Featured Visual Art: Alexandra Williams’ “Dharma Punk”

Dharma Punk by Alexandra Williams


Alexandra WilliamsAlexandra Williams is an LA native who recently graduated from Pepperdine University with her bachelors in Fine Arts. Alexandra focuses on working with and emphasizing elements of chaos and finding the beauty in the harsher elements of life and nature. She works mainly on large-scale abstract panel paintings and smaller-scale figurative work but also expands her passions into more aggressive realms, working with wood and metal. Alexandra plans to continue her career as an LA artist, finding her place in the ever growing world of art.

Featured Fiction: Gabrielle Loisel’s “The Mermaid”

Crossed Legs in Repose by Mezoen

 

 

My wife was a mermaid first, before she was a woman. We met at a friend’s concert in a dingy bar with a sticky floor. She was in a wheelchair, a blanket over her legs despite the weather. “I’ve been saving up for the operation,” she announced over the clanging music, flinging black the plaid blanket. Underneath was her scaly tail, blue-green and iridescent, wrapped in a black miniskirt.

“Let’s get out of here,” she shouted.

I finished my beer. “Have anything in mind?”

“Definitely not seafood,” she said gravely.

In the early morning, she let me touch her hair, run my fingers over her scales. I lifted her onto the bed and took off my shirt. I lay next to her. “How are we going to do this?” She smiled. “We’ll figure it out,” she said, laughing and reaching for my zipper.

I brought her to dinner with my family. My mother made lobster, trying to be considerate. My future wife declined, pretending not to be insulted. After dinner, my brother the drunk made vulgar jokes about her tail until I turned over the table and barreled into him.

My father wept the day we married, trying to dissuade me all the way to the church door.

“It’s unnatural,” he cried.

My mother adjusted her pink hat and looked down at her lined hands, folded in her lap. No one
sat on my wife’s side of the church. Both her parents were dead; she was an only child. My brother, repentant and sober, wheeled her down the aisle to me.

We went to an expensive store and looked at shoes, holding hands and glowing. She found a pair of crimson heels and I bought them. When I wheeled her from the store, she clutched them to her chest like twin hearts, the empty box in her lap.

After the operation, she wept. I stroked her feet. I brought her the red shoes. They burned a hole of color in the white hospital tile like a bloody splash.

“Would you still love me? If I hadn’t–” She choked down a sob. I kissed the seam along the inside of her legs, the scar where she’d been split open.

“Always.” I said.

She learned to walk, to wear jeans and dance. The wheelchair grew rusty in the garage. We made love. We made a child. She craved salt and fish as the baby grew. She slept in the bathtub, surrounded by empty sardine cans. Her hair floated like blond kelp around her body.

She called for me in the middle of the night. She was standing in the tub, shaking. Blood ran down her legs. For the first time in years, I carried her again, rushing through the house to the car. I almost forgot her suitcase by the door, had to turn the car around to get it.

They placed her on a stretcher and she disappeared into a sea of white coats. My brother drove across the city to sit with me in the waiting room, sipping from a flask.

When I saw her again, she was weary, but radiant, eyes closed. She had not seen the baby yet. They brought the baby; a tiny girl. The doctor pulled back the blanket to reveal her two pink, curling, legs.

 


Gabrielle LoiselGabrielle Loisel was raised by wolves in Atlanta, GA. She is currently a senior Creative Writing major at Agnes Scott College.

Featured Nonfiction: Dave Baker’s “Happy Bar Crawl”

 

"Scotland Edinburgh Bennet's Bar" by Frederik Questier & Yanna Van Wesemael

"Scotland Edinburgh Bennet's Bar" by Frederik Questier & Yanna Van Wesemael

You drive across town and pull up to your best friend’s parent’s house; the house you spent high school at, sneaking beers in the basement and blunts in the backyard. It’s been months since you’ve seen these guys, but Thanksgiving brings everyone back to 10 Fox Run and their former selves. Here, Dan isn’t a young, hotshot financial analyst on Wall Street, just the same wannabe hustler you remember dealing Snapples from his locker and cheating his way through the Advanced Placement classes that landed him at Villanova. No matter how many girls Kyle slept with at Quinnipiac, no one will let him forget that bitch he dated in high school or signature XXL graphic tees and fitteds look seen on every extra in You Got Served. Sure, DJ used to own the football field, but now his broken down body is the punch line for the joke his football career became – steroids have that effect. As for Danny, being captain of your Division III college basketball team is nice, but it doesn’t erase a 3-for-12 shooting night during a losing effort in state championship. Here, all you are is who you were, post-high school accomplishments be damned. So you stand around the table with your old friends, crack some beers, relentlessly break each other’s balls, reminisce and liquor-up for a night of awkward reunions and hometown debauchery. Welcome to the Thanksgiving Eve Bar Crawl. Welcome home.

If you’re from Wallingford, CT, college was hardly a crash course in substance abuse. You’ve been drinking with your friends on a weekly basis since freshman year of high school, mastering self-destruction while most were taking cues from The Real World and Teen Mom. Could have something to do with the five package stores in a one mile radius that seldom carded, the 10 bars lining Center street and South Main, or maybe you were just really bored and all your friends were doing it.

Tonight, downtown Wallingford is overrun with drunken twenty-something year olds. The dives you’d usually never set foot in after turning 21 are packed wall to wall, and the impromptu high school reunion begins. You run into that kid from math class junior year, the guy from senior English you haven’t spoken to since graduation, even that funny-but-fuckable girl from homeroom you never had the balls to make a move on – she looks great by the way. You flash that fake smile, dole out a half-assed hug and rattle off a, “Oh school’s great? What are you up to lately?” all the while squirming for a quick out.

You make your way up Center Street and each ghost of high school’s past you run into becomes all the more interesting with each Jameson. You lose yourself in the crawl, along with whatever money was in your wallet, and you are suddenly everyone’s best friend. Cell phone numbers are exchanged and “Yeah, I’ll hit you up over break,” punctuates every conversation you’ll barely remember. The bouncers hustle you out of the bar at 1:00 AM and you half-stumble down South Main Street to your parent’s house, catching dirty looks from every cop counting the seconds until their shift-change and an end to the sloppiest night of the year.

The lock on your front door might as well be Fort Knox and eventually you find your way inside. You snag one more beer from your Dad’s fridge in the basement, throw a Hot Pocket in the microwave and collapse in a heap on your couch, praying that a rerun of South Park is on Comedy Central.

You blink and it’s suddenly 5:00 AM. You’re sprawled out on the couch with your shoes still on, the button and fly to your jeans undone. There’s a half empty Miller Highlife on the coffee table, a Hot Pocket that’s been sitting in your microwave for hours, and paid programming blaring from your TV. You gather your hung-over self and head upstairs before your Dad wakes up to the hapless sonuvabitch passed out on his couch. You doze in your own bed for a few more hours before your forced to rehydrate, recaffeinate, and face the onslaught of relatives and family members – the only people you want to see less than former classmates. But take heart. You’ll overdose on carbohydrates, drown your meal in Mom’s gravy, and spend the afternoon enjoying America’s game; letting it all settle during what promises to be an epic nap.

Isn’t that what Thanksgiving’s all about? Because eventually you’ll graduate, the economy will improve, and this will all become another chapter in the ongoing book of nostalgia that hometown life lends itself to all too well. Chapters end, characters get shaken up, and one day it will all go down as a chance meeting, an awkward hug, another drink and a hangover to think about it. That’s all it is. And for too many, that’s all it ever will be.


Dave BakerDave Baker is a History and Creative Nonfiction student at Central Connecticut State University. Born and raised in Connecticut, upon graduation he plans to travel this great country of ours and pursue an MFA in Creative Writing.

Featured Poem: Caroline Kessler’s “A Bicycle Without Brakes”

"New Orleans Bike" by Derek Skey

These really exist! I built one from a forgotten frame, a pillow cushion for a seat, wooden blocks for pedals. Why would you ever want to stop? If I could, I would cycle all the way from Pittsburgh to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where no one else is trying to go so the roads will be clear as the fall night smoked with bonfires, all the way through western Pennsylvania’s hills, into the flatness, not stopping for the impeccable silver Ohioan rest stops, not stopping under eastern Michigan’s sky, big and crowded with stars, not stopping for a midnight sandwich because I forget my hunger when my legs are open like wings and I’m coasting, refusing to stop as I blow through the typical cornfields, yellow silk catching in the spokes, I feel so very Midwestern, not attempting to stop until I get to Allendale, a sliver outside of Grand Rapids, and not until I make it to that deceptively circular planned manicured community development where your grandmother lives, and I make one lap around the man-made pond for good luck, trailing my hand through the chemical water and feel up the fat fake fish for kicks and not until I ride right through the back door and into your bedroom on the ground level and I catch the bike on the edge of the pool table and I catapult myself into your sky-size bed, where you are sprawled out, sinewy arms wide, waiting for me even though I never told you that I was coming.

 


Caroline KesslerCaroline Kessler, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, was raised outside of Baltimore. Her poetry and prose has been published in The Susquehanna Review, Dossier, and Collision, among others. She currently lives (and bicycles!) in San Francisco.

A Morning Swim

Dawn rose like a thistle
all sharp and lovely

like the angry words
she flung over her shoulder
as she walked away

but, unpricked, I swam
in the sight of that
perfect ass

 


Rob GansonRob Ganson is a poet from the Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior. Rob has been published in various journals, anthologies, and three volumes of poetry, Float like a butterfly, sing like a Tree, Follow the Clear River Down, and A Storm of Horses. Rob tends to write on themes of nature and the human condition.

Wonder

In Luray Caverns
a boy regards me without guilt
and starts to laugh.

Here where water dripped over millions of years,
drop by drop formed great chambers, double worlds,
stalagmites in mirrored pools, ossified redwoods—

—Stop slobbering, says his mother.
But he is overcome with the mirth of life,
that he knows now, that he will later forget.

In eighteen years, maybe, he’ll come back
and see stone.

 


Allison GellerAllison Geller will graduate from the University of Virginia’s Area Program in Poetry Writing in May. Besides writing, Allison ballroom dances, learns foreign languages, and hopes she will make enough money to eat.

A Bicycle Without Brakes

These really exist! I built one from a forgotten frame, a pillow cushion for a seat, wooden blocks for pedals. Why would you ever want to stop? If I could, I would cycle all the way from Pittsburgh to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where no one else is trying to go so the roads will be clear as the fall night smoked with bonfires, all the way through western Pennsylvania’s hills, into the flatness, not stopping for the impeccable silver Ohioan rest stops, not stopping under eastern Michigan’s sky, big and crowded with stars, not stopping for a midnight sandwich because I forget my hunger when my legs are open like wings and I’m coasting, refusing to stop as I blow through the typical cornfields, yellow silk catching in the spokes, I feel so very Midwestern, not attempting to stop until I get to Allendale, a sliver outside of Grand Rapids, and not until I make it to that deceptively circular planned manicured community development where your grandmother lives, and I make one lap around the man-made pond for good luck, trailing my hand through the chemical water and feel up the fat fake fish for kicks and not until I ride right through the back door and into your bedroom on the ground level and I catch the bike on the edge of the pool table and I catapult myself into your sky-size bed, where you are sprawled out, sinewy arms wide, waiting for me even though I never told you that I was coming.

 


Caroline KesslerCaroline Kessler, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, was raised outside of Baltimore. Her poetry and prose has been published in The Susquehanna Review, Dossier, and Collision, among others. She currently lives (and bicycles!) in San Francisco.

The trouble with desire and its siblings

after James Galvin’s “Three Sonnets”

lust and greed                            they smell of danger and nearby saltwater
you want all of it                        you want what you can’t have
the whole world                           the squirming oysters
showing off                               with their three-chambered hearts
ridged edges                              shaped like human ears
wobbling insides                          lemon juice smeared on our wrists
slick with exertion                       I can’t tell you from me, me from you
that rise and fall                        the ocean’s pull
wide-mouthed, I want                      the sharp of your hipbone
already and again                         before you’ve even left, I miss you
still, while we lay here                  our limbs folded around each other
we gulp the same air                      breathing our whole selves, like the oysters

 


Caroline KesslerCaroline Kessler, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, was raised outside of Baltimore. Her poetry and prose has been published in The Susquehanna Review, Dossier, and Collision, among others. She currently lives (and bicycles!) in San Francisco.

Alexandra Williams

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Alexandra WilliamsAlexandra Williams is an LA native who recently graduated from Pepperdine University with her bachelors in Fine Arts. Alexandra focuses on working with and emphasizing elements of chaos and finding the beauty in the harsher elements of life and nature. She works mainly on large-scale abstract panel paintings and smaller-scale figurative work but also expands her passions into more aggressive realms, working with wood and metal. Alexandra plans to continue her career as an LA artist, finding her place in the ever growing world of art.

Ernest Williamson

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Dr. Ernest Williamson IIIDr. Ernest Williamson III has published poetry and visual art in national and international online and print journals. He has published work in The Columbia ReviewBricolage: University of Washington’s Literary Arts Journal, The G.W. Review and many others. View more of his work here.

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