November 2016 (No. 54)

Dennis Reed
Jay-Z says…

we wear hard shoes
for funerals
when our boys have
taken the bullet
we put on dark, shiny suits
hard shoes

no sneakers in church
it is always cold
the morning of a funeral
details about the bullets

fight…bar…parking lot…
no matter
we are here again
bowing our heads
in the concrete

whispering among the crinoline
touching the cold body
one more time
we wear hard shoes
for funerals

 

Queen Mother Moore says

an apology for slavery
is like throwing shit

in the wind. It always
comes back to you

those skinny chickens
of death and destruction

let out in the Revolutionary War
Civil War, World Wars I and II

come back to visit
our shores, but

nothing could rival
the violent death

of North American slavery,
the great great grandchildren ask for

something material
land, education, stolen wealth

tangible
like the throats of the women

you strangled and then had sex with
or the men you decapitated

putting their own penises
in their mouths

then hanging them
like scarecrows

on Sunday, in front of your children
after church

red and white tablecloths
and a Black man

neck off
uninvited, silent guest

eyes like history
popping out

how afraid the plantation owners were

low sound
of insurrection and rebellion

gonna steal away
steal away

steal away to Jesus
meet me at the church
at dusk

gonna steal away
steal away
to Jesus

immensity of their crimes
make war look like a pittance

disenfranchising generations
taking bread out of the mouths

of children with your red hands
stealing land

droplets of ink like blood
on contracts

where you stole Boroughs
from the Indians and kept

me from the vote and owning
the floors my people walk on

Queen Mother Moore sent
the clarion call

how do you put a price on suffering
never enough money

for cutting our throats
lives

bodies like so much
expendable fodder

Confederate dreams
this is not new,

Daughters of the American Revolution

or different than the lying
history book

this has all been made
into film

and still we are villains
for asking

that life once
in millenniums

be fair to us
because we are

human beings
and not three fifths

of mules

I am

A

Man

 

Gregory Crosby
The Revelator

Everyone imagines the Rapture as
instantaneous, but what if angels
have a very different sense of time?
Seeing as how they stand outside of it.
What if that sweet chariot is swinging
not low but slow, & the rising of the tides,
the disappearance of the ice, is all
we’ll know or need to know, as the moment,
coming forth to carry us into the
only home we’ve ever unknown, beyond
without back, expands like the universe
itself into billions & billions of
stars over billions & billions of years,
with everyone saved, everyone left behind?

 

Julia Rose Lewis
Tree Ring Dating
after William Blake

The fearful
symmetry of first
and last loves is floating
over their heads
here in the forests of the night.

Love is when late it’s not too true¹
ten vicodin and a bottle of tequila
to float her virginity away.

suppose this is a floating chronology …
it could be anchored
by crossmatching her section with another
tree ring history. One whose dates are known.
There is a strong tendency for trees
from the same region to develop
the same pattern of rings for the same
given period.

Beauty gives to him
her vicodin
the beast needs to be buoyed up
and hydrocodone makes the brain float.

True is too love when late’s not here²
there was the blue pill,
the blue diamond.

Love is a sign of beastliness;
viagra was originally a heart medication.
Floating is defined as being less dense than water.

__________________________________
Anne Carson, Decreation¹
Anne Carson, Decreation²

 

Edward H. Garcia
Pop

He was, by then, unsteady on his feet
who had been so sturdy, punching his stomach
calling it “corded steel.”

He was, by then, nearly mute:
a thought would play across his face,
try to come out of his mouth,
then die unspoken, the eyes confused.

He was, by then, almost gone,
the smart one in the family,
lawyer, violinist, storyteller.
I, lucky or a coward, missed most of it,
came finally at her summons.

He was, by then,
dead.

 

Tom Gillespie
Earshot

A girl sitting behind me in coach F
Asks if I would look after her bag
She points, and I stare
She’s twenty one or below
Her hair growing out of a fake blonde mask
But she’s still trying, and trying to be
Some hopeful swag
For a luckless premier player
Nearly but not quite out of her league
Then she’s back, answering her phone
In shrilled overtones
“I know, I think I might vomit,” she says
“I mean he says he loves me and I love him
But we don’t see eye to eye on anything.”
She pauses
I can hear the sound of her shaking breath
Against her phone
“I mean I love him, but I don’t like him.
I’m not sure I ever have. He’s a cunt.”
The train takes a sudden swerve, and I hear her phone drop
To the floor. She’s fumbling at my heels
Then she’s up again.
“Sorry, could you mind my bag?”
I watch her stagger up the aisle, and a little light
Above the door glows red, occupied.
I could rifle her bag, her belongings, her life
But I resist
She’s gone for ten minutes or more, I start to worry
That she’s jumped, or left me
With a semtex surprise
But then she’s back
Her face swollen and red, mascara pushed back into the lids
“I might lose my signal. I’m on the train.
I’m going to do it today. I feel sick. I don’t know.
I’ll drop down dead in front of him.
Hello? I’ll call you later, afterwards.”
She kicks the back of my seat
Once, twice, then a third time
And bundles out into the aisle
Pulling a cabin-sized lurid case
In her haphazard wake
The train departs from the station
And I spot her on the platform
Meeting her beau-to-be-not
He takes her bag and attempts an embrace
And as they walk towards the exit
Her steps fall behind his
And she pushes her hands into the depths of her coat

 

Gary Floyd
Emigre

Every day he takes a rolled newspaper to the pool. He wears a long Hawaiian swimsuit: overweight, slightly paunchy, shuffling along in slippers. His wife, Conchita, watches their child Lupe alongside the pool. She talks to ladies about their trips to the market for supplies. After reading the paper, he leaves it on the pool’s lip and steps into the pool. He’ll wade into neck deep water careful not to take one step too far. He watches a lady, preoccupied with leisure, sip on a frozen drink as she floats on a raft. Another man, in a white cotton suit, studies his racing form before noticing the recently arrived couple. He mops his brow as his scalp glistens and his skin continues to turn brown from the sun.
Everyone wonders what the man does for work. When asked, he vaguely answers, “I’m in business.”
No further explanation. The man is focused on nothing but the political situation back home. The fat cats suckle off of the overtaxed peasantry using the government’s coffers as their personal piggy bank. Some days, the man sends political screeds to the papers back home or to government officials. He hopes the right words will awaken their missing conscience; on other days, he feels hopeless. At first, he politely asked the local officials to actually enforce the laws. His requests were initially met with silence, and then their actions got worse. He found that the newspapers were nothing more than conduits of the generalissimo’s lies.
The man occasionally sends letters to political allies, in the south. Many have disappeared. Others are in hiding. A tragic ending always appears possible. The man remembers a BBC reporter coming to his pensione. The reporter asks, “How have you survived, when so many of your comrades haven’t.”

The man considers the question before answering, “I go forward.”
The statement is vague but both understand its meaning. The man attacks as a means of protection. No one is certain if the man has special powers or if he’s just crazy. Losing heart and trying to escape has often proved fatal. Both, he and the reporter, have heard stories of captives being shot while trying to surrender. Perfectly healthy men have heart attacks while detained. The man believes he’s a soldier so, if captured, he expects no better treatment.
A month earlier a confidante, Marcos, warned him of trouble brewing. He had asked too many questions about how certain important individuals made their money. A week later, a bomb under his car detonated. The concussion rocked the neighborhood, flattening Conchita and Lupe as they walked toward the car. The man’s allies smuggled his family out of the country. They were given new identities. He became an independent businessman still unsure of what exactly he sold. His family was set up in a modest, comfortable cottage.
The racing enthusiast, sitting alongside the pool, asks the man why he’s constantly reading foreign newspapers.

He asks, “Are you an émigré to our country?”
“Yes,” the man says. “My wife and I came to enjoy your fine climate. We are emigreing.”

The racing fan looks confused. He wipes his brow again. The man chuckles. He and Conchita have invented this word. It means: conducting armed insurrection across international borders.

Conchita looks tired. Lupe is cranky. She cries as her teeth break through her gums. Everybody is weary of the constant movement. No place is safe. Conchita sometimes rubs his brow to alleviate his headaches. It helps when he’s under stress. The man is in awe of his government’s reach. The totality of the struggle is overwhelming. He merely concentrates on taking a few steps forward at a time.

The man longs for a simpler life. In this pool, in this complex, he feels like he’s on the verge of achieving such a life.

The genteel lady slips off her float. She leaves the pool as the float bobs freely on the water. Conchita follows her out of the pool area trying to quiet crying Lupe. The women, who Conchita spoke to, have left for the market and the bartender is busy out the back. The only people at the pool is the man and the racing enthusiast.

The man decides to take a turn on the float. He slides onto it. He reaches over to the side to grab the news from back home and places it on his stomach. He’s tired, just so bloody tired. He’d like to float away. Allow his troubles to float away with him. The people he fights have so many weapons and he can only rely on his own stubbornness. The man closes his eyes and allows the pool’s current to carry him along. He can’t let go of the struggle. He and the struggle have become one.

He doesn’t notice the guy, in the white cotton suit, putting his racing form down and moving to the edge of the pool. He doesn’t notice or sense the racing fanatic hovering above, or making contact with his shoulders like a participant of a bizarre baptismal ritual.

The man goes into a life or death spasm. He never actually sees who or what is dragging him under, for the second time, but he eventually surrenders to the inevitable. The paper, no longer on his chest, floats to the surface. It’s wet, its ink bleeds, and as it texture dissolves inside the pool. The racing enthusiast doesn’t let go until the man goes limp. It’s only then that the man in the white suit rises, smooths his wrinkled suit, folds his racing form, and walks away before someone realizes that there’s a corpse in the pool. Somewhere in the distance a baby cries. It could even be Lupe.

 

Sarah Wilkinson
Breaststrokes
Inspired by Dominque Gustin’s Paper Home

Uncertainty

She’s not sure if her house is shaped like a heart or if it just carries heart-shaped shadows.

Absence of Lies

He left her here, in this house by the sea. She takes shallow breaths and hopes the old wood boards hold the water out and keep the walls in. Her dark hair is pulled into a bun fixed high on her head with a pencil from his study. The pencil is still warm from his fingers pressing images into life. His side of the bed still holds his shape, the smell of cedar. The smudge of graphite where he used to clutch the sheets to his chin remains, and she can almost feel the weight of his arm draped over her side. This is what she tells the white slip hanging in his half of the closet on a wire hanger. She refuses to wear it until he comes back from wherever he is. China, maybe. Or Mexico. He’s an artist, a traveling one. In his wake she’d surely find the shavings from all the erasers he’d used along the way. It wouldn’t be hard to find him.

But she can’t leave. If he comes back and she’s not here, who will wear the white slip for him? Who will let it fall gently off the shoulder, exposing one perfectly round breast? Who will catch his coat when he lets it fall and take all the pencils out of the pocket, putting them back in the empty cup on his desk where they belong?

Corrections

There are no mirrors in her house on the sea. Some days, there is no sea, only waves of seagulls that peck fish bones from the dried seaweed. But she doesn’t know this either because she won’t look out the windows. Glass might reflect, as a mirror does, her chest. Flat as a child’s. No breasts to speak of. No nipples. Only scars, long and choppy as the sea horizons under blood red sunsets that they used to watch when they’d first met. Sitting on the roof of her house, watching the sea swallow the sun and birth the moon, she never wondered if the sea could swallow her up too.

She still had breasts then. The scars were not red and lumpy. Her skin was not irritated. She did not look like a child. He took the white slip off her every night, and laid it, smoothing the wrinkles, over the back of the rocking chair. He would cup her head and lean her back against the pillows. He would kiss her hair and touch her body and she would feel just like the sea that pounded against the old wooden boards of her house—shaped like a heart—she was sure.

Imaginings

She takes scissors to the white slip, the beautiful silk expanse of it that rolled like waves over her thin and straight body when she used to wear it. She cuts holes where her breasts are supposed to go, watching the swaths of fabric fold over themselves, chasing circles into the old wood floor that gives her splinters. She sweeps the two breasts of fabric into her hands. Holds them to her face, slips them beneath their pillows. One under his and one under hers. She puts the white slip back on the wire hanger and lets it rest in his empty half of the closest, shuts the door. She lets her hair unravel down her back, the pencil hitting hard floor, rolling into the boundless depths of howling sea under her bed.

Crowning Truth

Some days she wondered. No pictures he’d drawn of the Adriatic Sea, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, of all the seas he went to before he came to hers, hung on the walls. The phone plugged into the wall, sitting on the bare kitchen floor did not ring. She did not cook because she was not hungry, her already small hips melting off her like candlewax. She tried to stop it, reaching for fistfuls of herself, but all she ever grabbed was skin hanging off bare bone. She felt the voices creeping in. She knew the questions they’d ask, the accusations they’d level. How could he love you, the girl without breasts? Not a woman. How could you be? They were the tide pushing in, her body tumbling in endless circles as the water forced her to the edge of the sea. On the shore, naked. Exposed by moonlight. Somehow her arms were never wide enough to cover the scars.

Certainty

She knows for certain. There is no white slip except the embrace of her skin. There is no empty cup on his desk, no eraser shavings leading from her sea to China or Mexico, no pencil under the bed releasing ghost hair down her back. She looks at her scars in the mirror every day because she cannot look away from their jagged edge, their hard truth. If her house is perched on the sea, it is not shaped like a heart. How could it be when she’s never seen a lover’s rib cage from the inside? No, she believes that her house carries heart-shaped shadows because sometimes, she feels them. Artist hands, strong and callused, cupping phantom breasts, tiny lips suckling as she sits in the rocking chair with her eyes closed. Two people who could love her.

She takes a pencil from under his pillow where she keeps it, paper from his desk, and tries to draw body after body, breast after breast, of all shapes and sizes. But she can only draw her own chest over and over again. She hangs the pictures on the walls, everywhere, even on the windows until there is nothing but her paper truth.

 

Gareth Roberts
Other Tragedy

Amelia had spent most of the day that she had set aside to write the obituary not doing so. Instead, she had stared at her computer screen in the vague hope that something would come, written and then deleted her first sentence, made a dozen cups of tea and drunk a scotch and soda, pretending she needed to be drunk to work. It had not surprised they had asked her to write Steven’s obituary. In fact, she had always expected to. After all, she was probably the closest thing that he had had to a long-term friend.

They had met in the mid 1980’s when she was a newly graduated student activist. Just down from university, she had taken a perverse pleasure in her third class degree rather than the mild embarrassment she now felt. It had been at a party in a dingy squat somewhere, although she was unsure where. He had asked her outside, and they had sat on the balcony. She had talked inanely about the boring bourgeoisies values of her family, while he had discussed at length his activism. The things he had done seemed marvellous, his travels in Europe and how he had read all of Marx and wrote poetry. They had talked about literature for a long while after she had said that she too wrote poetry and short stories. After talking for several hours he had said, suddenly and quite frankly, “Would you like to go to bed with me?”

Amelia sighed and said “I’m sorry. I mean, I would but I’m a lesbian,” and waited for his inevitable tirade against her for leading him on. But that hadn’t happened. He had just burst out laughing, said “Alright then,” and resumed discussing the conservatism of Jane Austen and how she should be avoided for her non-revolutionary ideas and her inherent opposition to change. She had cut him off mid-sentence, asking “Are you not going to get angry?”

“What good would that do? If I get cross at you, you’ll still be a lesbian you’ll just be an angry one.”

After that, they had made an effort to see a lot of each other. Amelia worked as a waitress in an exceedingly downmarket bar at the time, and Steven seemed to be primarily nocturnal they both found it easier to meet during the day. The result was that they spent hours of their afternoons sat in cafes. Their conversations were wide-ranging, and they could spend hours gossiping about the politics of the activist movements they involved themselves in, about politics and philosophy (they were both pre-occupied with chic French theorists) or simply checking out girls who happened to walk by. They moved in the same social circles as well, in the peculiar and semi-fluid web of poets that surrounded many of the wannabe revolutionary magazines that existed at the time.

However, the more time Amelia spent with Steven, the more of an enigma he became. It was not entirely clear what Steven did, beyond sleep and occasionally attend protests, and beyond a small sum he earned in payment for selling stories to magazines he had no obvious source of income to speak of. On the few occasions she did ask for details, he alluded vaguely to savings, but would avoid the question and change the subject.
As the decade went on they had drifted further apart as their lives began to differ. Amelia began to publish novels, first through small publishers and later through larger ones. Steven seemed to take a delight in retreating into obscurity. He published more and more poetry through smaller and smaller presses. Few people read his work, but it attracted a strange cultic devotion amongst poets and literati. In her more cynical moods, Amelia thought that many of them supported him and similar obscure poets in a bid to justify the conflict their left-wing views and comparative wealth gave them. She would often go
months without saying when he would suddenly materialise at her front door.

There had been one morning where she had been woken up at 7 o’clock in the morning by a hammering on her front door. She had pulled on a dressing gown and gone to answer it. When she had opened the door, she had found Steven there. He looked bedraggled and smelt of beer. “Hello!” he said, as she opened the door “I’m really sorry to bother you, but I can’t get into my flat. Can I stay here tonight and go home tomorrow morning?”

“But it’s seven o’clock in the morning.”

“No it isn’t. It can’t possibly be. Trust me, I’d know if it was.”

She had taken him inside and pointed at her wall-clock. He had frowned at her and said

“No silly. That’s an analogue clock, not a digital one. It means its seven o’clock at night.”

“No, trust me it is the morning. I know, I came off shift at three this morning, and I’m falling asleep on my feet, so no way have I slept fourteen hours.”

He must have noticed the shift in her voice, because instead of trying to argue he simply
said “Can I sleep on your sofa please?”

She had nodded and left to find a blanket while he made himself comfortable. When she came back, he was lying on the sofa, snoring loudly. Although the speed surprised her, she was glad he was asleep, so laid the blanket on top of him and went back to bed herself.

She didn’t wake up until it was nearly lunchtime, and when she went downstairs to make herself lunch, she had found that he was still there. He slept more quietly, but just as heavily. In fact, he stayed there most of the day, and when she left for work at eight in the evening he was still asleep. When she came back though he had gone, leaving only a note apologizing for being so drunk and thanking her for allowing him to sleep on her sofa.

The incident had faded into her memory, and she labelled it as a one-off, never to be repeated.

Except it had been repeated, three weeks later and then twice the week after that. When it happened again for the fourth time in three weeks, she had staged an intervention on him. After the fourth visit, when he had sobered up, she had asked him “What exactly is happening? Why do you keep turning up drunk at my front door?”

The story had come out in dribs and drabs. He had spun her a slightly improbable tale of his continuous misadventures in a pub in Battersea, which she had pointed out was on the other side of London. Finally he had said “It helps me write better,” and retreated into silence as if this settled the matter conclusively and once and for all.

“How? How does you getting drunk and turning up here possibly help your writing?”

“Well what I do is get drunk and write. Unfortunately I get too drunk sometimes and do something like lock myself out the house. But it works on balance, I’ve been productive more times than I’ve been so drunk I do something stupid.”

“And this has been going on how long?”

Steven flinched like a naughty child and then said “Two years maybe.”

“Then you’re an alcoholic,” Amelia said and sat there waiting for a response.

“No I’m not. I’m in control of my drinking.”

“You can’t possibly be. If you’ve been getting drunk every day for two years,” he looked as if he was about to interrupt so she quickly added “or most days for two years, you’ll struggle to stop drinking. And that makes you an alchoholic.”

“No I’m not,” he had shouted angrily and stormed out. It was nearly a year before she saw him after that. She had been concerned, but she did not actually have any way of getting hold of him. He had moved so often that she had long given upon trying to keep track of his address, and people she asked for his address did not seem to know it.

And anyway, she had other concerns. A book was in the process of being published and she was beginning what was to prove to be a serious relationship with a woman she had gone on to marry and have children with. But that felt, at the distance of twenty years like an attempt at self-justification.

Amelia pushed her chair back from her desk and stared at the ceiling. Was she making excuses to justify herself? She had to acknowledge that she probably was. The feeling that Steven was someone she ought to have tried to save from himself was a conviction that had weighed heavily on her shoulders for years. She had spent so much time trying to get him to change that she had more or less given up all hope of achieving any success, and she knew that she was far from the only one to have done so. It was tempting to believe that they had a close enough rapport that he might have listened to her, perhaps early on. But that seemed unlikely. Steven disliked being close enough to anyone that they could influence him.

As they had drifted into their thirties, they became so different as to have almost nothing in common. Amelia’s career continued to go from strength to strength. She had begun to win literary awards and, unexpectedly, her sixth novel The Death of a Few had proven to be a bestseller and been lauded in the press as “the angry voice of a disenfranchised generation.” By contrast, Steven retreated into obscurity. He continued to produce poetry, but less of it now. Every few, years there would be a collection published through a small press that would issue his collection and then promptly disappear into oblivion, never to be seen again.

They saw each other only by accident, meeting at parties thrown by mutual friends. When they did speak they were inevitably cordial, but nothing more. Certainly not the friendship that they had once maintained. Perhaps it was not surprising that the friendship had changed. They had both underneath been different people. Steven was a radical to his core, whereas Amelia had always really wanted the domesticity and comfort of her parent’s middle class background, even if she had taken until her early thirties to realise it.

Then, after the millennium, she had not seen Steven at all for over a decade. In fact, no one saw him. He lived in a series of bedsits with a selection of increasingly eccentric, and in one case genuinely insane, companions. The deliberate withdrawal from the world was hard to understand. She knew that he was not an alcoholic by that stage, but she knew almost nothing else about how he lived his life. They had long ago gone their separate ways, each tacitly acknowledging they were separate now.

Her final meeting with him had come entirely as a surprise. It had been on a weekday morning, almost six months ago now. She had been sitting in her kitchen, reading the paper and putting off doing any work when a knock came at the door. As she went to answer the door, she had assumed it would simply be the postman, pehaps asking her to sign for a parcel. But it hadn’t been, instead she had opened the door to find Steven standing there, an apologetic look on his face. “Hello,” he had said, “Can I come in?”

He had sat at the kitchen table while she carefully made two cups of tea. Placing them down on the table, he had sat opposite him and said “It’s been nearly fifteen years since I saw you. Why did you fall out of touch?”

“There were reasons. It was just the phase my life was going through I think. I haven’t been in touch with many people.”

“What on earth do you mean ‘the phase your life was going through’? That’s complete nonsense and we both know it. You must have had a reason for falling out of touch.”

“I just sort of felt that I had to. I’m not really sure why.”

“Why could you possibly feel that? Are you trying to make yourself miserable?”

“No, not especially. But listen, I need you to do something for me. I’m not going to be alive much longer, so I need you to write the obituary. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it absolutely has to be you, I’m sure of that but I couldn’t tell you why. But anyway, how’s the family? Is Sophie well, and the kids?”

And that had been it. No further discussions of his ominous premonition of his own demise, or indeed his life could be elicited him, beyond vague cursory mentions of a partner of some sort, and implications of medical procedures. He had left after an hour or so, refusing an offer of lunch.

And then, six months later she had received a phone call telling her that he had died, killed by a recurring heart condition. She had taken the news and then, after putting down the phone burst out laughing. The self-mythologizing he had always indulged in had held out to the last, turning a diagnosis of a recurring heart condition into a prophecy of doom.

That was why he had asked her to write the obituary in the terms he did. The tragic and foreshadowed death was to be the capstone to his greatest artistic project. His own life.

 

Contributors:

Dennis Reed is a native New Yorker. He attended New York city public schools and was a member of the infamous poetry group BUD JONES. His work has appeared in ESSENCE, BLACK SCHOLAR and CLA. His memoir MIGRATION MEMORIES is available at amazon.com.

Gregory Crosby is the author of the chapbooks Spooky Action at a Distance (2014, The Operating System) and The Book of Thirteen (2016, Yes Poetry).

Julia Rose Lewis is poet in residence of the archeology department University of Wales Trinity St David. She lives on Nantucket Island and is a member of the Moors Poetry Collective. Her poems have appeared in their anthologies, Firefly, 3am Magazine, and Backlash.

Edward H. Garcia is retired from teaching composition, literature, and creative writing in the Dallas County Community College District. He has an undergraduate degree and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s from the Ohio State University. He has published reviews, articles, stories and poems in The Dallas Morning News, The Texas Observer, The Texas Humanist, Pawn Review, Texas Books in Review, Tex!, County Line Magazine, Bewildering Stories, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Rio Grande Review, Amarillo Bay Literary Magazine, The Avalon Literary Review, Southwest Historical Quarterly, The Blotter, The Acentos Review and SFWP Quarterly. He is represented in Texas in Poetry 2, Texas Short Stories 2, Literary Dallas, and in two anthologies of writing by DCCCD faculty and staff, Out of Dallas and Voices from Within. Some of his poems have been translated into Albanian and published in an anthology of American poetry: Poezia: bashkekohore amerikane. He lives on the upper east side of Texas with his wife Rica.

Tom Gillespie writes poetry, long and short fiction. A number of his stories have been published in magazines, e-journals and short story anthologies. His critically acclaimed, debut novel Painting by Numbers, a dark, psychological drama that explores the surreal complexities of the human mind was FINALIST in The People’s Book Prize for Literature, 2013. Tom’s writing has been described as terse, minimalist, hyper- realistic and ambiguous, where layers of meaning are conveyed using a concise and economical style. He is currently working on a second novel and a collection of short stories based on sudden and dramatic change.

Gary Floyd has been published by Minnesota Ink and Crazy Quilt. He has been working on novel length pieces of late and recently had a piece accepted at Crab Fat Literary Magazine Another piece has been accepted by the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. He has also had a story published in the Blue Lotus Review published in winter of 2015 and attended the Wildacres Writers Conference for the last twenty-two years as well as the Simmons Writers Conference in Boston. http://theroadsometimestravelled.blogspot.com/

Sarah Wilkinson has been published in several magazines including Atticus Review, Amarillo Bay, Litro, Lime Hawk, and others. She’s a Nonfiction Editor for Halfway Down the Stairs and dreams of owning a tiny house in the Colorado mountains.

Gareth Roberts has previously been published in The Phosphene and is a regular contributor to The Reviews Hub. His interests include politics, churches, compiling lists of random interests for biographical statements, and irritating self-reflexive humour.

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