Koan - Issue 001

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The Cow That Jumped Over the MoonBees can fly about nine miles to find food, so we should be able to walk from here to the Jersey state line. I just don’t know exactly when. Sex is also a great form of exercise. If you think it could be, but then say, “No, it’s not like that,” go with your initial instinct. What’s most challenging is seeing the same story repeated over and over. We’re not inventing anything; we’re stealing from others really well. And that’s not going to change. Very few

Cover Art by Margaret Siu

Letter From the Editors Dear reader, Welcome to the first issue of Kōan Literary Magazine. In the following pages, we present to you prose, poetry and art which occupy the threshold between the real and the imagined, the every day and the magical, and the readily credible and the fantastic. At first, we struggled to compile these distinct pieces. When we looked beyond logic and into each piece’s emotions, we were finally able to concoct three parts: Exterior, Threshold, and Interior. Exterior is at times closer to a logical reality because its pieces explore relationships with places and people. Threshold questions the fine line between reality, dreams, and could-have-beens, while Interior challenges thought processes. These distinctions, however, are very loose. Please keep in mind that a different person has created each work from his or her own experiences. And we have separated collections, so some pieces may read differently from their creators’ intentions. We encourage you to read the magazine as a whole. We encourage you to ignore our borders and read and interpret each piece individually. But most importantly, we encourage you, as Bradford Morrow says, to “read dangerously” and with an open mind. We were all excited to organize a space that allows creators to search within themselves rather than worry about how an audience may receive their work. Whether their pieces were experiments, happy accidents, or excruciating attempts to create their own structures, these writers and artists poured their deepest thoughts out. Their work will without a doubt inspire others to reach outside the box and ignore the restrictions that keep us afraid and self-conscious in our own realities. For this, we thank all of our contributors and raise our hearts to their courage and hard work.

Sincerely, Clara Davis, Co. Editor-in-Chief Victoria Johnson, Co. Editor-in-Chief Shanel Ledesma, Graphic Designer and Business Manager Liam Mayo, Managing Editor Harrison Yang, Online Editor


Exterior 8 “You, Me, and the Symphony” 9 “Why Most Words Are Hidden” 10 “Dis-Courage” 11 “It Glitters” 12 “Virgin” 13 “Le Salon De Jardin” 14 “Did you think I wouldn’t say something” 15 “Meat Factory” 16 “Protest” 17 “Youngest Ever Pt. 1” 18 “Corridor” 19 “Tourniquet” 20 “Shadows” 21 “Busy Beeing Born And Buzzy Dying” 22 “Oranges” 23 “Forgotten Smells” 24 “Moments and Lapse” 25 “Untitled” 26 “Yard Sale” 27 “Hamzeh” 28 “Poems Debugging I” 29 “Ff7 on ps1” 30 “Youngest Ever - Pt. 2” 31 “I was raised by the internet” 32 “Mother and Child” 33 “Race Against Time” 34 “The War at Sea”/ “Time Will Tell”

Threshold 42 “Re-imagining Gulliver Travels” 43 “Green Dreams” 44 “Dream Sequences Phase I” 45 “Youngest Ever Pt. 3” 46 “Santa’s Helper” 50 “Youngest Ever Pt. 4” 51 “In Dreams” 52 “Octopus Dreams Whisper on Ammonia Wind” 53 “Just Imagine” 54 “A Life Across the Street” 57 “Cri De Coeur” 58 “They Were Tired of Roaming the Perimeter and Policing the Flowers” 63 “Mrs. Wolff” 66 “Vestiges” 67 “Corvus” 68 “Fire Burns Upward”

69 “West Virginian Golem” 70 “She Dances in Flames” 71 “Billowing” 72 “Act. IV of the Unruly Hair” 73 “Blue Love” 74 “The Cow That Jumped Over the Moon” 75 “Something Axiomatic” 76 “Youngest Ever Pt. 5” 77 “Appalachian Cyclops” 78 “The Minotaur of Western Pennsylvania”

Interior 82 “Accidental Rendezvous” and “Lover” 83 “Bathing with the Wife of Bath” 84 “We’re There and Here” 85 “Immortality and I” 86 “Leave your house and home unhaunted” 88 “Poem Debugging II” 89 “Klatsch” 90 “Youngest Ever Pt. 6” 91 “Post-Hipster Chorus” 92 “The Great Philosopher Too” 93 “Seinfeldian Kōan Feeds Head” 94 “Youngest Ever Pt. 7” 95 “Youngest Ever Pt. 8” 96 “The other side of paradise” 98 “Youngest Ever Pt. 9” 99 “Reparations” 100 “Steinweg’s Erosion”

101 Contributors


You, Me, and the Symphony by Anna Leah Eisner

Take it from the outside looking in though it was outside. Mountaintop silence, city cacophony, two beings dropped until they stopped the earth right on Osh, Kyrgyzstan – a country you had to show your mother, that you yourself frantically found in the days before the coming, going.

Words – spilling onto the pavement at unprecedented rates, sounding bells and drums, mallets and nails, and birds’ tongues while they wait for spring. Solomon’s wisdom is silence, a baby cut in half, years of wandering, propheting, and being buried in three spots, one of which might be near the ground under our feet. Maybe, and maybe not.

A slowing, the sun sinking behind your head – they have said you look like Jesus when you’re walking down the street but we’re on Solomon now, as the heat of the rocks disappears under our bodies.

Words – the thought transformed by gutfire and spit and a great shuddering in the orchestra pit of the abdomen. We sit atop the place divined by the things we said about it, sometimes holy and sometimes not. Where is Solomon now? We’ve lost him, or maybe we are lost. Dare we speak these

Lights burn below, Solomon’s wisdom echoes in your ear, our voices make the ringing sound of hammers in the stillness of the night: maybe silence is holy Maybe – and maybe you have a place for words unspoken, lodged in the temple or above the stomach, but words they come, eventually.

words? maybe, and maybe not



Why Most Words are Hidden by Frederico Federici

Dis-Courage by Jill Dery

People who admire rebels expect them to fit inside a definition. Doors of ownership clang closely with an echo that won’t be hushed. This reverberation needs courage. I, they, you—don’t know to leave the mouse to nibble at the skirting, or when to put the brush down let the building paint itself.


It Glitters by Jill Dery

Hawk’s wing after rain – to watch swoop to catch and eat a rodent. Used diamond on a ring beneath a – on discount. Crusted snow both sides an April path. Shaken out like coins, a sequined dress, smashed glass, rock-salt for snow-melt curved claws curved beak. Shimmering like the worst of indecision. Noise in my throat when I see my chance that day, the next, and tomorrows unhappily ever after gone snatched without a voice or just a – squeak. This glitters, too.


Virgin by Jill Dery

Snow turns ugly quickly: an hour after it’s fallen, it’s marred by dirty boots, splashed by muddy cars. Littered, pissed, and crapped on. Within weeks, if no new snow falls, old snow breeds a harsh crust, breaks up in pieces lacking symmetry. But briefly once it’s fallen—still untouched—it’s beautiful, so we call it virgin. What is innately lovely about virginity? Why did Mary have to be a virgin before and after divine impregnation? To separate Christianity from the lecher gods of so-called pagans? Ownership is key, is phallic; the lock’s important only until opened. If Jesus had belonged in part to Joseph, what wars would have been undertaken, then?


Le Salon de Jardin by J. H. Martin

An orgy of frogs A heron-speared carp The discarded feathers And the leftover innards Of a savaged bird This is your garden The one – My days walk slowly Ever faster through Like the shadow On the grey sundial Like the rust Upon the watering can My thoughts are your seeds My body – your dirt A diseased but Blooming cherry bough From which this mind's Fragmented belt Still struggles hard To try and hang Some misguided form Of an empty self Is that too sad for you My stony owl? Is that too old for you My preening water nymph? As we sit And as we listen To those rippling murmurs Of a drifting spring Watching all your beasts of beauty As they hunt And then devour their prey Before your tired sun wanes And your bright moon waxes And we all begin to copulate again


Did you think I wouldn’t say something by Daisy Bassen

There is a shadow of a penis in my yard. It could be something else I suppose, a rocket-ship or the kind of tower a princess is imprisoned in, too slick to scale, but those are both like a penis too. The blades of grass, we might think they are like a field of erect cocks, not even stirred by a breeze, green and darker green, like two alien species on an episode of a low-budget sci-fi show. There are penises everywhere, always have been, Roman graffiti and what survived Pompeii, scribbled on notebooks, caves, locker-rooms, scratched into what remains of a phone booth in Grand Central Station. There’s a tree across the street that smells like sex every year, but it’s not the same. The shadow grows bigger every day until we hit solstice, like light itself is trying to fuck the world. I want to say, take a break, we’ve got that covered and the world is right there with us, fucking us back. It’s the chimney that makes the shadow and I’m the one who cleans out the ash, opens the flue. I always check to make sure it catches. There’s always something little left to burn.


Meat Factory by Margaret Siu

China, 2004: 115.88 boys crafted for every 100 accidental girls In the meat factory you want sons to wear your name and their sons to wear your name. You think less about the machines, Daughters. Faceless, nameless, seen but never heard. You’ve pressed their hips and shipped them back into the delivery room. For each sack of fresh bone and blood, you check its gender and, phew-its-a-boy, carefully stamp your name on, barcode and all. You take care to shun her and leave her in garbage disposals and roadsides. Turning profit, her small body fills inventories for orphanages, she will never carry your name. Children, wrapped by the long fingers of marionette strings lace between your teeth. You wait for new machinery finding BREAKING NEWS: fewer of those child-rearing hips.


Protest by J. Ray Paradiso

Listen, the growing silence of factories around you. Watch the leftover girls become leftover women and plead for them to be your brides, new bodies oiling new factories. Watch the leftover women become iron women, they wear a new armor you gave them every time you killed their sisters. When you tossed their carcasses aside, new goddesses hatch from the rubble. Every time the old meat machine cranks you cut your own strings.


Youngest Ever Pt. 1 by Ann Epstein

TO: Guinness Book of World Records Authentication Board FROM: Juanita Petrova Mustada, Chair, Panel #87N RE: Annual Report – Category: YOUNGEST YOUNGEST SURGEON EVER PERFORMS C-SECTION. New Delhi – The 15-year-old son of a doctor performed a filmed Caesarean section birth under his father’s watch in an apparent bid to gain a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest surgeon. Instead, the father may lose his license and face criminal charges after he showed a video of the procedure to an Indian Medical Association chapter in Tamil. – Muneeza Naqvi, Associated Press, 06/21/07

[Six submissions to top this record were approved unanimously, the seventh with one dissent, the eighth with two dissents and one resignation.]


Corridor by Jill Dery

June green. Scattering of yellow, pink. Giant ferns, roses, devil’s club. Trees packed tight each side the bony pavement— a vegetable O. No sadness here. My own weighs down my pockets— cracked natal shells, placenta. Evidence of failed rebirths. The creek— another corridor— runs fuller, now, with this month’s rain. I could travel in it. Weave dandelions through my braid, float on it— fingers trailing horsetail, fireweed, second chances.


Tourniquet by Megha Sood

Have you seen the way, the surreal way the noon sits at the end of the evening encumbered by the pain and the wet promises the morning brought Now seems to be dying Broken at the seams frayed and tattered Those splintered edges are now scraping the edges of the horizon making the sky bleed crimson red You don't see it Do you? Your eyes lack that tranquility as that of the monk sits in the distance all his worries knotted in his criss-crossed legs he knows how to tie the knot. You have lost that art and now you can't escape the worries like the moth drawn towards the flame and here you sit at the precise moment of the noon turning into dusk frazzled by the thought how to stop to crimson sky from bleeding as your thoughts have again loosened the tourniquet



by Nick Colaccino I watch my shadow from noon to dusk, Ever growing in size and lust, Making me taller than a redwood tree And stretching the limit of what I can be. Until the fading sun falls all the way down And I am beyond the starry lights of town. In darkness, lost and one with the nothingness I am left to mourn my colossal, black hubris. I kick a stone as I walk home alone, Struggling to forget the hope I was shown, And accept that I am an ego confined by flesh, A spirit trapped, and a man depressed.


Busy Beeing Born And Buzzy Dying by Gerard Sarnat

Salient sentient social insects snapshot, Sarnat’s entomologist son set up a window box hive at home for his boy. When bumbles left flower fertilization dropped: he got mason bees, not as efficient but able to do a fairly good job. We loved and enjoyed caring for them that ended when beasts showed. Everyone told us once bear finds honey you have to kill it or give up colonies – years ago a grizzly tore down our orchard fence apparently looking. Today 7000ish new pollinators arrived. Neonicotinoid pesticides destroy bonnets without which we’ll eventually grow no food – or perhaps quite little therefore prohibitively costly. Family does their bit to save this planet with a solar fountain so allies will not get chlorine from my pool which I plan to change to saltwater. Swapped old front yard to desertscape to attract monarchs, dragonflies, hummers thus survive with co-habitants.



by Melinda Jane The oranges lie in crates as the wing tips hit imagined buildings, landing in the pulsating Nine Dragons' den. The Lucky Cat was waving goodbye to the Imperial Lion and greeting the Panda Bear's ingress. The towering Gweilos in a sea of suits, styled with crimson sashes of red. The whispering of superstitious auspicious dates for the Hand Puppet. Cartons of oranges were unladen, conveyed to Tsuen Wan market place. In one breath, a humble purchaser exchanges red pockets of hope for two oranges. In apartment number fourteen two oranges bath in heavy wisps of incense. A black-and-white photograph of heavy set glasses, oval face, receiving diamond eyes takes the offerings. One offering’s flesh is tart, bittersweet. The other flesh offered a punching tang. One splice opened orange a tangerine, the other, a mandarin. 22

Forgotten Smells by Sanket Mishra

I have forgotten what our old home used to smell like. A quaint little place it boasted of greatness in small things an open courtyard where a basil plant minus its leaves was kept alive through incense sticks; a huge balcony where pigeons, cricket balls and dreams co-existed; An infinite terrace Lording over the house where my father gave us guided tours of starry nights; There was also a well downstairs, for water supply was very fickle, those days. These visuals I have captured quite well in the memories of my brain and also in this old camera which was a favourite gift of mine. I wish I had a device which stored nostalgic smells.


Moments and Lapses by Sujash Purna

My empty dorm room probably smells the same As the way it did the day I arrived with my two maroon suitcases. There was this big buzzing noise from the AC That rang in my ears like the plane engines of a 17-hour flight. The empty dorm room three stories above Probably smells just the way it did when I followed her, Like a child, her hand holding mine, bringing me up To her bed, teaching me how to unhook her bra. As we mixed Jack Daniels with Sprite, I pretended I liked her favorite show New Girl to show I liked her, too. The purple pillow probably no longer smells Just the way it did the night we shared it in that moon-lit room. Four stories below, those carpets on my way in and back from work are only there to take me back To the same smell I had to leave behind a year ago With my two maroon suitcases and nothing else. I remember moments and lapses and ghosts buzzing Like bees on a honeycomb of gilded space and time. An untrained astronaut right before the landing, I look for the same spot in a different time.



Yard Sale

by Michele Mekel The temporary Temple of Unwanted Items opened that Saturday morning at 8 a.m. sharp – not a minute before. But the dedicated supplicants who’d come to pay homage were waiting – had been waiting – in parked cars along the curb or on foot at the edge of the drive, anxious for the moment when the garage door began its clattering assent. The throng of ardent devotees rushed the heaped shrines of cast-off belongings, barely containing their fanatical fervor as they searched for sacred – to them – relics. Visitations came in waves, lasting from mere minutes for the disaffected to an hour for those who’d found their Nirvana.

Untitled by George L. Stein

Petitioners haggled for benediction with temple deacons, offering up alms in exchange for secondhand amulets.


Hamzeh - A Jordan Bookseller by Melinda Jane

You believe you can fly and catch a book or butterfly. You can curl up like a caterpillar on your rolled out bed under the starry books of words and ideas. You can smell your books like cheese and sweet tea. You can lick books with your thumbs and flip to the moments of truth in a prayer sung in all books. The smell of lost earth. The taste of cinnamon. The touch of porcelain. The sound of shuffling pages. The taste of laughter. You, Hamzeh, carried to Jordan books in exile.

A doctor heals by pills Hamzeh, you heal a word at a time each recommendation comes with consideration of the belief that we can all fly like your childhood book on the Wright Brothers. 27

Poems Debugging n. 1 by Federico Federici

A customer is your prayer Your books conduits to God Your eyes your diamonds You, Hamzeh, place in the palm universes, death, solutions, lies and riches beyond gold. You, Hamzeh, carried to Jordan books in exile.



Youngest Ever Pt. 2 by Ann Epstein

PULITZER WINNER. New York – Eleven-month-old Sara Foy was awarded a Pulitzer prize in investigative journalism for her article on crib mobiles. The Committee commended the report’s “baby’s eye view of the bored hypnotic state induced by the pendulous toys, incontrovertibly refuting claims that they enhanced visual acuity.” Though her spoken vocabulary is limited to three words (control, alt, delete), and she is not yet walking, Sara crawled to the spare computer in the nursery where the Foys had installed the Baby Einstein app (ages 8 months and up). Sara’s article accused crib mobile manufacturers of false advertising. Fisher-Price declined to comment.

FF7 on PS1 by Joshua Jarret


I Was Raised by the Internet by Eleanor Colligan

Human guts and unapologetic gore no longer faze me The sight of a squirrel, divided nightly in two, On the road makes me taste my own bile. My fingernails are bitten and caked in blood and dirt, But never with coal. I was raised on a diet of nuclear warfare for breakfast and Imminent mutual destruction for lunch and Holding hands for dinner. My mother told me when I was young To not trust the people on the other sides of the screen. They can get lost through all the 0’s and 1’s and 0’s and 1’s And blurred in all the pixels Until a man with white hair and malice springing from every pore Can become a girl who wears bows in her hair and still thinks the world cares about her.


Mother and Child by J. Ray Paradiso

The potential to be Enlightened is at my very fingertips, Yet everyday they fall beneath the relentless desire to be Distracted, distracted, distracted From the world we fashioned just to please us.



The War at Sea by K.P. Taylor

It was the end of the world, and everyone was invited. Mother Earth, the battered woman, had returned to us time and time again, and we always promised that we would do better. But now she’d had enough¬–we were being removed, expunged…sloughed off like so much dead skin. It was difficult to process. We cycled through the five stages of grief as we mourned our future deaths. There was something like camaraderie when we accepted that we were all going to die. People were nicer to each other. There were fireworks and cookouts–it felt like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day and Christmas morning, and it seemed to go on forever. “I almost wish the world had ended sooner,” my neighbor hollered as he led another anonymous blonde up to his apartment. We were drunk on the milk of human kindness and Miller High Life.

Race Against Time by Lorette C. Luzajic

It had begun with the large marine mammals. Each new day more of them washed up with the tide. Their bloated corpses were towed out to sea or blown up with dynamite. Red tide, Fukushima, mercury poisoning…everyone had an opinion. Some believed that the earth’s rotation had shifted a few degrees and we were now on a trajectory to oblivion. It was all meaningless conjecture, and there was no urgency to it. A live pair of juvenile blue whales showed up on a beach in Newfoundland. People roped their tails and dragged them out to sea, but the whales kept beaching themselves. They confounded every effort to save them. Tie-dyed spiritualists came and placed flowers around their blowholes. They sang songs and played guitar for them. The whales watched, mute, milk-eyed. The government of Japan offered to take them away to conduct scientific research, but everyone was fairly certain that they just wanted to eat them. It wouldn’t be dignified. So they were left on the beach, a feast for gulls. The large terrestrial animals were next. Bulldozers carried dead giraffes from the zoo, their long necks hanging grotesquely between the steel teeth. It was all too much–we needed a palate cleanse. The Huffington Post published a fluff-piece on the last elephant in sub-Saharan Africa. At dawn each day the large tusker would amble to the watering hole and trumpet defiantly at the shimmering horizon. Its trunk would probe the ground searching for the fallen and fermenting fruit of the Marula tree. The fruit would intoxicate the elephant, and the great beast would stumble around comically. Now this was a creature we could relate to, one that was drinking away its sorrows. The article led to a great outpouring of interest from the general public. More than anything, people were concerned that the elephant didn’t have a name. A contest was held, and the elephant was named Arthur. The world fell in love. The story of Arthur was tragic but hopeful. Arthur was proof that this Armageddon was not indiscriminate, that some of us would e spared. The sheep would be separated from the goats. A Livestream was set up to capture Arthur’s daily sojourn. We awoke one day to discover that Arthur was not at the watering hole. Poachers had killed him for his tusks. A photo of a dead Arthur made the front page of


the Huffington Post. “MURDERED!” Half of Arthur’s face had been hacked away. Blood streamed from his eyes as if he had been crying. A garland of flies crowned his head. Our Heraclitus, our weeping philosopher. There was outrage! We demanded justice, but the poachers were never caught. Weeks later Arthur, the last elephant, was forgotten. Not quite forgotten but put aside and not spoken of–he had become the elephant in the room. It was half a minute to midnight, and society began to unravel. The Science Technology and Religion Tribunal (START, because people still loved acronyms) was established. START was meant to finally bridge the gap between the secular and religious worlds. They held a symposium. The man of science spoke first. “Our existence is only a footnote in the story of the universe. We should not mourn the few months we have left but celebrate the 200,000 years the human race has existed.” The man of religion, the sweating, smiling preacher man, objected to this opening statement on the grounds that the human race had existed for only 6000 years. The technologist suggested that we should forget the past and look to the future. There was a shuttle, a great gleaming silver shuttle that could ferry a dozen of us to Mars. Time was of the essence. They took our best and brightest. The launch was broadcast around the world. We cheered, we cried, we would never learn if they made it. We sent them off with all of our hopes, like a message in a bottle cast into an unquiet sea.

A great multitude of small birds settled in the trees of Central Park. They were charming creatures, bobbing and dancing on the branches. Singing for their lives. They brought us some measure of happiness. In the weeks to come, they would fall to the ground, one by one, like so many dead apples. “There is a biblical precedent…” the preacher explained as he mopped his brow with a handkerchief, “…when God delivered manna from heaven to feed the starving Israelites. It is all part of God’s plan.” Somehow we had expected God’s plan to be grander, all scorched earth and Battle of Megiddo. Not this. Not hundreds of dead wrens and sparrows. The preacher smiled too much, and he perspired too much. The jig was up.


Time Will Tell by Lorette C. Luzajic

We weren’t dead yet. The conservative press called it “The Apocalypse at Sea” after “The War at Sea”, those strange eight months at the beginning of the Second World War when no major power launched a land offensive. All that the people of the time had known were smiling faces and pressed trousers boarding warships for some far away front. It wasn’t real. Not until the bombs fell. Drôle de guerre. We had yet to have our Blitz or Normandy. We weren’t yet chuffed off to our Treblinka or our Auschwitz. So we carried on, operating on a collective anxiety. We did those things we had always promised ourselves we would do. We climbed mountains and took piano lessons, but mostly we just got drunk and bought things. The real world still pressed against us–there were car payments and mortgages and student loans, and no one wanted to be out on the street when the apocalypse finally arrived.

“It was half a minute to midnight, and society began to unravel.� 36

So we waited. Like the man at the train station who checks his watch and peers down the track. He waits for the train that will come. He looks up the track and down the track, and they appear one and the same. And it seems to take forever. Then all at once, it is upon him. It was quiet in the city. No distant rumble of airplanes. No dogs barking. No sound of weeping or laughing. No sound at all.




Re-imagining Gulliver’s Travels by Alexis Avlamis



by Lynn White

Dreams Sequences Phase One by J.E. Crum

Green Dreams

I am dreaming, I think I’m dreaming as I try to separate the layers of real and unreal, peel them away like the crinkled leaves of a cabbage. I’m peeling off the dark green leaves first. What lies hidden beneath looks much the same as the outside, a little less battered, more crinkly, a little paler with some yellow languishing in the green, but fundamentally the same. Now for the next layer. There’s a drop of water shining full of light and something darker, more solid, khaki green and brown, the leavings of some hidden creature. Another layer reveals the holes and then, the sleepy caterpillar in his cabbage camouflage, his dietary disguise, dreaming of eating his greens. He’s without his pipe, without his crown. So, unsure of his identity, much less mine, I continue my peeling layer after layer until I get to the heart of it, the pale, pale green centre of naive youth. Perhaps I will soon understand where I’ve come from and unpack the dream, find the pipe, put the pieces together, make sense of the cabbage, crown the king. 43


Youngest Ever Pt. 3 by Ann Epstein

IDITAROD FINISHER. Nome – Nathan (a.k.a. “Nanook”) Selig of North Dakota, who turns two next month, is the youngest driver to complete the grueling 1150-mile Iditarod. Judges nearly disqualified him for riding strapped to the back of his sled dog, Spot, rather than on the sled itself, but were persuaded that the Child Safety Harness (manufactured by the Seligs) did not violate regulations. Although Nanook took a week longer than the penultimate finisher, record-holder Martin Buser credits his performance to traveling light. The 27-pound Nanook carried only a 12-pack of Huggies, supersized Tommy Tippy Cup, and organic peanut butter crackers.


Santa’s Helper by Patrick Breheny

Jimmy was six years old, and it was Christmas. In the rest of America, outside New York City, outside the Bronx, people lived in houses like those in Christmas cards and probably made sure the hearth wouldn’t be burning when Santa came down the chimney. But in a Bronx tenement building, the tenants complained loudly any time in winter the radiator hadn’t been banging and hissing, so Jimmy knew the super would have the heat on late. And if Santa went down the chimney, he’d get cooked in the coal furnace in the basement. Jimmy lived in a fifth floor apartment in a walk-up. How else could Santa get in? Jimmy figured it had to be by the dumbwaiter, the platform inside a shaft that the super raised with ropes to collect garbage every night. The super, Mrs. Shandler, buzzed each apartment to announce collection and had the bags placed in the dumbwaiter through a half door in the wall of the apartment’s interior entrance. It stretched from about the height of his mother’s shoulders almost to the ceiling. His parents always told him that the dumbwaiter door was to always be latched, except at Mrs. Shandler’s pick up times. But surely once, on Christmas Eve, it would be alright open. He waited until everybody – his mother, father, two older sisters, and older brother – was asleep. By the snoring he heard from the other rooms and from his brother beside him, he gauged that the coast was clear and went out to “use the bathroom.” From there, he slipped to the corridor, raised the latch, and left it unlocked. No one would notice. He went back to bed and waited. He’d see Santa this time. He was so excited that staying awake wouldn’t be a problem. He waited. And waited. His brother’s snoring was low and monotonous and inviting. It was making him sleepy. He fell asleep, too, and dreamed for a while but then woke himself up again. Darn it. He went back into the living room. All the presents were under the tree. He’d missed Santa. The door to the dumbwaiter was still unlocked. Santa couldn’t have locked it from inside the dumbwaiter as he was leaving. Jimmy started down the corridor to latch it, but he was so sleepy, so disappointed. He yawned. He couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore. He just wanted to go back to bed. He did just that. He fell asleep again quickly. The next time he woke up to a crinkly sound, like someone touching wrapping paper, coming from the living room. Did Santa come back? He crept back in. There was a man in the living room. Santa’s helper? He didn’t look like you’d expect, like an elf or a dwarf, dressed in ho-ho-ho red. He was wearing jeans and a windbreaker and sneakers, and he was taking the presents back, stacking them by the dumbwaiter, whose door was 46

now wide open. Did Santa leave the wrong presents here? Maybe he mixed these up with the ones for the Currans on the other side of the dumbwaiter shaft? Or he made a list but was too busy to check it twice? Well, he didn’t get to see Santa, but a helper wasn’t bad.

“Can I help you?” Jimmy asked.

Santa’s helper almost jumped out of his jeans. He looked at Jimmy and said, “Oh, shit!”

Jimmy sometimes said that when his parents weren’t around, but he didn’t expect Santa’s helper to say that. Maybe it went with the jeans and jacket and sneakers. Santa’s helper was just a regular guy. Jimmy noticed he had his face covered, too, with a handkerchief. Well, dumbwaiters probably smelled bad.

Santa’s helper left all the presents on the floor and quickly climbed back into the dumbwaiter.

One of the ropes tethered to the handle groaned. He put his hands back inside the apartment, trying to loosen the loop. The pull of his weight was keeping the rope taut. Jimmy thought any friend of Santa’s was a friend of his, so he decided to help. The handle was in the open position, and if Jimmy pushed it to the closed position, without actually locking it, that would give some slack. He moved the handle.

“No!” screamed Santa’s helper.

Too late. The rope slid suddenly along the handle, reached the end, lashed itself free, and then whipped back into the dumbwaiter in one violent snap. Santa’s helper flailed his arms and hands to grab the ropes inside and then dropped from sight. Jimmy stood on tiptoe and looked down the shaft, but it was black dark in there. He just heard a long “Ayeeeee!” and finally the sound of the platform landing hard at the bottom. Santa’s helper stopped screaming. Jimmy closed the door and latched it. He didn’t think this had happened. He was still dreaming. He realized his mother had come into the living room. Sleepy-eyed and unsteady with drowsiness, she said, a bit annoyed with him, “Can’t you wait until morning? Put them back.”

“Sure. Okay, Mom. Sorry.”

She left, and he put all the presents under the tree and then went back to bed again. He wanted to go to sleep as fast as he could, but he began thinking about this, Santa’s helper ressed casually, wearing a mask. He’d have to be a young agile guy to climb down chimneys and up dumbwaiters. Santa would have to be, too. If Santa was a big fat guy, he’d get stuck in the chimneys. If he wore his red suit, it would get all smudged. His white beard would be black from soot. The mask would be to keep out chimney dust and 47

the smell of garbage from dumbwaiters. Santa would have to be like the man who had just been in the living room. Nobody ever saw him, so nobody knew what he actually looked like. Could that have been Santa himself who’d just rode the dumbwaiter free fall down five stories? He wanted to be dreaming fast. He was dreaming. He’d kept himself awake to open the latch, but then he fell asleep and only dreamed he got up and saw the presents, then dreamed some more that he got up and saw the man. Trying to get himself back to sleep now was part of the dream. He willed himself to sleep and dreamt only good things, about Christmas morning and presents. He awoke last the next morning. Everybody was up opening presents. He checked the dumbwaiter latch. He’d left it open and then dreamt about the presents being out, dreamt he woke up and met Santa or his helper and that he had closed the latch. So if he was dreaming all night, the latch would be open from the only time he got up, pretending to use the bathroom. Closed. Well, his mother could have done that. Surprising she didn’t say anything, though. They always made such a big deal about it. Well, he’d ask her. But not now. She was too busy today. Dinner to cook, his cousins coming. He’d wait a while to ask her. Maybe until she’d forgotten. She’d be mad about leaving the latch open. Why complicate things? Enjoy his presents with his siblings. He couldn’t wait until his cousins came, and he’d try out his new sled. It had snowed last night. It was a great Christmas dinner, made like at Thanksgiving, with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. In the evening, about six o’clock, Mrs. Shandler buzzed for the garbage. She was a great talker, that one, as his mother put it, and at a time when there were no cell phones, internet, or even an intercom in most buildings, including his, she communicated with tenants the old fashioned way – by shouting up the dumbwaiter shaft. She had a story this evening about a bum that had somehow gotten into the basement on Christmas Eve, no doubt drunk, and had fallen asleep in the dumbwaiter. He had been found there frozen on Christmas morning, cheap traffic off the street, May The Lord Have Mercy On Him, and not before he’d broken a couple of dumbwaiter boards, but her husband Joe had hammered them back together. It was then that Jimmy knew for sure he had been dreaming. Sure, maybe some of the department store Santas were bums – you could smell the alcohol on them – but real Santa or his helper wouldn’t be a bum. Just a nightmare he’d had.


He said “Merry Christmas” so many times, so enthusiastically, that everyone, kids included, began asking him to stop. He called the other kids “Scrooges.” You’ll see, he told himself. Santa Claus will bring presents again next year like he always has. He didn’t need dumbwaiters. He had his own ways of getting in. Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! *** One Christmas morning long ago, the medical examiner conducted a report on the intruder Mrs. Shandler found at the bottom of the dumbwaiter shaft. Police postulated that the man had pulled himself up using the dumbwaiter ropes to seek entry to apartments, found none open, and at some point lost control of the ropes and fell.

Of course, they had no reason to pass that information on to Jimmy on the fifth floor, who’d begun

to think of the frozen bum as “Bumsicle,” cheap traffic off the street, May The Lord Have Mercy On Him. Long before the following Christmas, he’d begun to figure out what everybody does eventually, that there was no Santa Claus. Only his parents. So – if there was never a Santa Claus, nobody could kill him. Cancelled out. It was as clear as the solution to a question on one of his first grade math quizzes: Five minus five equals nothing. Precise and logical. Zero equals zero. Nothing is nothing.

What a dream he’d had at Christmas.


Youngest Ever Pt. 4 by Ann Epstein

POWER SHOPPER. Beverly Hills – Harvard Hathaway, age 20.25 months, purchased $3.4 million dollars worth of clothing in a half-hour shopping spree along the Golden Mile, breaking the age record and gender stereotypes in one consumer extravaganza. The perfect size 18 - 24 Months Toddler, swept through ten stores in his electric-powered stroller cum shopping cart, ringing up sales that included gold-edged papyrus diapers, diamond-studded overalls with lizard skin knee pads, and a faux denim tuxedo with a Guatemalan-woven alpaca cummerbund, before returning home to play with the shopping bags. Visa is reconsidering its lower age limit for issuing cards, provided clients have sufficient collateral. According to company spokesperson Mindy Minions, “You’re never too young to establish a good line of credit.”



Octopus Dreams Whisper on Ammonia Winds by John Petelle

Used cat litter chunks cover my scalp, Stinging fragrance of dirty bleach. A noxious gift from a spiteful vacuum, spewing grey clumps at my face. I dodge the screaming middle-aged vandal, packaged in a motorized detergent box, mounted on flaming skateboard wheels, cutting donuts of fire through my lawn. I plead with two girls wearing scarlet hats, seeking their tray of drugged brownies. Baked to sooth the dancing lunatic, barricaded in the yellow house. Across the street, a nine-year-old me flies a black and green octopus kite. His brown curls frothing in the wind, mirrored by flapping tentacles above.

In Dreams by Margaret Siu

I awaken from my nighttime journey, scraping gritty ammonia from my hair. Hearing an octopus dancing through time, swimming the storm beyond my window.


Just Imagine by Lynn White

I’m plumbing the depths. Watching the bucket unwind as it moves down into the well of imagination as I search for inspiration. I wind it up and find a bucket full of water. No gems. No pearls. But look! There’s a frog, an ordinary frog in a shiny green suit. An ordinary frog. Not the sort that becomes a prince in certain circumstances. An ordinary frog in a bucket of water from my imagination, from my well. And it’s about to leap out to make something new, scattering drops and droplets everywhere. Each drop holds a memory, and, homoeopathically speaking, the more dilute, the more concentrated and powerful, homoeopathically speaking. A bucketful of memories grown stronger in my well. A whole well of memories brought up into my presence. Brought up into my present to be renewed, to take a leap from the old to make into new. 53

A Life Across the Street by Nick Colaccino

The other day I saw a man.

He was walking on the other side of the street a few paces ahead of me. His face was shielded from my gaze. I wasn’t sure why, but something about the man attracted my wandering eyes. In voyeur, I viewed him at a distance. He walked with a purpose that matched his fitted suit. He wove through fellow pedestrians as though they were stationary stones around which his sidewalk stream flowed – the water explaining slicked-back, long hair. I couldn’t help but notice how similar we were, walking on opposite sides of the road. If I left my apartment a minute earlier wearing a suit with gel in my hair, we would’ve been mirrored images in the median of the streets’ reflection. I studied the man as if I were a primatologist doctoral student researching bipedal apes. I watched him until I knew him. His movements became my own, and soon I found his thoughts creeping into my consciousness. One, two, three. One, two, three. The man was counting his steps in triplets, maintaining paced strides amid the chaos of the weekday morning sidewalk. With perverse pleasure, I inhabited his being. I became the man across the street. Suddenly, my dirty jeans and tattered backpack turned into a personally tailored suit and fine leather briefcase. I felt the weight of a platinum watch constraining my wrist and a gold wedding ring cutting off the circulation in my left hand. I even felt the touch of his wife in bed the previous night. Her lavender perfume still lingered on my collar. From my own body, an acute awareness of my perversion began to settle in. I felt an unease spread from the recesses of my mind. I had ceased to merely understand this man. I closed my eyes, and his memories colored the dark canvas of my eyelids. We were not so different. Apart from our current attire and a few select decisions along the unmarked trail of life, he and I were brothers. Where he had followed his aptitude for math to a career of monetary success, I had willingly neglected mine in favor of art and social science. Where I had hit the joint and joined the flow of the drums, he had felt the flow of liquor as it burned his throat and released a testosterone filled roar that rattled the rafters of his frat house. 54

This man down the street led a life opposite – and opposed – to that of my own. Constantly on edge, never resting, he rushed from place to place – choice to choice – ever calculating how each decision would affect his future. Driven. Determined. Wrangling Life and commanding its movements, whereas I had chosen to sit back and marvel at Life’s freedom. In his mind, he was winning – though I doubt he had ever stopped to think what game he was playing. The sense of unease turned into a tense of taboo. I had a distinct feeling that I was viewing something I was not supposed to. This stranger’s life was all too clear to me. I had never met him, and yet I knew him more intimately than anyone I had ever claimed to “love.” He walked a life parallel to mine, only ten paces ahead. We were fast approaching the end. I knew the skyscraper on the other side of the next corner held his office. Only one more intersection and he would vanish behind the anachronistic revolving doors of corporate society. I knew this because he knew this. He reached the intersection just as the light turned red, forcing him to stop. In automated movements, he raised his left wrist, pulled back his sleeve, and looked at his watch. The triplets had hit a fermata, but time kept running away. I saw my chance. I could catch him! He stood on that street corner, reluctantly becoming one of the numerous stationary pedestrians that had obstructed his path moments before. Now was my chance to wade the waters and cross the traffic stream to meet this mystery of a person who was not so different from me. Yet, as I turned to step into the crosswalk, I hesitated. An unseen force pulled at my sleeve, informing me that the way across was blocked. I was as helpless as a settler in the “Oregon Trail” game that the suited man and I had loved as children. I had seen enough to know my place, and it was not on the suited man’s side of the avenue. Reluctantly, I conceded to the tug of my reality and said goodbye to my corporate-self. But just as I accepted that we should never meet, the man looked up from his gold, ticking bracelet of self-worth. His eyes met mine, melting our souls. This man was no stranger. The steely blue of his eyes matched my own cloudy hue. His furrowed brow had made permanent tracks crossed his forehead in the same way mine had. The moisturizer diligently applied to the dry patches around his nose and eyebrows glistened in the same way mine would (had I cared enough to apply the lotion my last girlfriend left in the bathroom). This man was no stranger. He was the me I would never be, and I was the luxury he abandoned to become the “man” his father told him to be. In him, I saw security, wealth, a wife, and a son. I saw a life that had not been so distant and unreachable in my recent past.


We stared into each other’s eyes for what seemed like a lifetime. Indeed, I saw a possible life in him. I lamented that life I had not lived, and yet in his face I saw the feeling was mutual. He looked at me with confusion. A softness weighed upon his brow as he raised it toward my life. He was intrigued. He sensed what I knew! We stared across the street into another reality until the light changed. Hearing the tone of the crosswalk, he turned and mindlessly forged the street as blind to the world as those for whom the beeping was intended. I watched him disappear into the abyss of Wall Street steel and knew he was wondering the same thing as me: Is that who I was meant to be?

The suited man felt the cold of platinum against the back of his hand as he pressed against the

revolving door. A slight irritation pervaded his aura as he crossed the lobby floor to the elevator.

“Good morning, sir.” The security guard smiled at him.

“Morning, Jim,” replied the man in a daze.

“Hey, you feeling alright?” asked Jim, concerned, as the man entered the elevator.

The doors were closing as the man replied, “It’s nothin’... Just some creep on the sidewalk across the street.”


Cri De Coeur by Gerard Sarnat Desperado borders Mami! Papá! sobs from tiny kids cross that line are more— or less than porn jobs – future gang banger shadow society?


They Were Tired of Roaming the Perimeter and Policing the Flowers by Hailey Higdon

Lee stood on the deck. He peeked over the railing to the yard. The tree was almost complete in flowers, and its limbs reached over the neighbor’s fence. It held out a branch to shake, but then thought better of it and withdrew its branch. Maybe it was too late for introductions. How long had they both been there? The tree was neighborly, and like any polite tree, it looked for the right moment for introductions. Lee was a skinny man who’d lost his hair. He looked almost like he did as a baby, wiggling from within, the way a human never quite learns to be a human in his own skin. Between the slats, the sun fell in and out, bringing company and then taking it away. The tree surveyed the deck. It reached out and patted Lee on the back. If you were watching from a window, it would have appeared maternal. That’s right, it thought, a pat on the back will do.

Lee jumped, startled. Flowers trickled down his back and landed on the deck.


“You could have warned me,” he said. He brushed the flowers off the deck with the side of his

The tree stiffened. It withdrew again. It thought of responding, then felt the overwhelming sense that all responses were hopeless, and that nothing will ever be any way other that what it goddamn is. Take a deep breath, it thought. Notice when you feel hopeless.

“Would it have mattered?” the tree asked.

Lee thought about that word, “matter.” No, it wouldn’t have mattered. Nothing the tree did or could do really mattered. “No, maybe not,” he said. He shook his head and sat down in the warm chair on the warm deck he avoided all winter. Like the deck, the chair he sat in was made from a tree. Lee and his company – the people who belonged on the deck – rarely sat in it. In fact, they rarely frequented the deck at all. Nothing mattered, Lee thought. The tree stretched. It yawned and pulled in its leaves, squeezing them into little balls, then it opened them again. This was a way to regroup. A survival strategy. The tree had learned from 58

generations before. Pull in. Hold close and tighten your molecules. When necessary, open again and let the wind carry you as it does. You need to be both firm and flexible to be a tree. Lee scrunched up, too. He scrunched up his toes, eyelids, and fists. He opened his eyes and let the light back in. The tree was still there. You need to be firm to be a human, he thought. Lee paced the perimeter of the deck. He did this a few times in succession, a habit cyclical and rewarding in every iteration. His feet whipped behind. Lee had chosen hypervigilance as his tunnel to move through this encounter with the tree. The tree shook. It was hard to watch Lee. It let go of its petals. They fell on the deck and below on the deck stairs and below that on the ground.

“Geez.” Lee glanced down at the broken flowers and shook his head. “You trees are all alike.

You’re so … so … so inconsiderate!” The tree was still. It held its breath. When Lee returned to roaming the perimeter, the tree began to breathe again. This time less deeply, so as not to upset Lee.

Footsteps tapped against the wood planks of the stairs.

“The tree is beautiful,” a voice called, “but who is going to clean up this mess?”

“Peterson!” Lee brightened.

“In the flesh!” Peterson picked a leaf off the toe of his shoe with his thumb and forefinger and flicked it over the side of the deck. Lee circled over to him. Both men wiped their palms on their pant legs then shook hands. Now they were both on the deck. They peeked over the railing at the flowers below.

Lee shook his head. “It’ll have to come down.”

He walked into the house, pulled out a broom and handed it to Peterson. Descending the steps, Peterson swept the flower petals off the wood planks and onto the ground below. “Are you crazy?” Lee said, handing Peterson a dustbin. “Put them in here. We don’t want more of them to grow.” Peterson nodded and swept the petals into the bin. 59

“Where’s the garbage?”

“Inside,” Lee answered. He pointed behind him into the house without looking where he was pointing. A sort of faith that the house was still there, that it would always be, guided him. Peterson carried the flower petals up the steps and into the house. He dropped them into a plastic bag and came back outside.

Halfway down the steps, Lee examined the flowers on a limb.

“Does it make something?” Peterson asked. “Apples or pears or cherries at least?”

“No,” said Lee. “Just a mess.”

It was not a particularly windy day. The sun had been absent for most of the winter. Now, the

patient beams fell between the deck’s rails and cast slantwise shadows on the steps where the petals had been. Some trees sneeze when they look at the sun. This was one such trees. The tree sneezed and sneezed again. It was the kind of early spring day where this could happen almost without warning. Another petal floated onto the steps of the deck. Lee sighed. It’s happening again, he thought. The tree breathed slowly, so as not to upset the two men. They felt a collective pressure building around them, but were unsure whether it was coming from the air, was swelling up from the ground below, or was altogether not something external but something inside them. The tree needed a tissue, but instead of blowing, it wiped the bottom of its trunk, holding in the part of the sneeze still stuck inside.

“I’ve asked this tree to leave so many times,” said Lee.

Peterson shook his head. He knew this part.

“It doesn’t have the resources,” the two said together, like a pledge.

“Yes,” said Lee, “but sometimes I think the tree is staying on purpose. You know, just soaking up the benefits of the yard.”

Peterson nodded. He understood.

“My yard,” added Lee, roaming the perimeter of the deck again. “The yard that I built with my own hands. Hard work … sweat! Sweat built this yard and this deck and this house! It shouldn’t be 60

allowed to cross the property line!” Lee knocked on the wooden panel of the house and looked down at the deck again. “I’m tired!” he shouted. “I’m tired of roaming the perimeter! Tired of policing the flowers!” Peterson headed inside and came back out with a cup of water and an old toothbrush. He began to scrub the railing of the deck, just below the landing. “It’s just too bad,” Peterson said, stopping for a moment to examine the railing. “I love the grain on this wood,” he shook his head, “but that tree is ruining it.” This time the tree tried to hold it in, but it was one of those sneezes that needed to escape. The kind where holding it in makes you feel like you are trying to stop a car that is already moving.

“That’s it!” said Lee, waving his hand about.

Peterson threw down his toothbrush and scrunched up his face in cooperation.

Lee grabbed the broom and began to smack at the branches of the tree dipping over the rails of the deck. “You miserable piece of wood! Go back to your yard!” he shouted. Peterson joined in, feeling exhilarated by the exploding tension. More flowers and even leaves and whole branches fell from the tree. One landed on Peterson, who swiped it off. Then, in his power and confusion, he began to hit the deck itself. A rush, a need to eradicate, take out, take on, take. When Lee saw the deck was again littered with flowers, he stomped and screamed into the sky. He carried on like this, up and down the steps, then he stormed in the house to the cabinet where the rifle was kept. Outside Peterson picked up the broom. “You stupid piece of wood!” he yelled, “This deck doesn’t even …” The tree, desperate to pull away from the melee, lost its grip and let go a young branch full of buds. It swung forth flat against the side of the deck rail and smacked Peterson’s cheek. “That’s it!” Peterson cried. He swung the broom off the steps. The tree squeezed its buds together again and this time did not let them go. It was time for bracing. It was time to be firm. At the top of the steps, Lee stood with the rifle in hand. Peterson was furious. He felt he knew something. The tree’s bracing is an admission of guilt, he thought. He snapped the rifle from Lee and began to fire round upon round at the tree. Round upon round and round upon round. A ring of hits 61

and near misses, shot at such a close range that the recoil was almost as dangerous as if he had been in front of the gun and not behind it. When they were out of bullets, Lee and Peterson sat on the steps of the deck. It was quiet, but the rowdy shots had prompted many passing birds to panic. Their droppings plopped on the deck like black and white paintball splatters. Lee patted Peterson on the back. They were a team. It was a stressful morning. They were trying to calm down and care for each other. They were only two men. Two men in a sea of trees. What were they to do? A new splatter landed on the deck. Its black and white oozed together a yoke-like center, and the bird flitted into the limp tree.

Lee felt determined again. Determined to protect. To once again be in control of his deck.

“Time to finish the job,� he said. He stood and stormed into the house again, with confidence, purpose. He returned with a new box of bullets. In the dead tree, the bird swung its tail in about faces, like a small soldier. It sang out its tiny habitual song, calling company.

It was all it could do.


Mrs. Wolff by Wendy Schoua

Mrs. Wolff looked like her name. She was tall and strong with long limbs and darkish skin. Her fulsome black hair sprang from her forehead in a widow's peak, and her eyes were a yellowish green. She had a large mouth with pointed white teeth and a hard, almost cruel, expression when she addressed her charges, a second grade class of little uniformed girls. They were afraid but did not discuss their fears, which would have alarmed the other adults had they known. She was Monica and Ann's second grade teacher at the prestigious Northlands, a private girls' school in Buenos Aires. Her class and a few others were held in a barely heated annex away from the main building, under the eye of the assistant headmistress, Ms. Hill, who had more important concerns – like whether her Anglo-Argentine lover would ever leave his wife. Although the second grade was well-behaved, the girls seemed to arouse Mrs. Wolff's ire over very small mistakes. In winter, if they gave an erroneous answer, Mrs. Wolff smacked their hands with a large wooden ruler, and since it was so cold – Monica's hands were freezing – it was even more painful. And humiliating. The teacher made the “bad” girl of the day stand in the corner with her back to the classroom and measured the straightness of the penitent's posture with her ruler every few minutes. After taking attendance, she would lick her lips and tell her pupils to sit straight. Then she would start the dictation exercise for the day. Dictation had its pitfalls. Words and phrases were repeated only once. If you missed something and had the temerity to ask your seatmate, Mrs. Wolff would rush over with her ruler.

The dictation was written with ink, the old-fashioned, cheap way. If you did not own a fountain

pen, you had to use a nib and dip it in the desk's inkwell, filled by the cleaning staff with watered-down ink. Monica's parents were very frugal. If her marks were good, they said, she would get a real pen for her birthday in the summer, before third grade. It was not unusual to see the girls' hands, notebooks, and white blouses covered with blue ink stains. If someone made an error while solving an arithmetic problem on the blackboard, she would scream, “Haven't I explained this to several times, you stupid girl? Go back to your seat. No break for you today. You will write 'I must do my math homework' one hundred times.” Then the next victim would be called to the front. One warm Sunday night in early autumn, Monica's mother brought home a bouquet of two dozen roses from a friend's garden. They were beautiful, all different colours, ranging from vivid pink 63

to creamy white, and just barely open. Monica's heart danced when her mother said, “These are for you – to give to one of your teachers. I know how much you love your Spanish teacher.” “Thank you, Mummy! Miss Marta adores flowers, and she's so kind to me. These are for her,” said Monica, her cheeks rosy with anticipation. The next day, Monica got on the school bus holding the fragrant blossoms. She sat next to her best friend Ann. The other girls admired the flowers. She could hardly wait to present them to her young, beloved teacher that afternoon. She wanted the bouquet to stay fresh, so she took an old cup her mother gave her, filled it with water, and hid the flowers behind the boarded up bathtub in the bathroom of the annex's first floor. Mrs. Wolff was rough with the girls that morning as usual, but with the classroom windows open to the sunny warmth, the morning seemed to go by quickly. When the bell rang before lunch, Monica rushed to the bathroom and retrieved her flowers. Then she did something mean that she regretted all that year. She was too young to get the upper hand. In the hallway, Mrs. Wolff was walking towards her. She stopped when Monica said her name and, “Look, Ma'am. Aren't they pretty?” as she held the bouquet half behind her back, well beyond the teacher's reach. “Oh, they are beautiful, indeed! Thank you so much, Monica,” said Mrs. Wolff as she lunged forward, swooped down and grabbed them quickly from the little girl. She cuddled the flowers before Monica's horrified eyes and inhaled their scent. Mrs. Wolff ignored Monica's weak protests – “I was only showing them to you!” – as she padded briskly to the staffroom, presumably to put them in a vase. Monica began to cry because she understood that she had been bested by Mrs. Wolff, perhaps rightfully, for trying to arouse the woman's jealousy. When she got home, her mother was playing Bridge with her friends and about to serve the tea. She forgot to ask Monica if Ms. Marta had liked the flowers, so she never heard the about the incident. ***


One winter day in June, it snowed lightly in Buenos Aires. Nobody, not even the adults, had ever seen snow in the city. Reputedly, the last time it snowed was in 1918. So it was magical to see the trees and the houses in Olivos, a suburb of Buenos Aires, decked with powdery, lacy snow. Monica was thrilled to look up at the grey-blue sky and feel snowflakes wetting her face as she stood. That day Mrs. Wolff appeared in a long variegated grey fur coat. Her face – with its pointed sharp features emerging so naturally from the hood – looked vivid and alert, as if the fur were attached to it. The girls could hardly breathe and some of them muttered, “Wolf, wolf,” and other comments Monica could not hear. Monica was very frightened. She put her hands behind her back so as not to fidget, but she could not stop staring at Mrs. Wolff. The whole classroom was heavy with the quiet. The only one who moved and spoke in an odd (for her) cheery voice was the Wolff woman. Curiously, she did not take off her coat. Even when the assistant headmistress appeared to announce that the girls should be allowed to keep on their coats since the heat was turned off because of snow damage, Mrs. Wolff continued smiling. “We shall cope, Miss Hill, of course,” she beamed unnaturally in the cold room. Evidently, she did not mind the temperature at all. “My girls are avid students, and a little thing like the heat being turned off will not affect their enthusiasm for our lessons.” When she rubbed her large brown hands together, Monica and the others gasped. Her long nails were painted with a black, ugly polish. It was the ‘50s, and the term “gothic” had not yet been coined to describe such unfortunate fashion. Miss Hill had a peculiar expression on her face when she left the room rather abruptly. A few minutes later, the janitress came into the classroom to announce that the assistant headmistress was dismissing all the annex classes early because of the broken heater and the snow. The girls let out a loud whoop and quickly started collecting their things to leave the room. The only witnesses to what happened next were Monica and Ann, who were hovering outside the door. They saw Mrs. Wolff put her portfolio in the cupboard and lock it. Then she opened the snow-drizzled window as far up as it would go, moved some desks out of her way, and took a huge leap into the snow-covered garden. Mutely, Ann and Monica approached the window to see a large furry grey animal leaping over the hedge into the snowy streets beyond.


Vestiges by R. Bremner

Vestiges of virtue smell a rat behind the hacksaw lounging in the cellar. Vixens in the dawning light fussing at the rosebush shout for their coffee, delayed by the commotion of the rat, which bolts for freedom. Freedom, says the rat, is just another word for nothing left to lose, as the dismayed vixens pout for their lost vestiges of virtue, but fail to see their freedom, so real, stretching out before them. Meanwhile, the temporarily safe rat cavorts.



by Daisy Bassen Five crows own the property. We’re renters. They remind us When the check is due, black As gasoline against the green lawn, Eyes drawn to their folded wings As eagerly as we’d sniff diesel’s Sexy funk. The points of a pentagram, I’ve never divined the leader, The mother who shoved worms’ hearts, Four or five, pulsing, into chick’s gullets, Who blotted out the sun when she flew. They are everything, collected, impervious, Negotiators with gravity, not hostage, Without history, names, algebra. A group means murder. They know Each other as we cannot, neighbors In gardens, lovers under eaves. Blades of grass part for them like the sea And they tell the hour when fees are dew. Due, diligent and delinquent, Past due, interest owing.


Fire Burns Upward by Howie Good

We see and smell the smoke all day. I’m scared to breathe in. The pathetic noises we make are those that would struggle up from an orchestra of broken instruments. Within a week, a month, a year, strangers have moved into our houses. They try on our clothes, put on our jewelry. They replace the photographs on the walls and tabletops with their own. Hundreds can be doing this at one time. Thousands! Now the only evidence that we might have once existed is the shoe that someone lost while fleeing.


West Virginian Golem by Vivian Wagner


She Dances in Flames by Margaret Siu

I was made out of clay by a little girl who lived in a trailer by the New River. She scratched “heroine” on my forehead, because she saw me as a star. I got to play with her Barbies, swing in her swing, go on adventures with her in the wilderness out back, in the woods beyond the yard. She loved me for years, but sometime after she turned fourteen everything went downhill. She threw me out in a pile of discarded toys and stopped playing with me. One day, she came out, found me, and erased my final “e,” so it said “heroin” on my forehead. She looked at me longingly with darkened eyes, holding me with a shaking hand before throwing me back down on the heap.


Billowing by R. Bremner

Billowing in through the open window came a peppery birth. A birth of coddled cream and dirty fragments. A tight birth that tunneled through me to find its way to life. A birth of ripples and scraps. A birth of a child with nine names, ninety names, nine hundred names, all of them yours.


72 Act 1 of the Unruly Hair Portraits by J.E. Crum

Blue Love by Howie Good

When the police arrive, chairs and tables and cups are flying everywhere. The police have dogs. They have helicopters. I stand on the sidewalk, just trying to seem normal. Some people are dealing drugs; others, dumping bodies. I see something big floating. At first I think it’s a dead cow. Then it flips around and looks at me, and I say, “Tiffany, it's a bear!” We all start laughing because it’s hard to believe. It’s like getting a blue hug from the sky.


The Cow That Jumped Over the Moon by Howie Good

Bees can fly about nine miles to find food, so we should be able to walk from here to the Jersey state line. I just don’t know exactly when. Sex is also a great form of exercise. If you think it could be, but then say, “No, it's not like that,” go with your initial instinct. What's most challenging is seeing the same story repeated over and over. We’re not inventing anything; we’re stealing from others really well. And that’s not going to change. Very few people seem to pay any attention to the ratio of shadow to light or thought to action. I try, I do, every day. It’s just that I’m constantly being interrupted by a dazed brown cow that wanders through the neighborhood mumbling to itself.


Something Axiomatic by Federico Federici


Youngest Ever Pt. 5 by Ann Epstein

SPEED EATER. Tokyo – Fourteen-month old Tori Kameya became the youngest contestant to win the International Speed Eating Contest after judges ruled her parents could cut the food into grasp-size pieces. The 22-pound Tori consumed twice her weight, downing 52 hot dogs, 15 cups of ravioli, 78 tacos, 29 dill pickles, and 21 quiche slices in 3 minutes and 10 seconds, before burping. “She was weaned at three months to begin training on solids,” her mother said. “We’re coaching her to purge after practice sessions, but her fingers are still too stubby to reach down her throat.” Her father is negotiating promotional contracts with Nathan’s and Taco Bell.


Appalachian Cyclops by Vivian Wagner

I have one round eye, and I build walls. This is my fate, here in the land beyond all lands. I find stones and place them, one on the other, fixing them with my limited line of sight. As far as I can tell, the walls are lovely, but my eye is tired. I’d like to see something else, try some new craft with these cracked hands.


The Minotaur of Western Pennsylvania by Vivian Wagner

I lived there, at the heart of a labyrinth. My bull head was the smooth brown color of heroin, my body akin to the body of the young man who created me, strong at first, and sleek. He fought me a few times, tried to kill me, but the maze’s vines twirled around his feet and dragged him down, where I trampled him, bloody, into the Allegheny soil. Finally, some hero or another came with his sword, driving it through my heart and leaving me to die, my blood mingling with that of my victim. The labyrinth’s still there, though, twisted and beautiful, waiting for the next curious visitor to wander in and begin building the next monster.





Accidental Rendezvous by Feby Joseph

On a Dali afternoon, the sun oozing across the sky I turned into a snake and you, a starfish. We melted down to the beach for one last time To ponder – to relive the early sunbathing days. We recreated all the early years – Silence and contentment and unsaid sentences Whilst the retreating waves cooled our toes. We tried one last time to see where it all went astray – Each reciting out unwritten soliloquies Till that one last line we always agreed upon – Before we parted – “You wouldn’t understand.”


by Gabrielle Myers “Might I but moor – Tonight – On Thee!” – Dickinson


After words Spun through our salty mouths, After bites of steak, tender, And wine’s tongue swim, Let us break into ourselves Out of ourselves Through each other.

Bathing with the Wife of Bath by Brandon Marlon

Only the fifth husband, I remain first in the heart of my seasoned beloved, oft-widowed and sobered by struggle yet every bit as busty and lusty, a sexpot squarely in estrus now flouncing and skirling amid a tub overflowing with suds fragrant and bubbly as we lather and stroke, exulting in the commingling of our waters. In our blissful, post-coital languor, privately I admire her sense of sovereignty and dominance despite her being illiterate and half deaf, a siren as headstrong as blessedly lecherous, her reticulate fingers catching the small of my back in affinal embrace. Woe to the foe of a woman so formidable, who fries her enemies in their own grease, a counterpoise and more to any lothario on the make, more merry and libertine even than those one third her age. I like the feeling of her girth on me, a warmth and weight redolent of fidelity; I love that she doesn't mind overly much when I splash her face to keep her from snoring.


We’re There and Here by Gabrielle Myers

“… because we are the branch, the iron blade, and sweet danger, ripening from within.” - R. M. Rilke What if ripening took a mind-piercing blade, the most romantic dream fulfilled only to be emptied out, the love sowed into our heart and skin’s seams only to be unraveled slowly enough for us to sense each slip? Too soft, feeling too much, what did all of that get us? Benefits of bruising don’t show on the surface, but inside where our sweetness, our acidity intensifies like a fig jam-bagged by the water-pulling sun’s heat.


Immortality and I by Sanket Mishra

Immortality was never a goal I pursued wholeheartedly As, say, the next fried chicken meal Or the exploits of my favourite football team. It has never been my most searched keyword on Google. Neither did it find mention amongst the various plethora of words I knit or coughed out In my trademark mixture of anxiety and overconfidence. Yet, a few of weeks back a letter of medical gobbledegook changed all that. In that mixture of carefully printed words Mortality displayed a vulgar exhibit And in its power I drowned. I felt like I was in a weed-powered seance. There was smoke, cloaks and lots of daggers. There were books, suggestions and so many prayers. There was a traditional god, and million ways to make him a request. In there, I learned of a potent potion which can give you a cherubic smile. I heard a song which when Mixed with pain created multiple rainbows. I saw some of the most powerful shoulders to lean on. I had a round table with death And a soft-spoken, white-clad angel. We talked about laughter, tears and tattoos. But mostly we talked about how I regained my immortality, until my next tryst with destiny.


Leave Your House and Home Unhaunted by Gale Hernandez

A girl killed herself on the twelfth floor of my apartment building last weekend. My roommate was on his way to work and briefly saw something whizz past the windows before he slipped out our front door. I wasn’t home. My friend was moving upstate, and I promised I’d help him move in. When I got back that Monday, I saw a memorial of flowers and stuffed animals. “What’s up with the memorial?” “Girl jumped out the window Saturday.”

“No shit,” I say.

My friend Andrew jumped out his window once. We were on the first floor, but the building sat up a little high. He dropped something from his sill and took the quicker route to retrieve it. A kid my freshman year jumped out her window, too, but she was high on something and only sprained her ankle from the third floor fall. There were other memorials on campus before, too. One for the dead pigeon in the parking lot. Another for a half-smoked blunt found in the courtyard.

“Have a little more decency,” my roommate says.

I sit down on my bed. “Shit.”

“Did she break something?” “Twelfth floor,” he says.

“Yeah.” He tells me that he was on his way to work when it happened. He left the building. People ran to the back. There was lots of screaming. He texted a co-worker that he was going to be late. Some other morbid stuff happened. I zone out before he finishes.

“You know the girl who was in our English class last year?” “Yeah?” I say. 86

“That was her,” he says.

“Oh. She was hot.”

He throws a book at me.

“Ow.” Maybe he’s still shaken up from the whole thing, because I don’t get why he’s angry. It’s a compliment. The room goes dead silent. I’m not really bothered by any of it. The two of us don’t talk often, and I didn’t know her. I had sex with her once, and when she found out, she called the cops. We weren’t really close.

“Did you ever go to work?” I ask.

“Couldn’t,” he says.

“You could have tried.”

He didn’t know her either. They were partners on a research paper once, but she didn’t do any of the work. I know ’cause he complained to me then.

I say, “Wasn’t she the cunt that didn’t do that assignment?”

“You’re gonna be home tomorrow?” he asks.

“Yeah. I’m not going to class,” I say.

“They’re putting bars on all the windows. Let maintenance in.”

I jump out our window instead. It always sounded fun, and there won’t be another shot. But we’re on the fourth floor, so all it did was break my leg.


Poems Debugging n.2 by Federico Federici

This time, he just throws his shoe at my head. I shrug it off.



by Brandon Marlon Forgive my gaucherie, but I must confess to stifling more than a few yawns in salons thronged with leg-crossing intellectuals who flatulently posture as they hold forth, flaunting how learned their minds are, how considered their opinions, decadent loungers eager to minish and derogate inferior rivals, cretins by comparison, savages only lately from the jungle. In my defense, mind you, I always perk up whenever platters of pâtÊ make the rounds while cerebral types in cravats and vests drone on about grants and fellowships, of bureaucratic impedimenta and petty grievances festering into molten hatreds manifested as strongly worded letters the contents of which would stun your nana. The olives or kabobs are often to die for, yet hardly worth the suffocating hot air fogging up mirrors and windows and dazing even the most obsequious sycophants adulating ad nauseum their didactic idols, pedants only too anxious to expound. Well, thank God for exits clearly marked and all those adjacent porches and patios where more than once I've sought respite, nursing liquor under moon and stars lofty but not haughty, humble in their way, precious though unimpelled to parade as much, exemplars modeling the lost art of the refined, that fine distinction between shine and flash. 89

Youngest Ever Pt. 6 by Ann Epstein

SOMMELIER. Bordeaux – Preschooler Jean-Michel Letourneaux was recognized as a Grand Master by the French Academy of Wine Tasters with perfect scores in swilling and expectorating. “He was one helluva spitter as a toddler,” said his mother, who enrolled him as an apprentice taster “to sublimate his aggression.” Asked about fears of early-onset alcoholism, his father said they were considering a training program at the Swiss Bottled Water Tasters Association, but crossing the picket line of the environmental protesters posed its own risks.


Post-Hipster Chorus by Alex Gosciniak

Post-hipster chorus Writing simple phrases that bore us. Milk and Honey must be funny In a well-read world. Everybody gets numb, Giving in to the prime of their sum, Posed as an ’80s Dad mixed with Post-grunge, hipster scum. Could sincerity be more than a joke? Dipping around inside the cerebral yolk. Twisted attempts at winsome epithets, Hung by the neck, and then set. By the time the divine comes in, Singing with wine-stained teeth of crimson, I was always at one. One with having won, beating with – The fingernail moon Scratching gold in tune. Post-hipster chorus, When change ignores us. Art never grows, When curiosity slows.


The Great Philosopher, Too by Alex Gosciniak

When I look to the stars, I envision the universe Mirrored out far, Unable to breathe past This spinning globe. I ask the great philosopher What he knows And how to live. Assigning words to theories, And theories to words, He gives a never-ending cycle Of contradiction, And attempts to find Predestination As a mode of security. For the future and safety From the horrors Of the past. All dark determination Blind to the light, Desires a clear explanation, The unobtainable fight.


Seinfeldian KĹ?an Feeds Head by Gerard Sarnat After meditation walkabout, dharma talk about Nothing, ultimate zen specter of being Awakened with no clinging, simple and deep rather than usual complex plus shallow while richer time amplifies. Profound sense contentment, cavernous inside, gazing into each other’s eyes, this Jewbu engages better selves stilling muddy ponds, shedding old skin for new, more nourished in the world as life clarifies.


Youngest Ever Pt. 7 by Ann Epstein

DENTURE WEARERS. Mobile – Two-year-old twins Betsy and Brandon Blowmanger showed off their false teeth before media cameras and Polygrip’s new youth marketing division. Raised on Krispy Kremes, Jujubes, and Dr. Pepper, the children failed the oral hygiene exam at their Early Head Start program. An American Dental Association representative said their baby teeth had rotted to stubs and their permanent ones erupted through their gums pre-decayed. “We bought his-and-hers tooth cases,” said Mrs. Blowmanger, “cause their uppers were identical.” Her husband was relieved Betsy’s lowers were wider than Brandon’s, “to ID the bottom choppers.” The ADA and AARP plan to collaborate on a line of cradle-tograve dentures, with ads featuring the twins.


Youngest Ever Pt. 8 by Ann Epstein

SPORTS TEAM. Killarney – The Stan James World Matchplay Prize of the Professional Darts Players Association was today awarded to The Mini-Missiles from Teddy’s Towne Pub. The boys, aged four to six, have played together for two years. Although this is their first tournament, the eponymous Teddy entered them in the adult division. “Start the laddies when they throw tantrums, then channel that hooliganism into throwing darts.” But pub regulars scoffed at such amateur child psychology. “Just fill ‘em up with ale and anabolic steroids,” said Fergus McGee, father of the Mini’s captain Ferule. “They’ll be pissed enough to let fly at the bull’s eye.” [Note from Panel: Sample A drug test inconclusive. Validation contingent on results of Sample B.]


The Other Side of Paradise by Gale Hernandez

We used to go to the park almost every week.

There were two a half hour away from the house. A road split them right down the middle. I always wanted to go to the side with the playgrounds and all the dogs in that fenced-in yard. My parents always dragged me to the right, with the mile-long bike paths and open sloping overgrown fields. When it flooded one year, they closed the whole place down. Both sides. Each area in the park had a sign when it reopened.

Flood height 2006 Flood height 2006 Flood height 2006

They added more when the ice caps started melting or something.

My mom would talk about that stuff all the time. Global warming. High Fructose Corn Syrup. Republicans.

I thought the world was ending almost every day.

But the park stayed open. The flowers always grew back. Trees fell during large awful storms, and you’d have to climb over the fallen trunks lying in the path until they came to hoist them away. spot.

When it snowed, we’d pack our sleds and spend fifteen minutes in the parking lot searching for a

In the summer, I’d beg for ice cream on the way home, and more often than not, I’d get it after some small task. “Spell the store’s name, Gabby. If you can spell the store’s name, we’ll go.” R-I-E-T-A-S

“Nope. Guess we’re not getting ice cream.”



At some point, we just stopped going altogether. To the park, I mean. We always went out for ice cream. We stopped trying to fly kites. We stopped playing catch. Stopped trying to teach my brother how to swing a bat. We didn’t bring the soccer ball, we didn’t bring a picnic. We didn’t ride our bikes. I think that’s when things started to go all bad. When my parents fought a little bit more than usual. When I stopped spelling store names. When Grandma started acting weirder with every day – just a little different, always a little sadder, always a little more lost. At some point, I put them all before me. I made compromises to keep them happy. I didn’t ask for things because I didn’t want them to fight. Eventually, the holidays weren’t fun. Eventually, it was just me scrambling from the living room to the kitchen, trying to put a smile on my mom’s face before she blew up during the holiday cooking and Grandma stormed off to her bedroom. Then it was time to pick up those broken pieces because no Christmas was complete without a fight. Try to get her back to the dining room table before the seafood was plated and we ate dinner in awkward silence. One time, maybe a month before Dad moved out of the house and my family went from a unit to enemies, he said we should it wasn’t the same park. And it was cold and windy, and the swings just weren’t any fun. And my brother always complained the longer he was away from home, and Dad’s temper always rose just a little bit with each fuck-up I made along the way. We stayed for maybe half an hour. When we got home, he went to his room, and I stayed with Grandma. Just staring at the TV. Repeating every sentence.

Now she’s not here. Now we always just stay in


Youngest Ever Pt. 9 by Ann Epstein

SUICIDE BOMBER. Bagdad – Three-year-old Yusef Rabibi blew himself up in a market this morning, killing 17 and injuring scores of others. Blood flowed like pomegranate juice among the leveled stalls. Witnesses say the boy cried that he’d lost his mother in the crowd, and as they gathered to help, he clutched his stomach and detonated. Yusef’s family expressed pride that he’d earned an eternal place in heaven, but an interdisciplinary team profiling suicide bombers disputed the claim, saying someone so young could neither create nor act upon theological motivations. Psychiatrist Bernard Laffler, however, believes it was a credible act of terrorism. “If a child hears hate speech from birth, he readily accepts his role as a martyr for his people.”

APPENDICES: Eye-witness transcripts attached. Video documentation shipped separately.


Reparations by Gary Glauber

It is not too late for the healing, to forgive ourselves & move forward, surrendering to shadows we hide behind, thrashing out denials in restless dreams, sweating through damp bedclothes seeking renewal, the victory of consciousness. Tart, this metallic taste of blood on tongue, lingers like tickles of memories, enumerating possibility, probable futures, fighting odds, outlasting beauty. Temporary, like time’s swift trope explains changes, swapping one thing for another, youth for age, health for static challenge, the sounds of love so similar to pain, how can one ever discern meaning or intention. Yet, dispersed by winds, a seed takes root & resultant growth is always surprising, the unexpected pleasure of spring’s renewal, where bright redbud awakens hope’s ripe rejuvenation, the aroma of optimism enhanced, the essence of warmth approaching.


Steinweg’s Erosion by Gary Glauber

In his fear of being alone, he carried home a pretty stone, dressed it up & called it friend & promised days would never end. But clocks would chime to tell his lie, that everyone must someday die, he waits to pawn his memory for what might seem eternity, a mind with rust that creaks with age through darkened halls of chosen cage, cane a-thumping, limp pronounced, belief & faith soon gone, renounced. A world of stone all turned to dust, with friends that held the weight of trust. So long to all he once possessed. the rock that rolled now comes to rest.


Contributors Alex Gosciniak is currently a Film and Media Arts student at Temple University in Philadelphia. He studies writing for television and film. His favorite poets include Walt Whitman, Patti Smith and Stevie Nicks.

Alexis Avlamis (b. Athens 1979) received early art instruction from Bennington College in Vermont and earned a B.F.A. (hons) in Painting from the Athens School of Fine Arts. He taps into a stream of consciousness to create dreamlike mindscapes aiming at a Cosmic Unity, where nature and the artifice coexist symbiotically. Avlamis is a laureate of the International Emerging Artist Award, which saw his works exhibited in Dubai and Brussels. He has attended artist residencies in the U.S., Finland and China and has been published and interviewed internationally. His works may be found in private and museum collections, most notably the Djurhuus Collection, Denmark and the Henan Art Center’s collection, China. Currently, he lives and works in Athens.

Ann Epstein writes novels, short stories, memoirs, craft articles, and book reviews. Her novels include On the Shore (Vine Leaves Press, 2017), Tazia and Gemma (Vine Leaves Press, 2018), and A Brain. A Heart. The Nerve. (Alternative Book Press, 2018). In addition to creative writing, she has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and M.F.A. in textiles. Many of her stories have historical settings which mix fact and fiction, and she is gratified to have forgotten what is and is not real by the time a work is finished.

Anna Leah Eisner likes to dance, a lot. Sometimes this comes in the form of writing. She is currently a Fulbright English teacher in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, and is learning about Central Asia. She somehow adopted a cat and is now learning about cats, too. She is a native of Los Angeles and is figuring out how to keep the ocean inside her wherever she goes.

Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 250+ publications in 28 countries.

Daisy Bassen is a practicing psychiatrist and poet. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English. She has been published in Oberon, The Sow's Ear, AMWA Literary Review, The Opiate, SUSAN|The Journal, Arcturus and Adelaide Literary Review and has pending publications with many others. She was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry and lives in Rhode Island with her husband and children.


Eleanor Colligan is a seventeen year old from Illinois. She has been previously published in Blue Marble Review.

Feby Joseph hails from Kerala, a South Indian coastal state seeped in green and poetry. He is a spiritual vagabond still trying to figure everything out. Presently, he’s working in a desert – counting other people’s money while words waltz about in his head.

Federico Federici is a physicist and a writer. He lives and works between Berlin and the Ligurian Apennines. His last book, dealing with LaTex poetry and code writing, is The way I discovered the Berlin wall has fallen. With the soundscape Brief aus Treblinka, he is currently taking part in the installation “res.o.nant” by Mischa Kuball at the Jewish Museum in Berlin (2018-2019).

Gabrielle Myers is an Associate Professor of English at San Joaquin Delta College, writer, and chef living in the Sacramento Valley of California. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California at Davis and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Saint Mary's College. Her poems, essays, and articles have been published in professional journals and in literary and popular magazines. She also co-authored a nutrition book, The New Prostate Cancer Nutrition Book.

Gale Hernandez is a writer and undergraduate student in the Film program at Temple University. His work has been published in "Brilliance 2008 Poetry Collection", and he is currently seeking publication for his original novel Special. He lives in Pennsylvania with his father, brother, and dog.

Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. His works have received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. He champions the underdog to the melodic rhythms of obscure power pop. His two collections, Small Consolations (Aldrich Press) and Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), as well as a chapbook, Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press), are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from the publishers.

George L. Stein is a writer and photographer living in Michigan City in Northwest Indiana. George works in both film and digital formats in genres like urban decay, architecture, fetish, and street photography. He focuses on composition, specifically the juxtaposition of beauty and decay. Northwest Indiana's rust belt legacy provides ample locations for his industrial backdrops. George has been published in Midwestern Gothic, Gravel, Foliate Oak, and many more.

Gerard Sarnat, M.D., has won prizes and been nominated for Pushcarts, authored four collections, is widely published, including recently by Oberlin, Brown, Columbia and Johns Hopkins. He won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, has been nominated for Pushcarts and authored four collections. Educated at Harvard and Stanford, Gerry’s worked in jails, built/ staffed clinics for the marginalized, and been a CEO and Stanford Med professor. Married for a half century, Gerry has three kids and four grandkids so far. 102

Hailey Higdon lives in Seattle, with her partner Tanya. Her newest book of poems, Hard Some, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil Press.

Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. His latest book is I'm Not a Robot, forthcoming from Tolsun Books.

J. Ray Paradiso is a recovering academic in the process of refreshing himself as an EXperiMENTAL writer and a street photographer. His work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Chicago Quarterly Review, Storgy and Into the Void.

J.E. Crum is a contemporary fantasy artist who enjoys creating intensely vivid works in liquid watercolors. She holds a M.A. in Art Education and Research from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a B.S. in Art Education from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. She also studied Art at Mississippi University for Women, in Columbus, Mississippi, and at The Leo Marchutz School of Painting and Drawing in the South of France. She has shown her work in various solo and group exhibitions throughout central Pennsylvania in galleries, businesses and community art centers as well as in cities, including Los Angeles and Detroit. She has donated her art for charity events.

J. H. Martin is from London, England, but has no fixed abode. His writing has appeared in a number of places in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Jill Dery has published stories in the Bellingham Review, Fourteen Hills, and others. She has also published poetry in Antiphon, Windfall, San Pedro River Review, Broad Street, Bracken Magazine, Penn Review, ELJ, Temenos, and Noctua Review, with poems forthcoming in Blueline, Split Rock, Cape Rock, and Pacific Review. Her M.F.A. in poetry is from UC Irvine. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she currently lives in Anchorage.

John Petelle is a Desert Storm veteran of the Marine Corps. Throughout his varied career, he has worked as the editor of the Nebraska American Legion’s state newspaper, as a computer instructor for an elementary school, and with numerous technology startup companies. An experienced cook and avid gamer, John lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. Current and pending publication credits include Collateral Literary Journal, Gateway Review, Pedestal Magazine, and Speculative City.

Joshua Jarrett is an artist and game designer living just outside Atlanta, Georgia. When he's not at his day job, he can be found in his studio drawing Pokemon and writing tabletop games about psychic teenagers. His work typically focuses on queer masculinity, explorations of bright decorative color, and domestic spaces.


K.P. Taylor was born and raised in South Africa. He came to the U.S. at 29 to work at an amusement park for a summer and never left. He currently lives in Pennsylvania and has a few self-published short stories on Amazon.

Lorette C. Luzajic is a collage mixed media artist from Toronto, Canada. She has exhibited in fairs, festivals, galleries, cafes, hotels, billboards, laundromats, banks, residences, gardens, auctions, and museums at home as well as in Mexico, Tunisia, the U.S., and around the world. She has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism and is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal of literature inspired by visual art.

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem “A Rose For Gaza” was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition in 2014. This and many other poems have been widely published in recent anthologies and journals such as Apogee, Firewords, Pilcrow & Dagger, Indie Soleil, Light and Snapdragon.

Margaret Siu is majoring in Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin, has a certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the National Taiwan Normal University and a business certificate from Harvard Business School’s HBX program. Siu is the founder and Editor-in-Chief for the international, multimedia publication Apricity Magazine. In addition, she is the recipient of the James F. Parker Poetry Prize. Siu has also been published in Affinity Journal, Blue Nib, Gasher Journal, and Madcap Review. Follow her visual art collection on Instagram: @formosan_poet.

Megha Sood lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is also a contributing author at GoDogGO Cafe, Candles Online, Whisper and the Roar, and The Poets’ Corner. She recently won the 1st prize in NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Mental Health Poetry contest.

Melinda Jane is a spoken-word artist who performs at festivals, fringes, schools, galleries and on radio. She had published poems in Thirty West Publishing House, The Mozzie, Rambutan Literary, Backstory Journal, Border Watch and KNWG. She’s also a lyricist collaborating with composers and musicians in spoken word performances and a musical concert and has received a highly commended award from the Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards 2016 for the play script titled “The Farmer’s Wife”.

Michele Mekel lives in the shade of the Shawnee National Forest and wears many hats of her choosing: writer, editor, educator, creatrix, cat herder, and human. She is a regular contributor to The Urban Howl, and her work has appeared in various publications.


Nick Colaccino is an English teacher living in the Japanese countryside. Outside of work, he spends his time camping and hiking in the mountains, reading philosophy, writing, and playing music. He maintains a short story and poetry blog, “Rafiki’s Nikki”, and has written articles about Japan for online publications.

Patrick Breheny is an American ESL teacher living in Bangkok and published lots of stories in the former “men’s mag’ market in the U.S. More recently, Straylight Magazine published his story “REVERSATOL”, and Lycan Valley Press is getting ready to reprint his story “The Assassin” in their anthology Revisiting The Undead. On May 19, Havik Anthology threw a great bash in Livermore, California, to launch their 2018 issue, which includes his story “Van Gogh Syndrome”.

R. Bremner writes of incense, peppermints, and the color of time in such venues as International Poetry Review, Anthem: a Leonard Cohen Tribute Anthology, and Climate of Change (Sigmund Freud in Poetry). He has twice won Honorable Mention in the Allen Ginsberg awards. You can visit Ron's Instagram poetry at beat_poet1 and Absurdist_poet.

Sanket Mishra is a cancer survivor who wants to live in a world where the pen is actually mightier than sword. As a freelance writer, he has been published on online publications and his story, “The Volcano Erupts”, was voted Most Popular Story in a contest run by an independent publisher in Singapore. His poems revolve around human experiences and emotions.

Sujash Purna is a secondary ELA teacher from Missouri. He was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and at the age of 18, came to the U.S. to study English. His poem “Dhaka” won the third place in the Wax Poetry and Art's 14th Poetry Contest. His poetry appeared in publications, such as the Five 2 One, Prairie Winds, Off the Coast, Harbinger Asylum, Stonecoast Review, and the Inwood Indiana.

Vivian Wagner is an associate professor of English at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. Her work has appeared in Slice Magazine, Muse /A Journal, Forage Poetry Journal, and other publications. She's also the author of Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington), The Village (Aldrich Press-Kelsay Books), Making (Origami Poems Project), and Curiosities (Unsolicited Press).

Wendy Schoua was born and raised in Argentina. She attended a British school and is bilingual and bicultural. Wendy is an avid reader who prefers the short story form. Her short story anthology, Immigrants and Other Aliens, which will be published next year, includes many well-known writers and some unknowns like herself. Wendy is also working on a novel with linked chapters about the narcissists she has met in her life. "Mrs. Wolff" was inspired by one of her teachers, whom she feared as a second grader. Ms. Schoua has an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Illinois and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Northwestern University. 105