Issue 42 (November 2015)

Jenese Chanel Hornsby

When our grandson whom you will never get to see shoots one of our sky dappled parakeets through the chest with his bow and arrow (the ones that sit side-by-side as if cold) I am only thinking of you and the night you fell upon tickets for us to go see Annie at the Fox Theater. I am seeing you standing before the bedroom closet, your patent leather shoes like an old bus driver’s. You are pulling out rumpled button-downs and holding each one out for me to choose. You say, “Is this one good? How ‘bout this one?” Each one the same, and I am explaining the difference between navy and black, the way two stripped patterns must run in the same direction, the way something tacky, like poke-a-dots, can go with anything.
You are stalling, and I know you do not want to see the play, so I run out of the room, heels clacking to put on the mascara I have forgotten. I see your face in the mirror behind me, and you say, “That stuff makes you look like a whore.”
I reflect on how I have never slapped anyone in my adult life. I am mouse quiet. I am statue still, and so we are out the door, in our seats, and as I am watching the orphaned children pounce across the stage the word “whore” gallops through my head till I think there is nothing left of it at all, till I think that there is only you and me and the singing orphans and the Fox with all of its glamour.
Our grandson whom you will never get to see cries because perhaps he has not expected the bird to bleed. He is a delicate child, the type to step on ant hills and cry for the ants, and yet he is responsible for our little bird skewered and puffed up at the end of an arrow like a fluffy marshmallow coated in blue down. I am scooping our little bird in a small plastic sack. Maybe I will save it to be buried. Maybe I will throw it into the trash bin when our grandson is not looking.
I do not know, but I am thinking of that night you called me a whore. I keep seeing you in front of the bedroom closet, and this time, I am saying to you, “Wear the one I got you for Christmas,” and you tell me that you gave it away. You tell me that it was ugly, and I think you could have pretended to not find it. I think of all your gifts that I have given away. The soapstone jewelry box with the sphinx on it. The charcoal pictures you drew. There is nothing really left of you in our house save the parakeets, and one of them is no longer alive. I could roll a spoonful of peanut butter in flax seeds and lure the other one into my hand. I could break its neck quick, assume it would die of being lonely, but I do not know.


Eva Olsgard
Circle Dance

I. Circle Dance

we were the shadows where a thousand snow owls hid their tongues at dawn
we were the still water in shallow swamps beneath fallen oaks

we were the lichens
we were the moss
we were the circles of hushed low grass in the midst of fields where deer had lain

we were the green grass shaking off night’s cold sweat
when a blue heron passed

we were the stars tumbling upon the clear surface stirred
by breath coming off her wing

we were the sagebrush burning red and orange as shade swung from limb to limb

we were the plucked fruit
we were the stones struck sharp

we were the green twigs whittled white
we were the dark wet snagged on a hawthorn’s barbed trunk

we were the shot arrows strewn across a forest floor
we were the ribs of the hare rotting in the shade of the hawthorn

we were the brittle brown oak leaves grown soft once more
mucked to smooth stones at a swamp’s bottom

as young frogs peeped and the waters dimmed at dusk
we were the dark breath where a thousand snow owls found their tongues

II. Caretakers

we were so careful
each morning not to
make a sound

white sparks tapped the glass
trees cracked like kindling
the windowpane was on fire

our silence kept the wood alit
the blue flame quaking
at the heart of the white heat

a blacksmith’s breath shifted
drifts of white ashes
billowed our hound’s hole
sent her out wandering

our slightest shiver
sent icicles tumbling

when we cracked the door
to stoke the cold our hound
laid offerings at our feet

a gnarled wet branch
the frozen heart of a deer

III. Night Hag

who knocks out my window
who knocks out my window

who sets my tree on fire
who cracks the whip of thunder
who scatters the birds into the lightning sky
who charges the shadows across the plain

who hides among the rushes
who whispers through the thicket

who is waiting behind the red door
who is wearing the white apron
who lashes my naked body with sudden light
who drenches my body with his shadows of blood
who strings his harp with barbed wire
who eclipses the pasture of the moon

who is the green grass awakening the snow
who is the fiddlehead unfurling its riddle of ice
a white tail flashes into the shifting trees
a white tail flashes into a hole in the frozen ground
tanned leaves are skinned from the earth

who is born in the form of a young river
who sobs inside me like the song of a lover
who swells inside me like the light of the sea

IV. Braiding Crowns

stalks were purple
where they were not green

milk inside
bitter on our tongues

twists of yellow
buttered our noses

did that mean love
or looming children

pointed leaves
hidden in grass

sharper than thorns
white hairs

IV. Independence Day

circles of light begin
the point

of origin
dissolves before

the hand circles
round to the end

an arc

in midair

the sound
of footsteps

the length

of the porch
in a humid night

the faint smell
of ozone


Joseph Buehler
Spring/Summer 2012

That was the frightening spring/summer time of my inner ear imbalance

(my right ear):walking at night with the steadying help of your bark-peeled-off

walking stick the twenty five steps from our bed to the bathroom, grabbing onto

dressers and the door jamb to keep upright (usually with your help even though

I didn’t want to wake you, though sometimes you were already awake) and then

climbing back onto our bed to lie and watch the room reel and spin away. That

was also the spring of the worst western forest fires ever and the strange tropical

Florida storm that refused to retreat from its destructive path until it finally and

slowly moved up the Gulf Coast into the elbow of the peninsula where the northern

shore joined the beginning of the panhandle at its most easterly point. The late

spring also brought news of terrified Syrian women and children who were brutally

butchered by evil murderous thugs. Let’s consider then how the world itself can

reel and plunge away into a maelstrom of its own mad special darkness.


x gerard lee

from a longer piece

I awoke early this morning.

The sun is so damn bright

down here. I know that’s

not actually physically

true, but it certainly feels

that way. Maybe it’s because

the window of the guest bedroom

faces east and at five o’clock

you get a nice fat slap

of sunlight with the calls

of yellow roosters

that wander around the dirt roads

of this forgotten country – I do not

like it here. I took a walk as

dawn was setting – I was antsy

and I don’t think I slept

for more than an hour

in total, a night perforated

with minute instances

of sleep and caffeine dreams –

in the shorts I slept in

and geta my parents

had bought me during

one of their many childless

trips to foreign countries. Japan,

they told me, was their favorite

and that the shoes they wore

were so chic, if not a bit “unconventional.”

As a child, I was obliged to agree with

them, and as I clacked around

the kitchen, much to the discontent

of Aubergine – what a fucking name! –

the French Polynesian housekeeper

– “she’s so exotic-looking,” my

mother would say – who didn’t care for loud

noises and was as quiet as the mice

with whom she lived in the attic.

The villa was separated from a small

neighborhood of less impressive

houses, all of which were seated along a small cliff.

My parents’ was the only one

with a private beach – I suppose years as a

corporate sow will furnish you

the currency to purchase such selfish

and unnecessary things – but the other villas

seemed to exude something warm,

something my parents’ villa did not possess.

What they lacked in lawn size and pool volume

and hot tub seating capacity they possessed

in a certain lightness that I have never experienced.

Children, siblings playing on the sage lawns,

collecting coconuts and mangoes that fell

to the ground. Older brothers calling out

to their younger sibs to watch long-tailed

lizards slither like s’s across

the pavement. Castles built

in the dust between the lawn

and the cracked tar of the street,

adorned with bone-dry starfish

carcasses and seashells of pastel. Parents

smiling, watching their progeny

glisten in the light

as the isle welcomed

the new day with open arms.

Why all these people

were around at seven

o’clock in the morning,

I do not know. As I walked by,

they looked at me queerly.

I must have looked pretty bizarre,

like some jet-lagged traveler,

my wooden shoes alerting people

of my presence, my gym shorts

looking slightly distressed, my hair

a mess of naps and curls. Most

of them were white, actually,

but that doesn’t matter much. I imagine

a Black family (or any family, really)

would have stared at me

too, launching questions at me

with their eyes – “Who are you?”

“Where did you come from?”

“Why is your heart so dark?”

“What happened to the light in your eyes?”

When I reached the end of the dirt road,

the sun was fairly high in the sky

and dawn had ended. The ocean was gone,

replaced by a rather dense jungle. Cars

came occasionally, to and fro. A shuttle

loaded with tourists in stereotypical garb.

Sharp noses swabbed in zinc oxide,

eyes masquerading behind plastic lens,

souls wading through the waters

of a foreign, less fortunate land,

knowing they will never remain.

I hate tourists.

I walked back to the house

and my parents were up by then.

Everyone had gone inside for breakfast

and the streets were clean of life.

A storm was starting to grow

on the horizon,

inching east towards the island.

Where were you? We were


I responded as if I had just woken up,

and I forgot how much anger was

dwelling in my stomach, all of which

trickled out as I spoke.

I went for a walk. You should

have known.


How were we supposed to have known?

We can’t read your mind.

I had nothing more to say,

mostly because I realized

that what I had said was rather

stupid. I was, however, too upset

to care.

Have some coffee. I just brewed a pot.


You cook now?


Oh lord no. Brewing coffee

is hardly cooking. You put the

dust or whatever in the machine

with some water, press some buttons

and you’re done. Very stress-free.

My mother was not the cooking

type. Nor was she the nurturing

or motherly type, either. From the day

I was born I was viewed as a great

impediment to her ambition. She was

a take-out dialer,

the kind of mother who eschewed superstition

for reason, the genre of woman

whose blackness was never relevant

unless it gave her an edge

or held her back from attaining something.

More or less, as I grew older and she grew

tamer in her ambitions at the law firm,

she turned her attention towards “raising”

her son, oftentimes taking me on small

business trips to the firm’s Los Angeles

or St Louis offices. Quality time,

she called it, but it was more often than not

me spending quality time with myself

in the hotel room. We would eat dinner

at nice restaurants and she’d train me in the

secret art of dining like a civilized

human being – how to hold the knife

while cutting your meat, where to place

your cloth napkin – “Any restaurant with

paper napkins is a travesty

and I will take no part in it” –

and how to scam the waiter out

of a free bottle of wine by finding “cork”

in your glass. All the while

I was happy to spend the time with her,

so naive and young, unaware of

who my parents really were,

so hell-bent on trying to shape them

into people they were not, into people

I assumed all parents should be.

You know I don’t cook, mostly

because I don’t ever have the time.

Well, now is different. I have all

the time in the world and I have to tell

you it’s rather boring. I still don’t cook.

I tell Smyrna to do it.

She knows how to make all your father’s

favorite dishes, even the ones I swear to

never eat. Like oxtail….the very thought

makes me want to vomit. You’d think

the man would grow some epicurean

tastes after thirty years of caviar

and pearly spoons but no. He still

eats the crap our ancestors were

forced to eat – it’s really revolting –

chitterlings and fatback and all.

That’s probably why he’s in

such poor shape.

She was beginning one of her

tirades. She had the ability

to self-sustain her own state

of annoyance. There have been times

when I’ve left the room

for twenty minutes only to return

to hear her still complaining

about something or someone.

Who is Smyrna?

I interrupted. That’s the only way

to get her to shut up. Proving her

wrong never works. She’ll just turn

her attention towards criticizing


She’s the housekeeper. Lovely

Kittitian woman. A little fat, though,

and she’s always wearing these heavy

denim jeans like it’s not a thousand

degrees outside.

She lit a cigarette on the stove,

putting her face precariously close

to the flame.

I thought you gave up smoking.

She looked at me with a wry smile,

the signal of a witty, always sadistic statement.

I’ll give up smoking when you get

a girlfriend.


Do you want to breathe through an

oxygen mask, too?


We are both going to die one day.

The means by which it happens, does

it matter? When your father dies,

I will be alone. I wouldn’t want

both of us to endure the misery of

loneliness, you know.

She spoke like a melodramatic

actress, and everything she said was

sarcastic and tinged with bile. Some

would call it charm or wit, but I preferred

to call it as it was; venom. Know you see

where I get it from.

I do not want to discuss this. I’m

still furious with you.


I’m your mother. You’ve been furious

with me since birth. You think I can’t handle


At that moment, my father knocked

at the backdoor, signaling

for someone to let him in. It had

apparently been difficult for him

to push open the door to the patio

and as I rushed to aid him,

I heard him breathing heavily

in his mask as he attempted to do

it for himself.

It’s okay, Dad. I’m here. I got it.

He looked at me, his chest expanding

fiercely and his eyes weak and self-conscious.

I had never seen my father like this,

as desperate as an infant and just as helpless.

I did not want to continue seeing him

like this. I never wanted to.

Thank you, son. Could you give me

a push? My arms are getting

kind of tired.

From the kitchen my mother

called, her cigarette burning

and smoking up the grand room.

I told you we should have sprung

for the electric wheelchair but “nooo.”

You had to get that pool lift.

You don’t even know how to swim,



Oh give it a break, Lucille.

My parents had started watching TV

shows on Netflix to pass the time. My mother

could not drive – “I refuse to drive when there

are people I can pay to do it for me.” – and my father

was advised not to, so they did not leave the house very

often. When they did, they asked Smyrna to drive,

who always did because she rather enjoyed

watching the two of them bicker

like territorial toms.

My mother’s name was not

actually Lucille, though. My

father was referencing Arrested Development,

a TV show they had started watching together.

While my mother vehemently denied the

comparison, my father continued to call

her Lucille Bluth or Lucy to annoy her,

especially when she was in the midst

of one of her tirades. When she attempted

to call him George in retaliation, he was not phased

at all.

Well you can’t get mad at me

when you send yourself into a

coughing fit because you want

to maintain your independence.

You are terminally ill, dear.


Doesn’t mean my life is over.

I’m still alive.


I’m afraid it does mean that, dear.

The bluntness of my sire and dam!

Whatever, Lucille. Is the nurse

here yet?

She took a long drag, her eyes

drifting as she inhaled.

No, dear. You know she comes

at ten everyday.

He did not seem phased by the comment

and watched her as I wheeled

him inside.

Do you want some coffee, Dad?

Or maybe some breakfast? I can

make you something.

He ripped his gaze away from her

and looked at me. His eyes were large

and faded.

No, that’s quite alright. Thank you,


The nurse arrived at ten-thirty. She complained

that she had car troubles, but my mother

did not believe her.

This is unacceptable. I am very

disappointed with you.

The nurse, timid and afraid,

kowtowed to my mother’s might.

I am very sorry, madam. It

won’t happen again, I promise

you that.

She then proceeded to wheel my father

into what he considered his “chemo room”

and shut the door.

I always wonder if your father’s

in there screwing the nurse.

She gripped a crystal rocks glass in

her right hand, a cigarette in her left

as she sprawled herself out on the couch

in her neutral position.


Mitchell Krockmalnik  Grabois

She lives in defiance

of nature

She longs for the day

that global warming

turns the Frigidaire that is Michigan

into a tropical paradise

She leaves her car running all night

to do her small share

She dreams of turning her barn into a bar

and serving pina coladas

to tourists

She herself, she’s never had a pina colada

She’s worked hard all her life

Her boyfriend test is

fingerlock wrestling

If a man cannot best her

he cannot fuck her

No man has ever been able to best her

She is a virgin

out of sadomasochistic triumph


Her grandfather had a parrot

but it died

He’d built a greenhouse for it

but after he died

she couldn’t afford the propane bill

and it died

She believed that her grandfather’s spirit

went to live in his beloved parrot

but she let it die anyway

Poverty trumps love

That’s not an elusive concept for her



Jenese Chanel Hornsby is an Author/Illustrator from Atlanta, Georgia. She holds bachelor’s degrees in both Psychology and Religious Studies from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied under Daniel Wallace (author of Big Fish), Pam Durban (author of the short story “Soon”), Lawrence Naumoff ( author of Taller Women, A Cautionary Tale), and the renowned poet Alan R. Shapiro. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Eva M. Olsgard is a mid/west based writer, artist, and designer. In addition to performing and exhibiting her work, she has created award-winning programming and spoken nationally on the subjects of language arts and cultural studies. Ms. Olsgard holds a BA in Literature and Creative Writing from Bard College.

Joseph Buehler lives in northern Georgia with his wife Trish. He has published three short stories in the Kansas Magazine and a short story in the Canadian Forum long ago and three poems in Bumble Jacket Miscellany and a poem in Defenestration in December 2011 and a poem in the spring/summer 2012 Common Ground Review and poems since then in Theodte, Mad Swirl, Two Cities Review, Indiana Voice Journal, The Write Room, Turk’s Head Review, The Tower Journal, Burningword Literary Journal, The Stray Branch, and have upcoming poems in East End Elements, Common Ground Review and Unbroken.

x gerard lee is a writer and undergraduate at Swarthmore College. He studies comparative literature with an emphasis on trans-Atlantic narratives of the Black freedom struggle. In his spare times he writes poetry and fiction and has selected “Family” from a longer piece based on his experiences as a minority at a predominately white college.

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over eight hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including LINDEN AVENUE LITERARY JOURNAL. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.

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