Issue 6 / October 2017

“Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone.” Rebecca Solnit

Grant Price

White Dust

In an inflatable mess tent for refugees, an attendant learns the story of the bearded man who travels from Greece to Macedonia by foot, then to Serbia and eventually to Budapest seeking asylum. Danger arrives and so does white dust.

Stephen Baily

The Shoelace

On the father’s eightieth birthday, he tells his oldest son he wants to celebrate it in a funeral parlor. There are the usual expatiations and songs and food and drink, but alone in the chapel, the father reveals to the son how his mother really died.

Tushar Jain

The Octopus: A Fable

Pariya’s son narrates the times his father turns into an octopus when he feels romantic love. Later, Pariya marries Ammya and things seem normal—except they aren’t. Years later the son learns the truth through a suppressed dream.

Ian Packham

The glimmering surface of things

It is Alexandria during Ramadan, a year or so after the Egyptian revolution in 2011 and Mohamed Morsi is president. Political conflict threatens Egypt, but a different kind of trouble looms within a group of expats. Things don’t always glimmer.

Andrew Song

The Experience

Leaving the convention center, he chastises himself for his “addiction” although he just bought “Dangerous Dosage: Chronicles of Jason Archer,” the VR Experience that landed him on the floor. It was so real. But upon arriving home, he so easily returns to that "world."

Sydney M. Crago

Sold: Yellow House on Cooper Hill

Falling in love with the yellow house on the hill, she enjoys her own art studio. And visitors: a neighbor with brownies; a young mother with her baby and a fruit basket; Marvin with banana bread; and a young man with a photo and a revelation.

Chris Capitanio

Salamanca

Riding the bus from Granada to Salamanca, Spain, they arrive in pouring rain and run to find shelter. Luckily a taxi pulls up and drives them to the Hostal Plaza Mayor. Jimmy has never met a girl like Vera before. This is his love story.

Steven D. Jackson

Ouijust Playin

Coaxed by his roommate to attend a séance where Simon, the special guest, leads seven participants on the Ouija board, the narrator goes through rapid-fire emotions as he and Simon connect in a paranormal drama.

Madeline Gressman

OK Hot Stuff

Ten middle school students help Jason clean up the mess of his mother’s house. Some scrape cemented egg whites off counters; others pull weeds. A week later, the mother has a clean kitchen and bathroom and a slanted floor to walk upon.

Mona Houghton

Gifts

Jacqui teaches AP English at a Catholic school and her curriculum is more radical than Father Glenn likes. She loses her hat—a precious gift from Aunt Gwen—on the day Joseph brilliantly elucidates Thoreau. The hat is gone but Joseph’s eyes are brimming.

Maria Savva

Family Ties

A sixty-five-year-old man holds hostage three children and a twenty-something woman. They have strength in numbers but he threatens and lies. They are now the family he never had. He is husband to the oldest, Dad to the children. His family ties.

Chaya Bhuvaneswar

“The New Adventures Of”, “Opa” and “When”

Like a page from a memoir in “The New Adventures of,” the poet rejects her father’s rants and repulses an arranged marriage. A similar feat is fulfilled line by poetic line in “Opa,” the poet having found a fire-opal, “no opal omen of/ruin.” And in “When,” the poet pleas for racial justice and names the names, “Book of remembrance, book of tears.”

Mark McCreary

“The Dead Wall of Silence”, “Pieces” and “Scratching Out Earth”

In “The Dead Wall of Silence” the poet alludes to a partition against the backdrop of “sheep/and suckled cattle” in atypical dimeter and trimeter feet. In “Pieces,” he is not done with the fracturing: “Actual actions of schisms,” “splintered spectators,” “absolute absence”—just pieces. And in “Scratching Out Earth,” the poet faithfully renders the title in imagistic verse.

Ann Huang

“Purpose (Predestined Love)”, “Love” and “Frozen Dream”

Huang knows her way around personification—the transference of human feelings and attributes to abstract concepts—and she crafts the poems “Purpose” and “Love” using this figurative device. The poet switches to a witty-metered play on words in the onomatopoetic poem “Frozen Dream” —gifted with alliteration and assonance.

Will Reger

“An Old Song”, “The Incident” and “Acceptable”

Reger’s poetry wraps you in narratives of love and pain, sadness and longing. There is no escape from the sadness in the ballad “An Old Song.” Neither is there from the death of two lovers whispering lullabies on the banks of the Tigris in “The Incident.” Nor from the longing in the lyrical poem “Acceptable.”

Carter Vance

“All Things Scarlet”, “From Primrose Hill” and “Untold Miles”

Vance drapes “All Things Scarlet” in allusions—colloquial or personal—and metaphors intersect what is linear. In “From Primrose Hill,” the poet concretizes the poem in landscape imagery: “post-war tenement/brick ways, ” “many-wandered fields.” Metaphor reigns in “Untold Miles” in the first three stanzas but focuses on the “not-quite-lovers in the last.

Sankar Chatterjee

Those Who Cannot Remember the Past

After Sirajul Habib, an American youth and follower of Islam, sees displays of Nazi documents in Berlin, he wants to learn more about the Holocaust. In a later trip to Europe, he visits the Auschwitz Concentration Camps in Poland and is overcome by the enormity and scope of Nazi evil at Auschwitz I, the first site of the atrocities; and at Auschwitz II - Birkenau, where prisoners arrived in boxed rail cars.

George Rothert

River Musings

“River Musings” is not only about the reclamation of the Willamette River that flows through Portland and the development of Waterfront Park, Portland’s gathering space. It is also about the Hide Naito family that ran a successful importing business; relocated to Salt Lake City during the Japanese internment; and returned to Portland later to enlarge their business and enrich the city with their philanthropy.

Kathryn Jones

Rescue Me

These are the special tenants of Jones’ home: “A hound of calm character, lazy and laid-back”—this is Jack Jones—and a fierce “ten-pound terrier, black and white, with bulging eyes”—this is Dory. As the dogs age, Jones is cognizant of her own droopy eyelids and graying hair, but as long as she is alive they will add more dogs to their household.

Hilary Nelson Jacobs

Married Sleep

Tender and instructive, the narrative and descriptive essay “Married Sleep” offers the reader an inside look—with equanimity—at a wife and husband team who makes it through a daughter’s debilitating illness, a husband’s demanding work schedule, and a wife’s alcoholism and healing.

David Will

Just Places: Physical Spaces and the Stories They Tell about Justice, Terror, and Tragedy

An official NGO Observer at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Will describes the exterior of the courthouse where the 911 conspirators are tried for capital crimes. Sitting on a dilapidated “out-of-service airstrip,” the low-slung building looks like a toolshed, but upon entering the building visitors witness “the world’s most sophisticated technology.” This space is not a symbol; it represents the physical implementation of justice. The question is: Can the Guantanamo military commissions offer a narrative “to reaffirm the country’s values and to offer closure”?

Shastri Sookdeo

Arrival Day

What is “Arrival Day”? Sookdeo writes about this public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago with a critical eye. Started in 1995 to celebrate 150 years of Indian arrival in Trinidad, the name was later changed to Indian Arrival Day. Does the “Indian” in the name ignore other ethnic groups if the country’s makeup “is reflected by colonization in every part”? The issue is more complex than at first glance.

Michael Radcliffe

Tadhg and the Seven Dragons: Story Two

It has been a year since the giant dragon Greatwing has made contact with eleven-year-old Tadhg. The boy is frantically turning the dragon-shaped pendant over and over—the one Miriam gave him last Halloween—hoping Greatwing will appear like he did the last time. On this stormy night the black tabby cat Dreyfus appears on the windowsill of Tadhg’s bedroom, pawing to be let in. Dreyfus announces that he and Miriam are leaving town and Tadhg must now help the dragons. Of course, Tadhg doesn’t understand the cryptic message, but before he can say anything Dreyfus disappears in a power blackout. The next morning on his way to school he hears thoughts coming from inside his head. Greatwing has arrived to take him on a mission. Tadhg will not make it to school that day and will instead fly with the dragon to land in a patch of heather in the Scottish highlands. The mission: To find Greatwing’s six cousins and be freed from the curse of the Others.

Michael Fertik

Allotrope

You can read Allotrope in one sitting; no, Allotrope compels you to read it in one sitting. The four characters—Yitzhak, Sleeping Bear, Arielle, and Sunny—form a multicultural elasticity that heightens as the story tightens and the mystery deepens. The characters each play a role but their synergy transcends their individual will, and the story unfolds in irony woven into the denouement. Taking from drama the literary device of foreshadowing, Fertik interjects clues and asides along the way in the dialogue and the myth at the story’s core.