WHIRLWIND STAFF Founding Publisher Lamont B. Steptoe Founding Editor Sean Lynch Art Director Melissa Rothman Outreach Coordinator Courtney Gambrell Lead Designer Erin Kelly ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thanks to Brandon Blake and Larry Robin of Moonstone Arts Center for printing this publication. Special thanks to Bob Zell and The Pen and Pencil Club for hosting our launch parties. Maggie Veness’s short story “Cicada” was awarded runner up in an Australian national writing competition by BusyBird Publishing and appeared in their 2014 anthology. Gonzalinho da Costa’s poem “Rain” was originally published in The Galway Review. Cover art by Priscilla Boatwright, cover design by Melissa Rothman Copyright © Whirlwind Magazine, 2016 All rights reserved to artists and authors. No work may be reproduced in any form without permission from the creator. All inquiries should be addressed to the editor at email@example.com or by mail to: Sean Lynch P.O. Box 561 Camden, NJ 08101
Lamont and his daughter in 1990
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear readers, welcome to the 9th issue of Whirlwind Magazine, which is our two year anniversary edition. It’s been a pleasure sharing so many voices with our audience. In the past two years we have published 167 individual writers in print, many of them having never been published before, and many having been published in the most well known literary publications out there. We’ve published local Philadelphia area writers and artists, and dozens of international voices from all of the world, hailing from countries on every inhabited continent, from Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America, and South America. (We’re still waiting on a submission from Antarctica.) We’ve published in both English and Spanish. We’ve published artwork in a myriad of mediums. We’ve published with an astounding rate of diversity in each issue, without going out of the way to do so. The 9th issue features 13 women writers and 4 men writers of various cultural backgrounds. This issue focuses on the theme of paralysis. James Joyce incorporated the idea of paralysis throughout his famous short story collection Dubliners, in which it has a clear effect on modern people on both a personal and societal level in 20th century life. That idea still applies to life in the 21st century. We believe that the idea of globalized paralysis sums up the themes we’ve had for Whirlwind Magazine in the past, whether the focus was on our current catastrophic environmental dilemma (issue #8), or continued neo-colonial mistreatment by governments of indigenous peoples (issue #7), or systemic poverty (issue #5), or the debilitating status of veterans suffering from PTSD (issue #4). In the age of neo-liberal world-wide imperialist rule by the few over the many, paralysis is masked by smoke and mirrors progress. The poems and stories in issue #9 reflect upon paralysis in the context of our previous themes, and come together to form a cohesive conclusion to the past two years of our quarterly publication. Our motive is to look beyond the paralytic veneers that are placed before our collective eyes. Our aim has been and will be to bear witness. In our very first issue, released in July of 2014, I ended my first letter stating that, “[w]e can only hope that this magazine contributes, in any way, to help us keep our ‘...eyes wide open / like luminous winter stars / sentenced to electric chair deaths...’ which is an excerpt from “Nightwatchmen,” a poem featured in our first issue by our founder, Lamont Steptoe. We are proud to present the contributors you’ll find in the following pages, who, you’ll discover have eyes wide open as well. Thanks so much for reading and supporting Whirlwind Magazine. Enjoy! -Sean Lynch
TABLE OF CONTENTS Burn (Haibun) by Sneha Sundaram: pg. 1 For Ashraf Fayadh 800 Lashes For by Ed Coletti: pg. 2 The Death of a Goat by Gina Tomaine: pg. 3 War in the Congo by Irving Jones: pg. 7 Return to Noria by McCollonough Ceili: pg. 9 Pitch Black Sunrise (Rubin Stacyâ€™s Song) by C.Z Heyward : pg. 10 Feed by Jacqueline Tretault: pg. 11 Never Imagined by Karen Neuberg: pg. 12 Climate Control by Amanda Wochele: pg. 14 State of a City by Faye Turner-Johnson: pg. 15 Washington Avenue Bridge by Janet McCann: pg. 17 Rain by Gonzalinho da Costa: pg. 18 Cicada by Maggie Veness: pg. 20 Resisting the Dark by Mercedes Webb-Pullman: pg. 23 The Boats of Lampedusa by Lesley Valdes: pg. 25 The Holocaust (Another Unsung Song) by Marsha Hood: pg. 27 I Can Only Tell This Once by Gail Ansel: pg. 29 A Villanelle - Life at my Failing School by Shawnta S. Barnes : pg. 31
by Sneha Sundaram
I have a collage of burnt trees stored in my eyes. When the sky bled ash, it wiped all color from my village. Except grey. Grey soot had settled everywhere. On broken houses, on bloodied streets, on cars that were fleeing, on hospitals and schools that are now refugee centers. The trees turned grey too. Unseasonally shedding leaves and carrying on their bare branches the weight of the war. The smell of the fire is imprinted on my mind and tattooed on my skin. No man can fight the fire. No woman comes out unscathed. Much after the sound of the drones subsided, my lungs held on to the ash. My breath singed my tongue and my voice ruptured my eardrums. My dreams held on to the memory too, of barrenness; and days and nights filled with self-hatred at having outlived the fire. dead trees sometimes lightning strikes twice
FOR ASHRAF FAYADH 800 LASHES FOR by Ed Coletti 1 fundamental lapses in judgment 2 evil poetic sentiments 3 stupid interest in versification 4 intentional misspelling of sharia 5 references to women as such 6 perceived interest in men with men 7 same notice of women with women 8 explicit attention to women with men 9 any notice of men with women 10 implicit approval of women driving 11 statements perceived as disrespectful to the king 12 slimy anti-oil comments 13 his being a Palestinian 14-800 etc etc etc
THE DEATH OF A GOAT
by Gina Tomaine
“My brother was killed like a goat,” Boi said, leaning up against the crumbling concrete wall of the old campsite. “What?” I said. “That’s why I didn’t watch when they killed the goat today. My brother was killed like a goat.” “That’s awful, Boi. I’m so sorry.” I leaned against the wall next to him, my mind racing with doubts—about if I could begin to understand his situation, if I could appropriately respond, and then, just as quickly, if Boi was telling the truth, if his brother really was beheaded with a knife. I had not noticed that Boi hadn’t watched the slaughter of the goat with the rest of us that day. Yet he felt as if he should explain himself, as if the absence of his presence was abnormal and required justification. “Did you watch?” He asked me inquisitively, but with no judgment behind the question. “I did,” I confirmed. Then I qualified, “Or I tried to, at least. But I had to look away, when Moses first brought the knife down. I couldn’t do it. But then I watched again, as soon as it was dead. Through my fingers.” Boi nodded. The oversized flop on the top of his woolly ski cap nodded with him. The hat was red and navy blue striped, and had not left his head throughout the heat of the day, and remained there now that the chill of the night has made it practical rather than a function of style. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his ripped jeans, cut off above the ankle and sewn with two large patches of camouflage fabric on the front, awkward squares that covered space from his shins to his thighs and made him look like some sort of lanky army scarecrow. He wore a red cotton t-shirt and faded green flip-flops with holes in the bottoms. He was seventeen and about a foot taller than me. “What happened, with your brother?” I asked, tentatively. “There was a thief. My brother went after him. The thief got him.” My stomach balled up in nervousness and disgust. I realized I still only partially believed him. But he had no reason to lie to me. I realized also, that I didn’t want to believe him, because the thought made me afraid, made me feel powerless and insignificant. I had no idea how to speak about that kind of violence without sounding both insensitive and uninformed. I looked across the yard at the bonfire roaring in the center of the rest of the boys, carefree and playing song and word games reminiscent of summer camp. “I’m really sorry about your brother, Boi.” I squeezed his hand. I was lying, since I had decided maybe it wasn’t true. “Thank you,” he said, all heart. * * * Memories of Kenya carry the the sharp earthy smell of cooked goat now. During my time there, the salt and grease of the tough meat always seeped into the creases in the skin of my hands, which I then wiped on my already dirt-covered jeans. Meat doesn’t seem to smell like much of anything in America. We came to Africa calling ourselves volunteers, but I was aware of what I was. The travel-sized bottle of Purell in the front pocket of my jeans, the bottle of precisely numbered malaria pills sitting in my backpack, the camera containing hundreds of pictures—these testified clearly to my purpose and presence in Africa: I was favorably a service worker, optimistically an adventurer, but, realistically, a tourist. My group was there for two and a half weeks, working at a boy’s shelter in Dagoretti, outside of Nairobi. I was only 3
22. Earlier that day, I watched as Moses tied up a white goat, with a few black spots and an almost entirely black head. It was just quietly lying there on the grass between two small trees, with its front feet tied together and its back feet tied together. There was a large metal basin, more like a shallow bucket, set next to the goat. A crowd of the kids and volunteers all gathered around. Moses grinned slightly at our discomfort and fear. I backed up a few feet as Moses grabbed the back of the goat’s head and picked up the knife. He slit its throat. I closed my eyes and covered them with my hands. Moses had positioned the bucket directly under the goat’s severed neck, and the blood pooled and dripped and streamed out to fill the bucket. It didn’t pour out like I expected it to, and he held it there for a while to catch the slowly gathering fluid before resuming cutting the rest of the head off. I had little to no problem watching then, I suppose because the goat was now dead and I didn’t need to focus my imagination on how a slit throat might feel any longer. Moses severed the head with the combined use of knife and machete, then lifted the goat up by its feet and tied it upside down to a firm branch of the tree nearest to me. The bucket of blood sat under the headless neck, which still dripped, filling the bucket intermittently. Some of the boys carried the head, holding it roughly by its ears, to a grate placed over a small fire nearby, and placed it on top of the grate to cook. I stood watched the bucket of hot blood congeal under the body as Moses added salt and stirred the whole mess together with a wooden spoon. “What are you doing?” Gumball sized globs of clotted salted goat blood were forming in the pan. I had never seen anything redder; the color was so vivid that I felt that it might have been the most real thing I had ever seen in my life. Life and death, all swishing around in one dingy metal bucket. Add salt. Enjoy. “We use everything!” Moses told me with relish, knowing I would be shocked. “What? You’re going to eat that? No! Are you kidding?” Moses reached his hand into the blood and picked up a round globule. He popped it in his mouth. “It’s very good,” he said giddily, “And very good for you.” Now I covered my mouth with my hand, rather than my eyes. Later, with Boi, I would essentially cover my ears. “I can’t believe you just did that,” I said. He laughed heartily. He got a kick out of teasing us, but in a good-natured way. “We also use it to make African Blood Sausage. You can try some later.” I shook my head and smiled. But I did want to try. Looking at the bright salted blood, I saw a clear and disgusting allure in life swishing around in a bucket. I sat down on a weathered wooden bench propped up by rocks. How did I get here? I had just finished college, and I was now on a massive, complicated continent that I didn’t understand, because years ago I had been captivated by the idea that change was possible. During a documentary showing on campus, I had discovered that the eloquent, intellectual guy in my Introduction to Macroeconomics class was also the rough, confused “chokorra,” or street boy from Kenya in the film, who as a kid had told a documentary filmmaker that he thought companies put HIV into condoms. A person in my class was both of these people, and when he stood there on Saint Joseph’s University campus in Philadelphia while I simultaneously saw him years ago on the screen, picking through the slums of Kenya, suddenly I was overwhelmed. He had gotten a scholarship to the 4
university, and now he was trying to change things back in Dagoretti. His presence on my campus at that moment made all the intangible bullshit about world peace and eliminating hunger and poverty suddenly present and viable, embodied undeniably in the solid, compassionate body in front of me. It broke and renewed my heart. I wanted go to, to see, to help. But now I sat, in Kenya, having just driven through the mountains over the Rift Valley, and all of it seemed unreal again. I was here, and once again more jaded than I was four years ago standing in that theater. Hardly world-weary, I loved the world. I was obsessed with the world. I wanted to go everywhere and do everything. But I had lost faith, lost a certain confidence in my ideals and in my goals, in my ability to help anyone, in what I thought about love and what I thought about life. I had a filter that didn’t allow me to be properly horrified by a teenager telling me his brother’s head was cut off. I had an attitude that made me feel better than my friends because I had watched a goat being slaughtered and they didn’t. I had broken up with my first real love, a boyfriend of four and a half years, because not only did I not love him anymore, but I was also in love with someone new back in Philadelphia--an absurd and inconvenient type of love, the kind that demands reckless cliches of heart stopping and lungs giving out and head turning to fog. And as I sat on the decaying wood of a foreign continent 8,000 miles away, I wished I could see him. And I wondered about how quickly life passes out of existence, like love, which, before now, I didn’t think could. And, I thought, maybe my first love dying, even a love that had seemed to me, in my small and sheltered life, to be as grand and permanent as any great writer could have written, maybe even that love dying shouldn’t be such a shock in the face of the end of a life. Because that goat had eyes that saw me, and it felt the grass that I was walking on, and it had black spots on its sides at certain angles which made it unique from any other goat, and because that goat lived in Africa for years and felt the lukewarm sun of the elevated plains of Kenya on its back since it was born. As they skinned it first and then began removing its organs I saw from afar its intestines, packed with a hundred tiny balls of shit that would never make it to the ground, never wind up under someone’s unsuspecting foot or become part of a more fertilized earth. That goat had been alive, and then a knife flashed in the afternoon light and a breath was inhaled and the goat’s eyes did not see anymore. If that goat could die, just like that, of course love could too, even my first love, which I thought could transcend anything, anything. I was young, and these lessons were hard-won. I pinched my arm, hard, as I felt the unwelcome and all-consuming longing for someone new fill me. I walked back to the crowd in a stranger’s body, because they were letting us take turns skinning the goat with the knife, and I wanted to try. * * * The bonfire blazed and Boi resumed his place in the center of the circle, the eternal jokester of the crew, egging everyone on and acting like a clown. No one would know he had just told me about his brother’s brutal murder. I turned to the other girls I was traveling with. “Does anyone want to go check out this sky?” We walked. The stars were completely different here, filtered and brightened to a lux glow, with what looked like the brilliance of the Milky Way directly above us. I felt naked under this immeasurable expanse, as if somewhere above us God was wryly observing our ineffectual efforts. The five of us lay down in the grass to stare up. “Boi just told me his brother had his head cut off,” I confessed. “What! Holy shit!” Kate said. “Yeah, like a goat, he said,” I explained, “I didn’t know what to say. What do you say to that? And I was wondering if it’s really true.” 5
Brittany, who had been quiet today, spoke up. “Moses told me that Boi was living in the slums of Dagoretti Market when they found him. He had no family. But once D4K took him in and gave him a home and set him up to go to school, a family appeared.” Dagoretti 4 Kids, or D4K, was the non-profit organization we were working with in Kenya. It functioned as a home for abandoned or orphaned boys in the area and furnished the boys with school uniforms and tuition. Brittany said. “You know how dark and tall Boi is? These people look nothing like him. They’re all pretty light skinned and short. And they have no connection to him. They just heard about him and claimed him. So, maybe someone in the family did get killed like that, but it’s not actually Boi’s brother.” I nodded, but this information didn’t really do anything for me. The point wasn’t whether they were related by blood. The point was whether it happened. I lay there and thought about it some more, thought about Africa, that after all these years, I was actually in Africa. I stood up and brushed the grass and dirt particles off of me, walking back towards the light of the campsite. “Ew. Stop a second,” Jess addressed me from behind as she followed me back. “What?” I said. “You have mud or crap or something on your jeans…” She wrinkled her nose and pointed to the offending area. I looked down at the right leg of my jeans, and sure enough, a small cluster of smeared brownish-black orbs of shit were spattered and clinging to the faded denim below the back of my knee, matted with bits of dead grass. “Fuck you too, goat,” I said, as I grabbed a stick and wiped the shit off of my jeans and back onto the earth. Life was quick, death was quick, Boi’s brother who wasn’t his brother was dead, I loved someone else, and would love someone else after that, and God was laughing at me from the Milky Way while I wiped the goat shit I had been mourning back to the earth where it belonged, where it could fertilize something, maybe. I ran over to Boi, who was taking a rest from his dancing and carrying on, sitting in the grass directly outside the circle of the fire, his long arms wrapped around his longer legs, his chin on his patched knee. “Boi,” I said. “Yes?” He lifted his head and looked up at me. “I’m really sorry about your brother. Let me know if you ever want to talk about it. I’m here.” I said, exhaling the breath I had been holding in. He nodded, just once, firmly. “Thank you,” he said, all heart.
WAR IN THE CONGO by Irving Jones 1
Machete knives draw blood hacking people in half like fresh spring turkeys flaying the meat off the bone the flesh so pink and sweet like food ready for the table internawhme grub resources are valuable for Europeans for the price of wealth some will go to no ends Hamitic myths fill pockets full of gold Europeans continue to slaughter this time with an African hand Ethnic strife immigration oppression of foreign nationals banyarwanda Tutsi Hutu live in Uganda work in Uganda flee to Uganda still foreigners never Africans though Africans they all be though Africans they are
The Presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi are killed. the killer never found the massacre begins the taste of blood has filled the mouths of those who have given up to the worship of gold and power
the blood drips from the knife and sweetens the soil the shots ring out and the wails among the living over the dead and dying from the dying over the dead.
4 The night comes quick when death is around there is a sound a deep foreboding feeling a grip in oneâ€™s stomach people are in distress yet you cannot help you huddle together in fear the death the night the evil the helplessness 5 money can buy you time time to run time to hide time to love time to live time away from the inevitable the soldiers want gold the police want diamonds the Europeans want the resources of Africa the small change
the cold cash the good liquor and fine cigars and the women whose hips have been loosen by gunfire and machete have become the booty of War money can buy you things money can buy you. 6 The Hutus begin to kill Tutsi in Rwanda and it spread to Burundi and the bodies mount in the morning sun The bodies lie by the river go down by the road and see them stretched as far as the eye can see see them they are black they stretch along the long road the road that travels from Rwanda to New Orleans canâ€™t you see them? theyâ€™re black men and women of African descent lying there 7 military historians note the importance of the war of the Congo it is the first time African troops fight over a large area of land with
coordination and discipline equal to the task the U.S. Army accomplished in the U.S Civil War For that military advancement 5.4 million Africans lost their lives 8 When the will bends swiftly it bends softly a poem for the women who had the misfortune to reach puberty at this time a prayer for all the teenage girls of the Congo a poem for Tutsi women of 16 for the choice between the machete and prostitution is not a good one whatever the internawhme stood for was meaningless upon the rape of the first woman whatever the war in the Congo stood for was finished after the rape of 40,000.
RETURN TO NORIA by McCollonough Ceili
Walking is hard, for tall weeds hide the bleached white broken bones of skeletons, incomplete, with ribs and other parts sticking up, waiting to cut into my bare feet. My breath runs and hides, while my heart jumps around in its chest cave. I part some weeds only to find the complete skeleton of a woman. I know it to be female, for down by the legs, half in and half out of her is the tiny skeleton of a babe being born, frozen by fire during its delivery. Time has driven away the sweet smelling gray ash of those burned beyond the knowing of the soul that once inhabited them. Purple and blue flowers grow through the foundation stones of our fallen temple. A deep dark hole is all that marks the holy tomb at the templeâ€™s rear. I pick some of the creeping flowers, say a blessing, and throw them down. Swallowed up by the blackness around them, I do not hear them land. Houses of wood have left no proof of their being, except in my memory. I feel four hundred ghosts follow me as I take the long walk back to the sea, to the boat that will carry me away. I do not say goodbye, nor do I look back as the motor starts. I hope these images of my homeland can be erased and replaced with the ones that fill my heart.
PITCH BLACK SUNRISE (RUBIN STACY’S SONG) by C.Z Heyward i danced to touch da ground but they laughed at me say, “Dats right boy show us how niggas dance” one of ‘em started on his guitar another da fiddle
sky will be white again like da sheets that done dis to me Jesus didn’t save me hope he does better by my chillin’ cause I can’t breathe
my body twitchin’ like Sunday chicken fresh snapped neck i can still hear ‘em all and da creek of da rope pulling dat limb though one’s cut off my ear they wanted souvenirs things for they kids I reckon’ i barely feel da blade takin’ each toe da lil’ gal smiles im choked out like midnight from da sky with it’s stars too
FEED by Jacqueline Tretault
My homepage opens: the Washington Post. I see the headline, click, scroll a bit, then bookmark to read later because ignoring tragedy would be indecent, indifferent. I need to focus first on what directly impacts me, what I am bound to do. In the old days I wanted to be a journalist and write words printed on paper folded into squares and rectangles and tossed into driveways or extracted from boxes on sidewalks. Kids would use them for origami airplanes, hats, boats, cups; papier-mâché, pet cage lining, confetti. Young altruists and historians would be more careful, cutting along the edges of articles and pinning them on bulletin boards. Now they’re pinned to Pinterest or shared via a link that most people won’t bother clicking with that tiny pressure of their finger and reading with their screen-tired eyes. Now my newsfeed fluctuates from idealism to cynicism to what is supposed to be horror but I can scroll quickly past that, or bookmark it for a time when I can respond to the news with appropriate emotion. (What’s missing? Action.)
NEVER IMAGINED by Karen Neuberg “Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” -Gertrude Stein I see another spectacle blocking my view, another fad slipping into my bed. The cave walls are filled with conflicting shadows demanding attention in continuously urgent & dazzling tones. How small respect has grown. It fits our eyes like drones while entertainment pumps up our need to be amused in certain ways. I feel strings attaching to my heart tugging me away from what I used to know. I’m diverted by a spin of words that cover over and are covered by. Pack of lies. Pack of truth. I can’t discern. Information pours and pours, burying us beneath ourselves. Never imagined such as this as anything I’d live to see.
Lady in Red Cesar Valtierra
CLIMATE CONTROL by Amanda Wochele We ran away from a neon rodeo clown, and hopped fences into outer space, counting only the tens of our old millennium. To avoid the self-immolation, I make mistakes discreetly: can’t you hear me through all this weeding? No affiliation! No affiliation! - they corral me back to earth – but I can see the eights and pair of aces in the big man’s hand.
Man, come on, saying it was never your intention to hurt anyone, yet the winter is warm and thick like swamp insects frozen inside their consciousness and the worst comes with summertime: when the wine I drink no longer refreshes me, and the water here tastes like Mercury.
IF you’d ever thought to ask me: if I could go back to any time or anyone, I’d live to see the day the west was won – show me a victor, bring me torches of silvers and golds, and maybe I’ll give you a shred of respect
STATE OF A CITY by Faye Turner-Johnson deep within its walls...beneath the trenches lies the horror story of a city burping venomous liquid onto the streets of Flint...into its homes a city carved out...sliced away...set aside from Michiganâ€™s Pure future its people lined up along the riverâ€™s edge unwittingly engaged in a dangerous game of drink or swim never thought I would live to see the day... or maybe I am slowly dying... from the banks of the river young mothers fill bottles to nurse.. bathe their young as the elders wash away history...golden memories of a past era drink of it they said...it cannot hurt you much for it harms only humans...not those who do not count as such a duty to build the good...play the role being sacrificed to eliminate useless animate things three-fifths humanity at their core dragging down the whole never thought I would live to see the day... or maybe I am slowly dying... watch the bodies float down the river entangled with other polluted trash state of the state praises you...brilliant you as you slowly gentrify...genocide me drink of it they said...it cannot hurt you much...
Life Sucking Michelle Simpson
WASHINGTON AVENUE BRIDGE by Janet McCann The bridge looks peaceful, linking one green shore to the other, even merry, busy with walkers, strollers, skateboards, bikes— 6850 cyclists daily, the report says— and now a train crosses it, and of course cars, and it has been revised, it has, says the report, cultural significance, although its main meaning for me is that John Berryman jumped from it in 1972 into the Mississippi, having given up on all of it. I am looking at the bridge now as a place of descent. His father killed himself when John was a child. John never recovered, never forgave. Wrote about hacking open the grave and spitting on the body. I am seated in this acute triangular shadow not far from the bridge, thinking about my father and father’s father, who both left the world before their time, and wondering if tiny destinies unfold like leaves.
RAIN by Gonzalinho da Costa Rain is pushing fingers into the soil, murmuring like winnowing rice. Daylight grays perceptibly. Water twisting down roof runnels collect in drainpipes shooting bullets at pools expanding rapidly. Splashing grows louder, runners slapping puddles. Waterfalls spill down steps. Lightning jabs his blade, lunging at the ground. Thunder loudly slings his whip. Cloud cohorts rumble a war cry. Rapids swiftly forming in the streets transport dead leaves navigating rudderless around stones and branches. Rain hammers the roof, rattling construction site. Springing, a leak begins a steady countdown. Chaos invades the sky, clouds battling the wind. Dislodged by strong gusts, a rain gutter swings wildly, banging repeatedly against the wall. Water rises all aroundâ€”canals and rivers surge as dams spew forth streams. One side, the ceiling drips, a coffee percolator. Electricity goes dead. Whirring fans wane into lifelessness. Hush joins hands with dread. We can only sit and wait in darkness.
Embryo Laurynas Karmalavicius
by Maggie Veness
Ali doesn’t want to be a stupid moron, it’s just that when she tries to communicate a thick, white noise like cotton-wool fills her head and only a syllable or two can escape. Gran told her she was born that way; told her nothing short of a darn miracle was gonna change her into a girl with a proper brain; told her the one consolation was that critters liked her. After the Tall Men came in the night and took her older sister, Ali had lingered by the bedroom window and seen something shiny and cone-shaped flash across the sky. Next morning, when she couldn’t explain where Karina had gone, her father whacked the side of her head with his leather belt and sent her to the end of the front paddock where the water fowls flap around on the dam; told her not to come back ‘til sundown. She’d sat by the dam all day in her little singlet and shorts, toes squelching in ochre mud, petting the water dragons and kingfishers that came by to drink. Ali hoped the Tall Men would never bring her sister back. The day before she disappeared, Karina had burned her arm on the iron and come after her yelping like an injured dog. When she caught her she’d slammed Ali to the floor – her chin hitting the bare boards with a hollow crack – then sat on her thin, brown back screwing her knuckles into the tender place below her shoulder blades. ‘Stupid moron!’ yelled Karina. ‘Why’d I hafta git a sister with a brain that don’t work!’ Dressed in a cotton nightdress, Karina had drifted away between the Tall Men as calm as a sleepy rattlesnake, bare feet floating well above the boards. Ali hadn’t felt at all frightened of the Tall Men. Their spindly, white limbs reminded her of the stark branches of the ghost gums she loved to climb during winter. Kneeling on her bed, she’d pressed her forehead to the window and watched their swift departure – the Tall Men shimmering and Karina’s long, pearly hair reflecting the light of the full moon ‘til they passed over the cow pen in the side paddock. A few moments later they’d vanished over the rise, and then the shiny cone shape flashed away. After that the night went back to being ordinary – besides a curious, lingering smell that reminded her of the smouldering hay-bale that took a lightning strike last winter. She’d waited by the window for the longest time, but nothing else happened, so she slid down between the calico sheets, curled onto her side to face Karina’s empty bed, and cupped a warm palm against her swollen jaw. Unable to chew, she’d only had milk for supper and hadn’t realized ‘til now how hungry she was. Drawing up her knees, Ali hugged her legs to sooth her rumbling stomach. She wondered how far away the Tall Men’s sky-farm was and what type of chores her sister might have to do. In her imagination, all the critters up there were coloured shimmering-silver. Ali sighed and closed her eyes. She’d figured the Tall Men didn’t want stupid morons, but she still fell asleep dreaming her bed was the one left empty. Four months later, Mama was on the veranda fanning herself with a piece of cardboard – her gaze fixed on the far end of the driveway – while Ali played beneath the front steps filling an old pickle jar with her stash of cicada shells. Cicadas were her favourite critters. Last summer she’d been lucky enough to spy a live one on a twig. Mesmerized, she’d watched the casing knife, she carefully split each cake into three, then trimmed the edge off every layer to make each one slightly smaller than the last. Ali watched in awe as Mama began assembling a multi-tiered masterpiece. Once the tiniest layer was in place, she emptied four bags of icing sugar into a clean bowl and swiftly blended in a cup of hot water. After smothering the entire structure with glossy, white icing, she decorated each layer with a row of tiny silver balls, then plunged a stout, silver Christmas candle into the summit. The finished product – a hybrid birthday-wedding cake standing two feet tall if you counted the candle – was carefully set down in the centre of the kitchen table her haunches, Ali listened to the rhythmic slap of damp skin that always came from between Mama’s ample thighs, then scurried back outside to finish filling the pig’s trough. Bundled up inside a brown, woolen blanket, Mama kept watch down the driveway from her wicker 20
chair on the veranda for the rest of the day. Although the cake remained untouched, Ali knew better than to expect a piece after supper that night. Come bed-time, Mama removed the candle and covered the cake with an overturned box. Herding Ali into her bedroom, she flicked off the light and slammed her door so hard the windowpane rattled. Ali dropped down to peek through the crack under twhere the chill winter air quickly hardened the viscous icing. Mama wiped her nose on the sleeve of her jumper, took two steps back, and folded her arms. Scrambling to her feet for a better view, Ali drew in a sharp breath and pointed at the cake. Mama had made a replica of the shiny cone Karina had left in. ‘K-rrrrina!’ she announced, and began jumping on the spot and flapping her hands. Mama’s eyes narrowed. ‘Damn right it’s Karina’s. An’ so help me God, if I catch ya anywhere near ‘er cake, girl, you’ll git ya father’s belt ‘round ya stupid legs,’ she snarled, and marched off toward the front door. Dropping back down onto split open and a new, pale body emerge to unfurl its gossamer wings and begin its shrill call. ‘Mark me words, girl,’ said Mama from her wicker chair above Ali’s head. Ali froze. Mama never spoke to her unless she was in trouble. ‘Karina’s gonna show up one day soon with a belly full’a baby an’ some pimple-face farm hand in tow. Clever little thing’s comin’ back awright. Jist a matter’a time.’ Ali wasn’t sure what she was meant to do, so she climbed to the top step on all fours and held her jar up like a prize. ‘Carrr-da,’ she said, and let her tongue play over her chin. Mama peered into her dull, green eyes and gave her a look that said the wrong daughter went away. From the far end of the driveway came the squeal of the postman’s dusty brakes. As well as carting water to the animals and mucking out the cow shed and pig pen each day, it was Ali’s job to collect the mail. This morning she skipped the entire three hundred yards barefoot over the rough, brown stones with her precious jar clamped to her chest. Every day Mama expected the cow-shaped letterbox to contain a letter from Karina, but Ali could only imagine such a letter falling from the sky – and then only if the Tall Men happened to be zooming past directly above their farmhouse and if her favourite wedge-tailed eagle didn’t swoop down and snatch the letter in his talons and fly back to his nest of sticks in the high fork of the tree across the gully. Finding the letterbox empty, she checked the sky for shiny cones and eagles but didn’t see any. While Mama was busy shelling giant broad beans and keeping watch down the driveway, Ali moseyed around to the back door and slipped inside to hide her jar at the bottom of her wardrobe alongside the small torch Gran had given her. Later that night, like so many nights following Karina’s sudden departure that summer, she would be free to line her cicada shells up along the narrow windowsill and admire each filmy, brittle shell. It was the morning of Karina’s sixteenth birthday, and the dead of winter. Ali was outside puffing white breath and lugging pails of water to the pig’s trough when she heard a sudden unholy racket coming from the house. She scurried inside to find Mama in the kitchen on her knees with her head deep inside one of the cupboards, all manner of pots and jam tins and baking dishes being tossed out across the hardwood floor. Ali thrust her freezing hands into her overcoat pockets and crouched, wide-eyed, in the doorway. After producing a nest of round, aluminum cake tins, Mama set about measuring, sifting, mixing, cracking eggs, beating and beating ‘til her face was red, then finally dividing the thick, yellow batter into five tins. While the cakes were baking, she cleared the mess and washed the dishes. A sweet, vanilla smell filled the house, and Ali stuck out her watery tongue hoping to catch some flavour. With the tins cool, Mama covered her largest serving plate with tinfoil. Selecting a long, serrated he door. Within seconds, every light in the house was out. Moving quietly inside the moon-lit room she retrieved her torch and jar, then sat cross-legged by the window and unscrewed the lid, eager to make another convoy of delicate shells. Ali loved the hush of night-time. Now and then she’d cup her hands against the window and peer outside. She liked to watch the gums and wattle trees swaying in the wind. Beyond them, the distant hills drew a familiar, black silhouette against the wide, starry sky. Although the land appeared 21
to be sleeping, she knew the bush was alive with fossicking night-critters – dung beetles, termites, and slaters beneath fallen logs; ants, centipedes, and fat, wriggling earthworms, all working to turn the soil. Eventually she grew weary. Packing up her shells, she shimmied down and fell asleep with the jar in the crook of one arm. Around midnight, Ali woke from a dream about a smouldering hay-bale and opened her eyes to see the Tall Men hovering by her bed. When she blinked the scene into focus and realized Karina was suspended between them, a sharp pang speared her belly. Swinging her feet over the side, she hugged her jar and watched helplessly as her sister was lowered onto her bed. Ali saw that she was wearing the very same nightdress and that her shoulders were slouched. When she recalled how angry Karina could get she began to tremble. The Tall Men immediately turned toward Ali, each extending a stringy, iridescent arm. Without hesitation, she set the jar down beside her, stood, and reached out with both hands. A ticklish tremor as faint as butterfly wings ran up her arms and she felt herself relax. As her toes left the floorboards she felt a strange pressure – like a warm rubber ring – encircle her ankles. This pressure began rolling upward, over her shins and knees at first, then her thighs, hips, and ribcage. Edging over her shoulders, it continued up over each vertebrae of her neck, the sensation only stopping when it reached the base of her skull. Ali’s head suddenly pitched backward and a protracted, hissing breath escaped her throat. The white noise inside her head grew louder and louder until her eardrums thundered and roared with a sound far worse than any storm she’d ever known. And then, like a cicada breaking free of its shell, the membrane covering her brain split open to reveal a shiny, new mass. When she lifted her head her green eyes were twinkling and her arms were glistening like gossamer wings. ‘Oh, my! Thank-ya! My-oh-my! Did ya hear me say that? I can talk an’ all! Thank-ya!’ she cried, overjoyed to hear all the lovely words she was speaking. ‘Will ya be takin’ me back home? I be a very good girl. Please say ya will.’ When she realised she was already gliding with them toward the door Ali beamed and glanced back over her shoulder to farewell her sister. Karina’s knees were tucked up beneath her nightdress and her bottom jaw was hanging loose. ‘Tell Gran I got me a darn miracle,’ Ali whispered, ‘An’ could ya look after them pretty cicada shells?’ ‘Carrrr-da,’ Karina said.
RESISTING THE DARK by Mercedes Webb-Pullman It’s unrelenting. Even though I know the sun will come again, I fear the night: its alien majestic starry light a siren call, hypnotic ebb and flow attempting to reclaim me. Here below, dark constellations hidden from my sight move closer than the grave to me. They might in passing claim their matter back. I’d go a hundred lifetimes from the one I love with only memories to hold, I’d weep for treasure stolen, simple pleasures lost. Light rain is playing on the roof above a lullaby to soothe me back to sleep. I struggle to resist at any cost.
Ocean Dreams Will Ramirez
THE BOATS OF LAMPEDUSA by Lesley Valdes “In the hold of the earth, ten thousand are drifting” — Derek Walcott 3-11 October 2012 An airport’s as good as anywhere ring the coffins around the baggage claim one hundred ten they brought no luggage Lampeudsa closer to Africa than Italy which claims it who claims them?
Not the last to die escaping ring the donated coffins around the baggage claim the Pope’s ashamed. who throws a child overboard? The island has no hospital the archipelago where sea turtles are protected 3K to cross the 70 miles in flimsy boats the mayor’s ashamed Set Google Alerts for Sicily Syria Eritrea the waves of wrecks of rescues November 2012 Once on an airport escalator I heard the pilgrims’ sing their chorus from Tannhauser lonesome’s lonelier in an airport The prime minister declares a funeral of state he changes his mind no funeral the mayor’s ashamed Europe is drowning She’ll bury them in Lampedusa the pilgrims sing
November 2013 In 1860 the prince they call The Leopard dreads Garibaldi unification sells Lampedusa to the King of Naples Sicilians fear change They like to sleep On Rabbit Beach sea turtles sleep Statistics
it sounds like banking the pope’s ashamed the women of the island
January 2016 Six million how many dead? How many free in squalor? A port’s as good as anywhere to fasten borders seaport depot Europe is screaming a tent’s as good as they will get blankets a biscuit no water In Syria we are a good people I’m a white shirt man who’s listening?
HOLOCAUST (ANOTHER UNSUNG SONG) Hear the horror, let it ring Man’s inhumanity to man does sing A screeching wail from far below A darkness devastates the soul Silence bears the heavy load If words could speak , they might be said But horror halts the hearts that bled For shredded babies did abound Silent screams alone did sound A holocaust of terror crowned Hear the horror, let it ring Man’s inhumanity to man does sing Loathe with tales from deep within Of choices that did not begin Of ragged bodies cold and grim A baby brother bathed in blood Shattered by the bullets flood As he raced terror through the night And sister huddled from the might Of evil’s rampage and delight Here’s the horror, let it ring Man’s inhumanity to man does sing Of newborn hopes so quickly drowned Of bundled babies dead and gone While rabid wolves run round and round A murdered child , a family “saved” Both dead in a different grave An untold story met with scorn A family’s heart bereft and torn A mother’s grief that can’t be mourned
by Marsha Hood Hear the horror, let it ring Man’s inhumanity to man does sing Of brutal tales and unheard woes Slaughtered masses take their toll Does evil reap the hell it sows? Sing it clear and sing it loud Man’s inhumanity to man does shroud The threads of hope that wear so thin The courage gasping from within The magnitude of savage sins Sing it loud and sing it clear Man’s inhumanity to man lurks near Shout it out; least we forget The tears of shattered souls unmet The hell of those who suffer yet Hear the horror let it ring Man’s inhumanity to man does sing A screeching wail from far below A darkness devastates the soul Keep silence from the heavy load
Index Lauren Findlay
I CAN ONLY TELL THIS ONCE by Gail Ansel
I can only tell this once, it needs to remain improbable, unsaid, unreported. The girl and her older sister told me. I wasn’t their regular babysitter, just a substitute home early from college. We sat on their living room floor, in front of the darkened console television, a looming wood cabinet with a round screen in the center. The girls on either side of me. They were in their pajamas, the younger one held my hand. Her feet bare. It was still daylight, summertime. They’d finished playing hairdresser with my long hair; two ponytails clasped behind my ears with purple ribbons. “In the woods, out back,” her older sister said. “He brought me there,” the girl said. She looked straight at me. “He said I could play with him.” And then she smiled, her skinny shoulders lifted, she covered her mouth with her hands. She was six years old. My brother was twelve. He had always been tall for his age, stocky. Her older sister said, “They came out of the woods, in back of our swings. He held her wrist. Her shorts were backwards.” “Yeah,” the girl said. Unblinking. Her sister talked fast, the girl adding a detail now and then, nodding her head, sucking on her middle finger. I watched our reflection in the blank television screen, underwater fish. They said my brother didn’t hang out with them much, that he mostly played basketball with the boys in the street two houses down. There were six McGrath kids, all girls, Irish twins arriving year after year. The older one had been playing with her Barbie in the shade of the metal slide when she saw them. “He told me, ‘We were in the jungle. We escaped the tiger,’” she said, jogging her legs up and down on the wood floor. She told me the six-year-old ran to her and sat in her lap. And then they played Barbies, the younger girl said. My brother left to play basketball. The older sister said, “he’s such a loser, right?” her face turned to me. I couldn’t say a word, but, “right.” And then, “when did this happen?” “Um, in the spring. We were in school still,” they said. I thought that’s a while ago. What if they’re making this up? The girl put her head on my arm. The older sister said, “Oh! Can we watch one show before bed?” She waited for my answer. We pulled the TV guide insert from the newspaper, and they chose “Gilligan’s Island.” I’d seen the re-run a million times, the one where Gilligan gets caught in the rope net they’d set to catch bad guys on the island, but I laughed with them anyway. Sitting on the couch side by side. The younger one swept her cheek with the end of my ponytail, back and forth. The roaring in my ears sounded like a scream. I thought of my brother at eight years old, disgusting my high school boyfriend with a rank sexual comment about my sister and me. So foul my boyfriend couldn’t repeat it. I thought of my brother’s tight full body hugs, his hand stroking my hair. After Gilligan ended, they trooped upstairs with me and brushed their teeth with color-coded brushes, taken from the ceramic holder tiled onto the wall, purple for the girl, dark blue for her older sister. Good girls. I hovered on the ceiling, watching us move in slow motion. Brush, rinse, spit. We whispered so not to wake the little ones, tiptoeing into their room. I tucked their summer blankets around them. They both slept with baby-dolls, cheek to cheek. I left the door ajar in the roaring silence. I crept back down the stairs 29
and sat on the bottom carpeted step, looking out the front screen door onto their driveway. The day turned dark. Boys down the street cheered playing basketball. The older sister whispered my name from the top of the stairs. I turned to look up at her, and she said, “it’s a secret.” I whispered, “okay.” She disappeared back around the corner to her room. The mother returned home from shopping with the twelve-year old daughter. The baby, woken, fussed in my arms. Mrs. McGrath took her, handed me exact change in one dollar bills, and retreated up the stairs by the time I’d retrieved my purse from the kitchen. I let myself out. I walked up the slope of their driveway, the neighborhood boys all gone in, the street silent. Our house one street away, at the bottom of a hill, set apart from the neighbors. The windows mostly dark, my sisters were still away at college. My mother had left the front porch light on for me. From the end of the driveway, I saw the compact brown Toyota her boyfriend drove, nosed up to the front of her garage. Her bedroom windows were above the front door. Light leaked from underneath the drawn shades. When I let myself into the house only the nightlight above the kitchen sink was on, so I climbed the stairs, pausing at the top. I heard her low laugh through the door to her room. I stood there, in the dark, lip caught between my teeth, twisting my ponytail around and around my finger.
A VILLANELLE – LIFE AT MY FAILING SCHOOL by Shawnta S. Barnes Staff, students, and families just passing through— trying to hold out during the bad weather. That is how life subsists at my failing school. Society blames parents – say, “They’re lazy fools.” Could they bear our hardships and not be fettered? They are constant spectators just passing through. Focus is reading and math. Scores must improve. No more science or art; this isn’t clever. Life is monotonous at my failing school. My classmate just enrolled. Now, he just withdrew— switched to charter; they sent a tempting letter. One more transient student just passing through. Principal took a job he couldn’t refuse, job in the ‘burbs. They say, “He’s a go-getter.” He couldn’t endure life at my failing school. Top teachers lose fuel; to us, they say adieu. I don’t know if it will ever get better when so many, so many keep passing through, but that’s how life remains at my failing school.
Blood Laurynas Karmalavicius
BIOGRAPHIES Sneha Sundaram is an engineer, entrepreneur and poet. Her poems have been published in Noctua Review, Yellow Chair Review, Whirlwind, JACLR, Asahi Shimbun, and The Fem among others. Her haiku have been widely commended in the Capoliveri Haiku, 20th Kusamakura International, Polish International, Golden Haiku and other contests. She is currently working on her first book of poetry. You can read more of her work at www.snehasundaram.com. Ed Coletti studied under Robert Creeley in San Francisco (1970-71). Poems appear in The Brooklyn Rail, North American Review, ZYZZYVA, Spillway, Big Bridge, and Kentucky Review. Most recent poetry collection The Problem With Breathing (Edwin Smith Publishing–Little Rock- 2015). Gina Tomaine is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor. Tomaine teaches literature at Saint Joseph’s University and earned her MFA from Emerson College in Boston. She has work forthcoming in Entropy magazine and has been published in The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Crimson and Gray magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Bustle, Complex magazine, Electric City magazine, and Philadelphia magazine, among others. Irving C. Jones( aka Karamo Muchuri Sulieman) is the chair of the Writer’s Union in Philadelphia. One day not too long ago McCollonough Ceili was asked by her American mother to write down all the stories, and other things she new about her life on an primitive island off the coast of Ireland. Those stories became a book called “Noria.” Noria was published in 2009 and since then McCollonough has loved to write stories and poems for souls of all ages. Her dedication to teaching children a love for reading can be found each week in her local paper. C. Z. Heyward is an emerging poet, spoken word artist, and playwright who has been published in a number of literally journals. He counts himself fortunate to have presented his work at the famed Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe in New York City, the National Black Theater in Harlem (NYC), and the ArtLinks Festival in Athens, Greece. Jacqueline Tetrault is an undergraduate student of Gordon College, with a double major in English Language & Literature and Communication Arts. In high school she managed and wrote for Aegis, Beverly High School’s literary journal, the longest-running high school publication in the United States. In her spare time she writes fan fiction and plans future novels, plays, and screenplays. Karen Neuberg’s most recent chapbook is Myself Taking Stage (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared or is for the coming in Gyroscope, Really System, S/tick, and elsewhere. She’s associate editor of the on-line journal First Literary Review East and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Amanda Wochele is a 25-year-old currently living in Philadelphia, PA. She holds a BA in English and literature from Temple University, and an MA in English and American Literature from Brooklyn College. Previously, her work has appeared in A cappella Zoo, Black Lantern Press, Inwood Indiana, and The Wordstock Ten. Amanda’s first chapbook, Jack: tales across an eastern winter, is forthcoming by Finishing Line Press. 33
Faye Turner-Johnson is a retired elementary teacher with an insatiable habit to keep re-inventing herself. She’s been a local television talk show host, actor and theater stage director. In the past, she’s been published in Wordpool Press, The Forum Magazine and Crack the Spine. Currently, she lives in Flint, MI, with her husband, Joseph. Journals publishing Janet McCann’s work include KANSAS QUARTERLY, PARNASSUS, NIMROD, SOU’WESTER, CHRISTIAN CENTURY, CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE, NEW YORK QUARTERLY, TENDRIL, and others. A 1989 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship winner, she has taught at Texas A & M University since 1969. She has co-edited three anthologies with David Craig, ODD ANGLES OF HEAVEN (Shaw, 1994), PLACE OF PASSAGE (Story Line, 2000), and POEMS OF FRANCIS AND CLARE (St. Anthony Messenger, 2004). Most recent poetry collection: THE CRONE AT THE CASINO (Lamar University Press, 2014). She also has co-authored textbooks and written a book on Wallace Stevens (WALLACE STEVENS: THE CELESTIAL POSSIBLE, Twayne, 1996). Gonzalinho da Costa—a pen name—teaches at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Makati City, Philippines. He is a management research and communication consultant. A lover of world literature, he has completed three humanities degrees and writes poetry as a hobby. Stories by Maggie Veness have appeared in several countries, in a range of eclectic literary journals and anthologies, including SLICE, Nazar, Bravado, Gem Street, Crime Spree, Skive, Best Lesbian Erotica, The Maynard, Adanna, Litro, and many others. When she’s not writing or reading she’s madly cycling so she can continue to eat chocolate and drink red wine. Preferring the tactile experience of a bound book over reading on a device, the majority of Maggie’s work has been print published. She lives in a seaside town in northern NSW, Australia. Mercedes Webb-Pullman: Graduated from Victoria University Wellington with MA in Creative Writing 2011. Her poems and prose have appeared in Turbine, 4th Floor, Swamp, Reconfigurations, The Electronic Bridge, Otoliths, Connotations, The Red Room, Typewriter, and Cliterature, among others, and in her books. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. Lesley Valdes is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Her works have been published in American Poetry Review, Philadelphia Poets, Schuylkill Valley Review. MuseHouse Journal and Shadowgraph. Former classical music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Jose Mercury News and WRTI, 90. 1 FM, her articles have also appeared in the New York Times and Wall St. Journal. Marsha Hood is a psychotherapist, advocate, mother and grandmother. She dabbled in writing ( poetry, song, and narrative) as an adolescent in search of her “voice”. While she has written much since then, she has only recently submitted any works for publication. Her poem, “Owed to the IRS”, a brief balance between “truth” and humor, won a national contest on NPR . Marsha has a private practice in Rehoboth, MA where she lives with her dog, cats, horse and donkey. She often integrates pets and nature into her work and also employs writing, art, and music to foster expression, empowerment, playfulness, and healing.
Gail Ansel is a recent graduate of the Stanford Novel Writing Certificate program. She has completed her first novel about two sisters grappling over pregnancy after rape. Her short fiction was a finalist for a 2015 Whispering Prairie Press award. Shawnta S. Barnes is a literacy coach in Indianapolis Public Schools, an adjunct instructor at Indiana University, Purdue University, Indianapolis School of Education and a 2016-2017 Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow. Michelle Simpson is a Canadian illustrator and graphic designer. She graduated from Sheridan college with a BAA in illustration and has been working in the field since. In her spare time she likes to go on nature adventures and sell her work in her etsy store. For more of her work visit michellescribbles.com or shop at michiscribbles.etsy.com Will Ramirez is a recent graduate from The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY. Heâ€™s currently living in Brooklyn as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. He loves cats, day dreaming, and a good cup of coffee. View more of his work at willramirez.us and follow him on instagram @willramirez.us to get an inside view on his projects and process! You can also visit his etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/deliriousdays for some sweet merch!