Archives Issues

October 2017 (No. 65)

Michael Chin/Scary Movie                                                                                                 

 

          My sister hated scary movies, so when we turned on Paranormal Activity, she returned to her room to play with her phone, leaving me, Devin, and his sister Ashley to ourselves in the living room while our parents and the other old-timers slept.

            Ashley, like Devin, was technically my cousin, but they didn’t look anything like me, and she was two years older and hot. Devin and I had openly told one another that we were attracted to each other’s big sisters and this normalized the dynamic, overlooking the incestuous implications. I’d never so much as held hands with a girl, so, for now, the idea of sitting alone together, maybe grazing hands when we reached in the Skittle bowl at the same time, maybe feeling her body involuntarily jump into mine when there was a good scare on screen—that’s about all I hoped for.

            In order to make contact without having to be self-conscious about Devin watching, pantomiming nausea or gesturing encouragement, I needed for him to scram. Reverse roles and put Devin with my sister, I would have split, no questions asked, both to give him room and because I wouldn’t want to see my sister ogled.

            But Devin was either oblivious or willfully cockblocking me. He at least sat in front of us, letting us be the only two on the couch while he sat on the floor, closer to the TV, back against the coffee table though he turned around at irregular intervals to grab handfuls of Skittles for himself.

            I sat very close to Ashley. I inched closer as the movie went on until I could feel the heat of her arm less than an inch from me. Until she said, “You’re sitting really close.”

            “Huh.” I acknowledged I’d heard her, but didn’t move. Figured she’d say something more direct if she really wanted me to move, and in the meantime, I’d liked being that close.

            On screen, a couple slept while a demonic presence rippled the blanket over them. I was close enough to feel Ashley shiver.

            I stretched my arms straight and lowered them against the back of the couch to either side of me. I figured I’d inch my arms downward, and maybe she wouldn’t even notice when I started holding her if I synched it with the next big scare. Maybe she’d lean in, even, before she had time to think about it.

            But she looked at me. Leaned forward to scoop a handful of Skittles, then got up to sit down next to her brother, a foot of space between them. Normal space for a brother and sister.

            I had the couch to myself, where I kept my arms up for the rest of the movie. Certain it mattered that I show her that was just how I sat, not like I was trying to make a move. Not like I was some kind of creep. Devin looked back to me and shook his head, barely containing his laughter.

 

Stolen Goods

 

Devin and I both spent an inordinate amount of time at our cousin’s wedding stealing looks at Tori, one of the bridesmaids. She was in her early twenties to Devin’s sixteen, my fourteen. I don’t think either of us harbored any illusions anything would really happen between us.

            Still, upon sight, Devin said, Dibs.

            Dibs as if she were off limits to my attraction, much less pursuit. Dibs as if she were his property.

            She was tall, with a smooth complexion, big breasts, and thin shoulders that all made her attractive in objective ways. Looking back, I think we both got possessive because she was offbeat, too, in horn-rimmed glasses and a ratty brown cardigan over her sun dress at the rehearsal dinner. Something about this more nuanced combination of factors, in favor of other bridesmaids who were little less pretty, but far more interchangeable at once made Tori both more accessible and infinitely more desirable to us nerdy boys.

            And so it came to pass that Devin disappeared before the ceremony, and about fifteen minutes later beckoned me outside the ceremony space, onto the porch overlooking the river. He looked both ways and fished from inside his too-short blazer a set of purple polka dot panties. “Tori’s,” he said.

            We had them in our hands, between our fingers, before I thought about it—that this might be a violation, what trouble we might get into not only for stolen goods, but a higher tier of personal property like my sister’s diary or like the Debbie Does Dallas video tape I’d found in my father’s desk.

            “I saved the best part for us both.” Devin had a familiar look on his face. Like Christmas morning beneath the tree, or Christmas night after dinner when the cookies and pies made it to the table.

            “What’s that?” I asked.

            “We’re going to smell them.”

            It had never occurred to me to smell a girl’s underwear, but then a year earlier it hadn’t meaningfully occurred to me why seeing a pretty girl’s bra strap would be appealing, and now they transfixed me from the back of classrooms and the school bus.

            So, on the count of three, we smelled.

            The scent was sort of rotten, sort of fishy, something like vomit or garbage. None of the sweetness I would have anticipated.

            Devin sniffed again. “Do you think there’s something wrong with her?”

            The door opened onto the porch Uncle Ron. “What are you two doing? The ceremony’s about to start.”

            As Uncle Ron spoke, Devin flung the panties out, over the porch rail, walkway, and shrubbery, into the river. Not the obvious answer of getting them out of sight, back into his pocket, or simply behind his back. Behind his back. Uncle Ron had to have seen something—all three of us looked out on the water—but we benefited from the near-universal rule that when something important was going on, adults would let minor transgressions pass—that the best time to get caught cursing or to have your mom sign the test you failed was when something was burning on the stove, or she was arguing with your father about something important.

            We headed inside. No questions asked. I stole a look back to see the panties floating on the surface of the water. Surely they’d sink. Or float away. I prayed.

            Tori was radiant, walking down the aisle with a groomsman shorter than her, fatter, a guy who didn’t look worthy and had that smile of getting one over.

            But me and Devin knew better. That pretty as she was, she had a secret. Later, we’d dissected why a girl as pretty as her might smell like that. Poor hygiene? BO? “Maybe she farted right before she took them off?” Devin proposed with a glint in his eye that suggested this was an appealing prospect.

            Still, that night, we shared a room back at the beach house. After his breathing changed to a snore, I humped my mattress, thinking of horn-rimmed glasses and that underwear—actually in my hands!—and now sinking down down down beneath the river’s surface.

 

Beth Sherman/Windmere Farms

 

          Eddie tended to drift into whatever jobs were available that would pay the rent. He’d worked as a vitamin salesman, a cashier at Rite Aid, a dog walker, and most recently as a banana, appearing in a costume that covered everything but his eyes and nose, handing out advertisements for an accounting firm near Times Square. The ads said: “Don’t Slip Up. Save Money on Your Taxes this Year!!!”

          When his friend, Donovan, told him about the babysitting job he jumped at it. The money was great: $35 an hour, off the books. He showed up promptly at 10 a.m. at one of those old pre-war buildings on the Upper West Side with a doorman in the lobby and a chandelier that gave off so much light Eddie had to put on his sunglasses. The apartment was on the 17th floor and when he rang the bell the door was opened by a woman wearing gray pants and a black turtleneck. 

         “I’m Marie,” she said. “And you must be Eddie. Would you like something to drink?”

          He was pretty sure she didn’t mean beer so he said, “Sure. Coffee would be great. Milk. Four sugars.”

          Marie led him into a large room lined with books that looked real. There was a sofa strewn with pillows and Eddie sat down.

          “It’s been a difficult morning. We’re running a bit behind schedule. Can I get you a magazine? Or would you like to watch TV?”

          “No. I’m good.”

          In a few minutes, she came back with his coffee. It was delicious. Eddie did his best not to spill it on the couch. He took out his phone and played Zynga Poker for awhile. When he got bored, he went over to the window and looked at the people down below walking their dogs, trying to hail taxis, riding bikes, heading to the park. It was weird being able to see what they were doing without them knowing. He wondered if that’s how God felt all the time.

           After awhile, he started to zone out. He’d been up till three the night before binge watching a Walking Dead marathon on Netflix with his roommates and he stretched out on the couch and closed his eyes. When he woke up Marie was pushing a woman in a wheelchair into the room. He checked his phone. It was nearly noon. 

          “Sorry about that,” he said, sitting up abruptly. “I guess I dozed off.”

          “Eddie, this is Mrs. Larpent. I think you can go for a walk since it’s such a nice day.”

          Mrs. Larpent was frail and birdlike with white hair that was so thin Eddie could see patches of scalp poking through in places. He couldn’t tell exactly how old she was. Late 70s or early 80s maybe. Her face was puffier than it should have been considering how skinny she was; it looked like the lines on it had been surgically erased.

          Marie handed him one bill, saying, “Here’s money for lunch. She likes Atlantic Grill on 64th Street. But Sarabeth’s Kitchen is also a possibility, if it’s not too crowded. Just make sure you bring back the receipt and any extra change.”

          “Will do.” He looked down. A Benjamin. Not too shabby. It would cover plenty of the street meat he usually ate for lunch.

          “Is it too warm for a sweater?” Marie asked Mrs. Larpent.

          But the old lady either didn’t hear her or ignored the question. Marie draped a sweater over the wheelchair anyway and placed a big black pocketbook on Mrs. Larpent’s lap.

          “Off you go,” she said cheerily. 

          Eddie maneuvered the wheelchair through the doorway of the apartment, down the hall and into the elevator. It glided noiselessly on the carpeting. He wondered if Mrs. Larpent was able to go to the bathroom by herself and what he was supposed to do if she couldn’t.

          Once they left the air conditioned lobby, heat rose from the sidewalk in thick, dense waves. “Well,” he said, bending down so his mouth was close to her ear. “Where do you want to go for lunch?”

          “Taxi,” she said.

          “Okay.”

          He pulled out his phone to look up the address.

          Yellow cabs were driving by and she pointed in their direction. “Get me a taxi.”

          “Um, I think with the wheelchair it’s better if we walk to lunch. Marie said you like a couple places in the neighborhood.”

          Reaching up, she grabbed hold of his arm. Her grip was surprisingly strong for an old lady.

          “A taxi to the airport.”

          “Uh……I have to bring you right back. After lunch.”

          Mrs. Larpent opened her pocketbook and took out a wallet made from the skin of a long dead alligator. Very slowly, she extracted seven hundred dollar bills. “For you,” she said. “If you get me to La Guardia. Delta will do.”

          “But Marie said . . .”

          “Marie is a disappointment. She’s been making trouble ever since she was three.”

                                                                      *

          “Are you running away from home?” Eddie joked.

          They were stuck in traffic on the Triboro Bridge. The TV in the cab was tuned to the U.S. Open and Mrs. Larpent was watching the tennis matches intently. She hadn’t spoken since he’d settled her in the back seat.

         “What is your mother doing now?”

          “Right now?”

          “Yes.”

          “I have no idea.”

          “If you ran away from home would she care?”

          “I don’t  . . . I’m a little too old for that to matter.”

          “Exactly.”

          On TV, the balls hit the rackets with a rhythmic thwock. Mrs. Larpent closed her eyes and listened to the sound they made like she was at a concert.

          “I used to play tennis,” she told him. “I was very good at it. They say it’s all in the wrist but I think the key is the elbow.”

          “The elbow?”

          “Yes. You have to bend it just so.”

          She lifted her arm and winced, dropping it suddenly as if its weight was too great for her to bear.

          “Are you okay?”

          “I’m in pain all the time. It’s hard to get any rest when there’s so much pain.”  

          “Aren’t there drugs for that?”

          “Of course. But they make me slow and dopey. Then I can’t think straight. My mind is the only thing I have left.”

          She opened her eyes and stared right at him. Her eyes were as blue as the veins on the back of her hands. They seemed like they were about to pop through her skin.

          “I used to exercise my mind quite a bit. You wouldn’t know it to look at me now. But I was a spy in World War II.”

          “Really?”

          “Yes. I worked in a leather goods factory in Paris. Along with manufacturing belts and shoes we were passing messages to the Allies.”

          Eddie tried to picture a younger Mrs. Larpent, sitting in a café, drinking a glass of red wine. With a beret on her head and stockings, the kind they didn’t make any more with lines painted down the back of the leg. She might have been pretty. She might have had several Frenchmen after her, trying to get those stockings off.  

          “Damn it,” she said. “It’s hot in here. We’re barely moving.”

          Cars bleated their horns in frustration. The cab inched forward, hemmed in by trucks. Windmere Farms, said the one right in front of them, in big block letters. There was a brown horse in a trailer attached to the back of it. Eddie could see the horse’s rear end and its tail flicking back and forth. He wondered what would happen if the trailer detached and the horse was stranded on the Long Island Expressway. Horses wore blinkers that were supposed to block out the noisy, scary stuff going on all over the place. Carriage horses in Central Park had them so they wouldn’t get spooked by traffic. But still.  

          His cell phone buzzed.

          “It’s Marie,” he said. “Should I get it?”

          “As you wish,” said Mrs. Larpent, as if whether he did or not was of no concern to her.

         Could taking her to the airport be considered a criminal act or was this simply a version of helping a little old lady across the street? She’d put the money back in her wallet and until she gave it to him he couldn’t be sure he was making the right decision.

          He stuffed the phone in his pocket.

         Mrs. Larpent was sweating profusely, her face twisted into a grimace. She looked like she was steeling herself against something – the heat, traffic noises, the pain she’d spoken of.

          Eddie leaned forward to address the driver. “Could you turn the air up any higher? It’s really hot back here.”

          He felt her hand tugging insistently at his sleeve. “Reach into my bag and find my pills.”

          They were in a small silver case with a bird drawn on it. Several oblong pink capsules. He gave her two of them, which she swallowed without water.

          “Can I get you get you anything else?” he asked.

          “You can kill me.”

“What?” Eddie said, blinking.

          “In some states it’s legal. Assisted suicide, especially in cases where you’re going to die anyway. Oregon. Colorado. But you have to establish residency first. They make it tough.”

          There were flashing lights up ahead. Police cars and an ambulance. In the HOV lane, a car had flipped over like a metal turtle sprawling on its shell. When they got closer, Eddie craned his head to see if the person inside was alive but he couldn’t tell. Once they were past the accident, traffic moved quickly again.

          “Where are you going?” he asked.

          “Pardon?”

          “When you get to the airport? Where are you flying to?”

          There were blue veins on her forehead. They reminded him of rivers on maps he’d drawn as a kid. 

          “Somewhere better. You can be sure of that, young man. Someplace very nice, indeed.”

                                                                                     *

          At the Departure Gate, Eddie got the wheelchair out of the trunk and paid the driver.

         “Where to?” he said.

          She gestured towards the sliding glass doors and in they went, surrounded by families and business travelers and normal people going about their normal lives. Eddie looked up at the electronic board, which tracked dozens of flights leaving in the next couple of hours for cities around the country: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Orlando, Chicago, Austin, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Charlotte.

          “Do you have a ticket?”

          “I believe we ought to purchase one.”

          After waiting for nearly an hour on line, they finally got up to the ticket counter. He’d tried to get Mrs. Larpent to tell him where she wanted to go but it was like asking a child what her favorite ice cream flavor was. She couldn’t make up her mind.

          “Portland?” Eddie ventured, thinking about what she’d earlier. “Denver?”

          Assisted suicide. It sounded creepy. How would they do it? With a pillow pressed firmly over the mouth and nose? With a lethal injection of some deadly chemical?  

          “How about Palm Beach?” he said finally, picturing a bunch of rich people lounging next to oversized swimming pools or shopping in air conditioned malls. There was a 4:10 p.m. that got into West Palm at 6:40 p.m.

          “Lovely,” she murmured.

          “You just need to call a taxi once you land.”

          He took out his phone. There was a text from Marie asking him to please pick up a bottle of cooking sherry and a can of artichoke hearts at Whole Foods on their way back from lunch. “Look,” he said, doing a quick Google search. “Here are two really nice hotels. The Breakers and The Four Seasons.” He wrote the addresses down on a handkerchief in her bag that smelled faintly sour.  

          Eddie asked the clerk for a one-way ticket.

          “ID,” she said.

          At last, Mrs. Larpent handed him the alligator wallet. He was relieved to see several credit cards along with a driver’s license featuring a photograph of a much younger woman sporting a bouffant hairdo.

          A one-way ticket cost $369, which Eddie thought was ridiculously overpriced. He paid with Mrs. Larpent’s Visa card, pocketing the $700 he was owed. 

          As she was processing the transaction, the clerk stared at her computer screen and frowned. “Just a moment, please,” she said, stepping away from the desk to consult with a co-worker.

          Eddie leaned forwards, straining to hear their discussion. “Is something wrong? Is there a problem?”

          Beside him, Mrs. Larpent tapped her fingers together impatiently. 

          After what seemed like a very long time, the clerk returned. “I thought we could get her on an earlier flight but it’s completely booked. And with the wheelchair, it’s not worth flying standby.”

           Eddie exhaled. “Of course not. I completely agree.”

          He grabbed the ticket and handed it to Mrs. Larpent who received it with a smile and a slight bow, like she’d won some sort of prize.

          “We have time before you have to go. Would you like something to eat or drink? Water? Tea? You never got to have lunch.”

          But it turned out that the restaurants were in parts of the airport you needed a ticket to get into. “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” Eddie asked.

          She waved off the suggestion. “Diaper, goddamn it.”

          “Don’t worry. We’ll take good care of her,” the clerk said. A burly man in a uniform materialized and started wheeling the chair towards the gates.

          “Bye-bye,” she said in a low sing-song voice. “Bye-bye young man. Be good to your mother.”

          “Remember about the hotels,” he called to her, watching the back of her head, the way her body seemed to fold in on itself. Her hand fluttered in the air as if he were being dismissed. She looked tiny and frail and utterly helpless.

          He pictured her wheelchair rolling into the ocean, the waves lapping her sensible shoes, filling her lungs with water. 

          Can you kill me?

          “Wait,” he shouted. “There’s been a mistake. She shouldn’t be traveling alone. Wait up!”

          A few people stared at him. But Mrs. Larpent had already reached the elevator and was swallowed by the crowd.

                                                                                *

          Eddie slumped in a plastic orange seat near a wall of windows. There was still time to fix things. He could go back to the ticket counter. Find a security guard. Call Marie. There was still time. Planes taxied down the runway, picking up speed until they magically lifted off the ground, at regular intervals.

          He’d messed up his life in so many small, unexplainable ways.

          The planes picked up speed. Eddie watched them hurl themselves skyward until each one became a tired gray blur and disappeared from sight.

 

Samuel Cole/Time with The Thompsons

 

During a day trip to the North Shore, the mid-thirties newlyweds found and rescued the square baby blanket from the $2.99 bargain bin at Claire’s Antiques. The blanket’s skin was stamped with clarinets, Arial’s favorite, and snare drums, Ronn’s favorite. Ronn named the blanket, “Little Jazz,” to which Arial applauded. Right then, they created a marriage-motto: “Life’s a compromise linked by collaboration.” For three years, Little Jazz was the least expensive item in the house and also the couple’s most cherished possession. Arial washed and dried him once a month. Ronn ironed him twice a year. Arial danced the Cha Cha with him on the front porch during the summer. Ronn read to him The Count of Monte Cristo on the back porch during the winter. Arial sang him bedtime lullabies. Ronn gave him a morning embrace. Sweetness. Satisfaction. Kindness. Love. Little Jazz wasn’t known as one to doubt his existence.

Little Jazz soon became Saint Little Jazz, comforting the couple’s sleeplessness, underemployment, and costly root canals. During an infertility phase, he became a wad of cotton shoved into the left corner of the couch, but reappeared good as new once Arial’s belly began to protrude, bestowing upon him the name Grand Protector, soothing what Arial (and sometimes Ronn) called the blessed-bulging-beast. Little Jazz enjoyed pulling all-nighters, working double shifts, serving as scabbard, therapist, and nearest/dearest friend. He cherished his roles and accomplished his tasks with unyielding finesse. He wasn’t known as one to complain.

Autumn introduced to the house Jacqueline Claire who kept Little Jazz to herself, imprinting him with burps, slobber, hiccups, and snores. On Christmas Eve, Arial laid him like a ball beneath Jacqueline’s crib. He needed some respite, which turned into a long stretch of loneliness: four months to be exact. Finally the spring birds returned, sitting and chirping on the ledge outside Jacqueline’s window. Ronn scooped Little Jazz from the floor and whispered into his heart the letters S.I.D.S., before tossing him into the wicker hamper, a gloomy place that smelled a lot more like death than life. S.I.D.S. What does it mean? Something I Don’t See? Shoved Inside Dank Smelliness? Surely I Deserve Salutation? Silently I Digress Slowly? He wasn’t known as one to underthink.

Forty-one days passed before Ronn came upstairs and snatched him from the hamper. Ronn washed and dried him, ironed him, and laid him beside Arial’s face on Ronn and Arial’s mattress. Arial’s cold hands pushed Little Jazz off the bed and onto the cold hardwood floor. “I don’t want to see that thing ever again.” Her words and tone, similar to the way he tumbled in a clothes dryer, lifted from his body some of his youth. But he didn’t hate or judge her, happy to perch like a toddler in the passenger seat of Ronn’s Nissan 350Z. “I’m sorry she rejected you,” Ronn said. “But she’ll come around. You’ll see. We just have to give her some time.” Every night, Ronn set Little Jazz beside Arial’s face. Every night, she pushed him away. “I think you’re really hurting his feelings,” Ronn told her. “Probably,” she said. “But it’s time we both grow up and stop pretending some blanket is gonna make everything okay.” Ronn carefully folded Little Jazz in half and tucked him in the bottom drawer of the nightstand. Which was fine. Little Jazz wasn’t known as one to question his position.

One summer afternoon, after Arial left for the grocery store, Ronn fell asleep in the hammock in the backyard and accidentally dropped Little Jazz from his hand. The neighbor’s Maltese, Nebuchadnezzar, gnawed, shook, and salivated all over Little Jazz’s body. Ronn awakened and ran Nebuchadnezzar away with a soft slap to the butt, but not before Little Jazz had been ripped and bruised. Later that night, Ronn took Little Jazz into the garage and patched him with superglue and duct tape. Then he folded Little Jazz in half and stuffed him inside a translucent, plastic bag where he remained for six weather cycles. Then, on one particularly cold evening, Ronn’s warm fingers pulled Little Jazz from the confines of the bag and shock him out, took him inside the house, and handed him to Arial whose fingers and face felt like sateen sheets. Her belly was protruding again. Her laughter had returned, too. And her lullabies— where troubles melt like lemon drops, high above the chimney tops, is where you’ll find me —brought light to the clarinets and strength to the snare drums. For five months, Ronn and Arial called everything heaven, the place Jacqueline Clair was said to have gone. But where was heaven? Was heaven the reason Ronn had said S.I.D.S? Why was her pink room now blue? Little Jazz wanted answers, but Ronn and Arial never mentioned S.I.D.S. again, at least not in front of him. So he continued to hypothesize. He wasn’t known as one to quit.

March brought Primrose colors and Peony pedals to the flower beds outside the house. April rains thumped the roof and siding. May provoked a twister that cracked the windows, rattled the floors, and unearthed part of the house from the foundation. Little Jazz, tucked between the couple’s heat, flew around the room before getting wrapped up like a cocoon with the ceiling fan. Arial and Ronn twisted and thrashed around the room like puppets. A hole in the middle of Arial’s body rid itself of a bloody human boy who bounced like a ball against the walls. After the storm had subsided, while Arial laid quietly beside the mattress, Ronn unwrapped Little Jazz from the ceiling fan and placed the bloody human boy atop his clarinets and snare drums. Ronn tied together Little Jazz’s four corners and carried the soggy bundle downstairs, to the car, to the hospital, to the morgue, to the church, and to a wooden coffin buried in a country cemetery beside Jaqueline Claire’s headstone. Ah. The must be heaven. At first, Little Jazz heard faint traces of Arial’s lullabies and Ronn’s reading from The Count of Monte Christo. But soon he heard nothing at all. He did his best to remember in darkness all he had heard, seen, and known in the light. Someday I’ll Definitely See-Them-Again. He waited and waited. He wasn’t known as one to forget. 

 

Richanda Grant/Things I Should Apologize To You For But I Won’t

 

Claiming to like dogs, just not your dog. Letting you do all the dishes. Playing on my phone instead of paying full attention to The Wire when you asked me to please, please watch your show with you. Making you say ‘I love you’ first 93.75 percent of the time. Lecturing you on your sleep, food, leisure, car maintenance, the smile you give for photos. Making fun of your cargo shorts. Costing us $4,000 when I needed a root canal and crown. Pretending I hadn’t Googled you right after I found out your last name on our first date, and that I hadn’t known about your ex-fiancée and the restraining orders. Never making the bed (although, in fairness, you are the last one out of the bed). Never making the bed even when I am the last one out. Telling you that sea salt is expensive. Pretending to have a crush on the contractor that installed our laminate floors. Pretending I have a crush on our neighbor and calling him DILF. Picking at you incessantly. Monitoring your hair, searching for signs you’ll be bald like your father. Joking about divorce, about separation, about cashing in your life insurance policy, about miscarriages. Losing the actual pregnancy. Not hugging you back when you hugged me in the doctor’s office right after we found out. Getting irritated when you order a $3 soda at restaurants, every single time, even though both promised to order water. Being jealous that you have a chapter in a book published instead of proud. Writing about you. Not telling you I’m writing about you. Critiquing your intake of pasta. Taking your years and giving you my worthless cold heart in return. Never managing to have sex with you three times a week. Never managing to have sex with you two times a week. Calling your jeans ‘dad jeans.’ For booking the wrong hotel in Rome. For always being right. For never saying sorry.

 

Lisa Brodsky/Bitter Woman India Pale Ale

from Tyranena Brewing Company – Lake Mills, Wisconsin

 

Tired of used, tired of chosen

She wants rest

She wants her head on a pillow

of white and green.

Feet out of tight flats

and lying on an airy, satin sheet;

she dreams not of horses

as most do

but of pale zebras.

That which makes them loudly known

has them fade into the background

so they, too, can find shelter

under tents with jugs

of oil and myrrh.

 

Sunset/Kirby Wright

Contributors:

Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and his hybrid chapbook The Leo Burke Finish is available now via Gimmick Press. He won Bayou Magazine’s Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has work published or forthcoming in journals including The Normal School, Passages North, and Hobart. He works as a contributing editor for Moss. Find him online at miketchin.comand follow him on Twitter @miketchin.

 

Beth Sherman received an MFA in creative writing from Queens College, where she teaches in the English department. Her fiction has been published in The Portland Review, KYSO, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Sandy River Review, Blue Lyra Review, Gloom Cupboard, Panoplyzine, Delmarva Review, 3Elements Review, Sinkhole and Rappahannock Review, and Compose Journal and is forthcoming in Sou’wester. She is also a Pushcart nominee and has written five mystery novels. 

 

Samuel Cole lives in Woodbury, MN, where he finds work in special event/development management. He’s a poet, flash fiction geek, and political essayist enthusiast. His work has appeared in many literary journals, and his first poetry collection, Bereft and the Same-Sex Heart, was published in October 2016 by Pski’s Porch Publishing. His second book, Bloodwork, a collection of short stories, will be published in June/July 2017. He is also an award-winning card maker and scrapbooker.

 

Richanda Grant is a writer living in Wisconsin. She has a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin.

 

Lisa Marie Brodsky is the author of poetry collections, “We Nod Our Dark Heads” (Parallel Press, 2008), and “Motherlung” (Salmon Poetry, 2014), which received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poetry has been published in The North American Review, Verse Wisconsin, riverSedge, The Mom Egg Review, and is forthcoming in Diode Poetry Journal and The Peacock Journal. In 2016 she was anthologized in “Even the Daybreak: 35 Years in Salmon Poetry.” As faculty member of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, Brodsky teaches classes on emotional healing through creative writing. Her web site can be found at: www.lisamariebrodsky.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/brodskyautercreativityadvocate, Twitter: @Prettyinkstain

 

Kirby Wright’s second play, Asylum Uncle, opened at the Secret Theatre’s LIC Festival in New York on November 4th, 2016. His third play, Rag of Man, was performed at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre of February 22nd, 2017. Wright was the 2016 Artist in Residence at the Eckerö Mail and Customs House in the Åland Islands, Finland. He is completing a poetry and flash manuscript set in Helsinki and Stockholm.