Michelle Lynne Goodfellow CC
The day the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia first opened to the public was the day I first tried cherry coke. There were tables inside set up by companies to give away keychains and free samples of things and one table was giving out little cups of cherry coke. I would take a sample and drink the cup and then go back to the table to get another one and I did this several times until my mom said that I had enough. I want to say this was around the time that “chicka-cherry cola” song by Savage Garden song was popular.
The other day I stopped at a gas station on my way to the laundromat to break a 20. I opened the refrigerator case and picked out a can of diet cherry coke that I had never seen before. It was called diet feisty cherry and it was in a skinny can. The cashier at the gas station thought it was an energy drink and almost charged me like five dollars for it until I was like, wait. He apologized and I said, “It’s okay, I think it’s new.”
I walked over to the laundromat with my soda and loaded my laundry in the washer and put the quarters in the machine and then walked over to the Ohlone Greenway to sit under the train tracks and read. I opened the can and took a sip and couldn’t figure out what it tasted like. It didn’t taste like cherries. I don’t know what feisty tastes like, but I felt black pepper or some irritant in the back of my throat. I opened my phone and did a search for diet feisty cherry and started reading a review of the new soda in a gentleman’s magazine, GQ or Esquire I forget which. It confirmed my opinion of the strange black pepper aftertaste.
As I was reading, a man pushing a bmx bike walked by and stopped a few feet away from where I was sitting. I felt him looking at me so I looked up. He asked me if I had a light, and I said that I did, so I took a lighter out of my pocket and walked it over to him. He ripped the filter off his cigarette and threw it on the ground. He lit his cigarette.
“I’m having a rough day, man,” he said. “You ever have one of those days that everything just goes to shit.” I nodded and said, “Yeah.” He shuffled his feet, bouncing his weight from one leg to the other, exaggerating the movement like a jerky new dance. “It all started off with my old lady cutting my hair when I was sleeping. I had to shave my head,” he said, and handed me my lighter back.
“She took your powers from you,” I said, and backed away toward where I had been sitting.
“Yeah, it was like Samson and Delilah,” he said. He took off his hat and then put it back on.
“Well, I hope your day gets better for you,” I said. I realized I started a conversation that I didn’t want to continue. My ex loved to bring up Samson and Delilah anytime I didn’t drop what I was doing to assist him with what he was doing, or anytime I wanted to do something for myself that didn’t directly benefit him. I didn’t want to think about that. I don’t know what my ex is doing anymore but the bmx man reminded me of him. Placating and humoring is for friends and family only. And my feisty cherry was losing its refrigerated chillness. So I waved goodbye and he walked away with his bmx bike, cigarette hanging from his sun-puckered lip, and I opened my phone to read the rest of the reviews of the new diet coke flavors.
When I told this story to my friend, I referred to the bmx guy as a “wild man.”
Bio: Alexandra Naughton is a writer based in Richmond, California. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Be About It Press, established in 2010. She is the author of six poetry collections including You Could Never Objectify Me More Than I've Already Objectified Myself (Punk Hostage Press, 2015), I Will Always Be In Love (Paper Press, 2015), and I Wish You Never Emailed Me (Ghost City Press, 2016). Her first novel, American Mary, was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016. Her writing has been widely published on the web and in print, and she performs regularly in the Bay Area and elsewhere.
3/30/2018 0 Comments
Poetry by Tricia Marcella Cimera
sometimes — I remember my father
by touching my wrist, feeling the
sliver bones under my fingers, the
beating pulse. my father wore a
heavy gold watch on his wrist, the
hair on his arms was blonde.
his hands were very warm. once --
he lived too.
The Selfish Poem
my mother will pick dandelions
to set on the table
in an empty honey jar
and she will think of me.
She will always cut her sandwich
the way she did for me.
She will sleep in a large, white
bed and wake every night,
with a start,
because she thinks
she hears me call.
I wish my mother no pain, no worry,
only constant happy thoughts –
I know it’s selfish.
I know it’s childish.
But after my mother is gone,
I will go to every desolate beach
and throw a bottle
into the deep forever sea.
I will go to every hillside
and release one red balloon
into the sky.
I will go to every temple
in this world
and leave a small carved box.
All these things will hold
the same handwritten note
that will be folded
as neatly as any that
my mother always hid inside
my blue lunch box.
The note will say
wherever you are
don’t forget me
Bio: Tricia Marcella Cimera is a Midwestern poet with a worldview. Look for her work in these diverse places (some forthcoming): Buddhist Poetry Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Foliate Oak, Failed Haiku, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Mad Swirl, Silver Birch Press, Yellow Chair Review, Wild Plum and elsewhere. She has a micro collection of water-themed poems called THE SEA AND A RIVERon the Origami Poems Project website. Tricia believes there’s no place like her own backyard and has traveled the world (including Graceland). She lives with her husband and family of animals in Illinois / in a town called St. Charles / by a river named Fox.
The Taste of Men
little do I know of aging and fragility -
it's not the twiglike bones
creaking with fortysomething,
which bother me
it's the taste of men in my
mouth from my twenties and thirties
(but not like it sounds) - the feel
of my head in a vice and a squeeze
so implied the esophagus pops out,
like a glass eye -
until I slip and drown in
a cocaine hottub;
I wake and I am naked.
The party has ended -
some say glass tastes of nothing -
but I say it must - if it's made of sand -
grit n grains in everything I eat; I drink -
ginger ale grinds new gizzard meat
glitterati, we gettin' scissored
was my boytoy beat
and the slivers came and went
made jagged scars -
the ones I now curate
never leave the egg salad;
salt and peppered like my hair now -
tupperware like an isolation cage -
mustard & mayo; wrinkle cream... support hose
there was even fiberglass in
the Marlboro Lights -
and the taste of those is still...
ruby blood upon my mouth,
forceful sex within my throat -
and I flick back and forth this many-layered
tongue - a film of slime for every man I loved,
with soap and washcloth in hand;
a toothbrush works between the lips -
every woman I meet nowadays
learns how to clean her mouth up.
I Don't Wanna Ask, But Can You Hold Me While I Fall To Pieces
when am i not crumble dome
all things blue
gathered around you
my mask of sorrow
my lullaby scar
lay me out like night
watching the terrible wheel
spin slowly out of control
quiet edge of town
my face is so small
compared to the down swell river
and Donny says death is easy
it all depends how badly you want it
folds of your dress
it's not selfish to want to be loved
it's just naive
might i disappear
and no one notice
might i love you broken
as i am
no one takes you
as you really are
let alone could be
off in the blue distance
a woman screams
and it won't end well
I'm just trying not to notice
how completely destroyed
we all are
in the end
and in the beginning.
Mother is a Giant Maple
I cracked tonight
Fell into black hands
Not just a crumble
I am not the calm
So little blue liquid
Rinses me - it's red
Red like my eyes
Scowling at little children
Shredded cape, fettered
The one thing
Consistent is how
I fall apart
and that would be fine
If it hurt no one
Fall off a dock drown
Save the taxpayers
Tantrum jump at bridge
Who who who cares
No one gives a shit
But when I timber I crush
The limbs of smaller saplings
Underfoot, deformity as their
Twigs snap away, like a zap
Of mean light split in two
They must survive the rest
Of their lives like this.
Funny, how they hold up
The felled trunk of me
Even as they succumb
From my smothering -
From the immense weight
Was It Ever Really Worth The Climb
that moment when a bird can no longer fly
is there a tiny pulse that ricochets in her feathered heart
and does she have words for that
sweet little starling
all bruised/used up
I'd pin it
to my skin
little blur of...
I don't know what to call it-
that part that won't fit
we are not one of those beautiful things
they write about.
Bio: Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature from Vermont doing her best to make the world a little bit better with her words. She is an advocate for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain - especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. She has work published and forthcoming at Occulum, Former Cactus, Moonchild Magazine, Hedgehog Poetry and Ginger Collect. Her column Arsenic Hour is live at TERSE. Journal. @ehoranpoet email@example.com
Bio: James Diaz is a writer and editor living in upstate New York. He is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger. His work has appeared most recently in Occulum, Philosophical Idiot, and Midnight Lane Boutique. He occasionally tweets @diaz_james and wrestles with his thoughts at jamesdiazsite.wordpress.com/.
3/28/2018 1 Comment
Betazoid by Kristin Garth
The aftermath is bubble bath. You’re half
the problem, easy math. Semi self-directed
rose water wrath, one more jaunt, a primrose path.
Empathic on their behalf, rejected,
sobbing for another sociopath.
“You know you are from Betazed.” Some Star
Trek jargon, high school boyfriend said. “Empath
who feels it twice as much.” You wear the scars
of all you touch. The heartless want you; feed
on pain — you’re double dividend, same cut
of fang. Expound their emptiness as need.
Always open to whom you should stay shut.
What cannot feel wants to be felt, vain void;
sociopaths consume a betazoid.
Bio: Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker. In addition to Anti-Heroin Chic, her sonnets have stalked the pages of Occulum, Faded Out, Drunk Monkeys, Midnight Lane Boutique, Ghost City Review, Neologism Poetry Journal and many other publications. Her poetry dollhouse chapbook Pink Plastic House is available from Maverick Duck Press (maverickduckpress.com). Follow her on Twitter: @lolaandjolie.
3/27/2018 0 Comments
Artwork by Mario Loprete
frank olio su cemento armato 25 x 30 2012
Oil on Concrete 30 x 40
crime story olio su tela 80 x 120 2008
UNTITLED CONCRETE SCULPTURE 45 X 65 2016
amir olio su cemento armato 18 x 25 2012
GIRLS olio su tela 40 x 50 cadauno- polittico 80 cm x 150 cm 2011
Oil on Concrete 30 x 40
crime story olio su tela 80 x 120 2008
fabri fibra olio su cemento armato diametro 25 2012
crime story olio su tela 80 x 120 2008
MI DIFENDO DALL’ACCUSA DI ESSERE L’UOMO PIU’ MALEDUCATO DEL MONDO
olio su tela 100 x 100 2004
fabri fibra olio su cemento armato 25 x 30 2012
Artist Statement: My work focuses on research and documentation of the world of hip hop. This philosophy of life now is no longer relegated to just u.s.a. boundaries, but rather it can be found at any latitude.
I use as a support of my new works the concrete, as I find it is the link between my project and hip hop. Concrete as the Internet has cleared all geographical boundaries, it's a material created by the ancient Romans, but today it's modernity and contemporarity indicator.
Photo: Jason Thrasher
Athens, Georgia is the stuff of musical legend. A rich springboard for some of the very best bands and songwriters of our time. Pylon were and still are one such band. A weird, funky, fiery art rock ensemble fronted by the strong force of Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Pylon's sound got inside of your body, torqued your muscles and your mind. Now Vanessa is back with Pylon Reenactment Society and her presence is as captivating and spirited as ever. Vocally, you can hear the arch of a bands story, you can hear the span of a life. Loss and resurrection, it's all there, encoded in these songs. "Creativity and ideas are things that just happen, and no one really knows where they come from," Vanessa says. "I wouldn’t say that they are impossible to keep alive, because to me, they exist independently from our conscious selves. If you are open to these things and make a little time for them, there they are. If they are going to happen, they will, I really have no control over the creative process. As I get older, I see that it ebbs and flows." For now, it is flowing, and its heart, all these years later, is still intact, wildly beating, creating, and giving new voice in all of the right ways. Time marches on, and so do we, battle born, wiser, gentler and kicking still. An artist can only wait for the moment to hit, for the idea to take on skin and walk through fire to meet the sky. Pylon Reenactment Society's shine is writ large. A sky anthem of truth, clarity and utter roar.
AHC: Can you fill us in on the history behind the original Pylon? The band started in the late 70's, what was going on around you at the time and what was the Athens music scene like then, what was buzzing in the air and making your creative blood boil at that time?
Vanessa: The later part of the 1970’s was an exciting time to be in Athens, GA. It was a sleepy college town, but there were some exceptional people living there who were attracted to UGA’s art department and the general vibe. During my senior year, I was in an independent art class under Robert Croker. After critique, my classmates always sought each other out to share pitchers of beer wherever it was cheapest and to dance and talk. It was very inexpensive to live in Athens which created a lot of free time. Many of us had jobs at a local factory working a weekend shift that paid our living expenses. Our professors at UGA brought in artists from around the country like Elaine DeKooning. So, we knew that there was a larger world out there. Buzzing around town was an interesting group of people who dressed in thrift store clothes. Some lived here already, and some moved here for the liberal atmosphere. We all danced together like there was no tomorrow at house parties. Vinyl was played over and over if we liked a track or a particular side of an album. Some parties lasted all night. It was humid and hot. No one had air conditioning. We might end up running through sprinklers or hanging out in kiddie wading pools and perhaps swimming. Chapter Three Records stocked the DIY and new music singles and albums that we read about in New York Rocker, Trouser Press and fanzines. The ground was fertile and prepped. The B-52s played their first show on Feb 14, 1977 and suddenly we had our own band and the scene grew and expanded. In the fall of 1978, two of my friends from art school-Randy Bewley and Michael Lachowski- decided to start a band as an art project. Through sheer luck, the guy who rented their studio space to them, lived upstairs and heard them practicing the same riffs over and over. Fellow art student and landlord Curtis Crowe happened to be a very good drummer and offered his services to them. After auditioning several guys to be the vocalist, Randy contacted me and asked me to try out on February 14,1979. The next day, they explained the premise of the band and said you’re in. The idea was that we would go to New York, play, get written up in New York Rocker and disband. We performed for the first time in Athens just a few weeks later. Most people just stood and stared at us. The third show we did at a house in the country, the B-52’s were there and loved us. Some crazy dancing ensued. Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider took one of our home-made cassettes to Hurrah in NYC and got us booked. A few months later, we opened for the Gang of Four. Glenn O’Brien was there and wrote about us in Interview Magazine. We exceeded our goal and offers to come back to New York and elsewhere started coming in. We decided to keep doing it while we were having fun.
AHC: Is it true that Pylon's major influences, at the time, were the No Wave movement? Do you consider Pylon to be a part of that legacy? What were the bands overall major musical guiding lights?
Vanessa: We loved the No New York album, David Lynch’s Eraserhead Soundtrack, James Brown, some disco like “Flashlight “by Parliament-Funkadelic, Kraftwerk, the Ramones, Vibrators, Devo, Talking Heads, Gang of Four-we listened to this music and more. I don’t know if we had a definite guiding light, but to paraphrase our bassist, Michael Lachowski, we had the confidence from somewhere to say this is enough, this is a song. None of us, except Curtis had been in a rock band, I had been in the high school marching band and chorus but was never a soloist. We were artists who were using sound instead of other more formal materials. So, some of what we created together was pretty raw and stark. Some of music sounded like being inside of some type of big machine.
AHC: The breakup of the band came as a collective decision to quit while you were still having fun. Looking back now, do you regret that decision, or do you still feel like that was what was best? When the art becomes a business and an endless to do list do you find it's nearly impossible to keep the creative soul of what you're aiming for alive?
Vanessa: I think later, when we were thinking about getting back together the second time, we were being told by people like R.E.M. that maybe the world will get you now., We thought that maybe we had given it up a little early and were willing reform and see what happened. It’s impossible to predict the past. I personally don’t have any regrets now and didn’t then. I was busy and had a beautiful daughter during that down time. When we reformed Pylon, we decided to behave in a more businesslike manner. Jennifer Blair came to Athens from Philadelphia to be our manager and some good things happened. We did some opening dates on stadium tours for our friends R.E.M. and the B-52’s. We also recorded an album, Chain.
Creativity and ideas are things that just happen, and no one really knows where they come from. I wouldn’t say that they are impossible to keep alive, because to me, they exist independently from our conscious selves. If you are open to these things and make a little time for them, there they are. It shouldn’t matter what your job is or what else is going on, if they are going to happen, they will, I really have no control over the creative process. As I get older, I see that it ebbs and flows.
AHC: When did the idea come to you that it was time to reassemble and resurrect Pylon as the Pylon Reenactment Society? How does it feel to be playing and creating these incredible songs all these years later?
Vanessa: Between 2008-2012, I recorded with a rotating group of musicians in Athens called Supercluster. This was an outlet for songs I had coming into my head that were not Pylon- type material. Randy Bewley was the guitarist. We also had been playing together in Pylon since 2004. He had a heart attack and died on February 25, 2009. I was working closely with him on two projects. Pylon were in process of assembling and mastering Chomp More for a reissue by the DFA. Supercluster were about 3 songs from having the recordings done for our CD Waves. Both bands were heart broken and grief stricken at the loss of our good friend who was like a brother to us, especially Michael Lachowski. I needed to be busy, so I picked myself up and finished the Supercluster CD with the help of Deerhunter’s guitarist Bradford Cox. He had done a good cover of “Cool” and I thought he might understand what Randy would have done. Jason NeSmith was our mixing and recording engineer. I worked very closely with him during this project and we got to be friends. The whole process of recording that CD and herding the Pylon project along was very therapeutic during a very bad year. Jason then came onboard as Supercluster’s guitarist along with Bryan Poole and we did a little touring. After Supercluster stopped performing in early 2013, we kept in touch. In 2014, Jason approached me to see if I would perform a few songs for Art Rocks Athens, which was a series of events that explored the relationship between art and music in Athens, GA between 1975-85. I surprised him when I said that I wanted to do some Pylon material and asked him to put a band together. Since Pylon were a part of both the art and music scenes during that time, I felt that our music should be represented. Jason got his band Casper & the Cookies to back me up. I had already worked with bassist Kay Stanton, in Supercluster and I knew the drummer Gregory Sanders as well. He is a huge Pylon fan. We performed as Pylon Reenactment Society for 15 minutes. Everyone loved it and I let it go. In 2015, Jason asked if we would perform again for an Art Rocks event opening for Fred Schneider. Joe Rowe, the Glands drummer, was tapped to replace Gregory who was having shoulder surgery and I brought in my friend from Big Atomic, Damon Denton, on keyboards to add some textures and sounds. I didn’t want the music to be static. I wanted it to be fresh and fun. That show went over extremely well and it was a lot of fun. Dressy Bessy heard about this show and asked us to open a few dates for them and it went on from there. We performed two shows for the Pylon Live reissue by Chunklet in July of 2016.
At the end of 2016, we went out to LA to play at Part Time Punks with some of their best female fronted bands - PANTHAR, Sex Stains and The Tissues. PTP is a monthly party at the Echoplex which is curated by Michael Stock who has a long running radio show of the same name on KXLU in LA. Josiah Mazzachi recorded us for rebroadcast on the radio show. Michelle Roche, our media relations person for print and radio, listened to it while looking for music to promote our band and said you should put this out. I took another listen and realized that it had a great live sound, the performance was spot on and the recording itself was of good quality. I had basically thrown it in a drawer because I usually don’t like live recordings that much. We released this as Part Time Punk Session on a vinyl EP with the help of Henry Owings at Chunklet. It feels great to be a part of this music again. It’s joyous and life affirming. I am extremely lucky that these particular musicians want to play this music with me. Kay, Jason, Joe and Damon are fun to work with and have become good friends. When I look out at a show and see people dancing and absorbing the sounds, it makes me very happy.
AHC: What is your take on music at or current moment in time? Are you optimistic about the kids these days? Do you think punk today still carries that same rebellious, resistant fighters spirit?
Vanessa: I don’t know if I have an accurate picture of what is going on everywhere in music right now. What I have seen and heard recently is intriguing. I see a need to express and create and have fun-just like I did.
Photo by Judy Rose, WXNA, Nashville, TN.
L Jason NeSmith, R Vanessa Briscoe Hay
The younger ones are aware of what is happening and very opinionated. Some of the high schoolers are rebelling and trying to change things. It’s going to be their world soon and I have a lot of hope for this new generation. Some of our shows, like the one we did recently in Nashville seem evenly split between underage music lovers and people who are older. Kay noticed that half of the audience there had black X s on their hands which means they were under 21.
AHC: Any words of advice you would offer to musicians struggling and toiling in the midnight hour, hitting creative walls and banging their heads up against them?
Vanessa: Don’t bang your head against the wall. It doesn’t do any good. It’s just like when you try to remember something. Don’t try so hard. Do something else for a little while and come back to it. It will happen. That said, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t be undisciplined. I am saying, have a little patience with yourself.
AHC: what's next for the band? Any upcoming shows or projects you'd like to mention?
Vanessa: We are going to be at the Sarasota Film Festival in Florida and at a 2-day festival in honor of GA Tech Radio stations 50th Anniversary “WREKtacular” in Atlanta in April. We have written a few new songs with hopes of writing some more. We plan to record either a single or an EP soon and do a little touring this summer. At this point, we’ve performed 36 shows and it has been a lot of fun! But, we could not have done it without help from our friends and people like Shauna McLarnon who has brought attention to us via Shameless Promotion PR and part time punks everywhere.
For more information about us and our upcoming dates: Pylon Reenactment Society
Keep up with Pylon Reenactment Society
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3/25/2018 0 Comments
I Knew Things Would Get This Bad, I Just Never Thought They'd Get This Weird by Nadia Wolnisty
Bradley Huchteman CC
I Knew Things Would Get This Bad, I Just Never Thought They'd Get This Weird
Mom sent me death threats on Christmas. Let me rephrase. It occurs to me that this is an Absurdist play, and I must try and fit the cadences of Beckett and all the rest. Mom told me if I did not forgive her, she would kill me. It is not an effective strategy. There. Something like that, between lines about death and how beautiful the Eiffel Tower is when the first snowfall starts.
Let me set the stage. I am on the phone with my sister, pacing the aisles at Kroger's. None of the items make any sense. There's adult diapers, baby toys, shampoo, a whole section just for toothpaste, lit up to the point of glowing. The Kroger's is cavernous. It is a metaphor for despair and doom.
This isn't about families, not really. It's about staring into a void, but in this case the void is shiny linoleum at Kroger's. When I was a kid, I thought there were florescents under the floors, and we were standing on glass.
But like those Absurdist plays, there is humor in this, right? Besides the irony, the situation is just impossible. What is she going to do? She probably weighs 100 lbs, cannot drive, and doesn't have the mental wherewithal to plan something so elaborate as murder
My mother called me into this world. She cannot be the one to send me out of it.
Mom sent me death threats on Christmas. This is a poem, a synecdoche for the state of affairs. I could spell it out for you, how I was disowned, blamed for her suicide attempt, cleaned up blood, how she tried to control my body and screamed at me for not being a virgin or, earlier, for getting my period too young. I could tell you how any attempt at peace-making is a game she plays. She acts like she wants a clean-slate, but it is always the person who has wronged begging for a clean slate.
She wants things to be good at my sister's wedding, in nine months. Not the sister I am on the phone with, the other one, the younger one. She told me in an email. Sure, let's not have a fist-fight, a punch-up at a wedding, but this doesn't undo anything. She just wants to control things.
A year before, she had sent me a string of disturbing emails. I will give just a synecdoche for that as well. I forwarded them to my therapist, and my therapist had two questions only: Is English your mother's first language? and Your mother has Borderline Personality Disorder, right?
Look, I don't really want to go into it, so I'll write it out in haiku format, which is sort of a synecdoche anyways.
Threatening to kill
me is not an effective
technique to cleanse wrongs.
This is a graphic novel, my on the phone with my sister at the Kroger's by work. And I don't mean one with superheroes and villains, although it does feel that way. I mean the literary kind. Think "Blankets." Think "Fun Home." Alright, so this is about families. Graphic novels about families are always the most heart-breaking. The sympathetic imagination trying to make portraits. Always, always it is an act of failure, and you have to lie and say that failure means something too, right?
My family spent Christmas together without me. Draw those panels in a different style than the one I am in, here, now at Kroger's. Make them blotchy and with tons of blank space.
They all went to my older sister's house, four hours away from me, my parents, my younger sister, her now-fiancé, and my older sister. It wasn't merry. It wasn't anything. I can't remember if they called or not, just the email.
Draw me from above, from high inside the commercial ceiling. Hide my face. Get my asymmetrical haircut and disheveled business-casual. Get the hard symmetry on shelving full of bright objects. But make it black and white to keep the costs down, and color has no business being in this scene.
Mom sent me death threats on Christmas. This is a prophesy. Whatever the wedding will be, it won't be easy. Perhaps in all her insanity, in all her childlike helplessness that really is childishness, my mother is Cassandra, I think in a moment of panic. If I don't forgive her, perhaps it will fester, somehow. But that's bullshit, right?
Being abused feels similar to a prophesy in that it is doom and there is only two outcomes. Did it make the victims enlightened or tainted?
It is a grim augery, whatever it is.
Mom sent my death threats on Christmas. It is the first line to an essay I will have to draft 100 times until I get it right. Like the essays you wrote in high-school, with the quote at the beginning to really get your reader's attention. But it is not an example, let alone a thesis.
I was taught in college that a good thesis looks something like this: Even though Y appears to be true, X is the case because of a, b, and c.
I was never any good at algebra.
I can't even solve for Y. I can only gesture at what it might look like. Absurdity on a cosmic order, a quiet compression of emotions and events, something in rough outline, a cruel raving.
My mom sent me death threats on Christmas is not a thesis. Just the beginning.
For now, my sister knows just what to say. She says That's horrible, while laughing.
Bio: Nadia Wolnisty is a poet, artist, and performer in Dallas, Texas. Her work has appeared in, Apogee, Philosophical Idiot, Spry, McNeese Review, Essay Daily, Paper & Ink, and the Art Uprising anthology “Desolate Country,” among others. She has two chapbooks: “Manual” from Cringe-Worthy Poetry and “A Zoo” from Finishing Line Press. A chapbook and a full-length are forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press and Spartan.
3/25/2018 0 Comments
Artwork by Lorette Luzajic
everything is crystal under our feet 2017 12x12
illustrated bargain catalogue 2017 12x12
lemonade with grape jelly 2017
library discard 2017 12x12
No Painting, No Whoopla 2017
appreciated 2017 12x12
Driven by the joy of juxtaposition, eclectic curiosity, and the compulsion to purge overwhelming emotions, I process and sort the world by diving into its dichotomy of then/now, addiction/peace, beautiful/ugly, meaningful/nihilist, secure/terrifying, real/surreal.
Bio: Lorette C. Luzajic is an artist and writer whose mixed media collage paintings have been exhibited extensively in her city, Toronto, Canada, as well as in Mexico, Tunisia, and the USA. She is a member of Workman Arts, an organization for artists in recovery from addiction and mental illness. She is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted to poetry inspired by art. She is working on her fifth poetry collection and on a book of essays about Mexico City. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.
Never Love Me That Way
Hitting rock bottom is far from graceful – it’s plummeting, falling splat on the concrete. It’s feeling like you’ve lost purpose, all understanding or recognition of who you are.
The dollar bill was rolled tight into a thin straw-like resemblance, the hole in the middle small enough to make a mini telescope and look through. I could soak up galaxies looking through it.
White powder was spread in a line across the black tabletop. A pile of star dust, fallen from the sky.
I placed the end of the dollar-bill straw to the top of the table, resting at the start of the line. Dead end, I thought. No turning back.
I looked across at him, the one who thought I was worth nothing, would amount to nothing, could do nothing right, deserved nothing better… and I took a long snort, moving the bill along the pile of powder in a smooth line, a sharp inhale.
My nose burned as the powder soured up through the makeshift funnel. I felt lightheaded from the deep breath and coughed.
I didn’t feel anything at first and then it was like a rush, tingling through my brain all the way to my toes. Close to numbness, close to not-being. Non-existence.
The next morning, I woke up and I felt like my soul was partly out of my body. I felt detached, disjointed like part of myself hovered above, watching as I dragged myself to the toilet where I heaved my guts out and continued to heave for the rest of that day.
I still went to work, afraid of calling out. The manager on duty was the one who sold me the heroin. I told him that it might have been laced, that I was sick as a dog. He didn’t believe me and wouldn’t let me go home. I continued to puke in the lady’s restroom until he finally relinquished and allowed me to leave.
I looked in the mirror when I got home and didn’t recognize her. She stared straight into my eyes, but that wasn’t the girl I knew. The straight-A student, dedicated to her studies, dedicated to her friends, dedicated to her boyfriend.
What friends? I had lost almost all of them. My boyfriend thought I was a worthless cunt, a whore, a slut. He had taken my virginity and still he called me these things.
For him I had thrown it all away. I wasn’t the same person anymore and I had to decide who I wanted to be. Who I would choose. The straight-edge girl with the perfect grades and clean record who had never even touched a pack of cigarettes before she started working her first job let alone considered doing drugs, or the one who wanted to destroy herself.
My mom had a death grip on me.
That’s how I felt up until I was 18, when I rejected all I knew myself to be and became someone completely different.
It took me a few years to realize that it was my mother’s emotional support and love that had largely held me together for those first eighteen years. Without it I slipped and lost my grip on life and on my sense of self, disappearing into an emotionally abusive relationship that I tried to convince myself was a good idea – but I ended up feeling trapped.
My second year of college, things began to shift. Where I sought freedom from my mother’s constant control, I found emotional abuse, rejection, and pain. Not knowing what else I deserved, I accepted this treatment and remained in the relationship off and on for two years. It suited my purpose well – it pissed off my mom and put a fissure in her overprotective guard on me. No matter what she said, I refused to listen. Even though I was becoming more damaged, I treasured the rebellion.
I settled myself on a sure path of self-destruction, not really caring where I was headed. Without my mother having any say in what I did, I felt the first moments of relief. I also began to experience panic attacks. At first, I turned to my mom but as she disapproved more and more of my relationship and told me I needed to end it, I didn’t want to listen to her. I felt I was with my best friend in life and he would never hurt me. I couldn’t have been more wrong, but I was lost and enjoying having control over my own life. Or so I thought.
I wasn’t on top of the world as I might believe. I lost sight of all I once held dear. When I finally rattled myself back to reality, I found that I had dug a pit for myself. A pit of homesickness had turned into a bigger pit of self-destruction, loss, fear, and self-disgust. What ruled that pit and kept me at the bottom was terrorizing anxiety gripping at my heart, around my throat, inside my stomach, pinning my limbs to my side and making my organs churn and spiral.
It was my mother who raised me for most of my life. I didn’t realize she experienced the type of anxiety I did until I was a little older. She told me she used to have panic attacks like the ones attacking me, ripping into my body until I could do was quiver. When I felt that way, it was a complete loss of control. Control is not something I could lose – the same reason I thought I could never use drugs. Except everything I used to know about myself changed.
During the throes of emotional abuse I took the first puff and sold myself to a life I never thought I could live.
I felt I had to start over – a clean slate, begin again, a rebirth of my soul and my self. It took a helping hand to break through the clouds once consuming my mind. I came to think of my depression and anxiety as a black cloud over my brain. When I was having a particularly bad day, it was like I was trapped in a hazy fog, unable to clearly think. I sought an escape, some way to break through the clouds. I yearned for warm sunshine on my dark days.
Due to an alcoholic streak in my family, my mom always warned me to steer clear of alcohol, and it stuck in my mind that I have an “addictive bone” in my body passed on from generations. Maybe there is some truth to it because I lost myself to addiction for nearly a year if not more.
This journey led me down a path I never dreamed of traveling. A path of addiction, suffocation, and isolation. Often these three go hand in hand. The suffocation started first, but it was only a glimmer of the suffocation I would come to feel.
I chose the worst possible guy after breaking up with my first boyfriend and stayed with him on and off for two years. When I met him he was in rehab, which should have been a sign to me, but I didn’t listen. He held me emotionally hostage, called me worthless. He told me nobody could ever love me, and I believed him. I genuinely started believing him so that when I wanted to pull myself out of the relationship, I didn’t feel like I deserved anything better. Staying felt easier than going, and I felt trapped by my own lack of self-worth and the feeling that I could never amount to who he wanted me to be so how could I ever please anyone else.
Around that time, I first started smoking weed, desperate for any sort of escape or relief from my inner torment. I stopped talking to my mom for a year and moved in with my dad. My entire life shattered and crumbled, and I welcomed the destruction. I thought it was deserved.
I would visit my boyfriend and we would sit out in his backyard of the apartment his parents paid for which he shared with three other college students. He would smoke K2, or “spice,” because he was still on probation for his stint in rehab. I would smoke weed and listen to the chorus of chirping crickets and a distant television announcer from one of the neighbors.
Weed soon turned to K2 for me as well. Though the trip to get spice was three hours total, my boyfriend and I drove there nearly every weekend, sometimes on the weekdays. It was all we looked forward to – a packed bowl of the synthetic weed. Our favorite was the chemical dusted on real rose petals. When you lit them on fire, it tasted like smoking a real rose because you were, but whatever chemicals the petals were coated in made you soar for half an hour, tops. Then you’d crave another hit.
One night, we were smoking spice while sitting on the back of my car in the parking lot of his house. He started freaking out saying there were spiders crawling up his legs. We were both high and it sent me spiraling into a bad trip where I panicked. There were multiple times when I was smoking spice that I would become super detached, feeling like my mind was no longer one with my body. Like my heart was beating as fast as the wings of a hummingbird and my entire body was buzzing along, moving with each pounding rhythm. I couldn’t focus on anything. I didn’t recognize who was around me or where I was or what was happening. I would say I needed to go to the hospital.
My boyfriend would kneel beside me and cradle my face between his hands and say my name, over and over. “It’s alright, you’re fine, everything’s going to be alright.”
Once he and I were soaring through outer space like individual rockets, without helmets. We could still breathe, surrounded by stars that popped like fireworks before my eyes. The weightlessness wrapped around me like an Invisibility Cloak, like I didn’t exist except to my own knowledge.
Memories of that time disappeared like being sucked inside a blackhole. All that mattered was from one score to the next. My boyfriend started keeping himself occupied by visiting banks and exchanging coins for half dollars. In the wrapped sleeves, you would often discover silver coins that were worth more than their face value.
I started to skip classes, resulting in most of my courses dropping in grades. Where I would have earned A’s, I got B’s. Attendance was a large part of your grade but it was up to you to show up or not and professors didn’t hesitate to knock points off. I didn’t care at the time though later I would.
My boyfriend lived over an hour away from my university. Many times I would visit him and not make it back to school in time for class. I would stay even if it meant being yelled at, ridiculed and belittled throughout the day. He and I would fight so intensely his roommates eventually called the cops for domestic abuse. We both raced off in separate cars and ended up together again somehow, tears stained down my cheeks, hiding from the cops in his car and shaking. My whole body quivering. I remember thinking, I could drive home right now. I could go see my mom. It would be that easy. Except I didn’t think it was that easy at the time. I didn’t think she would welcome me back with open arms. Look at who I had become. Nobody she could ever love. Nobody she could be proud of.
One of the days I played delinquent from school, our fighting became physical. Up until that point he had never touched me, but this time when we were coming inside after a smoke-break, I said something to upset him and he shoved me hard in the small of my back. If I hadn’t caught myself, I would have gone sprawling and bashed my nose into the floor. I pictured the bloodbath and a spike of anger swelled in my chest and burned there, embers to a fire. I turned to face him and pushed myself up close, nose to nose. I glared in his eyes and felt him flinch. I was on my tiptoes but that didn’t stop what felt like electricity jolting off me.
“Don’t ever touch me again,” I said. My eyes flashed their warning. I could see the fear in his face, even as he tried to pull himself together and asked, “Or what?” I could tell I had rattled him. Inside, he was nothing more than the boy who had been abused himself, crying out for help and maybe that was why I stayed so long. I felt for that little boy, no matter how the older boy treated me. I tried to understand him, to help him and forgive him his anger. I tried to change him, and I tried to save him. Two things I learned you are never capable of doing for another person. Ever.
He never physically hurt me again. His wounds remained emotional and he destroyed me bit by bit from the inside until one day after not speaking to my mom for almost a year straight, I found myself sobbing over and over, “I want my mom. I want my mom.”
His words scrawled upon my wall in ink still stick in the back of my mind. Sometimes his voice is there too. You are worthless. Nobody will ever love you. Nobody could love you. Not like I did.
It took me a while to realize he was right – nobody ever “loved” me the way he did.
I never want anyone to love me that way again.
Bio: Tianna Grosch lives in the woodlands of PA and received her MFA at Arcadia University this past May. Her work has previously appeared in New Pop Lit, Who Writes Short Shorts, The Odyssey and Loco Mag, and is forthcoming in Ellipsis Zine, Echo Lit Journal (Paragon Press), Blanket Sea Magazine, and Crack the Spine. Follow her on Twitter @tiannag92.
3/23/2018 0 Comments
The Bends by Anastasia Page
The skin of my finger folds the same way as my mother and her mother before her.
I know this, in fact, I’m an expert on the folds of skin.
I’ve always been obsessed.
With the way our bodies make their own shadows.
In regards to my Nana’s hands, I’ll remember them forever.
Her red nails delicately balancing
a Benson and Hedges Ultra Light Menthol between two fingers.
How her fingers would bend to transport the red, white, and green neon stripe
to her matching red lipped mouth.
The skin folds and bends.
I see shadows.
I became an expert on every line of her hands--
Only when they stopped bending shadows and cigarettes.
Only when they were stiff and caused such controversy.
The tips of the forcibly straightened out bend.
A vile pink.
Not her bend red that would usher her into the next life.
A bold bend crimson.
No, a vile pre-puberty pink loved by those without taste.
My bold red sharpened claw nails bend over the sidewalks of New York.
Creating shadows and shapes.
I can see the folds of my skin.
Soft, bending, like dough.
The dough of women, the bend of fingers.
Bio: Anastasia is a photographer and writer based in New York City. Her formative years were spent in California on the back of motorcycles, chasing sunsets through the desert, and being snuck into Salsa clubs. Her visual work is inspired by narratives while her narratives are inspired by personal documentation.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.