Issue #20 (2011) PDF - myweb - Long Island University

Issue #20 (2011) PDF - myweb - Long Island University

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downtown brooklyn

a journal of writing

number twenty


english department

brooklyn campus

long island university

one university plaza

brooklyn NY 11201


Wayne Berninger

editorial advisors

Melissa Berninger

Mary Kennan Herbert

Michael Sohn

cover artist

Constance Woo

Front cover. Air-brush Experiment. Collage, acrylic & air-brush. 10-3/4 in. x 14 in. 2007

Back cover. Untitled. Collage embedded in handmade paper. 2011

Downtown Brooklyn: A Journal of Writing is published by the English Department at the Brooklyn

Campus of Long Island University. We thank Provost Gale Stevens Haynes for the generous

financial support of her Office. Back-issues of the magazine are available in the Periodicals

Collection of the Salena Library at the Brooklyn Campus; in the Little Magazine Collection of

Memorial Library at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

See the appendix of this issue for contributors‘ biographical notes & for submission guidelines.

Long Island University encourages freedom of expression. However, the views expressed herein are

those of the authors & not of the editor, the English Department, or Long Island University.

Downtown Brooklyn is printed & bound by Thomson-Shore, Inc.

number twenty ISSN 1536-8475

© 2011 by Downtown Brooklyn: A Journal of Writing. All rights revert to authors upon publication.

downtown brooklyn

a journal of writing

number twenty / 2011


Ana Almurani

Jamey Jones



Rudy Baron




Alicia Berbenick

Anna Lindwasser



Wayne Berninger

Elspeth Woodcock Macdonald



John Casquarelli

Brady Nash



Alane Celeste

Uche Nduka



Nik Conklin

Steve Newton



Cynthia Maris Dantzic

Jon L. Peacock



Julián del Casal (trans. G. J. Racz)

Howard Pflanzer



Wendy Eng

Leslie Anne Rexach



Christine Francavilla

Beatriz Alzate Rodriguez



Stephanie Gray

Lisa Rogal



Mary Kennan Herbert

Desiree Rucker



Aimee Herman

P. J. Salber



Katherine Hogan

Micah Savaglio



Daphne Horton

Michael Sohn



Tony Iantosca

Jean Verthein



Giuseppe Infante

Sarah Wallen



Gülay Işık

Lewis Warsh



Belynda Jones

Tejan Green Waszak



Eight Images by Constance Woo

bio notes & submission guidelines


Ana Almurani


Almost every night, there is a line outside of Downtown, the Lower East Side‘s newest addition to the

string of bars suffocating Avenue B. Painters, poets, and musicians mostly. She stands outside in

her cherry-red knee-length skirt and a lacy ivory sweater unbuttoned just enough to reveal the

inviting jet black corset ―hiding‖ underneath. Her cleavage attracts stares from both men and

women bustling by; some cast looks of desire or jealousy, others of disgust. She pretends not to

enjoy the attention, but she knows that inside she is flattered to be in the spotlight for even one

fleeting moment. She knew the type of attention her outfit would attract even before she put it on.

She teeters on 3-inch stiletto heels, which bring her to a total height of 5‘10, as she leans against

Downtown‘s outside wall smoking a cigarette. Her straw-blonde hair adheres in loose curls to her

highly-placed cheekbones, which she‘s received compliments about since the days of ballet recitals.

To her, those days seem too long gone.

She makes sure to use one of her heels to stomp out the ember of her cigarette once it has

reached its final resting place among a sea of dozens of others discarded butts. She gets sad when

she sees the piles of litter that define New York, her hometown, growing at the rate of well-nurtured

toddlers, but finds that she contributes to the problem. She tosses eleven cigarette butts a day on

average. The thought of not yet having a child of her own to watch grow is on her mind almost


After ten minutes of waiting on line, she reaches the bouncer. Her ear catches loud chatter

coming from inside. ―I can‘t wait to hear him play,‖ a rather shrill voice is chirping.

The older, muscular man stationed at the front door asks to see her identification. She often

still gets carded at bars and clubs; her smooth, milky skin resembles that of a porcelain china doll

and makes her look younger than her 29 years of age. He is genuine when he says, ―Enjoy your

night, Magdalena,‖ as he hands back her I.D. She hadn‘t heard him telling that to any of the other

women on the line before her.

She walks over to the bar and asks to see a wine list before ordering an overpriced glass of

Pinot Grigio. She sips the chilled wine at a quick, steady pace while observing the lounge itself,

taking in as many details as she can since it her first time at Downtown. There is a wooden stage of

about thirty feet in length to the left of the bar. A thick, black curtain is hanging, blocking threequarters

of the performance area. As she looks around, she sees many neon colored posters

covering nearly every space of the walls. Their loudness is apparent, as if she could hear them yelling

to her, ―no, come to this show. cover only $5. fuck their band‖ in attempts to out due one another.

The competition among musicians and artists to gain notoriety in an over-crowded city like New

York is ridiculous; so much talent is untapped as a result of discouragement from unattended shows.

The bricks of the walls, natural to the building long before Downtown opened, are covered and


One poster stands out to her from all the rest because it bears no color at all. Vertical black

and white stripes intended to resemble piano keys occupy the length of its 24 inch borders. She

squints to read ―Matthew Daniels‖ ―this Friday, April 2‖ ―Downtown‖ written in three centered lines

in very minimal golden block-lettering at the bottom of the poster. There is no picture of Matthew

Daniels, no allusion to the type of show his audience should expect.

The corners of Magdalena‘s lacquered lips curl into a smile of appreciation for Matthew‘s

soft-spoken and elusive advertisement. She pictures an older, dignified gentleman with a streak of

gray in his hair sitting behind an equally distinguished piano on which the black polish is so finished,


he can see his smiling reflection in it at all times. She finishes off her dwindling glass before she

realizes that it is April 2.

―Excuse me, bartender Can I get another Pinot Grigio And what time does Matthew

Daniels go on‖

―You still got about another fifteen minutes.‖

―Oh, alright. Thank you,‖ Magdalena answers politely. She is doing a good job of

concealing her anxiousness to discover who this mysterious Matthew Daniels is and what art he is

about to share with the world.

In the meantime, her eyes scan more posters. $15 cover to see Passion Falls, an ―eclectic

heavy metal explosion of alternative components.‖ She never could control the cloud of laughter

that escapes from deep within her belly when she finds something to be funny, and this time she

ends her rather loud outburst with a snort. At once she puts her hand up to her mouth and

straightens her back, which is naturally prone to a slouch. Embarrassed, she looks from side to side

in the hope that no one has heard what just happened. She thinks she is in the clear until a strong,

masculine voice startles her. It seems to come from every direction simultaneously, and has a raspy,

melodic quality that makes every word seem like it is starting off a song.

―That was quite embarrassing. I hope no one besides me heard that or they might make fun

of you.‖

―Excuse me‖ she replies meekly. She spins around in her barstool and is at eye level with

the chest of a medium-build man clad in a silky half-buttoned collared shirt and pinstriped pants.

His whole outfit is black, including the Nike Uptowns he wears on his feet. This man smells

familiar, like a fragranced bath soap she once picked up from a small store in Venice years ago, but

could never find again in the States. His sunny, cobalt eyes and playful smile make a stark

contradiction with his onyx shagged hair and dark clothing.

―I just mean that they should have stopped the music your snort was so loud. If that had

just happened to me, well, I wouldn‘t know what to do. Oh, no need to turn the color of your skirt

now.‖ He wears his grin from ear to ear, obviously amused by his flirtatious humor. Since grade

school, he had always been the type to tease the pretty girls.

Magdalena, enticed by his attempts at charming banter, responds with a quick flip of her hair

and, ―Oh, come on! You would be snorting too if you saw the ridiculous ad hanging over there for

a band called Passion Falls. It lacks any sense of an original identity. It‘s just trying to appeal to

everyone, no matter what musical genre they are into. Sell-outs. Take a look for yourself.‖

Her polished finger traces a line of sight for her new company to follow. He leans closer to

her, and she closes her eyes for a brief moment to focus all the power of her senses on inhaling his

scent. Her relaxation is broken by a brief burst of laughter followed by a snort.

―Oh man, that was great. I see what you mean, I couldn‘t help it,‖ he responds with the

same boyish smile plastered to his face. It doesn‘t make him look clownish at all; on the contrary,

his light-heartedness heightens Magdalena‘s attraction to him. ―How can one band be both ‗heavy

metal‘ and ‗alternative‘ at the same time And that poster! It‘s so bright and all-over-the-place. It‘s

nothing like the poster of the guy that‘s playing tonight.‖

―That‘s exactly what I was thinking that made me laugh so hard. I can‘t wait for this

Matthew Daniels guy to come on the stage. I‘m so curious about him.‖ She pauses for a moment.

―You just snorted to make me feel less embarrassed didn‘t you‖ She does not wait for his response

before adding, ―That was very sweet…ummm….‖

―Dan. You can call me Dan,‖ he says, extending his hand.

She puts down her glass and replaces it with his warm grasp. ―Well, you can call me Lena.‖

―Matthew Daniels is a pretty down to earth guy,‖ he says. ―I know him well. We were both

at Berkeley some years back. He‘s got a real gift for music, not like a lot of the acts out here


nowadays.‖ The lights dim and the crowded room falls silent except for a timid wave of mumbles

coming from the back of the lounge. The curtain rises to reveal a balding man in his 40s wearing a

Jim Morrison t-shirt standing at a microphone in front of a grand piano.

―It is my pleasure to welcome the very talented Matthew Daniels to Downtown this evening.‖

Putting his hands to his eyes like a visor, he scans the crowd. ―Where are ya, man‖ he asks. ―Oh,

there you are. Come on up here!‖

Magdalena turns her head from left to right trying to identify who the man on the stage was

talking to. Dan turns to her, asks her to wish him luck, and walks briskly to the stage amid an

eruption of applause from the crowd around them. Her mouth hangs open like a door off its


Dan plays the piano with ease and grace during his set. All nine of his songs seem to be

telling a story, although none of them have words. Some consist of soothing, melodic tones that

make Magdalena feel like she is in a canoe drifting in circles on a placid lake. Others are choppy

with escalating notes that cause her to become uncomfortable staying still on her stool. Her eyes

stay fixed on Dan, and every so often she catches him staring back at her.

After Dan finishes playing, most of the people in Downtown rush the stage to congratulate

him, but Magdalena remains in her seat by the bar. She enjoys watching him from afar, letting the

anticipation build up before their next encounter. It takes about ten minutes before Dan makes his

way over to Lena, his face wearing the same boyish grin from earlier when he first started talking to


―So, did Matthew Daniels turn out to be anything like what you expected‖


Out of breath, Magdalena pauses from kissing Dan. She feels as if all the blood from her

body is rushing to her head and the skin on her face is pink and hot to the touch. She looks at the

thin, crystal watch on her wrist.

―Oh my God! It‘s 1:30 in the morning. I have to go home and get ready for work

tomorrow‖ She grabs his face, pulls it in close to hers and whispers, ―We must have been making

out for at least an hour and a half. I haven‘t had this much fun kissing someone in years!‖ She takes

a tiny sip of his drink. ―And you taste so good, like a mix of bourbon and chocolate cake.‖

―Thank-you. This definitely wasn‘t how I thought my night would go. I planned on just

going home and throwing on my pajamas after my show. Not that I‘m complaining. This works

too,‖ he declares with a wink.

―Here, Dan. Write your number on this.‖ She takes a pen out of her handbag and puts it

down in front of him on a napkin.

―Are you sure you have to leave You can come back to my place if you want to.‖ He

moves his hands up and down the length of her back, pulling her into a tight embrace.

―Yes, I‘m sorry but I do. I promise I will call you sometime next week and we can set up a

time to meet again.‖ She takes the napkin with his number on it, and places it securely in her wallet.

―Sounds good to me. I‘ll help you catch a cab.‖ He walks her out of Downtown, flags down a

yellow taxi, and opens its back door for her. ―Lena, I‘ll be thinking of you until our paths cross

again.‖ He grabs her hand, and pulls it up to his soft lips.

He watches as the car drives further and further down the street until it becomes an

indistinguishable blur.



Magdalena slithers her key into her front door, turning it with precision in attempts to avoid making

any noise. She walks in and takes off her shoes without turning on the foyer light.

―Lena, I‘m so sorry.‖ A man in a matching blue pajama set runs down the stairs and grabs

her in his arms. He is in his early 30s with dead-pan eyes and an ashy buzz cut. ―I was so worried

about you. You left your cell phone here and I had no way of contacting you for hours.‖

When she does not respond, he continues, ―Ok, I can tell that you are still angry at me. It

scared me when you brought up the topic of us having a baby since we have only been married for

two years; you have to understand that. Come on honey, it‘s so late, and we should get some rest. I

promise we will discuss the topic more when you get home from work tomorrow over a nice dinner.

I‘ll take you to that little Italian bistro down the street you love so much.‖

He kisses her, and she tastes like a mix of bourbon and chocolate cake.


Rudy Baron




it doesn‘t seem to satisfy

my needs

straddle a sensitive fence

balance and juggle

look down in perpetual fear

at alligator filled moat


anxiously await approval

will they look back

will they respond in a chorus

of halleluiahs

will they bury themselves in

selfish states of simplistic


will I be healed--

I write blankly

coil behind a dark curtain

of closed eyelids

wait for some majestic painting

to unfold

tapestry of skeleton

my bones woven cloth

in letters

can I be read

someone please tell me

what those images on the cave wall

actually mean

that stain on my shirt

bleeds from left

to right

vivid expression my emotions

rarely return

its novel state

an island

floats along

complex strands of thread

appeared one day

suddenly burdened with the task


to watch vigilantly


sterile fields

I want to do something

I want to do something

for you

I want to explain

the taste of tomatoes

and the taste of your tongue

I want to lick the lines

of your hand

swallow the fortune

of your


I‘m sorry I said those things

I apologize for my meandering

excuse me for spontaneous oral eruptions

pardon that verbal misgiving

forgive that last moment we were together

will I wander back

into useful language

should I tell friends


notes of encouragement

hoping that last salutation

will suffice for a sign off

or should I heroically

wave at ships

that have left the pier

succumb to previously

heard vibrations



The first thing she said

―Your dick is too big‖

How does one respond

to such a greeting

―Explain to me

this exclamation

What makes my dick

bigger than his

or his

or his‖

Are there classifications for dicks;

have, unbeknownst to me,

they been secretly measured

and catalogued by size,

mine listed somewhere

between normal

and enormous.

Possibly there are volumes

of Baron dicks

detailed and dated,

sepia toned

vintage photography

tracing my ancestral

dick lineage.

Or consider the many

gym lockers I‘ve frequented

surrounded by an immeasurable

number of dicks

in assorted

shapes and sizes

acting either shy and bashful

or boasting its proud

protuberant prominence.

Maybe they are

like wrinkles

or snowflakes

no two are the same

the dick diversity

incredibly increasing daily.


Should I reach down

and cup the package

consider its mass

in proportion to

other ―too big‖ objects:

elephants, whales,

the universe

Or perhaps I should

resign myself to

her proclamation and

simply address my

seemingly uber-standard staff

like a friendly puppy dog

happily going for a walk

―Who‘s the big fella

Who‘s the big fella

You are, aren‘t you!

Yes, you are!‖



The craft show in the park guarantees it will rain this weekend; a dog dances on sun baked slate

sidewalks; water becomes a valuable commodity on days like this; let‘s arrange our children in order

by height; cower under a shroud of leaves.

The last conversation has been reduced to subdued discourse; a gardener collects an array of

cacophonous sounds; on an arid cheek a tear is stranded; her fever eclipsed one hundred last night;

the sound of beeping signals the end of an event; crowds head for tents at the sound of rumbling


I think I‘ll dress my child in stripes today; watch her skip over cracks and explain why pavement is

black; maybe she will pause and stare at my perplexed view; maybe she will stare at my perplexed

view and question its existence; may be she will stare at me and question my existence; maybe she

will stare and question whether my existence necessitates a perplexed view.

The rain falls tonight in seemingly straight lines; it is cold and wet; the lines of rain are cold and wet

and seemingly straight; if I stood in the rain I would stand straight and my arms would be stretched

out above me; they would reach the lines of rain; they would be cold and wet and they would reach

towards the lines in the sky.

Tonight discussion is pressed keys; letters are touched and caressed; can we discuss our possessions

in caressed moments of touched letters; can we sell them through description; can we sell our lives

in simple descriptive phrases; six feet tall—loves poetry—likes blue jeans—is old and fading; will

you spread your life body on my body like a classified ad on a naked newspaper.

I want to talk in lines; I want to be sharp ridges in desert sand shifting with the winds; ridges

explaining my shift; desert winds creating my lines; I want to be like the shifting lines on a desert;

permanent yet always in motion.


Alicia Berbenick


I had to kill them; it was the only way I could save the animals. And Colleen. Mrs Tate turned in her

sleep. Her long brown hair broke off in strands around her night cap; her dentures were sunk at the

bottom of a drinking glass on her nightstand. Mr. Tate was snoring louder than my heart – thank

god – because the sound of my organ thumping could have woken them both. I looked at Mrs.

Tate‘s throat. Even in the dark I knew; I‘d remembered enough to know where to cut her - where to

stick her so she‘d bleed out. I‘d learned how to do it so that she would not feel pain for long – the

blood loss and death would happen all at once. That‘s what Colleen told me. She would know

better than anybody, especially when it meant killing her parents.

I realize what I did, and what happened, but you gotta know there was more to this than just

Colleen gettin‘ beat, I mean it goes further. Mrs. Tate one time locked Colleen in the stable with

Moriah, the mare that just gave birth, because Colleen tried to skip town. That horse was already

going crazy and when Colleen tried to escape, the horse went wild and kicked Colleen in the face. If

you were wondering if Colleen was beautiful before the accident; she was, she still is to me. But I

never forgave them for what they did to her. For what they did to that mare. Mr. Tate went off and

killed that mare that day. All that animal wanted was for to be with her colt. That colt came from

inside of her. It‘s something that animals have that not all humans have I guess – the instinct to

protect each other. Humans are the strangest, most unkind animal, if you ask me. Sometimes we

don‘t protect each other the right way.

I guess, after the accident, I was the only one who knew the truth and who loved her face

still. The Tates never knew a thing and they‘d let me sleep over to not let it seem like they were

keepin‘ Colleen hid from the world. When I slept there, Colleen and I‘d sneak out in the middle of

the night to go out to the stables. Across that long yard, the smells of grass, shit and earth made you

feel carnal. There we‘d be, me and Colleen and the animals. Lookin‘ up at the big black night, we

envisioned ourselves ridin‘ off on our horses, just feelin‘ the wind under us and through our hair. I

wouldn‘t let her get cold and the horses, well they‘d just know where to go. They‘d want to escape

just as much as us.

We would stay out in the stables sometimes all night. I can remember the hay being itchy

and us throwing it around, rolling around in it, just feelin alive. Sometimes we‘d just talk all night,

not about other people. We‘d talk about us and the future, about how we were gonna get out of

Belmont just as soon as the year was over. Sometimes we‘d get high a little. Sometimes we‘d make

love or just fool around a bit. But even in these more intimate times, something was just never right.

Sometimes I‘d catch Colleen staring wide-eyed into the wooden roof, lookin‘ like she wanted to

scratch through the cielin‘. And if I ever asked her what was wrong, she‘d say ―nothin‖ or that she

was worried about a test in class. I knew it was just better to love her, to make her feel safe and to

not ask her any questions during those times. How stupid I was then.

In the morning, we‘d always be back in our beds in her bedroom, but I‘d be up just wanting

to be gone already. Once the Tates were up, the world came down over us like a storm with a whole

lotta banging and clamberin‘, shoutin‘ and awful cookin‘ smells. Mr. Tate liked his bacon lightly

fried, almost raw and he made Mrs. Tate cook everything from scratch. He got her to make hash

and biscuits, too, on Sundays, with over-easy eggs and sausage links they made on the farm. Outside,

the land felt dead, like the animals knew about their brothers and sisters layin‘ on plates in the

kitchen. I found my fists clenched at the end of these thoughts, my nails cuttin‘ into my palms.

That morning, a Friday it was, Good Friday, in fact, because we had off from school. Pastor

Malinate had more sway with the school board than the superintendent. Mr. Tate woke us up, comin


in to the bedroom, sayin that Colleen had to earn her keep around here, if she was goin to be the

only offspring he had. He nodded to me to join her in getting dressed. He was going to show us

something. Mr. Tate walked out of the room and Colleen grabbed me. She was sobbing and I knew.

I told her I would take care of it. I told her everythin‘ was gonna be ok. We dressed quick, put on

our jeans and sweatshirts and went downstairs. Mrs. Tate halted us at the back door, tellin‘ us to put

on galoshes. Through the screen door, I looked over the Tate property. It‘d rained the night before

and the fog concealed most of the land past the stables. Mr. Tate was already unlockin‘ the door to

the stables in the distance and his fat body moved inside. Our galoshes smushed the earth with sick

sounds. Colleen was shakin‘. Her stringed blonde hair fell flat over the side of her face, ripplin‘ over

the half-moon hoof scar on her cheek. She couldn‘t look away from the stables. I whispered that I

loved her, but it didn‘t change the fear in her eyes. We walked closer to the stables and heard the

pigs shufflin‘ and snortin‘ inside.

―Get on in here, you two.‖ Mr. Tate said from somewhere inside.

We walked in and down the line of horse stables. Some of them were stampin‘ their hooves;

the younger ones didn‘t know any better yet. Mandy, the youngest colt was layin‘ in her corner, like

usual. I was wishin‘ I had time to get her out – to get Colleen out, too – before the kill. The only

light we had was comin‘ in shards through the old wood walls. We kept walkin‘, the hay pressed flat

under our feet, the smell of manure and wet sod was coursin‘ through our nostrils, and the sounds

of Mr. Tate strugglin‘ with an old sow filled the thick air. She was squealin‘ and stompin‘ her hooves,

slidin‘ all around as Mr. Tate wrapped thick rope around her hind legs first and then tied them in

knots around her fronts.

―Don‘t jus‘ stan‘ there, Colly, get down here!‖ He said. ―Grab the blade.‖ He motioned with

his head to the next room, where we knew the tools were kept. Colleen didn‘t move, she just stood

there cold and wet clutchin‘ at her sweatshirt. Mr. Tate looked at her like he was gonna wrestle her

to the ground next if she didn‘t go. I remembered my promise to protect her. I went through the

shed door and looked over the tools, all rusted red and unclean, hangin‘ there like corpses. I grabbed

the machete and ran back.

―Colleen, yer good fer nothin‘‖ he said. ―Can‘t even do what yer pa tell ya. Can‘t even stuck

a pig like I tell ya.‖

He looked back at me over his shoulder with the sow under his beefy arm and I couldn‘t tell

which one was the pig.

―Earla.‖ He was wrestlin‘ with her still. ―That‘s a good girl. Give me the knife.‖

In my left hand, my nails were piercin‘ through my palm.

―Earla! Give it here!‖ he said, the fire in his eyes forced disobedient, hateful thoughts out of

my mind. I gave him the blade.

―Now, see Colleen.‖ He said, chokin‘ the pig under his arm and holdin‘ the blade in his left


Colleen wasn‘t lookin‘. She was closin‘ her eyes.

―Look, God damn you, Colly!‖ His anger was risin‘ in his throat, so much his voice was

crackin‘. ―Look at me!‖

Colly opened her eyes. Tears fell down her face and she was starin‘ straight at me. I was

lookin‘ back at her, promisin‘ to hold her gaze. Mr. Tate cursed under his heaving breath.

―It‟s ok‖ I mouthed to Colleen.

There was a snapping, an air-escapin‘ gurglin‘ sound. Mr. Tate sighed, tired. And then there

was just the rushin‘ out of her blood into a dry bucket, like a waterfall, and Colly and I were trapped

under it right then, stuck without air.


Mr. Tate beat her after that. He beat Colleen so bad that she didn‘t show for weeks at

school. The school would call her house, but Mrs. Tate just said that Colleen had the

mononucleosis. Said she wouldn‘t be in school for a month. Mr. Tate wouldn‘t let us see each

other, either. I‘d call the house, but at the sound of my voice, the Tates would hang up. I didn‘t

know when I would see her again and decided to just go there one night.

I road my bike there. Past Fischers farm and the lake. The cold air stung my ears and my

jacket whipped tight against my arms. It was for her, I thought, I had to ride for her. I had to make

sure she was alright. The lone streetlights gave me just enough light to get to her, but all around me

were shadows. Ahead of me, I could see the outline of their house, the black shutters on the dark

grey sidin‘ looked like eyes and the doorway was an opened, scared mouth, callin‘ me. I pedaled


I walked my bike around the back of the property and stared up at Colleen‘s window.

Behind me off in the distance the animals lay resting, the land was still and I was suddenly aware of

the fear beatin‘ in my ears. I searched around on the ground for a stick, or somethin‘ small to throw.

When I found one, I lifted my eyes up to her window to take aim.

Colleen was already there, starin‘ down at me in the dark. Her blonde hair looked white, the

ends waved in the cold breeze. Her skin looked blue in the dark and her eyes were now as black as

holes. She caught me so off guard, I fell back on the ground, into the soft wet earth. Catchin‘ my

breath, I got up, ran to the drainpipe and climbed my way up to her window. She grabbed my arms

and helped me into her room.

Seein‘ her now in the dark, she wasn‘t like I left her a month back. I could see violet circles

under her eyes, her arms were all spotted with bruises and scrapes. Colleen stood there just starin‘ at

me and I didn‘t know what to say. Nothin‘ would come out my mouth except a sob and I pulled her

into me, huggin‘ her close, smellin‘ her damp hair. Her arms wrapped around me, too, but with little

strength. This was not my Colleen anymore. They‘d hurt her real bad. She was changed and inside

me something changed, too. As I was holdin‘ her there, I swore I heard the rushin‘ out of blood,

only it was my own blood, hot as fire and coursin‘ through my veins.

I said her name. I asked her what I could do. I asked her what I could do to make her not

feel this way anymore. And that‘s when she said it. She took the words from inside my head and

made them real.

―Kill them,‖ she whispered. Her breath cut out in sharp points. I looked down at her hands

as I held them. One of her thumbnails was ripped off. My eyes met hers and I took my hand,

smoothin‘ back her white hair. My thumb edged along her cheek, feelin‘ the roughness of her scar

and I pulled her face to mine. Kissin‘ her right eye, I leaned into her ear.

―Alright,‖ I whispered back. My breath drew out, heavier, longer. ―Alright.‖

I had to kill them. In the dark, blood is black and thick and it swims in your mind with the

smell of salt. I didn‘t stay in the room there with them. I ran down the hall to Colleen‘s room, where

I told her to wait for me. As I burst through the door, the light was off, her suitcase was still on the

bed and the window was still open. Outside, behind the waving white curtains, I saw the stables, the

oaks were black staunch figures on both sides and the moon was shinin‘ directly overhead. I ran to

the window and looked out, just to be sure I understood what I was seein‘. The stable door was


I ran out her room, past the ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Tate, flew down the stairs, through the

greasy kitchen and out the back door. My lungs heaved with sadness and fear at what I‘d just done

and I wanted to hold her so bad. My feet rustled through the grass, picking up pace as I drew closer


to the stables. I called her name and heard it come back at me in the wind. My breath caught in my

lungs and I stopped there in the threshold. The animals were stampin‘ and cryin‘ out to me, as I ran

past them, down the line of rattlin‘ boards, toward the slaughterhouse. I fell over somethin‘ in the

dark and felt my face fall into thick wetness on sharp hay that stabbed at me. When I opened my

eyes, there she was at my feet. A shard of moonlight was comin‘ through the wall, right there across

her cheek, on her half moon scar and her eye was lookin‘ at me.


Wayne Berninger


my best friend is to all-natural & naked as the day she was born as lead or mercury or cadmium is to

super-genius & sight for sore eyes is to home-cooked meal as howling wind is to good music for sex

& music to the ear is to deliquescence as codependent is to an embarrassment of witches &

pickpocket is to fictional cave monster as graduation with honors is to larger than life deep sea

creature & overflowing bathtub is to frantic whistling as benevolent rule is to rich farmland & cornfed

corporal is to the successful prosecution of arctic warfare as late night backrub is to the

recharging of dead batteries & the setting of a kitchen match to dry paper is to tickertape parade as

pay raise is to a night alone in the crow‘s nest & rock the boat is to hair grease as overplayed power

ballad is to lifeguard station & suntan lotion is to the impending argument as the old man‘s car horn

is to surprise company for dinner & spare the rod is to prison camp as good character & competitive

nature is to seaworthy vessel & duty upon same



how was your trip to the ancient barber shop you ask / I did not get to ride in the little car I

confess / much to my disappointment I add / but there was excitement enough when the shaky

old man withdrew his straight razor from a drawer / I invite you to accompany me to the new

supermarket in Red Hook / will it be an eye opening excursion you ask / I predict as follows /

not only will your eyes be opened but no matter how widely you open them you will still not believe

them / I‘ll wear a sassy little tank top you say / did I mention that the supermarket has no air

conditioning I ask / when I promise to punish myself for being so forward I say that I will hit

myself with a brick / my brick collection testifies to my enthusiastic appetite for pain I say / In

the car (safe & secure from all alarms) I quip as follows / the good thing about the gnashing of

academic teeth is that once they have worn their teeth down all the way then they are defenseless &

I can move in for the kill / upon arrival at the supermarket I am nervous / too scared to take you

in my arms among the vegetables / or the canned goods / or the fantastic array of dairy products

/ or the bread


John Casquarelli


there are forms

of communication

beyond language

a satisfaction that

extends across

borders of species

and belongs to


when i was young

i would pretend

i was an insect

roaming through the woods

i would wait

until after a storm

then brush the leaves

with my body

anticipating their response

in the woods one loses

a sense of time

beneath the stone

in the underbrush

one can see

the cosmos



we spoke for hours

under the coconut tree

imagined ourselves

on paper airplanes

I like to be

alone in the


feel the


of the iceberg

your capitalism is


it would make

Derrida scream

from the infinite


of the mind

in my cottage

you light a candle

then hide in

the undertow

as a child

I tried to capture

the moonlight

dizzy from

the rhythm

of its name

the faint


of antiquity

still reverberate

the orchestra

plays in my


random collisions

in a long

vanished cloud


I came searching

for rain

hoping to return

to the maple leaves

the scent of

saffron in

the air made

her wings



A Place Where Trees Are Silent


it was one

of those moments

when you would


leaving crumbs

of laughter

on the floor

next to your


I don‘t recall

the first time

I disappeared


trembling in the

morning mist

when we sailed

the rivulets

surrounding Bsharri


Alane Celeste


Flies hovered over our heads

Knowingly consuming the

Miserable air above our existence

As they flew, they

Tickled my little

Starved pot belly

Stuffed with sugar water and hard candy

Covered in the remains

Of the pretend playground we longed for

Our world was made out of dry dirt

And an empty

Floor in the living room of the shack

That was my home.

Whenever it rained,

The four walls were

Overwhelmed with musical sounds

As the drops fell

Hard upon the metal roof

We were certain that we were

Being touched by the salty tears of God and

That was our chance to squeeze between the holes

Of the metal bars in the living room door

And escape our cage

To run around free

With the other have-nots

In the rain

The warm

Black coffee rain

With remnants of sweet sugar cane

and coconut water.

The world, as it rained,

Was empty

With fearful adults who hide from

Such inevitable


And shake with fear the fall of a drop upon

Their hard earned pesos

And their sacred untouchable flesh.

They would run and leave the world

And the streets

A quiet and open space for us little ones

The have-nots

To run around freely

And sing tunes that the grown-ups sing anonymously


To the rhythm of their calculated steps

Songs we knew not the meaning of

But somehow

Merged with the rhythm of the rain

Taking with every drop

The dirt from my topless


And my chubby shoeless

Feet and

Exposing the color of my skin once more.

As the afternoon rain stopped,

The joy ended,

The grown-ups came out

Resumed their lives

And we, the have-nots

Snuck back in

The same way we came out

Through the metal bars,

Until we were allowed back out

By those who governed

Every movement we made

Or until the rain

Came once again

And we could run free.


Nik Conklin


Hilltop, nighttime

Cool outside

She‘s cool in my arms

Blankets and pillows and bed

Of my truck

Indigo sky, gold glitter

Big dipper

Cars, capillary roads

Highway lights

Earth so distant

Midnight colored sheet so close

Good to be this high


Trees, bushes, makeshift parking lot of dirt

Cookie cutter, movie scene,

City below


Cynthia Maris Dantzic


January morn.

Overnight, a wash of white.

Never too much snow.

Fat yellow circle

Up in the right-hand corner.

Every kid‘s drawn sun.

Taste of candied yams,

Of cantaloupe and carrots,

Just-squeezed orange juice.

Ruby, scarlet, rose,

Vermilion, alizarin,

Each uniquely red.

Violet, lilac,

And soft-scented lavender,

A sense of purple.

Lilac, lavender,

Soft-scented heliotrope,

A violet bouquet.


Sing me that song of

Purple mountain‘s majesty;

Sing America!

There‘s only one blue,

Shimmering ultramarine.

(Painters know it‘s true.)

Kermit tells children:

It‘s not easy being green.

Earth demands we try.

Coffee and chocolate,

These, the most comforting tastes,

Deliciously brown.

Absolute darkness,

Silent, frigid, vastly starred,

This moonless black night.

Turn off your night light.

Be enveloped in darkness.

Sink into cool black.


Julián del Casal


All dust and flies. A lead-tinged atmosphere

where echoing peals of rattling thunder sound

and clouds, like snow-white swans on muddy ground,

offset the ashen color of the air.

The sea becalms her aqua-green depths there.

Above her breast a bolt of lightning bound

for more ethereal climes where peace is found

emits its fire-red breath with jagged glare.

The sleepy tree nods off with drowsing eye.

A deep calm floats atop the lingering slack.

Swift seagulls rend the airways opposite.

A flash of lightning sparkles in the sky

and rain falls on the steaming earth‘s broad back

in bulging drops that crackle as they hit.

Trans. G. J. Racz



I love fine porcelain, bronze, crystal ware,

lush stained-glass windows wrought by master hands,

beflowered tapestries of golden strands

and bright Venetian moons beyond compare.

I love likewise Castilian ladies fair,

medieval lays from troubadour-rich lands,

Arabian steeds a-wing on foreign sands,

the lightness of a German ballad‘s air,

the rich piano‘s sonorous ivory keys,

the horn that resonates within the field,

pale olibanum‘s balsam redolence

and that gold, marble, sandalwood bed‘s ease

wherein pure virgin loveliness will yield

the bloodied flower of its innocence.

Trans. G. J. Racz



Within the Hebrew palace floats a wave

of sun-pierced perfume seeking the unknown

aloft through lattice ceilings, skyward flown,

or dissipating mid the spacious nave.

There Herod sits, his stony aspect grave,

with sunken chest and graying beard full-grown,

hieratic and erect upon the throne,

entranced as though by birdsongs that beslave.

Before him, clad in rich brocade emblazed

with precious gems of flaming radiancy

and moving to a bandore‘s stringed delight

twirls Salome in dance, her right hand raised

displaying, all refulgent in her glee,

a golden-pistilled lotus of pure white.

Trans. G. J. Racz


Wendy Eng


Block chandeliers hung on walls

Sprouted, gilded sconces

Obscure edifices, lip smacking

White concrete

Stone, pristine glass

Box, dragon topped pagodas

Stylized thicket bamboo

Shaped like the fall of Saigon

And king sized white house

Away from labor camp

And coup

With its breathtaking folly.


Christine Francavilla


The terminal is cavernous, open, wide. I pick at my nail polish, chipping it slowly as I wait on a line

that snakes around for what seems like miles. Jim is off to the side. He thinks I won a three day

cruise to St. Thomas. That‘s what I told him. I proceed to the next available cruise specialist and

give my name, then hold my breath, hope the reservation has been lost, that there‘s been some

mistake and our cabin given away. But the young woman clicks away on the keyboard and

everything goes smoothly.

―Two beds,‖ I say as she processes my key card. ―I requested a cabin with two beds.‖

―All set,‖ she says, smiling. She slides our key cards across the table and looks off to the

distance ready for the next passenger. I see my last means of escape vanish.

From the moment Jim‘s hand touched mine and he sang my name, Layla, I began to have

doubts. His hand felt warm and strong compared to mine. I should have painted my nails a softer

color, not red.

We have more lines to stand in, one for pictures, for boarding, elevators, even luggage. No

one seems to mind this rush to wait. They know something wonderful is on the other side. I am in

no hurry either, though not for the same reasons. Once the ship pulls from its slip, it‘ll just be him

and me, two strangers adrift in a small cabin. We‘ve known each other for two years, meeting—

chatting—online. This is the first time we‘ve actually met. He‘s taller than I imagined and looks

older than his picture. His hair is two toned, white on the sides, reddish brown on top. His face

bears scars of long ago acne, making his skin thick, lumpy. He‘s wearing worn, cracked cowboy

boots with pointed toes and creative, curly stitching and as we wait he‘s typing furiously on his

Blackberry, reluctant to see the end of his service.

I booked the cheapest room, the inside cabin. Jim enters first, paving the way. There is no

room for us to stand side by side. The beds are narrow; I‘m sure his feet will hang off. I‘m relieved.

There‘s nothing one can do on these beds but keep from falling off.

I open drawers hidden in entertainment units and nightstands, inspect the closet, count

hangers and towels. The room is a tribute to efficiency and economy. There is little here that makes

it look like anything more than a room at the Y. I suppose if I were looking for romance, I‘d have

booked the cabin across the hall, the one with a window. Perhaps the Caribbean sun would lighten

the deep orange and beige bedspread, reveal the subtle stripes in the cream colored wallpaper, make

the room look bigger, even opulent. But there are some things that fare better in low light.

Jim grabs the remote and turns on the TV, switching channels, reading the TV program.

―They have some good movies on tonight,‖ he says. His accent comes from up north, New

York perhaps. There are lot of them in Ft. Lauderdale. Funny how his favorite possession seems to

be his boots, as though he jumped feet first into his new life.

―Seems silly,‖ I say ―to spend such a short cruise inside the room. You can watch movies at


His expression changes and he switches off the TV, tossing the remote onto the bed. He

inspects everything I‘ve already checked out. He opens drawers, closets, inventories the bathroom.

―There‘s only two bath towels,‖ he says. ―I usually use two.‖

The thought of him naked brings me back to reality. ―We can ask the steward for more,‖ I

say. When I thought of our time together, I imagined us by the pool, having drinks, listening to

music, dining, seeing shows. I always stopped short of thinking about the evenings. Washing under

my arms, flossing, peeing…who pictures herself doing that


―I think I‘ll check out the buffet,‖ I say reaching for my bag. ―Dinner is at 6:30. We can

meet in the dining room if you like.‖

―No, wait for me,‖ he says disappearing into the bathroom. The room is so small, so quiet, I

can hear him unzip. I wait outside the room where there‘s air.

By the buffet, I excuse myself, so nervous I nearly slip into the men‘s room. I change course

and head for the ladies room, making for the nearest stall. I sit rubbing my temples, pants bunched

around my ankles. Three days had hardly seemed like enough time to unwind when I booked this

cruise. Now, the time stretches ahead of me like eternity. No one goes on a three day cruise to

relax, I realize. They go to drink. Let loose. Get laid.

I wash my hands in the small, gilded bathroom, lathering well. There are germs everywhere

or so I‘m told. But then, getting sick might not be bad. I inspect my hands under the dryer. The

knuckles are large, ugly, the nails short, wide. I wish my fingers were long and slender like the rest of

my body but then my ass is so flat, I need silicone pads to give it some shape.

Jim is still waiting for me outside. I check his expression for annoyance but find none, and

we go into the buffet. There are food stations every few feet occupying the center of the floor.

Nothing has been overlooked. There are fresh salads, sandwiches, pizza, hot entrees, soups,

desserts, bread and fruit and yet, with all that, the air is remarkably sanitized, aroma free. All I can

smell is Jim‘s cologne masking his sweat. We walk around with our trays though we know we‘ll have

Chinese once we spot it. We‘ve been typing out our likes and dislikes for a long time, each chat a

test to determine whether we have more in common than not.

We find a table on our third lap around. Around us, no one can move once they‘ve finished

eating. They sit like beached whales, sucking their teeth. We‘re no better, filling our plates with rice,

noodles, spare ribs and chow mein. Somehow, we all seem to have switched to survival tactics. I

forget dinner is in a few hours. I stare at the view of the city and wonder what Jim is thinking but I

don‘t stop eating long enough to ask. Jim looks around at the tables, chewing wildly, lips softly

smacking. He licks his fingers after each rib.

―I‘m going outside,‖ I say when both my stomach and ears have had enough. ―Sit in the

sun.‖ I am sure he will hang back, finish his rice, want some time to himself but he follows me. A

waiter approaches as we lower ourselves into deck chairs. I order a Bloody Mary, Jim has a beer. I

look around at the partying that has already begun. Balloon bottomed glasses dot the small tables

next to deck chairs, their paper umbrellas shielding what remains of ice cubes. A few seasoned

cruisers have worn their bathing suits under their clothes. They strip down in front of our envy and

dive into the pool. Loud music begins to pour from recessed speakers and we have to shout our


―This should be fun,‖ he says as we wait for our drinks. ―Crowd looks lively.‖

―Nice of you to come,‖ I finally say.

―I‘m surprised you asked me.‖ He continues looking straight ahead. ―After so many


―Well, as I said, it is what it is.‖

―Really puts things in perspective, doesn‘t it‖ he asks moving his eyes in my direction.

―Make or break.‖

I fidget, trying to prevent the idea from rooting. I had not meant this to be seen that way,

had specifically said we didn‘t need to pretend to be a couple, that we could go our separate ways if

we wanted, connect at night when conversation would flow as it did on our evening chats. Our

drinks arrive. ―We‘re not out to prove anything,‖ I say.

Jim grunts as if I had dispelled some silly idea. ―Still, we can‘t go back to the way we were,‖

he says. ―No matter what happens.‖

I take a long sip, force a smile. ―What do you think will happen‖


He laughs. ―I don‘t know. Neither of us do, it seems. It‘s virgin territory.‖ He squints over

at me. I squint back. ―Imagine…virgins….at our age…‖

We have talked about sex in our nightly chats but not about doing it together. He‘s been

married twice. I told him I had been married, too. It‘s best to lie. People who have never married

are viewed suspiciously, like time bombs. He‘s told me some of the positions he‘s tried, that he likes

having sex in forbidden places. I imagine that‘s long in his past. Jim has had many lovers or so he‘s

said. I asked him to count once and he said it must have been over fifty and that was a conservative

number. I liked that he did not ask me. They were not worth mentioning.

―Did you bring a bathing suit‖ he asks sipping his beer. I think about the black one piece

rolled up in my carry on. I tried it on just yesterday and liked it even less than when I bought it.

They haven‘t made a suit yet that hides the imperfections as well as a computer screen, that lies as

well as my fingers typing on keys. ―They have hot tubs,‖ he says pointing to the one at the far end

of the deck.

―Aren‘t they breeding grounds for bacteria‖ I ask regretting it as soon as the words are out.

I sound like an old lady.

―You germophobic‖ Jim asks.

I shake my head. ―I work with people who are.‖

―Know what I like doing in hot tubs‖ he asks. ―Take my suit off. Let the bubbles

explore…it‘s what I imagine dentures must feel like when they‘re being cleaned. Ever try it‖

I watch the couple already easing into the hot tub. ―That‘s easier for a man,‖ I say.

―We‘ll go at night. When everyone is sleeping. You‘ll see.‖

I let the suggestion drop, pretend I haven‘t heard it. He puts down his empty glass and

adjusts the back of his chair so that he lies flat. I adjust mine slightly and close my eyes. Together,

we drift off.

Dressing for dinner is complicated in a small room. A man‘s sense of modesty differs from

a woman‘s. Jim thinks nothing of pulling off his pants, walking around in his underwear as he looks

for the right shirt. His briefs look uncomfortable. They ride up in the back, expose a hairy cheek. I

grab an outfit from the closet and duck into the bathroom, where I reach into my pants to free my

own underwear from where it‘s caught in my crack.

―Is my deodorant in there‖ he calls out.

I am ready to open the door and hand it to him when he comes in, shirtless. Luckily, I‘m still

dressed. Standing behind me because there‘s no room in front of the mirror, he raises an arm and

coats the hairs with a roll on. He doesn‘t leave when he‘s finished. Just stays watching me. I try to

draw a straight line with my eyeliner but my hand shakes. I watch him watching me. Does he see

what I see The curly hair that has no choice but to be kept shorter than I‘d like, the hands that can

only belong to a man, the hormone produced breasts and the phantom beard lurking beneath the

surface of my jaw that only I can see Can he tell that once I, too, was a man

―I love watching women put on their makeup,‖ he says when my gaze meets his in the


‗It‘s meant to be private,‖ I say, keeping it light. ―You‘re supposed to think we always look

like this.‖

―Don‘t let me stop you,‖ he says.

―There‘s not enough room in here for two,‖ I say, trying for coy. Jim drops the lid to the

toilet and has a seat, his face dangerously close to my artificial ass. He stares at it in a way that says

he‘s hoping to get more than I offered when I invited him on this trip. ―Really,‖ I say, ―you‘re

making me nervous.‖

―Didn‘t your husband ever watch you‖ he asks.


―No.‖ I search for something that‘s not in my cosmetic bag.

Jim rises, nodding. I lock the door after him and change clothes quickly, avoiding my

reflection in the mirror. I‘d rather imagine the way I look than see it for real. I take my time

finishing my makeup and brushing my teeth. From outside, I hear the TV. I stare at the toilet and

decide to risk it while he‘s distracted. In the middle of my flow, he lowers the volume, listening to

me pee. I reach over and turn on the bathroom faucet and the TV volume rises once more.

The dining room is wide and two stories tall. Our table is on the lower level and we follow a

waiter as he wends his way among round tables and square ones, here and there a lonely rectangle.

The noise is nearly deafening. Curtains are pulled back to reveal the setting sun and the scent of

flowers overpowers any smells that may be trying to escape from the kitchen. One is meant to savor

cruise ship food with the eyes rather than the nose. Silverware and glasses clink. Bodies press into

tight corners, hands reach out, people introduce themselves by saying where they‘re from. We have

a table to ourselves. No one will shake our hands, ask us where we‘re from, scratch their heads at

the thought of two strangers masquerading as a couple.

I run my hand over the tablecloth, white, pristine, unbelievably free of stains. I study my

napkin folded in the shape of a bishop‘s hat and carefully unwrap it, trying to learn how it was made.

There is a string quartet playing one of Vivaldi‘s seasons. No one seems to be listening.

―Quite a spectacle,‖ Jim says, opening the large menu. ―It‘ll be hard to go back to eating in

front of the TV.‖

Jim has said he lived in a large studio, about the only thing he can afford after the second

divorce. I haven‘t told him I own my mother‘s house now, inherited the money that allowed me to

have the surgery so I can live as a woman. Instead, I said I live in a one bedroom with just enough

to make ends meet. At one point, it was the truth. I have to be careful, remember what I‘ve told


I order a glass of red wine even though it doesn‘t go with the shrimps I‘m planning to have.

Jim settles on the oysters. He reaches for the bread and two round balls of butter.

―So what do you want to do tonight‖ he asks. ―How ‗bout that hot tub‖

―You go. I might do a little reading.‖

He makes a face. ―Seems silly to come on a cruise to read.‖

I give him two points for using my logic against me. ―I don‘t think I care to sit naked in a

hot tub unless I have a bar of soap.‖

―You have a one or two piece‖ he asks. ―Bathing suit.‖

―One.‖ Is he picturing me in it Is that what his look is about

But he says ―It‘ll be a bit more difficult. But not impossible. Trick is not to take the suit off

completely. Just have it down around your knees. This way, all you need to do is pull it up quick.

No fuss.‖

―It sounds disgusting.‖

―Ever try it‖

No, I want to say. I never sat naked in a hot tub, never been married, never lived my life

fully as a woman until I was nearly forty. But I haven‘t told him anything about myself that was the

absolute truth so far—why start now ―Don‘t know if I want to,‖ I say. ―Why do you‖

He shrugs. ―It makes me feel...free.‖

―I‘m not doing the hot tub thing,‖ I say.

―Okay, okay,‖ he says as if he only conceded that round.

The progress from course to course reminds me of walking underwater, slow and laborious.

We avoid each other‘s gaze, comment on the dining room, judge the people around us, guessing

what they do for a living. The conversation that flowed from keyboard to keyboard for two years in

the small hours of the morning doesn‘t translate well to this candlelit table with soft music in the


ackground. There are distractions here, his eyes studying me, the feel of his hand patting my knee,

the hope he has of seeing more than I‘m willing to show, my own ambivalence about wanting

affection without sex.

After dinner, Jim suggests one of the nightclubs for a drink. I take out a map of the ship

and we wander from the Rodeo Bar playing generic country-western to the disco Hot Stuff to the

Captain‘s Lounge with its drowsy piano music. Nothing grabs his attention and we make our way to

the quietest bar to be found, The Underground. It‘s located on windowless lower level, with black

walls and red velvet chairs. There is a low stage where a crew member is setting up a microphone

and some equipment. People stroll in without the exuberance of the crowd upstairs. They look

around furtively, as if afraid of running into someone they know. Everyone takes a seat toward the

back. The waiter no sooner brings our drinks than the emcee announces that most awful of

entertainments: karaoke.

―Shall we leave‖ I ask.

Jim shakes his head. ―Let‘s watch.‖

The evening opens with a rendition of ―Feelings‖ by a guy who keeps his eyes closed. He

knows all the words but sings them a few beats ahead of time: the effect reminds me of a badly

dubbed foreign film. The man finishes with a flourish to some polite applause and struts back to his

seat, draping an arm around his wife.

―That was embarrassing,‖ I say.

―Takes courage,‖ Jim replies. ―Can you sing‖

I shake my head. ―You‖

The emcee asks for another volunteer. People look around, their expressions saying they‘re

here to see the show, not be it. Suddenly, Jim leans back and pushes himself up, heading toward the

stage. I reach for his arm but he‘s too quick and my fingers swipe at the air. He says something to

the technician then works at freeing the microphone from its stand. I hold my breath, praying he

doesn‘t sing the obvious but yes, there‘s the guitar lick from ―Layla‖ and I slide down in my chair.

Jim‘s voice is thick and he doesn‘t so much sing as talk. Without his reading glasses, he has

trouble reading the words and so resorts to saying what he thinks they are and mumbling through

the parts he doesn‘t. It would be an utter failure if he didn‘t always come back strong and on key

every time he sings my name. By the end of the song, a few in the audience have loosened up

enough to sing the refrain with him. He finishes to more applause than the ―Feelings‖ guy got and

makes his way back to our table with a look that says he‘s proud of himself. Before I can think of

something nice to say he picks up my hand and kisses it.

―I didn‘t know you like karaoke,‖ I say.

―Never tried it before,‖ he replies.

―Weren‘t you scared‖

―Sometimes that‘s a nice feeling.‖

On the way back to our cabin, Jim takes me by the hot tub. He wants me to feel the

bubbles, warm, round, popping around my fingers.

―See,‖ he says holding my hand beneath the swirling foam. ―Doesn‘t it feel nice Now

imagine that down below.‖ My nipples tingle instead. I feel nothing down below.

In the room, he gets out of his clothes quickly, draping shirt and pants over a chair. He says

he sleeps in his underwear. I pretend to take it in stride and step into the bathroom. I scrub my

face, brush my teeth again to the sound of the TV being cycled through the channels. I have yoga

pants and one of those oversized T-shirts to sleep in. I leave my bra on.

―There‘s a western on,‖ he says. ―We missed most of it. This is the end.‖ I crawl under the

sheets as Jim watches the last few minutes of ‗The Good, the Bad and the Ugly‘. The room is too


warm for this heavy cover and I‘m afraid somewhere in the night I‘ll throw it off in my sleep and

expose myself. Jim is stretched out on top of the covers, socks on. I watch the movie for awhile

but my eyes want to close. I turn off the light on my side and turn toward the wall so the light from

the TV doesn‘t bother me, so the only thing Jim sees is the back of my head. He finishes watching

the movie and switches it off and our little room is suddenly completely dark. I listen for Jim to get

under his covers but hear nothing. I imagine him sitting there, propped against his pillow waiting

for his eyes to adjust, get his night vision. I can‘t fall asleep knowing he‘s waiting for me to take

shape in the darkness. His breathing becomes noticeably irregular and I feel his foot reach over and

caress my ass through the blanket.

―Layla‖ he whispers. I shift my position and it stops, resuming a short time later. I shift

again; it stops. We keep this up for five minutes. Finally, he gets up and picks his way to the

bathroom where I hear the shower run.

I wake up sometime later with the room still pitch black. Jim has his hand on my thigh, his

fingers dangerously close to my crotch and he‘s shaking me gently He shows me his watch with the

illuminated face. It‘s ten o‘clock. Without the sun, I feel we have slept the entire day away. I

shower quickly, checking twice, three times that the door is locked. My elbows hit the wall around

me and I‘m still damp when I tug on my bathing suit covering it up with a pair of shorts and polo

shirt. He is ready and waiting on the bed with his book. He‘s wearing shorts, a T-shirt and his


―I forgot to bring beach shoes,‖ he says. ―Maybe we can go shopping when we make port

later.‖ He asks me to put his book, Lonesome Dove, in my tote, then gives me his wallet too.

On our walk to the buffet we note that the deck chairs are nearly all taken. Jim spots two on

the upper level, completely exposed to the sun, undesirable because they‘re a staircase away from the


―Betcha they‘ll be gone by the time we finish breakfast,‖ he says grabbing two towels and his

book from my tote. I watch as he runs up the stairs, the noise from his boots clamoring on the

metal resonating across the deck, calling attention to himself. He spreads a towel on each chair and

anchors one with his book. People by the pool snicker at the man in cowboy boots but Jim doesn‘t

seem embarrassed or show that he‘s noticed them. To me, he looks handsome and for the first time

I feel my nervousness ebb slightly at the sight of him making an effort—partly, at least—for my


We‘re just in time for the tail end of breakfast. We fill our plates with eggs, bacon, pancakes

and toast. The dining area is nearly empty and we have no trouble finding a table.

―I wonder what they do with all the leftover food,‖ I say as I unroll the silverware from its


―Recycle it,‖ he says taking a mouthful of eggs. ―I‘ll bet you‘ll find the scrambled eggs in the

fried rice this afternoon.‖

―They can‘t recycle everything,‖ I say. ―What must the waiters think of us, all the waste

Most look like Third Worlders.‖

Jim grunts. ―What do you care what strangers think Will you be seeing them again‖ I‘ve

always cared, I realize. And not just strangers. My own family, mother, sister. ―That‘s the nice

thing about going away,‖ he says. ―You can do anything you want and no one will be around next

week to remember.‖ He cleans the last bits of eggs and bacon from his plate and rises. His pancakes

are left, untouched.

―I‘ll meet you outside,‖ he says. ―I want to make sure no one takes those chairs.‖ He grabs

his mug and walks away. Within minutes, a young waiter—Vietnamese-- comes by and gathers up

Jim‘s plate of half eaten food. I take my time eating and wrap what‘s left of my toast in a napkin

before joining Jim.


He is stripped down to a Speedo, the slip of fabric straining to keep his bulge from shifting

right or left. His skin glistens with suntan oil filling the breeze with the scent of coconut. In the

sun, I can get a good look at his body. For a man nearing fifty, he‘s been able to hold on to the

outline of the body he had twenty years ago. Muscles that round out his shoulders and biceps are

held up it seems by veins close to the surface of his forearms. His chest is smooth, nearly hairless

and I can‘t resist running my finger over the few strands clinging to the middle. ―Tryin to grow

something there‖ I ask. I really want to warn him about skin cancer but refrain. He drains the last

of his coffee and pushes himself up.

―The hot tub beckons,‖ he says. He sees my look and chuckles. ―Don‘t worry. Nothing

lewd with people around. Tonight though….‖ he calls over his shoulder pointing a finger first at me

then the hot tub.

I watch as he makes his way down the stairs, admiring how his shoulder blades form a nice

hollow in the middle of his back, how small and compact his cheeks are. He eases himself into the

swirling foam and arranges himself on the seat. His expression relaxes as he leans his head back

draping his arms around the tub‘s perimeter, like a lovely martyr. The sun is strong and I fish

around my tote for my sunglasses. Every few seconds, a heavy drop of sweat plunges south toward

my groin but I‘m not ready to wear nothing but a bathing suit just yet. Even though I dreamed of

this my whole life, the day I‘d walk around in a woman‘s bathing suit, free of the bulge that I‘ve

been admiring on Jim, I still feel uncomfortable at the notion that something is definitely missing. I

eye the women in bikinis, whether they have the body for it or not and wonder when that day will

come for me. Caribbean music plays on the loudspeakers while bartenders set up for the afternoon

rush. Some men mill around nearby waiting to secure their perches.

Jim remains in the hot tub a good fifteen minutes before rising and slipping into the pool.

He lets out a little scream as the cold water hits his groin. A group of young girls giggle as he floats

by shooting a mouthful of water in the air like a whale. He looks at them in the same way I saw him

looking at my ass yesterday. If he notices the look of amused disgust on their faces, he shows no

sign. When he returns, he shakes his head at me like a dog adding pool water to the sweat that‘s

already soaked my clothes.

―Why don‘t you take a dip‖ Jim asks, settling into his lounge chair.

―Too many people in there,‖ I say. I have an urge to reach out and feel the cool water

rolling off his skin.

―No one in the hot tub.‖

―That‘s because it‘s 90 degrees. Only you want to boil yourself.‖

―It‘ll be nice tonight, with the cool breeze. We have to do it.‖

―You can. I‘ll watch.‖

His eyebrows furrow. ―I meant sex.‖ He twists around and reaches out, pulling open the

collar to my shirt. I flinch. ―What are you hiding‖ he asks.

―Nothing,‖ I say. ―Just think of everyone who has to use the hot tub.‖ He wears a blank

expression, as if the picture had never played out in his head. ―Sitting naked in a hot tub. Having

sex. What‘s the fascination with that‖

He smiles. ―You‘ll see.‖

He‘s like a dog with a bone. It is our topic of conversation throughout the day, following us

to the tourist shops in Charlotte Amalie, sliding onto the bar stool next to us for a drink, following

us to the dining room, making me regret ordering the boiled lobster. My attempt to stall by taking in

a show only works into his plan to sneak to the hot tub when everyone else is in bed. I tell him a

cruise ship is like New York City: it never sleeps. His eyes light up and I realize that‘s what makes it

fun for him. In the room he sits on my bed, threatens to pull off his clothes if I don‘t change into

my suit. I protest, tell him I‘m tired but he stands and begins to pull down his pants, humming the


theme song to ‗The Stripper‘. I realize it‘s easier to go along. We wrap ourselves in the thick

terrycloth robes that hang in the closet and slip into the sandals we bought that afternoon. It is

nearly 2 am when we reach the hot tub. I am relieved to see a net over it, the water calm and

transparent. Jim is undeterred. He figures out how to remove the netting and locates the switch to

turn on the whirlpool. The noise is loud and I am sure someone will come out, tell us we‘re

trespassing, order us to leave. But no one comes and Jim slips into the water.

―Come on,‖ he beckons with a smile. I can run but how far Sooner or later, I have to stop

and allow myself to be caught. I loosen the belt to my robe and lift it up as I step into the tub. With

my back toward Jim, I whip it off and drop into the water. My legs search for a spot his hasn‘t

claimed but his feet are everywhere. Our knees touch. ―Now,‖ he says, ―watch and learn.‖ I see his

arms disappear under the white foam and he arches back as he lifts his cheeks off the seat tugging to

the left, then right. Soon, I feel his suit touch my knees. I attempt to jerk my legs back but he has

my feet pinned under his. ―See how easy that was‖ he says. His arms emerge and spread out

against the tub‘s rim. ―Your turn.‖

―I‘m not doing that,‖ I say.

―Why‖ he asks. ―Got something I haven‘t seen before Just slide the straps off your


I can do at least that, I think, seeing that the only way to get back to the room is to give in a

little. I scoot down until my shoulders are under the foam and pull the straps off letting them hang

around my arms. My knee comes close to his groin and he slides forward causing me to push back.

I cross my arms over my chest hoping to create something there that resembles a larger cleavage.

―There,‖ I say and lean my head back, closing my eyes. We are quiet for awhile and I think he has

given up.

―Now just push the suit down to your waist,‖ he says. ―Feel the bubbles on your breasts.‖ I

decide to keep my eyes closed, pretend I‘m sleeping but then he moves forward and I realize he‘s

going to pull it down for me. My hands jerk up and I motion for him to stay put. I inch the suit

down on either side while trying to keep my arms crossed in front of me, preventing him from

seeing anything more than what I‘ve shown. ―Well‖ he whispers.

My nipples are erect. A thousand nerve endings have sprung to life and there‘s a stirring

down below that makes my knees squeeze together.

―Now just tug the thing off,‖ he says. ―Let your suit rest against my knee.‖

Beads of sweat gather on my forehead. There is an ache in my groin that signals the first

stirrings I‘ve had since this journey began. My entire body, in fact, screams to break loose. I arch

my back and pull it off, dragging the suit to my knees. It diverts Jim‘s attention. He smiles, his toes

loosen their hold on my feet and he slides a foot up the side of my calf.

―Now,‖ he says, ―was that so scary‖ Content, he closes his eyes and leans his head back. I

look up at the sky, at the constellations above my head. My legs inch open and the swirling water

massages places I have neglected for so long. The bubbles squeeze inside crevices, tickling,

popping, exhaling hot breath where none has ever been. I feel lightheaded. I close my eyes and

slide down so that only my shoulders are exposed. I breathe deeply, uncross my arms hold onto the

tub‘s rim and allow my breasts to bob beneath the water‘s surface. My toes lift off the tub floor and

nestle in between Jim‘s legs. I‘m amazed at how aroused he‘s become.

―There‘s a lot about me you don‘t know,‖ I say.


―Aren‘t you curious‖

He opens his eyes a crack. ―Maybe.‖ He lets his eyes close and his foot moves higher up my


I take a deep breath, let go of the tub and float.


Stephanie Gray


I’m telling you, don’t forget

To remember who you were

To remember what it was

To remember what it is

To remember how it was

To remember what it went

To remember how it said

To remember how it sounded

To remember how it went

To remember what they did

To remember how it goes

To remember what it meant

To remember that‘s what she said

To remember what it aint

To remember who said what

To remember what said what

To remember who knew who

To remember who died then

To remember who all knew who

To remember what was what

To remember who didn‘t die

To remember who said what they said

To remember who didn‘t remember you

To remember who didn‘t want to know

To remember who tried to change you

To remember don‘t be a cliché here

To remember don‘t let this poem be 8 th grade desperation

To remember you‘re trying to do something with 8 th grade desperation

To remember maybe you can deconstruct 8 th grade desperation in a way the language poets would like

Or A Tonalists

Or Quietudes

To remember, once again, all together now, the more things change the more they stay the same

To remember most poets don‘t want to hear that

To remember most news publications have a rule for what not to say


The more things change the more they stay the same

To remember most people will forget you said earlier in this poem it was a sophisticated attempt to turn

around a cliché

Can it be encapsulated in Hey.

Maybe ok

To remember maybe these lines need to be more of a mystery.

To remember somebody might be reading between the lines

To remember there‘s a poem in between the lines

To remember in between the lines is where everything happens

So why should I even write



I’m telling you, you gotta remember

Don‘t forget they didn‘t know

Don‘t forget what they said

Don‘t forget who knew that

Don‘t forget that‘s what they said

Don‘t forget that‘s what it is

Don‘t forget it‘s all there

Don‘t forget they said keep it moving

Don‘t forget she didn‘t die

Don‘t forget he‘s never there

Don‘t forget that‘s their stuff

Don‘t forget they‘re telling you is what they‘re telling you

Don‘t forget that‘s how it is

Don‘t forget that‘s how it said

Don‘t forget it‘s changed

Don‘t forget that‘s what it said

Don‘t forget they (k)new all along

Don‘t forget that‘s where it was

Don‘t forget I wasn‘t there

Don‘t forget that‘s the truth

Don‘t forget they never change

Don‘t forget he‘s not there

Don‘t forget she went there

Don‘t forget I was there

Don‘t forget there it was

Don‘t forget you just can‘t forget this

Don‘t forget it stopped at 2 am

Don‘t forget it didn‘t start

Don‘t forget it hasn‘t happened.

Don‘t forget whatever happened

Don‘t forget what it is.

Don‘t forget you have to remember their names ok

Don‘t forget you will remember them tomorrow

Don‘t forget she always remembers

Don‘t forget Rocio Durcal

Don‘t forget Cliff Burton

Don‘t forget no one rode the lightning.

Don‘t forget they are telling you for the 1,000,000 th time, IT IS WHAT IT IS OK

Don‘t forget the string around your finger that fell off yesterday

Don‘t forget Cliff ‗em all

Don‘t forget Randy Rhoads

Don‘t forget you lose people in a poem with proper names

Thus don‘t forget you gotta keep it universal

I realize you haven‘t traveled the universe

But I‘m expecting you to do this.




Remember that, ok



Mary Kennan Herbert


Dead guy, you knew it was a pleasure here. Green now,

but pretty too in the deep drifts of February. Allow

these images, mundane. The famed black squirrels

mark the place. Nassau Hall. Dead guys in there, still,

voices and the fluttering of leaves and bird song

like Whitman‘s thrush or other choruses, Tigertones

and the stone bench marked with names of the WWII

Class that did not make it back. Dead guys all, yet I

feel there is a good thing about it all. They‘d be happy

if they were here this sunny afternoon, like me

walking across this campus garnished with Ivy angels.

I feel at home among these reminders of scholars

and veterans. It‘s a university campus, not a graveyard,

but a memorial all the same, look at the stars–

bronze stars, plaques, bronze markers, stars,

and still more stars, reminding me of stars. . . .



"Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones

which thou has broken may rejoice." – Psalms 51:8

No, broken bones won‘t kill me, but do

slow me down in my fast lane life. The Deity

said, "Listen up!" but I too often do

not. It‘s an acoustical universe, divinely

inspired. The Word. Aural literacy required.

Survival in the Black Hole, unseen, might be

under the sea. No sunlight below 656 feet.

Lord, I crawl like a crab, hoping to hear Thee,

the ping of your holy sonar. Thousands

of times I was admonished to pay attention.

Some translations say “crushed” bones.

I will be given a chance, among stars and stones



"Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:

and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know

wisdom." – Psalms 51:6

Hidden inside this little velveteen door,

you can see my ticker. It keeps on working.

Amazing. All the other gears and pulleys

keep on trucking, but dependent on the core.

Under the thatch, that aging dome,

note the brain still firing like a pin ball

machine. No rhyme nor reason to it all,

ball bearings rolling comically home.

Behind guileless, misleading eyes

you will see pages of commandments

and a variety of sins hung out to dry,

on a clothesline designed to mesmerize.


Aimee Herman



slap x///twenty-fourth letter///against ex///fifth letter plus twenty-fourth///current above

former/// vowel+consonant///repeated by equal amounts of apart///and a part

if x= divisor of curved implement//porcelain percentage to the fifth power/packaged by ziplocked

container of intricate integer///corpse of sixty-two inches climbing into wooden mouth///nails of

skin///straining prepositional fraction///where ex=mistake///error///oversight in calculations

and x=dry ice over blown glass///enclosing drunk lipstick///stained smoke rings/// take

ex///subtract e///affix striped face onto complicated equation omitting parenthetical

excuses///excusing unhygienic estimations///

smear shattered rubber from

flat parchment-inhalation

moment of movement

leaning lending integer

minus one hour for

traveling, unraveling

green particle of algebraic strand

sitting atop root of

shoulder divided by blade

ur counted 2 x

(m)e subdivided by

fractioned ellipsis


where percentage is minimalized by

enlarged compass of firm directions


end before beginning

conclusion before hypothesis

black tar trigonometry

curvy, voluptuous geometry

shape of angled knuckles surfing into

independent variable

functioning as alternate for

mast(r) bait ng

slick back polynomial

complicated expression eluding

clash of theorems, where

ex becomes negative like

diagnosed distillation, deconstructing

smoothed out quadratic confusion


sharpen wood with .8 percent of lead

leading to sweetened substitute for ex

additional limbs, concentrated by

subtracted imperfections

multiples of six i‟s

(i) (i) (i) (i) (i) (i)

translated into

forty-five angled compounded equations


Katherine Hogan


—with Richard, Fran and James

Lore has it that

ducks‘ quacks don‘t echo.

What we hear as echo is merely

the overlapping cacophony

mallards make

as their flotilla paddles en masse

toward the bread we toss—all

except Richard, who walks ahead

along the bank, resting on each succeeding

park bench.

A lone Long Island duck, the only

white feathers among clusters

of tawny brown and glistening green,

hops on the bank and marches

—as well as a duck can be said to march—

up to Richard, quacking orders to report

for K.P. duty. On the double.

A uniformed officer, the park ranger, rides

over to say ―Halt! You‘re breaking the law!

Don‘t you see the signs ‗NO Feeding

the Wildlife.‘‖ Wildlife These ducks

are tame, part of the neighborhood.

But we‘ve run out of bread anyway

and the ducks are drifting off,

their quacks echoing

in our overlapping laughter.



You always play yourself as tragic queen.

At every gathering you cast a pall,

show off your wounds and scars to one and all.

I believed you back when I was young and green.

The curtain rises on this present scene.

Your back‘s against the crumbling castle wall.

The guttersnipe in you knows how to brawl

when cornered—vents an ample spleen.

Your mask of tragedy begins to slip,

reveals the startled countenance behind.

The self-deluding plot starts to unwind.

Struggling to adjust your tilted crown,

clutching the train of your artfully tattered gown,

you sweep offstage. Be careful now. Don‘t trip.



What did Sappho teach her girls,

except how to love —Ovid

At first were only Chaos, Earth and Love,

Love, the source of all that came to be,

most beloved of the gods,

longed for, shining, with wings of gold—

I, whom the Muses call sister,

who have drunk deep draughts of Hippocrene‘s

immortal waters,

caressed Pegasus‘s silken mane,

danced with the Graces

among the roses of Pieria,

will teach you hymns in Love‘s praise.

So garland your soft curls

with sweet-scented violets that

charm the Graces to lift their rosy feet,

join us in joyful epithalamia—

sweet marriage songs

pleasing to Aphrodite—

for Song is Love‘s accomplice,

is it not

Yet for all their giddying fragrance,

Pieria‘s roses also have their thorns

whose piercings call up songs

of lamentation. You‘ll also learn

Song‘s paradox,

Love‘s conundrum:

their pain flows from the same

fount as their power.


Daphne Horton


Lovely Lady Lockheart is so so pretty in pink

But when you look real closely, she‘s not what you may think

Her eyes you cannot capture although they pierce your skin

Her teeth they hold no laughter although they surely grin

She‘s like a fallen solider or like a broken wing

Your arms you hold out for her, you long to hear her sing

She said ―if you are dying she needs a man alive‖

She claimed ―my car is loaded so take me for a ride‖

And out it poured away she soared upon a wooden stick

She cast her spell and down they fell like being slapped with bricks

She gathered all the Roasters because to waste is sin

And then she humbly rationed her wares again and again

Long lean legs, soft pink skin, watermelons, honey buns, rin tin tins

No Wings and fins and all, no wings and fins at all

Her eyes they drew me closer, her stench made me confused

So slowly I reached out to her to taste of her that dew

She laughed so hard and loud at me her deck began to deal

She took away my lipstick, she smoked my sex appeal

And then she looked me in the eye, my neck my ankle too

She said ―no one will want you when I am through with you‖

I never meant to harm her, I fixed her broken wings

She shook her perfect pinky and cautioned me one thing

No pigs no snails no puppy dog tails

No feet no rhyme no money no time

No wings and fins at all, no wings and fins at all

I took my hair and made a pack together we must stay

I placed a backpack on my back that‘s how I spent my day

My nights were long and full of sound

The morn I could not hear

Then off I go and to and fro to where I was not bound

I think I saw the Lady, it was like de ja vu

―You must be friends with Linda‖, ―That‘s Ms. Lockheart to you.‖

Her skin her wings her puppies things her sex and your appeal

No feet no rhyme no money no time

I think you know the deal

I always kept my head below my eyes they watch her trail

But then he crept up from behind and smacked me on the tail

Said I‘ve been looking for you so please tell me your name

I‘m Lovely Lady Lockheart the master of the game

If you were such a lady you‘d speak when spoken too

My collar‘s white my blood is blue don‘t think there‘s nothing new


He shook his perfect pointer and cautioned her one thing

You‘re like a broken record don‘t want to hear you sing

My nickels my dime my city my wine

I think I‘ll do just fine, I think I‘ll do just fine

I‘m glad to her I humbled to her I owe one thing

My heart it often grumbled yet walked a perfect ring

To all those that you gathered of all those that you boast

I bet they wish they‘d lathered I know you want me most

You may have took my stockings or borrowed diamond rings

But you will never ever know what true fulfillment brings.


Tony Iantosca


the night becomes a hologram through which nothing appears coherent not even the idea

at 9:26 p.m. fall empties its pockets and a pile of postcards from beaches carrying

summer air falls in place of leaves. left to shuffle through them and recognize no one,

these examples from another time collide like shopping carts slamming into billboards

with wanting to transfer feeling from its inner locus to the popping sound and smoke

faint in the sky after fireworks in the cold. if there were time before the show for

another question to be resolved by just sitting before the drafty light coming in the city

window. take a moment and regard the mind‘s dappled shadows, the blank spaces

that make thinking bear the weight of some microscopic ribbon from one memory‘s

embedded desire to the next. would anyone believe that could be praise. another kind

of worship of where the person began as the heater comes on. a breath like that cannot

be feigned as in some in-flight movie knowing that in the kitchen a stove-flame‘s

purchase on air is not through. below the window it‘s a cannot canyon filling with

songs known for their anti-aging properties. the end of my eyelash touches

the back of my arm.



in a minute I close the book and pigeons circle

their shack on the roof across the street

as if some aftermath of something without a peak or a low point

were falling, the idea of which is sunlight the idea of which

is washed away now by this beat down below the stone and setting sun

in a minute there is memory, in a minute the sound of memory

and then after that some dent in the air where something

was and now isn‘t gone there is only music which is the sound

of memory an old drunk relative repeating stories from when landscapes were

static and grass began somewhere just beyond this kitchen table at 3 a.m.

there is only a comma after every later to indicate that after a hole

has been placed in the narrative you must follow the source of light

coming through that hole trembling like paper from smudged wind

called formless renting a smell of dead chickens or fresh bread

from the poultry market next door there is only some other language built

from other scaffolding looming in dark spaces between words made into referent,

that or that you see it too filling with itself and then with itself smothered

you see it brush itself off but what is it a minute later and I speak

into the phone and try to read the book at the same time I touch my hand to tile

on the wall in the bathroom with the phone to my ear and misplace words

it can‘t be other than this because the ruins of what was stretch between

the sidewalk and push their way back out green you see it too filling with itself,

that‘s what it is it can‘t be and isn‘t another thing I wanted

to include here is a smothered story but one where

the edges which we call the beginning and end are still apparent

like mud at either side of a pond



a how-to guide for floating the equation that builds this vision of tenuous plains

colored by clusters making sense sing songs each to herself in an effort to fracture

the sayings into a glowing opening left by stains on windows now gone I feel a

please dissolve this jig-saw commercial coming on know the paper-weighted

will falls through if any sun will wait long enough over the highway‘s leading

lights chewing the concrete I remember now how to render the number a storefront

writes backwards and in neon quivering in the stalled train of an ink stain I‘m

remembering where to put the keys sinking onto a table‘s familiar silence that undulates

inwards to this headache to verify the where and why of this once-dull wondering,

venture inside the fumbled paper yellowing where language bug-zaps every memory of




you can start anywhere

this body feels snow-melt

collaborate with caffeine jitters

at sunrise the dentist urges restraint

and of course people are being

damaged and the syntax used to present this

utilizes declarative arrangements of blame:

he blew himself and ten others up

you can start anywhere and the same

invisible characters follow they are

pumping insulation between skeletal

outlines of walls across the street

and the engines used to describe a building

are growing hoarse because this city

with its knobs levers and switches crawls

out anew from behind the eye

to lift its voice and shine its flashlight

on a minute growing thin and meek

asking our passages for more space

within which to hear birds

discussing radio waves



through the revolving door into a drugstore‘s heated music

for shampoo and juice and black beans I walk under slanted

mirrors in the aisles a woman with a man‘s voice sways

an aged purse and waits for her name to be called so she can

run to pay and pocket her pill bottles into the cold under

the train that passes spraying water down from steel and

rainforest wood when the drops touch the back of my

hands I want to say to a stranger walking the other direction

that this project of pulling daytime together by speaking

splits itself on smells of toothpaste and whiskey and when

we‘ll be anywhere depends on how she throws down

sunflower seeds and a soda can to cold pavement bent

under sirens inviting pigeons to gather and imitate how

day exits through narrow passages cut on windowpanes

deflecting sunlight‘s last glances but really I‘ve said nothing



No pronunciation of native names could stop bulldozers. There was no sense that anyone was doing

any wrong, just that changing was wearing her make up and eating less and less. Now as guitars from

Agadez chime in on daytime sunshine over tenement trees, I‘m looking through the crosshatched

grid of fire escape and box fan, red and white and colorless autumn light. A certain balance in

electric riffs delivered from the North African desert flying like sand in kinetic onslaught. Someone

threw me into the bushes outside the school because because. A field turning from green to red dirt,

then onwards to steel skeletons and conveyor belt insomnia. Then onwards, a reason to lash out, a

rash rising on memories. At night after homework I watched tornadoes on TV, convinced myself

that they would come unglued from that glass and spiral away with the house. Loose-leaf paper.

Write what you know. What you don‘t know too. A staircase zigzagging down from a highway.

Cornfields wove snakes into their folds and we ran through sometimes until there were none. Until

an aisle: hand soap, cheerios, cold milk perspiring in fluorescence, sponges, bleach, dog food, chips,

soda. The air tasted the same, or did it. Because he knew where to get them and I didn‘t, he put

cigarettes in the jacket that was hanging in my locker. On the old stone bridge over the swamp I

coughed and woke up the geese. The dog named Kevin snapped one of their necks with his jaws.

Virginia summer walked us and the grass towards dumpsters and what there was or wasn‘t to be

found, though we could always find it at home. If you had a car, you had a car. You‘ve probably

wrecked a car. It was enough to drive home and lie to the mechanics later. He had blood on his

dress shirt, so I lied to the cop and said we were going to the hospital, please let us go. The aisles

rattled and the lights went out, I got a tornado for my birthday. Big wanting was an elixir for not

knowing a thing about wanting, she took me to the barn, I slept in her bed. Shopping cart theft,

always a shopping cart in every clearing in the woods. Chains of airplanes in Brooklyn look like

lightning bugs in daytime clouds, which move in opposite directions, clouds, planes, bugs. The

Tuareg people staged an uprising in the year 2008, according to the notes on the CD case. This next

song is called Tenere Etran. The men cover their faces and ride horses and sing about independence

while the women dance and sing along from the crowd so loudly that the microphones pick them

up, them whose voices crash louder than the cymbals. In 2004 Aaron went to prison for three years,

the FBI had gotten involved. The night before he left, we smoked a joint on a dock over James

River rapids. In January I returned to the dock, wrote a poem and threw it in the water at 2 a.m. As

the parking lots began to crack, all my friends moved into old buildings by the university. I went

where there were no billboards. Aisles of radio hits, every look on every face an apology, a word

shattering into many or a word never uttered. A drop of coffee on my shirt, a yawn. Shopping or

shoplifting, two words. A house that was never finished on a hill by the river, by the highway

running through the sleep-breaths in the one room in the one house in the whole neighborhood

where someone lived. Prices of homes went down slowly. Our feet smelled like gasoline. At the top

of the hill next to the Burger King, you could see the Federal Reserve building ten miles away. Its

basement dives deep into the earth‘s rocks, maybe there are billions in there, maybe I can have five

dollars to buy enough gas to get back to the farm. The first half of the album is acoustic, the guitars

are not in standard tuning, a tuning I don‘t recognize, there is clapping, no drums. Between tracks, a

camel groans and someone shouts. Field recordings. Despite sub-prime everything, it is happening


again. Someone thinking straight about designing the angles of windows to be, to be looking out

onto Route 250, to be wearing a jacket in a heat wave, the last piece of land sold. Hand it over, admit

that you can‘t catch a storm cloud with a fishing net, everything more imminent than before. Jump

from hay bale to hay bale. Hum a tune. Tip a can. Secret cigarettes. Wait for John‘s name to show up

in the newspaper, for developers to ask for an apology. Come home. Steal beer from the fridge and

listen for the absence.


Giuseppe Infante


Once she stepped out of Mariano‘s corner bodega, the aroma raging from her apartment wafted

onto the busy streets of 4 th Avenue. Vehicles of different color and design passed by the Sunday

afternoon streets, containing some folks eager to return to their homes before the football game‘s

coin toss, and some going out to George‘s World Famous for a late lunch after the twelve o‘clock

services. After mass she used to stop at the bakery for her favorite desserts, seven layer cookies or

―wainbow cookies‖ as she had called them as a child.

She could tell it was her sauce from the strong garlic and basil fusion tickling her olfactory

receptors. Angelica entered her building and the smell of the sauce became stronger as she climbed

the dilapidated, off-brown steps with the gold-plated edges that tried to give the shabby staircase a

furnished look. Her railroad apartment was on the third floor above Mariano‘s. When arriving at the

top of the stairs, she stood for a moment, gazing at the festive holiday wreath covered in candy

canes, red bows and miniature silver gift boxes on her apartment door. She then felt the life in her

chest increase a few heavy beats.

Thump! Thump! Thump! Thump!

This was nothing unordinary for the overweight woman of 72 years, 47 of which she

smoked Camel unfiltered. The thumps occurred every time she climbed a staircase—in her building,

at the R train stop on 36 th Street, Sundays at St. Mary‘s. Her once curvaceous body was now

occupied by a round potbelly acquired from uncountable bottles of Budweiser she had guzzled over

the past six years while sulking in her widow‘s depression.

As she was catching her breath before entering the apartment, her dark eyes met her darker

eyes in the foyer mirror opposing the wreath of primarily green and red. She noticed her salt and

pepper perm was thinning after each visit to the beauty parlor. Her gut was growing, this she was

sure of as she needed new shirts every few months lately—though really it was because her garments

would gather food and beer stains.

She removed the two forty-ounce Budweiser bottles from the black plastic bag; she put one

in the freezer and one in the fridge. Angelica turned towards the vintage O‘Keefe & Merritt stove

supporting the sauce pot that rested over the medium orange, though blue at the root gas flame. She

used the wooden spoon in her apron to turn the tomato sauce. With every turn she grazed the walls

of the stainless steel pot.

Tink! Tink! Tink! Tink!

Meatballs of veal/pork/beef mix and fennel-less sweet sausage floated in the tomato sauce.

She had a special recipe she had learned from her grandmother as a child: Chop and mince basil and

garlic, then let them simmer in olive oil for twenty minutes before using the mixture in the sauce.

Giraud always claimed never to have tasted a tomato sauce quite like Angelica‘s.

She removed the beer from the freezer and poured some into a goblet she loved. The goblet

was the glass Giraud had used to drink his beer from. ―Never drink from the bottle,‖ he would

always tell her.

From the cupboard she grabbed a pot slightly smaller than the one she used for the sauce.

Angelica filled it with water, set it on the stove and turned the flame on high. Linguine was her

choice of pasta for today. She began to set the table, placing out two napkins, two forks, two knives,

two wine glasses with ice water, the bread basket and the butter case. She cooked for two every

night. She ate for two every night. She missed him.


Gülay Işık


When I got home she was masturbating. I heard her moaning from the hallway. I could see her feet

because she left the door ajar. I wanted to push the door open so I could see her completely, then I

thought it was a better idea to peek through the door. The TV was on but I wasn‘t sure if she was

masturbating to a porn movie. Then I heard Audrey Hepburn‘s voice. She had been watching

Breakfast at Tiffany‟s. Whenever she felt moody, she watched that stupid movie. Her right foot kicked

a book in the bed and the book fell on the floor. She liked sleeping with books. She didn‘t

necessarily read them. She just liked sleeping with a bunch of books. She moaned deeper as Audrey

Hepburn sang Moon River at her fancy NYC apartment‘s window. I liked watching her touch herself.

She took deep breaths. She knew I was behind the door. I walked towards the kitchen avoiding her.

She had been watching Breakfast at Tiffany‟s and I knew trouble was coming. I hoped the orgasm

would help her calm down.

Why didn‘t she just watch a porn movie We had a porn DVD collection. That‘s how we

met, actually. We had attended this underground porn club a few years ago. I had heard about it

from a friend. We gathered in a small basement room on Friday nights at ten in Park Slope. The

crowd was made of losers who had nothing else to do on a Friday night. People coming in changed

every week except for regular members. They were mostly old and married people with children.

There weren‘t many women because they would feel uncomfortable in a dark basement with about

thirty men. What do you expect, eh The director of the Basement Project was a fat guy with lots of

hair on his face, arms, and even fingers. His name was Paul. He had strict rules. He even framed the

rules in big print and hung it on the wall. Rule number one: No masturbation allowed in the

basement. He occasionally turned the lights on to check on the audience to see if anyone was doing

something. He kicked a few men out who had been caught masturbating. Paul was short but very

strong. No one wanted to deal with him. Rule number two: Males are not allowed to approach the

female members. Rule number three: Members who violate the first two rules would be banned

from the club for good. Paul believed in porn movies like one believed in Buddhism, you know.

He liked me. I had been to his tiny apartment upstairs a few times and he had shown me his

collection of Playboy magazines. He picked an issue from his bookcase and handed it to me as if he

were honoring me with a royal crown. He told me to be careful as I turned the pages of the

February edition of nineteen eighty six. We looked at a half naked woman eating a cheese burger

leaning on a diner counter. Paul looked at the fake blond like a biologist looking at a rare butterfly.

He dragged his middle finger on her legs. I wasn‘t allowed to touch the page.

―This is art, ya know‖

I looked at the fake blonde‘s face. I wondered if her mother could recognize her in so much

make up. She only had a pair of blue jeans on and her back turned to the camera so we could only

see her butt and her right breast touching the arm that was holding the cheeseburger. Her pinkish

lips were half open. She had ketchup on her chin. I thought of her without makeup and breast

implants. I thought of her as a child. I pictured her in a light blue cotton dress running in the streets

of some suburban town.

―She is not that hot‖ I said sadly.

―I‘m talking about the photography,‖ he said seemingly frustrated at my shallowness. And I

felt so damn shallow.

Turning the pages we looked at couple of more pictures of women bending over on

couches, motorbikes, pool tables, etc. They were all different. They were all the same.

Then he told me about his rock band in college and played some Iron Maiden on his guitar.


―You got a woman‖ he said looking at the strings.

―I have many women,‖ I had said laughing and downed my beer.

I had looked at his face behind the bottom of the beer bottle that I was holding next to my

mouth. He wasn‘t laughing.

―Many women equals to no women. You‘ll end up lonely‖ he said seriously. He looked like

he pitied me. It was an awkward moment. He hadn‘t seemed like the type that would care. I had

never seen him with any women. Then he pulled out his wallet and shown me the pictures of his

fourteen years old girl and twelve years old son. He had been married for sixteen years. We didn't

talk much that night. I left his apartment after eight beers because he kindly told me his wife and

children would be back from their visit from the auntie‘s any time. He picked up the beer cans and

put them in a trash bag. Then he called for a cab for me and punched me in the shoulder for

goodbye. We were friends.

As I was listening to her feet touch the ground gently, I thought of the day we met. I had

been attending to the Basement Project meetings about a month or two perhaps when I saw her

sitting in the front row. She didn‘t talk to anyone and looked at the curtain as if someone in the

movie was getting hurt which was true, actually. Since Paul had strict rules about approaching the

female members I waited until the film was over to talk to her. She told me she was a writer and

doing her master‘s thesis on pornography. I told her I was a writer too. I had been writing screen

plays and working on a collection of short stories. ―Interesting,‖ she said with an uninterested voice.

We went to an Indian restaurant in the city on our first date. The place had a heavy curry

smell, of course. I wasn‘t a fan of spicy food but she had told me she liked Indian cuisine, so I took

her there. We talked about movies and books. She said Charles Bukowski‘s arrogance annoyed her

that was why she liked him. She worshiped Kafka. She had been working on a children‘s book. We

drank wine. She kept touching her hair which might mean she was bored or she liked me. I regretted

not reading the article in one of Paul‘s magazines about how to know that chicks like you by reading

their body language. Her blushed cheeks told me that she liked me then I remembered it was so hot

inside the restaurant and we were eating spicy food. She took off her scarf. Her neck was beautiful,

probably her most beautiful feature. She had olive complexion and dark blonde locks falling on her

shoulders. Her neck looked like unearthed treasure. It was hard to tell if she liked me. I was

spending my last fifty dollars on that dinner and I had spent all day cleaning my apartment. She

better fucking like me, I thought when she reached for naan and dipped it in the chicken masala.

Her funny accent sounded even funnier when she got drunk. It was hard to understand what

she was saying. She occasionally started a sentence in her native language and switched to English

by the end of the sentence.

―You will rescue me from my loneliness, right She said gulping the wine in her glass. She

didn‘t look at my face. She was staring at somewhere between the tandoori chicken and salad plates.

I hesitated for a moment. Was she talking to me or the tandoori chicken There was a pause.

―I think you should have more food.‖

She frowned and poured some more wine in her glass.

―I'll be worthy right Only when you realize the gem I am‖ she said stabbing a piece of

chicken. Her hand holding the fork was jittery.

―We are just having dinner, for God‘s sake!‖ Now, I was looking at the plates too. For a

moment, I thought of excusing myself to go to the bathroom, then asking for the check, and calling

for two cabs to go in different directions. That would be it. I don‘t need this. I can go home and jerk

off. What the fuck is wrong with women You take one out for dinner and the wedding bells start

ringing in their heads. If only some men had pussies, the world would have been a nicer place, I

thought. The restaurant was very hot. We had been sitting there for hours. My butt was hurting. The


spicy food was messing with my stomach. I knew it was my only chance to leave her at that

moment. I made a gesture at the waiter and asked for one more bottle of wine instead.

―I don‘t date writers‖ she said looking at an oil stain on the table cloth after another long


―Neither do I,‖ I said looking at the waiter who was approaching our table with a bottle of

wine. She looked at me for the first time after a while and burst into laughter then smiled at the

chicken tikka as if she knew something that the chicken didn‘t know.



Belynda Jones


Amidst it all the results are

within the noise and grave gashes. . .

Reasons will perish

It‘s time for canes and stones. . . !

Features sound out in chains and veils,

young seas rip.

Bared no more can the same be

for slanted and ―proper‖ tones.


Constance Woo


Artist’s Statement, April 2011

A committed detritivore, I use low-tech processes and quotidian materials meant for the trash bin:

pencil shavings, tea leaves, newspapers, comics, burlap scraps, pages from dilapidated children‘s

books, pictures from magazines.

Half of the works included in this issue date from the last seven months; the other half from the last

few years. For all of the works, I used a free-hand, impromptu approach, bypassing sketches, drafts

or measurements, as opposed to the methods I‘ve used in past years to produce artist‘s books, which

require careful calculations and crafting. Most of the pieces were executed as classroom exercises,

often taking a desultory path before completion. The image on the front cover, a spur-of-themoment

test of an air-brush and whatever images were at hand, was a piece of detritus meant to be

thrown away, which I recently found under a pile of scraps while foraging for paper. Some pieces

happened by accident, such as Item #3. Carried away by a Japanese punch, I recalled the line from

Keats, ―with beaded bubbles winking at the brim,‖ several weeks after finishing it. The ink and

manuscript piece (Item #5) materialized from an exercise on drawing lines as shapes and doodling

with a calligraphy pen. Items #6 and #7 were made from left-over scraps of Japanese papers and

inspired by the work of Rakuko Naito, who creates texture from folded paper.

These images appear on the following eight, unnumbered pages.

1. Landscape. Vintage floral stamens woven on burlap. Detail of original. 12 in. x 31 in. The

floral landscape is oriented horizontally; rotate the page 90 degrees to view. 2009

2. Paper Detritus. Discarded library catalog cards. 2-3/4 in. x 5 in. Postcard. 3-1/2 in. x 5-1/2 in.

Collage, pastels. 2009

3. Untitled. Tea bags, newspaper. Detail of original. 10-3/4 in. x 16-3/4 in. 2009

4. Untitled. Pencil shavings, rubber stamping on handmade paper. 8 in. x 12 in. 2010

5. Exercise on Line. Ink & collage on drawing paper. Detail of original. 12 in. x 18 in. 2010

6. Untitled. Tea paper on Japanese paper. Close-up of original. 8-3/4 in. x 13 in. 2010

7. Untitled. Ink, watercolor, various Japanese papers on handmade paper. 8-3/4 in. x 12 in. 2010

8. Quilt. Mixed media on muslin. Detail of original. 13-1/2 in. x 18 in. 2011


Jamey Jones


At precisely 11:06 AM, a well-dressed man walks just past the no parking sign, turns to look back

and up at the brownstone building, shields his eyes from the sunlight with one hand, puts a small

camera to his eye with the other one, and snaps a picture. In my notebook I write, ―A well-dressed

man catches a river in his hand as if it were a baseball hurled from the other side of the street by a

young skateboarder behind the dumpster.‖ The man‘s camera in no way resembles a river, but I like

the idea of him, or anyone, catching a river in his hand. I‘d just read about Cayne‘s dad pouring her

ashes into the Mississippi. How he sobbed, standing by himself. The sun shined. A breeze blew. I

wanted to make a poem. And I had also been thinking of my baseball-fanatic-teacher- friend,

Durant. There‘s a cool little skater I see a lot who lives in the apartment building next door, but I‘ve

never seen him throw a baseball. Awkwardly parked by the curb, however, not far from where the

man is standing, camera in hand, there is a rusty, tortured looking, freighter-like, blue dumpster with

white capitol letters on its side that say, ―GUMA.‖ This dumpster is full of white and black framed

windowpanes, some broken, others intact, dropped there by Mexican laborers throughout the

morning as the sunlight began to filter over the rooftops and onto the avenue, as I awakened, made

coffee and grabbed my notebook and pen.



On the roof across the street, beyond the prayer flags, in the glare of a bright light, a man in a suit

passionately takes hold of a woman in a long flowing dress while another man crouches and points a

camera at them from just beyond the light. Obviously having trouble getting the scene right, the

actors repeat their embrace over and over again, pausing between takes to laugh, converse, smoke,

stretch, and vainly attempt to keep the wind from destroying their manicured hairdos. The prayer

flags are flapping toward Manhattan, and the people walking on the avenue below have no idea of

the spectacle unfolding up above. Down there it‘s business as usual. Avoid eye contact. Keep to

yourself. An old man walks his dog. A young woman pushes a stroller. Cars line up in the street,

waiting for the light to change. Suddenly some guy shouts, ―Jesus Christ wrote the bible you fucking

asshole!‖ The light from the film set, gently reflecting off of the numerous rows of windows across

the street, moves as the couple continues embracing. Above all of this, tiny clouds the size of

rowboats hum westward, nearly glowing, as a jet in the distance lifts itself closer to the edge of

visibility, a light slowly fading, steadily dimming, inching, away. Fragmented constellations surface as

the night‘s darkness deepens into an opaque expanse while the couple, tiny ant-like dancers, finally

embraces in just the right way, before the bright lights are cut, and the trio film crew exits the roof,

leaving the wind and prayer flags quietly to themselves.



—for Steve Bailey

it‘s like this

the life of a stone has its own advantages

ants are unaffected

sun pounds down with indescribable force

wind shifts everything around

sand pollen sticks leaves

until the sky drops

and the rain comes

and the house floats away

as if space let loose its livestock

as if hammers were singing

to become rivers

leading into oceans

turning into space


for no

particular reason


the hawk as seen

from the kitchen window

tries to correct its botched attempt

at snatching the squirrel from the yard

but in the end that doesn‘t work

it underestimates the squirrel‘s


and its own inability to maneuver

amongst the limbs of crape myrtle

however, its talons match

the intricate yellow fractals

of the turtle‘s head and shell

as it steps and stops and blinks

in the grass

in time

charting its course

tuned into the edges of shade

and song, buzzing numbers

of continental drifts

or the abandoned eggs in the mailbox

dear postal person

they say there‘s no rhyme

or reason to things


ut you sometimes have to wonder

which connects to our decision

to remove the nest and its two

unhatched eggs from the box

for whatever reason

the mother never returned

you may go back to putting

the mail in there now

thanks for your cooperation

we‘ve placed the eggs

on the window sill

they are beautifully speckled

and seem to have a plan

feel free to have a look

if you‘re so inclined




These poems appear together on page 70.

• where everything wakes and dies

• incapable god

• afraid to be woman

• preferences of a wallflower


where everything wakes and dies

sun opens mouth on split legs,

slowly illuminating paintings of blood

across inner thighs. this is where

everything wakes and dies.

my head is hung back

over the edge of the tub,

heavy with thoughts of how beautiful

her palms were

against the ugliness of mine.

my hands, my ugly ugly hands,

now caught red in murder

of my own womb.

molding over my egg, something grows

more relentlessly than cancer.

i am not big enough to hold it in,

but it stays. it clings to membranes,

like a babe's skull in mother's hip bone.

my birth canal faces the mouth

of a broken faucet which leaks a dirty color

gathering in a small flood to where

my blood travels, ever so precariously,

as this monster in my body erupts,

pushing life out.

silently, i watch the reflection of a fused ceiling fixture

where my present unfolds in slow motion;

remains of me lingering towards the open wound

of an inanimate object, ready to absolve their existence

because they cannot stand the decay

that is me.

incapable god

here lies the silhouette of a stranger

crawled up on a park bench across from me.

his breath is searching within,

deep within that shriveled body

to fill something he cannot reach.

i am god,

unable to touch his forehead to tell him

it's going to be okay.

it is not going to be okay.

the sky is a black hole.

the ground is a war zone.

there isn't a place to escape.

frigid. he, i, and this night

are frigid.

he will wake before the sun rises

and prepare to waste another day

pretending to be whole.

and i will return another night

as an incapable god.

afraid to be woman

at the age of five she stands

like a man

bare chested and strong

in the river flowing

between undeveloped breasts

over the body of mother

sand runs through those tiny fingers

curved toward god- mercy-hungry for life

as pupils look into void

of what was once mother's eyes

it runs like blood

from a sparrow's skull

like man

her chest must grow

not with breasts to feed

or above womb for home

but with muscles

like stone

so that she will cease to be

mother's daughter

she will shave head

burn dress

and never return to

woman's demise

preferences of a wallflower

i prefer to be depressed.

and alone.

to live with the blinds turned down on my face.

i like the conversations of the radiator

with the lights dim.

the crackling of a news reporter's loneliness

on the radio.

the gloom that rain brings.

the gray of heavy clouds.

the fragility of my wrists.

the splitting soles of my sneakers.

the frizz limping on my head.

i like to think i'm almost dead.

and float above everyone,

watching a bud open,

the breath before a first kiss,

the tears of a proud mother,

the holiness of an intact home.

all the things i don't have.

i like to take it in

and die willfully.


Anna Lindwasser


sometimes i say it's my birthday.

sometimes once a month.

twice a month.

twice a week.

fourteen times a day last time and it wasn't even true.

i say it to different people so

it's not like they catch on or anything.

it's not a big deal.

i just want it to be my birthday,

because then maybe someone would pay attention to me and i…well nobody really does because…it

doesn't really matter if i'm there so…it's not like anybody notices.

i calculated it. i have a lot of time to do those things.

i'll be 436 years old the next time i tell you it's my birthday.

i usually don't bother the same person with my birthday again and again but.

i want to see if you can catch me.

if you'll ask me, ―lily wasn't it your birthday like a week ago don't you remember i brought you that


you didn't really bring me a cupcake.

you had about five of them mashed up in your bag from your birthday, so you could've. easily.

you don't even like cupcakes.

but you did say happy birthday. you did ask how it felt to be fifteen. this year i'm really going to be

sixteen but…it's the thought that counts. i'm a little person, so I can see why you though that i was

younger than you.

still, if you ever paid any attention to me you'd know i couldn't possibly be any of the ages that you

think i am. i feel closer to 436 than fifteen.


are you going to remember

are you going to realize i've done nothing but lie to you for every minute that i've known you, that


my name isn't even lily like i say i just really like that name. it's my sister's. she isn't using it anymore

and my name is stupid. and you know what it is. i told you it was lily later on. if you can remember

me before i started lying then you'll know.

i am not going to tell you.

i am testing you.

please study hard for this.


guess what

your school grades are total crap, but you somehow managed to pass my test. you caught me.

when i came up to your desk today and told you lies you didn't believe me. you said, ―lily, wasn't it

just your birthday there are only so many you can have in a year, you know‖

obviously it was really awkward. i'm sorry for flipping out like that. at least i didn't wet myself. i am

going to do that in front of you one day if you let me be with you.

i won't ask for more than fifteen minutes a day, and i will clean my own pee if i get nervous.

i will also learn about capitalization and proper grammar. because apparently you are one of those

mean people who will tell you when your their should be there or even they're. so i want to do

things like you want me to.

after all, you passed my test. i knew you were perfect and i want to be perfect too.


i did tell you a couple of truths you know.

i still want to know if you can find them.

and if you ever read this, i want to know which parts you think are lies.

it's pretty easy if you think about it.

i do wet myself. all the time. and writing the right way scares me so bad i hyperventilate.


maybe you could learn to love my random phobias


you weren't here today.

not at your desk.

not at anybody else's desk.

not even in another classroom.

i don't understand. it's school. you have to come here. you don't have to come to my house when i ask

and you don't answer, but who gave you a choice about here

where are you! please don't make me actually pay attention to the lesson, or to the popular girls

planning their weekend.

please don't make me realize how alone i am. i don't know how to talk to anyone except you.


you've come back.

i'm debating whether or not i would like to kill you.

i don't know. if i actually had a reputation it would be as the sweet girl. the quiet girl. and they always

say it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. i really hate that. it isn't true.

so i guess i shouldn't prove it then, right

still. you cut school. you can't cut school. you have to get your grades up, go to college. they're only

low right now because you're not trying, i know you can do better.

who were you with when you did it anyway

if it's a girlfriend then i think that i will scream.


i have had your screen name memorized for months.



i don't know where that could possibly have come from but,

i like your brain.


if anybody thinks of anything that beats that, i will forget about you entirely.

i cannot believe i am lucky enough to know somebody with the screen name kidneyface.

maybe one day i'll talk to kidneyface with the screen name that you never asked for.

and i won't tell you that it's me.


last night i printed all your facebook pictures.

the one with you kissing your sister on her cute little nose.

the one where you're soaring down the ramp at the skatepark near the highway. the one taken soon

after where you're brandishing a cast on your arm, smiling.

the one with your sister in that baby-tee that says 'i love my boyfriend.' you know the one that only

sluts ever actually wear not to say bad things about your sister but.

good girls don't need to prove they're good.

i only printed that one because of your hand in the background.

and yes, i know she isn't really your sister.

your sister is in college. and she's much uglier than this perfect-looking girl.

but i want to be deluded.


fuck you for not answering my instant messages.

i have all the time in the world for this shit, but that doesn't mean that i like it.

i will only put up with your callousness for five more minutes

then i am going to the store.


even if you message me five minutes and one second later, it will be too late. i will be gone. i will be

eating poptarts. mint chocolate poptarts, and you cannot stop me.

it hasn't been five minutes yet. are you talking to her


you stayed away again today.

i sat at your desk while you were gone.

and told the girl with the purple hair and septum ring that today was my birthday.

she gave me an eraser.

it was shaped like a skull, which i feel like i should think is creepy. you have a shirt with a skull on it

that you wear sometimes. so it doesn't even matter that she cared about my birthday.

you'd better be back in school tomorrow. you'd better have a damn good excuse.


i didn't mean to do what i did last night, and i'm sorry.

i can see why you thought it was creepy.

you had every right to be absent, i just didn't know. i thought you were with your girlfriend.

she was absent yesterday, too. i was so focused on you, i didn't notice until i thought about it,

but she was.

turns out, it didn't matter. you didn't see each other, you were out for different reasons. she for a

cold and you for your aunt cassandra's funeral.

i'm sorry. i know you were close to her. i didn't mean to make things worse by scaring you.

i know how you feel, i mean it.

i know how it feels to lose someone you love.


i should probably explain that last thing.


it was my sister, lily. she was older than me by two years. now, she's younger than me, and the gap

between us is just going to get bigger as time goes on.

especially if i keep on having all these birthdays.

she was brilliant. perfect grades, scholarships coming out of her ears. when she sang it sounded like

something other than a trapped owl. the noses she drew looked like noses, and her capitalization was

flawless. she wasn't intimidated by first person pronouns.

she was beautiful. everybody loved her.

nobody even remembered what my name was.

if they did, you would have said something when i said my name was lily, right


it's not that i was jealous, not really.

okay, maybe a little, but lily actually paid attention to me. she braided my hair and corrected my

grammar, helped me hide my soiled sheets.

no one else did, but lily remembered my name. she called me by the whole thing every day.

abigail lucinda laudi. murmured in my ear like i was someone.

i wasn't expecting her to die.

she wasn't sick. she didn't do anything reckless. we were shocked when we heard that the driver was


turns out, he wasn't drunk. turns out, he was epileptic, and that was his very first seizure. nobody

knew until the autopsy.

both of them were dead before the car burst into flames. both of them died on impact. thank god,


i wish they'd both been drunk. maybe then she could have known what it was like to live before she



i don't know what living is, but i think that for lily, it might have been something like disobeying

mom and dad. not being perfect, for once.

for me, it's being noticed. loved. i don't think either one of us is ever going to live again.


i'm sorry.

i shouldn't be taking all this out on you. it's not your fault my sister died. it's not your fault you

remind me of the boy she died with.

what i'm doing is stalking. i shouldn't follow you home every day after school. i shouldn't scour the

internet for every mention of your name.

your family hangs up now when they hear my voice. you've blocked me on aim and you will not

return my pokes on facebook.

i want to stop. i'm trying to stop.

it isn't easy. i probably won't change. i just want you to know that i'm trying.


you didn't need to go as far as you did.

i was never going to hurt you. you knew that.

calling the police was cruel and pointless.

i'm sorry. i know you're afraid and i know you can't stand me, but did you really have to strike me

so brutally

my parents will kill me. they won't understand. i've hardly said a word to them since lily died and


they'll think i'm crazy. they won't let me live with them anymore.

because they don't love me, and they will be ashamed of me. and you don't know how that feels.

i guess you will take out a restraining order.


i guess i will have to switch schools, if i don't wind up in jail. i hope i'll go to jail, because i don't

know what to do otherwise.

i hope you know you've ruined a small and useless life.

i hope you know i could have loved you.

i hope you're sorry, and i hope you know that today really is my birthday.



Elspeth Woodcock Macdonald


Mine is a long trajectory (her arm makes a great arc in the air)

Years since I left the ground.

Below, it‘s granular, undigested, missed.

Far above the earth,

I‘m used to the words I‘ve brought with me.

You‘re still close to the ground.

You can reach the new words.

Grab one and bounce back, or toss it, smuggle others.

It‘s sometimes difficult to see what you mean.

I squint. The colors are blurred.

If I try one of your words, I miss and fall.

Sentences are better, more to latch onto,

I dive for one and dangle. Rappel, rather.

Up here, a bird sings, I don‘t know its call.

Have to learn the birds before I hit earth: one

―When, when, when‖ another, ―Blue, blue, blue, white,‖

―Egret, egret, no regret, regret,‖ and ―steady, steady‖

And one cries, ―No, no, no, yes.‖



Is your birthday March 2nd, too

Are you a worrier

When not at work

Do you lose things

And wish you were better

Do you disappoint people

And think of all the things

you might have done

for your son or sons

And more

Then, maybe, there is hope.



Do you feel me calling you

Don‘t tell. I want to be strong.

Thank you for the basket – for the bee sting.

The smell of flowers, the birdsong.

For sardines so delicious no balsamic vinegar is needed.

For olive oil. Mundane. But from you, delicious.

For ginger and lemon tea. For Tagore.

Why do you do this to me Why do you remind me

Do you rub your scented hands on the package,

So I will be unwrapping you


Brady Nash


The muse asks, where did my muse go

Is this music or the world recorded

The world perceived without

the bending blade, the sickle of sight

Lonely for other instruments.

Does that tool feel the force of its hand on golden wheat at sunset

I don‘t. I don‘t. and I don‘t.

The muse asks, where did my muse go

Lies down and goes to sleep.

Thinks these sheets look like hospital sheets.


Uche Nduka


no hard feelings i said but good times won't roll not tonight. antimacassars will cuss out your salon.

Narcissus is always there for you and your shrink to dissemble. kindly RSVP to worms of celebrity. a

bean a gorge a martinet. hope for help for a repressor. footprints of speed on a postage unpaid.

where did you stash it. niggardly in riot. ant-line of road-menders. once before:while a man sought

how to live. signal from a stand-up comic. hope for help for tuberoses and chickadees. to see this

city afresh & listen. with ink-stained sphincter. with hiccoughs . whatever note you've peeled from a

broken door. i don't want to make this crow suffer. i only want it to build a new tent for me. & for

jackass and pumper when they lean into a juicier hosanna. suppose he thinks he will be fair to what's

not him or his. all fabrications guaranteed. was that when he got maxed out slicksters to do his

bidding. a hairy ringmaster walking between sandbars. & a fence brews a future. whichever way you

go there is a clench to break. someone's looking at the sky in your right palm. moving ahead carrying

fishing poles the circus horse living in your spine. for they are not there among the crowd don't

know what's going to happen. crushable a smidgen of it. tests for cheesecloth on plinth.



while we still have time. don't rush me between asparagus & bagel. a nomad at my door. to really

slight the conductor of that orchestra. paint a lake. own your oracle. bend & break a template. take a

moment & stuff it. if anybody needs me on the electrolane. find a home before a yellow leaf stylizes

a light. on one of its spin-offs:digging into pretzel. a robin swims from branch to branch. you seek

sanctuaries online. i will throw you off balance. an order different from exiting a sieve of

consequence. cowhide being sawn. halfthrust; substep; your immunity & insecurity. a hurricaned

pear. shorts & Botticelli butt. the gap between bonfire & correction. exactly what you were not

looking for. what you shouldn't have seen/heard. the tyranny of the topical. who schools who in the

shadow of a brown wastrel. the caterwauler's enroute to wherever.


Steve Newton


Sometimes I ride through the night with friends

Who have gone away, in the cars we used to drive

All those years ago. Summer crickets in the trees or

Snowflakes on the windshield, we might as well

Be sailing on the far side of the galaxy, which was

A game we used to play, pretending our car was

The Enterprise, and all of us part of the crew.

Now they all have been beamed up to a place I

Can‘t go, a world where they no longer grow older,

Leaving a man with a gray beard and bald head,

Missing people he laughed with as a young man,

Never knowing at the time that this was the moment

On which a life could turn, a spoke around which

Memories would circle like leaves in an October wind.



When I saw Raymond Carver read one lung was already gone.

He was so short of breath he could only read poems,

or very stories. Prior to this reading

I had just vaguely heard of him, but the next day

I ran into someone on campus and told him about it.

I saw something last night that changed my life!

I remember saying that. Those were the exact words I used.

Six months later he died. He was fifty years old.

He had described himself as a cigarette with a man attached to it,

but he changed my life, somehow, this brave man still reading

to a college audience in upstate New York,

with only one lung left and a few months to live.

Now I am older than Ray Carver was when he died.

I‘m almost nine years older, actually.

And one thing that has stuck with me, along with

all the rest of the memories of his reading,

has been the way that he had changed his life.

It must have been so strange finding himself

at that reading, wearing a suit in front of an audience,

knowing that he was gravely ill and that for all of

the goodness he had found in life, there was this joker

in the deck, that had popped up at the very worst time.

I, too, used to be a drinker. There are entire years I look back

on now and just shake my head. What on earth was I thinking

But it‘s only now, really, that I understand, or think I do,

what Carver meant by changing your life, the way that he did.

It‘s only now that I see that I was not leading my own life

back then, but rather, someone else‘s, someone wearing beer goggles,

every day all day, for years. Or maybe now I am the one living

someone else‘s life, the college professor teaching and writing poetry,

sober every day. Who knows Of course none of this stuff

about two lives is really true. It all happened. But it‘s just one life,

with a before and after, although it sure feels that way at times, like

two lives, and no matter how long I, or anyone else, goes without

a drink or toke or snort or cigarette, the joker is still going to pop

up when least expected, at a birthday party or wedding, the

face in the shadows nodding her head, indicating that it‘s time.


Jon L. Peacock

Ferry to the Mainland

―…We would like to once again welcome you to DFDS Seaways; the casino and duty-free store are

now open; DFDS Seaways is part of the DFDS Group of Companies…‖

―Cheers, my friends,‖ Jim says with a raise of his Newcastle beer, ―to the land we come

from, and to the land we go to!‖

―And cheers to Katherine!‖ adds Lissa, to the counter-clerk who helped us buy our tickets,

and we drink again.

―And cheers to DFDS!‖ L adds, hearing the loudspeaker repeat the name again and again,

and they drink to the ferryboat taking them to the mainland. L will later regret making this praise.

―Okay,‖ L says, ―we hit the duty-free for a flat of beer, and roam this ferry toward sin until

the wee hours, then hit up a movie and a sauna.‖ He looks around, walking backwards, and the

other three nod attentively. ―Anything else‖

―Quick,‖ Jim points at L, saying, ―What‘s life‖

L stumbles, turning around in a full circle before continuing. ―Life is experiencing things

until you die an‘ go to Hell.‖

―Ah-hah!‖ Jim exclaims, ―but you don‘t believe in Hell.‖

They buy a flat of beer, warm, and look in vain for ice. Restless, they walk around, not really

stopping as they pass the casinos that imitate Vegas with a lack of windows and lots of lights from

the flashing slot machines. All throughout the walk L thinks of Gelka, the girl they‘re going to see in

her hometown of Bonn, Germany. Gelka is the exchange student that L‘s friend Boy dated last year,

the only person anyone in the group knows living in Europe.

On the outer deck they watch the North Sea wage war with the wind, large waves lapping

the horizon and along their ship. Lissa and L return inside, wary of the wind, and wander through

the ship.

―Lissa, what is life‖

―Friendships,‖ she answers.

L stops and turns to a model of the ferryboat they‘re on, large and ominous in its glass case,

etching the ship‘s modelwork in his mind, then leads Lissa through the leviathan. Their first stop is

the discothèque, but inside the dark cave are teenagers dancing to songs usually played at junior high

winter dances. The purple-dressed girl, wearing two ponytails, draws the most attention, and she

does a dance-walk with two spins and a sideways shimmy down the middle of the room with finger

guns shooting high, allowing the others to part for her as she goes. She‘s fifteen or thereabouts,

taller than most the boys in the room. The lights flash like a poorly prepared rave, and the DJ

decides to speed things up with the song, ―Time Warp.‖

L and Lissa‘s next stop is just as twisted as the last. Near an overpriced bar is a mock lounge,

with plush velvet and deep red tones offset by stage lights and bright costumes of a band playing

―Sweet Home Alabama.‖ They don‘t know the verses, and keep returning to the part that digs at

Neil Young, and the song drags on. As they repeat the chorus for the sixth time Lissa and L leave.

They arrive at the only full-service restaurant just as a man is pulling out the floor-pole

‗closed‘ sign. Lissa begs the man for a quick, take-away order of fries. He responds that they

wouldn‘t serve chips without fish, anyway, but no possibility on anything regardless, because it‘s ten

o‘clock, they must realize, and ten is when restaurants close out here, even on ships such as these.

The overnight ferry left in the late afternoon, and even though it set sail only four hours ago,

everything is already closing down. The man says that, possibly, for the next hour, the deli on the

bottom deck will have some food left. Lissa and L get there as two employees start closing the deli,


ut food is still on display, and Lissa takes one of the wrapped sandwiches. They only have tuna

sandwiches left, so L doesn‘t order anything.

―Do you consider Jim a companion‖

―Of course!‖ Lissa laughs. ―He‘s my husband!‖

―Yeah, but…‖ he looks at Lissa‘s sandwich wrapping twisted on the table. ―Can you tell him

everything, like everything…without reserve‖

―Well, L, honestly…no. I love Jamey with all my heart, with everything I am,‖ she looks

down at the wrapper, and L looks at her, ―and if anything were to happen to him I don‘t know how

badly I‘d break…but there are some things that I just can‟t tell him. Not because I think they‘re bad,

or because I want to hide anything from him, but it‘s more like criticisms, you know He is just so

sensitive, and sometimes the smallest things can really make him upset, and I never like to see him

upset – he takes it so badly.‖ L and Lissa laugh. ―I dunno…I‘m fine with it all, and I think he is


―Well…I have all these good female friends in my life, you know…all these friends

throughout the years, I‘ve always been so close to girls…Emily, and Scarlet, oh, and my sister and

my mom, and Kate Americanhorse, and…oh…I dunno, all these girls…Megan Bilbee back in high

school…but I‘ve never had a companion, you know I‘ve never been with a girl who I could share

everything with…to be a partner with.‖ He looks up at Lissa, her face now taut and stern. ―Is it

possible Something like that‖

―Oh L,‖ she looks away, watching as the shutters slowly curl down the deli window, ―I‘m

sure it is. Just because I can‘t spill my mind out to Jamey at every moment of the day doesn‘t mean

anything, and you have all those close female friends of yours, I‘m sure one of them would love to

listen to your darkness, just as I listen to Jamey…maybe that Kate Americanhorse girl.‖ She stands

up, snatching the twisted wrapper off the table and tossing it away, touching the metal shutters

before turning back to L. ―Let‘s go find the boys.‖

Lissa walks ahead, stopping short when she comes to another floor-pole sign. Do Not Enter,

it reads in English between what looks like Dutch and French. Forbidden Zone. They‘d just navigated

this area to get to the downstairs deli, but the sign is so foreboding they decide to turn around and

find a different way, becoming lost and running into two more ‗forbidden zone‘ signs before

returning back to the model ship where they‘d left Jim and Marshall.

Almost like clockwork, Marshall and Jim enter from the blazing winds of the outer deck,

looking at Lissa and L as if they were there all along, never missing a beat. Both their faces are

smiling and bright pink.

―Oh God, Jamey, I wanna get off this stupid ship,‖ Lissa says, going to Jim. When she gets

close to him she stops. ―Have you been crying‖

―Yeah,‖ he laughs, ―we both have.‖

―We‘ve been talking about everything back home,‖ chuckles Marshall.

―Fantastic,‖ Lissa says. ―But I wanna go to the room now.‖

On their way, Lissa explains the turn of events on the boat, and her point is emphasized with

another ‗forbidden zone‘ popping up seemingly without reason. Jim convinces the group to go to

the sauna and relax before bed, but when they get there they meet a man on a stool. He‘s half asleep,

and stands up when the four get close.

―Zorry,‖ he says with a hand raised to Jim‘s chest. ―Zuana‘z clozed.‖

―But,‖ Jim rubs a hand over his face, ―why You don‘t need anyone to be on duty for a

sauna to run…and you‘re here to guard it being closed Why!‖

―Zorry,‖ the man puts down his hand and sits upon the stool. Sitting there, his tired eyes

glaze down to the floor. The four look at him for a few seconds, then at one another.

―Well,‖ asks Jim, ―now what‖


―I‘m fucking going to bed,‖ responds Lissa, throwing her towel over her shoulder.

―Yeah, man,‖ Marshall looks at Jim and L, ―let‘s get some sleep for tomorrow.‖

―But,‖ Jim stammers, ―but I wanted to see the movie…Lissa, the movie…Marshall…L…the


The glass doors to the sauna, which is still on, are densely fogged. The guard sits on his

stool, his eyes dart here and there, but he never looks up.

―Oh fine, Jamey, let‘s stay up for the movie…when does it start‖

Jim startles L, dazed watching the guard, as he lifts L‘s wrist to look at his watch.

―Three hours.‖

―Forget it, dudes,‖ Marshall looks at Lissa, ―I‘m goin‘ ‗a sleep.‖

―Fine Jamey, you win.‖ Lissa starts to walk away, then turns around. ―Come on, boys, let‘s

go back to the room and let Marshall sleep while we wait for the movie.‖

Marshall lies down while the other three stand in the cramped quarters to drink left-over coffee and

swigs from L‘s flask to stay awake. They leave him back in the dark room, arriving at the makeshift

lobby thirty minutes before the one am starting time, long after everything else has shuttered and

closed. The few people still walking around look scared, and all seem to avoid contact as Jim, Lissa,

and L pass by. They wait in the lobby for forty minutes while hearing another movie play in another

room, until Jim finds someone to ask about their movie. A man, in a red vest, doesn‘t quite know

what Jim talks about until he suddenly pops straight and uses both hands to grab his open vest.

―We was thinking to cancel that one, it is so late, you know.‖

―Oh my God man,‖ Jim pleads. ―Please let us watch this movie – we‘ve stayed up much

longer than we wanted just to see this movie, please for the love of God, let us watch this movie.‖

The man moves away from Jim, then comes back and says yes, they will be showing the

movie after all. They enter a small, unlit room and are the only ones there, making themselves

comfortable in the fold-up chairs. The movie starts with a couple of clicks, and the red vested

employee yawns as he sits behind the projector at the back of the room. The screen is roughly ten

foot by ten, and the image slips on and off its edges as it waves to the ship‘s movement. The movie,

V for Vendetta, is full of post-American anarchy, and with all the chaos and the violence and the

waving screen they watch the flag of happy destruction, of zealous vengeance, of beating against the


Well after three they finish the movie and make their way back to the dark, cramped room

with Marshall snoring. Lissa and L lie on their respective bunks, and Jim suits up with a coat and his

music. He tells the other two quietly he‘s going to fight the night for a while. Lissa kisses him

goodbye, and he‘s gone.

―Hey, Lissa‖

―Marshall‘s asleep, L. What is it‖

―Nothing, really. ‗Night.‖

L lies in the dark, hearing Marshall beneath him, staring at the darkness of the close quarters,

hearing each beat, breath, each motion of the other two. The room gets brighter and brighter, and L

sees everything in the darkness, staring at the ceiling, staring and trying to close his eyes without


―What is it‖ L can hear voices asking, different pitches and inflections, over and over.

―What is it Fear, or laziness What is it for you‖

―What is it‖

―They don‘t like you…‖

―What stops you‖

―They never like you…‖

―…Fear of harm, laziness in comfort, fear of loss, laziness in stability…‖


The room gets brighter, and L sees everything in the darkness. He sees a napkin on the shelf

beside his bunk, the table below. He sees the light switch, sees the lamp by his bunk, and turns it on.

He steps down with the napkin in hand, and on the table he scribbles some words:

I‟ve haywired my brain to be out when I‟m done

when the day is all over, no more to be won

I‟ve poisoned myself as much as I care

so no thoughts will spill out, no more than I dare

I‟ve programmed my life right down to the end

so I have control, this mind shall not bend

I‟ve stapled my soul up on that dark wall

and shown it to none, and shown it to all

I‟ve drank „til I‟m drunk & drank until dawn

„til nothing is left, until I am gone.

L dresses. He turns off the light, takes his key and several beers, and gently shuts the door.

He walks through the ‗forbidden zones‘ like a ghost in the night, roaming the empty hallways,

sensing others asleep in their rooms, confined to their quarters, closed away from any paradise of

this fifteen-hour cruise, broken from happiness like some cruel, twisted joke. He passes the inner

walls like a gust of wind until there‘s no place inside for Jim to hide, then L searches outside.

The strength of the nighttime North Sea is stronger than in daylight, and black and black are

sometimes broken by the white waves crashing and the lights in the distance, other boats that float

in the nothingness. It‘s the outer darkness that L‘s Mormon mother warned him of, constantly

pulling and pushing victims out, never to return. On the starboard side the sea pulls L down, and the

wind intensifies and rips him up even harder. He firmly holds onto a line with both hands, clinging

to his bag of beer, and at one point his feet start to slip from the ground. The winds are so strong, L

starts to fear for his life, realizing just now he‘s no longer in his bunk. But after the strongest wind

there‘s a calm that sits as L stretches his way from the cable to the helm of the deck.

Jim is at the front of the boat, with a rainproof hood over his head. L is very close before

Jim notices, and as Jim looks up there‘s a sight of terror without recognition in his face, but this

quickly turns to a smile and L sits down. The two try to talk at first, but their words are swept out to

sea quicker than can be heard, and they resort to silent contemplation. Occasionally they point out a

distant light, or raise their hands above their heads, but mainly they allow the bumpy night to carry

off their quiet conversation. They stand at the same time and together make their way through the

high winds. Through the entrance door‘s window they see the back of a man somewhat lying down.

He‘s clothed, but his pants are shoved past his hairy butt, two female legs springing from each side

of him, and before turning away they both see him do a pumping motion. Jim and L move back

several feet, not looking at each other.

―I think that was,‖ Jim yells out, staring at the dark sea, ―that was the worst sight I‘ve ever


L doesn‘t respond.

Minutes pass. They hold the rails and look out. Together they move back to the doorway,

passing it without stopping, and look in to see the man and a girl sitting together, fully clothed. Jim

and L step back and go inside.

It‘s almost five in the morning when the last light is extinguished, and at seven a loud voice

begins calling for people to gather their belongings and prepare to dock, as the ferryboat will be

docking in the next two hours. This continues in four consecutive languages at fifteen-minute

intervals for the full two hours, with a loud siren sounding thirty minutes before the ship docks.


Nothing can be turned down, or silenced, and the cramped room smells of stale, sweaty socks, and

Lissa begins to cry.

This is their welcome to the mainland of Europe.


Howard Pflanzer


Get an armored vehicle

To protect your skin

Will it keep you safe from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Will it save you from life‘s humiliations

Will it save you from the torments of love

Will it bullet-proof your heart and soul

To make you impervious to the disasters of the world

If not, why not

You know what you can do

You can shove that armored vehicle right up your ass.



They killed the geese in Prospect Park

One day they were there

And the next day they were gone.

They were a danger to human life

Sucked into a jet engine

They could cause a crash

They were euthanized to protect all of us would-be travelers

From sudden accidental death.

Well, if someone has to go

It might as well be the geese

Not us.


Leslie Anne Rexach


They say hell is best for its company

Who shall I interview for next month‘s piece

Pages left alone

No words to fill the void

What stories shall I tell

Should I write about this drink

Dripping in sin

Raising questions about a religion that does not exist

I‘d much rather be in hell

Burn the pages of my death magazine

Sin into cinders

Never to look back to the interviews I did with myself

Even if I lose my job

I continue to do as I wish until my subscription expires


Beatriz Alzate Rodriguez


That place had a name, but I couldn‘t pronounce it at the time, and now I can‘t remember what it

sounded like. I know a few facts. Such as, it was on the Pacific Coast of Colombia, about five miles

from the Ecuadorian border. I suppose I can Google it now, but I don‘t want to. I want to

remember it as nameless place.

It was the summer of 1975, which was the summer after my twelfth birthday, when my sister

and I were in Cali, Colombia, my father‘s birthplace. It would be less than ten years before the world

heard about the Cali Cartel and about five years before I knew what cocaine was. My father had

taken us there to visit his family, my mother stayed behind in New York. He was happy, the

happiest my sister, Rosa and I had ever seen him. It was the first time he had seen his family in

twenty years. To two girls from New York, Cali was only what our father had told us it was -a

beautiful city set in a tropical valley, a virtual paradise. As we were growing up, he told us stories of

Cali. He told us how the city of Cali was a place where everyday was Christmas, just as his father

must have told him that the streets of New York were paved with gold.

We met aunts, uncles, and many cousins, who previously we had only known as faces in

black and white photos in the family album. We were supposed to be especially excited to meet our

uncle, the great doctor, who had been a visiting professor of Medicine at Oxford and soon to be at

Harvard. It was him, who my father used as an example. Study hard so you can be a doctor like your uncle,

my father would say. My uncle the great pride of the family the one for whom my father dropped

out of elementary school to help support. He would hitch rides with truckers, who paid him to talk

enough to keep them awake as they drove all night on treacherous mountain roads. When my father

was old enough, or rather tall enough to reach the pedals he became a driver himself. He did this to

pay for his brothers, and sisters, private school education so they could become members of

Colombia‘s elite.

We enjoyed our time in the city visiting the country club and seeing the colonial churches

filled with their Spanish splendor. One day at the country club my father and his brother sat

together drinking coffee at a poolside table, while we splashed around in the pool. They looked very

much alike they shared the same long nose and black wavy hair, features my sister had as well. I

resembled more my mother. It was some time that day, my father‘s brother, the great doctor, asked

if he could take my sister and me along on his vacation. My father gave him permission.

―Your uncle invited you to go with him to the beach.‖ My father said, before he left Cali to

get back to work driving a truck in New York.

―How far is the beach‖ I said.

―Past the selva,‖ he said. I looked at my sister and her at me. Neither of us understood. My

knowledge of Spanish was limited. I was able to follow most conversations if they weren‘t speaking

fast. I understood everyday words in Spanish, but selva was not one of them.

―What‘s that‖ I said.

―The jungle,‖ he said. My father went on to explain that we would have to take a plane over

the mountains to get there and when we return we would spend the rest of the summer with our

aunts and cousins in Cali as originally planned.

A couple of days later we left on a twin propeller plane. The plane rattled and shook all as

we passed dangerously close to the top of several mountains. We were grateful when we finally

landed on a dirt runaway on the edge of a town. They called it a town. I didn‘t know what it to call

it. The entire place was nothing more than a few wooden buildings along side the dirt road. It was

my first dirt road town, which was quite a shock to a young city kid like me. It was more of a shock


when my uncle added four or was it five more kids to our group. I can‘t remember now. He didn‘t

mention them on the trip from the city; in fact, he hadn‘t said much of anything to us. My uncle‘s

wife was with us as well as a friend of his who was a dentist. His wife‘s name I don‘t care to

remember, and she didn‘t deserve to be called aunt and as for the dentist, I will call him Angelo, for

he would be my angel.

A short dark skinned man wearing cutoff shorts and a loose fitting t-shirt that at one time

must have been white took us all to a short pier where several large motorboats were tied. He was

scary to me at twelve, because his skin was so leathery and his expression blank. I stared at him and

wondered what was out there to make him look that way. The humidity was intense. My clothes

were stuck to me already, so if I got wet in the boat it wouldn‘t matter. In fact, I hoped that I would

get wet. It would have been a relief from the heat. I was looking forward to the beach. The pier

was at the edge of a river, which in city terms must have been at least three or four blocks wide.

―Are we getting on those boats‖ My sister asked our uncle. She started to cry. She was

afraid of boats, or was it the water

―Yes, yes,‖ he said waving her to go get in, as he turned to supervise the loading of the

boats. His wife went with him leaving us with Angelo. Angelo was about thirty something years old,

he had fair skin with dark hair that he wore with slightly longer sideburns and a mustache. He

wasn‘t that much taller than my sister who was five feet seven inches tall, but he was thinner than

my uncle who had a few inches of a spare tire hanging over his waist. His wife was overweight as


―I help you,‖ Angelo said.

―It‘s not that she can‘t get in, she‘s afraid.‖ I said and stepped down into the boat.

―Oh, no worry, Safe- good boat,‖ Angelo said in his broken English attempting to soothe

her nerves.

―You gotta get in, you can‘t stay here. Who you gonna stay with.‖ I said.

With a little bit more coaxing, plus the fact that there was no staying behind, she got in and

sat next to me. Our group filled two boats, the cutoff shorts man got in with us and another similar

looking man wearing similar looking clothes climbed into the other boat to drive. Angelo and a

couple of the children sat at the other end of the boat we were in. The river was the most beautiful

thing I had seen up until that day. I had never seen so many trees or smelled air so fresh-full of the

scent of the grasses, leaves and the river water. We had left cars and their exhaust far behind. There

was nothing but trees of enormous height and width lining the banks of the river. Occasionally

other boats, some smaller, would pass us. The people on board stared at us city people with our

brightly colored clothes and our suitcases and supplies packed up high in the boats. My suitcase

especially must have been a curiosity I had a pink plastic suitcase, which was suited for a twelve year

old, but not for the jungle. As we continued on the river, it began to narrow. Our boats passed

several small shacks built on stilts directly on the waters edge. There were naked children swimming

and women wearing what only looked like nightgowns or housedresses looking out at them and at


I don‘t know how long we were out on the river; no one kept track of the time. I heard the

boatman talking to my uncle again. He said we would be stopping soon. We had started to see

many more shacks built closer together. The boatmen pulled the boats up to a few wooden planks

sticking out of the riverbank next to a house. Where‘s the beach Maybe my uncle didn‘t tell my

father the truth. Maybe we weren‘t going to the beach at all.

In this village, we would spend the night I heard them say. My uncle didn‘t mention this,

either. We could all have been led to our deaths in this dark and putrid place. We had no clue to

what was going on. My uncle and his wife offered us no consolation, no explanation as to where we

were actually going or why we had stopped.


Thankfully, the house we stayed in was on solid land behind a row of shack houses. We

were shown to some mattress thrown on the wooden floor, where my uncle told us we had to sleep.

He didn‘t speak to us, but to the group of children. We were treated like deaf mutes because we

didn‘t speak Spanish. We could have tried, but didn‘t. In Cali, we had no reason to everyone spoke

English to us. I suppose now that they were having a good time practicing their English. My uncle

spoke near perfect English with a thick accent, but when he spoke to us, he usually spoke to us in

Spanish, expecting us to understand. Most of what was said we were able to understand. That‘s

how I overheard a dusty looking man-wearing cast off clothing and no shoes telling my uncle that

we had to wait for high tide. The men from the boat stayed outside, they must have slept in the

boats. Our suitcases were still on the boat. We had to sleep in our clothes and we had no

toothbrushes. It‘s funny what you remember, toothbrushes seemed important. My mother would

have cursed them all out. It was very important to her that we slept on clean sheets and brushed our

teeth. There were no sheets at all and no bathroom to brush our teeth in even if we had our

toothbrushes. There was only a toilet bowl, which didn‘t flush. Everything went straight down into

the ground or maybe the river I wasn‘t sure. We didn‘t like it. My sister complained to me and me

to her, but what could we do. We were too young, tired and afraid to say anything even if they

understood our English or tried to speak Spanish. The other kids around us were having a great time

playing on the mattresses. From what I could hear, they had been here before.

I think I slept that night. My sister didn‘t. She was afraid of the bugs. So, was I, but I hid it

well. My uncle and his wife woke us up while it was still dark outside. We were rushed outside and

back onto the boats. Some women gave us a few bananas, mangos and some other fruit that I still

can‘t identify. My uncle and the others started putting on long sleeve shirts. Rosa and I didn‘t have

any. We didn‘t bring long sleeves on summer vacation. My uncle‘s wife passed us a can of insect

repellent. This would be the only time she offered us insect repellent during the trip. I guess I

should have been grateful to her for even thinking to share her supply with us. Once everyone

settled in the boats, we left. I looked up at the sky and what I saw took the title of the most

beautiful sight that I have ever seen. The only place where I have seen a night sky like that again

was at the Hayden Planetarium. The stars were so bright we didn‘t need lights on the boat. I sat

there in silence trying to remember it forever ignoring the mosquitoes pinching my arms. I think I

succeeded in remembering it forever because I still not only see it as clear as if it was in high

definition but I can feel the humidity and smell the air, which reeked with the dank wet smell of the

jungle around us.

As we continued, it became darker as the canopy of trees closed in on us and the river

became only a few feet wide on either side of us. The roots of the trees scraped the sides of the

boat. It became so dark we couldn‘t see the other boat. The boatmen finally turned on flashlights

to light the way. We heard a splashing sound ahead of us. My uncle said it was a snake falling in the

water. The other kids started laughing. Rosa was going to cry but just sat there huddled up. We

continued then suddenly something fell on our feet. Rosa screamed and I jumped back on the boat

bench. Everyone including my uncle laughed hysterically.

―It‘s not real.‖ I said as the boatman picked it up laughing. Angelo had laughed, but stopped

when he saw we didn‘t enjoy the joke.

One of those nasty kids my uncle seemed to like so much threw a rubber snake at us, and it

appeared he was in on it. I was afraid as well, but I remembered what my father had taught us about

dogs. Once they smell fear they attack, and Rosa had shown fear when she cried getting on the

boat. This would be the first of many torments we suffered at the hands of those other children

over the next fourteen days. After the laughter settled down it was quiet except for the sound of the

clicking and humming of insects coming out of the jungle, which blended into the sound of the

boat‘s motor.


We stopped; the boats would go no more. The boatmen started to talk too fast I couldn‘t

understand them. The next thing I knew they were getting out of the boats and into the water.

They started to push the boats. They boats wouldn‘t move, next my uncle and the dentist got out to

help them push. Still the boats wouldn‘t move they were too heavy. The water was only a foot or

so deep. Now we all had to get out. I didn‘t want to step in that dark muddy water but I didn‘t

have a choice. Rosa didn‘t cry, but froze up. One of the boatmen attempted to pick her up but he

was slightly smaller than she was. The dentist gave her his hand.

―Come, please, no snakes-no snakes.‖ Angelo said and she stepped out under her own

power. Our uncle offered her no help at all.

The water was slimy and the bottom was muddy. I thought I would sink. We all had to

push the boats about six feet or so. The boats had been stuck on a tree root. We got back in, the

boatmen started to row. The river gradually widened again and the yellowish glow of daylight broke

through the treetops as the canopy spread. Then the trees and the riverbanks disappeared

altogether. We were out in open water. I know now that it was the Pacific Ocean. I was scared the

boat was too small and we seemed to be going out further. There was no one to look to for

reassurance that we weren‘t going be lost out there.

―Where‘s the land‖ I said looking at Rosa.

She didn‘t say anything. Suddenly we changed direction. I could see palm trees, and then a

beach finally appeared. The beach stretched out for maybe a mile or two dotted with palm trees.

Waves were rocking the boats now. The boatmen turned the boats into the direction of the waves

and let the waves bring the boats onto the beach. When we were near enough, they jumped out and

pushed the boats firmly into the sand.

We gathered our stuff as the boatmen were leaving us on the beach. My sister and I each

picked up our one suitcase and followed them. My uncle still hadn‘t spoken more than a few words

to us. It was Angelo, who started a conversation with us in English.

―I make some work on the teeth for the people here.‖ He said. ―You girls can help me, if

you like.‖

―We like,‖ Rosa said and I nodded.

As we approached the house we would stay in we passed a few smaller structures all high on

stilts constructed of unpainted wood and some tin roofing materials. Our house for the next two

weeks was clearly the best in the village. It was all wood and at least twice as wide as the other

houses with a wrap around porch.

Once inside we were shown a room with two sets of bunk beds and a single bed, no other

furniture. The beds were nothing more than a mattress over wooden slats in a rectangular frame. I

claimed the single bed. My sister took the lower bunk next to me. Two of the other children that

had joined us on the river were also girls. We figured out later that they were also sisters, took the

other bunk.

Everybody went to the beach. The other girls were both olive skinned, dark haired, thin,

and obviously younger than Rosa was. The shorter one was probably closer to my age but she wore

a bra and I didn‘t. I was fair skinned and chubby. I remember what I wore very well- a two-piece

navy blue polka dotted bathing suit my mother had picked out for me. The top was more of a

blouse in a baby doll cut. The two girls were pointing and laughing at me. My sister didn‘t notice.

She was too busy snapping pictures of palm trees with her Kodak 110 instamatic camera. I played

the deaf mute and walked into the water. Coney Island was the only beach that I had been to up

until then. The water was nothing like Coney Island‘s dark green dirty water. It was clean and clear.

The waves were high, at least twice my height. They probably seemed taller than they really were,

because I didn‘t know how to swim and was afraid of them.


We were all in the water now. I was trying to play with my sister the games we played at our

neighborhood public pool, but the waves were just too high and they were coming one right after

another. I managed to hold my breath and let the waves pass over me. But one caught me off guard

and knocked me down. I felt the sand with my hands as the wave rolled me under the water. I

struggled to my feet and carefully waded out of the water before the next wave could reach me. I sat

and watched the others have a good time. As I sat, I thought of my mother sitting out on our

apartment buildings stoop talking to neighbors or reading a book completely unaware of where we

were or what could happen to us out here. My uncle‘s wife, who was really too fat for her bikini

came out of the water laughing with my uncle running right behind her. They paused as she

adjusted her bikini then they passed right by me and said nothing as if I wasn‘t there.

I knew then that I hated her. Later that year in the fall, I would overhear my parents talking.

I knew my aunts didn‘t like my uncle‘s wife but I didn‘t know why. My father told my mother that

she took my uncle out dancing, while his mother, my grandmother who I never met was dying from

cancer. Gold-digger, social climber was what the called her. As a result, neither of my father‘s sisters

spoke to either of them. I wouldn‘t fully understand what type of man would leave the side of his

dying mother for a woman for many years. But on that beach, I blamed her, for all the hardships my

sister and I endured so far, but didn‘t know there were more to come.

That evening in the house, we had dinner of fresh fish. The fish were served whole with

their heads still on. I can‘t remember if my sister ate it but I didn‘t, and still wouldn‘t, not with its

head still on and the eyes looking up at me. I must have eaten some rice or fruit and vegetables,

because after dinner we took our plates out to the back porch, which was part of the kitchen. There

my uncle‘s wife and the village woman who had cooked the meal were sitting. The woman was

washing dishes in a bucket. My uncle‘s wife watched us as Rosa and I tried to put our plates in the


―Tomorrow night, you two will wash all the dishes.‖ She said.

―Why‖ My sister said boldly.

―If you eat, you wash the dishes.‖ My uncle‘s wife said.

I played deaf mute again and didn‘t look at her. I looked at Rosa and her at me. We never

washed dishes at home, and I wouldn‘t wash dishes until I was sixteen at my college dormitory. And

my sister, well she‘s fifty now and uses paper plates whenever she can. We didn‘t cry. Rosa didn‘t

because she had already cried enough, and me I don‘t know why, perhaps I was too dehydrated

from the heat of the day or too dried up from all the saltwater still on my skin to have any tears. I

didn‘t eat any more dinners and I lost almost twenty pounds in those fourteen days.

The rest of the night was just as bad if not worse. It wasn‘t bad enough that we were

expected to work for food and there was no electricity and no running water. We were allowed only

enough rainwater from the collection barrels to rinse the sand off our hair and feet when we came in

from the beach. Frustrated and for the lack of anything else to do I had gone to bed early. As I lay

on the hard bumpy bed, I became aware that there were birds flying around the wood rafters.

Where my sister was at that moment, I fail to recollect. I do remember the other children were all

together in the boy‘s room playing some games that they had brought with them and we weren‘t

invited to. I ran to the front porch where the adults were drinking enjoying the evening breeze.

―Ah, there are birds or something flying around in the room.‖ I said.

They laughed and he and Angelo went to the room with me.

―They are murciélagos.‖ My uncle said. I didn‘t understand the word in Spanish and they

didn‘t know the word in English. By then I had seen for myself that they weren‘t birds, but bats

when I saw one hanging from its feet. I stood there shocked with my mouth open.

―They‘re bats.‖ I said. ―Do they bite‖


My uncle laughed. ―No, they are harmless. They are more scared of you, than you are of

them. It‘s nothing.‖ He said and returned to the porch.

―You‘re not gonna kill them.‖ I said, but he had already left.

Angelo stayed back realizing that I was afraid to go to bed with them flying around.

―Can you chase them out or something‖ I said turning to Angelo for help, because my

uncle didn‘t.

―They will go soon, they not like people. Come, when they go, you go sleep.‖ He said

offering me comfort. Something my own uncle didn‘t stop to do for my sister or me on any

occasion so far on this trip.

We went back out to the porch where they were taking shots of Aguadiente, the Colombian

drink of choice. My sister was there. She had just heard about the bats and wasn‘t going in either.

―Drink," my uncle said holding out a glass with a shots worth of liquor in it. ―Drink and you

will not have a problem sleeping tonight.‖

Angelo old him no, my uncle‘s wife didn‘t say a thing. I had drunk beer at my Holy

Communion party and snuck a few shots of Johnny Walker Red from the bottle given to my father

from his company as his Christmas bonus. So, I took a shot and it surprised them when I didn‘t

choke or spit it out. We slept that night and every one of the fourteen nights with the sheets

wrapped around us as if we were mummies.

The next day we woke up and ate some breakfast of bananas and coconut water. I think

there was something else, but didn‘t want to dirty a dish. My uncle had laid out a couple of pills for

each of us. I asked him what they were for, and he said malaria and yellow fever. We had been

vaccinated before we left New York, but for what for I wasn‘t sure. He was a doctor so we took

them. He gave us more pills throughout the trip, but I don‘t remember how many or how often.

However many we took the great doctor must have miscalculated on my dosage because that winter

I came down with malaria in the middle of December. My father knew what I had when I broke out

in fever, extreme chills and shakes that felt as if my heart was shaking out of my chest, but he had to

convince the New York City doctors to prescribe Quinine for me. My father also said that I was

lucky that the insects didn‘t lay eggs under my skin. I burned with fever and my teeth chattered from

the chills. As my mother covered me with every blanket in the house and then with every winter

coat to try to keep me warm, she cursed out the great doctor with curses so wild and descriptions so

vivid that even the best linguists at Harvard would be hard pressed to define them

Angelo came out of his room and asked us again if we would help him. We agreed and

accompanied him over to the next house a hundred or so yards away. It had a large front porch but

was just one large room in the inside. Even at twelve, I was able to guess that it had been some type

of medical office at one point because of the cabinets and cots that were there. There were a several

large windows holes. They were holes because there were no glass windows anywhere in this village.

These windows had shutters, as did the ones in the house we were staying, but many of the houses

had none. There were people sitting and squatting already on the porch and in front of the house.

They wore western cast off clothes, most too big with faded colors and out of place slogans. Some

wore sandals but most were barefoot. They shared a common look, they all had skin tanned in a

perfect Coppertone hue with reddish straight hair, years later I would realize that, that hair color was

the result of sun bleaching. The people all greeted us with blessing and waves.

Angelo set up on a large table. He spread out his stainless steel medical tools and produced

several jars of rubbing alcohol and little liquid filled plastic cartridges he placed near some large

dental syringes. He moved an ordinary wood chair by the window and called the first patient in.

The man sat in the chair, Angelo told my sister to stand behind him while he examined his

mouth. Angelo asked him his age and if he could get to town for more dental work. The man said

yes and Angelo proceeded to fill several cavities with temporary fillings, as Rosa held the man‘s head


steady with both her hands and her elbows pressed against her stomach. My job was to wash the

dental tools. I did this by holding them out over the window ledge and pouring rainwater on them.

Then I immersed the tools in a bucket of alcohol for a minute making them ready for the next

patient. Whenever I would get a chance, I would wipe some alcohol on the insect bites on my arms

and legs.

This went on patient after patient. The only difference was that if the patient said no, that

they would not be able to go to town for more dental treatment, Angelo would pull out the damaged

teeth. This is when Rosa and I learned to insert the plastic cartridge containing Novocain into a

syringe. We took turns holding the patients heads and I remember one man who was very happy to

lose his four upper front teeth.

This was a charity Angelo did for the people of the village, strange my uncle, the great

doctor, did none. He spent all day hidden away with his wife in some place at the beach.

The people brought food and even glass bottles of hot Coca-Cola. For this my sister and I

were grateful because we got first pick and were able to eat just enough that we weren‘t hungry and

didn‘t have to eat at the house. We helped every day Angelo opened up. He kept working even after

he ran out of Novocain cartridges. The people didn‘t mind having their teeth pulled with no

anesthetic. It‘s funny. I don‘t remember hearing any of the patients screaming out from the pain.

Every day after work Rosa and I went to the beach. It was the only way we could really wash

all the blood from our hands and sometimes our t –shirts and besides we didn‘t have anything else

to do. Rosa took pictures, saving her film for only the very special shots. In two years she became

the photographer for her high school yearbook using a Leica camera my father‘s other older brother

the merchant marine, sent us. He sent us gifts from all over the world- musical dolls from Japan

dressed in kimonos and binoculars from Germany were among the best. Its funny our uncle, the

doctor being as rich as he was never sent us a thing, not even a Christmas card. On the beach, I

collected exotic tropical seashells in an empty Novocain cartridge box I kept. Later that summer, in

Cali my aunt helped me properly wash the sand from them and she gave me pretty wooden cigar

boxes to keep them.

It was on one such afternoon that we were on the beach. We were in the water, Rosa left to

go back to the house. I don‘t remember why. Since the first day, we never really went down to the

beach with any of the others. The beach was long and the shore curved at many places creating

several different places they could go. We always went in a basic straight line from the house down

to the water. I never stayed out by myself. I didn‘t want to be alone, not that I was afraid, but I just

didn‘t want to be alone. Ever since that first day I stayed away from going in too far when the

waves were high, but that day there were no large waves. I waded in until the water reached my

armpits. I splashed around a bit wetting my hair as I gradually felt the pull of the water trying to

drag me in deeper. I tried to walk. The water pulled me back. I took a couple of steps. The water

pulled me back again. The force of the water made it impossible for me to move. My feet were

sinking into the sand. I was stuck. I was afraid to lift one leg to take a step for fear that I would lose

my balance and be dragged out into the water. So, there I stood with my feet about ankle deep in

the sand. I didn‘t scream. Who would hear me The crabs on the sand or maybe the cow over on

the horizon I panicked on the inside. I froze on the outside. I had remembered a scene from an

old Tarzan movie in which some dumb woman is trapped in quick sand and Tarzan tells her not to

struggle because struggling only makes a person sink and die faster.

The water was very strong and the effort to hold myself up was making me tired. I was

about to give up and try to move when I saw Angelo walking down towards the water. I thought I

was hallucinating, had I prayed in my desperation. I can‘t remember, but I probably did. He did

appear Christ like with his seventies long hair and his mustache and beard that had grown out on

this vacation. I had doubts that it was really him.


―Angelo,‖ I called out. ―I‘m stuck; I can‘t move the water is pulling me in.‖

He carefully waded in the water and very easily grabbed both my hands and pulled me out.

When I reached the dry sand, I cried. I don‘t think I was strong enough to get out of the water by

myself. To this day, I am convinced that I would have drowned if he hadn‘t come to the beach when

he did.

During the remaining days of our trip to the beach, Rosa and I survived the sun, the insect

bites and the other children putting three-inch dead beetles under our pillows.

Once back in Cali our aunts saw us, they were horrified to see our burnt and peeling skin

and all the weight I had lost. We had been out in the sun for fourteen days without any sunscreen at

all. That night when I showered for the first time in fourteen days and put on a proper nightgown

on to sleep my aunt saw my legs, which were covered in bug bites, some old and scabbed over and

some fresh still bleeding from where I had scratched. The bite marks were of different sizes and

colors, red to purplish black. I remember that on my right leg I counted twenty-seven in a line as if

the mosquitoes had a dinner party in which I was the main course. She hurriedly called my other

aunt. I doubted that they called my father in New York, because in 1975 my family only made an

international phone call if someone had died. My other aunt came over and they cleaned them and

covered the worst ones with band aides. My sister hadn‘t been bitten as much as I had been, but

they checked

Later that fall my uncle and his wife sent my father a nasty letter telling them how lazy and

sloppy we were. I guess they were talking about the fact that we didn‘t wash dishes and then refused

to take a rainwater shower on the back porch the day we were leaving to return to the city. What

was the point We weren‘t allowed to shower for fourteen days. What was one more day and we

weren‘t about to go naked in the back of the house. The other children had played enough pranks

on us we weren‘t going to take any chances. On the other hand, maybe they were talking about all

the blood spots my mosquito bites left on their sheets. My mother cursed them out and my father

too for leaving us with him.

I was angry, hurt and embarrassed, so started to write a letter to my uncle to tell him what a

bad uncle he was and maybe use some of my mother‘s curses, as well. I was going to ask, why did

he take two city kids out to the jungle, not watch us, tell us about riptides or make sure we ate and

had protection from the bugs and the sun. My hand was shaking as I wrote the first few angry words

on the page.


Lisa Rogal


―You ever heard of Necrotizing Fasciitis‖ Kat asked me over the Coke-bottle bong. I hadn‘t.

―That's flesh eating bacteria. It literally eats your flesh, eats you alive. I mean, that's some

science fiction shit. But it's real. I heard about this girl our age, had a cut on her foot and caught it

dancing barefoot in the grass at a wedding.‖

I ran my finger along the rim of my water glass and began to tune her out.

―– had to remove the whole leg. She didn‘t even have time to call her parents. And she was

one of the lucky ones. Get that shit on your face or stomach and you‘re screwed.‖

―What‘s it called‖

―Necrotizing Fasciitis. God, just the name. And, I mean, that‘s a rare one, but just that it‘s out

there.‖ She let out a smoky breath. ―Just talking about it.‖


―My heart feels funny. Do you ever get that, those heart pains I get worried I‘m having a

heart attack.‖

―You won‘t, you‘re way too young for that. I mean, people our age don‘t really get heart


―I guess not,‖ she said, croaking to hold the smoke inside. ―But it‘s possible. There are just

so many things. I‘m always shocked something doesn‘t happen.‖ The cloud poured from her lips,

settling between us like fog.

―When I was in college,‖ I said, taking the bong from her, ―the end of my senior year, I

started to get these arm pains.‖

―What kind of arm pains‖

―It was like electricity running down my arm.‖ I listened to the bubbles breaking in the

reservoir as I sucked.


―Sometimes I would have to stop what I was doing and just concentrate on breathing until

they went away. Everyone was getting fed up with me always panicking that I was having a stroke or

something. So, I went to the doctor and she did a whole exam and told me I was fine.‖

―Oh.‖ She gestured for me to pass.

―But of course I wasn‘t convinced. I was sure she had missed something. So I went to

another doctor to get a second opinion. My boyfriend thought I was crazy. He told me he thought I

wasn‘t that kind of girl.‖

―My friend‘s boyfriend broke up with her when she thought she had breast cancer. She

wouldn‘t go to the doctor because she was too afraid of the diagnosis and he got sick of trying to

make her go so he left. Then it turned out she actually did have a lump. A benign lump. But she had

to have it removed and he came to visit her and all he could say was ‗I told you you didn‘t have

cancer.‘ Can you believe that‖

―No. I mean, no, he didn‘t break up with me. I think he was kind of relieved actually –that I

was that kind of girl. It was all very amusing to him.‖

―Huh, yea,‖ she said without exhaling.

―So, I got the second opinion and this time I had her do a full neurological work up and

everything. She said I could even order cat scans if I wanted but I thought maybe that was taking it

too far.‖

―Oh, I would‘ve had the cat scans. The x-rays, EKGs, anything they could think of.‖ Kat

took the empty lighter into the kitchen alcove.


―You know what she said it was Stress pains.‖

―Well, of course you‘re stressed,‖ she yelled from behind a cabinet. ―You‘re having a stroke

for God‘s sake!‖

―The muscles in my neck were so tight from stress that they were pinching my ulnar nerve

and that was the pain in my arms. Nerve pain. It‘s really a terrible pain, I don‘t know how these

Lupus people live with it.‖

―Oh, I know. Lupus is horrible.‖ She sat down and lit up. ―They say it can come on at any

age, a flare up, like Crohn‘s Disease. Jesus, don‘t even get me started on Crohn‘s!‖

―Or schizophrenia,‖ I added. ―That doesn‘t start till your twenties, and then just like that.

Like a switch in your brain. One minute you‘re normal –‖

―You‘d tell me if I was crazy right Because they say crazy people never know they‘re crazy.‖

―Of course I‘d tell you.‖ I buried my face in a tube of smoke.

―Good. I would tell you too.‖

_ _ _

Once the bong was kicked I slipped into the hallway and bumped into Kat‘s neighbor who

smiled at me from behind his wire-rimmed glasses.

―I‘m Joe,‖ he said in the elevator, but I already knew his name. Kat had told me about him.

―I know,‖ I said.

He smiled like he‘d missed the joke.

We said goodbye at the door but then we both turned right. I sped up to create some

distance. It was awkward for a few blocks until he ran up next to me.

―Are you front following me‖ He asked.


―You‘re front following me. It‘s when you follow someone who‘s behind you so it doesn‘t

look suspicious.‖

―How do you follow someone who‘s behind you‖

―You just sense where they are, body heat and motion and stuff.‖

―What if they turn‖

―A good front follower can anticipate a turn.‖

―Is this something you do on a regular basis‖

―I don‘t do it. I just know about it. You were the one doing it.‖

―Well, I‘ve never heard of it so I doubt I was doing it. I didn‘t even know you were behind

me,‖ I lied.

He laughed a bit too hard.―Where are you headed this evening‖

―The grocery store,‖ I admitted.

―Me too.‖

―So, you‘re a liar‖

He laughed again. His throat exposed looked like a dancer‘s spine.

We walked down the aisles together in silence. I felt like I should be making conversation

but I was buzzed and wanted to concentrate on my grocery list. I could hear a florescent bulb

flickering and I started to wish Joe hadn‘t come.

―Yum pickles,‖ he said. He was examining everything I put in my cart. It was weird.

―I prefer Oreos,‖ he said when he saw me considering a package of Chips Ahoy. He didn‘t

seem to be doing much shopping.

―You don‘t seem to be doing much shopping,‖ I said.

―No, just had to pick up a couple of things.‖ He reached for a pack of Charmin and grinned.

In the cereal aisle I read the nutrition facts on a box of Smart Start. He came up behind me

and read over my shoulder. I wished he would just grab my tits or something but he had his hands


ehind his back like a school teacher.

―Pan-to-then-ate. Hmm. Riboflavin. That sounds good.‖ He opened a box of Lucky Charms

and began eating the marshmallows.

―What are you doing‖

―What‖ His mouth was full of blue moons.

―You haven‘t bought those yet. You opened them.‖

―So I‘m gonna buy them. They‘re as good as bought.‖

―What if you change your mind‖

―Well.‖ He swallowed. ―I no longer have that option, do I‖

We rang up our groceries in different lines. When he caught up with me at the door he took

my bags. Once we got outside it looked like he was struggling, so I took one back.

―Now what‖ He asked.

―I need to get these groceries home.‖

―Okay, mine can wait.‖

We stood there for a minute staring at each other.

―Come on,‖ I said finally and he followed me home.

In the kitchen I put away the milk and other perishables. He could practically touch me from

where he stood in the doorway. His hand kept brushing mine, but I continued with my task.

Eventually he squeezed himself in behind me. He massaged my hips. His breath was on my neck. I

was trying to decide what to do so I just stared at the cup of yogurt in my hand. His arms tightened

around me.

―This is back hugging,‖ he said. I turned around and kissed him so he‘d shut up. He lifted

my shirt off but gave up on my bra. My back was cold from the open refrigerator.

―The bedroom‖ He asked turning and walking me backwards.

―First door.‖ He smiled against my mouth.

We didn‘t go for very long but I came so it was okay. Afterwards we lay on my comforter

with most of our clothes still on. I looked over at his bare stomach. He was pale and skinny, but in a

good way. He slipped his arm out from under my back and pulled off the condom.

―You got any toilet paper or tissues‖ he yelled from the bathroom.

―In the grocery bags, in the kitchen.‖ He hobbled out from the bathroom with his jeans

around his ankles. He was smiling and panting, hopping back and forth on his feet until he reached

the bedroom door. I was still laughing when he came back with the toilet paper and cleaned himself


It was four in the morning when I woke up. Joe was sleeping face down on the mattress, one

arm hooked over my throat. I couldn‘t breathe. I sat up. My chest hurt. I tried to breathe but it was

too shallow. I sounded like I was about to sneeze but the sneeze wouldn‘t come out. I held my

breath. I told myself I was going to breathe in slowly. The air would come. I inhaled carefully

through my nostrils. My heart beat felt funny though. I went to the computer and typed in ―funny

heart beat + shallow breathing.‖ 10,000 hits all mentioning heart arrhythmia.


―Again‖ I heard from the darkness of the bed. ―What are you doing over there‖

―Just checking something.‖


―Nothing. Just something.‖

―What could you possibly need to check at four in the morning with a half-naked man in

your bed‖

I heard him jump off the bed and hobble towards me. Then I saw his blue body in the light

of the computer screen. I clicked away from the heart attack page.


―Aw, come on. I wanna know. What was it Were you checking how many convicted

pedophiles live in your neighborhood‖


―That‘s what I do when I can‘t sleep.‖

―Well, that‘s strange.‖

―Okay, so you were looking at porn. It‘s okay, I can take it.‖

―It wasn‘t porn.‖

―It was something really freaky wasn‘t it‖

―What No, it was nothing like that.‖ I was short of breath again.

―Nothing to be embarrassed about. I like freaks. What was it Bondage Erotic

asphyxiation Come on tell me. I promise you won‘t surprise me. Old men fucking teenage girls

MILFs Gang-bangs‖

I really couldn‘t breathe now. ―Joe. Stop it.‖ He kept listing things. ―I can‘t. Breathe.‖

―What‘s wrong‖

―I can‘t. Breathe.‖

―Um…just breathe.‖

―I can‘t!‖ I sucked in a ragged breath.

―There you go. You‘re alright.‖ He patted my back.

―No, I‘m not. I think. I‘m having a heart attack.‖

I was beginning to hate his laugh.

―I‘m serious!‖

―Okay, you aren‘t having a heart attack. Just relax.‖

―I can‘t! Don‘t you understand‖

―Just calm down. You‘re fine.‖ He lowered his voice. ―Come back to bed.‖

―I‘m having a heart attack and you. Want to have sex You should be. Calling an ambulance.

Or something.‖

―If you have the energy to fight with me then you aren‘t having a heart attack.‖

―Man, are you. Gonna feel bad. At my funeral.‖


―Forget it, okay Just go back to bed, Joe.‖

He slid on the mattress and bunched my pillow under his head. I waited for him to fall

asleep before turning back to the computer screen. Then, knowing she‘d be awake, I ―G-chatted‖


Me: I think I‟m having a heart attack.

Kat: What are your symptoms

Me: Short of breath, chest pain, etc

Kat: Left arm pain

Me: Not yet.

Kat: Time frame

Me: 15mins may b

Kat: Any progression of symptoms

Me: I don‟t know. don‟t think so. The chest pain has been pretty constant. Breathing was bad for awhile but

seems more normal now.

I was careful not to mention Joe.

Kat: Let‟s see. Could be an arrhythmia. Maybe you have a murmur, or Mitro-valve Prolapse.

Me: Don‟t think so. I was thinking heart attack.


Kat: Maybe you should go 2 ER

Me: I dunno. I might just be freaking myself out.

Kat: Up to you.

Might not wanna risk it tho.

Me: Yea, I think I‟m okay now. Chest feels better.

Kat: k

Me: May b I‟ll feel better if I lie down

Kat: Could b

What if something happens while you‟re sleeping

Me: Yea, I dunno. Don‟t wanna go 2 ER so late.

Kat: up to you. Just worry about you being alone.

Me: I‟m ok. Thanks. Gonna try to sleep. Call u soon.

I shut my computer and got back in bed. When I turned on my side, Joe pressed his boner

into the small of my back.

―Feelin‘ better‖

―I‘m alright. Kind of tired though.‖

―No more heart attack‖ He was kissing my neck.

―Nope. All over now. It was something though: sirens, doctors, they hit me with those

shock paddles. You slept through it.‖

―I‘m a heavy sleeper.‖ He was pulling my shorts down with one hand. I was on the verge of

pushing him away but instead I lifted my hips.



Julie, Ben and Sarah are playing Wild Girls for the last time with their cousin Catherine. Since they

don‘t know it‘s the last time, they play it as always, with no beginning or end.

Wild Girls are girls without parents who live apart from society, swing on a large rope across

a swamp (a dog leash tied to the monkey bars) in order to escape lion attacks, and eat mostly pine

cones stewed in water.

Julie, being the oldest, is the leader of the Wild Girls. She calls herself Lakota and her job is

lookout and leading expeditions. During lookout, while the other girls do chores or make food, Julie

sits in the top of the oak trees and spies on approaching enemies. Catherine, Fraggle, is responsible

for scavenging for food and cooking. She is the head chef and tells Ben and Sarah what to add to the


Ben makes everyone call him Connie. Though his father tells him that he might as well move

to Vegas and wear leopard-print leggings, he insists on the name. He is usually not allowed to play

because Wild Girls live apart from men and their influences. But when Catherine needs an extra hand

she hires him as a dishwasher in exchange for letting him swing on the rope. Sarah, known in the

tree house as Billy, finds this particularly frustrating. ―Wild Girls are not supposed to help men.

When have men ever helped Wild Girls‖

―It‘s okay,‖ Julie calls from her perch. ―Ben is Connie today. He‘s gonna give us a hand and

then go back to his people. And anyway if they mount an attack we can always use him as a

bargaining chip.‖

Julie jumps down from her lookout to get a drink of water. She doesn‘t notice Catherine

running after her.

She finds Aunt Norah in the kitchen and asks for a glass. Then she watches her aunt as she

attempts to pour the water. Her fingers seem too soft and Julie is not surprised when she drops the

glass. Bending down to pick up the pieces, Aunt Norah slices her finger open. Julie slides from her

bar stool to help her clean up. Norah grabs her niece by the wrist forcefully. "Do not touch this!" she

shouts. Her breath stings and Julie has to hold back the tears forming at the corners of her eyes.

Catherine is sitting at the table with a coloring book.

Aunt Norah stands up and steadies herself against the breakfast bar. She holds her bloody

finger in the air like she‘s going to say something profound. A red drop falls onto the counter.

Catherine does not look up from her book. She is making a dark blue dog and has colored it in so

precisely that it looks like paint. "Catherine," Julie whispers, but her cousin doesn‘t respond. Julie

stares at the red dot on the counter, afraid to move her eyes.

―You girls go outside," Aunt Norah says to the ceiling. She is swaying slightly as Julie looks

up at her. Neither of the girls moves. Aunt Norah starts for the kitchen door and without looking

back says, "Now!" Catherine jumps up from her chair, taking the blue crayon with her into the yard.

Julie stands there staring at the blood soaking into the countertop as the screen door and the

bedroom door above her slam shut. She can't find a napkin so she wipes the red dot away with the

edge of a paper plate. Outside she finds Catherine in the tree house, writing her name in blue on the

far wall.

"Wild Girls don't have crayons," Julie says and Catherine immediately throws the crayon away

and begins stirring the pot of soggy pine cones. "I caught a baby mountain cat today," says

Catherine. "So we'll have meat tonight too.‖

"A baby" says Julie and squints at Catherine.

"Normally I wouldn't kill a baby, but we have to get our protein. And besides, it looked like

the mother abandoned it. It wouldn't have survived alone."

"Might have to close the shutters tonight." Julie says, looking out the tree house window.


Then she hears the crash: a sound like glass shattering followed by a deep noise that reminds her of

her father at Grandpa Mac‘s funeral. Catherine looks up and then flicks something off the edge of

the tree house. Ben and Sarah continue picking strawberries.

―Did you hear that‖ Julie says. Catherine doesn‘t answer. Julie climbs down the ladder

which is almost entirely missing except for two rungs. ―What about dinner‖ Catherine yells after

her, but she is already at the screen door.

When she reaches the top of the stairs she hesitates. She holds her breath, afraid to make a

noise. For a moment, Julie looks at her hand on the banister and lets her vision blur. She wishes she

had glasses made of kaleidoscopes, so things could look hazy forever.

Aunt Norah is on the bathmat, sobbing, holding a bloody hand in the air. The shards of

glass from the mirror surround her like small, angular lakes.

Julie dials nine-one-one and explains to the operator that her aunt has had an accident with

the bathroom mirror. After replacing the receiver, she steps behind the curtains and watches the

yard. Catherine is burying something in the dirt as Ben and Sarah dance behind her. After patting

down the mound, Catherine remains on her knees and bows her head for a moment before

returning to the game.


Desiree Rucker


The sun slipped through the bars of his window, across the room and over Jamel‘s bed, burning

through the veil of sleep. Jamel opened his eyes, He couldn‘t believe it—he was finally ten. He

threw off his covers and sat up in bed. His sister Dawn slept in the twin bed next to his. She

turned, and he thought she was awake, perhaps ready to start the celebration. But she was still

asleep, her thumb stuck between her upturned lips, a trickle of dried spit on each side of her mouth.

He thought about waking her up but decided against it. He needed this time to think about his day

and the plans for his life. He sat for a moment and decided he should get up and face the world—

like a man. It was already 9:00 AM, and he heard his mother in the kitchen.

―Happy birthday, J,‖ his mother said without turning around from the stove. She was in her

housedress, which meant she was tired or had lady issues. If she was in a good mood, she would

have on shorts that were a little too tight if you asked him, but she looked good. Worry kept her


―You remembered. Thank you,‖ he said, pulling the wrapping paper off an action figure that

sat at his place at the table.

―Do I remember I was there. You want some pancakes and bacon for your birthday‖

―Yeah, and some Lucky Charms, too,‖ Jamel said, making the action figure dance.

―Oh, Mike ate them last night. I‘m sorry, Baby.‖

Did she say Mike ate his Lucky Charms ―The whole damn box‖

―Watch your mouth. You only ten, not a hundred. That is when you can curse in my


Add that to the list of items he was going to kick Mike‗s ass about in another year or two.

Ugly, big, stink feet, taking my Mamma money, sleeping on my couch when I come home from

school so we can‘t play Nintendo; need to get the fuck out of my house, Mike.

His mother placed in front of him a plate with two strips of crispy bacon, next to two

banana pancakes drowned in syrup and a glass of Mountain Dew. Jamel got up and hugged her at

the stove. ―Thanks for keeping me. Thanks for my birthday breakfast.‖

―What you know about me keeping you Just eat,‖ she said, patting him on his head.

He knew from his mother‘s sister, Alma, that his mother had made an important decision last

year, one that involved crying for days before and after. Alma had come to stay with them the week

of the decision and had confided to Jamel, which had made him feel like the man of the house.

For a while his mamma spent more time with Jamel and Dawn when they came home from

school, making special dinners and not going to play cards or across the avenue to the bar. Jamel

liked that Mike wasn‘t there pretending to be in charge. Jamel didn‘t understand the whole story

until his friend Ray told him that he heard that Jamel‘s mother had got rid of the baby, and Jamel

asked, ―Like giving it up for adoption‖ and Ray called him stupid and said, ―No, she killed it. But

it really wasn‘t a real baby, not really.‖ Jamel still didn‘t understand how it could be a baby but not a

real baby, but he knew she stopped throwing up and was her old self again a few weeks later. Ray

said a couple of girls he messed with had done it, but Jamel knew he was lying. Ray lied about so

much stuff.

Dawn shuffled out to the kitchen and plopped into a chair. She was two years younger than

Jamel, but he knew he would have to tell her what day today was, and she still wouldn‘t understand

the importance of this day. She would like the cake, though. His mother made the best cakes; her

secret was she used two cans of frosting. The social worker had explained to him that Dawn was


developmentally delayed. The neighborhood kids called her Retardo, and his grandmother called

her a crack baby.

He had been counting down to this day for 365 days, marking off a calendar his mother got

from the dry cleaner that featured Asian women. His mother had yelled at him when he took it out

the trash.

―What you want to look at those Chinese women all year for

―I just want the calendar,‖ he had said, retrieving it from the trash like it was buried treasure.

It was last year, on this date, August 11, when he saw his Uncle Kev and his crew in the

playground. Kev was his dead father‘s youngest brother. He was with a group of guys all wearing

the same uniform—white wife beaters and baggy jeans. From a distance, as they loped across the

playground, pants in various stages of gravity-defying freefall, they looked like a gang of toddlers in

too-big outfits, The pavement seemed to exhale heat, and the wind held its breath, and everything

seemed tense, tight, and about to combust.

Jamel ran over to the gang. Breathing heavily, he fell in step with his uncle‘s clique. He

walked with them a good while before they realized they had a stowaway.

―Yo, little man thinks he down with us,‖ a short, tatted guy said, circling Jamel.

―That there‘s my nephew. Jamel, what you want‖ Kev asked, appearing in a parting of the


―Nuthin‘. I‘m just hanging with you,‖ he said, trying to strike a determined pose.

―I see that, but where you s‘posed to be‖ Kev asked, anger rising in his voice.

―Come on, Uncle Kev. It‘s my birthday.‖

―Happy Birthday. How old are you‖

―I‘m nine.‖

―Tell you what; come back when you‘re ten.‖ Kev‘s friends fell out laughing.

Jamel felt the anger rise inside his head, and for a moment the world went all red. Then he

felt a pounding in his head, not rhythmic like the neighbor‘s salsa music but a four-one-three-fivetwo

syncopation that made him feel wobbly and confused. It was a minute that seemed longer to

him, but when the air began to fill his concave chest again, and he opened his eyes, his uncle was

standing there holding a twenty-dollar bill.

―You want it or not Go get some candy or something.‖

Jamel grabbed the bill and stuffed it in his pocket. ―Thanks,‖ he said, whirling around and at

the same time running to catch the red light right before it blinked green. Jamel dashed in front of a

car, causing the driver to brake suddenly and swear out the window, but Jamel was already running

toward his friends on the basketball court. He would not tell them about his money; he did not

want to end up buying everyone something, nor did he want them to think that he had it like that.

There would be a fight. Someone‘s feelings were always hurt, and there was always a fight. Jamal

put his hand in this pocket and held the money in his fist.

He felt proud of his uncle and the fact that he had money and friends and respect in the

neighborhood. That was a year ago. Since then Jamel had made a point of running into Kev as much

as possible. Kev would give him a little money or send him to the store and reward him, so it didn‘t

seem like he was begging. He reminded Kev last week that today was his birthday, and Kev

promised to take him shopping today. Now that he was ten, he would have to start taking life more

seriously. He had to make sure his mother and Dawn were taken care of. He needed to talk to Kev

about a job after school or something like that. He heard the knocking at the door when he slipped

his polo shirt over his head. As his head emerged from the dark softness of the well-worn cotton,

he heard his Uncle Kev‘s voice. He ran out into the living room and forgot himself when he


wrapped his arms around Kev‘s torso and hugged him. He loved how Uncle Kev smelled. He

smelled like he looked—expensive and strong.

―You remembered,‖ Jamel said, his voice cracking a little.

Kev pushed him off. ―Of course, I remembered.‖

Dawn ambled over, smiling, dragging a wild haired doll. ―Hi, Cutie,‖ Kev said, patting her


―Where you taking him‖ Jamel‘s mother asked, smoothing her housedress.

―I got a big day planned. We getting some gear at the mall, then over to my mom‘s house in

Jersey. Couple of girls is going to bring my kids to the crib. We gonna barbecue. Can J stay over‖

Jamel was jumping up and down with excitement.

―Sure, if he wants to,‖ Jamel‘s mother said.

―Yeah, I want to,‖ Jamel said nodding his head vigorously. Jamel ran out of the room and

came back with his new action figure, his toothbrush and a clean T-shirt and briefs. He put them all

in a plastic Key Food bag.

―Jamel, you look so much like Jason, Man. Don‘t he‖ Kev asked, pulling Jamel into a

headlock and turning his face up for his mother to inspect.

―Spittin‘ image. Didn‘t need to go on Maury about him,‖ Jamel‘s mother laughed, smiling

down at Dawn, who was twisting her housedress. ―I just want him to grow up and be a good man.

No jail, no drugs. No disrespect, but you know what I mean‖

―I feel you. I‘m not gonna let these streets get J,‖ Kevin said.

―Can we go I have been waiting for like, forever,‖ Jamel said, turning the knob, opening

the door.

―Don‘t I get a kiss goodbye‖ Jamel‘s mother asked, now holding Dawn in her arms. He

kissed his mother and Dawn.

Before going out the door, Jamel turned. ―Don‘t worry, Mamma. I‘ll remember to bring

you some barbecue.‖


P. J. Salber


You be yourself and I‘ll be me,

although like heads and tails in silver we

share one coin: love‘s perfect circled currency.

Let‘s spend ourselves while others count

and hoard some counterfeited love,

who, seeing our expenses mount

tell us, in common sense, to save.

Our newly-minted love instead

grows greater in its being spent.

And if this gentle commerce should deface

our high relief to drabbest commonplace,

we‘ll keep a private value and a grace

and know that our two hearts

like two sides of a coin can never be apart.


Two Sonnets: Epithalamia for August First

Morning brings a wind shift.

Adrift, the long ship hulls an open sea

run out between the gull-white cliffs.

You waken from a girlhood reverie and

pale; the moon has filled and fallen

beyond cold arcs of ocean.

In oaken planks, the salt spume carves

runes to Freya‘s honor.

Kinfolk, waving, line the black wharves

even as the sail fills, boasting

loudly the bridegroom‘s name.

Amidships, turn your Viking eyes away:

nothing in the fair wind or following sea

distracts you from the happiness to be.


Merchants bright with foreign treasure

implore the saints protect their venture

coursing the Atlantic run.

Hope is a warehouse in the Spanish sun.

A hurricane impossible to measure

engulfs the fragile arts of men;

loud prayers are offered up again.

So, different prayers are answered to the same effect;

a splice-bent sailor‘s plea to save his neck

leaves less to God‘s discretion than the gold

caulked within this galleon‘s hold.

Echoes of the sea-swept cries

dim the memory of her eyes,

―O save me just to see them once again!‖


Micah Savaglio



Ted C. was young. She was old. He had had to find a way to get rid of her. The flames reflected as

tiny suns across his brow. He poked at the hardened dung with his fishing rod. He loved the

wilderness, its majesty. He once spotted a coyote with a fish in its jaws, up to its neck in the brook.


The bodies were propped up to look like they were playing cards. He needed the appearance of



Three months prior, he had noticed a leak. The gas line connected to the adjacent Winnebago.


Ted C. was a good and faithful writer. He documented ―the good parts‖ every day on his laptop:

toothpick in his mouth, a pitcher of lemon water at hand. His X button, ever since he loaned the

computer to his son, would stick.


Ted had a penchant for extravagance when showing lovers around the Big Apple. Helen R.

supposed Ted to be richer than he was and married him, during his glory days, in a small Roman

Catholic ceremony in Brooklyn. Picture him now, outside of the chapel.


Hot over heavy. A side of boredom and nonsense.


Charlie told him about the five acres up north. Ted was welcome to go alone or with his wife. The

padlocked gate was a red herring for a gravel pathway half a mile up. Ted did not hunt, nor had he

ever fired a gun.


Smoke orbited the circumference of Ted‘s head. He opened his laptop and set to writing. He paused

to watch a series of X‘s skate across the screen.



Cast of characters

FRITZ KINZELMAN: A heavy-set Caucasian male in his mid-fifties. He wears a worn plaid shirt

and rubber boots.

DR. EMAMI ABED: A fit Indian male in his mid-fifties. He wears a long white coat. His hair is

feathered back.

LYDIA: A multiracial female in her mid-twenties. She wears khaki pants and a Chelsea soccer jersey.

Doctor’s office. The Present. Albany, New York. Spring.


The room has a cozy, homestyle vibe. Pictures of the doctor‟s daughters adorn the far wall.

Lights come up on FRITZ KINZELMAN, who sits on one of those beds with the paper sheets, fully dressed.

DR. EMAMI ABED enters the room. Unlike the archetypal doctor, he does not hold a clipboard. Instead, he

carries a stuffed bear holding a big red heart. Upon seeing FRITZ, he turns his back.





We need to talk about something very important. Okay I want you to put on your big listening ears.

This is what I‘ve been worried about since your seizure.

Pause. EMAMI faces FRITZ.

You do have cancer.

Pause. EMAMI hands FRITZ the bear. FRITZ gazes at it.

It‘s in the back of your head. Now, we can‘t take it out safely since the tumor‘s pushing on the

surrounding tissue. So we‘re not left with many options. We‘re starting you on radiation on Monday.


I wish this were a dream.





Pause. FRITZ sets the bear on the bed.

I won‘t do radiation.

Yes, you will do radiation.



I went through it once with my dad, and never again.

How long have I known you


I won‘t steer you wrong.





How nice. When‘s the last time you brought the girls abroad


I say when‘s the last time you brought the girls abroad

I suppose it‘s been years.



Mm. You know I took the kids for our little tour this summer. They were in heaven. I‘ve been

talking about it long enough.




France. We spent most the time in Bourges. It was picturesque. They‘ve got this big, looming gothic

cathedral with these beautifully towering biblical scenes made of stained glass.


Exactly. You and Cyn been to Bourges







And without question, the most breathtaking scene is called ―The Good and the Damned.‖


Listen to me. We‘re going to figure this all out.


Just at the top, you see the souls being weighed at the gates of Heaven by St. Peter. And in the

middle you see a good soul sitting on God‘s lap. And on the right you see the bad souls being driven

into the stomach of the beast.

The Last Judgment.



We‘re all given a small window of time. God only knows. Obviously, what matters is what we do

with it.


I won‘t stand for it. Not for you. I‘ve seen patients add on ten years, twelve years. There‘s no telling

how far it can get you.

FRITZ grasps EMAMI by the arm, almost violently. He looks EMAMI straight in the eyes.

I won‘t.


They continue to stare at each other. EMAMI releases himself and backs away.


Alright, Mr. Kinzelman. Now‘s the time to get in contact with the people you love. And anyone with

whom you have unfinished business.


Didn‘t think you‘d give up so easy.

Are you toying with me

Me I‘m afraid you don‘t understand, frankly.





Well, level with me. I don‘t understand.



I know the score. You get sick, you vomit, you lose hair. One, two, three. So yeah, I could choose to

go through with it. I might get through the suffering, the depression, the fatigue, the scarring. Fuck,

the potential leukemia from the radiation. And I might come out the other side. It might be the only

reasonable choice in the world and it might buy me some real time. But if you‘re asking me, I‘d

rather die with hair.

Hair Are you trying to get--

What if I am




Then you‘re a moron for pride. Sam and Manny.


This is my decision. I don‘t want them taking care of me.

EMAMI laughs.

How can you favor death



Sam and I have the same birthday. Did I tell you what that felt like


You said the world opened up and gave you its gift.


Everything changed when I had kids. You stop thinking about what feels good and you start

thinking about how you‘re going to make their world better. Like dolphins. And when you look into

their eyes you don‘t feel anxious about the future. You just feel… peaceful.

You are a stubborn son of a bitch.



You know, when Lydia was a kid she was obsessed with Ancient Rome. She liked Nero, the

Caesars—All of it.

EMAMI laughs.


She was so consumed she made a model of Rome out of wood and salt cubes. And I mean, with

everything—the Colosseum, the Forum, the House of the Vestal Virgins—and she‘d follow the days

of Ancient Roman history. So she was sitting on the floor of her room with her little gladiators and a


LYDIA enters. She lights a match and gives the Roman salute. EMAMI mimics LYDIA.

She burned Rome. She burned down the top floor of our house.

FRITZ laughs.


I‘ve got a Rome story from the eighties. It ends with me and three other gladiators cramped inside

this little shit Fiat, passing a joint.

I love you.





A fucking bear

FRITZ puts on his coat.

What are we seeing

The Ghost Writer.

What‘s that

It‘s the new Polanski.

I feel like you two would get along.

I don‘t know.







FRITZ and EMAMI exit. The bear is left on the bed.



The parents of AABB1 were growing old. It had been twenty years since they had been impregnated

by the D3DD. In their weekdays, they would tend to the house—that is, AAAA4 would read the

hundreds of papers available, and BBBB3 would bake or pray. On the weekends, they would attend

meetings of religious and business organizations and (on Sundays) host the Board Of Care. Their

members were religious, some, others not. The issues at stake pertained to the war and the war‘s

combatants. Difficult decisions were made. Like how one could keep foremost the safety of their

soldier children and oppose the war. There were financial issues. But in the past five months a new

agenda had been creeping its way into the hearts of the noble members. It went something like this.

―If we continue to support the war with our money and with our attention, I believe we will be

destined for a bombing. I assure you, with my heavy heart, that our children will understand that if

we continue to recognize the existence of combat, through our money and our prayers, the war will

absolutely go on.‖ This was exactly the seed that was growing in their hearts. And so the newspapers

stopped printing evidence of a war and the Board was disbanded. It was done. The parents of

AABB1 did not pray for him anymore. BBBB3 tried new recipes in the kitchen, and they were all

very good. AAAA4 continued to read the papers, without fear of rhetoric creeping in. All was calm

for the time being. BBBB3 with her gingerbread and pecan-coconut desserts. AAAA4 with his

sports sections and business news. He read voraciously. He even picked up a novel from a discount

novelty stand. And he set to reading it. The novel, whose jacket had been ripped off, gave AAAA4 a

familiar feeling. It told of a young man‘s experience on a fishing ship, catching lobsters and

swordfish. The young man lived on deck for years, which weathered his face and hands. At the end

of the third chapter, there was a storm. At the beginning of the fourth, the young man is

shipwrecked, but has found a wife in his new place. The couple is in love, and soon desire their

baby. They each memorize verses of their D3DD‘s manifesto, and begin approaching him, the way

that one does, casually visiting the cafes and religious corners where he might be found. After many

months, the young man builds the courage to ask the D3DD for his counseling (which means only

one thing). The young man is very persuasive. The D3DD is happy to accept such a handsome

couple, and they are soon granted seed for the fertilization. And what do you think happened to the

happy family War came to their town, killing their D3DD, destroying the religious corners; it was

the undoing of their home. The young man and his beautiful wife and their newborn chose to

emigrate by ship, the only mode with which the young man felt confident. In the book, their ship

did not sink, but their family was ruined by the jealousy and pride of their son. AAAA4 could not sit

still anymore. It was a sign. He couldn‘t help but think of his own son. This book was about his son

and he could not allow himself to read newspapers any longer. Bombs were in the air, any way he

looked at it.


Michael Sohn










on a g-




ox or



briar fire




ambles able



fly lie

by leaf lie

by life wry

but label




loath to

fold to

















Jean Verthein


Eve disappears

beyond the sawed off elm,

which canopied

my drive at its height,

and yet still moons over this

longtime calm realm.

And flies the night white

on snow-whisker pines,

kindling an alpenglow.

Now by these brass andirons, where

last coals glow, I weary

from my qualms. Out here dawn

leery will unroll the horizon,

bursting Psalms, while con-

flict leaves peace in this lounge, as I yearn

to flee beyond these wilds,

sown from homing. Why from

this airy lair, do I adjourn

Nightfall is to the whippoor

will whippoorwill,

as day rise is the heron

that stands still.

On a lawn strewn with wild violets,

dawns later I awaken

held by moss. In the river‘s

shallows, the white egrets

swoop, glance, poise, lance

waves and arch across.

Their high I see from our ground

foam. Its green-red muffs

strum me like a mandolin

in spring with lupine

from loam.

Before I lunge,

I am flung from the trampoline

above the cardinal flowers, birch, silo,

prairie grass, reeds, willow

by Wild Cat Beach.

Down over Koshkonong.

I search high, low,


eyond Michigan, Huron,

Erie. I reach towers of eyes,

a-wink, whose dreams I haunt

at night; a wild-scape

by day I daunt!

For kin-ghost, back on the midland,

I mourn, then, moor

on the isle with Shorackappock.


Sarah Wallen


—an excerpt

Cut dad out from the beginning—

lizard tails like worms in a bucket

wooden golf clubs

war costumes and being forced to smoke

cartons of Pall Mall Lights

half-empty all over the enclosed porch

sun allergies

metallic wallpaper

the yellow, ceramic cats.

Don't wonder where they are now.


Big Rock Candy Mountains

medication for high cholesterol

the Seaquarium

prayers in a language you can read but not translate

aviator sunglasses

lobsters on the kitchen floor


Leave them where they are;

don't touch them again.

Go to the orchard.

Strip branches of their leaves with one hand

as you run past.

The turkeys over the hill smell terrible

don‘t breathe in through your nose.

Hide with the dog in the ivy

where the rats crawl

where you're not supposed to go

and don't let him eat the poison

near the cellar.

Watch for snakes with flat heads.


cobras are more afraid of you


and they don't like being cornered.

Pile into the family van

so cramped you have to put your feet on your bag.

Press your head against the window the whole

long drive.

Think about everything.

Go to the creek.

Want to die there

running over stones.

Catch fish for dinner

but paint them first

the colors you like

and press them to your t-shirt

before you skin them

all by yourself

and cook them

skewered on sticks like marshmallows.

Flip every rock along the shore

looking for salamanders.

Be careful not to crush them with your giant hands.

They are fragile

and sad to look at as they die.

Go to the ocean.

Watch the sand breathe.

Make castles

old before they‘re finished.

Lose yourself in the current

you will be saved.

Dream of sand crabs

the size of your hand.

Sting-rays caught on fishing lines.

Being the last human left.

It is illegal to pick the long grasses on the dunes.

The lifeguard will yell at you.

Do it anyway.

Pretend they are magic wands

or oversized pens


or spears.


there are roots piercing the edges

glass all over the road

plastic gathering in the water

tar in the sand


poison because they aren't yours.

Don't look.

Turkeys are mesmerized by rainfall

and they drown

staring at the sky.




corn cobs crowded (dead) on counter-top (found) gn-awed to

(rotting) pulp for throwing (once mom and dad are gone);

toothache agitated by a (pointed) finger stirs (up) rage (at

crime) scenes; i am (a lot) of things; i am (not) a liar; i (need

to) floss (still); fairy says (she wants) your pretty (yellowed)

teeth (for money) so precious; (this) god made (earth for) man

to (mine) love; welcome to my (farm) house (watch for shit)


To bicycle across town. To see patterns in the grass. And the laughing. And the hammock. How my

chest is full and empty. How you tease. And the sun. And the strawberries. How we water the

garden. How food is served. To hide and sleep. To dig holes. And the drive. To get home. How I

can hear your heart beat. How my heart beats. And the bird calls.


Get some parsley even though it makes our daughters sick. Parsley is good on eggs fried in garlic

and butter. Your pores will open. Try to hydrate every two hours. Gargle hot salt-water for a sore

throat. This road floods, so keep candles under the sink in case of blackouts, and just say you have

chains on your tires—they won't check.


Child is afraid of shadows in the corner of his bedroom. Fed up, Mom and Dad say just be brave.

They find him the next day sitting up in bed facing the corner, eyes and mouth wide open.


Walk into the woods, think, I'll never leave again. Shred clothes. Tear leaves from trees. Chew on them.

Sky is lavender (which makes me welt-up and itch)—think, I'm allergic to this time of day. Stomach

growls. Follow rabbits on tiptoe. Freezing when detected. Think, I need better shoes for this. Later, have

meat for dinner. Smiling at myself.



On a swing at the park. Wood chips falling out of my pockets. Girl runs up, calls, Do you love Jesus

Yes or no. Her mother won't look at me. He made the tomatoes and the butterflies and even you and me. Yes or

no. Swinging pretty high now. Little girl, you know how there can be lots of names for the same

thing Yes or no.


I am in a cell (I am not in a cell). The cell is made of concrete (I am not in a cell). There is a locked

door to the cell (I am not in a cell). It is cold in the cell (I am not in a cell). There is a hole in the

floor of the cell (I am not in a cell). I am naked in the cell (I am not in a cell). I am a number in the

cell (I am not in a cell). I starve in the cell (I am not in a cell). The cell is loud with noise from other

cells (I am not in a cell). There are people guarding my cell (I am not in a cell). I imagine my love

outside the cell (I am not in a cell). No windows in the cell (I am not in a cell). No light.


Lewis Warsh



Deluded thoughts arise

from mental afflictions.

It could be that I said something

once and half-meant it, or not.

It could be that I washed my hands of it,

in the literal sense,

but that the smell still lingered

on the tips of my fingers,

like mint.


As the sky turns red and pink the guys on

surfboards paddle out to the horizon

and I can see them now, the guys on surfboards

paddling out to the horizon as the sun goes down

one more time

it was like the sun was going down over the ocean

and the guys on surfboards were floating in the wake

I can see them now the guys on surfboards paddling

out to the horizon

one more time


Get into an elevator and everyone is breathless

in the proximity of a stranger‘s body, the smell of

perfume or sweat.

A rainy afternon when I think to myself: ―I don‘t

have to go anywhere.‖


And somewhere a building is going up in an empty

lot and the construction workers are crouched on

the sidewalk smoking cigarettes and eating


And somewhere people are buying tickets to a movie

that opened the day before. (A long line stretches

around the block.)


Someone is cursing and someone else is babbling to himself and someone is frightened and stares at

her feet. The older people are falling asleep in their beach chairs as the sun goes down over the

horizon and I‘m drinking a pina colada and my left leg won‘t move. The boat is at the dock and

people are waving. The women wearing long dresses with elaborate hems. Every day three people

cross the street. A, B, and R are not their names. The sirens on the rocks are singing to the men in

the boats. Smiling like an idiot when the lights come on.


A couple in Afghanistan

was stoned to death

by the Taliban

An explosion killed 7

and injured 14

in Xingjiang

Roger Clemens lied

to Congress about

taking steroids

Former Governor Blagojevich

was convicted

on one count


(Law & Order)

All she has to show for it is a dog

with three legs


All she has to show for it is a Japanese

kimono that her husband bought

during the war

All she has to show for it is

a mild case of temporary insanity

when she takes out the trash

All she has to show for it--a tire

with no treads


Walk downhill and you get

to the river. Stay in one place

and you can have it both ways.

The shadow of the hand

that reaches out for--a

leaf The disbelief on her face

as I bite her hand.


Sometimes you learn something you don‘t want to know. It was 1970 and we were driving up the

coast to Point Reyes. My mind floats out the window like smoke in the breeze. A little shimmer of

heat, bourbon and water, a granite lion. It was you all along, waiting in the parking lot after

midnight. It seemed at any moment, if there was a lapse of attention, a wave might break over the

rooftops and inundate the cobblestone streets where on a typical summer night you could see

people walking arm in arm, canvasing the small shops or eating dinner in an outdoor cafe. It takes all

my energy to appease my hunger. Put your money on a number and close your eyes as the wheel



Someone calls truce from the outhouse window

The same old wine in the same old bottle

The habits of a lifetime can be changed over night


According to the weather lady

The chance of rain is less than zero

I stand in the shadows and stare at her building

Muffled sound of the orchestra warming up

There‘s a rod in rodent and a hum in human

Put on your blinders, one more time, and step outside.


Tejan Green Waszak


This bridge crumbles behind me

as I race swiftly to the other side

no time to look back

though in my haste

I dare to look down at the water

and imagine a more honorable battle

ending in the belly of a mammal

whose respect I‘ve gained

for my tireless effort

though tragically

this will

in the body

of one with more might

may have a different



I am no match for you

or this rat

In this complicated game

there is no end

and you are receding

Further and further

some force pushes you out

into the dark

night on night skin

the air




salty suffocation

Mouth agape

requesting answers

there are none

You never dare ask

rejection is looming


You are slipping away

In the silence

your face shines brilliantly

for a moment

there is pleasure

a chance

to study you

In another city we could be strangers


we are innocent

Your noble face

could go quite far

in another place

This potential can encourage


bringing you forward



Put my records on

and ushered in

a moment of clarity

in this wired world

It must be Wednesday

or I‘ve had too much wine

For 3 hours I thought of you today

and now the cinnamon candle

has left our season

to linger in the air

of the small room inside a big house

won‘t let me forget

clenched fists holding pieces of memory


io notes

Ana Almurani is an alumna (2011) of the English Department‘s undergraduate major program

(concentration: Creative Writing). / Rudy Baron earned his master‘s degree in English/Creative

Writing at the Brooklyn Campus & then taught in the English Department for many years as an

adjunct professor. He is a co-founder & former editor of Downtown Brooklyn. / Alicia Berbenick is

working toward her MFA in the English Department‘s graduate creative writing program. / Wayne

Berninger is an alumnus (MA, 1992) of the Brooklyn Campus English Department, where he now

works as an administrator. He manages the Department‘s website & blog, serves as Registration

Advisor for all undergraduate English majors, & teaches freshman writing & sophomore literature

courses. With Barbara Henning & Rudy Baron, he co-founded Downtown Brooklyn in 1992 & has

served as Editor since 1999. / An alumnus (B.A., English) of Florida Atlantic University, John

Casquarelli is pursuing his MFA in the English Department‘s graduate creative writing program.

Prior to attending LIU, he was employed by Health Communications, Inc., where he did editorial

work in their book & magazine departments. He received the Esther Hyneman Award in 2010 for

poetry. / Alane Celeste is an alumna (2010) of the English Department‘s undergraduate program

in Creative Writing. Her thesis was a collection of poetry & fiction entitled When the Dust Settles. She

is currently a graduate student in Long Island University‘s School of Business, working toward her

master‘s degree in Public Administration with an Advanced Certificate in Nonprofit Management. /

Nik Conklin is working toward his undergraduate degree with a double major in English & Media

Arts. / Cynthia Maris Dantzic has been teaching in the Art Department at the Brooklyn Campus

for many years. She was recently among the first group to be promoted to the University‘s newlycreated

faculty rank of Senior Professor. Her most recent book is Alphabet City: Signs of New York.

Following the successes of 100 New York Photographers & 100 New York Painters, she is now

completing 100 New York Calligraphers for Schiffer Publishers. She is also at work on a textbook

entitled Seeing Color, which will present the classic Josef Albers color studies to the current generation

of art students. / Julián del Casal (1863-1893) was a Cuban poet whose early romanticism yielded

to the influence of prevailing French aesthetics. He died young of tuberculosis, having published

only two collections in his lifetime, Hojas al viento (1890) & Nieve (1892). Bustos y rimas (1893)

appeared posthumously. / Wendy Eng is working toward her master‘s degree in the School of

Education‘s Department of Teaching & Learning. / Christine Francavilla is an alumna (MA,

Liberal Studies) of New York University & is currently pursuing a second master‘s degree in the

Brooklyn Campus English Department‘s Creative Writing MFA program. Her work has appeared

in The Tablet, Here‟s Brooklyn, BQE Magazine & Downtown Brooklyn. / An alumna (MFA, 2010) of the

Brooklyn Campus English Department‘s Creative Writing program, Stephanie Gray is a poet & an

experimental filmmaker whose Super-8 films have screened internationally, including at the Black

Maria, Ann Arbor, Oberhausen, Chicago Underground, & Viennale fests. Her first poetry collection,

Heart Stoner Bingo, was published by Straw Gate Books in 2007. Her poems have appeared in

several publications, including Aufgabe, Sentence, The Brooklyn Rail, EOAGH, 2ndAvenuePoetry, Boog City

Reader, & The Recluse. She‘s read her work with films in NYC at the Projections, Segue,

Lungful!@Zinc, & Poetry Project Friday series. / Mary Kennan Herbert teaches literature &

writing in the English Department at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University, where she is

an adjunct professor in the English Department. She is a widely published poet & serves as an

Editorial Advisor for Downtown Brooklyn. / Aimee Herman is working toward her graduate degree

in the English Department‘s Creative Writing MFA program. A performance poet, she has been

featured at various poetry festivals, salons, & on radio. Her work can be found in Cliterature Journal,

Pregnant Moon Review, InStereo Press, and/or journal, & Uphook Press‘s latest poetry anthology, hell strung

and crooked. She currently works as sections editor of erotica for Oysters & Chocolate. / Katherine


Hogan holds a Ph.D. in English from St. John‘s University, Queens & teaches as an adjunct

professor in the Brooklyn Campus English Department. Her poems, stories & plays have enjoyed

many prizes, performances & publications, including Lunch with the Muse, Scribes of Ozymandias, Mad

Poets Review & Downtown Brooklyn. / Daphne Horton is working toward her bachelor‘s degree

(Literature) in the English Department. She works as the secretary for both the Department of

Foreign Languages & Literatures & the Department of Communications Studies, Performance

Studies, & Theatre. / Tony Iantosca is working toward his MFA in Creative Writing in the

Brooklyn Campus English Department. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Talisman,

EOAGH, Zen Monster, Brooklyn Paramount, & Downtown Brooklyn. Tony also helps to edit the poetry

journal Sun‟s Skeleton (http://www.sunsskeleton.com/). / An alumnus (BA, 2010) of the English

Department‘s undergraduate English major program (Creative Writing), Giuseppe Infante is now

working toward his graduate degree in the English Department‘s Creative Writing MFA program.

He is a co-editor of By the Overpass: A Journal of Writing and Art. / Gülay Işık is working toward her

graduate degree in the English Department‘s Creative Writing MFA program. / An alumna (2005)

of the English Department‘s undergraduate major program, Belynda Jones currently performs with

the soul/funk band Soul Understated. / Jamey Jones lives in Pensacola, Fl., where he teaches

Creative Writing, Language Arts, & Intensive Reading. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from

Long Island University in 2011. His most recent chapbooks are the notebook troubled the sleep door

(brown boke press, 2008), & Twelve Windows (brown boke press, 2009). His first full-length book,

Blue Rain Morning (Farfalla, McMillan and Parrish) appeared in 2011. His poems have recently

appeared in Fell Swoop, The Mundane Egg, Big Bridge, Eaogh, With + Stand, The Tsatsawassins, The Portable

Boog Reader #5, & Zen Monster. / Kate is the pseudonym of a Brooklyn Campus undergraduate. /

Anna Lindwasser is working toward her MSED in Adolescent English Education at the Brooklyn

Campus. / Formerly a fabric designer, Montessori preschool teacher, ESL teacher, & choral singer,

Elspeth Woodcock Macdonald is working toward her graduate degree in the Brooklyn Campus

English Department‘s Creative Writing MFA program. / Brady Nash works as an Academic

Advisor for Sophomore Programs in the Brooklyn Campus Office of Student Development &

Retention. In addition to advising & helping to develop program materials, he works with the

Scholarship Assistance Program, helping students research, identify & apply for outside

scholarships. He is working toward a master‘s degree in media theory & aesthetics in the Brooklyn

Campus Media Arts Department. / Uche Nduka is working toward his graduate degree in the

English Department‘s Creative Writing MFA program at the Brooklyn Campus. / Steve Newton

taught from 1992 to 1999 as Assistant Professor in the English Department at the Brooklyn Campus

of Long Island University, where he also served as the Director of the Writing Center. He currently

teaches English as an Associate Professor at William Paterson University, where he directs the

Writing Center. / Jon L. Peacock is a Brooklyn based artist, with a current focus on prose writing

& theatrical acting. He earned his bachelor's degree in Theatre Studies, with an Acting

concentration, from Arizona State University, studying under Marshall W. Mason, co-founder of

off-Broadway's Circle Repertory Theater. He is an alumnus (2010) of the Creative Writing MFA

program at the Brooklyn Campus English Department, where he worked as a Writing Center tutor,

a Graduate Teaching Fellow, Research Assistant (under several different professors), & Adjunct

Assistant Professor (Fall 2010). His master‘s thesis (a novel-in-progress) was entitled Wayward. /

Formerly an Adjunct Professor in the English Department, Howard Pflanzer is a playwright,

lyricist, & poet. On the Border, his play about Walter Benjamin, winner of the 2007 Jump-Start

competition, had its world premiere at Medicine Show Theatre, in November 2007. Medicine Show

presented his play Living With History: Camus Sartre De Beauvoir in the spring of 2011. The Terrorist was

presented (US premiere: 2006) by the Unofficial New York Yale Cabaret (UNYYC) at the Laurie

Beechman Theatre, NYC. He was a Fulbright Scholar in theatre (spring 2003) in India where he


directed the world premiere of The Terrorist at the National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA)

in Mumbai where he also lectured & conducted a playwrights‘ workshop. In June 2009 he lectured

on Jerzy Grotowski, Judith Malina & the Living Theatre & Alternative Theatre in the US under the

auspices of the Theatre of the Eighth Day at the Malta International Theatre Festival in Poznan,

Poland. He was invited to reprise the lecture in January 2011 as well as collaborate on a theatre

project about climate change & an alien invasion with Teatr Palmera Eldritcha in Poznan. He has an

MFA from the Yale School of Drama in Playwriting & Dramatic Literature. He was the winner of

a Play Commission in Jewish Theatre from NFJC (for Jersey Nights at Medicine Show), a NYFA

Playwriting Fellowship, two ASCAP Awards, a Puffin Foundation grant & co-winner of an NEA

Media Arts grant for the opera Dream Beach (with Michael Sahl). His plays & musicals have been

performed & read at La MaMa ETC., (The House of Nancy Dunn with Steve Weisberg & Andy Craft),

Playwrights Horizons, Symphony Space, Medicine Show (Poetry Class With Serial Killer), Kraine

Theater (Cocaine Dreams) & The Living Theatre, & broadcast over WNYC & WBAI FM.

Playwriting Residencies include Fundacion Valparaiso, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

(VCCA), & the Ragdale Foundation. His work has appeared in The Quarterly, The Drama Review, slavic

and east european performance, New York Theater Review (anthology), theater2k.com (online), Cultural

Logic, Socialism and Democracy, Cover, And Then, Home Planet News, & Downtown Brooklyn, & in the poetry

anthologies, Off the Cuffs & Long Island Sounds. / G. J. Racz is Associate Professor of Foreign

Languages & Literature at the Brooklyn Campus, Vice-President of the American Literary

Translators Association (ALTA), & review editor for Translation Review. He won the 2010 Alicia

Gordon Award for Word Artistry in Translation from the American Translators Association (ATA).

/ Leslie Anne Rexach is working toward her bachelor‘s degree with a major in English at the

Brooklyn Campus. / Beatriz Alzate Rodriguez completed her BS at Columbia University School

of Engineering & her MS at New York Institute of Technology. Formerly an engineer at Unisys

Corporation, she now teaches math & art at Cobble Hill High School in Brooklyn. She is pursuing a

second master‘s degree in the Brooklyn Campus English Department‘s Creative Writing MFA

program. / Lisa Rogal is working toward her graduate degree in the Brooklyn Campus English

Department‘s Creative Writing MFA program. / Desiree Rucker is working toward her MFA in

Creative Writing at the Brooklyn Campus. / P. J. Salber is an Associate Professor & the

Coordinator of User Services in the Salena Library at the Brooklyn Campus. His work has appeared

in a number of little magazines including Downtown Brooklyn. / Micah Savaglio is an alumnus (B.A.,

2006) of the University of Milwaukee Wisconsin & is now working toward his MFA in Creative

Writing at the Brooklyn Campus. He is coeditor of By the Overpass: A Journal of Writing and Art. /

Michael Sohn has been teaching in the Brooklyn Campus English Department since 1997. He is a

full-time Instructor, Mentor & Faculty Development Coordinator in the English Department‘s

Writing Program. His poems have appeared in Downtown Brooklyn & Zen Monster. A critical article,

―An Incoherent Collection André du Bouchet's L'Incohérence‖ appeared in Curious Collectors, Collected

Curiosities: An Interdisciplinary Study (Nhora Lucia Serrano & Janelle A. Schwartz, eds.; Cambridge

Scholars Press; 2010). / Jean Verthein works in the Brooklyn Campus Office of Student Support

Services as a counselor specializing in students with disabilities. / Sarah Wallen is working toward

her MFA in Creative Writing at the Brooklyn Campus. / Lewis Warsh is the author of numerous

books of poetry, fiction, & autobiography, most recently Inseparable: Poems 1995-2005 (2008) & A

Place in the Sun (2010). Professor in the Brooklyn Campus English Department, he is Director of the

Creative Writing MFA program. He is also editor & publisher of United Artists Books

(unitedartistsbooks.com). / An alumna (MFA, 2010) of the English Department‘s graduate creative

writing program, Tejan Green Waszak tutors in the Writing Center & teaches as an adjunct

professor in the English Department. / Constance Woo teaches undergraduate courses at the

Brooklyn Campus & graduate courses at NYU in the joint master‘s program of The Palmer School


of Library & Information Science (LIU-C.W. Post) & New York University. Her B.A., M.A., C.Phil.,

& Ph.D. degrees in English Literature are from the University of California at Los Angeles. Her

M.S.L.S. & Certificate of Archives Management are from LIU‘s C.W. Post Campus. In addition, she

has a B.F.A. & training in bookbinding, artists‘ books production, collage & mixed media, printing,

& jewelry design. She has produced over thirty artist‘s books, primarily one-of-a-kind works, &

several limited editions. Her works are in the collections of Wesleyan University, Wellesley College,

The Mata & Arthur Jaffe Collection of Artists‘ Books at Florida Atlantic University, the University

of California (Santa Cruz & Los Angeles), DePaul University, as well as private collections.


downtown brooklyn

a journal of writing

submission guidelines

Downtown Brooklyn: a Journal of Writing is the literary magazine of the English Department at the

Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University. A new issue appears each fall semester. The editorial

staff reads new submissions from September 1 until February 1.

We accept submissions only from students, faculty & staff at the Brooklyn Campus. This includes

alumni, as well as persons formerly employed in any capacity at the Brooklyn Campus. Submissions

are also welcome from Visiting Writers who teach in the Creative Writing MFA program & from

writers who come to campus as part of the English Department‘s Voices of the Rainbow Reading


We accept submissions of poetry &/or fiction &/or creative non-fiction.

Save your submission as a single Word document & attach it to an e-mail that you send to wayne

[dot] berninger [at] liu [dot] edu. The first page of your document should be a cover page with your

phone & e-mail & a short bio statement.

In your bio statement, describe how you are connected to the Brooklyn Campus. Are you a student

Please indicate whether you are undergrad or grad, what your major or degree program is, & when

you will graduate. If you are an alum, tell us what your major was & what degree you earned, as well

as the year you graduated. Are you faculty or former faculty Tell us your department, what your

title is or was & what you teach or taught. Are you a staff member or former staff member Tell us

your title & what kind of work you do or did at the Brooklyn Campus. Everyone: If relevant, please

include any recent publications, productions, or performances of your work.

You will receive confirmation by e-mail that we have received your work. We will then notify as to

acceptance on a rolling basis.



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