Waymark Literary Magazine | Issue 3

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Kennesaw State University

Spring / Summer 2021 | Issue 3

ABOUT the MAGAZINE Everyone is a storyteller Waymark is a student-led publication of Kennesaw State University that welcomes submissions online from any storyteller. We are committed to fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, and art of the spirit and heart, that will mark the lives of those who read them, those who write them, and those who publish them. DISCLAIMER All literature, artwork, and digital work published in Waymark are selfexpressions of their creators and do not represent the ideas or views of our staff, advisors, or the university and its affiliates COVER ART "SunlitMoon" by Chalei Marie | Joshua Tree National Park, California





Editor in Chief

Fiction Editor

Fiction Editor




Fiction Editor

Fiction Reader

MARY SIMS Poetry Editor

Poetry Editor



TABLE of CONTENTS Village Birds


Pasture Statues


I=Human: A Bilanguacultural Poem






Parte Io Ogni Notte-Every Nights Ai Sets Off


Love on Fire




Sins and Secrets


The Days End


The Butterfly


Violet Sunday




Chaos Theory


The Oceans, Too


Untold Memories


After Reading "Dreaming of My Deceased Wife on the Night of the 20th Day of the First Month" By Su Shi






Those who laid the village stones and beams and eaves didn't have the birds in mind — the rooks, I mean, and doves and bright white gulls and lanky herons perched and peeking down from roofs rent-free, keeping their opinions to themselves, not wondering why we lost our feathers or why we sometimes sing.




PASTURE STATUES By Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi

Millie mooed.

larger as the idea cooked advertising the pitiful number.




Cate mooed with her. The cow stared at them. Millie giggled at the old joke, a pure, authentic song. Cate giggled with her, exaggerated, trembling notes. The cow stared at them. Millie continued to pet the cow's cheek. Cate stroked the other, looking for signs of impatience in the otherwise stoic animal, searching its blank yet somehow knowing eyes for knowledge of her charade. What made her want to release the scream that had been lodged in her throat for inconceivable minutes was how Millie, sitting comfortably in her numb arms, was so far away from screaming; Millie, who had every justification for adding her shrill voice to the one behind them. She hadn't asked Millie if she was all right; doing so would have given her the impression something was wrong. She hadn't asked Millie her actual name; as far as the little girl's amiable behavior indicated, they had known each other all their lives, and names didn't matter. She hadn't asked Millie her age; from the moment she took the little girl into her arms, she could tell the small human being was no older than her career. Three-years-old, Cate mused again, as she transferred Millie from one desensitized arm to the other, careful not to break contact with the cow. Three years, and once again she imagined the retirement banner, growing longer and

Cate was grateful for the brown-and-white animal's presence. Moreover, she was grateful that the cow was the first thing Millie had noticed. She wouldn't have thought to mosey on over to the cow; instinct—training—would have told her to immediately transport the disheveled little girl to her car; and there they would have waited for the next routine steps. And then she would've known something was wrong, she thought. And then she would've started screaming. A scream perforated the ambience, a cocktail of pain, fear... and perhaps a note of anger. “Mooooo!” Cate issued her loudest impersonation yet. Millie echoed her sentiments, prolonging and exaggerating the bovine language until it devolved into more giggling. Another scream smothered the laughter, and, for a terrible moment, Cate thought she felt Millie stiffen; thought she saw registration on the little girl's suddenly sagging face. “Moo mooooo moo moo moo mooooo moo,” Cate interjected, the single word spoken in the rhythm of conversation. She fixed upon Millie's eyes, hoping the little girl would take the bait, ready to shift her little body should she decide to go peeking behind her back, toward the scream. Millie's bowed lips glistened, saliva pooling as she gathered her thoughts about the conflicting sounds. Cate readied her own lips with another string of nonsensical cow-speak, when Millie broke out of her trance, and fired off a meaningless statement of her own: “Mooooo mooooo mooooo”—laughter—“mooooo moo


moo moo.” Relieved, Cate kept the dialogue flowing for as long and as loud as was necessary to beat the intermittent screaming from Millie's ears. As their banter rose and fell with the outbursts behind them, she imagined how the others must have seen them: vulnerable backs; a revolving red light highlighting Millie's arms wrapped comfortably—Or is she in shock? Cate couldn't decide—around her neck; mooing from unseen lips; the cow itself unseen, blocked by their combined bodies. How unreal it must have appeared to them.



was drenched in selfishness, but Cate had accepted it... for now; may guilt torment her later. It was just that she and, more importantly, the cow had worked so damned hard to keep Millie occupied. Or are we keeping the cow occupied? Cate thought for the first time. She looked into the animal's eyes, glossy black islands surrounded by thin halos of bloodshot white. Pulses of red light, rotating like an angry lighthouse—an eye of its own—searched those eyes, much as Cate was doing now, for knowledge.

How grotesquely real it was to her. How beautifully real it was to Millie. A terrible thought returned Cate to their cozy huddle: This is your first time, isn't it? The scream she struggled to keep deep down in her gorge threatened to erupt. It occurred to her that this cow—not the pair grazing further down the fence, dangerously close to the break; not the calf flanked by several adults; not the others standing nonchalantly, laying nonchalantly, living nonchalantly; not the countless others that might have been a blur in Millie's passenger window—but this cow might very well have been the very first cow Millie had ever seen. Cate mooed, and wondered if Millie could detect the underlying melancholy. You don’t need to meet a cow, she desperately wanted to assure the little girl. Not now. Not like this. She was certain that when Millie was one day no longer a size fit for one's arms—There's no guarantee of that, Cate sadly reminded herself—she might learn to hate the cow. All cows. The way Cate hated them for what they had done to Millie. To her. To Millie's mother. The human sounds behind them were less frequent now, quieter, the pain, the fear, the anger—if ever there was—giving themselves to realization. Cate hoped Millie's mother would soon forget how to scream; hoped her mother forgot her daughter's name. This line of thinking

Do you see the red light? she mentally transmitted to the cow. Do you understand it? Did you see what happened before the red light? Do you understand what happened? The cow stared. Do you understand that this little girl I'm holding, the one mooing at you, the one petting your face... do you understand that her mother is the one who killed your calf? Based on its indifference, she couldn't tell if the calf was blood-related to the cow. Would he or she—Cate couldn't tell which—bite Millie if it understood the situation behind them? Would he or she reconsider biting if it understood the whole thing had merely been a matter of a broken fence? Would he or she refrain from seeking revenge upon Millie if it understood that the calf had wandered through the broken fence, onto the asphalt, and before Millie's mother's car? Would he or she rethink their potential bite if it understood that Millie's mother had, from the looks of the finale, done her best to avoid the calf, but instead clipped its behind, sending her speeding vehicle into the ditch? Would he or she accept that the calf had been mercifully put down, quickly and painlessly, unlike Millie's mother, who found herself wrapped deep within her metal womb, gasoline-for-placenta everywhere, unable to be reached or moved, lest she perish sooner?




The cow stared. Cate focused on Millie's silhouette within the animal's sheeny eye: Do you understand? A voice answered the question. Cate couldn't make out the words, only the harshness of the voice. She sensed an approaching presence, and immediately understood what was happening. In a voice tailored for Millie’s benefit, Cate said, “Please, don't come any closer,” and resumed mooing along with Millie.

What would become of the little girl when the cow was gone? The intruder's footsteps—a paramedic just trying to do her job—retreated, but Cate sensed she hadn't gone far; Millie did need to be examined. She realized the screaming had died. It made sense to her, not because the outcome was inevitable, but because the paramedic now had time to check on the only survivor. But they still had a few minutes.

“Officer?” The voice didn't sound so harsh. Perhaps it hadn't been at all. Perhaps, Cate decided, she was prejudiced against voices outside of her and Millie's precious bubble. Cate sensed the intruder take another step forward. “I said don't,” Cate said in her rosiest voice. “Officer, I need to examine the little girl,” the soft voice said. The well-meaning plea incensed Cate. She's fine. I checked her when I pulled her out of the car. Some scratches, a few bruises, but she's fine. I checked her. And I named her. She knew someone close to Millie must have known her real name, but for tonight, in her arms, the little girl would take the name of the first girl Cate had lost on the job. Footsteps crunched behind them. “Don't,” Cate emphasized, momentarily breaking her character of utter serenity. Before the intruder could interject, she added: “I... just give us a few minutes, okay?” And then what? she thought. Once again, she caught Millie's silhouette in the cow's eye. Do you have a father? Grandmother? Grandfather? Uncles? Aunts? Anybody? Do you know your name? What would become of Millie when Cate decided enough “few minutes” had elapsed?

And so Millie mooed. Cate mooed with her. The cow stared at them.





1/ The Connotations of I vs

The first person singular pronoun, or this very Writing subject in English is I, an only-letter Word, standing straight like a pole, always Capitalized, but in Chinese, it is written with Lucky seven strokes as , with at least 108 Variations, all of which can be the object case At the same time. Originally, it’s formed from The character , meaning ‘pursuing’, with one Stroke added on the top, which may well stand for Anything you would like to have, such as money, Power, fame, sex, food, or nothing if you prove Yourself to be a Buddhist practitioner inside out.

2/ The Denotations of Human &

Since I am a direct descendant of Homo Erectus, let me Stand straight as a human/ , rather than kneel down.

When two humans walk side by side, why to coerce one Into obeying the other like a slave fated to follow/ ?

Since three humans can live together, do we really need A leader or ruler on top of us all as a group/ ?

Given all the freedom I was born with, why Just why cage me within walls like a prisoner/






I'm traveling through the town where you lived with that lout and though I never saw you here, my senses stretch to how you were etched by this place. Where are the hundred nights when we huddled as girls, while our parents competed over what we never grew into? Were the neighbors blind like your mother wasn’t as your father beat you since you were somebody, just not the one he thought you were? Did anyone see you running? Harmed by history no one here would know until I stood on your street. Starting site for one more sprint into the night.

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CACTUSHONEY Tortilla Flat, Arizona By Chalei Marie

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PARTE IO OGNI NOTTE EVERY NIGHT AI SETS OFF By Chandra Livia Candiani Translated by Roy Duffield & Elisabetta Taboga Parte Io ogni notte verso il mondo della luna, la accompagnano rondini cieche, segnano un viottolo di buio un labirinto verticale che solo le dita vedono. Non ci sono angeli solo un diavolo cauto in marsina gioca solitario a bocce, costruisce il temporale, che non bagni la mamma non spaventi i suoi figli rimasti terrestri. Parte Io, il popolo delle nuvole la guarda indifferente passare, la meridiana della luna segna attimi perplessi, voli senza uccelli, istanti senza porto, la mamma ha un cancello nero e acuminato ferisce le dita dei bambini imprevisti, ma la luna polverizza ogni tentativo di un mondo con le pareti, la luna fuma tutta intera, al mattino i complici camini scrivono col fumo nell’aria gelida lettere a Io che si attarda verso il mondo della scuola.

Every night Ai sets off towards the world of the moon, blind swallows at her side point out a lane of darkness a vertical maze that only fingers see. There are no angels only a cautious devil in a tailcoat plays bocce by himself, forms the storm, don’t get the mum wet don’t scare her children that are left on earth. Ai sets off, the cloudpeople stare indifferently as she passes, the sundial moon tells perplexed moments, birdless flights, instants without a harbour, the mum has a gate black and sharp it hurts the fingers of unexpected children, but the moon turns every attempt at a walled world to dust, the whole moon pours with smoke, in the morning friendly chimneys write with the smoke in the frosty air letters to AI who dawdles towards the world of the school.

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LOVE on FIRE By Leslie Mancillas The fire is closing in and I can’t find my husband. Fire. Fire. Fire. Just a mile from our northern California home, 84,000 acres are burning--but when I call his cell, I hear its upbeat melody as it vibrates on the kitchen counter. Even in the middle of autumn wildfire season, he refuses to be tethered to a cell. Damn him. It’s 5pm, the sky is orange and full of smoke and my eyes are watering from an air quality index of 300 and they’ve issued rolling power blackouts. As the sun starts setting, our house dims inside in a way that makes me even more anxious. Nick left hours ago to find a generator, but since he left his phone at home, I can’t tell him that 185,000 people in our county are under mandatory evacuation and that we could be next. No doubt by now I should just accept that this is who Nick is, but when I feel danger closing in on all sides, I can't. We met at 17 on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. As president of our high-school hiking, biking, recycling club, he had first invited my beautiful younger sister, Nancy, to join him on a hike. But our family had recently moved from New York City, and I think he was too much of a granola hippie brand for her. She told him, “No thanks, but my older sister might go with you.” It stung a bit to be second-fiddle, but I told him “Yes”--even though I didn’t care much for forests, trees or dirt paths. I missed the asphalt and concrete from my childhood, but I agreed to go because I thought he looked like a young Robert Redford, with blue eyes and feathered golden blond hair. It was a bright spring day when he took my hand and we started walking up steep slopes. I found it strange the way he pointed out manzanita bushes, coyote brush and outcroppings of red oxide clay soil that day; these were things I would never notice. His love of nature felt

foreign and exotic to me, in a way that was intoxicating. Yet at the same time, his peaceful, calm energy seemed to quiet my frenetic city nerves. Nick was connected to plants, sun, sky and clouds in a way that I had never been – they seemed to inform him as a person. It really was true that I preferred the smell of car exhaust to the smell of cedar trees--and yet alongside him on that hill, I felt a deep sense of belonging. When his wrist touched mine, I felt flashes of something I had never felt before. I fell fast for him. Suddenly, it didn't matter to me at all that I was his second choice, and it didn't seem to bother him, either. As we hiked the Bootjack trail loop straight up the summit, he smiled but hardly spoke while I talked non-stop for six miles. His strong stride and sturdy hands helped guide me toward the look-out. He was wearing a pair of khaki hiking shorts, and each time I brushed against him, I felt that strange mixture of excitement and calm. He reminded me of the role Robert Redford played opposite Jane Fonda in the then popular film, “The Electric Horseman.” Like that cowboy, Nick seemed out of place in this modern world, yet also deeply comfortable in his own skin. I was never comfortable in my own skin. This fascinated me. It was clear from the beginning that we were opposites, and in the weeks and months that followed, we learned just how different our lives had been. He grew up Catholic in San Francisco, with parents that offered a stable ground of affection, even though they struggled financially and relied on food stamps and government cheese to survive. Though he grew up in the city, from an early age he loved to roam in nature, fishing in rivers and exploring unpaved routes. He was quite young when he decided to become an artist, and he taught himself to paint in the old-fashioned way, copying the works of

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Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Rubens. In stark contrast, my family was Jewish and had started testing out Buddhism too. I grew up in a Manhattan penthouse with maids. My dad was a Madison Avenue advertising executive, and my mom was addicted to diet pills. When my dad left with his copy editor to Mexico City, my mom, who was by then already a speed freak, took all her grief and anger out on my two sisters and me, resulting in a cycle of verbal harangues to physical injury. Coming out of a decade of childhood abuse, I was always preoccupied, with a mind too anxious to slow down and savor much of anything. My idea of the great outdoors was “Tar Beach”--our roof at 575 West End Avenue in Manhattan. My idea of creativity was writing sad entries in my diaries and publishing exposé articles for my school paper. While Nick's tranquil nature soothed my deepdown angst, something about my very animated nature seemed to help balance something in him. In any case, from that very first day there was a passionate infatuation and mutual attraction that led to a decade of dating, then marriage. Nick adored me from the start. He told me years after we met that he was in awe of my fierce confidence. Over the years, I've never ceased to appreciate his ability to follow his own internal rhythms and to savor the simple delights of his surroundings. Just as I talked non-stop on that hike so many years ago, my natural tendency is to be in nearly constant conversation: whether with family and friends, or with colleagues and students at the college where I teach. I deeply aspire to permit myself to step outside the on-going whirlwind of work and social systems. Beneath my bones, I want to be more like him. I don't know what I'd do without Nick to remind me, again and again, of the quieter, slower way to live that I first observed in him as a teenager. As maddening as his spaciness is, there is something about it that has allowed me to connect to my own inner spacey and to connect to myself. And yet, it does just drive me crazy that he constantly misplaces his cellphone, wallet, keys

and a variety of other personal life necessities. To me, these are essential items of modern life I cannot allow myself to lose track of. Over the years, I've tried everything to help him with this issue: connecting the cell to his belt-buckle, providing a fanny-pack around his waist for his wallet, keys and phone, dedicating a basket for his items in the entry way of our house. All of this only frustrating me more. Several times each day he loses the belts or the pants that they are connected to and the fanny packs also go missing. The basket ends up lost too. While Nick has always been somewhat frustrated by his inability to keep track of important items, it’s something he also simply accepts about himself. At times I do resent this about him and it often leaves me feeling as though I have to be the responsible one, the one whom others know will always be readily accessible, while he is free to roam the woods and fish the rivers, while his cell phone rings beside me on the kitchen counter. Of course, I feel this resentment most in times of emergency. During the last fire-season, I had a flash of inspiration. During periods of rolling black-outs, I would yell each morning, “No matter where you are, use the sky as your guide, when the sun goes down, come home, follow the sun if nothing else!” “Oh, ok that sounds like a plan. I can do that.” Can I trust that he will do this now? Dusk comes and, as the city goes dark, Nick finally strolls in the house, looking completely un-phased. I'd asked him to buy a portable generator, but I see that what he's brought home instead is a large plastic bag filled with blocks of ice. Grinning, he heads for the garage and pulls out all his camping-gear, delighted that we have everything we need in the absence of gas, electricity and the internet. “How am I going to get my morning coffee?” I bark, in a fire inspired stressed-out voice that surprises us both. “I’ll use my propane stove to heat our water.” “But what spoiling?”







“I got these blocks of ice for the ice-chest.” “How will I watch movies to relax and unwind when it's dark and we have no internet?” “I saved all our old DVDs. I’ll connect them to the old computer and charge it with my boat battery-- it still has juice.” “But it will be freezing at night without the heater.” “I’ve got sub-zero sleeping bags and with the city going totally dark, it'll be a great star-gazing night. You love the stars, right?” Nick then lovingly set up the tent, Coleman stove and sleeping bags now that the smoke started to blow toward the ocean and breathing outdoors became an option. As I lay next to him that night, looking up at the starlit sky, I could feel an easing of the anxiety and resentment that I'd been holding all day. I laughed to myself. In some ways, our dark backyard in the city of Santa Rosa, California, seemed a world away from that sunny afternoon in the wilds of Mount Tamalpais. And yet, fortytwo years later, I felt the same deep sense of peaceful belonging. This man, who can so happily dispense with so many of the gadgets and habits that have come to seem synonymous with modern life, has shown me, from the very beginning, what it means to have an inner compass. Again, and again, when I could lose myself in certain frenetic busyness, he brings me back to stillness. Nick will forever be my inner G.P.S.

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SCRY By Steven Deutsch

An awful night—alone with that All Soul’s crew on the third floor of the dorm. A half-dozen wanna be witches and warlocks dressed to kill Cock Robin, yet looking more malnourished than wicked. I was stoned— when wasn’t I stoned, and on a diet of Southern Comfort for its medicinal benefits, when they broke out the Ouija board? They dimmed the lights for fear that ancient dorm room at twilight might not be creepy enough— and yes, I shoulda been laughing my ass off but this was 1968 and I couldn’t keep up with the constant parade of sorrows. They linked hands and slid a heart-shaped block around the board as if possessed— perhaps they were. And it didn’t take them

SCRY long at all to declare me a walking dead man. And yes, I knew it for hooey, but I spent that night walking the ice-strewn streets trying to convince myself I’d be alive tomorrow— that I wanted to be alive tomorrow. I was only a kid then, you know, and had lost my way.

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SINS and SECRETS By Michael Riordan I sat in my daughter’s empty bedroom and looked at the carpet. My wife Jean and I have owned three homes in our marriage. Our “starter home” was equidistant from each of our first real jobs out of college, and we had saved just enough to get into it. It had one bathroom, two bedrooms and—as we discovered when a pest controller was called in because we had a rat living there before us–– deadly asbestos in the roof lining. We thought about suing somebody, but we couldn’t afford that either. We learned the hard way about “buyer beware,” reading the fine print, and, according to Jean’s father, about the ugly truth that there are “lots of people out there lining up to screw you if you let them.” We attempted to get out of the whole thing with the help of Jean’s dad and his attorney. The know-it-alls had exaggerated their glances at each other when they sat around our laminatetop kitchen table and talked down to us and explained what it would take to unshackle us from our stupidity. I already felt bad enough, but I was convinced that Jean’s father just wanted to stick it to me and jab each expensive aspect of my failure into my face. In the end, we lost our appeal against the real estate company and the bank. Jean’s father, then more or less not talking to me, threw up his hands and arranged special demolition and removal of our home, our little nightmare. We still owned the land, and we managed to sell it off. But the damage was done. I had earned the stamp of “loser” in my fatherin-law’s eyes, and I was never able to shake off his disregard. Worse, I was less a man to Jean

somehow, or at least I felt that way. All this because of the house debacle—which Jean and her dad had somehow concluded was entirely my fault for not paying for an adequate inspection. I seethed with resentment. How did I get to be in charge of inspections? I almost punched Jean’s dad at our twins’ second birthday party. We were in our second house by then, and the old man and I found ourselves alone in the living room, having avoided each other all afternoon. He sat regally at one end of our sofa while I, on the opposite end, leaned forward like Usain Bolt in the starting blocks. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. Then Jean’s old man pivoted his head slowly toward me like a turret. “Too bad that novel you always talked about writing never got off the ground, Mark. I suppose that little pipe dream is well and truly over, what with those two little birthday cuties. Oh well.” That’s all he had said. But it was enough. His eyes twinkled with satisfaction, with victory. I had nothing to say to him. I just wanted to grab the standard lamp, propped next to him, and break it over his head. Did that hurt? Oh well. I did nothing. The two of us just sat there looking at each other until somebody came back to retrieve us, to announce that we were all about to sing “Happy Birthday” and cut the cake. It was the old story. I felt lodged in some cliché that my father-in-law’s daughter could have done much better. And maybe she could have.

SINS and SECRETS We had better luck with our second house because Jean insisted that we use her father’s real estate agent. I remember just opening my hands in a “sure, whatever” gesture, and before long the agent found us a nice little three-bedroom brick house in an OK neighborhood. We brought home the twins and truly enjoyed this part of our marriage. Joy filled our home. My novel could wait. The blessings of parenting two precious daughters washed over all of us—even me. I forgot my grumpiness for a while. My wife and I reveled in the variety of roles that came our way. We were amazing. Soccer, field hockey, school plays and giggly slumber parties streamed through our little lives like a James Stewart movie, and I loved it. I was not then ashamed that we were playing it safe. I lived each day responsibly, as if constantly holding a couple of fingers to my pulse. Steady as she goes. Our girls’ security was what mattered. I suppose Jean and I didn’t really notice that we might have been disengaging from each other as a couple. We were too busy to talk about it. We were getting things done, and that was the main thing. We were good people, and we had friends, and so much to be grateful for. We remained in our second home for nearly ten years, and when we sold it after the real estate boom, we were able to repay Jean’s dad. We even “traded up” to a better spot, the center house in our cul-de-sac. No shame here, that’s for sure. We knew what we were doing. If Jean’s dad hadn’t died of a massive heart attack three days short of his sixty-fifth birthday, he might have seen that I wasn’t such a bad provider after all. I sat on the edge of our daughter Thea’s bed, staring down, and I replayed Jean’s insistent words from years before when she picked out this carpet over which I hung my head. When we bought this place, we wanted to replace the previous owner’s mustardy-orange monstrosity. Even the real estate agent said, “the carpet has to go.” I agreed, but I had long before lost my vote on such matters. Jane, unencumbered by my opinions, took less than two days to come up with her selection: a light beige number of medium-density, inoffensive and neutral. Her

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choice was the Switzerland of carpets, composed of polyester, nylon and a minuscule 5% wool as an insulting homage to nature. We had it laid in every room in the house. The carpet had millions of little flecks of rust and brown so cleverly scattered throughout that you could drip, spill or vomit anything, and somehow— after a quick wipe or vacuum—you’d never even notice what human havoc or carelessness might have transpired there. Before long, I saw the cold logic of Jean’s choice, for I had dropped umpteen soiled diapers and cups of coffee all over this home. The carpet had absorbed a multitude of sins and secrets. I didn’t notice at first how quiet it had become without them. When our twin girls left for college, we celebrated. Each got through the turmoil of growing up generally unscathed. They had escaped the shrapnel that decimated many of their classmates: broken hearts, car accidents and, in one sad case, a fatal drug overdose. Thank you, God. Katrina and Thea: our masterpieces. Our nineteen-year-old trophies, evidence that their mother and I had done something right. Yes, I counted my blessings each day. As I sat and held a little framed picture of our daughters, I couldn’t hold back a small tear. “There you are,” Jean said. “I sent you in for garden gloves ten minutes ago—is something wrong?” She had noticed my reddened eyes. “No—nothing,” I replied. “Just here thinking about the kids.” “Mark, we made the trip to see them just two weeks ago. They’re OK—now, let’s finish the yard. I sent you in for gloves ten minutes ago. Jean liked to announce or narrate—or, in this case, repeat-- my faults succinctly. You know Steve and Shirley show up early sometimes.” I was fifty. Things were supposed to be different by now. High school teaching was supposed to be a stop-gap, a practical matter, a way to support my writing career. My published poetry, short stories and essays reflected real promise. In fact, “real promise” is the phrase the editor of The Orchard Valley Review used to describe one of my pieces. Nearly a dozen little magazines and

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university quarterlies had published my stuff and recognized my writing talent at one time. But that was last century before the birth of our girls, before things got super-busy. It became nearly impossible to find the time and a quiet place to write—and then they made me English Department Head. That’s an honor in itself, of course. Did my two precious daughters compensate for my lack of literary fame? Of course. I was fifty and my red pen still snaked through hundreds of student compositions year after year and scratched trite and possibly unhelpful commentary, unleashed so hurriedly and illegibly that sometimes even I couldn’t tell what I had written. And Jean? Jean was great. Bright and skilled in so many things, she navigated her own life as wife and parent and homemaker with a competency that I couldn’t help but admire. Great. Skilled. When Steve and Shirley showed up, Jean conducted the evening like a string quartet. All of us in time and harmony, the night held no surprises. I was never totally sure I liked Steve and Shirley, but Jean invited them again and kept our “entertaining” safe and predictable. These evenings rolled out like overplayed songs grown stale, yet easily recalled and hum-able. I don’t know how she did it, but Jean made sure we never found out too much about Steve and Shirley, and they never learned much about us. That was probably OK.

Not really, I thought. I should have stopped there. “Am I in charge of fun?” Uh-oh. My sarcasm always preceded anger. “Well fun is not something we’ve experienced for a while,” Jean said truthfully. I could have kept going, let her have it about how it’s “not always my fault, you know.” And just because she might be in the mood, etc... Then, frustrated, Jean would have marched into the bathroom without a word. I’d feel like crap and peel off my clothes like defeat in the locker room. I’d roll my clothes into a small, smelly bundle, spot my closet laundry basket, and go for a three-pointer. I would miss, and my clothes would land short and still be there in the morning, huddled at the base of the basket on our practical carpet--except for a single black sock, jettisoned early from the pack. That pathetic black sock would be first thing I’d see in the morning. But none of that happened. Instead, I looked at Jean and said “You want some fun, do you?” I conjured up my little smirk. Jean studied my face for a second before she made her own decision about how this night would go. She smiled and I knew I was about to let off the hook. I was being a fraud, but Jean found the expression on my face cute and, somehow, seductive.

The evening played out. Later as Steve and Shirley drove away—before midnight as always—I turned quickly and managed to avoid Jean’s eyes. I couldn’t stifle my sigh. “There you go again,” Jean started. I could almost hear the subtle grating of her teeth. “Jean, I’m really tired, that’s all. And there’s no there there.” Suddenly noticing a wadded napkin on the living room floor, Jean dashed over like a ball boy at the U.S. Open while not letting up on me. “These nights used to be more fun,” she said.

The next moments played out like my sophomore drama class: OK, Class, now you’re underwater and you are all fronds of seaweed. Feel the current, feel the current against you. Freeze! Now you’re all white pointer sharks and you’re circling around Mark. Mark, you get in the middle. Remember, the rest of you are man-eating sharks--but, Mark, now you’re a scuba diver, and you’ve run out of oxygen, and the sharks are coming closer and closer. Everyone, freeze! OK, now pair-up. You’re a married couple pretending that you still enjoy being together—more, Mark! More pretend feeling… Later, something had awakened me in the night. I wandered back into my daughter Thea’s room, switched on a bedside lamp, and sat on the edge of her bed. I watched two or three teardrops

SINS and SECRETS disappear into the carpet and thought how one could easily mistake this whole house for a place nobody really lived in. I never heard Jean come into the room. “Mark, what’s wrong? It’s late.” “Empty, empty. So empty,” I sobbed.



_ 21


THE DAYS END By Elise Good

_ 22


THE BUTTERFLY By John Gerber Her wings of velvet hung against the rock to — dry rain from their plum shade and ember tips. She basked in light that peaked through foliage cracks — then pulled herself away to wander on. I trailed behind, pushing — through pulpy mud and heavy leaves

_ 23


VIOLET SUNDAY By Bobbi Sinha-Morey

I felt unbuttoned as bare elms under the snow when I saw the school paper a seven year old wrote; her very words “I had drowned when I was nineteen,” and it unraveled my soul. The thought of it seemed to emerge completely out of the ether; and me, a child psychologist, never believed in reincarnation. But she called herself Violet Sunday in her past life, and she lived in Friendly, Kansas, with a different mother, and if there were such a place I didn't know, neither were there indication of any trauma in her life. I'd examined the journal her teacher had found, the cover of it a tea-stain shade of brown; and gripping every page between forefinger and thumb, I used it as a map to see into her soul. Her naked presence behind the words were of a much older girl's and I suspected she must've inherited the anomaly inside her mind. She lived alone with her single mother and no one else. I'd decided to drive there and talk to her mother myself; she lived hidden away inside the woods under grey skies, and deep in my heart I said to myself the deacon spruces keep the darkest note.





Graphite on Bristol, Digitally Processed By Jessica Madisetti

_ 25


[CHAOS THEORY] By Jordan Faber

June 16th, 2019 10:02 am Sunbeams fillet the pink linoleum of my apartment floor, baking my mattress. I lift my arms, pressing my fingertips to the warmth of my headboard—the shopfront glass of what was once Stewart’s—Jackson, Mississippi’s foremost ladies’ boutique in the 80s. But the neon-hued ghosts of its former inhabitants, shoulderpadded women in Lycra leg warmers, still prowl for deals—haunting my dreams. Misty backcombs her bleached hair until her body vaporizes into a plume of hairspray. Tiffany cries and tries on lace wedding dresses that hang on her frame, all skin and bones. Heather is the shopgirl with frequent nosebleeds; she marks down prices with a purple Sharpie while moonwalking, high on cocaine. They visited last night as a summer storm came and left the streets rainbow speckled with oil-slicked puddles. And it is them that I wake thinking of as a boy’s voice oscillates through the pane of my window.

steady thrum of rage. “Bitch,” he says, “that mother f’in bitch better have my mother f’in money!” The skeleton of a dandelion, all seed-pod and air, langurs between two sidewalk slabs. The plant seems to taunt the kid. “Bitch,” he thunders, kicking off its fluffy head. The weed shatters to umbrellas of floating bits; the vagabond seeds drift into the air. “Mother f’in bitch,” dimples sink into his cheeks with the flash of his smile. “Wait!” His sharply angled limbs, like a bird that’s just learned to fly, take off. “I see you, you hipster bitch!” Then his arms are swinging to full momentum, and he’s jumping over a fire hydrant. He could go around it but he’s jumped instead, running until he cuts out of my peripheral vision.

“Bitch! You phony bitch!” his words ricochet down Gallatin Street.

Then I hear a man’s velvety voice fold over the boy’s, belting out a plea—icing over a shout.

Turning now, my knees sink into the down of my pillows. The onyx stain of my mascara reveals itself on my pillow below, a Rorschach on ivory cotton.

I pull on some ripped jeans, slip on an Elvis Tshirt. Phone. Keys. Oversized sunglasses. I fill my glass bottle with water from the tap and leave for the show.

The kid’s head bobs back and forth in front of the dark windows of Z’s Vinyl. His fist smacks into his palm, a slender bolt of lightning sparking up and down off his boney, sunburnt chest in a

*** The standoff is barbed with sweat, and a torrent flow of swear words is sloshing between them.

[CHAOS THEORY] The man, I know. Kind of. He’s Zeb, owner of Z’s Vinyl. He’s a couple of years older than me, a sort of troubled genius, I think. MIT drop-out. Sweat drips from his creased brow down to his white tank top. He holds his thick Buddy Holly glasses to his open mouth, fogging them over, pulling his shirt up to wipe away the condensation. The little boy rants about interest rates, “I told you, a fucking dollar a fucking day! That’s 63 dollars, man.” I ask Zeb what the problem is; he looks up at me, saying nothing but staring down at a crate of records sitting by his feet. The kid answers for him, saying he’d sold Zeb a glass of lemonade and two chocolate chip cookies on credit because the business owner didn’t have any cash. This was two months and two days ago. “I told him I’d Venmo it to him,” Zeb heaves the words out.



Zeb. “My store doesn’t have a till. We’re card only.” “He’s got some issues,” the kid, his freckle-cast cheeks glowing with anger, spits out the words and then a loogie. The syrupy wad almost hits Zeb’s high top. “Opie fuckin’ Taylor,” Zeb leans back against the glass of his storefront, “you’re a damn trip.” “If I’m Opie Taylor, then you’re the young one from Sanford and Son—your truck always loaded with shit like it’s about to tip over.” “Lamont,” Zeb says, “OK. I collect scrap metal on the weekends—what of it?” “Nothing,” Opie takes a gulp of air and asks if I’ve heard any of Zeb’s academic sob stories.

“And I told him I don’t have a bank account,” the kid retorts.

“Oh, I’d be so rich if,” the boy chirps out, “so and so hadn’t stolen my differential Chaos Theory equation. A butterfly flaps its wings. All that bullshit.”

“I then told him I’d give him Bitcoin.”

I sit on the curb. Opie does too.

“And I said that Bitcoin’s not going to be worth shit in two years.”

“I told him, I said: mathematical ideas cannot be owned,” the kid says, looking into my eyes with his artic blue stare.

I watch the conversation continue to ping pong between them and drink my water. “Write a check to his parents,” I suggest.

“Don’t you agree?” he asks. “Math is not my strong side of the brain,” I tell him.

“He says he doesn’t trust his parents.” “Trust no bitch,” the boy announces, as though reciting a line of ancient poetry, like Ovid or something. Stooping over Zeb’s carton, I leaf through his newest inventory. A lot of punk and some hip hop. The Clash. Big Joanie. The Roots. The kid kicks another dead dandelion. Seed pods twirl around us in a sudden shot of wind from the west. “Can’t you take it from your store’s till?” I ask

“Left brain, right brain: you know that’s all bullshit, right? It takes two fucking hemispheres to be logical or creative,” Opie informs me. Zeb sits on the curb now too. Our sweat drips down to the grate of a storm drain into the liquid black darkness beneath. “I don’t have any cash,” I exhale. “Of course you don’t,” Opie says. “And my ATM card is frozen for possible fraud,” I say.

_ 27


The boy sighs. “Zeb, why don’t you go buy something and get cash back?” I ask. “I’m not getting bullied by him into buying shit.” “Why don’t you go to the bank and make a withdrawal?” I ask. “Bank’s closed. It’s Sunday,” Zeb answers. “He’s been telling me that he's going to the bank for two months. He’s got some kind of phobia. Chrometophobia: a fear of money,” Opie says languidly, the heat beating across his squinting eyes. The circular song of a far-off ice cream truck melts into the troubled confection of our group’s silence. Zeb stands, lifts his crate. Opie follows him into the cavernous tunnel of Z’s Vinyl, a repurposed Quonset Hut. I follow as, somehow, I feel dedicated to helping find a resolution for this transactional dispute. Opie flips glumly through a stack of records, stopping only once to stare at Dolly Parton's Odd Jobs. Dolly drags a typewriter by a tape measure, gripping a paint roller and carrying boots, a yard ho, a lunch box, and rolled-up architectural prints. A silvery purse dangles from her sharply manicured hand. At her stilettoed feet, her briefcase spills out: papers, lipstick, and a bomb-pop. Opie carries the glossy record to the listening chamber in the back of the store, a vintage British phone booth. He sinks the booth’s heavy headphones over his ears, swinging his legs above the floor. The ice cream truck song sunders down on us now, the driver decelerating in front of the store to a crawl. “He does that on purpose, slows down like that,” Zeb looks into my eyes, holds his gaze there.

“Yeah, he’s trying to sell ice cream,” I say as Zeb drops “Money” by Pink Floyd onto the store’s record player. The clanging of coins seeps out, followed by a ringing cash register, paper ripping and a till slamming in a seven-beat loop until a couple of plucky strings take over. “No. He does it because I went all ethnomusicologist on him earlier this summer. I told him that the songs ice cream trucks play are racist.” Zeb walks out from behind the counter and leans back against it. “Did you know ice cream parlors played minstrel show music in the 1920s?” “I didn’t.” “They did. And then when the ice cream trucks came about in the 50s, they chose to drum up nostalgia for the past for ignorant white people —no offense, Kate.” “None taken,” I say. “So that’s why they play the same shit to this day: ‘Jimmy Crack Corn,’ ‘Dixie,’ . . . ‘Camptown Races.’” Zeb turns up the Pink Floyd. The song brays against, “Oh Susanna!” as the ice cream man gets out of his truck, shaking a pack of cigarettes against his palm. “I don’t know what I thought would happen,” Zeb shakes his head, “it’s like the guy gets a kick out of blaring the shit even louder now.” “Money” rounds out its capitalist chorus as I tell Zeb I’m going to go outside, make the ice cream truck guy stop, make him leave. But Zeb shakes his head ‘no’ and extends his hand to me, thin fingers—uncalloused. Math hands. I take it and let him pull me in, then twirl me out. His palm is cold, sweaty. I look to the booth; Opie sways his head back and forth to Dolly. Zeb takes my other hand in his; a few electrostatic snaps crack between our skin. He brings me in close, and it is in this moment, as simple as a page-turning, that the world in front of me slips from legible to not. A deafening boom pierces my eardrums; we turn to carbon


[CHAOS THEORY] copies, a blanket of smoke pouring down, monsoon-like, over our bodies as we drop to the floor. Clouds of gray billow through the store’s open door. I feel a heavy arm around my waist— Zeb pulling me toward him through this braying darkness, vibrations of this debris lifting like a dying pulse. Through the baritone beat of my heart, I hear hinges scraping together as Opie leaves the booth with headphones on. It looks like he is muttering the lyrics of “9 to 5,” the song stuck on a continuous loop across his chapped lips. A pillowy sheet of dust snaps crisply between us, hangs there—twisting. Snowy bits of pink insulation waft in the store’s open windows. I reach out for the puff. It’s brittlely sharp: fiberglass. An acrid sweetness mists over us in hazy layers as a solid warmth envelopes my hand. It is Zeb’s hand, pulling me up. I hear the crackle of fire from somewhere I can’t place and see that Opie is running toward us. Zeb scoops him up in his arms.


lights cast their shadows over the remains of my apartment. Torn bits of my clothing seem to stick to the bottoms of everyone’s shoes. An EMT kneels in front of Opie; he grips the Dolly Parton record to his chest like it’s a stuffed animal. “Squeeze my hand if you can hear me,” the EMT, her face blanching in the glare of the ambulance, reaches out to hold Opie’s hand. He lets her for a moment, and then a smile breaks across his face. Dollar bills, sticky with melting ice cream, float through the air. “Cool story, bro,” Opie tells the EMT before standing and beginning to dart after the money, his limbs as bird-like as before. “Cool story, bro,” Zeb mimics, staring at the ice cream man who is now being treated inside the ambulance for his abrasions. Zeb’s eyes look as though he’s peering into the abyss of an interstellar constellation.

Through the vortex of all this smoke, it is the humidity that tells me when we’ve made it outside. A fire hydrant, smashed open by the ice cream truck—a vehicle which is now cracked open and on its side—sprays our sooty clothes. Still, the music of the tipped truck plays. “Turkey in the Straw” pieces itself together in the air. Shrapnel bits of my apartment building: bricks, plaster, and broken glass litter the street while flames engulf the foundation where suddenly there is no building.

Opie picks up the cash, licking bits of ice cream off the bills. He stuffs his wallet until there is no money left to collect.

The ice cream truck man crawls out of the window he could be delivering cones through— not his bleeding body.

“You got lucky that you weren’t in your apartment. And you got even luckier that you were in a military-grade building,” an officer with a handlebar mustache tells us in the cool refuge of Zeb’s apartment down the street. They interview us about the explosion we know nothing of—yes, the ice cream man had been smoking. No, we didn’t see him throw the cigarette butt.

Opie, hoisted like a sack of potatoes over Zeb’s shoulder, extends his hand for the man to hold as he climbs down the side of his truck. The storm sewer flows with a swirling mix of flavors: Neopolitan and blue cotton candy. Bits of chipwiches line the path away from the store. Chocolate dipped sprinkle waffle cones crack beneath my ballet flats. My eyes burn, but I keep them open anyway. It’s only minutes before flashing red and blue

The fire department finds the source of a gas leak after Opie departs, running off with his sticky cash as suddenly as he appeared. The ice cream man limps into a cab as his truck is towed away. ***

Zeb’s given me his old college tracksuit, and I sit there, looking like I’m about to sprint for somewhere. But I don’t. I stay. And we don’t talk about why, why it is I’m not calling a friend or my parents.




I sleep at Zeb’s. But we don’t kiss, not yet. We don’t do anything, and when the girls from Stewart’s visit in the dead of night, they do nothing but fix each other up. Snipping and stitching their singed clothing, they shake glittering shards of glass from their hair. They use Zeb’s avocados to make face masks and cut cucumber slices for their eyes. And when they finish brushing the soot from their teeth, they hum “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” while climbing out of the bedroom window and evaporating into the moonlight. *** It’s a rhythm he and I fall into—a symphony we conduct each day. We talk about who we could have been, who we would have been if time had not spun itself into a web just so in that splintering heat on the day of the explosion. But we can’t come up with anything. He spins records and holds me as we watch fireflies light up the yard. Most mornings, I’m talking to Zeb as he wakes, and he’s talking to me as I fall asleep. He tells me about logistics, describes processes that evolve through time, how the quantity of x is determined by what is on its right. “I’m on your right,” I say to him. “Exactly,” he pauses, “and you are my chosen constant.” “Math is a game,” I say. “It’s chaotic behavior, conditions. Like us.”




“A butterfly flaps its wings, all that bullshit.” He smiles, knowing that it is Opie Taylor I’m quoting. *** At night, my ghosts still haunt me. Misty, Tiffany, and Heather arrive and float around Zeb’s place, now our place, like butterflies, powdery with rouge. They flutter incessantly, tidying up to the ticking soundtrack of our air

conditioning in the stillness of a quarter moon. On their final visit, they gather by my side. I ask them why they're here. I ask them to account for their chaotic behavior and what has led them to me time and time again. “Who else would sew the threads of your life?” Misty asks, beginning to tease up my bangs. “Moirai,” Tiffany tells me with tears running down her rosy cheeks, “like it or not—” “We are the goddesses of your fate,” Heather whispers, wiping blood from her nose—letting the droplets morph to rain—and telling us to pick out our futures. Zeb and I. Because we can have anything, and love is marked down to free.




THE OCEAN, TOO By James B. Nicola The ocean, too, is deep occasionally. Shallow or mediocre otherwise. And prisoned in a ditch beneath the sun. It’s mostly fluid, mostly dark, and mostly unseen and it gurgles or roars with its trillion secrets all day and all night. And once born, continues churning, ebbing, waxing, biting, eating, bearing, breaching, evaporating, condensing, and returning. And for the ocean, as for us, these traits seem right.

_ 31


UNTOLD MEMORIES By Hannah Robertson She was smiling a big, wide smile like she was enjoying something she wasn’t supposed to. She stared back at me with those full, excited eyes, taunting me with the lack of clues she provided to her narrative. Her smile was all that was left of that brilliant story I would never get to hear. That was so typical of her. She was always getting into trouble in the most creative ways. I can only imagine what happened before the camera clicked. I set the fragile frame into my “important” pile, but nothing in it was truly significant. Maybe to her, but not to me. They were just pieces of a story I didn’t know. Still, I could tell that they meant something to her. I mean, she did keep them for all these years. I didn’t know she had so many pictures of her past, let alone multiple large boxes full of them. Come to think of it, I really didn’t know much about her past. Where she grew up, what her parents did, what her dreams were. I guess I just assumed she would tell me about it in due time. I rubbed my hand on her fuzzy carpet, back and forth, watching the pattern alternate between dark and light with every swipe. She loved her house. It was adorned with all these little trinkets she collected throughout her years. Her history was always on display every time I came over, and yet I never asked about it. Where did she get that? Who gave it to her? Was it a special occasion? I swiped the carpet. I guess I would never know. Who am I to judge what is important and what isn’t? I don’t know what objects meant the most to her. I don’t know which pictures have good memories tied to them. I don’t… Tears welled into my eyes.

…know her as well as I wish I did. She smiled up at me from the top of the stack, hiding her thoughts, keeping her secrets. I could always blame this on how her time was cut short and how I was only able to see a brief slice of her life, but this house and everything in it has been available for that entire slice. And regardless of the limited time we shared, I could have spent more time learning what was important to her. I always had the option to ask why she was smiling that day, and I just never did.

_ 32



By John Tustin I treat losing you as one would mourn a death Even though you are alive and, I assume, doing very well – Living your life as if we were never together. So far it’s served me well. It’s best for me to pretend you are now underground Instead of eating dinner with your husband in a house I imagine is just the perfect size for the both of you to live out your remaining years. After reading Dreaming of My Deceased Wife on the Night of the 20th Day of the First Month by Su Shi I have hope – Perhaps one day I will not recognize you even if I see you the way he claimed he would not recognize his own dead wife. I think about that and a smile crosses my lips. It’s the night of the 29th day of the ninth month. The leaves are still on the trees and the heat has hardly dissipated. Maybe soon the cold will come closer and the leaves will fall. I close my eyes and you are still clear to me But it’s still far from wintertime.



CONTRIBUTORS Bob Brussack has retired after a career teaching law at the University of Georgia in Athens. He now divides his time between Athens and the south coast of Ireland. Like other Athens poets, he was encouraged to read and to listen and to write by the late Aralee Strange, who founded “Athens Word of Mouth,” the monthly open poetry reading upstairs at the Globe. Bob’s work has appeared in the Black Coffee Review, Broadkill Review, Naugatuck River Review, Passager Journal, Roanoke Review, and elsewhere. He blogs at bobincork.com. Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi, an artisan baker by trade, has been published in over 50 literary journals worldwide. He was a finalist in the Blood Orange Review Literary Contest, and was awarded the Popular Vote in the Best of Rejected Manuscripts Competition. In addition to several short pieces, he is currently working on his debut novel. Yuan Changming started to learn the English alphabet at age nineteen and authored monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include eleven Pushcart nominations, ten chapbooks,, nine poetry awards as well as appearances in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry(2008-17) & BestNewPoemsOnline, among others. Recently, Yuan published a Chinese poetry collection (Selected Poems of Yuan Changming) and served on the Jury for Canada’s 44th National Magazine Awards (poetry category).


Bobbi Sinha-Morey's poetry has appeared in a wide variety of places such as Plainsongs, Pirene's Fountain, The Wayfarer, Helix Magazine, Miller's Pond, The Tau, Vita Brevis, Cascadia Rising Review, Old Red Kimono, and Woods Reader. Her books of poetry are available at www.Amazon.com and her work has been nominated for The Best of the Net Anthology in 2015, 2018, and 2020 as well as having been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. In addition, her website is located at this address: http://bobbisinhamorey.wordpress.com. Her interests include cooking, knitting, reading, aerobics, pilates, and jigsaw puzzles. Bobbi is a voracious reader of poetry, and novels by some of her favorite authors include Sarah E. Ladd, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Daphne Du Maurier. She's a fan of “Charlie's Angels” and the series “The Avengers” with Diana Rigg and Patrick MacNee. Her husband is Joe Morey whose favorite hobby is rock hounding. Jordan Faber is a writer based out of Chicago, IL. Jordan has received a Best Small Fictions and several Pushcart Prize nominations. Her fiction has most recently appeared in: Monologging, Ligeia, Honest Ulsterman, Waxing & Waning, Construction, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, Bleached Butterfly, The Vitni Review, The Windhover, Parhelion, Chaleur Magazine, K’in, Prometheus Dreaming, NUNUM, The Esthetic Apostle, FIVE:2:ONE’s #thesideshow, Deluge [Radioactive Moat Press], Bull & Cross, Dream Pop Journal, Lunch Ticket, and TIMBER. Jordan majored in creative writing at Knox College and received an MFA from Northwestern University. website: www.jordanfaber.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jordan_faber_/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/jordan_faber_ John Gerber is a 24 year-old poet living in Lakewood, New York. He recently came in third place at the Portsmouth NH Poet Laureate Program: A Bridge to Japan Poetry Broadside Contest and his broadside will be exhibited in Nichinan, Japan with the other winning entries. “The Butterfly" is his first work to appear in a literary magazine. Chalei Marie's photography experience began with a passion for traveling and gaining knowledge of cultures and landscapes. Through her photography she has found joy in capturing and sharing the beautify of planet earth. You can find more of her work on Instagram: @chaleimariephotgraphy




Chandra Livia Candiani was born in Milan in 1952. Her poetry has won the Montale Prize (2001), Camaiore Prize (2014) and International Regina Coppola Prize (2019). She is a translator of Buddhist texts and the author of several poetry collections, including La nave di nebbia. Ninnenanne per il mondo (Vivarium 2005), La bambina pugile (Einaudi 2014), Vista dalla luna (Salani 2019) and La domanda della sete (Einaudi 2020). She gives poetry workshops in homeless shelters, AIDS hospices and primary schools, and curated But where are the words? Poems by the children of Milan’s ethnically diverse suburbs (Effigie 2015). Roy Duffield is a writer, translator and editor over at Anti-Heroin Chic, a journal that celebrates those on the outside and calls “beauty” what others call “broken”. He is a winner of the Robert Allen Micropoem Contest (2021) and was honoured to be chosen to perform at the Beat Literary Festival in Barcelona (2019). He believes in making poetry accessible to everyone. You can read his work in Quadrant, The London Reader, The Journal, Into the Void, Marble Poetry, Harpy Hybrid Review, The Dawntreader and elsewhere. Elisabetta Taboga is a translator to Italian from French, Spanish and English and currently an editor of art books. She has a masters in compared literature from Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, and a bachelor’s in modern and contemporary literature from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice James B. Nicola’s poetry and prose have appeared in the Antioch, Southwest, Green Mountains, and Atlanta Reviews; Rattle; Barrow Street; Tar River; and Poetry East, garnering two Willow Review awards, a Dana Literary award, one Best of the Net nom and seven Pushcart nominations. His full-length collections are Manhattan Plaza (2014), Stage to Page (2016), Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018), Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019), and Fires of Heaven: Poems of Faith and Sense (2021). His decades of working in the theater as a stage director, composer, lyricist, playwright, and acting teacher culminated in the nonfiction book Playing the Audience: The Practical Guide to Live Performance, which won a Choice award. A Yale grad, he currently hosts the Hell's Kitchen International Writers' Round Table at his library branch in Manhattan: walk-ins welcome. Elise Noelle Good is a recent KSU graduate with a degree in Integrative Studies and minors in Professional Writing and Biology. She finished summa cum laude and has spent the past year curating her writing and artistic portfolio as well as working hands on in the industry as an intern with Pelican Publishing. Chicago-born Michael Riordan has been a teacher, C.E.O., and writer. He taught in the U.S., Singapore, and China, where he was a professor of Writing and Film Studies. He was co-founder and C.E.O of Creative Action Now, a Singapore-based English Language educational consultancy. He recently won first prize for nonfiction in the spring 2020 “Ageless Authors” writing contest. More can be found in Snapdragon Journal, 50Something (Australia), Epoch Press (Scotland), and currently online at Please See Me (pleaseseeme.com). He lives in Arlington, Texas. Steve Deutsch lives in State College, PA. Some of his recent publications have or will appear in The Red Eft Review, Thimble, The Mark Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, RavensPerch, MacQueen’s, 8 Poems, Louisiana Lit, Burningword Literary Journal, Third Wednesday, and the Muddy River Poetry Review. Steve was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His Chapbook, “Perhaps You Can,” was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press. His full length book, Persistence of Memory was published in 2020 by Kelsay. Steve’s third booking poetry, Going, Going, Gone, was just accepted for publication.