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the

winnow. Volume 1 • Issue 2 • May 2019

Photo Credit: Haleigh Miller

Gentle Touch the winnow is an online literary magazine devoted to showcasing urgent works of prose, poetry, and photography from underrepresented creatives.


Editor Notes. “After our debut issue, we searched for creative works tailored to self-discovery. December to February and over 100 pieces all condensed into our small but mighty issue. We are proud and honored to present the second issue of the winnow. This magazine celebrates the voices from somewhere unheard, somewhere unspoken, somewhere urgent. To our always appreciated reader, I thank you, and hope these pieces will nourish and keep you.” —Rachael Crosbie Founder & Editor-in-Chief the winnow.

the winnow staff. Editor-in-Chief & Founder Rachael Crosbie

Managing Editor Elizabeth Kalansky

Design Editor Anthony Morris

Social Media Executives

Shawn White Tristan Cody

Prose Editors Shawn White Kait Yates

Prose Reader Christina D’Antoni

Poetry Editor Tristan Cody

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Contributors. Beau Boudreaux is the author of Rapunzel’s Braid, (Five Oaks Press, 2016), his second poetry collection. His first book of poems is Running Red, Running Redder (Cherry Grove Collections, 2012). His third book, Toy Park, is forthcoming in 2019. He currently teaches at Tulane University and lives in New Orleans. Michael Estabrook is a small press poet since the 1980’s striving always for greater clarity and concision rendering language more succinct and precise more accessible and appealing a Sisyphean adventure for sure. Retired now writing more and working more outside just noticed two Cooper’s hawks staked out in the yard or rather above it which explains the nerve-wracked chipmunks. The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany is a recent collection (The Poetry Box, 2019). Salem Gray lives with a fine collection of silly cats and writes about pretty things more than he should. He fell in love with acting at first sight and reads Tennessee Williams at small coffee shops. Writer, teacher, mediator, evolving human. Deborah Hansen, Jacksonville, Florida, has been published in The Teacher Magazine, Florida Times-Union, First Coast Parent Magazine and most recently, Breathe Free Press, Runcible Spoon, The Beat, and Burning House Press. Her essay, The Lesson, has been shortlisted for Banquet Erotica’s inaugural issue. She is the author of Character in Everything, a curriculum for school-aged children, and the author of Broken Strings: Wisdom for Divorced and Separated Families and Nothing to Complain About: My 125-Day Journey to Become Complaint Free. Her third book, Bacon-Wrapped Haiku, is an interactive collection of her Haiku poetry. www.debhansen.com/books Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbooks “Bartok in Winter” (Flutter Press, 2018) and “Graph of Life” (Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Manhattanville Review, formercactus, Sheila-Na-Gig, Marsh Hawk Review and Rockvale Review. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. Sarah E N Kohrs is an artist, with poetry published in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Colere, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, From the Depths, Gone Lawn, Horn & Ivory, Poetry from the Valley of Virginia, Rattle, Scintilla; photography inBlueline Literary Magazine, Columbia College Literary Review, Esthetic Apostle, In Layman’s Terms, Mt Hope, Mud Season Review, Ponder Review, 3Elements; both inClaudius Speaks, Raven Chronicles, and Virginia Literary Journal. Sarah has a BA in Classical Languages and Archaeology from College of Wooster, Ohio, and a Virginia teaching license endorsed in Latin and Visual Arts. Life experiences that bolster her art include homeschooling three sons, creating pottery for local Empty Bowl suppers, and serving as managing editor for The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review,director of Corhaven Graveyard (a preserved burial ground for African Americans enslaved on an antebellum plantation), board member of Nasaruni (a non-profit Maasai girls school in Kenya), and more. http://senkohrs.com David Lohrey graduated from UC, Berkeley. David’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Canada. His poetry can be found in literary journals in the US, Australia, Ireland, Hungary and Malawi. His fiction can be read online at The Broke Bohemian, Terror House, and Literally Stories. David’s The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th century American and South African novelists, was published in 2017 in Germany. Machiavelli’s Backyard, his collection of poetry, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers. He lives in Tokyo. Page 3


Contributors. (Continued) DS Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His first collection, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden”, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press, with “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” appearing with Turas Press in April 2019. Haleigh Miller graduated from Waynesburg University in 2018 with a degree in Computer Security and Forensics. She is now pursuing a dual MBA and MA in Criminal Investigations. Haleigh enjoys painting, drawing, lifting, and playing with her puppy, Pooka. Her current obsessions are cucumber water and BNHA. Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in this country five years. Her work has been published in Pennsylvania English, Harbinger Asylum, Petrichor Machine and Fire Poetry and is upcoming in Millwork.

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Contents. Poetry. A More Gentle Touch by Sarah Kohrs...................................................................................................Page 6 La Eternidad by Juanita Rey ................................................................................................................. Page 7 Algorithm by Paul Ilechko..................................................................................................................... Page 10 The Wind Off Mount Diablo by Michael Estabrook............................................................................Page 11 Sky So Still by DS Maolalai....................................................................................................................Page 11 Toby by Beau Boudreaux....................................................................................................................... Page 12 Disney’s Land by David Lohrey.............................................................................................................Page 15

Prose – Fiction. Elsewhere by Salem Gray........................................................................................................................Page 8

Prose – Non-Fiction. Beach Reflections by Deborah Hansen.................................................................................................Page 13

Artwork. Poppies by Haleigh Miller........................................................................................................................Page 6 Whisper by Haleigh Miller....................................................................................................................... Page 7 Dawn by Haleigh Miller.......................................................................................................................... Page 10 Flight by Haleigh Miller...........................................................................................................................Page 11 Depart by Haleigh Miller........................................................................................................................ Page 12 Howl by Haleigh Miller............................................................................................................................Page 13 Wake by Haleigh Miller............................................................................................................................Page 15

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A More Gentle Touch by Sarah Kohrs

A hirsute peach—warmed by sun settles in a blue-glazed bowl. sheen, a bruise settles in the dimple While intonations haunt the heart, understand, yet steeped in eyes. I gay of lavender and yellow rose. as sweet as ripe fruit we’ve mins or medicine or chewing gum, what’s real. Synthesis can harmonize. Maybe one day we’ll plant in once sub-Arctic soil. On that day sprout , we’ll cup the dainty green in that even with our collagen-filled our various color fields and offer a

through a window— Beyond the white like a blush. we rove to hold a noseIt’s almost cultivated into vitaextracted from ize or polarpeach trees when blood-red pits our hands and hope sight, we’ll recognize more gentle touch.

Poppies by Haleigh Miller Page 6


La Eternidad

by Juanita Rey

Some things seemed to go on forever when I was a child. The school day. The church sermon. My grandfather’s stories. La eternidad.

Whisper by Haleigh Miller

The town didn’t change. Nor did the house. My mother’s meals were as predictable as the beat of ocean on sand. My father’s paycheck grew no fatter. I loved books but mostly read the same ones over and over. I longed to be older so I could have a say on whether or not I wished to be bored. Of course, time is making up for its laziness now. It still winds the clock back on the job but the nights go by like wind. When I’m all dressed up for a party some place, it feels like I pass myself coming home on the doorstep. It makes me wonder if the hours and what I make of them have ever been in lock-step. I could spend a lot of time thinking about that if I weren’t done doing that already.

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Elsewhere by Salem Gray

I met him on the beach. Classic, right? Meeting a guy on the beach. It wasn’t sunset though. It was in the late hours of the night, when a dark mist swept over my feet and the waves collided with my toes. Bruised, I walked into the tides, letting the cold water envelop me like a seashell. Then I heard his voice. “It’s cold out here.” His words chilled me more than the sea could have. Like daggers in my ears he surprised me. I stepped out of the water and sunk, knees first, onto the sand. “Water’ you doing?” He asked. I didn’t even notice the pun. I hate it now but I didn’t even notice it then. “What do you think?” I said to the stranger. I buried my hands and let the sea caress my legs. “It’s good I got here, I guess.” He said. Smoke poured from his mouth and joined the hazy air. He dropped his cigarette and sat down next to me. His arms felt warm close to mine. “I hate it here.” I said. I don’t remember saying it. It just came out like the smoke from his mouth. I couldn’t even see his face. The glow of the moon was hidden behind the night clouds, and all light was absent. “Why is that?” He asked. I reached for his hand and guided it along my face. I was letting this stranger shape my face with his fingers like a creep, a freak of the dark beaches. I winced as his rough fingers poked the bumps. “Who put those on you?” He asked. I didn’t want to speak. I dropped his hand and put my head between my legs like a coward. Finally, the clouds drifted, and light cut through the fog. I could see his arms, his white tank-top and cut jean shorts. Sand was trapped in the hairs on his legs, and he had a visible scar along his left ankle. Who was he? “Tell me.” He said. “I don’t even know you.” I whispered. “I’m Dylan.” “Well, hi, Dylan.” “Your name? Something soft I bet. Lots of S’s or C’s. No K’s or Z’s. You’re too timid too have a name with K’s or Z’s. Something short, I think. Am I close?” His guessing continued, and while my ears were listening fine my brain was elsewhere—lost in the remains of the mist. “Call me by my middle name: Sal, for short.” “Sal, huh? I was right!” He leaned in closer to me. I felt a chill that was not from the ocean. “What happened, Sal?” He whispered to me. “I live with my Uncle here.” I said to him. “My parents aren’t here.” He backed away. “I’m here with my friends. Spring break.” “Oh,” I uttered. More light dripped across his body, and I could finally see the face of the boy I was speaking to. His eyes were brown like caramel, funny, I expected blue eyes. Blue eyed boys always seem nice. He had big lips and little eyebrows. His hair was slicked black, short, recently roughly cut. Then I realized: he could see me too. “Am I what you thought I was?” I asked him. “And what’s that, exactly?” He laid down on the sand, his arms behind his head, and stared at the sky. “Someone different, I guess.” I removed my hands from the sand and placed them behind my head, mimicking him. “You ever been to the Pier?” I asked. “Plenty of times,” he said, “It’s my favorite place.” Page 8


“I went with my mom every year. Just her and I.” “You wanna go over?” He asked. I froze. “Right now?” He stood up with a realized temperance. “Right now.” “I-I can’t. He’ll kill me if I’m gone late.” Everything was saying ‘no!’ It wasn’t a good idea. But something tempted me. Was it the charming way Dylan raised his brow as he pointed at the pink lights of the pier down the way? Was it the fantasies of the night time that tricked me? I had to repress the urge. Nothing good would have come out of it. “Okay. Let’s go.” I said. * The neon lights resonated with me. They flickered occasionally as people walked by but they remained working. Blues, pinks, greens, all lights that draped like paint across my body. Dylan walked me over to a crane machine and bet me a prize that he could win one. I watched his hand jerk the lever with precision, each movement made the crane jiggle but I could tell he knew what he was doing. Slowly, the crane reached down and grabbed a toy. It began to pull up. It dropped it. “One more time,” he said to himself. Again, he gripped the lever and followed the movements of the crane like it was gears in a clock. I marveled at him. The crane went down, grabbed a toy, a little stuffed snake, and it pulled up. It remained in the crane’s grasp. Before I knew it, the snake was in my arms and we were walking down the boardwalk. “Told you I was good at it.” He said. “I believe you, don’t worry,” I laughed. We walked arm in arm down the pier, occasional passerby’s glances bouncing off our joy like magnets opposing each other. I stopped and stared down at the black sea, the chill winds whispered something. “You okay?” Dylan asked. I looked straight at him. The moon’s glow shined in his hair, and I felt a pulse in my heart bounce out of my chest. Lips on lips, we embraced. The neon signs encasing us in a fiery pink cone of light. “I should get going,” I said. “Already?” He said. His face cool to the touch. “I don’t want to.” “Stay with me.” “At the pier?” “No. Here.” He gestured around us. “We don’t even know each other.” The alarms in my head rang again, I ignored them the first time but this time I couldn’t toss them aside with my conscience. I couldn’t follow the pitter patter of my beats. “I don’t need to know any more.” He said, holding my hand. “Let’s stay a while.” I said. We moved to a bench and let the winds blow against us. I rested on his arm and traced his veins as I felt a heavy presence on my eyes. I looked at him again as the lights around me darkened. His lips were still moist, and I wanted to reach up to him. With the toy snake in my arms, I dozed off. Night faded, and it all went away. * Dawn. Sunrise. I feel the sun on my body and a warm tide tickles me awake. Millions of grains held my body on the earth, and as I stared at the pink skies, I draped my hand across my head. My other arm laid softly in the water, as if I was reaching out to the distance—something far, far away.

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Dawn by Haleigh Miller

Algorithm by Paul Ilechko

This algorithm converts bodies into a plane of sand into a sheet of glass into a seam of coal between rocky plates that lap and overlap the way the molecules within convection point us in the direction of entropy in the direction of ancestry it took many years to discover the glint small creatures

that is lost within the darkness of heavy nights

with jewels for eyes

shoulder to shoulder like lovers fastened with endless rolls of tape pages where the light burned away the memories the brother’s diary

our albums filled with blank

told a tale of soaked in blood

the mother’s memory

ended in a sharpness

as if a knife tore light through rotting fabric

the father’s history a method of survival across a century of chasm replaced with plastic

his teeth long since lost

as a house built within the absence of sound was gradually filled with steam the smoke of the ancients curling blue into the dawn of crow-shaped morning we had a drawer filled with pens

ready to encode the story of these lives

the algorithm calculates with uncanny exactitude what matches Page 10

and fat

and what fails to match.

and


The Wind off Mount Diablo

by Michael Estabrook

Flight by Haleigh Miller

Sky so still by DS Maolalai

that even the seagulls must flap. he’s out in the air early, soft with mist, surrounded like layered feathers. damn that cold - he breathes the scene deeply. the air in his chest is a sharp wind among dying trees. he coughs, feels things rip and leaves blow away. looks at the water through teary eyes. a swan swims, slicing a narrow arrow on the still surface, black and dense as wine.

Sitting out under the big new red umbrella in Dave’s back yard reading Martin Amis’s “The War Against Cliché” when suddenly, floating in on the wind coming down off Mount Diablo, it occurs to me that my life has slipped by and I hardly even noticed. I wonder – can I do anything different, begin life anew at 62, or am I stuck right here where I am for the duration – however long (or short) that might be? I don’t know, I really don’t know. “But what do you want to do new at this rather late stage of your life?” the wind asks. I’m silent for a long time like the wind should be. I’m thinking, “Well, nothing new really. I’d like to do what I’ve tried to do for decades now – write a better poem.” “So do it,” the wind replies, with a bit of a flip attitude, almost a sneer. “But I don’t know how.” Silence finally from the stupid wind. Then it slowly occurs to me that I need to try something new, anything new and different perhaps might inspire me to new heights, or at least to a different vantage point from which to observe life. I recall how Dr. Moyer at Harvard once told us that he began learning the violin at 80: “You’re never too old to learn,” he said. “So, I guess there’s time yet for you after all,” the wind speaks up again, even after I’ve asked him politely to mind his own damn business.

it points: pilgrim, go forward. Page 11


Toby

by Beau Boudreaux Family dinner, my wife across the table gave in, we should get a puppy, especially for our son, a substitute sibling—we’d discussed and let slide off the future…I wanted a male beagle, tri-color with enormous ears, checked the market found one in a small town in Missouri ready to leave his mom just before Christmas…he’d fly cargo direct on Delta first flight of the morning, we’re anxious trip to PetSmart in preparation, prayed for mild weather drove out to the airport at noon—people picking up their pets, my surprise a yellow Chihuahua with my name, I double-check, a mix-up mine flew to Norfolk worse than a sinking stomach at the carousel wonder what he’s thinking— if he’s warm, fed, perhaps the other family might keep him—so I returned around midnight, not a soul in cargo my crate, my baby beagle crying his way home.

Depart by Haleigh Miller Page 12


Beach Reflections by Deborah Hansen

Conversation died as we stepped into the beachside restaurant, its wooden exterior bleached white from years of sea breezes and sun. The heads near the door craned first, with the rest following like dominos falling across the room. A bottle redhead under the giant television screen leaned into the man sitting next to her and whispered into his ear. She pointed a gnarled finger with its blood-red nail as they shared their secret. They giggled like teenagers as they turned to stare at us again. I was here to watch in amazement as another of my decades dashed past, years torn from the calendar, faster and faster. I could no longer pretend it wasn’t happening. I had come to this town by the sea to mark the event with a long-time friend, a woman like me who had struggled to raise a child alone. Our kids were grown and gone now yet our friendship had endured, people who hold onto one another, knowing that such ties are fragile. I had naively believed that my age would remain a number, an entry important only to complete a space on a multitude of forms. And then I woke up one morning to realize the decade that had snuck up on me was, at least in my mind, the one that signals the downward spiral of one’s journey on this plane. I was shocked, almost as if I had discovered that I was unable to count. Surely, I knew how old I had been last year, so how could it now be a surprise, this birthday that was infiltrating my dreams with frames of fatalism? People no longer contradicted me when I joked about the lines etched into my face. I didn’t think it was funny either. We had come to this place to mark the day, my friend and I, to walk in the sea mist at dawn and then hide under umbrellas as the sun arced in the sky. The sand warmed our bare feet and the sun burned the skin on our legs, pants rolled up to the knees. Was I hoping the ocean washing up on the shore would act as a balm to take the years away with the foamy waves? It felt like the years were mocking me as the sundrops fell like quicksilver across the water. We made our way across the bare floor of the restaurant, our feet loud on the bleached wood. Heads covered with shades of gray, from steel to smoky slate, swiveled to follow our path to an empty table. Had we somehow stumbled into a private event attended entirely by elderly partygoers? Weren’t they supposed to be tucked in for the night by now? We chose a spot between the two largest groups, a small table for two floating among this sea of curious early birds. The redhead turned again in our direction, maybe apprising us as newly-arrived competition. One might expect a Howl by Haleigh Miller hint of a smile, real or contrived, Page 13


but no such welcome was offered. The noise from the bar rose around us as the heads turned back to their own business, leaving us to check the menus. Waitresses scurried around the room, young women who likely continued working in fevered dreams as they slept, unable to come down from the high such energy infuses day after day. A brunette with silky hair pulled back into a swinging pendulum appeared with her pad ready. She took our order and managed a smile, one of those people who cared about what she was doing even when it would have been easier to do her job without any emotion bleeding around the edges of such repetitive work. The din around us grew as the televisions throughout the room competed, the football game in one corner bouncing off breaking news over the bartender’s head. A group of four on tall bar stools suddenly roared with laughter, and a bell hanging next to the cash register clanged three times. A man in a sky-blue polo shirt slapped his frail neighbor on the shoulder and nearly took both of them to the floor. The women laughed with delight at the joke. It was happy hour, that block of time in the evening when bars know they can give alcohol away before the serious drinkers show up, the younger people who wander home in the early morning hours, awash in fancy martinis or craft beer. The first crowd, the one we had unwittingly stumbled upon, sat in front of tall glasses of iced tea or soda, with a few beer mugs and cocktails littering the tables. These people had been here a while as the clock over the door ticked its way up to 6:00 PM. The sun had begun to gather its golden tendrils for the night, tucking them away until tomorrow. The pony-tailed waitress returned with our drinks, the first installment of the evening. We sipped and sat back to watch, fascinated by this dance weaving its way around us. Now the gray hairs focused on each other, with occasional sly glances our way, making sure we stayed where we belonged. There is a tension that exists around men and women who aren’t attached to each other with wedding bands or commitments, a force field that shifts and crackles like electricity suddenly visible. Stretched smiles flow over crow’s feet; age-spotted fingers touch the back of a hand. Couples scattered around the edges of this dance sit and watch the flickering television screens, making scattered comments to dent the silence, wondering what had happened to their lives. Loneliness is an unworthy roommate at any age, taunting those who have no one to share the unending hours that sometimes sap the will to continue. My friend and I ate and laughed, our memories tapping into our friendship as dusk pressed in on the salt-streaked windows. The waitress brought our second round, the first having softened the jagged edges that had been scraping me raw with this yearly ritual gone bad. My life had taken unexpected twists, leading me along paths littered with pain. Viewed through a prism of years, I regretted much, a fact that taunted me now. There are always things we would change in hindsight, paths not taken or those we should have avoided, stepping around the rocks that were waiting to rip us to shreds. Those who say otherwise aren’t paying attention. The noise escalated as the evening spun on until it became difficult to do anything but watch the action. The groups had begun to wander and flow into one another, focused targets obvious only to the participants. A movement in the window caught my attention as I raised my glass. A woman with somber creases etched into her face sat near me, her heavily-veined hand frozen in space. I turned to find her as I sipped my drink, wondering why I hadn’t noticed someone crowding close to me. She seemed to be sitting outside the action, perhaps waiting to find an excuse to join the fun. I turned back to the window, searching for her again in the reflection of these people who continued to enjoy life. I looked for her face, the one revealing so much uncertainty. Suddenly, the image clicked into focus. That woman holding herself apart, all of her distance coming from within, was me. Page 14


Disney’s Land

by David Lohrey

Wake by Haleigh Miller

This is for the Russians whose tears freeze. We Americans are too easily deceived, distracted by the lights. The regime of glad tidings insists on saying we’re all right. We’re part of the sham. The singers are faking. The laugh-track distracts us. Our moods are orchestrated; we are forced to applause. Every show on Broadway gets a standing ovation like the Soviet Politburo. We don’t want to admit we’ve thrown it all away. The soloist is lip-syncing. She is slurring her words. She’s been drinking. Her throat’s tightening and she feels dizzy. All very natural but a hazard for a professional singer. She’s not the only one who’s afraid.

Our comics get booed for cracking jokes. Unlike singers, they can afford to slur their speech. They are allowed to gain weight. Nothing wrong with a fat comic, but don’t let anyone overhear what he really thinks. The reality instructors from the Catskills are being replaced by happy campers. The angry men from the Depression are dead. Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, even John Carson smoked like fiends and hid their malice. These were angry men. These men had fire in their empty stomachs. Mel Brooks couldn’t sleep at night. Many were maniacs like Jerry Lewis. Russians have it rough. They eat rocks. They freeze. Americans have it easy; we all know that. Americans are lonely. It may take a village, but what happens when the village is a leper colony? Even our parents hope we fail. We are all in it to win it; we compete with our friends. We hope our enemies die. Page 15


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