Featuring stories by Barbara Ganley, Kate Wisel, Laura Jok, and Alan Sincic: an essay by Kay Gram; poems by Francesca Bell, Dan Clark, Janice N. Harrington, Matt Prater, James McKee, Kathryn Jordan, Adam Tavel, Jacqueline Balderrama, Katie Pynotek, Maria Nazos, and Kerry James Evans. With art by Madara Mason and others.
by Barbara Ganley
Featured Art: “Holy Holy Holy” by Yan Sun
Because it’s Thursday, nearing five o’clock, Lucie is well into a doozie of a headache. Every week at this time little Jenny Baker hands her one as they sit side by side in the dining room and Jenny busily tortures the piano. She’s a narrow slip of a thing with a distracting, gum-baring smile made stranger today by a drift of tiny metallic stars sweeping across her cheeks like cosmic freckles.
Her orange high tops smack the stool’s taloned feet bapbap as she bludgeons the keys in an apparent heavy-metal version of “Long Long Ago.”
The piano, old and patient, takes it. Lucie, who is neither of those things, says, “A bit slower and softer now. See if you can find the melancholy.”
by Francesca Bell
Featured Art: “The Sea of Memory and Forgetfulness” by Madara Mason
I always knew
a man waited for me somewhere
with hands that fit the particular curves
of my treacherous body.
Whether I watched for him or not.
Whether I believed.
Sometimes, in dreams, he entered me from above,
like a coffin lowered slowly into a grave.
Sometimes he held me hard from behind.
by Dan Clark
Featured Art: “Basa de Maya” by Madara Mason
The priest swings a thurible. Incense,
swirling and nebulous, encircles the cremation urn.
A few feet away, a husband weeps.
He’s not thinking how Oregon came to fill the ocean
of itself, how island arcs docked like icebergs
against the Idaho shore, where Mesohippus,
diminutive proto-horse, grazed beneath the juniper.
He’s not considering how Oregon drifted through
several versions of itself—savanna, jungle, desert—
then settled for a time as a placid, inland lake.
by Janice N. Harrington
Featured Art: “Squall” by Madara Mason
My skin, my confessor, my cubicle,
scrivener, touch screen, touch-collector.
Frame and shawl and portmanteau. Wait,
wait, don’t go. The sun’s too high,
too hot. You’ll burn for sure.
by Matt Prater
Featured Art: “Bull and Bird” by Madara Mason
There was a roaming troubadour in the years of maille & sword
who lunched on wild strawberries,
communing with the Lord.
But his creed was not dogmatic, & he didn’t bow the knee;
so found himself impaled by a roaming soldier, eventually,
when he would not sing the praises
of the ravenous Crusades. He held G-d
was the father of Muhammad & the Moors,
so went to Heaven softly, whispering amor.
by Kate Wisel
Featured Art: “Neurons, No. 3” by Madara Mason
What I did was held my hand out like a gun and sprayed. I was supposed to be wiping down tables. But there was something about walking through the pink mist, I can’t tell you the feeling. That clinical smell that clung to my neck like antiseptic perfume. At that time and that time only, I liked doing the opposite of what I was told.
by James McKee
Featured Art by Courtney Bennett
You know how it is: going in to work,
Who looks at anything? You’re late, it’s cold,
hot, raining, no buses again, whatever.
You’re long past fighting this fast-forward blur,
pure A-to-B time, better numbed than bored.
by Kay Gram
Featured Art: “Cradle of Kleptocracy” by Madara Mason
[arms & legs]
Be my arms and legs. You’re strong. You can do it! Mom would say. Mom’s body was small, fragile, needed time to move, moved differently than other bodies. I always thought she was beautiful. She was—blonde, blue eyed, narrow nose, all symmetrical. Mom had a determined presence that demanded respect and she had mastered the performance of a Eurocentric female beauty. Outfits were planned, makeup was worn, perfume was sprayed. We were late to everything. Sometimes she fell down. Read More
by Kathryn Jordan
Featured Art: “Bird Notes” by Madara Mason
It hits the window like a woman being thrown
against a wall. “Must have been an owl,”
I say to my grown girl emerging Read More
by Laura Jok
Featured Art: “Untitled” by Elizabeth Boch
You are twenty-six. Donald Trump is running for president. The company that you consider your current employer sees you as more of a friend. The insurance plan that you bought for yourself is hilarious. There is a hole in your back molar about which you are not thinking, which is growing, about which you are not thinking, and you are in love with a stranger who can always be replaced, should he turn out to be a disappointment. You teach other people how to do their jobs like you are some kind of expert. Read More
by Alan Sincic
Featured Art: “My Blue Garden” by Madara Mason
“Look at you, boy.” Cochrane gave his junk another shake, stuffed it back into his Levi’s. “You trying to tell me you could lift—we’re not even talking carry here—lift a quarter ton of bacon?”
“I been training,” said Barnett. The pudgy frame, the warble in the voice, the baby-fat of the face all pocked with rivets: we nobody believed he was old as he said he was. Fifteen? Sixteen maybe?
“Training?” said Cochrane.
“Dynamic Tension,” said Barnett, parsing out the syllables in the verberant tones of a preacher.
We laughed. We pictured the ads in the back pages of Gun Molls and Flying Aces and Popular Mechanics. Charles Atlas. The guy in the skivvies with the strapping chest and the husky, solid fighting muscles that every man should have.
by Adam Tavel
Featured Art: “Noise in the System” by Madara Mason
for my sons
This one has concentric frames
that on close inspection are
pink strips of floss. This one
swims inside itself, three shades
of blue. This one’s stripes
are dead calligraphy: R.I.P. Abuela,
R.I.P. Cousin Juan. This one grows
bored and morphs into a sketch
of a cartoon baseball twirling
its handlebar mustache.
This one begs God Bless. This one
has sticker pistols saying BANG.
This one’s wrists wear broken chains.
This one is lost inside the glitz
of caked-on glitter gold. This one
is impasto red on red that bled
on everything it touched. This one
has forty macaroni stars
and this one has the husk
of a dragonfly where stars
should be, its glue-gobbed wings
unstitching from the corpse.
by Jacqueline Balderrama
Featured Art by Courtney Bennett
the migratory patterns of sheartail and warbler continue back and forth
and on foot—the grey wolf,
Now paper, now papel—we learn to listen in different ways,
at night, hear the floor vents empty their chamber of words,
and again, they ask for the source of me
as if water could stop
by Katie Pyontek
Featured Art by Courtney Bennett
Beauty depends on magnitude and order.
Hence a very small life cannot be beautiful,
for the view of it is confused.
Not the green bellies of hummingbirds, not
one set of wired bones shown behind glass.
Not the plump folds of tardigrades, not quarks,
not marbles on carpet, not pinhole stars.
Not the improbable orderliness
of ants, not feverfew or curls of hair,
not quick love notes left out on the counter.
Not a dozen kumquats, not an average
of six minutes. Not the intricate coils
of a snail’s shell, inching down the sidewalk.
by Maria Nazos
Featured Art: “Illusion of My Studio” by Yan Sun
When I exited the stall, she was standing at the sink.
I knew her best from one night at the bar, when she’d said
my ex was handsome. Then asked whether I’d mind if she
called him later that night. I’d pressed my lips together
and said, go ahead, certain she held an unspoken malice
which young women carry into small towns. I’d moved
to the Cape to escape from my talent for tearing through
love, only to follow a trail of broken glass into every bar. Read More
by Kerry James Evans
Featured Art: “Ursa Major” by Madara Mason
Summer, but not cantaloupe-ripe summer,
not tomato-ripe, not watermelon-ripe,
not making love with the windows open,
riding downtown at midnight
with the top down, radio blaring
another teenage pop sensation
No, it’s burnt sod, thunderstorm summer.
Don’t lie to me! It’s a World Cup summer.
Don’t lie to yourself, Son. Get up
and drink that Dr Pepper. Another
bullets in the street summer.
Another blood-hot, angry Apollo
chasing the ice cream truck with a buck
for a Popsicle kind of summer.