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ENHANCE The Last Issue April 2014

A Day in the Life October 2010

Issue No 3 January 2011

The First Chapter July 2010 1 [ Pag e 1 ]

July 2012 A n n i v e r s A ry i s s u e — J u ly 2 011

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the ENHANCE art of fiction 1



ENHANCE The Last Issue April 2014 5 Casket Fresh by Dr. Kasie Whitener 7 The Mammogram by Patricia Mcconnell 8 The Professor of French History By Sandra Florence 9 Mommy’s Tiara by Heather M. Browne 10 Byosoku—For Spring by Brian T. Robinson 11 Egg Shells by Russ Cope 12 From Gestures by Chrystal Berche

14 Celestial Bodies by Stephanie 15 Peace by Violeta AllmuÇa 16 Lick My Words by Valerie Borey 17 The One With the Hay by Wanda Morrow Clevenger 18 From Gestures by Chrystal Berche 20 Saturday Detention by Michael Mira 21 Secret of the Heart by Scott Rooker 23 Easter Sunday by Matthew Di Paoli 24 From Gestures by Chrystal Berche 26 About the Authors 28 Letters from the editors


Casket Fresh By Dr. Kasie Whitener It’s Tuesday now and I still haven’t heard from you. I know you said it may be a while but this seems like longer than a while. It seems like forever. But it’s okay. I’m okay. I’ve started counting again, which helps, especially when I can feel my anxiety rising. I think bad things. The things I think start out okay and then get bad. My fingers curl and my heart starts to pound. So I count. One day in late November when we gave our tickets to the gate attendant and followed the crowd into the concrete stadium. Two tall yellow tongs sticking out of the ground on either side of the field. Three long blasts of the horn to motivate the defense on third down. Four times you hugged me when the Midshipmen scored. Five people in front of us in line where we waited at halftime for a hot cup of blue crab chowder. Usually by five I feel better. I remember the soup. I remember holding it between my hands, the steam and scent wafting into my nostrils. I remember looking up through my lashes over the rim of the cup at you and you were smiling. I feel better. I am still waiting. The last day wasn’t so bad. Confusing a little but not bad. And you explained. Mostly. And now when I think about it I try to remember what you

said and how you said it exactly. You said it would be safer. You said I would be happier. I am not convinced that’s true but I was then. Then I agreed. Crawled in. Laid down. Said okay. Smiled even. But now I’m not so sure. Now I’m wondering and when I wonder I think bad things and so I start counting. One day in late November when the sky was bright, the sun was shining, but it wasn’t warm. The wind off the Bay brought tears to my eyes. I ducked my head into your shoulder. Two seats above the twenty yard line on the gold side with the sun in our eyes. Three dollars for a bottle of water. Four girl cheerleaders with blue and silver bows in their hair. Air Force cadets. The opposing team. But we liked the gold side because the sun would have made us warmer than the blue side. Than the shade. Than the shadows. Five claps: one Go two Team three Go four Team five Go and then spirit fingers and some woo hoos. They jumped and we looked past them and cheered for the other team. The home team. The Navy team. I usually feel better by the time I get to five. But sometimes I count higher. Sometimes to the number of months we spent together. Sometimes to the number of days inside those months. Sometimes to the number of hours inside those


days inside those months. Sometimes I count until I fall asleep. It’s Tuesday. At least I think it’s Tuesday. I close my eyes and imagine the sun passing over me. I think of that November sun and the shade of the blue side of the field and the way those people were wrapped in blankets like how I’m wrapped in this one and how those people shivered like how I sometimes shiver. I open my eyes but it doesn’t seem to matter and for a second I don’t really know if they’re open. It’s still dark. And I can feel myself start to panic so I close my eyes again. And I count. One day in late November. Two friends not yet lovers. I remember how you pulled me against you when the wind came through the tailgate tent. I remember how your classmates and their wives smiled at me. I remember one of them with a baby and another with a swollen belly. Three jokes about cold feet. Four questions about upcoming deployment. Five requests to see the ring. In the dark I let my fingers lace together, across my belly bump, pinch the tiny stone. I try to hear my own heartbeat. I try to hear that other heartbeat. I try to hear you coming back for me. I can feel my anxiety rising. I start counting. One day in late November. Two weeks before

Christmas. Three months after New Year’s. Four years since we left for Germany. Five times you’ve been and come back. Six months since you got back this time. Seven weeks since we found out. Eight days until we can tell everyone. Nine hours since you were supposed to return. Ten hours I’ve been here. Waiting. You explained. Kind of. I thought it was odd. Kind of. But I know you. I’ve known since that day in late November. And you said I would be safer. You said I would be happier. When I start to think that isn’t true. When I start to think you won’t be back. When I start to think we won’t survive. I count.


The Mammogram By Patricia McConnell Once a year a great Bengali walks with stealth and slips out of the long grass of my psyche. I see the round, gold flecks of his eyes before I feel his hot breath. Always, I run like a zebra singled out from the herd. Knees buckle. Stomach roils. A silent scream turns to ash in my mouth. Will he pounce and show his footprint in the snowy tissue of my breast?


The Professor of French History By sandra florence their dreams tied to the economic disadvantage of others little shops in Montmarte, soldiers returning from countries without names where shoe laces were luxuries, the ground of obligation intruding, and so he took out the mortgage, bought the car, assembled the family for a portrait. He remembers the hill in war torn France, flags raised, hearts lifted, a surge of defiance against a wind of tyranny, this classroom, this marriage and the smile of a French woman.

With A perfected nonchalance the professor tiptoes barefoot across the pool deck and later appears in the classroom, hair still damp He pauses‌ passes a casual glance up and down the classroom‌ his students, from various coastal cities in California believe the answers will miraculously appear at the time of the exam. He reaches for his dictionary, remembers marrying the girl from France in a hasty ceremony.. her mother calling from the thorny rosebushes just as the music began‌ not to disturb his yearning heart but to instruct, the old woman in an artful moment took him aside reminded him of their history,


Mommy’s Tiara By Heather M. Browne 105 rhinestones glued into cheap elegance. Trying to be more. Magical and awkward, like you. Worn to pressed dinner parties. Invitations and assigned seating. Little metal clips securing you your class. So dangerous. Only a pin to hold you. Did it sparkle more with your champagned eyes? Barrettes slipping as you begin to tilt your cock-eyed crown sliding. Daddy never one to slow your slip or catch your fall. It’s hard to be graceful on the ground. Not where you expect a princess. So hard to find your place, as they held court, you now the fool. You looked for lonely comfort. Words and whiskey. Until they came with voices, taunting pulling you from you. Not royal, not valued Your tiara, missing stones. Useless in your battle. Beauty doesn’t keep you safe, nor free. Silver plating, like your mind, chips. Falling away to be lost.


Byosoku窶認or Spring By Brian T. Robinson I like blossoms better when they fall, separate, divide and conquer, study architecture, then smother it secretly. Picked and pickled, the soft bitterness stings pleasurably, like waiting, like watching, watching the rebirth dance, then consuming the fallen pleasurably. I like blossoms better when they fall forgotten at midnight, sleeping greedily in clean light. An audience of one, fallen pleasurably.


Egg Shells By Russ Cope White and pristine Untouched, but broken Somehow by carelessness Like some dreams are Like some barriers Should be.



From Gestures by Chrystal Berche


Celestial Bodies By Stephanie Unsuspecting lovers drink all of the coffee, leave a sugar cube on the coaster read your lips like a book, living dangerously against a bed post and my hips swell full of blood, quartz around my neck the windows kept open to remind lovers of rock & shore an ice cube lick, salt for the memories before our bodies rust in the sand.


Peace By Violeta AllmuÇa I swallowed in the air all your body until I lost the rhythm of breadth I felt the aroma of a mountain taste of sand and fields from hearts leaves soft like silk a burned flower of mourning Life like a woman’s face painted with a smile stamped very deep with the red lipstick a recently lit charcoal galactic greatness peace born in sunrise. The World is yours when men’s heart is fed with love appears on eyes of light ripping the wind’s shirt touches soft limbs outside of a rainy storm. I have planted in blood your body with a Sun Death won’t find you there you will be sitting at the entrance of an ancient castle or will speak with all lives I embrace your chest Today I will vacate myself Inside your body…


translated by Peter Tase

Lick my words By Valerie Borey Lick my words. Eat them. Crumble them against your tongue. Feel them warm and wet, roll them against the roof of your mouth. Make my words set one another off like flavors and have them kiss while you watch. Make it sick. Make it powerful. Feel them brush against your lips, each word like a bead passing through your lips. Words snuggling up against your skin, snaking around your body, squeezing you, loving you, touching you in ways deeper than the sensory. Words to suck your toes, caress your calves, creep along your inner thigh and toy with you there for a while. I want my words to kiss your genitals, to wrap their warmth and wetness around you and pull and suck and blow while you read them. Savor them. Feel like you are getting to know me as a person. Make love to me by reading them.


The One With the Hay By Wanda Morrow Clevenger The first poem I wrote on the exhaust of rhyme —coercion renounced for spontaneous orgasm— wrought devastation. He warned she was a friend—his choice, my call to join; one mind one iamb He rained warm words, seeded her chokeweed feet. She writhed in metaphor. The one with the hay, he said to me without thinking first of her, is the best poem I’ve ever read. Regardless a 49 state buffer, I could smell how green he made the back of her throat. He was the 36 thousand feet above, she was the forest unable to hide its trees.



From Gestures by Chrystal Berche


Saturday Dentention By Michael Mira I used to skip Saturday detention and get a free bag of donut holes at Shipley on Texas Parkway, because why skip a sugary breakfast for three hours of mind-numbing silence in a classroom full of delinquents farting in their sleep? Fuck that. I had better things to do than get with the program. What was this supposed to teach? That real/adult life was nothing more than a system of failures and consequences? Because in real life, your parents don’t get a free babysitter in the form of underpaid teachers when you make regrettable mistakes; you go to prison, or wind up homeless, or divorced without child custody, or go in and out of county-run rehab facilities. The only thing I ever learned in the cold, windowless, fluorescent-washed classrooms is that I may have failed my parents, failed myself, but the Texas education system failed to inform us that the public library across the street from the donut shop opened at 10am, and that flipping through pages of Crime and Punishment with glazed fingertips is an enlightening experience for a teenager who was told he had no future.


Secret Of The Heart By Scott Rooker 1990 Prison Ministry I waited in the cinder block room, for the prisoner, Bobby Johnston age 40, whom I assumed would be joining me shortly, on the other end of the jailhouse telephone. I gazed into the palm smudged glass.  I could see the black and white of my priest’s collar in the reflection. The door opened and two officers entered with a prisoner in chains.  They sat him at the table on the other side of the glass.  Then, they promptly stood back towards the doorway. The prisoner picked up his telephone and I picked up mine. He said softly, “Hello, father.” “Hello, Bobby,” I said.  “So I don’t have much time,” he said jerking his head back at the guards. He faced me and whispered in the blue telephone, “I got something I got to get off my chest, before the execution.” “I’m listening,” I said. He said, “I did not do it.  I am 100 percent NOT guilty.  I was never even there.  I ain’t perfect, but I ain’t no murderer.  You believe me right father.  I never wore that duck mask.” I held the phone to my ear, and softly bit my lip. 1968 The Interrogation “Just tell us Bobby,” said the lead detective, “What were you doing in that car, Saturday night.”

A 19 year old Bobby said, “I was in the car that night, but way earlier. I left the car at eleven p.m.  That’s when I split.” “Really,” said the lead detective.  “Where did you go?  Who were you with?” Bobby squinted in the light. The lead detective said, “You got no alibi!”  He rolled up a starch white shirt sleeve.  He slapped the palm of his hand on the table.   Bobby said, “I left the car at eleven p.m.  Dick and Harvey Parker were parked up on Shadyside Drive.  I hoofed it up the hill.  Then I walked down Secret Drive towards the lake.  I met up with Heather Summers down at the old rock quarry.  She had snuck out of her parents house to meet me there.” “Wait, Heather Summers?” said the lead detective.  “That really tall girl?” Bobby went on, “We walked down the trail, and sat on the picnic table outside of the public restroom, there.  We drank from my flask.  We talked a little.  We kissed some.  Then she gave me a hand job.” The lead detective asked, “How was it?” “Awful,” Bobby said. 1989 Confession After mass, I was greeted on the church steps by an unfamiliar man.  “Hello, father,” he said.  “I would like to have a confession, please.  Can you do a confession, now?” “Oh, “ I said.  “Sure.  We can do a walk-in, I suppose.  Follow me right this way.”  I lead


him to the back of the church. We sat in the confessional.  The lights were dim.   As soon as we sat down the man said, “I murdered somebody in 1968.” I sat silent. He said, “ I was part of a robbery that went wrong.  I killed a man at a gas station with a gun.  Another man is on death-row right now because of it.”  He went on, “I was the one wearing the duck mask.  I pulled the trigger.  It was me, not Bobby Johnston.  He wasn’t even there.” I said, “I seem to remember that murder.  There were three robbers weren’t there. They were wearing masks?” “Yes,” he said.  “I wore a plastic duck mask.” I said, “Well what were the other two?” He said, “One was a rabbit.  The other was a clown.  Dick Parker was the rabbit.  He got killed: shot by the gas station attendant.” “Who was the clown?” I asked. He said, “The clown was an older dude. Some community college kid. I had never met him before that night.” “What happened to him?” “I don’t know,” he said. 1968 The Gas Station

gun in his holster. He covered his mouth with the other hand as he stepped over the shoes of the dead men beneath him. 2014 The Pharmacy After my meeting at the diocese, I went by the pharmacy to refill a prescription for my diabetes medication.  I pulled in the parking lot.  I walked into the fluorescent drugstore.  “Hello,” I said to the pharmacist.  I handed her the empty bottle.  She took it, and typed something.  She said, “It will be ready in about ten minutes. We’ll call you.” “Alrighty,” I said.  I took a seat next to that blood pressure reading machine. I sat, and waited. An old man, walked to the drop-off area.   I could just hear the conversation. He said, “Hello.  I am Harvey Parker.  P A R K E R.” It was Harvey Parker, alright.  I had known him years before; way back before I went to seminary school.  I was but a mere community college student back then.  I thought about saying hello, but I decided it against it.  It had been too long.  He had grown old.  I guess I had too.  Where had the time gone?

Officer Fitzgerald stepped down from his motorcycle. He took off his gloves, finger by finger.  He undid the little motorcycle helmet strap.  He walked on gravel, under the streetlight, in a galaxy of moths.  He put a hand above the


Easter Sunday By Matthew Di Paoli It was Easter so, out of tradition, I masturbated into a dozen eggs. Truth be told, it wasn’t only the Easter thing that got me going. I’d been planning to defile those eggs for some time because my roommate, Brittany, scrambled them for her boyfriend every morning, and I was in love with her. I could hear a voice telling me that what I was doing was wrong as I returned the carton to the fridge around midnight. It wasn’t my conscience, it was my Uncle Lou, who was a little crazy and sometimes slept over my house when he couldn’t take the scratching sounds of his pet lizards anymore. “Damn waste of seed,” he said to me. The cool refrigerator air bubbled up on my cheeks. It smelled like old ham and marmalade. “You wouldn’t understand,” I said. He scratched both kneecaps at the same time. “Girls like that who make eggs and wear high heels on cobblestone, they’ll never be like you and me,” said Uncle Lou. “What are you and me?” I closed the refrigerator door, wiping my hairy knuckles on the back of my jeans. “Guys who jerk off into eggs.”



From Gestures by Chrystal Berche


About the Authors Violeta Allmuça is a poet, novelist and publisher who was born in Diber, Albania in 1965. In Albania, Allmuça is one of the most broadly known voices in Contemporary Albanian Literature. She is the author of the Best Selling novel Wind of Passion (1995); Eyes of the Night (1994); Miss Fog; Live with Fire; Voices of Females; Julia; Love comes from the South. Chrystal Berche dabbles, lots, and somewhere in those dabbles blossoms ideas that take shape into images. Many of her current pieces of artwork start out as three minute gesture drawings and eventually get paired with some sort of still life photography and a lot of playing in photoshop. Valerie Borey lives in Minneapolis. Her creative work has appeared onstage in various venues and in publications such as Diddle Dog, Heavy Glow, F*ck Fiction, Bound Off, In Stereo Press, Burningword, and Red Fez. Heather M. Browne is a faith-based psychotherapist and recently emerged poet, Poetry Quarterly, Boston Literary, mad swirl. MCI just published her first chapbook, We Look For Magic and Feed the Hungry. She lives by the sea with her love of 20 years and 2 amazing teens. Wanda Morrow Clevenger lives in Hettick, IL—population 200, give or take. Over 250 pieces of her work appear in 97 print and electronic publications. Her debut book This Same Small Town in Each of Us, is available on Amazon, or for a discounted price contact her: wandalou1955@hotmail.com Russ Cope has work published in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Wilderness House Literary Review, and White Ash Literary Magazine. His website is russcopepoetry.weebly.com and he writes on a variety of blogs. Matthew Di Paoli received obtained his MFA at Columbia University for Fiction. He has been published in Carte Blanche, Blue Penny Quarterly, Poydras Review, Pithead Chapel, Gigantic, FictionWeek Literary Review, Newport Review, and Post Road literary magazines among others. Currently, he is releasing his novel, Killstanbul, with El Balazo Media. Sandra Florence has been writing and teaching for over thirty years. She taught at the University of Arizona for eighteen years during which time she received an NEH grant for her writing project under the initiative (The National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity). She has taught writing in community programs with refugees, the homeless, adolescent parents, youth at risk and women in recovery. Currently, she teaches writing and literature at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona.


A resident of the Pacific Northwest for 68 years, Patricia McConnell’s writing journey spans many years. She has previously written short stories and has been writing poetry since 2012. She published a poem in the Pudding Magazine in 2013. Michael Mira is a writer and photographer based in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared in various print and online publications, such as The Nervous Breakdown, Poetry Pacific, Identity Theory, Mused: BellaOnline Literary Review, among others. Brian T. Robinson lives between Philadelphia and Nagoya, Japan in teaching and orthopaedic research assistance. He considers himself a poetry hobbyist but is proud to be one. Previously, Brian had work appear in Eastlit, Gravel, Digital Americana Magazine, Tipton Poetry Journal, Existere (Canada), Prick of the Spindle, and the Philadelphia Inquirer (before its repurchase). Scott Rooker is an artist, musician, and writer from Raleigh, North Carolina. He plays in a band called COYTAH, for whom, he draws posters. He also draws cartoons, many of which have become short stories, and vice versa. Dr. Kasie Whitener is a writer, professor, and business consultant in Columbia, S.C. Her work has appeared in Spry Literary Magazine and online at Skirt! and Wordsmith Studio. She blogs weekly at Life on Clemson Road (http://lifeonclemsonroad.blogspot.com). Follow on Twitter @KasieWhitener or find her author page at Facebook.com/KasieWhitener.


Letters from the editors Dear readers, Welcome to the last issue of Enhance. In this issue we have a wonderful variety of poetry, fiction, and artwork from all variances of the emotional spectrum. Each piece on its own provides a glimpse into what humanity is. And as a whole these pieces only attempt to define what our vast world is through our limited human lens. I’m writing this on the morning after a dear friend passed away, the newest Shakira track plays off my phone. I’m not quite sure of my future after Enhance. But I know it’s not a terrible future, nor will it be dreary. I’m coming to this end point as if the last four years of Enhance were a university course on self discipline, exploration, and gratitude. Let me go into a bit of detail, self-discipline and exploration are pretty self explanatory and are a bit inappropriate for this letter. But, let me tell you about my learnings in the art of gratitude. My first encounter with gratitude came with the fruitation of Enhance in a dorm room of the Rochester Institute of Technology. I emailed creative friends and by the end of the week Enhance – The First Chapter was born. Years later, I can only be thankful for their trust in me. Their validation in my dream of having a literary magazine. And this thankfulness only grew more and more, issue after issue, year after year. Remembering all the great times, all the great responses to my growth as an editor and designer—yes it’s a lot devastating that this is the last issue of Enhance. But, it’s just happening this way. I can’t seem to get the reasons for closing my magazine out into words. I probably will never be able to. However. I’m so grateful. I’m so thankful for the past wonderful fifteen issues. Enchanted by the wonderful stories, poetry, and artwork that we have published. Thankful for meeting impressive creative people through their art. I’m so thankful, so very thankful for the most wonderful four years of being a literary and art magazine editor. And I’m thankful for you, because you made all this possible. Thank you so much. Sopphey Vance Sopphey Vance is a poet. Currently she spends time exploring the concept of “living life as art,” which is as vague as it sounds. When she’s not being vague, she’s hidden from the world writing all sorts of tales, designing, and publishing new and emerging artists for the On Impression Network.


Dear readers and contributors of Enhance, I believe it was Hemingway that once said “It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” It’s our last issue, and I can’t believe I am actually writing that. It’s hard to express the despondency that I am feeling as I write this letter. In the four years that Enhance has been around, I hadn’t fathomed the idea that I would be contemplating the letter with the words “last issue.” What’s even more unbelievable is that we’ve been at it for four years already. Four wonderful years of awesome poetry, fiction and art? That’s 15 issues! I bet you just said WOW. So, this is Enhances one last hoorah. Enhance will forever live on in the memory of it’s contributors and readers. I remember when I met Sopphey; she was an ambitious Editor in Chief, ready to trek the trails and errors of a literary magazine. I am thankful enough to have met her and joined the Enhance team on its journey, at least for a bit here and there. I realize that this is the last time the dazzling covers and spreads of Enhance will be seen. This is the last time my silly letters from the editors will be seen by the graces of you contributors. The last time my eyes will grace the pages full of glorious artistic pieces. Sopphey Vance and Enhance both have grown. In a way, they have both helped me grow. Having my own magazine, I looked up to Enhance to help guide me through the literary world. So saying goodbye is like leaving a grandfather on his deathbed; fifteen issues full of wisdom in all shapes and forms. Honestly, one of the things I am going to miss the most is reading submissions. This is the last time I will ever be able to compliment the contributors of Enhance. So I want to make sure I express how wonderful each and every one of you are. It was a sheer pleasure reading all the poetry submissions and a sheer pleasure reading, contributing to, and editing Enhance. NA SCHWARTZ Nathan Alan Schwartz relishes the arts. He combs his hair with paint bristles and plunges naked into lakes of black ink. Poetry and Fiction have been his passion since he was a just an unsharpened pencil. He is tickled pink that he can share his passion with as many people has he has.



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