Unbroken Journal

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November/December 2015 Issue executive editor r.l. black layout editor dino laserbeam

Cover Art by the talented Walter Savage: W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of seven books including Imagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage. More then fifty of Jack's stories and over four-hundred of his paintings and drawings have been published worldwide. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California.

Š 2015, unbroken/Contributing Authors Unless otherwise noted, all accompanying photos are under a CC License, with the only changes being that some of the photos have been either saturated or desaturated. Font used in cover creation, inside banner, and author titles by John Holmdahl

Contributing Authors Brian Michael Barbeito Bupinder Singh Fidoic C.C. Russell Charles Hayes Christopher Iacono Daniel Finkel Deborah Guzzi Deborah P. Kolodji Glen Sorestad Holly Wotherspoon James Diaz Katie Aliferis Ken Poyner Lana Bella Linda Wojtowick Melinda Giordano Michael Lee Johnson Michael Prihoda Monica Flegg Rebecca Gaffron Santino Prinzi Steven Pan Tara Isabel Zambrano

by Santino Prinzi

Cloudless. I look up and hold each twinkle between my thumb and forefinger. For a moment I feel their burning prickle my skin but I could never embrace their warmth. I snuff them out one by one. They are extinguished, dead. Now the sky is dreamless too.

Santino Prinzi is an undergraduate student at Bath Spa University studying English Literature with Creative Writing. His flash fiction has been published both online and in print, including the 2014 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology Eating My Words, the 2015 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology Landmarks, FlashFlood Journal, Short Story Sunday, and others. Check him out at www.tinoprinzi.wordpress.com. Accompanying photo by Shanthanu Bhardwaj

by Michael Prihoda

He had a Patagonia jacket and wore it in any weather. Kept saying, “Why don’t we do something?” As I counted days in kisses from an unaffectionate girlfriend. We never went to bed. I wonder if I ever left it. It got hot one weekend, among others, and I almost asked him why he wore the jacket but at least he did something while I counted days. Not very many. It took a long time to fill a hand, counting that way, but he could wear a jacket every day, all the time.

Michael Prihoda is a poet and artist living in the Midwest. He is founding editor of After the Pause and his work can be found in various journals in print and around the web. He loves llamas and the moments life makes him smile.

Accompanying photo by Martin Burns

by Deborah Guzzi A mosh pit of greedy buggers hurl themselves through the glass and brash aluminum doors— Obese bodies press (jammed between white-bread). A screech of pain and howls of Christ mask laughter. The shoppers feet bombard high gloss, line-oh-lea-ummm floors as the overwrought, overprivileged, truffle sniffers poke through the hundred and fifty percent marked-up— mark-downs, for things they already own in triplicate. canned music jiggle bells the room: torn wrapping paper

Caffeinated sugar highs salt their sweaty skin wreathed in posh winter garb—the management watches: rigged mirrors, security cameras, guards—the under paid sales-staff cringe like runners before the bulls in Barcelona. Each painful expression tells of hours on aching feet without rest (new mothers working for ‘second job’ paychecks, elderly women on social security, over educated third world PHD’s all linked in the chain gang of minimum wage) working well below their capabilities—they slave. children in metal carriages scream: Santa’s Ho Ho Ah, Black Friday, emphasizing the black-eyed underbelly of capitalism gone wrong—over shadowing man’s better nature—adding yet another bruise on the cheek of a Holy Season.

Deborah Guzzi is a healing facilitator specializing in Shiatsu and Reiki. She writes for Massage and Aromatherapy publications. She travels the world seeking writing inspiration. She has walked the Great Wall of China and visited Nepal (during the civil war), Japan, Egypt (two weeks before “The Arab Spring”), Peru, and France (during December’s terrorist attacks). Her poetry appears in Magazines: here/there: poetry in the UK, Existere - Journal of Arts and Literature in Canada, Tincture in Australia, Cha: Asian Literary Review, Hong Kong, China, Eunoia in Singapore, Latchkey Tales in New Zealand, Vine Leaves Literary Journal in Greece, mgv2>publishing in France, RedLeaf Poetry, India and Travel by the Book, Ribbons: Tanka Society of America Journal, Sounding Review, Kyso Flash, The Aurorean, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Liquid Imagination, Poetry Quarterly, and others in the USA. Her new book The Hurricane is available now through Prolific Press. Accompanying photo by David Porter

by C.C. Russell Darkness opens to a shot of snow, huge wet flakes falling through the triangle light of a streetlamp. The reel reverses so that the crystals ascend, then reverses again, speeds up until it morphs into tv static. After static, a classroom. The professor discusses abortion as political debate while canned laughter crawls under the door. The camera follows the laughter until we see people through chicken-wire glass taking notes on an episode of I Love Lucy. It fades, opens to close-up of a man’s face. His fingers pull a thin cigarette to his lips and these lips pull the smoke in slowly, force it out. His eyes relax a bit and he says “It’s hard to remember how it started. Once it’s ended, it always is.” His voice is cracked, sounding older than he looks. The camera pulls in towards him. He loses focus, blurring into a Hollywood alien face, all smoothness and the unending black of eyes. He takes another drag and the screen turns white with his exhalation. This white grows to graffiti across a brick wall. Bubble letters illegible at this camera distance. After a long and silent two minutes, something black at the bottom of the screen moves. A person, black jacket over black jeans. Black hood pulled over white head. He looks at the camera and then walks off screen, the camera not moving to follow. More silence towards the wall and then wipe. Slow bleed into a dark room. A girl is writing a letter so fast that her hand blurs. We are unable as viewers to make out the words she is slamming into the paper. Her left hand twirls circles in the tight brown curls above her ear. The film speeds up, growing faster and faster until she is a convulsion of blurred lines. The screen fills with her, a terrible motion. And out of her, David in a mirror—his camera raised to his eye, catching the image. He looks into himself and then fades out.

C.C. Russell currently lives in Wyoming with his wife, daughter, and two cats. He holds a BA in English from the University of Wyoming and has held jobs in a wide range of vocations. His poetry has appeared in the New York Quarterly, Rattle, and Whiskey Island among others. His short fiction has appeared in The Meadow, Kysoflash.com, and MicrofictionMondayMagazine.com, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for inclusion in The Best Small Fictions.

Accompanying photo by Giulio Bernardi and jinterwas

by Melinda Giordano

They are waiting: in alleys, in gutters, on sidewalks. They are stripped of baubles, of their ropes of stars, of their silver splendor. All gaiety is left behind; the elegant magic of the 12 day holiday has been dispersed, like lingering schoolchildren. Perhaps their forest color and fragrance lingers in the deserted living rooms; but for now, they wait. Nothing lies ahead for them but landfills, wood chippers, mulches and composts: the humiliation of decay. Faded symbols of winter’s highlights, weeping a lamentation of needles, they create an abashed and patient woodland. But at night, the moon, reclining like an empress on her wine-colored throne, takes pity on the groves mourning beneath her. She gathers the light of the constellations, of the planets that spin about her, of the stars that dazzle from her wrists and forehead—and sends it to the lonely trees. And suddenly shriveled branches glow with the tinsel of a finished holiday, with the icicles of a distant hinterland. They live once again, basking in the radiance of a lunar compassion. Like a smile that trembles with a memory about to be forgotten, the light is a delicate reminder, the granting of a final Christmas wish, before all nostalgia is spent.

Melinda Giordano is from Los Angeles, California. A published artist and writer, her written pieces have appeared in Lake Effect Magazine, Scheherazade’s Bequest, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Whisperings and Circa Magazine among others. She is also a regular poetry contributor to CalamitiesPress.com with her own column, ‘I Wandered and Listened’. Melinda is interested in many histories: art, fashion, social - everything has a past - and anything to do with Aubrey Beardsley.

Accompanying photo by Karen Neoh


by Rebecca Gaffron Dishes spawn in the sink, increasing like victims of some infectious disease. It figures the moment of my conception would be totally dark. It was probably a Sunday night. Sunday nights always make me cry. The neighbor is blowing snow off his driveway again. Fourth day in a row. It hasn’t snowed in a week. I am the union of dispassion and desperation, please pass the starch. Sisyphus knew how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning. He was probably hypothyroid. Her darkness is dull and hungry. His light is impotent. There is something comforting in the slimy feel of stripping a chicken carcass. When will this madness end? This winterized marriage of discontent? She stares blankly, untouched by the moment. He covers awkward with fiction, a goose down comforter of denial. So these are my beginnings. I am tired of being cold. Snow slides off the roof with a noise like an avalanche. The house shakes. You rest a hand on my shoulder. Bright spot in an otherwise grey moment. No other darkness shines like yours.

Rebecca is fascinated by sea-green spaces, words, and men who behave like cats. She is a sometimes writer whose stories and poetry occasionally turn up here or there. She can be found at: www.rebeccawriting.com Accompanying photo by Agata

by James Diaz In whose sweetness? holding what? then at least, at last, in the oldest mark in the path we've followed, we bring ourselves into the acquiring—with our little in-keepings, both arms at the forefront, narrower against the outer bend of frozen city (objects) and time (as if a sort of tenderness were packed into seed) recognizing us at the exact moment we no longer possess the capacity to assure ourselves, insure ourselves—even less, in the long look into things, where day is fraught with its inverse, loss losing loss—as if disappearance were compounded, the discord, then, some memory, of our common grace bending until it is exhausted, we lack the use of ourselves in that visible moment, and some too, are impoverished beyond this, knowing that when loss occurs it is not occasional, it will continually share itself, into the lens, now unseen, and with exile-painted, frigid step, risks the near unhallowed whole of our unfounded face to face, desperate light then in this—or even out beyond the “then”—what happened next, unhealed, it might be we arrive or un-arrive at something, our enclosure bested with the absence, its own, still moody hurt, coordinating color, and that great change of temperature, when the sea rises almost an inch further than it was before, leaving a measure, new in itself, to be born.

James Diaz lives in upstate New York. His poems and stories can be found in Collective Exile, Ditch, Pismire, The Idiom, Cheap Pop Lit and My Favorite Bullet. Accompanying photo by Thomas Anderson

by Holly Wotherspoon First week of January, decades ago, had driven all day, Seattle to Kelowna we three, would-be prophets for a workshop full of Canadian skeptics. Day 1, knocked it out of the park and we're back to our hotel high on ego laced with adrenalin, how smart we are, and just past a restaurant alley when we see it, cat or a raccoon maybe, nose deep in garbage, foraging, but something wasn't right. Slowing, we're all getting that prickling on the back of our collars that portends. Can't breathe at all but I'm still breathing, and you are waiting, waiting for the big burst of something. Something wrong in the produce box in the restaurant alley, and we all look down and oh sweet Jesus it was a newborn baby in that alley.

Checked the hospital days later, no news, we never heard, wanted to believe, that we delivered something improbably alive to the emergency room, that heroic acts were wrought on a tiny, twilight-colored body. I still believe in that baby, peddling his bike to school, or playing with his friends at recess, or reverently hanging on a Roman cross, but, like I said, we'll never know. I have faith that the doors of heaven open after hours for a mother who swaddles her infant in lettuce scraps of a produce box, because such a mother, especially, wants for mercy. But no one knows what happened to her, either.

Holly Wotherspoon is an adoption attorney living and writing in the rolling hills north of San Francisco, after returning from an extended sojourn in the Pacific Northwest. She is a poet, naturalist, and irreverent art tour guide. A member of River Town Poets, she studies poetry and reads her poems around the North Bay area. Her previous publications include incredibly boring articles in legal journals as well as a thrilling prose poem forthcoming in Mulberry Fork Review.

Accompanying photo by Gian Marco Gasparrini

by Charles Hayes A melancholy time, tracers everywhere dress as colored lights, a ruffed grouse snow angel amid deer tracks, leftover beans on the iron stove, and a hope that somehow, someway a bottle can be bagged to chase the spooks of yesterday.

Charles is an American who lives part time in the Philippines and part time in Seattle with his wife. His writing interests centers on the stripped down stories of those recognized as on the fringe of their culture. Asian culture, its unique facets, and its intersection with general American culture is of particular interest. As are the mountain cultures of Appalachia. Accompanying photo by chispita_666

by Deborah P. Kolodji How cold is cold? Sweater cold or sub-zero REI coat cold? I admit it. I’m a native Southern Californian. Laugh if you will, but cold means I need a sweater and an occasional umbrella. Until I started traveling for work, I wore my “winter coat” five times in ten years. I was over 50 before I found myself driving a car in an ice storm in Boise. Ok, I called the client and had him pick me up and then spent the evening practicing driving the car around in a parking lot. Despite popular belief, we do have a winter here, it’s just more subtle. It can be rain, high surf, and empty beaches. Empty of people, but crowded with birds. Visible snow on the top of Mount Baldy, the orange tree in my back yard bearing fruit. White flowers on manzanita. Paper whites on my window sill. I have never seen a White Christmas. scent of pine the new coldness between us

Deborah P Kolodji moderates the Southern California Haiku Study Group and is the California Regional Coordinator for the Haiku Society of America. She has published over 800 poems, including haibun in Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Prune Juice, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Haibun Today.

Accompanying photo by Marty B

by Katie Aliferis My feet slide around these ruined bodies in this consolation dance. Each placement of toe(s), ball(s), arch(es), heel(s) unearthing ripe sorrow. And these winter roots—so deep beneath the nutrient-rich mantle—beyond the fallen water and flashing sea, hidden in eternal respite. Are drenched, instead, with dripping flame, this heat that burns. Igniting old steps—old waltzes long forgotten—and who will dance with me now?

Katie Aliferis is a Greek-American poet and writer from San Francisco, California. Her poetry has been featured in Φωνές, Silver Birch Press, sPARKLE & bLINK, and other literary anthologies, journals, and websites. Her favorite poems are Jane Hirshfield’s “The Lost Love Poems of Sappho” and C.P. Cavafy’s “Όταν Διεγείρονται” (“When Roused”). When not writing, Katie can be found reading, traveling, sipping mint tea, and enjoying time with friends and family. Find Katie online via Twitter (@KatieA_SF) and at KatieAliferis.com. Accompanying photo by Luke Andrew Scowen

A Collection by Michael Lee Johnson

Leaves, a few stragglers in December, just before Christmas, some nailed down crabby to the ground frost, some crackled by the bite of nasty wind tones. Some saved from the matchstick that failed to light. Some saved from the rake by a forgetful gardener. For those few freedom dancers left to struggle with the bitterness: wind dancers wind dancers, move, you are frigid bodies shaking like icicles, hovering but a jiffy in the sky, kind of sympathetic to the seasons, reluctant to permanently go, rustic, not much time more to play.

Winter tapping hollow maple tree trunk—a four-month visitor about to move in, unload his messy clothing, be windy about it—bark is grayish white as coming night with snow fragments the seasons. The chill of frost lays a deceitful blanket over the courtyard greens and coats a ghostly white mist over reddish gold maple leaves widely spaced teeth—you can hear them clicking like false teeth or chattering like chipmunks threatened in a distant burrow. The maple tree knows the old man approaching has showed up again, in early November with ice packed cheeks and brutal puffy wind whistling with a sting.

I find your footprints here in the snow, fresh and broken. Will your lawyer fragment me, talk to Jesus private tonight? Will belief set me out of chains, battery acid, free? Life here is a urinal. Search moon-eye in lonely sea feel swim of exile, sandpaper spots on skin, do not torture me. Even devil in hell has his standard, private harvest, his jukebox baby. Jesus suffers with the poor feels lonely in distant planets shares visions of the moon. Let me drive you home truck tracks, then you left footprints in the snow. Do you hear sounds on the radio, jukebox baby? I copy over, print remains, over footprints in the snow.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 850 small press magazines in twenty-seven countries, and he edits nine poetry sites. Author's website http://poetryman.mysite.com/. Michael is the author of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN: 978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems. He also has over 73 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015: https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos Accompanying photo by Steven Lilley

by Monica Flegg New York City streets rush slick striders past, ferociously fast. I'm stunned by the ungraspable gist, a glimmer mist with no sense of significance. The high voltage vignettes are all visual like they're designed for an electric eyed voyeur. This unbalanced bounty has knocked me nauseous as November. Or was that the stop and start taxi ride from Broadway back to this bistro with back to back barstools facing mirrors? Strips of suave men check out the image the images walking by. The completeness shivers down my spine like a spilt martini. I reflect on empty glass.

Monica Flegg lives on Nantucket Island where she's taught creative writing and poetry. She walks dogs of various breeds and enjoys poetry of all creeds. Her work has been published in numerous journals including; the Aurorean, Awake, Mothers Always Write and The Pine Island Journal of New England Poetry. Accompanying photo by frankieleon

by Tara Isabel Sambrano

A few years ago, after the death of my mother, I developed an unusual ailment. Everything I touched froze. Metaphorically, it made sense. There was nothing warm and flowing in my life except the blood in my veins. And this condition, worked very slowly. There was always enough time to finish my food and drink water before it was all wrapped in frost.

After a few days, when I met a guy for the first time over drinks, I told him. He shook his head at me. So I held my glass of water a little longer and as the drops gradually transformed into a thin layer of ice, his eyes blinked a few times and all he could manage was, "Oh, that was strange ‌ um, neat, I mean.�

"You can leave now, if you wish," I said, curling my fingers around a warm beer. "No, that's perfectly fine, I mean, I am OK with this...” he stammered and stabilized, as if assuring me that it was not a sympathetic afterthought. And in the smoky chill of the bar, the dank air rose and filled itself with our brand new desires.

For a while, we made it work. We could never be in my apartment because he felt very cold. I avoided going to his place. We stayed outdoors, talked about things that shaped us. Without the burden of physical intimacy, we moved in independent orbits, intersecting our likes and dislikes. For music and literature. In ways of life. In the meager success of our parents in raising us. Bringing us here. Face to face and in love. Until one evening, he could not control his urge and took me home. As I kissed him slowly, sucking away his body heat, I felt the veins in his neck, growing harder, turning his skin from pink to light purple, stiff almost to the point of cracking. "If only I could set everything ablaze right now, so I can have you," I tongued his ear. "Think about it," he said and smiled. The frost inched over his skin like a gentle tingle, spreading to his hair and fingertips. "No matter how hot the sun, a volcano or a life is, in the end, it gets cold and dark before it finally disappears.”

I watched him shivering and freezing into a blueprint of bones, white all over with blackened eyes. Until his chest was empty. Until his body shattered into crystals of ice—sharp and beautiful. And I stood still, holding the echo of his last, warm breath.

Tara Isabel Zambrano is an Electrical Engineer by profession. She lives in Texas with her husband and two teenage kids. Her work has been or will be published in Isthmus, SmokeLong Quarterly, Columbia Journal of Art and Lit. Online, Bop Dead City and others.

Accompanying photo by Meg Wills

A Collection by Steven Pan

By 2AM, the lively clamor of footsteps and voices had faded into the muffled stillness of falling snow. My lungs grasp onto a splinter of warmth left inside my body as I trudge across a deserted courtyard. The silence screams. It echoes off the stone walls and brick buildings. It slithers through my ear canal, and tugs at my throat. This must be loneliness. Or maybe it’s something else. A liberating reprieve from the hollow conversations, artificial excitement, and suffocating self-awareness. Maybe the frigid silence wraps around me like a blanket I can’t decide. All I know for sure is there’s a warm, cozy dorm room waiting for me.

Wear gloves tomorrow, it’s going to be -5°C. Midterm is next Tuesday afternoon. Don’t wait until Tuesday morning to open the textbook. It’s going to be fine. Wake up early, the shuttle leaves at 9:25. Watch out for ice when chasing after the shuttle. Stop at Walgreens on the way back from class. Buy stronger cough drops. My throat is burning. It’s going to be fine. Get more sleep.

The jagged New England air ruthlessly jabs at my face. I hate this part. By the time I trek to the summit of the hill, sweat drips through my snow pants. I collapse onto a limp plastic boat. Faster. A gust of wind strikes the air out of my lungs. My stomach slides against my heart. Faster. The pine trees guarding the narrow track speed into a blur. Blind optimism keeps me from veering off course. Slower. I can open my eyes. Slower. The shrill whistling in my ear fades. Stop. I let out a long sigh of relief, and begin my trek back up the hill.

Steven is a student at Yale University. His essays have won regional and statewide writing competitions. When he isn’t writing and learning about poetry, he is probably exploring New Haven, studying Molecular Biology, or embarrassing himself while playing intramural sports. Accompanying photo by Alan Wu

Two Prose Poems by Ken Poyner

An empty morning rises with snow between our windows. The white pressing on our sills tries to slip under the stoic wood, and has its words for us. I hunger for the warmth of your thriving heart. I can see through the shatters of snow the outline of your small room—the table, the mirror, the closet door held ajar by your own flop-eared and grievously tempting closet monster, even the anthrax sealed envelope of your love’s lasting love lying unopened—where surely you wait coiled in bed like a pity, dimly aware of the man across but a brief way: the man thinking in his metal idleness of your heart, and the warmth it might be in anyone’s hands. No, in his.

I am no good at ice fishing. I drill the holes too small: only large enough to get the hook and bait through to the water. When a fish takes hold, I tie the line off and come faithfully to get you. I love to watch you weather yourself into boots and coat and knit cap and run like a deep water crab through the snow to where the fish, under ice, struggles against my knots, your attending axe having been used in your locomotion like a cane. And then you sumptuously attack the ice, spending more energy than the eating of the fish will ever return. Sometimes, the vigor of your work shakes the fish free; yet, often the hole grows open like a blizzard’s mouth and out comes the fish and none of them look as good or as cunning as me, the first you hacked unthinkingly into the air.

Ken Poyner’s latest collection of brief fictions, “Constant Animals”, can be located through links at www.kpoyner.com., or at www.amazon.com. He has had recent work out in “Analog”, “Asimov’s”, “Poet Lore”, and at several other places, both print and web. He has one wife, four cats, and two fish. What else can you want?

Accompanying photo by Kim Carpenter

by Christopher Iacono I wipe away the dust over the plastic and crack the spine of our old photo album. In it, faces stolen by Time—the greatest thief—return. Their smiles struggle to break through their frozen prison, where life is not dead, just reduced to a work of faded colors. I should smile back, but my lips start to quiver. There you are in our old house, sitting at the table. Though you can’t hear it, a chorus filled the room. “Happy birthday to you …” And there you are again: Christmas Day, a present unopened, neatly wrapped with a bow. I try to remember what it was; perhaps it’s in the attic at the bottom of a pile. What use is it now? And there you are at the bottom of a hill. A blanket of snow surrounds you. The only time you ever skied. You faced your fear but then faced a greater one later. But now I only have these photographs. I close the book, and the dust on my palm is now mixed with sweat, so I rub the moist specks down my pants. For now, the dust shall remain. And so will my grief.

Christopher Iacono lives with his wife and son in Massachusetts. Besides writing fiction and poetry, he has written book reviews for Three Percent and the Neglected Books Page. When he is not writing, he copyedits and proofreads marketing materials.

Accompanying photo by Milán Auman

by Brian Michael Barbeito I think the road there will be like a causeway. Slowly, slowly, the metropolis will slip away like a dream already dreamed. Then what shall there be? On both sides of the asphalt sit snow as the November days had made a series of winter storms. But on that day there is a lull. Yes, some comes in bits, and more to arrive later. There has been a place where the vehicle parked. Then, a long path. It leads a bit up and to the left but then straightaway for perhaps three kilometres before it reaches the woods. On one side is an impossibly long and wide farm field, the loams now sleeping until spring, which for the ice and frost, the days and nights ahead, may as well be a lifetime away? Good. Let it be. And it’s not dark then, but darkish as the sun is overwhelmed by cloud cover. What is November’s ruler? Isn’t it Scorpio, the sign of secrecy, the most potent of the twelve? There is power there, somewhere, in the fields. The walker will try to discern where. The stalks of strange bleached and frozen cackling growth could hold it. And the sky, definite, dark grey, without luster, forlorn, even lurid,- maybe vexatious for a past hurt, or at the least sulking, fiercely intent on its mission to block out the sun. The fields are a suspect in this, hiding ice, and crevices of danger. But it is none of these and all of these that hold the prowess. It’s something looping through them and all of them together. Keep going, a soul walking would think. There are prints. What comes across in the night? Coyote. What does a coyote do? What does the Northern coyote dream of? It goes like that. Quietude ensues. Then a wind announces itself. A song made from nowhere or else far away in the forest where anything might live in the labyrinthine places where nobody goes. The song is rueful. It’s just the wind. A soul gets flashes. A soul can go into a bit of a trance there. The road is far behind. There is nobody else. Don’t slip. One step, then the other. The soul thinks, There is imagination, where things are conjured in the mind, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident—good things, bad things, all in between. But who are the people that keep showing up in the mind’s eye. Strangers. They have a different

feel, as if they are from the outside of the soul’s reality. Are they the departed? Do they try to speak through showing themselves? And, where do the spirit messages come from, - the sudden sights and symbols? Then the walking soul is startled by a bit of ice breaking underfoot. The wind picks up, as does the snow. A storm is beginning again. It shall run all night, like a long program. A person should be frightened of it. But the person is not. There has been a waiting. A waiting for something powerful. Call it a Scorpion Storm. It sings a different song. It will bend and break trees and add inches and inches of itself everywhere. Old rural fences, backwaters already froze the ice over the cackling and crackling far off lakes. It will turn to ice itself. You have not seen me mad, the storm seems to declare then, Watch what comes soon and over the next hours, over the night hours where I rein and so rain my ice down. I am like an epileptic fit that goes on. And yes a soul walks out from there slowly and carefully. The night coming, the danger close. Summer’s verdant dream so far gone and the winter sun bleeding itself out like a suicide behind the faraway ridges and clouds. Alone. Hard to remember sometimes. How was the sun when we saw it? And a soul thinks then, What does a coyote do and how does it Go? Does it dream the human walker’s thoughts? How does its coat receive a Scorpion storm? How much does it dare and what is the color of its love?

Brian Michael Barbeito is the author of Chalk Lines, (Fowlpox Press, 2013, cover art and design by Virgil Kay). Recent work appears at CV2 The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing and is forthcoming at Fiction International. Accompanying photo by Larry Lamsa

by Daniel Finkel Disquieting, I know, to be sitting at your post at 3:23 in the morning—you, sentinel of the stairs, you, warder of the apartment complex, you, keeper of the electric keycards—and all at once to hear a shuffling outside: a scratching of timbers, a shivering of panels, a clapping on snow-deaf door. Don’t be afraid. It’s only me. My doctor says I have insomnia, so I take walks at night. I would give you his number, but he’s in prison now for malpractice. I’d tell you to ask my boss, but three months ago, sheathed in a gleam of cold sweat, he handed me my packing papers. I’d call my wife down to vouch for me, but some time back the destroyer of worlds, disguised as a district attorney with two mortgages on his house, lazed on the gas pedal and reaped her earthly grain. Now I take walks at night. It’s quiet in the churches and the sidewalks and the glass shops and the graveyards. The tombstones are sharp, cold, white, clean. Usually I take my keys, but sometimes I forget. Please let me in. I’ll wait here another five minutes, maybe ten, and then go back to walking with the clouds at work above me, sifting silence into snow.

Daniel Finkel is a writer from the Philadelphia area specializing in speculative fiction. He has been published in The Bookends Review, Bewildering Stories, and Apocrypha and Abstractions, and can usually be found at his desk, with a cup of hot chocolate, imagining himself hard at work. Accompanying photo by dickuhne

by Bupinder Singh Fidoic

October, a cold month, trees shed their cloths and sun its light. Isabella and me, we ran together to seek a shelter. October is cold, it rains outside; social and political together; raindrops. The trees shed their leaves, some yellow and some still green and the sunlight it grows lighter, colder, and darker. And me and Isabella walked through these leaves, crushing them under our feet. The sunlight didn’t touch us but some leaves have thorns and her feet bleed and some rays are harsher and her skin burned. The raindrops soothed us; emotional. Social and political drenched us. Isabella and me still found a shelter, a safer place, a stone stands there. October is a cold month but we are safe me and Isabella now lay asleep.

Bupinder Singh Fidoic, a resident of North India, is a Teacher by profession. He writes short stories and poems when at leisure. He has his work published in The Week, Longreads, The Big Roundtable, Eccolinguistics, The-Criterion and several other international journals and magazines. Accompanying photo by Ben Seidelman

by Linda Wojtowick The checkpoint was west of the lake. As day bled out, insects in the swampy moats by the road hissed and sang. Why pray here, in the stink of trout and shy skunk. Officer Clery was tired. The strands of adrenaline that sustained her through soupy morning to the long afternoon were wearing like tread beneath wheels. She had eaten a late lunch squatting awkwardly on a damp log. Her ham sandwich tasted pleasingly dry and she watched Glen, her faded coworker, through the mossy branches of a broken tree. Her belt cut into her belly, tender lately. She shifted, pulled out the cotton folds of her shirt. Her thoughts found her boyfriend, who was far away now, insulting in small ways. She wished he weren’t so lovely in her white sheets. At this point they were not telling people of the body found on the Nelsons’ private dock. The details were grisly, without nature, and they needed a clean canvas on which

to comb. It was nearly dusk when the green pickup approached. She held up her palm and the window rolled down. Perfectly nearby, a cave sighed out the evening’s bats. The long-windowed homes by the flat lake yawned with dinner and lamps. The cabin of the truck was deep and smelled silvery, soiled like cooler ice. The driver didn’t speak right away but he breathed open-mouthed like a dog. The squares in his plaid shirt went wrong. Officer Clery’s hands burst cold with thin sweat. In her racing, alkaline mind, winter fruit on fire like Halloween.

Linda Wojtowick grew up in Montana. She now lives and works in Portland, Oregon where she indulges her cinematic obsessions without restraint. Her wordstuffs have most recently appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Off the Coast, The Prompt, and Clementine Poetry Journal. Accompanying photo by Arvell Dorsey Jr.

by Lana Bella I carried my pocket watch to remind me of winter, when the ducks flew south and fish glided down the iced bottom lake, even host of pansy bowed quietly away as I turned up the collar to ward off December raw—a duffel bag on one arm, I righted it over the shoulder, cobalt eyes took in the lofty blue masonry walls on my left and quietly moved up the brick body, even at this late hour with poor lighting, I can still make out the girl's silhouette at the second story window, yellow hair gathered at the nape, dimness drunk her whole— she sat with her side profile partially hidden in shadows, at odd moments, she reached out to touch her hand on the glass bay, as if to kindle the air into warmth with the staying of her flesh, the window frosted up when she pulled back those pale fingertips, and the form of such arcs was a marvel to witness, like a painter with her master strokes that drew me back into a whorl where all things born from the universe— I watched and spiraled into her pull as the sky spent its fury about me, cold breaths snapped to the snow's quick tug when nocturnal ghosts sailed over my face, there I stood, leaving traces on the frozen earth, sharing intimacy with a girl whose catatonic imprint left cracks in everything, yet I knew that salvation would require so little beyond this illusion of warmth—

Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and fiction anthologized, published and forthcoming with over one hundred journals, including a chapbook with Crisis Chronicles Press (early 2016), Aurorean Poetry, Chiron Review, Contrary Magazine, QLSR (Singapore), elsewhere, and Featured Artist with Quail Bell Magazine, among others. She divides her time between the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a wife of a novelist, and a mom of two frolicsome imps.

Accompanying photo by jimmy brown

by Glen Sorestad

Gueydan, Louisiana is a rice-farming town where Cajun farmers grow white or brown or even pinkish rice -- plant in March, grow in two inches of water, until ripe in July, drain the fields, let dry, harvest the crop. So far so good. Any farmer could follow this simple rice growing process. But then the ingenious Acadian descendants flood their rice fields right after harvest and “seed” the field with tiny crawfish, which will eat the leftover rice trash, gobble their way to market size, and as early as November or December, the rice farmers turn fishermen and begin harvesting crawdads, continuing until it’s time for rice again. If and when the demand for crawdads makes them more valuable than rice, why then they just don’t bother harvesting the rice.

Glen Sorestad is a much published poet who lives in Saskatoon. His poems have appeared in literary magazines and journals, anthologies and textbooks, all over North America and in many other countries. His poems have been translated into seven languages. His latest book of poems is Hazards of Eden published by Lamar University Press(later this month).

Accompanying photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture

That’s it for our Winter Issue. Thanks for reading! As always, a huge thanks to our wonderful contributors— and many thanks to Walter Savage for the beautiful artwork used on our cover. Till the New Year, stay warm—and happy reading!

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