temenos Fall 2017
Hidden in sight
temenos Fall 2017
© Copyright temenos, 2018. All rights revert to the authors and artists. Published by: Temenos Anspach 215 Central Michigan University Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859 temenosjournal.com
Cover art, “Augmented Reality” by Nicholas J.J. Smith. Cover designed by Regan Schaeffer. Book designed by Amee Schmidt and typeset by Regan Schaeffer, with temenos and poem title fonts in Rockwell, edition titles in Goudy Old Style, and text in Adobe Garamond Pro.
Temenos Staff Editor-in-Chief Miranda Schaub Managing Editor Gino Fracassa Fiction Editors Kevin Thomas Kenneth Otani Poetry Editor Jim Champion Non-Fiction Editor Amanda Larson Website Designer Kenneth Otani Layout Editor Regan Schaeffer Social Media and Advertising Editor Lilah Galvin Faculty Advisor Professor Matt Roberson
Table of Contents Augmented Reality / Nicholas J.J. Smith Temenos Staff Augmented Reality / Nicholas J.J. Smith The Moon Found Its Way for Mike Mulcahy / Gary Galsworth How Can You Ask Me That Now? / Anthony DiPietro O no / Or not / Daniel Aristi Finding the Square Root of Everything / Ginny Fite Inferno / Anita Ngai Moon Set / Jill Dery She Has Let Herself Go / Georgia Wilder American Ruins / Joseph S. Pete The True Story of Erosion Girl / Kristen Holt Browning The Story of Our House / Dominika Wrozynski Detached / Alita Pirkopf The Inn / R.A. Duffy When I hid death / Kevin J. McDaniel Cherry Engine Red / Tobey Ward Poem From a Gemini / Louis P. Nappen The Hungry Dead Grandpa Conundrum / Stephen Ground Eisenhower Building, Washington, D.C. / Diane Helentjaris The Wives of West Michigan Businessmen / Phillip Sterling The Cake: Poland 1970 / Anna Karpinski My son asks / Kristin Van Tassel Six Year Anniversary / Katy McAllister Night Bloom #36 / Samantha Malay Ad / G. B. Ryan Rite / David Anthony Sam History for Tomaž Šalamun / Charles Kell A Curtain of Dark / Charles Kell Diogenes in the Rain / David Anthony Sam Now / Joseph Murphy Sonia / Nicholas J.J. Smith You Will Be Buried Where You Were Born after Pier Paolo Pasolini / Anthony DiPietro The Last Laugh / John Langfeld Contributor Bios
Cover 1 3 4 5 6 7 13 14 15 16 17 19 20 21 25 26 33 34 36 37 38 42 43 44 45 46 48 49 50 52 53 54 55 56
â€”Nicholas J.J. Smith
The Moon Found Its Way —for Mike Mulcahy I don’t know how, but the moon found its way through layers and layers of branches and leaves. Then the Earth moved a little, and it was gone.
How Can You Ask Me That Now? after I put out your eye with my best fountain pen, leaving you a mess of blood & ink & pain that makes the hair stand up on the back of my hand. after I dissolved your tongue with a basket of poison berries I did not see you swallow but I hid below the sundeck at breakfast to hear those satisfying choking sounds. & after I melted you with a sack of magic salt, raked the tea leaves that were left of you to dirt. now you return like a common weed & you’ve bartered or borrowed a black-market tongue to ask me if we’ll ever be together again. let me say, that day on the beach I asked you to play a child’s game: let’s pretend we’re married. you must’ve known we risked the devil’s bitchslap if we made mock vows, because you answered with a silence like the planet Neptune turning in his sleep, like the belly-down beast in the garden before spying eve and finding his power of speech.
O no / Or not Hay un número infinito de cosas literalmente Que no me dirás, algunas de una insufrible Belleza. Otras, como cirios fundidos a una vela, Te saldrían todas gargoladas así que, a fin de cuentas, Ya me viene bien cualquier cosa que tú me digas Pocas divisas hay más fuertes que días de hospital— Atrasos es la bancarrota del mayor de los aduladores. Y aun así aquí estamos, resolviendo la ecuación insoluble: sí, quiero & y tú quieres también Armagedón evitado justito en Thanksgiving – mi mejilla izquierda tal una capital en Asia escudriñando el cielo, evacuando El sábado por la noche aprietas “Reiniciar” entre mis muslos & Tengo ahora en la garganta una rosa roja de plástico de largo tallo— Léase: “Miento cuando hablo de amar”. *** There are an infinite number of things literally You won’t be saying, some of an unbearable Beauty. Others, like melted candlesticks to a candlestick Would come out all gargoyled and so, on the whole, I’m Ok with whatever it is you’ll tell me Few currencies are stronger than hospital days— Arrears is bankruptcy, even for the sweetest of talkers. Yet here we are Working out the unworkable equation: I do & you do, too Armageddon avoided just for Thanksgiving—my left cheek like an Asian capital city staring at the sky, evacuating On Saturday evening you press “Reset” between my thighs & I got by now a long-stemmed faux red rose down my throat—Read: “I lie whenever I speak of loving”.
Finding the Square Root of Everything I lean slightly to my left and glance at Ina’s paper. We both sit in the front row and I need to be cautious. Mrs. Prince, our thin-as-a-wafer Latin teacher with double-lens glasses perched on her beaky nose, watches everyone. A bird of prey, her head twitches from left to right, up and down. I imagine her swooping down on me, putting her claws in my shoulder, carrying me out of the large window and dropping me into the reservoir. I know the rule: Cheating is a sin as black as taking the name of the Lord in vain. Nevertheless, I’m not above risking my immortal soul for an A. My heart hammers against my ribs. I hold my breath and turn my head. Ina is wearing her customary below-the-knee, light blue jumper over a white cotton blouse with long sleeves. Nun-like, she shows no skin between her neck and toes. She wears white tights to cover her legs. It’s 1960 and we’re not allowed to wear slacks in school but I’m sure Ina wouldn’t wear jeans if her life depended on it. Even her shoes are buckled up. Her black hair is braided and wrapped around her head, her brown eyes hidden by glasses. Her skin is the color of rice paper. I imagine she’s her father’s delight and her mother’s solace. I imagine great things for her. She’s already first in our class. “Eyes on your own paper,” Mrs. Prince calls out from the back of the room. If Ina weren’t Jewish, I could see her in a white Amish cap. Perhaps one religion is the same as another with strict rules that lock every normal woman into unquestioning obedience. I’m not normal. I question everything. Without our ever speaking, Ina knows I’m dangerous. I reek of difference— garlic and onions to her bland diet of boiled meat. She gives me a look of alarm and suspicion and conceals her paper with her arm. Correct answers are gold and she hoards hers, not because she’s greedy but because I’m not worthy. My cheeks flame. Everything about me is a violation of Ina’s principles. I’m wearing a red Banlon sweater that clings to my torso and a wrap-around skirt with no slip. Wind flirts with the edge of my skirt when we exit the building for lunch break. My dirty-blonde hair hangs loose around my shoulders and whips around my face in the wind. I go bare-legged and wear sandals as soon as it’s sixty degrees outside. Boys look at me sideways and I look back, daring them. Ina keeps her eyes on the ground. In class, my panic over the past pluperfect eases and I return my eyes to my own paper. It will be what it will be. I either know this stuff or I don’t. I’m flooded with relief when Mrs. Prince hands back my test the following day with an A marked in blue at the top of the page. I can do this thing, I
8 temenos think, this business of learning. Facts will penetrate the dense barrier around my brain and turn themselves in like model prisoners when I demand them. School is my safe place, a refuge for six hours a day. The year I’m sixteen, my mother goes with husband number four on a cruise to the Caribbean. My Uncle Willie stays with my sister, Sarah, and me for the week. We live in a single-family house with a driveway and a fenced backyard one block from our high school. We take garbage cans out to the street and get our mail in an unlocked box by the front door. It’s a quiet street in the Jewish section of Newark. As the crow flies, we’re only five miles from the Seth Boyden projects where we lived for thirteen years. Crows wouldn’t dare come here. “One wrong move,” my mother threatens every few days, “and we’re back there.” On the surface, we seem civilized. On sunny afternoons, I sit outside in the backyard and read the collected works of any writer I can get my hands on. My mother experiments with making kasha and other foods that taste like poison. Sarah and I listen to Broadway musicals on the new phonograph and my mother keeps the radio tuned to pop music on WNEW. The station serves up Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Eydie Gorme. We learn the words to all the songs and develop a routine. The first night of his temporary guardianship, Uncle Willie makes a hash of hamburger, potatoes, and vegetable soup so delicious I have seconds. The taste of the sudden absence of acrimony, the easing of my body into sensation from its permanently rigid state, makes me realize I’m hungry. I imagine when I live on my own without my mother all the world’s flavors will explode in my mouth one by one. Uncle Willie tells me about his upcoming solo show in the city. He has fifty canvases ready to go. He says The New Yorker published one of his drawings and hands me the clipping. A woman with a loopy flower in her wide-brimmed hat holds up her long dress to step over a puddle. She seems to be levitating. His name is in the lower right corner. I don’t know enough to be thrilled for him but I pretend. He says his agent is handling everything. He just has to show up. I grin. “That shouldn’t be hard,” I say, even though I know sometimes just breathing is hard and good news is dangerous. Glee has teeth and will come back to bite you. I’m reading Greek tragedies and now am doubly careful not to add to the weight of hubris already laid on the scales of fate. Talking to Uncle Willie feels like using a crayon to draw a line from dot to dot. I don’t see the big picture. At the beginning of the conversation, I don’t foresee danger. He tells me about an episode at the Veteran’s Hospital during his last incarceration, as he calls it.
Hidden 9 He was ambulatory and allowed to roam the halls, to go to the common room to play cards, eat in the cafeteria. Fifteen years have passed since World War II ended, but he relives his worst moments in terrifying daytime nightmares. Sometimes, he acts out. He shrugs telling me this. “It can’t be helped.” Shock therapy, he tells me, makes him into a zombie. In his story, he saw the nurse with her pill cart in the corridor. He stopped her and said, “You can give my pills to me now.” He was being helpful, he says. She told him to go back to his bed. He puts his hands on his hips, rocks his shoulders, and shakes his head, imitating her. “I’ll give you the meds when I get to you,” he says in a squeaky voice. “Those are the rules. You’re no different from any other patient.” His lips remain pursed for a second, as if the memory of her face and tone froze him in time. Then he shakes his whole body with indignation and makes a face as he continues the story. “Hoity toity,” he says, meaning she’s a snob. “And here I thought she was my friend.” I look down at the kitchen table and think about these phrases my mother and her siblings use—hoity toity, hoi polloi—and wonder where they learned them. Years later, I find a sepia photograph of my Aunt Mellie as a child with her older brother Igin, her younger sister Allie, some unknown person, and my grandmother standing in front of a watch repair shop. The photo is from 1908. On the back of the photo Mellie wrote, “In front of our Havana shop with our servant.” Somehow, the caption explains everything. When I look up, Uncle Willie raises his chin and straightens his back. His blue eyes gleam. “I told that nurse that if she didn’t give me my pills right there on the spot, I wouldn’t move at all for the foreseeable future.” She refused to give him the pills. He turned to stone, standing rock still in the hallway, refusing to move a muscle. Orderlies came and carried him to his bed. He didn’t move for three days. He nods at me, eyebrows raised, like a wizard to his apprentice as if to underscore how to pull off a great magic trick. A small part of my heart turns away from him for safety. Are you crazy if you pretend to be crazy and forget you’re pretending? At school, I enact piety in homeroom, reading the Old Testament before the bell rings, speaking only when spoken to. In class, my hand is the first up. My face signals, “Look here, I’ve got it, ask me.” I’m perfectly content when someone calls me teacher’s pet. My Spanish teacher says I’m a culture vulture. I see myself squatting on a dirt road, feasting on the entrails of the Roman civilization. My head jerks up as a vehicle approaches. My black eyes blink. Nero’s legs dangle from my beak.
10 temenos At home, my mother is redecorating and everything is purple. Not a surface in the living room is free of decoration. She has found herself in this new occupation. Every day when we come home from school, there’s a new pillow or vase or chair. The drapes are changed, the rug is new. My sister and I go to our rooms and close our doors. I dream sometimes that when I wake up I have been dipped in purple. Her obsession doesn’t last long enough, surviving only until the afternoon she accosts me at the front door, waving my underpants she dug out of the hamper. Three drops of blood stain them. The panties hang from her hand an inch from my nose. She jiggles them. Incoherent with rage, she renders me speechless also, as if at a certain speed sound waves break words into unspeakable elements. I understand nothing she’s saying. I take a step back, take a deep breath, and find my voice. “Just wash them,” I scream back at her. “Then they won’t be dirty.” The next morning, she’s sitting on the sofa watching television when I walk by on my way out. “The bones in your ankles and knees stick out,” she says as if telling me what the weather will be today. This is a war of attrition. If I don’t rebut her, the invisible line marking my personal territory slips. I must defend myself. If I’m thin, it’s because I can’t bear to eat near her. The sound of her lips smacking together, her loud swallowing, the way without warning she chokes on her food, makes me sick. But I don’t say this. I look for the middle ground, the neutral territory, a place where facts might win. I hold my breath for a second. It’s always a gamble. “Maybe my bones are bigger than yours,” I say. “I’m taller than you.” She raises one eyebrow and nods. Equilibrium re-established. I am, in fact, taller than she is, and taller than all my aunts. I feel like a giant redwood tree in a forest of dogwoods when we’re together. My sister is taller than I am, as if our genes had been liberated from centuries of being confined to small spaces. The next morning, my mother walks into the bathroom when I’m in the shower and escalates. “What are those bumps on your nipples?” she asks when I step out of the tub. I know the tone. This is the beginning of a litany that will flay skin from my bones. I wrap a towel around me to hide the wound. My knees weaken. I’m not normal, I think. My mother keeps telling me there’s something wrong with me, something that can’t be fixed. I’m never enough, always wrong about everything. She tells her sisters she can’t handle me. She tells my sister I’m poison. “Stand up to her,” I hear my father say. I push her out of the bathroom. “I want my privacy.” After that, I always lock the bathroom door. She bangs on it from time to time, yelling, “What are you doing in there?” but I’m safer away from her scrutiny.
Hidden 11 My mother’s not interested in my grades. She mocks me for studying and moves my desk into the hallway where she can keep an eye on me. It’s a mutual suspicion. I wonder what she does all day when we’re in school. She doesn’t read. It’s not cooking. If I’m not the one designated to make dinner, husband number four brings meals home from his restaurant, ready to eat. Afterward, he instructs me on how to clean the table, how to wash the dishes. I snap. “I’ve been doing this since I was eight.” He reminds me of a bloodhound, and I can’t look at him or my face will imitate my revulsion. I live for my escape to school in the morning, for weekends with my father away from her. After dinner, Sarah and I sing our entire repertoire of Danny Kaye songs while we do the dishes. From the living room, my mother calls out, “Are you mocking me? I know what you’re doing.” Defiant, we smother our giggles with our bare hands. My mother brings up the subject of my ungainliness with my Aunt Ellie, the beauty. Ellie says if I lost ten pounds I could model furs in her husband’s store, rebutting my mother’s assertion that I’m ugly and too thin. But I’m still incorrigible and can’t bear offers of kindness. I take five quick bites of the prune Danish that Ellie brings to our house every Saturday. I love the white bakery boxes tied in red and white string, the smell of sugar that wafts from them, the glaze on the eye-shaped pastry sprinkled with sliced almonds. I imagine I’m a vulture biting into the kohl-outlined eye of an Egyptian queen. Lips sticky with sugar, prune still on my tongue, I can’t stop myself from saying to Ellie, “I don’t want to be a model. It’s the last thing I want to do.” I stomp out of the kitchen, ceding a triumph to my mother in the battle about how strange I am. I come home from school on lunch break, open the front door, and my mother flies at me, her hands wild in the air, her face contorted. I have no idea what I did or how I failed her, whether someone died or we have to immediately abandon the premises. She screams and screams as if the world has ended. I stand in the doorway waiting for it to be over and notice the entire living room is now coral colored. Finally she sits down in the kitchen and breathes loudly enough for me to hear in the living room. I run out the front door and back to school. At the first question in algebra, I burst into tears and dash out of the classroom, down the corridor, to the girl’s room. I stand sobbing over the sink, unable to get a grip, no longer able to think about how 3x2y could be the radicand of anything or how it could possibly matter anyway.
12 temenos My math teacher, transformed into a bosomy, gray-haired grandmother, enters the bathroom and walks tentatively toward me. I watch her in the mirror. Her eyes are wary. When I don’t bolt, she stands next to me and hugs my shoulders with one arm. She smells like baby powder. I want my own grandmother. “What is it? What happened?” she asks me. I blurt, “My mother, my mother is crazy.” I’m telling the truth for the first time. This is the secret I’m supposed to keep, the shame my entire family keeps, never admitting it even to themselves. This is the root of every calculation in our lives, the core of the problem. Craziness runs in our family, multiplied across generations. My mother’s craziness is proof I must be crazy. When I was little, I was sure that if I looked in the mirror in the middle of the night, I would see the witch who lived under my bed. The witch would be me. I don’t know what the punishment is for telling this truth. Fear spasms in my chest. I’m dizzy and nauseous. My math teacher pats my back. “Rinse off your face with cold water. Come back to class when you’re ready,” she says, as if these instructions solve the problem. By the end of the afternoon, I’m called to my advisor’s office. Books line the walls. The chairs are comfortable. She tells me to sit. The principal called in my mother, she says. They’ve talked to her. Alarm blares in my mind and bangs down my spinal cord. I have no idea what she said to them. I have no idea if she was charming and persuasive or infuriated and insane. I bet on charming. She can pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. I grip the chair arms and expect the worst. My advisor, who is also my Spanish teacher, leans forward and puts her hands together in a steeple, prayer-like, in front of her face. “It’s amazing how well you’re doing in school given what’s happening at home.” My stomach unclenches. They believe me. I sit back and close my eyes. I breathe. Two years later I learn my mother told them my father was molesting me.
Inferno Once upon a time, there was a boy, having to go tend to the fire that had to be kept burning, in the forest, everyday, at the same time, for the same number of hours, who one day, broiling from the heat, thoroughly tired from the obligation, worn out and exploited, like an abutment in a timber bridge that decaying from years of mold, finally showed structural failure, cried ‘wolf,’ though no one heard him, and then the next day, again cried ‘wolf,’ though again no one heard him, and on the third day, once more cried ‘wolf,’ and this time his younger sister heard and came dashing in from the village with a bucket of ice water, but the boy didn’t let the fire be put out, as he was unknowingly afraid of what he would do to fill his days, so in facing her husband’s aggression, my mother cried, again cried, and once again cried—and who did she, repeatedly, prevent from putting out the fire?
Moon Set Outside my kitchen window, five AM and five degrees, webbed by spruce, by birch, a moon on black enamel I could peel from the sky. Round and brittle, I could stretch a ladder long enough to lift it use my nails, spin it like a wheel along the frost-filmed road. Hold it safe from waning, stop it setting, keep it company. Stare forever at the moon. I take it home. It leans, a rusted table top against my bed. Listless, pocked with acne, dim.
She Has Let Herself Go She has let herself go. She has left the sleep in her eyes And the dreams in her hair. She has let herself go to seed, She has let the tractor rust in the field And the laundry out flapping on the line. She has let her plumpness Breathe un-girdled. She walks barefoot In the rain through the unmown lawn. She has abandoned her widowâ€™s weeds And her wedding band, and thought less and Less about his granite headstone, His clockwork precision. She still has my number pinned on the wall On yellowing paper, above A black rotary phone. She will call me. She will tell me she loves The daughter who also Let herself go.
â€”Joseph S. Pete
The True Story of Erosion Girl Call me Erosion Girl, she says to herself with an imagined wink, imagined hand on hip—because if you’re going to name yourself, let alone with a name like that, well, you’ve really got to own it, don’t you? She does not normally tend toward cute, disarming gestures, but she feels so strongly that It’s my story, I should be able to pick my own name. Not that others have: not Little Red, not Thumbelina, not those princesses moaning over their spinning wheels and mildly uncomfortable multi-mattress beds—all that lurid, sex-suggestive subtext, red and bloody, the pricked finger, the unsettled bedchamber (what exactly goes on in there?). She is thinking these thoughts, imagining her name, debating whether to soften it with sweet feminine postures (that wink, that cocked hip) while standing in the kitchen (of course, it’s always the kitchen). She faces the granite countertop that runs the length of one wall. Hardwood floors beneath her feet, many-shelved cupboards before her eyes. The steel is stainless; the surfaces spotless. She places a finger on the countertop. The smooth domestic surface gives. More than that; it buckles and slopes. She places both of her hands on the counter and slides them along the stone, which disintegrates under her skin. There’s a hissing sound. The countertop steams and crumbles all along its length. Now you understand the name she has given herself. The innards of the lower cupboards are exposed. She looks down on a box of instant oatmeal, a crockpot. The countertop has fallen into an ashy heap of tiny malleable particles. An unpleasant beige shade, like putty, but dry. You could sweep it all away, neat and tidy, with a broom. But she does not clean it up. She keeps going. Her arms outstretched, she steps back and forth across the kitchen (the floor is fine, it’s only her hands that do this), pressing her flesh against the machines that surround her. She sets her palm against the refrigerator, then the dishwasher, then, of course, the stove: she smudges the stainless steel with the force and press of her hand, and there is more crumble, more hiss, more mess. Such a mess. As she puts her hands up against the cupboard doors and shelves, plates and tea cups crash to the ground. She holds a drawer, it crumbles away, forks clatter and fall. She scoops spoons and butter knives to her chest, a silver sharp bundle, and hugs so hard it all turns to dust. They would call this a curse. Why is this happening? Chemical exposure? Something in the water? It doesn’t matter. She knows it’s a superpower. Who cares about origins?
18 temenos Once, she read a novel in which a character said, My thoughts went round and round and it occurred to me that if I ever wrote a novel it would deal with an hour in the life of a woman at the sink. Once upon a time, a woman stood in the kitchen. She ran her hand over the countertops, she leaned on the sink, she paced the length of her lair, bounded by stainless-steel appliances. The problem with this story is that there is no story. There is only symbolism. Try again. Once upon a time a woman called herself a girl, because that seemed more fun, safer, cuter. But even so, everything that she touched disintegrated to dust and rubble, which is not cute at all. Once upon a time there was a minute, then another, then another. They didn’t stack up, they didn’t accumulate with meaning. They dripped and tumbled down the drain. She grips the edge of the sink and it goes soft and granular beneath her palms, it sifts into sand, it tumbles down itself, collapsing inward like that snake who eats his own tale. But that’s another story too. Erosion Girl is left holding nothing. Because her hands have just obliterated the cast-iron pan she picked up; it flaked into black ash under her fingers. The days whisk past, the dusty minutes dissipate, and all that remains is this: a woman standing at the kitchen sink. Except she dissolved that too. Now there is no faucet, no sink to speak of, just the naked gasket, the flange, the trap, exposed. Once upon a time a woman stood at the kitchen sink for an hour, and the world could not contain her thoughts, her dreams, her angers and petty despairs, her rages and aches, her regrets and self-recriminations. So she rubbed away at the granite and stainless surfaces of all things, gentle and consistent. She couldn’t help it. She touched the world with all she was, with her hands, and it eroded beneath her grasp. Erosion is a particular kind of power. It’s process, not obliteration. She’s fine with that. The countertop doesn’t explode upon contact. She doesn’t smash anything. She touches, presses, leans, and watches her world dissipate. Not violent, exactly, but final, certainly. Erosion Girl opens the door. She is surrounded by piles and drifts of particles like ash. She lets the wind come in through the open door and take it all. She walks out of the house. She keeps walking on fresh green grass. She’s a fairy tale. She’s a story. She’s a symbol. But she’s certainly not a girl. Still, she will keep the name. She’s attached to it now.
—Kristen Holt Browning
The Story of Our House For me, the rogue centipede in our bed is the beginning because, for the first time, I am brave enough to kill one. But maybe I should start with the family of pileated woodpeckers I watched from our newly washed kitchen window, when you were at work. They dug in the silver oak carcass across the yard, red heads diving into dead wood. Will you ever believe me—about them— because they’ve never returned? And now I am like those ornithologists who spent years chasing the Ivory-Bill, willing it back from extinction into myth. You might want the story to begin with our never-ending search for barred owls in the backyard, how we build shrines of binoculars and flashlights in every room, how we wait for dusk. Just when we’ve let our minds tally the cost of tonight’s dinner, their calls startle us back into our hunter-selves, the soft hooting turning into a phonograph needle skipping and scraping against the vinyl of treetops. Maybe the squirrels, too fat on acorns, are our daily beginnings, kept alive on goodwill and birdseed we buy in bulk. And when we walk across the sponge of our front lawn tomorrow, we can’t forget that the moles and armadillos were in the earth before us, after all, snug in their darkness, unaware of the new animals starting a home above.
Detached In your smooth sports car something goes wrong with me. The rest is smooth sailing. But I grow hooked hands like chicken claws on dangling butchersâ€™ birds. Hyperventilating, you say, and I say, stop. I cannot stay in this position. And so we pull off the road. While cars whiz by, I slip out the door onto the dry dust writhing out of control, in terror and good clothes. I lie, turning in dust. In the car, you stay and play the tuned-up radio, and no one comes to help. This is madness and later Tagamet and divorce.
The Inn Carla is awestruck by the eerie nightscape of lawn and pool, a sight far more otherworldly than it seemed from her third-floor balcony. The only light comes from underwater fixtures embedded in the walls of the pool, and it casts a pale glow on the tall palms studding the courtyard. Looming silently above it all, above the low-rise side of the Inn, is the east face of Camelback—treeless, boulder strewn, and foreboding—soaring five hundred feet into a black and cloudless sky. She had arrived a day earlier than the other consultants, hoping for a head start on the project, mainly to build rapport with the client’s team before her New York colleagues filed in all tailored, coiffed, and glibly charming. When her get-acquainted session with client staff pauses for a quick lunch, she mentions in passing that she’s a swimmer and triathlete. A pair of athletic-looking women at the table brighten immediately, raving about this throwback mid-70s hotel with its huge outdoor pool. And it’s not just the pool—one of the two says—you just seem like someone who would appreciate the Inn’s secluded vibe, its absence of late-night hubbub. “Most definitely,” Carla says. She imagines herself swimming fast, silent laps through the darkness, where the only sound is the water churning past her ears, gurgling like a woodland stream. The one called Rosie asks a question: “But can you really stay separate from the others like that, all alone in a new place?” Carla smiles. She’s a senior member of the team and the hotel they’re recommending is surely cheaper than the Scottsdale palace where the other consultants are to stay. Which means she can save their company a few bucks. As for the woman-travelling-alone thing—if that was a concern—she reminds them that she does it all the time for her other clients. “I love solitude,” she adds. “But then again I guess I’m a pretty tough customer.” Carla crooks her arm, grinning and exposing her bicep. The two clients nod and laugh. “The only thing to fear is fear itself,” says Rosie, kind of missing the point. The other woman, Janice, hesitating a moment, then glancing at Rosie with a gleam in her eye, chimes in. “Just so you know, on a dark night, with nobody else around, it can get pretty spooky at that pool—what with the mountain pressed up so close and the ominous stillness and all.” Janice bugs her eyes, extending her hands and wiggling her fingers. “Woooo-woooo,” she intones in a singsong voice, then chuckles, pleased with herself for daring to mess with the expensive consultant.
22 temenos Carla rolls her eyes and laughs along with her. Rosie isn’t responding to the joke, though. Her eyes are riveted on Janice. She leans in close with a broad ‘you’re busted, sister’ grin: “So how is it you know that it’s so ‘woooowoooo’ scary out there at night, little Jan?” She makes the air-quotes sign as she mimics the woo-woo part. “OK … so I spent a couple nights there with a guy I met. Around this time last year maybe.” She launches into a long funny story about a handsome triathlete in town for a race, which Rosie matches with anecdotes about her own après competition adventures. All this carries the three of them through the lunch break. As the lunch remnants are cleared, Carla ducks into the corridor and calls the Inn to reserve a week. By six o’clock, she’s ready to head up there and check in. Standing at the edge of the courtyard, Carla is marveling how right Janice was about the ‘spookiness’ of the scene—especially with the dark looming mass of the mountain so close. She’s feeling a twinge of vague unease as she considers how many cultures revered mountains as dwelling places for gods and goddesses and such. She feels herself tuning in, empathizing. In the silence of the courtyard, she can feel the cold touch of an ancient dread. She shakes her head and laughs at herself. She kicks off her flip-flops and tosses her hoodie and towel over a lounge chair. If her tunnel-vision colleagues were staying here, clinking glasses to all hours, all this magical beauty would fade like a mirage. She lowers herself into the shallow end, spit-rinses her goggles, and slides them on over her pool cap. With a last look at Camelback, she pushes off, easing through the first length and building momentum as she pulls through the first couple of laps. She’s feeling strong, finding her rhythm, and homing in on the sound of water streaming past her ears. She drops into the near-trance that often overtakes her in lap sessions, feeling the perfect pull and drive of her stroke and the rhythm of her breathing, first to one side, then the other. Lost in the rhythm, she fails to pick up the gradual change in sound. The gurgling stream has slowly faded out, with a distant mix of babbling incomprehensible voices subtly fading up in its place. When she does perceive this, she stops, mid-pool, treading water. She cuffs her head with the edge of her palm to clear her ears. The courtyard is silent again. No raucous partiers, no one on the surrounding balconies, only the mountain, gravid with boulders of all sizes, reaching into the night sky.
Hidden 23 She resumes her stroke, times her deep-end flip perfectly, and begins to pull hard. There’s no sound at first, but then she again senses the slow, relentless climb of the voices. She can’t make out what they are chanting —yes, she realizes then, it is a chant, a garbled refrain repeating over and over. To be honest, she feels a little unbalanced, a little shaky. She pulls up at the shallow end. Her pulse is spiking like crazy, but then the chant-like sound ceases. Closing her eyes, she repeats her calming mantra seven times, the phrase her college coach taught her. It seems to work, triggering several involuntary deep breaths. But as she opens her eyes, she sees something hurtling toward her in the still air, a creature with a fearsome wingspan, white against the sky. It flashes over her barely a few feet from her head, utterly silent. She ducks, a count too late. She hears a breathless choked-off scream. Then she realizes it’s hers. The creature glides upwards and lands at the top of a palm. Carla struggles for breath, her heart pounding like she’s just touched the wall in an all-out sprint. The creature is perched there, watching her. As her logical self reasserts control, she knows it’s just a desert owl, whose downy flight feathers, she remembers from school, allow it to plunge down on prey in complete silence. She leans back and floats. She laughs out loud—between snatched breaths—at her own foolishness. Faint echoing murmurs bounce back at her across the courtyard. Her heart rate is getting close to normal now, but her legs are still a little fluttery. Definitely time to quit, she tells herself, I can’t let this get out of hand. She climbs up and out. She shouts at the owl and it flies away toward the mountain. Now she’s ashamed. She’s let her mind play tricks on her again, and very nearly tumbled over into the old panic. Just because of a big bird and some silly rhythmic cadence she probably picked up from the radio. Jesus, she thinks, I’m lucky I’m by myself, lucky no one from the New York team has witnessed this near-meltdown. They’d think relapse for sure. An involuntary shiver ripples across her chest and shoulders. She feels a hot blush spreading up to her face, over her ears, and lapping at her scalp. Damn it, take control, she tells herself. She jumps back into the pool and adjusts her goggles. She repeats her mantra, in three sets of seven, and pushes off. She’s not hearing voices now. But midway through her fifth length, she feels a tickling sensation at the back of her neck, gets that faint familiar sense that someone is watching her. Nonsense, she thinks, it’s my imagination, and resists the urge to stop at the turn and look around.
24 temenos But now she starts to puzzle why, after checking in, she didn’t encounter anyone in the elevator or corridors, about why so few of the rooms seem occupied, with only a few lights showing through the curtains when there are dozens of rooms overlooking the courtyard. These thoughts tumble through her head and the voices come back as loud as ever. In her mind she sees the mountain and what looks like a thin straggly line of torches winding up its face. Monstrous and alive, it’s resounding with the chanted refrain. Hanging at the deep end, goggles tossed aside, she’s frantically grabbing at breaths. She’s starting to cry, and she scans the courtyard quickly, but is afraid to look up at Camelback. There are very few rooms showing light at the edges of their drapes. Then she sees a figure standing on her balcony, barely visible against the black rectangle of the sliding door. It waves at her. Carla freezes. She clamps her eyes shut and runs through her mantra. Panicked and dizzy, her eyes still shut, she propels herself out of the water, unsure where she’s going. She slips and bangs her knee on the concrete apron. She’s about to throw up. She has to open her eyes to find her way. The shadowy figure is still there, but not on her balcony, on one further down the line. It shouts something and Carla can tell by the voice that it’s a girl in her teens. “Your stroke is beautiful,” the girl yells. Carla ignores her as she stumbles forward, scooping up her hoodie and dashing to the elevator. She presses the UP button and leans against the elevator door, banging on it when it doesn’t come right away. As it descends, she stands back against the facing wall, still in tears. “Shit, shit, shit,” she sobs. The doors open and the elevator is empty. She bursts into her room. She looks around, flicks on the bathroom light, checks behind the shower curtain, then plops on the bed. She lies back, her head soaking the pillow. Her pulse is racing. She sucks in air through her nose; her mantra fills the room, swelling and echoing. The phone rings. She gasps and tells herself not to answer. After six rings, she lifts the handset but it’s gone to voice mail. On the message Rosie asks, “How ya doin’? Just checking … uh … I was just checking on how you liked the pool.” Hateful paranoid suspicions cascade through Carla’s mind. Could Rosie—and her friend Janice too, for that matter—be in on this, working with the New York people? She shakes her head, frantic and confused. She buries her face in the damp pillow and moans. She’s still grasping the phone. She calls the desk and tells them she’ll be checking out in the morning. She’s still sobbing.
When I hid death in a shoebox I broke hard ground with a rusty shovel The wooden handle planted splinters in my palms I dug deep where cardboard now gives rest to a furry critter that my little girl thinks is forever in quarantine at the vetâ€™s office I wonder what others will tell her to believe when I am boxed up this way
â€”Kevin J. McDaniel
Cherry Engine Red Miriam Webster’s clothes were better than mine, and her lips always looked raw, as if she’d been kissed too hard. She was under five feet and tiny except for her boobs. Boys liked to pick her up and toss her around. Girls hated her but pretended they didn’t. Spring of ninth grade, I sat at her table every lunch until we were friends. That didn’t make the boys throw me in the air, but at least now they said hi. There were other things I liked about Miriam. She chewed with her mouth open and called her mom maw, and she was the first girl I knew who could say fuck and sound natural. In the halls, we were stronger together. We weren’t the only ones other girls called sluts, but it seemed no one could hurt us. Miriam took me to my first Gino Trevelli party, on Crescent Street, where everyone said there was a whorehouse. If you were standing on a corner there, you were probably a hooker or a crackhead or both. Last fall a girl from school was arrested in front of Gino’s. She bit through an officer’s hand and they sent her to juvie. Miriam’s stepdad gave us a ride downtown, and we waited outside the movie theater until he drove away. Miriam had lent me a denim mini and blue halter, even though the skirt was too small and the top too big. She only had one pair of platforms—they were plush and creamy as foam—so I wore my sneakers that looked stupid with the short skirt. It was the first warm night of the year, and Crescent Street was crowded with the kinds of trashy girls who brought their babies to graduation. Boys we didn’t recognize—either they were older or had dropped out—smoked cigarettes on front stoops. They called to us as we went by, and Miriam slowed her walk to a sexy, swishing pace. I tried to copy her, feeling their eyes on me too. Gino’s house was stranded in its yard like a shipwreck. A car with no wheels rusted in the driveway. The front steps sagged. On the porch, a few kids sat in rotten-looking armchairs, the contents of the house spilled around them. My mom and I lived on the other side of Main Street, underneath the looping highway and behind the school, surrounded by other compact, respectable families. No cousins crashed on our couches or left their girlfriends crying on our curbs. We definitely weren’t rich—Mom was a manager at Stop & Shop—but our apartment was clean and tidy. That was important to her. Still, our neighborhood was nothing like the mansions on the other side of the town line, where instead of streets were cul-de-sacs with names like
Hidden 27 Lilac Lane and Foggy Creek. Their kids went to private school. They saw movies in a brand new multiplex and sipped lattes at Starbucks like they were on TV. During Christmas, those houses glittered with white lights; my mom said it was like money winking at you. Inside Gino’s, fifteen or twenty kids were in the living room, drinking from beer cans and watching TV on mute. It must’ve been a coincidence, but they were totally quiet when we came in, like walking in a room where people have been talking about you. Gino unfolded from the couch. “He-ey,” Miriam said in a silky voice. I’d never seen Gino up close before. He was shorter than I’d thought, and his skin was rough and peeling in places. He stood against Miriam so his t-shirt rested against her arm, and I knew there was something she hadn’t told me about him. “This is Hannah,” she said. “Tell your friends to be nice to her.” “Everyone be nice to Hannah,” he said, tugging Miriam toward the stairs. She smiled an apology and abandoned me. On the grimy couch were two seniors who paraded the school holding hands. They seemed serious and bored, as if they’d been to this party a million times before. There was a space left where Gino had been, next to a kid I recognized from Bio, so I sat. “You’re Corey,” I said. “Do you remember me?” “Sure,” he said. And he put his arm around me like that was totally normal. His body was very warm, warmer than you’d think a regular body would be, and his shirt was damp. He smelled oniony and sweet. “What’s your name again?” Corey said. “Hannah.” “Right.” He gathered me in and his hot wet mouth covered mine, like I was slipping underwater. My mom had me when she was eighteen, but she never gave me any speech about not making the same mistakes she had. She did say I should only date nice guys; who cared if they were smart or good-looking? She said the first time a guy said anything mean, the first time there was even a hint, that should be it. No second chances for men, she said, not ever. Her mistake still showed up at my school every few months, sitting in his car at the Wendy’s across the street. I always knew he’d be coming that day, the way I sometimes knew who would speak next in class, as if I could feel the words gathering in their minds. I knew when my dad was gathering for another drive-by. The buses would be arriving, and I’d be walking with
28 temenos Miriam, and there he’d be in front of Wendy’s, acting like he didn’t see me, as if I wasn’t the reason he was there. Sometimes he sat in his car all morning, through free period when Miriam and I snuck out to share a cigarette. At lunch, when kids were huddled in groups on the curb and we were just about to walk past, he started the car and drove by without looking. I don’t know where he went. Maybe to a girlfriend and another daughter somewhere else. Supposedly Corey was a nice guy. Miriam said he was. Plus he was Gino’s best friend, so after that night it made sense we would hang out, her and Gino in his room and me and Corey downstairs. Corey was cuter than Gino, I thought, but he was quieter. Guys didn’t yell to him in the hallways, and girls didn’t hang off him. No one called him nicknames or asked what he was doing on Friday nights. I thought we were kindof alike that way. We could have things in common that we didn’t even know. But he never said anything without me saying something first. And at school he didn’t talk to me, not even when Miriam and Gino were making out against the lockers and it was just me and him hanging back beside them. Still, I liked the way he stuck his hand up my shirt like he wasn’t sure what he’d find there. And some nights, when we were kissing on Gino’s couch, I opened my eyes and he was smiling. Miriam’s mom took in foster kids, tons of them, so Miriam slept in the attic. The slanted ceiling was covered with pictures from magazines she’d stolen. It was easy, she said. You just sat in the pharmacy’s waiting area, reading one, then after five or ten minutes you walked out, carrying it under your arm like it was yours. She also shoplifted make-up: mascaras for thickening and lengthening and plumping, shimmering eye shadows in dark grays and deep greens, perfect cylinders of lipstick with names like Sweet Diva, Night Out, Strawberry Daiquiri, Wild Child. I liked to think about the people who came up with those names; I could be one of those people. Miriam pulled the elastic from her hair and shook it out, watching herself in the mirror. She applied Sweet N Tart to her lips. “I think I’m in love with Gino,” she said. She kissed a tissue and pouted, examining her face from all sides. “Are you in love with Corey?” I wanted to say yes, but if I was, how could I be the same greasy-skinned girl? I studied the mascaras. Did I want my lashes long or thick or full? “That’s ok,” said Miriam. “I don’t think he loves you either.” I shrugged. But she didn’t know; maybe he counted minutes ‘til he’d see me or circled the halls so we would pass each other. Just cuz he never told me, didn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Hidden 29 Miriam stroked her cheeks with blush until two blooms of color appeared. Without makeup, she was sortof average looking, like I was, but with makeup she became someone else, a character from a lipstick name: Party Girl, School Slut, Gino’s Girlfriend, My New Best Friend. I chose Cherry Engine Red and looked to see if I’d become someone new. But my face was the same, only now with lipstick on it. “That one doesn’t look good on you,” said Miriam. “Try this.” She handed me a pale, rosy color: Gauzy Mauve. I spread the soft cream over my lips and pressed them together. “Let me do the rest,” said Miriam. “Close your eyes.” She took my face in her hands. “You’re gonna do it with him though, right? Gino told me he wants to.” I didn’t know if she meant Gino wanted to with her or Corey wanted to with me. “Have you and Gino done it?” “Maybe,” she said. But then, “No. We’re waiting for the right time. All done.” And there I was in the mirror. I wasn’t someone else exactly, but I saw how I could be. Gino pulled up in his mom’s car and leaned on the horn. As we headed across the lawn, I could see Corey’s profile in the front seat, like he couldn’t care less which girls were coming out of what house and getting in the car. Gino drove us past the four pizza places on Main Street, the laundromats and hair salons hung with posters from the nineties. At a stoplight, a group of girls stood outside the Softee Scoop. You could tell they were from the private school by their plaid skirts and polos, but even if they hadn’t dressed rich they would’ve looked rich. They had straight blond hair and smooth faces, as if none of them had ever been in fights or made dinner from a box. They probably didn’t have chewed-down nails or gritty-looking teeth or scars. Looking at them, I had a strange feeling, like we were characters in someone else’s dream, just fuzzy nobodies in the background of those girls’ lives, and when they woke up, we’d be gone. Last summer, before I got to be friends with Miriam, my mother worked a second job as a housecleaner for rich people. Some days I went with her, waiting for the buzz at the gate and then rumbling up the driveway in our rusty sedan. Their lawns were bordered by the tallest fences I’d ever seen, fences you weren’t even sure had a purpose, except to make everyone on the outside wish they were on the inside. That’s how I met Kindred and Pagoda. They were sisters—Kindred was my age—and their parents let me swim with them in the pool while my mom cleaned.
30 temenos Kindred and Pagoda were easily, lazily sure of themselves as they texted and tanned in their bright string bikinis. I felt like a little girl in the onepiece my mother’d picked that faded as the summer went on. But I wanted to sprawl forever by that pool, soaking in the sun, while the neighborhood boys looked through the fence, and we knew they were there but pretended we didn’t. I spent every Saturday with Kindred and Pagoda, turning deep pink and then brown. At home, my mother rubbed me with aloe, but I didn’t care if I burned and peeled. The rest of the week, I imagined myself on spy missions for the sisters. In town, I checked who was outside the liquor store and who was hanging on Crescent Street. I went to the Softee Scoop just to smile at the boys who worked there. On the way, I passed the benches of old men and tried to get them to whistle like they did at the older girls. Back at the pool, Kindred and Pagoda giggled and shrieked at my stories. They wanted to know: what did the boys look like, what was I wearing, what did the old men say? Next time they would lend me one of their bikini tops and a pair of cutoffs that felt softer than old money as they slid on. Would I walk down Crescent Street for them? Would I tell them exactly what it was like? But that fall, their parents got divorced, and they moved with their mother. Now I wished I could tell Kindred and Pagoda about the nights on Gino’s couch and evenings circling town in his car, about Miriam’s lipsticks and the attic bedroom where we made ourselves entirely different girls. At Gino’s, me and Miriam sat on the wraparound couch with the boys on either side. Gino rolled a joint and passed it over our heads to Corey. I never knew what to say then, not even to Miriam, and after the boys had smoked it was a relief when she and Gino went upstairs. Corey and I only needed to grope through a few sentences before we were safely kissing. I loved that part, the beginning, before I had to pretend both that I liked it very much and that I wanted him to stop. But tonight, before we’d really got started, Gino’s mom came banging through the front door. Corey’s hand shot from under my shirt and we lay still. She stood in the doorway, swaying and squinting into the room. “Jesus,” she said. “Corey, what’re you doing here?” “My dad kicked me out again,” he said with his face in my hair. “That son of a bitch.” She tried to take a step but stumbled and fell against the wall. “Can you help me out, sweetie.” Corey slid away from me, and when he reached her, he caught Gino’s mom in his arms as carefully as if she were his girlfriend. Then he gathered her up, like he loved her, and carried her upstairs.
Hidden 31 Later that week, Miriam did it with Gino, and then I had to do it with Corey. Gino let us use his bedroom while he and Miriam made grilled cheese. It didn’t last very long, and it didn’t hurt as much as girls at school said it would, though it didn’t feel good either. After, Corey didn’t answer my texts for three days, and Miriam didn’t invite me out with them. When I asked, she said she hadn’t seen Corey, that he was a piece of shit and no one cared what he did. But at school, I saw him in the halls. His silence made him shimmer, and he seemed to jump apart from the others. I skipped Civics to smoke by myself, not bothering to wedge between the bleachers and the sports sheds; I’d be in less trouble if I was caught without Miriam. And this way, Corey could see me if he happened to pause at an upstairs window. I twisted my hand so the smoke curled between my fingers, trying to really inhale, for relief, like they did in movies. But then I felt it: my dad was here. I’d been too distracted to notice earlier: that shiver of nervousness that meant he was on his way. I crossed to the Wendy’s before I even saw his car, and there he was, same as always, sitting with his hollow eyes forward, so his sharp profile was all I could see. Maybe having sex had changed me, because I went up to the window and knocked on the glass. He didn’t move, but his knuckles were white with gripping the wheel. The car was off, the key in the ignition. The door wasn’t locked, so I got in. “Hi, Dad,” I said. The word felt good in my mouth. “You should be in class,” my dad said. I realized I hadn’t remembered his voice. It was gravelly and soft, and it plunged from my chest like it had been there all along. “School’s a waste of time and everyone knows it,” I said. “We’re all just gonna wind up janitors and strippers.” It was the kind of thing Miriam said, with a careless laugh as if she were looking forward to it. My dad unhooked his hands from the wheel, rubbed them together, and went for his cigarettes. His shirt was denim, and the edges of the pack were faded into the front pocket. “Can I have one?” “Nope.” He put his hands down. “I lost my virginity,” I said. I don’t know why I said it, maybe because I wanted to shock him, but mostly because it was the only thing I could think about. “To Corey Michaels. Now he won’t talk to me.” My dad looked at me then. His eyes were so deep in his head, it was as if they were sinking toward his brain. I tried to see how we were alike. Maybe we had the same thick eyebrows, the same pointy nose and chin. “That’s just dumb,” he said.
32 temenos I thought he was talking about Corey, so I said, “Yeah.” It felt good to agree with my dad. But he was talking about me. “Didn’t your mother teach you anything?” he said. “What did you think was gonna happen?” He swiped one arm at me like to hit or hug me, but he just gave my shoulder a push. “Get out of my car,” he said. I couldn’t move. “Get on out, girl.” “Why do you come here?” I said. “If you hate me.” “Hannah,” my dad said. The space after my name stretched open. I would’ve given a year of my life to hear him say it again. “You don’t understand,” he said. Suddenly he sounded smart and serious, the way a dad was supposed to sound. “I’ve done a lot of shitty things. Much worse than some dickhead not talking to you. Worse than leaving you and your mom.” “What did you do?” “Don’t worry about it.” He gestured to include the high school, the street where Mom and I lived, and the whole town. “For me, it never got better than this.” He started the car. But I had to make the conversation last. “Do you miss us?” I waited for what he was about to say, the one thing that would make sense of my whole life. My dad took out his cigarettes. “Get rid of your slutty friend,” he said. “Stop throwing yourself at assholes. You’re gonna be ok.” “You don’t even know me.” I slammed the door, and he drove without looking back, merging into traffic, until I couldn’t tell which car was his. Then I walked away from the school, through the parking lot, under the highway, up Main Street, past the pizza places and the Softee Scoop, the movie theater with its shuddering sign, all those ugly storefronts I’d grown up with. The old men whistled, but I didn’t turn.
Poem From a Gemini My face was once my sister’s. Separated as the silence between two heartbeats. Envy multiplies like mirrors facing mirrors, like cancer. Where have you been? It took so long to find you because I did not know what I looked like. I moved. You moved. We moved, but like north/north magnets. Gemini strand, stop and accept this truth— I am giving back this face to you.
—Louis P. Nappen
The Hungry Dead Grandpa Conundrum Grandpa was a mean old asshole. Angry, intolerant, impatient, a casual drunk and chain-smoker, and always hungry, especially near the end. He weighed four hundred pounds when he died, puddled in his orange tartan recliner, threadbare and stained, sauce on his chin and bones at his feet. Cardiac arrest was the diagnosis, but that would mean he had a heart. Uncle Dave arrived the morning after the funeral to haul the chair away—Mom wanted it gone, promised him a case of beer. But Grandma collapsed into hysterics, demanded the chair be left alone and forbid any of us from even thinking about sitting on it. Dave left, Grandma and Mom went for groceries, and I decided to watch a movie. I found the remote on Grandpa’s chair, but the chair began shaking and rumbling like a garburator, then sucked the remote into the cushions. I reached my hand in after it, but the chair shook violently and emitted something that sounded like a growl. I crept away and locked myself in my bedroom until they got home. The next day Mom was brewing coffee when she heard the cat squeal like a stuck pig, but when she arrived in the living room, all that was left were tufts of grey hair and blood smeared on the chair’s armrest. Two days after that, Great Aunt Sue ignored our warnings and sat in the chair to spite her dead brother-in-law—we watched in horror as the blue-haired octogenarian was swallowed like a log by a woodchipper. Mom called Uncle Dave, told him to bring some chain, and get over quick. She took Grandma to Bingo at the Legion and left me to wait for Dave. I stood on the porch, just to be safe. Dave arrived with the chain and we slipped inside, like invaders ourselves. The chair was where we left it, rocking slightly, audibly munching on a TV Guide. We snuck behind it, the chain strung between us, slinking closer when the chair spun around, leg rest extended, and lunged at us. The tussle is hazy at best, but I know we fought for our lives. We managed to subdue it, but not before it chomped off half of Dave’s left hand. “I only jerk off with that one sometimes,” he said, wrapping a rag around the wound. Once he was bandaged, we dragged the chair outside and into his truck. Neighbours stopped weeding their gardens or sneaking cigarettes behind their husbands’ backs to watch us struggle with the unusually kinetic armchair. We strapped it down and beelined for the town dump. We drove deep into the dump, dragging the chair out and dousing it in gasoline. Dave lit it with a matchbook commemorating Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding; we watched it burn, listened to its agonizing howls and wails, cowered as it shuddered, violent and desperate, like an unbalanced
Hidden 35 washing machine in an earthquake. We watched for an hour, and just when we thought it would burn forever it fizzled suddenly, a chemical reaction between grief, flames, and whatever that thing was. As we fled, I stared out the back window, watching the blackness billow up and away, dissipating into blue. The next morning, I awoke to a piercing shriek from downstairs. I yanked on shorts and bolted downstairs, finding exactly what I feared– the orange tartan chair, not a burn, yet all the same stains, sauce or blood, from before its ritual execution barely twelve hours earlier. Mom paced the hallway, and I held her, told her we were going to be okay even though I had no clue if we would ever be remotely okay. We stood like that for what felt like years. But we’re okay, now. Grandpa, as we call him, is like a pet. Sure, maybe it’s like keeping a Komodo dragon or silverback gorilla, and yes, there is an inherent dread that comes with cohabitating with a bloodthirsty monster—but we manage, besides me needing a second job to help pay for steak. Grandpa prefers fresh meat.
Eisenhower Building, Washington, DC
The Wives of West Michigan Businessmen The wives of West Michigan businessmen are blond and beautiful. They live on the shores of great water, in houses as grand as the tourist homes of a century before. They keep their mothers in the closets of their guest rooms, in paperboard boxes the shape of hats. The mothers seldom complain. They were once the wives of West Michigan businessmen and so have learned tolerance and conciliation—even forms of love. The dogs of West Michigan businessmen are huge but well-behaved. They play Frisbee in yards fenced invisibly, while the wives of West Michigan businessmen lounge in designer sweats sewn by Guatemalan women in factories no respectable Midwesterner would refer to as sweatshops. The wives of West Michigan businessmen are happy, and the Guatemalan seamstresses are happy as well for that reason. The wives of Guatemalan businessmen raise small dogs in slate-roofed paddocks of plantations where bananas no longer grow. They spoil the dogs as if they were children. Their husbands may be brutes but are insanely rich. The wives of Guatemalan businessmen keep their mothers in unfenced yards far from the sweat-shops of Guatemala. The wives of Guatemalan businessmen are happy. Who, then, is to be envied here? The smiling seamstresses? The borzoi? The mother in the hatbox? Or is it the Guatemalan rancher who cannot—even on his best horse—survey the boundaries of his vast estate and return to his wife in a single week?
The Cake: Poland 1970 On a cold, grey morning in December, while the bell in the clock tower outside our apartment rings out the eleventh hour, a parade of people walk down Zukowa Street. In dark coats and leather shoes, men wearing ties and women carrying handbags, they could be going to church for Sunday mass. But today is only Saturday. Three men near the end of the parade hold up a white banner with writing I can’t read. The two soldiers who daily stand guard alone on either side of the clock tower, have moved close together. I stand at our window watching the crowd pass and look for my father who left early this morning to shop for ingredients for a cake he will make for my aunt Albercia’s birthday. My little sister is on the floor drawing balloons on a birthday card, and my mother is in front of the wardrobe mirror trying on her red silk dress. “Well, how do I look?” my mother asks. I glance at the material hanging in soft folds at her back and see a hole the size of an egg in the dress. She smooths the fabric along her hips and her hand skims the edge of the ruined part. White underwear glows through the hole. Beyond her, I can see the reflection in the mirror projecting a good dress. “Mom, there’s a hole,” I say. She turns her back to the mirror. “My God, what happened?” she asks and looks over at my sister Elwirka who is holding a pair of scissors in her hands. “Did you cut my dress?” Elwirka shakes her head and stares at the floor. “You have to tell me the truth.” Elwirka puts the incriminating scissors down and tugs on the socks on her feet. My mother sits down beside her on the floor and pushes her brown bangs off her forehead. “Don’t be scared. It will feel better when you tell the truth,” she says. “Holding lies inside isn’t good for you.” My sister sits silent. “We are just going to stay here then, until you’re ready to tell me what happened. I can wait.” I sit down on the floor next to my mother and lay my head on her lap. The sound of a siren wails past, followed by the sound of speeding cars. Outside our window I can see the sky has darkened to a murky grey and it’s started to snow. A random design of snow flakes sticks to the window pane. I create lines by connecting the dots in my mind and listen to the creak of footsteps in the hallway and the hushed voices of our neighbours on the other side of our walls. To our right, I hear Mrs. Zeromska asking
Hidden 39 Mr. Zeromski to set the table, telling him the soup is ready and then the sound of his slippers scuffling on the floor as he crosses the apartment. A chair lightly scrapes the floor and plates clank. On the left, Mrs. Szefronska coos to her new baby boy. The springs of his stroller squeak as it rocks back and forth. I wonder if they listen to us? We are a family of four and we can get loud. My father, Jurek is 26. He has red wavy hair and a maze of freckles on his face and hands. My mother, Mirka is 25. She has black straight hair and flawless pale skin. They make a handsome couple, both tall and thin. My father stands a perfect two inches above my mother. My little sister Elwirka is four with chubby cheeks and brown eyes, and I am almost 7. I have my mother’s dark hair and my father’s freckles. My name is Ania. If said in the proper order, our names form a rhythmic jingle: Jurek, Mirka, Ania and Elwrika. Occasionally we sing it when we walk along the sidewalks of our neighbourhoods. We live in the very center of Szczecinek, a small town in north-western Poland, on Plac Wolnosci (Square of Freedom). But Poland is not free. It hasn’t been for a long time. There is a brick wall which divides everything into two sides. I’ve never actually seen this wall, but imagine it has spirals of thick barbed-wire across the top and stretches higher than any building in Szczecinek. We are on the east side of the wall, the side everyone wants to leave but is not allowed. Plac Wolnosci has a red-brick city hall at its head, with heavy wooden doors and a clock tower with a bell that marks our hours. Narrow threestorey buildings, lined with tall windows that glow like eyes at night, flank the two adjacent sides and a park lines the fourth side. Our apartment is on the second floor of a building to the right of our town hall. It is a rectangular room with a hardwood floor and a window in the far wall. Five steps from the front door places you dead center in the middle of the room. Five more steps and you are against the window looking down on Plac Wolnsci. The four of us live in this one room. We have a set of cups and plates, a table with four chairs and two beds and a crib. A double bed for our parents stands along the right hand side of the room. My bed, a twin which during the day serves as a couch, lies at the foot of their bed. A coal-burning oven is situated in the corner of the room. It’s a square block covered in mustardcolored tiles, reaching just a few inches shy of the ceiling. It has an ornate wrought iron door where the coal is scooped in. When I lie in my bed, I can hear the hiss of the fire burning inside. Elwirka’s crib is across the room from me. A wooden wardrobe stands against the wall next to her crib. It serves as a barrier from the window for
40 temenos Elwirka who is afraid of the outside and doesn’t want to see it before she falls asleep. The dining table and chairs are pushed against the wall left of the window. We have some clothes in the wardrobe and a small stack of books on the floor next to my bed. There are no vases or pictures on the wall, no throw cushions or rugs or color schemes. The room is lined with plain solid furniture, giving shape to a rectangular space on the hardwood floor. Elwirka and I usually occupy that space, she cutting things with her scissors and me pretending to be able to read my books. But this morning we are sitting here waiting for Elwirka to tell us the truth. I count the bell ring twelve times in the clock tower and wonder when my father will be back. “Did you cut my dress?” my mother asks again. Elwirka looks at her with innocent brown eyes and nods yes. “Good girl. Why did you do it?” Elwirka walks over to her crib and pulls a doll from under her blankets. She comes back and presents the doll to my mother. The red piece of material from the dress is stretched across the doll’s chest and tucked in under the arms. The back is bare. “You wanted a dress for your doll,” my mother says and gives Elwirka a hug. “At times we all have to do crazy things to get what we need,” she adds. Just when I’m about to ask why Elwirka is not in trouble for cutting a hole in my mother’s dress, my father comes through the door and stands with his arms stretched out wide, holding a bag of eggs in one hand and a frantic clucking chicken in the other. “Eggs or chicken?” he asks. “Which do you want first?” “Have you lost your mind or are you drunk?” my mother whispers and quickly skirts around him to close the door. My father puts the bag of eggs on the table and pulls a piece of wood from one coat pocket and a small axe from the other. He puts the slab of wood on the floor in the middle of the room and hands the bird to my mother. “Hold the neck down on this.” “You’re not killing it here,” she says and lets go of the bird which runs in every open direction looking for an escape in this closed room. It dashes towards Elwira who stands frozen with her eyes closed, clutching her doll. My father scoops her up and puts her in her crib. When the chicken darts towards me I hop on my bed and scream. “It’s here, Dad. Get it. It’s over here,” I yell and point. My father chases it from one side of the room to the other, knees bent, back hunched and arms stretched. The bird cackles as it darts out of his reach
Hidden 41 and my father mumbles profanities. Both run circles and bump into the furniture. My mother stands in the middle of the room in her red dress with the hole on her bum, laughing so hard she’s wiping tears from her cheeks. Empty handed, feathers stuck in his hair, my father stops, turns to my mother, and says, “For Christ sake Mirka, when I say hold the chicken, then hold it.” He goes back to chasing and my mother laughs even harder. When he finally gets the chicken into his arms, he kneels in front of the piece of wood and calls my mother. She gets down on her knees beside him and holds the bird. He presses the skinny neck down on the wood with one hand and with the other chops its head off. Blood spurts across my parents’ hands. My mother screams and sets the bird’s body free. The headless thing runs back out into the room. Wings flapping, it bangs into the wall, retrieves and slams into the same spot again and again. We stare at it speechless until it falls on its back, the wings stop twitching and blood spills out on the floor. My father hangs the chicken corpse in our shared kitchen across the hall and puts a steel pail under it to catch the draining blood. My mother hangs her red dress in the closet, changes into a blouse and a pair of slacks, and sweeps up the feathers. Together they get a bucket of water and wipe up the blood. “Get dressed girls,” she says. “We’ll go shopping for your aunt’s present while your father makes his cake.” With the cake ingredients spread on the table, he cracks six eggs into a bowl, swings a chair into the middle of the room, sits in the chair with the bowl in his lap and whisks the eggs into white foam. Before we leave, he winks at us while he whisks the eggs. Snow gently swirls across the window behind him. When we return, just before suppertime, the scent of chocolate, butter and nutmeg linger in the stairwell. Inside our apartment, he is singing a birthday song. Flour smudged on his pants and black socks, and a white towel draped over his shoulder, he bows, swishes the towel in front of him and extends his arms toward the cake. It sits perfectly glazed in chocolate in the center of the table. He waltzes towards us and kisses my mother on the lips. Then wraps his arm around her waste and dances her across the floor; her coat billows and skims the furniture as they spin. The four of us walk to the party, my father with a cake in his hands. Under the streetlamps, we walk abreast taking up the entire sidewalk. We step across our shadows watching them slip under our feet and then rise up again like waves.
My son asks if I had special powers would I fly or read minds or move faster than sound— than light? I can tell you I would not, even with the monarchs, fly to Mexico or past light or through the mind’s flash and wind. I would stretch open that imperceptible gap, between now and before and the next, clip a sliver in time’s continuum, slip inside, beyond and between deadlines— these, those. I would run my fingers along a crevice of cottonwood bark until I touch the cicada buzz, that summer hum of dusk rolling up and back, here, feel it alongside the push of an ocean tide, there. You are with me, and I hold your baby cheeks between my hands, or for a day, maybe, we would be children, together, laughing, when you make your goblin face as you do, tall enough I tilt my head, just, but enough that I don’t squint, here on this sun-full March afternoon, its brown grass and ground, meager, always caught after ice, before bloom.
—Kristin Van Tassel
Six Year Anniversary It’s four a.m. You’re sitting next to me with your homework smeared in front of you like something dirty on your glasses and I’m playing Zelda like it’s homework. Even with our legs knotted together I’m still cold, so deep it’s hooked in my bones. Your fingers flick through notes I can’t read at this angle. Today my manager, Jonny, told me his three month son is in the hospital with brain abnormalities. Jonny, whose face is like mine, always serious but never taken seriously. Jonny, whose child I wish was mine. I’m going in four hours early tomorrow, I say, so Jonny can go see his son. But also because Dale will be working, and the quirk of his lips and the smilecrease around his eyes pour melted wax into the cracks of my bones and when I come home to you it cools and holds my body together when you cling too tightly to me in the middle of the night. Right now, while I’m waiting for you to finish your homework Dale’s at home getting high with the dishwasher and I think I could get him higher, and the dishwasher’s hands can’t do what mine can. If we’ve been together for six years shouldn’t you be wondering what I’m wearing right now? I could have put on something with black lace but this morning I just put on something black. Is it really 4 a.m.? you ask, like we should be in bed. The clock is wrong, I answer. Two blocks over is the hospital where Jonny’s baby is hooked up to an IV, with a slow dripdripdrip of his blood through the tube. You just look at me and ask how many bones are in the human body?
Night Bloom #36
Ad At first he thinks that she’s advertising a gentlemen’s club. Relaxed on her back, naked, she displays long inviting thighs. He’s amazed to read the ad’s for footwear— is she wearing shoes?
—G. B. Ryan
Rite We held a ceremony of old photographs and shards of poetryâ€” praying for certainty in our unforgetting: How you laughed a sky of sheep welcoming me home from a journey of mud puddles. How you solaced wasp bites and fevers, veins written in poison, and the doubts of my changing body. Each of us wrote a different biography of the fragments we had collected from your evanescence. We made our rite from such scatter, memories made like doilies you crocheted now fragile yellow. We unboxed history like our musty opening of Christmas decorations: thin metal reflectors for burned out lightsâ€”
Hidden 47 brittle glass bulbs for long dead trees— and browned cards written by childish hands from another century. This false shell of you dressed by morticians to a pale doll, lies unfeeling witness to the fading images we have collaged into a biography of absence and space, pretending time will warp our way. In the center, an image of you in brilliant red, at a doorway waiting for something to open— or something to close. And a background of music played to your unhearing ears— as if you could be unghosted to dance.
—David Anthony Sam
History for Tomaž Šalamun Charles Kell is a monster. His body a clay ball bouncing off each side of the cell. He lies on rusty springs, stares through a square window at a distant tree. People watch & point at his skin patched with moss. Maybe he is a rock from another land, they shrug. Maybe a pile of dust no one knows how to get rid of. We could use him for food when supplies run out. He should be taken behind the fence & beaten with a stick. Charles’s head is a pumpkin. He presses his lips between sheets of white paper. Cool edges cut quick. A drip hits the grey floor. They should chop off his right hand & stow it in formaldehyde, so students can study it as they do pig fetuses. In a month he will move no more. His body will be a tree & they will stick thumbtacks in his side. Poor barefoot children will climb branches & rub wet mud over his bark.
A Curtain of Dark Automatic fashion, black drape hung with a pin-hole of white light scratching in. I held air between index finger & thumb, lips touched nothing then. The sound of dripping water hit the grey basin, metronome thud, then clicking branches against the frozen window pane. It was your venom nail. The one who touched, dug in first. I try to think now on the exact moment my body grew rigid, then relaxed under your grip. Nothing. I let myself be caressed like a corpse. A crack in the wall is only a dark hole. You are enameled. You walk behind your own coffin. We never talked. A strange house sleeping in the wood. Curtains drawn. Only your cracked lips open, twisted fingers writhing over every inch of my body. I see your eyes in the cemetery grass.
Diogenes in the Rain Long on the street, he is bleary like smears of red tail lights blinking rain from the hurry of commuters finding homes— The cars gutter rush the gray rain from false rivers curbside to slosh over his pantlegs in a cold blessing— He is muddle but then so are we all mud-made inspired by an empty daemon— staggering our steps from one homeless darkness to another— Are there no shelters, no work shops to remake flesh like recycled steel? He’s free enough to melt like a cardboard sign begging for a few bills—
Hidden 51 The rain is warm and he is dry inside where the meat meets the bone and his heart is his memory: good good good it says were the days before thornsâ€”
â€”David Anthony Sam
Now Ready to shed The geography of death; the shroud Of leaf and vine. Ready to mirror The sheer of the moon’s marrow. Let a net of words Snare the loam’s fin; quills Of candle and stone Exhale. Ready to shape A lilac’s stirrup; the plumes Of carpet and frame. Let a willow’s voice Color talon and claw; emerge From wet sand.
â€”Nicholas J.J. Smith
You Will Be Buried Where You Were Born after Pier Paolo Pasolini Remember Sundays? Waking late, the pain between my legs a prison, the sound downstairs of hacking, yelling voices, slurps of coffee, the prison of urine-smelling laundry waiting. Remember locking the bedroom door to scream in peace? Mouth stuffed with sooty blankets, pining for another twilight, when loneliness and freedom held hands in the yard below—such nights would never come between my prison bars. After the family meal, don’t forget running to the graveyard behind the train station, pulling the escape cord between my legs—shoot, explode, repeat until I’d bleed. Cumming alone on the mounds of soil, graves of men who died at war who should have been making babies. A century of love came and went into my hand, or pits of earth, unfilled plots marked with wooden crosses. And don’t forget how their bodies followed me home, khaki-clad souls assembled above my bed like puppets of a horror house—remember the body naked, empty, beneath them.
The Last Laugh When death comes, the long and short of it is the act has no curtain, no bow and no empty seats.
Contributor Bios Daniel Aristi was born in Spain. He studied French Literature as an undergrad (French Lycée in San Sebastian). He now lives and writes in Switzerland with his wife and two children. Daniel’s work is forthcoming or has been recently featured in Queen’s Ferry Press Anthology ‘Best of Small Fictions 2016’, Superstition Review, Dewpoint, and New Plains Review. Daniel is a Pushcart nominee (2015). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Kristen Holt Browning holds an MA in English from University College London. She lives in New York State’s Hudson Valley, where she works as a freelance editor. Jill Dery has published stories in Bellingham Review, Fourteen Hills, and others; she’s published poetry in Antiphon, SPRR, Windfall, Broad Street, and Penn Review, with poems forthcoming in Tule Review, Blueline, and ELJ. Her MFA in poetry is from UC Irvine. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she’s lived in Anchorage since 1992. Anthony DiPietro is a Rhode Island native who has worked in community-based organizations that address issues such as violence, abuse, and income inequality. In 2016, he moved to New York to join Stony Brook University as a MFA in Creative Writing candidate and now teaches undergraduate courses. A graduate of Brown University, he has earned fellowships or residencies from Aspen Summer Words, Azule, The Frost Place, Key West Literary Seminars, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Anomaly, Assaracus, The Good Men Project, Rogue Agent, Talking River, and Welter. His website is AnthonyWriter.com. Bob Duffy comes to fiction writing after a long career as an academic, advertizing agency VP, and consultant. His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in half-a-dozen online and/or print magazines. He also reviews regularly for the Washington Independent Review of Books (http:// www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/reviewer/bob-duffy). Ginny Fite is the author of the Sam Lagarde mystery/thrillers Cromwell’s Folly, No Good Deed Left Undone, and Lying, Cheating, & Occasionally Murder. Her chapbook of poems, The Last Thousand Years, was published by Loyola College. The collection of linked short stories, Stronger in
Hidden 57 Heaven, of which “Finding the Square Root of Everything” is part, was long-listed for the Santa Fe Writer’s Project contest. Her degrees are from Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins University. Gary Galsworth grew up in the New York City area. He spent three years in the Marine Corps before studying painting and filmmaking at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. His work has been featured in Abstract: Contemporary Expressions, Pennsylvania English, and Broad River Review. In addition to writing poetry, he is a professional plumber and a lifelong student of Zen Meditation. He’s published two books of poems: Yes Yes, and Beyond the Wire. Gary lives in Hoboken, NJ. Stephen Ground is a graduate of York University and spent a decade between Toronto, Saskatoon, and Canada’s far North in a remote, fly-in community. He has since landed in his hometown of Milton, Ontario. His work has appeared on The 1888, and is forthcoming from Memoir Magazine. Diane Helentjaris is a photojournalist living in the piedmont of Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains, just outside Washington, D.C. Her work frequently features the people and sights of her home, picturesque Loudoun County, where suburbanization has mixed with rural life to create a vibrant new culture. An Ohioan by birth, she earned her BA cum laude in Humanities and her MD from Michigan State and her MPH from the University of Michigan. After a career as a clinical physician, public health administrator and women’s health advocate, she thoroughly enjoys the expansion of her lifelong love of writing and photography. Anna Karpinski was born in Poland and immigrated to Canada at the age of eight. She received a BA in Russian Literature and began to travel the world and write. Her story “Morning Train” was published in Riptides and her story “Odessa” was published in the Antigonish Review. She writes travel articles and is working on her first memoir. Charles Kell is a PhD student at The University of Rhode Island and editor of The Ocean State Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, IthacaLit, The Pinch, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
58 temenos John Langfeld wrote in the closet from 1980 until 2009 when he showed his work (for the first time!) to total strangers at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. It was a good thing. He found his voice had a name. They called it “epigrammatic,” a term joined at the hip with “aphoristic” and “apothegmatic.” Langfeld prefers the moniker “brevitist.” It is easier on the tongue. Langfeld’s favorite dictum is this: “The shorter the poem, the longer the sit.” It all began when he realized that…God rested two days and never told anybody. (1982) Samantha Malay was born in Berlin, Germany and grew up in rural eastern Washington State. She is a theatrical wardrobe technician by trade, a writer and a mixed-media artist. Inspired by the plant kingdom and her collection of vintage textiles, she works with reclaimed fabric, travel ephemera, and beeswax to create new textures and patterns. Her poem/collage “Rimrock Ranch” was exhibited at Core Gallery in Seattle in January 2017; her mixed-media images were published in the September 2017 issue of The Grief Diaries, are featured in the Fall 2017 issue of phoebe (print and online), and will appear in the Spring 2018 issue of Apeiron Review. Her artwork is available at Garden Essentia and Royal Mansion Gallery, both in Seattle. “Night Bloom #36” belongs to a series of collages Samantha made with salvaged fabric, photo fragments and beeswax. Katy McAllister is a gardening enthusiast from Michigan. She might have as many houseplants as she does books, which is quite a feat. Her work has previously been published in Temenos, as well as Rising Phoenix Review and Flash Fiction Magazine. Kevin J. McDaniel lives in Pulaski, Virginia, with his wife, two daughters, and two old chocolate Labs. To date, his work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Artemis Journal, Broad River Review, Common Ground Review, Floyd County Moonshine, Freshwater Literary Journal, Gravel, JuxtaProse, The Cape Rock, The Main Street Rag, The Offbeat, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Wiley Cash (Volume X) and others. His recent chapbook, Family Talks, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. Joseph Murphy has been published in a wide range of journals. His first poetry collection, Crafting Wings, was published by Scars Publications (2017). A second collection, Having Lived, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books (2018). He is also senior poetry editor for a literary publication, Halfway Down the Stairs, established 2006.
Hidden 59 Louis P. Nappen received his BA/MAT degrees from Monmouth University and for several years taught high school English and journalism. He then attended Seton Hall University Law School and presently works as an attorney in a small firm that focuses on criminal defense and constitutional/civil rights. Anita Ngai was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Vancouver, Canada, and went to school on the east coast of the US. Her writing has appeared in Figroot Press, Talking River, Imprint, Lit Crawl and various architecture magazines. She was trained as a structural engineer, has worked as a management consultant with McKinsey, marketing executive at Expedia and TripAdvisor, and is currently a business executive in a fast-growing technology start-up. Joseph S. Pete is a photographer, an award-winning journalist, a war veteran, an Indiana University graduate, and a frequent guest on NPR. He was named poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, which Chaucer never accomplished. His work has appeared in Roaring Muse, Dogzplot, shufPoetry, Blue Collar Review, Prairie Winds, and elsewhere. Alita Pirkopf grew up in Seattle and attended Middlebury College in Vermont. Later she received a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Denver. She became increasingly interested in feminist interpretations of literature and eventually enrolled in a poetry seminar and poetry became a long-term focus and necessity. G.B. Ryan was born in Ireland and graduated from University College Dublin. He is a ghostwriter in New York City. Elkhound published his Who You Need To Start A Riot in May 2017. His poems are nearly all about incidents that involve real people in real places and use little heightened language. David Anthony Sam’s poetry has appeared in over 70 publications and he has four collections. With degrees from Eastern Michigan University (BA, MA) and Michigan State University (PhD), Sam lives now in Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda, and in 2017 retired as president of Germanna Community College. He was the featured poet in The Hurricane Review (2016) and Light: A Journal of Photography and Poetry (2017). Finite to Fail: Poems after Dickinson, was 2016 Grand Prize winner of GFT Press Chapbook Contest after which he began serving as GFT’s Poetry Editor. www.davidanthonysam.com
60 temenos Nicholas J.J. Smith is a photographer and philosopher based in Sydney, Australia. He is the designer for the literary magazine Snorkel. His photographs have been published widely in print and online. Website: http://njjsmith.com Phillip Sterling is the author of two poetry collections, And Then Snow and Mutual Shores, a collection of short fiction, In Which Brief Stories Are Told, and four chapbook-length series of poems. His story “Registry” is included in Best Small Fictions 2017. Tobey Ward received her MFA from the University of Oregon, and her fiction and lifestyle writing have appeared in The South Carolina Review, DC Magazine, and Red Rock Review, among others. She currently lives in Philadelphia where she is an editorial copywriter at Urban Outfitters. Kristin Van Tassel teaches writing and American literature at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. She writes essays and poetry about place, teaching, motherhood, and travel. Her work has appeared in literary, academic, and travel publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, World Hum, ISLE, The Journal of Ecocriticism, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Land Report, About Place, and Relief. Georgia Wilder produces “Wild Writers” a monthly poetry salon in Toronto, Canada. She teaches writing at University of Toronto. Her poems and short stories have been published in several literary journals, including the Journey Prize Anthology (Penguin/Random House, 2015). Dominika Wrozynski is an Assistant Professor of English at Manhattan College in New York City. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, Slipstream, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Saw Palm, Rattle, Five Points, Nimrod, Birmingham Poetry Review and New Madrid.