The William & Mary Review Vol. 60

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The William & Mary Review

Spring 2022 ・Volume 60



The William and Mary Review Volume 60 2022

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Staff Editor-in-Chief

Sarah Larimer

Prose Editor

William Brake

Poetry Editor

Pelumi Sholagbade

Art Editor

Astrid Weisend

Prose Staff

Taylor Yamaguchi Paola Barraza Britney Price Daniella Marx Katie Morris Klara Smith Woojin Yoon

Poetry Staff

Anwesha Satapathy Mia Carboni Rachel Rofman

Art Staff

Danielle Seay Max Vogel Miles Piontek Rachel Rofman Sophie Piyis

The William & Mary Review (ISSN: 0043-5600) is published by The College of William and Mary in Virginia (est. 1693) once each academic year. A single, post-paid issue is $5.50. A surcharge of $1.50 applies for subscriptions mailed outside of the United States of America. The William & Mary Review publishes poetry, prose, and visual art. Please find submission guidelines on our website: www.wmreview.org.

COPYRIGHT 2021

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Editor’s Note At last— a normal publication year! After deferring the printing of our 2020 edition 6 months because of COVID-19 and holding all virtual meetings last year, it has been absolutely amazing to get back into the normal swing of things. This year, we added over 10 new members to our boards! I have loved seeing the insight, thoughtfulness, and passion that each one of them brings to the table. I am constantly learning from them at every meeting and I am beyond excited to see how the magazine will thrive under their leadership. This year we received a record number of submissions for every category. The work reflected here speaks to relationships, violence, family, and love. Our artwork spans from digital to traditional, our poetry thoughtful and intentional. The scope of work included in this edition is breathtaking and I am so happy to get to share it. As I finish up my term as Editor, I have nothing but gratitude for all that this publication has given me over the past three years. I came into the magazine as a general Prose Board member and then had the privilege of serving as Editor for these past two years. Thank you to both our amazing contributors as well as the incredible staff for making this magazine possible. Please enjoy Vol. 60 of the William & Mary Review! Sarah Larimer Editor-in-Chief

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Table of Contents The Metaphysical Swing JAY UDALL

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poem

Fusca Red GUILHERME BERGAMINI

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art

Georgia Sonnet with Unfinished Business JESSICA DIONNE

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poem

Sirena’s Gallery CHRISTINE SLOAN STODDARD

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art

Mother ADRIENNE PINE

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prose

Sirena’s Gallery CHRISTINE SLOAN STODDARD

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art

The capacity for love LILIA MARIE ELLIS

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poem

Waves FRANCESCA LEADER

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prose

Cracked Earth DAVID GOODRUM

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art

Crashlanded WILLY CONLEY

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art

AJAX JOSHUA KULSETH

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poem

Art by Anthony Afairo Nze ANTHONY AFAIRO NZE

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art


SCRABBLE WITH THE SON OF MAN CARL BOON

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poem

My Forefathers Were Rockstars But I Bring That Punk Shit MARK WILSON

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art

Remembering Dave TOM WADE

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prose

1132 MATT GOLD

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art

Plausible Denial EDWARD MICHAEL SUPRANOWICZ

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art

DEUS ABSONDITUS ERIK REECE

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poem

Chartre MARCY RAE HENRY

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art

Olive Green DEVON BROCK

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poem

Tucan Detective IGOR ZUSEV

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art

Forecast for Chicago AIDEN BAKER

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prose

ENDING THE POEMS 4 CASEY FULLER

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poem

In the Garden of my Chinese Dreams BARBRA CANDIOTTI

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art

Paris Photography ROGER CAMP

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art

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Bridal Lipstick ELISSA OSTROM

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prose

Dreams Unwind MEGAN TRESCA

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art

Fairytales Revised During Ultrasound AMANDA HARTZELL

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poem

Psychological Carnival MEGAN TRESCA

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art

Landscape K. CARLTON JOHNSON

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art

I want! I want! AJAY SAWANT

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poem

I Love You. Calm Down. DOMINIC BLEWETT

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prose

Deadheading HAILLE MACLEOD

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art

Drowning our Beloveds JOE BAUMANN

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prose

Simple Elegance JAMES WARNER

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art

How to be a Poet Mother HEATHER TINNARO

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poem

Refiloe LORI MCELRATH-ESLICK

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art

Rainy Day K. CARLTON JOHNSON

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art

Dreamy Cat RAYMOND CHEN

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art


Cat Sitter LESLIE HINSON

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prose

Untitled BESPY BOUTRIS

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art

Paris Photo ROGER CAMP

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art

Art by Anthony Afairo Nze ANTHONY AFAIRO NZE

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art

Grafenwerth’s Totem MATTEO SANTACROCE

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art

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The Metaphysical Swing Set By Jay Udall Arcing up from under as if riding the rims of great wheels as they turn away from turning earth, three boys kick, dig, and thrust into pellucid blue to where the chains stretch to fullest length, then go slack a long moment before the thump, the plunging back. I’m gonna touch the sky! one boy shouts on the rise. You can’t, says another, falling to rise again and fall. You can never reach it, no matter how hard you try. Somewhere in between, the third boy says We’re in the sky right now


Fusca Red By Guilherme Bergamini

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Georgia Sonnet with Unfinished Business By Jessica Dionne In the movies, when creatures start running en masse you should follow, right before flames or flood start lapping at your bootheels. So where are we running? Red towns, you thought of as summer rusting. A house the color of an aged aunt’s face—cracks in the paint. Tobacco field driven through in Augusta, a dusty mouth of tongues. Sometimes, a marsh hare fleeing south is just a rabbit running, but who can bet on that? Sugar incisors you trace in a booth at the diner, right before midnight or just past. Thick-bound menus spell a gospel of more, and the scraps on our plates make a tithing of grease. Are you there, Diner God, it’s me, mourning. How long do you think syrup will stick in our cheeks, can molasses last past state lines? While we speed through swamp hours we guess at what else could be broken, but time?


Sirena’s Gallery By Christine Sloan Stoddard

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Mother By Adrienne Pine My mother died in the early minutes of March 21, 2012, just as spring was coming to its fullest expression in Birmingham, Alabama, the city where she was born, married, and had her children, and where she had lived her entire life. The foliage was a promising shade of bright green. The suburban lawns were visions lined with banks of azaleas in full bloom. The year was still young; as yet, the sun’s heat had no weight to it. On March 9, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. How long she had had the bone cancer, her doctor would not suppose. What was known was that the bone cancer was a metastasis from breast cancer she had survived fourteen years ago. For the past twelve years, she had been cancer-free, but, as it was explained, breast cancer is sneaky and insidious and doesn’t give up easily. The doctor giving her the diagnosis stressed the positive aspects: the cancer had not spread beyond the bones, and with chemotherapy, she might live a few more years, although she would likely be confined to a wheelchair. If this was meant to be the silver lining, my mother didn’t see it that way. She confided her true state of mind to her rabbi. “Rabbi, I know I’m dying,” she said to him when he visited her in the hospital. “We’re all dying,” he replied. “No, I know I am dying soon,” she said, “and it’s all right.” He told us this after the funeral, at the shiva minyan. *

*

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As I drove along the roads of my childhood, it occurred to me that my mother’s youth had been the best season of her life. Everything afterwards was a disappointment. And she had never really gotten over it.


Inside the woman she became, there was always the popular girl, the belle of the ball, whose life had never fulfilled its promise. Once her wit and repartee had charmed girls and boys alike, and young and old; she was accustomed to being the center of attention, adored and adorned. Long after she married and had children, flirtation lived on in her encounters with tradesmen and repairmen--Stanley at the grocery store, Gus at the gas station--men she saw casually in the course of her errands. She seemed happiest when she was flirting, but I never saw her flirt with my father. Nothing so lighthearted existed between them. Instead there was a furious passion that erupted in explosions and battles. It is one morning at breakfast, and I am three or four years old. I don’t know what started their argument, but Daddy wants to leave for work, and Mama is angry and threatening to pour coffee on him. He is angry, too, and taunts her that she won’t dare do it. “Don’t you believe it,” she cries, grabbing the coffeepot from the stove. She flings a fountain of hot coffee that reaches him as he tries to escape out the front door, splashing all over his good suit. He screams, and she flees back inside. Furious, he stomps up the stairs and inside the house to change, cursing her but avoiding her. His suit is stained the color of dirt, the color of excrement. That stain endures—dirty, shameful, coloring our family life for years to come. So much unhappiness and disappointment. And so little tolerance and affection. Long before my parents met, something had happened to each of them that left them damaged. Neither was emotionally whole enough to love in an unstinting and generous way. Their connections to each other and their children were based on transactions. “I’ll do

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this for you, if you do that for me.” Nothing was free, and everything had its price. This was how they related to each other, and it was how they treated their children as well. Mom tyrannized over us because she could dominate us. The home was the only sphere in which she was powerful. Every morning Dad escaped into the practice of law. It was a place where he had reason and justice on his side, and she didn’t exist. Only within her family was she all-powerful. My parents fought constantly about money. There was never enough. Because my mother had no way of earning money and no intention of trying, she intensified the pressure on my father. He’d left a law firm where he was unhappy to go out on his own and struggled for years as a single practitioner before he was successful. But even after success came, the obsession with money continued. It was more than a need for money that they expressed. They thought about money constantly, how to get it, how to hoard it, how to save it from anyone else spending it. My parents let their lust for money control their lives. The conclusion was that money was worth more than we were. We were constantly being reminded that they couldn’t afford us, but they were stuck with us. They calculated each expenditure, and it was up to us to prove we were worth every cent they grudgingly spent on us. In her battles with our father, my mother pressured us to take sides, and woe befell us if we didn’t select hers. We grew up afraid of her temper and her outbursts. “What if Mom gets mad?” we would worry, and by “mad,” we meant her screaming until the veins stood out on her neck, and her vocal cords sounded as if they were stripped raw. In her rages, she hit us, and she tore up our rooms. Once, when I was a teenager, she picked up a heavy pair of ceramic mushrooms that sat on the coffee table and hurled them at my head. I ducked instinctively, and when the mushrooms exploded against the wall, shattering into fragments, she screamed that I had broken them.


And in the shadows of her screams was Mimi, trying to find a way to glue the mushrooms back together. Mom did not care how much she inflicted hurt. The harm within her that in turn caused the wish to harm seemed inexhaustible. That she never apologized was like a badge of honor for her, as if an apology were an admission of shameful weakness. She claimed that she hadn’t wanted any of her children, that we were all the results of accidents and mistakes. She told us that she had jumped off the kitchen table, and thrown herself down the stairs, hoping for a miscarriage, but it hadn’t worked. Even though she said this many times, it was hard for us to believe. After all, she took care of us; she hadn’t abandoned us. She shopped and cooked, sewed our clothes, made sure we went to school, and took us to the doctor. She was kindest to us when we were sick, and then she would bring us trays with soft boiled egg scooped out of the shell into an egg cup, to be spooned up with bits of toast, ginger ale with some of the bubbles stirred out, and hot tea and saltines. She loved us best when we were babies, before we had learned to talk or to walk, or express our will, when we were still helplessly dependent. Once we were toddlers, she did not like us so well. She was sure to find something in our behavior to object to. *

*

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At our first therapy session after my mother’s death, my husband said, “It may sound blunt, but I think that your life will be a lot better now that she is gone.” It was hard for me to hear this. It set me apart from other daughters. It was as if I could hear my mother’s voice in my ear accusing me of being hard-hearted and unnatural. She enjoyed reducing me to tears, until I had dissolved into a pool of water, like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz.

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“Everyone thinks you’re a good girl, a smart girl. You’re a sneak, you’ve pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes but mine,” she would yell at me. “I know the real you. You’re a nasty, two-faced little bitch, you’re a selfish fuck who doesn’t give a good goddamn about anyone but herself. You don’t love me, you don’t know how to love. Look at you! I can’t stand the sight of you!” How I sobbed and begged for forgiveness, hoping she would stop. But she remained cold and hard, as ungiving as steel. And I thought what she was saying must be true, because when I searched my heart at those moments, I could find no love for her. Ten years passed, and twenty. This scene was replayed hundreds of times, in countless variations. My mother’s gift for twisting meaning was worse than the cursing and the hitting, because it caused me to doubt myself. When I was younger, the only way I knew how to resist was passively. While she attacked me, I stood stiff and still, my face expressionless, while my mind escaped. I imagined that I was a prisoner in a cell, peering out the bars of a window, turning myself into a bird flying free. When she gripped me violently by the shoulders and shook me so that my teeth rattled in my head, I imagined that I had left my body behind, and I was somewhere else, where I wasn’t being hurt. She knew what I was doing, and it infuriated her. And even though I tried as hard as I could to be a stone that absorbed nothing, I didn’t completely succeed. There was a part of me that took in every word she said and believed it. And in between her rages, my father lectured me that it was my duty to endure whatever she did to me, just as he endured it when she got mad at him. He believed that his forbearance made him morally superior, and he wanted me to be like him. He insisted and then pleaded that I should give in to her. Do it for me, he begged. And so I would agree to give in. And then all the crying that I had repressed, the sadness and the suffering that I had been holding


back with rigid control, would burst out of me, and I would sob, wanting to believe that what he was offering me was comfort. And I would go to my mother, dread in my heart. Time and again, my dread was fulfilled. Despite my father’s promises, my mother interpreted my apology as an opportunity for a further attack. She went for the chink in my armor, and she struck deep. She struck again and again, until I was like the mutilated dragon, writhing at St. Michael’s feet. My father’s claim of the moral high ground went hand in hand with his belief that he commanded an impartial view from this exalted place. He meted out blame. “What do you do that sets her off? She never gets mad at your sisters the way she gets mad at you. Why can’t you learn not to provoke her?” I didn’t want to provoke her. I wanted her to love me, but she didn’t. She constantly found fault. Something I did or said, or something I didn’t do or should have done was always setting her off. Maybe she was right. Maybe deep down I was a bad person, pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. The truth was that I hated my mother, and at the same time I loved her with a painful love. It took me a long time to learn to protect myself. It took distance. It took silence. It took decades. *

*

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At the end of my mother’s life, she stopped battling. In our last conversations, she showed no wish to fight with me. While there were no deathbed confessions or revelations, neither were there accusations or threats. I didn’t know how close to death she was, but she knew, and she kept her own counsel. She never used the word “cancer” in conversation with me. She insisted that it was her chronic fatigue syndrome and her chronic mononucleosis that was causing her problems. I had stopped challenging her years ago. I listened, and I sympathized. 19


In a strange way, illness always brought out the best in my mother. She was long-suffering and heroic. As a patient in the hospital, she made an effort to cooperate. On that floor, she was the nurses’ favorite. She always wanted sympathy, and now it came to her in abundance. But she wasn’t getting better. And the depths to which she was falling took her by surprise. I could hear the shock in the tone of her voice. The pleasures of her life slipped away from her; she could no longer concentrate on reading, or watching television. Eating, walking, going to the bathroom, getting dressed were no longer activities of her daily life. Given this state of things, did she make a conscious decision to die sooner rather than later, in order to avoid the misery that lay ahead of her? Did she will her heart to fail, her lungs to fill with fluid? I wonder what it was like for her in those final moments, alone in the hospital room. I admire her courage, and I love her for not fighting the inevitable. If I were in her place, I would prefer it her way.


Sirena’s Gallery By Christine Sloan Stoddard

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The capacity for love By Lilia Marie Ellis my vibrant hurt; years ordained, month by month and day by day, for tears; to leave behind the worlding husk of pain; to bloodlet it right into wind; ominous, sinking tidewise; (why did it take so much loss to stop grieving;) the solidity which held me back, rewelcoming me; its lush and thorny arms against the sand, sweetsummering; I've stumbled; somehow; into loving life; vespers, whisked and oranging; (joy is such a sharp thing joy is so dauntingly beautiful); and the waves, their loveful crashing; under no obligation to always be something; here alone, up to myself in sorrow and happy tears; I am certain in spite of everything I love more than I ever have;


Waves By Francesca Leader My In-Laws’ summer house is two thousand and eighty-two steps from the Marmara sea. The kids count as we walk, sandals slapping, zig-zagging the landmines of rotting figs and dog turds. Three summers ago, we only had Sibel and Erol. Now there’s Beril, the last one, fat-thighed anchor around my waist. We gave them names that work in both Turkish and English. Names designed to ferry them safely between their father’s culture and mine. At the beach, we find cigarette butts. Bottle caps. Glass shards. A dirty diaper, plump with disdain, wedged between stone wall and trash can. Making the best of things, I find a clean patch wide enough to set up the chaise lounge, spread the towels and toys out, and warn the kids not to dig too deep. Little Beril stays near, content as a monk in a garden, scraping her shovel, filling her bucket with ancient rock glitter. Sibel and Erol run screeching toward the water. They hobble at the edge where pebbles collect, harder to walk on. As you go out farther, the sand takes over again. It stays shallow a while. You can wade almost to the end of the pier. Then it drops off, with a corresponding plunge in temperature, and you know the ocean’s touched you. This is where they turn back, call out to me. When (if) Orhan shows up, he’ll make them swim. He’ll carry one on his back, pull the others by their arms, far out into the cold, scary part. He knows the resting points—boulders and sandbars breaking the deep where they can pause when they get tired, shout and wave at each other across a blue-black expanse. I can see them again, the way they were three years ago. The ideal children Orhan imagined we’d have. Before they began to defy and deceive, to push for selfhood. Before he retaliated by raising the branch of his love too high, and taught them to fight for it. I was seven months pregnant with Beril on our last visit. Erol was two and couldn’t swim, but didn’t know it. I kept pulling him 23


back, and he kept toddling into the water, eyes wide, mouth open, and stood there, wobbling in ecstasy as the waves crashed into him. Sibel, who was four, forgot I existed, calling “Daddy, Daddy!” all day long, begging him to take her back out into the deep. The kids adored him that summer. I watched them with my hand on the calm waters of my womb, reassured that I’d made the right choice. That one more baby would make Orhan—and, thereby, all of us—happy. I imagine him back at the house now, enjoying a leisurely breakfast with his mother waiting on him as she did until he moved abroad for college, wife and children (shooed off to the beach) waiting for him. Perhaps for the moment, at least, Orhan is satisfied, reliving the ease of his youth. The waves bear flotillas of jellyfish the color and size of lychee fruit, harmless unless you grab them, and a few that are huge and lightning-charged as the lost contact lenses of Zeus. The kids shriek whenever something in the water brushes them. They come crying they’ve been stung, but no marks. I say it must’ve been seaweed. Look back at the sweat-dampened page of the book I’ve been pretending to read as a way of being alone inside myself. It’s almost ten and getting hot. But a discovery, at last, draws me out: dozens of hermit crabs, in shells like severed ice cream cone tips. We capture as many as we can, put them in a bucket filled with seawater, kelp, a little sand-scape. They put out claws and feelers, start to get the gist. Then they panic, scurrying around the perimeter of the bucket, getting nowhere. Each kid picks a crab and says I’m this one. We watch them battle. First Sibel’s crab is winning; then Erol’s crab. “That’s you, Mommy!” says Sibel. She means a small, harried one with a hanging leg. Wounded, but still going. We all know which one’s Daddy—the big bully, emboldened by an extra-large shell. Long after the kids have moved on, redirecting their energies to complaint of hunger or thirst or fatigue, I find myself unable to


stop watching the crabs do laps around the bucket, crashing into and running over each other. I think of the thing we all want: escape. “Why does daddy do this?” Sibel furiously flings these words, and herself, into the sand. “I don’t know, sweetheart.” “He’ll be mad if we leave,” says Erol, lip trembling. “No, he’ll understand,” I say. It’s a hope, a lie, a mix of both. Beril alone is unperturbed, still certain of her own perfection. But I’ve seen this before. It can’t last. Dumping the bucket of crabs back into the waves, I see it’s already too late. The big bully crab has subdued all the others, pinching off their legs and eye-stems, dooming them to drift, blind and rudderless, waiting for the pain to end. We take a side street, in case Orhan might finally be on his way. If we ran into him, he’d drag us all right back to the beach, tired or not. Sibel, the fiercest resistor, is small enough yet that he could carry her—and he would, kicking and screaming. Once he got her back to the water he’d say, See, what was all the fuss about? I’d check her later, out of his sight, for bruises. What will I do, I wonder, when the first mark appears, dark as a crushed plum, on my child’s skin? Will it be enough to propel me—frightened, overburdened—into the unknown reaches? I say, “Hold my hand, Erol,” because he needs me to. With Beril on my hip, Sibel out in front, we walk back to the house that’s not ours, each of us preparing, in different ways, for what awaits.

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Cracked Earth By David Goodrum


Crashlanded By Willy Conley

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AJAX By Joshua Kulseth He wasn’t dumb, though when he spoke it was slow and sounded like he was holding fifty pennies in his mouth. He had a face dogs didn’t trust, but men died for him following his mad war cries during football matches, and whenever the kitchen sent up extra pudding. His shield was always where fighting was thickest. You could trust him with violence, and kindness— once in the dorm he held me in his massive arms when nightmares kept me up, screaming in my bunk. No god loved him, but he never missed a service, or skimped on offerings when the collection plate passed over his lap. I can’t say I liked him, but admired his brutal commitment to keeping everything on the surface—if you were lying he always knew, and made sure everyone heard him call you out.


He had fits of schizophrenia, walking back and forth screaming to himself and shaking. It wasn’t his violence that scared me, but his violence in love; how once after laying down his weapons he took me by the throat and growled, if you don’t see people with love, how do you see them? and weeping, threw me on the floor. I still think of him, how he seemed so sure of the truth that sent him wielding fury, wild with killing; and how at other times he got so close I thought he would embrace me, his eyes wet and bewildered

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Art by Anthony Afairo Nze Anthony Afairo Nze


SCRABBLE WITH THE SON OF MAN By Carl Boon and waiting for Him to lay the X usefully and waiting as He unbuttons His robe (zippers a mystery, even to Him), and to distract Him from my potential gleaming OXYMORON, I remark, Sir, You are late with the chrysanthemums this year. But He seems not to care. making easy TAX, telling me the wine’s much better here than in Peru— and He would know and then He says it, actually, I would know as I refill our glasses and wonder about my Y that sits there like a stale saint, one who’s risked nothing and gotten nothing in return. Of course He wins— it’s 576 to 224—and as I clear the glasses I ask Him what happens to the losers, and He winks and says they return the tiles to the box and stick to games of chance.

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My Forefathers Were Rockstars But I Bring That Punk Shit By Mark Wilson


Remembering Dave By Tom Wade I arrived at the small conference room where a committee of selected state and local managers, most of whom I didn’t know, was gathering. The director had invited me to give a planning presentation. A few minutes early, I sat on one of the chairs along the wall. I saw Dave look over his reading glasses in my direction, taking a couple of seconds to scrutinize me. He was a committee member who held the senior staff position in the Division of Public Health. His expression, like that of a stern teacher, manifested disapproval. He asked who I was in a slow, severe voice, implying I must have walked into the wrong meeting. I gave a bumbling reply and said the director asked me to present. Knowing Dave was influential, I tried to hide my distress and hoped someone would distract him. I felt like an interloper. Dave, who was about twenty years my senior, was a chain smoker, displayed a courteous, Southern gentility, and voted Republican during a time when no one else in the South did. His complexion was tawny, his eyes brown, and his face was deeply lined by too much sun in his younger years. Small of stature and deferential, he didn’t exude power and importance, nor did he have a desire to do so. He was a good writer because he was a good thinker—lucid in his assessment of people and events, insightful in his observations. Dave was never insubordinate or argumentative. Yet, his countenance revealed his feelings—when he disagreed, it was apparent. I worked with him for twelve years, had known him for twenty. He had a cautious manner, an example of which was his habit of driving slowly. In his account, he didn’t always crawl along roads and streets. When younger, he went full throttle but accrued a mountain of speeding tickets. It reached the point where he realized the authorities would revoke his license if he got one more. So, he adopted the prudent course.

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He started driving as if a police officer was following him, staying ten miles below the speed limit in his little Corolla. Some of his habits and ideas weren’t to my taste. Besides smoking, he had an unhealthy diet (sausage and biscuit for breakfast, coffee and cigarette for lunch with intermittent outings to a place famous for its chili dogs). He deemed Ronald Reagan a great president and was incensed when a civil rights leader denounced Reagan for his budget cuts and policy positions at a conference we attended. “He was disrespectful of the president,” Dave said. I listened without comment, exasperated by his conservatism. I thought some of his notions quaint but standing up for someone who gutted the services that improved the lives of the poor, many of whom our agency served, irritated me. While flustered, I knew giving my opinion would be useless; he was intractable in his fondness for Reagan. It was one of the rare topics for which raising objections regarding his stance would result in a disapproving glare. A glare that never failed to puncture my confidence. Despite our political differences, he and I were compatible in temperament and gravitated to each other. After a few years, he invited me to assist him on legislative matters, requiring us to meet daily to review bills for the three months the General Assembly was in session. We were in sync in our views of people we worked with, finding the deputy shallow and vindictive, someone we would avoid if possible, and other managers obsequious and self-serving to the extent they were occasionally dishonest. We trusted one another, but his trust in me sometimes went beyond the administrative, encompassing more delicate matters. I recall a morning before the daily meetings and calls had started when Dave had something in his eye that began to torment him as he tried to remove it. Not making progress, he asked me if I could extract the offending speck with his handkerchief. I’m squeamish about eyes, unable to touch my own, let alone those of another person. The intimacy of his request added to my discomfort. I shy away from physical contact,


even with family, afraid it will reveal something undesirable. I gave a glance but could not see the irritant. What I saw made me queasy. The thin red filaments in the sclera and the bulging bag under his eye enclosed by weathered skin made him look timeworn, not venerable. The up-close examination rattled me; gazing at an older face was unpleasant. I had to look away. II The Division of Public Health was a part of a state umbrella agency that housed multiple health and social service units besides administrative support offices, including human resources. One spring day in the early 1980s, two H.R. staffers presented a workforce diversification initiative to our management team, which I had joined a year before. The director, L.M., was determined to build a culture that valued fairness and equality, a receptive backdrop for their project. One presenter was their lead lawyer, a handsome, blond guy in his mid-to-late thirties, and the other was a younger, white woman also a lawyer. They outlined a plan to recruit more Blacks, train staff to be aware of their intolerance, and cultivate underrepresented personnel. But what they offered wasn’t new. Our division focused on a similar endeavor to increase the percentage of non-white employees in supervisory and management positions. During their spiel, we were polite and subdued. While the lawyers were giving their song and dance, the boss’s incomprehensible visage—his features immobile except for the darting eyes—kept us guessing. When the H.R. duo left, we waited in hushed anticipation of the director’s reaction. He broke the silence by letting out a sigh, asking, “What can I say?” He continued, “Nothing is going to happen with those two leading it.” In a show of participatory management, L.M. requested each of us to rate the initiative on a scale of one to five. The outcome was foregone. Two of the “ones” gave thoughtful critiques, finding fault with the “cookie-cutter approach” and questioning the 35


parent organization’s commitment. But almost all the others were less contemplative. I winced as I listened to their disingenuous declarations. They didn’t explain or offer specifics to support their contention the proposal was insufficient. Instead, they spoke in shorthand chunks, “This won’t cut it,” or “They’re missing the point.” In my interactions with this set of naysayers, none were flagrant bigots, though they lived in white neighborhoods and chuckled at jokes based on demeaning stereotypes of Black people. Their replies were “one” or “two.” There was a lone exception. The defector Dave—who ignored L.M.’s body language—gave a “three,” saying in his opinion the H.R. program was well-thought-out and complemented the division’s efforts. He did concede the delivery was uninspiring. Although Dave wasn’t praising the plan, the boss, his eyes narrowing, clearly disagreed with him. Still, I considered siding with Dave. I concurred with his appraisal and found our colleagues’ feigned objectivity distasteful. Mentally racing to attain a modicum of honesty, I tried to find words that would be acceptable to L.M. without dissembling. Yet if I took Dave’s position, several at the table would perceive me as easily fooled at best or close-minded at worst, while the others would think I’m dumb as shit. When it was my turn, I spoke without looking anyone in the eye, my cheeks growing warm as I gave them a “two.” I prized my independence, or so I told myself, but this choice revealed a cravenness that pained me. The rest of the discussion faded away from my consciousness as I searched for something redeemable in my response. III The eighties saw the advent of AIDS, a lethal, rapid, and efficient disease, taking only a few years from infection to death—no stricken person had survived. In those years, one facet of this affliction was as objectionable to the general public as its virulence: Most victims were gay men who contracted AIDS through sex. The common belief (in some quarters unstated) maintained their agonizing deaths were punishment for their


sins. L.M. appointed a task force to survey the legal, medical, and ethical dilemmas and make recommendations. He assigned Dave to be its lead staffer. Before the first task force meeting, Dave introduced himself to its members, shaking hands with infectious disease experts, other agency and legislative representatives, clergy, academic researchers, and advocates. Among the advocates was a gay man who was HIV positive. As with the others, Dave shook his hand. But this act unnerved him. He excused himself and went to the restroom but not for a pit stop. “I washed my hands as soon as I could slip away,” he sheepishly disclosed to me later. “I knew I couldn’t get it, but I couldn’t help myself.” Listening to Dave, I wondered how he had gotten as far as he had in the organization. If I were in his place, I would have kept this anecdote to myself, fearful that folks who heard about it would judge me as not only ignorant but intolerant. Because of Dave’s background, his feelings in this situation didn’t surprise me, but the fact he talked about them did. With his many years in government, I didn’t understand how he could be this naïve. While the task force centered on policy, Dave felt compelled to delve into the human dimensions of HIV and AIDS. He was attuned to individuals, whether making sure he knew in advance my wife’s name so he could engage her in a personal way at a social function or visiting a former co-worker in a nursing home. Dave sought to apprehend what people living with this disease were going through, something about their sentiments and thinking. Consequently, he gravitated to a small group in the division’s AIDS program—the street team. A half dozen or so health educators constituted the street team who frequented settings where those most at risk for becoming infected—gays and drug users—hung out. Compared to their bureaucratic colleagues, they were an odd lot. Several of them came from the populations they were targeting, and they looked the part in 37


faded jeans, sporting nose rings, and adorned with tattoos. They informed Dave about the struggles of HIV-positive clients, friends, and loved ones, the estrangement and rejection infected individuals faced as they navigated a fast track to death. He discovered their suffering intensified because some folks were, for instance, afraid to shake their hands. IV Around two years into my tenure at the division, we moved from Atlanta’s Capitol Hill area to the Midtown neighborhood. The state relocated our offices to an old, eight-story building that had housed federal operations. The sidewalks leading from the broken-asphalt parking lots to our workplace were littered with debris and used hypodermic syringes. The smell of urine permeated entrances to unoccupied structures around our facility. There were incidents of employee harassment and muggings. Adding to the unpleasant environs, every afternoon at about 4:00, male prostitutes lined the narrow street behind our building, getting picked up and dropped off by their cruising customers. By this juncture, Dave had labored for the state for nearly thirty years, and he was respected in the division, though some regarded him as old-school. Yet, in a meeting, I glimpsed how L. M. and certain insiders around him perceived Dave. The director, lamenting the unsavory neighborhood, used Dave as an example of someone cowered by the hustlers and homeless individuals wandering on the sidewalks. “We need to get something done about it. Someone like Dave is afraid to walk to his car,” he said to one of his aides, an ex-college football player who stood six-three, weighed two-twenty, and referred to admins as “girls.” The former linebacker, his left eyebrow raised and speaking out of the side of his mouth, said, “They don’t bother me.” L. M. gave a half-grin. This exchange startled me. I saw Dave daily, and he never conveyed any anxiety about our surroundings. The boss implied Dave was timid and weak, and the aide’s tone bespoke disdain. Unsettled, I supposed it was


Dave’s short, unathletic physique that brought on their condescension; it placed him apart from the tennis players and erstwhile jocks with whom the boss hobnobbed. Despite his open-minded comportment, L.M., who had played basketball in college, sustained a masculine mindset, mirrored in his banter with those closest to him. And then there were Dave’s political leanings, which didn’t jibe with those of the liberal director. I remained quiet, not wanting to take up for someone they disparaged behind his back, lest they treat me the same way. V On a cloudy afternoon, about two months before the decade ended, I got a call from Dave asking me to come to his office. When I walked to his door and looked in, I knew something serious had happened. Sitting in his chair, he was leaning forward slightly, with his elbows on the armrests and hands interlocked. His eyes fixed on me for a moment. Then he said without prelude, “L.M. is dead.” I was stunned. As he gave me the few details he had available, Dave’s downcast face belied his calm voice. L.M. was at an out-of-town conference, and hotel staff discovered his body late morning in his room. The cause of death appeared to be a heart attack. I remember the director saying his mother had a “bad heart,” and he battled high cholesterol despite running and eating a relatively healthy diet. He was not yet sixty. Two days after the funeral, Dave and I were commiserating about our loss when he made an unexpected disclosure. In a raspy voice, he said that not being asked to be a pallbearer by L.M.’s family “was disappointing.” Given his unassuming nature, it took me a minute to appreciate his disappointment was more than minor. His creased brow and steady gaze made plain the snub had hurt him. I understood why. Dave had been the director’s top aide for eighteen years, offering thoughtful and independent counsel. He had devoted himself to L.M.’s success. Unlike many around the boss, he was respectful, and his demeanor was self-effacing. In my eyes, Dave’s honesty was in stark contrast to the fawning of others who worked for the director, myself 39


included. I began thinking of the six men who carried the casket, three of whom I knew well: They were insiders who acted out of self-interest, sycophants whose loyalty was contingent. The family held an image of who should be a pallbearer, and Dave didn’t fit the mold. They were grieving and probably viewed this decision as secondary. Still, their short-sightedness, not recognizing Dave’s faithfulness and integrity, troubled me. (He didn’t bring the subject up again. But my displeasure heightened when I learned that several weeks later, the director’s widow asked Dave to help her figure out her finances—though a doctor, her late husband had little or no savings and no investments. “Her situation is a mess,” he told me. Dave gave his assistance, and drawing on his experience, advised her on steps to take going forward.) VI Two decades ago, I received Dave’s final Christmas card. We had been going to lunch every couple of months, but that enjoyable practice had tapered off, and I had last seen him on a muggy summer day. So, it caught me off-guard to read the letter enclosed with his card saying he had lung cancer and was not expecting to live much longer. In his elegant style, he wrote he had no regrets, had lived a fulfilling life, and was grateful for his family and friends. I was momentarily dazed as if I had been spun around in a hydroplaning car. When I regained my composure, I reread his message. The selfless and straightforward tenor consoled me, which, in retrospect, I’m sure he intended. After the holidays I called him. Though I wanted to speak to him, I was afraid it could get awkward if he wasn’t in a talkative mood and I had to search for something to say. He was getting hospice care and unable to go to lunch, but, on the phone, he sounded at ease, as if we were sitting in a booth at his favorite diner. Because of his candidness, I took for granted (and feared) he would let me know if he was feeling anxious about dying. But nothing of the sort came up. We chatted about the


ordinary—our families, events in the news, his nap schedule—our conversation free of the dread that imminent death often bears. Without putting it in words, he acknowledged his fate. When he hung up, I sensed this was the last time we would talk to each other. Realizing I would not see him again struck me harder than I expected. I felt anguish—deserted and lost—instead of the relief closure brings. He had offered me a reassuring presence I could not replace. Although it would have been out of character and embarrassing to both of us, I wished I had somehow indicated I would miss him. I hadn’t said a proper goodbye. He died a few weeks later. The family gave my name as a contact to the newspaper’s obituary writer, who quoted me: “He was a very knowledgeable administrator and capable manager.” But they didn’t ask me to be a pallbearer. Although it would have been an honor, they made the right decision.

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1132 By Matt Gold


Plausible Denial By Edward Michael Supranowicz

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DEUS ABSONDITUS By Erik Reece Absence is the form God takes in this world. - Simone Weil I always thought that would be a great band name, the Absconding Gods. They would be one of those legendary acts that everybody talks about, but no one has ever actually seen. A band that books no dates, sells no tickets, but has been known to perform in underground ossuaries and abandoned paint factories. Their music would only exist on old cassette tapes that furtive acolytes pass on to the deserving few like samizdat poems from the Polish Resistance. Gods, I tend to think, are like that—haunting, elusive, forever unfound. But who is this Higher Power that always comes wrapped in the gauzy language of faith? Why can’t the incarnation just be this slope covered in twin leaf and toothwort? Or the embryonic tree hiding inside a walnut husk. The interventionist god I keep hearing about seems more like the invention of those who couldn’t live inside uncertainty on this small, far-flung planet. In frustration, I once told a man at a meeting, ‘If your god didn’t save six million Jews, I doubt he cares too much about my drinking problem.’ I’m afraid I prefer a god always hiding in plain sight, a god of twin leaf and toothwort and the walnut tree, a god folded into the selections of some great jukebox in a bright, empty diner on a dark mountain road— a Presence lurking in the one place we forgot to look.


Chartre By Marcy Rae Henry

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Olive Green By Devon Brock Inside, I hang my coat on a peg. Outside, the sky rebuilds itself, reflects on nothing, gathers a cloud, dismantles another. As I left, a cardinal lit on the cherry tree. In her world only the male is red. Red, like cherries, or whatever skin I shed when passing through one door or another.


Tucan Detective By Igor Zusev

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Forecast for Chicago By Aiden Baker The sky became quiet, blue-grey, devoid of all clouds, and the florist didn’t like that one bit. He tightened his coat, adjusted eye-glasses, and settled himself at the counter. How nice, he thought, to spend days this way, sorting, picking, surrounded by petals and stems. Wagner crackled and coughed through stereo speakers while he worked, pruning the tulips. The bell— and November rushed in, blasting plants, ruffling petals. With the air came a woman, a mother, round in the belly. She wandered among the displays. Seeing her, swelling, full in that way, disgusted the florist. “Do you have any hyacinth?” asked the woman. “No,” he said. “Irises, buttercups, daffodils. We have those.” “I’m looking for hyacinth,” said the woman. “Do you have anything else?” “Here, the dahlia.” The woman looked, but she didn’t want dahlia. She asked, instead, for the tulips. “Are you sure? Hydrangeas are better.” “Just tulips, please.” He didn’t want to sell to her, not this way, and her size—it made him very nervous. Tulips, November. What was she thinking? Maybe she’ll eat them. As he wrapped he thought, that’s it. She’ll go back to her house, her hyacinth room, and snack on the tulips. The woman grabbed the wrappings and made her way out, down the block, not getting far before contractions, rumbling, rippling, slowed her. Into an alley she snuck, laid down, started to breathe. From her came dozens of gold honey bees, buzzing. Glowing, warm, around the mother. She sighed and fed them some flowers.


ENDING THE POEMS 4 By Casey Fuller Did you become less interested in your materials? Less insistent? A dull pencil stilled in your hand, a Bic pen? Did you study the world less? Become less interested? Was the wonder less? Less and less? Could you still hear the honey: the clouds parting at the start of a first line? Did you become blank, a pure static, a ghost-insistence? A screen that lost its signal? Was the page a purer white? Could you no longer see? Did the sentences simply arrow over to the right, overlapping again and again? Was the interplay, that mesh, essentially over? Did you begin to wonder what you should do with the new, massive chambers of my time? A pencil stilled in your hand? A Bic pen? What happened to the materials? Were the questions now evasions? A pillowy fill? Did you feel lost? Stop reading? Did the time seem ready for long thoughts, deliberation, prose? How did you guess and guess where the beautiful words used to fall? Did you go missing? Into a quiet static of former making? Was there a crackle? Did lineation still make an appeal? Or did the direction become less... difficult? Did the white space disappear? An ease emerge? Did a blizzard come in and cover the page? What were you after? You showed up, didn’t you? Diligently?

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In the Garden of my Chinese Dreams By Barbara Candiotti


Paris Photographs By Roger Camp

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Bridal Lipstick By Melissa Ostrom June slapped her sister’s hand away from her veil. “Why do you keep touching me? I hate when you touch me. Touch, touch, touch. How do you like it?” Marie yelped and clamped her hand over her arm. June scowled at herself in the mirror. “Shit. I chewed it off again. Lipstick. Where’s the lipstick?” Without glancing away from the mirror, she thrust out a hand and snapped her fingers. “Rosie.” Her youngest sister scurried over to the makeup, clutching the violet skirt of her bridesmaid dress up by her knees. She flitted back to the mirror, holding out the tube. June reapplied the red and puckered, then smiled at herself, ran her tongue over her teeth, and capped the lipstick decisively. “I’m going to need this.” “Well, they don’t make wedding gowns with pockets,” her older sister Rita sighed. “Just carry your purse,” Marie suggested sulkily. June turned. “My purse. My completely unmatching, too-big purse. God, you’re annoying. Sometimes I want to kill you. Hurl you out the window. Get over here, so I can hurt you again.” She cut off Marie’s whine with a growl, whirled around, and went back to considering herself in the mirror. Her glare disappeared. “Hey. How’s this?” She tucked the lipstick into her cleavage. “Can you see it?” She turned to her sisters, who shook their heads. “What about now?” She bent forward. They reluctantly nodded, and Rita admitted, “It looks like you have a little penis hiding in there.” June ducked her head to study the rounded tip of the tube and burst out laughing. Her laughter infected her sisters, even Marie, and for a moment, June’s old bedroom in her parents’ house, this room they’d camped out in the night before, this room June once shared with Rita, rang with four variations of the same laugh. Somewhere downstairs came Mom’s exasperated, “Now, girls, really,” a refrain which failed, as it had always failed, to subdue them and only fed the laughter. With


gasping glee, Rosie suggested they call the lipstick Tiny Tony. This increased their mirth. June noticed the time on the alarm clock. “Shit! It’s almost five.” Her grin faded. She dabbed at her eyes, gave her appearance one last fierce look, and poked the lipstick a little deeper down between her breasts. “Weddings”—she indicated her matching heels with an imperious wave—“are bullshit, if you really think about them.” Rita agreed with a hum and checked the sides of her French twist in the dresser mirror. “Hurry up, girls,” Mom called up the stairs. Rosie set the shoes by the mirror, and June wiggled her feet into them, then demanded, “How do I look?” “Like a knockout,” Rosie said admiringly. “Stunning.” Rita grabbed her phone off the dresser and took a few pictures of her sister. “Tony won’t know what hit him.” Marie grunted and rubbed her arm. “Thanks,” June muttered. She flicked her veil behind her, cracked her knuckles, and strode out of the room. Her sisters scrambled after her. They left the bedroom door open behind them. They left jeans and t-shirts inside-out and strewn like molted skins. They left blush and mascara and foundation and face powder scattered across the vanity. They left jewelry dangling out of the musical ballerina jewelry box, half-full cans of pop sweating on the bedside tables, and matching lilac sheets and patchwork quilts mangled on the twin maple beds. In the two small closets, they left things they didn’t know they were leaving, school pictures with loving messages from friends neatly written on their backs, plushies of various species of cats, letters from a pen pal in Hong Kong, a horse figurine collection, concert ticket stubs: treasures they’d tucked away and forgotten. They left all this. The late sunshine remained. It bloomed on the screens in round petals of silver. The light forgave the mess, improved the disaster, elevated every crease, twist, and puddle with a dreamy sheen. Below the glowing windows, doors slammed, a car started. The sundrenched room received the clatter and rev and answered with a silence.

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Dreams Unwind By Megan Tresca


Fairytales revised during ultrasound By Amanda Hartzell Don’t let little birds dress you with scraps of cottage fabric smelling like persimmon and cinder and garlic bread. Sweep past mice who chitter in winter walls of the tower desolate and intended for you. Leave pumpkins and macintosh rotting in the garden, overrun and damp with impatient nightfall. When you get your turn, show up barefoot and track mud through the castle. Return to ancient woods where trees devour the night alive and call yourself sequoia, sycamore. Know even in cradle nothing can curse or claim you. Your heart will not beat under stained glass and an ivy siege.

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Psychological Carnival By Megan Tresca


Landscape By K. Carlton Johnson

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I Want! I Want! By Ajay Sawant I want to fit in your eye like pineapple on the squire stick. I want to be— a prey for lure, a mass of pulp, red flesh from clinging twigs. I want to be dirt, the dark monado with coarse of white and purples, a bearer of stars, to be gulped and spit in the bowl from corner. I want to be played swings in mouth and swirl of calling: cherry. Like you mean it: cherry. Blow me around the pole and helixes. Fit into me like a tadpole cry. I want to break the mended vases of gold. I want! I want! to be a cherry in the eye— a year or not seeing sour-sweet dreams of fullness: pitted & pulp.


I Love You. Calm Down. Dominic Blewett Our new knife slid in without a sound. As into warm butter. I’d never acted on this urge before, so I didn’t expect this time to be any different. But to my surprise there it was, up to the hilt in my wife’s side. It didn’t catch on the way in, and except for her sharp intake of breath it was as if nothing had happened. We both looked down. Oh shit, I thought. I lifted my hand off the handle then quickly gripped it again. Neither of us spoke, we who used to talk about everything. I suppose if something needed saying we would be saying it. Isabel began to wail. I looked at the hilt pressing against her and tried to work out how deep it was and what that meant. I saw a diagram, an anatomical model with the dotted outline of a knife poking into it. Was the blade in the liver? The stomach? Had it punctured the spleen? “I’m sorry.” The words sounded odd in the circumstances, insincere. I wondered what else I could say. Her mouth gaped, tested a minor scale. I clamped my hand over it and she quietened. Her breath flowed thick and hot over the backs of my fingers. She glared at me, tears running from the corners of her eyes. “I’m sorry,” I said again. “It must have slipped.” She groaned and I gripped her mouth tighter. “I love you. Calm down,” I said. “Let’s get it out.” Moaning, she shook her head. “It’s OK,” I said. “It’s the only way. I’m sorry.” 59


Up to this point we could have been pretending. As if I was using one of those toy plastic knives where the blade disappears into the handle, and she was playing along. But as I slid out the red dripping blade, it was clearly real. Even so, in spite of this, I thought we’d be fine. I’d stick a plaster on her. We’d finish making dinner and laugh about it later, softly, so as not to re-open old wounds. That afternoon I’d seen Isabel sitting in a café, one of her girlfriends comforting her as she cried. I hid behind a parked van and watched. After some time she pulled herself together and began talking. I could see her face clearly, pale with anger and exhaustion. And though her lips moved silently I was sure I saw them forming words I’d heard before. Words I thought were ours alone, threats reserved for me. I walked home quickly, trying to convince myself that I’d imagined it, that it had nothing to do with me. I felt hot, light, numb around my lips. As the tip emerged and the blood poured out, I realized I’d never hear the end of it, but I didn’t mind. I was about to say something breezy and final, like ‘Well, I’m glad that’s all over and done with’, but for some reason, I plunged the knife back in. She screamed. I kept on going, in and out, in and out. Her mouth made a questioning sound as she fell. I slashed at it and the pitch changed. My own mouth said, “Sorry sorry sorry,” while my head asked, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ A third voice said, ‘Beats me’. At last she sank crooked to the floor with a hiss. Quick dark blood ran from beneath her over the tiles she’d laid last summer.


“Fuck,” I said, and closed my eyes. The potatoes bubbled on the stove. There were far too many now for one person to eat, and this thought alone made me want to cry. When I opened my eyes she was looking right at me, disappointment etched on her face. “You left again,” she said. “Vanished.” She held out a hand, gesturing at the half-sliced glistening meat. “Give me the knife. I’ll finish it.” In relief I flung myself at her. The knife clattered to the floor. I gathered her in my arms and held her body against mine, sobbed into her hair. “It’s OK,” I said, to her, to me. “We’ll get help. We’ll mend.” I squeezed her, desperate for some reply, reached down and placed her arms around my waist, needing them to stay there, to clasp, but each time, stubborn, they fell limply to her sides.

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Deadheading By Haille Macleod


Drowning our Beloveds By Joe Baumann Kevin Clearidge did it first. He took his boyfriend Reece with him on a weekend trip to Clemson, and on their first night there he pushed Reece under the surface of his aunt’s saltwater pool, the liquid a milky green color that smelled reptilian. Reece struggled for a bit, but Kevin was stronger, which is why he was the one to do it. After Reece was floating, arms limp as seaweed at his sides, Kevin pulled him out and resuscitated him just like we’d been taught to: three hard compressions against the sternum, the whispered words with lips close, then the reviving breath with lips touching. Some of us hadn’t been sure it would work, but then at the start of junior year there was something glowing between Kevin and Reece as they walked the halls hand-in-hand, shimmers of light thrown against our scratchy lockers by their shadows. Word on the street was that they got engaged only a month into college, and even though they were on different campuses, their promises to one another endured. Their wedding—they waited until they were twenty-one—was a raucous party. When we saw how good things were going for Kevin and Reece, we all started drowning our beloveds. Kristy Schumacher shoved Becca Willis’s head under the sink in her parents’ master bathroom, though as Becca’s body involuntarily wobbled and resisted, the base of her skull smacked against the faucet and she took an uppercut to the jaw from the clamshell basin. But after the bruising subsided we could all see their love, sparkly in their eyes and glimmering on their lips. The soccer boys who dated cheerleaders pulled off a mass drowning during a weekend float trip, upending the girls in their inner tubes long enough that their legs stopped kicking. Some of the kids in the art club went to the public pool and submerged one another in the kiddie section, making a

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show that frightened a bunch of toddlers in water wings and moms in maternity one-pieces. Our parents pretended to be angry, but they were the ones whose shine swarmed us when they smiled at each other. We had yearned for that since we felt its earliest prickles at homecoming dances and on nights crowded around picnic tables at the frozen custard place. They were the ones who taught us what to do. At first it was scary, seeing our beloveds float without life. Their lips went blue. Their absent breath and the cavernous lack of a heartbeat when we pushed our ears to their chests was startling. But no one panicked, except Kasey Franti, who sobbed, forgetting the words, and had to call an ambulance to resuscitate Bryan Newman. When he came to, he stared at her with horrified wonder and never spoke to her again. Last we heard, Kasey had taken up deep sea fishing somewhere off the coast of Florida, working on her tan and never talking to any of us again. We’re haunted by Kasey just as much as we’re joyed by Kevin. Those of us still seeking our beloveds stay close to water as much as we can, ready to leap in, to shove those we adore under, to watch them writhe and struggle against our palms, the hug of our chests. We will be strong. We will lean in close and say, “I know, I know,” until they are settled and peaceful, and then we will pull them out and whisper, “It is us forever,” and then they will return, and we will live happily ever after, haloed by salt and the lapping noise of waves.


Simple Elegance By James Warner

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HOW TO BE A POET MOTHER for Wendell Berry By Heather Tinnaro Marry someone kind, or not at all If you fail, extract them From your crevasses at godspeed. The things they leave behind Take years to fall away. Keep the children. Always, Keep the children. Find a quiet place to sit down. Wait until the children are asleep Move the collections of their daily thoughts from the small red table to the bookshelf. Spread out your notebook Sit down. Feel the overwhelming pulse The throb of a quiet house, resist the urge To listen at their teenaged doors For the soft sleeping crescendo of breath Miss the drowning crowd of voices Open yourself to the ache Sit down again. Breathe, and try to ignore The fugitive odors of dinner Shoes by the door Put out all the lights but one.


Remember what is holy Write it down. Try to pry the unyielding fingers Of sleep from your eyes. Fail. Fail again tomorrow. Keep your notebooks anyway. Always Keep your notebooks. You will remember, be reminded By a child now grown who casually tells Your new (last) lover “My mother used to be a poet, you know.”

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Refiloe By Lori McElrath-Eslick


Rainy Day By K. Carlton Johnson

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Dreamy Cat By Raymond Chen


The Cat Sitter By Leslie Hinson The cats lived in an apartment in an old building with keys that turned the wrong way in the locks. The apartment door made a clap when it opened and closed, loud enough to scare the cats. It was Christmas evening and the sun had been down for hours. Leigh hadn’t turned on a lamp when she left that morning. The apartment was completely dark. Though the couple had been gone for two days, the air still smelled faintly of curry. Leigh patted the length of the wall until she found the oddly-placed lightswitch. The friendlier of the two cats wove in and out of her legs as she walked to the kitchen. The fridge was covered in holiday cards. It seemed that the couple had only one type of friend: heterosexual, white, and married. Or, maybe that was simply the kind of person who sent cards like this. Their faces beamed off the mass-printed cards, teeth bared in good cheer. Two couples had dogs, two had babies. Leigh looked closer, wondering if she knew any of them, but she didn’t. She didn’t even know the couple that lived here. She was a friend-of-a-friend referral. Leigh was the only person they could find who could (and would) come over twice on Christmas. Leigh had never sent a holiday card. Her parents didn’t do that sort of thing, and while she hoped by now she’d be in a phase of life where a holiday card would be reasonable, the years had ticked by and she still wasn’t. The men on the cards looked the same. Thin hipsters with beards and thick glasses, all dressed in plaid. Different plaids, she’d give them that. The girlfriends or wives wore sweater dresses with suede booties, their hair curled. Oh, how many fights must’ve resulted from these cards. Surely the men had resisted with all their might, threatened by the possibility of being perceived as tamed. How many tears were shed in the planning of these cards, how many 71


men stormed out and returned later, drunk and slurring, maybe breaking a dish and accusing his girlfriend of being poisoned by society? Maybe each one of these pictures was taken in apology, in order to maintain an image of polite, straight monogamy. Leigh had known nothing polite about it. She looked closely at the women’s faces, searching for signs of duress, but found none. The men, too, all smiled with teeth, rather than the steely bro-scowl that most used to distance themselves from anything feminine as if it were the bubonic plague, open sores weeping with contagious, insipid vacuousness. Her eyes settled on one of the guys. The most handsome, at least to her. His name was Benji. Merry Christmas from Benji and Jenn. His smile seemed genuine. Maybe he hadn’t given Jenn hell when she said she wanted to make a card. Maybe he’d even encouraged it because he knew she loved Christmas. When someone mentioned the card, he’d smile and respond, “Jenn loves Christmas.” The truth was, he’d grown to love Christmas too, because he loved seeing Jenn happy. It was that simple. Jenn loved the things she loved, and Benji let her, without so much as a single belittling remark over the years. He found the traditions she shared with him to be grounding, something to mark the otherwise barbarous passing of time. Leigh wished she’d met someone like Benji ten years ago. That’s probably when he and Jenn met, sometime during college. They seemed kind of Christian, though not in an off-putting way. Maybe they’d always assumed they would get married. Maybe their parents were still married. The beaten path was acceptable to them, and they went willingly through the phases of life without boasting about not needing them. At the beginning of their relationship, Jenn had articulated her desires to have a family, and she was not shunned or mocked for it. Benji had no trouble letting her into his life, and he sometimes even shared her image on social media, where he wasn’t


trying to clandestinely uphold the façade of availability for his 350 followers. Leigh found Benji’s Instagram. He only posted a few times a year. Jenn’s birthday was February 2nd. Only an Aquarius would have this type of luck. The picture Benji posted on Jenn’s last birthday showed Jenn smiling in a fake crown, wearing bright red lipstick. Benji hadn’t called the crown frivolous, saying he “didn’t understand when people were into birthdays.” In fact, he’d taken an active role in making Jenn feel special and loved on her birthday. He hadn’t complained that the lipstick reminded him of his mother or accused her of seeking attention. Benji let Jenn enjoy what Jenn enjoyed. Or maybe he did complain, and Jenn was strong and said fuck off, Benji, it’s my birthday and you’re lucky to know me. Leigh caught herself chuckling at that thought. No, no. Benji didn’t act like that. He probably went willingly to dinner parties, and on the way home he didn’t tell her everything she’d said wrong, or go completely silent to let her know she’d taken up his precious time. He just went to the party. Maybe he even helped her prepare whatever dish “they” were bringing to share. Stop it. Don’t make up stories about these strangers. Everyone’s life is sucky. Maybe something truly terrible had happened to them this year, like what if Jenn’s father died? That must’ve been terrible. But Benji was there for her, and he even drove her all the way home to Arkansas or wherever she was from. He’d taken care of everything. He’d arranged for a dog sitter, taken off work. He drove and she rested her head against the cool car window. She hadn’t felt obliged to look better than she felt so he wouldn’t instantly resent her. He’d hugged her mother and sister, and he’d existed as a tangential family member, not the celebrated guest. When he didn’t get attention, he didn’t take out his frustrations on Jenn. He went to the store and bought groceries and filled the gas tank up on his way home. He washed the dishes and didn’t complain

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to Jenn that the TV in the family room was always on. Jenn could float on a cloud of grief that week, because Benji had her back. But even when things were good, Benji did the right thing. Sometimes he got out a globe and spun it, and Jenn would put her finger on it until it stopped, and when it did, they had to decide if they’d ever want to travel there. That’s how they ended up taking their honeymoon to Finland. Jenn had always wanted to see the northern lights, and Benji didn’t tell her that Finland was a ridiculous place to travel, or that he wasn’t very interested in traveling at all, or that he did want to travel, but he’d just rather do it alone. What he did do was find a resort with rooms with glass-domed ceilings so they could see the aurora borealis from bed. Sometimes, when they were both at work, Jenn would forward him an article about a place to go or thing to do, and he’d respond with “let’s do it!” Fucking Jenn had no idea how lucky she was. Their sex was good and frequent. But if Jenn was on her period or in a sad mood, Benji didn’t act like an asshole. He never once accused her of being broken, or tried to talk her into polyamory when she didn’t feel like opening her legs for two weeks after her dad passed away. Once, Benji caught Jenn in the bathroom mirror, tugging up the skin at the sides of her eyes. He’d hugged her and told her that he was excited to see what a beautiful old lady she would become. Jenn was unburdened by societal pressures reigning over her body. She never sat on the floor of her shower while the water ran cold, gripping her small fistful of belly fat and thinking go away go away. Thinking that if this thing were different or this one, that maybe someone would treat her better, or even want her around. Of course not. She already had that. He considered Jenn’s friends to be his friends and would talk with them, and after they left he wouldn’t tell Jenn that their conversation had been boring and hadn’t gone anywhere productive or stimulating for him, insinuating that women never discussed


important topics, or without considering that their more surface-level conversation was maybe the result of his presence. Benji also set the coffee pot to brew every morning. It was just something he did without having – The door to the kitchen popped open. It was Leigh’s boyfriend. “Are you almost done?” The cat was still between her ankles, waiting for the food. Leigh opened the fridge. “Almost done.” Her boyfriend looked at the fridge covered in cards and scowled. “That makes me want to throw up.” Leigh got the can of cat food out, closed the fridge, and turned off the light. “Me too,” she said in the dark.

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Untitled By Despy Boutris


Paris Photographs By Roger Camp

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Art by Anthony Afairo Nze Anthony Afairo Nze


Grafenwerth’s Totem By Matteo Santacroce

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Contributors Aiden Baker is a writer and educator who lives in Berkeley, California. You can find her work in Ninth Letter, Sonora Review, Orca, and elsewhere. Joe Baumann possesses a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he served as the editor-in-chief of Rougarou: an Online Literary Journal and the Southwestern Review. Baumann is the author of Ivory Children: Flash Fictions, and their work has appeared in Passages North, Phantom Drift, Iron Horse Literary Review, and many others. Baumann is the founding editor and editor-in-chief of The Gateway Review: A Journal of Magical Realism. Baumann’s debut novel, I Know You’re Out There Somewhere will be released by Deep Hearts YA in fall 2022. Guilherme Bergamini is a Brazilian reporter, visual artist, and photographer who has been awarded in national and international competitions and has participated in collective exhibitions in 44 countries. For more than two decades, he has developed projects with photography and the various narrative possibilities that art offers. His works dialogue between memory and social political criticism. Bergamini believes in photography as the aesthetic potential and transforming agent of society. Dominic Blewett was born in the UK and now lives in Montreal, where he makes a living as a photographer. His short stories have appeared or are upcoming in Existere Journal of Arts & Literature, Berkeley Fiction Review, the Blue River Review, and The Bitter Oleander, among others. In 2019, his story ‘Easy’ was shortlisted for the Into The Void Fiction Prize. Dominic is currently working on a novel.


Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His writing has appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University. Despy Boutris's work has been published or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Ploughshares, Crazyhorse, AGNI, American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she lives in California and serves as Editor-in-Chief of The West Review. Devon Brock is a line cook and poet living in South Dakota with his wife and dog. His poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review, SPANK the CARP, La Piccioletta Barco and West Trade Journal among others. Roger Camp is the author of three photography books including the award winning Butterflies in Flight, Thames & Hudson, 2002 and Heat, Charta, Milano, 2008. His work has appeared on the covers of numerous journals including The New England Review and Southwest Review. His photographs are represented by the Robin Rice Gallery, NYC. Barbara Candiotti is a former High Tech Worker. She enjoys photography, collage, and writing. Star*Line and Eye to the Telescope have published her poems. Her photography has been accepted by Reservoir Road Literary Review and her digital art has been accepted by Phantom Kangaroo, Zoetic Press, Utopia Science Fiction Magazine, Invisible City, Star*Line, and Evocations Review.

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Raymond Chen is an upcoming Senior at Lord Byng Secondary; his work has appeared in Goats Milk Magazine (for poetry) and Pluvia Literary Magazine (for sculpture and painting) and Academy of the Heart And Mind (for poetry). Willy Conley, a former biomedical photographer, has photos featured in the books Listening Through the Bone, The Deaf Heart, No Walls of Stone, and Deaf World. His most recent book is The World of White Water -- Poems, which features a photo of his on the cover. Conley, born profoundly deaf, is a retired professor and chairperson of Theatre and Dance at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Jessica Dionne is a PhD student at GSU and the production editor of New South. She received her MFA from NC State, and an MA from UNCC. Her chapbook Second-Hand Love Stories is forthcoming from Fjords Press. She was the runner-up in Meridian's 2021 Editors' Prize, and a finalist in Arts and Letters' 2020 Poetry Prize, Iron Horse Literary Magazine's 2020 contest, and Narrative's 2019 30 Below contest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Birdcoat Quarterly, Waccamaw, Hunger Mountain, Raleigh Review, SWWIM, Rust + Moth, Banshee (IE), and Mascara Literary Review (AU). Lilia Marie Ellis (they/she) is a trans writer currently living in the DC area. Their chapbook Love and Endless Love was published by giallo and her work has appeared in publications including The Maine Review. Casey Fuller’s work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, The Portland Review, Crab Creek Review, Two Hawks, and Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence. Fuller has been awarded the Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize and The Floating Bridge Chapbook Award for my small book, A Fort Made of Doors.


Matt Gold is based in Brooklyn, NY, where he divides his time between music and photography. As evidence of the democratizing nature of his approach to photography, Gold has no training in the arts. His first image, a picture of his cat on a Sony Ericsson Z310A flip phone, was taken in 2008, and he has continued to explore the aesthetic possibilities of that instrument. Gold’s work has been featured in numerous publications and journals. David Goodrum lives in Corvallis, Oregon. His photography has been juried into many art festivals in cities such as St. Louis Missouri, Columbus and Cincinnati Ohio, Ann Arbor Michigan, Bloomington and Indianapolis Indiana, and Madison Wisconsin. Amanda Hartzell holds an MFA from Emerson College in Boston. Their work has appeared in New Letters, Breakwater Review, Petrichor Journal, The Knicknackery, West Trade Review, Kestrel, Carve Magazine, and Cathexis Northwest Press among others. My work won the Alexander Patterson Cappon Prize, was nominated for Best of the Net, and my chapbook was a finalist in the Floating Bridge Press poetry competition. Originally from eastern PA, I now live in Seattle with my husband, son, and our dog. Marcy Rae Henry es una Latina de Los Borderlands y parte de la LGBTQ comunidad. Her writing has received a Chicago Community Arts Assistance Grant, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination and first prize in Ember Chasm’s 2021 Novel Excerpt Contest. Her writing and visual art appear in The Columbia Review, carte blanche, Epiphany, The Southern Review, Cauldron Anthology and The Brooklyn Review, among others. DoubleCross Press will publish her chapbook 'We Are Primary Colors' in Spring 2022.

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Leslie Hinson is a Nashville-based writer and editor. She is an MFA student at Sewanee, University of the South. She is a founding member of the Paper State Writing Club and offers editorial services through The Porch, a writing nonprofit. K. Carlton Johnson’s work has appeared in Rattle, Diner, Aji, and many other publications. Poet and artist living on the cusp of Lake Superior Joshua Kulseth earned his BA in English from Clemson University, and his MFA in poetry from Hunter College. He is currently a PhD student in poetry at Texas Tech University. His poems have appeared and are forthcoming in South Carolina’s Best Emerging Poet’s anthology, Cathexis Northwest Press, Pilgrim, Tar River Poetry, Rappahannock Review, The Windhover, and others. His book manuscript, Leaving Troy, was shortlisted for the Cider Press Review Publication Competition. Francesca Leader's parents met at RISD in the 1970's, moved to Montana, and had a child, who reversed their cross-country migration, and is now a self-taught artist and writer living not so far from where her parents were born. She has published fiction in CutBank and Coffin Bell, and has work forthcoming in the J Journal. Haille Macleod is a young artist navigating overstimulation by creating fun, but thought provoking imagery. Using a bright color palette and original designs. Lori McElrath-Eslick’s career started off with a nice job at Hallmark greeting Cards as a full time illustrator. She learned a lot at that job, and now is a freelance artist for children’s books. Her hope is that people will find in my art joy: art education with a story.


Anthony Afairo Nze is an artist and graphic design student from Indianapolis. Most of his work consists of adobe photoshop work and hand drawn illustrations. For more of his work visit him at Afairosgallery on instagram. Melissa Ostrom is the author of The Beloved Wild (Feiwel & Friends, 2018), a Junior Library Guild book and an Amelia Bloomer Award selection, and Unleaving (Feiwel & Friends, 2019). Her short stories have appeared in many journals and been selected for Best Small Fictions 2019, Best Microfiction 2020, Best Small Fictions 2021, and Best Microfiction 2021. She teaches English at Genesee Community College and lives with her husband and children in Holley, New York. Adrienne Pine’s creative nonfiction has appeared in Feminine Collective, Gravel, The Good Life Review, Carte Blanche, You Need to Hear This, and other publications. Erik Reece is the author of five books of nonfiction, including Lost Mountain and Utopia Drive (FSG), and two collections of poetry. Lost Mountain won Columbia University's John B. Oakes Award for Environmental Journalism. His poetry and prose have appeared in Harper's, the Atlantic, Oxford American, Orion, and elsewhere. He teaches writing at the University of Kentucky. Matteo Santacroce is an Italian born emerging visual artist working between London and Milan.The physical exploration of the confines of the canvas support is at the core of their practice. Reflecting such methods and ideas, Grafenwerth's Totem was designed as a sculptural work to be installed in a park of the same name, just a few miles away from Bonn (Germany). The work references the totem as a symbol of union, with the intention of establishing a peaceful coexistence between humans and nature.

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Ajay Sawant serves as poetry editor at Antistrophe Quarterly Review. He studies English at the University of Delhi. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in A&U: America’s Art & Understanding Magazine, Hawai'i Pacific Review, Xavier Review, Modern Poetry in Translation (mpT), The Louisville Review & Fleur-de-Lis Press, Claw and Blossom and Rattle among many others. Ajay often tweets at @ajaycycles Christine Stoddard is a writer, director, and multi-hyphenate artist. She is the founder of Quail Bell Magazine, the author of books such as Heaven Is a Photograph, and the director of the feature film Sirena's Gallery. She was the first-ever artist-in-residence at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in Manhattan. Her work has appeared in Ms. Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, the Portland Review, The Huffington Post, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, The Tulane Review, and elsewhere. Edward Michael Supranowicz is the grandson of Irish and Russian/Ukrainian immigrants. He grew up on a small farm in Appalachia. He has a grad background in painting and printmaking. Some of his artwork has recently or will soon appear in Fish Food, Streetlight, Another Chicago Magazine, The Door Is a Jar, The Phoenix, and other journals. Edward is also a published poet. Heather Tinnaro is currently a freelance writer and grant writer for 613Creative, Inc. Tinarro has been published in Arts Coast and by St. Petersburg College. Tinarro is also a two-time recipient of both the Carolyn Parker Writing Award and the Pinellas Pride Award for Writing.


Megan Tresca is an artist from Rhode Island. She graduated with a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. She then earned a MAT in Art and Design Education from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2018. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Studio Art from the University of Connecticut. Her pieces focus on placing figures within narrative landscapes. Her work acts as an enigmatic scenario; whether it be magical or gruesome. The unknown is enticing and serves as a major catalyst in her paintings. Jay Udall has authored six books of poetry, most recently Because a Fire in Our Heads, winner of the 2017 X.J. Kennedy Prize. His work has appeared in many publications, including North American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, Birmingham Poetry Review, Rattle, and Verse Daily. He lives in northern Virginia with his wife and daughter. Tom Wade is a retired state government employee. He lives in the Atlanta area and volunteers with the American Civil Liberties Union. His essays have appeared in Canyon Voices, Dr. T. J. Eckleburg Review, Lunch Ticket, Inlandia, Harmony Magazine, Rivanna Review, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, 805 Lit+Art, and other publications. James Warner is a mixed media artist. However his passion is creating metal sculptures from recycled materials i.e. copper, brass, bronze and aluminum. He travels and has traveled in every state from California to Maine collecting raw materials, i.e. jade, petrified dinosaur bone and turquoise to make handmade bracelets, rings and necklaces. He has degrees in Criminology, psychology and mechanical engineering

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Mark Wilson was born and raised in Hampton, Virginia. He is a self-taught artist and first-generation entrepreneur.​​Mark's practice is centered on expanding Neo-expressionism in contemporary art . The artist is known for his large abstract paintings, handcrafted streetwear, and sculptures. Each of his pieces will define and redefine the nature of comfort and understanding, challenging the audiences by effectively posing no binary door to the psyche. Every brush stroke commits to unveiling a new dialogue represented through both your mind and places unknown. Igor Zusev is a creator of chaos art. After a lengthy career in tech and AV project management, Igor discovered art as a way to unwind and connect with himself...and it all started with adult coloring books, shortly followed by a gifted paint set. He dove into it with enthusiasm, often scouring thrift stores for elements he could add and experiment with. Igor settled into his unique style of using rollers to paint, and layering cut-outs onto canvas. Sometimes he’ll produce a deeply personal piece, and other times you’ll find him exploring messages he wants to portray in his style.


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