October 3, 2019| ISSUE no 255
crack the spine
Tessa Smith McGovern
Hege A. Jakobson Lepri
Alison Theresa Gibson
Gail Marlene Schwartz
The Big One
short fiction by Steven Genise
There was a big door right in the middle of the plaza on their way to work. And I mean right in the middle of the plaza. It was pre-hung and free to swing open and closed, which, rest assured, it really did with even so much as a light breeze. Slam, even. Whap. And when that would happen everyone would look around like a car just backfired. The hinges were so well greased that someone had clearly given thought to how smoothly the door would swing. To them, this implied that it was meant to be walked through, but of course its position in the middle of an open plaza suggested otherwise. It was even an ADA-compliant door, did I mention that? It was more than large enough to accommodate a wheelchair, had a ramp up to the threshold and then back down from the threshold, and a handicap button on each side. There weren’t panic bars though, so if there’s ever a fire in the plaza, don’t take the door. (Actually, I wonder if that means the door isn’t really compliant, since doesn’t it technically open to the outdoors from a public space? [Furthermore, doors to the outside must swing outward, so even if it were compliant on all the other fronts I mentioned, it would be so only on one side.])
But anyway, this was clearly a well-thought-out door, so it must be an art instillation of some kind. And yet there was no plaque, which is not unusual I guess, and making an anonymous art instillation isn’t quite the same as, say, writing an anonymous book, since the artist has already been paid. Still, the recognition would be nice, I’m sure, since whoever commissioned this piece (if it is a piece) probably paid a lot for it, in such a high-traffic area. Or maybe lack of recognition is part of the art, it’s hard to tell these days you know? If it even is an art installation, which again: far from a given.
But anyway, it’s in the way, so they walk around it, not wanting to get whapped by it’s swinging, because it swings really easily and it’s not a light door.
And This Was My Spain
I once bought weed from Billy Brant before homeroom, but he was so nervous that he wouldn’t do it on school grounds, so we got into his truck and drove across the street to Wendy’s, where we sat in the parking lot and he discretely passed me over the center console a little package of Trident gum with the weed inside and I gave him ten bucks.
Phoebe told me a story once about how she was behind on her assignment for art class, so she did a bunch of cocaine in her bedroom at night—right across the wall from me, to think!—and finished all the projects and got As on them. Skipping class to go outside and smoke cigarettes behind the school near the loading dock, and once she saw a teacher smoking out there too and they made eye contact, and just nodded in mutual understanding and separated. Drinking vodka in class out of crinkled water bottles and popping breath mints to hide it. She turned sixteen on an art class trip to Spain, and every night they got drunk in the hotel room on cheap Spanish wine and had wild, out of control orgies. Like, actual orgies. I don’t know how much of this she made up, but I believed then and now that the teachers would look the other way over kids that cool. The teachers were like me: The presence of hormones greater and more powerful than their own imposed a shadow over the conversation. It’s that incredible power that self-possessed adolescents have over your tongue. The night of her sixteenth birthday Phoebe passed out on the hotel bed while three of her classmates went down on each other (the geometry of it took me a long time to figure out, being twelve at the time).
When I got to high school, I wondered where all these people were. They certainly weren’t me, who shoved his textbooks in front of his crotch and pressed his face into his locker when a girl walked by. For whom nearby testosterone and/or estrogen was a blaze I couldn’t look directly into, but couldn’t squint to avoid. Some big athlete asks me for a pencil—a minor celebrity! Who were these so confident in their limbs that they can duck behind a corner when a teacher sees them skipping class? Who can take of their shirt proudly, and not shrivel their soft bodies in upon themselves when they brush arms with someone? Who stands with their shoulders back and their eyes off the floor?
Our class trip was to Egypt, and it was mostly filled with these kinds of kid, who had abs and clean hair. The Skinny Ones. None of them were like me. I didn’t find my tongue, but Trayvon, my six-foot-something football player roommate, was outgoing and friendly. He acted as my voice, and maybe with him behind me I could at least fool the others, and maybe this could be my Spain. This would be my entrée into social capacity, if not coolness. At the pool, Trayvon and were bases for chicken, and wrestled with the other cool kids and threw them into the water, and they threw us into the water. And we laughed, the group of us, while inside my mind pounded against his skull. Two of The Skinny Ones invited me to smoke with them out of their bedroom window, and then they said “dude I didn’t know you were cool,” and I had to correct the record earnestly yet still fashionably (all the while thinking if you have to correct the record to insist that you’re “cool,” something determined by the social atmosphere, then isn’t that disqualifying in itself?). Once, on the roof of the riverboat we floated down the Nile, lying there in my swim trunks beside Kelsey in her one-piece (Kelsey!), and we talked for hours as we first roasted in the sun and then froze in the twilight, until finally we went inside. There was a palpable tension between us, a romance, even.
On the roof of the hotel in Cairo, we set up a hookah where we could look out across the sand-colored skeleton high-rises and see the pyramids peaking up in the distance. When one of the teachers came up, saw us, my fight-or-flight response engaged in a way that none of the other kids’ did, such as they were used to this kind of thing; but the teacher just came over and took a hit and then left. I picked my hose back up, realizing that I’d put it down and was, before I even knew what would happen, ready to distance myself from these trouble makers, ready to rat. I tried to make it seem like setting my hose down was SOP, and that picking it back up was in due course. Nobody noticed, and we continued to pass the three hoses between us as equals in a classless, Marxist utopia of boyhood.
Then Trayvon came up to the roof, saw me sitting there with the hose, and this was my chance to lead the way. Now the master had become the apprentice. I offered him some, but he was frowning, and said, “dude,” and left. The other cool kids laughed at him and socked my shoulder.
~ ~ ~
That night, the kids with abs and clean hair were invited to [the cool girls’] room down the hall. Come with us, they said. They checked around corners and signaled for me to follow. Then a coded, furtive knock on the door, and the girls peeked out, checked the hall, and invited us in. There was very little talking. The two boys each slid into bed with one of the girls, and I was there, without a bed to slide into. Maybe if Kelsey had been there and that tension still hung in the air between us I would slide into her bed, but nobody else was there. Two girls and three guys, and so I lay on the sand-colored floor.
If there was an orgy, I’d be the awkward one watching in the corner, but there was no orgy. The two couples fell asleep immediately, I could hear them snoring, and all night I lay on the floor, staring up at the ceiling baking in the heat.
And I once mentioned in school that I flirted with Kelsey, and she told me to fuck off and we never spoke again.
The Big One
It was just couple of minor tremors, of the novel variety. Temblors, which is a good word because it has a bubbling whimsicality to it. They were the kind where you go into work with a grin and look at your coworkers’ grins and say “that was a good one, ah?” And so when the scientists started saying “this is it, folks, we’re headed for The Big One,” nobody really cared, because the little ones were fun. The scientists specified: It’ll be a 9.4 on the Moment Magnitude Scale—which is not the Richter Scale, and it’s really important you understand that. It could release as much as energy 300 megatons of TNT. It’ll be worse than the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, which released almost a third of all tectonic energy in the world in the last 100 years. But there were shrugs, because the truth is that it’s a hassle to move. Then the scientists got more graphic about it: The Big One will rend the Earth in twain. The Big One will turn the snowy mountains into fire, and ashes will rain down upon us. The Big One will crack the firmament, and the waters above will rejoin the waters below and drown us in their midst.
It was only when a few of the wealthy folks sold their houses and moved out of town that people started to think about it. The heroes were worried, so we should maybe all be worried? Then the older folks and the retirees left next, sent away at the insistence of their adult children, Here take this money and head for the hills!
And that’s when this propagation took hold: If some folks were leaving, I should leave too. And if those folks are leaving, so should I. And if they’re getting out of town, we should leave. And so after sending their parents away, the homeowners left too. They sold their houses at a loss to idealistic kids and used the money to jump ship. They moved inland, they moved north and south, out of state. Somewhere the earthquakes come just from fracking and are little. Somewhere with temblors.
And then once they were gone nobody else could afford to run—some of us had just bought big houses on the cheap, others who couldn’t afford to buy were stuck in a lease. Some of us were rich enough to leave but sly enough to buy houses on the cheap and rent them to the ones who couldn’t afford to leave. But the job market opened up at least, and life ground onward the way it had to when people live in a place.
“Yes, it was apparently your broken French that put the idea of ‘dating’ me in her head,” he said, and laughed.
Tom blushed, and signaled him forward.
Louis went in, and Tom closed the door behind him. He saw neither of them again.
The Duck Wasn't Bought For Her
The tap drips, its one-two, one-two rhythm as constant as her eyes blinking. The washer has been rusting for over a year: she has watched water drip into the bath for three hundred and eighty-six nights.
She is imprinted on the tiles.
The water knows her reflection.
Her elbows rest on the side of the tub, fingers flicking the water as the duck rides the waves. Flick, flick. Flick. The duck darts. The empty house sniggers behind her, the grown woman crouched at the bath. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The water is clear. No dirt, no caught hair. Everything pristine.
It wasn’t supposed to be pristine.
Her fingers are pruning, ridges of skin rise to meet the cooling water. Six minutes until she pulls the plug. Armed with cleaning spray and sponges, she’ll hold the damage of time at bay for one more day. Tomorrow, she will do it all again.
The duck turns, its eye finding hers. She is not who it expects, even after all this time. It was bought for someone whose face no longer stares back. She circles her fingers, a small whirlpool appears, and the duck can’t escape the rings of water. As it careens over a wave, a line of black on the bottom flashes at her.
She lunges and snatches it from the water. Mould. Water drips with metallic clicks into the bath. All this time she thought the porcelain would betray her. She had forgotten about the duck.
She staggers to the sink. The water scalds her softened fingers. Her nail rubs, picks, scratches at the black. It doesn’t shift. The duck’s eyes watch, amused at her attempts. It has beaten her. The message is written in the mould, the universe has rung its timer. Her three hundred and eighty-six days are over. A period she never expected to live through. She pulls the plug. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
The duck watches her sit, just one more time, to gaze at the spinning water. Perhaps, if the water forgets her reflection, she could forget how it was supposed to be. Bath water has a long memory, though.
flash fiction by Alison Theresa Gibson
poetry by Josef Krebs
My short mother was so proud of having a pram
It was her children she had no pride in
Her adaptability being limited by a strict Catholic upbringing
In a family that lived from selling icons
Reproductions and rosemary beads
The debilitating forces of belief and bias
That trip with trepidation
And rambunctious responsibility
Conscious of your limitations
Bounding out of your skull
Like a bunny in springtime
Driven by desires and impulses
Hard wired into the animal
Deceits of civilization notwithstanding
The cautious you survives
Without harming or alarming
Those creatures of the night
You come into contact with
In your strolls and reveries
Across the clouds of the city
In the dimly lit rooms
Of the moon lit nights
That allow for. . . .
My Short Mother Was So Proud of Having a Pram
The sidewalk kitten follows me for three city blocks until I turn around and tell her no. You can’t come with me, I say. You’re scrawny and flea-ridden and I don’t know where you come from. You look different from me, I have not chosen you, we are not the same. Go home, little kitten, I tell her. Before I give you a name.
Meow, says the kitten. She swooshes her lumpy tail and turns around and finds another woman to follow. I stand on the curb and watch her leave, her paws a pitter-patter, her mouth purring Meow Meow.
micro fiction by Minyoung Lee
For Once, I Wish She Didn't Listen to Me
This morning I woke at six and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I googled “how to be happy.” According to one article, keeping a daily record of your thoughts is supposed to help. Taking the time to write things down, it said, is a way to find out what you’re really thinking and feeling. So I opened a new Google doc and wrote this:
Those sad selkie stories posted on the Internet are written by the daughters—how sad they are that the mother left, what a terrible person the mother is for wanting to leave. But what about the mothers? What about me?
This houseboat is not my home; the River Thames is not the place where I was born, where I belong. My daughter, a halfling, belongs well enough. She was born on land without a skin eleven years ago. She’s never known the joy of changing into a seal. I love her with all my heart and wish I could be happy here, for her sake. I have tried.
Now I look at the words I wrote and feel guilty. I search again and find a quiz called “How happy are you?” The headline says that 76 percent of quiz takers who practice one of the ten habits of happy people report feeling happier. Worth a go, I suppose.
Question 1: How often do you share your feelings with friends or family? Never. The only people on land who know what I am are my absentee husband and my daughter. Neither of them wants me to leave, and they refuse to talk about it. My husband won’t tell me where he hid my skin, and sometimes I hate him so much I feel like I’ll explode. Last week, when I texted him to ask again, he replied that when Alissa is sixteen, he’ll let me have it back. That’s five years away! If I thought anyone would believe me, I’d report him to the authorities.
Question 2: How often do you do kind things for others? Every day. Every day, I try to be a kind mother and every day I fail. I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I nag Alissa to open her homeschool books and get her work done on time, although why she won’t just get on with it I do not understand. I restrict the amount of time she has her cell phone; otherwise, she’d text her friends all night long, and I have restrictions on the TV so she can’t watch mature programming. She says I’m ruining her life. Bottom line, if it weren’t for Alissa, I wouldn’t be trapped. There’s nothing left between her father and me. Once, we were enchanted by each other. After he saved me from drowning in his fishing net, his beautiful face was all I saw in my weeks of delirium. But after my wounds healed, he refused to return my skin. Perhaps he guessed what I would soon find out—I was pregnant. So now I’m sitting in this single berth in the galley, staring through a brass porthole at the river instead of diving and twisting and playing in it. The sun is rising. The tide’s surging in from the North Sea, black ripples lit by shifting rays of light, a flash here, a glint there. It’s mesmerizing. I long to disappear into the waves, to swim downstream to the estuary and beyond, to coves and beaches and cliffs I’ve never seen, but I can’t. Humans drown in the Thames every year, pulled under by the current. This houseboat, a cocoon of wood just seven feet across, will suffocate me one of these days. And sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be better for Alissa if I left. Who wants to grow up with a miserable mother?
Question 3: How much time do you spend on social media each day? About four hours. I search forums and post the word “selkie” into search bars compulsively. Nothing ever comes up except for a swimsuit company in London.
Question 4: How often do you do at least twenty minutes of physical exercise? Two or three times a week. Sometimes I can’t get myself off the couch for days at a time, but at other times I feel like running up and down the towpath on the Embankment for hours. Today I woke up with a start, and it hit me that the one place I haven’t looked on this boat for my skin is under the floorboards. Alissa is still asleep in the forward cabin, so I can’t do anything about that at the moment. But maybe, when she wakes up, I’ll send her out for groceries. Then I could look.
Question 5: Do you know what your strengths and virtues are and use them creatively to improve the quality of your life? What the heck does that mean? What’s a strength—a talent? Most of my talents don’t translate to land. In my seal form, I can hunt fish in dark places using my whiskers to sense the movement of their breath. I can hold my breath for more than half an hour. I can swim for hours at a time up to speeds of twelve miles an hour, I can sleep while floating in the water, and, of course, with my skin I can change from seal to human and back again in a flash. As for virtues…I haven’t murdered Alissa’s father. That has to count for something.
Question 6: Do you find a deep sense of fulfilment in your life by using your strengths and skills toward a purpose greater than yourself? Does raising a child count as a greater purpose? I think it must. I’m giving my life for it.
Question 7: Do you have feelings of gratitude toward people and events from your past? I’m grateful to my selkie mother and father for giving birth to me. I know they will have given up on me long ago and will still be grieving the loss of me. That’s the worst thing about not being able to change. Alissa’s father offered to try to get a message to them, but that’s not possible. Selkies know better than to get near humans these days. If I had seen his fishing net, if I hadn’t almost drowned in it, I would have slipped away before he ever saw me.
Question 8: Are you able to focus on the present moment and not get distracted by thoughts of the past or future? No.
Question 9: Do you participate in a spiritual community or group? No, but the hymns from whatever church that is up the riverbank reach us when the wind is in the right direction. If it isn’t too cold, Alissa and I open the porthole to listen. We like that.
Question 10: Do you feel that your life is meaningful (i.e., has an important quality or purpose)? Well, yes. There are lots of ways for humans to be useful to each other, and raising a child is one of them.
The door of the forward cabin opens. I close my laptop. Alissa appears, long, dark hair in tangles, rubbing her eyes sleepily. “Morning, Mum.”
Guilt floods me. How could I think of ever leaving this girl? I love her so much it hurts. I smile and pat the floral cushion next to me. “Come.”
She slides in next to me and lays her head on my shoulder. I smooth her matted hair. It smells clean and powdery, and I think of the quiz question about gratitude for events in the past. I remember the new baby Alissa, asleep on my stomach. We would lie in the forward berth, lulled by the gentle slap of the waves against the hull and the distant calls of the gulls. I’d stare at her for hours while she slept. The tiny eyelashes, the plump cheeks with dark freckles exactly like mine, the soft, jagged fingernails. Was she real? I would touch her tiny arm. She was. Was she? I would wait for her to open her eyes and see me, then pick her up, kiss and smell her neck, her head, as if I could inhale her back into me. I pat her cheek. “Cup of tea?”
She nods, then folds her arms on the table and lays her head on them. Her eyes close.
At the tiny sink, while the kettle fills with water, I tap the BBC iPlayer app on my phone. “Good morning,” says a gentle female voice. “This is the shipping forecast issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Today there are warnings of gales in all areas.”
I double-click out of the app and pull the red shade down to shut out the river. Bad weather might be coming, but our ropes are tied securely to the giant cleats on the Embankment. The boat’s not going anywhere. Neither is Alissa. Or me. I can give her five years. I’m not going to send her for groceries and I’m not going to pull up floorboards looking for my skin. It’s probably not there anyhow.
What About Me? #selkiemother
short fiction by Tessa Smith McGovern
Not Stalking You in Frelighsburg
I seem to have made an error in judgment.
Veronika, Liam, and I went house hunting in Frelighsburg today. Yes, your Frelighsburg.
Our little talk after work last week clarified things. You like me but your personal life is settled. You and Jean-Pierre are exclusive. I get it.
I understand your worry. The day you were hired, seven months and thirty-eight days ago, working at Bicycle Belles became the pinnacle of my week instead of my shitty part-time job. I told the manager you were my long lost half-sister, that our mothers used the same sperm donor. I thought I’d surprise you in December with my special apricot granola, imagining you’d smile, kiss each cheek tenderly, say, “Mon amie. Je t’aime.”
But I know this will never be. I may seem overly enthusiastic about our friendship, but I am also, to borrow your words, “severely allergic to fusion.”
So my wife, Veronika, found this adorable cape for sale in Frelighsburg.
When we got in the car this morning, I was full of healthy boundaries.
Veronkia said, "Wanna stop by Hélène and Jean-Pierre’s?"
"I didn't mention we were coming," I said, brimming with positive mental health.
She stared. I switched the radio to classical and hummed along with the violins.
82 minutes later, we drove past your house. Then I saw a huge guy with an orange sports jacket lumbering down the road.
"Is that Jean-Pierre?" asked Liam from the back, pointing.
Veronika said, "Let’s give him a lift.”
I drove right on by.
"Why didn't you stop?” asked Veronika.
I glanced furtively in my rear view mirror. I saw Jean-Pierre, walking like a rabid raccoon. Perhaps his jacket was too tight.
We saw the house. It had a great view of the neighbors’ alpacas. Liam picked three dandelions. We drove back to Montreal.
I put Liam to bed and joined my wife on the sofa.
“What happened today?” asked Veronika.
“Trying not to be intrusive," I said, spinning a loonie.
"What if we buy that house?”
I froze, all sense of sanity collapsing. This hadn’t, for a second, crossed my mind.
But trust me: if we move to Frelighsburg, you won’t know we’re there. I’ll spend my days burrowed inside my woman-cave, so un-fused that you might wonder if the dog ate my computer or my kid hightailed it with the Honda to Orlando, where the surf's better and where lesbian moms have flatter tummies. We’ll be left to survive off deer meat, a gift from sympathetic neighbors, chain-smoking after realizing I couldn’t say "four cords of wood, please" en français. Which is why, should you pop in with a housewarming gift, you’ll find me in front of the empty woodstove, wearing my parka in a cloud of smoky breath as I breathe the fresh air in beautiful Frelighsburg, Quebec.
Stalking you will be the last thing on my mind.
With continuing friendship and excellent boundaries,
flash fiction by Gail Marlene Schwartz
Cardboard boxes, lives,
torn apart, shredded.
Religion feigned or felt.
With averted eyes, we drive
on through—upset, unclear.
Breaking, braking, broken,
all of us, intersecting
just down our street
which we cannot claim is
in any foreign third world
country. We turn the corner
quickly, turn inside,
sick, or numb.
Intersection at Colfax and Colorado Boulevard
poetry by Alita Pirkopf
Still Lifes With (Borrowed) Cat
In which we are in the kitchen looking out—just as the cat sneaks into the backyard. There’s a warning bell attached to its collar—well hidden in lush, black fur. If she didn’t know that, the ting would remind her of Tibetan meditation chimes, or (on a bad day), a secret cellphone with a message. But the woman who is weighing her options isn’t startled, her hands don’t close into fists. Even if it’s been days since she last heard that sound, cats will be cats. They appear in their own time. She turns toward the aluminum kettle, knowing that watching it won’t make it boil, but she’s in no rush. She even lets it whistle a while before turning off the burner. The kettle silenced, she says “What kind of tea do you want?” without turning. There is no answer. She lets her own teabag drop into the mug, Egyptian Liquorice, before she walks over to the screen door.
The man who betrayed is sitting in a chair in the backyard, cat in his lap. It’s October and the plants are gone or wilting, the big maple slowly shedding her leaves. He is wearing jeans and a sweater that used to be black. The glistening dark pelt of the cat reminds him that everything fades. He strokes it intently and speaks to it in Italian. Ma come sei bella! Scema, ma bella!. The cat neither moves nor responds. It takes the complements and accusation of being stupid in equal stride.
The woman, who has been thinking that maybe she loves too much, and maybe she really should leave, sees how much he’s greyed over the summer, and the new wrinkles around his eyes. She tries to remember what her own face looks like. And then she hears the cat’s purr reverberate through his hands.
“Liquorice or Bengal Chai?” she asks.
In which we’re in the kitchen, coffee cups on the too clean kitchen peninsula. The cat is there, even when it’s not. The woman, who still has nightmares, needs rules to keep safe, even from the cat.
“It belongs to someone down the alley,” she says. “Yvonne said a name, I can’t remember who. But we shouldn’t feed it.”
She doesn’t tell him how it reminds her of the cat she had as a child in another country.
“I’m glad it has a home,” he says. “So I don’t have to worry about it at night.” His kindness both moves and angers her. She could have used some of that compassion last year and the year before.
They prepare a second pot of coffee in the grey November light. She likes the new red Bialetti pot she got for her fiftieth birthday. The coffee seems better. It reminds her good things can still enter her life.
Before the coffee is ready, the daughter, who will soon move away, walks up behind her.
“The cat is at the door; I think it wants milk,” the daughter says, grabbing a box of cereal.
The man who is still walking on eggshells looks at the woman and the daughter.
“I don’t think milk is food,” he says.
And he leaves it hanging in the air until the woman nods and says, “Sure, go ahead, just a tiny bowl. It can’t hurt.”
As long as it doesn’t come in the house, she thinks. As long as I don’t start stacking tiny cans of cat food.
In which we see a cross section of the house and all three floors are exposed. Outside it is snowing, and this time the cat appears without its bell. The daughter, who may not want to grow up and leave, is holed up in her blue bedroom on the third floor, feigning vague ailments. The woman, who doesn’t know who she’ll be without the daughter in the house, senses there is something going on—a new smell—but brushes it away.
“I haven’t seen the cat today,” the woman says—halfway up the stairs—trying to engage the daughter. There is no answer, just a vigorous kneading of duvets and pillows. She decides to make some tea for her daughter’s imaginary sore throat—maybe even add honey.
When she climbs the final stairs to her daughter’s room, the cat is there, in a cloud of outdoor feral smell that has already blended with the syrupy scent of teenage doubt. It looks at home against the worn, flowery sheets.
“I know,” the daughter says, “But it was so cold outside. And it makes me feel better.”
The woman says nothing. She returns downstairs where the man who is trying to atone will soon appear. The cat smell has reached even there. She sneezes.
Despite the snow, it’s getting dark. The woman, who no longer leaves her house late at night to calm her voices—no longer returns out of breath hours later—checks her heartbeat. She hopes the cat will still be here when the husband arrives. She turns on the light in the kitchen to get on with her work.
creative non-fiction by Hege A. Jakobson Lepri
Steven Genise is a writer based in Seattle. His work has appeared in After the Pause, Natural Bridge, and was shortlisted for Epiphany‘s Best Under 30 Award. He is the fiction editor for Cascadia Magazine.
Alison Theresa Gibson
Alison Theresa Gibson grew up in Canberra, the illusive capital of Australia, and now lives in Birmingham, UK. In 2018, she placed second in the Winchester Writer’s Festival short story competition. She has been published in Meanjin, Mechanics’ Institute Review, the Nottingham Review, and others. She is writing her fourth-time-lucky novel while working at University College London. Find her on twitter @AlisonTheresa87
Josef Krebs has a chapbook published by Etched Press and his poetry also appears in the Bicycle Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Calliope, The Cape Rock, The Chaffey Review, Inscape, Mouse Tales Press, Organs of Vision and Speech, Tacenda, The Bohemian, Agenda, The Corner Club Press, Crack the Spine, The FictionWeek Literary Review, the Aurorean, Carcinogenic Poetry, The Bangalore Review, 521magazine, Former People, Grey Sparrow Journal, IthacaLit, New Plains Review, Inwood Indiana Press, Free State Review, and The Cats Meow. A short story has been published in blazeVOX. He’s written three novels and five screenplays. His film was successfully screened at Santa Cruz and Short Film Corner of Cannes film festivals.
Minyoung Lee lives in San Francisco, CA with her well-traveled calico cat, Matisse. She will be joining the 2019 Tin House Summer Workshop and the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference on the Heather Ludwick First Taste Scholarship. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Vestal Review, MoonPark Review, JMWW, Mythic Picnic, and Brilliant Flash Fiction.
Hege A. Jakobsen Lepri
Hege A. Jakobsen Lepri is a Norwegian-Canadian translator and writer based in Toronto. She returned to writing in 2011, after a very, very long break. Her writing has since been longlisted for Prism International nonfiction prize and the Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award, Shortlisted for Briarpatch‘s ‘Writing in the Margins’ contest, and published (or forthcoming) in J Journal, Saint Katherine Review, Monarch Review, Citron Review, Sycamore Review, subTerrain Magazine, Broken Pencil, Agnes and True, Forge Literary Magazine, Fjords Review, Grain Magazine, Typehouse Literary Review, The Nasiona, WOW! -Women on writing, Burning House Press, The New Quarterly and elsewhere.
Tessa Smith McGovern
Tessa Smith McGovern’s fiction has appeared in numerous places including Verdad Magazine, Studio One, Equinox (UK), and the Connecticut Review. McGovern is a British writer living in the US and currently pursuing her MFA in Writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
After receiving a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Denver, Alita Pirkopf became increasingly interested in feminist interpretations of literature. Eventually, she enrolled in a poetry class at the University of Denver taught by Bin Ramke. Poetry became a long-term focus and obsession. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Alembic, Artifact Nouveau, Burningword Literary Journal, Caduceus, The Cape Rock, The Chaffin Journal, The Distillery, Euphony Journal, Evening Street Review, Existere, Good Works Review, The Griffin, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Harpur Palate, Illya’s Honey, Ink Pantry, Lullwater Review, Moon City Review, The Paragon Journal, The Penmen Review, Quiddity, riverSedge, Rubbertop Review, Ship of Fools, Stonecoast Review, Temenos Journal, Vending Machine Press, Vox Poetica, Westview, and Willow Springs Review.
Gail Marlene Schwartz
Gail Marlene Schwartz’s work has appeared in Lilith Magazine, The New Quarterly, and Room Magazine, and anthologies Swelling with Pride (Caitlyn Press), Nature’s Healing Spirit (Sowing Creek Press), and How To Expect What You’re Not Expecting (TouchWood Editions). Gail lives in southern Quebec with her family.
Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Chappell Hill, Texas. His published works include a novel, THE DREAM PATCH, a prose collection, UNDER A RIVERBED SKY, and a book of stage monologues for actors, HEART SPEAK. HIs short fiction has appeared in many journals including The Southern Review, New Orleans Review, and Glimmer Train. He conducts private creative writing workshops in Houston.
Creative Non-Fiction Editor
Kerri Farrell Foley
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