Issue 7


God Classifies the Fox 
Meg Cowen
Finalist, Runner-Up,
Protest at Tahrir Square
C. Dylan Basset

Finalist, Runner-Up,
The Undocumented

Meridith Stricker


The New Director
Pedro Ponce

Five Pixels
Emily Bufford

Pictures from the Center of the Universe
Allie Marini Batts

Robert McParland

La Partida
Alberto Chimal

Departure (translation)
Alberto Chimal

The Dog Whisperer’s Wife
Airea D. Matthews

The Dentist’s Wife
Airea D. Matthews

The Mine Owner’s Wife
Airea D. Matthews

Marjorie Maddox

Charles Rammelkamp

279 Waterloo Street
Charles Rafferty

The Last Blood Maple
Charles Booth

Hunter Liguore

Ashley Pankratz

While You’re Up and About
Meghan Lamb

She Knows More Than I Know
Wayne Cresser

Nate Liederbach

Eleven Seconds
Elizabeth Naranjo

Rosemary Callenberg


Letter to Astronauts, Cosmonauts, and Taikonauts from the Abyss
Jared Bajkowski

A Poem Written While Waiting for a Tow Truck
Russ Woods

No Clue
John Nizalowski

No Clue II
John Nizalowski

The Grevious Math, the Revised Definitions, and the Continuing Adventures of Economic Reform
Jim Daniels

Word Halter .133
Guy R. Beining

Word Halter .134
Guy R. Beining

Mary Elizabeth Parker

Swerve, A Life in Three Parts
Charlotte M. Porter

A bin Laden on Every Street Corner
Giavanna Munafo

Bertha Rogers

The U.S. Weather Bureau Unknowingly Names a Storm after a Friend Recently Dead
John Surowiecki

Adulterers on Their Way Home
John Surowiecki

R.O. (An Ordinary Evening in New Haven)
John Surowiecki

The Month of Slumber
Deborah DiNicola

Rainbow Popsicles
Kacee Belcher

Upon Arriving at Father’s House the Day Before his Funeral
Paul David Atkins

Charlie Chaplin Takes Third Place in a Charlie Chaplin Look-alike Contest
Stephanie Lenox

Corpse Flower in Bloom
Stephanie Lenox

New York Is a Bloodbath
Megan Volpert

Summer in the City
Jason Storms


Of Complicated Themes: An Essay Elucidating Notions I’ve Had, the Ideas of Others, and Interesting Facts About Squirrels
Scott Russell Morris

Woman’s First Skydive Turns Out to be her Last 
Marjorie Maddox

Pride: The Dad Jean
Ariel Wall

La Vida Londiense
Silvia Nanclares

London Life (translation)
Silvia Nanclares

Recipes for Ladies Who Want to Reduce
Ellen VanWoert


Cat Prison
Yu-Han Chao

Prisoner Choo Choo
Yu-Han Chao

Visitor Cats
Yu-Han Chao

Evil Cat
Yu-Han Chao

Officer Cat
Yu-Han Chao

Earl & Tony
Nils Balls

My Natural Gas Drilling
Nils Balls

Toilet Paper Decision
Nils Balls

Shark 2
Nils Balls

Wagon Train
Nils Balls


Meg Cowen
God Classifies the Fox

November 23, 2011
Kingdom: Animalia
These legs will carry you across plate, across ocean.
Let the floating seeds, freed of their husks, guide your eyes.

Phylum: Chordata
You could turn to look back, though you should not.
There will be staunch grass and beaten stones ahead
—all asking to be touched.

Class: Mammalia
Carry the small ones on your back.  Brace your lungs
against the biting frost, the invasive damp.
Do it gladly—this is my gift to you.

Order: Carnivore
Do not rue your taste for blood and marrow—your own
will one day ripen the clover and moss that feed them.

Family: Canidae
You will find the moon a fickle friend—sharing your path
but deaf to your moans of hunger; your pleas for comfort.

Genus: Vulpes
In your skulk you will learn to pounce and gather.
Burrow your den between roots; betray
the heart of the tree.

Species: Vulpes vulpe
The dart of your auburn brush is benediction to a weary eye.
Had they throats, headlights would gasp.

Finalist, Runner-Up,
C. Dylan Basset
Protest at Tahrir Square

God put his red finger on our stomach
like a first-class stamp, set us in the center
of things, took us to where history spins
and begin. Nothing stays too long:
In some moments you might recite
the names of all your shoes. At other times,
you’ll add up all the flickering taillights,
the cars and buses headed anywhere but here.
Finally, you will sew socks into quilt-squares
and sleep under the first furl of starlight.
You wanted freedom and got what?
A shopping mall? Your hallways painted
bronze? Our errors are the new optimism:
Glass shattered almost everywhere, a heap
of something burns underneath cloth,
the sunset purples the pavement below
our smoke bombs. Oh, the dead?
That’s no accident. We’ll say the passing
of flowers is not a mistake. It’s what we do
to keep moving. To built parking lots.
To stack brick on brick on stone brick.
We’re building our way home with roads
as sure as bone.

Finalist, Runner-Up,
Meredith Strickler

God put his red finger on our stomach
like a first-class stamp, set us in the center
of things, took us to where history spins
and begin. Nothing stays too long:
In some moments you might recite
the names of all your shoes. At other times,
you’ll add up all the flickering taillights,
the cars and buses headed anywhere but here.
Finally, you will sew socks into quilt-squares
and sleep under the first furl of starlight.
You wanted freedom and got what?
A shopping mall? Your hallways painted
bronze? Our errors are the new optimism:
Glass shattered almost everywhere, a heap
of something burns underneath cloth,
the sunset purples the pavement below
our smoke bombs. Oh, the dead?
That’s no accident. We’ll say the passing
of flowers is not a mistake. It’s what we do
to keep moving. To built parking lots.
To stack brick on brick on stone brick.
We’re building our way home with roads
as sure as bone.


Jim Daniels
The Grievous Math, The Revised Definitions, And The Continuing Adventures Of Economic Reform

Employees sent on their way
with handshakes atremble
seared by the wobbly seal of the bad deal.
Use the words “Health Care”
in a blank verse poem
and mark your stresses.
Bootstraps barked all night
chained and abandoned in the neighbor’s yard
till you had to go out and shoot them.

You felt bad. Your children grimaced
their crooked teeth
like bad cartoons from the fifties.
Chickens have learned to fly
and are taking over airports.
They have stopped giving out peanuts.
The first crash site became a shrine to real estate greed.
The second became an ATM distributing
religious pamphlets. The third sold Chinese ice cream.
Compromise was laughed at for its tall hat.
The Harumphers danced till midnight
then strangled the clock and shred the videotapes.
They color-coded FOR SALE signs.
AS IS became the AKA for CABLE READY.
The banks hired elves to construct smiley face dollars.
The grandfather rolling over in his grave bumped the father
rolling over in his grave. The son sold his blood for scrap
and wrote one last bad check before he began digging.

“Honey, I’m home,” the True Believer said. He took off
his hat. He took off his clothes, He bent over and waited
for the gloved hand, but the gloved hand was counting money
in the sterile room.
Wordplay was admired, along with the skillful use
of silence. They hung out at the Above All That Club
and sighed, then transcribed their sighs.
Our Hero was arrested on suspicion of providing free steroids
that promoted honesty and compassion. The drug companies
exported him to Canada, where he continues to live quietly.
Big Oil and Big Money had a child
and that child was so spoiled
he never got potty trained. Those giant diapers
only soak up so much. Storks
drop bundles of shit on the rest of us.
If rage does not become us, can we become rage?
It’s like everybody’s on the same quiz show
and even the cheaters are losing, but then the sponsors
give the cheaters consolation prizes for getting caught

that far exceed the price of admission
of guilt.
In a few years, we’ll all look back on this
and still want to vomit. Today we stand
with our fingers down each other’s throats
imagining we’re all in this together.
How’s the fairy tale end again? The Big Bad Wolf
huffed and puffed, I remember that part,
but did he throw that big party before or after
he ate granny? The pig with the brick house—
what kind of mortgage did he have? Fairy dust
and a glass slipper, an apple that puts
us to sleep for all our good behavior
and trust.
The porridge is cold.
I got that part right, didn’t I?

Kacee Belcher
Rainbow Popsicles

Every weekday the same song bojangles
around my block. The haunting
come hither of the ice cream truck
taunts, yet terrifies. As I’m listening
all I can think of is the balloon man
from ee cummings’s poem and instead
of craving a rainbow popsicle,
the kind with all the flavors
so I never had to make a decision
because even as a kid, having to pick
just one was never enough. Now
all I want is to be able to steal mud-
luscious and get away with it.
I wonder if the ice cream truck
driver is goat-footed or queer
or if they would dance in a honky

tonk for tips or if their dog up and died.
I want the ice cream truck to blast
“Don’t think Twice” because it is alright
to be queer or goat-footed or to dance
for drinks or tips, especially if you have
the hooves to pull it off. Because maybe,
just maybe if that truck could bojangle
anything other than the ominous circus
ditty on repeat, I just might abandon
my words and hop-scotch down my walk-
way to get to know that driver and buy
just one rainbow popsicle so the flavors
could melt down my hands and collect
into a puddle of wonderful.

Giavanna Munafo
A Bin Laden On Every Street Corner

A pillow can be a weapon.
So, too, can a twig, especially,
perhaps, a pine twig, whittled
clean and to a point. A trail
leads us to the scene: bare foot
inked as if stamped on purpose
across a kitchen floor. Outside,
a tractor idles. If you lose
your way, the trail burned into
memory will bring you back.
Does the hound take refuge from us?
What do we know? How to close
the door, shake out the rug, cower
when called. Now that one dead man
lies down inside us, aren’t we all
armed and dangerous?

Stephanie Lenox
Charlie Chaplin Takes Third Place in a Charlie Chaplin Look-alike Contest

My reflection is runner-up to my face,
my shoes second only to my feet,
bowler hat not a far cry from my actual head,
and yet there are days I call myself
lost, cane twirling like a propeller,
like a confused compass unable to point
the way home. There are days upon days
where nothing resembles a punch line:
there’s a knock on the door but no one answers,
three men walk into a bar and stay there
until they are blindly, inconsolably drunk.
How did I cease to be a metaphor
for myself and become a mere impression—
a swagger, some coat tails, a smudge
of grease paint? I want to say to whomever,
tottering off with the gilt trophy, a gold-plated me
on top: “Just who do you think you are?”

Charlotte M. Porter
Swerve, A Life In Three Parts

B. S.
Before Speech we cursed like snakes,
our cuss so filthy I leave line blank.
Serpent Sister swallowed mom’s younger face—pampered trophy,
show-bench pooch burped up in bathtub.
Brother Boa constricted upholstered sofa piece by piece,
puked cushion kapok on the lawn.
Before Speech these were whoopsies — floaters, farts, upchuck on Learning Curve,
metaphysical 3-D enjoyed hit or miss.
Sidewinders, basket coilers, swamp dancers
we writhed in pre-alphabet of S shapes, figure 8s,
running bowline knots.
Wild we embraced group outrage, touted two-tone skin —
mismatched plaids, better solids, worsted stripes.
Before Speech the Auld Fang Syne gang,
from first strike to forked tongue, were trim —
no office fatback, bobbed nose, taboo.
We didn’t parse with spoon and knife or pause to chew.

We swallowed wholes not parts.
Our prayer was prey,
our favorite layers, brown-egg hens,
free-roaming reds with peeping trail of yellow cupcakes.
Barnyard champs we spat seeds in public places,
hiss arched against blue park skies
in swerving Frisbee paths never twice the same.
Before Speech we remaindered spinster serpent aunt,
wasted bachelor uncle. Head to tail we devoured self,
wanton, flaunted clash, noisy patterns
now crumbled as cursive comic #$%^
— short nervous shed for satin song, long Latinate labels about
herpetological, ovoviviparous, cunnilingual, idolatrous.

A. S.
After Speech we low-life types grew legs.
We spliced tongues & straight lace to ignore crack, crevice, refuse flesh.
At recess, we learned to see-saw, jump double-dutch, dodge the slap of arching
ropes once us, our Swerve against daily sailing sky.
B.S. ways condemned as infest, they made us recite nursery rhymes,
belch vowel sounds between common lower case and commas, ha, bitsy grammar
a jack and jill went up the hill to fetch (you betcha).
In B.S. days, j & j were hitched to now-plow, asses,
hee-haws low on tomorrow gas.
After Speech, my milk teeth lost, rebel me switched to rare V words —
Vetch, Vixen, Vex, Vaccine, ah, VAXINE,
my vice-squad name scrawled on restroom stalls with needle bite for wit.
They strapped me down for root canal, lanced my best fang, drained the fester
to protect me from myself.
But I still covet Nasty, solo S & M.
On third Sundays, pew passed hat for pennies to patch cleft lip,
cure my hiss-lisp, blanche my tastebuds, barbwire braces
to help me chew, choke on After Church.

Fresh Air funds send me off to Summer Camp for cursers by lake
with phony chieftain name, Big Moccasin (think snake)
to basket-weave, paddle, count sheep, hah, devil eggs.
At remedial K.P.,
vegan counselors dub me Regina,
for curly crown sprouting V and lips below my waist.
Whoopsie they say. Wrong place for girlie mouth and parts of speech.
They shake me out, hang me upside down on hook like dishrag,
forgetting I’m snake.
Big diff.
V tipped up like Viking horns across my head,
after grace, I nicely unfold like napkin in lap
to hide the fork between my legs. I need to eat, gorge.
Hold your tongue! Camp Boss shrieks. Learn…
proper Ps & Qs, polite Q & A. I flip the bird,
hiss through two forked fingers, duck too late.
Backh&ded whack against my face cracks pallet, splits tongue.
Suds up, chipped cup Speech Coach echo-sneers.
I cotton mouth, cover ears, taste my own cold blood.
Lose dated skin, choose your race. While you still can. I pick
my nose, flick flavor scales from scent pits,
slink away sanitized as toilet bowl. Except for
paired rows of spiny bones,
I pass for home-ec white icing purling on low heat, 65°,
pale as maggot, all too soon sticky
sloppy swirls of soft-serve from frosting-gun, shit,
that missed the Big Cake.

Messages —
skipping banned participles, I press HOLD (sanctioned 4-letter camp word) &
rehearse rule-bitch for success:
Stovetop ambition, taste you own crawl. Shave those legs. Grow real-girl hair.

Too easy, Regina.
After Speech, words are my pilosity, nettle cowage, stinging hairs.
Lips lacquered, teeth capped, ventral implants, I look like soccer mom
or human rage-cage, gagged hostage inside snare.
That’s why the endless phone calls:
a.m. viper demands ransom, p.m. co-cobra bargains fresh kill.
Starved asp, I haven’t cursed in months. My voice, barely audible,
slithers like drool, wet dream
over prattle, pillow talk, Delphic crap I’m now paid to write.
I feel like eating flies, scaring nannies with my baited tongue.
Must I bask in sidewalk cracks, steal warmth? Or hack brutal blood sacrifice.
Besides the polls,
does A.S. & Co. own the sun and red sprawl of early light against skewed skies?
Head to tail, my outer skin needs gourmet feast, ample food plain, delta fan.
Under skin craves Swerve — torment, mean fuck, cruel rite of Spring.
I bite my gums, fast-forward messages. I’m losing speech.
Oiled, coiled, ready to strike, phone junky dangles quick fix, toxic drip.
Jealous of street sex, cancer, worms, Mother wants her dead boy back.
O Michael. No willow, epitaph, leaves of lament —
the sacred vial,      , venom for my empty cusp.

Russ Woods
A Poem Written While Waiting For A Tow Truck

Godzilla heard a poem at a reading that was the most boring
poem to ever contain the word fart. The poet advertised the
fact that it contained the word fart so he could sell the audience on the poem before he read it. The audience laughed
Godzilla was watching a movie with Mothra, whom he loved,
on the couch. Godzilla kept making his eyelids go wide and
making mental notes about the movie’s plot to keep himself
awake. Every time he would start to drift off, Mothra would get
irritated. The movie might have been the best movie Godzilla
had ever seen.
Godzilla has been thinking about it and he doesn’t think Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey could ever, at this point, decombine to form two separate circuses without carrying each
other inside.  They have been merged so thoroughly for so
long that their parts are indistinguishable. Whose elephant is
this? Bailey’s? Elder Ringling’s? No one knows.


Alberto Chimal

Translated by Toshiya Kamei 

A mother saw her small son die with a terrible shudder, which destroyed the city of Appa, but couldn’t accept his death and begged the gods to give him back to her. The gods, feel­ing pity, didn’t let the boy’s soul enter the Other World and returned it to his body. But you know how the gods are: his body remained dead, his many wounds didn’t heal, and the mother’s heart experienced the joy of having her son back, of not having lost him, then the horror of seeing the poor crea­ture suffer, imprisoned in his damaged flesh. And then came disgust, yes, disgust as the boy began to rot, and worms de­voured him, and he shouted, invoking death, but, as I have said, he was already dead. The mother, out of her mind, stabbed him once, twice, three times, more; then she threw stones at him, poisoned him, strangled him . . . But the boy only cried, only suffered. Finally she took him in her arms, his skin torn, his bones broken, his blood black, and threw him into the flames of a bonfire. And the poor devil burned, and turned into smoke and ash, and the wind scattered him and mixed him with the air, and then the mother found comfort, for good or ill. But she shouldn’t have done it because in those imperceptible remains there was still his hurting soul, and this soul is still in the world today, scattered but alive, as all those who breathe, open their mouths, and suddenly feel sadness know.

Airea D. Matthews
The Mine Owner’s Wife

The bone china has been laid out. The napkins, threadbare but antique, yellowing. One gold-rimmed plate with butter in the trench. The Wife asks, “How was your day?” His coal mine mouth opens to make an utterance, manages only soot and one yellow canary. The canary, its wings blackened and broken, tangles itself in the web above their heads, suspend­ed in the pedalogue of the chandelier. The spider eyes its din­ner, sharpens its knife against its claw; its mouth whetted. The Mine Owner drags his fork’s sharpened tine against his lip, rents his tongue. He bleeds all over the napkin, makes pink the butter dish. His wife hands him her crystal goblet. He wrings his tongue out over her glass, funnels garnet into her bowl. He handles the stem of his own, fills it. They toast.

Rosemarry Callenberg

When Grandmam called from across the apartment her voice was thin and sharp, like her needle-point fingernails, brittle sounding but just as unbreakable.
“Girl!” she yelled thirty seconds after the door opened. Long enough for Gabe to hang the key on the hook and drop her backpack on the floor next to Bobby’s tennis shoes. Usually she answered right away, but today her grandmother’s voice made her angry, a sullenness that burned in the back of her throat, and she scuffed her flip-flops on the dirty mat without answering.
“Girl!” Grandmam yelled again. This time, because she hadn’t answered, it was a get-your-butt-in-here-right-now-or-else yell.
Gabe paused in front of the mirror long enough to button the top of her blouse, then went to the back bedroom. It was meant to be a living room, so it was bigger than the bedrooms upstairs. The covers on Aunt Ruth’s bed were neat and dusty; Grandmam’s were lumped around her, disheveled like the wrinkles on her face.
“You didn’t come straight home, did you?”
“I stopped at CVS for some milk,” Gabe said, picking up the dirty mug from her grandmother’s bedside table.
“There was a whole carton in the fridge.”
“It went sour.”
“Probably spent half an hour looking at those trashy maga­zines.”
It wasn’t a question, so Gabe didn’t say anything. She had glanced through Seventeen in the checkout line, but that took less time than she was wasting standing here, waiting for Grandmam to finish talking at her. Her grandmother squinted at her, her wiry grey hair refusing the barrette at the nape of her neck, her feet two humps beneath the covers.
When Grandmam got out of bed, those feet moved with surprising softness, so that even though she limped you didn’t know she was coming, if you were thinking about something else. Since she couldn’t afford new hips, she stayed in bed half the time, but she didn’t like it. She’d get up and creak across the apartment and sit at the table to watch Gabe do her homework or make mac and cheese, even though the folding chairs in the kitchen hurt her as much as walking. This pain was part of what made her sharp, Gabe knew, but she also figured Grandmam had been whittled to a point long before her joints went bad.
Now that point focused on Gabe. “Where’d you get that shirt?”
“Goodwill. Five dollars,” Gabe answered, and couldn’t help feeling proud. “I babysat Maria’s kids last Thursday.”
Grandmam grunted. “Hunh. Five dollars to waltz around the school in trashy clothes.” She readjusted the covers in her lap. “Tell Bobby to turn down the television. I can’t take care of him by myself whenever you decide to be late.”
Gabe deposited the cup in the sink on her way to the stairs. The steps creaked under her bare feet, which scuffed at the worn carpet. As she passed the bathroom, Gabe caught her own move­ment in the mirror out of the corner of her eye, and she paused to look at herself. She had Grandmam’s thick hair, in the same dark color that was still left in her grandmother’s eyebrows. Grandmam hadn’t let her buy the straightener she’d saved up for last year; but now when she turned her chin and the waves fell just so, she smiled at herself, at the shape of her eyes, the rise and fall of her breathing chest.
Her shirt wasn’t trashy. What Grandmam really meant, she knew, was that it was too old for her. It was tailored to a woman’s shape, with ruffled edges at the sleeves and neck that fluttered against her skin as she walked, all grace and feminine movement. She didn’t quite fill the chest, but if she arranged it right you couldn’t tell. She unbuttoned the top button and adjusted the shoulders.
Bobby was sitting cross-legged on his bed in front of the TV, watching SpongeBob and eating jelly out of packets from the school cafeteria. Good thing Grandmam can’t see you, Gabe thought, although she didn’t say it out loud because her grand­mother’s hearing was sharp like everything else. She turned down the volume, then grabbed a kleenex and wiped his mouth. Bobby crinkled his face but didn’t move otherwise, his eyes riveted to the television.
Gabe went back downstairs, dug the milk out of her back­pack and stuck it in the fridge. There was a pile of dirty dishes in the sink and if she didn’t do them soon, the ants would come in— or Grandmam would see them. She started the water running and opened the window that faced the street. It was just warming up outside. Spring was her favorite, the way the sun mothered her skin while the breeze played around with everyone. She closed her eyes and smiled at it.
Outside kids were playing in the road in clumps. A knot of them were playing hacky sack in front of the kitchen. They looked over when the window creaked open, waving.
“Gabe! Come outside!”
“Nope,” she said, tucking a worn dish towel into her collar and jeans to protect her blouse.
“Eh,” said the oldest boy, “you’re just boring.”
Gabe stuck her tongue out at him. Then one of the little ones shouted “Car!” and they scattered to the sidewalk. One of the girls came up to the window. “What about Bobby? Will he come out?”
“I’ll tell him,” Gabe said.
The girl ran back to join the group. Gabe ducked into the hallway and grabbed Bobby’s sneakers from by the door, throwing them up the stairs at him. “Ow!” he said when one of them hit his shoulder, but he kept watching the TV.
“Put ‘em on,” she said, grabbing her biology textbook out of her backpack on the way back to the kitchen. By now the sink had filled with lukewarm water. She slipped last night’s dishes in and set on the tea kettle while they soaked. Grandmam would start ask­ing for tea in the next hour.
“Do you have that window open?” Grandmam’s voice came to her both through the wall and around the corner. Gabe finished rinsing out cereal bowls from Bobby’s breakfast and lunch before answering.
“Yes Grandmam.”
“Aren’t you cold, girl?”
Gabe closed the window, but left an inch for her breeze. She scrubbed at burnt pasta on the bottom of a pot, looking every couple of minutes at the microwave clock. She did her biology as she washed the dishes, careful not to splash the open pages of the book as she read about photosynthesis.
Sometimes when Aunt Ruth worked a night shift at the din­er Gabe would sit up and do homework until she came home, long after Grandmam and Bobby were asleep. When she was little they’d paint each other’s toenails and drink iced tea or instant cocoa. Now they talked in quiet voices. When Gabe’s friend Angela got preg­nant, then had a miscarriage, the only person she told (not even her parents) was Gabe; and when the secret got too big for Gabe she told Aunt Ruth, and knew that it would sleep safely with her. That was around the time when boys starting saying disgusting things to her in the hall at school.
“You don’t listen to them,” Aunt Ruth said. “You’re the woman; you’re the one in control of you.”
A couple times when Grandmam had made Gabe cry, Aunt Ruth looked sad. “Grandmam’s had a lot of people let her down in life,” she said.
Gabe guessed she was talking about her mother, Aunt Ruth’s sister, who used to live a couple streets over but ran off when Bobby was eight months and Gabe was almost nine. But she could’ve been talking about Gabe’s Uncle Paul, who some­times wrote letters asking for drug money. Gabe tore these enve­lopes up before Grandmam ever saw them. Or it could’ve been Gabe’s grandfather who got hit by a train after they’d been married for twenty-three years. Gabe sometimes fell asleep to the rumble of those tracks on July nights when they opened all the windows.
It could’ve been anyone, even Aunt Ruth, because if you asked Grandmam, pretty much everyone let her down. Except may­be Bobby, because he was still so young. Gabe was just fifteen, so she hadn’t messed up anything big yet. But Grandmam was always watching for it, asking her questions in case she missed it. Why is your head filled with clothes and makeup, Gabe? Why can’t you get dinner on time? Why do I have to tell you everything, girl?
Gabe finished the dishes, drying her hands on the towel that had shielded her blouse. The tea kettle was creaking. She turned it off before it whistled and poured it into Grandmam’s cup, adding half a teaspoon of honey and stirring it.
“TV off. Shoes!” she said to Bobby as she passed his room. Then she shut herself in her bedroom and crouched in the square of sunlight from her window, a mirror resting on her knees. It was one of Aunt Ruth’s, the handle broken off when Grandmam sat on it because it was left on the bed. The mascara was from Aunt Ruth too, although Gabe had bought her own lipstick with the same money she spent on the blouse. She put on both the way her aunt had shown her and turned left, then right, examining her face at all angles. She almost closed her eyes and puckered her lips, trying to see what she’d look like when she got kissed, but the image was too blurry. She unlocked her door and started shoving laundry from the hamper into the wash bag.
When she’d finished Bobby was still fiddling with his shoelaces. Gabe came in and tied them for him, ignoring his protest, and came down the stairs with one hand full of him, the other full of laundry. Grandmam had limped to the kitchen and discovered her cup of tea, and when she looked up her eyes for once were not all sharp and squinty. She almost smiled. “Hey girl,” she said, softly, the way she used to when Gabe was little.
Gabe grabbed a handful of quarters from the jar on the hall shelf on her way past. “I’m going to do the laundry,” she said. She shoved her brother outside and closed the door behind her.
“But we just did laundry,” Bobby whined. “Just two days ago.”
“Quiet,” Gabe said.
* * *
Because he was ten years younger, sometimes people thought that Bobby was her son. This always made Gabe mad. She knew that sort of thing happened so much it wasn’t really an insult, but she didn’t intend to ever let it happen to her. That was one of the ways Grandmam expected her to turn out like her mother; but it wasn’t going to happen.
Gabe passed by the laundromat on their street and went to the one several blocks over. After loading up the machines she gave Bobby a quarter, telling him she’d make cookies when they got home but only if he didn’t use it on the candy. Candy was gone quickly; the little toys were trash, but they kept him occupied longer. He got himself a stretchy rubber hand that stuck to things when he flung it.
“You stay here,” she said, “on the bench. Don’t bother peo­ple. I’ll just be outside. Okay?”
He didn’t answer, throwing the sticky hand at the wall and making exploding noises. “Robert Michael!” she added in a loud voice, and finally he nodded.
Once she got outside Gabe looked through the window one last time to make sure Bobby wasn’t climbing on the wash­ing machines before she ducked around the corner of the build­ing to the alley on the side. It was empty, save for the remnants of someone’s fast food lunch that scraped across the pavement with the breeze. She leaned against the brick wall, arranging her hair on her shoulders and fixing her collar. She opened her two-month-old magazine to a story about prom dresses. One eye scanned the page without really reading it; the other watched the alley.
Minutes passed, and she thought with a sick feeling that he wasn’t coming, after all. Soon she’d have to go back and check on Bobby, anyway. But what if she left too soon, if he came and she wasn’t there like she said she’d be? Would he come back next time?
She’d been staring at the same page for some time when she heard him. His step was unmistakable. She smiled and looked up as he walked down the alley towards her, hands in his pockets.
He came and leaned against the wall next to her, looking at her, not saying anything at first, and she looked back, her throat all tight. “Hello, Gabrielle,” he said.
She smiled. “Hey Mike.”
He pulled a pack of menthol cigarettes out of his pocket. His eyes were blue, and Gabe could see her reflection in them when he looked at her. He lit a cigarette and stuck it in his mouth and pulled. “Want some?”
Gabe took the cigarette gingerly between two fingers and pulled the smoke into her mouth. She let it sit there a moment be fore tilting back her chin and blowing it through pursed lips. When she gave it back to him, she saw she’d left a pink smudge, but luck­ily he didn’t seem to notice.
He stuck the cigarette back into his mouth, and she watched the way his lips puckered around it, studying the dark stubble on his chin. She could pick out one or two strands of silver in his sideburns. “How’s school?” he asked.
“It’s okay,” she said, although she didn’t like talking about school around him. He felt different than the boys at school, who couldn’t speak to her without staring at her chest. He talked about real things, about life and loneliness and love. And he looked her in the eyes when he told her she was beautiful.
His eyes landed on the magazine in her hand.
“Going to prom?”
“I don’t know,” she said, and with a thrill she wondered if maybe he was jealous. You know more about men than you think, Aunt Ruth said once. “It depends.”
“Depends on what?”
She shrugged. “We’ll see.”
“No one asked you yet?”
No one had. “I’m picky,” she said. “The boys at school are pretty immature.”
He smiled and tapped the ashes of his cigarette. “Don’t get your hopes up. Men aren’t all that different.”
Gabe lifted her chin. “Some men are.”
“I guess so.” He looked up at her. “I like that shirt on you.”
She touched the ruffled sleeve. “Thanks. How’s work?”
“Just work. Pretty boring.” But he told her stories about that week, the different houses he’d delivered packages to and the people who lived in them. None of his stories were boring to Gabe.
Eventually he finished his cigarette and dropped it on the ground, scuffing it with his foot. Then he came and put his arms around her. One of his hands was in her hair, and the other traveled across her back. His face was inches from hers and he stared at her lips. “You are so beautiful, Gabe,” he said. “You have no idea how beautiful you are.” She remembered the way he’d kissed her last time and felt butterflies in her stomach.
But when he did start kissing her—her lips, her cheeks, her neck—she found herself distracted, wondering if Bobby was talking to strangers or wandering to the drugstore across the street. She would let him kiss her just a minute longer.
She put her hands on his chest. “I gotta go.”
He kissed her. “Why? You wanna leave?
“No, but I need to check on my brother.” She pushed away from him, but he pulled her in closer, both his hands falling to her waist and his fingers hooking through the belt loops on her jeans.
“He’ll be fine,” he said. “Nothing’s hurting him.” And he started kissing her again, guiding her backwards until they were against the wall. She followed the pressure of his hands, kissed him back. She was okay with this. If he tried anything more she’d make him stop. But as he pressed himself against her, rubbing his thumbs on her skin in the space between her shirt and back, she kept re­peating it to herself. I’m the woman. I’m in control.
He stopped and stepped away from her. “Okay,” he said. “Go to your brother.”
She hesitated, still leaning against the wall. “Will I see you next Wednesday?”
He shrugged. “We’ll see if I can make it.”
She watched him go, then picked up the magazine from the ground, sticking it in the trash can on the street. Inside, Bobby’s toy was dangling from one of the benches. “Bobby,” she shouted, stooped to look under the bench. Nothing. Her heartbeat started to creep up her throat. She called him again, running down the line of driers and checking inside all of them. Just before she rushed out­side, a stifled cough caught her ear. She whirled around and looked behind a washing machine; he was there, wedged in against the wall, his hair sticking straight up and tipped with dust.
Gabe grabbed his arm and yanked him out. “What are you doing,” she said, recovering her big-sister voice. “It’s disgusting back there!” She dragged him across the room and pushed him onto the bench. Her hands were shaking so she clenched her fists. “You don’t even think of moving,” she said. As she set about switch­ing laundry she kept glancing in his direction, letting him know she was watching, and although he pretended not to notice she caught his eyes darting away from her. He would stay put this time.
As she bent to grab clothes out of the washer she noticed her shirt was rumpled, gaping at the chest. She fastened the top button and pulled it smooth, adjusting the darts so they settled where they be­longed.


Ellen Van Woert
Recipes For Ladies Who Want To Reduce

Maybe you could use the icing off that cupcake as a face cream.
Rub it in under your eyes.
You’d smell like sugar.
Speaking of sugar, maybe you could try eating that grapefruit with­out sugar.
It takes a real woman to eat a grapefruit without sugar.
You can do it.
Maybe a bug will crawl on your kitchen floor.
Your cat will take it in its paw, and put it in its mouth.
Your cat will spit it out.
Your cat will take it in its paw, and put it in its mouth.
You’ll hear your cat chewing.
You’ll hear your cat crunching.
Your cat swallows the bug.
You won’t be hungry anymore.
Maybe think about all the times you had the flu.
And the television only played food commercials.
You won’t be hungry anymore.
Maybe you can stay in bed all day.
You can talk to your favorite person on the phone.

Your favorite person will offer to take you out for sushi.
You’ve never had sushi.
But you say, “I like sushi, just not as much as I like other things.”
And you stay in bed some more.
Maybe you can pretend the kitchen is flooded with lava.
Maybe you can pretend that it’s opposite day.
Maybe no one is hungry on opposite day.
Maybe carry popsicles in your purse.
They would melt.
That’s the point.
Or maybe you can just invite somebody over to kiss you.
That’s exercise, you know.
Maybe you can switch places with food.
You can be spaghetti.
You can take a bath in tomatoes.
Maybe you can buy extra large clothing that sags in all the right places.
Maybe you could stare at you in a bikini until you loved you.
Maybe you could cut out every hamburger,
French fry,
chicken sandwich,
that you see in every magazine and newspaper.
And tape them on your walls.
Just tape them right over your pictures of your new nephew or your sister’s face.
This could make you really hungry.
This could also make you really un-hungry.
It’s worth a shot.
Maybe you could hold your pee.
It’s really hard to enjoy a meal if you have to pee.
Maybe you could tell yourself that you will eat after you win a game of solitaire.

You’d play thirty and more games and you would lose them all.
A week later, and you would still be playing solitaire.
Maybe you can think of every time someone grossed you out.
Think about when your grandma tried to hand you her dentures.
In elementary school kids would eat ketchup with a fork.
Or they would eat ketchup right from the packet.
Or they would put strawberry yogurt on their pizza.
Or they would eat eight bananas.
And you know.
Throw up.
Speaking of throw up, don’t do that.
You could be nervous all the time.
You can never eat when you’re nervous.
But don’t do that.
You’re probably not going to be on the cover of a tabloid in your swimsuit.
The caption won’t read, “WHOSE FAT ASS IS THIS?!”
Maybe just don’t eat sausage and bacon at the same time.
It’s not good for your heart.
Maybe eat really spicy things and sweat a little.
Don’t worry.
If you can’t feel your ribs,
don’t worry.
The more aware you are of the inside of your body,
the more you become a hypochondriac.
Maybe you can just tape your favorite numbers to your scale and stop worrying about numbers.
Or maybe you should slide your scale as far under your claw-foot bathtub as it will go.
So it would be too much of a hassle to reach.
And then maybe you can stop looking at yourself in the mirror like that.
Life is too short.
Pizza is good.
You look nice today.

Scott Russell Morris
Of Complicated Themes

An Essay Eluding Notion I’ve Had, The Ideas of Others, and Interesting Facts About Squirrels

I dislike the request “Tell me a story.” Almost every girl I’ve dated has asked me this. I don’t know if this is indicative of all relationships, if it is just something people like asking the writ­ers in their life, or if I’ve just dated girls who like a good story, but I do not like the request. When they ask me for the story I freeze up, go blank; things get awkward quickly. I am not a storyteller.
Art is not a patent office; it is a conversation.
When tree squirrels are being pursued by predators, they will zigzag back and forth in an attempt to confuse the predator. If they are in a tree they will circle around the tree, changing directions several times, always on the opposite side of the trunk from the animal perusing them. These evasive maneu­vers work well with cats and better with dogs.

Stability isn’t always much to be desired.
We live surrounded by ideas and objects infinitely more an­cient than we imagine; and yet at the same time everything is in motion.
Consider the circumvolutions of the human mind, where no short or direct route exists.
The more you look at anything, the more tangled it becomes. We explore in order to bind.
At a lecture I attended, Brian Doyle looked me in the eyes, put his hand on my shoulder, and in his nasally voice said, “What­ever you’re sure of, don’t be.”
The simplest answer is usually the correct one.
Squirrels will sample every tree in their range. While it would make sense that they would just stick to the tree with the best or most abundant nuts, squirrels are not content to merely stick with one tasting. They will roam throughout their territory, trying every tree, eating more if they like what they find, but then they will move on again, never certain that they have the best. They return to each tree eventually, but throughout the season, as the nuts develop and change, so that each sam­pling brings a new taste and a new judgment.
Please forgive me if I take an indirect route to answers, or perhaps, to more questions.
We should make some concessions to the simple authority of the common laws of Nature but not allow ourselves to be swept tyrannously away by her: Reason alone must govern our inclinations.
Opposition is true friendship.
When the conversation is lively enough, I can talk endlessly, spouting story after story. If you tell a story about your dog, I will tell you how I once trained a dog to army crawl, or how my parents’ dog loves to chase Frank, the squirrel that lives near my grandparents’ cabin in the Uinta mountains, or maybe I’ll shift to cats and talk about how one of my cats will play fetch like a dog. If you get me going, there isn’t a story I can’t one-up.
In stories, you tell what you know. In essays, you explore what you want to know.
When I was young, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not. Now that I am getting older, I can only remember the latter.

Research shows that a squirrel’s selection of food is neither simple nor random. Every squirrel has many options of what to eat: acorns, pine cones, walnuts, mushrooms, etc. Each food gives a certain amount of energy, some more than oth­ers. Besides giving energy, each food also requires a certain amount of energy to find, open, and consume. A squirrel will find the food that provides the most energy for the least amount of energy spent, all while calculating the likely pres­ence of predators. A squirrel’s life can thus be summed up in an algorithm with innumerable variables. I’d starve too if I had to do all that math before every meal.
A bad essay tells stories about people instead of elucidating the matter at hand.
A girl in high school told me that she (and the rest of our friends, too, she assured me) hated talking with me because every time anyone said anything I would contradict them. She went so far as to give proof: “All of your sentences start with ‘Actually . . . ’ or ‘Yes, but . . .’ ”
My object was to learn, not to preach.
Montaigne is quoted to say “I do not understand. I pause. I examine.” The first part of his statement is not a complaint, or even a condition, but a declaration.

When a squirrel has found food, she examines it carefully. First, she examines the smell, making sure that the nut is still good, that the food hasn’t rotted. Then, she carefully scrapes her teeth over every crevice of the nut’s shell. If the nut is cracked, the squirrel will eat it. If the shell is still whole, the squirrel will bury it for later use.
When all has been said, you never talk about yourself without loss: condemn yourself and you are always believed: praise yourself and you never are.
We are nothing if we don’t have stories.
We are double within ourselves. We do not believe what we believe. We are capable of being in uncertainties without reaching after fact and reason.
An essay is always about something else.
Recently, while telling a girlfriend how uncomfortable on-the-spot storytelling made me, I stumbled upon what to call my conversation style. “I don’t tell stories,” I said, “I complicate themes.” I’ve embraced a rambling style; I’ve learned to coun­ter even my own points, look at one issue from one point, then a different one, then undercut that all with something else entirely.

Contradictory judgments neither offend me nor irritate me: they merely wake me up and provide me with exercise. We avoid being corrected: we out to come forward and accept it, especially when it comes from conversation not a lecture.
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Essays are for me; stories are for others.
I once saw a YouTube video of a squirrel navigating a Rube Goldberg machine. It was an intricately involved obstacle course—a tightrope section, several long jumps to other-wise-inaccessible platforms, a slide, a windmill, and narrow tubes—at the end of which were a couple of peanuts.
Examine all things intensely and relentlessly. Probe and search each object. Do not leave it, do not course over it, as if it were understood, but instead follow it down until you see it in the mystery of its own specificity.
Yes, but, I just like looking at things from different point of view. I don’t believe my contradictions.
I recently posted on Facebook how much I hated it when girl­friends asked me to tell them a story. One ex responded by telling me a story about the squirrel she chased in the metro, and how it ran back and forth through the station. Another ex responded by posting on her blog about how much she enjoyed reading stories and not having to hear anything about essays or squirrels now that she was single, and another re­sponded by asking me to tell her a story. So I told her:
This one time I was driving, and a squirrel zig-zagged under my car. I wanted to swerve, but that would have meant death to the car, so instead I hit the squirrel. The surprising part was that I felt no guilt.
There is nothing in life so simple that a human mind can’t make it more complex.
When a squirrel buries nuts, she does so with a knowing dis­trust. She will bury a nut, then another, then return to the first to make sure that it is still there, but, having doubted the safe­ty of the hiding spot, she will rebury her treasure somewhere else. The squirrel will bury each nut three or four times before she is content. And even then, once the hoard is cached away, the squirrel rechecks each nut, repositioning as needed.
The essay functions the way a metaphor functions, by nego­tiating the space between two items.
Honesty is often artless. Lying is the highest form of art.
Actually, all art is quite useless.

It seemed to me that the greatest favor I could do for my mind was to leave it in total idleness, caring for itself, concerned only with itself, calmly thinking of itself. But I find that on the contrary it bolted off like a runaway horse, taking far more trouble over itself than it ever did anyone else; it gives birth to so many chimeras and fantastic monstrosities, one after the other, without order or fitness, that, so as to contemplate at ease their oddness and their strangeness, I begin to make a record of them, hoping in time to make my mind ashamed of itself.
You cannot reason with an unreasonable being.
The only art is the one that questions itself.
The surprising number of car accidents resulting is squirrel fatalities is simply explained: the crisscrossing does nothing to dissuade a car.
My current girlfriend saw the Facebook post about hating sto­rytelling just before our first date, and she has never asked me to tell her a story. Instead, she asks, “Will you read me an essay?” We are getting along just fine.

Marjorie Maddox
Woman’s First Skydive Turns Out To Be Her Last

—Williamsport Sun Gazette headline
August 15, 2005
Ripcord: The fine line between thrill and terror. Fear billows breath into wind. That Saturday, witnesses gave conflicting reports. Tandem with her instructor, Julia jumped. On that they all agreed. They cheered the two distant bodies in flight, watched as the air cooperated. What they disagreed on was the building at the north end of Ogden Airport. When the sud­den gust pushed, were the concrete blocks right there? Did the bodies first hit cinder? Or, as others insisted, did the para­chute simply collapse? In the guise of wind, the unexpected can squeeze out the cloth’s air, drop divers instantly to as­phalt.
“Particularly tragic,” explained Fire Department Battalion chief Steven Splinter, “many of the witnesses were family. What could be said? They saw it all.”

I had told my sister not to try. What is the point of risk? A false sense of strength. The lie that you’re invincible. Look at the instructor, ten years of training. Trust, I told her, has nothing to do with it. Damn it, it’s an airplane. I don’t care who’s jumping with you.
I admit it. Every time he took someone new, I was jealous. It was how we’d met, the long hours of instruction, the careful preparation, and finally the plunge into that vast blank of air. Exhilarating, yes. How can I explain it to anyone else? He was young and had just started teaching. I held his hand and jumped. All alone together in those clouds, the earth coming up toward us. The two of us. The world.
Was it the same with the others?
Unlike my other children, Julia couldn’t wait to be born. From the first, everything about her was emergency. I was grocery shopping when the cramps hit, doubled me over. Next thing I knew I was on the floor by a stack of canned baked beans, Jessica, Joannie, and Jo all crying. Someone must have called the ambulance, packed up the kids, contacted my hus­band. How? I don’t know. All I remember were sirens, the rush of doctors, going under into that sea of forgetfulness. Of course, they slashed my belly; got her out. She was blue from the get-go, but survived. No matter what, she survived.
She was my youngest but most impulsive daughter. At three, she wanted to be a fighter pilot like my own dad. At six, she climbed up on the roof to help me paint. Scared my wife to pieces, but she was OK up there. So confident and sure of her footing. Some Saturdays, I’d take her over to the local air­port, just Julia, and we’d count the airplanes, talk about both of our dreams. It was one of those father/daughter things you hear folks talk about, but don’t understand until it’s you. Same with this.
It was all by the book. Routine. I’d worked with Vancleave before, had flown hundreds of drops. I assure you, nothing like this had ever happened. I can tell you, though, she was happy. Ecstatic, really. Wouldn’t stop talking about reaching her dream; making it. There was going to be a party after­wards. A real shindig. Right before she dove, she invited me.
I was checking flights on the computer when I saw them in my peripheral vision. At least I think I did. What I thought was, “There I am, finally doing what I want. Unafraid.” You know how sometimes you see yourself in others? Eerie. It must have been the split second before. I turned back to my screen. Then the sirens. The sirens.
The instructor, Vancleave, made it. The parachutes have been checked, double-checked, packed; the plane gassed up. Here we are on the runway. Don’t just sit there.

Ariel Wall
Pride: The Dad Jean

Before every meal, my father will pray aloud in French so that you know he has the capability. Not memorized prayers like the Catho­lics have. He’s got new material every time. Are you hungry? He’ll spend ten minutes blessing your mashed potatoes in a foreign lan­guage. You never knew that French prayers reach heaven faster, but now you do. Chers Père Céleste, j’adore. . . Moi.
Rotating full circle, he is a head-to-toe Barbie doll. Ken? No . . . Barbie. At a towering 6’3,” he was born to be seen and admired. Always the properly cut hair and clean-shaven face, ready for a headshot at all times. He BeDazzles everything so that you know he can afford the extra rhinestones. He is usually sporting some sort of ferocious and sparkling dragon T-shirt. The top is covered in sequins because that’s what they wear in California, apparently. And then there are the jeans—the jeans your wildest diamond-filled dreams could not imagine. He looks in the mirror and sees a low rise, slim fit, super ultra-flare Levi’s model. You will recognize him by the way his pockets shimmer in the sunlight as he approaches. Gems more precious than gold. Only when he leaves to walk away will you get the full effect. Back pockets lined with rhinestones and studs, an angel wing stitched cleverly on each butt cheek pocket. Cowboy boots with tassels to complete the look. On several occasions, he has matched his girlfriends’ outfits perfectly.
If it is your birthday, you will not be the only person receiving a birth­day text. His message will be forwarded to everyone that you know. He will not let a single soul go about their day without the knowledge that he has not forgotten your birthday. They might say, I was not born today. To which he might respond, No, but your friend was. You should wish them a Happy Birthday like I did.
There is a picture of his family in his wallet so that you know he is capable of creating something from nothing. He left them more than twelve years ago and has since taken on the habit of speaking to them twice a year. But because his kids are adorable and talented individuals, he shows the pictures to his coworkers and friends. A proud dad. I’ve seen your photo, strangers will say upon meeting his children. You play sports and get straight A’s. But really—the kids are grown and have not played sports for many years; the ones who attend college achieve straight A’s, B’s, and C’s.
My father will always offer to pay for your dinner (especially if you are a woman). He will not do this to be generous—but to show you that he is generous.

Despite one’s ability to recognize a familiar voice, and despite the invention of Caller ID, my father will inevitably begin each phone call by telling you who he is. Every call or voicemail message, he will recite his first name, last name, and relationship to you. This is Jeff Wall. Your ex-husband. / This is Jeff Wall. Your father. / This is Jeff Wall. The man who bought you Caller ID. He is a proud owner of his name.
He might ask you to play “Let’s Compare Our Dental Plans,” just for fun. It might be interesting to see who is saving more money. Don’t be surprised if he is the winner. But in the slight chance that he is the loser, you aren’t allowed to smile.
Are you planning to surprise a loved one arriving at the airport? You want there to be balloons and signs and lots of friends gathered around. He will be there. Yes, his signs are actually old posters from his work; but he has more of them than you do. He will offer all of your friends a sign, because he has plenty to spare. Okay . . . They are written with highlighter markers that he found in the glove box . . . but he still has more signs than you. And they all say, We’re so proud.
My father will ask you what you do with your time. Do you read? Because he does, too. And he has probably read every book that you have. And hated all of them. Do you play sports? Not like he does. He has broken records that you didn’t know existed. Are you artistic? He is ambidextrous and creates multiple art projects at the same time. Whatever you are doing to fill your days, you could be doing more. And you could be doing it like Jeff.
Each time he gets in the car, he will enter through a different door. He will crawl over the center console and get stuck on the steering wheel, but it is worth the effort. He wants to keep his vehicle in mint condition. He has the ability to brag about something you didn’t know was a talent. He will update you that none of his doors have fallen off yet because they each get equal use. That is why his BMW is nicer than your POS. Because he takes better care of it.
Are you allergic to any foods? Are you sensitive to light? But most importantly, are you interested in inconveniencing an entire restau­rant? So is my father! His girlfriend suspects that she has celiac dis­ease, meaning she would be unable to eat foods containing gluten. You just saw her eating a piece of bread? Coincidence! When you go out to eat with my father and his celiac-suspecting girlfriend, you will wait at the hostess desk for no less than twenty minutes, even if the restaurant is empty. The manager will be showing them the menu, line by line, and his face will be devastatingly red. When you sit to eat, the waiter will go through the menu with them a second time. Just to be sure. We deserve to know the ingredients in our food¸ he will say. They are lucky we are even eating here.
If he makes you angry and you decide to go for a walk, he will go dancing without you. It’s about his night, not your night spent wan­dering the streets, considering going home with a drunk stranger.
He might seem like a jerk, but my father actually has very good man­ners. And he can teach you! If he says Thank you, and you say, No problem¸ he will gladly tell you that there is a more polite response. When he says Thank you, the correct response is, You’re welcome. He will forget that you just gave him a piece of gum, though. What a great guy.
He is not someone who will let you embarrass yourself with incorrect grammar. If you say that you are doing good, he will save your butt and tell you that you are doing well. Whew, he will definitely prevent you from being embarrassed.
If he asks what you would like to do today, I don’t care, is usually not an acceptable answer. In fact, that sort of response will strike up a conversation in which he will tell you that your behavior foreshadows your future relationship status. You don’t care? You are definitely going to be in a controlling relationship; other people will gladly take advantage of your passivity. He will tell you that you need to make a decision—for your own good. Just say something. Anything. He knows what is best for you. And the person beside you. And the stranger beside him.
At some point in time, you might receive a forwarded picture mes­sage of my father on a rollercoaster. Who is this man? you will most likely ask. It doesn’t matter if he knows you, or if you went to school with him twenty years ago, or if you are his ex-wife. He wishes you were here, having as much fun as he is having. While you sit on your couch watching Seinfeld reruns, he will encourage you to try to enjoy your life sometime.
My father loves to celebrate when someone has accomplished a meaningful task—a graduation, a wedding, the birth of a baby, etc. He will try his hardest to attend the party, especially if it is to celebrate an event he, too, has accomplished. You just got home from helping children in Idaho? He will come to your welcome-home party and make a toast, just to tell the guests that he was once a missionary in France. He baptized a family every week for two years. You didn’t get a custom engraved plaque? That was his favorite part about coming home.
You just graduated? Let him tell you about how special his gradu­ation day was. You should probably not interrupt him while he is talking.
In between conversations about his part time job as a DJ, he might ask you what cell phone plan you have. He will question you about the purposes of a Smart phone. Would you like some advice? No. I am going to give you some advice. He will tell you that there are more important things than having internet on your phone. You need to get the bang for your buck. And also, Smart phones don’t attract chicks.

There will be a time when he decides to tell you about the adult par­ties that he has been attending lately. Over the phone, he will tell you about the mothers in bikinis and the fathers playing volleyball. As his descriptions go on and he uses the phrase Parents Gone Wild, you will have the overwhelming urge to take the phone away from your ear, set it on the table, and come back a little later. This desire is completely natural.
On the off-chance that you take a break from the conversation, do not worry. He will still be talking when you put the phone to your ear again. He will not even notice that you have been silent for forty-five minutes. In fact, he will tell you this is the best conversation the two of you have ever had. How modest.
You will wonder how you will ever get through a phone call with an­other person. Why listen to other people when you could just listen to yourself? You could be doing it like Jeff.

Authors Bios & Q/A

In addition to providing a biography, our contributors answered the following:
1. What is your favorite invention?
2. If you had to lose one of your senses, which one would you choose?
3. What is your worst habit while driving?
4. What is the best name for a cat?
5. What is your least favorite color?
6. Which two animals would you combine if you could?
7. What’s the best thing you can get for a dollar?
We hope that you enjoy their answers as much as we did.

Paul David Adkins grew up in South Florida and lives in New York.

1. The crock pot (such an easy dinner!).
2. Sight (easiest to compensate for).
3. Failure to keep right on sharp curves.
4. Saturn (eats children).
5. Yellow (too soft.)
6. Blue whale/ruby-throated hummingbird, for a fifty-cent purple, living Zeppelin.
7. McDonald’s hamburger.

Nils Balls lives in a crooked, old house on the North Side of Pittsburgh, where he draws comics and drinks beer. Lots of his comics and directions to his other work can be found at <>.

1. The wheel is awesome.
2. Smell.
3. I bike everywhere, but I get road rage when drivers don’t use their turn signals.
4. Kitty.
5. Brown, although I have a lot of brown stuff.
6. A lobster and a cow.
7. Yesterday’s muffins at Priory Bakery

Jared Bajkowski is a writer and librarian born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He lives in Washington, DC with his fiancée and cat. He enjoys dinosaurs, hockey, and John Register paintings.

1. Tamagotchi pets, the moment a person fell in love with a robot.
2. Taste, it would certainly make eating healthy easier.
3. Fiddling with the radio, gotten into a few wrecks this way.
4. Hambone, the cat should be fat but doesn’t need to be.
5. Brown, because it’s really just dark orange.
6. Octopus + Elephant = elephant with eight trunks and all awesome.
7. One beer if you’re in a good bar and multiple beers if you’re in a great bar.

C. Dylan Bassett is a student from Las Vegas, Nevada, pursuing a degree in poetry. His work has been featured in The Portland Review, Literature and Belief, Inscape, and elsewhere. He is an avid ultramarathon runner.

1. Cornbread.
2. Smell. I’m convinced everyone would agree.
3. Daydreaming while singing to the radio.
4. The best cat names are single-syllable, human names like Tim or Bob. My cat is named Steve.
5. There is no single color I dislike, but brown and gold together are obvi­ously disgusting.
6. An elephant and a giraffe (although Salvador Dali already accomplished this!).
7. Chapstick.

Allie Marini Batts first started kicking ass in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She is a 2001 alumna of New College of Florida, which means she can explain deconstructionism, but cannot perform simple math. Her work has appeared in over thirty publications her parents have never heard of, including Crash, A Daughter’s Story Anthology, Conclave: A Journal of Character, Irregular Magazine, and Danse Macabre. Not that she’s counting or anything. She has lived in Maine, Washington State and all over Florida, but has called Tallahassee home for the past decade. Allie is a research writer and part-time hairdresser when she’s not playing with her make-believe friends. She is pursuing her MFA degree through Antioch University Los Angeles and is curious to see what’s behind door #2.

1. Staples (postscript) ballpoint pens, because they make me want to write, even when I don’t feel creative.
2. Taste, at least that way I’d lose weight? Or smell, that seems less vital to my joy than say, losing the ability to hear music.
3. Singing so other drivers hear me.
4. Kafka (I used to have one named that).
5. White, because its so hard to keep clean and only the very tan look good wearing it.
6. Raccoon and opossum, then I’d have the ultimate “shouldn’t be a pet” pet.
7. Give it to a friend’s Kickstarter campaign, because, really, what else am I going to do with just a dollar?

Guy R. Beininghas had four little books out in 2011—Nozzle (Presa Press), Mea­surements of Night III (CC. Marimbo), take me over the wheel of it (Moon Publish­ing), and Out of the Woods and Into the Sun (Kamini Press). His work has recently appeared in Fourteen Hills, The Gihon River Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Modern Haiku, Acappella Zoo, Illuminations, Skidrow/penthouse, and Tulane Review.

1. The typewriter which I still use religiously.
2. Taste. It is the least dramatic one to let go of.
3. I just don’t drive at all, knowing that if I had driven all these years III probably would have killed someone by now.
4. Turbo, in a field full of purrs.
5. Pink. It makes me sneer.
6. A donkey and an elephant & then we would be done with politics.
7. Last time I said a pen & so now I need a pad to write on.

Kacee Belcher is pursuing her MFA in Poetry at Florida International University. Previous publications include Gargoyle, Tigertail: A South Florida Annual, Two Hawks Quarterly, The Florida Book Review, BORDERLANDS: Texas Poetry Review, and Voices De La Luna. Kacee considers herself to be trans-genre-d.

1. The Spork.
2. Hunger.
3. Fighting with imaginary passengers.
4. Woody Allen (because he’s the biggest pussy in the world).
5. Pastel anything.
6. Yoda-monkey.
7. One hundred pennies, because a hundred is more than one.

Charles Booth earned his BA in creative writing from the University of Tennes­see, and his MA in English from Austin Peay State University. He currently works as a staff writer and adjunct English instructor for that university, and his short story, “Medjugorje,” is forthcoming in Booth: A Journal (no relation).

1. The Snuggie. Why did it take man thousands of years to put sleeves on a blanket?
2. Probably smell, although my wife is somewhat of a foodie, and I’d hate for it to mess up my sense of taste.
3. Ignoring the “check engine” light on my dashboard.
4. Millay, after the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. This was the name of my cat who passed away Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011.
5. Purple.
6. A shark and an eagle–a Sheagle.
7. I bought a copy of Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus for 75 cents at a used bookstore. Best thing I ever got for $1.

Emily Buffordwas born and raised in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. She studied creative writing at Loyola University New Orleans until 2007 then went deeper by attaining her MFA from University of New Orleans in 2010. She loves to teach Freshman English, but her other passions include alternative hair extensions and special-effects makeup.

1. Contact lenses so that those who cannot see are allowed freedom of vision without surgery.
2. I’d give up taste; one can eat to live, and I’d probably lose weight.
3. Staring at my blind spot too long.
4. I have kitties; my favorite name: Petunia Face.
5. I cannot dislike any color, for they are all found within each other.
6. Liger, only because I’m an avid Napoleon Dynamite fan.
7. A rubber roach, because scaring people makes me laugh.

Morgan Cahn grew up in Seattle, spent nearly a decade in Pitts­burgh, and now lives and studies in Dundee, Scotland. She likes making art all the time; all different kinds. You can look at some of it at <>.

1. Libraries. Books, Tools, Internet, etc. . . . I want a shirt that says “You are only as good as your library.”
2. Taste. My friends accuse me of having done so already.
3. I drive so infrequently I only have worst habits.
4. A tie between The Great Sardini and Mister Noodle.
5. Transparent grey.203
6. A spider and a goat, but since they have already done that, I choose a slug and a walrus.
7. The best thing you can get for a dollar would be 100 pennies. Then you can make up games and have fun for hours.

Rosemary Callenberg is working towards her MFA in Fiction at the University of Pittsburgh. Someday she will retire to the country and raise a herd of alpacas. In the meantime she teaches, writes, knits, and pursues her love of beauty and of words in Pittsburgh.

1. The printing press.
2. Smell.
3. Talking to myself.
4. Queen Beruthiel, aka Ruthie.
5. Olive green.
6. A horse and a narwhal. (Unicorn!)
7. A fun-size bag of Fritos.

Yu-Han (Eugenia) Chao was born and grew up in Taipei, Taiwan. She received her MFA from Penn State, and the Backwaters Press published her poetry book, We Grow Old, in 2008. For more artwork and writing, see <>.

1. Earpick.
2. Smell.
3. One foot on each pedal.
4. Domo.
5. Shit green.
6. Cat & plush stuffed animal.
7. Produce from the flea market!

Alberto Chimal was born in Toluca, Mexico, in 1970. He is the author of the novel Los esclavos (2009) and numerous story collections, including Éstos son los días (2004), and Grey (2006). Translations of his fiction have appeared in Kaleido­trope and Penumbra.

1. Language.
2. Smell. It would actually make my life as a pedestrian in the city I live in a bit better.
3. I tend to get distracted by every weird or beautiful sight along the road.
4. My first cat’s name: “Primo,” which means “first.”
5. Beige. The very word’s ugly, I think.
6. Two cats. The resulting creature would be a “cat-cat”: a cat that turns 204
(at full moon, of course) into another one.
7. Here in Mexico City you can buy a small, Chinese-made plastic ball that lights up when squeezed. While it lasts it’s strange and pretty. I think it’s a garish, beautiful metaphor for many people I love in this century.

Meg Cowen is completing an MFA in poetry. Her work has appeared or is forth­coming in Louisiana Literature, Barely South Review, A Cappella Zoo, and other journals. Recently, she was nominated for the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. She is an avid painter and photographer, as well as a staff editor for Noctua Review.

1. The printing press.
2. My dog has a sensitive digestive tract, so I think I could manage with­out a sense of smell.
3. Taking both hands off the wheel to perform an angry “jazz hands” maneuver at anyone that cuts me off in traffic.
4. Greg.
5. Mauve.
6. Nigerian Dwarf Goat and Miniature Dachshund. You’d definitely want one.
7. Half of a container of jalapeño hummus at Whole Foods.

Wayne Cresser’s fiction has been nominated for numerous awards, most recent­ly at the Newport Review, published in the print anthologies Motif 1: Writing by Ear, Motif 2: Come What May and Motif 3: All the Livelong Day (Motes Books), online at Wandering Army and Shaking magazine, and in such journals as the Ocean State Review and QuixArt Quarterly.

1. My favorite invention is the manual backscratcher.
2. I would lose my nonsense.
3. My worst habit while driving is smoking cigars.
4. Eliot had it right; the best name for a cat is Macavity the Mystery Cat.
5. My least favorite color is any shade of pink.
6. I would combine a dog and a flea. Problem solved.
7. The best thing you can get for a dollar is a winning scratch ticket.

Jim Daniels’ most recent books are Trigger Man (Michigan State UP), Having a Little Talk with Capital P Poetry (Carnegie Mellon UP), and All of the Above (Adastra Press). A native of Detroit, Daniels lives in Pittsburgh near the boyhood homes of Dan Marino and Andy Warhol.

1. The Twinkie.
2. Touch.
3. Crossing my fingers.205
4. Twinkie.
5. Taupe.
6. Chimp and rhino.
7. Twinkie.

Deborah DeNicola is the author of five poetry books, most recently Original Hu­man (WordTech Press), and a memoir The Future That Brought Her Here (Nicholas- Hays/IBIS Press). She is a free lance editor and mentors writers. Among other awards, Deborah received an artist’s fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts.

1. The computer.
2. The sense of smell.
3. Putting on makeup.
4. The best name for a cat is Trixie.
5. Yellow powdering my nose.
6. A skunk and an emu.
7. A photo frame.

Meghan Lamblives, works, and writes in Chicago. Her words can be found in Pank, elimae, and NANO Fiction. Her novella Silk Flowers is forthcoming from Aque­ous Books in 2014. She co-edits the magazine Red Lightbulbs.

1. Ghosts.
2. Definitely hearing.
3. Gripping the wheel so hard my wrists ache.
4. Mr. Tibbs.
5. Pale green.
6. Basset hound and octopus.
7. A pocket full of stale Swedish Fish.

Stephanie Lenox authored the poetry chapbook The Heart That Lies Outside the Body. Her full-length poetry collection Congress of Strange People will be published in 2012 by Airlie Press. She lives in Salem, Oregon, where she teaches poetry at Willamette University and edits the online literary journal Blood Orange Review.

1. Right now it’s the “Amazing Moustache Machine” located at Green Bean Books in Portland, Oregon, which dispenses—for just 25 cents!—a press-on moustache or beard for a convenient, affordable, and sophisticated disguise.
2. I’d choose to lose my sixth sense; it’s never been that accurate to begin with.
3. Staring at my sleeping daughter in the rearview mirror.206
4. I’m partial to Goodness, the name of my twelve-year-old cat. He is also called Badness when he scratches the couch. And I’m in agreement with Eliot, that at minimum “a cat must have three different names.”
5. Puce. I can never remember what color it is, but it sounds distasteful.
6. My loveable mutt (for her personality) and a well trained hairless Chi­huahua (for the space-savings and reduction in hair accumulation on my floors).
7. Four quarters. Ba dum chhh.

Nate Liederbach is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing and English Literature at the University of Utah, author of the prose collection Doing a Bit of Bleeding (Ghost Road), co-editor of the anthology Of a Monstrous Child: Creative Writing Mentor­ships (Lost Horse), and Managing Editor of Western Humanities Review.

1. God.
2. Good sense.
3. Sentimentalizing early driving moments.
4. Wife.
5. Wittgenstein.
6. Barry Hannah & Fiver (Watership Down).
7. Twenty nickels.

Hunter Liguore holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Mason Road, The MacGuffin, Strange Horizons, Steampunk Tales, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Her story, “Red Barn People,” was nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize.

1. The time machine. Dr. Ron L. Mallett is building one in CT. Can’t wait for the grand opening.
2. Equilibrioception, the sense of balance. Without it I wouldn’t be able to sit in the chair long enough to write anything.
3. Daydreaming vast epics in the ancient world.
4. Little Dorrit, after Dickens’ character and novel of the same name. When the cat is older, you can call her Amy, like the matured character in the book.
5. The moment when all color swirls together, right before black—a sort of burnt puke color.
6. Cerebus and Chimer
7. Coffee for the homeless.

Marjorie Maddox, Director of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Lock Haven University, has published 8 collections of poetry and over 350 poems, stories, and essays in journals and anthologies. She is the co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania and author of two children’s books from Boyds Mills Press. Her short story collection, What She Was Saying, was one of three finalists for the Katherine Anne Porter Book Award.For more info and reviews, please see <>.
1. Most recently, the iPhone 4S.
2. What a terribly hard choice—sense of smell.
3. Pouring coffee.
4. Oreo.
5. Neon orange.
6. Cat and a dog.
7. Pencils.

Airea D. Matthews holds a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MPA from The Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Poetry at the University of Michigan. She lives in Detroit with her husband and their four children.

1. Indoor plumbing.
2. Sight. With my horrible vision I am already halfway there so I might as well embrace it.
3. My worst driving habit is changing Pandora stations on my iPhone.
4. Marigold Hempstead Carruthers.
5. Nude beige.
6. An alpaca and an albino rhino.
7. Combustible earrings at the nearest dollar store.

Robert McParland teaches, performs music, writes fiction, poetry, and songs. His books include Charles Dickens’s American Audience, Music and Literary Mod­ernism, and Writing About Joseph Conrad.

1. My favorite invention at the moment is Mark Twain’s self-sticking scrap­book (since I’m busy writing on Twain.)
2. I might trade taste for a stronger sixth sense.
3. I get annoyed with some New Jersey drivers.
4. Purr-fect.
5. Black (I know, it’s a shade, not a color).
6. Aardvark and zebra (then you’d have the whole alphabet covered.)
7. Three stamps, so I can contact you—or other people I care about.

Scott Russell Morris is an MFA student at Brigham Young University. He is currently working on a collection of essays about squirrels. The girl at the end of the essay is now his wife.

1. Bird-proof squirrel feeders
2. Take away my sight.
3. I brake for squirrels.
4. Bird Keller.
5. Robin Egg Blue.
6. Squirrels + Birds =.
7. Squirrel seed.

Giavanna Munafo lives in Norwich, Vermont. She teaches women’s studies at Dartmouth and offers writing workshops at the Writer’s Center in White River Junc­tion, VT. She is thrilled to have her second ever published poem appear in SLAB.

1. Electricity. It’s still a little miracle to me every time I plug something in or flip a switch.
2. Is speaking a sense? I guess not, but I could really stand to shut up.
3. That cell phone thing. Even worse, I look up directions on it while driv­ing on the highway. Mea culpa.
4. Ocho (our Abyssinian who disappeared never to be seen again).
5. That really neon orange.
6. Eagle and deer.
7. Well, in Italia, which is where I am now, you can get a darned good cappuccino for a euro in a way-cheap cafe.

Silvia Nanclares was born in Madrid, Spain in 1975. She studied Theater and Drama at the the Royal School of Dramatic Arts (Madrid). Two of her plays Diet and Little Brothers were published in 2001 and 2002. She published The South: Instruc­tion Manual (2009) and is finishing her second collection. She has also written two books for children The Nap (2000) and At the End of (2010). Her blog is available at <>. She is also a living, breathing person.

1. One that is yet to come. The time machine!
2. Ahhh, I don’t want to lose any. I want to have new ones.
3. The worst would be to drive at all; I don’t drive!
4. Miga (from the Spanish, mi gato: My cat).
5. Blue.
6. The whale and the bird, like in Twitter. LOL.
7. Some candy! Mmmm.

Elizabeth Naranjo lives in Tempe, Arizona, with her husband and two children. She is revising her first novel, and enjoys writing short fiction.

1. The espresso machine.
2. Taste. I would eat nothing but fruits and vegetables and have 0% body fat. I’d miss the taste of coffee, though.
3. Going the wrong way. I have a terrible sense of direction.
4. My son’s allergic. Maybe . . . Sneezy?
5. Yellow. I work in a nursing home.
6. Jaguars and Rabbits. Jaguars would never again be on the endan­gered list. Although they’d be a lot smaller. With bigger ears.
7. A few bubble gum balls and quiet children.

John Nizalowski is the author of two books—Hooking the Sun (Farolito Press) and The Last Matinee (Turkey Buzzard Press). He has been widely published, most notably in Under the Sun, Blue Mesa Review, Weber Studies, Puerto del Sol, Chiron Review, ISLE, and The Blueline Anthology. Currently, he teaches writing and mythol­ogy at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

1. My favorite invention is the soprano saxophone.
2. If I had to lose a sense, I would lose smell.
3. My worst habit while driving is gazing off in the distance at the labyrin­thine canyons of western Colorado instead of paying attention to the highway.
4. The best name for a cat is Shakespeare.
5. Pink.
6. I would love to combine a house cat with a parrot.
7. The best thing you can get for a dollar are a scattering of polished quartz pebbles from the Moab Rock Shop in Utah.

Ashley Pankratz is a recent graduate of the MFA program at the University of Michigan. Her work has appeared in 751 magazine and The Colorado Review, and she was the recipient of the 2008 Nelligan Prize for fiction. She lives in Southeast Michigan, where she is at work on a novel and collection of stories.

1. Baby Cage, 1937.
2. Not taste.
3. Reading.
4. Choopney.
5. Apple green.
6. A pony and a chameleon.
7. Deluxe rain poncho.

Mary Elizabeth Parker’s poetry books include her full-length collection The Sex Girl and chapbooks That Stumbling Ritual, and Breathing in a Foreign Country. She was the 2011 winner of SLAB’s Elizabeth R. Curry Poetry Contest. She chairs the Dana Awards in the Novel, Short Fiction, Poetry and the Essay.

1. The computer.
2. The sense of smell.
3. Putting on makeup.
4. The best name for a cat is Trixie.
5. Yellow powdering my nose.
6. A skunk and an emu.
7. A photo frame.

Pedro Ponce is the author of the novella Homeland: A Panorama in 50 States (Seven Kitchens Press). His fiction has appeared previously in Quick Fiction, PANK, Arroyo Literary Review, Web Conjunctions, and Sudden Fiction Latino. He lives in Canton, NY.

1. The portable typewriter.
2. Probably taste. I mean, I could live on tater tots. My palate isn’t doing much.
3. Muttering “Bite me” whenever a car passes me by.
4. Goya.
5. Magenta.
6. A cat and a Pembroke Welsh corgi, though there’s evidence it’s already happened.
7. Baking soda. What can’t you do with it?

Charlotte M. Porter lives in a citrus hamlet in north Florida. Besides poetry and fiction, she writes creative nonfiction as Wanda Legend.

1. Light bulb.
2. Sixth sense.
3. Singing.
4. Tuesday-Thursday.
5. Beige.
6. Serpent, natch, and Girl.
7. Greeting card.

Charles Rafferty’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker and The Southern Review. Stories appear in Sonora Review and Staccato. His latest book is A Less Fabulous Infinity. Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus Col­lege.

1. The Apollo moon program.
2. Smell.
3. Singing along to songs I’d be embarrassed to let people hear me listen­ing to.
4. Fluff.
5. Any of the pastels. They’re like colors on their deathbed.
6. The tapeworm and the donkey.
7. A lottery ticket. That’s how optimistic I am.

Charles Rammelkamp’s collection entitled Fusen Bakudan, about missionaries in a leper colony in Vietnam during the war, will be published in 2012 by Time Being Books. He edits an online literary journal called The Potomac, and is also a fiction editor for The Pedestal.

1. The word processor is my favorite invention.
2. If I had to lose one of my senses, it would be my ESP; after that, it would be sight.
3. My worst habit while driving is fiddling with the CD player.
4. The best name for a cat? Steve.
5. My least favorite color is orange.
6. If I could combine two animals they would be an eagle and a cat.
7. The best thing you can get for a dollar is a bottle of water.

Bertha Rogers’s poems have been published in literary magazines and journals. Her most recent poetry collection, Heart Turned Back, was published by Salmon Poetry, Ireland. Her translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf was published in 2000; and her translation of the Anglo-Saxon Riddle-Poems is forthcoming. She founded and directs Bright Hill Press & Literary Center in the Catskills.

1. Windshield wipers.
2. Hearing.
3. Tuning the radio.
4. Jiggs.
5. Beige.
6. Dog and cat.
7. Diet Coke.

Jason Storms hails from Interlochen, Michigan, where he spent the bulk of his life before moving to suburban Detroit. While a student at Oakland University, he twice received the university’s Writing Excellency Award for research writing. His poems have previously appeared in The Oakland Journal.

1. Quesadilla grill.
2. Smell.
3. Browsing my iPod.
4. Jeoffrey.
5. Bubblegum pink.
6. Kiwi and chinchilla.
7. A book.

Meredith Stricker is the author of Alphabet Theater (Wesleyan) a collection of mixed-media performance poetry, and Tenderness Shore (National Poetry Series). She works as a poet, designer, and artist for Visual Poetry Collaborative focusing on architecture in Big Sur and projects to bring together artists, writers, musicians, and experimental forms.

1. The Magna Carta.
2. Sense of purpose.
3. Imagination.
4. Whatever turns feline ears toward human voice, as in Hungarian, the word for kitten cica, pronounced tzi-tsa.
5. Color of barracks and sadness, slogans, and stale smoke.
6. The human being with any of Whitman’s animals “who do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins . . . not one demented with the mania of owning things, respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.”
7. A packet of garden seeds.

John Surowiecki is the author of three books of poetry, Barney and Gienka, The Hat City after Men Stopped Wearing Hats, and Watching Cartoons before Attending a Funeral, as well as six chapbooks. He has won the Poetry Foundation Pegasus Award for verse drama and the Nimrod Pablo Neruda Prize. His poems will also appear in the Hecht Prize Anthology (Waywiser Press) and the Sunken Garden Anthology (Wesleyan Press). Publications include: Alaska Quarterly Review, Folio, Margie, Mississippi Review, Poetry, and West Branch.

1. Mel Brooks says Saran Wrap, I say vodka.
2. ESP.
3. Conducting the orchestra that’s playing on the CD.
4. My cat’s name is Xam, the reverse of Max, the cat that preceded him.213
5. Pale blue.
6. A rat and a Republican (but I think that’s already been done—and quite often).
7. Four quarters.

Ellen VanWoert is a writer from Pennsylvania. She enjoys eating burritos and smiling at dogs.

1. Coca-Cola.
2. Smell.
3. I never got my driver’s license.
4. Geraldine.
5. Orange.
6. A goat and a dinosaur.
7. A balloon.

Megan Volpert is a poet and critic who teaches high school English in Atlanta. Sonics in Warholia (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011) is her fourth book. She is Co-Direc­tor of the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival.

1. My favorite invention is the Rube Goldberg machine.
2. If I had to lose one of my senses, I would choose to lose my sense of fashion.
3. My worst habit while driving is not wearing a seatbelt, but scooters don’t have them.
4. The best name for a cat is Fish, the object of its desire.
5. My least favorite color is pink, because I was raised by bad feminists.
6. If I could, I would combine a human with a turtle, then teach it to be a ninja.
7. The best thing I can get for a dollar is obvious. It’s your mom.

Ariel Wall is a writer from Pennsylvania. She enjoys reading, writing poetry and fiction, and crafting. Her work has appeared in The Legendary.

1. The typewriter.
2. My hearing.
3. Closing my eyes for extended periods of time.
4. Toulouse.
5. Orange.
6. A bunny and a sheep.
7. A book from the Salvation Army.

Russ Woods is co-editor and web designer for Red Lightbulbs. His chapbook, Tiny People, is available from NAP Books. He likes black bears dogs cats sand­wiches fur puzzles glasses symbols fat trees trains snow. He has things forthcoming in TRNSFR, apt, PANK, and rumble.

1. Dogs.
2. I basically have no sense of smell. So I’d say go ahead and knock that sucker all the way out.
3. Smoking.
4. I once met a cat named Star Wars. That is the best name for a cat.
5. Magenta.
6. Meghan Lamb and an actual lamb.
7. A VHS copy of Phantom of the Paradise.