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an online journal of voice

Fall 2018

s
BLAZEVOX[BOOKS]
Buffalo, New York
BlazeVOX 18 | an online journal of voice
Copyright © 2018

Published by BlazeVOX [books]

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without


the publisher’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews.

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition

BlazeVOX [books]
Geoffrey Gatza
131 Euclid Ave
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Editor@blazevox.org

p ublisher of weird little books

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Fall 2018
Table of Contents
Poetry
Aidan Coleman Allan Johnston
Ann Privateerl Brandon McQuade
Christian Woodard Christine Karka
Christopher Barnes Clive Gresswell
David Hawkins Debopriya Bhattacharya
Deborah Saltman Denise Bell
Donato Mancini Emilie Pichot
Ethan Goffman Heller Levinson
J.B. Stone Jeff Bagato
Jen Rouse Joe Milford
Joel Schueler John Grey
John J. Trause JoyAnne O'Donnell
Julio Valentin Juno Probe
Kate Wise Kelsey Ryann Orsini
Linda King Lorna Perez
Margaret Adams Birth Mark Young
Mary Shanley Matthew L. Morris
matthew scott harris Michael J. Grodesky
Michael Starr Mick Raubenheimer
Milton P. Ehrlich Miranda Elise
Ndaba Sibanda Nicholas J.A.
Paige Melin Paul Lojeski
Peake McCarthy RaKhiy elder
Roger Craik Ruth Gooley
Sudha Srivatsan Tori Perry
Fiction
Utopia — Tahseen Reza

Telling an Old Joke is All in the Punch Line — John Lavelle

Spokane River and its Secrets — Nelson Lowhim

I dreamt yesterday that they were killing me


The Forest Path
There She Was / The Garbage Can — J. Carlos Valencia

Mrs. Leeds’ Son — Eleanor Levine

Too Smart — Ewa Mazierska

New Beginnings — Karla G. Orozco

Mountain on Fire — Jake Buckholz

Bubbaloo — Allen X. Davis

Complete Makeover — Cyrus Reddy

Fu Dinxiang — Enzo Scavone

Text Art & Vispo & Experimental Prose


apricot soufflé from the past — hiromi suzuki

Cake Sitter — Caspian Radar

Creative Non-Fiction
Five Dusky Phantoms: Re-reading Moby Dick in Times of Trouble — Barbara Roether

Acta Biographia — Author Biographies


Fall 2018
IntroductionIntroduction
Hello and welcome to the Fall issue of BlazeVOX
18. Presenting fine works of poetry, fiction, text art,
visual poetry and arresting works of creative non-
fiction written by authors from around world. Do
have a look through the links below or browse
through the whole issue in our Scribd embedded
PDF, which you can download for free and take it
with you anywhere on any device. Hurray!

In this issue we seek to avoid answers but rather to


ask questions. With a subtle minimalistic
approach, this issue of BlazeVOX focuses on the
idea of ‘public space’ and more specifically on
spaces where anyone can do anything at any given
moment: the non-private space, the non-privately
owned space, space that is economically
uninteresting. The works collected feature
coincidental, accidental and unexpected
connections, which make it possible to revise
literary history and, even, better, to complement it.

Combining unrelated aspects lead to surprising analogies these pieces appear as dreamlike images in which
fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory
always play a key role. In a search for new methods to ‘read the city’, the texts reference post-colonial theory
as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of
resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

Many of the works are about contact with architecture and basic living elements. Energy (heat, light, water),
space and landscape are examined in less obvious ways and sometimes develop in absurd ways. By creating
situations and breaking the passivity of the spectator, he tries to develop forms that do not follow logical
criteria, but are based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make
new personal associations. These pieces demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and
often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century.
It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’
and ‘civilized’ selves. Enjoy!

Rockets, Geoffrey
an online journal of voice

Fall 2018

s
Fall 2018
Tori Perry

Surrender

Today Harvey Weinstein Surrendered.


Such an apt word.
Implies helplessness, defeat, submission.

The Monster is caged.


At least for now.
His victims, named and unnamed can know that they were heard.
His prey.
His stalked them, assaulted them, shadowed them.
Made them victims every time they took a job, lurking like a sadistic shadow in the nooks and crannies of
their sets. Oozed malevolence into their champagne glasses, distributed films like his crimes, produced
nightmares on repeat.

Rose knew. She spoke. Shaved her head in defiance, took hush money to silence his crimes and poured it
into the shredder.
A Difficult Woman is now called a Brave. She is Brave.
Husk of a person, filled with fire and fervor and the voices of victims.
Fighting. Fighting. Fighting.
Warrior.
She flipped the rock over and showed us the darkness underneath, flipped the light switch on, howled in
defiance.
She refuses to stop. Pushes herself forward, propelled by outrage.
Holds enablers accountable.

Consent is now held up to study.


Powerful men are deflated by their crimes, held accountable.
The predators.
Used their power and influence to force mouths and hands open.
Surrender, Surrender.
Give yourself away.
Know that the unwilling hands you placed on your bodies are now fists, knocking the wind out of your sails.
The eyes that saw the violation of the use of your money and authority are blazing with triumph.

Your time is coming. Look at the roses outside, delicate, soft, feminine.
Remember that roses have thorns.
Accept your crimes.
Submit.
Surrender.
Trunk

The day I was sexually harassed was a calm March afternoon.


Blue skies. 2:30pm. Walmart. Small Town. Texas.
Cars filled the parking lot.
Sunglasses on my face, shopping cart full.
Focused on my task.
Walked quickly to my car. Opened the trunk. Started to put my bags in.

I heard talking. Two men, a few feet away, in a truck opposite me.
Saw them out of the corner of my eye. Saw their phones up in selfie mode.
Finished putting my groceries in the trunk, I pushed my cart ten feet away to the return stall.
The phones were following me.
They were filming me.
Me.
A thirty-four year old mother of two, in a plain black blouse and black pants.

No way. No way they were filming me.


Paranoid.

I walked past the car when I heard them.


Catcalling me. Inviting me to come to their truck.
Telling me they liked the view when I was putting things in my trunk.
Laughing at my shock. Biting their lips. Pantomimed with their hands the things that “I needed.”
Filming me the entire time.

I would like to tell you that I pulled my phone out, took a picture of them and walked inside to report them.
That I called the police and gave them descriptions of my offenders and recited their license plate number.
That my short red hair transformed into real flames that set fire to the bed of their truck, that they poured
out and begged my forgiveness. The black truck a burned shell. Their phones turned to tar in the incinerated
charred remains.

I didn’t.
I got into my car and sat there.
Stared at the steering wheel.
Slowly started my car, backed out, and pulled away.
I did nothing.
I know that I was lucky. They never got out of the truck. It was daytime. They would have had a easy time
grabbing all 5’1 of me and getting away.
My kids were not with me.
My son did not hear the vulgar assault.
My daughter did not watch her mom cry.

I started shaking ten minutes after it happened.


I started crying shortly thereafter.
Called my husband, who cried too.
We were lucky.
It could have been worse.

Now I carry a switchblade with me. Occasionally I wrap my fingers around the handle.
I tuck it into my boots.
Daring anyone to talk to me.
Confident.
I am safer now.
Still.

There is a video of me somewhere.


Blue skies. Late afternoon. Black flats. Cart full of plastic bags.
Just existing.
Splintered

The first time I had suicidal thoughts, they were not really suicidal.
It was not an intent to leave.
I felt as if the floors were tar and that I was sinking into the ground.
There was no fight to claw my way out of the tar.
It clung to me, to my clothes.
Burned the nostrils of people around me, the acrid smell keeping sympathy at bay.
Glazed eyes. Sleepless.
I had no fight left.

I was outside last summer. My pale skin enraged at the audacity of the sun.
Kids running around the spring, laughing. I was struck by how visible my skin was.
Every freckle, every roll and tuck.
Remarked that I would be a terrific junkie. I am transparent. My blue veins like a map. A Vitamin D
deficiency and a white bikini.
Stared at the vast expanses of my thighs, struck by all the new and unseen stretch marks. Horrified.
My husband quietly tells me that those are not stretch marks at all, but veins. I am relieved that my age and
childbearing has not scarred me outside.
My insides have not fared so well.

Depression to me, mind you, this is not the same as being afraid of shadows.
Shadows are comforting. They are soft darkness that clings to us.
I am not afraid of the shadows, the dark corners. The soft recesses.

The second time I had suicidal thoughts it was if a sheet came from behind. Wrapped me.
Hid me.
I was replaced with a splintered outline.
Jagged Lines of yellow decorating pale skin like daggers.
Opened my mouth and locusts filled the room. Curves replaced by hard edges and quills. The pout of my
bottom lip withdrawn. Hands full of dust. Blindly moving my feet forward.

Tornado of a girl. It was too loud everywhere. Winds blinded me. I could not feel the comforting hands on
my shoulders.
Questions. Questions. Questions.
Concern.
I was nearly away.
I was afraid the outline would hide in my attic, under the bed. Would whisper in my ear at night. Would drip
poison into my decorative mug of coffee in the morning.
It might be gone. I’m not sure. I think I locked it away somewhere in a hallway. I’m not sure where the
hallway is. Did you see where I put my keys?

There they are. Next to my coffee cup.


Fall 2018
Tahseen Reza

Utopia

John woke up wide-eyed like he did every day now. Roaring to get the day started. It was 5 am and the sun
was glowing through his high glass windows, softly illuminating his room as if cradling him in its warm
embrace. The temperature was just right at this time of day, not too cool not too hot. But of course, it was
always that now. Dedicated Scientists had finally figured out how to recycle greenhouse gases into
renewable energy that powered the world so that Global Warming wasn't the disastrous issue as it was back
in 2021. The Climate had been stable for 59 years. The sea level didn't rise, no more ice caps melted and our
polar bears were still as jolly as ever. John had just seen a family of them last weekend. They had teleported
to the Artic, him and Matt, albeit a little cheekily but what their parents didn't know didn't hurt them right?
It had taken only half an hour - they had seen the beautiful snow coated creatures playing with their
adorable cubs, rolling around, making odd polar bear snow angels in the snow. John had badly wanted to
join them but Matt had restrained him. Polar bears, after all, were still dangerous but to observe them in
their magnificent glory had been a risk worth taking.

They had teleported back to the Glass Skyscraper Metro Station and had caught hoverboards back to school,
just in time for their morning class with Miss Lilium or Miss Lily for short. She was their botany teacher as
well as the world to Matt. She was beautiful like her name, tall, slender and green with the richest chestnut
hair and the warmest smile. She had Driad blood in her after all. The boys made their way to the
conservatory where their class was all huddled in a group near Miss Lily. John stood up on his tiptoes, trying
to get a look. In Miss Lily's slender pretty hand, stood a plant, its flowers small, a rich-hued burgundy brown,
emitting the pleasantest of smells. Like cake and his mother, it seemed to John. "This is an extremely rare
plant called 'Cosmos atrosanguineus' or Chocolate Cosmos," explained Miss L "recently a team of researchers
at Gaea-Cambridge institute has successfully been able to bring this beauty out of deep extinction and
remarkably so, we haven't these since 1998 and now ten bushes are going to be planted in this very school!"
Miss Lily gushed. "What's the scent coming outta them Miss L?" asked Talia, almost ramming her druid nose
into the precious flower. John twitched his own nose, Talia was always getting her nose into things. Always
meddling with her incessant questions and bickering. It didn't help that she was perfect with glowing
emerald skin, bright sapphire slanted eyes and always so kind. It didn't help that he was hopelessly in love
with her either. "That's a chemical called Vanillin" Miss L answered, “You smell it in cakes, coffee, and
chocolate." An 'Ooooh' was heard from the class and Miss L chuckled. "Yes, there will be chocolate and you
all will get to help me plant these splendid creatures tomorrow," she said as she caressed the precious plant.
Cheers were heard from all at this news. "Oh, what a wonderful start to the day!" John thought.

The school day went by as normal as it could. Always something new being discovered, reclaimed and
renewed. Science, humanity and the environment had combined to form a perfect trifecta of wonder that
would never have been thought possible in the Later Medieval Ages of 2015-2025. John walked out of school
and into the Sherwood Forest, his route home. As he trudged along the green velvety carpet of grass, he
could feel the cool clean air filling his lungs refreshing him. Thank God, smoking had been eradicated. It was
an immense group effort back in 2030 when the UN all unanimously voted to eradicate smoking. People had
finally decided, on their own, to give up the tar and nicotine and embrace the oxygen and within the next 3
years, marvelously tobacco production had completely halted, lung diseases and cancer had dropped by
60%. In three years! This was his lesson in Renaissance 2.0 history and it fascinated him, the commitment
and will that could be summoned by man. Of course, the new government had sped things up. A
government, very much like the UN, with representatives of all countries, races, genders, and faiths all
unanimously working together for one noble cause: the Earth. Running on honesty, integrity, kindness, and
love. After all, we were so close to losing our planet back in 2021, we weren't going to do it again. John mused
as he walked. He liked walking though, teleportation and flight were just a hand span away. It gave him time
to appreciate his world. Utopia meaning a perfect place was the only word that came to his mind. The earth
now was lush, evergreen and a haven. The aquamarine rivers ran crystal clear through the forest with a
treasure trove of marine life hidden in its depths, leaping tantalizingly into view. These rivers ran into the
oceans, now clean of waste and oil spillages- home to a billion life species. The animals all flourished in their
natural habitats with minimum human disturbance and they rewarded us with an Eden of an ecosystem.
Every promenade was shaded by tall, fruit trees that provided both sustenance and protection. As soon as we
had taken care of our environment a little, it had done tenfold for us. Food and poverty wasn't an issue
anymore. Not with the myriad of natural treasures at our disposal.

John finally reached home, a tall spindling glass tree house, intertwined with an oak tree like so many others
in his neighborhood. As he looked at his house, he realized that it was a perfect symbol for what his world
had become. One with the Earth.
Fall 2018
Sudha Srivatsan

That morning

The dawn yawned

Lazily it arose, instructing the night fog

To bid adieu now and return

Hither at nightfall

The fog snuggled close to large oaks

Turning them into white oaks

Gently caressing their barks

Leaving them looking like birch barks

The fog thereon rested on daisies fulgent

Waking them up from their chill sleep

Drawing sheets, ashen of their petals

Revealing their insides, heather and pearly


Leaves stirred slightly

Their silver dust a tad too heavy

Their color cinerous, at times hoary

Occasionally a tinge of greige glowing

Dapple-grey legs of mine hopping

On wet grass liard that morning

The grayling swam in the somber pond

Everyone taking on the color of fog


And in the early hours

And in the early hours


Thoughts
Like dew drops
On fine bone china
A waltzing pachyderm rolls over
Their crackle like pressure
Gasping in a soda can
Her footwork drowning
Brethren
From surfacing like fizz
Which no more erupt
Tired and weary
Lodged now
In sunken sediments
Of life bygone
Fall 2018
Ruth Gooley

High Sierra Flower

Yellow-crowned head thrown back,


she inhales the rock-sprung breath
that races towards Silver Pass,
grabs at that barren wash of air,
shouts like the wind,
stops me in the huff of my tracks
up the switchback
only a footprint wide,
leaves me breathless
as pebbles crumble
into the chasm
just beneath my feet.

Only an inch or so high,


alone in the blinkered silence
of the upcoming slope,
she grabs at the sun,
crabs out soil
from the meager dirt
of her talus-gray terrain,
warbles out color,
the smallest of scents,
signals for me to follow.
I reposition my poles
and push on
towards the summit.
New Trail to the Overlook

Down in the damp gully


scraped out by the stream,
for the first time I notice
a path veering off to the left.
A huff and I am over
the giant toe of an oak,
round the shoulder of a hill,
mounting a saddle
with the ocean prancing off to the west,
waves so close, so fresh,
a blue that I have never seen
from the fire road,
or even on the beach.
I follow the split of footprints
along the spine of the ridge,
dodge past a spot
flowing with reeds,
white-haired, bee-struck.
A sudden horizontal push,
my legs tremble, my lungs shudder,
the sun song drives me on,
upward to the same old point,
a place that I have never seen.
Directive

I know her moods,


her sullen summer heat,
her fall blight,
her winter greening,
her fog-bound springs,
her sea-spun breezes,
her gales,
her calm,
her bird song,
her rattler’s feint and bite,
the bright orange of her monkey flowers,
the strangling vines of her dodder,
the spread of her live oaks,
the itch of her poison oak.

This is where I want to lie


when I am only ashes,
scattered at the Parker Mesa Overlook,
close to hikers’ steps,
red ant nests,
and ceanothus sprigs,
just above the thrust of the sea.

Put me here when I am gone.


Let the chaparral bear my bones,
trail dust the soil of my heart.
Black sage will carry the scent of my hope after rain.

This is my spot.
Scatter me here,
where sea spaces sky,
where blue dragonflies flit
above owl and bobcat scat,
where bees scrabble for sugar
in pink buckwheat tops.
Let me lie here in this place
I know so well,
every turn in the trail,
every fold in the hills,
every season, every time.
Death will be bearable if
I’m not far from
the coyote’s nightly yowl,
the hawk’s shriek,
the tumble of the surf.

Throw my dust here and step back.


Let me settle into the place I love best.
Scatter me here, at the end of the trail,
near the ridgelines I love to climb.
Let this view of the Santa Monica Mountains
be my last retreat.
Shelter Island Park

Dredged and filled in, circumscribed


by the groan of the 5 freeway,
the crush of tall buildings to the south,
a lining of mussel-crusted rocks,
the spit of land at the end of San Diego Bay
lies just at the tide line. I stop at a bench,
sit, examine a cormorant observing me
with inquisitive turquoise eyes.
Unflappable, the bird does not flinch,
preens, watches me go. Radar-topped and grim,
a military behemoth slides through the calm,
no wake, no sound, no disturbance
of the ocean’s float. Shelter Island Park,
no longer its own green space, connected
to my hotel, a restaurant, migratory birds, guns.
My Brother’s Legacy

Almost a mile high, the great crown,


each tip gilded with mist and needles
eager to inhale the dew, the eagle’s
distant pip. Within her immense skein
of red bark, centuries of sun, frost,
sky, the frozen tracks of a rat.

But ours is puny, browning branches


dripping towards the ground,
shedding twigs and decaying scents,
its pot too small, the temperature too hot.
My brother’s gift so out of place here
in this dry Southern California space.

What to do with a tree that’s meant


to crack the ground, split apart the land,
race towards the falling sun,
the rising moon, the drip of soil?
It will outgrow sycamores, oaks, laurels,
nurture rodents, live long past their deaths.

I buy a big new pot, a rake,


pull apart the tangles of dirt,
lug the plant up to a good spot
where it can shine green,
spread shade, shelter
a nesting mouse.

One day a blast of wind


through the canyon, across the hill,
and I find the sequoia overturned,
spine cracked, branches shattered,
a baby mouse quivering in the shredded roots.
I repot the tree, water, and wait.
Lessons from a Packrat

A dry spring, the air so sere my lips crackle,


the tent sparks, the March morning so hot
I drag into the shade between two boulders,
drop my pack, lean into the coolness of granite,
into the surprise of a packrat’s nest,
a haphazard structure of cones stolen from pinyon pines,
fibers gnawed from yucca and cholla,
twigs wrenched from willows and creosote,
tattered, but as strong as the desert wind,
torrents of monsoon rain, the aching sun.

Her mother must have lived here,


her grandmother too, generations of packrats
here in this place. She learned from them,
learned how to forage for food,
learned the best time of day to hunt,
the best sticks to use for nesting,
the best place to birth her babes,
to discard her droppings, to expand.

Safe from the horned owl, the hawk,


she scrabbles in her den.
She listened well, better than I,
who can ask no more questions,
learn no more, glean no messages
from the emptiness of my mother’s house,
her stacks of goods, the echo of her face,
the fade of her being.
Fall 2018
Roger Craik

ENGLAND AND THE WORLD CUP

Two goals down and into time


added on for stoppages,
it never fails—the yeoman
hoof and hoist, the ale-house ball. . .

And it’s Sunday afternoon.


The local recreation ground.
The pub around the corner.
There’s a chill in the air.

(Banks, the Charlton brothers, Bobby Moore. . .)


UK, 2016

At its own assumptive


empire’s draggletailing end,
it swiped its throat for spite
with Brexit. . .

and of very dogma died.

AN ENGLISH OAF REACTS TO ANDREW MARVELL’S “THE MOWER AGAINST GARDENS”

I couldn’t get the fucking motor started


so I went for a pint.

HEARD IN A RESTAURANT

“Love and marriage, love and marriage,


go together like a horse and carriage.”

Of course. Just ask the horse.


VARIATION ON AN IPHONE

Oh the glare, the garishness! Those


“icons” (Is there anybody nowadays
for whom the word gleams golden, Byzantine?)
blazoning across the screen
your every need epitomized, each one
shouting into your eye!

Was life ever otherwise?


Can you imagine
one full day’s unedginess?

If you have a moment, please,


find “Settings”
(It’s the icon like a shaver),

and now “General”


(As you see, the icon’s thinned
to a single serrated wheel),

“Accessibility,”
“Display Accommodations,”
“Color Filters”—

and there you are,


perhaps almost a child again,
reading your father’s newspaper.
COMME IL EST

He can’t shut up.


We can’t shut up about him.

Heigh-ho, the wind and the rain!

RUMMY WITH SUSIE

“50 me.
0 to you.
Shuffle ‘em good!”
Fall 2018
RaKhiy elder

I’m Terrified
i’m terrified.

A . T
> O, LL-'C.
Ché\ + __
guerill@
熊 と獅子
昨日の晩に
filet を魚(bii!)
寒かった
Sad as I am.
gottlieb elem.
'ぁLаla@fa|tf
Fugitive Spirituism

You know you heard something.


Right there-- from that hole in your bruised competence, a soft fat tongueless breath speaking
whole to the midway. Shattering your gritting teeth that clutch whose misunderstanding. Nails
dug deep into every horizon somebody else found. Huh? Feather-like sighs of profound, empty
expectation twisting your waiting eye watching that hole that whole to bend back, unnatural
almost, to bend and show you something. a reflection to be, maybe.

It was an emotional moment.


Bound, open-faced toward--And what?
Whatwhatwhat . are you truly be? Don be like that. Don get like that. Just a question, baby. I’m
jus asking you a question.
|crouching in school hallways .
far ministers breathing onto my
paleo phone plan.
when my bones walk back into my body
, 5 LkWh .
Delete
says the buildup of itch under my weave. My nails painted, can't breathe.
* hey! as if you ever ​been​ free.

and & yea ya ya forever forever.


|crouching in my own universe.
being small; , ; do you
...read me?
Blackness hiding in blackness, in the
dark. In the intellect of Allah. Outside
in the driveway, waxing my mothers’ sins.
How is it on the other-
side of this projection?
​ oppos
​ 8.

chasm.
We...touch it with
Thumbs stripped of place.
We pry it
Open with careful hands void of
Intention and watch atmospheric ash
Curl over its soft edges
Sighs of some prior predatorial
Existence piling, glinting, promising
Something like purpose.
Here is where you always were,
never outside of it.
Unbuttoning dresses with my
assistance, pedantic casual be its
ways.
​be.
The sway of palm trees froze in
winter: umbrellas under fire.
We conditioned not to know pain.
Now no position holds us safely.
Daffodils playing host to spiders-
us only held in each other's aura.
Falling. At. each.
me5t. iculous step.
dialogue
amongst
yourselves. ​be. ​ creams
S
call back from the
woods. Trees taut as learned

dancers. Ferns caught in pure

capture. Our feet turn to a

caterpillar’s on the damp


steps. The memory is
sweeter than the
rea
... -lity.
Light like this is effortless. Becoming in swarming profundity.
This don’t want. Plead.
Is mouthless. Is eye-less. With ears soaking in the clay.
Pressed up against up into the hum.
And [you][i][me][you]? Empty. Til the spaces, unkempt--as they can only be--crave no location.
As gods intended.

Detangle tendrils of unconscious maladies


Fragments caught in each jagged insecurity,
biting broken tooth passivity
Finding self drooling onto the extended arms of tired liberation.
Gums rubbing against the inner thigh of dreamless night, must sooth.

Mass of black space floating inside of a ship.

when they stepped off the shore, laid on the

What is hell? Is it writing of your people


as if you do not know them? Or that their
cries echo unto your ears, and you hear
how they wished you would not have to
endure again?
And why am I asking you? Why should you know what you do--right?
With that way you turn your head from what you are. With that way you pray, eyes closed, to the
seen, wanting to lay claim to these chaotic planes of is scrambling forward knees first to higher
order, tumbling backward palms scraping to natural order, raising up head last to self--all at
once. You don’t know even as you are.
Entering unto a forest since cleared:
the mountains in clear view. He has
deserted you. Those are not mistakes
glinting from the horizon. A
lone.
A monster's child.
My birth hath been its on, spanning
my wings over idolatry. xeJ x.nxL
Page after page you will turn ,
as a Phoenix anticipates burns.
Abandoned tobacco fields overgrown in the parking lot
Breed embers in an absence that only the forgotten can promise.
Roots imagine they can taste next rain in your intentions
Please be careful.

. straddled railways for gentle shocks


straying lines, osprey spotted fox.
Will you light my candle?
There was a girl in your
head that was in a long
d i s t a n c
e relationship.
There are places in me that
Pray with fingers in their mouths
Walk with their bodies bent into the anxious cusp of irreality
Can’t swallow their spit.
Show inconstant churning of the spirit in the shade of lunar eclipse
And--because the spirit will not be, not here--A
ceaseless breaking
crackcrkkkkkkkkkkkkk
ack​ kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk
The staccato cry of fragile places
deemed elsewhere sometimes
Deemed home sometimes

____________________________________________________________________________
*and i do mean Thine

holy palac 5. like us


Them, zem, overanalyzed.like us.
holy palace. KNOCK
KNOCK. _ .8 ey[...
I wuh praying. Seent
them ‘bout sniffing close;
maybe Shewon't see me

enter.

Your heart is open, broken, receiving.


Let this light illumine what is neither
yours nor ours. Listen! The Creative
is verily silence.
The ground is shaking.
The ground is shakingand I don’t know what to do about it.
if something should be done. What is choice?
How do I possess a choice...

I think it might spread wide open or maybe just …


Collapse in or out,
But it will. It will.

WILL, Under Duress.


HEAVENLY CARPOOL.

_0.7 run. run. run. stop.

“a couple m’s in my bank acct.”


wt.: ???Kg
photoelectric . ​WILL, Under Duress.

L​ et me be honest with you,


there's no one I love more.
>>>>> That's why I'll sit
through this movie, and
​let​ you put your arm
around me.

Well…
Fall 2018
Peake McCarthy

Hold the Love

Is that all there is?


Anticlimactic… with pain as a sour side
No warning - of what it is or how it will end
Is that how it is for everyone?
Is that all there is?

Yearning for more, I’ll repeat mistakes


I don’t know what it is
Which must mean my oblivion stretches to all things
To the next step, to where life goes next
This short, strange jackhammering cringe -
That’s not even how to put it -
I’m not even fit to say what it is -
I’m stupid for not knowing that’s all there is,

He raises a hand and my


Heart leaps - it knew it would be touched,
It knew that wasn’t all there is -
Out of my bone and skin and through the air.
It comes close to colliding
With his harmless grasp but it
. . . Aimed too high.
His hand lands miles away.

Leaves me with a mark


Of five red fingers
And a heart dirtied by the floor.
Someday I -
Hammered & Angelic

Hammered and angelic


Eyeliner smeared where
The tears dripped yesterday
How I wish I were a bead of sweat
So that I may feel her
Cheek’s soft skin.
Her laughing celebration finds my ears
Even over the music she loves
As her launched white ball spins
Around the rim before
Falling
Into the tenth cup.
Her nose is blue from snorting my prescription.
I have winner
But I’m not ready
My vision is unfocused when I’m
Not looking at her.
Her mouth’s left side raises to a smirk
When she sees me at my spot.
Grinning and gorgeous,
She takes her first shot.
Chelsea, Manhattan

I know you’ll wish


You never got me started
I only ever write
For the broken-hearted
The ones who talk too loud
But try hard to please
And think that love
Is getting on their knees.
They felt too much
And found out too late
That if you try hard enough
You’ll still never be straight.
Then suddenly they harden
And their lipstick darkens
Your woman’s neck
I kiss I suck I peck
I implore you young girl
In yourself don’t lose faith
One day your beloved
You’ll meet at thirteenth and eighth
No Lyft

It wasn’t clear that I was closed


Until you ripped me right open
While your dancing fingers did the same
With the buttons down my front
Dissolved that stubborn wall
Letting love flow freely through my blood
Your tongue shattered my myth
That no one so illuminating
Would shine on me again - -
And in the light I hopped a different train
Nothing will carry me from your shape
Love you, fuck you, choke you, hug you
Let me open you, and all you contain
Then let me surround you, to end the game
Sonnet for 33

I feel cobblestone beneath my feet


And her coffee brown hand on my heartbeat
Even when alone in velvet train seats.
Because every day I can’t help but keep
The dirty love of nights within me deep —
Nirvana transcending even through sleep.

Bravely dive into brown eyes and see sweet


Timeless music your soul and self will meet.
Beauty lay down with me, come on to me.
Rolling honey hills soften the ache deep
Stopping the pain that would otherwise creep.
I dress in your silk, you dress love on me.

The far off break in this heavenly beat


Will lose to fond mem’ries, so I won’t weep.
Fall 2018
Paul Lojeski

history

my father was your


father. my father
was all fathers, back
then. hard hit with
drink and vile
disappointment,
tortured by the light
of day, vilified
by the rag wagon
of night, creaking
through his dreams,
the snap of the driver's
whip calling his
name. he told me
so, as the surgeon
made the last cut.
I still see his bloodshot
eyes searching
for a way out. till
one day he found it
and I watched him go.
Never Saw the Light

San Francisco back in the day,


your mom wheeled past me
at the clinic, a grim smile
pasted on her pale face.
That's when they found you
swimming towards the sun
and without mercy, cut
short your impending
arrival, throwing you back
into the abyss. I wonder
this fine June morning,
decades later, your mom
long gone, how you'd have
changed our lives and how
you would've used yours.
My long ago vanished son
or daughter, I remember you.
I remember what we did.
Sunday evening

riding fire
sipping
moonlight
swimming
in memory
fading like
a dying sun
all the while
singing to
my friends
the stars.
but weeping
anyway when
a horse called
Leaving thunders
closer, as I hold
out my hands
to give these
tears a home.
no science fiction

there’re none
but us already
here, aliens
speeding through
space, weapons
hot and loaded.
Stressed Out

I’m my own murder scene.


One-eyed, bloody-nosed medics,
circle the corpse that is me,
even though I’m smiling and

wink and sing out, how’s it


going boys? But no one answers
including those thick-waisted
trees bending in the screaming

hurricane. Next a gang of cops


scurry in, smoking, spitting,
grabbing crotches as if there’s
meaning or magic there

instead of mundane menace.


Blue fire at the horizon flares
brighter, as I’m tossed on
the gurney and rolled into the hearse

they claim is an ambulance.


It all makes sense to me, though,
I tell the heavily-armed woman
at checkout of my favorite grocery,

the one selling tins of purified


air guaranteed to extend mortality
by at least 11% or your money back.
Or more likely your next of kin’s

because you’ll be dead then,


but I’m not, at least, I don’t think I am.
Right now, the machine has me
shaking, right now I’m stressed out!
Fall 2018
Paige Melin
april 5, 2005, tuesday

I think I may have achieved self-actualization

I don’t know how


or even if
but I just

feel a lot more free

maybe it’s because


a huge burden has been lifted
off of me
after 3
or 4 years of
keeping a secret I finally
told

and now, possibly my


deepest, darkest secret is shared

but I’ve been rocking out to this tune


in my head
all day

& I just feel


really
open

oh, yeah
baby!

I think Green Day


receives less attention
than they deserve some
of their songs
are really good &
not weird.
I
just wrote an okay song
called “unbreakable”

I think daddy sees


that I’m getting
older,

& I think
I see it too

I don’t
want it to happen

but I feel like a change that I can’t help is taking place


april 23, 2005, saturday

I’ve decided
that I should be
an actress

yesterday’s events led me


to believe so

“what
were yesterday’s events?”
you might ask

well
first things first

yesterday
was codee’s birthday party
it was:
all of her friends went to play lasertag
then cake & presents at her house with friends & family
then a sleepover with her friends

the part at her house


was embarrassing
I was wearing
my Green Day tshirt

first, uncle b asked


what “american idiot”
meant

then, uncle r asked


if I liked
Green Day

then
they asked if my dad let me listen to them
I said
no, felt myself
going red - uncle r said
“I didn’t think
he would they’re a little…

rough.”

I left the room.

as if
all of this wasn’t bad enough -
as my family
was getting ready
to leave (I
was staying
for the sleepover)
mommy kept
pulling me aside
telling me
“if they listen to Green Day just
leave the room. don’t make a fuss. just
walk away. I don’t want you
hearing swears or
anything.’

and
“if they’re searching
bad things
on the web just
leave.”

and as she was hugging me


“remember
if they do anything you don’t like,
just leave.”

I felt
so bad
for all the times I’ve
listened
to Green Day, for taping
uncensored
Green Day songs, for getting
that stupid
shirt

I didn’t want to stay

I knew that I would end up


having to lie
about what I did -
I’d been lying
about what I’d done at codee’s house
since march
and I knew
I didn’t want
to lie anymore.

so I told her I had a stomach ache


that it hurt really bad
that I thought it was cramps that I just
wanted to go home
& sleep

& I must have lied pretty good because


by the time we all left
everyone
was telling me that they really
did hope I get better soon

it was the first


time in my life that I’d faked
being sick

so I’ve officially decided


that if I can’t
get into politics

I should be an actress
may 5, 2005, thursday

today
is five-five-
oh-five next year
it will be
six-six-six
(beware the devil) last year
it was
four-four-
four

livi
came over and we were
laughing
like crazy because

we were pulling out our hairs


with a mint box & looking
at the follicles

(don’t ask me
what goes through
our heads)

I wrote a poem about it


entitled

“the cinco de mayo” poem


may 15, 2005, sunday

we sat outside
some kind of
retirement home we ate our
italian food then we
walked into some
antique stores

(where we saw
a beautiful
tortoise shell
inkwell that was inlaid with
mother-of-pearl)

we got two
arizona green teas and a seriously
frosting-covered
honey bun we sat
in front of a church

eating

& drinking

we walked into another


antique shop we found
a telephone desk
from the 50s then we
bought our find
of the day
Fall 2018
Nicholas J.A.

From (In)directives

~
What follows is not what must follow.

What follows is a posteriori: involving the deduction of theories from facts*, or developed on a basis of

languages which already exist**.

“They struggle now on even terms, each having spent his spear.”

You took the plate of food I threw and threw it back, to the backseat and I cleaned it.

“Death snatched the palm of victory from both claimants.”

But we are now just far away, living impartially, if not infrequently.

Symmetry is the sincerest form of flattery.

Effacement of distinctions: our fingers match.

I took your name to convey identity, experience, attention, possibility.

* Logic.
** Linguistics (of a constructed language).
~
You chuckled at his botched soliloquy.

If it barely leaves, it barely comes back.

The letters I sent* to Livingston.

Will you ask the impossible of me?

The author of reality. The author of days.

A bottle of rosé for the drive.

Remained unread.

“His speech (his lean, unlovely English) is always turned elsewhere, backward.”

How to view this life’s work** before it is finished.

You held me the day I left you.

*epistello: “I send”, but also, “I mandate, order, arrest”.

** “I ‘worked’ this morning, but you know what I mean by that: mourning—for me, for us in me.” Jacques
Derrida, The Post Card.
~
Tell me that this love story ends with an accordion.

Tell me that that wasn’t blood* on the towel.

Tell me there is ice.

Tell me that it is frankincense.

Tell me that you will pay me for the work** I’ve done.

Tell me that I’m not missing something.

Tell me that you will tell me if there is any more I can do.

Tell me that I’m still here.

Tell me that the saints will go marching.

Tell me you love me.

* “Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.
Leviticus 7:27

** “The work bears with it that referential totality within which the equipment is encountered.” Martin
Heidegger, Being and Time.
~

Do you ever think about having a child?

Do you ever think about breaking down little bits of animal in your stomach?

Do you ever think about the eschatological situation of your vessel?

Do you ever think about the question as a rubric?

Do you ever think about the question as a positing?

Do you ever think about the question as its own dimension and thus its own death?

Do you ever think about the question as its own interrogation?

Do you ever think about the always-already?

Do you ever think about how mortality is a kind of identity?


~
An island is birthed from the residue of a fallen continent.

Relative to the shape of a face, your letter is eared inopportunely.

A sunken something draws the cortex inward.

An unsightly garden contradicts itself.

How many times will I shove your letters into the ground before they are hyacinths*?

The garden is an island.

Accidental over-stimulation is problematic.

Bad weather.

* Death by projectile.
Fall 2018
Nelson Lowhim

Spokane River and its Secrets


Caption: Spokane River where yesterday a body was found. The bridge
this photo was taken from is a common spot for jumpers. Police say the
body was that of a local artist’s. Sheriff Holda says initial reports
indicate that the artist was depressed and in a dire lack of money
money situation. Friends and family who knew him stated that it was
unlikely he would have killed himself. Unfounded rumors have surfaced
that he had been pushed off. Or perhaps he had been killed in the
river, forced underwater. The police have called the case “low-
priority” and stated it was being dealt as a “likely suicide”. The
artist’s ex-girlfriend stated that she had seen him talking to suits.
Government agents. He had spotted a UFO and they wanted to silence
him. Several other people who knew him had also seen him mingling with
suits, but put that off to him being a narc. Police have said they are
aware of all the claims but don’t deal with “drug fueled
conspiracies”.

The Spokane River, unlike many rivers that flow through downtowns around the world, is an
untamed thing. When the water is high, the falls are a magnificent pack of roaring beasts. One
could watch them for hours, the multi-layered and multi-directional currents fighting with each
other and the range-limiting rocks: at these points of friction, a frothing bubbling white foam
arises, each time a different shape, yet somehow very familiar.

The Spokane River, like many other rivers, holds its secrets well. And one of those secrets is the
exact cause of death of a body discovered on its edges.

Meth is a hell of a drug, and some folks here will attest to that, and it has resulted in more than a
few bodies being found in this river. Recently a body was fished out of the water which may not
have stoked any fears in others, but awoke such a disquiet in my mind that I almost lost my life
over it.
Caption: The Spokane Falls was a meeting place for natives before
white settlers moved in. Nearby a site marks the spot where Natives
had been hanged after they approached the US Army under white flags.
Today, this region imprisons Natives and Blacks in high numbers
locking them up in debtors prisons. A free call phone system is used
to help round up any suspicious people, especially the dark ones. The
playwright was known to paint these falls and had over sixteen
thousand such paintings. Each one was different, he said.

The body was of an aging artist, a playwright, and director, who was known to deal drugs.
“That’s what you get”, was the general consensus and since no one enjoyed his plays, there
was hardly a murmur of regret.

But I had seen one of his plays and having been the only one to clap—and stand up, as it were
—at its showing, I see his death and works’ lack of recognition as something of a tragedy. So I
only wish I had told him what I thought of his work rather than taking a photo with my phone and
sharing it on Instagram. As a struggling artist I should know the value of a single appreciative
handshake.

Interestingly enough the disquiet after his death, as after the play, was something all too familiar
for me. The play was about the loss of an iPhone. In confronting this horrendous problem, the
leading actress learns how to overcome the loss of so many contacts. She meets them face to
face to get their names and numbers. And, in the end, she finds a way to help these people—
with acts of kindnes rather than pressing a button—and earns money for a replacement phone.
Caption: The artist was a known graffiti artist. This destruction of
private property earned him a bad reputation amongst the business
owners in town. Among some of the people who lived with him, this
pushed them to speculate that he had said the wrong things to the
wrong people and this, not some drug deal gone bad, is what caused
them to end him. His family stated he had long ceased acting out this
juvenille stage of his life. Nevertheless, his graffiti has spread all
over the internet, and copycats around the world mimic his tags.

All pretty kitchy and unoriginal. But in the background there’s a whole other play going on. This
is a shorter one, though it repeats over and over. Basically, it depicts what goes on in the Congo
today: warring, fighting, death, rape, subjugation, oppression, and the mining of vital elements
needed to create the iPhone.

A little simplisticly, the elements are fed into a machine that spits out the phones (one of which is
given to the actress at the end). Yeah, still pretty kitchy and unoriginal, I suppose, yet the way
the two stories played off each other—contrasting something beautiful in the girl’s world, like her
enjoying a memory (in photo or film form) with a friend, with something horrendous in the
background, like an execution—really elevated it for me.

Caption: After spending some time with the artist’s friends and his
roommates, this reporter was led to the above makeshift bookstore he
had built right before his death. It was to be a place for human
exploration. By this time, however, all the books were water logged
and needles were spread about. A tunnel-like tube led to an
underground portion and though it smelled horrible, there had been
plans to make something grand. I left wondering why.

Another example: a person in the Congo would scream in horror, and someone in the
foreground would say “What’s that?” “Nothing, stop worrying about nothing.” Then at other times
the reaction would be: “Keep it down. It’s always you you you.”

I know what you’re thinking: a play as a self-flagellating tool for the depressed but rich. Sure, but
for me that the play was better than most.

Hard to know if the negative critiques aimed at this play is what drove the author into the despair
that followed. Besides his drug-dealing, he had been writing more plays of the sinister and
disquieting genre. But after his iPhone play flopped, no stage, no group of actors wanted any
part of it. So unknown and impoverished he became. And even his death could not bring any
measure of acknowledgement from his community. A sad thought, but I’m trying to unearth his
later writings and find those unpublished plays. Someone must hold that torch, mustn’t they?
Fall 2018
Ndaba Sibanda

Forget We Ever Met



Thulani knew that as a poor clerk from a village
in Gwanda, his intention to impress his new lover
in the capital city wasn’t going to a bite of a delicacy.

For him to get a job in that city was a mammoth task,
in fact, he had to beg and grease someone`s itchy palms
with some borrowed funds to land that office contract.

As if their love spoke a language called Cashnglish
Thulani `s partner doubted his ability to spoil her,
already her eyes focused on his “charge of parsimony”.

Thulani`s extended family members in Gwanda expected
him to visit them with some Christmas goodies and clothes,
they didn’t know his new sweetheart had other ideas and plans.

When he visited her a day before his intended departure for Gwanda
he had two presents for her: a gold wrist watch and a shiny mobile phone—
“What!! This is meretricious ornamentation, I want something of substance.”

The rebuff was too hostile a dose for Thulani, but he tried to steady himself,
“I`m sorry, my beautiful bae, I had to thank and repay my HR manager,”
But those words didn’t pacify her, so Thulani shot back,” I give up!”

From City To Rusticity

They sought to escape
the distractions of a busy life,
the bustles and hustles of the city;
Then they packed their bags, off they
went with their wondering cats and dogs
to the remotest of villages where they hoped
to become farmers of simplicity and tranquility


Fall 2018
Miranda Elise

An Ode To Masturbation

I remember the first time I heard your


beautifully scandalous name
I was in fifth grade talking to best friend Ruby
Ruby was always the more experimental one

We were in the middle of bible class


at our christian school when she whispers in my ear
“I came for the first time last night, you know, by masturbating”

It was like my religious self committed


a sin just by hearing the word
Ruby didn’t even have to tell me the meaning
the new vocabulary term was forever stitched into my brain

For years I pushed my unholy thoughts to the back of my mind


not daring to cross the line between my innocence and the overwhelming
need that was built up between my legs

And then freshman year of high school


I did it

I let my fingers dance a romantic waltz while to the beat


of a One Direction song playing in the background

This poem is for you


one of the eight wonders of the world
a sinful, yet holy act that allowed a different gate of heaven
to open for not just me, but millions of teenage girls everywhere
A simple act, but a righteous one
not only are you for pleasure but you keep me sane
you are a spiritual detox, a sort of communion
between me and my vagina

An everlasting bond,
my first true love
and my favorite form of exercise

I dedicate these words to you


Pineapple Fanta

The first time my high school best friend Susie


got upset I showed up on her doorstep with a bottle of
her favorite drink, pineapple fanta

With a twist of the dark blue cap, all her problems faded away
to the calming sound of carbonation exploding from the giant
yellow container

This became a ritual between Susie and I

She would call me up crying and I would rush over


with the fizzy medicine in hand

But then when it was my turn, my first turn, my only turn


I needed a friend to come through with a remedy ready to
take away my troubles but alas there was no word from Susie

Radio silence, loud enough for the whole world to hear


she became a ghost, a haunting memory, a horror movie that
never seemed to ever get to the closing credits

My sixteen year old mind couldn’t fathom


after all, aren’t best friends supposed to support you?

I guess Susie had a different definition in mind on how to


be a friend, because instead of telling me that she didn’t want
to deal with my depressive state, she did the very thing every
teenage girl dreads the most

She ghosted me

I sometimes still think about Susie, but just like pineapple fanta,
it’s bitter
Play Date

You and I met at the age of three


We played hide and seek
You would run, and I would hide

With scraped knees


And red stained on my cheek
We sipped juice boxes on the curbside

We played the same games


Over and over
Until you had to leave

At the age of sixteen


We still played hide and seek
But the roles switched

I would seek your attention


While you would hide
As if I was an opponent
You didn’t want to face

But only until we were alone


Then you would continue with your games

Ready or not here you came


Without giving me a chance to hide

We played freeze tag often


I would try to run from you
But your favorite part was always the chase

As soon as you would touch me


I would freeze
Not because I had a choice
But because you hated when I broke the rules
Red light green light was one of your favorites
But the red light was just a suggestion for you
After all no one was there to witness
Or make you pay the fine

We’ve played all the games imaginable


And with bruised wrists
And tears stained on my cheek
I would let you win every time

You scrabbled my mind


You got me in trouble
You even took the life out of me

But now it’s time I choose what we play


I refuse to hide in fear because you’re a sore loser

Let’s play simon says


And simon says “no”
Fall 2018
Milton P. Ehrlich

WHEN I FELL IN LOVE WITH YOU

You were as ripe as a peach blossom


and now, after 63 years together
you have matured into an elegant spirit
with overflowing tenderness
that has always lived in an older time.

I’ll still tease you and please you


and leave you shuddering for a breath
as we sleep the sleep of new-born babes
garbed in love’s majestic hand-me-downs.

Our lips become wings, and fly us up


to God’s sun-filled attic. The scent of hyacinths,
the flowers of rain, wafts through the window,
blanketing us in savored memories,
like the time you tossed your long brown hair
over my eager private parts.

God smiles, locks the door, and throws away the key.
A VINTAGE BOAT GOES FOR A SAIL

The price was right for an old leaky boat,


and I couldn’t resist the teak decking on a collectable Schooner.
She sailed in slow motion like a crochety old lady,
but I figured slow knots— better than no knots.
As Captain, I gave orders nobody could hear,
my mouth full of marshmallow marbles from chewing too much tobacco.

When the gale winds blew, I ordered the crew to ease the main sheet—
we were heeling too much.

SOS useless,
there’ s no Coast Guard off the Magdalen Islands.
Capsized, I ordered: Abandon ship!

I told my wife to cling to the hull,


telling her when the storm subsides we’ll swim for shore
but all I could hear as we sank into the sea,
my wife still ranting,
wearing a captain’s hat didn’t make you no captain,
and I told you— we should have bought a Catamaran!
WHEN MY DOCTOR BECAME MY PATIENT

We both grew up in an anti-Semitic neighborhood,


called Polack Alley, home of German-American
Nazi Bundists, who attacked kids who looked Jewish.

My doctor kept his patient waiting for hours


as we argued about Bolshevism versus Trotskyism.

I was his Sherlock, and he was my Dr. Watson.


Together we often had extended conversation
about the calumny of the Pharma industry,
and the endless greed of his medical colleagues.

He was beside himself when his wife left him


for another woman; It precipitated a heart attack.

Every time I consulted him for my exam,


I took his psychological temperature.

He drew my blood to send to a lab,


and stethoscoped me up and down
while drenching my shoulders with tears.

He had no trouble checking my pulse


and listening to me squirm as he probed
my prostate in my yearly rectal exam.

For over 3 decades I kept him sane and,


he kept me alive with his mantra, one size doesn’t fit all.
He interpreted pharma’s dictates with a grain of salt.

I analyzed his recurring dreams,


and convinced him to get off anti-depressants
and on to the practice of meditation.

I advised him to take up Yoga.


He fell madly in love with his Yoga teacher—
married her, and moved to Kathmandu.
He returned all the invoices I paid,
for professional services, marked
null and void.
Fall 2018
Mick Raubenheimer

The Brute.

Wearing his wounds and dark humming


injuries like so much romantic intent
female eyes followed him
wherever he moved with his grace
femininely incongruent to his
robust
male frame
his sullen, sneering eyes
his snarl of
mouth.
Ke Umlilo.

My life became an astonishment of


intrigue and lassly lasses
Perfume for my
pluming soul like gods
assaulting me with
Life at strange, vibrant new angles.

What does not kill me makes me


bloodier with new intensities of music
Sung Tall Like God
Yaweh
Ra
Ganesh
Cthulhu
Modimo
Nkulunkulu
Allah
and
dDookoomM
Masculine beauty.

What he did to her physique was


shocking and a touch scary and
so
addictive
that
she barely minded all the rest
of
his nymphs and
fur
bound
s
y
l
p
h
s
.
CHAPTER 555: Hard Hat Jive.

Keenan Ahrends and Reza Khota were communing with their respective gods via 2x 6 strings (1x
electric 1x semi-acoustic fretted with ellipse and potent semi-colon) with just the tonight particularly
snaky Jonno Sweetman on drums. Swathes of sound somnambulent like Klimt conducting some sex
starved Morroccan princess’ dreams via metallic tones. Sexy and abstract. Scary and inviting as
Monica Bellucci uncrossing and recrossing humming legs in a simple, tight cut, off-white matt skirt.
I squeeze her hand quickly and she leans over, a hot mess of murmur in my right ear, “your place.”
Which was code for manly man sex - fond manhandlement and such - bare, bruised furniture. Sofa
crunched into a corner; mangled sweaty rug or carpet or whatever. My place was scantily furnished.
Music and food and obstacles over and through and across which to tumble the howling. My upper
thighs and triceps would be talking for days. For daze.
Lovers leave temporal auras on oneother, when they care (to) - lingering scent; ebbing throbbing
remnants of pain or ache; snarls on skin; heart’s lament or missing; random bursts of vivid
mnemony. So we ornament the Other with our traces, weakening or diluting or negatively dilating
the trespass of others.
Reza Khota is my favourite South African guitarist, hands up, and I do not ken exactly why. It has I
hazard to do with two things - a capacity for self-immolation or immediate transcendence (flipsides
of the phoenix’ essential verb) and a more mysterious and hid agency. Something which dodgy but
arcane and anciently talented Hollywood agents refer to, simply, as It.

'Hard Hat Jive' is the title of a classic tune by South African World music band Tananas. Copyright Tananas 1988.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXlKZ_gq9UQ
Chapter 177: Theory.

Carlo Mombelli was regaling the assembled with a meandering anecdote of a dream he’d had about
Henri Matisse as an Nguni herdsman eating weird roots with the Moon in the mysteries of morning
in Kwaz Lowlands.
I was distracted because her hips kept bumping against mine gently and almost peripherally - a
startling, unpredictable metronome triggering disturbingly visual flashbacks from the eve/morn
before into the tiny, vibrantly focused mind of my phallus.
“Ass for days.”
She said that around 02:13 going on 05:47 - my mouth was no longer lingual - stuffed as it was with
trembling, poison-gilted bouquets feeding off my salival voluptuity.
“Pharmakon - the root of the term pharmaceutical - is an ancient eskimo legend wherein it is written
on whatever it is that they write it on down there that Poison is Medicine and Medicine Poison.
Come smoke my Herb.”
“Maybe less with the talk for a bit, m’kay?” I pleaded,
then said: “Bring me you forests.” (in baritone.)
Chapter eleven: Little Dragon.

“You are spreading the Good Word through spermatozoa, kisses and danger.” Lilith said that. Then
she said. “You’re my little church.” Then
we
fell
in
love outside The Mahogany Room with Kyle and co {Shane Cooper And Brydon Bolton this time,
Jonno on the drum machine} reaching wild dervish frenzy which is why i lifted her up and we kissed
like dangerous demons of in-fa-chew-ay-shin.
amen.

The three prose pieces above are extracts from the upcoming novella 'Black Moon', a meditation celebrating the improvised music scenes
and girls of Cape Town, South Africa.
Fall 2018
Michael Starr

Small and Knotted

I want to be small and knotted


Like a threaded needle through arteries
Or flickering x-ray vision--
The dark side of the world:
They really did conspire
To crash it all
Their fate is for you
It’s on the menu
But what else? When the ribbons too are tied
Thin like the grain in your meal
Too soon gone for a beggar to help
Too soon remembered for a lost friend
And all the in-between
Venetian lovelace on the veranda, and all the in-between

This crushing is done


I’m here
When the wind kisses me
No one will know
And it’s better that way
July

Am I a glance to hover at?


Hovel, I meant to say hovel.
Not that I would enter one
Of my own will,
But that, to gesture,
I mean,
It would be devastating/tragic
If you knew how much
I desired you
And your painted red roses
In a garden we made up
When we were children.

I don't happen to be the luckiest man on the Earth


But deep inside its core
There is a Cretaceous world
Where I ride a tyronsaur
And hunt wild bison ancestors
Keeping the species equilibrium of our mutual future
Out of balance

I am not reckless
But I hope to stampede over your car
When you are racing together with your mind
Down the 101

In a wrecking ball
There is a crystal which consumes the concrete's negative energy
Upon striking
And to tamper with it
Is to dampen its soul

I hope one day you will find out the secrets of July
My stampede awaits you
And your lucky one strike romance
January

Tip your cup, glass jar ramble


Hit up, stable and sutur like the priest
Stable, scintillating but touch and mouth
Open, abating still, wonder
Crew came about, wistful
Wanderers still
Crumbs for the cookie cutter
Put in a bread basket and spread across the ocean like ashes
A cremated baguette
Starving birds dying over the ocean mid-flight
Name, say it, say it again
I dismay at the thought
Bubbles of joy and
Letters, holden on to the strongest rift
Crawford sinks, sinks his teeth
In mighty, stable rivulets
Like the crown, all affording
Nature
Or soft
Rocks
To hit with
So to sit still
So naked but in juice, lichen or autumn
Fragrance
Abating, journey
Nary a wander, nary a traveler
Lithe stubble
Lit me a mask, lit
Me a candle
Lit me a voice
To sing free and to sing
To my mother that I too
Am dying
Over the ocean, mid-flight
Through Town

Free range
Walls up the walls up
The gander on the skirt around
Downtown, it was about dusk
And the roiling in the air
Drunken neighbors, bar-to-bar
Hoodlum elephants swinging their trunks,
Clinging to their desperado image
I cling, too
To a different song
Whether we are capable of standing in the same unit
Whether we would be found in neighboring carrels
Is questionable
And so much for unity
Development, mindfulness, cohesion
It’s a feint drawn by the artist
Hues of impressionism staining my shirt
I walk on and the din lessens
It’s smoother here
By the shore
Walking along the planks stitched together to allow me to do so
Wondering how long it will last
Before someone collapses with the wood harvested from a forest
From another continent
Into The Ocean
Which?
I turn
And there it is
The palace I was looking for
Overlooking the crest like a judge on their dais
Mindful, timely, heartfelt
It is just another place
So I enter, going unknowingly and uncaringly into space defined
Many years ago, by unknowns and unknown folk
This gutter, I sink into it
But without remorse for the splendor I am supposed to feel
Awe, weariness, dread
The cocktail thickens, and it turns into an alcoholic smoothie
As I travel, foot before foot, the balls begin to harden
And I am hardier than before
Wondering why all this had to happen
Why all this nothing is so everly present before me
And only me, for I am the one that sees it between myself
And the other
A cleansing stanza for the sinuses, skin, heart
Like lukewarm sewage water, the best murky brew
Sure to fix the fix
And just like that
It is gone
No stationary objects resting
Resting on, resting on that crest, resting on my chest
Disdainful of my presence
And so I am lost
Again, the usual
But it is where I am always
And shall be always
For there is nothing in my way
Something Sentimental Should Be Happening

The light of a round citrus gaze


Cradling the orange in its hull and
Straw lemonade licking at my hem
Drawing in cold whilst vividly tucking in the children
And a gust of frost
Over the window is scrawled the message
To leave a place dying for solace
I, too
Am a hempen blanket catching a fever
Too soon relinquished of sadness but
Narrow in mind and craving autumn, again

Lacking the derivative nature of standard algorithms


To say that something sentimental should be happening
I compute to the exact distilled point that a wreck of them,
Really, ought to
Caught up in the crest of seasonal vigor
Remembering only holds so much sway with my wisdom
My fog is timberline and native
So much sway with my solitude
Neighbors bugging the rest, or savoring moments in their yards
Happenstance is the denial of fortune lavished on them
Wrecking balls stole my identity when they were brought in, again

This tune,
I’ve heard it before
And it repeats like the record was homeless and finally found
It loves its owner tenderly
But stolen are the notes that key in on the violence
Once spoken liltingly
Contrast, too, native, and delightfully rancorous
Full of rain and sorrow
For rest is autumn’s last relish
Crow hums at the tree trunk
I wonder what it’s thinking
A Modern Descriptor

I am
The gull whose wings are snared in one of those plastic soda can connectors
I am the oil in the ocean that soaks itself calm
Mass catastrophe
I am point blank neurolepsy
An 80’s rock gig for the psych majors
Who want a career as pill dispensers
I am rote and mundane
But in a good way
I will stay on this planet for as long as I live
And you can’t make me not
I say things that move rocks
Over shoulders and under hens
The squeaking of a frog
The churrur of a squirrel
And what are the ones on the ground?
Say what you want, but those things won’t go away
Just because you closed the window blinds and closet doors
The bunny out of the hat has a lot to tell you
And I am the side character, fresh out of prison, who will mend
Broken bars and reincinerate the Amazon after it has grown back
The Library of Alexandria after it has been restored
My luck is a chime with one missing
Nicks and dents
Out of tune
Singing like a coin whistling through the air at high velocity
Swirl me up, I am your diet coke smoothie
I am your pillow for a nap
I am your replacement lens on the DSLR
I will rob you
And make you cry
Until you pay
Unless you forgive me
And perceptively chime in during the conversation to make valid points
This world is due for an overhaul
And the vicious will have to embrace cognition to be in demand
To be marketable
This is the nature of economy
This is the nature of the passenger seat
Rhythm, style, and upholstery
I’m in your TV, cleansing your soul
Brandy, a harmonica, and applesauce
Wander often, stray dog, for your last days may be simultaneously your coldest and warmest
The bowl of water is outside the coffee shop in the ritzy downtown district
Meet me
At nine
And we will sow mayhem
Fall 2018
Michael J. Grodesky

Vestiges of the Drum Teacher


What we require is silence; but what silence
requires is that we go on talking.
--John Cage
You made me listen
to silence

between notes
and to space

around beats. To prayers


inside of rhythms
that smoldered
in our hands before
we gave them names
and burned them
into bonfires. Silver fog

scatters the morning sky.


A quiet blackbird looks

then turns away.


Last night I dreamed
of cracking eggs
into a black frying pan
and of someone offering

to sew me up.
So many pieces. So many
edges. So much space
between the stitches.
When I call I still hear
your recorded voice.
Sounds you left behind
to allow for silence. All accent
you said

means no accent.
All absence is no absence
at all. Just the beats you left
behind leaning against
the sills.
Bruises of the Bully

You have become the vulnerable one.


The weak branch in a strong
wind. In a way you’ve had enough
of it. You beat me out of habit now
with unwilling fists and eyes begging
me to stop you. I see you

in a decade with a child


on your lap. The dexterity
in your hands freed
from the anger of your fists
lacing his shoes and zipping
his jacket. Such ordinariness.

The bruises now are the ones


you see in the mirror.
Dissimilation
(Manzanar, 1942)

You try to forget


the way they brought you here
shrouded
in silks of euphemism. The way

you were unhomed by fear


and taken while you slept

just inside the promise.


Maybe you don’t see the barbed wire
sharpen into focus

and the skeletons of apple trees


that black and white
the distance. Don’t feel

your eyes sting with smoke


from bombs that settled
on the wind of somewhere far away.

The almond sand clumps


in trails of tears.
Children grow up. Men transform

the desert into gardens


and waterfalls and women wash
the ashes from their shirts.
Tarpaper barracks become
the ghosts of home.

And maybe you wonder


when the inside
became the outside
and when
the last traces of astonishment
faded from your eyes. When
you stopped looking forward

to the horizon and began to speak


in whispers.
Missteps
(West Elk Mountain, Colorado, 1967)

That one day I wanted


you to want to man
the rifle’s wooden stock
stable the aim
and clean-kill the elk.
To want

my slap of proudness
on your back. But the gun
was a doll you cradled
as you backed away
further and further

from the elk. A twelve-year-old


stepping on sticks that snapped
the forest to attention. The elk

faded in the distance

and the moment spilled


like water
from our last canteen.

At dusk
our hobbled gelding stumbled
on a ridge
of rocks and bellowed
his death down the canyon wall.

Campfire embers spat


like bad omens against a gathering silence.
That fog of silence that merged
into us and around us that night
and never really left.

And l saw
the thinness of your shadow
trembling in the tent

and hated
myself for hoping
you would believe
that sparing
the elk had somehow killed
the horse.
Bobby
(Pueblo, Colorado, 1978)

That year the autumn leaves


seemed to fall on us as shards
You fled them
arms above your head
but they demised you
on the very edge

of healing Somewhere a song


stranded in an old guitar
was calling you out instead
of pushing you back

It was never about the lack


of words
Or about the bridge or the fall
or the concrete slamming
into you
It was never the essence

of remembering the quiet fields


or the longing for a storm
that always hovered

It was simply to absorb the softness


of abandon and continue
on your way
Fall 2018
matthew scott harris

SLAM FOR ORLANDO

Once a safe haven, where one could bare


their sexual dog gone boon
just one moment before mass hysteria
and hubbub ripped cocoon
where majority of patrons

comfortably displayed
gender preference a goon
forever shattered safe haven
of Pulsations Night Club where on June
12th, 2016 - forty nine lives affiliated
with LGBY Community bayed at moon

for long lost loves rent asunder


when barrage of gunfire
took down light of high noon
draping mourners and the
forty-nine victims – viz broke kin brethren

(quaffing from same cistern), now a ruin


swath of irreparable grief, when healing
if possible may NOT be very soon.
immediately once horror abated questions
without answers, and speculations
sprang amidst frenzied fray
whereat no choked back voiced opinion
sufficed to explain, how and/or why hay
wire loosed gunmen blithely emptied
high-powered assault weapon – may
hem immediately loosed with instinctual

brave action heroes did play


last card to save life of her/his partner –
when bullets did spray
from assassin - guaranteeing
those in cross hair, when
deathly hallows came their way.

those whose physical injuries recover,


versus casualties of battlefield slain
haunted (maimed for always)

2.

per that incessant and unexpected fierce rain


of leaden slugs that stole dearly departed –
planning to pledge troth now train
of misery – eternally tracking survival
of body, mind and spirit –
when as if a major vein

corporeal being in shell shock -


hemorrhaged wound time will not wane.
this poet lives far from madding crowd,
yet my psyche impinged from
shrapnel of terrorist act
a silent benediction in tandem with this poem –
my head lowly bowed.
Daylight Savings Time – November 6th 2016

Hour hands clock back


sixty minutes of Autumn
Round about this same
month every year, what a bum
er, and inconvenient truth

diverged from this chum


purposelessly manipulating a hold over
sans yesteryear doth drum
a sensation of jet lag (with
Earth in the balance)

as if flying within time machine


at warp speed from
this station, where bumpy ride
invariably finds me
feeling a bit ticked off and glum
and in no mood to rhyme,

nor be leer re: cull


juiced barely tantamount
to gather scattered wits
sin tide, and express mood
as hoe hum

fortunate, this chronological


seismic shift nada wide, ah assume
nonetheless, mein kempf
cerebral hemispheric plate tectonics
comb pluck hated off jangling

black keys helplessly boom


fancifully drifting and booring
into quick ribald sand trap doom
ming an inducement for emergency
convoy, when pitched from
sea to figurative shining sea –
gram ma mother earth glum
where live yikyak wired van

guard trulia tried optimism to hum


nonetheless, swallowed down
cream mated behavioral sink

2.

her inert ashes boxed for mo urn eternity


like talcum powder went – me mum
bling bloviation, once worth
matchless peerage, now pitched numb
lee into morass of temporary
confusion, where plumb

line delineating circadian rhythm


offset, when athwart pilot rum
man strait ting and bickering
with Lilliputians slum
bring within islets of langerhans
defiantly thumb

ming nose, where body, mind & soul


weeknd viz a bully did cower
hence mister clock, who got high-
jacked 3600 seconds per hour
experienced head, thorax and abdomen
diminishing in power

wrought indistinguishable Whitsuntide as sour


grapes imposing ill fitting sea legs,
which folded like a faulty tower
crumbling skeletal carapace,
resoundingly surrendered,
and back slid vis a vis space/
time continuum did devour.
Black hole event horizon indeed kept
lock step as das joint mill hoard
Sucker punched the band wagon of
father time, whose riffs a silent chord
nsync with atomic fractional second bored
quirky shenanigans toying with chronometers
counter point of view shifted to
oppose this minute accord.
Fall 2018
Matthew L. Morris

High Functioning

Madness. Moments where time itself appears insane and tangible;


Ticking by in a torturous sectioning rhythmic procedure.
Life in quadrants,
Life in neatly arranged segments of things that we mostly have no desire to do.

Roller Coasters usually have guard rails.


This isn't quite the same as Six Flags, is it?
Amygdala

3:15 AM..again and again and again..

The bedroom walls become creeping, crawling creatures of the night.

Slick with their own sweat and ooze, inching ever closer, slithering near and nearer.

Throat parched like a New Mexican mesa as we try to scream out silently.

Panicked, yearned and frantic for the relief of rescue.

“Can't anyone hear!? This is my loudest decibel!”

Cardiac palpitations concede defeat to the clean shear of relentless and terrible fear.
Fall 2018
Mary Shanley

Parisian Photo Booth

In the metro station,


she was playing a saw
like it was a cello.
It sounded like a theremin.
The photo booth was
just feet away. Lisa and I
crammed into the single
space and popped Euros
into the machine and began
mugging for the camera, all the
while accompanied by the
other-worldly, weird and wonderful
sounds being produced by the
spacy musician wearing a black
leather jumpsuit. She owned
the local airwaves and captivated
the crowd surrounding her.
A slice of Parisian magic,
everyone tossed money into
her black fedora.
Everything Shakes

1.
My heart opens.
There is no sound, yet I hear the wild,
undefined rhythm underlying all.
Every move that I make, everything
shakes.

My heart shakes
a rhythm that sets
my life’s course
for the day.

Sometimes my entire
body shakes from the
effects of atomic spinning
and excess caffeine.

What spinning holds


a hummingbird in mid-air,
quietly shaking.

When I leave this body, I will


still be shaking. And held
in mid-air for all eternity.
2.
I’m on the couch, writing;
attempting to capture
free-floating moments
of joy. I want to save
them for when my spirit
falls, fast and deep.
The abundant universe
may impart vibrant energy
to set all life a spinning;

but I’m not always able to


access this grace and to
feel welcome in the world.
3.
Ancient French cave paintings
in Lascaux, provide the mystery
and Paul Klee’s Moroccan
paintings provide the back drop
for my visions.
They are projected onto a screen
I can’t stop watching.
The cave paintings tell a story
I can’t crack. I’m too modern.

Rimbaud turned his back on


the encroaching world and instructed,
‘Go Back’ No modern world
for him. He refused to be civilized.
He refused all of societies attempts
to control him.

All around, he witnessed:


The spectacle
The substitution
The pretense
The facades
The inauthentic.

Like a painting you pass every day.


Beautiful, but not so much, after
awhile. Predictable colors. Predictable
patterns. People living symbolic lives.

Rimbaud aspired to live archaically.


To live by his spirit map. To listen
to illuminated voices. The only rules,
his own. He contained journeys that
were his alone to take.

His young soul dwelt elsewhere;


deeper than the messages he received
at home, in church, in school.
He plunged into an exploration
of ancient belief systems. He traveled
back to the time, ‘Before civilization
made criminals of us all.’ (Francis Picabia).

The ragged punk was launched into


an illuminated state where he recorded
a wild explosion of winged words. The value
of his young defiance was misunderstood
at the time. Rimbaud spoke about resistance
in a language I understood, ‘Don’t let yourself
be one of the captured.’
St. Mark’s Place

Lisa leant me Reshad Field’s book, The Last Barrier.


I read it long into the night. The story follows an
English healer whose spiritual journey led him to
Turkey. He wanted to meet the dervishes.

As I read, I continued to return to one particular


passage, ‘It is important to remain spiritually awake,
so, you don’t miss the moment.’ My memory echoed
back through the history of my soul, and I recalled
the many times I received messages about awakening.
I re-read the passage, reflecting on how much loving
instruction and wisdom, I had forgotten.

When I awoke the following morning, I sat quietly


and reflected on my desire to remain awake to
the lessons I had been taught: compassion and kindness,
the true aims of my life.

It was early, and I was going to work. As I walked


across St. Mark’s Place, I noticed a woman with long
black hair walking parallel to me on the other side
of the street. I was in front of the Dojo Restaurant,
when the woman with the long black hair crossed
the street and stood in front of me. I stopped and she
asked me, ‘Well, are you awake yet?’ and she crossed
back over to the other side of the street and resumed
her journey west, walking in tandem with my gait.

At first, I was a bit shaken, but, ultimately, I did not find


the message from the woman all that surprising. I
inherently knew this was not an uncommon occurrence
in the spirit world, where we are all connected. I did
continue to ponder the woman’s question, as I descended
the subway stairs, boarded the train and went to work
Fall 2018
Mark Young

idiosyncratic supermarkets

Abetted by software that


conceals sarcasm, his
defence of old church law—
on the grounds that even
though outdated it is still
efficient—was the defining
moment of his diplomacy.
Then he opened a grocery

store that sold new & used


parts for US military vehicles
in the form of a persistent
foam mixed with ruminal con-
tents. Bananasplit reblogged
this from darkbutterflygirl.
Treasure Chest Expansion Exercises

I'm doing something funda-


mentally wrong, playing a
uniform discrete distribution
to eliminate the stress from
the initial forces. The backup
ran but never completed. Now
I navigate a nearly infinite
panoply of multiple narrative

perspectives, created with


insane artistry & a forward-
thinking use of glass, while
whoever helped Tyra Banks
narrow down the candidates
became a hero over night.
to go beyond GDP

The vertical axis represents an


ancient Chinese Secret over
5000 years old. The horizontal is
less effective parental discipline.
America faces a terrifying abyss.
Now would be a good time to be-
come non-weightbearing after
jumping out of a truck. If the

distance along either the x or y


axis becomes greater than had
been allowed for, just let them die
unless they're useful in some way?
Jeans over is the way to go with
one exception: Buckaroo boots.
Welcome to our anime store

The palate is super concentrated.


I feel no need to document my
life. This scenario has come to be
called impact winter. Cowboy bars
have traditionally used a go-go
format — esoteric criteria, exo-
genous & endogenous, succinct
& voluminous, a single locale to

exhibit multiple motions, enough


to demonstrate the value of trade.
She made a practice of introspection,
although all she could ever see
were the backs of her eyes. Picks
for the series appear in magenta.
chocolate parentheses

Muskrats are not very reliable,


live behind a map of old New York
which is why they are usually hidden
from view. Dignitaries who were
invited to meet them later recorded
well-painted images of horribly
frightening beasts. In turn, the
muskrats depicted the dignitaries

as having their viscera mummified


but the still living bodies stored inside
leyden jars that stimulated cellular
lipid & sugar metabolism. To be then
moved around in a pattern that can
only be recognized after the event.
Fall 2018
Margaret Adams Birth

ALPHABETICAL DISORDER

With thanks, for inspiration, to John Ashbery for his poem “They Knew What They Wanted” and to
our local teenagers for their dramatic texting-style dialogue I can’t help but overhear whenever I walk near
their high school

A-number one—
that’s what you think you are!

“To B or not to be”—


you smartly say that that’s the question,

but you’re so blind:


you can’t C the C, or the forest for the trees, or whatever,

because you’re so busy


focusing on being D-lighted with your precious self.

E-e-e-e! I feel so frustrated


that sometimes I just want to scream:

What the F?

G whiz!

What the H are you thinking?

(I am a nice girl,
so I don’t say the actual words.)
If I dared you to J-
walk across a crowded city street,

you’d probably simply say, “’K,”


the way you always do when you’re dismissive.

Once upon a time, you would’ve said, “I L Y”—


sweet shorthand—and I would’ve said, “I love you too.”

But now . . . M-m-m! . . .


See me shake my head.

N-O!

P-ew! Now our relationship stinks!

It started on the Q-T—

you R devoted only to me, you swore—

but “S happens,” as the saying goes—

it even happens
to the pretty “Bachelorette” on TV.

U are so full of yourself—


you don’t have a clue

how the V for victory


fingers you hold high should only be the one

(you should be able to figure out the one—


and no, I don’t mean that you’ve W-O-N).

You know what they say: Love and lose.


You’ve now lost me—just call me: X.

You want me to tell you Y?


You’re so smart (or so you say), and I think I’ve made it clear.

Z-z-z-z-z . . .
Your drama is such a bore—good-bye!
DAMAGED GOODS

That’s what I called


myself: damaged goods—
as if I were
a bruised flower,
a chipped mug,
a broken toy.
I had allowed
him to reduce me to
an object,
a thing,
something less than
a living, breathing, feeling human being,
a tenderhearted woman.
Even though it was over—
only one night, days, then weeks, then months, then years
ago—its impact reverberated persistently in my soul:
I could never recover the innocence I
had lost, never regain the trust,
never again think myself pure and worthy;
and, although my intellect accepted
that it wasn’t my fault,
I somehow feared, nevertheless,
that it was;
and even though I believed
I’d never hurt another
in a similar way, I knew that was what
he’d done . . . so, why not I?
Was I so good?
Was I so much better
a person than he?
After all, I was just
damaged goods.
SALAMANDER

Crawls from fire


golden stars ablaze atop a
black back sparking with flames
that burn but don’t consume

Maybe mythological
maybe biological
the Shadrach/the Meshach/the Abednego
of the fantastical or natural world

In resemblance like a lizard


but cousin to the newt
conjures images
of Kipling’s tales or biblical creatures

Moves as if supernatural grace provides protection


slips seemingly without fear from
between crackling pieces of wood
miraculously still alive amidst a pile of ashy logs
WHEN SAINT FRANCIS COMES TO CALL

The sacred brightness


which signals another soul’s arrival
fills up one tiny cell
amidst the blackened rest;

along the hallway of windows with


bars, the luminescence moves. A woman
of sixty-some-odd years
has strung a musty sheet that reeks

of sweat, rose water and baby powder across the width


to divide in two the SRO, and she’s twisted
a red bulb into the ceiling light
to cast a flattering glow;

the only sound is her own crackling, off-key hum


to which she rhythmically shuffles;
company is coming, so she gladly prepares.
The light keeps approaching, and then a knocking

resonates. She smiles: he is here. She lifts


Saint Francis’ picture from the wall, and watches
as he walks out; dear friend of the indigent,
he embraces this one crazy, lost lady,
and then falls to his knees in prayer.
Fall 2018
Lorna Perez

Late Night


miles stretched out like longing
as though it could so easily be held out
in these fading hours
as though a voice across distance
can conjure all our past tenses

is it enough to make you open--
blossom like an invitation or promise--
past these hastily stacked almosts
into another here;

something more and less than now
pushing back,
arched against the dawn,
its close enough




Almost Autumn


Again, the night comes, heavy against the neon
and all of these predictable certainties
like wine uncorked, a book of new poems
and the hope that there is something
out there in the night waiting to become
you are unprepared again,
for the loneliness of the impending season
as the late light filters through trees, mild and deceptive,
you think there is time yet.

yet.

we will always want just a bit more
another long evening
another morning delayed,
another arrival
and find ourselves instead
in the empty moment, delaying nothing
save the falling.




The Far Flung (an immigration poem)


Emerging, world-weary and blinking at
harsh and angular light,
relieved for fresh air, though it
lacerates the lungs

and I think of life on other landscapes
and wonder if geography can
be grafted into us—
these lands we’ve wandered
folded in our marrow
strung in our DNA like ship-rigging

immigrants to arrive far flung
out of history and situated by it
because we can never outrun
famine or ancestors under feudal skies
can’t outrun dictatorship or colonies
or centuries of leaving to

arrive under brittle skies
these desperate generations of raging
just under the skin




Just Like a Woman


I think of nights passed like this one
Held trembling before the inevitability of discontent,
Broken open like so many moments
Never arrived at

And now, years later in some hotel bar
In some city that belongs to neither of us wholly
We introduce one another as friends
An ill-fitting nomenclature
That doesn’t begin to hint at the ache behind the words

I’ve raged through crisp autumn days
Stealing tenderness past grieving
And believed, finally, in the indisputable
Ability of time to gnaw away the edge

Like all clichés, this too ruptures


Fall 2018
Linda King

alphabet dwellers

on the outskirts of elsewhere

words are shed like skin

sentence fragments

like broken ladder rungs

language leaves

a suicide note

the tense is tenuous

no room for bargaining

in such narrow space


you make yourself look smaller

curve into the brackets

your one pale eye weeping

reading the broken lines

blurred edges

the bleed of verbs

prove a point

an element of truth

bluer than blue

catalogue of remembering

portrait paintings

all those alphabet dwellers

found on the sidewalk

near the vacant lot


everything black will fade

in the beautiful accident


of undoing your words
language doesn’t know
what it is saying

it’s all trinkets


and trick sentences

added and subtracted at will

your best intentions


unfold like landscape
softening false narratives

radical blackboard letters


random alphabet rules

so many other possibilities


when words bleed other words

board games
bored games

word games
war games

whisky obscured

what did you expect? what did you expect? what did you expect
WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

ordinary sensible things


something other than necessity?
the scent of moss?

the sheen of philosophy


is where the troubles started

reality is only available


as an alternative

the unwavering of being


is the meaning we miss
every time
Fall 2018
Kelsey Ryann Orsini

links from my mother

Sadly most of us don’t


give a second thought
to the hidden dangers
according to foot doctors
who know better
loneliness speeds up death

popular medication warns


a list of potential side effects
the last thing you ever expected
cognitive impairment
summer dementia memories
increased risk of a heart without
comment one flimsy phone call a day

a teen died after taking


her cellphone into the bathtub
you’re not supposed to bury babies

protect your brain blanketing pollen


none of us should ever again remember
stop eating the choice
avoid the woman on your wall
visit your loved ones
in hazardous footwear
the more you see your mom
the longer she lives

expect some very unpleasant side effects


including death
II

It is always better
safe than sorry
sympathetic as softened butter
your tendency to be

the first thing men look for in a victim

searching eyes unsuspecting kitten face


long hair like cinnamon
a ponytail easily grabbed
a thawed vital organ
removable clothes
your whole silly identity
handed to him

unfortunate muscles
of inner thigh cause trouble

weapons pretty elbows and knees beware


a warning
attackers carry scissors
cut paper from your safe moments
break your shocked stitches

a queen of making lists


if ever thrown into the trunk of a car
try pinching yourself
applying mascara
yelling your social security number
outsmarting the strongest part of your body

serial predators pepper wine with loneliness


contains prisons in small talk
stairwells are perfect places to be
alone you’ve seen their mad appeal
potential to be
better paranoid than dead
III

with all due respect


doctors don’t have a clue

diseases of direct correlations


worry in your legs to the blue
doubt in your blood destruction at parties
shadows in your cells to the strength
of habits you can’t eliminate
the daughter disease

in your veins cycles


dilated compassion
fathers delicate as coffee-stirrers suffer
dementia of reversible destiny

nutritionists know cancer


comes from the ground squeezing
bones into tin
science into dragons
meat into destruction unrefined

sugar and kerosene milk


saturated with secretions
sublingual pleasure traps
oil under the tongue
each time these pills pass
your lips they leach
grandchildren

to survive lose
pounds from your brain
sadness from arteries
widen your mouth eat
organs like dates fill your apartment
magic plants comfort
honey raw in your bloodstream
unsweetened peak of time
find sunflower seed luck of your childhood
replace the readout on the screen
with the gold on your hand a tourniquet
testing the pressure of minutes
counting muscles in the beauty of seconds
the subtle measurement of minerals

the promise of extra virgin dopamine


all chemical myth hereditary
marketed to death
Fall 2018
Kate Wise

austere

I was compelled to know the length of your bones,


Freeing them of their flawless flesh encasement.
Your arrow head jaw, agape in reverie,
a dull chant to dumbstruck rafters,
flowers efflorescing in the hollow of your throat.
inducing the sensation of the gilded humming bird you wear as pectoral;
wings reverberating against your sternum: a deafening, silent flutter.
my pupils expand at the very sight of you,
ventricles expanding & absorbing the light
that emanates from the divine, diamond sharpness of your aquiline bone
The elegance of your clavicles,
And delicate incline of your nose,
Suggested equine endeavors, and manicured lawns and hands
Recitals and rehearsals of pleasantry,
Nobility,
Exuding poise,
The orchestra of your bones,
The cacophony of orgasm."
Connemara

My father's land had always been a love letter written in penmanship I could not decipher.
I searched for imagery my whole childhood, but what I discovered in reality
was two dimensional to the land I had fashioned in my mind,
to the land I scaffolded from the aching magnificence of photography.
I had wandered through the outdated grey scale.
I memorized the mountains and moors in the hushed geography section of dimly lit libraries.
I traced the peat bogs with my hands, wanting to know the scent of such rich soil.
It had felt like pornography those quiet afternoons,
something I sought for the thrill of desire as well as for the crescendo of knowing.

but I arrived to his land like a failed first fuck.


I found his land beautiful but droll,
bleak in the reality of its limits.
Where was the beauty, my birthright?
I soon forgot the importance of lighting.

Then I traveled into the interior of Connemara,


and there was all the honesty I had pined for in the last several weeks,
an unmasked, unapologetic understanding of my own insignificance within the collective,
an undeniable dichotomy between male and female energy.
A dalliance between the two, an unsanctioned cohabitation in the landscape,
the phallic monadnocks and the demure but lush midland.
Distinctly feral, rife with paradoxical glamour.
I knew it well, such expensiveness.

Ballynahinch Castle was austere and despite unrelenting elements; unaffected.


This was how we made space for tragedy in what we could not anticipate:
roughhewn, bold elegance.
Even when there were mice in the kitchen,
earnest sensibility bore a legacy.
There lived in that space a physical representation of the lavish inner life of my people.
The wiley land rendered a sacred solitude we would serenely succumb to in the company of our own.
The tweed drapes were slumbering, suspended heavy like eyelids.
Somewhere in the middle distance
I saw a woman who may have also been a race horse,
such were the contours of her face & mind.
You could cut stones and build a home by such cheekbones,
as easily as you could be stampeded by her wit.
Ultimately you would be left bereft for the feeling that had come first:
the false possibility of winning.
This was the land of my mother's people,
who I had begun to forget were my own true birthright.
Gold

the arc of the road


parallels the course of the sun,
& I am incinerated,
in the holy glow
of the day's demise

the ocean spreads below me


of that I am sure
I am careening towards the arc

tar & blinding light

I do not trust that there is


a gradual decline
on the other side
Or indeed a path at all

& from my apathy


materializes a placidity

that does not provide evidence of god


but rather generates god
in the hollow of my throat

A peacefulness ebbing into


benevolence
that I can retrieve from the confines
of my coat pocket
like a book of psalms
emblazoned by the sun
on to my soul
Fall 2018
Karla G. Orozco

New Beginnings

I stepped foot on USS The Sullivans on December 15th, 2010. It was a dark and cold night, I felt

shivers and goosebumps all throughout my body. I wasn’t entirely sure if my nerves were just getting the

best of me or if it was actually as cold as I remember. The moon was, “a perfectly round cheese,” as my

grandmother would say. It was so bright it enlightened the four ships along the pier. As I continued walking

down the pier, I held my head high, I looked up at the beautiful dark sky and noticed three little stars. I felt

as if those three little stars watched over me… I felt comfort from them, as if they were telling me everything

would be ok.

I was wearing my crisp new Dress Blue Uniform and I carried a heavy dark green sea bag on my

back. In that sea bag, I carried my black steel toed boots, three different uniforms, jackets, shirts, running

shoes, sweats and toiletries. The bag had to be over thirty pounds, it had everything I needed to start my

new life in the United States Navy. As I walked by the second ship I could feel eyes on me; I felt judged. I

knew that whoever was watching me was probably calling me a “booter”. That’s what they called a person

that was fresh out of boot camp. I didn’t know what that term meant back then but either way, I knew that
whatever they were talking about had to be about me. My heart started beating faster by the second, and I

was anxious to get to the ship that would soon become my new home.

From a distance, I started to see a long white banner with letters that read, “USS The Sullivans

(DDG-68)”. This ship was made of steel, it was 505 ft. long. The dark night made it difficult to distinguish the

ship's actual color but it seemed to be a dark shade of gray. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. As I

approached the ship, I held back many tears. I didn’t want anyone to see how home sick and terrified I

actually was. I walked up the stairs and again, I felt eyes on me. That whole time I walked with my eyes

glued to the ground but when I looked up I saw two females greeting me with a warm smile. One of them

said, “Hi, welcome to USS The Sullivans, are you checking in?” “Yes, I am.” I answered in a very low voice. I

wasn’t even sure if she heard me, but I was too nervous to care.

She introduced herself as Petty Officer Mendez. She looked Hispanic, she had dark brown eyes and

jet-black hair that was pulled back into a low bun. I could tell she was a “squared away sailor,” as navy

sailors called someone that looked sharp and well put together. She said, “We’ve been waiting for you. It’s

too late for you to check in today but I can take you down to your bed so you can put your things away, and

get settled down. Get some rest, I’ll go get you in the morning so you can start your check-in process.” She

took me down through some very tight hatches. I felt like I was going through a hole made by a groundhog.

I had to take my sea bag off and put it through the hole before I could even start making my way down. The

hallways were very narrow. If I tried to fully extend my arms out, I wouldn’t be able to. I suddenly felt

trapped and overwhelmed by my surroundings, I wanted to run out of there as fast as I could but there was

no going back.
We finally arrived to berthing, where all girls slept. The beds were staggered, one on top of the other.

Three beds high, twelve in one single hallway. The beds had just enough room for you to breathe, they were

more like coffins, not beds. A sheet, a blanket, a pillow case and a pillow were nicely placed on the foot of

my bed. No one else was there except for me and Petty Officer Mendez. I wondered why that was but I

didn’t want to ask. I just said, “thank you,” and she left a few moments later. I took a deep breath, put down

my things and all of my emotions poured out of me. A waterfall of tears kissed my cheeks that night. There I

was, alone with no family, no friends, not even a single star to look over me.

Petty Officer Mendez showed up at exactly 7 o'clock in the morning. I was already dressed in my

Navy Working Uniform, not ready to see what the day had prepared for me. She walked me to the mess

decks, which was the navy term for cafeteria and we sat together and had breakfast. We exchanged a few

words, mostly about me. She asked me if I slept ok, if I was nervous and if I had called my parents to tell

them I made it ok. “I can’t believe I didn’t even think to call my parents!” I thought to myself. The only thing I

told her was that I had decided not to call because it was already very late.

After we finished breakfast she gave me a tour around the ship. She introduced me to around twenty

people and took me to the admin office to get checked in. I guess she expected me to remember the way

around the ship from the tour she gave me earlier that morning because she left me there like a dog on the

side of the street. I had no clue how I was going to get around on my own but I kept my calm and pretended

to be fine.

My check-in process was completed and I walked aimlessly around the ship. I walked in circles many

times. As I walked down the hallway I noticed a young man coming down the stairs. He appeared to be

around nineteen years old, maybe six feet tall. He had enchanting light brown eyes. I tried to shift my gaze
from that muscular, statuesque figure but before I could look away, he gave me a very sweet, comforting

smile. He didn’t say a word to me as he walked down the stairs but his smile meant more than the twenty

“Hellos” I had exchanged with sailors earlier that day. I didn’t get a chance to read his name tag on his breast

pocket, I was too busy trying to figure out where I was. I guess I could have asked him to help me out but I

got nervous all of a sudden and I kept walking, as if I knew where I was going in the first place.

Two weeks passed and I hadn't seen this mysterious guy. “What was his name? Why did he

disappear?” I kept asking myself. He was the only person I looked forward to seeing as I continued to adjust

to the ship life and he was nowhere to be found. I was in berthing with a girl named Kelly when I thought to

ask if she knew anything about this guy. I explained what he looked like and she immediately knew who I

was referring to. She excitedly replied, “Valdez!!!” She appeared to know exactly who he was.

“Oh my God, He’ll be back tomorrow! He is just on leave visiting his family in California!!!”

“Really?” I said.

“YES! Why in the world would I lie to you? AHHHHH! You like him, don’t-cha?! You guys would

make such a cute couple! He doesn’t have a girlfriend!” She exclaimed.

“I just think he’s ok looking, plus I don’t even know the guy.” I tried to hide how I really felt because I

didn’t know if I could trust Kelly yet.

Sure enough, this guy was back from his vacation the following day. I noticed him from a distance

while I stood there gazing in his direction. He was standing behind one of the 25mm chain guns with a few

of his friends. Whatever they were talking about had to have been hilarious because they were all laughing

hysterically. He didn’t seem to notice me at first but when he did, his eyes lit up with excitement. He rushed

in my direction and said, “Hi, my first name is Isaac. I noticed you a few weeks ago but everything happened
so quickly that I kind of froze. I’m really sorry about that, you looked pretty lost that day, I wish I would

have helped you out.” I didn’t realize that I looked so out of place that day until he pointed it out. I felt

somewhat of a burning sensation on my face and I knew that my face was turning a bright shade of red by

the second. I was so embarrassed for some reason. He took a quick look at my last name on my uniform and

he read it out loud, “Rodriguez, huh? What’s your first name?” My name is Grace I replied.

We started dating a few months after. We were moving “fast” according to some of our friends and

family members. We didn’t care what anyone else thought because we were young and very much in

love. The problems started to happen when some of our higher-ranking personnel started to notice us

together more often. We always went to lunch together, we sat together, we went to work together, we left

together. Eventually, one of the Officers on the ship threatened Isaac and I with, “If I continue to see you

two together, I will report both of you.” We were much more careful after that. We minimized our time

together at work and even had to start boarding and departing the ship at different times just so we didn’t

seem unprofessional.

Pretending not to know each other on the ship became frustrating. I was aware that relationships on

the ship or in same commands were frowned upon and that we could get into extreme amount of trouble if

we continued our relationship. It wasn't just any relationship for me. I had finally found someone who I

could be myself around but here I was again, alone on the ship. Yes, I knew more people but what good was

it when I still felt lonely? When we saw each other in the small hallways we had to avoid all eye contact. We

had to walk past each other, couldn’t even say, “hello.” Isaac had been on USS The Sullivans for three years,

he couldn’t afford to be kicked out of the US Navy, especially not because of me.
Despite all of those problems that we faced on the ship, we managed to work through it and stay

together. It wasn’t easy but I was only on the ship for two years before I had to be transferred to a different

command in Jacksonville, Florida. My new command was only a thirty-minute drive from USS The

Sullivans so Isaac and I continued dating, it was so much better that way since we were both in different

commands and our relationship wouldn’t be considered an issue any longer.

I will always remember how terrified I was walking onto the ship that dark and cold night but I also

wouldn’t have had it any other way.


Fall 2018
Juno Probe

The Spider does not Spin its Web for a Single Fly

We were on the streets, so we were lucky to holiday in the radio.


We could listen to the ceilings and broadcast from the walls.
Although our radio is deteriorating, it makes for a fine home.
Ensnared by its charm and cheap rent we sleep contentedly in
This broken device of wood and transistors someone assembled
once, long ago, but wearied during its build and moved on.

The radio once said something like, ‘Spiders don’t spin webs
To catch a single fly.’ I was like, wait, what? No it was really
Like, like I was totally speechless when it said that.
I was standing in the doorframe by the copy machine.
You were eating breakfast in the evening, I asked you or the radio,
‘Is that us, are we the flies?’ You tapped silently on a dusty speaker.
We decided to go to the resourceful studio to dance and pick words.
Our minds were vacant but our bellies were full on Cap’n Crunch.

I was breaking down the wall and you sat on the fence,
And years later we noticed that there was one more thing I wanted to say.
Every November we called each other to celebrate the anniversary of that day.
It has been eighteen years now, now nineteen, now twenty.
How time flies when the situation is desperate for explanation.
How the frenzied remodel exposes the words: passing years.

The only record we had to play at the time was Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
But that was too spot on, if you know what I mean.
But when the government did fall, our radio had no credibility.
The migratory patterns of radio waves spin in bright blue gyres.
Our language was empty but the river rode high.
I think of him picking the first blossoms of periwinkles,
Sometimes I wonder if any of his stories were true, as
If all the words he spoke were simple submarines floating beneath
The surface of an imaginary Sargasso Sea anticipating
An adventure or a nautical disaster to transpire but doesn’t.

Still the words spawn, the language clouds sprout raindrops.


The silver glistening sounds resemble eels.
In the mud they emerge at dusk, wriggling.
The fishermen gather on the riverbanks with buckets and nets
Scooping up the letters to knot together new words, new phrases.

The words for hyacinths and amethysts are a part of a larger story.
The radio waves that transmit us are spider webs spun from hope.
Fall 2018
Julio Valentin

Poeta De Sangra

Estas dentro
de mi Corazon,
sangrar para mi
and give me sanctuary
in your pools of Scarlett,
envelop my scars with rays
of your Neruda Sun,
and seep into the cracks of skin
to moisture my soul

She said bleed for me


and I will remember your name.
Metamorphosis under Orion’s Bow

While my classmates chat,


I observe a constellation
of florescent stars beneath the Burchfield sky
puking dilated rays against canned cocoons—
fixed in place
to bear the delayed state.

The fallacy of art is at play here


as silence between each exhibit
project long songs of muffled cries—
hoping to shatter
the shaded glass between them
with echoed tears.

I’m reminded of gargled whimpers


on the other side of the window pane as
the child was trying to squeeze
the cosmos—
out of the Bombay cat.
I still pound against crystal frames to no avail.

Olivia pulls out her cell


and mentions how cruel her pet is,
having hunted baby birds for game.
I sit under the dotted bulbs thinking
about the night
I lost mine.
13 ways of Looking at Rice

1.
Rice uncooked
is a tragedy but
Pegao is a delicacy.

2.
Rice is proof
that colonialism is alive
when you knell.

3.
Rice without Sofrito
does not carry shame
but no salt is blasphemy.

4.
I have not once
seen God cook. If so,
rice would be testament
of her love.

5.
Baptism is when
canola oil snaps,
reddening the skin.

6.
The first time
I’ve prayed to rice,
there was a downpour
in St. Louis.
7.
The road paved by rice
is a blessing on
those walking for love.

8.
When Lubriel died,
we saved a bowl of rice,
praying he doesn’t go
hungry again.

9.
The circle of life
is also known
as the rim of the Oyya.

10.
When the buildings fell
I sunk my skull into rice,
hoping it’ll dry out my tears.

11.
The body of rice
can only be soften
through patience like
the heart.

12.
I saw rice
in the shape of light
breaking through the clouds.

13.
For every grain of rice
I’m grateful it was
not a bullet.
Fall 2018
JoyAnne O'Donnell

Periwinkle

Twinkle, sprinkle
love is in the periwinkle
glazed by the love so bright
inside the sunlight
opening up a box of moonlight
candlelight at suppers night.
Kisses In The Breeze

To caress maybe the breeze


a kiss without cease
a moment of love
sweet as a female dove
a tingle of a star
when love rings from your car.
Fall 2018
John Lavelle

Telling an Old Joke is All in the Punch Line

There are these four guys sitting in a bar. Actually Chet and Kyle are playing eight ball on a six-foot,

quarter-operated table. Ray, Raymond; Robert, Bobby; Chester, Chet; and Kyle play the game in a perpetual

rotation that has been going on for over a year now. They clean up after work in their own way and wander

down to this neighborhood tavern. They do this a couple nights a week, coming home from their respective

jobs to small places they’ve established as warehouses for their personal property. Bobby keeps a bedroom

at his parent’s house. Kyle and Chet have small one-bedroom uppers after getting booted from a girlfriend’s

place and a three-bedroom starter home of a now ex-wife. Ray is buying an eighty-foot singlewide. It’s used,

but he got a deal. Only thing he doesn’t like is that now he has to drive in from the north towns.

Bobby is sitting with his back against the bar watching his two buddies play. He’s clutching a bottle

of beer and a cigarette in his right hand, holding on to the neck with the third finger and pinkie, using his

thumb as a sort of cantilever, the cigarette squeezed between his index and second finger. He takes a drink

then a drag in almost one movement, in a practiced way that he thinks some girls think is cool. He’s already

called next, having placed his money in the slot.


The tavern stands in mid Buffalo off Delaware on Richmond Street, old and stained with the life of

generations of working-class customers trying to find a few hours away from the perpetual worry of eking

out a living, of putting one socially accepted foot in front of another. It’s wedged into a building that is

wedged onto an old city block. The establishment is long and narrow, with the bar toward the back along

the side and tables up front near the window so the few customers can look out on the street where, if the

seasons aren’t changing, the walkers-by are. Shadows of privacy or loneliness, whatever the pleasure,

accumulate like cobwebs. And with the old heating and the two rainy seasons, spring and fall, the very fiber

of the place exudes that old tavern musty odor. It’s been open for decades despite the fact it’s got no reason

to stay open but low rent and no help to pay to wait on the sporadic flow of customers willing to do without

amenities in exchange for cheap drinks.

Two TV’s sitting on high shelves are tuned to ESPN with the sound off. Ray is telling the guys this

joke he heard, but actually thinking about the fact he’s getting hungry and about getting something to eat,

but he’s not crazy about eating at a bar. He drives an eight-year old pickup truck and lives in a small

cramped two-bedroom upstairs apartment until he closes on the singlewide, works as a line inspector

checking the same parts day in and day out. He insists on a couple of things in his life, just to know he hasn’t

sunk quite as low as his buddies. One is eating food you need a knife and fork for and doesn’t come on paper

plates or in Styrofoam containers. The other is never lowering his standard in women even if it means most

of his life he’s alone.

“So where was I,” Ray says. Before anyone can tell him, he says, “Yeah. This girl walks into a bar.”

They’re really not paying much attention to him, but that’s just because he’s told them this part before. “She

says to the bartender, ‘set me up with ten bottles of Miller.’”


Ray waits a second to see if he’s gotten their attention back, thinking how he’d love to go to a

restaurant he knows where they serve decent steaks with a huge baked potato and more sour cream than a

guy can stand, but he figures his chances of getting his buddies to go sit at a table are almost nil, seeing how

they like to play pool and have a lot of bills, which keeps them in the hamburger and cheap beer category.

Bobby and Chet turn their heads in his direction. Kyle, who is shooting, just glances toward him for a

second.

“The bartender looks at the girl and asks, ‘you want ten bottles of Miller beer?’” Ray reaches for his

bottle but just holds it in anticipation of drinking it right after the punch line. “She says, ‘yep, line them right

up here on the bar.’”

It’s times like these that Ray really wishes he had a woman. Not that he wants to tell a joke to her.

He’s pretty tired of jokes as entertainment on a Friday night. He wants someone to take to a nice place and

have a decent conversation, one that doesn’t involve some sort of masculine verbal jostling. There are other

times he’d like a woman, too, but he tries not to think of those. A steady woman would solve a lot of his

problems. She’d create just as many, he tells himself.

“Where’s what’s-her-face?” Kyle asks Bobby, as if he’s reading Ray’s mind. For a second Ray’s

surprised, but then he realizes they’re all thinking about women. Chet turns around, Ray figures, just to see

if Bobby’s got a good answer rather than what it might actually be.

“Who?” Bobby says back, not moving other than gesturing with his full hand. He kisses his bottle like

a lover, taking a slow swig, and then with a twist of his wrist he presses the filter of his cigarette against his

lips. Without speaking he holds everything over the ashtray for a second, knocking the ash off with a flick of

his thumb against the filter. He does it nonchalantly like there’s no way he could miss.
“Yeah, where’s what-her puss?” Chet says, leaning lightly on his pool stick. He’s back lit by a lighted

sign, one half clock, one half beer advertisement. A half-dozen clocks advertising beer hang on the walls of

the bar. Ray sees a certain irony in this, how people are constantly reminded that they’re wasting their lives

in here.

Kyle comes up out of his shooting crouch. He blinks several times from the change of light now

being outside the bright luminescent cone cast onto the table by the cheap florescent light hung from the

acoustic tiled ceiling by two anorexic chains. “The good-looking little one,” he says. He accidentally taps the

lamp with his stick. Blue dust accumulated from years of single men blowing away the extra chalk for the

tips of the cue stick, comes floating slowly down like the plastic snow in one of those little Christmas scenes

inside a plastic bubble filled with water and plastic flakes.

Ray is close enough to see Bobby’s eyes twitch minutely before he gets himself together. Ray knows

what is going to get said is probably a lie.

“Gone,” Bobby says, waving his beer and cigarette. “Dumped the bitch.”

“Dumped you, most likely,” Ray says. He takes a quick drink from his bottle, wanting to get back to

his joke.

Bobby flicks him off and everybody laughs. Ray laughs too but he’s not sure if Chet and Kyle are

laughing at him because he just got flicked off, or Bobby, because the gesture is tantamount to an admission

that he’s just lost another one.

Kyle sets back down in his crouch and shoots, missing the side pocket with the nine ball. Chet walks

around the table to see his best shot while Kyle chalks up. Chet lays his stick against the rail and goes to

sight down it, but comes up gazing across the long room. Ray turns to see the new barkeep, Meagan,
bending over to wipe a table. She’s rubbing hard on something, which has got her butt moving forward and

backward. The four men stare for a minute until she straightens up and then they look in different

directions while she scoots behind the bar, disappearing into the kitchen.

Bobby has already called dibs on her and Ray thinks that he’s getting damn tired of Bobby calling

dibs on all the good-looking ones, except Bobby calls dibs on all the girls good looking or not. What really

pisses him off is that most of them fall for Bobby’s bullshit for a while and then they skedaddle. Ray has

watched all three of his buddies hit on Meagan more than once and each time she shut them down. Behind

her back they call her a stuck-up bitch, but that doesn’t keep them from coming up with some new line.

Only now they try to do it when nobody is looking. She’s getting to be a challenge, or more so, Ray thinks, a

trophy. Ray hit on her once, almost thinking he had to, never once thinking she’d take him up on his offer.

He’d been correct. He knows that whoever succeeds in getting Meagan to go out with him will be hot shit

around the others. Of course that guy will imply he got her in the sack. Ray knows he’d treat her right. He’ll

never get the chance, but most times he never gets the chance to treat any woman right.

Meagan rushes out of the kitchen and bounces to a stop across the bar from Ray and Bobby. “You

guys okay,” she asks.

Bobby leans back against the bar and peers over his right shoulder. “Better than okay,” he says. Kyle

and Chet pretend to attempt to smother up a couple of guffaws with the back of their wrists.

Ray notices that the corners of Meagan’s smile droop a little.

She steps to her right so she’s directly across from him. “How about you?” she asks.

Bobby giggles a little.


Ray’s supposed to say something witty and slightly off-color, but he can’t think of anything when he’s

staring at her little-girl angel face with blue eyes he’s seen some nights just before sleep. So he shakes his

bottle and contemplates tying one on, but that’s getting old. “Naw, thanks,” he says.

Meagan is staring at something behind him, up and to his left and he figures it’s one of the clocks.

It takes her a couple of seconds to snap back to attention and a few more to remember what he said.

She says, “Tony will be here in fifteen. Kitchen will be open.” She pats the bar twice in front of Ray. “If you

want something just yell.” She smiles at Ray.

He smiles back thinking that maybe she’s taken a liking to him.

Bobby says, “Honey, I’ve been yelling.”

Meagan’s still smiling as she turns back to the kitchen, but Ray knows the smile is already gone. The

four men stare silently at the space where Meagan had been as if trying to conjure her back up.

“Anyhow,” Ray says. “The girl drinks the ten Millers and passes out.” He holds his arm straight up at

the elbow and slowly flops it over like a falling tree or girl.

High-pitched giggles and silk-smooth voices of more females entering the bar fill the empty space

between the walls, ceiling and floor like a flash flood. The sound goes through Ray like a low-voltage shock.

It’s unusual for girls to be coming in at this time of day, actually for any time of day in this bar. Ray figures

it’s one of the reasons the guys chose the place, a sort of respite from the romance wars. He swings his

barstool around one hundred eighty degrees to get a good look at them. The girls seem to have come in

three sizes; a short one; a tall, skinny one; and a fairly stocky one who lets the door slam shut behind her.

The women snake around the tables. They all wear the same color pullover shirt, a burnt orange

with something printed on the left side above their breasts,. The short one touches the top of a table with
one finger and gazes at the other two for affirmation. The stocky girl nods while the tallest girl pulls out a

chair. The all have long hair in varying degrees of brown. Ray has already surmised that they work together

and they’re trying out a new bar probably someplace in the neighborhood of their jobs or at least on the way

home for one or two of them.

“Well, well, well,” Bobby says, sliding up on his barstool. Bobby says it in some weird accent that Ray

figures is a poor attempt at imitating a movie vampire or a Snidely Whiplash sort of villain. It just reassures

him that his assessment of Bobby’s intelligence isn’t far off.

Kyle and Chet seem to have lost track of the game, or interest in it anyhow. Ray takes a drink from

his longneck while still gazing at the girls. It splits his vision like one of those old stereoscopes. The short

one sits with her back toward the men. The tall one and the stocky girl glare quickly toward them while Ray

is still trying to focus past his bottle. He suddenly gets a vision of what he looks like. He puts the bottle

down and glances away. “Anyhow,” Ray says, “where was I?”

Bobby says, “Telling some stupid joke.”

“What do you mean, stupid,” Ray says.

Kyle suddenly starts chalking up, rubbing the little blue square against the end of the stick,

attempting to concentrate on the tip. “We already know the ending.”

“No you don’t,” Ray says back, still a bit embarrassed at looking like a fool to the girls, already.

Bobby leans forward and glances down at the girls. “We can figure it out.” He smiles at them but

they don’t seem to notice.

Ray looks down to the three ladies. The distance between him and the girls is only about twenty feet

but he realizes he has no ability to traverse it and that it’s too late for the joke. Once the girls walked into the
bar, everything changed, but he thinks, maybe for the better. There’s always a chance. Can’t get shut down

forever. He knows his only hope, though, is to send Bobby as point man, which he thinks shouldn’t be that

hard seeing how Bobby never has a clue when he’s out-classed and he’s definitely out-classed. They all are.

Bobby’s built up the reputation of being a ladies’ man, mostly through his own bullshit, bragging and the

like. Ray knows that if he sets him up, there’s no way Bobby can get out of it.

Ray turns to Bobby and says, “Fine, you’re up, smart ass.”

Kyle looks right at Bobby and says, “Ray’s right, I think we need to get to know them.” The way he

says it Ray knows it’s a challenge for Bobby to put it on the line and he’s not surprised at all that they‘re all

thinking the same thing. Ray is already figuring that there’s a problem, three girls, four guys.

“Ok,” Bobby says. “Give me a minute.”

“What the hell you need a minute for?” Ray says. “Just go get ‘em.”

Bobby takes another drink as if he’s not worried about it at all, but Ray is close enough to see the way

he gulps his beer. He knows the guy is nervous. “Need a plan,” Bobby says.

Chet is back in his shooting crouch and he leans his forehead against the rail as if the stupidity of

what Bobby just said has blown his concentration.

“Fine,” Bobby says. “You guys go out there and do it.” He points with his beer/cigarette hand toward

the women who Ray has noticed have glanced at them several times. “See how you make out. At least I get

something once in a while,” Bobby says.

And that’s what puzzles Ray. Bobby’s decent looking. He’s got that lead-singer-from-a-rock-band,

boyish look where he could be a skateboarder or college student or any of those cool types. He’s the shortest

of the four of them, but that seems to work in his favor too. He doesn’t seem to have much trouble getting
women and some of them seem pretty nice, but he never keeps them. It isn’t like they catch him screwing

around on them, although Bobby does or will if given half a chance. It’s just that he sort of ignores his

woman once he’s got her. The longest Ray remembers one sticking around was a year.

Chet fires off a shot and Ray hears the miss-cue and the ball goes spinning across the table like a tiny

white planet whirling out of control in some green, felt-covered solar system.

Kyle goes down to line up the next shot. He’s smiling and Ray sees he’s got only one ball left on the

table, an easy shot with draw to line up the eight ball. But Chet is smiling too and Ray’s starting to think he’s

playing a bigger game. Kyle drops in the eight and Bobby slides off his stool.

Chet says, “Let Ray take your spot. You’ve got some cattin’ to do.”

Bobby stares at Chet for a few seconds then glances at the three girls who are now getting drink

orders from Meagan, all smiling and laughing like they’ve known each other for years.

Ray can’t understand how women do it, just settle in to each other like that. He walks over and takes

the stick from Chet and nods in the direction of the girls. “They didn’t ask for menus which might mean

they aren’t planning to stick around long.” It’s a warning for Bobby to get a move on or Kyle or Chet to kick

his butt. Ray knows he’s the smartest of the bunch, not just because he almost finished a four-year degree

and only Bobby even attempted to go to the community college, mostly for the girls and parties, but by

observation and how the other three seem always to be screwing up their lives. He also knows, through

painful observation, that he’s the least good-looking of the bunch, or he’s got something that doesn’t appeal

to most women. It’s why they hang together. In some ways they’re all screw-ups even if the others won‘t

admit it. Everyone else, though, seems to be a leader except him. That is, if someone says something the rest

take it for gospel truth. He says something, they think it’s all bullshit, so he usually has to put it in some way
the rest of them can swallow, like a suggestion, which they always turn down but come up with later on as if

it had been their idea in the first place. Of course his failure to find a woman, any woman, is legendary

among the four.

Bobby glances down the bar to the girls again. The short one moves her chair back and starts to

stand. Bobby sets his bottle on the bar. He drags hard on his cigarette and snuffs it out in the ashtray. He

blows the smoke out his nostrils in one of those long sighs like a gunfighter at high noon. He walks away but

seems to be heading for the bathroom when he accidentally bumps into the girl who seems to have been

heading there also. They talk for a few seconds. Bobby is giving her one of his smiles where the girl can’t

help but smile back, and then they go do their business. She is back sitting in her chair with the other two

friends by the time Bobby is done. He walks straight to their table and takes the fourth chair as if he’s known

them all his life.

“Son of a bitch’s gone and done it,” Kyle says. “Can you believe that?”

Ray can, but for some reason the girls being so easy disappoints him. “So,” he says, “which one loses.”

He nods towards the table as he jams in the coin receiver on the side of the pool table. The sound of pool

balls falling echoes through the bar and somehow they sound like the antithesis of the girls’ laughter.

“Huh?” Chet says, and then seems to catch Ray’s drift. “You do.”

“No way,” Ray says. “You two already had your turn.” He’s speaking about the fact that Kyle has two

kids and an ex-wife while Chet has one kid with an ex-girlfriend.

Kyle smirks at him. “You mean the ex?” Kyle says. “Tell you what Ray, give you her phone number.

You can go over there right now and take her and those kids off of my hands.”
“Sorry, man, but she’s used and abused,” Ray says, but he’s already tried it a couple of times after he

heard she was going for a divorce. He’d heard divorcees were desperate. He found out she wasn’t that hard

up. And Chet’s woman was already replacing him before she threw him out. Ray had seen Bobby and

Kyle’s cars over there on different nights while Chet worked the late shift.

“Besides,” Chet says, “you’d only fuck it up.”

Kyle is racking up the balls, matching them up in the wooden triangle, high—low, high—low.

“That’s right. You couldn’t get laid if you had a tranquilizer gun.”

“Hey, man,” Ray says, but he doesn’t finish it. He knows they speak the truth, but that’s not going to

keep him from trying. He bends over the rail and lines up the cue ball. Kyle lifts the rack. Ray hits it hard

sending in the eleven and three. He calls choice. It’d be real easy to tell Chet about Bobby and Kyle, or Kyle

about his ex saying she was glad to be done with him and his drinking because most times he was too

screwed up to be any good in or out of bed, which was her reason not to give Ray a chance, figuring he’d be

just about the same, but what good would it do? Just make them lonelier than they already were. The

thought comes to Ray, while trying to figure out whether he wants lows or highs, and how he is going to

work his way down to the table, that maybe Kyle’s ex is desperate enough now to give him a chance, at least

let him on the porch.

Chet picks up his beer and walks down toward the table. The tall one, who is sitting facing toward

the back of the bar where the pool table is, stops laughing at whatever Bobby is saying and stares at Chet

advancing on them. He’s a kind of burly man with a lot of rough edges. Of the three, Ray figures Chet’s

better off with the big one, not the one he’s staring down. That’s the problem with most people, he thinks;

they never seem to pick the right one.


Before he sits down, Chet pulls Meagan over and says something in her ear. Ray figures he’s ordering

more drinks. Chet taps her on the behind when he’s done. She smiles but Ray sees the flash of anger once

she’s behind Chet.

Ray bends over to take a shot, having decided the lows are lined up the best. He’s thinking about

saying something to Kyle about Chet’s technique, thinking he’ll stick around to finish up the game, but Kyle

is heading down to the girl’s table, cue stick and all.

“Fuck,” Ray says to himself. He shoots the six, misses, lines it up again and makes it in the corner

pocket. He shoots at the three and drops the cue ball in the side pocket, all the time trying to stay calm as if

he doesn’t care. “Hey,” he shouts down the bar. “Your shot.”

Kyle glances up from where he’s just pulled up a chair, and they stare at each other for almost a

minute. Ray’s not sure what he looks like standing there with his stick in his hand, but Kyle has a look on his

face that’d stop a rhinoceros. For a second Ray is wondering if he can take Kyle. He thinks he can. Kyle’s a

big boy but he’s a wild swinger, mostly arms, and no real power.

Kyle says, “Hey, why don’t you finish it up yourself. That way you can win.” He glances at the girl to

the left of him, then the one on the right and laughs. Chet and Bobby laugh too.

“Fuck it,” Ray says under his breath, disgusted with all three of them and goes to cleaning the table

getting angrier at every click of ball hitting ball, at every thud of a ball dropping into a pocket. When he’s

done he tosses the stick onto the table, slides up to the bar and takes a couple of swigs of his beer, watching

Meagan deliver the drinks to the three couples.


Tony, the night bartender, strolls in glaring at the gaggle of girls and guys for a second as if

wondering what’s going on. Ray knows it’s just Tony’s way of letting everyone know he’s in charge. He nods

to Meagan then walks behind the bar and into the kitchen.

Meagan follows Tony, passing Ray. She’s untying her apron and turns to him as if just remembering

something she’s forgotten. “You set?”

Ray glances at his bottle. It’s three-quarters gone. “Yeah,” he says, thinking he might just go home.

“You want something to eat?” She says it as if really concerned about his welfare, folding her apron

up and holding it in her hand. He thinks she might be done for the night.

Ray almost says, yeah, not wanting to disappoint her and liking the attention, but he glances down to

the table where the six of them are drinking and laughing and thinks that he must look pretty sad sitting

there alone and would look even worse eating alone. “No thanks,” he says, then adds, “I kind of want to go

out. Not that you don’t have good food or nothing, but it’s just, you know, I wanted to do the baked potato-

salad-bottle-of-wine thing.”

She smiles and he knows it’s not at him. He figures she’s got a good memory or two of a dinner like

that. He almost asks her what time she gets off, but thinks better of it.

“So, you’re going out,” she says. She leans against the wall with her hands behind her and Ray

notices her deep blue eyes again for maybe the thousandth time.

“No.” He draws the word out like it should be obvious to her that he’s not and why he’s not.

She’s bouncing against the wall, a little movement back and forth and Ray can almost feel the

tiredness in her legs from working all day. “Where’s your favorite place?” she asks. She mentions hers.
“Been there a couple of times,” he says. He doesn’t mention how he showed up alone and was stared

at most of the time as if being single was some kind of affliction. “They’ve got a decent rib-eye.”

“I like their T-bone,” she says.

Probably got a bunch of nice boyfriends Ray thinks. Except he’s here a lot and no one comes in

looking for her or picks her up. Bobby, Kyle, and Chet all noticed it, too. That’s the main reason they keep

hitting on her. They think that someday she’ll be horny enough to take one of them up on it. Damn hard up

is what Ray interprets it as meaning. “Really? I sort of had you figured for a vegetarian type.” He finishes

his beer, pushing the bottle toward the back edge of the bar.

“Naw, not me,” she says, picking up the empty bottle and setting it underneath the bar.

Ray picks up his money, leaves three dollars tip and feels the metal-heavy finality of the moment. All

he can do now is get down from his barstool and walk by his three buddies with the three girls, head out the

door, get in his car and drive home to his TV, a TV dinner and his two cats. Then he just blurts it out not

even thinking of it or maybe thinking he can’t be any worse off. “What time you get off?”

Meagan smiles but doesn’t answer and now Ray can feel himself start to sweat like he does when he

thinks he’s about to get shut down and he knows, she knows, he knows she is getting off now or very soon.

He shrugs. “I just thought you’d like to go.” He glances down to the table full of happy people and her gaze

follows.

She shrugs back as if to say she doesn’t know how to say no without hurting his feelings and she

knows he’s been hurt enough already today.

“Ok,” he says, feeling himself giving up, having no idea how to get a woman to like him. He’s tried

every line, every trick in the book. He’s had three different haircuts in the last year, tried several different,
“looks.” “I’m desperate here,” he says, not giving a damn how he looks or sounds anymore. “All I want is for

someone to go out to dinner with me so I can eat in a decent restaurant without being stared at for Christ‘s

sake. Drive your own damn car. Meet me there.” Now he’s gesticulating, but forcing himself to speak

quietly. “Order anything you want. I’ll pay for it and you can leave right after dessert, before the check

comes, so you can make a clean get away in case you’re worried about me getting any ideas.”

Meagan stares at him for a moment. They both turn at the staccato sound of three chairs being

pushed back. The girls have gotten up to leave. “Supper? That’s all?” Ray nods. She seems to think about it

for a few seconds watching Bobby, Kyle, and Chet watch the three girls file out the door and onto the street.

“I’m pretty hungry.” No funny stuff? Just friends?” Ray nods. “I guess you’ve got a deal,” she says. She

walks into the kitchen and comes out carrying a light jacket and a small black purse.

Ray follows her around the table toward the door. She’s made it clear it’s only dinner and there’s no

way a girl like her would ever hook up with a guy like him, but he also knows Bobby, Kyle, and Chet don’t

know that. Ray and Meagan walk past the three men sitting in the bar. Ray winks as he goes by.
Fall 2018
John J. Trause

Tout de Suite

Will It Ever End?

Will it ever end, this daily, weekly, monthly, yearly pace, this drive forward, which is only really a way of
keeping up, maintaining, sustaining, forbearing all? No one really cares enough to fill in the gaps, to smooth
the path, or even to get out of the way, and yet, even if one trips once, twice —and yes, three times— no one
lends a hand or even comprehends the worlds that could come crashing down. It seems that others struggle and
in that struggling achieve some goal, some awareness, some end. On the question of seriality most others can
collect the whole set. I have never been able to do so except in The Twilight Zone.

Agh, but it is unfair and childish to complain about the problems of practicalities when more spiritual, creative,
and life-sustaining gifts abound. And it is not as if one is unaware of these; it’s just that the little annoyances
are the ones that sting the most and take their toll.

If I had to hang on for dear life and go without, even with trivial loses, I know I would not hang on too hard or
long. It is not that I do not love this life; it’s just that the compromises of this life do not seem worth it. Am I
really not of this world? Am I too confident in another realm? The big question or statement, really, is that I do
not care. I am lazy at heart, says the man who seems to sleep not or rest.

I reconciled a long time ago that the house I am building and setting in order will always crumble before I can
even get a foundation laid. Perhaps I shall live on air and grace and only the wispiest of wishes. I learned to
reconcile.
In the Street

Who are these people? What is your name? And you? Who are you? What is your name? On this street
teeming with strangers and strange others I ask, “Who are these people?” Why is this street pink or orange?
Why do shots of yellow glare out between the bodies or among the masses of bodies? What city is this? It
looks like Berlin or Vienna or any city of strangers. I am alone in this crowd, and I like the anonymity, but do I
dare ask if these strangers suffer as I do or suffer in ways that I do? Shouldn’t it all appear gray, not pink,
orange, or yellow? Why do I prefer a Kirchner and Macke to a real city? An Unreal City to a real city? What
is more frightening? Ha, what a silly conceit I expose in myself. Who are you? Isn’t that what the Caterpillar
rudely asked of Alice? Her answer evaded him or at least evaded the question. How rude is that? Well, I will
not ask this of myself or anyone else. I am content to be another stranger, an other stranger, a strange other.
What a bother. Hey, brother, can you spare a lime? How about a line? Before I end this collage à trois I
should answer my own question. I am no different from you, dear passerby, dear stranger, dear other trapped as
I am in the modern twilight zone.

Going to Canossa

Although I am not dressed as a beggar I feel like Emperor Henry begging forgiveness of Pope Gregory at
Canossa— the door closed for three days. I will repent and be on time next week.
Big Lub in a Tub

It was by all odds the most infectious chuckle in the history of politics. It started with a silent trembling of Taft's
ample stomach. The next sign was a pause in the reading of his speech, and the spread of a slow grin across his
face. Then came a kind of gulp which seemed to escape without his being aware that the climax was near.
Laughter followed hard on the chuckle itself, and the audience invariably joined in."

Henry F. Pringle, The Life and Times of William Howard Taft: A Biography (1939)

What’s up with William Howard Taft


New President with much abaft
That when he came to take his place
The White House bathtub lacked the space
To fit the giant gentleman
Accommodating those within
Who were less stout and round about
That a new bathtub was found out
That fit four men of average size
And hauled above before our eyes
To take its spot in history
And adding to the mystery
Of that great man of greater girth
Who was the largest man on earth
To make the White House his abode
Accommodated for his load?
Rub-A-Dub-Dub

(All Dead in the Tub)

Pelias, King of Thessaly IOLCUS


Agamemnon MYCENAE
Lucius Annaeus Seneca ROME
Petronius Arbiter ROME
Queen Amalasuentha BOLSENA
Jean Paul Marat PARIS
Madame Restell NEW YORK CITY
Paul Morphy NEW ORLEANS
David W. Wallace INDEPENDENCE
Jean Clemens REDDING
Sara Teasdale NEW YORK CITY
Maria Montez PARIS
Oscar Dominguez PARIS
Montgomery Clift NEW YORK CITY
Albert Dekker LOS ANGELES
Thomas Merton BANGKOK
Jim Morrison PARIS
Diane Arbus NEW YORK CITY
Billy Murcia LONDON
Peter Farndon LONDON
Uwe Barschel GENEVA
Christina Onassis BUENOS AIRES
Jerzy Kosinski NEW YORK CITY
Orville Reddenbacher CORONADO
Adrienne Shelly NEW YORK CITY
Dash Snow NEW YORK CITY
Whitney Houston BEVERLY HILLS
Dolores O’Riordan LONDON
Sridevi Kapoor DUBAI
On the Death of John Cage
Wednesday, August 12, 1992

And now he can make his true contribution


to music and amateur mycology for that matter.
Portrait of Me by an Artist I Never Knew and Who Never Knew Me

Oh, you who do not know me know me,


imagined me, perhaps, in black and
white, yes, and gray and even yellow,
a saucy fellow in jaunty hat,
but not a cool cat, jazzy, nothing
like that, a bit split, perhaps, but not

giallo

black dahlia, white gardenia, even,


or yellow rose of Texas, no, not
white roses, LA, Cincinnati,
but Easter Island, monolithic,
and aquiline, prodigious, posed and
past poised or poisoned probably, not.

NOTE: Inspired by Untitled [Man in Hat on Yellow Background, 2017], oil painting by Merle Rosen (died
spring 2017) of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Cleopatra Romano-Sodomized by Julius Caesar and Marc Antony Anachronistically Before
Capitulating After the Battle of Actium, But in Only a Metaphorical Way, Thank God, or Ra, or
Thoth, or Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, Elbert E. Farman, Muhammad Ali Pasha al-
Mas'ud ibn Agha, and Louis Philippe I of France, or Salvador Dalí for That Matter

Do it to me now, in this our bedroom bower in the royal palace of Alexandria.


Do it to me in Rome or Heliopolis, or any metropolis of our liking and licking.
Take me with you to rule the world from Britain to Tyre, I do not tire of your embraces, embouchures.
Gauge my responses and latitude and longitude with our own Antikythera device of vices, antipodes, antipathies.
Take my cherry, mon chérie, on our last light flight out of Egypt.
I speak many languages and I shall make you come in all of them. Come, come.
Come to our own megalomaniacal megalopolis across the earth and amid the stars,
like my ancestors, incesters, sisters, catasteristics, and palimpsesters…

Thutmosis, Moses, make the most of wine and roses, neurosis, necrosis, so says Sesostris.
The astral obelisks stick and prick, and you lick my haunches, cautiously, carefully
placed thousands of years before we knew you.
Ramesses crammed me. Ammon Ra rams me in Ramsey, †an anal torpedo†. Thoth will slam me
against a cherry-dark mound, surrounded by that wine-dark sea.

Snow falls in the Great Desert.

I weep for the fall of all of us, in this vernal autumn of our undertakings, for the loss of blood, lubricant.
We lucubrate and celebrate, lubriciously, no more, but in the stars.
But in our tears.

nix nix
nix

nix nix nix

nix nix

nix

nix nix nix


nix nix

nix

nix

NOTE: Inspired by Obelisk [2017], collage by Patti Gibbons.


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Fall 2018
John Grey

A VOYAGE INTO THE EVERGLADES

A copperhead hisses, a gator stares


through a veil of brown water.
There are no trails in any direction.
A footprint here is on its own.

Trees contort and soil floats.


Fluttering white feathers whisper of a dove's death.
I couldn't have been marooned in
a murkier, more inhospitable tramping ground.

But I trudge on in search of


fragile beauty in perilous surrounds,
maybe a flower, maybe a warbler.
In the marsh, an unmoving boat sags deep,

weeping between the walls


of herons and mangroves and water-lilies.
An island of grass rustles with
the breathing of unseen spiders.

Heat-sheen vanquishes the distance.


I am as sweaty as three dogs.
Swamp is an abandoned miracle,
purged of revelation, retreating to the mean.
HOW I MARRIED AN ACTUAL PERSON

I admit I was set on an untarnished creature.


She whose face emulates her heart, where loveliness meets
Every other perfection, defines her true nature.
Pristine was the word I had in mind, like the white sheets
That nuzzle into a child's throat, through her dreamtime hours,
Unsullied beauty raised in splendid isolation,
The innocence of raindrops, blamelessness of flowers.
I was eager to sidestep like and go straight to adoration.

Was I deluded by a real person instead,


With whom, after back and forth struggle with my ideals,
I embraced compromise, pretended it was intent?
I chided my conscience, when it inquired what I meant
By man cannot live by dreams alone, that without deals
There'd be no one loving, no one ultimately wed.
YOUR PRAISE

When you said good things about me,


I did not know what to do with the praise.

It pumped me up like air and I floated.


I had no clue where necessary gravity would come from.

Even when the storm moved in, rain fell,


I was still glowing in the sunshine.

When angry traffic noise blared, jackhammers blasted,


it was all silent to me, but for your quiet words.

With so much evidence of the living hell all around me,


I was carving out this tiny piece of heaven.

In a tuneless world, you were singing my name.


In a heavy darkness, you were lighting candles.

I began to see myself through your eyes.


I didn't once miss the old view.

Of course, all this time I was also praising you.


Welcome aboard, honey. Welcome aboard.
Fall 2018
Joel Schueler

Fuck ‘em

kinked,

purpling,

this eye,

its lashes

like

slices of sleet,

wild orange,

obtusions

of pygmy

carcrash reds,

swashing,

though of none,

above I watch,

I am

not golden nor incorrupt.


Fall 2018
Joe Milford

108

i remember when seeing you come out of the bedroom with just my button-up was oasis enough.
later dipped that shirt into kerosene and made a Molotov cocktail and threw it at the church of us.
like when one day discover a colony of millions of daddy-long-legs on the backside of the shed.
when you had to cut the hanging and choking kitten out of the kid’s soccer net with pocketknife.
as in when armadillos set up shop under the porch and you worried about their myriad diseases.
the home is never sterile. it is vermin, asphyxiation, pestilence. it is all necessary. it is love won.
it is flu, thrush, insomnia, pinkeye, croup, colic. it’s blanket, fireplace, stew, mousetrap, poultice.
Solon, the exiled: “Call no man happy until he is dead; until then, he is just lucky.” supposedly.
the desert is sterile. Aeolian processes strip everything of its soft flesh. the wind-keeper reaps.
pull the shawl across your mouth, the sheets up as far as they will go. you are the estranged one.
109

you want to feel sunlight on your face. you see the dustclouds disappear without a trace. you too.
that first day when you do leave the room as the silent brown ladies make no eye contact. 10am.
that first day you leave the room and the street is different for some reason. new trash in gutters.
the carney gypsies have set up the rides in the dirtmall parking lot. you need to explore this city.
Barnum once said that “Clowns are the pegs upon which the circus is hung”. right at home now.
the fire ants are in ecstasy today. the crows in ecstasy today. shining cockroaches are teeming.
your life a fugazi. your life Catch-22. your life an epic clusterfuck. your life a bohica fubar snafu.
remember the sandbox at Papa Joe’s as a child? grown-ass-man, look at this dire quarry of yours.
you will go back to the room to clean towels & sheets, clean carpets. TOTAL RESET BUTTON.
but the mustard stain on your shirt, the beer in your veins, and the prize you won are so vibrant.
113

first time we had sex, you were pregnant with another man’s child. we started & ended as dogs.
if that was how honest we were, gods can only fathom the secrets we had. curved as scimitars.
generic sheet slides under the door at 4am. it’s time for me to get out. bill like a crooked smile.
i was out of shekels & the wheels and rims were off my chariot anyway. let her sell it for parts. then the
greatest moment of pleasure in weeks. packing my bags. minimizing. new inventories.
all women around you smell this on you. some of them, it disgusts. some worrying. all moms.
remember our daughter was born they asked us to freeze her stem cells to save our lives later?
C.D. Wright called poetry “an ever-shrinking arena for cultural conflict”. snowglobes shattered.
my mind then, in the sun at the Best Western lot. like breaking seals. like unbuttoning her blouse.
a mangy skinny dog sauntered by the McDonald’s drive-thru line and a douchebag cussed her.
114

“Myths always condemned those who ‘looked back’…no matter the Paradise they were leaving.”
waiting to see if your credit is good enough for the lease. waiting to see if you can book passage.
memes haunt you about loser-hood. people howl at you from pick-up trucks. own your privilege.
as Scylla devoured his men, Odysseus said it was the most pitiable sight he ever saw on the seas.
like when they told you to get married. like when they told you to be a teacher. then, years later.
knowing this could not be his apotheosis. imagining pyramids only and always from the bottom.
the Chusan Palm. the Windmill Palm. introduced from China. fanned leaves. hardiest of palms.
as the divorce led him from the forest of pines to the palms of the desert. as the ink kept drying.
the Milky Way rotating with billions of other galaxies around the Charybdis of giant black hole.
he was not leaving Paradise he was not seeking Paradise he was gouging the eyes of Paradise.
115

met a homeless man while city walking. he was holding a King James Bible. it was nailed shut.
seagulls flying over the Kentucky Fried grease franchise just ten miles south of Atlanta airport.
one way to look at the chasing of wyrms is the attempt of a man to follow life to water sources.
to even read the story of the Jabberwock, one’s world has to be inverted. mirrored languages.
the desert contains borogroves, raths, bandersnatches, and jubjub birds. glass teeth and talons.
tomorrow, I am going to take a clawhammer, find Jerome, and pull those nails out of his book.
shooting out online job applications like flung black arrows in pitch dark night battle. sad sorties.
patch of woods behind liquor store. trail cuts through to neighborhood. paved by cans, bottles.
there is an oasis in this ghetto, barrio, shanty meth and crack town. Shannon Bend apartments.
the nails that crucified that Bible are in my pocket. there was no fuss about it. all parties in peace.
Fall 2018
Jen Rouse

An Afternoon in Paris

Of course we should all


kick up our heels and
run through historic fountains—
Parisian, preferably.
And we are smiling in
our cotton-candy
dresses. Our reflections
flickering
like fin-glistening
koi around us.

Over there
a silver-
haired mermaid
on a bicycle. She circles
and circles, moonlight
in the spokes
of her laughter.

These streets
are cobbled
with mirth, and
so one imagines
Gertrude and Alice
taking Basket
for a walk. Even
Gisele unfolds her
tripod and we hear
the collapsing
rasp of her
immediate
shutter.

The fountain
of what we
imagine
must matter
years later
when we
are
alone.
Complex Active Bodies

At first the light controls


not what it sees but the chemicals
coursing through its silken dome.
Equally necessary the nerves
to slurp the bottom of the sea,
one bobbing vacuum of a mouth.
Eventually there is need
and coordination for the mouth
to know the light to know
the reason for the need, to reach beyond
intake, to move through a column
of light the mouth to the head to combine
to lurch into being. A kind of consciousness,
a cradle for the new
wobbling attention-baby,
fumbling toward eyes.
Fall 2018
Jeff Bagato

Frozen in Babylon

A matrix of massive
stone blocks
creeps around the citizens;
laws chiseled
in deep relief
on these great walls
lean asunder—no exit,
no room
for living

Monsters, too,
face down the people
and force them into line;
a clawed beast here,
one with scales and long neck,
and the unicorn waiting
to impale a virgin before
she escapes
the labyrinth of laws

Proud tower returns to sand;


proud sand
scrubs clean the walls,
the mind,
the history
Upon the High Castle

Go down the mesa


with beans
and corn in your basket;
it’s cooler here in the cliff
face pueblo
as the updraft carries
sun’s heat back to the sky

In the kiva we all


look to the sipapu,
wondering if we are to return
home, or beg
for rain;

No begging
has made rain fall in seventeen years;
the tribes that came back
to the canyon painted their
mascots on the wall:
parrot, horned toad,
and cougar—
as they cried
of hunger and thirst

This floating world,


between heaven
and earth, descends
now, dragged down
by empty bellies,
the heaviest weight
of all
No Guiding Light

Grinding the best essence


of a nation
through a fistful of whining
words—

such rocks
slide down a mountain
gathering speed; no arms
can stop them—
they must hit
bottom to stop

These lies
remain in pieces
as the dust settles
like fog on every
morning when the red
gates of heaven
roll open

On the roadside:
a cup, a can,
a broken urn, each
filled with bubbled
poison and preserved
across time
The White Grave

Needle teeth of crystal


snow mark flesh forever;
no mind can thaw
in a white grave
so far from any man’s
sacred home

Glowing pyramids, a wish


for wealth
and power as in some
world passed by,
can’t warm this frozen air
with the hot breath of lies
alone
Schools of Drift

A guru of elephant
lore runs his
own school into the ground;
radiating myth,
he now seeks profit
and angers the gods

If not recorded on scrolls


or clay, wisdom
evaporates, and sometimes
the student benefits
from the pause

One flower can push


aside a stone; one stone
can push aside a river;
one river can push
aside a city
when it dries or just outrages
from its banks
Fall 2018
Jake Buckholz

Mountain on Fire

Tucker L. Dixon used to walk down to the laundromat when he couldn’t sleep, slip inside, and waste

quarters watching the washing machines spin. He found the aesthetic soothing. It got him through some

tumultuous nights.

As a child, Tucker’s family always owned their own washer and dryer, so he never had to spend time

at the washeteria. In fact, the home units were an important part of his youth. His parents did laundry in the

evenings, and the sound of a dryer rumbling in the hallway closet lulled him to sleep most nights. It got to

the point that he couldn’t sleep without it. He’d lie awake, staring at the ceiling, or he’d dip in and out of

nightmares, soaking his sheets in cold sweat, yearning for that tranquilizing drone.

When his parents divorced and his mom moved out, the laundry schedule changed, and Tucker

stopped sleeping. His father began to stay up late, sipping clear liquid out of a short glass until falling asleep

in front of the television, and the piles of dirty laundry grew higher and higher. Tucker couldn’t stand it, so

he went to stay with his mother at her new husband’s house for awhile, but her new husband was a very
peculiar man who did not allow Tucker’s mother to do laundry at night. He thought she might fall asleep

and the dryer would catch fire. Instead, he made her wake up early and wash their clothes in the grey hours

before work.

Tucker moved back in with his father who had quit drinking clear liquid in front of the television.

Now he stayed up late taking the stationary bike on marathon journeys. The contraption gave off a faint

whirr that was reminiscent enough of the rumble of a dryer for Tucker to fall asleep to, so he got in the habit

of dragging his pillow and blanket out to the couch, and drifting off to the sound of his father riding far, far

away in the back corner of the living room.

This got him through high school.

The first year of college was easy enough. He had to live in a dorm room with a guy named Carl who

watched NASCAR on their shared tv and mixed vodka into gallon containers of Hawaiian Punch and always

had a sunburn, but Tucker only used their room to study and change. At night, he slept in the dorm

basement amongst the rows of washers and dryers.

“This guy fucks,” Carl said of Tucker one morning when he was sneaking back into the room after a

night in the basement. Several of Carl’s friends were in the early stages of waking. Two on the floor, and two

more in his own bed. Tucker blushed and said hello.

“I didn’t think you’d mind if we borrowed your bed, seeing as you never use it. Some buds from back

home came down for the weekend.”

“Yeah, that’s cool,” he answered sleepily.


“I don’t know where he goes,” Carl explained to his buds. “He won’t tell me, but he sure doesn’t sleep

in here.”

The buds rose a ruckus of respect as Tucker stepped carefully through the bodies on the floor to take

a seat at his desk.

“Toss me that HP, will you?” Carl asked. Tucker leaned down to the mini fridge wedged under the

television between their desks and removed its only contents. He tossed the bottle across the room and Carl

caught it, twisted the cap, and took a swig. Then he offered it to his nearest friend. The gallon made it around

the room and back to Tucker who waved it away.

“We’re going to the lake today,” Carl said. “Do you want to join?”

“Thanks, but no,” Tucker said and opened his laptop and put on his headphones. When he turned

around again a long time later, they’d gone and an empty gallon bottle of Hawaiian Punch rested on top of

the tiny recycling bin. Someone had made Tucker’s bed, albeit sloppily.

The summer in between his freshman and sophomore year, Tucker was the best man in his father’s

second wedding. Afterwards, he drove a U-Haul across several state lines while his dad and new step-mother

followed behind in their sedan. He stayed with them in their new home in the desert for a couple weeks and

then his dad drove him to the airport and his mom picked him up and he stayed with her until he could

move into his own apartment near school.

The drive through the desert was an experience. Unable to sleep for the entire trip, he began to

hallucinate as he drove. Styrofoam cups of gas station coffee piled up on the floorboards as the azure, pink,
yellow, green, and brown of the desert swirled dangerously before him. Once, outside of Phoenix, his father

called and suggested an alternate route.

“It’s supposed to be beautiful. I mean the road is called Carefree Highway, afterall. Ginnie

remembers it from when she was a girl. You can stay on the freeway if you want and we can meet back up at

the hotel tonight, but we are going to take it.”

“No, I’ll go. Pull in front and lead the way,” Tucker said, afraid to go off on his own in his current

state.

Saguaro cacti as high as telephone poles filled the dusty plains on either side of the two lane highway.

Mountains rose and fell in the distant haze. Every few miles, signs warned of the danger of flash floods in the

area, and visions of these massive cacti swaying beneath a sea or standing stock still like coral as strange

desert fish awoke from their long hibernation to flit around them filled Tucker’s head. Gusts of wind

buffeted the high walls of the truck as A Horse With No Name started up for the twelfth time on the mix cd his

dad had handed him at the start of their journey with a knowing wink.

“The heat was hot and there were birds and shit,” Tucker

mumbled to himself as he gulped cold coffee from styrofoam and tried to get a grip.

Sophomore year was hard. The only apartment he could afford didn’t have a washer or dryer in the

unit, nor even a communal laundry room on site. He got by on Youtube videos of dryers, but his sleep was

shallow and haunted. He was often visited in his dreams by a golden-eyed fox. In the first dream, he’d been

on the playground of his elementary school when he noticed a hole burrowed into the gravel beneath some

of the equipment. For some reason, he lowered himself into it, and, crawling forward with his elbows in the
tight space, two golden lights appeared before him in the darkness. He woke up gasping in a dark room to

find his laptop had died, the phrase My golden-eyed fox on his lips. In the moment, it seemed to mean

something deep and he wrote it down, but later in the day he realized it was nonsense.

In later dreams, the eyes watched him from some bushes as he walked through the woods, or stared

through his bedroom window.

One morning, he realized he had never actually seen the fox. He’d only seen the eyes and woken up

with the idea of a fox. The dreams began to freak him out, and after one of his professors appeared to teach

an entire class with glowing, golden eyes, he gave up on using the laptop to sleep. Clearly, it was doing

something to him.

He did poorly in school out of sheer exhaustion, but the fox stopped visiting him.

When his lease ended at the end of the school year, Tucker was on academic probation. If he didn’t

figure out a way to start sleeping and soon, he would fail out of college. He took out a larger student loan and

began working a part-time job in order to afford a room in a house with a washer and dryer.

Even though his new job left him feeling exhausted, emptied out, and hopeless, it didn’t help him

sleep at night. And the laundry room at the new house was a tiny closet at the far end of the hallway from his

bedroom. Lying in bed, he couldn’t hear a thing.

Desperate, he climbed out his bedroom window one night and dropped into a bush, ripping his t-

shirt and scraping his arms and legs. Cursing, he stumbled through the dark front yard towards the street

where he found his bearings and started walking. He didn’t have any destination in mind, but it was a

pleasant night. The air sat light and warm in the dying days of August.
That was the first night he came upon the laundromat. Its fluorescent lights buzzed through steamy

windows and he stood transfixed. An automatic door slowly peeled open and he stepped inside. It was

empty but for two old women who stood on opposite sides of the building, not speaking to each other. He

walked down the aisles in awe wondering why he’d never thought of the laundromat before.

The next thing he knew, a strong pair of hands was shaking him and he awoke to find two policemen

standing over him.

“Son,” they were saying. “You can’t sleep in here. Do you have somewhere to go?”

“What--I--” Tucker sputtered.

“You have some place to go?”

“Yeah,” he managed. “I just fell asleep.” He stood up and brushed himself off.

“Best get on home then,” one of the cops said and Tucker pushed between them and out the door.

The next day at work, he thought of nothing but returning to the laundromat.

After work, his new roommates invited him out to the bar, but Tucker said he had to do something

and went to his room, gathered all of his clothes, clean and dirty, shoved them into trash bags, loaded them

into his car, and drove straight to the laundromat.

The immediate calm of the dryers greeting him, each like a waterfall contained in machinery. He

exchanged a twenty dollar bill for eighty quarters. They clattered into the small bowl before overflowing and

rolling across the ground. He dropped to his knees and began filling his pockets with the runaway coins.

“Rookie mistake,” said a voice behind him. He turned and saw a young woman sitting atop one of the

machines, legs bouncing in front of her. She hopped down and helped him gather the last of his change.
“Never put anything bigger than a five in there or it’ll dump everywhere. I’m pretty sure they

designed it that way on purpose; just another way to screw us over.”

“And what, they come gather the lost coins for themselves?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah,” the woman answered seriously before climbing back atop her machine. “It’s a vicious

world, man.”

She wore a pair of pink cotton shorts with the word BALLA printed across her rear end, clunky white

tennis shoes, and a billowy white t-shirt.

Tucker thanked her before turning to claim a secluded corner for himself. He figured he’d study

during the wash cycle and then get some sleep while his clothes dried, but he found the room hypnotizing

and couldn’t concentrate on his book, so he simply stared into the washing machine and watched his t-shirts

and underwear spinning violently along with his jeans and socks. Nearly every machine had a sign which

said not to sit on top of it, but he could still see the back of the woman’s head, elevated above everything else

in the room.

When the buzzer went off, Tucker wondered if he’d fallen asleep without realizing it because it

certainly didn’t feel as if forty minutes had passed.

He retrieved a cart and unloaded his clothes and then pushed them across the room to the dryer

section. He chose the most secluded one he could find and nestled himself into a little nook nearby. There

was a steel door labeled Emergency Exit and another locked door which was probably a supply closet.

Against the third wall, there was a bench and he laid himself down on it, figuring if the cops came again, he’d

have the excuse of actually doing laundry this time.


The sound of a door closing awoke him and he looked around, but neither door showed any signs of

having just opened or closed. Sunlight poured in through the windowed front and the washing section was

busy with people.

Tucker felt newly revitalized for the first time in as long as he could remember, and he resolved to

return that evening.

Professor Alvarez praised Tucker’s participation in class and asked Where has this guy been? Likewise,

his new roommates confessed they’d been worried the first few days that they had found a drug addict to live

in their home, but after a meal together they realized how wrong they’d been. Again, they invited him out to

the bar. This time he simply said that he wasn’t much of a drinker. He waited until they left, and then he

closed his bedroom door, turned off the light so it’d look like he was sleeping when they came home, and

walked down to the laundromat.

This time, he didn’t expect to be productive during the wash cycle. Instead, he let himself enter the

weird trance, only regaining consciousness when the buzzer rang. Then he dragged his clothes back to the

same corner, put them in the dryer, and curled up on the hidden bench.

Some time in the middle of the night, someone bumped into him and he stirred. The door to the

storage closet was open and he thought he saw a set of stairs and heard strange noises coming from within,

but he was too groggy to know for sure. The door sealed itself shut and he fell back asleep, unable to resist

the lure of the machines.

In the morning, the door was locked from the outside with its usual padlock.
On that drive through the desert, it had seemed to him a mountain was on fire in the distance. The

night was a deep black and his eyelids drooped heavily, but he’d been shocked awake by the burning

mountain. It pulsed angrily in bright flashes of white and seemed to do so only for him. He remembered

driving for a long time without looking at the road, one of The Handsome Family’s eerie ballads playing

from his dad’s mix CD, watching the mountain, and then he remembered sitting in the hotel lobby eating

breakfast with his dad and step-mom while she asked him if he was excited to return to college and start

taking classes in his major.

“Geography, that’s interesting,” she was saying. “I was always terrible at memorizing the state

capitals, but the schools put such emphasis on it. Even now, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why it’s

important for me to know if Wilmington or Dover is the capital of Delaware.”

“Wait, don’t tell me,” Tucker’s dad said excitedly, “It’s Wilmington, isn’t it?”

“No,” Ginne said, biting a sausage link in half, leaving the other half pierced through by her fork, “I

am pretty sure it’s Dover.”

“Let’s make this interesting. Let’s say winner gets to pick the music for the rest of the drive.”

“You’re on,” she smiled and bit the rest of the sausage from its pronged embrace. They both turned

expectantly to Tucker who blinked hard.

“Uh, Dover,” he answered in a daze. “I am pretty sure the capital of Delaware is Dover.”

The next night, he went through his usual routine, but this time he resisted the urge to fall asleep.

Lying on the bench, he kept his eye on the padlocked door, but the dryers overpowered him and he fell

asleep around midnight.


An hour or so later, he dug himself out of sleep, gasping awake, shaking off dreams of a wildfire

consuming a mountain as foxes ran terrified through the flames.

This time, the door was wide open, and all the dryers were silent. Tucker sat up. There really was a

staircase and it descended down into the basement from which he thought he could hear music.

Standing up from his bench, he peaked around the corner and saw he had the entire laundromat to

himself. Goosebumps blossomed up both his arms as he stepped through the door frame and down the

stairs.

The girl who helped him collect his coins that first day was behind the bar in a dim lit speakeasy. She

wore a suit and gave him a nod. For a moment, her eyes seemed to flash gold, but they were only reflecting

the lamps which hung low over the bar, each illuminating only a small, but overlapping bubble. The rest of

the space was occupied by round tables. About half were empty, and the others contained couples, or loners.

The one large booth, tucked away in one of the corners, housed a large and rowdy group of card players. In

another corner, there was an elevated stage where a man played piano.

“What can I get you?” the woman asked.

“What is this place?”

She nodded up to a sign hanging over the long mirror: The

Golden-Eyed Fox. Tucker jumped in astonishment. He looked at the bartender and then back to the sign,

but it had changed and now read: Burning Mountain.

“Can I get you a drink?” she asked, sounding as if her patience was running thin.

“I’ll have a gin and tonic,” Tucker found himself saying. Further down the bar, he saw a familiar man

sipping a bright red liquid from a short glass. Carl nodded in greeting then stared back down at his drink.
As he sat and sipped his own drink, he thought of his father after the divorce, and he wondered if

he’d done enough. While he drank and thought of his father, he realized the piano man had begun playing a

cover of a familiar song:

The ocean is a desert with its life underground

And a perfect disguise above

Under the cities lies a heart made of ground

But the humans will give no love.


Fall 2018
J.B. Stone

The New Punk

We rage against a dying nation


finding hope in bottom-of-a-barrel rebellion
we engage in the rouwdy raucaus of protest,
as we chant and call for change. Mohawks
and piercings, don’t compare to cardboard
insignia inscribed with hashtags and slogans.

Marching feet replace moshpits, megaphones


replace battle-cries and through a sea of human
bodies, we circle like fast-paced basslines, raising
fists like heavy-pedeled drum beats, holding picket
signs like guitar-smash distortion. As the city square
becomes a stage and the rally turns into a house show
Amazing Grace

Jamie used to sit on the same brownstone stoop, holding a 40 Oz. with the tastes of drowned sorrow and
bitter memories.

Smothering the back of his neck with a garbage bag for a pillow wrapped in a collection of torn rags for a
blanket hoping not to be suffocated by the desperate need for warmth.

The dumpster-drenched cardboardlaying on the curbside is his bed now and these roughshod streets are the
bedroom.

He hovers over an open garbage can humming hymns over an alley way bonfirehe starts to sing the same
song of praise his father would sing him to sleep with:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound


That saved a wretch like me…
I was lost, but now I—I—I—

He stops, because he can’t get through the first verse without breaking down in tears without pounding his
fists against a brick wall hoping the mortar layered lining will crack before he does.

Childhood visions of monsters under the bed now stalk him in the streets demons laced in human skin
looking to gut him for any loose change he’s collected during the day.

A requiem lost in the annals of tainted tributes, because some losses can’t be resolved by remembering the
deceased and what they would’ve wanted, nor by the memories of good times to keep one sane.

Some losses can’t just be carried on in spirit when its pallbearer is torn and frayed. Some losses push us to
our breaking point, a point of no return.

Where our old selves are a shadow of our past and the stains of anguish, death leaves behind leave us in
shambles of who we used to be.

This must be what it’s like to be trapped in a vicious rut of self-damnation. And no drunkard’s Prayer, no
beggar’s bible can save him from such suffering. A worn out stump looking for a wood chipper to dive into.

Jamie spotted an alternative an 18-wheeler with headlights that called to him like the eyes of death.The night
was pitch black.
He jumps in front, in hopes he will join his father in paradise, instead of a bed of maggots and mahogany, in
hopes that heaven is a reality instead of a biblical fairy tale.

I am not a religious man, but I still like to think he is in two locations. One beneath the tombstone next to his
father and another in lounge chairs, downing cans of genny light with his long lost father, engaged in a state
of grace, atop the clouds of eternity.
Post-Mortem Depression

My scenery:

the portrait of
a phantom brainstem
with cracking foundations
hovering over a scrapyard
of scrapbooks
like a spectre lifting the veil
of a rookie corpse
looking down upon a crowd of tears
except the crowd is of one
it’s the feeling when a soul
doesn’t leave the body,
but the smile does
Fall 2018
J. Carlos Valencia

I dreamt yesterday that they were killing me

Yesterday I dreamt that they were killing me. It was the third time that I had the dream. First, there
was the thundering sound. Then, they knocked down the door to my apartment followed by their shouting
and screaming and, without giving me time to fully wake up or even scratch my ass, they stormed my room
under the cover of darkness. I couldn’t see their faces. The only thing illuminating the room was the
fluorescent green being reflected on their eyes. One of them kicked me off of my bed, and while the others
barked commands at me in strange languages, another aimed the barrel of his gun between my eyes and pull
the trigger.

I couldn’t feel the blood running down my face, flooding my right eye. I couldn’t taste its dense salty-
metal as it trickled down pass my mouth. After the bullet did its job, my body lied inert on the ground. The
peaceful cold, which blankets the soul of a dying man and the quite whistle of a vanishing life, was all that
was left. Their eyes, like lightning bugs, stared at me like stellar astral bodies, so far away, turning and
turning around without ceasing.

Nobody heard the fatal shot. No one came to complain. No one asked for me. No one said a thing.

The newspaper published, in a little corner of section D, the sports section, a meager announcement
of twelve letters (not even in bold) that I had killed myself. “Juan Guillermo Velez, prominent soccer player
for ‘Medellín,’ committed suicide last night.”

Only my mother came to the burial, but not a single prayer did she offer to “our Father who art in
Heaven.”

The night before last, I dreamt that I had scored a goal, a goal among goals. I had scored it off of an
amazing backwards flying kick while surrounded by players of the “Nacional” … but no one was cheering. I
didn’t hear the screams of the cheerleaders celebrating in uproar my athletic prowess. One could only hear
a silenced lament. The birds stopped singing, the band ceased its jovial music, and the smell of dry flowers
invaded the stadium. Suddenly, they began throwing things at the field because I had scored a goal against
my own team.
I signed my death sentence with a kick… and because of that, I cannot stop dreaming that they are
going to kill me.

Ayer Soñé que me Mataban

Ayer soñé que me mataban. Es la tercera vez que lo soñé ayer. Primero, se escuchó un trueno.
Llegaron tumbando la puerta. Luego gritos, y sin darme tiempo de quitarme las lagañas o de abostezar o de
rascarme el culo, se metieron en mi cuarto con las luces apagadas. No les puedo ver la cara. Lo único que
ilumino el cuarto fue el verde fluorescente de los ojos. Uno de ellos a patadas, me tumbó de la cama y
mientras los otros me gritaban en lenguas extranjeras, otro me pegó un tiro arribita de la nariz.
Siento la sangre tibia correr por mi frente, me encharca un ojo y saboreo su espesor salado. Mi
cuerpo yace inerte en el suelo. La áspera humedad, que cobija el alma y el agrio silbido de la vida, se van
agotando lentamente. Sus ojos, sus ojos de cucuyos me miran como astros estelares, lejos, muy lejos dando
vueltas sin cesar.

Nadie escuchó el disparo certero. Nadie vino a decir que se callaron. Nadie preguntó por mi. Nadie
dijo nada.

El periódico publicó, en un rinconcito de la sección D, la de deportes, un anuncito de trece letras (ni


en negritas siquiera) que me había suicidado. “Juan Guillermo Vélez, prominente jugador del Atlético
Deportivo Medellín se suicidó ayer en la noche.”

Solo mi madre vino al entierro pero ni un Padre Nuestro me rezó.

Anteayer soñé que había metido un gol, un golazo de los golazos. De palomita y rodeado de
jugadores Nacional, pero nadie se alegraba. No escuché los gritos de la porra celebrando en alboroto mis
habilidades de deportista. Sólo se escuchó un lamento silencioso. Los pájaros dejaron de cantar, la banda
paró su música jovial, y ese olor de flores secas invadió el estadio. De repente empezaron a tirar cosas a la
cancha por “yo” haber metido un autogol.

Firmé mi sentencia de muerte con una patada y por eso es que no dejo de soñar que me van a matar.
The Forest Path

I continued my excursion like a sleepwalker without a preset course, savoring the yellow bile that
erupted from my entrails. With hoisted sails, the wind accompanies me in this immense ocean called life.
Walking without a set destiny, I raised the fine August dust leaving prints with my sandals. The cheerful
gust of your memory, the one that could not be stripped from me, continues to beat here, in the hollow place
where I buried the truth of our history, our past life.

I walked a while by the sides of the hill of the Angels and the cliff of Judas, looking without eagerness
at the gardens with flowers of ivy. I walked, completely set in extracting the poison-fanged serpent that
nested itself within my heart. I walked thinking about the possibilities, about another opportunity, another
life, a new beginning in another town, another place… but no, I couldn’t; you ruined everything. That’s the
case, the sole truth that can’t be viewed in the internal darkness but in the yellow bile that I vomit.

After passing the orange grove, I took the path that led to the other side of the forest, and I
contemplated in astonishment the landscape as I stood by the edge of a half-dried creek, underneath a tall
oak with noble arms. From here, I could make out a cabin with stone walls and a straw roof, almost timid
and half-forgotten on one of the hills at the tip of the mountain of the Monks. A grey, opaque smoke was
arising from its chimney. The sky produced a brilliant sunset accompanied by tri-colored clouds: grey,
yellow, blue, and purple. I didn’t see the orange color.

I had never ventured by these places, had never passed the Little Volcano. I had never seen this oak,
never noted its branches, and naturally my gaze conquers this new territory.

The day, for August, was fresh and I hadn’t felt as animated as I did today in a long while. Today was
the first time in weeks that I had the energy to leave that little room on the second floor. Something had
invigorated me with a newfound energy, and I ventured out to put my plan into action… and for that sole
reason I arrived here today, without you and a very small amount of your memories.

I decided that it should be done late after lunch. Today I decided to do it: to end it all, to end you.
Life is only suffering, agony, and pain.

I mull it over in my mind, and I can’t, I can’t find the reason for your departure: so abrupt, so sudden,
without warning; just a letter that smelled like roses place in my coat pocket.

I remember when you folded it and, in a moment of carelessness, placed it in my pocket and smiled at
me as if nothing had happened, “something for later…” Three weeks I’ve suffered without you, without us,
without your olive-green eyes and pleasant smile. Your strength is like rubidium, your complexion is of the
color of a common flower in a sunny spring day.
I only encounter whispers of the past in the dusty, cobweb-littered objects placed in the darkness of
my consciousness. If I live after putting the noose around my neck, someone will ask me one day, “and how
did things turn out?” I know they will ask me, if I live that is. I will look them right in the eyes and then… I
will remain silent. That is why I have to forget, so as not to lie but to tell them the truth that I did it because
of you. No, I can’t keep you in my memory. Here and now is the end of my life, and of yours too, as the
stifling August afternoon wind gently swings my limp body from the crooked branch looming over the
nearly dry creek. It will end.
There She Was / The Garbage Can

There I was, on the dance floor, mixed up in the confounding racket of the cumbia and the tropical
guaracha, salty, fat beads of sweat dripping down my face and diving into the abyss in slow motion and
colliding star-shaped against the dirty, paper-covered floor only to be immediately trampled by the soles of
free-roaming dancing shoes (trendy Italian trendy leather, high-heels, plastic-soled). They evaporated from
the floor - mine, the ones that came off of my head, those which rolled down my face and flew off into the
emptiness amid all of the activity. My drops of sweat.

The ecstasy of the dance - the bewitching rhythm like a chicken with its head cut off, like sweet
sugarcane from the August harvest, like thick smoke of Caribbean tobacco, like a little high-pitched ringing
bell – the Caribbean blood that empowers one's being, transporting it as if through a trance to an erotic
world ruled by the rhythm of tambourines, trumpets, and cymbals. The vibrations of the body, of the bones,
of the muscles, of those flexible hips in the tight-fitting skirts, to the rhythm of pan, pan, poon, poon.

The Main Stage was the name of the hole-in-the-wall on one of Tallahassee's downtown blocks.
There on Park Avenue was that cave of nocturnal rats, that den of sleepwalking savages – Latinos in search
of women; or dancing; or drinking; or escaping, getting away, changing the scenery – or simply being a little
closer to their own.

Dark black tinted windows, neon lights, and a thick, heavy door guarded by two burly Puerto Ricans
with a cash register covered on stickers, charging five dollars per stamp. It's Thursday, and that means it is
Latin Night. We all congregate here, those of us that know where to find a little bit of our culture and also
those who like the ambience of our race.

The walls seemed to have been painted sporadically – a little green here, an apple-red there, a little
pastel-yellow over the main door, and sky-blue in the bathroom. Pieces of the wall were on the floor, red
brick with little gray stripes. There was also a pink plastic curtain hanging from the all and a real cloth one
covering part of the wall. Wilted flowers, along with a pretty one that was fake, adorned the bar counter.

Paintings, that had to have been purchased at a Goodwill store, littered the walls. They hung
trembling in fear of falling to the floor. They had seen their best years of admiration in the seventies.

The tables were without centerpieces, and most of them would sway back and forth unevenly with
the mere touch of a finger, or the magical waves of sound that emanated from Gabriel's metallic flute. The
few lamps available, seemingly snatched from the city dump, let out just enough light to sufficiently
illuminate the proud sponsors of this Caribbean atmosphere.
The chairs were covered with holes and some even had knife-carved graffiti on their surfaces. Nail
heads were searching for freedom amidst cotton and fabric. Metal, wood, plastic; I felt it better to parade
around, beer in hand.

I was sweating and the air was spoiled by the stench of nicotine. It was already past one thirty in the
morning. The drinks, loud tropical sounds, non-stimulating conversation, and racket that accompanied
nights such as this served only to augment the internal shame of this taciturn, waking nightmare.

It was in the middle of this gibberish – the red, yellow, white, purple, and blue lights; the "Excuse me,"
"What did he say?", "Come again?", "Sorry, hahaha," "Bring another round for the whole table!", "Cha, cha,
cha, let's DANCE!", and "Oh, tell me more!" – that I saw her.

I saw you first, gringita linda. I saw you many times before around the university, locking up your
bike, playing with your hair as you walked down one of the floors of Diffenbaugh. I saw you doing your
homework in the library and when you were talking with your friends in the Student Union during Flea
Market Wednesday. I saw you swimming in the pool. I even saw you after that horrible haircut, the one that
made you look like a boy.

But this was the very first time that I saw you here in our cave, our subterranean temple, our cultural
synagogue. You look so clean, so white, so dry, and so out of place. Your hair was so straight, so long, so
golden. You facial profile was so detailed – I like profiles. I liked looking at your nose, strong and not shy.
Your chin with that little dimple in the middle gave you airs of a Roman empress. And those lips, so full and
provocativos. Your skin with those freckles – those freckles really complimented the color of your skin. Your
face looked so perfect from there.

Better take another sip of beer...

Our eyes finally met during the band's salsa song. You didn't dare to look into my dark brown ojos. I
couldn't hear the music embraguiadora. Your eyes, los tuyos, azules, blue, los tuyos. Mirame, mami, look at me,
don't be shy. I took another swig of the gold drink from Saint Louis, thinking "Should I get closer to her or
not? If I do, should I talk with her? What should I say? What should I ask her? What if she ignores me?"

She went back to looking at me, smiling freely and flirtatiously. Don't be so bad, I thought, don't play
with me. Huerita linda, you look at me and smile. "Where is she going? I think she's coming this way! She is!
She is coming towards me! What do I do?"

"Hi!"
"Hola." The music stopped playing. There was silence. The people stopped screaming.
"Are you the guy, the playwright?"
"Playwright?" I couldn't think straight; what was she talking about?
"Yeah, the one who wrote that play? You know, the one presented by the Spanish TAs, the Grad
Play?"
"Oh yes, THAT play – the one we did last spring." You smiled – you remembered my face, my play.
"I KNEW it was you! I liked your acting too!"
"So you liked the play?" You liked my play, my acting? I looked around, pretending to be busy
looking at the people desperately waiting to hear more music.
"Yes. You are very talented."
"Thank you." Why was I ignoring her? Why was I playing so hard to get? She was the one who came
to me. This was my chance, my opportunity to get to know her better.
"I liked your role. You played a very funny character."
"Thank you."
"What's your name?"
"My name is Ramón, Ramón Perez... but my friends call me Ray."
"I like Ramón. Can I call you Ramón?"
"Sure." Ray – what a plain name that is. Ramón sounded better when you pronounced it with your
beautiful voice. I liked the way you rolled the R – Rrrrramón. It didn't sound natural, but it was beautiful.
"I'm Leann."
"Nice meeting you, La Ana."
"No, not La Ana – Leann. LEANN. L-E-A-N-N."
"As in lean más?"
"No, as in Li-An."
"Li-An?"
"Yeah, that's it! Leann!"
Silence. What should I say next? What should I say to keep the conversation going – this lively,
energetic encounter? I couldn't let that energy die.
The music began to play again, the cumbia. I took another swig of beer.
"Quiere bailar?"
"What?"
"BAILAR!" I was almost screaming.
"WHAT?"
"Music, dance, you and me. Bailar, you know?" Movement of hips, passion, lovers.
"I don't know how!"
"Li-An," I say while looking into her blue eyes, "I'll teach you." More screams; I was almost deaf.
"What?"
"I... can... teach... you." I say it slowly as I accompany my words with my hands.

She put her hand on my shoulder and whispered into my ear. "Are you sure? I've got no rhythm!"

"Yes, here." I take her hand and hold it close to my chest and pull her through the crowd to the dance
floor. She was in my arms, her left hand grasped by my right one and her waist, her waist secured by my left
one. I couldn't believe it!

"Now what?" she says, screaming again. Gabriel the flautist was now playing the trombone. He
greeted me, nodding his head in approval of my selection.
"Just feel the music and follow my lead," I said to her.

The awkward moments as well as time had passed by. They had gone by like smoke, like wind, like
nothing.

Then it was time to leave. The cave was illuminated from the entrance, no longer opaque. There was
light and the exhausted clients began to leave through the mouth of the cave, looking for another place to
talk, to continue the party, hoping to rob the night of its life.

Y tú, Li-An, still there with me, holding my hand. You got closer, looked me in the eyes, then my lips...
and I looked at those blue eyes glancing at my lips, the ones that were going to kiss yours. Y los besé.

"Everybody out; we're closed! Let's go, everyone out! Party's over!" two boricuas screamed as they
picked up empty cups and beer bottles. "Get out of here, guys! Thanks for coming; don't forget to come back
next Thursday!" they continued without lifting their eyes from the ground.

The refreshing outside breeze dropped me back into the reality of Tallahassee - the nocturnal silence,
the clarity of the night, the tall oak trees, the distant rumbling of motors, the free chatter of the passersby, the
clicking of heels on the sidewalk and the paved street, the sound of slamming car doors followed by blaring
car stereos.

"Come on, Leann, it's time to go," said her friend, seemingly out of nowhere – a short, overweight girl
with long, curly hair, long red fingernails, short eyelashes, and a fake freckle. She was the one doing the
dirty dance to the sounds of a guaracha. She was the good friend of the two Puerto Ricans tending the bar.
She was the one who came to steal my Li-An.

"I could take you home," I promptly stated.

"No, you can't," the short gorda replied quietly, thrusting her index finger in my face – the one with the
long, red nail, while placing her left hand on her hip while pushing her should back.

"I could, Li-An, if you want me to," I said, still holding her hand.

"C'mon, girl, let's go," the one with the fake freckle said, pulling Li-An's free hand. I let her go and
looked, speechlessly, as she dragged her toward a red Honda Civic – two doors, sunroof, tinted windows, and
chromed wheels.

"I'll see you around campus!" the blue-eyed beauty screamed to me as she got into the passenger's side
of the little red car with the sunroof.
"I –" was all I had time to say before the fat, short-eyelashed girl whisked her away just before the
clock struck a quarter past two. "I'll see you later, gringita linda," I thought to myself. "I'll see you around
campus. I'll see you unlocking your bike. I'll see you playing with your hair walking down the sidewalk, or
while you are doing your homework in the library. I'll see you talking with your friends in the Student
Union during Flea Market Wednesday. I'll see you swimming in the pool or working out in the gym. I'll see
you; I'll see you around."
Fall 2018
hiromi suzuki

apricot soufflé from the past





I.
sleepy moment
at dawn or dusk
floating on the ocean
in apricot color
ghosts singing
bossa nova
at feet of the sun


II.
officials sunbathing
during the day
say you are happy
what remains on the beach
in the evening is
a magic loophole
ghosts preparing dishes within the cavern



III.
i wonder why i am happy
to dance alone
in the hall
apricot color is sweet wine color
ghosts dreaming of drifting
their messages
in an empty bottle
Fall 2018
Heller Levinson

hover like prodigious volumes trans

lucing

sluice-floes loft lumbrous

propelling altitudinous

scant friction ~ ~

where in the

distance

is

access accumulation ingredient

the strap-sprung ether-bounce intertangle

the species of spatial defiance

the trapdoor

of suction
Wound

voice spated lingual hounds lurk

bedizen a ramped deceit a

memory blemish blush with

animal wreck, with congregating agonies immune to discretionary gauze, to

antibacterial triumph

(the lessons repeat but the


learning is faulty)

robbed of bosom,

speech

― stacked with pathogens

― studded with rout-grizzling contaminations, with

mastications so unremitting the chew grows


threadbare ―

crabs through tear & tissue, a

stench puncture voice-strangle verb castration,

spooling through this riddled lesion-bruised ruin thrash fault line

soil-spoiled guts of an infernal rancidity, --

a cry like howl like


in the nook of lime
from blear-beat

to the blear-beat frazzle frills of a condemned

analytic

artichoke heart

cadaver suds

ruminations upon the present & future in elapsed time

digital resolve lacks confusion

spiting uninvited crossovers

unobligated currents

a helter skelter sanity conniving for appointment


Fall 2018
Barbara Roether

Five Dusky Phantoms: Re-reading Moby Dick in Times of Trouble

A masterpiece is a kind of rubric from which we can discern a living pattern. It is a fractal, or a

skeleton key, an energy field of movable circuits; illuminating connections between something in our past to

clarify something in the present. I started re-reading Moby Dick just before the fires in Sonoma County last

fall, in the midst of that ominous haze which lingered so long, in the tense tragedy of the unfolding stories.

The photos of that older couple who survived by diving into their neighbor’s swimming pool, as the flames

surrounded them, stayed in mind. They held wet shirts over their faces so they could breathe, huddled

together for warmth through the night. The water protected them, but by morning the turquoise pool where

they stood was turned black with fallen ash. The role of water as protector and destroyer is one of the

myriad strands within the macrocosmic sweep of Moby Dick, in which I find reflected, so much of my own

life and our collective moment as well. The similarities between Captain Ahab and our current president,

my family having to leave San Francisco, and a lost world that existed the first time I read Moby Dick, are all

here. Endings, beginnings, warnings.

Moby Dick, in case it’s been a while, is a story narrated by a sailor called Ishmael, who shows up in

New Bedford, Mass. looking to shake off the “damp drizzling November in his soul” by joining a whaling
voyage. Little does he know, that the ship he has chosen, somewhat at random, the Pequod, will be captained

by Ahab, an obsessed maniac set on exacting revenge from a large white whale who has bitten off his leg.

The ensuing voyage, as Ahab pursues his hatred across half the world, ends badly for everyone except of

course, Ishmael, who alone escapes to tell the tale. That’s just the face of it, like the ocean itself, every thing

interesting happens under the surface.

Moby Dick may be our most alive great book, in its pages life seethes and swells together, you can cut

into it, eat it, flip it over, talk to it, stand on it, listen to it. It veers from micro to macro in the turn of a clause.

In a typical scene, the second mate Stubb, has killed a whale and wants to eat some of it, on the side of the

ship a school of sharks are already eating, Melville’s prose dives in to the melee.

“While the valiant butchers over the deck tables are cannibally carving each others’ live meat with the carving

knives all gilded and tasseled, the sharks also with their jewel-hilt mouths, are quarellesomely carving away under the

table at dead meat, and though you were to turn the whole affair upside down, it would still be pretty much the same

thing, that is to say a shocking sharkish business enough for all parties”

Reading Moby Dick immerses one in a system of deep time and intense physicality that we have lost

and may never have again. It is this reality of the corporal, the outdoor live action life that the advent of the

screen world has obscured, and discouraged. Between the smooth freeways on which our tech residents flow

out of San Francisco and the smooth glass of the screen that guides them, gale force winds, and flying

harpoons have no place. What the tech world brings us, a flatness, a smoothness, Moby Dick shatters. Most of

us would struggle to survive through one page of the action on the Pequod’s deck awash in slippery blood,

swinging iron chains and flames from the rendering pots boiling down the blubber.
While the physical world of Moby Dick, and the vast sweep of time and space it invokes, seem to be

vanishing from American experience, other aspects of the story feel more present, or even prescient. In

shaping the character of Ahab, the deeply damaged man, who leads with a monomaniacal selfishness that

obliterates all common courtesies and care; Melville has rendered the metaphorical outlines of our current

president. We now have Ahab, the half man, hell bent on destruction, leading the ship of state, with

congress crewing on his ship of doom. That the crew of the Pequod fails to stop the deadly mission of its

captain is central to the tragedy of Moby Dick. Melville ponders how a crew of stouthearted sailors could

acquiesce against their better judgment, and go along with Ahab on a hunt they know to be deadly. The

answer is, in increments.

For weeks after the voyage begins, Ahab stays quietly below in his cabin, until one bright day he

finally appears on deck, to rally the crew to his intention, to hunt down the great white whale and kill it. It’s

not so strange a request, the getting of whales is their business after all, why not the big one? Ahab

intoxicates them with liquor and gold, nailing a golden doubloon to the main mast, a treasure for the man

who first sights the white whale. As he speaks, he elevates the rhetoric of his personal revenge to a noble

quest, painting the whale as an accursed monster that must be annihilated, as he urges on his crew.

“And this is what ye have shipped for men! To chase that white whale on both sides of earth, till he

spouts black blood and rolls fin out. What say ye men, will you splice hands on it now? I think ye do look

brave.”

“Aye Aye shouted the harpooners and seamen. …

Ahab has to cajole a rational and hesitant Starbuck (the first mate) that he should believe as well.

“The crew man, the crew! Are they not one and all with Ahab, in the matter of the whale.” We’re reminded
of the president’s claims about his own popularity, as if the fact of being liked, is evidence that he is right.

Soon after this speech, Melville lets us overhear Ahab, pacing the deck, reflecting on how it went.

“Twas not so hard a task. I thought to find one stubborn, at the least; but my one cogged circle fits

into all their various wheels, and they revolve.”

And our president is right behind him, pacing the West Wing a year ago, “How could it be that I

could win, first time out? I can’t believe it was so easy. It’s amazing. I’m amazing.”

Meanwhile Ishmael begins to realize, then regret, how easily he has been swayed.

“Ahab’s quenchless feud seemed mine.”…” With greedy ears I learned the history of that murderous

monster against whom I and all the others had taken our oaths of violence and revenge.”

Whatever vengeance each sailor carries, has found a target in Moby Dick, the strangely colored

creature, the one we can’t see, or understand. Our horror mounts when the first pod of whales is sighted. As

the boats are lowered to give chase, Ahab suddenly appears: “With a start all glared at dark Ahab who was

surrounded by five dusky phantoms who seemed fresh formed out of air.”

Suddenly Ishmael understands that these are men Ahab has been hiding, his own special crew,

hidden below deck since the Pequod sailed, ready to help Ahab do his own bidding, regardless of the

contract with owner or crew. The ‘dusky-phantoms’ are not exactly Russian operatives, but the sailors know

they shouldn’t be there, and are not to be trusted. But eventually, the crew of the Pequod comes to accept

the phantoms, rationalizing that the ocean is vast and whalers often pick up unaccountable things.

“Beelzebub himself might climb up the side and step down into the cabin to chat with the Captain and it

would not create any unsubduable excitement in the forecastle.” How much strange behavior our congress,

lost ship that it is, has gotten used to I’ll leave for others to trace.
In his famous essay Call Me Ishmael, modernist poet Charles Olson posits a detailed argument for

Ahab representing a certain kind of 19th Century industrialist. The whaling industry itself, now so distasteful

to our ecological sympathies, was even to Melville’s contemporaries, recognized as a wholesale plunder of

the wild. Melville discusses in his various chapters on cetology, the likely extinction of whale species

through hunting. It wasn’t like they didn’t know. The owners of whaling vessels, Puritan by pretension, were

willing to forgive almost any offence on board if the hold came back full of oil. The whaling industry and

whaling captains, like Ahab were set on ruthlessly exploiting natural resources for their own gain. Success

on a voyage depended on paying the crew as little as possible to catch as many whales as possible. Wal-Mart

and the whale-mart are cut from the same American cloth. With the dusky phantoms Ahab is simply

hedging his profit margin by bringing in a sort of second extra crew, who work only for him. True his profits

are of a psychotic emotional currency, but he wants them just the same. Lately, here in San Francisco

especially it seems we’ve come to accept a sort of hopeless materialism, as if we have no choice in the matter.

Some of us, of a certain age, remember other choices.

For the last ten years we’ve rented a stucco row house a few short blocks from the Pacific at Ocean

Beach. I hear the ocean while I read, or write this at my desk. Its constant voice has become the sound of

home. What is it saying I wonder? When will I know? Shouldn’t I know by now? Pondering the larger

mysteries is a lot of what goes on in Moby Dick. After killing the first whale of the hunt, Captain Ahab speaks

to its severed head, hanging by chains from the side of his ship, “Speak mighty head and tell us the secret

thing that is in thee.” Everything? Nothing?


Once a few years ago, a whale carcass washed up on the beach here. It was fantastic, about fifty feet

long, a fin whale. My son and I kept going back out to look at it. Its body had been torn open, and was rotting.

Layers of pink blubber, carved in tiers, reminded me of the ceiling decorations in the Alhambra. These

striations of whale flesh were so hard to fathom, like some ancient geological event, pink, grey, massive,

carved with caverns and streams, but leading where? The fins, still buried under the surf, looked pathetically

small in relation to its bulk. Then we saw its round glassy eye, which made us want to cry, because then we

realized that the whale was like us, had looked out on the world. What mysteries had he seen? Our eyes were

so much the same.

Around the time of the fires we learned that our house is being sold, redone. The rent will likely

triple. Like hundreds of artists each year, we just can’t afford to stay anymore, so this summer we’ll leave the

city where I’ve lived, mostly, for forty years, where I’ve raised my children. Sometimes, leaving feels like a

fire in which I will lose everything, but sometimes it feels natural. Leaving was how I got here to begin with.

Leaving is what we do in American stories. Ishmael understands.

Rereading Moby Dick in my fifties, I recall the first time I read Moby Dick at 20. I had just moved

from a cabin in the mountains of Oregon, where I had gone partly inspired by Thoreau’s Walden, but had

come to the “city” thinking rightly, that this was where writers were, and I was going to be one. It was still

easy then, to find a spacious room in a Berkeley Victorian in exchange for babysitting and gardening. There

was plenty of time off and the sense that most of my life was safely stored in the ocean of years ahead. I’d

also gotten a part-time job at an influential small press in the Berkeley hills; packing books in a closet under

the stairs, several nights a week. I wasn’t in college, I even dropped out of high school, but I was working my

way through the books everyone read, and there were books everywhere. There was also a steady stream of
writers coming to the press, smoking on the deck, giving impromptu readings. Some times older poets would

show up, and compelled by lust or curiosity, I would have to seduce them. It was fantastic. Mornings we

might search out obscure Vedic texts at Shambala Books on Telegraph. A copy of War & Peace would be

purchased as a gift, a sexy note added to the title page. I absorbed these poets’ lifetimes of reading, over

breakfast and espresso; it was in their small talk, their kisses. Literature was subversive, illicit, alive and

pressing on the now. I read then as the young do, with a hunger for information about how to live. Now I

read with outrage, about all the ways we fail to live.

Now reading Moby Dick I’m sickened by Ahab’s selfishness, and can’t help but see the whole voyage,

as an incredibly depressing and pointless ship of doom. I can’t help but see that the big thing here is not the

whale at all, but the maniacal obsession of Ahab, who is more than ready to take everyone with him down

into the murderous depths if only he can get what he wants. This is a novel about the problem with minds

that can only entertain one point of view; it’s about capitalism or materialism or whatever you label the need

to capture and possess things. I want to yell, Fuck you Captain Ahab, you and your self involved little

wounds. Take you’re hurt little carcass and stay at home. How many are you willing to take down with you

on your raging race for revenge. I have a grown son who could get on a boat, or a business, with someone

like Ahab. I’m sick of the Ahab force at work in the world today, good and honorable people like Queequeg

and Tashtego, and Starbuck, taken down ineluctably by the tyrants in charge.

Perhaps the saddest scene in my re-reading of Moby Dick, is not the final sinking of all ship and crew;

but what the Pequod becomes before it goes down. If you’ve ever been with a dying person you know that at

the end, things begin to fall away, dignity, control, the voice. The Pequod is a dying ship. First the life buoy
flies off by accident, then a man falls from the mast, then goes Ahab’s hat, lifted off by a giant black bird.

The last thing to fall away is compassion itself. It happens like this.

Another whaling ship the Rachel passes close by the Pequod and Ahab shouts out to the Captain.

“Hast thou seen the white whale?”

“Aye, yesterday. Have ye seen a whale boat adrift? “

Captain Gardiner of the Rachel, a fellow Nantucketer whom Ahab knows, boards the ship and tells

his story. They had indeed seen Moby Dick, had even given chase, but lost one of their whaleboats in the

process. The Captain begs for the help of the Pequod in his search, “My boy, my own boy is among them… A

little lad but twelve years old.” Gardiner offers money to charter the ship, even reminds Ahab that he himself

has a son. But Ahab can see nothing but the nearness of his prey, his answer, is final and chilling.

“I will not do it. Even now I lose time. Good bye, Good bye.”

Now the Pequod, captained by a man who has lost all human feeling, can really do nothing more than

go down. So begins the fatal chase.

The air out here by the ocean is almost always fresh. But the week of the fires, a broad river of yellow

smoke and haze flowed off shore parallel with the coast. There was a strange yellow light on the water

during sunset, not the usual gleam of amber and magenta, but a sour orange light, flame colored, like a toxic

spill on the water.

Still, people keep coming to the beach. The streetcar route ends at the foot of Judah Street. Tourists

from Paris or kids from Oakland disembark, cross the Great Highway, walk up the dune, and there it is. The

great opening of sky and water, everyone seems hungry for. People come here to play, or ponder, or fall in

love. Every week, I see some new person with a bouquet of flowers stand at the water’s edge and pray.
This city, like so much of the American life described in Moby Dick, which was once metaphysical

and playful, discursive, unruly, and at heart egalitarian is now being tamed and readied for sale. It’s as if we

have been moving backward out of the unexplored waters Melville draws us to, spooling back to that cold

steepled, flat screened, white church in New Bedford, where everything is accusation and sin. We could call

the story a non-quest or an un-adventure, but who wants to read that, let alone live it. What finally bothers

me most about having to leave San Francisco is giving up living two blocks from the ocean. Walking on

Ocean Beach all these years, I am conscious of being held against the edge of two great immensities. The

civilized grid of the Outer Sunset, on one side while across the Great Highway the deep wilderness roar of

the waves stretches to the horizon, to the sun, to the beyond here. This border, this intellectual estuary, is a

writer’s natural habitat, and leaving San Francisco I’ll miss it. But Melville reminds us always of the mystery

within as well as without, and all the deepest borders we cross without even noticing.
Fall 2018
Ewa Mazierska

Too Smart

My grandma used to say ‘It is not worth being too smart.’ These words come to my mind when I’m thinking

about the Ns., who were our closest neighbours, living on the opposite side of the road, slightly to the right of

our house. They were also close to us socially, so to speak. The N. used to come to discuss political issues

with my father and his wife used to visit my grandmother to exchange cooking recipes for cakes and jams.

She was also keen to borrow small sums of money, which she used to repay in a week or two. I always

considered the Ns. funny. He was funny on account of his loud voice; she due to being fat, short and

extremely energetic. Later I also learnt that they had funny names: Teodor and Teofila, which for me suited

better animals in the children television programmes than real people.

The Ns. lived in a large house with a huge orchard and courtyard, and plenty of sheds. However,

they were not farmers, as there was no field behind their house and I never saw Teodor driving a horse cart

or a tractor to a field outside the village. But then I do not remember any of them having a regular job either.

Irrespective of the season Teodor used to work around his house and Teofila was busy in the kitchen or

visited neighbours to spread gossip. When recently, for the sake of writing their story, I consulted my mother

about Teodor’s job, she told me that he was on incapacity benefit. This might have surprised a stranger,
given that Teodor was always moving a huge amount of wood around his house or building a shed, sporting

an athletic figure, but during the communist times almost half of men in our village were on incapacity

benefit. The second half were farmers, who could not get incapacity benefit even if they were sick. The smart

people tried to move from full-time employment to incapacity benefit as soon as possible so that they could

engage in better paid work or devote their lives to acquiring shortage goods. Apparently the three mansions

the local doctors built for themselves and their children were paid by fake certificates about incapacity of the

local people. But let’s return to the Ns. Making sure he was not short of shortage goods was Teodor’s

favourite occupation. Getting what was difficult to get was everybody’s ambition, but Teodor went in this

respect further that anybody else. The peak of his thrift was during the martial law in the early 1980s when

the contents of the Polish shops were transferred wholesale to people’s pantries, leaving only vinegar and

tins of squid imported from the Soviet Union boxes on the shelves. During this time my parents amassed

over twenty kilos of sugar and flour. But Teodor looked at our supplies with disdain, confessing that of sugar

alone he had 200 kilos. As for flour, tea and dry sausage he was not sure, but if a war of the length of the

Second World War was to start the next day, the Ns. had enough food supplies to keep them going till its

end. They had also plenty of coal and wood. It filled all the sheds in the courtyard and when there was no

more space for wood in the sheds and for sheds to be built, Teodor used part of his house as storage. I think

it was around this time that my grandma described the Ns. as too smart. Too smart for their own good – this

was what she meant.

For Teodor food did not mean the pleasures of cooking and eating, or at best they were of secondary

importance to him. Food meant fuel. Therefore he liked most what was rich in energy: meat, bread, potatoes

and deplored everything which was too fancy. Adding spices was for him like polluting petrol. Teofila tried
to process the excessive food acquired by her husband, hence her constant baking of cakes, jam-making and

rolling dough for dumplings. I still remember the taste of her layered cakes and redcurrant jam. In exchange,

my mother, who worked in a local chemist shop, kept bringing her medicines for indigestion.

It would be a literary achievement to come up with a theory explaining Teodor’s hoarding obsession,

for example to discover that he was a concentration camp prisoner who suffered from long-time hunger and

cold, but unfortunately it was not the case. He suffered no more than ordinary inhabitants of our village and

many people would say that the Ns. got a better life than most of us. This was because they benefitted from

good connections. Teodor’s brother was a local Party dignitary and Teofila’s sister lived in West Germany.

While the advantages of the first connection was difficult to measure, the second was obvious. The Ns.’

daughters used to wear western clothes and Teofila had various kitchen appliances which provided a

discord to her otherwise old-fashioned and poorly maintained kitchen. She even passed on to us one or two

foreign items, but they turned out as useless for us as they were for them, proving that everyday life is a

system; one cannot change one element without moving many others.

Teodor and Teofila had two daughters. I was never friends with them, because being seven and nine

years older than me, they belonged to a different generation, but I liked them. The older, Ela, had a very loud

voice, like her father and was joyful, tall and pretty. The younger, Lidia, spoke quietly and was rather mousy.

The only remarkable thing about her was that she was a heavy smoker; she started early and must have

smoked two packets of cigarettes per day as she seemed to always have a cigarette in her mouth. Maybe

because of that she couldn’t find a husband, which greatly worried Teofila. At the time spinsterhood was

seen as a pretty grim predicament. It was a great relief for her mother when Lidia got herself a boyfriend as

she was over thirty by then.


I’m not sure when the lives of the Ns. took a turn for the worse. Perhaps it was after the fire, in the

early 1980s. The fire broke in their courtyard and did not damage their house, only destroyed some sheds

and wood laying loose in front of them. But afterwards people started to point to the Ns. the danger of

having so much fuel around their house. Even a local fire inspector told them that if they did not comply

with the health and safety regulations, they would face hefty penalties. Some things indeed changed, as was

later discovered. Teodor, without giving up his wood and coal, switched to a ‘smarter’ form of energy by

diverting the stream of electrons aimed to the households of his neighbours to his own house. This

operation, in which Teodor was assisted by his son-in-law, was initially very successful as proved by the fact

that the Ns.’ electricity bill shrank to zero. However, the trick ultimately frustrated Teodor, as he was unable

to hoard electricity – what he stole he had to use on the spot. Moreover, another inspector came to check

why there were electric lights in their house while, according to their electricity bill, the Ns. lived like

cavemen.

These brushes with the law drove a wedge between Teodor and his apparatchik brother. The brother

did not want his reputation to be tarnished by a connection to a criminal. Teodor, being a man of an

independent mind (as he liked to present himself), not only ignored his brother’s warnings to use energy like

everybody else, but got more defiant. His sheds got higher and more elaborate, more like fortresses than

sheds, and there was a sign of a bunker being dug in the Ns.’ orchard. Somebody on our road even named

the Ns.’ adobe ‘little Albania’. For a time this name stuck and when people said it, they pointed to their

foreheads, indicating that the inhabitants of this place were not healthy of mind. Teodor did not care. His

next project was a small chapel to the Holy Mary in his front garden. Later on a chapel of this kind would

also appear in the garden of the Bs., but in the case of the Bs.. it was a reflection of their true religiosity; in the
case of the Ns. of spite towards Teodor’s brother. On this occasion he again proved ‘too smart’, because by

the mid-1980s religiosity started to be seen not as a handicap, but as a way to save one’s public life. In due

course Teodor’s brother claimed that he was always a good Catholic, as proved by his brother’s private

chapel towards which he contributed financially.

The final blow to Teodor came in the 1990s, when the economy of shortages finished in Poland and

money became the only thing people were short of. He still had some hope that the domestic and world

politics would turn to his advantage and at times the world appeared to move in his direction. Every closed

down Polish coalmine was like honey to his mouth, as it meant less coal for a Pole. Teodor also looked with

hope at the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Arab countries, predicting that it would lead to cutting oil

supplies to the West. Russia also would eventually say ‘no’ to the persecution of Russians in its old republics

and at a minimum would invade Ukraine, which would reduce oil stream coming to Poland. Furthermore,

there might be a conflict between Poland and Germany as, after all, Poland stole a large chunk of its

neighbour’s territory in 1945. All these developments were meant to leave Poland isolated and cut off from

energy supplies, giving Teodor an advantage. His prophecies, however, were increasingly a subject of jokes

in the village.

By mid-1990s both daughters of the Ns. were married and the older left the family home to live with

her husband and two children in the regional capital of Włocławek. Since then she was rarely seen in our

neighbourhood. The younger stayed in her parents’ house and in due course also had two children.

However, by the time the younger child was born, Lidia’s husband disappeared. The common belief was that

he was a drunkard and a crook, who eventually ended up in prison. People even wondered if it wouldn’t be

better for her to be a spinster rather than having a husband good for nothing. As the first decade of
democracy progressed, Teofila was losing her energy. She got diabetes and stayed indoors more and more.

From being a chief disseminator of gossip, she was downgraded to its recipient. Teodor fared even worse, as

in his older age he got all the illnesses he faked in his young age to get incapacity benefit. He lost his

strength, he got back pain and his heart was failing him. He could not build any more sheds or even mend

those which needed repair. He was also constantly harassed by the police, even when he was bed-ridden.

But the misfortune which befell the Ns. was small in comparison with that of their daughters who

died before reaching forty; the older from colon cancer and the younger from lung cancer. Although people

in our village were neither particularly superstitious nor profound, they saw a connection between their

deaths and the sins of their parents. This is because cancer is a reaction to excess, for having too much to

burn: food in the case of Ela’s cancer and fuel in Lidia’s. Teodor, being metaphorically and literally deaf,

made nothing of such comments, but Teofila took them to heart. However, she had little time to ponder on

her guilt, as she had to look after Lidia’s children. The alternative was an orphanage, as their father was

behind bars and wasn’t interested in them anyway. Teofila’s main objective was to survive till her

granddaughter, Joanna, reached seventeen, as by then not only would she be too old to be taken into care,

but she could become her younger brother’s legal guardian. Teofila died five months after her husband and

two weeks after Joanna’s seventeenth birthday. Her funeral attracted a sizeable crowd. Although people

remembered Teofil’s eccentricity and criminality, in the hour of his wife’s death what was remembered was

only that they were one of ‘us’.

Focusing on preserving one’s physical existence, as was the case in the Ns’ last years, made

everything else decline at an accelerated rate. The house got more hunched every time I visited our village,
the wood in the courtyard was rotting, the Holy Mary in the chapel lost an eye and her blue heart, and their

dogs roamed the streets, howling and attacking the cyclists, as if they were strays.

It was very difficult for Joanna to lose all her family, although the blow was cushioned by certain

advantages. She inherited some money from her great-aunt, the one who lived in Germany and got

compensation for losing a part of their garden when a motorway was built nearby. She had money to live on

for some years and even to sort out some of the problems around the house. But this I know only from my

mother, as when Joanna was a child, I was already living abroad. In fact, I did not even know how she

looked. Hence, I was surprised when during one of my summer visits, she came round, bringing a bucket of

black currants. She said she did not know what to do with all the fruit growing in the orchard and it occurred

to her that we might want to use them for jam. Her granny told her that my grandma’s jam was the best on

our street. Joanna did not look anything like her grandparents or her mother, so it was almost a shock for me

to think that she came from the same family. She was a very blond, slim and pretty girl, but seemed to be a

bit shy.

I invited Joanna to the kitchen, and she was happy to sit, drink tea, smoke cigarettes and tell me about

herself. She confirmed that her life was hard, but not only because her relatives were dead or in prison, but

also because she was not smart. She had a problem learning new things, failed twice her driving test and was

not sure if she would pass her A-levels. The ultimate proof of her not being smart was that she was stuck in

the village, like the old people, while almost everybody else of the working age left, for England, Germany or

at least Warsaw.

‘You also must have been smart to move to England and even do so before everybody,’ she finished

her autobiography.
For a while I did not know what to say and then asked, ‘do you know how to make jam?’

‘I do,’ said Joanna. ‘Cherry, plum, redcurrant, blackcurrant, even apple. I can bring some for you if

you want.’

‘Yes, please do. Maybe we can build here a small jam factory. There is still so much fruit growing

nearby and nobody is buying it. This will be smarter than moving to England. We can even add a special

spice and call it ‘smart jam’.

‘This is a great idea,’ said Joanna. ‘We can do it.’

As she was saying it, my mother was already in the house, bringing shopping bags into the kitchen.

She must have heard what we were talking about as she turned to me and said, ‘Making jam? Communist

jam?’ and then to Joanna, ‘did she tell you that she burns everything she cooks and does not even know

which bank she keeps her money in? If you want to start a business, better stay away from her. And stop

smoking or you’ll end up like your mother.’


Fall 2018
Ethan Goffman

A Reply to Richard Dawkins

I refute it thus.
--Samuel Johnson, kicking a stone to refute Bishop Berkeley’s theory of the nonexistence of matter.

Perhaps we are
Automatons
that exist only to survive and breed
spewing out
new generations.

Perhaps personality, individuality, consciousness,


is just an accident
a flickering illusion emanating from a collection of impulses
only seeming to cohere.

If you sever one part of the brain


You are not the same person.
You lose speech, memory, the ability to reason.
You are an exquisite corpse.
You are garble.
You are you yet not you.

Perhaps the brain is just a collection of impulses


A sophisticated computer
That has caused us to
become the most successful species on this planet.
At least until we finish our collective suicide

obliterating wondrous multitudes along with ourselves


redwoods and black bears, bees and spiders
fungi and sloths, eagles and robins and worms, aardvarks and ants
The delicate web of life that we are part of
and yet act apart from.

we are the uber species, killing us softly

Monty Python had it right,


the search for meaning is a kind of joke.

Not even a cosmic joke,


but a minor giggle

a hiccup that can’t be terrified or drowned away


a byproduct of the struggle to
breed

a spirit,
a source of pure love,
rubs against me and purrs
Fall 2018
Enzo Scavone

Fu Dinxiang

Fu Dinxiang stands on the Brooklyn-bound platform of the N, Q, R-train at the Canal Street station. A

slender boy with buzzed, black hair and a pallid face. His dark eyes begin a nonchalant expression which his

forehead, mouth and cheeks have trouble completing. A breeze rising out of the tunnel flattens his wide,

worn out t-shirt to his skinny upper body. It blows into the sides of his open sweater jacket. His baggy jeans

are stained, barely hanging on to his slim waist. His sneakers cry for replacement, but Fu doesn't hear. The

train is coming. As the doors open he gets in and sits down on the hard, blue plastic bench. The air in the car

is cold and he zips his sweater jacket. The train’s engine is completely quiet for a brief moment. Then, a loud

buzzing sound, the door signal, and the doors close. Fu looks forward to the train passing over the bridge

and being able to see the tall skyscrapers through the windows. Soon after that, however, the train will pull

into Atlantic-Barclays. He tries to stay ahead of this thought.

The conceptual laziness of the Atlantic Barclays subway station. Easy-to-clean tiles and dirt and ever-

moving throngs of people. Fu remembers when he used to come here with his grandfather; every weekend

and often on weekday nights, too. On a laundry cart his grandfather would carry an electric keyboard that he
had bought in a second hand store in Chinatown. They would go to the lower level, the platform where the

D, N, and R-train stop and his grandfather would set it up. Fu would watch him and the strangers passing by.

If Fu carried any toys, he would now stick them in his pockets or his backpack to have his hands free. After

his grandfather had set down a cardboard box in front of the keyboard and put a couple of bills and coins in

it, Fu would sit down at the keyboard and play. His grandfather would stand a little apart with his hands

clasped behind his back and try to gauge the faces of the passers by at the sight of his six-year-old grandson

playing the keyboard like one of those classical European masters.

Since he had been a small child, Fu had been trained to play pieces on the keyboard. His grandfather

would set it up in the living room, next to the blaring TV, and switch it on. He would press a couple of

buttons and then little red dots would light up on the keys in a flickering and confusing pattern. His

grandfather would tell Fu to try to catch the dots with his fingers. Fu would see the blinking dots on the keys

and try to catch them. When he pushed a key, a sound would come out. The first time this happened, Fu

startled a little in surprise. He would push another key and a different sound would come out. First he wasn’t

so good at catching the red dots, but as he got better he realized that by catching the dots with the right

finger, in the right order, and at the right speed he would play a melody. Just like the ones his grandfather

would play for him on cassettes. His grandparents made him sit at the keyboard for the most part of a day

telling him that if he improved, they could go out together to play in the streets and people would give them

money.

Fu remembers the many endless afternoons in their apartment on Henry Street. While he practiced,

his grandfather would watch TV next to him getting worked up about something on the screen. Hours
would pass until Fu could stop playing. When he was done he felt very exhausted and relieved. After

practice he liked to look out the window onto the life outside--like he's looking out the train now. But

through this window he only sees the darkness of the tunnel. Opaque and impenetrable. He’s getting a

headache and perspiration is accumulating under his sweater. He feels a little sick and terribly tense. He

doesn't want to look out the window anymore. Nothing is happening and he gets angry at the thought that

it’s taking him forever to get to Brighton Beach. He checks the display showing the stops and before realizing

how many stops there still are, he turns his gaze back to the window, quiet and serious. He feels contempt for

the conductors of the train and holds them responsible for its slow movement. He feels trapped in a loop,

like having to repeat something over and over again many, many times.

The years passed and Fu went out into the stations with his grandfather, until one day his

grandfather didn't take him anymore. Fu didn't ask why. He was happy about not having to do it anymore.

He had been fifteen then. Soon afterwards, Fu took a job in a warehouse in Chinatown and stayed mostly to

himself--even when he didn't work. As he grew, he found out that most things in life can be done the same

way he had when he had pushed the keys on the keyboard. You simply go through the motions. You repeat

and repeat until your hands do the task by themselves and your head doesn't bother with it anymore. When

your head stops thinking and your hands are on their own, you feel the rest of your body more. When his

hands went off like that Fu felt like he was really hungry, really had to go to the bathroom, and really wanted

to kiss a girl--all at the same time. Something deep within his body complained. And with every repetition of

the task his hands were performing it complained more.


Fu met Yevgeniy at work. Yevgeniy (Zhenya for short) is a delivery guy. He lives in Brighton Beach

and delivers goods to the warehouse where Fu works. After Zhenya’s truck was unloaded, he and Fu would

sit outside on the sidewalk on crates or whatever they could find and smoke a cigarette--talk about this and

that. Zhenya quickly picked up that Fu felt strange most of the time and wanted to help Fu, he said. One

Friday, Fu went to his place in Brighton Beach. After some beers Zhenya convinced him to snort dope with

him. Fu had sniffed tobacco before. He had enjoyed that quite a bit. At first it seemed weird to sniff the

floury white powder, but why not? Fu quickly realized that dope was nothing like tobacco. After he had

snorted it and the tingling in his sinuses had vanished, he could feel the complaints of his body vanishing

along with it. He felt like his arms were finally calm and belonged to him. His body was quiet; all parts at

once. Fu felt like he could finally look out onto the life outside. It was wonderful. He stayed at Zhenya's that

weekend snorting dope in regular intervals. He returned to work on Monday. There he put his hands back to

work once more, but all his head could think of was the coming Friday when he would go over to Zhenya’s

again. Every Friday he went. And every Friday his body would stop complaining. Just like it will soon today.
Fall 2018
Emilie Pichot

Horror haikus from a bad day

the phantom limb that


is your iphone awakes you
ten minutes early

you get up to your


cat eating wet meat not dry
it’s a rotting rat

you slip on your shoes


and there is cat vomit in
them, and your cat laughs

your morning toast is


actually your used dirty
kitchen sponge, with jam

your bare foot sliced by


a rogue, curled toe nail clipping
trotting on the tiles

toothbrush is missing
until you shower. Floats up
from drain, in wet hair
the only clean clothes
are washer wet but you stretch
them and your skin on

cold air makes your snot


drip and you cannot breath out
without leaking green

google reminders
pops up notification
about a missed flight

but you didn’t book.


the flight passenger’s name reads
as emile pichot

paper cut between


pointer and middle fingers
makes it hard to type

aljazeera news
announces that it is in
fact owned by facebook

your manager reads


over your shoulder, drools at
your erotica

during lunch break your


colleague chews very loud and
spits out half-gnawed foot
you swallow lukewarm
spaghetti and it slowly
slicks down back of throat

i.u.d. shifts and


scratches your insides as you
tug bloody diva cup

remove your contacts


eyes burn due to library
dust stuck on your hands

the finger you oft


chew into no longer there
since you chewed it last

your lover leaves you


with a forever pulsing
ellipses response
Fall 2018
Eleanor Levine

Mrs. Leeds’ Son

Ricky Thorpe was the first boy I ever kissed. He was perky, scraggly with brown hair and drove a purple

moped.

We lived in Lakewood and he was from Jackson—our streets bordered the towns. The kids on my block

were not fond of him. That he asked me out was not a problem; if I wanted to date a “dirt bomb” from

Jackson, NJ, this was cool because the Lakewood boys, which included my brothers and neighborhood guys,

did not consider me a girl.

“You’re a 2-by-4, Agatha,” my brother Harold said. He slammed the door when he saw me experimenting

with makeup.

It was the first time I wore blue eye shadow and cherry lipstick and went near the road and Ricky came

over on his moped.

“How ya doing?” he asked, glancing at my mascara. The other kids played baseball cards across the

street.
“Good and you?” I was skinny back then—5 feet 6 inches and weighed less than 100 pounds. My mother

(and some elderly aunts with sour breath in the Bronx who wore bargain-basement lipstick) fawned over

my beauty. Their compliments were irrelevant on the tar Jersey streets where I played kickball.

“You look pretty,” Ricky said on his moped. “Want a ride?”

I looked at my family—some in the house and others playing baseball cards with neighbors. I muttered

incoherently.

“Sorry, didn’t hear you—” he persisted.

“Okay,” I whispered.

“Well c’mon then,” he said, motioning toward me. I looked pensively at Ricky’s miniature leather jacket

and slowly got on his bike, putting my hands around his waist.

Ricky smelled of cigarettes. His leather jacket felt smooth as we drove around the block. The kids playing

baseball cards stopped momentarily.

“Look—there goes Agatha and Ricky!” They ogled as we rode along Poplar Street near the golf course.

I was petrified when Ricky took me on Ocean County Line Road, which was a major highway.

“How you doin'?” he asked.

“Fine,” I remarked, perhaps a little unenthusiastically. It was the closest I had ever been near a boy, not

including my brothers.

Ricky returned me to our Cape Cod house, which was located at the top of the street.

A few days later Ricky came by to invite me for spaghetti. My mother was downstairs in the laundry room—

a dim, concrete area where I rarely went by myself because you had to waddle in the shadows to find the
light. I was afraid people would come through the curtain and strangle me.

Ricky accompanied me as my mother put detergent into the washing machine.

“Mom,” I said nervously as she stared at the boy next to me. He was wearing his “Jackson Jaguars” jacket.

“What Agatha?” Mother asked, shutting the machine.

“Ricky wants to know if I can have spaghetti at his house.”

Ricky looked awkwardly at her.

“When Agatha, when are you going to have spaghetti?”

“Tomorrow night?” Ricky said, putting his hands in his jacket.

“No, absolutely not, we have Shabbat dinner on Friday night.”

“Awwww c’mon Mom—we don’t eat till six or seven,” I moaned.

“So, you want two meals—you’ll eat his spaghetti and won’t touch my food. The answer is no.” Once she

gave an opinion, it was like slamming a door in a bank vault without knowing the combination.

“Mom, I promise I’ll clean the dishes if you let me go—please?” I whined, which she abhorred.

“Agatha—the answer is no. If you persist, you’ll be grounded for the week. I’ve got work to do.”

My mother folded clothes and I went with Ricky upstairs, where our German Shepherd Felicia barked at

him.

“She won’t bite,” I told him.

“Why do you call your dog ‘Felicia’?” Ricky asked. You could smell his cigarette breath.

“Cause my mom likes the character Felicia on General Hospital.”

He went toward the door. “See ya, Agatha.”

Bye Ricky, I thought, and before I could say it, he was gone.
The next time I saw Ricky he took me to an abandoned seminary behind the golf course.

“This is where they taught young men how to become priests in the 1800s,” Ricky announced. It was, he

explained, eerie and people rarely went there.

“Closed at the turn of the century—” Ricky pointed. It seemed like he walked around there by himself.

“It don’t scare me none, ‘cause what’s a dead priest gonna do?” he said, laughing to himself.

Ricky had a deep voice, which deepened as we got further into the woods and near the seminary. We

walked among pine trees and nailed-up buildings and a darkening blue sky.

We stopped for a moment, while, what appeared to be a bird, made sucking noises.

“Shit—did you hear that Agatha—” he motioned to me. I heard a hissing screech and saw a lizard-like

creature ascend.

I flew into Ricky.

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhh,” he motioned, “get down here….so he can’t see us…over here….”

I was shivering but did not know to whom or what Ricky referred.

“Who—what—who is it?” I murmured, clinging to his coat. We sat near a bush and heard what sounded

like a needle scratching a record player.

“Shhhhhh—that’s the Jersey Devil,” he explained while there was yelping in the air. The creature—

more interested in the trees than me or Ricky—was moving less apprehensively than we were.
I was about to cry until Ricky put his arm around me. Through the trees, we could see it flying back and

forth like a vulture, chasing itself and squawking and whistling.

“What’s the Jersey Devil?” I mumbled, quite taken by the deafening sounds. I wished he brought his purple

moped, but of course, his bike was so loud our escape might have been foiled. The wind, in the

meantime, was blowing rapidly through the trees like a larger version of the thing above us. The

branches, we saw, were shuffling.

“C’mon Agatha,” Ricky led me further into the thicket.

“What’s the Jersey Devil?” I asked again.

“I probably shouldn’t talk about it now—he’s up there...ya know what I mean? Just stick close,” he

touched me on my back.

We walked further.

“Shhhhhhhhhhh……” Ricky said, taking my hand.

“Do you think he wants to eat us?”

“No, it doesn’t eat people—just chickens or puppies,” he reassured me. We were away from the trees, felt

the breeze but didn’t hear the monstrous woofing.

“Think it’s gone,” he said, leading me to a bench. He put his hand on my knee. “Hey—maybe we should

go a little further—make sure it’s gone,” he led me to a seminary building which, like the preceding ones,

was nailed up. It was five stories high. The Victorian architecture looked misplaced, and Ricky was certain

that “the ghosts won’t bother you, if you stay close to me.” The windows were covered with huge blocks of

wood with graffiti: “Isabel Loves Steve” and “Shit on the Jackson Jaguars!” and “White People Suck.” It

stretched for several hundred feet and smelled like burnt timber.
“What about the monster?”

“Think the fucker is gone,” Ricky grinned and motioned me to accompany him to a neighboring bench.

“Come here,” he said while he lit a cigarette. “You want one?” He pointed the pack in my direction.

“No thanks.”

“You know, you’re really hot, Agatha. I’ve liked you since you rode my moped,” he inhaled. I didn’t

respond and he moved closer. I had only, until that point, made out with female dolls on my windowsill.

“You sure it’s not coming back?” I asked.

“Don’t worry—I’ll protect you,” Ricky assured me. I heard quiet verbs of bravery. He put his hand on my

hair and caressed it.

“You have beautiful eyes,” he said, while I wondered about the Jersey Devil’s eyes, particularly if he were

looking at us.

Ricky put his mouth near mine and inserted his tongue. He pressed his head closer. We were smooching

but it felt like scratching.

I didn’t enjoy this, and Ricky thrust his tongue in my mouth. I could taste the nicotine in his breath, and

he pressed further down.

“You never done that before?” he asked.

“No.”

“You like it?”

I heard wind coming from the old building. It was nearly 6 pm and starting to get gloomy.

“I have to go home, Ricky,” I withdrew from his embrace. He motioned in his direction, forcing his

chapped lips against mine. Ricky moved his hands toward my bra.
I broke from his hold and he threw his arms up in the air. “What’s wrong with you, Agatha?” He lit a

cigarette and walked away.

I chased after Ricky, but he moved faster along the muddy path.

A week later I had not heard from Ricky. I flirted with Cinderella and Barbie again and was relieved that I

didn’t have to neck him, but also missed Ricky and his moped. I loved the breeze against us and his smell of

cigarettes.

I was a little restless so Mother suggested I take Felicia on a walk “down the block.” It was gloomy and

cloudy—like when Ricky led me to the seminary.

I went toward his house, which was on the street that bisected ours, where Lakewood becomes Jackson. I

saw Ricky standing by the fence with his neighbor, Nessa, a handsome girl.

“Hey Ricky!” I yelled. He acted as if he didn’t see me, and I walked with Felicia toward his fence.

Felicia barked and Ricky remained silent but Nessa acknowledged us.

“Hi Agatha,” she shouted.

“Hey Nessa, hey Ricky.” I waved and dragged Felicia, who barked at them.

Ricky rolled his eyes, “Hey…”

“What’s up, Agatha?” Nessa asked, staring at Felicia, a little nonplussed in her company.

“Taking a stroll,” I said, trying to catch Ricky’s attention, but he smirked at Nessa.

“Isn’t this a little late for you, Agatha?” Ricky chimed in. He saw the sun going down. I was not wearing

blue eye shadow or lipstick.

I smirked at Ricky and Nessa. They looked toward the trees.


“I’m not sure you’re aware, Agatha, but the Jersey Devil comes out soon…” I eyed him—he was serious.

“You mean that thing near the seminary?”

Our streets were located by a large wooded area, and I rarely, if ever, went in there, least of all by myself

and not at night.

I held tightly onto Felicia who growled.

“It’s got steely red eyes and hunts soon,” he said lowly. Ricky told us that the creature had hooves, a

horse’s head, bat wings and a forked tail and that it was born as a devil to some lady in the 1700s.

“Mrs. Leeds,” Nessa inserted the name. “Her son lives in this forest,” she pointed at the overgrown trees

and bushes several feet away.

“It usually feeds on girls,” Ricky said, “but if there’s no girls, then it goes after boys.”

“You said it likes puppies and chickens the other night, Ricky,” I retorted, grabbing Felicia.

“And sometimes German Shepherds,” he rolled his eyes, giggling at Felicia who was unusually reticent.

I was afraid to visit my laundry room, and until my thirteenth year, slept with the bedroom light on.

“Sometimes it peeks through people’s windows,” Ricky added.

The sky was bleaker, and Felicia was eager to go home for dinner. I heard the mistral. There were insects

flying and frogs croaking and it was chilly so I grabbed the leash and we ran up the block.
Fall 2018
Donato Mancini

Biafra, orchestras in bombsites

the conceit of falling water

Biafra, orchestras in bombsites

the site of the damage / such meat-will

pine dry / bit by bit & inside out

mouth suction / such as jellyfish and

stomach worms / must have a sense of taste

it makes sense to say grass / clemming young

breadless, homeless / grasses could hear these

clean teeth / let roots crackle quietly

roots / find themselves in trouble / yappy still

sharp-set / quench / one tablespoon of soil

the conceit of falling water


be bit map be tie-dye

been painted stalagmite

be bit map be tie-dye

redecorate, paint or

be don’t seed be full force

from mudfarm to highrise

environment, whether

shoo takes flare for granted

mancandle as fish will

for an aqua aura

odour of warm banknotes

could sweet worse will wand-hand

shall hors d’oeuvre should salt ought

way neighbours are ticklish

not feng shui nor mere psych

been painted stalagmite


prevent emergency tours, and
the agency will pre-empt our vents

prevent emergency tours, and


then seasonably flame, arson streak

in skittle thickets, luscious


gerundive undergrowth, rush seats

a lyre-roast of a tight midi-scream


alas, one last look – shove over

does margarine mistint hands? discuss


a norm per day, plus a morpheme

akin to sponges and segues


art-stars’ fingers drip tartar sauce

on arrival of larvae via viol


the agency will pre-empt our vents
Fall 2018
Deborah Saltman

leroi’s psalm

i gotta pour out some of this gypsy rose


i’m doing this in memory of our man joe
pouring a big gulp won’t do us in bros
my man made his jiving jumping joking flow

jesus please let our brother be at your side


he never stopped caring for us on this here bench
when his checks came in joe never did hide
excuse my french his fucking money was a thirst quence

our brother joe is laid out at bell’s


i hear his wife wants holy beads in his hand
that motherfucker should hold a bud right miguel
miguel stop crossing yourself it was joe’s brand

yo fuck my man my man is no more


jesus knows joe’s passing hurts me to my core

Albertina what you carrying in your hands


bonds/a bop

she stops stares at the dead pigeon


notices its mate standing by
she gently wipes aaron's dribbling mouth
&wonders what gene makes the living watch over its dead
bearing witness to who aaron was
is all she has left

what will i do when my reckoning day comes

she sits aaron down


puts the times on his lap
it's her memorial to his once vital life force
she reads the headlines
it seems diminishments fratricide assassinations are the only things fit to print
if aaron could decipher the page
change the movement would become the core of their lives
she curses the karma that turned aaron's roars into helpless yelps

what will i do when my reckoning day comes


Fall 2018
Deborah Saltman

Morning in the Prim

With one eye still closed to the world


She rights herself
Express still visible
On the upside of her cardboard futon
Stretching out her blackened digits
Into the recycling bags
That are her wet weather shoes
She takes out her toothbrush
And toothpaste
And cleans her teeth

My landlord opens his bookstore


Stale book breath meets
Sour urine, wet dog and burning coffee
It is time for dashboards of fluffy pink dice
To pull up
For the arguing twins and anxious small dogs
Leashed to parents, nannies and grandparents
To parade along the pavements

She gathers her rainbow of recycling


Rises to the right angle that is now her upright
Feels up a few more bags
And disappears into her night
The Ballad of the Illustrated Ladies

She has those fading black serial numbers


Peeking out like a line of ants after the rains
From under the starched men’s shirt cuff
Curling twice around her narrow female wrist
Stale aftershave smells of the husband who left it
Clash with the newly risen yeast

She is old but so am I


She grabs the last baguette from my hand
So sure that my survivor guilt
Will let this last loaf
Make its way into her bag

Why are there no white tattoos?

In our art gallery meetup


My internet date
Shows me her tattoos
The peahens preen
From the soft pad of her thighs
Women epaulette her shoulders
She hopes I don’t mind
That they are no match
For the El Greco miniatures

That nite the illustrated woman


Comes to me
But the women dancing on her shoulders
Are as alien to me
As the numbers on the bread lady
In the morning the deep welts of lust
Bleed like fresh tattoos

Only scars left out in the sun


Make white tattoos
Selena

Selena
Your ground floor
Is a potpourri of your perfumes
Caressing the tendrils of my trunk
Hitching a ride on the nerve of my nose
Resting on the buyers’ page of my brain

Your next floor


Commands the three nerves that control my vision
Swirling my eyeballs around
Your dazzling white sheets
Seducing my pocketbook to open

Your café
Pulls my lips, my mouth, my tongue to yours
Conjugating the five nerves of my face
Selena your coffee brews deep inside

In the carpark farewell


The last two nerves
Make my shoulders raise
To the climax of my purchases

We are over
The nerve of control
Finally slows my guilty heart
And you are alone again
Fall 2018
Debopriya Bhattacharya

Sparks.

Like every December night


I peeled my sweater off me.
And in the dark I could see
A Western fantasy on myself.
There were sounds too
And even though it was raining
Within and without,
I suspected I had a flu.
Not knowing what to do
I kept it on and when I got bored
I peeped inside to see if my skin
Would show me fireworks again.
That is how I spent my night
Before I grew impatient and
Decided to light myself in fire
And even though the pain was dire
There are only few things you could do
On a rainy night with a flu.
I swear if I had TV, I would tune in
To some channel showing the sea
But sparks are the last decree
On an ailing body with a sweater.

I was halfway through ashes,


I remembered that I had to do my dishes.
So with my lower half looking for itself
I carried myself to the basin
And even though the scrub was my skin
I did do the dishes mom.
I promised you I would.
I had promised her that I would turn up
With her favourite haircut on Sunday
And even though I have technically wasted
A holiday to look at sparks-
She wouldn't hold my hair this weekend
Because by then the strands would be weakened.
My hair is on fire
Even though she had often complained
That I lacked desire
I hope she will be happy with how I looked.

So when my eyes are burning


Not with metaphors of poetry
And my entrails are churning
For the jackals' pantry
Remember mom, I did the dishes
And I'd have looked the same
Even if I chose the scissors.

How can you blame people


If they want to see sparks?
Fall 2018
David Hawkins

View

Someone just tried to delete

the Ring of Gullion


as if any
business
could hope to contaminate
to coterminal
the ring seen sideways

over the jussive


(sea)
way out far out

Honking its carnyx


comes bolloxing down the mountain
careless with the redstarts

wind bottled somewhere else


then bottled
to be veridical
struck with the birch twig
left hanging
across continents’ disrearguard
and time to render

exact sound of there


gusting, tuned

not to say the breath


decontained and/or decontaminated
was at least
second hand
The Flytippers

‘… to be studied by antiquaries, who we were, and have new names given us like many of the
mummies, are cold consolations unto the students of perpetuity, even by everlasting languages.’
– Thomas Browne, Urn Burial

Maybe leads back to civilization. A flared, overexposed photo of some detritus. A polaroid from the future
because once it was the done thing. Meanwhile the image is still developing. Wind the window down; the
smell hits you, the heat. They go out of the woods and over to the side of the road. Whose lunar surface gets
rattled so many times a day. The metronomic big trucks. Brazenly in the flared light all the chucked rubbish
gets tumbled into the small ravine, the combe, the arroyo, the sidings – whatever you choose to call your
local roadside picnic place. Then they go back into the ‘woods’. There will be more; civilization?

And in the gold of the sky there are brighter gold flecks panning through space. Like what to do with all your
drafts. All the graves will be grown over, gently turfed like a slipper. And their sweet words smoothed away
with acid skies and crept with lichen. Ghost moths hover up and down along the cushioned edges, just
visible, on invisible strings that go up and up and also down into the tip.

Meanwhile, back in civilization, two stars are depicted drawing their yolks heavily together. Void over void
they will fling more gold towards this pretty scene.
After Some Films by Joseph Bernard

The horizons throb


defamiliar orange and purple
through litmus paper skies
while the world is a blue-green eye
looking back at us.
These transmissions
tincture deep space, sound
like butterflies brushing their wings closed
and the dropper clinking against
the edge of a decoction vial,
and we are as algae on the road sign
near the edge of the campus:
multiplying its meaning
across territories, plundering
the message – any found object
forgoes its roving status.
A flaring prismatic dance
blooms across the shared retina,
a bubble of intention or energy
wrested from blossoming dark.
Simultaneous dissolve, the lost subject.
Black Moss
(Misapprehended mistranslations from tweets by Japanese bryologists)

I’m a teacher telling a (new


thought) dream is the new distribution.

Gemma sees down.


In the foreground, out of focus:
an area of moss
wet looks and superior dominant rights.

Maki would wipe the glass back and stopped


because you were intimidated by Mr…

saying “Sometimes when I can’t be expressed in words


the overwhelming charm of living creatures
in their own vocabulary cannot match its appeal
(erotic?)
The expression. Is often not understood.
But somehow, I just want to.”

So I put the water here. Always


fertilized by the cute sporophyte
to think me together so insanely
when I passes the imagination
like mushrooms found in the mountains,

the first of all paths attempted


well you know without knowing
the name of the thing seen in the open air,
precious in the sky with flying stone.

And I’m a fruiting body


I’m tired in the middle.
I’m growing and it looks totally different.
Growing up
behind the little yellow thallus
like slowly growing.

Nonflowering plants want to become


normal people.
There I understood it.
[Title Withdrawn]

A man peers into Heathrow


from outside the double moat
covered with nets
hung with strange pumpkin balloons.
Can he be seen from space?
Beyond the moats, tall fencing
with razor wire jazzes the breeze
and beyond that: runways and runways
and beyond them: the sky
vast and cluttered. He bought shares
in nothing and they are dropping.
Here the hard shoulder is very hard.
Is he coming or going? He is
a bit of space expanding,
the mineral strandline
blipping on the sonar
of a petri dish. The auditors
will include all held stock
in their reckonings.
Fall 2018
Cyrus Reddy

COMPLETE MAKEOVER

This is a story about a boy who turned himself into a girl.

I’m not sure exactly when, or why, that decision was made. But then I’m the father, so of course I am

biased in favor of the God given gender. Morgan lived half of his life before he became a she. Up to that time, he

was all male, big muscles, thick neck, rugged good looks, full of testosterone. A few pills a day changed all that.

The plumbing required surgery, and a bit more rehab than advertised. The baritone voice, big feet and narrow

hips proved to be more of a challenge. No choice but to leave some things as they are, as they were meant to

be.

Morgan’s brothers all agreed that he was a lot better looking as a man than as a woman, but that

wasn’t Morgan’s perspective. No surprise. There’s not much of anything that Morgan has ever seen the same

as everyone else, including the use of pronouns. After forty years, it’s hard to picture Morgan as anything but a

“he”. But, that would no longer be politically correct, not that I give a crap about political correctness. It

does, however, seem to be urgently important to Morgan to now be referred to as a she. So, as difficult and

vexatious as it continues to be, I do my best to comply, at least in front of him, …. I mean her.
When Morgan changed from a male to a female, she encountered problems that others could never

identify with, or even imagine. Several friends, or former friends, no longer knew how to relate to her, perhaps

they no longer even liked her. Some were disgusted, some polite. Many just went away. No family member will

ever be happy with this type of makeover. The news was sudden and unexpected. Nobody said, “Wow, what an

improvement!” Some tolerated her, tried to be understanding. After all, we are family. And families do stick

together, at least most of the time. We all love her, but she was not easy to be around. The person we knew and

loved no longer existed, at least not in our minds. A few wanted nothing to do with her. Family or not, she was

carved out of their lives, at least for the time being. Morgan was probably always a little too off center for them

anyways, and the transition was the perfect, and only, excuse they needed to say goodbye.

Whether by design, intention, or total surprise, the new transgender Morgan was unwittingly compelled

to enter an entirely new world, previously unknown or imagined. Before the public leap, she probably got most

of her information, and encouragement, from others perceived to be in the same boat; transgender

spokespersons, trans doctors, trans psychologists, trans testimonials. After the leap, the trans community would

be waiting with open arms. Only later did she discover that there is no trans community. Unlike gays and

lesbians, transgender people don’t stick together. For the most part, they don’t commune together, they don’t

party together, they don’t seek one another. If anything, they avoid each other. Morgan’s dream was never to

live her life with another transgender person, her dream was to live in the world she had always known, but as

a woman rather than a man. She had no issue with her world, only with her born gender. She loved, or at least

liked, the world she lived in, she just wanted to live on the other side of the fence. But to Morgan’s shock and

dismay, the world she’d always known and loved had removed the red carpet for her, pulled the doormat from

under her feet. He had been welcomed as a male born into the world, but that same world shunned her as a
transgender female. She was forced to find a new world, not the one she’d always known, not the transgender

community that doesn’t exist, but the world of survival. A world where she could find acceptance, even if

superficially, a place where she could fit in.

And like all the others who had walked this road before her, Morgan found herself knocking on the door

of that dark world of survival. The reality is that many transgender women fail, they can never find the spot in

that world reserved just for her, where they are accepted, in which they can survive. Most fall victim to

depression, alcohol, drugs, and even suicide. This isn’t the life I would ever want. Personally, even if every

morsel of my being craved to be a woman, I would never cross so much as my little toe over that threshold. Nor

would I ever waive my right to stand up at a urinal or to pee into a bush on any golf course in the world. But

that wasn’t Morgan’s choice.

Morgan not only didn’t cower in a corner, she boldly leapt forward, announcing the makeover in loud

and explicit terms to anyone who would listen. Even if they didn’t want to listen, nobody was spared. Morgan

bombarded her plethora of friends and family with the news, personal meetings, phone calls, emails, long

letters, but mostly via social media. Facebook, InstaChat, SnapFace, Tweeter, these were all foreign objects to

me. But not to Morgan. Every bloody detail of the transition was posted for the whole world to see, breast size,

mood changes, dilation rituals, status of the new vagina, everything. Pictures, videos, not a morsel overlooked.

Way more than I needed to know. And if you didn’t like it, you were promptly jettisoned from her address book.

As always with Morgan, my way or the Goodbye Highway.

_____________________
It’s been four long years since my transition began. And I’m lonely.

I tried dating for a while, but no good man wants a woman with a dick. At least, none that I ever met.

That was a major motivating factor in deciding to go through with the surgery last year. It’s been nine months

and I love my new vagina. Things are coming together. I’m a little nervous about the future, but I feel like I’m

finally starting to get my mojo back.

But I don’t know how to date. I’ve been out of circulation for four years. Before that, I hadn’t been

single in years. Luckily, a friend came to my rescue, and introduced me to Tinder. She told me it could get

pretty slutty, but “if you’re sick of being single and lonely, get on a dating app. Once you wade through the

assholes, there’s a whole world of people looking for just you.”

I opened an account that day. Easy to work. You thumb through the pictures and read as much of the

bio as you want to read. Then swipe left for “No”, swipe right for “Yes”.

As expected, I got every imaginable response. Some were sophomoric, rude and obnoxious, most were

at least respectful, and a few were surprisingly intelligent, even exciting.

There were, of course, the daily stream of dick pics and “Ya wanna fuck” messages. But all I wanted

was a picture of him smiling. A picture of someone with whom I could share my time, someone I could love,

possibly even grow old together.

Other than the immediate “Left Swipes”, most responses fell into one of three categories; Shock, Not my

Thing or Some Variation of Positive.

Some couldn’t get past the shock once I dropped the bomb. Perhaps they couldn’t believe a transgender

woman could be so hot, Ha Ha. Or maybe their fragile egos were cracked when they couldn’t distinguish a
trans woman from a cis woman. Regardless, their reaction was tantamount to someone sticking their finger in

a light socket. This was my chat with Billy:

Hey u look good too

How about we go out and get a drink

Cool, fun

See where things go

When and where?

How about now?

Works for me

Probably a good time to mention, I used to be a dude

Haha, right!

No you didn’t

Yea, really

You’re messing with me

I mean really, you’re joking, right?

No joke

Is this is a test or something?

No test

Sex appeal is dripping off u, those really your pics?

That’s the real me

Wow I just can’t believe it. I’m confused


We’ll catch that drink another time

Others were pretty cool and polite, but it was just not their thing. I’ve got no problem with that.

Chemistry and attraction are strictly personal, no excuses necessary. As long as they’re honest and respectful,

I’m cool. Here was part of my little exchange with Sean:

Cool

U should know, I used to be a dude

No way, ur jerkin me around

Wouldn’t do that to u

So if we Face Time, will I be looking at the same chick that’s in the bio?

Same girl, just took the pics last week

Doc did a good job on u

Doc didn’t touch my face

You shouldn’t have mentioned it

Would have never known

Gotta be honest

Appreciated

We’re cool?

You seem nice and I don’t wanna be rude, but gotta be honest with you too

Please do

I can’t see myself with a trans. Not prepared for this. Sorry
Fair Enough

Then there were a few that were actually positive prospects, and didn’t get scared off when I told them I

was trans. Still showed interest after the big news. Here’s what Michael had to say:

Your place or mine?

Before we go too far, want to let u know, I used to be a dude

Just a little trivia for u

Ok, how do you like your steak cooked?

That’s it, just ok?

You look pretty feminine to me

Downright hot, actually

You sure know how to flatter a girl!

No questions?

Any other little surprises I should know about?

Anything that might scare me away?

No, that was the best punch I got

I don’t want to scare u away

I don’t scare so easy

Besides, we’re not living in medieval times here

Ok, well, cool

Rare
Rare what?

That’s how I like my steak

Ur in luck. I’m your man for a rare steak

I’ve been plowing through this for a few months now. Trying to meet someone on a dating app is like

shopping at the Salvation Army. You have to sift through all sorts of trash, but if you’re persistent, there’s the

outside chance you just might find something rewarding.

I’m in love!

_____________________

“Come on, pumpkin, get off your butt,” Nellie prodded. “They’re going to be here in a few minutes.”

“Oh shit, throw me in my fuckin’ grave,” Duke lamented.

“Watch your language around the kids,” Nellie scolded.

“Yeah, like they’re a couple of choirboys?”

“They’re not boys, they’re a couple, one man and one woman.”

“Ha, now all we have to do is try to figure out which is which.”

“Morgan’s very excited, and nervous, for us to meet Marcus. Now, don’t you go and embarrass him,”

Nellie said, her patience waning.

“Ha, gotcha. Watch your pronouns, pumpkin,” Duke blurted sarcastically, wagging his finger.

“Morgan will bite your head off.”


“Morgan is very much in love with Marcus.” Nellie pleaded, “You need an attitude adjustment, and

you need it now.”

“You’re right, Marcus and Morgan, that’s got a nice little twang to it, kind of like Mork and Mindy.

Perhaps we could start our own reality show, ‘Marc and Morg’. What do you think?”

Nellie smiled, walked behind Duke and put her arms around him. “I know you’re just being a hard

ass.” She gently placed a kiss on the top of his bald head. “Whether a he or a she, Morgan is our child and

you know we will never abandon her. Besides, you want to see Morgan happy just as much as I do.”

“Grrrrrr.”

“Put a smile on your face. I’m jumping in the shower.”

“Don’t jump too high.”

“Haha.”

Ten minutes later the doorbell rang. Duke slouched deeper into his chair in the corner.

“Hey, pumpkin, can you get the door?” Nellie called out from the bathroom.

“Sorry, I think I broke my leg.” Duke yelled back.

The front door flew open and Morgan bound up the stairs. “Hello, hello.”

Oh man, what I’d give to fast forward a day. She may be a girl now, but she still clomps around like a

baby elephant.

Morgan wrapped her arms around Nellie, “Hi mops.”

From ten feet away, Duke gave a short wave, “How’s it going, Morg? Good to see you.”
Morgan charged forward and gave Duke a big hug, “Great to see you, too. I love you, Pops.” Then

she stepped over to Marcus and draped her arm around his shoulder. “Mom and dad, I’d like you to meet my

friend, Marcus.”

Introductions, pleasantries, and small chit chat consumed the next several minutes. Then Morgan

blurted, “Hey, Ma. What are we doing for dinner?”

“No plans, thought we might go out.”

“Forget that, let’s go make some sushi. Just like the old days. I brought all we need.”

“Great idea.” Nellie turned to Duke. “Pumpkin, why don’t you get Marcus a glass of wine. I hear he’s

a Cab man, you guys should have a lot in common.” Morgan and Nellie retreated to the kitchen.

Oh, that’s just swell, sweetie pie. Go on, throw me to the fuckin’ wolves. “Sure, great idea,” Duke

lipped weakly.

Duke poured two glasses of cabernet. They both swirled the glass a bit, stuck their noses down deep,

took a slow sip, then swirled again. Marcus kept his eyes focused on Duke, but no contact was made. Duke’s

eyes riveted on his glass, lasering a hole through that innocent cabernet. Wine wasn’t such a bad idea, time

flies when you’re drunk. More swirling, then his wine was gone. Besides, this stuff is pretty darn good. Duke

poured himself another, then peeked over at Marcus’ glass. Good, no need to share. More swirling, and

sipping, and swirling. Silence can be a boring companion.

“So, Duke,” Marcus hesitated mid thought. “Is it okay to call you Duke?”

“Sure, sure, I answer to anything.” Duke chuckled, even though unamused.

“Good,” Marcus smiled. “So, Duke, tell me. What was Morgan like as a kid growing up?”
“Are you fuckin’ shitting me?” Duke wiped the wine off his lips with the back of his hand. “You want

me to tell you what Morgan was like when she was a boy? Really?” Marcus slumped back into his chair.

Silence re-entered the room, with no prospects of leaving. Man, I’ve got to settle down. More swirling,

and sipping. Another glass for Duke, and again, no need to share. At least I think I got the pronouns right.

Countering pronoun abuse is probably a required class at the gender conversion school. I wonder if the

pronouns are as important to this guy as they are to Morgan. Oh well, who cares. More swirling and sipping,

on both sides. He seems like a regular guy, bet he doesn’t go beserk on you when you miss a pronoun. The air

was getting heavy.

Marcus broke the calm, all the while having kept his composure. “What do you want to talk about now,

Duke?”

Duke lifted his eyes, his mind seemingly deep in thought. Smartass.

“Look, Duke, I walk into your house with your daughter, who you still see as your son. Surely you have

a few questions. Go ahead, fire away. Anything. Don’t be shy.”

Just keep your cool, this will be over with soon enough. Duke smiled, “How about another glass of

wine?”

“Would love another.”

“How’d you like the wine?”

“Pretty darn good.”

“Are you gay?”

Marcus laughed, “Would it bother you if I was?”


“Not really, just as long as you don’t come clawing after me.” He doesn’t look gay, but hey, you never

know. Besides, why would a gay guy be with a woman? But then, if the woman used to be a man, would that

make him half gay? Is there even such a thing as half gay? Probably not, I suppose either you’re gay or you’re

not, no in between. Oh shit, how would I know? I’m thinking too much. Duke glanced over to a bewildered

looking Marcus. “Hey, you told me not to be shy.”

“Fair enough. No, I’m not gay, not at all. Morgan is all woman, nothing else.”

“You’re a good looking, seemingly smart guy. There are plenty of women out there, why are you with a

woman who used to be a guy? Isn’t that kind of weird?”

“I don’t look at it that way. Morgan’s smart, has a great sense of humor and she’s always so full of

energy. I love that.” Well, I guess I can’t argue with that. “And I’ve been with a lot of women, nobody better

in bed than Morgan.”

“Oh, come on man, draw a fuckin’ line,” Duke moaned. “You’re talking to her dad, I don’t want to

hear that shit.”

Marcus snorted, “Just yanking you’re chain, dude. Fun to see wine spray out of your mouth.”

“Fuck you,” Duke grinned, shaking his head, wiping his lips.

Duke refilled Marcus’ wine glass along with his own. He smiled, “Cheers”. They clanked glasses and

Marcus returned the smile.

Marcus leaned forward, somber plastered across his face. “It know it’s not easy for you, Duke.” You

got that right. “But if you think it’s been hard on you, what do you think it’s been like for Morgan? She’s out of

your sight, out of your mind, 95% of the time. But Morgan lives with the abuse and ridicule 24/7.” Oh man,

this guy doesn’t even know me and he’s already playing the selfish card on me. Grrr, I really hate that.
Duke regrouped. “The pills, the eyelashes, the hormones and the fake tits were all bad enough. But she

jumped off a cliff when she had the surgery. So fuckin’ final.”

“I get it, I get it all. I know you’ve heard, and probably researched, all about how she has always

identified as a female. So I won’t bore you with that. But you’ve got to get past all this gender shit, Duke.”

“Gender shit? Isn’t that all we’re talking about?”

Marcus implored, “Forget male, forget female. Morgan is a living, breathing human being, just like

you and me. She has a heart, she has feelings, she loves, and she needs to be loved. Just think about it, Duke.

What else really matters?” Duke sat expressionless, his head bowed low.

Nellie and Morgan marched out of the kitchen, platters in hand. Morgan was humming a little tune,

both clearly pleased with their creations.

Nellie turned to Duke, “You and Marcus have a good time? What’d you talk about?”

Duke glanced over to Marcus, their eyes connecting for the first time. “Sure, great time. We just talked

a little wine.” A faint smile appeared on Marcus’ face.

Nellie herded everybody towards the table. “Let’s all sit down, dinner’s ready. You guys are going to

love this sushi.”

Duke hesitated just a moment, then said, “Come on over and sit by me, Morg.”

Nellie dimmed the lights slightly and lit two candles between the low lying pink and blue flower

arrangements. They all held hands at Nellie’s direction and she offered a nice prayer. Then everyone dug into

the sushi.

Nellie and Marcus got wrapped up in a lengthy discussion about the preparation of sushi, from selecting

the proper ingredients, and where to shop, to the best methods for cleansing the bacteria off the raw fish, why
you use the Yubiki method for snapper, but the Aburi method on bonita. Nellie had Marcus’ undivided

attention.

“You’re looking good, Morgan.”

“Ha, that’s okay, dad. You don’t need to patronize me, I know your mind.”

Duke placed his hand on her arm, “No, I mean it, Morgan. You are looking really good. Your color is

good, and you look healthier than I’ve seen you in a long time.”

Morgan was taken aback by not only the sincerity in her dad’s voice, but especially by the physical

contact. “Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I feel good.”

“Maybe it’s that new skin crème you’re making. Which formulas are working best?”

“I’ve got seven different products now. But ‘Cheat Death’, the anti-aging crème, and ‘Kieran’s

Cleanser’ for acne, are the most popular.”

“That’s great, one for the old people and one for the young’uns. Mom, most of her friends and all the

granddaughters sure rave about your creams. How have sales been?”

“Sales aren’t the problem, orders are pouring in, but I can’t keep up the production. I’m doing

everything by myself in my little apartment.”

“What do you think you need to get yourself to the next level?”

“I need about $40 grand in equipment, a couple of employees and some more space. Just for starters.

Then a heavy dose of marketing.”

Duke pondered, “How about we run some numbers, make up a detailed list, then prepare some

projections. If everything looks good, we’ll see what we can do to get you an infusion of capital.”

Morgan sat speechless. Then dabbed the corner of her eye, lest a tear appear.
Nellie stood up, “I’m going to fetch the dessert.”

Duke rose, “I’ll grab a few dishes, then get us some port.”

“Perfect.”

Once they left the room, Morgan turned to Marcus in disbelief. “Dad hasn’t taken that much interest in

me since I came out. He actually treated me like a real person. What did you say to him while I was in the

kitchen?”

Marcus blushed, “Oh, not much. Just a little wine talk.”


Fall 2018
Clive Gresswell

1/
we walked between the birthing stalls
among fields of withered ideals
crushed and dictated against the palms
and staring off into the dark
where none of it was true anymore
the officer with-held your letter to the ranks
each word star-fixed on the page
& wet as it was with your home-made tears
& the swirls of each of the arrow lights
slit into a pierce of sky-skin
the words now folded & folded again against this piece of paper
as i recall you re-said the lines
that finished my sentences before i had even
but i knew i was mis-spoken & the bloody handkerchief dropped
into the mud of the field.
2/
oh these crying injured stars
& chernobyl hosts
these tides of antelope division
where they invaded
& sectioned off the house
borrowing from each mortgaged brick
the clay to build & then rebuild
the effigy
as torturing theresa haunts the halls
& free-market espionage equips
&the grey ships blast hull
out of the ghost-rattle death of the tyne
(forever shattered & on the brink)
3/
these curved & curated edges
of sky & the trail of plane-cloud smog
dust reaching up into fingers of dark
& on the horizon across each border
where weighted down in the mud-limp
bodies of the poisoned hastened
onto the hand of a god whose imagination
glistens among the factory gates
& into the lens of industrial ego now stretching forms
from hospitals of sound the crushing roar
of the symbolist poets shrouded crashed against
the carnage of refugee newsreels in glorious technicolour
the bleeding of the pricked finger
now from rose-red the hue of victory
thumbprints displace the cheapness
of the irony
4/
grips in thrall of chill air of wander field
with-holding gestures turned over gravestones
& clamped against the imploded TV images
of night-child & bruising limbs recalibrating
stitching of the needy & gesturing
as political will day air grows foggy
& headlines spill their blood
against the flagstones while nightbirds call
unto the moon as it lays its shadow traps
of sound-bites set upon against the fox
& hounds & baying dogs
once more into a slumber
a silence encased in the gesture of a scream
5/
crossed over tongue
the clicking alphabet
warning of the city
tool chip emblazoned
& stone infused conquering
each space of thin air
trailblazing zeitgeist
born higher on the thermals
pierced from such torn longings
the statue remodelled
in stages of reclamation
(hard on the full stops)
to the ground they floated
the vowels of democratization
the kneeled & chanted realization
incarcerated in explanations
(to this capital)
of eurpean sublimation
6/
hard on the heels of this green blaze
turning vicious cartwheels
hello forever come climb up our stories
& mountains of divinations for soldiers
bring us harmony and warmings in packaged
tight wrappings of cloth & lay with us
in charity & hope of future shocks we’ll lay
down the golden locks and circulate
the city blocks tuning in to the radios
the DJS offer us marvellous news
& so we dig into our culture with stains
of stairways from other departures
& we’ll blitz the bleeding diaphragm
stitch the herding city plan
7/
when they command in the soft tones of endeavour
hushed & ushered appealing to the font
of your burning earth & its ravages
excited by the predicament
of where vast winds wail & edges assimilate
into the blurring of the mountains
& where the fire rages
& then the ice-pool savages
into the bliss of the eternal sounds
blistering on your tongue
& into the strings of regret
imagined by the amulet
8/
asphalt black blue the robin’s eggs lie strewn
across the acres of infinite city where catnaps whirring
in & out of blare-sound nebulous wars atrophy
in craters of their crashing cacophony to splinter heart-threat
& come into my body my bonnie baby boy
& see where the blood red stars stoke up the skies
& retaliate with moonbeams of jagger swagger across
the nimble walls of torn graffiti arms from which we
raised a toast at the dagger’s orifice & said well if the moon
is that dangerous we’ll set a rat-catcher in the blackness
of his sanity his profound and sacred backbench MP
bitter as a harmony in june from yer memory as a slip of a girl
& where your mother warned yer not to walk
freezing by the towpath of the canal
where you catch the jagged edge of his verbs
& kicking ‘em along the stones as iced as previous age
recalled that in the depths of time
this memory was replayed
9/
half his eye/tongue scattered
lain on the grass of years
across the hotbed of infinity
& his soldier’s uniform of grip
& the wretched grammar of the place
where moving from the streets
he winds his white-boy sheets
& into the victory blood of ghetto neighbourhood
pours out his life’s distain
into the distance born the piano plays
a black & white harmony of jazz keys
& a close up angle of his face freeze
frames into other times
& the half-forgotten lines of other songs
plague his brain
10/
Restoration:

at the foot of your melting synapses


the rolling thunder of that flash of pictures
where you now see in black & white
the freeze frame of a dream of me

& i wander into your corridor of cortex


& clamber through the consciousness of time
past & remembering that unfolded skin of colour
a painted and flaking edge

raised in the temporal twinning


our pursuits massive & burning
lend me now that time we had
& restore my vital signs
11/
watch waterfalls of ribald joy
ecstatic in the urbane heart
the tearing of the tears of solemnity
captured in seconds of scarlet hope
the hanging of the darkling fears
distempered far off into night
the wisps of cotton-budded gluttony
& the following of this perfect storm
its patterns glistening to the stars
the platform now unfolds
where the edges of the paper parts
Fall 2018
Christopher Barnes

Dropping Through Cracks

Our guru live wires


That rat-shaped bulb,
Frazzling celestial dodgems.
Proceedings are whip-handed.
Jam sesh: The Grateful Dead v Us.
Orphaned by destination,
Wheels flop-gripped.
Sunup is ticketless.
The Emptying

Turmeric holdovers on Miss Piggy t-shirt.


Fresh rap about every simper’s alpha –
Our guru’s on dictum.
We yum with postures of schisms;
Tomorrow we’ll be hustled for moolah.
Soapless Journeys

A 3-splits mirror,
Furfur is this turnout’s replica.
Unclasping ingrates purse,
The secret heart, libido. In memory,
Our guru dunked at hallowing waters.
Though time herself mislays the pure.
Fall 2018
Christine Karka

Candles

We were like candles


and you lit us up because we were pretty to look at

but every hour that vanished


we vanished a little more as well

until there was nothing left of us


but melted wax

and misery
How many water drops does it take to create
a wave

How many people does it take to create real


change
you kept dancing in the rain
and wondered why the lightning stroke you

- I am a storm
Watching storms colliding in front of me and houses burning down to their last pieces
I’ve learned that everything has an end

We were designed to have an expiration date


You touched my skin and set my body on fire
And from the outside it must have looked breathtakingly beautiful
But what happens if the flames are no longer straining their heads into the sky and
slowly start dying
Because you took all the oxygen with you when you left

What will be left of me?


the sunbeams wake me up in the morning

they start cautiously touching my face and slowly move down my collarbones and
further to my tummy and hips
warm and gentle
calming and satisfying
comforting the broken parts of me that usually are hidden in the shadows
Fall 2018
Christian Woodard

excerpt from a five-part collection

II

Mine the Current

Island in the Sky

A storm like this sung us to the circle —


remember how the mountains drew close? Purple
sky, dust swerve, cottonwood roar. The belt we
nailed new notches for, whose hunger cinched us
tighter. Every fold and silence hard veins
under tourniquet. Cones scrape each other
and the hollow stone. All your mouths open
to the memory of water — leaping
hot and bloody from a shadow like mine.
Even dry pebbles had a taste like tears.
If we ran, the hallways of your legs lit
silver through the grasses. Nighthawks
carol to the drapes of rain, hung so
lengthy and just now wetting your cheeks.
Three Dreams

Though the creek had dropped by May, the low lot,


between young trees and the loud channel,
stood flooded, still, with overtopping melt.
I went down through that cut-over woods
where saplings start from the scarred &
cankered boles, breached by suckers. Up, went
their smooth thanks — yes! — they gestured.

In the swamp, a swivel-head waspnest spoke owl


with me & the dish-faced stumps I walked on agreed:
Root down here and hope to be nothing
but sweetly devoured. No careless grace
will shout above lain-out, foul giants.
Sink through the silent bark & leaves —
black tissues in the water.

Stream, through the mirrored pools you downcut


clear on sand & gravel. Rag-barked roots beside
us, coppice laced above. Slipper my feet
with a rounded hand. Rub shadows, those tarnished
coins, on my knuckles. Burrow deeper, shallow.

And still I haven’t learned the language of moss.


Around my dumb ankles, silver fish lance
upstream, mining the current for vacancy.
So long as I wait, they dart new, narrow
angles & instantly the paths erase.
The sky outside this green arch stands
for another cutting. Sumped oil leaks through
white roots. Footpads, listen for a possible
direction: upstream, negative, hardened lines.
Chelone

When the big man said:


Pick up your house and walk,
I had been so naked
that my ribs strained to clothe me.

When he peened my backbone


a firmament, how I longed for internity.
Thank him a blessing, I said,
safe from extinction.

But how far can you walk, always at home


before you pray, like me, for unhousing?
To be halved, earth shell and oracle of sky.
Your firesplit bones, too, can spell the avenue.

Will you say to him, like I do:


You lover, rescuer, who seals lips
and shares breath ‘til we dizzy,
Single-eyed with closeness,
You smell the sea prickle from my pores.

The woman pilloried there — flay her


lidless sight to the city; unclothe her at last.
Rain on her buckets of rain, until she’s a patch
of queen anne’s lace and chicory.

They at least could nurse at her substance.


If he ever splits you, my dear, you’ll know his note,
the one that hummed through my teeth.
What cursive will your intestine spill?

Then ask, as I do:


From charred fractures remember me.
When I misplace my
heart, mark time with
this now, and this here, and this is.
Though I would disown it,
feed me again my offal like
shelled eggs, like round
pebbles into an oilskin.

Stack them before my spine.


My shell is empty as from a fast,
as from the wilderness.
There’s room for you here.
Fall 2018
Caspian Radar

&
I know, cake sitter, is your password. You do not know me and you're most likely wondering
why you're getting this email, correct?

In fact, I placed a malware on the adult video clips (pornography) website and do you know
what, you visited this web site to experience fun (you know what I mean). While you were
watching videos, your browser started out functioning as a RDP (Remote control Desktop)
that has a key logger which provided me with access to your display screen and also cam. Just after that, my
software collected all of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, and email.

What exactly did I do?

I made a double-screen video. 1st part displays the video you were viewing (you've got a fine taste : )), and 2nd
part shows the recording of your web cam.

exactly what should you do?

Well, in my opinion, $1900 is a fair price tag for our little secret. You'll make the payment through Bitcoin (if
you don't know this, search "how to buy bitcoin" in Google).

Note:

You have one day to make the payment. (I've a special pixel in this message, and now I know that you have
read this message). If I don't get the BitCoins, I will, no doubt send out your video to all of your contacts
including friends and family, co-workers, and so forth. However, if I receive the payment, I will destroy the
video immidiately. If you want proof, reply with "Yes!" and I will certainly send out your video recording to
your 9 friends. This is the non-negotiable offer, so please do not waste my time and yours by replying to this
e-mail.
DOWN TO THE BOATS

Down

To the

Boats
I want to row now, he says.
Maybe after a few lessons, don't you think.
No, he says, I want to row now. I think I can do it.
You can't do it, you’ll have us thrown over the side.

I want to …. SPLOOSH
Fall 2018
Brandon McQuade

Never Let Me Go

Hardened white film

mold

scale

at the bottom of the kettle

chips away

as the water boils


like baked cheese on day-old dishes
*
Now and again

I want to collect these papers


bundle these bridges I have built with words

rip

tear

shred them all


and throw them all

out the car window

at near highway speed


*

Watch them float

ripple

in a swift current

tight pocket
of rippling air;

in the brief moments


before they madly flutter

aimlessly

toward the earth

I could almost change my mind…

reach out against


the cold hard wind
and pull them back
*
In the same moment
that they’re gone

(and I’m glad their gone


I wanted them gone)

I will reach for them

I will stretch

reach

(even though I am glad they’re gone –


remember?
It was me, myself, who wanted them gone)

reach out against


the cold hard wind
and pull them back

stretch

my arm against the angry wind


*

For these pages hold


my friends and loved ones

letting me

go

as I let them

go

so I’ll let them

go

if you’ll let me
*

The black words


are little black flies

on the white pages


that grow white wings

they turn and look up at me

flapping
madly

a great white heron

against the cold hard wind


*

It is the flies
that open my eyes

finally

wake me

I am waken

to the pages shaking


in my cold hard hand

and I reach out against


the cold hard wind
to pull them back

but they never left

no

they haven’t

no

not yet
Whiskey Memory

I woke without phone, shirt, glasses or keys


my whiskey memory
could not lead me back to them.
I remembered climbing and hopping over a fence
falling from much higher than I would recommend
when the throbbing started to set in
on the bottom of my left foot, from body to heel
and back, as I hobbled from a foreign couch
toward the front door.
I could barely see without the blinding light
of the Sunday morning sun
sharply digging into my eyes like a handful of sand,
a thousand little knives.
Church bells rang as I hobbled, squinting
from the sounds and sights on the streets of Dublin
mothers, fathers and children
looked me up and down
my thin blue eyes surrounded by thick dark circles
my cardigan ripped open, nearly half the buttons missing
baring my bare chest to the morning sun.
I could read their disappointment and disdain
as easily as they could smell whiskey on my breath
the spicy malt oozing from my pores like sweat.
I remember her hair, short and red
and that her name started with an M
and that she was tall, and she wore a black dress.
Her face bore many freckles, she tasted of menthol cigarettes
and her eyes were even more blue than my own,
which came as a bit of a surprise
given the recessive nature of both traits.
She had an aura of confidence about her
which can be attractive in man or woman
but not when it prevails, pervades
above and beyond all other traits.
I wondered as I walked home
past the churches that looked like castles
past the shops and buildings huddled together
like a band of hooded figures
with only the dark and narrow streets separating them
in the way that the Liffey
the river-butcher
cuts the whole city in half––
how could anyone in their right-mind
want to take her home?
Want to kiss her smoke-dry lips
pull her dress over her head
lift her skin in bumps
lift the tiny hairs on the back of her neck
with the tip of their tongue.
When I lost my phone, shirt, glasses and keys
to the strong-running waters of the Liffey
I lost a little piece of my life,
wrapped up in the whiskey memory of that night.
No matter how long I sit and think
and try to remember, no matter how often
I fill the lined white pages of my little black book
no matter how often I mistake
the stars above for satellites
from the warm bubbling waters of our hot tub
the cool running waters of the Liffey
will still separate north from south,
the current will still move beneath the bridges
eroding the brick and rock on either side,
and a little part of me will still sit
on a park bench on the south side
seeking shelter from the rain
beneath the wide branches of a lime
my stark wool collar bending in the wind.
Evolution in Trees

I think
the trees can speak
amongst each other
when they want to

they share water and clean air, their hard branches beyond our reach
are closer than us

somehow

more in tune

under the sun


stars
moon
II

Their hard roots warm and dry under the sun’s glow
after they have taken in
and given away
all they can take in
and give away

flaccid underneath

buried

in the dampness and the dark

mingling

like blood in our veins

marrow in our bones


III

If I plunged
a hypodermic syringe
deep enough
into the cracked earth
between these roots

all that’s left


a microdot
like the last star at night
barely in the scope
of tired eyes

these interlocking forearms


this village
of fingers
toes
blood
bones

this new consciousness

disseminates

like yolk in a freshly cracked egg

sexually transmitted disease

HIV

from chimpanzees to monkeys

this new, now airborne plague,

spreading, evolving in trees


Fall 2018
Barbara Roether

Five Dusky Phantoms: Re-reading Moby Dick in Times of Trouble

I had started re-reading Moby Dick just before the fires in Sonoma County last fall, as an endless

plume of dark smoke poured out of the north, flowing like the River Styx along my neighborhood beach in

San Francisco. In that hazy week, tense with the tragedy of unfolding stories, there was a news photo of an

older couple who had survived by diving into their neighbor’s swimming pool as the flames surrounded

them. They huddled together through the night; the water protected them, but by morning the turquoise

pool where they stood had turned black with fallen ash. The role of water as protector or destroyer is one of

the myriad strands within the macrocosmic sweep of Moby Dick in which I find reflected, so much of my

own life and our collective moment as well.

A masterpiece is a kind of rubric from which we can discern a living pattern. It is a fractal, or a

skeleton key, an energy field of movable circuits; illuminating connections between something in the past to

clarify our present. Today Melville’s masterpiece reads like a prophetic gift from an earlier America, warning

of a deadly strain in the culture that still smolders in our psyches.


The similarities between Captain Ahab and our current president, my family being priced out of our

modest beach house in San Francisco, and a lost world that existed the first time I read Moby Dick, are all

here. Endings, beginnings, warnings.

Moby Dick, in case it’s been a while, is a story narrated by a sailor called Ishmael, who shows up in

New Bedford, Mass. looking to shake off the “damp drizzling November in his soul” by joining a whaling

voyage. Little does he know that the ship he has chosen somewhat at random, the Pequod, will be captained

by Ahab, an obsessed maniac set on exacting revenge from a large white whale who has bitten off his leg.

The ensuing voyage, as Ahab pursues his hatred across half the world, ends badly for everyone except of

course, Ishmael, who alone escapes to tell the tale. That’s just the face of it, like the ocean itself, every thing

interesting happens under the surface. The sheer inventiveness of Melville’s prose, willing to caste itself

anywhere, is breathtaking, and as post-modern as anything since.

Moby Dick may be our most alive great book, in its pages life seethes and swells together, you can cut

into it, eat it, flip it over, talk to it, stand on it, listen to it. It veers from micro to macro in the turn of a clause.

In a typical scene, the second mate Stubb, has killed a whale and wants to eat some of it, on the side of the

ship a school of sharks are already eating, Melville’s prose dives in to the melee.

“While the valiant butchers over the deck tables are cannibally carving each others’ live meat with the carving

knives all gilded and tasseled, the sharks also with their jewel-hilt mouths, are quarellesomely carving away under the

table at dead meat, and though you were to turn the whole affair upside down, it would still be pretty much the same

thing, that is to say a shocking sharkish business enough for all parties”

Reading Moby Dick immerses one in a system of deep time and intense physicality that we have lost

and may never have again. It is this reality of the corporal, the outdoor live action life that the advent of the
screen world has obscured, and discouraged. Between the smooth freeways on which the tech residents flow

into and out of San Francisco and the smooth glass of the screen that guides them, gale force winds, and

flying harpoons have no place. What the tech world brings us, a flatness, a smoothness, Moby Dick shatters.

Most of us would struggle to survive through one page of the action on the Pequod’s deck, awash in slippery

blood, swinging iron chains and flames from the rendering pots boiling down the blubber.

While the physical world of Moby Dick, and the vast sweep of time and space it invokes seem to be

vanishing from American experience, other aspects of the story feel more present, or even prescient. In

shaping the character of Ahab, the deeply damaged man, who leads with a monomaniacal selfishness that

obliterates all common courtesies and care; Melville has rendered the metaphorical outlines of our current

president. We now have Ahab, the half man, hell bent on destruction, leading the ship of state, with

congress crewing on his ship of doom. The fact that the crew of the Pequod fails to stop the deadly mission of

its captain is central to the unfolding tragedy of Moby Dick. Melville ponders how a crew of stouthearted

sailors could acquiesce against their better judgment, and go along with Ahab on a hunt they know to be

deadly. The answer is, in increments.

For weeks after the voyage begins, Ahab stays quietly below in his cabin, until one bright day he

finally appears on deck, to rally the crew to his intention, to hunt down the great white whale and kill it. It’s

not so strange a request, the getting of whales is their business after all, why not the big one? Ahab

intoxicates them with liquor and gold, nailing a golden doubloon to the main mast, a treasure for the man

who first sights the white whale. As he speaks, he elevates the rhetoric of his personal revenge to a noble

quest, as he urges on his crew.


“And this is what ye have shipped for men! To chase that white whale on both sides of earth, till he spouts

black blood and rolls fin out. What say ye men, will you splice hands on it now? I think ye do look brave.”

“Aye Aye shouted the harpooners and seamen. …

Ahab has to cajole the rational and hesitant Starbuck (the first mate) that he should believe as well.

“The crew man, the crew! Are they not one and all with Ahab, in the matter of the whale.” We’re reminded of the

president’s claims about his own popularity, as if the fact of being liked is evidence that he is right. Soon

after this speech, Melville lets us overhear Ahab, pacing the deck, reflecting on how it went.

“Twas not so hard a task. I thought to find one stubborn, at the least; but my one cogged circle fits into

all their various wheels, and they revolve.”

And our president is right behind him, pacing the West Wing a year ago, “How could it be that I

could win, first time out? I can’t believe it was so easy. It’s amazing. I’m amazing.”

Meanwhile Ishmael begins to realize, then regret, how easily he has been swayed by Ahab’s hate-

filled rhetoric.

“Ahab’s quenchless feud seemed mine.”…” With greedy ears I learned the history of that murderous

monster against whom I and all the others had taken our oaths of violence and revenge.”

Whatever vengeance each sailor carries, has found a target in Moby Dick, the strangely colored

creature, the one we can’t see or understand. Our horror mounts when the first pod of whales is sighted. As

the boats are lowered to give chase, Ahab suddenly appears: “With a start all glared at dark Ahab who was

surrounded by five dusky phantoms who seemed fresh formed out of air.”

Suddenly Ishmael understands that these are foreign men Ahab has been hiding below deck since

the Pequod sailed, his special crew, ready to help him do his own bidding, regardless of the contract with
owner or crew. The ‘dusky-phantoms’, are not exactly Russian operatives, but their presence violates the

way a ship is run, the sailors know they shouldn’t be there, and are not to be trusted. But eventually, the

crew of the Pequod comes to accept the phantoms, rationalizing that the ocean is vast and whalers often pick

up unaccountable things. “Beelzebub himself might climb up the side and step down into the cabin to chat with the

Captain and it would not create any unsubduable excitement in the forecastle.” How much strange behavior our

congress, lost ship that it is, has gotten used to I’ll leave for others to trace.

In his famous essay Call Me Ishmael, modernist poet Charles Olson posits, among other insights, a

detailed argument for Ahab representing a certain kind of 19th Century industrialist. The whaling industry

itself, now so distasteful to our ecological sympathies, was even in 1851 recognized as a wholesale plunder of

God’s creation. In his various chapters on cetology, the author broods on the likely extinction of whale

species through hunting. It wasn’t like they didn’t know. But owners of whaling vessels, Puritan by

pretension, were willing to forgive almost any offence on board if the hold came back full of oil. Success on a

voyage depended on paying the crew as little as possible to catch as many whales as possible. Wal-Mart and

the whale-mart are cut from the same American cloth. With the dusky phantoms Ahab is simply hedging

his profit margin by bringing in a sort of second extra crew, who work only for him. True his profits are of a

psychotic emotional currency, but he wants them just the same. Lately, here in San Francisco especially, it

seems we’ve also come to accept a sort of hopeless materialism, as if we have no choice in the matter but to

acquire and pay. How I long for the city that was once so wild and open, a city that had not been readied for

sale.
When I first read Moby Dick I was 20. I had just moved from a cabin in the mountains of Oregon,

where I had gone partly inspired by Thoreau’s Walden, but then had come to the “city” thinking rightly, that

this was where writers were, and I was going to be one. It was still easy then, to find a spacious room in a

Berkeley Victorian in exchange for babysitting and gardening. There was plenty of time off, so I’d also gotten

a part-time job at an influential small press in the Berkeley hills. I packed books to mail out, in a closet under

the stairs, several nights a week. There was also a steady stream of writers coming to the press, smoking on

the deck high above the Bay, giving impromptu readings, anthropologists, Irish fiddle players too. Some

times older poets would show up, and compelled by lust or curiosity, I would have to seduce them. It was

fantastic. Mornings we might search out obscure Vedic texts at Shambala Books on Telegraph. A copy of

War & Peace would be purchased as a gift, a sexy note added to the title page. I absorbed these poets’

lifetimes of reading, over breakfast and espresso; it was in their small talk, their kisses. I wasn’t in college, but

I was working my way through the books everyone read, and more importantly talked about. This was

before the proliferation of MFA’s, when any official imprimatur was looked on with suspicion. Literature

was subversive, illicit, alive and pressing on the now. I read then as the young do, with a hunger for

information about how to live. Now I read with outrage, about all the ways we fail to live.

I’m sickened by Ahab’s selfishness, and can’t help but see the whole voyage, as an incredibly

depressing and pointless ship of doom. I can’t help but see that the big thing here is not the whale at all, but

the maniacal obsession of Ahab, who is more than ready to take everyone with him down into the

murderous depths if only he can get what he wants. This is a novel about the problem with minds that can

only entertain one point of view; it’s about capitalism or materialism or whatever you label the need to

capture and possess things. I want to yell, Fuck you Captain Ahab, you and your self involved little wounds.
Take you’re hurt little carcass and stay at home. How many are you willing to take down with you on your

raging race for revenge. I have a grown son who could get on a boat with someone like him. I’m sick of the

Ahab force at work in the world today, good and honorable people like Queequeg and Tashtego, and

Starbuck, taken down ineluctably by the tyrants in charge.

For the last ten years we’ve rented a stucco row house a few short blocks from the Pacific at Ocean

Beach. I hear the ocean while I read, or write this at my desk. Its constant voice has become the sound of

home. What is it saying I wonder? When will I know? Shouldn’t I know by now? I walk on the beach almost

every day, staring out at the surging blue Melville once crisscrossed. Pondering the larger mysteries is a lot of

what goes on in Moby Dick. After killing the first whale of the hunt, Captain Ahab speaks to its severed head,

hanging by chains from the side of his ship, “Speak mighty head and tell us the secret thing that is in thee.”

Everything? Nothing?

Once a few years ago, a whale carcass washed up on the beach here. It was fantastic, about fifty feet

long, a fin whale. My son and I kept going back out to look at it. Its body had been torn open and was rotting.

Layers of pink blubber, carved in tiers, reminded me of the ceiling decorations in the Alhambra. The

structure of the whale was so hard to fathom, like some ancient geological event, pink, grey, massive, carved

with caverns and streams, but leading where? The fins, still buried under the surf, looked pathetically small

in relation to its bulk. Then we saw its round glassy eye, which made us want to cry, because we realized that

the whale was like us, it had looked out on the world, had traveled. What mysteries had he seen? Our eyes

were so much the same.


Around the time of the fires we learned that our house is being sold, redone. The rent will likely

triple. Like hundreds of artists each year we just can’t afford to stay anymore, so this summer we’ll leave the

city where I’ve lived mostly, for forty years, where I’ve raised my children. Sometimes leaving feels like a fire

in which I will lose everything, but sometimes it feels natural. Leaving was how I got here to begin with.

Leaving is what we do in American stories. Ishmael understands.

Perhaps the saddest scene in my re-reading of Moby Dick, is not the final sinking of all ship and crew;

but what the Pequod becomes before it goes down. If you’ve ever been with a dying person you know that at

the end, things begin to fall away, dignity, control, the voice. The Pequod is a dying ship. First the life buoy

flies off by accident, then a man falls from the mast, then goes Ahab’s hat, lifted off by a giant black bird.

The last thing to fall away is compassion itself. It happens like this.

Another whaling ship the Rachel passes close by the Pequod and Ahab shouts out to the Captain.

“Hast thou seen the white whale?”

“Aye, yesterday. Have ye seen a whale boat adrift? “

Captain Gardiner of the Rachel, a fellow Nantucketer whom Ahab knows, boards the ship and tells

his story. They had indeed seen Moby Dick, had even given chase, but lost one of their whaleboats in the

process. The Captain begs for the help of the Pequod in his search, “My boy, my own boy is among them… A

little lad but twelve years old.” Gardiner offers money to charter the ship, even reminds Ahab that he himself

has a son. But Ahab can see nothing but the nearness of his prey, his answer is final and chilling.

“I will not do it. Even now I lose time. Good bye, Good bye.”

Now the Pequod, captained by a man who has lost all human feeling, can really do nothing more than

go down. So begins the fatal chase.


The air out here by the ocean is almost always fresh, but the week of the fires there was a strange

light on the water during sunset, not the usual gleam of amber and magenta, but a sour orange light, flame

colored, like a toxic spill on the water.

Still, people keep coming to the beach. The streetcar route ends at the foot of Judah Street. Tourists

from Paris or kids from Oakland disembark, cross the Great Highway, walk up the dune, and there it is. The

great opening of sky and water, everyone seems hungry for. People come here to play, or ponder, or fall in

love. Every week, I see some new person with a bouquet of flowers stand at the water’s edge and pray.

This city, like so much of the American life described in Moby Dick, which was once metaphysical

and playful, discursive, unruly, and at heart egalitarian is now being tamed and readied for sale. It’s as if we

have been moving backward out of the unexplored waters Melville draws us to, spooling back to that cold

steepled, flat screened, white church in New Bedford, where everything is accusation and sin. We could call

the story a non-quest or an un-adventure, but who wants to read that, let alone live it.

What finally bothers me most about having to leave San Francisco is giving up the beach. On this

stretch of sand I am conscious of being held against the edge of two great immensities. The civilized grid of

the Outer Sunset on one side, square blocks and book shops, while across the Great Highway the deep

wilderness roar of the waves stretches to the horizon, to the sun, to the beyond here. But Melville reminds us

always of the mystery within as well as without, and all the deepest borders we cross without even noticing.
Fall 2018
Ann Privateer

Ode Too Soon

Too soon the young


Too soon the making
Too soon cranberries baking

Too soon the creek


Too soon the flowing
Too soon wisteria flowering

Too soon the song


Too soon the singing
Too soon operatic screaming

Too soon the stick


Too soon the splintering
Too soon, ready or not.
Little to Hold

Coin rolls roll down the street


Days spent searching for money
It's never too damp to sleep
Out in the rain, hunger wondering
Sniveling shrivel over lost garments
Clothing a bloody nose with a foe
Hanging an endless wash
On a hurricane line.
The Startled Child

Carries its existence


Over the prairie
Dreaming fire dreams
In a symphonic agony
Sleeping with monsters
Beneath the bed.
Fall 2018
Allen X. Davis

Bubbaloo

Whump! Elena Morais slammed a tray of mail onto my ledge. Big, beautiful Elena Morais. Her flowery

perfume enveloped me as the letters clicked by at the rate of sixty per minute. Twelve of us sat at the big

green letter sorting machine while twelve little tentacles danced back and forth feeding us the mail. Elena

plucked out a postcard and propped it up on my console: a topless Hawaiian girl in a grass skirt. Hoorah! I

yelled over the noise of the machine. I looked up and her dark eyes glowed. Hey, we should get us a beer

later, I said. It’s so fuckin’ dry in here I could use one right now! she yelled back. Just pray there’s no OT. I

glanced at the big clock on the wall. It was only seven. We got out at eleven-thirty; they had until ten-thirty

to call mandatory overtime, and if they did all was lost. I wanted that beer with Elena. The suspense was

already killing me. A couple of seats ahead of me Phil Goffman was jolting around in his chair more than

usual, giving the impression his part of the machine was going faster than the rest. Impossible, of course,

with everything synchronized. Suddenly, a loud BOOM! The machine stopped, tentacles frozen in mid-air. A

cheer went up, for this meant we had an unscheduled break. The last time this happened Mike Gilpin picked

up a thick handful of mail out back and with a smile showed me how he had used it to jam the gears.

Imagine a huge bicycle chain going off its sprockets and fucking everything up. A blue-shirted mechanic

appeared with his toolbox. Everybody out back! shouted Richie Farley, the acting supervisor, not content to
let us chill for a while. He waved his arm toward the machine and shouted even louder, Dispatch the full

trays! Clean it all up! Richie looked like Macaulay Culkin, the little kid in the Home Alone movie. As a clerk

he was a regular fun loving guy but whenever he clipped on that big yellow acting supervisor’s badge he

turned into John Wayne. I checked on Phil before heading out back. His eyes were wild. Cackling madly, he

told me he had been sending every single Boston Edison yellow payment envelope he saw to Alaska instead

of Boston. Why? A dispute over his bill. He would show them! And if he got caught he could just say

Whoops! I got confused and hit 9-9-5 on the lower keyboard instead of 9-9 on the upper. The mechanic fixed

the problem quicker than we had hoped. Farley pushed a button on his command panel and a school bell

rang. He pushed another button and the machine started rolling along. Tentacles began dancing one by one,

sucking onto each letter with a vacuum swoosh, then dropping it for your viewing pleasure. A click as the

letter moved away and when you heard that click you keyed in the code like a laboratory rat who could read.

Swoosh. Click. Swoosh. Click. Swoosh. Click. Something didn’t seem right. I checked the speedometer on the

command panel when I got relieved. The needle was almost at sixty-one! Farley trying to make up for lost

time. I pointed at it. Look! It’s at sixty-one! He shook his head and claimed he had timed it. Sixty on the

button, he said, crossing his arms. The needle is a little off. Bullshit! I said. I called Gino the union steward

over and he went ballistic, shouting and gesturing while Farley, arms still crossed, refused to budge. Gino

took out a stopwatch and Farley eventually turned the speed back down. Gino stormed back to his cramped

union steward area and kicked the shit out of a file cabinet. Ten thirty came and went with no overtime

announcement. As soon as the minute hand on the clock jumped to thirty-one a cheer went up. But at ten

thirty-two a barely audible male voice droned over the P.A. system: All Tour 3 LSM operators on the three to

eleven thirty shift MUST remain for overtime. (LSM: post office speak for letter sorting machine.) A chorus of
boos and complaints. We knew the drill: they would claim the clock was fast. Gino stormed over to the

general foreman’s desk and thrashed his arms around. Some time went by. The announcement was repeated

with MAY remain instead of MUST. A rare victory.

* * *

Freedom! Elena and I burst out the front doors into the warm night with scores of others. People laughed

and shouted. Rock music from The Channel nightclub drifted across the sludgy water of the Fort Point

Channel. A small plane buzzed overhead like a happy bee. From above came the crack-crack-crack of an AK-

47 rifle. But that couldn’t be. Was I having a flashback? Close to us we heard a metallic clink-clink as

something fell to the pavement. I picked it up: an empty shell! This was real! Another crack-crack-crack and

the light at loading dock #1 went out with a pop and tinkle. Let’s get the fuck outta here! screamed Elena and

we ran for our lives. We were still jittery and confused when we got to Three Cheers. On the TVs above the

bar a news crew replayed video of the plane looping through the sky above our place of employment and

above the blue neon sign of Gillette’s World Shaving Headquarters further down the channel. From there it

flew to Logan Airport, almost touched down, went up into the sky again and finally landed just minutes ago.

They showed the pilot’s picture. Elena shrieked. It was a guy from Machine H! A heavyset middle-aged

Italian guy with short curly black hair and normally an eager grin on his congenial round face. He always

wore a loud Hawaiian shirt and always sat at console #12 at the front of his machine like he was leading the

charge into battle on the green beast. I figured he must’ve listened to some exciting stuff on his big black

headphones because every once in a while he would rear his head back and bellow Bubba-loooooo!!! It

would echo through the entire building. Bubba-loooooo!!! You could hear it miles away like a foghorn on the

bay. He had shot and killed his ex-wife in Salem. Then he stole the plane at gunpoint from a nearby airport
and headed south. He flew UNDER the Tobin Bridge. He shot the skywalk on the fiftieth floor of the

Prudential Tower. He shot parked cars near Fenway Park. He buzzed Logan Airport, shutting it down for an

hour before attacking the South Postal Annex and heading back to Logan. Miraculously, no one was hurt

except for his ex-wife. They said she had divorced him after a fight over a television channel. The clerks on

Bubbaloo’s machine voluntarily memorized extra zip codes for a half buck more an hour. Their machine ran

at fifty-five instead of sixty. Most were smart. Some may have been geniuses. But in my opinion fifty-five was

too slow. It gave you too much time to think. I told the bartender about him always hollering Bubbaloo! for

some strange reason. It’s bubble gum, silly! said Elena, and I remembered seeing packages of Bubbaloo at

the store. Dontcha know it’s also your Honey Bunny? said the bartender. Your Sugar? Your One and Only?

Elena slapped her hand to her heart. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! He was wailing for his wife all this time and we

didn’t even know it! The bartender shook his head sadly and said Kill the things you love, right?

* * *

The next day: Rage. So-called management KNEW this maniac was in the air shooting up the city. They had

been briefed by Boston police and state police who told them he was possibly headed our way, but still they

let us leave without saying a word. We all could’ve been killed! They held a meeting in the cafeteria in an

attempt to justify their negligence. Standing room only, packed to the walls with angry workers. The chief

culprit was Mike Donnelly—a tall, red headed dork in a suit who got his job through his upper management

hack father. As acting tour superintendent he had been in charge of the whole facility, which comprised the

old building and the new building stuck together. Except for red hair instead of gray, he was a carbon copy

of the unsmiling old fuck. In ridiculous, convoluted doublespeak, Donnelly claimed he had let us leave the

building to keep us safe. What? This was because they thought the building—not people—would be his
main target. The building must have stretched three or four city blocks down Dorchester Ave. Did this idiot

really think there was no safe place to hide in that massive structure of stone and brick? Did he fear

Bubbaloo might blow the whole place up with a rocket launcher or a bomb or something from a tiny little

Cessna airplane? So you put us in harm’s way to keep us safe? shouted Mike Gilpin. You could hide in the

building but not us? You’re a worthless piece of — Shame on you! boomed a burly custodian. Donnelly

adjusted his microphone and straightened his tie. I’m proud to report, he said, that not a single one of my

people was hurt in this unfortunate situation. We’re not your people! screamed a black lady who normally

was outgoing and kind. And you’re not ours! Disgusted, I worked my way to the back of the crowd and gazed

out the glass wall at South Station right next door. Trains sat by the platforms. People streamed back and

forth. I pictured steam rising from the engines like in an old movie as the last boarding call was made for

New York or Chicago. All aboard! I wanted to be out there too, doing normal things with normal people.

Elena nudged me and whispered Look what I brought for swing (post office speak for lunch). She opened

her pocketbook and I glimpsed a fat joint resting in there like a jewel. I nudged her back and said Hey, I

brought a little something too.

* * *

After swing we felt no pain. Farley pushed the machine faster and faster and it rushed and roared like a

locomotive. This time I said nothing. I turned Elmore James up loud on my headphones and let some of the

mail fly by without keying anything. The sky is cryin’, screeched Elmore to a slow blues beat. Look at the

tears roll down the street. And it hit me: those bullets falling from the sky and bouncing off the street were

Bubbaloo’s tears, maybe the only way he knew how to cry. Some letters I sent to the upside down or

backwards bins. For others, whether I could read them or not, I hit #3 on the bottom keyboard for
unreadable. In my mind it morphed into unreachable—exactly how I felt at that moment in time. I poured

my heart out with Elmo on Every Day I Have the Blues and then his slide guitar started singing and crying as

me and the speeding machine charged on:

Swoosh Click Unreadable

Swoosh Click Unreachable

Nothing Swoosh

Going Swoosh

Anywhere

Click.
Fall 2018
Allan Johnston

Woman in White
after Sylvia Plath

Where the intermittent


zealot warning light blinked
its insistent beacon,

sleepy and cat yellow,


over the dark, pimply
hazard sign and leaning

perilous tenement,
near collapse, simply
waiting to be destroyed,

one tree cowered its bland


black branches and betrayed
crown against the wall, and

you were there. You came in


with your long white coat and
white hat, as if just found

by the light, a bright fang


or comet, and, laughing,
lit on everything.
Revolutionary Letters

Dear Che--heat hits Chicago


like a slap in the face. You might ask
where the delights of Haymarket Square
have gone--into futures, the hedge funds
linking risks to fixed-priced
derivatives forecasting values
controlled by chains of finance.
This is the time of the continuous;
after a while, the old order
overthrows the new. The body
whittles down to its clichés
and complacencies. Before
it tries even to formulate
complexities of elements
unmoleculed, undressed, the lie
of the earth comes and stays.
The revolution is complete.
The new order overthrows
the old in the season where
someone finds the artifice
of letters in remains. The words
are shot with paradox.
Readers go by with interpretative
Acts tucked under arms. Some line up
at the wall, hang their heads.
Some curse the book. Some know the words
Tell the end. Some find solace;
some find war. The revolution
of letters comes down
like a big fat naught, revolving
planet bit around the bone
of self-discovery
in others. Che, the words mean,
but what, but what? The words
are the Word. What the words mean.
But the words. What words? But more
than words. The words mean more
Than words, more words. Words are a means.
Falling Asleep Watching Perry Mason

The TV flicks its silver dominion


across the room; as night lengthens,
sleep descends, and the dreamer enters
the court case in a strange trial
of truth and fantasy, and recalls:
Our forefathers brought forth on this continent—
why fourth? Why not third,
or thirst? After the natives,
Vikings and Spanish, brought forth what?
How is leaning in to specifics
a successful prosecution
or defense when the real killer sings
in the courtroom, alienating
rules, walls? Our forefathers
brought forth a wall of laws. So,
reversing the obvious evidence
with inductions of innuendo,
reruns of the rehearsed recall
the sting. Then Della Street brings her elegant
funk name in to mask such sordid
prostitutions or prosecutions
as give aid to the bourgeoisie,
just like that Paul Drake pirate
whose eponym once sailed the Angeles
waters for the English queen,
or, finally, the Masonic
code of stone, le Père Pierre.
Was it insight or intrigue
that caused that smile at a brief?
Ham Burger is cooked. The guilty party
lets the cat out of the bag,
tells all, getting the murdered narration
to blossom from the TV box
when blasting commercials declare the new world.
Fall 2018
Aidan Coleman

Encarta

Who, over distance,


can outrun

a library? Germans
clambering

over ruins
like Indiana Jones.

The years you save


buy nothing –

listlessly
shopping through night,

while others
try on postures.
At the seminar
for jobs

that don’t yet exist,


the clip they play

embroidered
in brutal

statistics.
Peace is a word

you could ride


to tenure,

but who would own


this quiet?
Moderate

The chorus falls between


the words I read

to ignore the scenery,


like the prayer

for speed and safety


we forget

to hang up from.
Whichever dawn or sale

is tweeted, a line
will be drawn

to cross or hold.
Our century

(by which I mean here)


will brook no

neck-verse.
Any way you monster it

my dentist is friendly
and careful.
Logos, as in Brands

You catch yourself in the cast


of The Thinker, bored

on the cover of Why?


Better aboard a yacht charting

unaudited waters. Beauty


is fleeting but dumb

forever, coached Judge Judy,


but still the tissues show

the stupid faces of princesses.


For bad behaviour that year

I got one encyclopaedia.


I think it was F or U.
Fall 2018
Acta Biographia — Author Biographies

Aidan Coleman

Aidan Coleman’s work has appeared in Australian Book Review, Best Australian Poems, Blackbox Manifold,
Glasgow Review of Books, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The Stockholm Review of Literature, and
Virginia Quarterly Review. He is currently writing a biography of the poet John Forbes, with the assistance of
the Australia Council.

Allan Johnston

Allan Johnston earned his M.A. in Creative Writing and his Ph.D. in English from the University of
California, Davis. His poems have appeared in over sixty journals, including Poetry, Poetry East, Rattle,and
Rhino. He is the author of one full-length poetry collection (Tasks of Survival, Mellen, 1996) and two
chapbooks (Northport, Finishing Line Press, 2010; Departures, Finishing Line Press, 2013), and has received an
Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination (2009), and First Prize in Poetry in the
Outrider Press Literary Anthology competition (2010). Originally from California, he now teaches writing
and literature at Columbia College and DePaul University in Chicago. He serves as a reader for Word River
and for the Illinois Emerging Poets competition, and is an editor for the Journal for the Philosophical Study of
Education. His academic articles have appeared in Twentieth Century Literature, College Literature, and several
other journals.

Allen X. Davis

Allen X. Davis’ recent stories appear in Ragazine, Tinge Magazine, Gravel, and the Sanctuary anthology
from Darkhouse Books. His short short “Packy & Backy” was nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize.

Ann Privateer
Barbara Roether

Barbara Roether is a writer and teacher recently exiled from San Francisco to a rural hamlet near Asheville,
North Carolina. She is the author of the novel This Earth You’ll Come Back To, (McPherson & Co.) and a
poetry collection Saraswati’s Lament from Wet Cement Press. She has lived and taught in Morocco, Bali and
Japan, and worked for many years in book publishing. Her stories, poems and books reviews appear in
various journals. In January of 2019 she will premier an Asheville chapter of the national Why There are
Words literary reading series. She hopes Blaze Vox writers will come join her.

Brandon McQuade

I was born and raised in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. I graduated with a BA in English from the
University of New Brunswick in 2015. In the following year, I attended and graduated Trinity College, Dublin
with an M.Phil in Irish Writing. Always a student and avid reader of all things literary, I began to write
poetry shortly after Dublin became my temporary home. I now live in San Antonio, Texas with my wife
Jacqlyn and our dog, Nevi. My work is previously unpublished.

Caspian Radar

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wrinkles in your face! Find how this works and how you can obtain your free sample. This is the biggest deal
in Shark Tank history.

Christian Woodard

Christian is a freelance writer and guide based in Laramie, WY. His creative work has appeared or is
forthcoming in Cirque, Pudding, Tidal Echoes, Work, Plough Quarterly, Wilderness House, Barrelhouse, and others.
He has an environmental writing degree from Middlebury College, has received a grant from Breadloaf
Writers Workshop, and taught nonfiction for the Adirondack Center for Writing.

Christine Karka

My name is Christine Karka and I am a 18 year old artist from Vienna, Austria. As far as i can remember art
has always played a very important role in my life - If I’m not busy with poetry I’m most probably drawing,
doing some photography projects or making music. I literally couldn’t imagine a life without those mediums.
Christopher Barnes

Clive Gresswell

Clive Gresswell, 60, is an innovative writer and poet working out of Luton in Bedfordshire, UK. He has been
widely published, not least in BlazeVOX, and has a work soon to come out with Knives, Forks and Spoons
Press called Rages of The Carbolic. Clive has an MA in innovative poetry from the University of
Bedfordshire.

Cyrus Reddy

Writing has always been part of my business life. Writing fiction has not, though I’ve always had an interest.
With retirement imminent, I took some writing classes and wrote of few short stories, two of which were
published in Gloom Cupboard and Sixers Review. The ideas, outline, character profiles and first draft for
my first novel are well under way.

David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer, editor and botanist from Bristol, England. He was awarded second prize in the
2015 UK National Poetry Competition. Recent work has also appeared in Stride and The Hopper, and is
forthcoming in Blackbox Manifold.

Debopriya Bhattacharya

Deborah Saltman

I am re-emerging poet influenced by one of my mother's childhood boyfriends - Paul Celan. Now, I am living
across the hemispheres and the Atlantic currently enjoying my London landing. I have had poems
previously published in Blazevox and after twenty years of scientific writing and I am enjoying my return to
my calling.

Denise Bell
Donato Mancini

Donato Mancini's books and chapbooks include Snowline (2015), Loitersack (2014), Buffet World (2011) Fact 'N'
Value (2011), Hell Passport no.22 (2008), Æthel (2007), 58 Free Coffees (2006) and Ligatures (2005). Same Diff, his
most recent book, was a finalist for the 2018 Griffin Prize.The poems presented here are from a cycle of new
poems in a medieval French form known as the "fatras." The lines in italics are by A.K. Ramanujan ("this
Biafra"), Nicole Markotić ("prevent emergency tours"), and Deanna Ferguson ("be bit map"). Having spent
much of his life in Vancouver BC, Mancini is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of English
at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore MD.

Eleanor Levine

Eleanor Levine's writing has been published in more than 60 publications, including Fiction, Evergreen
Review, BlazeVOX, Litro, The Toronto Quarterly, The Denver Quarterly, Wigleaf, The Breakwater Review, Bull
(Men's Fiction) decomP, Hobart, Artemis, Fiction Southeast,Gone Lawn, Juked, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Barely
South Review, Monkeybicycle, Atticus Review, and others; forthcoming work in Faultline Journal of Arts and
Letters, Switchback, and Cleaver Magazine. Levine’s poetry collection, Waitress at the Red Moon Pizzeria, was
published by Unsolicited Press (Portland, OR) in 2016. Eleanor received her MFA in Creative Writing from
Hollins University (Roanoke, VA) in 2007.

Emilie Pichot

Emilie Pichot's work scratches itches to dismantle violent power structures, poking holes into them until
they leak. Based in Baltimore, she is a library worker in the daytime, and a baker, collage artist, and horror
film enthusiast after five.

Enzo Scavone

Enzo is a writer of Italian descent. After living in Germany and Switzerland he settled in New York City
where he received a Bachelor in Creative Writing from Hunter College. He has been published in El Portal,
The Opiate, and Forge Journal and won the first prize in fiction of the writing competition at Borough of
Manhattan Community College. He’s a proofreader for McSweeney’s and a submission reader for
Ploughshares. In his free time, he plays poker and attends open mics where he performs his own
monologues and improvised scenes.

Ethan Goffman

Ethan Goffman’s poems have appeared in Mad Swirl, Madness Muse, and Setu. He has published non-fiction
as a staff writer for Mobility Lab and the SSPP Blog, and as a freelance writer for The Progressive, Buzzflash,
the Baltimore Sun, Grist, EarthTalk, and others. Ethan is the author of Imagining Each Other: Blacks and Jews in
Contemporary American Literature (SUNY Press, 2000).

Ethan Goffman is an environmental and transit writer and a volunteer for the Maryland Sierra Club. A part-time
teacher and sometime poet, Ethan lives in Rockville, Maryland.

Ewa Mazierska

Ewa Mazierska is historian of film and popular music, who writes short stories and nonfiction in her spare
time. Several of them were published in literary magazines: ‘The Longshot Island’, ‘The Adelaide Magazine’,
‘The Fiction Pool’, ‘Literally Stories’, ‘Ragazine’, ‘Shark Reef’ and ‘Terror House Magazine’. Ewa lives in
Lancashire, UK.

Heller Levinson

Heller Levinson's most recent book is LinquaQuake (Black Widow Press). The originator of Hinge Theory, he
lives in New York.

hiromi suzuki

hiromi suzuki is a poet and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. A member of "gui" (run by members of "VOU" group
of poets, founded by the late Katsue Kitasono). The author of Ms. cried, 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (kisaragi
publishing, 2013 ISBN978-4-901850-42-1), and logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018 ISBN 978-1-9999153-1-5).
Web Site : https://hiromisuzukimicrojournal.tumblr.com/

J.B. Stone

J.B. Stone is a neurodiverse writer from Brooklyn, now residing in Buffalo. He is the author of A Place Between
Expired Dreams And Renewed Nightmares (Ghost City Press 2018). Stone has fiction, reviews, and poetry
featured in Bone & Ink, Occulum, Peach Mag, Breadcrumbs Magazine. He is the recent winner of the 2018
Academy of Heart and Mind Summer Poetry Contest. You can check out more of his work at
jaredbenjaminstone.com <http://jaredbenjaminstone.com> and/or twitter @JB_StoneTruth.

J. Carlos Valencia

J. Carlos Valencia teaches Latin American literature and language courses at Truman State University. He
authored “Coffee Aroma. A Drama in the War Torn Country of Colombia.”
Jake Buckholz

Jake Buckholz is a founding editor of the journal Sybil. He lives in San Marcos, Texas.

Jeff Bagato

A multi-media artist living near Washington, DC, Jeff Bagato produces poetry and prose as well as electronic
music and glitch video. Some of his poetry and visuals have appeared in Empty Mirror, Futures Trading,
Otoliths, Gold Wake Live, H&, The New Post-Literate, and Utsanga. Some short fiction has appeared in
Gobbet and The Colored Lens. He has published nineteen books, all available through the usual online
markets, including Savage Magic (poetry) and Computing Angels (fiction). A blog about his writing and
publishing efforts can be found at http://jeffbagato.com.

Jen Rouse

Jen Rouse is the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Cornell College. Her poems have
appeared in Poetry, Gulf Stream, Parentheses, Cleaver, Up the Staircase, Southern Florida Poetry Journal, and
elsewhere. She was named a finalist for the Mississippi Review 2018 Prize Issue. Rouse is a two-time finalist
for the Charlotte Mew Prize with Headmistress Press. Her first chapbook with HP is Acid and Tender, and her
forthcoming book is CAKE. The Poetry Annals published her micro chap, Before Vanishing. And Riding with
Anne Sexton, Rouse’s second chapbook, is recently out from Bone & Ink Press in collaboration with dancing
girl press. Find her at jen-rouse.com <http://jen-rouse.com/> and on Twitter @jrouse.

Joel Schueler

Joel has a BA(Hons) in English Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He
has just finished his first novel and his works have been accepted across nine different countries in over two
dozen publications including Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Bangalore Review & The Brasilia Review.

John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and
Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.
John Lavelle

John Lavelle is a graduate associate professor at Florida Institute of Technology where he teaches literature,
academic writing, and creative writing. His novel Oreads is now available through Roundfire Books and was
chosen as a finalist in The Lascaux Review Fiction Prize. He has published short stories in diverse literary
journals including, Red Rock Review, Trajectory, Stone Canoe, Pisgah Review, and others. He has also published
in more than several anthologies of short stories. His scholarly book Blue Collar, Theoretically: A Post-Marxist
Approach to Working-Class Literature was published by McFarland & Co. His second academic book is now
forthcoming.

John J. Trause

JOHN J. TRAUSE, the Director of Oradell Public Library, is the author of Why Sing? (Sensitive Skin Press,
2017), a book of traditional and experimental poems; Picture This: For Your Eyes and Ears (Dos Madres Press,
2016), a book of poems on art, film, and photography; Exercises in High Treason (great weather for MEDIA,
2016), a book of fictive translations, found poems, and manipulated texts; Eye Candy for Andy (13 Most
Beautiful… Poems for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, Finishing Line Press, 2013); Inside Out, Upside Down, and Round
and Round (Nirala Publications, 2012); Seriously Serial (Poets Wear Prada, 2007; rev. ed. 2014); and Latter-Day
Litany (Éditions élastiques, 1996), the latter staged Off Broadway. His translations, poetry, and visual work
appear internationally in many journals and anthologies, including The Antioch Review, the artists' periodical
Crossings, the Dada journal Maintenant, the journal Offerta Speciale, the Great Weather for Media anthologies
It’s Animal but Merciful (2012) and I Let Go of the Stars in My Hand (2014), and Rabbit Ears : TV Poems (NYQ
Books, 2015). Marymark Press has published his visual poetry and art as broadsides and sheets. He is the
subject of a 30-on-30-in-30 essay on The Operating System, written by Don Zirilli, and an author of an essay
on Baroness Elsa at the same site, both in April 2016. He has shared the stage with Steven Van Zandt, Anne
Waldman, Karen Finley, Andrei Codrescu, and Jerome Rothenberg; the page with Billy Collins, Lita
Hornick, William Carlos Williams, Woody Allen, Ted Kooser, Victor Buono, and Pope John Paul II; and the
cage with the Cumaean Sibyl, Ezra Pound, Hannibal Lector, Andrei Chikatilo, and George “The Animal”
Steele. His artwork has been exhibited in The Museum of Modern Art Staff Show (1995), at Il Trapezio Café
(Nutley, NJ), and in the permanent collection of The Museum of Menstruation (New Carrollton, MD) to
whose website he has contributed. For the sake of art Mr. Trause hung naked for one whole month in the
summer of 2007 on the Art Wall of the Bowery Poetry Club. He is a founder of the William Carlos Williams
Poetry Cooperative in Rutherford, N. J., and the former host and curator of its monthly reading series. He is
fond of cunning acrostics and color-coded chiasmus.

Joe Milford

Joseph V. Milford is the author of the poetry collections CRACKED ALTIMETER (BlazeVox Press) and
TATTERED SCROLLS AND POSTULATES, VOL I. (Backlash Press). He is an English professor and
Creative Writing instructor living south of Atlanta, Georgia. He also edits the online poetry thread,
RASPUTIN, A POETRY THREAD.

JoyAnne O'Donnell

JoyAnne is the author of Spring & Summer's Veil from Kelsay books 2018.
JoyAnne currently lives in Maryland enjoys writing and swimming.

Julio Valentin

Juno Probe

Juno will improve our understanding of the solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution
of Jupiter. Unlike all earlier poets sent to the outer planets, Juno is powered by solar arrays, commonly used
by satellites orbiting Earth and working in the inner Solar System, whereas radioisotope thermoelectric
generators are commonly used for missions to the outer Solar System and beyond.

Karla G. Orozco

Kate Wise

Kelsey Ryann Orsini

Kelsey Ryann Orsini lives in Richmond, Virginia. She's been published in Northern Lights and the University
of Edinburgh Journal. She teaches English and creative writing to high school students and writes poems
when she isn’t grading papers.

Linda King

Linda King is the author of four poetry collections - the most recent - Ongoing Repairs to Something Significant
(BlazeVOX [books], 2017. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals in Canada and internationally. She
lives and writes on The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.
Lorna Perez

Lorna Perez is an Associate Professor of English at Buffalo State College, where she specializes in Latinx
Literature. Her creative work has appeared in elimae, The Mississippi Review, and Label me Latina. Her one
(youthful) chapbook Overdetermined Romances (2003), was published by Chibcha Press, which was founded
by the late lesbian poet and librarian tatiana de la tierra whom she met while they were both at the
University at Buffalo. Lorna holds graduate degrees in English from the University at Buffalo (MA, 2003;
PhD, 2008) where she wrote a dissertation on Latina Literature and Empire, and an undergraduate degree in
Philosophy and English from Creighton University. A native of Northern California, she moved to Buffalo
with no intention to stay, and has now happily called the city home for many years.

Mark Young

Mark Young's most recent book is les échiquiers effrontés, a collection of surrealist visual poems laid out on
chessboard grids, just published by Luna Bisonte Prods. Due out later this year is The Word Factory: a
miscellany, from gradient books of Finland, & an e-book, A Vicarious Life — the backing tracks, from otata.

Mary Shanley

Mary Shanley is a poet/writer living in New York City. Four of her books of poems and stories have been
published: Hobo Code Poems by Vox Pop Press. Mott Street and Las Vegas Stories, Things I Left Behind and
Poems for Faces by Sidestreet Press. She publishes in many online and print journals.

Matthew L. Morris

Born 1989 in the small, Western Kentucky town of Murray. Attended Murray State university for studies in
English, Sociology, History and Philosophy. Major literary influences include Jack Kerouac, William
Wordsworth, Sylvia Plath, HP Lovecraft, Raymond Carver and many others. Currently lives in his home
town with two loving dogs and a lovely girlfriend named Mary.

Publication history only includes impending publication in BlazeVOX! Fall 2018 issue.

matthew scott harris

Born in Cincinnati that buckeye state


January 13th 1959 – LIX+ years to date
a tangle of arms & legs testing lungs, which sounded great
he kind of resembled a misshapen octopus with oval pate
Glowering inxs of deep purple from blue mood being irate
smooth opalescent coxcomb crown
thrust out womb of Harriet Harris whom Boyce did,
avidly date after courting this youngest maid den named
Kuritsky kin whose ill-fate
whisked by grim reaper, which demise she did hate

For her being imbued with vim and vinegar til illness ate
away her je nais sais quois personable maternal trait
evident during my boyhood reflected by her son of late
as he too inches closer to his mortality and Hades gate

aware that each day ought to be cherished as the rate


of time courses down that zip line where grim reaper does wait
attired in brand name hoodie swinging scythe across oblate
spheroid i.e. terrestrial firmament – though many years some great.

this for no particular rhyme, nor reason ado


write scrimmage with Motley Crue
the Cutting Crew
grim reaper n Creed dance nada yet due
eventually, though

a fatal Kiss this Moody Blue


will find him scaling the stairway to heaven,
where he can join with those Grateful Dead
whence,
he will bid mortality adieu.

Margaret Adams Birth

Margaret Adams Birth had her first chapbook, Borderlands, released by Finishing Line Press in 2016; she has
also had poems previously published in such journals as Riverrun, Aldebaran, Shawnee Silhouette, Mobius,
Black River Review, Potpourri, Ship of Fools and The Wild Goose Poetry Review. Her short fiction has been
published in a wide variety of magazines, ranging from the literary (The Caribbean Writer) to the commercial
(True Confessions), she's had novelette- and novella-length romance fiction published by Boroughs
Publishing Group, and years ago she even had a handful of comic books published by the now-defunct
Revolutionary Comics. She grew up in North Carolina, but has since lived in Virginia, upstate New York,
southern California, the Caribbean island of Trinidad--and, for the last two decades, in New York City.
Mick Raubenheimer

Mick Raubenheimer was born in the crude 1979 of Krugersdorp, Transvaal, South Africa. He cranes in blood and
leaps in ink. He teaches smiling, unruly children to keen their wildness, and hopes to one day show them Fawlty
Towers on IMAX. Dumela.

Michael Starr

Michael Starr is a scientist in pharmaceuticals and plays tennis with his brother on the weekends. He has
been previously published in BlazeVOX, Aberration Labyrinth, Lipstick Party, and Anapest. His
photography has been featured in Junto Magazine. He lives in the Bay Area of Northern California.

Michael J. Grodesky

Michael J. Grodesky is a poet and photographer in Seattle. His poems have appeared in Down In The Dirt
Magazine, Scars 2014 Poetry and Prose Collection: Need to Know Basis, Stepping Stones Magazine, and Urban
Textures, a collection of photographs and poems published with his husband photographer Jim Simandl. He
teaches at the University of Washington where he is a clinical assistant professor.

Milton P. Ehrlich

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 87-year old a psychologist who began writing poems after the age of seventy.
He has published many of his poems in periodicals such as the Toronto Quarterly, Wisconsin Review,
Mobius, The Chiron Review, Samsara, Blue Collar Review, Cartier Street Review, Naugatauk River
Review,Taj Ma Ha Revielw, Poetica Magazine, Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times.

Miranda Elise

Miranda Elise is a seventeen-year-old writer and poet from Chicago, Illinois. Her main goal with her writing
is to make people feel something; any emotion at all is welcome.

Ndaba Sibanda

Ndaba has co-authored more than thirty published books. Sibanda was a 2005 National Arts Merit Awards
(NAMA) nominee. He compiled and edited Its Time (2006), and Free Fall (2017). The recipient of a Starry
Night ART School scholarship in 2015, Sibanda is the author of Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing,
Football of Fools and Of the Saliva and the Tongue. His work is featured in The New Shoots Anthology, The Van
Gogh Anthology edited by Catfish McDaris and Dr. Marc Pietrzykowski, Eternal Snow, A Worldwide Anthology
of One Hundred Poetic Intersections with Himalayan Poet Yuyutsu RD Sharma scheduled for publication in
Spring/Summer 2017 by Nirala Press and Seeing Beyond the Surface Volume II.

Nelson Lowhim

Born in Tanzania, of Indian and Seychelles and Euro background. Lived in India for a year. At age 10 moved
to the States (all over) and currently live in Washington State. Oh, it doesn't really end there, but that should
be good for now. Since some people tend to ask: yes I served in the US Army. I like to think that my writing
has been influenced by... no, no, I won't go there. I read and I write. What else to say? Enjoy
For more look me up at:
twitter: @nlowhim
Medium: medium.com/@nlowhim <http://medium.com/@nlowhim>

Nicholas JA

Nicholas J.A. lives in Detroit. His writing has recently appeared or is forthcoming in E·ratio and Otoliths.

Paul Lojeski

Paul Lojeski was born and raised in Lakewood, Ohio. He attended Oberlin College. His poetry has appeared
online and in print. Somehow, he has grown very old. He lives in Port Jefferson, NY.

Paige Melin

Paige Melin is a poet, editor, and freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is the author of the book of poetry
Puddles of an Open (BlazeVOX, 2016) and the microchapbook MTL/BFL//ÉTÉ/QUINZE (Buffalo Ochre
Papers, 2016). She served as an editorial advisor for My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry (BlazeVOX, 2017) and
has worked at the SUNY Buffalo Poetry & Rare Books Collection and the National Poetry Foundation. Her
poems, reviews, and articles have been published in Peach Mag, Ghost City Review, Yellow Field, Karibu News,
the Buffalo News, Step Out Buffalo, and Rain Taxi Review of Books. Currently, she is the host of the Fourth
Friday Reading Series at Dog Ears Bookstore and the Burchfield Penney Art Center's POETEXPO.

Peake McCarthy

Peake McCarthy is a young writer from the East Coast, best known for her poetry and personal essays. Published
online and in print, her work consistently delves into the more complicated and most important aspects of human
experience - sexuality, mental illness, and self-fulfillment, among other things. Peake spends her time reading,
walking New York, and finalizing her soon-to-be-published novel. Keep up with her writing and publications by
following @peakemccarthy on Instagram, or enjoy her musings on her blog, The Bitextual
(bitextualblog.wordpress.com <http://bitextualblog.wordpress.com> ).

RaKhiy elder

RaKhiy elder is a recent graduate of Williams College with a Bachelor’s in Japanese, and concentration in
Africana. She is a queer sufi, Black woman. Her work centers around issues of heart, spirituality, and
confidentiality. She is planning to move to France in the coming year.

Roger Craik

Ruth Gooley

Ruth Gooley has published a chapbook called Living in Nature (July 2018). She has also published a variety of
poems in publications such as Your Daily Poem, Ibbetson Street Review, vox poetica and NatureWriting, among
others. She resides in a cabin in the Santa Monica mountains, where she lives in harmony with the
abundance of nature.

Sudha Srivatsan

Sudha Srivatsan was born and raised in India. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies
including Commonline Journal, Tower Journal, the Germ Magazine, Carcinogenic, Indiana Voice Journal,
Bewildering Stories, Leaves of Ink, Mused Literary Review, Subterranean Blue, Corner Club press,
BlazeVox, MadSwirl, BurningWord, The Stray Branch, inbetweenhangovers among others. Her works have
also been translated into French and were also selected to be part of Storm Cycle’s 2015 Best Of Anthology.

Tahseen Reza

Tahseen is a Bangladeshi, living in Thailand and is hopefully a biologist in the making. Her hobbies include
reading (well duh!), photography and going on adventures. I do my best writing when I'm pressed for time,
under a deadline (ha!) and enjoy satire in the form of South Park.

Tori Perry

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