty minutes with bawdy men? The monotony of it, the stink of it. Did they have time to wash between men? I am fascinated by the stories of these brave women who flouted polite Victorian society and struggled over mountain passes in petticoats and high-buttoned boots. The guide continues. “Some of the sporting women maintained their independence and even became wealthy through their intelligence and charm. Others, betrayed by their lovers, lost their riches or died by violence.” The guide finishes her talk and we are led downstairs. I am intrigued by these women who not only endured but triumphed. They had stamina and guts, elegance and grace. Unless love blinded them, they outwitted many men, prevailed and won. A week or so after the cruise is over, Carter complains of a back ache. I wake up to hear him groaning.

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“What’s the matter?” “My back is killing me.” “Do you want me to rub it?” I get out of bed and return with a minty ointment. “Doesn’t help. Go back to sleep. I’ll be okay.” The groaning continues. “If you’re in that much pain we need to go to the Emergency.” “I’m not going to any hospital.” “Then stop fussing.” But Carter sounds like a dog that senses a burglar and gives a soft warning growl. “Look, Carter, if you won’t go to the hospital now, we’re seeing Dr. Chase first thing in the morning.” Dr. Chase is a patient but busy man with chocolate brown curly hair. He orders blood tests and we return the next day. “Carter, tell me where it hurts.” “Everywhere.” “You’ve had a back ache.” I remind him of my midnight ministrations. “My chest hurts.” “Is it your chest or your back?” asks Dr. Chase, becoming impatient. “Everywhere.” The doctor turns to me. “He’s got an infection but I don’t know where. I’ll give you a prescription for antibiotics. If he gets any worse, take him to the hospital.” Before midnight Carter starts projectile vomiting. I call Dianne, Carter’s daughter. She and Mason arrive in a flurry and help me pack Carter into the car. The emergency unit is full so Carter lies on a small cot in the hallway. He begins shaking violently. I am wearing the mauve jacket I bought in Alaska. I take it off and put it over him but it is so light it seems to float above him and only cover half his body. “Lie down beside me. Keep me warm,” he begs. “Can we have another blanket here?” I ask as a nurse passes by. “No. It will raise his temperature.” “Please, lie down beside me. Warm me up.” He is shivering so terribly he can hardly spit out the words. I lean against the cold metal and tuck the jacket around his shoulders, try to embrace him so he will feel my body heat. After a variety of tests the harried doctor draws aside the curtain

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that separates the cots. Tousled hair like a girl’s bangs hang over his eyes. “He’s got a ruptured gall bladder. His body’s in septic shock. We’re not sure he’s going to make it.” Our time together has been too short, only three years. Hours later the doctor tells us the surgery is over. “Your husband has congestive heart failure. You better be prepared…” Carter survives, but he plunges into a nightmare of delirium. It reminds me of the delirium he suffered when he had the heart surgery. All care aides, nurses, even the woman who mopped the floor were the enemy. They had to call security and hold him down. I stay by his bedside for hours to comfort Carter and make him feel safe. He’s in a four bed ward. The pretty woman across from him is an immigrant from Greece. I call for help when she needs to go to the bathroom. After that, we enjoy brief and friendly conversations when I come to soothe Carter. “We know he behaves better when you’re here, but it’s not your responsibility. If you need rest, go home,” says one of the doctors. The days march on like a soldier’s scuffed boots. Carter mellows. “He’s getting better, isn’t he?” I ask a blonde nurse. “I wouldn’t say so. Last night he got out of bed naked and asked the patient across from him to make love. She came screaming into the nursing station.” I gulp, realizing it was the Greek woman I had befriended during my visits with Carter. “We’re moving him to an allmale ward.” I imagine the patient’s panic, a naked stranger hovering over her in the darkness. How could she sleep peacefully again in the hospital? I help gather up Carter’s things. They’ve told me to bring familiar items to his bedside, things from home that he will recognize: a large brown cushion that lay on our chesterfield and our wedding picture, his favorite sweater. I pick the portrait up and study it. Carter, gazing at me adoringly. My fingers tremble as I look at the expression on his face. What has happened to the man I married? I put the wedding picture back on the bedside table of the new room. Carter falls asleep and I drive home fearful of what is ahead of me. Will they send him home deranged? A new specialist takes charge. Dr. Beckworth, a gerontologist from the community, is a tall athletic boy-man. He moves with energy as if he has just come away from the basketball court. “Your husband is quite confused but we’re discharging him. Usually

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delusional behavior disappears among familiar surroundings.” “I’m not sure I can handle him.” There is a fine line between sickness and health. Had he crossed the border between the two worlds? How was I to navigate with him on this strange journey? The visits to various doctors become like the arms of an octopus, grabbing us, taking our time and our very lives. At the yearly check up at the Alzheimer’s clinic, more bad news. I feel sea sick as I listen to Dr. Garner in his white office give a new diagnosis. “He has frontotemporal dementia.” “What’s that?” I take a deep breath and try to look calm. “There will be mood and personality changes. He may become disinhibited and unaware of the feelings of others. He’ll become detached and isolated.” “Can nothing be done?” He promises me there will be psychoneurological testing, but there is a waiting list. My mouth is dry as scenes from the early years of our marriage flash before my eyes like the light of a match struck in the dark. There will be no more cruises, no more laughter at the comedy clubs, no more drives into the country in his Rolls Royce or opportunities to wear the diamond necklace. They say that suffering builds character. I do not want to be strong or wise. I remember those long walks Carter and I took in the early years of our marriage, along Ambleside Beach. Large pieces of driftwood wedged between grey rocks caught my eye. How long did they toss in the ocean before they found rest? Their upturned roots splayed. Stormy winds washed them ashore; salt water rinsed away the resin; sun bleached their surfaces almost white; pounding waves smoothed their contours. And they became a thing of beauty. I am a chauffeur. I take Carter to the general practitioner, Dr. Chase; the neurologist, Dr. Garner; the community gerontologist, Dr. Beckworth; and the diabetic clinic where we spend a whole morning. There he sees a cardiologist, a dietician, a nurse, a diabetic specialist and a social worker name Renate. I don’t pay much attention to her

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because we are not in financial distress. She’s very businesslike, dresses in black or navy blue suits and always has a colorful scarf thrown over her shoulder. I wonder how she can walk up and down the hallways of the clinic in her high heeled shoes. But she does. Very fashionable. She takes a special interest in us. Especially me. She phones our home once a month to see how I’m doing. As Carter’s condition worsens, I look forward to her calls. One day I ask to see her privately. Someone has to help me deal with Carter. “Do you get assistance from the family?” She welcomes me into her office and closes the door. “If we see them for Sunday dinner, for instance, I make sure Carter’s been to the barber, is dressed well and clean shaven. He needs hearing aids now but refuses to wear them. Every once in a while they’ll shout something at him and he’ll nod or smile and they think he’s involved, knows what’s going on.” “Haven’t they been with you to any of the doctors’ appointments?” “I asked Mason and Dianne to come with us to the Alzheimer’s clinic but they said the shop was too busy.” “They’re in denial. It’s hard for families to face this. I’ll have our psychiatrist see them. She can get his records.” “Thanks so much. Will you phone me about the date then?” “It’s best that you not be present.” “Why?” “I want them to feel free to speak openly. They might not if you’re there.” “But isn’t it supposed to be a family conference?” “It’s best to let them be alone with the psychiatrist. I’ll tell them we’re taking a family history.” “You won’t tell them about the hypersexuality, will you? It’s kind of personal and embarrassing.” “No, of course not.” “The medication isn’t helping much.” “What you need to do is answer his needs. Make love every other day or so and put it on the calendar. Then when he makes advances show him the date that’s circled. You need to establish boundaries.” She hands me a pamphlet. I feel relieved when I get home. It’s good to talk to another woman. By this time I don’t want sex anymore, but there’s such a fuss when I

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deny him. He charges off into the bedroom like a wounded bull; throws himself on the bed and refuses to eat or take his medication. I cajole him; reprimand him; bring the pills and needle to the bedside. I’m afraid he’ll go into a diabetic coma. One night I don’t care anymore. “Die then,” I shout, slam the bedroom door; flop into his easy chair in the living room; turn on the TV. Watch an Italian film with subtitles. I remove the calendar from the wall in the kitchen and take it to the bedroom; circle the day in red pencil; take off my clothes and sit on the edge of the bed. I remember the cribs I toured in the Yukon at the Red Onion Saloon. I imagine one of the prostitutes sitting in the same position; her head lowered, hair trailing over her naked shoulders, waiting for her customer. I see in my mind’s eye the woman’s spine and feel the curve of my own back bone, the ripple of vertebrae. I muse on the scene, listen to the tap in the bathroom. He is holding his penis under the hot water, to make it hard. I can see in the dim light his figure emerging, walking towards me. I lie down and he lowers his body on top of me. He does not kiss my lips or breast; he does not caress my thighs, or open my pink layers of flesh with his fingers. He lifts my legs and I swing my feet onto his shoulders. At the last minute I push a pillow under my buttocks so that my neck won’t be strained. I reach over for oil and smooth a few drops into my vagina. He pushes and grunts. I watch the clock over my shoulder. Afterwards I’ll wash. I try to make him wait two days. But he wakes me up at six o’clock in the morning. I’m furious. The red circle on the calendar meant nothing to him. I storm into the living room and lie down on the couch. I swear if he follows me I’ll call 911. Impossible to go back to sleep. I stare out the window and watch the tugboats and freighters glide through the black waters, their lights glimmering. My mind wanders back to the diamond necklace that Carter gave me when we married four years ago. I thought it was a symbol of his love. Today I am Diamond Lil, paid for services rendered.

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Winter Monody by Sean Brendan-Brown The raked leaves smell of earth — not from resting on it but from drawing up the essences of spring & summer like a thousand syringes — what a lovely mess Yoshino cherry and Bigleaf maple make dropping their sere trove, berries & winged double samaras; a hornet screams in my ear to leave everything alone: I try to kill it but am too slow; they have a nest in the tarped cord of alder and a nest in the front gutter. Time to give up, to come in, rewind the cold Sessions clock on the dark mantle and sit, hungry & sinful, new fire clicking atop blackened fragments of yesterday’s blaze — fill up on toast & tea, another day another victory over alcohol: for the thousandth time I speak our prayer and I am serene, alone all night awaiting tomorrow; moths flutter to death, pretty souls innocent in their appetite for light. Abominable grace provokes us all, glad or sorry, an eloquent winter monody, bells mute, carols for the racy corpse.

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The Letter J Keeps Appearing in Your Dreams by Andrea L. Watson after your father lulls you to sleep with the same old family story— We lived happily ever after but for the wolf hiding behind those fallen oak trees. Jump. Don’t jump. Across the room, the tall cabinet unlatches, and a stranger becomes involved. He tells you to jump through the world with 13 moons and no sun the turquoise world without sin the world in which the word on page 12 is spelled j-u-m-p. Here’s the part in the poem where we slip you the ransom demands — • • • •

Pack up the house. Sign the Do No Resuscitate order. Burn the photo of your mother’s Greek lover. Cut up your velvet dress (you know the one we mean): the old blue jumper.

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Blank Stare, No Peach Fuzz by John Ballantine Chainsaw Jack did not meet us at the door of Cummins Farm, as we shook off the red clay kicked up by the state Chevrolet making its way past the trustees high up on workhorses with shotguns across their laps. The trustees, with wide cowboy hats, nudged the horses out of the road and kicked at the line of men in white work clothes bent over the cotton. The prisoners’ hands were red with blood as they picked, while the trustees watched stoically over a day’s work. Superintendent Merton greeted us at the flat administration building and let us wander the halls searching out dark secrets. Our leather shoes slapped on the gray concrete floors; the steel doors slammed on the prison barracks that were muffled by the afternoon humidity and whirring fan as we walked. The barracks were dark, with three-story bunks pushed against each other, blocking out light and humanity. Two or three bare lightbulbs reached far back to the shadows. Sleeping here would twist every new inmate forever. Austin McCormick, now well into his seventies, walked up to a prison friend standing against the wall and asked where Jack was — there were no prison guards in sight. The eerie quiet of the afternoon was strangely reassuring. Chainsaw Jack had trustee privileges — he had been in a long time; the heads he cut off were long forgotten, almost folklore it seemed — he did not have to ride the line in the noonday sun, but watched over the laundry, where contraband was passed back and forth. Jack told Austin of the Tucker telephone, where the previous warden and bad trustees tortured those they didn’t like. A wire to their balls and chest with current rising with the cranked telephone until the lights flickered and eyes shouted. The inmates’ hands twitched under the leather straps, and the singed smell of pubic hair filled the room. At least nineteen died on the chair, although many other bodies were found. The dead were buried in one long hole, near an old gravesite, lined up in a series of pits dug over the years and shaded by an oak tree that camouflaged the horror. Jack pointed Austin (and prying reporters) to the trees and graves covered now with the red Arkansas clay and scrub grass.

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Governor Winthrop Rockefeller gave the okay to dig up the bodies and then instructed Superintendent Merton to stop the front-page news stories. Time magazine told of nineteen dead inmates tortured at Tucker Farm and Cummins — white and black men separated by color, but not deed. Many more were brutalized. And here I was three months later in the heat of July to see if the new superintendent had cleaned things up. The chair was gone, the green room empty, but the farm still made millions off the backs of these men — in for robbery, armed assault, burglary, and murder. The peach fuzz disappeared quickly from the seventeen-year-old thieves who were raped repeatedly in the barracks. The sparkle in the eyes of the young boy I met yesterday was gone; his blank stare said he had witnessed his soul’s death that night. No exit, no escape now; he was turned and twisted. In the prison corridors, Austin and I asked about the food, the books in the library, the boredom of summer days, and the fear of the night. We pleaded for a little humanity to assuage the screaming souls. Later I saw men on death row bent over blades of grass, worshiping the air surrounding them. They were let out one by one, once a week for an hour, to see the sun and remember the green. Otherwise they lay prone on steel bunks, staring straight at soiled ceilings and rereading the one book they were allowed again and again. No repentance here, no life for those on death row. My blond whiskers were barely visible, and soft skin was covered by a light gabardine green suit. We were here to check out the white prison farm of 16,000 acres. The Tucker Farm twenty miles down the road for the blacks was smaller and just as bad. The prisoners picked cotton, dug the potatoes, and harvested rice and soybeans in the sun. The farms made good money for the legislature, $1.4 million — no need to worry about the horrors down here until they made the news. We were five miles from a town of 1,300 and two hours from Little Rock. I did not know what I was doing here in Arkansas, walking the halls and learning the prison business from the best reformer alive. I touched the desperation of being caught and forgot. Chainsaw Jack told us that things were a bit better. The old warden, Burton, was gone (not murdered in prison like he should have been, but a corrections consultant), the Tucker chair and telephone removed, and the really bad trustees demoted. Merton was tough, fair, and barely in

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control with forty corrupt prison guards and 150 armed trustees trying to hold a prison of 1,600 together. He made his peace with those running the place, and the price of contraband cigarettes had dropped. But the food was still terrible, the rats still roamed the kitchen, and most of the lights were busted. The young boys were turned over in the barracks of hell each week. At least now the days were long, hot, and tempers were not as fiery. But more change was needed. Meat at least once a week, a vegetable, lights throughout the barracks, less crowding in each dormitory, fans too, and maybe another book in the library. Spend some of the money the state made off our backs. A simple request really, if only the prison could keep some of the farm profits. Governor Rockefeller drank late into the night, turned votes in the legislature, not by appealing to the southern humanity, but shame. We don’t want to be as bad as Louisiana or Mississippi. No more headlines about dead bodies at Cummins, torture or rape. Just let me run the prisons at breakeven, spend some of the money we make on them, the inmates. And yes, I will integrate the prisons like the schools in due time, soon. Austin wrote a long report about the value of prison programs, why good hot food and lightbulbs were an important first step. And how a library could calm the idle mind. The trustees were a necessary part of prison management, but they did not need to carry shotguns on the line, and breaking the contraband rings took a lot of work. At the very least the new boys should be in a separate dormitory for a couple of months. Let us not make them into psychopaths on the first night. I stood there in my college suit, watching, shifting from foot to foot and knowing that this was not the worst. My college friends did not see how easy it was to crush hope and destroy. Not with a shiv to the gut, but the collar of servitude and fear. Dulled blue eyes that could not hide the hurt. I walked the prison halls one hot day after another; listened, walked, and heard story after story. This was not the kindness I imagined in other jails, not the parole my mother meted out in New Jersey and the juvenile furloughs taken into our home. No, this was just a hell that no one could leave. Ever.

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Milk Ghosts by Michaela Kahn Night. The moans have called me from my bed in the old granary, out to the open barn door. Heat lightning cracks beyond the next ridge. A heavy coil of cold air snakes from copse to outhouse, dampens the black moth’s wings as it dives, again and again, for the beam of my flashlight. Sharp, then soft, south then east, the muffled lows have no borders, no source. They could belong to the three dozen calves in their seven by four foot crates, just over the hill—but these voices are not theirs. Above the barn, a lone bat caught by the waning moon. The smell of a skunk moves through the monstrous shadows of burdock. The moans filter through the grass, ricochet off the trunk of a scorched pin oak. These could be the echoes of a local farmer’s feed-lot herd, thirtyeight milk cows, forgotten amid the farmer’s thousands. Left to die, slowly, of starvation, in their concrete pen a week ago. When the food ran out they stretched their necks over the fence to the ditch weeds. When the water ran out they licked the metal fence posts, licked one another’s eyes. At the barn door I wait for the last cow’s call to vibrate off my collarbone, sink through my feet and back into the wormy earth.

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Leaving Mississippi by Gayle Newby Mississippi reached out her long, graceful arms to me, all the way through Memphis, past Little Rock and Conway. Continually she begged me to come back. Promising familiarity and comfort, she reminded me of six generations of rebel roots dug deep into her red clay soil. In Selina, Kansas, when the prairie wind whipped through my toothin coat, I thought I would die of longing for my home. I gathered the tattered edges of my soul around me and went to bed in a cheap motel, wishing I could lose my memory of mauve-to-lilac mornings, deep river waters, and scents so deep I could hardly breathe, but I could not forget, for Mississippi is a cruel and vengeful lover. The next day, when I crossed over into the mocha-green mountains of Colorado, I began to think that I might live; that the mountain oxygen might somehow save my soul. When tumbleweeds blew across my path in Wyoming, I knew that my last days might hold redemption. Mississippi, my love, my nemesis; dead last in almost everything except the hearts of her people, had been my home for sixty-three years. I watched my tortured state resist her children of color’s fight for voting rights; watched her deny civil liberties and pardon killers. I watched power-mad demagogues at hopped-up political rallies belittle and threaten powerless people. Finally, when the nation had been shamed into submission and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, I watched Mississippi bow her head and submit to the inevitable rule of law. Mississippi’s weary black children began to work in white hospitals, not as janitors, but as medical professionals. Employment in state offices and public schools opened to African Americans as did higher paying jobs in manufacturing. Schools were integrated, dialogue initiated. It was, in some ways, a time of thrilling expectation. So, when William Winter, with his strong platform in support of education and racial reconciliation, was elected governor of Mississippi in 1980, I thought we might be on our way. Public kindergartens were established, utilities laws rewritten; bright young men such as Ray Mabus, Dick Molpus, John Henegan, and Andy Mullen were tapped as part of Winter’s staff. They gave promise, as the boys of spring, to a new day for Mississippi. Sunbelt states became the desired locale for

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northerners fleeing frigid temperatures and corporations seeking cheap labor. Perhaps we might, as Ray Mabus had phrased it, “Never be last again.” Bill Allain, a true populist with a heart for the people, followed Winter as governor in 1984. Allain staffed state offices with women and African Americans, an almost revolutionary move for a Mississippi governor. Following hard after his vision for a more equitable government, Allain attempted to take on the elites and change the constitution of 1890. He did not succeed. The legislature ignored his plans. Allain stepped down after one term and was followed by one of Mississippi’s brightest stars. Ray Mabus, summa cum laude, Harvard Law, former state attorney general, mover and shaker from Governor Winter’s term, seemed eminently suitable to lead Mississippi into the 1990s. Indeed, during Mabus’s term, education, jobs, and tourism in Mississippi showed record growth. Governor Mabus secured the largest pay raise ever for Mississippi’s teachers. The young governor was featured in a New York Times Magazine article and was listed in Forbes magazine as one of the nation’s ten education governors. But my home state, like a survivor with battered woman syndrome, does not handle progress well. After a while, progress and equality do not feel comfortable. Mississippi needs drama and a cause to fight for. In 1992, Kirk Fordice would provide much drama. William Kirkwood Fordice, a successful building contractor and steadfast Republican, was the beneficiary of Richard Nixon’s southern strategy. Fordice promised to push through legislation preventing same-sex marriage, and he threatened to abolish Affirmative Action. One of Fordice’s favorite comments was, “We don’t do race in Mississippi anymore.” But obviously race was a factor, for shortly after being elected, the governor threatened to call out the National Guard if increased funds were allocated to Mississippi’s four black colleges. Fordice secured the passage of laws requiring prisoners to serve 85% of their term before being considered for parole, and in order to house these large numbers of inmates, he built more prisons. In 2004, powerful Washington lobbyist Haley Barbour was elected governor. He defined his term by slashing Medicaid in an abysmally poor state, whose child poverty rate is an astounding 33%. Barbour is remembered for his able handling of post-Katrina economics in

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Mississippi, but perhaps just as clearly he is remembered for his comments about race relations in his hometown of Yazoo City during the 1960s. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Barbour stated that he remembered those times as “not that bad.” Currently Governor Phil Bryant, now in his second term as governor, grandstands about gun control, the rebel flag, and “Obamacare.” He promises strong immigration control—in a state with a 2% Hispanic population. Meanwhile, Mississippi limps along with education inadequately funded and a jobless rate of 6.6%, the fifth highest in the nation. So tired of all the “them and us,” the veiled innuendos of “some people won’t work,” and the comments of “they are not like us”; tired of watching struggling men and women working twelve-hour, six-days-aweek jobs with no benefits, endlessly frustrated by the iron hand of fundamentalism robbing people of any chance of joy, I decided to leave Mississippi. But in all fairness, I cannot toss the blame for my disenchantment totally in the dustbin and label it Mississippi. After all, I have friends and acquaintances who have secured good lives for themselves in Mississippi. They live in nice homes and drive adequate cars, party in the Grove, and teach Sunday school. They are good and successful people. Much of the fault lies with me. Too many job changes and relocations have depleted me. I could not seem to shake the poverty and dysfunction that hangs over me like a cloud, nor could I rid myself of the Bubbas who are drawn to my good cooking and my pleasant nature. Mississippi is just too much for me. So I ran out the backdoor, the words to “Everybody’s Talking at Me” drumming in my mind. As I fled, I heard William Faulkner and Larry Brown whispering sweet endearments mixed with curses to my girl Mississippi. I was not brave, but cowardly. I ran to save my life and my soul. I drove until the hot western winds burned the terror from my heart. Now, when I wake in the morning, with the Wasatch Front behind me and the high desert bloom before me, I give a nod to the swamps and the deltas and the low green hills that I left behind. I recall country gardens and generosity, the genteel elegance, and the stoic poverty of Mississippi. I then repeat my mantra: “I’m glad that I left you, girl, glad I ran out the backdoor while I still had breath.” But like an abusive lover, you call to me still, and I find myself sleepless at night, looking as far to the east as my mind can stretch, missing you, and wishing for you, still.

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The Double by Gina ValdĂŠs I return to the country we fled, looking for our house, searching for my other, circle round and round, unbelieving. What wind blew it? What wind blew us, blows us north, south? What moon pulls me two ways? I balance myself on the edge, face el otro lado: my twin, my double, my near and distant other.

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Apartment 203 by Deanne Richards I have been fighting with my boyfriend all morning. His brother has an apartment for us to look at near a college in the city. I don’t want to go. His brother has a thin mustache and slicked back greasy hair. My boyfriend talks me into going after I throw a glass at him which is stuck in the wall. The glass has just missed his head but it gets his attention. We make up quickly, laughing about how I have poor aim, and as a truce I decide to look at the apartment. “Apartment 203,” said my boyfriend as we walk up the stairs to the second floor with its dark blue walls that are the color of night. There is only one bare light bulb hanging by a black frayed wire. I come from a place of well manicured lawns and sprinklers. I cannot comprehend why he has brought me to this building where my intuition has sprung into overdrive like the hairs of a hissing cat. It is 2:00 in the afternoon but it is midnight in this hallway. All of the doors have scratch marks. Apartment 203 has a black door that is covered in scratches and the lock looks like a dog has been gnawing on it to get in. I touch the door handle and say, “No.” “No?” asks my boyfriend. “No, I won’t live here and no I won’t go inside this apartment.” My boyfriend’s face turns red. His brother is looking at me strangely. “My brother has gone to a lot of trouble to show us this apartment,” my boyfriend says. “Just no,” I say. I walk away and stand at the stair landing. I can see my boyfriend and his brother having a heated discussion as his brother sneers at me with his waxed mustache. He should be wearing a polyester plaid suit carrying a vacuum to sell. Instead he is wearing a white alligator shirt with a navy blue suit jacket and blue jeans. My boyfriend is shaking his head and his brother has turned around to gape at me with the piercing blue eyes of a black cat. His blue suit jacket blends into the walls and all I can see is his eyes. I begin to see the scratches in the hallway as eyes. The eyes begin blinking at me. I hold onto the railing at the top of the stairs. My stomach feels nauseated. I see something like a cloud move towards me. Inside the cloud I see a woman living in apartment 203. She is reading a Bible while sitting on her vintage couch and a white sweater is wrapped around her shoulders.

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The woman has red hair and she opens the door because she hears a loud knocking at the door. The men are looking for someone and there is an urgency and a rhythm of fear in their shouting. She can’t understand who they are looking for. She thinks that maybe they are looking for her roommate but she isn’t sure? She hesitates before opening the door but opens it anyway. Out of the dark blue hallway two young men bolt into her apartment. The men are wearing dark navy hoodies with their hands deep in their pockets. The door is barely open but they push their way in. She is startled by their disregard. “Who are you looking for?” she asks. “We iz lookin for use,” said the taller one. She tries to scream. They slam the door behind them. One of the men has a knife and in a second they are dragging her. She can only feel the vital spark of terror rip through her body as she pleads with them with her eyes. They don’t take off her clothes when they throw her into the bathtub with the cold water running. She claws at the two men as a possible ladder out of the bathtub. Her scratches resemble the scratches on the door of her apartment. She keeps slipping. Gradually her scratches are not scratches but are limp hands pawing at the man’s skin as if she were petting a cat. She is a divinity student but she cannot understand why God has chosen for this to happen to her. Her fleeting attempts at making a mark became useless. She is being erased. She is diminished. She realizes that she wants to draw a pen from her pants to write her name on their skin. There is no time. She is letting go. The wind of her breath escapes her and she thinks of nothing but the dark blue Bic pen in her pocket. She continues to hold onto nothing and sees the smile of triumph on his face as he holds her down. His smile is what destroys her. The shame of having opened the door causes her to let go completely. Her last breath turns into a bubble. The men continue to hold her down just to be sure. The cloud disappears and the scratches become scratches instead of eyeballs. When I touch the railing of the stairs I see them all over again. I see the two young men in their hoodies that are covering their heads, approaching the black door of apartment 203. Their backs are walking down the hallway. I feel cold and I try to explain what I have seen to my boyfriend. The words cannot come out. It is as if I am drowning. I am relieved when we have left the building. My boyfriend

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doesn’t talk to me on the way home. I am sure that what I have seen is true when three months later I read about it in the newspaper. “What was the apartment number that we looked at with your brother?” I ask. My boyfriend replies, “203.” I feel the chill again, but say nothing.

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Of Moths, Junkies and Other Ephemera by Krikor Der Hohannesian The moth, frenetic, seeks the lamp, June bugs splatter against the porch screen, the day lily bends its stem toward the sun. No thought. No being cursed with antonyms – avoidance of cold, dread of darkness, fear of death. No human artifices like time, the illusion of it, the running out of it. Yesterday a trap of nostalgia and regret, tomorrow a wish for better, death a respite from woe. Life! The protesting, kicking screaming march toward the void against which we are powerless. We seek the lee of our illusions — the calm of comfort and happiness — as if we cheat death if only for a moment, placate our fear of no-thing, save our minds from the tangle and bramble of contemplating eternity, the admission that we are mere specks in some cosmic trickery. We even invented God, who we secretly want to be. Heaven? At best, a continuum, a circle not to be confused with time, linear enemy of our own invention. There is no such thing as running out of time, the thought of which fills us with angst enough to renew vows,

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to conjure prayers to guardian angels. Ah, the curse of the mind! Does the fish know it is in water? That today is the Ides of March? No, it just swims. Our opiate of thought, delusion, self-importance, is that better than a junkie’s heroin, an alcoholic’s nip of Four Roses? They’ve just surrendered, which is actually their salvation — they just don’t know it. They’ve burned both past and future, a laser of focus on the buzz of the next hit, the numbing next belt of booze, as if it could be their last way out.

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Vagabond Breakfast by Juliana Wilde

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The Comal by John Crain Margarita stood in the middle of the kitchen, crying, staring at a comal. It was not broken, and though the bottom was scorched black from use, there was nothing wrong with it. In fact, it was extraordinarily beautiful in its simplicity. The dueña made the vessel with her own hands, many years ago. Unglazed, it was made of an unusual type of clay containing tiny fragments of mica; catching the light, they sparkled like stars trapped in earth. A little deeper than customary, the comal was perfect for making the atole the dueña and her man so loved. And yet, the sight of it brought tears to Margarita's eyes, for it reminded her of the hands that shaped it. There would be no more atole now. She'd been their cook and housekeeper for many years, and she'd loved them both very deeply. Margarita wiped away her tears with a corner of her apron and began working on the simple dinner the patrón would need before sunset. She made enough for herself; she would eat with him to keep him company and make sure he ate. In the short time since his beloved died, the life seemed to be leaving him, and he was rapidly wasting away. He'd always been so energetic, so vital. Now, to Margarita's sensitive eyes that sometimes saw into the spirit world, he seemed more like a walking ghost, a fantasma, and she worried about him. The spirits told her he was not long for this world either, and would be joining the dueña soon. The spirits never lied, and she tried to take comfort in their reassurance, but losing her patrón frightened her because then she would be alone and her life would change. Yesterday, she found him trying to move his big chair from his studio to the portico so he could be closer to the garden as he sat and read. Alarmed, she stopped him and managed to move the chair herself, with him pushing the ottoman behind. He would be sitting in

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that chair now. The afternoon slipped away as Margarita ascended the stairs carrying the tray with his dinner. ••• He didn't know this would be the last day of his life. Not that it would have mattered. He was tired of living. The woman he loved more than life itself died over a week ago. She had been his reason for existence for more than sixty years. Warmed to drowsiness by the afternoon sun, he'd given up reading his book, and it lay open on his lap. He couldn't stop thinking about her, and the life they'd shared. Random memories would come to him. The scent of her hair. A special kiss. There were so many of those. As he sat, something happened inside him, and the swirling memories became less random, falling together like fragments of a painting torn apart by time, coming back together of their own accord. They began with a time before they'd met, a time when he was still becoming a man... ••• The moment Margarita entered the portico, she knew he was gone.

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Joshua Tree Shadows by Juliana Wilde

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The Dream From Which I Never Awoke by Marti Mills sometimes when I look out the door the shadows are dancing with time and the leaves are rattling in the wind when the doves’ song sounds more like a toad the coyote stops hunting and the alley cat whines for food the span of time becomes three dimensional and the curvature of the earth is as intimate as the soft white skin on the inside of my lovers’ thighs. when a faint hint of the spring air tickles my nose leaving behind the memory of dewey frost promising the return of orchestral weeping through hot summer nights when the wind dances with the clouds and an arc of silky light envelops my body breaking the waves lost of time the dreams come eternally and my eyelids are kissed gently by the soft lips of each missed hour the spring rains fall and the floods close the door

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The Fall by Behzad Dayeny Yellow leaves hiss back at the breeze The warbler gurgles downwind There are no flowers left in the yard So the bees turn water into honey There is a peaceful place in your memories But you don’t remember where The face staring outwards with fixated eyes Carries a slight familiarity, But no bell rings You practiced walking straight all your life But the path was always zigzagged Now you stand there with a rock in your hand And you don’t know why Did you pick it up because it reminded you Of a part of you? Or was it to throw at the sparrow hawk Who’s got the warbler in its talons now? You are not breathing and neither is the tree You tighten your grip around the rock A tear forms in the corner of your eye As feathers and leaves Fall together

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Desert Sky by Mike Gallagher

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Bailey’s High Ground by E. Beebe The levee broke. River rose. People slept unaware till they woke to bullhorn commands: “Leave your homes now! Seek high ground! Get out now!” Dora coaxed Holly out of her house — the home Holly’s great grandparents built with their hands, with their neighbors in another time. A stone house with a wooden second floor, it stood near the river. Modest, but Holly’s. Passed down through daughters, it sheltered what she loved. Thirty, forty years back the river had been channelized. It lost its natural bends and curves that once had slowed, absorbed high water. Before the engineered riverbed silted up and rose above the land that lay around it — as sooner or later it must — the county built the levee and the people felt safe. But today the valley flooded, roads washed out, power lines down. Townsfolk rode horses out of swamping fields, drove motorcycles, gathered up cats, ferrets, dogs. Grabbed photographs. Insurance, mortgage records, medications, pet meds, laptops, threw them all into bags, crates, totes, fled for high ground. In the foothills Bailey’s café qualified. Once a schoolhouse, Bailey’s was brick. Overlooking the lowland, paned windows reached toward a ceiling so lofty, 19th century teachers used a pole with a hook to open the top sash. But now Bailey’s kept these windows shut even on warm days. Steel ceiling fans circulated refrigerated air. Above white paneled doors, the 1880 motto, weathered but absolute, greeted the few who might look up: “Enter to Learn, Go Forth in Understanding.” This morning Dora had dragged Holly here, to Bailey’s High Grounds. They got a window seat. Dora left her red rain hat on. It hid the gray streak in her hair and lent a spot of red to the dining room. Holly, whose lankiness — especially next to Dora — evoked perennial youth and added color as well because earlier at Holly’s house, Dora’d grabbed a lavender dress out of Holly’s closet to hurry her along. At Bailey’s, a window table was prime most days, but today the wet parking lot glared. It was hopeless to monitor the drama in the valley. No good would come of watching. The river would run its course,

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sandbags or no. So Dora and Holly turned away, faced inward toward the dining room — all steel, white linen, glass. Great place to hold court, and dining with Dora always meant holding court. Good day to sit with your back to the window. Glare blinded other diners to them, which gave Dora and Holly a front-row seat. No tedious office work today. Dora ordered an omelet and a double mocha latte. Holly, fruit and yogurt. Water with lemon. Bailey’s fell short on acoustics. Diners chattered, pans clattered, knives scratched china — and all ricocheted off a stamped metal ceiling that fractured and jumbled the sounds, mingled them with remote notes of music till just hearing your friends took an act of will. Diners nearly shouted knowing neighbors wouldn’t hear. “Wish to heaven I’d grabbed the photo,” Holly said. “Off the mantle.” “Your grandparents?” “Great grands,” Holly said. “Well, Grand was the little girl standing at her mother’s knee.” “Oh, yes,” Dora said, leaning closer in order to hear. “The one smiling face.” Dora’s latte arrived in a clear glass mug. And the server brought a water pitcher and Holly’s lemon. “I wonder,” Holly said looking down at her hands, “why people never smiled then, grown-ups I mean, in those old photos?” “Let’s not think about it, dear.” Dora reached over and patted Holly’s placemat. “Let’s enjoy brunch.” Not long into the meal, Bailey’s roof leaked on a table not far behind Dora. Under the drip, three diners scraped chairs across the oak floor, stood, surveyed the room. The man pointed and the trio traversed the room. A server arrived, removed the bleached linens down to the glass tabletop on which she placed a big steel bowl to catch the leak. “That’s Rita and Joe,” Holly said, “I think, with Elspeth over there.” Holly took a long drink from her water glass. “Can’t be. They don’t know Elspeth.” Dora flagged a server and asked for Tabasco. “The three who just moved,” Holly said. She blotted her mouth with

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a napkin. “Although, I’d hardly know Elspeth. She’s so changed.” “Impossible,” Dora said. “Never met. Rita and Joe, they’re not in Elspeth’s circle.” “How do you know Elspeth?” Holly asked. “Friend of my mother’s.” “Well, there’s no mistaking Joe’s pate.” Holly drank more and whispered, “Thirsty,” into her glass. Dora’s red hat brim drooped over her face. She put her sunglasses on. Then casually putting a napkin over her mouth, Dora turned around. “Good god!” she gasped. Below in the valley leafy trees fell, crushing parked cars, exposing roots disemboweled from sodden earth. “Is your omelet OK?” Holly put her napkin on the table. Dora’s face softened as she looked at her friend — sandy hair swept up and held on her head with one chopstick hand-painted green and teal. Her house could be flooding. Riverfront home — the work of pioneers, most homes expanded in recent years, adorned beyond their builders’ imaginings. Today, homes, both modern and archaic, shivered on foundations as the brown river spilled over the banks, surged at a hundred-year high. “How,” Dora asked, “do you stay so innocent?” She took her sunglasses off. “What do you mean?” Holly furrowed her brow. Dora studied her friend in lavender. Holly’d tried to stay home with her house. Not among the big ones nor much improved, but hers and holding a few modest treasures — a battered drop-leaf table, English walnut chairs. At tables all around, townsfolk grieved anticipated loss. Some weeping, some dazed, some blaming, ranting. But soft-spoken Holly with her DNA from pioneers held stoic through it all. “You’re not eating,” she said. “Oh, just waiting for Tabasco. How’s your meal?” “But you look — ” “Shocked?” Dora removed her sunglasses. Under the hat brim, she widened her eyes, nodded fast, said, “Shocked!” “Shocked,” Holly said. “Why?” “Well,” said Dora. “How ‘bout the drama unfolding across the

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room? In case you didn’t notice, but I know you noticed. You brought it up, after all.” The glare outside passed through Bailey’s rain-splattered windows. Across the distance emergency lights flashed. By the river, police tried to break up traffic jams. Drenched crews piled sandbags and, on higher ground, hammered in posts for supply tents and shelters. Beneath the surface — underground — river water mingled with septic waste. As flood water seeped under Holly’s front door, just down the hill from her house, mail floated out a mailbox. Glossy picture postcards, paid bills, bounced checks, notes to friends far away. At Bailey’s, rain pelted car hoods. In the night, tainted river water had oozed deep underground into the aquifer that fed every local well. By dawn, under the schoolhouse, choloforms had colonized the restaurant well. In minutes and by millions, bacteria multiplied. “You’d think they’d have smiled,” Holly said, “in those old photos. Getting a picture taken had to be treat.” “Life sucked,” Dora said. “Work, nothing but work and disappointment.” “But people weren’t awful then,” Holly said. “People were decent.” On the far side of the room, Rita reached over the table, placed her hand on Elspeth’s. She spoke to Elspeth. Their faces close, Rita shaking her head with demonstrative sincerity. Dora and Holly could only guess at Rita’s words. “How old is Espeth, do you think?” Holly asked. “Mid-eighties? Definitely up there.” Dora added, “Remember last week at breakfast. I mentioned Elspeth, how she didn’t show up again? And someone says Elspeth never misses a breakfast, and somebody says she’d lost a lot of weight?” Dora sipped her latte. “We worry about someone that age, don’t we?” Holly ate a spoonful of yogurt, plain unsweetened, with nuts, fresh nectarines. “Back then,” Holly said, “people were — ” The server brought Dora’s Tabasco and refilled Holly’s water. Across the room Rita got up, Holly observed, and moved to the seat beside Elspeth, who blotted her eyes. A few diners glanced, then looked away. Holly shifted in her seat. She squeezed lemon into her water and stirred it with an iced-tea spoon.

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“How long,” Dora asked, “have you known Rita?” “Not very.” Dora nodded, then looked gently at her friend. “How do you do it?” she asked. “Do what?” Dora leaned forward so she didn’t have to shout. “Remember last week someone says, ‘Now Elspeth is both rich and slim’?” Holly stared at Dora. “How long have you known Rita?” she asked. “Years.” Dora shook out four drops of Tabasco, then dug into her eggs. “How do I do what?” “Holly, listen to me now. Someone let slip she was sick, Elspeth sick, remember that?” Holly raised her chin slowly, locked eyes with Dora. “And Rita goes, ‘Elspeth who?’” “You ignored her,” Holly said. “I remember that.” Two tables behind Dora, the drip hastened its tempo into the steel bowl. It splattered Dora, who moved her chair out of range, closer to Holly. “I see what you’re getting at,” Holly said. “Do you think we should we say something?” “To Elspeth?” “Well, not right now.” With her fork, Dora fished the bacon from her omelet and shoved it to the plate rim. “How could we?” she said. “And say what? Say what?” “Is it bad, Elspeth’s condition?” Dora nodded. Meanwhile Rita and Joe didn’t dawdle. They got through the meal and apparently down to business. Their check arrived. Rita gave it to Joe. Elspeth appeared to object, but Rita and Joe wouldn’t have it. Lots of frowning, head shaking. Absolutely not. Their pleasure, indeed. Finally, Joe helped Elspeth stand. Rita picked up a trench coat, held it while willowy old Elspeth aimed an arm at a sleeve. “Well, nothing obvious, but I don’t know,” Holly said, “we might somehow let her know what Rita —” “Is like?” Nodding frantically, Dora finished Holly’s sentence. “Yes?”

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“But we don’t know,” said Dora. “Not really, not for sure.” “It would be dreadful,” Holly said fidgeting with her place mat, “I mean to be wrong about something like that.” Holly jabbed the spoon into her glass at ice that trapped the lemon. The ceiling leaked more — thap! — splattering the nearest table. The steel bowl was full. Other steel bowls sat on other glass tables now too. Outside rain battered and whittled at the roof. An old slate shingle freed itself and slid down an inch or two. And inside Holly’s house, seepage carried sludge that bore reproducing life forms. Microbes, eating, reproducing, excreting wove slime through fibers of threadbare rugs. “Then speak to Rita perhaps?” Holly’s voice grew hoarse. “Should we speak to Rita?” She cleared her throat, coughed into her fist, then pushed her fruit and yogurt to the far edge of the place mat. “You can’t be serious.” Dora said. “Anyway, Rita won’t put it in words. You can bet the farm on that.” Freed, Holly’s lemon wedge bobbed to the surface. “I thought,” she muttered, jabbing the lemon down, “that stuff happened in movies.” “There, too.” Dora nodded. Holly spooned out an ice cube and chewed it. Dora laughed a little. “Holly,” she said. “Don’t you know there’s no squeaky clean?” “That’s what you’ve been talking about?” Dora wasn’t smiling now. “No squeaky clean. Not now, never was.” She draped her raincoat over her arm and shoulder nearest the leak, glanced conspicuously first at the ceiling, then at the server who was on her way with the check and another steel bowl. Dora grabbed the check. “Let me. You’ll have bills with this flood. Christ, will you have bills! Hand clamped on Elspeth’s arm, Rita maneuvered her quarry out the restaurant. Joes opened an umbrella and the trio stepped into the rain. Holly and Dora turned toward the window to watch as Rita and Joe hurried Elspeth toward her shiny, old Jag. “Are they helping her?” Holly asked. “They’re helping her.” She nodded. “Or pushing her!” Taking keys from her hand, Joe unlocked the Jaguar while Elspeth climbed into the driver’s seat. Before Joe shut the door, Rita leaned in

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and kissed Elspeth’s cheek. In its day, a deep flat field separated the river from Holly’s house, which, like all the family farms, was built on an upper terrace. The valley had never flooded, not as anyone recalled. Now inside Holly’s house, water loosened the finish on the legs of old walnut chairs, a table leaf prepared itself to warp and split. Furnishings sat in the same front room they’d known for generations as water swamped the home. With neighbors’ help, her great grandparents had cut, set, and mortared limestone walls up to the second story. Their yellow pine floors had gathered a golden patina by the time her grandmother taught at the schoolhouse that became Bailey’s. These people had a few odd things — brass candlestick, front room chair, wool rug from the Orient, cradle — and passed them down but, across generations, they never locked the door. Today that door had let the river in. Holly’s temples throbbed. She pressed her palms to them and stared blankly at the table Elspeth had vacated with Rita and Joe. Holly’s face went pale. Dora rummaged in her purse till she found the little pillbox. Holly’s gaze left the vacant table. She zeroed in on her water glass. “This’ll help,” Dora said, placing two white tablets on Holly’s place mat. One of Holly’s hands moved from her head to the water glass. It sat two-thirds empty again, lemon pulp in tatters, pebbles of melting ice. She shoved it an arm’s length away. As if to escape all she’d drunk, Holly slid back into her chair. Fog settled over the valley and, except for a flashing red light here and there, separated it from Bailey’s view. Of course, anyone knew riverfront homes must be submerged by now. Holly’d added lights and plumbing, mounted the old tilt-out windows on bookshelves in favor of thermal pane, but mostly she kept the house as was. Out of water’s reach on the mantle, her great grandparents looked out from the brownish photograph in its carved wood frame. But for the happy child, their faces told nothing. Resisting sandbags and efforts to control it, the river ran free to

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seek equilibrium and realign its course. Maybe Rita and Joe held hands driving home, exchanged sly glances. Inside Bailey’s deep well, simple carbonaceous life adapted to change, fed, shed waste, replicated itself. In her mind, Dora visited Holly’s house. The old rugs were trashed. House would smell and the yellow pine floors, well … Stone walls would hold, second floor untouched. When police let people go home, she’d go with Holly, be there when her friend walked in. Holly, on the other hand, stared at the Cloroxed place mat as the world seeped into her, as a microscopic army plundered her gut. She’d try to salvage the house. “So why,” Holly asked holding her pounding head, “do we smile in pictures today?” “Let it go, dear,” Dora said.

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Loving Stone by Margaret Miles I have my father’s maps, hundreds of them, that he saved from years of family road trips when gas stations gave them out for free, maps that came tucked inside National Geographic Magazine, and AAA Triptiks. He saved the maps for decades, for some reason, as if nothing would ever change, no detours, no new roads. And now, for almost thirty years, I’ve saved them, too. There are so many ways to know how to go. Quadrant, sextant, octant, astrolabe, loadstone, cross-staff, compass. A Global Positioning Satellite drifts overhead like a lover waiting by the phone for your call. The United States Library of Congress possesses more maps than there are miles of road in America and Princeton is nearly done mapping the universe. Be not afraid, we know where you are. On my lap, in this car, the cover of the road atlas proclaims, shrilly, “16,000 changes since last year!” Things do change. And there are worse things than being lost. Did I say I was lost? This is a story about maps. They say that migrating birds know where they’re going because, like a cross-country traveler, they look for landmarks. Researchers tracked pigeons while manipulating the landscape beneath them. The birds consistently altered their routes according to the placement of trees, billboards, even stoplights. Somehow, even as Wal-Marts replace wetlands from coast to coast, the robin that sang you to sleep last summer will find his way to the same nest, in the same tree, in your yard. I have my mother’s postcards. A child of the Depression, she is frugal, and when she travels lately she takes along postcards leftover from previous trips. From Alaska, she mails a postcard of the Sonoran desert, covered in her perfect cursive with her description of glaciers and grizzlies. From Florida, “What’s so great about the Everglades?” she writes on the reverse of a picture postcard of Her Majesty’s Royal Guard. I would be lying if I said that I don’t find this quirk absolutely endearing, but it makes for confusing communication, coming, as it

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were, from two directions at once. Where’s Mother? And it’s so out of character coming from a woman so obsessed with itinerary that when I couldn’t give her one for the trip I am on she asked for my license plate number, “in case you go missing.” Did I say I was lost? This is a story about rest. They say that migrating birds navigate by the stars. One researcher took warblers to a planetarium at the time of their usual migration. As he changed the orientation of the stars overhead the birds grew increasingly agitated in their cages, altering the direction they faced according to the shifting stars. Finally, when the warblers were exposed to the stars the way they would be aligned over their migratory destination, their agitation ceased almost instantly and one by one they closed their eyes and went to sleep. I have my grandfather’s stones. We travel in my family, but he was the king of the road; once my grandfather discovered life beyond his rocky marriage, he never looked back. On his travels around the world he collected shells and stones. Somehow, though I never met him, I grew up in possession of his collections. Boxes and boxes of rocks, feathery shales and micas, agates, ores, and gemstones. I never learned why I was given the collection because my siblings and I were not to speak of the giver. Of course we asked about our grandfather, but the answer to every question was, “He had the wanderlust,” spoken as matter-of-factly as one might say, “He had a heroin addiction,” or “He was a bad seed,” effectively ending the conversation. No explanation, just implication: if you leave, you are not welcome back. Did I say I was lost? This is a story about faith. They say that birds and animals have an internal compass. In dissecting the brains of migrating birds, scientists discovered minute crystals of magnetite—the same element that makes compasses work. They say that it is in us, too, this mineral that is called to the pole. They say that we know the way intuitively — as if, were we able to see through our skin, we could read the red and blue lines there like a map, with the heart the home to which all roads lead. When the ancient

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Chinese discovered how magnetite was attracted to the pole, always orienting itself to the north, they gave it the name tzhu shih, “loving stone.� On my dashboard the cracked compass spins in beautiful broken circles. And the sun casts the fleeting shadows of the fliers who are bringing summer and song to the northern prairie: cranes, geese, swans, all coasting on wings of faith. Compasses, every feathered body. Loving stones in flight. We know the way. We do not always know how to tell ourselves the way. This is a story about wings.

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To Be Read Aloud by Gerald Friedman I fear, if you ask who dwell In the house I see in dreams... Sh... I cannot tell Whatever secret streams From mountain caves so deep, Nor what birds land there, drink, And sing of nothing. I heap These lines to guard the brink Of silence, and don’t reveal, When spotted hands pluck rosehips, What gum wells up to seal My lips.

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So Many Roads by Juliana Wilde

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The Fulcrum and the Bear by Michaela Kahn There is a fulcrum. It is not made of dirt or iron. It is thin as rain, the whisper of a snowflake riding down the divide.

It is not a fist.

I will tell you this: it is not patient, not going to spend eternity stitching shoes together or clipping coupons from the Sunday Times.

Where is the lever?

It is not as simple as that. But I have been dreaming lately of old women abandoned in the back rooms of houses, left in closets to die of thirst. These grandmothers have a thread of red cotton tied to their ring finger. They die alone but the small rectangular bundles of bones continue to tell stories.

I’ve never met a bear but I think there is one near the house. I hold the lamp out into the dark and see the shadows of trees collide with trees. He must be in hibernation now, midwinter, but his soul’s out wandering. He circles, blows a little warm air onto the ruff of the neighbor’s hound, who bays as if his skin were being split down the middle.

If the bear wandered, lonely, up the stairs to my bedroom, I would give myself to him.

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How I Gave My Cat Bulimia and Other Weird Tales by Deborah Stehr I do not like being sick. It’s pretty much the body just being incredibly selfish. My foot hurts, my head hurts, my toe has a headache, my stomach hurts, I have cancer. The more you pay attention, the worse it gets and I have more important things to do than have tumors and throw up. My poor cat Onyx throws up all the time. My other cat Button. . . well he should throw up sometimes. In fact, I’ve been trying to teach him about bulimia because he’s pretty chubby. But I’ve run into a problem. You see his cat paw is actually bigger than his cat mouth and he can’t actually get it in there to get the job done. I tried sticking my own hand in there. . . you can imagine how well that went. Then we got him some artificial thumbs, but then he started having accidents when he would jump on the roof. You’d think an extra thumb would be handy no matter what it’s attached to, but it isn’t. We humans don’t realize that because we aren’t typically jumping on and off of roofs all day, not normally anyway. I once had a job jumping on and off the roof, but I’m not allowed to talk about it. I got really sick the other day and my lymph node was so swollen that I gave it a name. Ferdinand. Then I discovered why you shouldn’t do that because it went to his head and old Ferdinand soon wanted his own talk show. “Your own talk show?” I said. “What the hell could you possibly have to say?” He said he had plenty to say which is why he was swollen, so much so he had to file for his own zip code. So I said, “Hey Ferd,” — I tried to abbreviate his name because I had a sore throat — but he insisted on being called Sir Ferdinand as if Ferdinand wasn’t enough of a pain in the ass to say. Apparently he had been knighted by the queen somehow in the fifteen minutes of his existence. I said, “Who is going to take you seriously? You’re a lymph node. A lymph node. You aren’t a separate being. You don’t even have a birth

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certificate. Who is going to want to listen to you?” At this point he got all smug and said, “Other fluids,” and I noticed my fever went up a degree. I saw his point and agreed to set him up with a podcast which is pissing me off because I don’t even have a podcast yet. But Sir Ferdinand, my prissy self-absorbed lymph node does, the whiney little mother fucker. And he’s not even funny. So I did what any self-respecting human would do: I left him alone in the house with my computer and some other bodily fluids to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t just visit a bunch of porn sites while I was gone. I don’t even want to think about what a lymph node named Sir Ferdinand finds exciting. I went to Walgreens to get some cough drops because obviously Sir Lymph-node-i-nand was too busy to participate in my immune system. This is where I ran across the inspirational Hall’s Cough Drops. Yes, inspirational cough drops. I actually said that. It’s like fortune cookies for sick people. On the wrapper of each cough drop, there are beautiful messages like: You can do it! What? Throw up on myself? Make it to the bathroom on time? Get the diarrhea stains out of my underwear? Give the virus to Donald Trump? Oh okay, I guess the cough drop wants to be supportive, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to survive the summer flu. I may have to go home and kill Ferdinand, but I can live without my right lymph gland. But how nice of Hall’s to give a shit. Then I realized there was more than one message. You know like you sometimes get two messages in a fortune cookie? This one said, “Go get it!” Get what? Some medicine? Go get Ferdinand the Swollen Pus Ball and bring him to Walgreens? And then what? Show him to people? No, Santa Fe is way too small for that. Someone will remember that later when I need a job. I consulted the wrapper again. Fortunately there was more advice: “Don’t wait to get started,” and then, “Put some strut in it,” followed by the linguistically atrocious “Turn ‘can do,’ into ‘can did!’” which was enough to make me want to projectile vomit right there in the DIY Health aisle.

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Then I thought: don’t these idiots realize I’m sick and can barely stand up? A sense of foreboding entered me. Apparently the inspirational Pep Talk in Every Drop™ looked like it cared about my health and self-esteem while I was passed out for 72 hours on my couch burning with 102 degree fever, but actually HALLS and Koch just wanted me to get my ass up and be productive despite having Ebola, or at least its distant cousin E. coli. (Not to be confused with E-mail of which we are all carriers.) Evidently the real message of the so-called health aisle was: You don’t need to be sick while being sick! And we can help you! Mother fuckers. I can’t even justify a nap during viral meningitis. Serving my country while serving another cup of Starbucks Coffee is apparently more important than not giving The Plague to all the customers. This is the only fucking country in the world that thinks giving people cough drops is socialized medicine. The next message said: HIGH FIVE YOURSELF!! This seemed more than a little psychotic, but then the idea of putting inspirational phrases on cough drop wrappers smacked of pretty much being stoned your entire life. Then I wondered about the mental health of the guy locked in a cupboard somewhere at work, his boss outside with a whip cracking, saying, “Only 100 more, Ethan, and you can have a coffee break!” Maybe Ethan was really writing to himself trying to make it to the end of the day without killing himself with the stapler. Undoubtedly this was not what Ethan had in mind when he got an MFA in creative writing in terms of a career. . . making me wonder what I would write on cough drop wrappers given half a chance. Then it dawned on me: Maybe this is my chance to get published! I looked back to the wrapper to see if it had a contact number for human resources on it. I could just imagine the future: me doing cough drop wrapper signings at Walgreens and having some woman come up to me and say, “What you wrote on that cough drop wrapper SAVED MY LIFE!” You never know how the phrase: Go fuck yourself might affect someone. Meanwhile the message on the second cough-drop wrapper in my hand now said, “Get back in the game!” I took this as a sign. I put in an employment application at Walgreens. I can’t wait to make a difference!

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Listening to Patti Smith by Lorraine E. Leslie is like dreaming life, through her eyes. Open-hearted, you take her hand trusting her, your wild mother, she promises to wake you up when she’s all done. She’ll tell you fairytales, whisper them gently in your ear: Her lyrics a sacred savory wafer that falls from the tip of her tongue. She like you, loves the boys guitars and sonic noise, like you she wears comfy old man jacket and boyfriend’s tie a holy mess, her holiness — could you ever be as holy as her? Her hot breath blows like an angry storm through your stereos loud speakers, her words a wind that slaps you across the face leaving throbbing welts of wisdom. You feel guilty for such a pleasure like a sinner, she yells, “G - L- O - R- I- A, Gloria!” You’re not disappointed that the dream is over, but finally wide awake when you grab for a microphone, of your own.

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Amsterdam Sounds by Sophie Sagan-Gutherz A man making sharp kissing sounds as he passes by on his motorcycle The church bells’ song that rung every hour The deep breath you took when my hand found its way into yours Firecrackers Bong rip after bong rip Soft weeping when we thought no one else could hear The tram The bounce of the trampoline that made me pee my pants The shitty shower running in the dorms The jingle of bike bell over a curb Your laugh The strike of a match The slurp of an udon noodle I’d Rather Go Blind Coffee dripping from the maker when we were on kitchen duty Thank you’s A Brooklyn accent Loud weeping when we knew everyone could hear Hip and neck cracks Congestion when we all got sick The clink of glasses Ujjayi breathing Singing happy birthday Singing Yankee Doodle Singing everything

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The Tattletale Turquoise Tennis Shoes by Meg O’Brien In the 1960s the religious community of which I was a member transitioned from an ankle-length black habit, covering all but hands and face, to a plain blue or black two-piece knee-length suit and a simple black veil. The rule stipulated the pattern, not the material or the color blue. During this modernization period, the community assigned me to a small town outside Corpus Christi, Texas, where it was summer year round. Given the high humidity and temperature, most nuns in my local convent shed the heat-seeking black wool previously worn, for a lighter blue material. My color of choice was turquoise. Not long after I started wearing my new “habit”, I stumbled upon a pair of turquoise tennis shoes that matched my new uniform, very different from the formerly worn black granny shoes. Perfect addition for my new look. They became my signature. Shortly after the habit change, our pastor, who loved his nuns, took several of us to a dude ranch in West Texas for a mini-vacation. Even the new dress was not proper attire for the resort’s main activity, horseback riding. Generous parishioners loaned us khakis, sweatshirts and, of course, cowboy hats. We were set. What a spectacle it must have been when the group of veiled women in strange dress, climbed out of a station wagon in front of the ranch house that served as a registration center. I had become used to the stares, but these were different, more like ‘what the heck are THEY doing here’ stares. To be less conspicuous and to help the other guests be more comfortable with our presence, we quickly retreated to our bunkhouse accommodations and changed into our borrowed cowboy duds. Once we were incognito, we descended upon the stables to check out the horses. The chief cowboy assigned me one called Big Boy. When I arrived at the last stall, I noted Big Boy on its name plate and knew why he had the name. He lumbered toward me from the back of

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his spacious stall, shaking his head and kicking hay as he approached. I was ready for our first activity, a trail ride across piñon-covered hills in west Texas. At the time, my nun name was Sister Neil, named after my father, Cornelius and my brother Neil. In conversation, my nun colleagues dropped the Sister title and just called me Neil. Although I was twentythree at that time, I had a very young Irish face. No question to the untrained eye, this shorthaired, flat-chested person wearing ill-fitting clothes, turquoise tennis shoes and a cowboy hat and called Neil, was a young boy. Always a short person, I needed help to mount my horse. Bello, my tall cowboy assistant, picked me up by the back of my belt and threw me on the saddle with a friendly swat on my backside. I was ready for my first horseback ride. What a thrill for a city person to experience nature’s beauty from a galloping horse. The alluring aroma of the juniper and pines, the succulent fragrances of blooming desert flowers, the prickly pear cacti pads pretending to be covered in diamonds, the dust adhering to our sweating faces, and the howling wind offering an escape from the brilliant blue sky. Unfortunately, it turned our exposed skin a bright red. Bello, aware I was a neophyte, rode next to me, chatting as we bounced along. At one point, he asked my grade. Thinking he asked about what grade I taught, I told him I was at a small high school. Satisfied, he wondered what my favorite class was. I told him chemistry. He reported his chemistry teacher did cool experiments. He wondered if my teacher did any exciting ones. I was not sure of the question’s meaning. Assuming he knew I was a teacher, I started to ask, when the trail boss interrupted us. For whatever reason, after completing our afternoon ride, we chose to return to our strange dress for dinner. The stares returned when the five of us strolled into the dining hall, though not as piercing as when we arrived. We knew the names of some of our fellow guests and were able to carry on polite conversation with them. As I approached the buffet table, one pair of eyes caught mine. Bello, the one who swatted me on the seat, glanced back and forth between my turquoise tennis shoes and my black veil. His priceless expression and rolling eyes said it all: “Oh my God, my twelve-year-old boy just turned into a nun.” I laughed

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and winked at him as I loaded my plate with the barbeque extravaganza. I now understood his question about experiments. While I laugh as I think about this interaction, I wonder if I treated too lightly others’ expectations of proper nun behavior.

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Afternoon by Rob Cook The world is gone with its sand grain privacy: your seagull nap where the ocean loses its way, the window stained with wind that torments your driftwood smile, a motel of clam-colored storm remnants on Kingsley Avenue. Somewhere you turn down your stereo to calm the sunlight. You seduce the jellyfish into removing the glare from your body. “It’s okay. They remember nothing,” you tell yourself. Maybe a starfish kicks beneath your neckline. A seawater statue that you left on the no-longer-necessary parts of the sun. Shattered to their unknown dimensions, the vanished versions of you graze the insides of diamond-starved evening gowns that do not know the location of the afternoon where you feel everything they touch.

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Morning That Has Yet to be Painted by Rob Cook Posted to a late wall, Vincent’s orphaned earlobe hears the wheat field’s fallow color, the precision of a room where only chairs survive the light and its vague searches, a sound that endures its destination, its parlour in oblivion, the absinthe at its strongest when the screams can be tasted, helping each other on their hands and knees, counting each other so they, too, can be remembered.

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Arroyo Dew Drops by Mike Andberg

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In The White Night by Miriam Sagan something is beneath the surface a dragon in the lake how else does this steam rise from the black volcanic beach the sun won't set but makes its round strolling a circle of horizon we stayed up so late talking about the past it was like an extra dawn breaking on the promenade in the white night old couples, baby carriages, wheelchairs I was surprised by the indifference I felt for my old best friend — sleep you said: you're going to like the waterfall because the road ends there how did you know I like being able to not go further and you said: Mir I've known you for a very long time

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Speaking with Miriam Sagan Miriam Sagan is the accomplished writer of 25 books, including a dynamic range of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She has called Santa Fe, New Mexico home for over three decades, and serves as head of the creative writing program she founded, where she has encouraged budding writers for over ten years. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Rich Feldman, and is the mother of the lovely Isabel Winson-Sagan. Her most recent novel, Black Rainbow, is a fictionalized account of a true event that shocked New Mexico, and has been a labor of love finally realized. She blogs at Miriam’s Well (http://miriamswell.wordpress.com). Did you always want to be a writer? Why or why not? The answer is yes, but like any long-term monogamous relationship, mine with the Muse has had its ups and downs! When I was fifteen, I started my first writing notebook. I wrote a poem a day. But that made me more of teenager than a writer. I re-committed at eighteen when I stopped being a botany major and went into English. (My writing is still full of plants.) Then there were the struggles of my early adult years — how to become professional, get published, make a living, balance life and art. I woke up a few years ago the way I’d awakened every morning for decades, feeling like, I need to write, I haven’t written anything worthwhile, I need to work harder. Then it hit me — I’d published twenty-five books and written a bunch more that had never seen the light of day. I could relax. But I haven’t yet. Why? Because I love language. Because I adored Mother Goose. Because books were my friends, my companions, my escape, my security. Because learning to read was difficult (I have dyslexia) and then bliss. I’ve always wished I could sing, or paint. But I can’t. Writing is my art, and it gives me just a little bit more of a soul as I go about my life on earth. Do you write what you know, or do you write the unknown? That’s a good question — because the truism is to write what you

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“know.” But what do we really know? It has to go beyond the place we were raised, who raised us, etcetera. In many ways, I don’t “know” something until I write it. So I’m always writing both the known and the unknown, at the same time.

“It’s a mysterious process, but without it, writing would be intolerably boring, and I wouldn’t do it.” A case in point — I almost died when I was 21, and was hospitalized for many months. I even had a classic near death experience of my soul leaving my body. It was almost forty years before I could really write about it, but once I started writing, I could suddenly remember a ton of details, including big chunks of dialogue. It’s mysterious process, but without it, writing would be intolerably boring, and I wouldn’t do it. I’m drawn to speculative fiction, magical realism, and big poetic jumps. These are the unknown. To ground it, I have to put psychological truth or observation in. It works amazingly well. If you are writing about another planet or a zombie apocalypse the realism does come from what you know — about human nature in a specific way. How do you deal with emotions that come with your writing? Do you allow emotional responses to limit you, or do you keep the piece alive and bring it to the world regardless of how you feel? I really like this question — it is the kind of question a writer could ask every day. And there is no fixed answer. Writing certainly evokes emotion for the writer. These feelings can either be processed or ignored — and I

“ . . . even great writers are flawed and unconscious human beings.” think either tack is fine. Very rough feelings can be dealt with using therapy, or spiritual practices, or just talking with friends. Or any positive coping mechanism. But, and I can’t emphasize this enough, you don’t need to process or even fully understand your emotions to write. In fact, just like everyone else, even great writers are flawed and unconscious human beings. Basically, I take the emotions lightly. I acknowledge that they are

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there, but I don’t deal with them directly unless it feels like a psychological emergency. I try to keep feeding the emotion back into the writing, to give it life. Oscar Wilde said: “The man (and we’ll add ‘woman/person’) who knows himself is shallow.” This is my motto. We can’t truly know ourselves — we’re deep and complicated, which keeps things interesting. How do you handle disappointment and criticism? I’ll differentiate here between disappointment, criticism, and rejection. Rejection is clean and even somewhat impersona l — a yes or no situation. I like rejection. I’ve taught myself to enjoy it, and you should, too. Basically, rejection tells me I’m meeting my submission goals. To explain: when I was a very young writer starting out, I heard a famous poet say he had a 10% acceptance rate from literary magazines. This seemed shockingly low, but it was encouraging. I figured I must have a rate, too, and guessed it was 1%. I realized that if I sent out 100 submissions, I’d get published somewhere. So I started. Turns out, my acceptance rate was much higher. I saw getting published as just a numbers game, and have ever since. A birth coach will tell a mother in labor that the last contraction is one you won’t have to experience ever again. Each contraction brings you nearer the birth of the baby. Rejection is like a labor contraction — painful, but things are moving along. I’ve read enough slush — unsolicited submissions — to know that most editors are just making a choice, their choice, which of course is their prerogative. Acceptances aren’t based on Platonic ideals — they are based on one person’s taste, or, at most, the decisions of a few people. Criticism is trickier for me. I was in workshops as an undergrad and in grad school. After that, I pretty much stopped asking for feedback from my peers. In the last forty years there have been a few people — a very few — I’ve trusted to give me criticism. I’m willing to work with editors, even if I don’t totally agree with the feedback, because the goal is clear: publication.

“ Disappointment is hard . . . I handle it by being sad, and then moving on” I gather other writers think I’m kind of snobby — I don’t do critique

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groups, I don’t ask for advice. The truth is, I have come to trust myself. I learned a lot from mentors when I was young — Robert Fitzgerald who translated The Iliad and The Odyssey, John Malcom Brinnin who was a fearless writer and teacher, Beat poet Phil Whalen, who could be ruthless as a critic but also exuded enthusiasm for writing in general. But once I passed through my apprenticeship I’ve relied mostly on my own judgement. Disappointment is the worst — and hardest to deal with. A press accepted a book of mine, then went out of business. A fancy New York editor accepted a manuscript, but her boss killed it. An agent networked me madly, then dropped me. It’s funny, though; I hardly ever focus on these things. Essentially, they are bad luck. I’ve had good luck, too. An agent I never met picked a book of mine up in a Taos bookstore and resold it for a tidy sum. I won a national prize that was a total long shot — and that I didn’t even know I was up for. These things sort of even out. Disappointment is hard, because essentially it concerns other people’s inabilities to follow through. But this is true of life in general. I handle it by being sad, and then moving on. How did you manage to be both an artist and a mom? I only had one child, and not until my mid-thirties, so my response is coming from these specifics. That said — I love little kids. They’re creative and goofy and open — as artists should be. When my daughter, Isabel, was born, I immediately realized: She comes first. And then: But not every single minute of the

“ A little benign neglect can make kids independent, and leave more time for writing.” day. My good writing habits were already in place. I had a lot of family members willing to pitch in, a good friend with a child the same age, my daughter’s godmother — lots of resources to help even during the period when I was a single mom. And I believe in daycare! Also — I’ve never been a helicopter parent or a perfectionist (not even about writing). A little benign neglect can make kids independent, and leave more time for writing. But the way I really managed was beyond practicalities. Children

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are life itself — and no artist should be separated from life. Life, and children, are messy, disruptive, anxiety inducing, unpredictable — as well as hilarious, fun, invigorating, and spontaneous. In my twenties, I had a more Romantic self-image of being a writer — free, wild, urban. Then, I used motherhood as a way to connect to human experience and understand it through writing. What “invisible borders” do you seek to address and cross in your writing, and why? How do you do this? I’ve been obsessed with borders most of my life. I grew up in northern New Jersey, where the border was between us and the glittering city of Manhattan across the Hudson River. Having lived in New Mexico for thirty years, I’m hyperaware of the border between the U.S. and Mexico and what it means to cross. That border is visible, but invisible too. My grandparents were immigrants who didn’t speak English when they came to this country — more borders. Physical boundaries are a huge theme in my writing, even if it’s just how my West Side neighborhood was re-defined by putting St. Francis through it decades ago. More personally, women’s experiences are still hidden from view, even now. I like to cross that invisible border and bring it into the light. The same with disability — in my case a so-called “invisible disability,” although all I need to do is use a cane to make it visible.

“ Words give life to what is hidden.” The greatest border, for me, is between silence and words. So much of human life is hidden in shame or fear, insecurity, or just plain silence. Words — poetry, fiction, memoir, and more — give life to what is hidden, silenced. I like to cross that border daily — and move from the repressed into the expressed — for myself, and with others.

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A Beautiful Woman Says by Miriam Sagan a beautiful woman says: iris, lilac, orgasm even a bowl of noodles with lime and cilantro... then trails off presumably looking to say "ephemeral" but not wanting to critique an iris meanwhile my dying friend feels no such inhibition and calls the little garden with its white and red Sweet William "pathetic" but I don't think she means it inspires pity the way she does

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Aspens in Winter by Mike Gallagher

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Three Haiku by Sondra J. Byrnes mountain runoff— behind the others he veers off

funeral mass an old love dies twice

snow moon sliced across my bed

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Long Time Gone by W. D. Ehrhart The boy on the bench on the boardwalk just got back from the war. He watches the waves washing the shore, the shore birds pecking at tiny crabs in the sand or diving for fish in the shallow surf. There was sand where he was, but a long walk to the beach, and the pecking birds were snipers, the diving birds IEDs. Now that he’s home, and home isn’t home, what will he do with himself? Maybe he’ll go to college. Or trade school. Maybe he’ll re-enlist. He lifts his gaze to the distant horizon where sea meets sky at the edge of the world. He wonders how far he could swim.

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Asymptote of Affection by Daniel Kilpatric The restriction of this yearning is mathematical: the graph of an equation with a variable in the denominator, so its physical form cannot reach this exact value, only approach with unceasing closeness this desire that exposes infinite separation. The curve wants to merge into this one line it never can touch. It loves this line more than any other space it casually crosses. This is obsession. The curve almost straightens to get closer.

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The Art of Flight by Elizabeth Jacobson These tiny Florida powderpost beetles eat a little, fly a little, then drop down and die. Their flight, the smallest beating of iridescent wings which my eyes can see. I have a sadness of not being a tree, not being a landing place for this kind of life.

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Bad, Bad Bodhisatva by Elizabeth Jacobson Even though I vowed not to kill I kill upward of 30 key lime green caterpillars that are eating my hibiscus hedge down to sticks. This last one, before I stopped paused its eating, lifted its mouth, and turned its head toward the pressure of the scissors as I was about to snip it in half. I saw that it saw me or felt me or knew that I was about to harm it, but I killed it, ashamed of my human nature as it leads me, clear-eyed, into the snare.

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Chapel of Sorrows by Sally Stevens

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At the Boardwalk Ice Cream Stand by Ann Howells A red-headed woman whose hair curls loosely about her face brushes it back with a casual hand, tiny frown of annoyance. Tanned legs, shawl carelessly-wrapped at swell of hip, her shoulders are bared. She squints charmingly into sun; delicate bird prints — more sparrow than crow — enhance sea-colored eyes as she peers atop oversized glasses balanced at the bridge of a perfect nose. Cameras would love her. Every man shifts to catch her eye — a glance, brief gaze — slides forward on his chair, prepared, should she require assistance, some minor service. She’s a stranger here: accent too soft, speech too slow for this coastal town. A clerk brushes her fingers as he hands her a sugar cone, bronze as her skin: one scoop of island coconut, one of peach blush. He questions just to hear her voice, inhales sharply as she captures a drip with quick tongue tip.

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She has filled my senses. I can but stutter, beneath notice, an insignificant bug. Breeze flutters her draped shawl, a single glimpse of thigh, and she is gone, trailing a faint scent of roses.

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Original Sin by Cheryl Marita The heavy carved door into the cathedral was hard to push open for my seven-year-old hands. One of the nuns came over to help, so we could enter the cavernous church where we would be redeemed. Our innocence oozed out of our big eyes as we were led up to the front of the church, ushered into a pew, told to sit quietly. Dominican nuns were not to be tangled with. They had already walloped my left hand with a ruler as I held my pencil to write. Our eyes were big, our ears attentive as we heard the rules. We were to confess our sins. Having been baptized, we were saved from Limbo, but now we had to deal with original sin. Being born bad was one thing. Being born unloved was another. Here I was, adopted, unwanted by my birth parents, adopted by a crazy mother and an alcoholic father. Now I was to confess my sins. We practiced. We were told to remember how many times we had lied, we had said bad things, we had been mean to our family. The numbers were mounting in my head. Without a pen or paper, I tried hard to remember everything I had done wrong, that caused my parents to scream at me. I wondered if lying was the same as pretending I was asleep when my parents would be yelling, slamming doors, throwing hammers at each other. Was it stealing when my Dad would pass out drunk on the couch and I would sneak his limburger cheese and cracker? The door to the confessional opened. Sister Stephen glared at me. "You had better tell the truth and confess ALL of your sins." I realized that she was standing outside the confessional door, listening to each kid's litany of sins. The tiny treacherous door between the priest and my face slid open. The priest's bad breath bathed his words in stench. "Blessed be Jesus. What are your sins?" I gulped, tried to breathe and talk. I could only whisper. "I have lied six times and stolen food two times." He spoke sternly. "Say three Hail Marys and two Our Father's and you will be forgiven." I survived and opened the door to leave. Sister Stephen, sentinel in black, hissed. "You go back in there and confess. I couldn't hear anything. Now you have lied to a priest!" I

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knew I would go to hell. It was just a matter of time. I crawled back into the confessional. Sister Stephen slammed the door after me. The tiny treacherous door was more ominous now. I panicked, scrutinizing the list of the sins I recalled from our catechism book. I needed to come up with better sins. Bigger sins. I needed to speak louder so Sister Stephen would hear me. As the tiny door pushed back and his foul smelling breath swarmed around me, I knew what to say. My voice carried loud, clear, vibrating throughout the church. "I COMMITTED ADULTERY THREE TIMES." The door flew open. Sister Stephen stood there, 15 feet tall. Her black habit swirled around her as she grabbed my collar and yanked me through the door. I wish I had learned then, instead of 60 years later, not to claim other people's sins as mine. I did learn that day that nuns and priests were humans on a mission. I wish I could say that I moved out of the way that day, but that move came many years later. What I did learn, sadly, was how to comply.

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August by Kathamann She is not quiet in a room with one bed. She wears the crown I made of sugar and time. I bend over to pick up a speck of light. Our warm circle of blood parts around reed and mint. We scatter to speak the rural ways. A memory in my brow swollen beyond wrinkles needs to move somewhere else. Another place far from my eyes on the right or left side of my brain. Hauling anaerobic steroids another mile and a half hugging the 9:30 curb. Taking the stuff straight to the thirsty streams of NFL players spinning souls lost in the difference of their agendas. I charge twice for the glucose and ginger mix.

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Comely by Kathamann Deer come down from the foothills. Western tanagers show up at the feeder. Grasses and weeds push through hardened ground. Red dragon fly, summer monsoons, foxes run out of the holes. I remember night gossip and sticky words worn on sleepy knees. The care we took to wear our shoulders like masks to polish our box of heirlooms as if they were directions to our near future. Several glasses of alcohol speed us in circles into empty places where thunder speaks in slow haiku rhythm. We tilt like dervishes and throw stones by the red river stopping when the jaguar woke in silence. It backed away from the fire. We finished bowls of hazelnut and lemon.

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The Complete Man by Susan Duke "That was the best game we ever had." Janet's eyebrows shot up as she handed a cold beer to her husband. "Best game?" "Yup. You ready for another one, Mike?" Donnie Palmer's best friend shook his head. "No thanks, I'm good. I will take another slice of that pizza, though." Janet smiled as she shoved the greasy box across the kitchen table. "Eat up, guys. The girls already had theirs before I plunked their stinky little bodies into the tub. I better go check on 'em." Sheri Jeffers stood and eased around her hungry husband. "I'll go with you." As the two women talked and sauntered toward the other end of the house, Donnie squirmed in his chair. "This thing is bugging me tonight." He moved side to side, trying to get comfortable. "What's the matter?" Mike watched his boyhood friend, concern clouding his blue eyes. Donnie rubbed his left thigh with both hands. "Oh, when I'm on it a lot like tonight at the ball game and I get sweaty, it feels weird, you know, like a shoe that's a size too small." Mike nodded. "Well, take it off. We don't care." Donnie continued to massage his aching leg. "No, I mean, not in front of Sheri and all." Mike finished chewing, swallowed and grabbed a paper towel. He wiped pizza from his face and hands and grinned. "I guess just about everybody in town has visited you at one time or another. We've all seen it, Stumpy. Now where's your crutch?" Twenty minutes later Donnie and Mike lounged in the family room, laughing and discussing the upcoming NFL season. Donnie sat sideways on the couch, letting his right foot rest on the floor. The ceramic tile pressed solidly as he occasionally tapped his toes. Some nights he could feel his left foot. The one lost in Iraq. "Daddy! Daddy!" Both men stopped talking as two six-year-olds bounded into the

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room. Both girls were squeaky clean and wearing matching 'Dora, the Explorer' pajamas. Both wives smiled as Donnie and Mike scooped up their daughters. Ellie carefully climbed onto Donnie's lap. She was no longer afraid of his amputation, just cautious. Marcia nestled next to Mike as she tightly held her trophy. Lamplight gleamed off the gold plating. "Read it again, Dad," Ellie begged as she lifted hers off the coffee table. Donnie chuckled. "Okay. Here goes. Springfield Girls Softball Association. 2005 tournament. Second Place." He smiled as Ellie twisted and looked up at him. Sturdy little arms went around his neck. He closed his eyes and inhaled sweet little girl shampoo and perfumed soap. "Thanks, Dad," she whispered. "What, baby?" "Thanks for being our coach and helping us play good." "Yeah," said Marcia. Blond curls bounced as she nodded. "You're the best coach we ever had." Mike laughed. "You're six! He's the only coach you ever had." Janet and Sheri exchanged looks over their husbands’ heads. "Time to say goodnight, girls. You've had a long day," Janet said. After the girls had been tucked in Ellie's bed, Sheri said, "Thanks for letting Marcia sleep over. I'll pick them up around nine for Sunday School." "Great. Let's go see how the guys are doing." Janet sighed. It was good to have their best friends here just to relax and talk. No T.V. Just to talk and laugh. The bond among them had been forged when they were seniors in high school and grown stronger with time. The last two years had been tough. Donnie had really worked hard in re-hab, though, and things were getting better. He was back to work, and having Mike around was a big help. No pity — just honest friendship. And then this softball thing had come along. It seemed no one

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really wanted to coach the Bunny League. Six- and seven-year-old girls needed a lot of patient instruction. Janet had been apprehensive when Donnie had agreed to take it on. Now, it all seemed worth it. She looked fondly at her husband. "What did you mean, honey?" She settled on the end of the couch. "What?" "When you said it was the best game you ever had. Softball?" "Nope," Donnie said. "The best game ever." "Better than our glory days in college football?" Mike asked. "Better than when you studs won the IHSA tournament our senior year in high school?" Sheri asked. All three looked at Donnie. He paused for a moment and took a deep breath. "Yeah to all of it. Seeing those little girls play their hearts out tonight. . .well, it was so great." "They came in second, Dude." Donnie shrugged. "I know, Mike. But, geez, didn't you feel it? Those girls were so excited. Ellie and Marcia were flying high and having so much fun." As Sheri and Janet nodded, Donnie gathered steam. "It finally came together. All those weeks of practice. . ." "All those skinned knees and whining mothers. . ." "It gelled, Mike. We were in last place at the end of the season. who would have thought Harvey's Hardware would make it to the championship game? Pete Harvey himself couldn't believe it. I bet I get free nails for the rest of my life." Janet said, "You know, I did see a lot of progress this summer." She glanced at Sheri. "Marcia can really hit that ball. I see scholarships in her future." Sheri laughed. "How about the arm on your little darlin’? Ellie threw the ball home to get that huge red-head out. Man! That girl was big!" Mike was getting caught up in their enthusiasm. "Too bad we don't have highlight reels for the ten o'clock news. How's this? Kallie Johnson and her twin sister turning cartwheels and picking dandelions in the outfield while the ball drops between them." Janet laughed. "How about when that little blonde with pigtails wet her pants at third base? Hey! The game must go on." "My personal favorite," Sheri added, "was when Haleigh What’s-her-

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name hit that foul ball, and it landed on the roof of her father's car. He pitched a fit so loud the umpire banned him from park property for two weeks." "Loud-mouthed jerk," Mike said. "Look who's talking," Sheri said to her husband. "Hey, I just get a little excited, is all. At least I just yell positive stuff." "True. True," Donnie agreed. "However, you almost got me arrested." Mike held up his hands, palms out. "When?" Donnie scratched his thigh two inches above where his leg disappeared. "Sharla Taylor's mother accused us of playing favorites. She said me and my 'big dumb assistant' should let Sharla pitch more. I explained to her that in this league the girls are rotated every game so that everyone plays infield and outfield." "Big dumb assistant? I oughtta. . ." "Take it easy, Mike. I know why Sharla's mother was always so huffy. At the initial parents' meeting, I was sitting right behind her. When Donnie asked that the girls not go swimming on game days, she told her husband that their precious Sharla could swim whenever she wanted to. They have their own pool in their own backyard and no one could tell her what to do." Mike grunted. "That would explain why the poor kid was always too tired to throw the ball three feet. Did the old bat threaten you, Donnie?" "Yeah, she said her husband plays golf with the chief of police and yada, yada." Sheri stood and stretched. "Well, I don't care what anyone says. Donnie, you were a great coach even if your assistant missed half the season." Mike jumped up and spread his arms wide. "Can I help it if I got put on second shift in July? You do want my paycheck, don't you, woman?" Sheri laughed. "Let me kiss Marcia good night, and then I'll take this big lunk home." Donnie sat quietly on the couch as Janet walked their friends to the door. He swung his legs to the edge of the couch and waited while his wife tidied up the kitchen. "Let me take this trash out, hon, and I'll be right there."

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In a few minutes, Janet extended her right hand as Donnie grabbed it and hoisted himself up. He leaned on his crutch and paused. "What is it, hon?" Janet asked. He blinked and looked down. "It's just that. . .well, after you know." He cleared his throat. "I thought all my sporting days were over. But, this whole summer has really been great." He looked into his wife's eyes. "And tonight, seeing Ellie and all her friends holding their little trophies. . .I just felt whole. This was the best game ever." "I love you, Donnie Palmer." "Right back at you, babe."

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Island in the Sky by Jonathon Carabajal Despite the abysmal, foggy air, up the Aguirre Springs trail we fared A black, lifeless, gnarly tree bid welcome to us juxtaposed against cold, white-gray atmosphere Then, a hardy cactus cracking through a crag A trickling arroyo one could hardly see, but could mostly hear A potentilla flower stooped over from rain tears We rested on a bench rock and filled our bellies with tortillas, turkey, and green chile An extraterrestrial, cube-shaped boulder jutting diagonally out of the ground Plate tectonics gone askew Finally, we arose above the clouds Our 6 eyes rewarded with something profound I could hardly conceal my mirth It was the closest manifestation to heaven on earth Cumulonimbus tides ebbing gently from the peak Fishing for the words to describe it, I try... it was an island in the sky

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Always Believe That You Can Do Anything by Louisa H. Fisher

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On the Borderline with Pancho Villa -- for Lawrence Welsh by John Macker My famous river’s edge cottonwoods over one-hundred years old are almost skeletons now brittle deep roots in the worn hallowed ground quenched by the medicine of time’s passage. This is where our borders come to pray against prayer to grieve against grief We’re close enough to touch the tragedy of Mexico with our ghost fingers, ascendant moon illuminates this ancient fabric of space, where the last revolution’s blue heron lifted off the Rio Grande and once the smoke cleared: where the blood reached deep ground towards a new inventory of darkness.

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I My Two Gods of Chance by Michael G. Smith I my god of hidden connections, something chanced our thirsty meeting in this espresso line in this foreign city. I my god of open doors, let me steal your heart.

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Boarded the Train by Phillip Parotti “Texarkana, Little Rock, St. Louis, Chi-caaa-go, and points in between,” called the conductor, “All Aboard!” Beneath a blistering Dallas sky, Tony Tell boarded the train and sat down with a smile. Things seemed to be looking up. Reflecting on the change in his fortunes, he had to admit that the upswing might have had to do with his name. Tell was not Tony's real name; his real name was Tellez-Castillo, but his agent, warning that Antonio Manolo TellezCastillo would fit only with difficulty onto a theater marquee, had advised him to adopt something short. “Tony Tell would be about right,” his agent had said. “It contains enough of your name to preserve your identity, but it will fit anywhere.” So after months without work, Tony adopted a stage name, and things changed. First, he'd landed an engagement in Houston, and then, he'd done a commercial in Dallas. The commercial had proved popular, so he'd been able to supplement his income as a barista with some hefty residuals. And then, Tony's agent had wrangled him an audition for a part in The Cherry Orchard, in a revival to be staged in Chicago. Tony was euphoric. He felt he was finally on his way. “Tickets please,” the conductor intoned as he came down the aisle. Tony handed his ticket to the conductor. “You're with us all the way, then?” the conductor asked. “ To Chicago, yes,” Tony said with a smile. “Have a pleasant trip,” the conductor said, punching the ticket. As the train pulled out of the station, the sun began to sink, so rather than fight the urge, Tony sank back in his seat, shut his eyes, and prepared himself for a good night's rest. Sleeping in a sitting position had been a talent Tony had acquired in the Navy; he could sleep anywhere. The gentle motion of the train merely reminded him of the gentle roll of waves, so after departure, he sank blissfully into slumber. When Tony awoke, dawn was breaking, so he went straight to the toilet, brushed his teeth, shaved, and combed his hair; then, refreshed, he returned to his seat and began thinking about breakfast. And in that moment, the sun broke the horizon with its first burst of light. Tony put on his sunglasses, and only then did he glance out the window. Ahead,

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Tony could see mountains, barren mountains, and in the foreground, as his jaw dropped, he spotted clumps of creosote, prickly pear, and yucca. And then Tony realized that the sun, rather than rising to his right where it should have been, was instead coming up directly behind the train. Rather than moving swiftly through the green countryside of Arkansas or Missouri, this train, Tony's train, seemed hurtling at high speed through the West Texas wastes. Tony did not leap from his seat, but he did step swiftly down the aisle in search of the conductor. Somehow, he'd made a mistake; he'd boarded the wrong train, a train that was taking him farther and farther away from where he needed to be, farther and farther away from the part of Trofimov. He couldn't imagine how it had happened. The conductor happened to be standing immediately inside the rear door of the adjoining passenger car. The official seemed to be examining some papers when Tony entered, but he looked up, smiled, and spoke. “Good morning,” said the conductor. “The dining car is two cars ahead. Crisp bacon, fresh buttered toast, excellent scrambled eggs, and a fruit cup, the finest on the line.” “Good morning,” Tony said. “Look, I don't know how to explain this, but I seem to have boarded the wrong train.” “Boarded the train, there's no getting off,” the conductor quipped, his face spreading into a grin. “Right,” Tony said. “But seriously, I seem to have boarded the wrong train. My ticket is for Chicago, and . . . .” “Yes, of course it is,” the conductor said, “I remember punching it for you just last night.” Tony hesitated. Something was amiss. “But . . . , this train isn't going to Chicago,” he protested, a confused expression creasing his face. “It isn't?” said the conductor. “Well, no,” Tony said. “Have you looked outside? That's Franklin Mountain up ahead. That's Fort Bliss in the distance, off to our right. If you glance to the south, you can see the Rio Grande and the outskirts of Juarez. We're about to reach El Paso. This train is headed west!” “Sooner or later,” the conductor said, slightly bemused, “all journeys head west. But please, Sir, put your mind at ease. This train is going to Chicago, and,” he said, lifting a large silver watch from his vest

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pocket and snapping open the lid, “given our present speed, I should say that we will be there in . . . oh, thirteen hours, give or take three minutes.” “But . . . ,” Tony tried to protest. “Now,” the conductor said, a note of authority creeping into his voice, “let me suggest that you proceed to the dining car or return to your seat so as not to block the aisle. The Department of Homeland Security has posted stringent rules about blocking progress along the aisles, and I shouldn't like for you to fall afoul of them, now, if you see what I mean.” Tony returned to his seat. And ten minutes later, heading west along the northern edge of Segundo Barrio, the very place where Tony had grown up, the very place that he had worked so hard to escape, the train bolted through the pass of the north and shot out into the desert south of Santa Teresa. Tony knew where the train was headed, and it wasn't Chicago; Tony's train was racing toward Deming, Lordsburg, and ultimately, he imagined, Los Angeles. For an hour, Tony fidgeted; then, unable to contain his distress, he once more searched for the conductor. Tony found the man sitting in the dining car, a thick white napkin tucked under his chin, an enormous plate of scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, thickly buttered toast, and fresh strawberries before him. “Oh, hello there,” said the conductor. “Won't you join me. Breakfast on this line is simply superb!” “Thank you,” Tony said, sitting down across the table from the conductor. “Now,” said the conductor, “what will you have? Same as me? Or would you like buckwheat cakes?” “I'd better stick to coffee,” Tony said. “From the looks of things, I'm going to have to be careful with money.” “Oh,” said the conductor, “how so?” “Well,” Tony began, “it's like this: I had an opportunity for a job waiting for me in Chicago, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere near Chicago.” “Nonsense,” said the conductor, once more producing the silver watch and glancing at the dial. “I expect us to pull into Chicago's Union Station at precisely 8:22 p.m. this evening, and if I may offer yet another word to the wise, this train is always on time. About that, the engineer

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and I are in perfect agreement.” Tony felt dizzy. A part of him wanted to reach across the table and seize the conductor by the neck. The other part of him, the rational part, merely sought an explanation for what he knew to be happening to him and, if possible, a means for reversing disaster. “Look,” Tony said, “I don't want to pester you, but this train is about to pass through Deming, New Mexico. If you look to your right out there, you can see Cook's Peak, and after we pass through Deming, we will be racing on to Lordsburg. This train is headed for Los Angeles!” The conductor laughed and then carefully wiped his lips with his napkin. “Young man,” he said, “I have never yet seen a young person so confuse his directions. We have just passed through Poplar Bluff, Missouri. In less than two hours we will cross the Mississippi River, and thereafter, we will head straight for Chicago. Your apprehension of things is much mistaken.” Tony looked out of the window. To the north, Cook's Peak rose like a sentinel from the desert floor, and one glance through the window on the opposite side of the train was all he needed to see the abandoned hangers of the old Deming air base. “This has got to stop,” Tony said firmly. “I know exactly where we are; I grew up in this part of the country. Once we've passed through Deming, we will be heading straight toward Lordsburg.” “I am afraid, Sir,” said the conductor, once more charging his voice with authority, “that you have made every mistake about our direction that a young person can possibly make. I am sorry for your trouble, but this is the last time I want to hear about it. This train is going to Chicago. Chicago is the destination for which you bought your ticket, and Chicago's Union Station is the point toward which we are headed. Now, if you don't mind, I think I would like to finish my breakfast. You may return to your seat, and that is where I will ask the porter to deliver your coffee. I'm sorry, but if you make any more disturbance, I will have no recourse but to report you to the Department of Homeland Security. Do I make myself clear?” “Abundantly,” Tony said, rising from his chair and turning on his heel

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as Deming's old marshaling yards slid into view. Back in his seat, Tony fumed. Swiftly, the train passed beyond Deming; an hour later, without fanfare, it shot through the outskirts of Lordsburg, and soon after, Tony knew that the cars had crossed into Arizona. Unable to do a thing to help himself, Tony found the experience disconcerting. Another actor would be playing the part of Trofimov at the Piermont while Tony Tell knew that he was about to find himself stranded without work in Los Angeles. Twice more that morning, the conductor breezed through the car, but in so far as Tony could read the man's face, the conductor's firmly pinched lips discouraged conversation. For perhaps another half hour and with an increasing sense of desperation, Tony watched the Arizona desert pass. Five hours later, stirring himself at last, Tony looked out of the window and saw the low forbidding outlines of Yuma's old prison glide by in the distance. At precisely 8:22 p.m. that evening, Tony's train pulled slowly into Union Station, Los Angeles and ground to a stop. Tony knew exactly where he was; he knew the palm trees, the clock tower, and the great arch. He'd seen them before while traveling back and forth between his destroyer, when it was docked at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, and El Paso, so he knew absolutely that he was not in Chicago. He was adrift. Taking his duffel from the rack, Tony moved down the aisle, and on the platform, as he stepped down from the car, he met the conductor who greeted him with a smile. “Pleasant trip?” said the conductor. “This is not Chicago,” Tony said, looking the man right in the eye. “All in all,” the conductor said, “that seems rather beside the point. This train brought you in precisely on time, and as I told you when you came aboard, ‘Boarded the train, there's no getting off.’” Before Tony could speak, the conductor held up his hand. “A word of advice, young man. Trains tend to go where they go, and we, as passengers, must go there with them, regardless of our personal proclivities. Now, why don't you just adapt and try to have a nice day?” Suppressing an urge to throw the conductor under the engine, Tony

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jerked out his cell phone and called his agent. “Los Angeles!” his agent exclaimed. “What the hell are you doing in Los Angeles?” “Gus,” Tony said, “believe me, it's a long story, but the short of it is that I can't be in Chicago for the audition, and I don't have enough money to get out of here. What do you recommend?” For a moment, the line went silent. But then, Tony's agent spoke up. “I'll call Isaac Schiff,” Gus said. “Tomorrow morning, you hustle over to Paramount and ask for Isaac. He may be able to find you work, something to tide you over until we arrange something better.” Tony did as he was told, and for four months, he made enough money to survive by playing a cow hand one day, a library assistant on another, and a dead body in at least nine different action films. At the beginning of July, a minor actor with a single line in a film about the Second World War had the misfortune to arrive on the set drunk mere minutes before his scene was to be shot. Exasperated, the Director glanced in Tony's direction, and shouted “You, extra, can you deliver a line?” “Yes,” Tony said. So after a swift change of costume and a brief stint in make up, Tony hustled back onto the set and delivered the line. Afterward, the film's associate producer approached him. “Good work,” he said. “Good voice. Got anything going at the moment?” “No,” Tony said. “Got an agent?” “Yes,” Tony said. “Gus Worth.” “Have him contact me,” the producer said, handing Tony a card. “We're going to film a TV pilot in about a month, and I think you might be right for a part. The part I have in mind is not the lead, but if the pilot's picked up, the role will be recurring, so it would mean steady work. We're going to film in Chicago. Any objections to working in The Windy City?” “None,” Tony said. “That's where the auditions will be held as well,” said the producer, “starting next week. That gives you travel time, so if you want to save some money, I suppose you have time to take the train.” “Thanks,” Tony said, shaking the man's hand, “thanks, but if it's all the same to you, I think I'll fly.”

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Blossoms Rushing By by Barbara Ruth

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On Hampstead Heath by Ruth Holzer A gnarled chestnut stands in a circle of trodden grass. Soon, dusk will consume the solitary cottage. Time to walk back down the long, steep hill toward the lights that look like those of home, but aren’t.

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Fireball by Jack Cooper The only sport I was better at than my father was marbles. At everything else, he was so good that he would lose on purpose as a kind of lesson. I hated that! I’m convinced he never played marbles with me because he didn’t know how to win. I never asked him, either, because I was afraid I might not believe it if I won, even though I beat everyone else, my friends, my big sister. I cleaned out their pockets of agates and quartzies, cat’s eyes and steelies, three whole Folgers cans’ full, which I kept under my bed. I could draw a ring in the dirt, put out the call for any and all types and shoot them out one by one, sometimes two by two, using my yellow fireball with its red flames that I got off Howie Glick. At everything else, I was only good enough to make the team, never first string, never first place. I froze up in competition, or got stomach cramps so bad I had to take these little green pills to make it through a game. But with marbles I came into my own, until the day that Howie Glick brought a huge ball bearing to school that his dad gave him and dared me to put his old fireball in the circle. Everyone came to watch. When we flipped for first and he won, I almost threw up. The monster chrome ball, which was supposed to have come from a jet engine, barely fit between Howie Glick’s thumb and middle finger, and he missed! On my turn, I used my fiercest cat’s eye to hit the fireball dead center, knocking it to the edge of the circle. But it refused to go out! After that, Howie took his time and practically blasted my marble of fire across the playground like a meteor. But when he picked it up, he took one look, threw it over the fence into some bushes and ran off crying. No one went for it. We all knew that the giant airplane part had somehow cracked the best marble ever. We all knew that there were some things a dad’s not suppose to help you with anyway.

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Leap Year by Russ Whiting There were two windows in the fourth floor apartment that faced the street. One had a wonderful view of the park, the treetops full of foliage in the spring, bare and statuesque in winter; the other had a good straight drop to the pavement on a quiet corner and Claire was trying to make up her mind about which she would jump from. If she chose the former, she thought, as she cupped her hands around her tea, blowing the steam off the top, she would make a real public splash. She smiled at the morbid sarcasm that had crept into her, but the other held a certain anonymity that she thought might be good in the aftermath. Yes, the second would make people think more about their own lives if the crowd gathered more slowly to look at the lifeless smudge of a person that the emergency medical technicians had yet to scrape from the sidewalk. “Too bad,” they would say. “Why would someone do that?” She was thinking about what she should wear and whether she should put her hair up or wear it loose and flowing when a knock on the door startled her and she spilled hot tea on her robe. She cursed then pulled at her hair to straighten it and thought she must look too disheveled and suicidal to answer the door. The second knock was slightly more urgent and her curiosity got the best of her. “Who is it?” She hadn’t covered her irritation well. “It’s me, Myra, you old frump. Open the damn door.” Claire and Myra had been friends for forty years. They had first met in elementary school when Claire had mistakenly sat in Myra’s desk in Mrs. Poole’s class, setting off a stream of expletives and demands that had alarmed everyone in the room. Myra’s father had been in the Navy, her mother later explained. But there is a fine line between love and hate and sometimes a good fight is about as intimate as it gets. They were fast friends. She unbolted the deadbolt, slid the security chain out of its cradle and pulled back the hotel-style bar to open the door. Myra blew in like someone had pushed her. She was wearing a black velvet beret over her short hair and a matching cape that covered her ample physique. “Jesus, Claire. You really ought to get a little more security in here.

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You never know when some hot Puerto Rican pool boy who finally came home from Florida is going to bust in and try to rape you because he saw you standing in your window four floors up with that sexy, tattered terrycloth robe and all that beautiful gray hair cascading over it.” She took the beret and shook out the snow. “You do have a way with words, Myra. I only added the hotel clasp after Mac pushed his way in here that time.” “Honey that was 20 years ago and that robe was brand new.” Claire looked down her front and wondered if it had been that long for both of those things. Myra threw her cape over the couch and went into the kitchen. Claire could hear her pouring coffee beans in to the grinder, then running water into a pot. A few minutes later she rematerialized carrying a steaming mug. “I was worried about you, honey, leap year and all. I know how you get.” Claire looked over the top of her reading glasses at Myra. How did she stay so happily negative all the time? What kept her from jumping out a window? And how did she get so fat when all she did was smoke cigarettes and drink coffee? “You don’t have to worry about me, Myra. I was just looking out the window thinking about how long it would be before there were leaves on the trees again.” “I knew it! I knew you were thinking about killing yourself again. I got up this morning and something said to me Myra, Claire has run out of her prescription and you better get over there right away before she does a swan dive onto Park Avenue. So I got here as fast as I could.” “You always come at the same time. I can set my watch by it.” “Well, that’s as fast as I could. Don’t diminish my scene here, dammit. I was on a roll, Scarlet.” She sipped her coffee. “Must you slurp like that?” “It’s very Japanese and it keeps me from burning my tongue. In Japan, the louder the slurp, the better the coffee, or it’s probably tea, or soup, or something like that.” “That must be good coffee.” “Made it myself, but enough about me. You were saying you were going to kill yourself.” “I did not say anything about jumping out a window.” “Ooooh, so that’s how you plan to do it this time. Out the window.

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Splat. Sounds messy and that’s very unlike you.” “But I wouldn’t have to worry about the mess would I?” “Oh honey, you’re worried about it already. You’ll probably leave me a note and a big shovel with explicit instructions about how to scoop you up and blot you off the sidewalk. Don’t forget the paper towels. Then you’d leave me a longer note about what to do with the plants, when to water, how to trim, what to say to them.” “I don’t have conversations with plants.” “Dearie, you talk to everything; they just don’t always talk back.” “Why are we friends?” “Because you need me to be your conscience,” she said as she walked back into the kitchen to refill her coffee and then yelled: “I’m that little devil that sits on your shoulder that tells you how it really is.” “So maybe I’m just missing the little angel on the opposite shoulder,” she yelled back. “No. See, that’s where you’re wrong. There are no little angels except at the top of Christmas trees. Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable they are with that tree running up their. . .” “You don’t have to be crass. Oh wait a minute, I forgot you were born that way.” Myra sat back on the couch. “That’s the spirit, honey. Give it back to me like there’s no tomorrow. Wait. I mean like your life depended on it. No, shit. I meant it’s good to have a little fight in you.” Claire sat down in a soft white chair opposite the couch and looked at Myra. She remembered when they were both married and how when those marriages had soured, they had conspired to escape. Myra had been a lot tougher, always, and it was easy for her to eject, but she had hung on, dragged it out and had wrung all the possible pain she could out of it. Her theory was that it really ought to hurt, if you spent that much time with someone. “What are you thinking about?” “Nothing.” “Honey, the day you’re thinking about nothing is the day you’re dead. Shit, I did it again. I mean you’re always thinking about something.” Claire smiled at her. “I was thinking about Sam and Mac and wondering what happens to people and what makes them stay together and what breaks them apart.”

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“Nature.” “Nature?” “Yep. Everything has a time limit. People, marriages, flies.” “Flies?” Claire made a face. “Yes. Remember the guy, Hayflick? He tested flies and found that they were genetically wired to have only so many heartbeats. No matter what, when those heartbeats were up, there they were, on their backs in your windowsill.” Myra twisted a little and looked up at the ceiling, her arms and hands in rigor mortis. “I feel like relationships are the same way. When their heart stops beating, then it’s time to roll over.” Claire stared silently at her, wondering how many heartbeats she had left and why there had been so many heartbeats in her relationship with Myra. “Well, I gotta go, kiddo. I got a hot date with a pedicurist from Vietnam. You ever wonder what they’re talking about when you’re sitting there with your ugly feet staring them in the face? I’m just positive they’re talking about my feet, ‘Oh look at these nasty fat ones,’ they say. ‘They look like my grandmother’s feet.’ And they do it all while they are smiling at you. I just have to block it out.” Claire laughed and stood up as Myra replaced her beret and cape. They hugged and exchanged goodbyes. After re-setting all the locks, Claire stood at the window facing the park. She set her cup down, unlatched the window, and pushed it all the way up past her head. Cold, February air flooded into the room and she wrapped the robe tighter around her. She leaned out the window and looked below. Traffic was light and there was hardly anyone on the street. She thought about Myra and Mac and Joe and heartbeats and her life. She put her hand on her heart and felt its steady beat. Her breathing had sped up as if she had just climbed all the flights to her apartment. She sat sideways in the windowsill and thought about Myra’s flies whose hearts had outrun them as they had desperately tried to get out of the window. All they would have had to do is open it.

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My Day by Karla Linn Merrifield I came across ashes and oceans, recovered crystals and a green bookcase. I entered a laboratory, one of four, and found the woodpile of trajectories. I fell under the spell of a seeker after benzene and the black holes of useless words. But I survived, as did my field notes from November 4, 2015, complete with Orion’s autograph. for George Wolff

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Us. by Jessica Doolittle-Burton I couldn’t have ever imagined how much my life would have changed the day I finally mustered the courage to ask her out for coffee. I always thought of her as so fragile. I thought that with one wrong move, she would break apart. But I was wrong. She was resilient. She was quiet — that much was true — but she was thoughtful, and playful; she could be still as fallen leaves or as lively as a child. When you talked about literature, her eyes lit up and she came to life. She was especially fond of poetry. After our first date together, I ordered a copy of the Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Collected Poems from a bookstore a few streets down from where I worked. When I gave it to her, her eyes widened so that I could see the whole of her large brown irises; she flashed her small teeth, her nose, powdered with freckles, crinkling. She said that that book was the best gift she had ever gotten –– not a week later she would begin to recite Millay’s works to me: “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, I have forgotten…” I will never forget our time together. I remember, after we had another date, I cautiously slipped my hand into hers. She pretended not to notice my awkwardness, squeezing my hand to let me know that it was welcome. I kissed her that night, while a smile played at the corners of her mouth, the sun flecking her hair with streaks of red and blonde. I moved too quickly, too strangely, but she kissed me back; not softly, not how I expected or had ever been kissed before, but like she meant it. Like she meant for all of it. Like we were meant to happen, splashed across the page in haphazard splatters that somehow conceived the most beautiful patterns. My time with her was a blazing fire or smoldering coals; we were never the dying embers I had seen in the relationships of my married friends. I wonder, now, if all of that would have been the same. I will never have the chance to know.

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I taste the red on my lips, My tongue is a scalpel, Licking up the salt. I dig the pit out with my fingernails, It pops like a socket Inside pink skin ripe and round As an olive, And I begin to peel away the layers As though they belonged to an artichoke Or anything with a heart. I taste the fleshy morsel With my red scalpel tongue. It stings like a scorpion And I find I can no longer remember The taste of your pink olive skin And the sharp bite of salt, Or your hands, Which peeled away my layers As though they belonged to an artichoke.

You. It started on a Tuesday. I remember the smell of rain on your skin. I remember the trace of a smile on your lips when I slid out from next to you, kissing your cheek softly. I remember the stark darkness of your hair splayed across our sheets, like some auburn halo. I remember thinking that this was the first morning, a day in our endless life together. When I replay those moments in my mind, they are in another world that time hasn’t touched. In that world, there is nothing that would tear us apart. Time is forever and halting there with you, your lips smiling, your skin flushed with the life pulsing inside you. I knew that I loved you that day. You will never leave my body; your fingerprints are traced on my skin — in places I did not know a person could touch and would never touch that way again. There is a hole where you left, it is in the shape of you and no one else could ever fill it. Every follicle of your being is halted in my memory, your smile you only gave to me warming my entire

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body from the inside. The white, cold blankets are full of you. When I sleep in our bed I feel you rolling over me in waves, the sheets telling me the story of our love-- the story of our lives between them. Part of me died in that small achromatic room with you. Sometimes I think that you took my heart with you when yours stopped beating, and maybe I am gone with you and this is purgatory, where everything screams of you but you are far from reach. I will always love you. I am sitting with my hands clasped beside you. The sheets on your hospital bed are pale as you; I can barely make out where they start and you stop. You smell like you but you don’t. You smell of medicine and soap and the crisp whiteness of the hospital walls and the nurse’s hands and surgical tools and blood and death but under all of that I can still smell you. Somewhere on your body is that smell of rain and grass and warmth. That smell of you would not exist if you were gone but you are. I know it the way that I know every cell of your body, every hair on your head, every eyelash, every movement, all the secret parts of you. I sit with my hands clasped; to touch you would certainly break the barrier that traps us in this moment, where the doctors are finally gone and you and I are alone and the room is filled with my love and your death. If I touch you, I will have to leave. Our love will end in this room. I will only think of your cold flesh, the thin pressed mouth that has always been you but isn’t now. None of this can be you because it doesn’t make sense. I don’t understand the cancer that took up lodging in your brain, pushing all that makes you you to the edges of your skull, breaking you apart from the inside. I don’t understand how your genes changed in you rapidly, how the metastasis planted itself and grew wildly. As I unclasp my hands and stand, I kiss your forehead. It is cold and full of cancer and you are gone.

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Starwalker by Deanne Richards

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On His Departure In memory of Galway Kinnell by Linda Whittenberg Many nights, my husband and I have passed his poems pillow to pillow and fallen asleep feeling we had made love. His rich, sensuous voice has traveled with us on long trips. It seems we watched Maud and Fergus grow up. A scholar, always, who dolloped French and Latin into poems, he was also a rolled-up-sleeves, outdoors kind of man whose poems cleaved so close to truth it sometimes hurt. With his passing, his beloved Vermont woods quaked. I felt it here in the mountains. Most often, he spoke his poems from memory, making it seem he conjured the words as he went, capturing the full body of each before releasing it. Once, I witnessed Sharon Olds and Galway duel erotic poems until the room was left sweaty and panting. No more words from one who strove to capture the raw, real, underbelly of existence. Consolation is, any day I can take down from my bookshelf—tossed feathers, squish of blackberries, beauty of sow, wrap myself inside bear’s bloody hide and be warmed.

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Invisible Borders of the Heart by Dawn Wink The waves toss the boat from one side to the other. I know within the boat are many more people, much more weight, than the boat was designed to hold. My eyes scan the endless water on all sides in hopes of seeing land across its expanse. I’ve chosen to put my children and myself in this place, because my homeland has been destroyed, family killed, nothing is left of our home, but rubble, blood, the dreams it once held, and the memories of what once was and will never be. A Syrian mother, children huddled at her side, peers out over the ocean. I read of the Syrian refugees and try to imagine the horror necessary to drive people make this choice. I sit surrounded by food, electricity, running water, and home. I try to imagine a life so desperate to force people to leave behind homes, bank accounts, their entire world—and walk to the edge of a sea to climb aboard a small boat to head out across the water. Half of all the pre-war population of Syria — 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee. More than half are children. We have all seen the photo of young Aylan Kurdi’s body on the beach, drowned along with his mother and brother. In the month following Aylan’s death, 77 more children that we know of, drowned. In the wake of the Paris bombings, voices rise to close the borders to Syrian migrants. It feels impossible to read of the tragedy in Paris, to look at the photos of those killed and those left behind, and not weep. Yet, to imagine that the terrorists who committed the horrors in Paris somehow reflect the whole of Syrian refugees supports the terrorists’ wishes and perpetuates the tragedy. “I have many different emotions running,” wrote Brussels resident James Wilson in personal communication. “We have refugees at the train station in Brussels. It is raining. It is cold. We are on a terror alert. But today is the first day of advent as we prepare to celebrate the birth of a Middle Eastern refugee in a cattle stall. We have to go with the heart and do what is right.” A world away and closer to my home, migrants flee north across the once invisible border between Mexico and the U.S. “It used to be a slow time in Arizona when people from south of the border drove to Tucson

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to work and then returned home to live, a time when the US-Mexico line was a wire lying on the ground,” writes Kathryn Ferguson in The Haunting of the Mexican Border, “and we crossed the border like birds.” The consequences of NAFTA and increased border security after 9/11 have been a deadly combination. The closure of the urban areas where people historically crossed pushed undocumented border crossers into desert and mountain terrain. This funnel effect is the main reason for increased migrant deaths, with over 7,000 human remains found since 1994. The rhythm of deaths in the desert borderlands continue unheeded in conversations around immigration, replaced with the thumping beats of helicopter blades as they “dust” migrants in the desert, lowering their helicopters close enough to the desert floor to kick rocks, sand, and cactus into people and force them to scatter. Separation can mean death. The causes of these migrations are lost in public discourse around Syrian and Mexican migrants; instead the war drums beat with furor, hands, and hearts driven by fear increase the violent tempo. It is the invisible borders around our hearts that create the most tragedy. So much energy spent on keeping people out restricts our own ability to expand, to love. Invisible borders, through fear and hate, take shape in the form of barbed and iron fences that slither across the desert border and the shape of votes to deny entrance to Syrian migrants. As we wrestle with what the future holds, to build borders around our hearts as we project a sense of self-protection, we limit our own potential and possibility. The waves toss the boat from one side to the other…

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The Veil of Mana by Gerald Friedman Moonlit walk. Horned owls, Do not ask Do not state Do not chant Like a charm, Acknowledged pokes me down of a bridge. must be where Occulted, to mimic, Hoohoohóo No response. like beast eyes, don’t bloom. keep trying, as I can. he’d shown up his talons I would know of magic as I walk

I stop. I learn, but say, but sing, but cast, their who. it works, to half This stream he watched. I try summon. hoohóo Bright spots, appear, Softly moveless And if to fight, like drills, no more than now back home.

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Fallen by Libby Hall I returned home around eleven p.m. and the light from Mom’s TV flickered in her darkened apartment attached to my house. I went into my house and then went over to turn off her TV. As I opened the door a blast of hot air greeted me. The temperature was well over 100 degrees. I couldn’t see Mom. A cursory glance indicated that she was not in the apartment. I panicked. Had she gone out? Was she lost? Wandering around Santa Fe confused and possibly in danger? Then in the dim glow of the television I saw her body face down on the Saltillo tiles. “Mom, Mom, can you hear me?” I turned off the gas heater. Sweat dripped into my eyes. “Mom...” She moaned. Her clothing was soaked from perspiration. How long had she lain there? It must have been hours. I grabbed a towel from the bathroom, soaked a washcloth in cold water and sat next to her on the tile. Her face pressed against the tile step in front of the gas fireplace. Did she fall attempting to turn it off? Was she hurt? She moaned louder as I mopped the side of her face and neck. Her sweatsoaked hair plastered to her skull. I tried to turn her but she was dead weight. “Mom, it’s okay, I’m here now. I’ll help you but I need you to roll onto your back.” She whimpered and remained motionless. “Mom, try. I’ll help you. Please,” I begged. “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t,” she said. I struggled to turn her upper body towards me so her back now rested against my thighs. I tried to pull her legs towards me but she cried out again. “I can’t. I can’t.” My mind raced. One impossible solution after another. Could I lift her, or drag her to her bed across the smooth tiles? It was now after midnight. I didn’t consider calling 911. I was afraid of being charged with elder abuse. A frail woman in her 80’s with dementia left alone for several hours. Hospice had put the fear of god into me on that one. Their accusatory question, “What if she falls and you aren’t here?” Well,

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I didn’t have an answer then and I didn’t now. If Mom could help at all, I was sure I could get her to her bed. “Mom, are you okay? Does anything hurt?” “No,” she said. “I’m so tired. I’m so hot.” “I know,” I said. “I’m so sorry. I’ll get a new heater, one that will turn off automatically when the temperature is warm enough. Oh, god, I’m so sorry.” “I want to go to bed.” “I know,” I said. “Mom, I can’t lift you but I can help you sit up and then I should be able to pull you up.” Was I crazy? She felt like a large block of concrete covered in rice paper skin. “Come on, Mom, you have to help me.” I pulled and pushed and tugged and she whimpered and kept her eyes closed. “Mom, look at me. You have to help me. Lean towards me when I pull your arms.” “I want to lie down in my bed. I’m so tired. I can’t. I can’t.” I don’t remember how long this went on. Too long. But she was finally sitting. Her bed an impossible six feet away. I pushed a chair out of the way with my foot. I couldn’t move away from her back or she’d fall over again. I assessed my immediate options. If I could scoot her over to the bed she might be able to grab hold and I would be able to boost her up onto the mattress. If... She toppled onto her side again. Her feet pointed towards the bed. She was weak and her sweat-soaked clothes smelled salty. “I’m sorry. I can’t. I’m sorry,” she said over and over. “I have to call 911, Mom. I can’t lift you and I can’t move you.” “No, no,” she said. “Don’t call them. Pull me. Pull me. I’ll help.” “Okay,” I said, “but tell me if anything hurts.” I pulled and she slid those few feet. This might work! I moved her around and tried to sit her up again but she couldn’t do it. “Mom, I can’t. I can’t do it. I need help.” It was too much. We both needed help. In a weak whisper she said, “Don’t call 911. I don’t want them here.” Somehow I pulled, tugged, pushed and shoved her onto her bed. I don’t know how it happened. I washed her off and changed her clothes. She was asleep before I turned around. I shook from the tension and exertion of that hour. She was safe

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now. She was dry. The apartment was warm and comfortable. It was after 1 a.m. and I needed to get some sleep. She was awake before seven a.m. She smiled when I came in and asked me, “Did something happen last night?” “You fell and were on the floor for a long time. It was too hot in here and we had a hard time getting you back to bed.” “Oh, that sounds awful. It’s a good thing you’re so strong.”

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Melting Away the Surface of the Earth by Marti Mills at first I really liked taking it to get high a rush of tingles across my legs and scalp sweet and chalky melting away the loneliness melting away the dis-focus melting away under my tongue it makes me melt into a soft understanding moving the matter from one side of my brain to the other the words flow and the ideas flourish my little flower of secrets helping me move beyond depression and disgust the music means something again the beat leads my heart and mind to a soft place laced with blue cotton candy clouds

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An Ache in the Bones by Susan Thornton “Can I get you anything else?” Nancy stood by the side of the bed, irresolute, not knowing where to put her hands. She was alone this afternoon at the hospital. Her husband would be back tomorrow from his business trip. “No, mom, I’m fine.” The young man glanced at her, then away. “Fine, really.” He reached for the remote control. “Let’s see who’s on Oprah.” Nancy turned to the window, looking out at the snow swept parking lot. “Acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” was the diagnosis they had had on Kevin eighteen months ago and those eighteen months had been a roller coaster ride where initial disbelief and shock gave way to a horror held almost at bay by the matter of fact tone the doctors took in discussing this fatal — she bit her lip and fought back tears — sometimes fatal malady of her only son. To them, it was part of the day’s work. A case to be fitted in before lunch but after rounds, a topic for the occasional consoling talk, the odd pat on the shoulder, but mostly kept a distance, looked at through the prism of “medication” and “pain management” and “leukocytes” and now, “bone marrow donor.” They had registered with a nationwide search organization and had been instructed to wait, and to pray, that one was found “in time.” Behind her she heard a voice familiar to her from many afternoons in these narrow white rooms and these overbright carpeted lounges. In her former life as a college professor, a life that seemed to have faded, now that she had taken a sabbatical and then a leave to be with her son, 4:00 in the afternoon meant committee meetings or student conferences, never daytime television. The musical voice was interrupted by her son’s. “Mom, look at this. Do you believe who she has on?” Kevin at least could find momentary respite in the enveloping culture of sports heroes, television, films. When he was out of the hospital, rarely, they rented videos, and she sat on the couch with him in the evenings, and watched, instead of immuring herself in her room with student papers, exams, or the manuscript of her book on Oliver Goldsmith. All those hours she had taken from her family for her career

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and now this — her son at twenty with a cancer diagnosis, home from Notre Dame University, down from his football weight of 220 to barely what he weighed at twelve, covered with his grandma’s afghan and drawing her reluctant attention to the screen. “See, mom, isn’t that neat?” His taste ran to grade B melodramas, dark-hued detective stories, “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Big Sleep” until she took charge of the video rentals and came back with “Yellow Submarine” and “The Pink Panther.” He rolled his eyes, teased her as hopelessly dated; she pretended to be hurt; at least it gave them something to talk about, other than “leukocytes” and “pain management.” They never mentioned “remission,” or “cure.” “I can always tell when it’s four o’clock,” came a cheery voice. “All up and down this hall, I can hear Oprah. Who’s she got on today?” “Mom, mom, look who’s here!” Kevin pulled himself upright, smoothed the covers over his lap. Nancy turned from the window to see a woman wearing a fuchsia angora cardigan over her white uniform, a stethoscope flung casually around her neck, like a punk necklace. Curly brown hair framed an open, expressive face. Kevin was watching at her with a look of frank adoration, the way he had looked at Nora, his favorite baby sitter when he was four. “Mom, this is Billie. Billie, this is my mom.” Nancy took a step towards the bed and stood on the other side as Billie held out a square box and a white plastic thermometer. “Open wide.” Kevin obediently opened his mouth and extended his arm. Billie put two long slender fingers on his wrist and counted his pulse, then took down the blood pressure cuff. “So you’re Kevin’s mom? Kevin’s told me a lot about you.” Kevin nodded, his eyes shining, mouth closed tight around the thermometer. “I’m pleased to meet you. Mostly I work nights. This is my first afternoon in a while.” She took the thermometer from Kevin’s mouth and inserted it into its white plastic container. “Billie can do card tricks. Remember, I was telling you, mom. When I can’t sleep she comes in and keeps me company. Show my mom the one you did the other night. Do you have your Star Trek

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deck in your pocket?” “Not today, honey. Afternoons are a lot busier because everyone’s awake. But haven’t you been practicing?” “Hey, I have, I have.” Kevin reached for the drawer of his bedside table. “Kevin tells me you teach at the college. You must have known my husband, well, my former husband, Steve Nesbitt.” Nancy felt the blood rise to her cheeks. “You’re Billie Nesbitt?” “I was Billie Nesbitt. After the divorce I took back my maiden name, Billie Bailey.” Nancy stared at the fuchsia sweater. For years she had thought she couldn’t live unless Steve Nesbitt left his wife and married her. She was fully prepared to ask Frank for a divorce, tell Kevin whatever it took and follow Steve Nesbitt to the ends of the earth. When she told Frank she was doing research at the University Library, instead she was in Steve’s office. Memories of their physical passion surfaced in a rush of images and her cheeks burned, partly at the memory, partly because of her sudden realization that he was, after all, too cheap to spring for a hotel room and that was why they had to use his office floor. She remembered only too clearly the ache in her bones as they lay down together on that threadbare, scratchy carpet. It was so tawdry, somehow. She suddenly saw that it was she who was the butt of the joke in the Restoration dramas she had studied all these years. It was women like her whom the playwrights mocked, the lustful, foolish, older women, who sought in illicit romance the fulfillment lacking in their failed lives, their marriages made stale by lack of real attention. And Steve, after all those years, had ended their relationship, without offering marriage, and now lived in a beach house in Malibu with an undergraduate thirty-one years his junior. This was Billie. This was the woman who, he said, held down his brilliance, stood in the way of his book that would have been the definitive work on Cooper. This was the unimaginative hausfrau to whom he was chained. Yet also the woman he would not leave for Nancy, but would leave for a girl young enough to be his daughter. Nancy felt as if the floor were shifting under her feet. She might have left her husband, Frank. She might have left her family, and then this diagnosis, these awful words, “leukocytes,” and “pain management” and “lymphoblastic leukemia,” would have been spoken about her only son

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and she would have been visiting at this hospital bed across the divide of separation and divorce. Would Steve have waited for her in the hall on such a day as this? Steve, who handed out “A”s as liberally as M&Ms because he couldn’t bear to impose standards? Nancy suddenly saw the precipice into which she might have fallen, and inwardly she reeled as if it were an actual gap in the floor, the building shifting, split by earthquake. That she had not, that she had not destroyed her life and gone off to the ends of the earth with cheap, selfish, vain, shallow and ultimately dangerous Steve Nesbitt, she owed to this woman, this Billie Nesbitt Bailey, this woman with the fuchsia sweater and the cool dry fingers taking her son’s pulse. And it was this woman who came in nights, when Kevin couldn’t sleep, and taught him card tricks. She watched Kevin’s dark head, lost in concentration, his fingers manipulating the cards. All at once there was a surge of light and a great bustle in the room, and Kevin’s doctor came striding in surrounded by his entourage of interns and assistants, for this was a major metropolitan hospital, a teaching hospital, and he was a highly-regarded specialist and he was shaking her hand, and shaking Kevin’s hand, and even shaking Billie’s hand as he told them the good news: a donor had been found, and they could go to Boston for the marrow transplant within a week, indeed as soon as possible, and suddenly this woman Billie, this Billie Nesbitt Bailey, embraced Nancy in an enveloping hug and a gout of tears burst forth and gushed down Nancy’s cheeks like magma, vivid, purifying, alive.

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Uprising by Daniel Kilpatric Darkness awaits the earth’s turning a face away from the sun; then the rising begins, hesitantly, until the scheduled absence of the moon is confirmed. Now darkness starts to take the small things on the ground: Dirt, pebbles, twigs, blades of grass fall to its hunger, consolidate its power so it can swallow the edges that define rivers, trees, mountains. Nothing can contest its push to devour the sky; surely the stars with tiny points of light cannot pierce this massive force, restrain it until rays of sun march over the horizon.

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Scripture: Wind by José Angel Araguz In some languages, words cross the page east to west, while some cross west to east. The wind keeps changing hands. And no one comprehends what I feel in my chest hearing my father pressed ink on bandanas, words my mother left behind. The day my father died hastes shadows, stirs the leaves. The same air behind leaves, behind words. Behind words, a hand without these words. after Y. Amichai’s “Temporary Poem of My Time”

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Nature’s Course by Kudra Hernandez She sat under the tree, looking up through its old, weary branches. Surrounding her were yellow flowers, and cute miniature mushrooms. The largest of these flowers was tucked gently into her blonde, messy bun. It was beautiful, all yellow and dainty, except for three bold lines of red that streaked outward until the tips of the petals. The flower had caught her eye the moment she arrived at the hill. She sat up there for hours, defying nature and watching the now gigantic storm build up bit by bit. Slowly, she stood up, taking in everything around her. A drop of rain fell onto her arm, distracting her from her thoughts. With one last glance at the tree, she started making her way down the large hill it belonged to. Each step she took downwards, the clouds got darker, and the storm inched closer. By the time she reached the bottom, the rain was almost impossible to see through, and the ground was determined to hold onto her shoes. She tried to walk faster, her steps becoming more panicked. The wind screamed and tore the beautiful flower out of her hair, taking it for itself. Small, panicked steps turned into ones of fear and aimlessness, and the girl was soon racing. With her hair whipping in every direction, it was a miracle she recognized the ditch she had crossed earlier on her path to the tree. She slowed until she reached the edge, searching for the fallen tree she had used a bridge. With all of her energy focused on finding a way across, she didn’t notice how unsteady the ground was becoming. Pools of dirty water gathered around her feet, the edge slowly tipping in. Finally spotting the tree, she took a sloppy step in its direction, and the ground fell from beneath her. Her scream was short, the ditch only a small fall. With nothing to grab onto, she reached the bottom quickly. She was lucky, landing only with a cut that ran along her arm. Inspecting the wound, her gaze traveled to the huge log branch only a mere two feet in front of her. Her eyes ran along the side of it, ending up at the top of her thigh, where the branch was successfully pinning her down. Noticing the angle the stick was at, she knew that any movement whatsoever the branch would plunge into her leg. With tears in her eyes, she tried her best to not move a muscle. The wind suddenly picked up the sand, spiraling and throwing it around her. She moved to protect her

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face, and the branch sunk into her thigh like a knife in butter. She screamed in terror. The shock was keeping the pain away, but she was frightened by the pool of blood that built up and then ran down her leg. The instinct for survival took over, adrenaline controlling her body. She grabbed for the branch yanking and yanking, trying to set herself free. Another pump of adrenaline, and the branch was halfway out. The blood continued to pour, but she sighed in relief, allowing the smallest bit of hope into her thoughts. She leaned her head back, taking a moment to gather her strength. Had the girl just tilted her vision upwards she would have noticed the large gray rock on the edge above her. But too much was going on and it went unnoticed. The wind was roaring now, seeming furious about the girl’s success. And maybe it was just a coincidence, or maybe nature was mad that the girl dared braving the storm, but the rock was lined up exactly with her head. She took a long breath in, as did the wind. Time seemed to slow down. The girl exhaled, and at the same time the wind let out an unearthly scream that pushed everything forward. The rock was swept into the ditch with ferocity, seeming as though it knew exactly what it had to do. Time returned to normal, and the rock was already bouncing of the back of the girl’s skull, the sharp corner opening up the flesh and bone immediately. It glanced off to the side, now merely another stone in a ditch. The girl fell backwards, the last breath forced out of her with the soft thud of her landing the in the dirt behind her. Her head tilted to the side, she was gone. The blood pooled at the center of the wound and ran down her beautiful yellow blonde hair in three bold lines of red. Should any creature of the forest look below and see her, they might mistake the design they see for one of the lovely flowers that grew on top of the hill, under the old tree’s weary branches, surrounded by miniature mushrooms.

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The ‘96 Storm by Jennifer Dickerson Before my dad died in the winter of 1990, we would always end up on the front porch in the middle of the night, watching storms together. We would both be startled by the thunder; we would see a limb fall during a lightning strike, and we would scoot our chairs around so that the rain wasn’t getting us wet under the roof of the porch on our old house. The storms never made me afraid. I loved this “secret” time with my dad, watching Mother Nature wreak havoc. In the spring of 1996, in LeRoy, Kansas, there was a storm. Elisha Dassrath and I were out rollerblading in the parking lot of American Metals, the factory that my mother and her father both worked at. The same factory that cost my brother an index finger two years before. It was a Sunday. The sun was shining; we were jumping over cinder blocks, feeling like stars of the X-Games. Elisha and I were, until she moved away the following summer, either inseparable or not speaking. Her family stood out in our rural town of 500, as they were from the Virgin Islands. Their skin was browner than the Native American family, making them the closest thing to a black family in the county. On this particular Sunday, we were inseparable. We listened to a Salt and Pepa tape on Elisha’s boom box as we darted around the huge parking lot, her wearing my spare pair of rollerblades. We thought we heard a rumble of thunder in the distance, but it may have been a tractor changing gears on the other side of the tree line. Lunch time had passed, and we were hungry, so we decided to head to our homes. Hers always smelled of some exotic food that her mother was making. I still think of the Dassrath house when I eat curry. Mine was always dirty and cluttered; it was just my mother and I, and we didn’t care much for house work. We skated to her house, then I headed towards mine, carrying my extra skates and dancing to a song in my head. I skated down my street, then walked in my rollerblades through my front yard. I unlaced my skates just as it was starting to rain. My mother asked if I wanted to go for a drive out past my grandfather’s old farm. It was so pretty out there when it rained. The occupants took great care of my grandmother’s roses, and that time of year, the cherry blossoms might be blooming. You could smell the flowers from the bottom of the hill. I,

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of course, jumped at the chance of going for a country drive. Sometimes, my mother would let me try my hand at driving her ’91 Ford Ranger. I threw on some shoes, and we jumped in the truck. As we started backing out of our driveway, the storm hit. Immediately, golf ball sized hail was falling like monsoon rain. Out of nowhere, gale-force winds knocked over our trash cans. Thunder cracked so loud that we expected a branch from our walnut tree to land on the hood. We killed the truck and ran inside. We contemplated going to Virginia’s, as she had a storm shelter, but we knew there wasn’t time. We huddled in the corner next to my bedroom door. My closet was too full of sixth grader crap for people to huddle inside of it, and when we looked in the room, there were hailstones bouncing across my carpet. We watched as a hailstone shot through the living room window and slid across the floor into the kitchen. We watched as many more joined it. My mother held me with such fierceness that it was difficult to breathe. She was muttering a combination of curse words and prayer. It felt like it lasted for hours, but in actuality, it was probably only about 20 minutes. We were expecting part of our roof to peel away and see the funnel of a tornado laughing at us, “HAHAHA! Insignificant little people!” When the storm stopped, we went outside. I can still smell the ozone in the air after my mother and I emerged from our corner. I can see the look of terror on her face when she was huddled over me. It’s always interesting, the feeling of stepping outside after a storm. There is a freshness that tangles up with all of the destruction. All of my mother’s daffodils were laying on their sides, their delicate stems snapped. The trees were missing their leaves, blown off by wind or knocked down by hail. The clouds were all green, and the stones each had a dark pit on one side. This predicted a tornado that never came. Old friends of my father’s showed up with a pickup truck full of plywood and a snow shovel. Their arrival shook us from our daze. My mother had not seen this family since before my father fell ill. We spent the next few hours boarding up every north-facing window on our house, after using shovels to scoop away the 2 foot drifts of hailstones. I don’t remember the name of the family that helped us, I had never met them, and never

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saw them again. We removed the screen door, as we didn’t see the point in having flimsy plywood instead of a big window when we had a perfectly good (albeit dented) door four inches away. The next day, we found our cat hiding under my mom’s bed with a fresh litter of kittens. We thought she had been outside, and was probably dead. Ninety percent of the roofs in my home town had to be replaced that season. Lawsuits soon followed against out of town contractors that took people’s money and did shoddy work. My family, like many, had to replace the siding on our house. School was cancelled for three days until the windows were replaced. It took over a month for ours to arrive. I spent weeks enjoying the cave that my room had become and the television that my brother had given me. Storms have always been enjoyable to me. I giggled at “Premature Evacuators” before hurricanes in Florida. I laughed when the technical college I attended in Washington called classes early because it was raining sideways. The ’96 Storm in my home town was the only storm that I have weathered that struck fear in me. It made me miss my dad and our porch.

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Night and Its Trains by Christien Gholson The streetlight vibrates, flirts with boxcars swaying under their load of Things (some refrigerated, some caged): Cars, cattle, detonators, stacked board. The sound of the secret re-arranging throughout the night, every night. At dawn, on the way to work, a thought: “Wait, wasn't there a grocery store here yesterday?” And the day before that, standing in the same place: “Wasn't there a field here?” Hands to ears, steel on steel, the sound of my own blood. Blood that rides the lonely curve of cliff-side track between black tunnels cut through the Divide. A black aspen leaf appears in the center of my palm, perfect as a coin with no face.

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The Idiot’s Guide to Dispossession by Shuli Lamden It’s easier than you think. Once events Take place — a spark from the chimney, a mutant cell — Trajectory changes your datebook, Your daily acquaintance, and conversations You speak in someone else’s voice Now, without your own words, following The script. Friends fall away. Sometimes you remember to eat. What’s left — a house in a declining market — No one will purchase the shell, Outdated clothes, the paintings. Books. It’s all just stuff you must give away And when everything is gone It’s harder than you think.

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Incipient Dementia by Shuli Lamden No Sunday calls for a month, then today Incessant questioning: What should I wear? I can’t find my purse, the schedule Is all messed up, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. Who’d have foreseen All that she would forget, yellow post-it Notes everywhere, and the minutes — no, hours — Writing, rereading, attempts to revive Thin wisps of memory, to infer from Random accretion a full, embodied Life. She’s amazed when I appear and help The simplest ways, choosing a sweater or Answering the phone, a miracle, as if Again she heard me mouthing my first words.

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Stuck in a Box by Carrie M. Cannella I remember the time we went both ways down into the caverns. We went down the natural entrance second. First, cheating, we took the elevator, which was odd because an elevator seventy-five stories down into the earth feels like we are the ones blowing up the sides of the mountain for some sort of payoff. Besides this feeling of underhanded detonation, the glitch that arises is the mixed signaling between my eyes and my ears — I get motion sickness, so much so that when en route down, down, down, I can’t move, not even the slightest bit, and my eyes must remain shut. What’s worse, though, is that I am also claustrophobic. Sickness takes a backseat when one can’t even breathe. Once I was in New York City for a conference, and they put us up somewhere near the twenty-fifth floor. Do you know the feeling you get when your fear is so ruthless that your breath leaves you without a warning? When you know for certain that there will be a fire in the building and you will be stuck on the twenty-fifth floor with no chance of escape because the elevators will be down and there will be no time to descend the twenty-five flights? Or that terrorists will storm the hotel, closing off all possible exits? You will have to sit in the bathtub and wait to die, that’s all. You do not feel like you are having any kind of overreaction –– you just know that you will die if you stay there. Yet you might hear, as I did: “Why are you acting like this? Pull yourself together! Stop being ridiculous!” There is no arguing with someone who is about to die, however, and I fought until we ended up on the tenth floor. Somehow, my brain accepted escape from the tenth. With the elevator down there were not only feelings of claustrophobia and fear; it was more than that. Because we were literally –– albeit slowly –– falling through the earth to some kind of core of existence. There were questions of ending and beginning, of being consumed whole, of going down instead of up. I closed my eyes tightly, held on to the nearest elbow, gripped the railing so hard that I could imagine blood dripping, thinking of the elevator scene in The Silence of the Lambs. The worst part by far in an elevator trip is not imagining the red alarm button flashing; it is the pause between the landing and the

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opening – the pause that always is. The doors don’t open for what seems like minutes and minutes, not mere moments. The rider is in a box, deep inside the earth, and there is no way out. The only reason we took the elevator down the first time was because we were late for the tour. Once the doors opened and I could exhale again, I momentarily forgot that I was 750 feet under the earth’s surface, coming out into the Bat Cave with ground lights around the edges and a wheelchair-accessible path. In the middle of the tour, they turned out the lights so we could “see” what it must have been like when the caves were first explored. Yet those explorers went down so much more gradually, down from the light of the blue New Mexico sky, where the brightness lasts longer than you think, and you get to be enthralled by that much more mystery as you follow the trail in real time; it is not a sudden thing like simply disembarking from an elevator chute. This time, you are conscious of the depth of the cave, the reef’s calcite crystals reaching towards you from above and below as you pass, the disappearing lens, the way you feel that you are an ancient explorer yourself, memorizing the passage of time. Except with this ache, the promise of possible enchantment is distantly remembered, lost somewhere in the back of the mind, and I am once again in the elevator, and there is no opening of the double doors, no seeing the quirkily-named rock decorations that await, no rewards to be had for my anguish. I know that the astonishing columns, the draperies, the soda straws, the popcorn are there, just outside these heavy doors, but I cannot reach them. I have no place to go, no place to go out, no place to go through. It is as though the elevator pause lasts and lasts so that the four by five foot space is the world, still expecting and expecting, and the walls mirror my own sense of disgust, and the doors a possibility that doesn’t ever budge, the light flickering on and off, on and off. This is like that. I reach my arms out to touch the walls, and I slide down the length of the glass to the floor of the box. And it will be so hard to get up, so hard and I know that every day I will have to get up again. Every day I will have to get up to be stuck in a box.

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Church Door by Mike Gallagher

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Berlin Perambulation by Mark Terrill It’s well after midnight on a Sunday evening when I leave Scott’s flat to head back to my pension in the Strelitzer Straße. The shortest route would be to walk through the Mauer Park, the park where a length of the Berlin Wall used to run through East Berlin, as dark and deserted as it can be at this hour. When I first arrived in Germany 30 years ago you could walk anywhere at any time in any major city without the slightest fear. But things have changed. Recently in Berlin there have been several muggings and beatings, some with fatal outcomes, mostly in the subway stations, some even in the middle of the Alexanderplatz, all random outbursts of sporadic senseless violence. And for that reason I’m somewhat hesitant to walk through the park alone at that late hour. Scott assures me it’s safe to walk through the park. I’ve no idea what information or criteria he’s based his opinion on but he’s a long-time Berlin resident and seems to know what he’s talking about. Also, not walking through the Mauer Park would mean making an extremely long detour and after a long drunken, sleepless weekend at the Poetry Hearings I’m tired and just want to get back to my room and my bed. So I say goodbye, head down the stairs, and turn the corner into the Schwedter Straße, which becomes a footpath as it leads into the park. At the entrance to the park I stop and peer into the inky blackness ahead of me. There’s not a single light anywhere in the park and no moon out and it is really very dark. I stand there for a few minutes while considering my prospects. In the warm bright comfort of Scott’s flat my ambivalence and fears about walking through the park were real but relatively abstract. Now, standing there at the entrance of the park, looking down the footpath which disappears into total blackness just a few meters ahead, the reality of the situation is suddenly much more acute. I’m not totally committed to going through the park; I could still turn left or right into the Gleimstraße and circumvent the park, but who knows, I could just as easily get rolled in some well-lit yet empty street. Walking through the park, as dark as it is, also gives me the advantage of being nearly invisible. So I start through the park. It’s so dark I can hardly see where I’m going. But gradually my eyes adjust and I can see the path ahead of me as a pale blur heading between the shrubs and trees which are slightly silhouetted against the faint glow of the city in the sky above the perimeter of the park. I take

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great care to move as quietly as possible, not scuffing my feet or making any noise at all while walking. About halfway through the park I start wondering how smart my decision was. If I were to get attacked here in the middle of the park no one would ever know, no one would hear me or would come to my rescue. I’d be totally on my own. But as I continue along it gradually occurs to me that I am indeed probably the only one in the park at that late hour. Suddenly I hear some voices and see some faint lights off to the right. My pulse accelerates as I continue walking, hoping to pass by unnoticed. The lights are darting back and forth and I can’t imagine what’s going on over there, nor do I really want to know. Maybe it’s just some kids partying late into the night. A little further on, through a gap in the shrubbery, I can see the vague silhouettes of two people walking their dogs, both of which have illuminated safety collars. I let out a sigh of relief and quicken my pace. Up ahead I can just begin to make out the entrance on the other side of the park at the Bernauer Straße. I come out of the park and turn right into the Bernauer Straße, feeling both partly relieved and also a little annoyed at myself for all my obviously unwarranted anxiety. The Bernauer Straße is totally deserted, bleak and cold, with the orange light of the streetlights glinting on the streetcar rails. I think about how the Berlin Wall used to run directly down this street, right where I’m walking now, 1378 kilometers of cement and barbed wire, heavily guarded and with a mined no-man’s-land running parallel to the wall, dividing the city into East and West Berlin for over 28 years. And in a Proustian flashback I remember my first visit to Berlin and seeing the wall for the first time and going through to East Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie, finding East Berlin to be locked down in a gloomy monochrome totalitarian timewarp, which was both fascinating and very unsettling. As I’m walking along I hear a slight rustling in the leaves just beyond a row of trees on my left. My thought-bubble of the Berlin Wall suddenly bursts and I’m catapulted into the right-here-right-now-hyper-aware mode again. Out of the shadows beneath the trees emerges a large red fox. He stops and looks at me and I stop and look at him. He appears quite healthy and surprisingly fit for a wild animal living in the middle of the city. He seems totally fearless and relaxed, like he’s just out for an evening walk. After sizing me up for a few seconds he continues along,

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padding across the wide empty Bernauer Straße in no apparent hurry, and then disappears into the Mauer Park right where I came out. “Be careful!” I call out after him. I continue along, feeling most privileged indeed for the opportunity of such a chance encounter, thinking about the weird absurdity of the fox crossing the Bernauer Straße, right there where the wall once was, oblivious to the fact that such a wall ever existed. It seems strangely symbolic, like some kind of allegorical lesson in phenomenology. A lesson about what’s there, what’s not there, what’s on the other side, and that which exists strictly in your head; the utter fickleness of the subject-object relationship we all have with the world. I reach the Strelitzer Straße and turn left down the hill. As I pass by building number 55 I’m thinking about the so-called “Tunnel 57” that was dug back in 1964 that led from Strelitzer Straße 55 under the Berlin Wall to an empty bakery in the Bernauer Straße in West Berlin. In October, 1964, 57 people made it through the tunnel before it was discovered by some undercover STASI agents, and in the ensuing shootout an East German Border Patrol was shot and killed, the blame going to one of the tunnel helpers until it was finally established after the fall of the wall that it was a fellow Border Patrol who fired the fatal shot. It was the longest, deepest, and most expensive of all the tunnels dug under the Berlin Wall. And now a lone fox goes loping across the Bernauer Straße right there where the wall used to be. When I arrive back in my room and have finally climbed into bed I’m almost too tired to keep my eyes open but allow myself the luxury of making a quick channel check on the TV and suddenly find myself watching King Kong and Godzilla duking it out on the screen. I make a sweep through the rest of the channels and when I get back to King Kong and Godzilla I see King Kong just outside the ramparts and walls of some jungle fortress, beating with his giant fists against the huge wooden doors of the compound, punching and hammering at the wall until it finally begins to crumble, as I lie there in bed fascinated back into total wakefulness by the layered synchronicity of real animals crossing through walls that no longer exist, imaginary animals smashing through imaginary walls, real people digging their way under real walls topped with real barbed wire glistening in the orange glow of the streetlights, and poets walking through darkened parks intent on nothing more than making it from one side to the other, whatever that may entail.

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Four Drawings by Tings Chak

The Architecture of Migrant Detention 1

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The Architecture of Migrant Detention 2

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The Architecture of Migrant Detention 3

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The Architecture of Migrant Detention 4

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Lunar Eclipse by Christien Gholson 1. At the edge of the dry field the drifter’s tent has collapsed again. He stamps his feet. Dust rise and the usual Fuck You Fuck You Here in the kitchen, mice move inside the stove. The drifter’s long twisted hair burns in the sun Fuck You Fuck You and the mice turn, keep turning 2. I pour water over dry leaves gathered at the base of our three chili plants: The chili called crow’s wing The chili called fire-ant And the chili called the-mouse’s-black-eye-revolving-in-its-skull Murder on the radio. Vows of revenge. “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen…” The cat waits at the edge of the back door light. 3. Eclipse above the storage facility across the street. The moon boils, darkens, becomes a red shadow of itself. Sound of metal on metal, sterno flame: people live in those units. Smoke rises through the red where the moon used to be. The train’s horn shucks off its clothes, runs east, naked, kicking up stones.

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Choose the Right Path by Mike Gallagher

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Two Still Lifes: Deer, Hen (after the painting by Tony Da, “Deer Worshiper,” 1965) by Basia Miller Above a line that crosses the painting at mid-point, an arrow flies. Its eye finds the deer. Its turquoise barb carves the avanyu’s jaw, pierces its organs. From the left, a stick-figure moves forward, arm still holding the diminutive bow. A hunter sleeps in the lower half below the line that divides and joins and lets him absorb the dream. I recall a corner of our yard where a blade flashing catches the hen’s neck held between two bent nails in a chunk of cottonwood. My grandma drops the axe, while the remnant flaps in mad arcs before collapsing. Etching the scene in memory, I peek out from behind her black skirts. Crackling skin of roasted chicken is Sunday ritual. For the dreamer the buck is always killed but never dies.

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* by Simon Perchik This is it — a match, wood, lit the way a butterfly returns by warming its wings wider and wider, one against the other then waits for the gust to spew out as smoke lifting you to the surface — this single match circling down half on fire, half held close is heating your grave, has roots — embrace it, become a flower fondle the ashes word by word that erupt from your mouth as an old love song, a breeze worn away by hills and the light coming back then lying down.

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Tears Stain My Cheeks by Jeanne Simonoff Rain pounds the roof. It's morning. Last night the rain beat so harshly on the skylights and I had just seen the video from the club in Paris. I thought gunfire. I thought my Paris. I thought about my birthday there in 1990. I went to the Museum of Decorative Arts. I thought about the swastikas spray painted on walls of some of the older buildings. In Los Angeles, we called it placas, leaving a name. I thought about how a dog marks. I thought camps. I thought about Bourke-White and her photos. I thought about the day the camps were opened and I thought, this time the attacks were not just about Jews. They were like notches on a belt, one for each kill. Destruction of the world as I had known it up to that day. I longed for understanding of the whole story, theirs, not mine, the attackers, not me, not the Jews, although in Paris I still feel the Jews that were taken away in boxcars. In the Marais, at the Jewish Museum, there are the names of the people who lived in this building when it was a hotel. The list of those rounded up. Not a single one returned. Can I see the dead? Sometimes I think I can palpate them on the streets of Paris, The Marais, Luxembourg Gardens, deep in my soul as I pour out my lament. One after another, the voices long gone return. I think of Cocteau and the rest of the artists who created sculptures as they rose up against the Nazis, as they told the stories that I also record in my book of knowing. I know more than I know, but don't have the words to pull out. Just the aching of no way to stop or repair what I feel. How one person can feel so deeply and be helpless. How I want to tie in the queens in Luxembourg Gardens, Alice and Gertrude. How Paris will be more of that heaviness that weighs down the beauty. Exquisite pain, and in June will it all still be going on? Will the borders still be closed or defended? Will a late night dinner at a neighborhood cafe leave me terrified? The drones fly over Syria, Iraq, and over La Belle France. All bets

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are off. Rage is 451 degrees fahrenheit, erupting at any given moment. I know about PTSD. I know intimately how it works. I know how rage can do a dance with fear and it's anybody's guess who wins out or can there really be any winners. Can I honestly say, like we do, as Jews each Passover, next year in Israel: Will my next June in Paris be fraught with fear and hatred? Will all my poems be written in poisoned ink? That is altogether unlike me. Out of character. That is the musings of a mad woman when all these years I have been trying to heal. To put out gratitude each morning. It has become a practice. I will have to add to it. It will become a ritual. I will find a talisman, take out my special rock from Luxembourg gardens and begin to relax, yet again the rant, never again. When I know just saying that in these times is a long shot. The snow has stopped. It is after midnight. A new chance.

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Outside Moon by Kathleen Gunton

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The Moon, This Morning by Shebana Coelho The moon this morning is a memory faded flat a white dot drained of vigor while the sun singes yellow creeps over mesas burrows into holes startling a pack rat frozen in darkness white flash of eye who had no idea light reached this far

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In This Moment by Lawrence Gregory In this moment it is enough for the two of us to sit here in the sage and feel the chill press of wind against our backs. No need for me to conjure words and send them scudding through the stillness like those clouds flaring red in the western sky. In this moment it is enough for you to wrap your arms around your knees, draw them tight against your chest, and shiver a bit. There is time enough before we reach the borderlands and in the crossing say goodbye.

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Contributor Biographies Mike Andberg is from the Washington, D.C. area, a Maryland University graduate (twice), who moved to Santa Fe in 1996 to attend the College of Santa Fe. He is so done with college now. Mike likes writing and posting weekly blogs and photos on his mikeandberg.com website. Photography has been a lifelong source of inspiration and creativity. He's honored to be a part of the Santa Fe Literary Review. José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow, and has had poems recently in Huizache and Salamander. He is a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Cincinnati. Author of six chapbooks and the collection Everything We Think We Hear, he runs the poetry blog The Friday Influence.

Holly Baldwin is a wordsmith, artist, filmmaker and activist in Santa Fe. By day, she helps new moms as they begin their journey to parenthood. At night, she and her amazing husband wrangle four dancing children. She runs www.changewritenow.org, an organization dedicated to social justice and healing through written word. She is also co-founder of Hear We Roar Productions, a film company focused on showcasing women and their stories. John W. Ballantine is a professor at Brandeis International Business School. He received his bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University, then earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics from University of Chicago and NYU Stern, respectively. John's memoir essays spring from a weekly writing class and being in the world of his family, his students from around the world, the books he reads, and memories he revisits. His work has appeared in Crack the Spine, Penmen Review, Rubbertop Review, Ragazine, and Saint Ann’s Review. Bob Barba

was born and raised in Ohio, but fled to Massachusetts in 1982. He has worked as a baker, a teacher, and lately a community college administrator. He has published in The North American Review, The Whistling Fire and in his hometown paper, The Ashfield News. He is working on a manuscript about his personal ambivalence and our national dysfunction about work.

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E. Beebe earned an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has lived in the mountain west for many years. Sean Brendan-Brown is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently resides in Olympia, Washington. A medically-retired Marine, he is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Everything Repeated Many Times, King Of Wounds and West Is A Golden Paradise, a poetry collection, No Stopping Any Time (Tri-Color Press, 2014), a fiction chapbook, Monarch Of Hatred and a short story collection, Brother Dionysus (MilSpeak Books/Smashwords.com, 2012). Cullene Bryant is a Rock and Roll grandmother of five and a graduate of The Writer’s Studio, Simon Fraser University. Her two collections of short fiction, Llamas in the Snow and In the Dry Woods were published by The Books Collective in Edmonton, Alberta. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines. When she grows up she hopes to win Canada’s Governor General’s Award. Her website is www.cullenebryant.com. Sondra J. Byrnes, relatively new to writing poetry, writes haiku, senryu, and tanka. Her poetry has been published in Frogpond, Prune Juice, A Hundred Gourds, Ribbons, Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest and Moongarlic, among others. Along with short form poetry, Byrnes is interested in ikebana and chanoyu. Byrnes is a retired law and business professor from the University of Notre Dame. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Carrie M. Cannella

is a lover of all things related to words. She is originally from Arizona, but has been in Santa Fe for seven years with her husband and young son. She has a BS degree in English Education and an MA in English from Northern Arizona University and is currently working on her Creative Writing certificate at SFCC. She teaches English and composition to adults.

Jonathon Carabajal is a poet living in Santa Fe, New Mexico with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. He draws a great deal of inspiration for his poems from the majestic hikes that he has been on around New Mexico. Being in nature is a spiritual, fun, and valuable experience for him. To see more of his poetry, please visit his profile at allpoetry.com/Black_Diamond_2.

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Tings Chak is a Toronto-based migrant justice organizer and multidisciplinary artist trained in architecture. She holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Toronto, where she was awarded the Kuwabara-Jackman Thesis Gold Medal for her research on immigration detention centres. She is the author and illustrator of the graphic novel, Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention (www.undocumented.ca). @t_ings. Shebana Coelho

is a writer and director, originally from India. She is currently working on a poetry collection, Finally The Open Sea. Her website is www.shebanacoelho.com.

Rob Cook lives in New York City’s East Village. He is the author of six collections, including Empire in the Shade of a Grass Blade (Bitter Oleander Press, 2013), The Undermining of the Democratic Club (Spuyten Duyvil, 2014) and Asking My Liver for Forgiveness (Rain Mountain Press, 2014). Work has appeared or will appear in Sugar House Review, Versal, Rhino, Hotel Amerika, Birmingham Poetry Review, Caliban, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Toad Suck Review, Dalhousie Review, Verse, Quiddity, etc. Jack Cooper's first poetry collection, Across My Silence, was published by World Audience, Inc., 2007. His work has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize, and chosen as a finalist in North American Review's 2012 James Hearst Poetry Prize and in the 2014 Eco Arts Award in Creative Excellence, and winner, Annual Flash Contest, Flash Fiction Chronicles, April 2015. His poetry and/or flash and mini-plays have also appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Slant, Bryant Literary Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and many other publications. He is a contributing editor at www.KYSOflash.com. John Crain

has followed his muse through a checkered career as a painter, animation artist, astronomer and atmospheric scientist. Currently a database administrator, in the last several years he has stopped resisting his literary impulses and started writing fiction on a regular basis. He is currently working on two novels. “The Comal” is the prologue to his first novel, a science fiction romance with the working title Ysobel.

Behzad Dayeny

is a Poetic Chef from Iran. The director of Food Services at Santa Fe Community College, he has been living in Santa Fe since 1984.

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Krikor Der Hohannesian lives in Medford, Massachusetts. His poems have been thrice-nominated for a Pushcart prize and have appeared in many literary journals including The Evansville Review, The South Carolina Review, Atlanta Review, Louisiana Literature, Connecticut Review, Natural Bridge and Comstock Review. He is the author of two chapbooks, Ghosts and Whispers (Finishing Line Press, 2010) and Refuge in the Shadows (Cervena Barva Press, 2013). Ghosts and Whispers was a finalist for the Mass Book awards poetry category in 2011. Jennifer Dickerson was born and raised in LeRoy, Kansas. She spent many years working in food service before her first instructor at Santa Fe Community College ignited her passion for writing. She also enjoys cooking, Kansas basketball, severe weather, and spending time with her family. Jessica Doolittle-Burton

lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Susan Duke

Retired from teaching children with special needs, I enjoy reading, writing, and morning walks. I treasure time spent with my husband, three adult children, and two grandsons.

W.D. Ehrhart is a Marine veteran of the American War in Vietnam, and author or editor of 21 books of poetry and prose, most recently The Bodies Beneath the Table (Adastra; poetry) and Dead on a High Hill (McFarland; essays). Those titles notwithstanding, he’s a pretty happy guy who teaches English and history at the Haverford School, where he also coaches Winter Track and sponsors the Poetry Club. Louisa Fisher

I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, outside of New York City, where I spent a lot of time visiting. I went to college in New Hampshire, and ended up years later getting my Master’s Degree there too, in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Over the past few years, I started taking photos as a hobby. I love the great outdoors, so it was a perfect way to start, and to share with others what I was seeing. Photography for me is about sharing a moment that creates a raw emotion that others can feel. That is a beautiful gift.

Gerald Friedman

grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in Española, New Mexico, and teaches physics and sometimes math at Santa Fe Community College.

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Michael Gallagher is a Fine Art Photographer and Santa Fe resident. Upon visiting the Rocky Mountain west during college, he knew someday he'd have to live here, but it was Santa Fe, and not Colorado or Wyoming, that captured him. He loves the outdoors and photographs travel, landscapes and abstractions, both natural and urban. His work is exhibited locally at Johnsons of Madrid Galleries and Off-the-Trail Art Space, in Santa Fe: m1g@hotmail.com. Christien Gholson is the author of A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian, 2011), On the Side of the Crow (Hanging Loose Press, 2006) and All the Beautiful Dead (Bitter Oleander Press, 2016). He was once a fish falling from the sky. He is now a skeletal sunflower stalk, trying to interpret the sayings of the wind. He can be found at his blog, noise & silence (http://christiengholson.blogspot.com/). Lawrence Gregory’s poetry has appeared in several magazines and literary journals. He recently finished his first book-length poetry manuscript and is in the process of looking for a publisher. (Is there anybody out there?) He lives with his wife in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Kathleen Gunton believes one art feeds another. Her images and poems often appear in the same journal. Recent cover art: Broad River Review, Arts and Letters, Thema, Potomac Review, Tifferet and Switchback—to name a few. She is happily completing her second collection of poetry with photographs. She posts to her blog : KathleenGunton/Discursion. Libby Hall is a 74-year-old writer and a senior at the University of New Mexico. She decided to become a writer after taking a memoir class with Miriam Sagan in 2011. Her work has appeared in Adobe Walls, Moonbathing, The Santa Fe Literary Review, The Sun Magazine and other publications. She also served as Memoir Editor on the 2014 issue of The Santa Fe Literary Review. Courteney Handy is a student at the Santa Fe Community College. She has just graduated with her Associate’s in General Studies with a certificate in Creative Writing. She has been published in Orion creative writing magazine. Her poetry has also appeared all over the Santa Fe Community College. She is furthering her education at the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2016. She is studying to become an editor for newspapers and novels once she finishes school.

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Samantha Hardcastle is a web publisher by day and a writer and oil painter by night. She is pursuing her MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University. Her artwork has been featured in Agave Magazine, Howl Literary Arts Magazine, Niche and The Baylorian. She’s a contributing writer for Christian Mingle’s sister-site, Believe.com, Christian Woman Magazine and Faithlife Women. She currently lives in North Dallas, Texas with her sister. Richard Hartshorn lives on the Rensselaer Plateau. He was recipient of the 2011 Richard Bausch Short Story Prize, and his work has appeared in Drunken Boat, Atlas and Alice, The Writing Disorder and other publications. Richard received an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Kudra Hernandez

is a freshman in high school at NMSA. She is a dancer, studying ballet, jazz, and modern, after school every day. She has loved books ever since she read her first word, and along with her love of reading came a love of writing. She has many inspirations for her writing, one of whom is her mom, who is also a writer, and supports and encourages her everyday.

Ruth Holzer’s

poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including Freshwater, California Quarterly, Earth’s Daughters, Southern Poetry Review and RHINO. She is the author of three chapbooks and a co-editor of Haibun Today.

Ann Howells

has edited Illya’s Honey for sixteen years, recently taking it digital: www.IllyasHoney.com and taking on a co-editor with whom she alternates issues. Her chapbooks are: Black Crow in Flight (Main Street Rag, 2007) and The Rosebud Diaries (Willet, 2012). A book of Texas poems, Under a Lone Star, is forthcoming from Village Books Press early in 2016.

Elizabeth Jacobson

is the author of a chapbook, A Brown Stone, from Dancing Girl Press, 2015, and a poetry collection, Her Knees Pulled In from Tres Chicas Books, 2012. She is the founding director of the WingSpan Poetry Project, which conducts weekly poetry classes for residents at homeless and battered family shelters in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Miami, Florida.

David Johnson

I was chair of Sciences at Santa Fe Community College and Professor Emeritus at The College of Santa Fe. In addition to my teaching and field studies in ecology I have written several books on natural history and have contributed photographs to others, including two cover photos. Here are images that have appeared in recent juried shows: http://img.gg/h6gNfo0.

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Michaela Kahn’s prose and poetry has appeared in Miranda – Revue pluridisciplinaire du monde anglophone, Planet – The Welsh Internationalist, Scribner’s Best American Poetry, Ideomancer, Sentence, and Santa Fe Poetry Broadside, among others. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she is finishing her first novel. Kathamann

I am a returned Peace Corps Volunteer/Afghanistan and a retired registered nurse. I have been active in the Santa Fe arts community for 30 years exhibiting in juried, group and solo exhibits. (kathamann.com) My poems have occasionally been published in local and regional anthologies.

Daniel Kilpatric

earned his MFA in Writing-Poetry from Vermont College. He currently teaches in the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College. His work has appeared in The Santa Fe Literary Review.

Aly Kreikemeier is a writer, educator and creative collaborator impassioned by the intersection of social change, public art and education. Her work addresses narratives, power, postcolonialism and media. Currently an Ed.M. candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she studies multiculturalism and civic media and works as a research assistant connecting Spanish-speaking classrooms around the world participating in the Out of Eden Learn project. See more at https://alykreikemeier.wordpress.com. Shuli Lamden During the academic year, she teaches writing at Santa Fe Community College. In the summertime, she works in roadside pullouts, cooking soup for hungry bicyclists who are riding across the country. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Moment, Blue Mesa Review, PEN/New Mexico New Frontiers and The California Quarterly. Lorraine E. Leslie

is originally from New York, and has lived on and off in Santa Fe, NM since 1998, is now a permanent resident since 2012. She received a BFA from Long Island University at Southampton College and has been painting for over 30 years. Lorraine continues to paint and live a simple, spiritual, creative and sustainable life. She loves taking photos of street art and graffiti she sees during her walks around the city of Santa Fe.

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Christopher Locke

is the Nonfiction Editor of Slice magazine in Brooklyn. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous publications, including The North American Review, Verse Daily, Southwest Review, Poetry East, Arc (Canada), The Nervous Breakdown, 32 Poems, Mudlark, West Branch, Rattle, The Literary Review, Ascent, The Sun, Connecticut Review, Gargoyle, Upstreet, Agenda (London), Southeast Review and on both National Public Radio and Ireland’s Radio One.

Tony Luebbermann

and his wife Susan moved to Tucson in 1969, attended graduate school and worked for local government. In 2010, he completed an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Finishing Line Press published his chapbook, A Short Anatomy of Doorknobs, in 2015. He has poems published in Cutthroat, EOAGH, and Sacred Waters. He volunteers at the University of Arizona Poetry Center as a docent and serves on the Center’s Development Council.

John Macker's

latest books are Disassembled Badlands and Blood in the Mix (with El Paso poet Lawrence Welsh). He writes on poetry and poets for Albuquerque's Malpais Review. Upcoming: Book of the Gorge (with woodblock artist Leon Loughridge.)

Cheryl Marita, after working in nursing leadership for 49 years, is returning to her first love, writing, but is a late comer to the world of memoir and poetry. As part of the WeBeMuses, she is published in Bosque Rhythms, an anthology that won a 2015 Finalist NM-AZ book award. As a student of SFCC, IAIA, and Joan Logghe, Cheryl is focused on learning as quickly as possible as an elder. Michael McCusty

is an aspiring writer, film critic and teacher who hopes to one day earn his doctorate in media studies. He has lived in New Mexico since December 2012, but his story before that is meandering and fraught with peril, so let’s not bother. He watches Jeopardy! every day, he misses Chicago, and he is the proud father of a beautiful boy named Anakin.

Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has eleven books to her credit; the newest is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Andrew Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is on the board of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), and is a member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society, and the Florida State Poetry Society. http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.

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Margaret Miles’

work has appeared in journals including Black Warrior Review, Exquisite Corpse and American Letter & Commentary. She has been the recipient of writing fellowships from the Archibald Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and others. She works with organizations ending homelessness in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Basia Miller

added creative writing to long-standing interests of travel and translation after retiring from St. John’s College in 2008. With Anne Cohler and Harold Stone, she translated Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws (Cambridge University Press, 1989). Her poems appear in Sin Fronteras, Adobe Walls, Lummox and elsewhere. Her bilingual chapbook, The Next Village / Le prochain village, came out early in 2016. She lives in Santa Fe.

Marti Mills

was born in the last century, directly above the center of the

earth.

Gayle Newby

has been published in Grit Magazine, Leaves of Ink and The Pontotoc Progress Newspaper. Her work is forthcoming in the Hiram Poetry Review and in Passagers Magazine. Gayle received her B.S. in Education from Blue Mountain College, and has worked as a social worker and as a librarian.

Meg O’Brien

is a new writer, having retired after a career as a higher education administrator and professor, a high school teacher and counselor, a computer network administrator and a technology consultant. She enjoys participating in SFCC's writing certificate program.

Phillip Parotti, now retired from teaching at Sam Houston State University, lives in Silver City, New Mexico where he continues to write and work as a woodcut artist.

Simon Perchik

is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled Magic, Illusion and Other Realities, please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

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Johnathan Perez

is from Nambe Pueblo. Ever since he was a young boy he loved to write, whether it was fiction or poetry. Over the years his style and the way he writes has become better and he now writes as much as he can. He is currently attending SFCC to receive an associate’s degree in creative writing.

Ava Daysa Rasa is a poet and scholar. Her poetry is informed by contemplative engagements with both Zen Buddhism and Catholic monasticism. She has lived in Japan & India. She holds an M.A. in Theology, and a post-graduate Carpenter Certificate in Religion, Gender & Sexuality from Vanderbilt Divinity School. Her forthcoming book is titled, Whisper to the Orchid: A Collection of Contemplative & Ecstatic Japanese Poems (Red Thread Press © 2017). Deanne Richards

is a digital artist and writer living in Santa Fe, New

Mexico.

Barbara Robidoux

is the author of two books of poetry Waiting for Rain (2007) and Migrant Moon (2012). Her fiction has appeared in the Denver Quarterly, The Yellow Medicine Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and numerous anthologies. SWEETGRASS BURNING : Stories from the Rez was recently published by Blue Hand Books. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she is currently at work on a novel.

Barbara Ruth

is a poet, photographer, memoirist and fiction writer living in San Jose, CA. She is in a long-term relationship which brings her much happiness and as a radical feminist, she is also a marriage resister. Her work often embraces contradictions, and can be found in Elohi Gadugi Journal, Bop Dead City, Fragments of Chiaroscuro, Barking Sycamores Review, All In Your Head and many literary, disability and queer anthologies.

Sophie Sagan-Gutherz is just beginning her final semester at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Here she has focused on Musical Theatre and Shakespeare, and has spent this past summer studying Experimental Theatre in Amsterdam. She has always had a deep love for poetry, and has recently been accepted to read at “Am I Write, Ladies?”, a recurring series featuring new live work by female-identified artists.

Monique Sanchez

is from Española, New Mexico. She is a candidate for an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her fiction has appeared in Trickster, published by Northern New Mexico College.

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Linda Scheller's writing has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Notre Dame Review, Poetry East, Plays, Hawaii Pacific Review and More Than Soil, More Than Sky. She serves on the board of the Modesto Stanislaus Poetry Center. She is seeking a publisher for her manuscript Fierce Light, a collection of persona poems written from the perspectives of notable women.

Jeanne Simonoff was born in Hollywood, California. She grew up with the love of words, music and films. She is the author of Saving Myself: A Los Angeles Childhood, and a chapbook of poetry, 13. She has completed a poetry manuscript of poems from 1990-2014. She is finishing a second memoir, Just Now, living with her family's Alzheimers and Dementia. She started on her third memoir, Venice Beach Days. She has been published in many journals. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and spends three weeks each year in Paris. Michael G. Smith’s poetry has been published in many journals. The Dark is Different in Reverse was published by Bitterzoet Press in 2013. No Small Things was published by Tres Chicas Books in 2014. The Dippers Do Their Part, a collaboration with artist Laura Young from their Shotpouch Cabin artist residency, was published by Miriam’s Well in 2015. He can be found at http://michaelgsmithpoetry.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/michaelgsmithpoetry. Deborah Stehr

is a humorist, performer, poet and writer of short stories. She is also in charge of storing chapters of her as-yet-unpublished novel in her computer. Check out her humor blog: www.laughingcoyoteproductions.com. She has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, teaches at various colleges, and practices shamanism and dream analysis: www.jaguarhouse-shamanicdream.com. She lives in Santa Fe with two cats who actually do most of the writing.

Sally Stevens

I am a singer and writer in Los Angeles, California and have written lyrics for film and television, but have also had solo fine art photography exhibits here in Los Angeles, and have had film composers’ portraits from my series Film Scoring: Behind The Scenes included in an exhibit at Cite de la Musique, in Paris, France, 2013.

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Mark Terrill shipped out of San Francisco as a merchant seaman to Asia, Europe and North Africa, where he studied and spent time with Paul Bowles in Tangier, Morocco, and has lived in Germany since 1984, working as a shipyard welder, road manager for rock bands, cook and postal worker. Holding no degrees or diplomas whatsoever, he has authored over 20 collections of poetry, prose and translations. Susan Thornton lives in Binghamton, New York. Her memoir, On Broken Glass: Loving and Losing John Gardner, was published in New York by Carroll and Graf in 2000. She has published short fiction and poetry in a number of literary journals including The Literary Review, Dark Fire Fiction, and Rat’s Ass Review. Visit her blog at: http://susan-thornton.tumblr.com/ or her Facebook page: Susan Thornton Author. Gina Valdés's poetry has been published in journals and anthologies in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. She has recent or forthcoming work in Huizache, Earth's Daughters, Calyx and San Pedro River Review. She's the author of two bilingual poetry collections, Eating Fire and Bridges and Borders, Bilingual Review Press. Andrea Watson

is founding publisher of 3: A Taos Press. Her poetry has appeared in Nimrod, Rhino, CreamCity Review, Ekphrasis, International Poetry Review, Memoir and The Dublin Quarterly, among others. She is co-editor of Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined and Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai (FutureCycle Press), all proceeds of which are donated to the Malala Fund for Girls’ Education. www.3taospress.com.

Susan Brown Weitzman

has had poems in hundreds of journals and anthologies including The North American Review, Miramar, New Ohio Review, Thema, Rattle, Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, The Bellingham Review, Ekphrasis, Spillway, etc. Sarah received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A departure from poetry, her fourth book, Herman and the Ice Witch, is a children’s novel published by Main Street Rag.

Russ Whiting

comes from a background in magazine and newspaper writing both as a staff writer and freelance writer for more than 20 years. His first novel, Where Hummingbirds Fly, won the University of Nebraska National Graduate Symposium award in 2000 as an unpublished manuscript.

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Linda Whittenberg

began writing after retirement from Unitarian Universalist ministry. Since then she has published three volumes of poems. Tender Harvest, published by Black Swan Editions in 2009, was Finalist for the New Mexico Book Award. Somewhere in Ireland, Black Swan Editions, 2011, was written after numerous trips to study and travel in Ireland.

Juliana Wilde I am a self taught traveling artist. Photography is my main medium. I am inspired by the many highways, off-grid living, adventure and those living unconventionally and on the fringes of society. I am hoping for a more a beautiful world and finding beauty in spaces others may not always notice. My other interests are natural healing, intuitive arts, and hoping one day to see these things available to all income levels. Dawn Wink

is an educator and writer whose work explores the tensions and beauty of language, culture, and place. Author of Teaching Passionately and Meadowlark, Wink is Interim Director of the Department of Teacher Education of SFCC and lives with her family in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Please support the Santa Fe Literary Review You can make a donation to the Santa Fe Community College Foundation by check (made payable to SFCC Foundation), or by credit card (please contact Linda Cassel at 505-428-1855). The Santa Fe Literary Review (SFLR) invites mailed submissions of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction — no more than 3000 words of poetry and/or prose, please. We also solicit visual art, graphic novel excerpts, photographs, etc. There is no image limit for visual art submissions. Contributors receive two copies of the magazine and are invited to read at the annual SFLR reception, hosted on the SFCC campus each fall. Please indicate genre (poetry/CNF/Fiction) on your submission. Our open submissions period begins 9/15 and ends 12/1. Our reading time is 3-6 months. Please address all correspondence to: SFLR, 6401 Richards Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87508. Kindly indicate which editor you’re directing your submission to. Learn more at our website: www.sfcc.edu/school_of_liberal_arts/santa_fe_literary_review. And find us on Facebook (Santa Fe Literary Review) and Twitter (@SFeLitReview).

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Santa Fe Literary Review 2016