2010 - 2012
Dedication To the authors and artists, thank you for creating magic with your words and pictures. To the readers, thank you for inspiring us to continue to mine for gems that sparkle on the page. To the editors, thank you for being the glue holding it all together.
Contents Poetry 01 02 03 04 05 08 09 10 11 12 13 16 17 18 19 22 29 30 31 32 36 47
In My Mind I see Us As One Outcast Death of a Student For Sylvia, Broken Do Not Linger Blowing Kisses to Star-Marked Backs December 2010 In Lakâ€™Ech Morning Haze New York Stanzas on Poetry The Japanese Word for Heart and Soul Without the Tambourine Radio Waves Reading Her Body of Skin Spotlight: Jasmin May Smith Lying Next to Giles Corey Eight Stories Just for Now Whaling Spotlight: Lorraine Tolliver Spotlight: Scott Owens Fiction
06 14 20 26 33 35 40 42
Prozac Ice Princess Bookworm On My Way to Dying from Dehydrationâ€Ś Survival Skills Mary and the Walrus Goodnight Minnesota Visitors Mr. William Sanderson Strikes for Home
Stepping Stones Magazine Best of 2010-2012 Publisher Trinae A. Ross Poetry Editors Heather Lenz Lisa J. Alexander Fiction Editor Nicole Turiano Art Editor Ashlie J. Pollard Website Address http://ssmalmia.com The Best of Stepping Stones Magazine 2010-2012 (ISSN 1092-521X) is a special issue of the best works appearing on the Stepping Stones Magazine website, as voted by its readers. Stepping Stones Magazine, the editors and the publisher assumes all work appearing is the original work of the named author and assumes no liability for plagarism on the part of the author. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission of the author or publisher. copyright 2013 Stepping Stones Magazine
In My Mind I See Us As One Stuart Sanderson In my heart, love would flow endlessly towards you In my eyes, I see beauty surrounding and brightening the world around me In my ears, I hear her voice talking to me for never ending. The nights would be sharing Our lives come together and dreams for a better tomorrow Yet in my reality I see a new friendship coming towards me And nothing more. Yet I accept her friendship with an open heart with love and tenderness. I hope she accepts my friendship with an open heart. In my reality.
Outcast P. Mari How can I stare back? Your soul looks at me into a reflection of its own grave – A deep-chill in my eyes freezes your words And there is a knife in my hand ready to rip open a warm heart (Now both of us can bleed) ove dies a wounded outlaw – It flees
Poetry Death of a Student Elise M. Tobin The snow reached up from our walkways four inches, eight, ten, a foot cartwheeling in behind other storms of this season, grief on the palms of its hands, tumbling, touching everything: mailboxes, phone lines, cell towers and now collapsing his young skull, springing him from his seatbelt to land on salted asphalt. Snow filling his wounds— the bloody original gone. gone. gone. So we each pick up shovels to knock down this reaching snow to build damp alleys to let the grief walk casket-wide— with winter walls on either side, two feet of fresh powder topping brown and ivory strata. Marking and marking storms past, like the height chart still on his wall. One foot, two, three feet, four. Six foot two when the pavement came up. We pray for no more storms this season, for the gods, for Christ, for the groundhog not to shake and send us further into the beyond. We walk alone behind, in the casket’s path, like a comet’s tail waiting for the light of the sun to melt a wider way.
For Sylvia, Broken Kori Frazier (Stephanie Baniszewski – October 26, 1965) In my arms you are dwindling, as if life has mass and you exhale it out. Your waxy, matted hair sticks to my wrist, the bruises, burns rough, abrasive. A vessel of glass shards rattles in your chest. Everything has gone to black, you said, then nothing, and I knew— [Mother, stop. Please. She isn’t faking.] I think of us in swirling nightgowns you singing about those thousands of stars, smiling closed-mouthed to hide a missing front tooth— Hold onto me, honey. You’re almost a ghost now.
Do Not Linger Rev. Judith Mensch Do not linger long under the stars Do not imagine yourself to be any other Place except where you are Do not let the breeze of night carry your Heart to places youâ€™ll never see Hopes youâ€™ll never know like you know The hard ground your feet stand on Stars can trick you into believing there Is life in the dark No, let those breezes make you shiver Make you crave the warmth of hiding Let the stars go
Prozac Ice Princess
tic garbage cans for balance began falling on their snow-covered rear ends like dominos in Matthew Dexter an attempt to pick up the balls between blades as sharp as machetes. e were watching my best friend’s “A singer in a smoky room…a smell of wine mother skate a circle eight across the and cheap perfume…for a smile they can share entire length of the ice when we lost the night…it goes on and on and on and on…” count around three hundred and twenty-two. It was a general skating session, which She twirled from one corner to the next like a ballerina, dancing like a fairy on the tips of her meant that people of all ages could be skating. toes. The little children feared her, but she ma- No hockey, no pucks, no tennis balls permitted–just eighties love ballads blasting from the neuvered effortlessly around them, cautiously peering over her shoulders, and no major colli- speakers and a crazy lady who came every day sions ever came into fruition. There were minor for exercise and to inadvertently petrify the ones on rare occasions, but nothing significant. children. Nan Myers was always listening to headphones, and Jesus only knows what cas“I’ve been walking these streets at night… sette tape she was listening to (Devil music a just trying to get it right…it’s hard to see with few mothers said). But those headphones were so many around…you know I don’t like being like earmuffs and that Sony Walkman was like a stuck in a crowd…and the streets don’t change magic carpet ride to another planet. but maybe the name…I ain’t got time for the game…” “Some will win, some will lose…some were born to sing the blues…oh the movie never Her name was Nan Myers, and of course, we all knew who Nan Myers was because she was ends…it goes on and on and on and on…” unforgettable, most fascinating to gossip about She skated lost in her own mind, often with and her children got suspended from the club both eyes closed, yet always cognizant of others more than anyone in its hundred year history. around her. Those were her mandatory safety Her behavior was out of the ordinary and she obligations, since she used the entire surface of was an American outlaw. People like her only the rink at random, not flowing in a clockwise come around your town once every century. motion around the perimeter like the rest of “Just a small town girl…living in a lonely the skaters, nor in the center circle designated world…she took the midnight train going anyfor figure skaters. We would often practice where…” crossovers around those red face-off circles in the corners, but nothing as ambitious as Nan We threw a couple tennis balls at her, but they missed and she flashed us a wicked glance Myers’s skating sessions. They were a spectacle to behold, beautiful and dangerous at the same while skating backwards. The balls bounced time. You couldn’t help but hold your breath as across the ice toward the boards where they rebounded and rolled back across the rink and she floated across the ice like a ballerina on were picked up by small children–toddlers crystal meth. She would skate in torn off denim holding onto orange cones and upturned plas- shorts with the threads crawling down her legs
Fiction like hungry spiders, as if she was a young Andre Agassi on ice, or Tanya Harding on crack and whiskey. “Don’t stop believing…hold on to that feeling…streetlight people…” We waited for her to finish as the sun was setting. She finally sat down on the wooden bench next to us, stretching out her sweaty legs, and started unlacing the laces. She was blowing humongous streams of smoke through the cold December air, and steam was rising from her shoulders. Her figure skates were white with worn dark scratches in a few places around the heels and toes. God only knows how many years she’d been abusing those skates, but they must have traveled thousands of miles on that frozen surface; a Zamboni’s worst nightmare for more than a decade. After Nan Myers finished an ambitious figure skating session you would have figured the ice had just experienced a pee wee hockey game. She dug the chiseled tip of her skate into that ice with a crack more powerful than any ice pick. “Times have changed and times are strange…here I come, but I aint the same…” She took a sip from her homemade water bottle, changed her sock, and put her tennis sneaker on as she unlaced the other skate. She was sweating on her forehead and her cheeks were flushed a brilliant shade of pink. We waited and Elijah told her to hurry up. “Come on Mom,” he said. “The movie starts in half an hour.” “I’m going as fast as I can,” she answered. And that was true about Nan Myers; say what you will about all her peculiar behaviors, she was always going as fast as she could, even driving. Two and a half minutes later we piled into her blue Chrysler station wagon and buckled our seat belts–a procedure I rarely did with my own mother–who drove just as fast though
perhaps a little more angry and cautious. “You took me in and you drove me out… yeah, you had me hypnotized…lost and found and turned around…by the fire in your eyes…” The smell of Nan Myers’s car was more potent than the pervasive yeasty scent on the New Jersey Turnpike. The smell was foreign, not familiar like the Jersey smell we all got used to as the years wore on and our accents got uglier and the air quality poorer. I often enjoyed the dirty Jersey yeasty odor, and inhaled it deeper than oxygen, as I did with gasoline, breathing it into my lungs like a toxic hit of euphoria. “Huuuuufffffffffff…,” I held my breath for as long as I could. “Ummmmm…” “Bakery…” We parked in the no parking spot in front of the Tenafly movie theatre but needed Nan Myers to buy us our tickets, because she was in her thirties and the movie was rated R. “Two for Basic Instinct,” we told her to say. The clerk took her bill through the hole in the bottom of the window and filled it with more bills, coins and two tickets. We took the tickets and went inside. Unbeknownst to us Nan Myers had decided to park the car and purchase another ticket. She sat near the back of the theatre a few rows from the exit. We noticed her two hours later when we were walking out and she was sitting there smiling at us with her box of butter-salted popcorn on her lap. She looked at us particularly strange and salacious that evening. Even the Halloween, Jason, and Freddy Krueger movies we rented as usual made me fear the image of Nan Myers with the butcher knife nonetheless more than the blades on the bottom of her figure skates.
2012 Pushcart Prize Nominee
Blowing Kisses to Star-Marked Backs Karlanna Lewis Bind me fine in the other side of the mirror for seven years. Break the glass so I canâ€™t escape the realm where loss is what you make it, where the man you slept with once or tried to plant a kiss on sideways could be your shepherd, if you wanted. And I do, I want back every seventies High Times cover on the wall, every aging olive-tin lying tongue-out on the floor where we sat because it was cold and the dogs barked through our fingers because they knew our kind, because even though I never stayed till the other side of night on the flannel heater, on stale sheets, I keep flecking at this unscabbed sore, this chipped tooth that never snapped. And I know who got the short half of a smoke on the bed. It was me, not the window that didnâ€™t shut.
2012 Pushcart Prize Nominee December, 2010 Stephanie Kaylor This is the month you would have turned two if what the doctor said was true if I hadnâ€™t thought my freedom meant a world alone, without you but I went to the clinic that sticky summer day, its windows covered with grey cloth, blocking the sun from further ripening the pungent blossoms who walk in. It was not a child that left my gaping body, but my childhood, all the frivolities and daydreams I wanted to have in your absence leaving my womb one piece at a time. The roses bloomed all around me as I waited for his car to pull over. Neither of us spoke the entire ride back, the smoke of his cigarette dancing to our thoughts too raw for any tongue and I knew as he left me one last time at my motherâ€™s doorstep that he never would have been good enough for you to call him Daddy, but just the two of us would provide each other all the love we needed in this world I took you away from. But Isobel, you came out strong, for you only lost but once while I still feel the knife every day.
2012 Pushcart Prize Nominee In Lakâ€™Ech Dylan Amaro-McIntyre I am Smoke to flame. Flame to spark. Slow burning Since past lives Danced out of death Tendrils curling twisted As train yard hieroglyphs I am the only song left The plumed quetzal plucked Flying into Northern horizons For the very first time I am grooves in desert stones That still remembers rainfall I am the call of guerilla poetribes Chameleoning their way Through a concrete creationism Of past begotten privilege Spray painting acrylic answers To questions society asks I am fireside chants and dance Pulsating heartbeat rhythms I am original sin The first taste of knowledge Severing mankind From a blissful future Of not knowing any better I am the Ceiba Tree on fire I am char. I am soot. I am splintered wood. I am memory Forgotten I am
2012 Pushcart Prize Nominee
Morning Haze Alyson Hess Fog creeps in quietly, to smother the coming light of day. Only the tops of cathedrals and old redwood trees escape its murky grasp. The grass perspires, anxious that the sun will lose. Trees in the distance stand still and dark as the ghosts in your dreams. A bird cries somewhere, looking for its home. You sleep because youâ€™re afraid to wake.
2012 Pushcart Prize Nominee
New York Joshua Bauer There is a fence in Greenwich Village Where the poets hang Their small ravenous hearts of paper. There is no better place to start. Actually we stayed in New Jersey Maybe that was our first of many mistakes But you found a hell of a deal at the Ramada And itâ€™s easy enough to take the bus. We walked all over that city. My memories look like those famous photos In which everything is very bright and out of focus. We were walking in and out of every open door and I told you the thing I am most scared of That strange jabberwocky movement of the subway We both laughed at Alice so wide-eyed, so naĂŻve. I wanted to know everything about you. I want you to know I was sincere then. Times Square at night darts at the back of my eyelids. I know I will dream of you.
2012 Pushcart Prize Nominee
Stanzas on Poetry Joseph Hart Rhythms, stanzas, meters, short or long, Blank or rhymed – all fodder for the Muse Elements to make a living song Chaos and insanity refuse. 8 or 10 or 14 lines or less Or longer when I would indulge my soul, Exhaust a thought or simply to digress Or play like a comedian a role. Properly rhymed stanzas for dead mourners The Muse in meter – Housman was the Prince Or ragged rhythms flowing around corners That was Poe – and none has done it since. Rhythmed versicles, bad rhymes, alive, Whose meanings pierce the heart with metaphor Dickinson who lived to 55 Closeted alone behind a door. Magic sonnets – Shakespeare, Keats, Millay Ace of poetry – I cannot write them Invented for great geniuses at play I lack the skill, the brain that can indite them. My notions and my feelings not consummate Expressed in magical archaic fluff, From a cliff into the ocean plummet With that said, I think I’ve said enough.
seamless body and bright expression, but he’d never mess around with a married woman. William Doreski They seemed too experienced, too sly. Not sexually—Nick had been around, he suphey met for coffee almost every afternoon. She liked to talk, he liked to listen. posed, as much as most guys his age. But marHe pretended her voice reminded him of ried people knew all about being married, and he couldn’t compete with that knowledge. Bewind chimes. He knew it was an ordinary sides, for all her glib conversation Lynn voice, but it resonated in his loneliness, and seemed remote as an asteroid. Sometimes sometimes he heard her in his sleep. “My husband’s travelling again,” Lynn said. she looked right through him at something far away, at the vanishing point. “He sells guns, you know. I’ve told you. For Summer dropped a stratum of humidity Colt, in Hartford. I wish he’d find something else, something a little more constructive. But and smog on Cambridge. The heat stifled even you guys like that bang bang stuff.” Like a rac- the slowest movements. Traffic sobbed down coon clutching a corncob, she held her coffee the avenue and snarled. The stale library air reeked of farts and perspiration and rotting cup in both hands. Nick leaned back in his chair and smiled. His leather bindings. Heather, the head librarian, simmered like an old steam boiler. All winter life in the bowels of Widener Library didn’t offer much bang bang, only dust mites and oc- she had smiled at Nick, but now she glowered from her glass cubicle as he arrived for work, casionally, in the more remote stacks, a and again when he retired for the day. He glimpse of sultry graduate-student sex. sank under armloads of unshelved books and Lynn went on. “Jimmy makes a lot of money almost wept with frustration. His shirt stuck to but he doesn’t enjoy it. Never has time. He his back. wants a bass boat, wants to fish the EverEdna, his co-slave in the reshelving departglades. Imagine spending a month every summent, offered a paper cup of water. “Take mer down there with the hurricanes and sleazy motels. I couldn’t take the mosquitoes. your break. Meeting your friend today?” Edna had already worked ten years past retirement Big as June bugs. Besides, what would I do? age, and looked ready to work another ten. Jazz in Miami’s pretty shopworn. Strictly The heat didn’t bother her. Nothing bothered tourist stuff.” Lynn photographed jazz musiher except unshelved books, which she hated, cians, but whether that was a hobby or a livand reshelved as violently as possible to puning Nick didn’t know. ish them. They’d met like this for a year, ever since “I don’t know. I like Lynn, but what’s the Nick had attended the opening of a show of point?” Lynn’s photographs. He had liked the dark “The point? Guy meets girl. They like each surly faces glooming over their instruments, other. You need a point?” and fueled by cheap white wine had told her “Come on, Edna, she’s married to a guy so. Nick admired Lynn’s sleek confidence, her
Fiction with a good job. I’m just a horny bookworm. I should get my MLS and get out of this hole. Maybe if I saw more daylight I’d feel less like a zombie.” Edna sighed. “Just get out and get some air.” Nick crossed Mass Avenue, plowing through a fog of bus exhaust. The storefronts glowered and the gleam of plate glass hurt his eyes. Among the outdoor coffee drinkers at Au Bon Pain he saw Lynn staring into space, waiting for him. What did she want, anyway? Why waste her time and his? He turned left instead of right and hoped she hadn’t seen him. A week later the phone on level six rang. Someone at the circulation desk wanted Nick. No further explanation. He climbed the rackety metal stairs, sweating up six flights, and emerged like a coal miner from the depths. Lynn stood at the turnstile. No Harvard ID, no entry. “Lynn, what’re you doing here?” “What do you think? I thought you were sick or dead or mad at me. What’s going on?” “Nothing. I just—” “Nick, come on. Outside. I need to tell you something.” As Nick hesitated, Heather swooped from her cubicle and bore down on him like a cruise ship on a rowboat. “For heaven’s sake, Nick, she’s trying to tell you something. Go someplace private.” Heather smiled that dragon smile he hadn’t seen for months. Nick and Lynn sat on the library’s massive stone steps. Summer school students flickered past, chatting in bright colors. They looked too young for college, too energetic to sit still in weepy classrooms. “Nick, my husband. He… well, you know,
Nick, I really like you.” Nick went a little cold despite the stifling heat. Had this gun salesman found out about their silly little trysts and threatened her? Or him? Shot dead on the lowest level of Widener. He would become a ghost story to titillate generations of future students. “He… well, he doesn’t exist. I mean not any more. I’m not married. I was, but that was a while ago. Just one of my little failures. I just thought I’d tell you.” Lynn stood and the faintest breeze ruffled her plain brown hair. “Just thought I’d tell you. If you wanted to hear.” “Why did you….” Nick didn’t want to say “lie” so he shut up. “I just wanted to see how loyal you were. Just wanted a friend. You wanted something else, so you got bored, right?” She didn’t sound like chimes anymore. She sounded like she was crying a little. “You just got bored and didn’t want to talk to me anymore. So you didn’t show up. Just didn’t show up. Men are like that. Little boys. Can’t talk to you. Only at you. And you don’t want to hear.” Nick leaned into his folded arms. Bored? What did she mean? Anything but bored. But he couldn’t compose a response if he had a lifetime to think about it, and already the moment had passed. When he looked up, Lynn was striding across Harvard Yard. Thunder grumbled a thousand miles away. He stared as hard as he could, but she couldn’t have felt anything because she didn’t look back. Somewhere, probably in the belfry of Memorial Church, real chimes sounded. Three o’clock. Nick rose and returned to his unshelved books.
The Japanese Word for Heart and Soul Richard Fenwick The wind reveals itself in eddies, bending fields of parachute balls to the east, that burst apart and float through the air like a million milky helicopters. I write and revise in quiet interludes, follow trails that lead to larger fields with granite rocks that I can lean against to think of what she is to me. We’re circles within circles, sky and earth in one blue blur, laughing over the smallest things: Christmas lights in August, who will eat the last tangerine in our green bowl, the dew that seeps against our sandals. At that, I think I’ll throw in the towel – I have no way to properly describe her. What I’ll do is draft one random thought: I’d write ten thousand poor lines of poetry before I captured her kokoro, and by this rock, in this empty field, with parachute balls floating all around, I’ll sit awhile longer, to begin the task of writing.
Without the Tambourine Jane Stuart This year I wrapped your birthday presents using ribbon but I forgot you did not want any bows and very pretty paper I bought then saved for special occasions. You were dropping cards on the table, you could not find one you liked and so I asked: the pink and white, the purple, or that green paper over there? another card? A little gift-wrapped up somewhere, all the beauty I could find and what I thought you’d take but you did not want gifts this year because you wanted something I could not find for you at the store, you said, and what was not available was not there. It’s tough when life does not turn out (if you don’t get your way) but love is not like that, I said, and that made you mad. I did not have plane tickets or a ship or plane, I did not own an island, I had no forest to give away ..and all that jazz. Sometimes, we have to see in empty pockets, sometimes we come up short or there is.. only love. You left, I stayed alone to mop the chili off the floor, pick up the eggroll you put in my chair, and nix the hot tamale. It wasn’t right but you declined the birthday cake I made and because you’d reached the age of indecision you said it was your birthday but you were too cool to care.
Radio Waves Jackson Burgess When I extend my inner antenna and fine tune to the station of divinity I don’t even get white noise static anymore. Not like the old days— then, perpetual bubble wrap ruckus whisked me away on my never-ending search for self-appreciation. Jesus wept over my inhibitions but he forgot to flush my fears out of existence, so, as recompense, I’m putting away my radio for a long time. Maybe now I’ll hear my heart beat. I’m tired of these cookie-cutter faces with their stainless steel teeth and silicone breast extensions invading my vision. I need them to go away. I’m lonely without my imaginary lover and now that I’ve coughed up my conscience I’m not so sure I’ll be able to fall asleep. Flickering streetlamps and fireflies are the only things that remind me I’m alive. To test out my abilities, I’ll double knot my legs right before I fall asleep so that I’m chased by the monsters I met last Sunday. They’ll probably give me a head start but unless I’m quick on my feet they will catch me and they will not let me go.
Reading Her Body of Skin Richard Fenwick She walked in the room with a Bilgere book, curled up beside me on the sofa, laid her head in my lap and slowly turned pages as I tried to read a paper, studying my face like she was inspecting my blueprints. All I could think was that love isn’t static, it’s a place where we learn to read one another, to flip through our pages wary of content and style, plot lines and archetypes, nouns and verbs, trying not to read between the lines and drafting rainy passages together on those days when tears get in the way. When I read her, I’m careful not to skim over paragraphs, break bindings or smear ink. I love her foreword, dedication, signed inscriptions and how she introduces characters in my life. When I reach the epilogue, I flip to the index to find my favorite passages and prepare to read her all again. Our dénouement came that afternoon, in a lightly lit room, on a thin red checkered quilt, when I found a way to read the softness of her skin, and the insistence in her voice, making sure I marked my place in the middle of chapter three.
On My Way to Dying of Dehydration in My Sleep Jenny Ortiz
e’re on the F train, on our way to a wine bar somewhere on Delancey. I haven’t told him I don’t drink wine and when he says, “If you like this place, I can take you to another place I know… maybe sometime next week,” I realize I haven’t told him I’ll be in Iraq. On the train he talks loudly and his eyes are focused on the windows, making sure we don’t miss our stop. Although the AC is on, he’s sweating. I can smell it and when I look at him, there are beads of perspiration above his lip. He’ll be the last man I sleep with before I leave. I chose him at the party I’d been to a few days earlier because he reminded me of Adrien Brody: tall, long, and the way he stood with a slight bend forward reminded me of a sexual proposition. I wondered what he would think of me if I simply asked him to skip the drunken courting he had in mind and go to his place to fuck without the AC on and then order Chinese takeout, something spicy with cashews. I’d turn on my iPod and play Spinnerette’s Ghetto Love, while he’d open the window, letting a light breeze sweep in and pick up the smell of our sweat and his dirty sheets.
I go to tell him my plan, but a little girl gets on the train and sits across from me. The train car feels small and even whispering sounds like yelling. The little girl is given a piece of chicken, white meat, by her father. The fried skin makes her small fingers greasy and she takes large bites, leaving her cheeks bulging and her chewing slow. She reminds me of when I was a little girl and my father used to take me on train rides. We’d travel to Brooklyn to visit my grandmother; sit around a small television, yelling the wrong questions to the answers on Jeopardy! The little girl is still eating the chicken when we get off. We head to the wine bar where he orders a bottle of wine for the both of us and I ask the waiter to bring me tap water. I think of the girl and how I should’ve asked her for some of her chicken, or at least where she got it. When will I eat a big piece of fried chicken in the next couple of months? My dad told me that when he’d been in the army, a guy he knew stole a whole slab of bacon from the mess hall. Was going to eat it raw had my dad not convinced him he’d get sick. They were in Germany and it was snowing. While my dad cooked the bacon in the guy’s helmet, the guy went off to steal a loaf of bread. They finished off the bacon and cleaned the helmet with snow. I wonder if the guy smelled like bacon the
next day. I wonder if it ever gets cold in Iraq. I take a sip of wine, but I don’t taste the subtle notes and stick to my tap water. Dad has told me that while I’m over there I should keep myself hydrated and keep my boots dry. He didn’t mention anything about keeping my gun clean, but has told me to keep mace under my pillow and to pee in my helmet at night. He told me this while we watched M*A*S*H together. As my date pours himself another glass, I imagine he is Adrien Brody, and rather than explain the wine to me, he is telling me war is kind and you just have to stand on your mark. Even with the explosions all around, if I stay on my mark, I won’t get hurt. Before I left on my date, my dad was putting on another episode of M*A*S*H and I told him that Adrien Brody would make a good Hawkeye. My dad laughed. I laughed too, relieved. My brother’s angry with me, although I tried to explain to him that war’s the best route for me. My father has said it’ll keep me tight lipped and I usually tell him to shut up, but then I apologize because everything’s different now. My brother told me war, especially for a girl like me, isn’t the way they make it out to be on TV, but my father said for some people it might be. I asked what does being a soldier feel like and my dad said, “You tell me. Aren’t you one?” But I
don’t feel like one. Maybe it’s cause I’m in civilian clothes, and because I’ve been away from the base. But even then, I feel like I’m pretending. Like I’m a female version of Alan Alda, holding a martini glass filled with water and wearing a dirty robe asI pretend that there’s fighting going on outside my tent. All the people in my unit will be real soldiers, afraid of Iraq because Iraq means the possibility of dying. I told my father I wasn’t afraid of dying and asked him if that made me a bad soldier? He told me it made me a good soldier, but a stupid person. I told him I could live with that. I didn’t tell him I was afraid of killing someone, or worse, of someone dying next to me. A soldier who was a father, who was a husband, who was a son. I didn’t tell him because he was laughing at something Hawkeye said and I too wanted to make my dad laugh, but I’m bad at jokes. My brother assured me my sense of humor wouldn’t get any better, but my father told me it’ll get so good, I’ll be the only one laughing. My date asks me what my plans are for the summer. I take another sip of my water. I imagine I can taste the residue of the pipes.
Spotlight... Jasmin May Smith
Free to Roam Jasmin May Smith At ten years old I was free to roam To be one with the land To see beyond the mind set To explore behind exploration At twenty I was blind sighted I was lost in the world Of which 1 once explore I knew not where to turn Where to roam for I was a prisoner in my world At forty, my life began to transform to greatness I was back to exploring Roaming as I please Yeah this time I was wiser had a sense of me And I know how to be free
Spotlight... Jasmin May Smith
I Want Jasmin May Smith I want to set my foot out my room Put on some running shoe and run a mile I want to breathe the air of a sweet sea breeze To catch that breeze on my lips and let it kiss me I want to be free to flee To leave my mind To leave me I am tired yes, I am I want to love I want to fight I want to set my feet on heaven grounds To give I life I want to settle on a bird nest and joining them In the singing of their songs
Spotlight... Jasmin May Smith
Summer Rage Jasmin May Smith The summer pours its rage on my back The day stops at the point that If a volcano interrupted It makes that one difference My lips had dried up The water from my eyes burry deep inside Not a shred of spring had past me by The fall Its colorful ways The beauty of its stage Call me crazy Call me weird but my swear is that this summer Has become my greatness enemy
Spotlight... Jasmin May Smith
Untitled Jasmin May Smith Look at me Iâ€™m living in that ghetto fighting my way To prosperity I am trying to hold onto sanity For insanity is in love with I If I lie I will fall If I sleep I will waste tomorrow dreams if I play then a reward will never be mine To find my way it a hassle Itâ€™s a war Never thought my world would be this dark Wakening up no food in my belly I pray that one of these guns shots I hear will seize I But that just a moment of insanity speaking Success is mine to hold Never a day go by that I will waste on yesterday lost To know me is my goal To be strong To win this war To roll down my tears off my cheeks and smiling is my hopes My future is mine Time is beating down my door saying I am fooling myself But I know that my tomorrow tell no lies
Survival Skills Jean Ryan
want to come back as a plant. A life above and a life below. No thinking, just finding. Water, food, light. Maybe not a redwood; that’s a long, long life. A sunflower might be fun. One sturdy stalk zooming skyward, pushing fuzzy heart-shaped leaves, and then the grand finale: a giant yellow flower brimming with seeds. The ending an offering, a promise kept. Half a year on earth and not a single wasted moment. My brother doesn’t drive anymore. When he rides with me I find myself driving more cautiously: hands on the wheel at ten and two, eyes scanning left and right. Every block or so he glances up, then jerks his head back down. His hands, jammed in his lap, rub against each other constantly. He is trying. A few months ago he couldn’t get into a car. Couldn’t even say the word. An accident, that’s what most people think. No. Nothing happened―at least nothing we’re likely to understand. There he was driving to work, normal as you and me, when somewhere in his brain a pair of neurons fired and doubt was born. Had he hit someone? He checked the mirrors, turned around, circled several times. Nothing in the road, but he couldn’t be sure. He may never be sure again. Locomotion. That’s our problem. If we stayed in one place we could grow unerringly, drinking the rain, absorbing the sun, pulling in food with our feet. With a brain you get options, illusions, second guesses, mistakes. One trifling incident slips into that gray jelly and just like that you’re
hardwired for trouble. Everything is a matter of association and interpretation; the margin of error is incalculable. The fact that we can’t see the forest for the trees doesn’t make much sense, considering what we have to work with: The human brain is so disproportionately large that as infants we can’t hold our heads up. The reason we need a brain that big? Language. Our crowning achievement. We are word wizards. Not only can we learn any number of words, we know how to string them together so that we may comfort or seduce, cajole or deride, inspire or coerce, inform or inflame. Double talk. Slander. Fine print. Filibuster. Language may be getting the better of us. Wendy Mack, my nearest neighbor on this lake, has given up the spoken word. No one around here has heard her speak since the day her daughter died, two years ago this June, of a rampant staph infection. She lost her mind, people said, snapped like a twig. Aside from Wendy’s silence, she seems normal enough to me. Sometimes she brings me cuttings from her garden, sometimes a basket of tomatoes. I just nod and smile and take them from her, figuring that if she’s not talking, she’s not keen on listening either, at least not to words. Every so often I walk across the tall grass that separates our houses, and we sit in the wicker chairs on her porch and watch the setting sun turn the lake to copper, and listen to the crickets and leopard frogs, the occasional jumping trout, the buzz of a dragonfly. Lift away language and you hear all kinds of things. Kris, my daughter, has no patience for Wendy. “What is she trying to prove?” she asked me last week. “What’s the point? It’s like
she’s trying to punish someone.” “Who knows?” I said. “Maybe she’s punishing God by not using the gifts she was given.” You’ll not believe this but Wendy used to be a motivational speaker. She lectured all over the country and wrote four books—two of them bestsellers―on how to rouse yourself. I have an autographed copy of her first book, YES YOU CAN! Oddly enough, on the opposite shore of this lake, in a yellow house directly across from mine, lives a man who speaks volumes. His name is John Dalrymple and he used to teach Chaucer and Shakespeare at Northeastern University. I’ve always been impressed with his prodigious vocabulary, which he still happily exercises, though his sentences are now indecipherable. Several months ago John fell out of his hayloft and smacked the side of his head on a horse stall. When you ask him how his wife is doing, he is likely to say something along these lines: “Oh yes, the more the better. One day soon. Biscuits with blackberry jam.” I have no idea if he understands the words that flow out of him, but he seems remarkably at peace. Plants communicate with exquisite subtlety. If a tree on the African plain is being ravaged by antelopes, it will send a chemical signal to its neighboring relatives. Instantaneously these other trees will begin manufacturing more tannins, just enough to render them toxic to the herbivores, who, in their own canny way, will seek an alternate food source. In response to beetle attacks, a conifer will release wads of resin, embalming the marauders. If ground ivy loses its shade, it quickly gets to work toughening and thickening its leaves. Whatever happens—floods, droughts, bugs,
beasts―plants are always making corrections, becoming the best they can be. “Why do you think you hit someone?” I asked my brother. “I saw a shadow.” “Maybe it was a road sign, or a passing bird.” Eric shook his head firmly. “I felt a bump under the tires.” “Probably just a pot hole or a frost-heave.” “No. It didn’t feel like that. It was more than that.” “But you went back and nothing was there, right?” He didn’t answer, just glared at the floor, his mouth set in a grim line. I had no idea at that point just how often we would have this exchange, or how much time he would start to spend on these frenzied searches. That Eric never saw any bodies in the road did little to reassure him. Maybe, he reasoned, the victim had crawled away. Maybe another motorist had stopped and picked him up. Maybe an ambulance had already come. Was that a siren in the distance? Dysperceptions are what they are called: sights and sounds the brain creates to confirm its greatest fears. Field dodder cannot afford doubt. A leafless, thread-like vine, unable to make its own food, it snakes through garden beds, ambushing the innocent. With no energy to spare, dodder must be swift in finding a proximate host in adequate health. The wrong choice, a moment’s lag, and the vine perishes. And yet dodder is next to impossible to kill. “Devil’s Hair,” gardeners call it. Yank out the thin yellow strands and the smallest remnants persist. And forget about saving the strangled
host—a prize dahlia, say; the poor thing is already gone. In college I had a roommate who was afraid of wind. Breezy days would turn her wide-eyed and quiet. Gusty days she took Valium and stayed indoors. Gale force winds would chase her under the covers, where she hugged her knees and moaned and cried. Naturally, I couldn’t use the fan I had brought from home and had to keep it out of sight. There is a word for the fear of wind. Ancraophobia. In fact there are names for nearly any phobia you can think of: otters, garlic, knees. There is a fear of beautiful women. There is even a fear of sunshine. What a comfort for the afflicted, to see their illness respected with a name. I’m glad that someone is keeping up the list. Orchids! Over 25,000 species in the wild and each one fabulous simply because it manages to exist. The quickest route to extinction is cross-pollination; to avoid this threat, each orchid variety seduces a particular insect, bird or butterfly, offering up whatever scents or shapes or colors the creature craves. An orchid pollinated by a hummingbird is likely to have red tubular flowers filled with nectar, while an orchid fertilized by carrion beetles comes in shades of brown and smells like rotting meat. Imagine being that sure of yourself: Sweet or stinking, you claim the right to be here. We spook too easily, a throwback to the time we were prey. Nowadays this hair-trigger alarm is more trouble than benefit, but there it still is anyway, lodged deep within the brain, steeped in ancestral memories. The truth is, our noggins are still evolving. We can’t help it that we see a stick and think: snake! 3000 years ago the brain’s hemispheres
were not even integrated: one side “spoke” and the other side listened. Which goes a long way toward explaining all those oracles and talking gods. My brother began calling hospitals to ask if any accident victims had been admitted. When he started phoning the highway patrol, several times a day, he wound up in a rehab center outside of Boston where he stayed three months in a sage green room, eating nutritious meals and learning ways to calm himself. Because his fears began behind the wheel, that’s where they launched his lessons. “Car,” he wrote, over and over, filling pages of a legal pad; then he had to say the word; then he had to look at pictures of cars; then he had to carry the pictures in his pocket, and so on. Believe me, it’s been a long journey to the passenger seat; I couldn’t be more proud of him. Bull’s Horn Acacia is a tree in South America that sports giant hollow curving thorns. Attracted to these formidable thorns are stinging ants who drill their way inside and take up residence. If a branch is disturbed—typically by destructive leaf-cutter ants―the stinging ants will race out of the thorns and sting the attackers to death. In return for this service, the tree provides its defenders with shelter, nectar and, as if not forgetting anything, tiny protoplasm-rich nodules that ensure complete nutrition. If we ever saw the big picture; if our minds could accommodate, even for a split second, the terrible balance of life on this planet, we would surely be frightened out of our wits. No way are we ready for custodianship. So, plants. No brain, no fear. Just the urge to grow. The right to be here. I’d love to come back as a lilac, but a stinking orchid would be okay too.
2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee
Lying Next To Giles Corey Donald J. Barrow I said, “Wait, let’s go running naked through the woods.” “No” you replied “what if others see” Then, right then, I should have fled from you… before the daily bills, before the children’s suck, before the tarnished coffee cups, before our story pages structured, confining, crushing, heavy, unhappy book…. a lifeless tale… oh, “poor players.” I should have ran that naked day, lungs bursting, soles bleeding, the low pines striping I should have fled- alone- from all of you.
2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee
Eight Stories Jackson Burgess It’s warm on my tongue like the blood slipping down your throat, even though you tried your best to let it coagulate before the fall. Empty in your heart and your promises, you must have tripped over your old unfulfilled virginity—and as for me? I’m content to sweep the chalk dust from tall doorways. I’ve been with you since patriarchal death dances, since the breeding rituals practiced by drunkards, since suicide note courses and shotgun conventions, and while you might not have recognized my gaping eyes among the masses, be aware that you were silent. The least you could have done was tried to talk me down from the fall.
2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee
Just for Now Sandra H. Bounds A tiny thing, this girl child of mine. I hold her and rock her, croon and whisper to her in sweet mother language as I marvel at the utter perfection of fragile fingers curled trustingly around just one of mine. I watch her, letting my gaze linger from softly crowned head to pink soles of happily wriggling feet. I gave her life, and for just a moment, she is mine to love, she who is so vulnerable, so dependent on that love. Just for now, she is mine, but already I plead for courage to love enough for letting go.
2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee
Whaling Elise M. Tobin With frost the ladybugs become a shape-shifting wound covering the southern side of our white stucco home. Their molten collection brings them into relief. Stubborn dozens slide inside surviving in the fireplace, the dining room, the darkened wardrobe; crawling over the one tie left behind— left ready with its double wide windsor and little white whales— left ready for a train, a date, a neck to choke, to match the fury of Ahab, a woman scorned, a woman who will crush the whales beneath her pegs and kick the creatures through open screens. But my legs are tissue, and heart just as thin, so I’ll live within the wound, and rock in the belly of this house until the scab flies off and leaves my toughened skin at the gate of a winter no whale could survive.
2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee
Mary and the Walrus
standing one of the basics of mammalian mating. That is, Homo sapiens does not mate, and Karlanna Lewis never has mated, with Odobenus rosmarus.” “Mr. Heeby,” interrupted Mary’s mother, “is y father is a walrus,” Mary was convinced. Each day, when classes let out that a particle of a curly fry caught in your at exactly fifteen minutes past three, mustache? Fried food is one of the worst culprits of heart disease, and I think you would she tied a length of polka-dotted ribbon do well to abstain from such indulgences. If biaround her schoolbooks and trekked to the Bloomsberg zoo. “Your father is not a walrus,” ology is the study of life, you must really show these students how to live wholly and healthher mother repeated each morning, as she ily. Mary, you know, has never eaten a curly spooned two level dollops of oatmeal into fry.” Mr. Heeby fiddled a bit with his musMary’s favorite orange bowl. But Mary intache, which was neither wide nor full enough sisted, to any seventh-grader at Bloomsberg to hide the tickle of pink that crept into the Junior High who would listen, that her father, folds of his cheeks. He had been meaning to in fact, had tusks. shave his sideburns for a long time, and When she was not looking at the walrus watching Mary’s mother adjust strands of her swim through the granite caves, Mary was looking at the pages of books. “Did you know,” hair behind her ear, he thought now might be the time. Her horn-rimmed glasses, which she often inquired of her mother, “that the framed her deep, slate-grey eyes attractively, walrus prefers red algae to green?” And soon made Mr. Heeby feel inferior. With some mutMary was asking for red food coloring in her terings of “Well, I suppose you know best,” he peas, as her walrus blood gave her strong quickly ended the meeting. aversions to the bitty green globes. “Did you When Mary came home from the zoo the know,” she would begin over dinner, “the walfollowing week with a package of curly fries, rus is a close relative of the cactus and octoher mother sat her down for a lecture. The pus?” talk lasted the better part of an hour, and in“The vitamin and mineral levels of cactus cluded the words betrayal and disappointare superb,” answered her mother, the nutri- ment at least five times each. But when Mary tionist, who soon began to serve cubed cacti came home a week later, with two piercings with cumin once weekly. After reading Under above her lip holding thin, white bones, her the Tuscan Sun, Mary strongly believed the mother washed out the pans and laid millet & sun was a giant burning walrus, tusk-en and cauliflower casserole on the table without a golden, and she was sure this was her father’s word. “She’s an odd one,” said her nicer classGod. Since her mother was more concerned mates. “Yeah, but exactly ‘one’ of what is with the caloric content of goat’s milk and the she?” replied those not as nice. Mary began offering tours to her classmates, merits of one bleach over another, Mary took who joined her in watching the great grey aniup the religion of “Walrusism.” At Mary’s parent-teacher conference, all mal circle its aquatic dome. The zookeepers bethe faculty of the school expressed concern. friended Mary, and asked her if she might like “Mary is a bright girl,” hemmed and hawed to conduct “Walrus Observations” on Saturthe biology teacher, “but she is misunder-
2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee
days. “My father,” her talks began, “is a walrus.” They wrote up an article on Mary in the Bloomsberg Gazette, titled “Walrus Child: At Home in the Dome.” Her mother, who was busy advising the town’s mayor against eating processed corn, did not notice as Mary carpeted her room with dried seaweed. She also did not notice as Mary brought home driftwood to surround her bed, and painted the walls a deep cerulean blue. And when Mary traded her wooden desk for a rusty anchor and iron chest, she noticed nothing. “Please,” she began one Saturday, “help me bring my father home.” Three hundred and twenty-nine local children signed a petition, and they began planning. Eight-year-old Ezra, whose father owned a fishing supply shop, brought the biggest net in stock. After nine, when the zoo closed, three hundred and twenty-three children (six were home sick) snuck past the lion, past the giant tortoise, and past the gobbling turkey. They set up a ladder against the walrus’ cage, and Mary climbed up. She lassoed the net around the walrus and caught him up. “Oooooeeeeee,” he bellowed. “He said his name’s Huey,” interpreted a young boy with a feather in his cap. Seventy-four kids yanked on the net at once, and sent Huey flying up over the rim of the glass. As fast as they could manage, the mob of kids pulled Huey back to Mary’s bathtub, which was overflowing with salty water and padded with a sandy bottom. She thanked each of the kids with one of her mother’s carob and rice milk “Oreos,” and bellowed “Ooooooeeeeoooo, long live the Walrus!” The kids threw fist pumps and tiptoed home, while she sat on the lid of the toilet, teary-eyed and gazing at Huey.
“Excuse me,” interrupted one boy with particularly long arms and legs, and what resembled black lip-liner at the corners of his mouth. “I have been wanting to meet you. You know, my mother was a squid.” In the dim light of her bathroom, Mary’s tusk-bones glimmered. “Why should I believe you?” she asked finally. Her round eyes were half closed, and she rested an elbow on Huey’s back. “Because my mother was a squid,” the young boy answered seriously. He flapped his arms and squirmed his legs, and she realized that he sat three seats behind her in biology. Mary couldn’t remember if his name was Kurt or Squirt, and so she looked at his pitch-black eyes and tried not to think about the dark trail squids left, or how it felt to swim through warm ink. “Did you ever look on the other side of the walrus cage, and see my mother?” he asked. She hadn’t. Mary had no idea they kept a squid in Bloomsberg. “Let me kiss you on your tusks,” Kurt or Squirt pleaded, and Mary, though she had never been kissed before, knew she had to say yes. His two dark lips touched each of her tusks, before they moved to her mouth, filling it with ink. This was his proof, his squid liquid swirling over her tongue, and this is exactly what her mother found when she walked into the bathroom. “The zoo called,” began Mary’s mother, not looking at any of Mary, Kurt/Squirt, or Huey, but at a place on the shower rod above their heads. “They want their walrus back.” “But Dad belongs with us,” retorted Mary. “Your father was not a walrus,” sighed her mother, removing her pristine glasses, obviously exhausted. Mary’s lip quivered and she fiddled with her two semblances of tusks. “Your father,” her mother looked far away, her face clouding and eyes glistening, “was a manatee.”
2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee
window, ‘and you after a state. What a fucking good father he is.’ Michael Warne Her boots shined in the moonlight, brown leather coated in something, clean as the day stared at the clock flashing 11:22 with tiny she’d gotten them. She reached into her pocket red fingers as I heard the door open downand took out a pack of cigarettes, glanced at stairs, and slam shut against the winter wind. I wrapped myself in blanket, covered my me, and put them away. ‘Did you remember to lock the door?’ She head and buried my face into a tiny space beasked. tween pillow and cold wooden nightstand. ‘Yeah.’ ‘Is the door locked?’ I heard a voice ask. I yawned. I felt my skin wet and warm against the blan‘You’re still sleepy.’ ket. I rubbed the sweat from my head, felt a I managed an ‘Mhmm’ and wrapped the curl of hair and wiped it away from my face. I lifted up the covers and welcomed the fresh air. blanket tighter around me. ‘Come on, sit beside me.’ ‘Seattle?’ I asked. She sat with her legs over the ledge, danI looked over to the window, rubbed my eyes gling above the roof below and patted a hand and let them focus on the girl leaning against against the window sill. It sounded hollow, like the windowpane. I got out of bed, the blanket it had been eaten out by something. I hopped still wrapped around me. I walked over to her, up anyway and gestured to wrap her in the my little feet cold against the attic’s floor, and wrapped my fingers around a little silver latch. blanket. ‘No, it’s yours,’ she said. The window opened, a cold breeze blowing in, I leaned against the wall of the window and falling across my face. I shivered. ‘Minnesota,’ she said, then went quiet, star- looked up at the stars. ‘What’s up there?’ ing at the stars in the night sky. Seattle dragged a finger across a patch of the I looked at them for a while, too. Pitch black little lights. outside, except for a few doorway lights blink‘Well, there’s one. Ursa Major, I think.’ ing on and off. I knew enough to know it was ‘What’s Ursa Major?’ cats, not ghosts. She looked at me. ‘Minnesota,’ she said again, trailing off into a ‘Well, I think it’s a bear.’ whisper, ‘I still can’t believe Dad named you I strained my eyes, tilted my head one way that.’ and then the other. I looked up at her. She looked angry. ‘Doesn’t look like a bear.’ ‘Name me after a city,’ she said, and ‘You have to learn to connect the dots. See, propped her legs up against the side of the
2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee
that one is the end of the tail, and those are the legs, and the one there is his nose,’ she told me, pointing to one, then another, then another. But I couldn’t follow. I sighed and let my eyes drift. ‘You’ll get it one day. You’re still too young.’ ‘My eyes are tired.’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘just as tired as mine used to be. But they’ll adjust. And then you’ll see.’ I wrapped my arms around my legs beneath the blanket. I didn’t want one of my feet to accidentally slip. ‘Why did you run away?’ I looked at her and felt as if she might look back. But she didn’t. ‘Was it because of Dad?’ She stared at something distant without blinking. ‘Was it because Mom left?’ Still, nothing. ‘Seattle,’ I whispered, ‘why did you leave?’ She looked at me for a moment, stared into me. Not into either of my eyes, but past me, at something buried in the back of my brain. Something I couldn’t quite remember. ‘I was afraid,’ she said finally. ‘I was afraid of Dad. I left to find—’ She stared out into the distance again. ‘Who were you looking for?’ I asked. ‘Was it Mom?’ I could see her face quivering, her lips shake. ‘No. You know as well as I do Mom isn’t out there.’ ‘Do you want the blanket?’ ‘No,’ she said again. ‘You know as well as I do—’
She looked at me, a tremor in her arm this time. ‘Was it Granma?’ She reached out to touch me, held her hand a moment away from my cheek, then drew it back and smiled, tears forming in her eyes. ‘Yes,’ she said, her body as still as the cold air now, ‘it was Granma and Granpa.’ I breathed in, drew my lips into a circle and let my breath escape slowly. In the darkness, I think I could see the tiniest of ice crystals form. ‘Minnesota,’ I heard her say, ‘don’t follow in Dad’s footsteps. Don’t drink a drop, okay?’ I let my eyes rest, kept them closed, feeling the cold paint chips like egg shell on my cheek. ‘Okay.’ ‘And take your time while driving, okay?’ I yawned through my throat, keeping my lips shut and letting the warm air flow out my nose, fill my ears. ‘Mhmm.’ ‘And don’t leave the house at night, okay?’ I sucked a tiny patch of saliva from the corner of my lips back into my mouth. ‘Come back home soon, okay?’ ‘Minnesota,’ she said, fainter now, ‘I love you. It’s time to close the window now, morning’s coming. I love you. I love you.’ And as I closed the window with my eyes still shut and walked into bed with my eyes still shut and drew the covers up to my chin with my eyes still shut, I thought about how much I loved my sister too. ‘Seattle,’ I whispered, ‘I miss you.
Spotlight... Lorraine Tolliver
The Visitor Lorraine Tolliver
Most generally he can be thought of as far off somewhere, taking care of business. His work is not paid much attention to, except in occasional news flashes. Brushing up against him personally is to be avoided if possible. Usually, he’s an undesirable, unsociable loner. But then as time goes by suddenly something becomes suspect. A presence is felt, inching right up, moving right in. Uninvited, he’s come to visit. Backing away doesn’t help. He’s staying. He’s strange, but oddly companionable. He can edge in close and dissolve into specks—— into the flow of things. He shatters himself apart and scatters throughout the house. He has not come without intention. He has chosen the one he will take.
That one he intimately embraces invades, enfeebles, and claims. When his victory is complete, the house is speckled with this guest Death. In one corner, he has crumpled a life into his being. He will gather himself again into a solid form of tear and move on.
Spotlight... Lorraine Tolliver
Big Air Lorraine Tolliver I know you big air. You hold knowledge writhing within your bonds. You speak all tongues and hear the unspoken as it spins through your silent chambers.
Spotlight... Lorraine Tolliver
Beyond Death Lorraine Tolliver Out of the sharp tunnel of first knowledge, out of reach of the bloody blades that chop loved ones into the grave, I am trying to emerge into a soft and benign expanse which includes and mutes earthâ€™s harsh identity into translucent outlines and permits the worried solid self to accept cold but comforting accountability.
ries. She focused on him to the exclusion of anyone or anything around her. She would quit Lynn Beighley drinking and moving. Sometimes she didn’t seem to be breathing. artha and Bruce spent the morning “You splattered my book!” Martha precleaning the house. They were extended annoyance, but she wasn’t good at it. pecting another couple, Jack and Susan, to spend the day visiting with them out Bruce could see that she was enjoying Jack’s presence. by the pool. They tossed shoes into closets. “Why are you reading anyway? Come swim They vacuumed cat hair off the furniture. They with me.” Jack started shaking Martha’s float gathered glasses from various rooms and until she was seriously in danger of falling in. washed them. They shared the house with a cat and dog. They were comfortable with a cer- She laughed and broke away. She paddled to the side of the pool and deposited her drink tain level of clutter and cat hair, but they asand her book. She slid off the float in to the sumed that visitors wouldn’t be. water. “Maybe they’ll cancel,” he said, with a flat Bruce and Susan were chatting about the tone. weather, the pool temperature, and the beer. “Not likely. Anyway, we need to get this place cleaned up, might as well finish now.” She He poured her a glass from the kegerator. Every few seconds Bruce’s glance would slide from sighed and reached for the bleach spray. Susan to Jack and Martha. Eventually Bruce deemed the house clean “Jack, come get a beer, man,” Bruce said. He enough and they went outside to the pool to could see Martha frown for a second as Jack wait for Jack and Susan, who arrived an hour climbed out of the pool. later. A few clouds drifted by. The four of them Martha was floating on a raft in the pool reswam, rested, and drank. The conversation laxing in the bright sun. She had a plastic glass full of beer and a book. Their dog, a white Ger- shifted to politics, not a subject Jack and Bruce could discuss without arguing. Martha winced. man shepherd with one floppy ear circled the “I’m telling you, they shouldn’t recall him at pool, waiting for a chance to give her a lick all. The voters elected him. It’s like on your when she got close enough to an edge. Bruce wedding day saying you can always get a diwas tapping a keg of beer. Jack and Susan let themselves in. Jack imme- vorce if it doesn’t work out.” Bruce folded his diately removed his shirt and sandals and dived arms. “But Bruce, how can you not vote for into the pool before Bruce even realized they Schwarzenegger? You can’t tell me that you had arrived. Jack swam to Martha’s float. don’t think he’d do a better job than Davis? EsMartha was always attentive to Jack. Bruce would watch Martha’s face when Jack told sto- pecially since you know he’s going to work as
hard as possible so he can jump to the presidency next?” “Jack’s got a point,” Martha interjected. Bruce didn’t seem to hear her, but began to argue more loudly. She and Susan started talking about how stubborn men were. They both spoke loudly in an attempt to distract Bruce and Jack. The dog, lying near the kegerator, lifted his head up. Jack didn’t reply to Bruce’s last point. Instead he was staring at the corner of the patio. “Look at that,” he said. “There’s a rat!” Martha inhaled sharply. Susan and Bruce stared at it. Martha didn’t want to see it, but paddled over. “I think it’s trying to get dog food,” Bruce said. “I can’t believe it. I’ve never seen any rats here before.” Martha’s hand was covering her mouth. She could see it now. It wasn’t that bad. It was small for a rat, light grey and almost cute. The rat stood very still for a few more seconds. Instead of making a run for the dog food or leaving, it stared back at them. The dog noticed and ran after it. The rat dove off the edge of the deck. Martha, Jack, and Susan began trading rat stories. Susan talked about having kept a rat as a pet, and how affectionate and smart it was. Jack told a story about shooting rats with a b-b gun when he was in high school. Martha and Susan made noises of disgust, but laughed at Jack’s exploits. Bruce was quiet. His face was slightly flushed. He got out of the pool and wandered to where the rat had been. It was gone.
“It’ll be back,” Bruce said. “I’ll have to set up a trap. I can’t poison it because the dog might eat it.” Martha ordered some pizza. When it arrived, Bruce answered the door and paid for it. When he came back out, Martha was leaning on a lounge chair with Jack sitting at her feet. Bruce asked Martha to help him with plates. As she got up, Bruce saw Jack’s hand brush her foot. After the visitors left, Bruce and Martha cleaned up. Bruce talked about the rat and tried to get Martha’s opinion on how to deal with it. “I think it’s gone now. It probably won’t come back,” she said. “The dog scared it off.” That night, Bruce heard the dog barking as he brushed his teeth. The next morning, Bruce put on his swimming trunks and went out for a morning swim. The dog was standing on the other side of the pool and didn’t come over to greet Bruce. Bruce could just make out a brown furry lump that the dog appeared to be guarding. He walked around the pool and discovered the body of the rat. The dog was sitting next to it. It looked unscathed but unconscious. He prodded at it with his foot. It appeared to be dead. He picked it up by its hairless tail. Holding it at arm’s length, lips pursed with disgust, he walked over to the garbage can, opened the lid, and let it fall from his fingers. He made certain that he had put the lid back on securely, in case the rat wasn’t really dead. When he went back upstairs, he washed his hands and told Martha that he didn’t want to have Jack over again. Martha nodded, but Bruce could tell that she wasn’t listening.
Mr William Sanderson Strikes for Home
did not escape Sanderson as he wiped perspiration from his own brow. Perhaps Marama’s unspoken but determined insistence to ride Rebecca Burns with bare arms had saved him from the opome things could no longer be denied. His pressive heat. His inappropriate garb, though, put Sanderson’s teeth on edge. Thank goodhorse was lame. For the last three miles, ness, we are some distance from decent Albert had stumbled over uneven, blackChristchurch company, he thought. He tried to ened grass, hooves gamely picking out a line recall the studied luxury of the bank’s waiting towards the brown dot in the distance. Up room, recently visited, while the evening ahead, the homestead stood silent on the breeze whipped through the tussock grass. But, plains, tranquil against the purple sky. A faint light flickered in an upstairs window: a tell-tale deep leather seats and shiny mahogany tables did not rise up in his memory: instead, a mudline of smoke oozed from the chimney stack dled collision of silk, red lace, brass headlike sweat beads on smooth skin. Mr William boards, and oiled, naked skin reared in Sanderson had been mesmerised by the unwelcome, though not unpleasant rememsmoke’s languid movement, his aching, travelbrance. For a second he was sure he could deworn thighs relaxing against Albert’s flanks. Now, as Albert tilted awkwardly from side to tect a faint whiff of perfume in the night air. And, even as he tried to recall the austere side, Sanderson sighed and suddenly became conscious of the evening air, still and dry. It had frontage of Harding’s Bank which dominated drawn an unnoticed, unsightly sheen from the the dusty high street, the grey brick seemed to crumble and give way to the darkened doorskins of both horse and rider, and they shone way of Miss Swainson’s boarding house. Snug like the faint light in the distance. Although down a side alley away from the main street, Sanderson had removed his corduroy jacket Miss Swainson’s bolthole was a velvety secret, once on the trail and fully out of sight of the and her girls had been welcoming and waiting. town, the heat on this New Zealand evening The muscles in Sanderson’s thighs tightened was still suffocating. His riding boots, newly again. Calm yourself man, he thought sternly. In purchased and once proudly gleaming, were a couple of weeks, I can make my excuses and dusty and heavy on his feet. Albert grunted painfully beneath him. With a resigned, almost justify another trip into town. The bank would bitter glance at the companion riding alongside probably want to see the station’s accounts anyway. He told himself that, in the meantime, him, Sanderson reined the horse to a halt and the station and husbandly duties would quell dismounted. his needs. But only just. He looked away from Marama also stopped, watching his fellow Marama’s naked skin. A gruff order for the rider dismount with interest. The Maori’s Maori to cover himself was on his lips, but he brown skin seemed clear of sweat, a fact that
gulped it back, unsure of how Marama would react. Instead, he ducked down to stare at Albert’s leg. “Go lame, eh?” Marama said suddenly, his quiet low voice carrying in the stillness. A faint blue line creased in his chin as he spoke and he reached out to caress his own horse. “We ask too much of our beasts, Mr Sanderson.” He supposed a gentleman would make conversation, even with a native, but Mr William Sanderson felt in no mood to talk to this unwelcome interloper. He hadn’t asked Marama to join him: circumstances beyond his control had forced them into companionship. And now he was expected to give the Maori shelter overnight on the station, maybe for a few days! Marama had been quite firm about that. Sanderson gave a little shake of his head, marvelling at the unfairness of it all. He supposed some tribal resistance lay at the root of these unreasonable demands. Why couldn’t these natives see this was no longer their country? Why their insufferable rejection of English values and their determination to undermine the colonists attempts to civilise them? It would have been far better if Marama had stayed with his people in the North; instead of coming south to barter with farmers and merchants, who were only trying to make a decent living. Marama should have understood that an Englishman dealt with a Maori only out of necessity. Blast it! And Sanderson slapped Albert’s flesh sharply, causing the horse to jump in pain. Why did Marama have to be at Miss Swainson’s yesterday? Then Marama appeared at his side. Standing
up, Sanderson jumped to find the Maori so close to him; Marama had slid without a sound from his own saddle. He was now working his fingers into a leather pouch tied around his neck, one hand resting on Albert’s side. Grinding his teeth, a small tick pulsing at his grey temple, Sanderson stood back. “Please do not do that, Mr Marama,” he said. “You startled me. And kindly remove your hand from my horse.” Marama eyes narrowed into brown lines, but he brought his hand back to his side. Slowly, with the other, he drew a small glass vial from the pouch. He held it out in his palm towards Sanderson. “For the horse,” he said, his voice deep. “Rub this on. It will help.” Sanderson eyed the bottle with distaste. A clear, effervescent liquid lapped the glass, smearing the sides with a thick sheen. He was quite sure it was not a lotion that could be bought at Kirk’s Imperial Hardware and General Store in town. “No thank you, Mr Marama,” he said, ducking his head down so the Maori could not see his grimace. “I have some embrocation with me.” Marama shrugged and slid the bottle back into the pouch. Then he retrieved a pipe from another hidden pocket, lit it, and began to smoke. Suddenly it was dark. The purple haze of dusk had been fleeting and momentary: now the sky was frayed blackness, punctured by a thousand silver dots. The temperature fell rapidly. Shadows played on the tussock grass stretching out before them: strange, mythical shapes whirling on the charcoaled carpet, re-
cently cleared by some unknown farmer. To Sanderson, glancing up briefly from Albert, it seemed as though Marama was a weird, otherworld conductor, beating out a rhythm for these unknown, untamed shapes with his pipe. Marama’s eyes were closed. Albert cried suddenly and reared up, flanks shuddering. Embrocation gleamed on his fetlock like goose fat on a Christmas bird. The animal panted and tossed his head for a second, white flecks flying, and was then still. A heavy silence slid down upon the travellers. For a moment, Sanderson felt completely cut off from the world, caught within its glutinous hold. Dull panic curled in his stomach for a second; his eyes strained in the evening gloom, seeking out the station. It was about two miles away and he would have to walk. They set off. Sanderson lit a small lantern and held it low by his side to mark out their steps. It cast a sallow ring on the ground, encircling both his and Marama’s feet. Marama walked in lengthy strides, murmuring quietly to his horse every now and then. At first Sanderson felt baffled that the Maori would give up the comfort of his ride to keep him company, and would wait for him. He could think of no human connection between them except, maybe, given where they met, the need for fleshly release. Since leaving Christchurch, Sanderson had longed to see the back of the native though he hadn’t quite been able to shake him off. He remembered how he had tried to slip away from the boarding house and the annoyance he felt when, turning in his saddle, he saw Marama following at some distance.
“Why don’t you ride?” he barked gruffly. He couldn’t look at Marama directly and stared instead down at the circle of light. “There’s no need to walk alongside me.” Marama gave his easy shrug and continued his slow lumber. The ground seemed to be swallowed by his gait, passing through his body and lit momentarily by the orange compass at his feet. “Better this way,” he said, without explaining what he meant. His hand drifted out to stroke Albert again. The station blinked up ahead. Sanderson wasn’t sure if the sight was welcoming or a warning: there was no comfort in the knowledge he was near home. He thought of Sarah, probably in bed reading or, more likely, staring at the wallpaper as the wind whipped about the wooden building. She slept a lot these days, crumpled on the iron frame. Sanderson’s fingers would sink into her flesh late at night. She was a series of creases and rolls, and secret, soft, folded away places. Sarah hadn’t always been so. Indeed, on their first night together when they set sail for New Zealand, a delirious, violent desire to possess had surged within his breast when she had removed her corset: fragile ribs gleamed like chicken bones through pale, translucent skin, seeming to invite his touch and caress. The sensations aroused by her disrobing in their cramped, swaying cabin had taken him by surprise – he had not expected to feel that way about her. Within the seclusion of their married quarter, she had slowly released the fabric binding her breasts and pushed away the hooped skirt enveloping her legs until she stood, naked and
trembling, blinking like a chick emerging from its egg. Sanderson had thought he had taken Sarah off her parents’ hands as an act of charity and convenience. She served a greater purpose than he could have imagined – after their wedding, he did not visit a boarding house for a whole six months, not even after their emigrant ship had docked at Lyttleton. His fist tightened around Albert’s bridle. Their wedding day had not gone smoothly. Sarah had clung to her mother, and her mother to her. He had overheard them whispering after the service, when Sanderson had been thanking the minister and when Sarah should have been by his side. Instead, she had stood apart, fingers plucking the new wedding band on her finger. Sarah’s mother, thin and shabbily dressed, had babbled a warning about the married couple’s first evening together, and Sanderson had caught a glimpse of Sarah’s horror-struck face. She had kept her lips pursed together that night, silent but not resisting, rolling with the ship. In the morning, she had not met his gaze, staring at the cabin walls as they closed about her like a briny womb. She wept for her mother for several weeks whilst the ship ploughed on relentlessly through the waves. He was sure that one of Miss Swainson’s girls had been on their boat. Of course, the single women had been separated from the married quarters, and carefully marshalled by two stout matrons, but still – a girl he had entertained just last month seemed familiar. Naturally, she had not let on, even if she did recognise him. Instead, she had smiled the whole evening, a gold tooth gleaming in the welcoming darkness. She had not pursed her
lips together, as Sarah had done. She had murmured encouragement and caressed Sanderson’s grey hair, pushing him towards a delirium experienced only once or twice before. Something about her allowed him to leave all inhibitions at her doorway. Perhaps it was the vigorous climate – he had not been to town for several weeks before that visit and the icy winds of the plains had breathed hearty freshness into his bones. He had paid the woman handsomely in the morning. A pity she had not been available last night. Suddenly Marama spoke. “I hadn’t seen you at Miss Swainson’s before.” His disembodied voice rang out from the darkness conversationally but Sanderson almost stumbled. The Maori’s words appalled him. How dare he remind him – an English gentleman! – About the circumstances of their meeting? He had barely time to react before Marama spoke again. “Your English women; I see them getting off the boats, hoping to find husbands or work. Did so many expect to be earning their keep with their bodies?” The Maori cleared his throat, the harsh sound carrying across the plains. The temperature seemed to have dropped to below freezing. Sanderson drew up sharply, hissing between his teeth. This really was outrageous. He brought the lamp up to his shoulder, swinging it around so its yellow light was cast against Marama’s face. Marama’s pipe was still in his mouth, pursed between blue lines, which met at his lips. His brown skin seemed to gleam in the darkness, though not with sweat. His eyes narrowed against the glare. “A gentleman – a gentleman does not speak about such things!” Sanderson spluttered,
heart pounding. “I’ll thank you to keep your remarks to yourself, especially if I am to be forced to give you shelter!” Goosebumps pricked his arms as he wondered if Marama would repeat his remarks at the station. Sarah was not a problem. Sanderson did not think he could bear the smug glances of the labourers. Marama slowly drew the pipe from his mouth. His brown eyes studied the Englishman’s face, taking in the grey bristles and thinning hair. “You have a wife at home, yes?” he asked quietly. “As do I. Yet we are drawn to these other women. I sell them lace, which they use to cover their bodies even as they are used. They pay well. Sometimes I am offered more, but I cannot accept. I have a wife in the North. I still sell them lace, coming back to them month after month. Do you?” Sanderson took a step back now, shocked beyond words. The Maori was clearly mad. He may have spent time bargaining with townsfolk and farmers, but he had learnt none of their English ways. The services of these women were not to be mentioned, ever – not even in those exclusive clubs back home from which Sanderson had been excluded. Nor should a man mention his wife in the same conversation. Decent women, after all, were ignorant about these matters. Sanderson remembered the whispers between Sarah and her mother on their wedding day. Marama’s face was impassive. He shrugged. “No matter. We will not speak of it again. I have some things to sell and then I will return home.” He raised the pipe to his mouth, but paused. “Does your wife wear lace?”
Sanderson hit him. He hadn’t expected to and it was at the full extent of his reach. But, the blow struck home, glancing off Marama’s jaw and driving the Maori’s head backwards. The pipe dropped to the earth with a soft thump and was lost to view. Sanderson, panting, moved in for a second attempt, fist pulled ready. Blood surged in his ears and a remote part of his mind screeched for him to stop – these natives could be dangerous. Something had become detached inside and was no longer anchored to that repressed core. He felt delirious with violence. Albert harrumphed nervously. Then Marama turned to face him and the anger in Sanderson’s breast and throat died. Blood seeped from a corner of Marama’s mouth, snaking down his chin. Images of red lace draped over the end of a bed bloomed in Sanderson’s mind. His shoulders slumped heavily. The Englishman and Maori stared at each other for a long time. Albert’s tail switched, eyes flicking between the two. The orange light of the lantern drew a circle around them. Beyond the orb was only darkness, save for the twinkling station up ahead. They were quite cut off from all company. This native could kill me if he wanted and no one would know, Sanderson thought. He did not feel fear; instead, only embarrassment that his life could end in such a way – he could just imagine the newspaper reports and the incredulous gasps of Harding’s bankers. They stood for a long while, Maori and Englishman, caught in that moment.
Spotlight... Scott Owens
Spite Scott Owens He thinks the room keeps growing larger, the silence keeps getting louder, the space between things almost unbearable. He knows it has something to do with him, yet another slight, the usual persecution. He canâ€™t imagine his own complicity, canâ€™t see that every time he calls her Bitch in whatever way he chooses, she moves farther away, takes his world with her.
Spotlight... Scott Owens
Attendance Scott Owens We wait, where else, in the waiting room, comfortable, bland, television perpetually on game shows, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Who Wants to Be . . . . Having tended to every detail of living at home, weâ€™re left now with filling out forms for what seems forever: names and numbers, date and place of birth, list of ailments, medications, procedures, emergency contacts. Weâ€™ve called them all on our catalog of impermanence: friends and family, physicians, surgeons, specialists. None of them can be here, trapped in contingencies of their own lives, hardly able to address the card, buy a stamp, use the clothespin to clip it on the mailbox, hope it will arrive in time.
Spotlight... Scott Owens
Making Love Scott Owens Is it then something that has to be worked at so hard? Like making bread, trouble, time? Like something produced, the calculated end of an assembly line, a monthly quota of parts received, turned, passed on? There was a time we loved to make the words of love, had them washed from our mouths with soap. A man must give himself the right to speak the words his body knows, to fight the urge to have his mouth mind, body washed clean, to keep from making this a place where nobody fucks anymore but only sleeps together.
Cast of Characters Dylan Amaro-McIntyre is a 2012 Pushcart Prize can and Australian journals, including The Storyteller, SpeedPoets, Stepping Stones Maganominee zine: ALMIA, and Children, Churches & Dad Donald J. Barrow is a 2013 Pushcart Prize nom- dies. You can find him performing poetry, watching clouds, or combating insomnia inee. around South Central LA. Check out his perJoshua Bauer is a recent graduate from Indiana sonal blog: jacksonburgess.wordpress.com. University where he studied English. His poems Jackson is a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee. have been recently published in The Broken Plate. Joshua is a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee. Matthew Dexter is a young American author living in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He writes novLynn Beighley is a fiction writer stuck in a tech- els, short stories and everything else in between. When Mateo is not writing he enjoys nical book writer’s body. Her stories often inlife by the ocean; beautiful beaches, breathtakvolve deeply flawed characters and the ing views, reading, and being inspired. But unsatisfying meshing of the virtual and actual world. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and never candlelit dinners on the beach. He’s afraid of Pirates. currently has 13 books published. Her work is either forthcoming or published in Apocrypha William Doreski has had his poetry appear in and Abstractions, Intellectual Refuge, and various electronic and print journals, and in ken*again, and in the e-book “The Lost Chilseveral collections, most recently Waiting for dren: A Charity Anthology,” as well as at the Angel (2009). http://www.fictionaut.com/users/lynn-beighley and on Twitter as @lynnbeighley. Joseph Hart is a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee. Sandra H. Bounds is an active member of the Alyson Hess is an undergraduate student at InMississippi Poetry Society and was chosen as its 2005 Poet of the Year. She holds a Master of diana University - Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana, pursuing a degree in English Arts Degree in English and has taught in both Literature and Women’s Studies. She is curprivate and public high schools, as well as in a rently spending a year abroad, studying in Cancommunity college. Sandra is a 2013 Pushcart terbury, England. Alyson is a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee. Prize nominee. Jackson Burgess is a writer, painter, and stuStephanie Kaylor is an unemployed twentydent at the University of Southern California. His work has been published in various Ameri- something from upstate New York, where she
Cast of Characters indulges in gin and melancholy. Stephanie received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature at SUNY Geneseo, where she studied poetry writing under Dave Kelly, author of “Instructions for Viewing a Solar Eclipse.” Stephanie is a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee. Karlanna Lewis currently attends Florida State University, where she is in the progress of developing an honors thesis in poetry as part of her B.A. in Creative Writing. Karlanna is a 2012 and a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee. Rev. Judith Mensch served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. She began writing poetry in the last years of her life, as a way of responding to and coping with breast cancer. She passed away in 2003.
view, Cream City Review, and The Pedestal. His work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation/Indie Lit Awards, the NC Writers’ Network, the NC Poetry Society and the Poetry Society of SC, and been nominated for 9 Pushcart Prizes and 7 Best of the Net Awards, and read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac.He has given hundreds of readings of his work and taught dozens of workshops at colleges, libraries, and arts centers across the Southeast. Stuart Sanderson is a 54 year old writer, who doesn’t let cerebral palsy keep him from his craft. He believes that “Words are in all of us. It is easier for some people to get the words out than others, but everybody has a poem in them.”
Scott Owens holds degrees from Ohio University, UNC-Charlotte, and UNC-Greensboro. He is the author of Shadows Trail Them Home (collaboration with Pris Campbell, Clemson University Press, 2012), For One Who Knows How to Own Land (Future Cycle Press, 2012) Something Knows the Moment (Main Street Rag, 2011), The Nature of Attraction (collaboration with Pris Campbell, Main Street Rag, 2010), Paternity (Main Street Rag, 2010), among others.
Michael Warne is a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee.
He teaches English and creative writing at Catawba Valley Community College and has published more than 1000 poems in journals including Georgia Review, North American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Re-
Other writers appearing in this anthology: Rebecca Burns, Richard Fenwick , Kori Frazier, Khristian Mecom, P. Mari, Jenny Ortiz, Jean Ryan, Jasmin May Smith, Jane Stuart and Lorraine Tolliver
Elise M. Tobin began writing poetry as an undergraduate at the University of Mary Washington. She earned her M.A. from UConn and currently teaches English in an urban school district. Elise is a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee.
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Published on Dec 30, 2012
The best writing from the Stepping Stones Magazine website as voted by our readers. This is the first in an annual series, so we cover the y...