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Issue 6, June 2018

West Texas Literary Review

Issue 6, June 2018

ISSN 2573-7821

© 2018 West Texas Literary Review

Board of Editors

Brandon Beck


Matt Stefon

Poetry Editor

Jennifer Beck

Essay Editor

Joel Page

Fiction Editor


Helen Liggett

Chhunny Chhean

Table of Contents


Lisa Bellamy

God is an Old Pear ............................................................... 3

Ace Boggess

More Thoughts after Visiting the Closed-Down

West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville ......................... 4

Eric Chiles

Calendar ............................................................................... 5

Darren Demaree

Poem for Katie, Queen of Ohio #47 ................................... 6

William Doreski

Empire Diner ........................................................................ 7

Andrew Dugan

Lightboat ............................................................................... 8

Robert Eastwood

United Artists Theatre, L.A. ................................................ 9

Kelsi Folsom

Waiting Tables .................................................................... 10

Chad Foret

Boil ...................................................................................... 11

Manda Frederick

Hunter’s Daughter ............................................................. 12

Leonore Hildebrandt

Blood Moon ....................................................................... 13

Jack Kristiansen

Painting with Bosch in Mind ............................................. 14

Lavinia Kumar

Carrigaline Cemetery ......................................................... 16

Mercedes Lawry

The Fall of Rose ................................................................. 17

Mitchell Nobis

Air Show ............................................................................. 18

James Owens

Scythe ................................................................................. 19

Kate Peper

Cut Offs ............................................................................. 20

Kenneth Pobo

I See Her Today ................................................................. 21

Ronald Stottlemyer

Nightfall ............................................................................. 22

Colette Tennant

Like a Married Couple Lapsed into Bickering .................. 23

S.A. Volz

Butterfly Nets and Whiffle Ball Bats ................................. 24

Peter Waldor

Last Suppers ....................................................................... 25

Brian Whalen

Est. 1929............................................................................. 26

Beth Williams

Eating Laurices ................................................................... 27

Erin Wilson

Ecology ............................................................................... 28


Rick Krizman

Spring Melons .................................................................... 31

Irene Meklin

The Dress ............................................................................ 33

Kemal Onor

The Fire Dancer ................................................................. 34

Chloe Williamson

Haunted House .................................................................. 36


Grant Ingram

West .................................................................................... 41

Tanyo Ravicz

Sea Lion .............................................................................. 44

Harvey Silverman

Eulogy ................................................................................. 51


Dallas Crow

Zumwalt Barn ..................................................................... 29

Dom Fonce

This Woman ....................................................................... 55

Amy Kotthaus

Sorrel .............................................................................. cover

Erin Schalk

Strongroom ........................................................................... 1

Ristas ................................................................................... 39

AUTHOR PROFILES ............................................................. 57

God is an Old Pear


At midnight, I wander barefoot

into the cold kitchen.

My beloved sleeps, but I

stop myself from waking him.

I know I will not rest tonight—

I have been awful. Dawn

to dusk, I had a stone in me,

instead of heart and lungs.

Opening the fridge, I see

a greenish-brown pear.

Cupping it in my hand,

curious if it is still

soft, I kiss its mottled skin.


More Thoughts after Visiting the Closed-Down

West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville


Ghosts the guide discusses like memories—

who’s to say what’s psychic photograph,

what paranormal, spirit orb, ectoplasm, rust?

The dead remember the dead.

The dead hum dirges for themselves,

chant litanies, adding their names to the list.

The state’s impenetrable warehouse

now a shrine to retribution—is it haunted

from more than nine hundred murders,

or what claustrophobia we, free guests,

smuggle into ominous lines of cells?

When the façade of brown so Gothic & vast

comes into view, we focus, fail to notice

the looming Native burial mound

across the street—the one for which this town

was named, why no cartographer instead

inked Prisonton, Consburg, or Murderville

on a map along the Highway of Lost Souls.




The foreman’s office occupied

the front end of the equipment

trailer, wooden steps leading

to a scavenged door - inside

blueprints on a sawhorse table,

a couple folding chairs, always

a girlie calendar on the wall.

Billy gleamed when he showed

her off. Wouldn’t ya want

a piece of that, he’d ask, patting

her legs, the name Coleman’s

Lumber across the top of June’s

thirty days in the year 1966.

Don’t the stain give her a nice tan?

Outside, the frame of the bible

church rose from the mud, stacks

of two by fours and plywood golden

in the morning sun. It was 9 a.m.

coffee break, and we gathered

to break bread and praise Billy’s

handiwork in silent disbelief.


Poem for Katie, Queen of Ohio #47


I have filled your nursery

with blooming flowers,

so that when you’re born

in March they will have left

only the scent of once

beautiful, of once attached

to roots that fed that beauty.

It will be unpleasant

at first. We’ll remove all

of the dead flowers

once you’re born. These rituals

are important to me.


Empire Diner


In the gloss of stainless steel

we fondle menus and consider

what color wine will flatter

your grape-colored eyes. Neither

red nor white but something tawny,

richer than plonk, riper than brandy,

something to meld the classic

architecture of the diner

with your post-industrial gaze.

The diner’s too chic to last.

In ten years it’ll disappear,

scorching another raw spot

into Manhattan, which suffers

its open wounds in silence.

But now the menus flutter

like fledglings; and the wine list,

although it doesn’t name you,

consigns itself to the memory

of your Art Deco expression,

flattering to self and other.




I’ll hold this place

for you while we

wait out the squall.

I’ll be here

as the waves

become needles

rising over the gunwale

that inject cold

and salt and alone.

I want you warm

while I keep the growing

swells at bay. I’ll wait

for some wandering bark

to pass by and listen

for news of you, for I have

lost the use of my eyes.

I burn dimly through

mist and hold the ocean

floor with huge arms

anchored by long fingers.

A hermit crab has taken

up residence in the scar

near my elbow from ages

ago when I could still

bend it. Do you notice

as you pass? Do you see

these arms when you dive

down? Do you know

where I am when

the sun returns?


United Artists Theatre, L.A.


We stood in a line, curled from the theatre

around the corner of Olympic,

stretched into smoggy gloam of a summer evening.

“King Kong” on the marquee—lighting promise

as lights would dazzle from a rescuing ship.

My friend James had been here before,

had seen “Gone With The Wind” & “Rear Window,”

& now we waited in line for an old ’33 movie.

Inside’s ornate as an old castle in Spain, he said,

naked boobs in the corners. Across the street faint

paint on bricks up fifty feet advertised cigars.

“Best on Eternity Street.” That’s what Broadway was

long ago, James said, because it led to a cemetery.

I had then another awareness—which joined

a string of similars that suddenly dawned on me

at sixteen—that nothing lasts forever.

Nothing is eternity. Where that Packard sits at the curb

was once dirt, & before that, a river,

or bed of an ocean, & cigars by the millions have been

turned at the end of a hand into smoke.


Waiting Tables


I watch as beans from Ka’anapali

crumble into coarse sand.

4 Tablespoons are leveled off,

saturated with water just shy of boiling.

Honeywheat bloom sends me smiling towards my guests.

“Give it about 4 minutes

then press the plunger.

Enjoy your coffee.”

I walk away proud

of my confidence,

proud of my skill

to present and instruct.

I straighten my name

printed on plastic

and re-tuck the denim

slipping out

of black cotton.

“Order up!”

pulls my ear to the kitchen,

but I pause

as his stare finds a way

to un-tuck

what I’ve just done.

I fetch the slimy scramble

and the sweet, steaming pancakes,

Careful not to burn my fingertips

or linger at the counter.




Uncle opens shoebox,

empties two mantises

onto a rusted tailgate.

We prop ourselves

against the scrap,

watch them try

to eat each other,

sweating in the shade.

Celery, lemon & onion

nod & disappear.

A crawfish escaped

& navigates blades

of Bermuda grass.

Circling, insects

sound like eyes

being wiped

in the dark.


Hunter’s Daughter


Child, pay attention

because one day you will need to know:

if open thighs were snares,

pale twists of hollow milkweed noosed

from hip to heel, you may just

catch him (in the act), because

even a naked snare will choke the air

around whatever lays too close.

But thighs are not snares

and at the heart of every trap is this:

a depressed trigger,

a masked human scent,

a treacherous space that closes faster

than a hand over a mouth.


Blood Moon


tonight the moon is bandaged

burned by degrees

I step out of my house

to see

under the same moon

tonight your town is weeping

the slender tower shatters and falls

market stalls are closed tonight

the plaza’s lanterns die

one by one

the woman with the flowers

the milk boy

all gone

tonight your house

rips open

the sofa stares dumbly into the street

you walk away

you carry a sleeping child

a darker air tonight sweeps

over rivers and highways

tonight you walk

you follow a map of limb and shadow

this way, you say

it’s here

I step out of my house tonight

to see


Painting with Bosch in Mind


after Pieter Bruegel’s Triumph of Death

“Pieter, what do people need?”

Bosch hovers beside you,

commenting on you work,

agreeing people need to see

the omnipresence of death:

This morning two hounds

running down a naked man;

this afternoon you’ve finished

an emaciated dog

licking the neck of a baby

who may or may not be dead;

the mother, one arm

still circling the child,

lies face down in the dirt.

“Perfect—” Bosch observes,

“that faceless woman,

the ribcage of that cur.

Isn’t it intriguing

how a lingering focus

on the down-to-earth

does as well as the nightmare

of hardworking skeletons

in bringing hell to sight?”

Your day’s work done,

you clean your brushes,

hoping to leave the spirit

of Bosch in your studio


and, oblivious to dying,

pass the winter evening

in the company of your wife,

whom you sometimes need.

Tomorrow the precise work

of an everyday shovel

atop a wagonful of skulls.


Carrigaline Cemetery, near Kinsale


It was in the cemetery

on the way to Cork

up the hill filled with weeds,

I tripped over brambles,

was stung by nettles.

Beyond the cemetery, the museum,

the shoes of Patrick Cotter O’Brien –

eight foot Kinsale man,

borne by fourteen strong men,

to his grave in lead coffin

(to deter body-snatchers;

who broke it by and by).

Below, the harbor, the great stones

framed what my mother loved –

water in still allure, the blue, brown

dories shaping the slow shadows

she drew and painted for us.


The Fall of Rose


Rose fell apart last night

while I slept. Petals dropped

in clumps, I expect, not singly.

Rose was done, fed up,

tired of having me admire her pretty face

while stuck in a canning jar

on the table of disarray, which

might have been interesting if Rose

was a reading sort of flower.

Not to mention ideal TV viewing.

I admit Rose has the right

to call it quits, and perhaps preferred

to shed her glory without my eyes

widening in dismay, as if I’d loved her,

truly loved her, which I did.

I think so, I tried at least. Oh,

Rose, I’m not ready to part, your petals

still here, in the small blue bowl,

pink and blushing. Do not fear.

I won’t banish you to potpourri,

but rather sift you with coffee grounds,

spent bluebells, and shards of eggshell,

to return to the earth and feed another rose

I may not love so wildly, though roses

can be so beguiling.


Air Show


Outside the window

maybe 20 feet away at most

two birds

starlings I think

flew right at each other I mean

right at each other

and at the last second

like ½ oz. Blue Angels both

turned 90 degrees on a center axis

in an instant

and zipped by each other

their bellies not an inch apart.

Not even one inch.

On they flew, unflappable, into the dim fireworks of

the light grey rain

And I inhaled, checked my watch, and leaned back farther,

balancing now oh so precariously

on the chair’s two rear legs,





My father fought incursions of pigweed, bindweed,

and purple loosestrife. As the blades of lesser tools

thinned and snapped from use, he repaired hoes

and hatchets and spades and released them to any hand,

but the scythe was his alone, a man’s deadly implement

that, swung stupidly, would open a leg to the wet bone.

It glowered from its pegs on the shed wall,

shaft crooked to ease the work, cracked from weather,

handles polished as pleasurable as skin with the oils

of labor. The dark crescent of steel glinted

along its edge in the dimness, attractive but forbidden

for boys prone to stumble in their ignorant gravity.

I remember plain work done as it should be done,

the hand’s or eye’s love for the angle tapped true,

the clean hole dug square, the measured cut.

He sat cross-legged at the base of a slope too steep

and rock-bound for machines and plied a file in curt

strokes that raised a new sharpness on the blade.

Then up, leaning into his own spun center, a wide-elbowed,

flow-hipped rhythm that snicked stems an inch

above the soil, the scythe seemingly as without effort

as light bending through water, he laid thistles and briers

in long swathes, to be raked in mounds and to dry

for the sweet smoke of fires that marked the cleared ground.


Cut Offs


A grease spot and a puff of feathers

where a bird had hit the window.

All that’s left is a leg and claw

curved into an ampersand

that once linked bird to tree and nest.

It lies in my hand unfastened

to anything.

I bury it.

Finally! I was ready to let them go,

she laughs as she tells me

why they cut off her legs.

Black Things. Useless.

Now she sits in her wheeled throne,

smiling, a nurse plumping her pillow.

I imagine her shoes swept

into a garbage can.

Her legs burning to ash.

She will never again feel her weight

on this earth.

On her birthday, she danced

in a tiered skirt—a fan flaring

under string lights.

I remember her voice pitched

above the music, I’m traveling!

Where?, we asked.

Anywhere there’s a beach

to walk on!

I cut her jeans to shorts,

wishing I could scissor every loss.


I See Her Today


Leaden since Tuesday, the sky

waits for the sun to push

fire-hairy arms through

a budding pussy willow. Clouds

give way to a blue spreading

across our brown yard,

a trellis with dead morning

glories pressed to it. Before

mom died she asked for

pussy willows. They arrived a week

too late. I see her today,

in a babushka, walking out

to the bush, the tallest branches

ten feet above her head,

spring still seven weeks away,

her steps lost to snow

and bitter winds.




So dark now, this time,

weighing us down—peonies drooping

along the shaded sidewalk.

Over there in the city park,

a couple is swinging under the streetlight,

breath floating out, then plunging down,

ground springing back up again.

Farther north, thunder breaks free

as the blue ice cracks open the horizon.

In the slow sundown, no one hears

anything. The swing is still.

The couple walks off into the night.

Unseen, each galaxy spins emptiness

around its tilted clock face. Unimaginable,

the speeds, the light swept away.


Like a Married Couple Lapsed into Bickering


the two crows in the cottonwood out back

just squawk to squawk some days

or sit on the wire running parallel to the road,

one facing north, one facing south.

If they were writers,

one would be left-handed

just to spite the right hander.

But there was that one day

the gray hawk flew in solemn circles

that narrowed toward their nest.

They were soldiers then,

pledged to an allegiance

only they could love,

their wings, their black rage outrageous

toward talons dark with hunger

deep as nameless night.


Butterfly Nets and Whiffle Ball Bats


Shoes streaked with the smear of dandelion,

the boys dart through the yard with butterfly nets

and whiffle ball bats—neighborhood sons not my own,

though I stand at the window and watch.

I think of seasons past—the sun-drenched sky

sinking into a haze of coming twilight

and honeysuckle slithering along the wooden fence,

the vines a tapestry of red and orange and white.

Oh, it was simple enough: Pluck a blossom,

pinch the green end, and pull the stamen.

Let the stem slide across your tongue

as it serves its single drop of sweetness.

The blossoms piled at my feet until the picking

became a problem in the swallowing dark.

Spring turns to summer. The dandelion wrinkles

into a globe of white, wispy filaments

that can be torn by a breeze, a childish breath.

The day is night now, and the boys are shadows—

forms merging, reflected in the window pane.


Last Suppers


Once when even your mother’s breasts

would not console you, crying, screaming,

I took pity on the others at the old hotel

and in the middle of the night carried you off

into the forest. In a bog we heard a bull frog,

its voice deeper than the deepest baritone’s deepest hum.

After three or four blasts you stopped crying and slept.

And now a few years later, with scalpel

you slice the white belly of a dead frog, pull out

the dark stomach and slice it as well,

and pull out a baby crawdad claw. You hold it up

and test its still good mechanical actions

and poke its tip on your fingertip, in your mind

the image of a rocky shore and the moment

before the last terrible moment and the last

terrible moment and then a man whose face

you cannot see wading in with hip waders,

sweeping the frog up in his net just as it was enjoying

its last supper. He calculates another 75 cents

added to the great but not great enough collection;

and still holding up the claw in the light,

neither of us with any ideas about what happened

to the great spirit that once inhabited it

as it tried to grip everything edible in its path.

Even with your perfect memory you cannot

remember that bull frog five years ago…

he must be big as a wheelbarrow by now and his

bull horn must have knocked down every tree

in a wide circle around him. Now he wakes

everything, except, of course for those deepest

of sleepers after their last suppers.


Est. 1929


we walk down main street estimating

population based on store fronts

old man rope man tree man

I have tried to climb since birth

my father points to a stone engraving

tells me “bad year to start a bank”


Eating Laurices


Pope Gregory said it was okay

to eat fetal rabbits during Lent

because their watery wombs

made them fish, not meat

the most delicate food cut

from an unharmed mother

never baptized at birth

like babies in church

I must be a Pisces, as well my sister

who never stopped swimming

she was killed by a doctor’s

rod and reel

strangers say I’ve a smudge

on my forehead

not knowing the ash

is dust from a breeding doe.




I don’t want to suggest anything outside the image

as it presented itself and so I will try to keep quiet,

except to mention certain facts. It was more than twenty-below

with a harsh north wind, and it was only the beginning of winter.

I had walked out of town on country roads, trying to move beyond

my own personal debris, head down, eyes squinting,

leaking with the wind, until I was arrested.

The black alders, which aren’t black at all but a most

unassuming brown-grey, had pushed out bushels of the ripest

winterberries I’d ever seen, so dazzling against the banks

of snow, I was overcome.

Winterberry, winterberry, winterberry,

my eyes followed the burning bursts of colour

neither hot nor cold (which caused me to inexplicably ache)

left to right, and then rested upon the image in question.

Settled in the crux of a tree—

a pregnant burst of feathers, as brindled brown as

the branches themselves. This entity, let’s refer to it

as ground zero, plucked winterberry after winterberry

from the branches, and swallowed.

Had I not stopped due to the intensity of red

I’d never have noticed the grouse.

Instead, what appeared to be happening

was that the alder bushes,

which had sent forth their red sons and daughters,

were consuming themselves, disappearing their own fruits,

a complete circuit against a white screen.


Spring Melons


“Got your buckets?” Mom asks and of course we do. Of

course we have our buckets, and catchers mitts, and a helmet for

Bitsy because of how she got her noggin popped last time.

She’s too little, I’d said then, but Marcy’d said You used to

be too little, but I said That was before.

We never go anywhere together, the five of us girls and Mom,

at least not since Dad’s gone. But it was him told us about the

spectacular sight, and of course he was right. Like how he’d

showed us the Mystery House where water runs uphill and if you

stood in one place I could be as tall as Janey, even though she’d

shot up two inches last year. Or when he took us to that hole in

the desert where the Big Bear threw down the giant snowball

from way out at the North Star, which Dad said was a pinhole

and the Universe was leaking out, but it’d be fine for now, we’d

all be dead anyway, which made Bitsy cry but she didn’t know

what for. Sometimes he’d hold his hand up in the sky and act

like he was moving a cloud across the sun, but I’m older and

knew it was a trick, that it was the sun doing the moving. But I

didn’t say, because of Cassie, who of course believed everything.

“Okay, hop in,” Mom says, sounding tired, like she doesn’t

want to do this. Of course she’s always tired, since Dad. Maybe

you just get tired eventually. I’m never tired and sometimes I

think whether the tiredness has been spread fairly.

We drive a long ways to the farm and Bitsy cries four whole

times, which Dad would say was a New World Record, which

always happened when he was around. Look, he’d say, three

rainbows, a New World Record, just for example. Or having the

hiccups for so long. Or eating the most ice cream.

We get to the melon field and pile out with our buckets and

baseball gloves, and look across the big heart-shaped leaves with

the tan cantaloupes peeking out under. Dad always said Get


close, real quiet, and don’t startle them. We tiptoe down the

rows, I’ve got my bucket ready, then Bitsy giggles and we shush

her but too late, and a cantaloupe springs up in the air. Marcy

can’t get it, but she trips in the dirt and another melon flies off

and I chase it with my bucket, but it’s too far, and of course I fall

down too, but then I see cantaloupes flying everywhere,

springing out of the heart-shaped leaves, and we’re all chasing

them and I get one in my bucket, look over at Mom and wave.

But she doesn’t see me, leaning against the car and smoking a

cigarette, looking off at something else.


The Dress


She twirls around in front of the mirror, laughing as the

colors blend into a colorful blur. Her hair is cut short, too short

to move when she twirls, but in her mind’s eye it is a long silky

wave that swings around with every step she takes. She stops

twirling for a moment and gazes at herself in the mirror, feeling

the happiest she’s felt in a long time. She goes over to her

mother’s nightstand and opens it, gazing in wonder at the

treasure inside: makeup. She gently tugs a tube of scarlet red

lipstick out of the drawer, making sure to make no sound. She

wonders how she’d look with it on, and struts over to the mirror,

lipstick clutched in her chubby fingers. She unscrews the cap and

paints some of it onto her lips, her smile so wide that the lipstick

stains her teeth red. She wonders if she should go try some

mascara when her mother storms in, in all her glory, and begins

to yell.

“What are you doing here?” She screams at the cowering girl.

“And what is it that you have on—my dress? My lipstick?” She

stalks over to her and rips off the oversized dress that does not

seem so colorful anymore, instead turning gray and sad as the girl

begins to cry. “No son of mine would…” The girl flinches at the

dreaded word, and the mother’s tone softens. “Go put on some

clothes, Ray.” The girl scurries out of the room, sobbing to

herself. The mother soon follows, casting a last look at the havoc

within, sighs, and closes the door behind her.

The once-beautiful dress sits on the floor, torn, forlorn,

dreaming of some day.


The Fire Dancer


Several years ago, I spent the summer working for a carnival.

My position was not so coveted as the clowns with their prat falls

and late-night drunken conversations about life before becoming

a clown. It was also not nearly as impressive as the sword

swallowers or the fire eaters.

That summer, it was my job to put out any fires that were

started by the fire dancer. A woman, whom at the time, I thought

older than me. Her act was mesmerizing. Her tall, thin frame

would spin and jump. The rings on her arms jingling to her

movement. She would spin so fast that the earth-color of her skin

would flash with the fire in her hands. As she spun faster, her

body would create a flower of fire and it would bloom in a

brilliant display, like a silent firework. She would become one

with the glow. Like a wick completed consumed by flame.

It was my job, that should something go wrong, I was to run

out and douse any wayward flame with my fire extinguisher. Most

of the time there was no need for me, and I was able to slip into

a daze. I would ooh and awe with every night’s audience feeling

the incredible thrill of this woman in her deadly dance. After her

act, I would go to my cot and sleep a sweet-dream filled sleep.

Night after night, through the season she continued to draw large

crowds. I became more relaxed in my job.

Then one night, it happened. During the fire toss. The

burning torch did not return to the dancer’s hand. Instead it

rolled down the front of her dress. There was a blaze of fire. The

hiss of a sparkler. She cried out in her Eastern European

language. I almost called for help, forgetting my job entirely for a

precious moment. Then the fire was out. Her dress had a hole in

the spot where the torch had burned it, the edges curled like

burned book paper.

I stayed with her as she was carted from the ring. I sat with

her in the medical tent. The shock had frightened me worse than


it did her. It seemed odd, finally being so close to this woman.

Without the bright lights on her, she looked no older than a

child. I watched as the doctor took a look at her. She rolled up

her dress, and pointed to the spot where the fire had touched

her. It became apparent that this was not the first time she had

been burned. Soft, pink, charred skin marked her body all over.

She turned her head and there was a mark over her eye that her

hair covered and could not been seen at a distance. I waited with

her. She gave grimaces at the doctor’s touch.

By the time we left the tent, she was in high spirits. We

wandered the carnival together. Most of the big attractions were

over, and clowns were about collecting trash in barrels. It was a

bright night in July. The sky full of stars. We went slowly through

the paths.

“You must be tired,” she said.

“I’m alright. I don’t mind staying up,” I said. That night she

brought me back to her cot. She let me touch her. My hands

running over her skin. Noting each scar and burn through the

years. We slept together that night. The whirr of crickets playing

in the fields coming in through the window. She had a sweet

smell like wild flowers and smoke. Lying with our eyes closed, my

skin pressed against hers. She felt warm, like a fire burned under

her skin.

“I hate fire,” she said.

“Do you?”

“Yes. It does nothing but burn and scar.”


Haunted House


To claim that the house was haunted may have been

something of an exaggeration, but that did not stop Clifford

from putting up the signs. He began with one, along the highway,

a simple hand-painted arrow with plain black lettering. Without

a closer look, one might have assumed that it was an

advertisement for pick-your-own strawberries.

It was October and the pressing heat of the Texas hill

country had begun to let up slightly. In the evenings, he watched

the sun set from the porch. It melted lazily across the horizon.

He stirred sweet tea in his mother’s inherited crystal glasses with

a long-handled spoon but, despite his best efforts, the sugar fell

to the bottom.

The first time it happened, he was surprised by the

physicality of it. As he lay in bed, drifting to sleep, he felt

something sit next to him, depressing the mattress. He turned,

but saw nothing. He did not reach out towards the empty space

for fear of disrupting whatever had joined him.

Next was the newspaper, which he found rifled through on

the kitchen table, the obituary page left conspicuously on top.

There were only two entries: an elderly man and a community

college student, both injured irreparably in the same car crash.

In the mornings when he made coffee it went cold as soon as he

poured it, or stayed hot far too long. He sat on the porch with it

anyway, watching the gradual movement of the shadows cast by

the orange trees in his front yard.

He began to move through his own home hesitantly, leaving

room for the presence that had moved in. He vacuumed the

carpet more frequently. He set the table with the china his

grandmother had brought to Texas from Alabama, stored

painstakingly in the back of her covered wagon. When he

dropped a plate while washing it he cursed, and then apologized,

imagining for a moment his grandmother watching him, steel


gray hair wrapped tightly against her skull, a look of resolved

disappointment on her face.

He imagined it next as his wife, dead for almost nine years,

and he dug through storage boxes in the closet until he found

the last set of sheets she had picked out for their bed. They were

soft and white, with small botanical diagrams scattered evenly.

He found her perfume, the bottle he had hidden in the bottom

drawer of their dresser, and sprayed it above the bed. The fine

mist settled on his forehead and arms. It reminded him of

magnolias, and the tree-lined streets of his childhood home. That

night though, his bed was empty.

The first group to visit was a couple with two young children.

He offered them water or sweet tea, but the harried father

declined on the part of his family. They seemed relieved when he

assured them that there was no need to pay. The children

tumbled around the house, spooking themselves with the

creaking floorboards. After a few moments, they returned and

tugged at their father’s pants, asking where the ghosts were.

Without an answer, they began to whine. The father looked at

Clifford, equal parts disappointment and apologetic


The young woman, whose sweat had made dark half-moons

in the yellow fabric under her armpits, pulled him aside. I thought

I heard a baby crying.

There aren’t any babies here that I know of.

It’s just, she looked down, shifting her weight from one foot

to another, I just lost a baby. And then I heard one crying, and her

husband called her and she smoothed her hair, produced a snack

from her bag for the younger of the two children. They were gone

as quickly as they had arrived.

There was the older woman who came alone and said her

husband had made their rocking chair creak in the exact same

way. Then the young man who ran out sobbing after investigating

a tapping sound in the hall closet. They came in uneven spurts,


sometimes a few at once, strangers following each other’s dusty

rental cars off the highway.

It was more company than he had had in years. Few took

them up on his offers of food and drinks, but he started making

pecan bars anyway. A few months after the visitors began

trickling in, whoever or whatever had been visiting him stopped

doing so. He tried to tempt it back, leaving books open to be

paged through, lighting candles and turning his back on them.

He unzipped the protective bag around his wife’s wedding dress

and ran his fingers gently down the satin-covered buttons. A week

later, he found moths nesting in the lace, chewing uneven holes

in the fabric.

His lack of personal haunting did not seem to deter

whatever it was the visitors found. When they asked him how he

had discovered the house’s miraculous properties he told them,

but with each repetition the story shrank. A thin jealousy began

to creep across the length of his ribs and into his throat as he

watched them.

Winter came and went, and spring arrived. The trees in

nearby pecan orchards grew their drooping green flowers. He

stopped chopping wood for the fireplace. Still, they came: stickyfingered

children and hair-sprayed Dallas realtors and, only once,

another man his age, who sat sadly at the dining table for almost

ten minutes before leaving. He imagined his own ghosts hiding

from the crowds. His grandmother watching primly from the

armchair as a family’s dog relieved itself on the living room

carpet. His wife excusing herself quietly when a trucker began to

talk about bitches.

The people visiting were little more than ghosts to him

either. He listened to their phantom steps through the house

from the kitchen, not wanting to intrude. If they spoke to him,

it was very superficial or very personal: the weather or family





The West. To be sure there are spots around this country

that take the breath away with their beauty. Thoreau on his

Walden Pond wrote about the beauty that he encountered there;

the rawness of the land captured something in him that aroused

his inner spirit to the heights of pureness. Byron poeticized the

Lake District where Ambleside sits on the edge of heaven. Bede

Griffiths claims salvation in an English sunset. I wonder what

these men would have said having had lived their lives in the

West. This place has a penchant for toughness over beauty. The

mesquite and cactus scrub lands of West Texas, the high New

Mexican desert, the high country of the Rockies, the endless

plains of Wyoming and Montana. To the aesthetic, there is some

congruity in these landscapes—each inhospitable in its own way.

Far from the gentleness of Connecticut or Virginia, the land

imposes itself upon those that choose to live west, and in that

resides its beauty. A pioneer spirit still walks out here—the

frontier’s disappearance a fresh lament. At least in this kitchen.

I find that I don’t have many compadres with respect to my

views here. My grandfather raised sheep in Nolan County, Texas

his whole life. I remember his grungy hat of yellow mesh and

denim with a patch on the front reading “CAT diesel power.” I

remember him slapping that damn hat on his thigh yelling

“Hyaw!” while kicking rocks at those poor sheep.

As a kid it seemed like that’s all ranching was—kicking rocks

at sheep and cutting the occasional puss pocket out of a cow that

had gotten too far into a prickly pear. Looking back it’s startling

to me that my granddad may well be the last man I’ll know who

lived a life utterly connected to the land. He was a philosopher

in his own way: the way a lot of the old timers were. That’s going

away now, as are the traditions they kept. But he was prescient in

one respect. Sheep don’t do the business they once did.

Cattle, mythical as they are to the West, were always an


English bred animal destined to anguish and kill profits in the

summer heat and bitter winters.

Domesticating buffalo would have been a much better idea.

Regardless of the history of it all, kicking rocks may be all that

remains for the ranchers of future generations. Still, the western

wear shops are doing good business, prices for ranch land are

going up and up, people are buying and buying, and it seems that

one of the greatest icons of Americana, the cowboy boot, has

found a home in the hipster kids scene today.

I don’t know exactly why I feel a sense of loss, though I do.

I grew up in a mid-sized city, spent some summers at the ranch

(only for fishing and shooting bottles with the .22—leisure time),

but I still feel a profound sense that something major has cracked

in our society that we, I, don’t have a strong connection with the


“All cattlemen, herdsmen, drovers, men who follow grazing

animals over the land, seeking the grass that nourishes them—

such men, pantheistic by nature, resolutely reject anything that

smacks of the modern world: its politics, its art, its technology.

What they accept, at a profound level, is the cycle of nature, in

which men and animals alike are born, grow old, and die, to be

succeeded by new generations of men and animals. Recycling of

this natural sort does not bother men who live on the land; some

even resent the fact that modern burial practices retard the

process. The notion that they will soon become part of the food

chain doesn’t bother them at all.”

I read this passage tonight in a wonderful book by Larry

McMurtry called Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen:

Reflections at Sixty and Beyond. Maybe he’s got it right. Perhaps

the great schism that I feel is that I’ve become insulated from

being part of that food chain. No longer in today’s society do I

have to worry about food, shelter, basics—no, I’ve been to college,

have a job teaching school, and live in an apartment near

downtown. I’m not, in a very real sense, subject to nature’s

whims. Provided another Katrina doesn’t hit San Angelo, I’ll


emain much more subject to things like economic instability.

Though I’ve inherited that quality to care very little for today’s

politics, art, and technology, I am much more connected to these

things than I find comfortable. It is the sense of a loss of

something that I never had that runs deep in me. The land under

the western sky leaves me with a sense that I belong to it, though

I’ve never quite figured out how. I do know that I miss the stars

when I’m in the big city. I miss the sunsets over the cotton fields.

I miss the smell of a storm a hundred miles away and watching it

roll across the flat plains.

There’s a rhythm to it all—a feeling that it is as it should be.

Maybe, here in this kitchen, it is that feeling that I miss most of



Sea Lion


Lonny K was already on probation for a felony when he was

photographed shooting at a sea lion. What had begun as a verbal

turf war between him and his neighbors, commercial fishermen

on Kodiak Island’s west coast, had escalated into violence when

Lonny rammed the neighbors’ fishing skiff with his own, a 23-

foot aluminum skiff driven by a 150-horsepower outboard

engine. That’s where the felony comes in, because in the eyes of

the law a moving boat is a lethal weapon.

As a felon Lonny shouldn’t have been anywhere near a

firearm, but there he was shooting his rifle at a sea lion that was

robbing the salmon from his net and tearing holes in the mesh.

Lonny’s setnet, anchored in place and stretching perpendicular

to the beach, was completely vulnerable to the sea lion, but

shooting at a sea lion is a federal crime, and the neighbors, the

ones Lonny had feuded with, snuck over and photographed him

doing it. That’s how Lonny K came to spend the next part of his

life behind bars.

It’s hard to say where a life pivots, where a fateful course of

events is set in motion. Character is one thing, circumstance is

another, and if the one looks inescapable, the other may look

freakish or unfair. People who knew Lonny, friends and family,

thought it was a mistake to have accepted a five-year felony

probation in the first place. “Five years! That’s a long time to stay

out of trouble.” “You better not even have a bullet, Lonny. You’re

a felon. Don’t take your gun to fish camp. They’re watching you.

They’re laying for you.”

All this turned out to be true. “In one ear and out the other,”

his mother Audrey said. Sometimes Lonny drank too much, and

it wasn’t for nothing that he had a reputation for hot-headedness.

Even after the photographs emerged, the ones that showed him

shooting at a sea lion, the Alaskan prosecutors would have

dropped the probation violation if Lonny had been willing to sell


his commercial fishing rights. They didn’t want him going back

there and stirring up trouble with the neighbors. But the federal

authorities had a different agenda. Lonny’s crime was shooting

at a Steller sea lion, and the feds weren’t interested in doing

anything but making an example of Lonny K. Lonny’s friends

saw the federal government as a massive golden sea lion lunging

out of the water and shaking a salmon in its jaws.

At the Cook Inlet Pretrial Facility in downtown Anchorage,

Lonny and the other arrivals waited in a hot windowless cell, a

foul-smelling hellhole of a cell. To Lonny the place stank worse

than a pack of sea lions. The sweat rolled down his sides and he

was left there to stew for a long time. His ordeal had begun.

His mother Audrey visited him there and she later

remembered the indignities with a bitter shudder. She thought

she would rather die than be locked up like that. Audrey felt sorry

for her son, but he had been given many chances to straighten

out. She was old school in this regard, a law-and-order, takeresponsibility

woman. Lonny had always been a jock, humored

and indulged, and the pattern of indulgence had finally caught

up with him.

Privately Audrey believed that a tendency to alcohol abuse

ran in the genes, on her late husband’s side. But this was no

excuse. Lonny was thirty-four years old. He had time to change

his ways. Pink-faced, square-jawed, handsome, Swedish and

German by blood, and with winning blue eyes, Lonny had looks

that worked magic on certain women, often women who had a

fire-breathing streak of their own. One of these was his girlfriend

Florence, a twenty-two-year-old from one of the island villages.

Privately Audrey had doubts about Florence, who liked to “party

hearty” and who might not be the best influence on her son. But

Audrey didn’t want to hex Lonny by giving up on his judgment.

If he would leave off drinking, if he would wed Florence or

another woman and find room in his heart for God, Lonny could

turn his life around.

For his part Lonny had a single great fear: that his


grandmother would learn that he was in jail. He was extremely

fond of his grandmother and he begged his mother not to tell

the old woman what had happened.

It was January when Lonny began serving time at the Cook

Inlet Facility, and until his sentencing he was locked up for

twenty-four hours a day except for commissary trips and twice

weekly gym exercise. He was eventually moved to a minimum

security wing where his cellmate was a smalltime drug offender.

In February his sentencing made Kodiak’s newspaper, the Daily

Mirror. The townspeople who didn’t already know Lonny’s story

now read it in the newspaper. Fortunately his grandmother lived

out of state and his secret was safe from her.

For taking potshots at a sea lion Lonny was sentenced to

eighteen months in prison. He had already served two months;

fifty-four days were suspended; leaving him with fourteen

months to serve on the federal charges.

In March Lonny was transferred to a federal prison outside

of Alaska. This happened abruptly and without any notice to his

family. His sister Janice had sent him a letter with an enclosed

religious pamphlet and a picture of Jesus, and the packet was

returned to her undelivered with a note informing her that the

material she had sent was “contraband.” His family worried

about him until they learned that they could write to him at the

Federal Detention Center in Seattle. “Be sure to use the correct

inmate number,” they were told, “or he won’t get the mail.”

Because the move to Seattle happened so abruptly, only a

day after his girlfriend Florence visited him, Lonny suspected

that the authorities relocated him to deprive him of this last

happiness of receiving visits from his girl. He was alone now to

ponder his transgressions. But not really alone. At the Federal

Detention Center in Seattle, Lonny was surrounded by illegal

immigrants and petty drug users. He wasn’t sure how to interpret

this. Did it say something about the relative gravity of his offense?

Did it speak to the efficiency and appetite of the criminal justice

system? “There are so many innocent people here,” he wrote


home in a letter. And indeed it shocked Lonny that ordinary

people served long sentences for a simple drug possession or a

border violation. Most of them were good people, and he

sometimes thought of them as his roommates, not his cellmates.

By June Lonny was working six days a week for six hours a

day in the prison bakery. The job relieved the tedium of

incarceration, and in his spare time he studied the Bible for selfimprovement.

Fishing was the work he loved most, and this was

the first summer in memory that Lonny didn’t fish. He normally

setnetted for salmon in the summertime, and in the winter he

crabbed for king crab in the Bering Sea. Lonny had always said

that crabbing was a young man’s work and he would quit it after

he turned thirty years old, but he was too fond of living on the

edge—it’s a lucrative thrill, catching crab in the Bering Sea—and

after he turned thirty he kept heading west to the crabbing

grounds. Now in federal custody he fished for nothing.

Back in Kodiak many of Lonny’s colleagues, dismayed by the

bullying tactics of the government, spoke freely on the subject:

“If the people who made the laws were turned out and had

to earn their living fishing, things would come around different.”

“You got that right.”

“Sea lions yank a salmon right out of my hands. They’ll rip

out the stomach and leave the rest. Roll around in the net and

take what they want and leave the fish heads.”

“They get us seine fishermen, too. Swim right into the seine

before we close it. They’ll toss out thirty or forty salmon and go

get ’em. You look in your net and the sea lion got more fish than

you did.”

Kodiak’s fishermen were distinctly unimpressed by the

government’s heavy-handedness in punishing Lonny.

Lonny fished for a couple of seasons after his release from

custody in the spring of the following year. He repaired the bear

damage at his neglected fish camp, and during salmon season he


deployed a hundred fifty fathoms of moneymaking gillnet. In the

winter he crewed a crab boat in the Bering Sea, as in the past,

but the catch of king crab wasn’t what it used to be. The crabbing

season was shorter than ever, and when he factored in the

required weeks of preparation and cleanup, his paycheck, just

under ten thousand dollars, was a disappointment.

Florence had gotten pregnant in the fall, and their baby

would be due in June when the next commercial salmon season

opened. Ordinarily Florence would have her baby at the Native

hospital in Anchorage, but she decided to stay in Kodiak so that

Lonny would not have to choose between the baby’s birth and

the start of salmon season. If it ever came to a choice, though,

she wondered what choice Lonny would make, and she asked

him. Lonny pondered the question and decided it was a tossup.

He played cool about the prospect of becoming a thirty-sevenyear-old

father, but Flo wanted the baby a lot, and this made him


Lonny’s sentence included three years of state probation and

six years of federal probation, and as an ex-convict he needed to

pay attention to every rule. Even a fuel seep from his engine filter

could land him in trouble, and Lonny couldn’t afford trouble.

“I’ve got friends where I’m going,” he would say, speaking of his

nemeses on the fishing grounds. Lonny’s supporters, gauging

how his experiences had changed him, noticed that he used the

word “seem” a lot, as if he didn’t quite trust in appearances

anymore. “Seems like it’ll be a nice day today,” he said. Or, “He

seems like a nice guy.”

Not to be caught in a trivial infraction, Lonny used buoy

paint to stencil his boat registration number on the bow of his

fishing skiff. Enforcement of the boat registration rules was

passing from the Coast Guard to the Alaska State Troopers and

a crackdown was expected. As for the sea lions, Lonny refrained

from actively repelling them, but it vexed him that people didn’t

understand the scope of the problem. It wasn’t one or two sea

lions inconveniencing him, it was twenty of them violating his


net. They were predators. He thought about poisoning them, but

a bevy of dead sea lions washing up on his beach would look very

bad indeed.

Although Lonny was pleased that he hadn’t buckled to the

government’s pressure and sold his fishing rights, the truth was

that Lonny had wearied of fishing. And this was something he

had never believed would happen. The fishing was less

productive than it used to be, and he wasn’t getting younger. He

had long ago dreamed of becoming a high school wrestling

coach, but this dream was impossible for a felon. With a baby on

the way he thought about finding work in the North Slope oil

fields, and he contemplated an apprenticeship in the trade of

heating and air conditioning, but these possibilities lay in the

future. Lonny still had a difficult choice to make before the way

ahead became clear to him.

The commercial salmon season was set to open on the ninth

of June, and in early June Lonny left Kodiak town and headed to

his fish camp to prepare his equipment. Florence, knowing that

the baby was close, broke into tears when Lonny told her he was

leaving. She begged him to stay in town with her, but Lonny’s

fishing instinct was so strong at this time of year that he really

had no choice. He had to go. It was not an easy decision to make,

but he made it.

At three-thirty on the morning after he left, Florence went

into labor. From the hospital she called Lonny on the satellite

telephone, and Lonny got the news and tried to return to town

to be with her, but the weather had changed since he left, with

gale winds blowing and dangerous seas, and Lonny couldn’t get

closer to Kodiak town than the village of Port Lions. Stranded

there during the storm, Lonny missed everything, both the baby’s

delivery and the start of salmon fishing.

“He’ll hear about that one for the rest of his life,” the old

salts in Kodiak say, and they tell Lonny’s story with a laughter

born of a lifetime’s learning. “He made his decision and it was

the wrong decision.”


This turned out to be the last season of commercial fishing

for Lonny K. Today Lonny lives with Flo and their children in

the Pacific Northwest, far from the fishing grounds of Kodiak,






The rabbi’s eulogy was boilerplate. The subject’s name was

inserted but otherwise the comments were recited by rote with a

delivery that lacked any sense of kindness, sympathy, or caring.

Well, the departed had not been a member of the synagogue,

the only one in the small city in which he had lived for nearly

half a century. He may never have met the rabbi. What the rabbi

knew of the late gentleman for whom the eulogy was being given

had come from a conversation with the deceased’s older brother

who similarly was not a member of the synagogue. Perhaps

boilerplate was all that one could expect.

The small sanctuary was filled. The seats were occupied by

family, friends, acquaintances, customers. All sat quietly as the

rabbi continued a description that applied to any generic dead

person. When he described the departed as optimistic I could

not help but figuratively shake my head and think to myself, “No,

you asshole, David was a lot of things but he was not optimistic.”

I was disappointed. But understandable, I supposed. Here

the rabbi had to go through the required steps for somebody he

did not know, somebody who had never supported his

congregation or his synagogue. The rabbi was human. Perhaps

he was resentful. Perhaps one could not expect even feigned


David’s brother followed with his own eulogy, then a cousin,

finally a nephew. Each was dull, a mere recitation of facts,

humorless, hardly a celebration of the man’s life. Later that day

his brother told me that had he been certain I would attend (I

had flown 1500 miles to get there) he would have asked me to


I wish that he had.


I would have celebrated both David’s life and our friendship.

I would have told of a friendship that began in grammar school’s

first grade and lasted the 65 years until his death. I would have

recalled that so many years earlier, before social media and

internet and cellphones, most friends went different ways after

high school’s end and gradually lost touch but David and I found

our bond worth the effort to maintain it.

I smoked my first cigarette with him, got drunk for the first

time with him, smoked my first joint with him. When I married

he was my Best Man.

David loved to tell stories and to tell them again many, many

times. My sons could recite some verbatim. He and I laughed

together at the old stories no matter how many times they were


I wonder which stories I might have told in a eulogy. How

would I have chosen from so many?

Perhaps I would have described his frantic efforts to

convince me to get out of the car when we arrived my wedding;

he could not know I was just fooling around. Maybe I would have

recounted the scene a decade later when, grumbling and

mumbling, one morning he entered the warm kitchen of our

ancient uninsulated New Hampshire farmhouse after a winter’s

night in our extra bedroom, his wool cap pulled down to his

eyebrows, his heavy coat zipped to its highest reach, his hands

gloved, his shoulders hunched. His complaint of the cold room

was met with a tongue-in-cheek reference to a lack of manhood,

only later recanted when I found the heat to his room had been

inadvertently closed off, my friend left to suffer the near zero

temperature. Or I might have recalled an episode a number of

years after that when he and I beat my two sons in touch football

after which, standing there naked and helpless, he needed my

wife to physically help him into a hot bath.

I certainly would have described his great concern for all of

his many friends, his worry when things were difficult for them,


his joy and vicarious pleasure when things went well for them.

And I would have described his wonderful talent playing his

banjo and singing, his self-taught skill, his natural ability to draw

in his audience of friends and hold them tightly. I would have

told how one of the great pleasures in life was to sit with friends

some evenings listening to him play and sing. I probably would

have described one night in a secluded beachfront cottage, the

lack of electricity overcome with a few candles, when I heard him

sing for the first time “Sweet Baby James” and found myself

speechless when he finished.

Doubtless I would have mentioned in closing that

oftentimes when the night grew late and he was ready to stop

playing he would sing one final song, The Highwayman, a poem

by Alfred Noyes that had been put to music by Phil Ochs. He

invariably performed it beautifully and we knew then that we

were done.

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,

When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,

When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,

A highwayman comes riding—


A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.



Author Profiles

Lisa Bellamy studies poetry and teaches at The Writers Studio.

Her chapbook, Nectar, won The Aurorean chapbook prize. Her

work has appeared in TriQuarterly, New Ohio Review, The Southern

Review, Hotel Amerika, Massachusetts Review, Cimarron Review,

Southampton Review, Chautauqua and PANK, among other publications.

Ms. Bellamy has received a Pushcart Prize Special Mention

and a Fugue poetry prize. She lives in Brooklyn and the Adirondacks.

Ace Boggess is author of three books of poetry, most recently

Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017), and the novel

A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016). His

fourth poetry collection, I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, is

forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. His writing has appeared in

Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North

Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston,

West Virginia.

Eric Chiles is an adjunct professor of Journalism and English at

a number of colleges and universities in eastern Pennsylvania

and was a prize-winning print journalist for more than 30 years.

His poetry appears in Allegro, American Journal of Poetry, Chiron

Review, Gravel, Plainsongs, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Third Wednesday

and other journals. His poem “The orchid garnish” won the

2015 Cape Cod Writers Center Poetry Contest. In 2014, he

completed a 10-year section hike of the Appalachian Trail.

Dallas Crow’s photos have appeared on the cover of Midwestern

Gothic and the Greek editions of two American works of fiction,

Bill Beverly’s Dodgers and Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning


Darren C. Demaree’s poems have appeared in numerous magazines/journals,

including Diode, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram,

and The Colorado Review. He is the author of eight poetry collections,

most recently Two Towns Over (March 2018), which was

selected as the winner of the Louise Bogan Award by Trio House

Press. He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology


and Ovenbird Poetry. Mr. Demaree currently lives and writes in

Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

A.R. Dugan has an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College.

His poetry can be seen or is forthcoming in a number of

literary magazines and reviews, most recently Salamander. He

taught high school English in southeastern Massachusetts for

nine years. He reads poetry for Ploughshares and currently teaches

literature and writing at Emerson College and Wheaton College.

Kelsi Folsom is an emerging writer from San Antonio, contributing

regularly to Red Tent Living Magazine and Women Who Live

On Rocks. Her work has also been published by Knocked Up

Abroad. She has three children and currently lives in the Dutch

Caribbean working as a musician and blogging at www.shamelessbeauty.org,

while her husband attends medical school.

Manda Frederick has previously published poetry in the Sierra

Nevada Review, Stirring, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Monarch Review,

Muse & Stone, The Way North: Upper Peninsula Collected New

Works, Vine Leaves Literary Magazine, the 2011 Press 53 Open

Awards Anthology, The Cancer Poetry Project Anthology, Love Notes:

An Anthology of Romantic Poetry, MOTIF Anthology: Water, and the

Delmara Review. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the

Inland Northwest Center for Writers and an MA in literary theory

from Western Washington University. Manda currently resides

in Philadelphia PA, where she serves as the Managing Editor

for a book-publishing company in the tech industry.

Brad Garber has degrees in biology, chemistry and law. He

writes, paints, draws, photographs, hunts for mushrooms and

snakes, and runs around naked in the Great Northwest. Since

1991, he has published poetry, essays and weird stuff in such

publications as Edge Literary Journal, Pure Slush, On the Rusk Literary

Journal, Sugar Mule, Third Wednesday, Barrow Street, Black Fox

Literary Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Five:2:One, Ginosko Journal,

Vine Leaves Press, Riverfeet Press, Smoky Blue Literary Magazine,

Aji Magazine and other quality publications. He is a 2013 & 2018

Pushcart Prize nominee.


Grant Ingram was born in San Angelo. By day he is a behavior

analyst who works with children and adults diagnosed with ASD

and other developmental disabilities, and by night and weekend

Grant builds heirloom quality furniture and woodcrafts using

antique hand tools and a seventeenth-century sensibility. Grant

is an entrepreneur, a climber, a guitarist, a dreamer, and one of

the few generation X-ers who still uses a flip phone. From his

home in Orlando, Florida, Grant often thinks on and dearly

misses his native West Texas.

Amy Kotthaus is a writer and photographer. Her written work

has been published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Yellow Chair Review,

Occulum, and others. Her photography has been published

in Storm Cellar, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Moonchild Magazine,

Crab Fat Magazine, and others. She currently lives in Maine with

her husband and children.

Jack Kristiansen exists in the composition books and computer

files of William Aarnes. Kristiansen’s poems have appeared in

such places as FIELD, The Literary Review, Stone’s Throw Magazine,

Main Street Rag, and The Ekphrastic Review.

Rick Krizman writes music, stories, and poems and holds an

MFA in Writing from Pacific University. His work has appeared

in The Wising Up Press, Sediment, Flash Fiction Magazine, Star 82

Review, Medusa’s Laugh Press, Driftwood, Switchback, 45th Parallel,

The Big Smoke, and elsewhere. He also hosts and produces the

ACME Writing Academy podcast, a weekly writerly gabfest. Rick

is the father of two grown daughters and lives with his wife and

other animals in Santa Monica, CA.

Lavinia Kumar’s books are The Celtic Fisherman’s Wife: A Druid

Life (2017), and The Skin and Under (Word Tech, 2015). Chapbooks

are Let There be Color (Lives You Touch Publications,

2016) and Rivers of Saris (Main Street Rag, 2013). Her poetry has

appeared in several US and UK publications such as Atlanta Review,

Colere, Dark Matter, Edison Literary Review, Exit 13, Flaneur,

Kelsey Review, Lablit, New Verse News, Orbis, Peacock Journal, Pedestal,

Pemmican, Poetry 24, Symmetry Pebbles, Lives You Touch, and

US1 Worksheets. Her website is laviniakumar.org.


Mercedes Lawry’s work has previously appeared in such journals

as Poetry, Natural Bridge, Nimrod, and Prairie Schooner. She has

published two chapbooks (There are Crows in My Blood and Happy

Darkness), short fiction, and stories and poems for children. A

finalist for the 2017 Airlie Press Prize and the 2017 Wheelbarrow

Book Prize, Ms. Lawry is the recipient of the Vachel Lindsay

Poetry Prize from Twelve Winters Press and her manuscript,

Small Measures, will be published in 2018. She has received

honors from the Seattle Arts Commission, Jack Straw

Foundation, Artist Trust and Richard Hugo House, been a threetime

Pushcart Prize nominee and held a residency at


Irene Meklin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her short story

“Rubber Lizards of Concord” was published in The SmokeLong

Quarterly in 2017 and her flash fiction piece “I Guess We Are

Too” in Fictional Pairings. The Ravsak Hebrew Poetry Contest

winner (2016), she is fluent in Russian, English, Italian and Hebrew

but prefers writing poems and short stories in English.

Mitchell Nobis is a teacher and writer in Metro Detroit where

he lives with his wife and young sons. Recently, his manuscript

was a semi-finalist for the Philip Levine Prize. His poems appear

in the English Journal and Language Arts Journal of Michigan with

poems forthcoming in Rockvale Review and STAND Magazine.

Mr. Nobis participated in the June 2017 cohort of the Tupelo

Press 30/30 Project. His co-authored professional text for teachers,

Real Writing: Modernizing the Old School Essay, was published

in 2016.

Kemal Onor has an MFA in Writing from The Solstice MFA in

Writing Program at Pine Manor College. His work has been featured

in Fictive Dream, 365 Tomorrows, West Texas Literary Review,

The Chronicle, and Pamplemousse. His work is also forthcoming in

The Tishman Review. He has twice won the JSC/VSC Fellowship.

He lives in Michigan.

James Owens’s most recent collection of poems is Mortalia (FutureCycle

Press, 2015). His poems, stories, and translations appear

widely in literary journals, including publications in The

Fourth River, Kestrel, Adirondack Review, Tule Review, Poetry Ireland


Review, and Southword. He earned an MFA at the University of

Alabama and lives in Indiana and northern Ontario.

Kate Peper’s chapbook, Dipped In Black Water, won the New

Women’s Voices Award from Finishing Line Press, 2016. Her

poems have been nominated five times for a Pushcart and have

appeared in The Baltimore Review, Cimarron Review, Gargoyle, Rattle,

Tar River Review and others. She lives just north of San Francisco

with her husband and semi-feral dog, Hannah.

Kenneth Pobo had a book out in 2017 from Circling Rivers

called Loplop in a Red City. In addition to West Texas Literary Review,

his work has appeared in: Mudfish, Colorado Review, Nimrod,

Hawaii Review, and elsewhere.

Tanyo Ravicz lived for many years in Alaska, where much of his

writing is set. His indie book Alaskans: Stories is a selection of his

short fiction from literary magazines. His novel A Man of His Village

relates the odyssey of a migrant farm worker from Mexico to

Alaska. He is currently at work on companion books, fiction and

nonfiction, that emerge from his years on Alaska’s Kodiak Island.

Erin Schalk is a visual artist and emerging poet. She has published

poetry and non-fiction, as well as exhibited art throughout

the United States and Japan. More work may be found at


Harvey Silverman is a retired physician and writes primarily for

his own enjoyment.

Ron Stottlemyer lives in Helena, Montana. After a career of

teaching/scholarship in college and universities across the country,

he is returning to his life-long love of writing poetry. Along

with writing, he has a passion for amateur astronomy, Mid-Eastern

cooking, and for living with the moment. He believes that

real poetry has its sole origin in corner-of-the-eye surprise, lives

only in metaphor, and has graceful syntax, the stone of its

memory. After starting to send poems this past spring, he has

recently published in The Alabama Literary Review, The Sow’s Ear,

Streetlight, and The American Journal of Poetry.


Colette Tennant is the author of two poetry collections: Commotion

of Wings (2010), and Eden and After (2015). Her poems have

appeared in various journals, including Southern Poetry Review,

Dos Passos Review, Christianity and Literature, and the most recent

issue of Prairie Schooner. Her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart

Prize in 2015.

S.A. Volz lives in Evansville, Indiana. His writing has appeared

or is forthcoming in the Red Earth Review, the Foliate Oak Literary

Magazine, The Offbeat, and Sand Hills Literary Magazine.

Peter Waldor is the author of Door to a Noisy Room (Alice James

Books), The Wilderness Poetry of Wu Xing (Pinyon Publishing),

Who Touches Everything (Settlement House), which won the National

Jewish Book Award, The Unattended Harp (Settlement

House), State of the Union (Kelsay Books) and Gate Posts with No

Gate (Shanti Arts). Waldor was the Poet Laureate of San Miguel

County, Colorado from 2014 to 2015. His work has appeared in

many journals, including the American Poetry Review, Ploughshares,

The Iowa Review, The Colorado Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily and

Mothering Magazine. Waldor lives in Telluride, Colorado.

Brian Phillip Whalen’s writing appears in The Southern Review,

Spillway, Mid-American Review, North American Review, Cherry Tree,

Fiction International, Poets.org, and elsewhere. Brian received his

PhD from SUNY Albany and is a lecturer in the English Department.

He was a finalist in this year’s River Styx Microfiction Contest

and his forthcoming micro-essay “To Shoot Straight in a

Gunfight” was awarded second runner-up for the Chautauqua

Editors Prize. Brian lives with his wife and daughter in upstate

New York where in his spare time he teaches creative writing

workshops in public libraries (this year with a grant from Poets &


Beth Oast Williams is a student with the Muse Writers Center

in Norfolk, Virginia. Her poetry has appeared recently in Lou Lit.

A former librarian, she spends most of her time still trying to

make order out of chaos.


Chloe Williamson was raised on a cattle ranch in rural Eastern

New Mexico, only a few miles from the homestead her grandfather’s

family established as pioneers. She is a graduate of Wellesley

College where she wrote a creative writing thesis exploring

themes of identity, place, and memory in the rural Southwest.

Her fiction and poetry has previously appeared in The Wellesley

Review, El Portal, The Brushfire Literature and Arts Journal, and The

Rising Phoenix Review. She tweets @c_m_williamson.

Erin Wilson has contributed poems to San Pedro River Review, Up

the Staircase Quarterly, New Madrid, and Peacock Journal, among

others. She lives in a small town in northern Ontario.


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