The Summer of the Cicada
I remember it as a summer of cicadas.
Perhaps the insect world, so magical,
so other, meant a realm without people–
a realm I entered completely, shedding
my forty-year-old skin as the cicada
sheds its of seventeen. I heard them all
that hot, slow summer, faintly at daybreak
and louder at twilight, males calling
to mates in hard strident rhythms, a beat
that merged with the nascent rhythms
of my poems. After dinner, if I walked
alone–alone, I was alone–their noise
deafened, like the din of the scissors-grinder
who came each summer to our back porch.
They don’t live long, once they burrow
from the ground: a few weeks, at most.
I found one beneath a chestnut tree
and carried it to my desk, where I could
stare and stare. Such beautiful wings,
with membranes like fine isinglass,
with colors of amethyst, viridian and gold,
with scallops along the edge like seashells.
They stretch across a thin latticework,
like crinkled cellophane. Such lovely
wings, but such an ugly body: I gazed
over and over at its brown, metallic
carapace with its overlapping scales,
squared-off and squat like lobster tails.
This, I see, is a creature of contradictions.
But contradictions resolve themselves,
as resurrection took place that summer
beneath the lofty and green chestnuts,
a rebirth of ugly bodies and of
transparent wings that hoard white light,
just as I was reborn in my small cell.
You punched your father
to the floor, woke in the blue
to find yourself stripped down
to bones and lithium.
You once thought God
was found through prayers
and fasts, kneeling at the rail
to trade your sins for a cup.
You married three women
who caged you in their turn,
cut the hair of a madman
they never tamed.
You wrote poems until
the sudden storm and taxi cab
drove you down the final street;
your heart burst like a star.
You saw spiders marching
through the air, dug up
the ancestral grave,
each line a locked razor.
It was obvious things were going south the night we stopped making love to Tchaikovsky, and Joan left the first time. It was our long-held routine since we’d married four years before. We’d always listened to “Swan Lake.” Joan felt sex needed to be elevated to an art, full of verve and charm. She loved the way the violin’s graceful strings combined with crashing cymbals entwined us in something majestic, intimate. She also liked swans, called us two lonely swans. We held our heads gracefully through it all, she said, even though that wasn’t the case. We were less than graceful, like our parents, unlike our friends, who spoke the language of marriage. We mocked the carefully packaged lives they lived, cocktail parties and barbeques, but I secretly envied them. Predictability seemed like a respite, oddly comforting. It was not to be, though. Not for us.
Things had gotten to the point where one half-joking argument over dinner or a movie festered into a full-blown spat. She thought I wanted her to be a housewife. I put my needs ahead of hers. I didn’t encourage her teaching. It was all about my book tours. I didn’t listen.
I said she was prejudiced against writers. She thought I was reading negativity into everything, I needed to see a psychiatrist.
I didn’t want to see a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists were for nervous housewives.
You need to see a fucking psychiatrist, she told me. And so it went.
Out of options, we settled into a routine. We’d eat dinner, lights off, speaking empty pleasantries about the weather, the presidential election. Then we’d settle in. She’d go to movies like Bride of Dracula with her girlfriends, or to play bridge, which she’d always thought excuses for gossip. I’d hole up in our room, with the scent of melted candles and Joan’s perfume, and try to work on my latest novel. Of course, I usually ended up in bed, smoking pot, until Joan came in, lips pursed into a thin, self-satisfied smirk. We’d go to bed without our usual exchange of horror stories.
It was foreign, the way we’d started living, the way our parents had lived. It was unlike our “halcyon days” when we’d go to movies or bowling. She’d do this little victory dance when she got a strike, ambling across the aisle with a cool smile, shaking her all-too-perfect hips. There were the times we’d grade papers, exchanging conspiratorial smiles, united by poorly-written stories and essays. People watching on Eighth Street. We’d make up stories about the people who wandered in and out of two-story Tudors. We liked to think they were depressed lawyers, businessmen, people who made us look more favorable than we were.
Of course, 1960 had not been charitable. I’d seen my mother in a bar for the first time in fifteen years. Joan lost her little brother that fall. We were helpless. It was fitting. Helplessness brought us together years before, when we’d exchanged stories in a theater, about my parents leaving before I was nine, her father’s drinking, her brother. We were allies. Competitors.
The night misfortune happened was in late fall, after a lovemaking session. We’d been trying to break through our self-proclaimed “iron curtain.” Like any couple, we’d retreated into what we knew best. The curtains were slightly open. Twilight cast thick shadows across the room. We’d just finished, when she frowned, shook her head.
“This is absurd.” She pulled the blankets aside. Her jet-black hair was messed up, legs crossed. Her body was a naked expanse. I was ready to go again.
“We’re trying too hard,” she said. “At least I am.”
“What?” I sat up, groaning. “Let’s do it.”
She told me the sex, everything, seemed forced. We were more like the couples we made fun of.
“We live just fine.” I laughed.
“No, Nick,” she said. “Maybe you do, living in your writing. You don’t give a shit. I’m doing the best I can. I want to talk bills, you want to talk stories, how you think you’re not good enough, that you’re unfulfilled.”
I told her I was a writer. She knew this. I didn’t work morning-to-night. I was guided by the ebb and flow of inspiration, by deadlines. She didn’t understand.
“You think the writing’s worth it?” She fumbled around on the nightstand, amongst the half-empty martinis, shaking her head at the scrunched-up drafts of my novel, the sequel to A Sort of Gift. Apparently readers in unknown cities had liked my foul-mouthed detective, in pursuit of his fiancee’s missing son.
“Of course, it’s worth it.”
“Jesus, Nick,” she muttered. “Goddamn sequels. Write something else.”
I’d forgotten how to live, she said. I’d lost that curiosity and spontaneity. Now, I wrote the same stories, about troubled youths, absent mothers, living in a past I couldn’t change.
“Don’t make a thing of this.” I motioned to her. “Come back to bed.”
“You know swans abandon their cygnets,” she said sharply. “It helps them mature.”
“Thank God I’m not a swan.”
“Maybe your mother had the right idea.” She glared at me. “Leaving.”
“At least I’m not a drunk. Like your father.”
Joan walked to the window, pulling the curtains shut with a sound that reminded me of sandpaper. Silhouettes moved around in the windows across the way. I imagined them making dinner, teaching their children about love, hate. Everything in between.
“Deny, deny,” she said in a singsong voice, pulling on a navy blue dress. “You think I’m your servant.”
“You never ask me about my life,” she said. “You can’t even pretend. I thought you writers knew how to bullshit.”
“You’re a schoolteacher. Such a complicated life. I’m the one who has to kiss people’s asses.”
“Fuck you!” She knocked over the stack of papers, the martinis, surveying the scene with satisfaction. She looked at me, daring me to make a scene.
“Run away from your responsibilities,” she called. “Like your mother.”
“Go fuck yourself, Joan.” I clutched the martini tightly. I needed a drink, but looking at it now put me in a bad mood.
“Just run away,” she called again. She looked beautiful, angry. I wanted to cry because we’d lost ourselves, because I kept losing. I’d lost my mother, my wife. I wondered what darkness they’d glimpsed within me, what they knew that I didn’t. I wanted to take Joan away, take detours without knowing we wanted. We knew too much, yet too little. That was our problem.
I was confused, drunk. I went for a walk, taking in the breeze, the moldy-cheese scent from the paper mill, the scent of tomato soup drifting from a kitchen. I walked past houses with flickering TV screens, the Lutheran church with its stained-glass windows. I played the argument over and over, but kept getting lost. It didn’t matter. Tomorrow, I’d take her to a movie. Things would be fine until the next bender. We’d sit beside each other, with memories and closeness between us. It’d be like when I met her. I’d gone to see Guys and Dolls and had noticed her in the lobby. Drunk, taken in by her laugh, I’d told her if she had a husband, he could go fuck himself.
To make it perfect, I’d buy Joan a bottle of wine. Of course, that seemed as though I were trying to buy her love, to repair things beyond reach. It was frightening.
Joan was packing her pinstripe suitcase when I got home, hunched over a pile of dresses. Tchaikovsky was on the hi-fi, the “Swan Lake” waltz. She was going to a motel, to collect her thoughts.
“I love you,” I said. “I need you.”
“That’s right.” She closed the suitcase. I caught a glimpse of a photograph, taken right after we married. We were in a restaurant, her head tossed back, laughing. She was making a face, lips scrunched up, as though she were having a seizure. I wondered what had made us laugh, tried to remember. It was no good.
“You need me. What about me, Nick?”
“You’re goddamned great,” I said. “I’m a jackass.”
“At least we’re in agreement.”
She grabbed albums from the old mahogany bookshelves, sweeping them left and right into boxes. She brushed against the Tchaikovsky, picked it up. She stared at it, then set it down, shaking her head.
“We’re those swans,” I said. “We’re graceful.”
“This swan has lost it.” She carried a box to the porch. “That’s over.”
Joan left me with the musty scent of old furniture. I went and bought that bottle of wine, a box of chocolates. I listened to the “Swan Lake” waltz over and over, pictured her in some run down motel, even around the corner. I could smell her lavender perfume in the hi-fi, the bathroom, beneath the sheets. It occurred to me that I could write my stories, go about life without shame. But without disagreements and bullshit, there was no rhythm or reason.
A Knitted Day
I woke with the sun
wearing my face and I knitted
until all the dropped stitches
and the joining ends were no
more than pale specks in the light.
Perhaps I should have spun
sideways and turned on the
kerosene lantern that lay upon
the wardrobe bay when the
thick clouds curtained
the outside dim,
instead I let the night
crocheted my dainty feet,
patched tight the
fractured skin where the
thin bone of the needle
narrowed into wool,
then it wove the
gold moon in the
strands of my
as I trailed it
Tricultural and bilingual
I’m able to go from
¿Que pasa pai? to
I ain’t don’ nothin’.
I’ve been baptized
and attend mass on Sunday,
but read the Qu’ran
and fast during Ramadan.
Santiago, Wright, and Tagore
share shelves with Rice and King.
I can go from devouring
my abuela’s plantains
and Baba’s curry to
Coltrane’s rhythms and
melodies soothe me
while Puente stirs my
blood with drums and
tambourines and I salsa.
I’m Bengali to Blacks,
Puerto Rican to Bengali’s,
and Black to Puerto Ricans.
With my Asian, African,
Spanish, and Taino bloodlines –
I’m all the above.
Regret and Other Pleasures
“So you want to learn Arabic?” Muna asked through the mist swerving from our cups. “Well, you know, it’s a classical language,” I said putting my foot in my mouth because it would’ve been easier to just learn some of the laidback Egyptian dialect she spoke when her phone rang. I was working again, squeezing my lessons into lunch breaks. She wanted me to write the alphabet. My hands were too unsteady. Not that the notebook and pen on the table between us mattered once we started spilling our souls.
She was no spring chicken. In Cairo, she had almost gotten married.
“This is him. He was a liar.” She said showing me his photo. She rented a room in Brooklyn from an old woman from her hometown who spied on her comings and goings. She traveled by train to random public places across the five boroughs meeting students who had read her tutoring ad, most of them showing up once or not at all. I don’t know who sighed more as we’d occupy the table for two we’d gravitate towards at a Starbucks with the seedy lighting of a pub.
“Why don’t you dye your gray hair?” She liked to ask as if Prince Charming were only a few rinses away. As if I would make room on my twin mattress and single pillow for anyone but a dying millionaire with my name on his will. I’d give her the face palm. She’d swat my hand and insist, then before a full hour had passed, I’d grab my tote and pass her two twenties from my purse.
“I can’t charge you to just talk. I feel bad. Next time you must learn something,” she’d say.
She had been working for a translation company that offered to sponsor her, but the friend filling in for her while her immigration papers were being processed was refusing to vacate her desk.
“Human resources won’t intervene. I’m 36. I have no career, no husband. Nothing,” she revealed one day. So I called Mohammed, the man who rowed the meat slicer at a market near my office. During a phase when I needed someone to occupy the excess space of a house larger than I was used to, I’d vacuum and load clothes into my dryer with his voice in the receiver pressed to my ear. Quite the storyteller, he’d reminisce about growing up in Egypt under Sadat. He would pine over the stunning Libyan widow he had courted with expensive gifts until her family suddenly decided she should marry her deceased husband’s brother instead. I had recently received email pics of him and his new bride cutting their wedding cake, however. As luck would have it, as soon as I asked him for advice on Muna, he brought up his middle-aged bachelor buddy Ahmed.
“I can tell by how Ahmed looks at me,” Muna said with a dopey smile. “It’s love.” By this point, she had found a stable full-time job, given a housewarming party at her new apartment in Queens where she served kunefah that Zeinab, a jaded neighbor with a rug she rolled out and performed her prayers on while the rest of us talked in another room, said was overbaked.
Muna wasn’t only larger than life physically. Her exotic green eyes and glittery pinky ring could hypnotize you into feeling better. Unfortunately, she couldn’t entirely cheer up Ahmed. He had overstayed a visa decades ago. Flying to Egypt to meet her family was out of the question because he would never get back into the United States if he left. The “M” word gave him cold feet. Her ultimatums triggered a series of suspenseful breakups. I was at her kitchen table, she was buzzing in another friend when a panic came over her as she told me her relationship with Ahmed was between us and asked me not to mention him.
I didn’t have fast enough reflexes to keep up with their action packed romance, was selling electronic resources to librarians for a company where I had to close sales to make a living wage. Had to keep dialing and emailing or travel to the states where they were based because sometimes this was really the only way to get them to write checks. Then, there was my mother’s sister, Aunt M. 77 years old, she had recently become wheelchair bound but lived all by herself. Life’s unpredictability would have had a field day with her if I didn’t cook, deliver and serve her meals. I would have found little relief in anything but sitting next to my son bathed in the rainbow of our TV if Muna’s number didn’t regularly light up my phone.
“You need help. Where does your aunt live? I can bring her food and clean for her sometimes inshallah.” She’d offer, though I knew she didn’t mean it.
“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the lord my soul to keep and if I die before I wake…” I’d say at bedtime when I was a kid, instead of just asking God to bless my parents, siblings and relatives, would include stray animals and victims of crimes I’d seen on the news, making sure not to leave anyone out no matter how tired I was.
Being African-American and raised Catholic had been awkward, but suddenly everything old echoed. I didn’t need the frankincense and see-through mosaics exactly. Just a quiet frame I could share with others who believed in doing things the way you’re supposed to, which I found in the storefronts and renovated office spaces of New York where Muslims pray. I was given a heavy gold embossed Quran in one. In another, a Senegalese woman with tribally stained toe nails showed me how to ritually cleanse, as I ran wet fingers over my face, an innocent portrait of me in my first communion veil looked back from the sink water that gathered.
But years had passed since that magic turning point. I was a fledgling convert only occasionally fasting the Ramadan Muna called out of the blue. We made plans to meet at a masjid over a Turkish restaurant in Midtown East. She was a heaving mass of warmth and good memories. It was right after work. We lined up with other women with our palms lifted in midair, then crossed them against our chests. We leaned forward clutching our knees like runners catching their breath. I was seated on the floor mat, staring just past my lap — we were done when, “Nothing has changed.” Muna began as if she couldn’t keep it inside another second. “He won’t pick up the phone and speak to my parents. It’s time to follow through. He earns very little. I would have to pay for almost everything if we got married, but…” She paused and for that moment, her eyes lost their usual glow.
My son’s father had been a musician who had studied painting, had the vocabulary of an art critic and expected me to afford him all the comforts of a wife without any strings attached. Shoveling snow, hauling heavy bags of groceries and clothes back and forth from the laundromat all by myself, my fundamentalist interpretation of feminism prevented me from realizing I was basically single. Born in 1960, I had come of age during the most liberal era in America. Casual arrangements with men were normal for women of my generation. I would have been acting if I had pretended to find Muna’s relationship with Ahmed unheard of. She was thinking out loud. I was eavesdropping at best when the curtain that separated the men’s and women’s sections parted, and the imam entered with milk and a tray of food. A woman in a kaftan embroidered with a scribbly pattern helped herself first. Then, the imam left, and a tide of heavy voices briefly washed across the smooth gray matting where we began eating our first meal since dawn. Tearing a fig from my teeth, I recalled being lost in a mosque on 116th Street and mistakenly crossing the men’s section without any of them even noticing I was there.
“How is Ousmane?” Muna asked.
“It doesn’t matter.” I said, stunned to hear his name. He was someone I never got to know, had only brought up once.
“Why not? Why not?” she teased pounding her fist on my leg.
“Falling in love is taking a risk. He’s too safe.” I said while she gave me the same clueless stare I gave her when she talked about Ahmed as a woman in a veil so long it hid her feet, sat between us and we formed a semi-circle. It was late and I had a commute ahead of me. My bag was a history lesson. Plunging my hand in to make room for some dates wrapped in a napkin, I touched a vial of blood pressure pills, faded supermarket receipts, loose cough drops, even the spiral notebook I had engraved with messy shapes and vowel markings before realizing that what I needed was another woman to share a heart to heart with from time to time, not Arabic lessons.
I kinda liked my private school. Sure, the bible lessons got boring, but the classes were easy so I didn’t mind. I thought today would be easy too, all we were doing was writing about our families and reading to everybody. But when I got up and read my essay Teach had a major problem with it. I don’t know what they all expected, Teach gave the assignment and I did it. If you don’t want to know about my family why ask? I mostly just told them what Dad and I do anyway. I barely even mentioned how Pop loves spending time with me. The other kids’ parents must don’t love them, because when I told them about my family all their mouths dropped like they’ve never heard a person speak before. And Teach is the worst one, sitting there looking like she just saw (or heard, I guess) a ghost.
“Carl sweetie…do you have any idea what you just said?” she asked me. Duh! Of course I know what I said, I said it! But instead I answered all sweetlike, “No ma’am. I just answered the question about having two parents that love me, did I say anything wrong?”
“Um…Carl…could you come to my desk for a minute?” she asked. I got up and glared at all the kids as they gave their “Oooo”s and “Uh Oh”s, like I was in trouble or something. I really don’t understand what their problem is, but I gotta admit, you’re not called up to the teacher’s desk for just no reason. Maybe I shouldn’t have made my life seem so good; it’s probably unfair to the other kids who have crappy lives. Yeah, that’s probably what’s wrong. Teach is just gonna tell me to stop making the other kids feel bad.
“Carl,” she started in a whisper so soft I could hear all the desks scoot up to hear her better. She glared around over her leopard print glasses and all the moving stopped. She looked back at me and continued, “Do you realize what you’ve just said?” she asked me again.
“Yes ma’am. I shouldn’t have told everybody about how loved I am at home. I made them feel bad because my parents do stuff with me. But I’m sorry, I won’t say anything about how they take me to the movies some weekends and how both of us go to the gym and play basketball, or even how Dad-” I started, but she cut me off.
“Are you saying that you think that because your…” she stopped for a minute, “…parents do the things they do they love you more? That you are lucky to have the parents you have you are better off than the other children?” Teach said, open mouthed like she couldn’t believe I was standing in front of her talking.
“Yes ma’am, it must be like that. Besides, Pop says-” I tried to talk again, but she cut me off just like before.
“I see. Carl, take this pass, go to the principal’s office and call one of your parents. I think we need to have a little chat,” Teach said, tossing me the hall pass as the kids howled with “Ooo”s and “Uh Oh”s again.
Grown-ups must have some kind of crazy connection where they know what the other is talking about automatically, because soon as I told Pop exactly what I said in class he said he understood and that he would be there real quick. Well, he actually said a lot more than that, but I had to hold the phone away from my ear from his screaming, so I didn’t hear all of it. I don’t know how Pop knew why Teach sent me up here, because I was in the class with her and I still don’t know. But after a while Teach came up to the office, her big brown Bible in her hand and sat down with me, telling me all about how if I ever felt like I was missing out on some love at home, or how I was unhappy I could tell her and she would make sure I never felt that way again. I told her that Dad makes sure I’m always happy, and that my Pop is the greatest guy on Earth, but that just made her start preaching at me more.
“Do we have some sort of problem?!” Pop said as he walked in, making me and Teach jump. I ran up to hug him, but he brushed me off and kept staring at Teach like he was ready to chop off her head.
“Mr. Johnson, I presume? I’m Mrs. Brian, Carl’s homeroom teacher,” Teach held out her hand for Pop to shake it, but he just rolled his eyes at it and started talking.
“My boy tells me you’ve told him that he shouldn’t feel loved at home,” Pop said angrily. I could see the veins popping out of his neck as he talked, he was really mad and I could tell. Dad always told me if you make a person too mad, they would do some crazy things, and I was scared for Teach then, because Pop was really mad.
“I just asked Carl if he felt comfortable at home, if he felt like he was getting enough love. You may not know this, Mr. Johnson, but my husband is a social worker. I happen to be quite fond of my children here, if I were to hear that one of them were unhappy at home…” Teach said, holding her Bible to her chest. She looked just as mad as Pop, but I knew that if it came down to it Pop would win. Dad almost always won the fights, and old Teach would be no problem.
“Well you have absolutely nothing to worry about then, because Carl is loved plenty at home, and there is no home happier than ours. You can send your husband to our house and he’ll see the same! I knew this private school would be a headache, all you old hags up here are too busy in people’s business to teach anything! What goes on in MY house has nothing to do with you or anyone else in this damn school!” Pop raged on, making the principal come out and ask us to quiet down, or he would call the police on both of them. I’m sure Dad wouldn’t like that, so I tried my best to stop it all.
“I promise I won’t talk about how great home is anymore! I’ll say that its bad, just like you said, Teach, that way nobody will be jealous anymore? Ok Pop? That will fix it, right?” I asked, looking from one to the other. I thought that my new promise would make them stop arguing, but it just made it all worse.
“So you’re trying to tell my son that his family is evil, huh? You trying to influence my boy to hate his own parents?!” Pop snapped, getting all up in Teach face.
“Mr. Johnson, I think we both know who is the bad influence here!” Teach snapped back, turning the pages of her Bible super fast as she yelled. “The way you all are living, it will not end well! It says so right…” she began, looking down at her bible.
“SAVE IT!” Pop yelled, grabbing my hand and dragging me to the door. “Come on, Carl, we’re withdrawing you from this school first thing tomorrow! Long as nosy bitches like her are here this is no place for you!” He dragged me out the door and threw me in the car. I looked back in the building and saw Teach turning red and yelling out the door: “YOU WILL RUIN THAT BOY, MARK MY WORDS! HE CANT GROW UP IN A HOUSE LIKE YOURS!” But Pop just blew the horn at her and drove off, leaving Teach thumping her Bible at the dust we left.
It wasn’t until we pulled up at home that I dared speak again, and even then I was scared of Pop’s reaction. But still, I had to know why all of this happened.
“Pop, why did Teach snap out like that?” I managed to ask as I looked at my feet.
Pop sighed, turned around in the car and said, “Some people just don’t understand how we live, son, but its none of their business. You know the truth, don’t you?” he asked, looking me in my eyes.
I saw this as my opportunity to repeat the phrase Dad always told me, “Yes sir, ‘I have two parents that love me very much, and that’s all that matters’,” I said proudly.
“Exactly,” Pop said, and I smiled back at him. “And that’s all you did wrong today son, some people just don’t understand that we love you, regardless of what they may think.”
“But…” I added, my brain was wondering again, “Why don’t they understand it? Don’t they have two dads that love them just like you guys love me?”
“I don’t know, Carl…” Pop answered, “Ask your father when he gets home, he might be able to explain better, he’s been asking that same question for years…”
These past mortems of my life
Arguing around the past
Spinning webs of my past choices
Old tide marks, really
You, the interpreter
Sweeping up the darkness in which we lie wounded
Your bones, stones
My flesh, earth
My waters, blood
Open your eyes to the sunlight
Give my past to the winds
To the clouds, your recriminations
Susan Gunter studied poetry with James Dickey and Andrea Hollander. Her poems have been published in Poet Lore, Paper Nautilus, Semaphore, and Atlanta Review. In addition, she published a biography of William James’s wife Alice and edited two editions of Henry James’s letters, one to powerful women and another to his gay lovers. She lives in Santa Rosa, CA.
William Miller is a widely-published poet and children’s author. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, The Southern Review and The South Carolina Review. He lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Boise State University, with a BA in political science. His short-stories have been published or are forthcoming in The Fat City Review, Postcard Shorts, The Bookends Review, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Microfiction Monday, The Turk’s Head Review, Monkeybicycle, Blue Lake Review, The Molotov Cocktail, Brilliant Flash Fiction, FRXTL, Extract (s): Daily Dose of Lit, the NewerYork Press, and The Linnet’s Wings. He lives in Boise, Idaho.
Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and flash fiction anthologized, published and forthcoming with more than seventy journals, including Aurorean Poetry, Chiron Review, Contrary Magazine, Eunoia Review, Linden Avenue Journal, New Plains Review, The Criterion Journal, The Ignatian Review, The Offbeat Literary and Featured Artist with Quail Bell Magazine, among others. She resides in the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam with her novelist husband and two frolicsome imps. https://www.facebook.com/niaallanpoe
Arika Elizenberry is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada. She is an assistant poetry editor of Helen: A Literary Magazine. Her work has appeared in publications such as 300 Days of Sun, Toasted Cheese, Blue Lyra Review, Open Road Review, the Silver Compass, and Neon Dreams amongst others. She has an associates in Creative Writing and is currently working on her bachelors in English.
jennifer jazz is a New York based memoirist closely associated with the eighties East Village art scene, jazz’s writing has appeared in magazines that include Warscapes, A Gathering of the Tribes, and Sensitive Skin, In early 2014, her remembrance of the painter Jean-Michel Basquait was published on the Afropunk website.
Marcus Haynes is a perfect example of the scholar/writer hybrid. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Alcorn State University in 2012 and his Master of Arts in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2014. Many of his creative works are featured in Alcorn State University yearbooks and in literary journals such as Canyon Voices and T/OUR magazine. He describes his fiction as experimental realism dealing with the lives of the underrepresented, which coincides with his scholarly interests in marginalized groups. He takes pride in exploring different ways of presenting his stories through varying viewpoints.
Susan Dale’s poems and fiction are on Hurricane Press, Ken *Again, Penman Review, Inner Art Journal, Feathered Flounder, Garbanzo, and Linden Avenue. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan. She has two published chapbooks on the internet: Spaces Among Spaces by languageandculture.org and Bending the Spaces of Time by Barometric Pressure.