Issue 4, Fall/Winter 2013
Welcome to the Fourth Issue of Siren!
Collected here is the work of unique artists who all share a similar conceptual interest in what is new, edgy, and experimental in their chosen mediums. These are artists who are making their own paths, guided by voices and visions and the passion to create, to explore, and to discover.
In this issue, we offer a wide range of poetry, prose, photography, visual art, music, and video. Please continue to scroll through the entire issue to see the work of these artists who are trying new things and approaching their creative pursuits in different ways.
Thank you for reading, listening, and viewing the collective work of the writers and artists featured in our fourth issue. You can also click on the links below or on the side panel to view the artists’ individual pages and to find out more info about their work. We thank you all for your support.
~ Michelle Augello-Page, Editor
Issue 4, Fall/Winter 2013
Laura Madeline Wiseman
We will know we’re searched for, whispered map; that this skin
indefinitely scars. Because your keys and pocketknives,
will pierce others without mark, we’ll be coveted—those slings
seem insignificant to how you can hold us, bracing a hip
or a shoulder, one palm hard against our flesh, sweating.
We’re made to take it and will open ourselves to air and light.
You can brush away the debris and blow, How’s that baby?
This long summer by the wilderness footpath and river
we will spread our limbs to the sky, watch you approach
and wait for your fingers to trace some old, broken scar.
For a time, forgetting how to recognize the other
and like anything wild, you will consume what’s edible; some
cringe as hearts blacken permanently—to return before that
darkening, only the dedicated, brow damp with effort.
We will never know which initials and dates stay
with you, holding arrows forever for everyone to see.
Always, we will offer our body for the prick of sharp love.
Always, flesh will remember what you carve, the promise of it.
view from work by William CurrieR
He grabbed my arm tightly. I didn’t recognize him, didn’t know where he had come from, hadn’t seen him approach until pffft he held me fast so I wasn’t going anywhere. If I could, I would have screamed. But I was dumb with fear, and although I hate to admit this, I didn’t even struggle. Hysterical paralysis. For real.
He reminded me of the estuary itself. The first time I had been here I lay strapped in a carriage. I’d had, my guardian later told me, a penchant for escape and a tendency to tumble in any attempt to flee. He had therefore arranged the belts to prevent my falling from the buggy, but to permit me to sit if not stand up in the pram. On that first visit to the estuary, once I inhaled the odd mix of humid salt, rotting timber, and rotten fish, I needed to face it. I kneeled above the horizon of the carriage and saw the great waterway along which great ships berthed and bathed or slid their ways to every degree of the globe. This was no lazy river of the sort the ducks and swans of my Hans Christian Anderson books inhabited. Oh, I saw ducks and cranes and gulls in and above the estuary, but these were not country bumpkin birds. This was not the country.
A metropolis brooded over the estuary, rose above it on arched bridges, leaned into it from piers and jetties, seeped and spilled into it from pipes and sewers. I gripped the edge of my carriage, raised myself as tall as the leashes allowed, and yielded as best I could to the panorama.
I had gazed beyond my infancy, and, before long, the estuary, from that vantage, became the venue of my refuge and, eventually, my rite of passage.
When given leave to walk to school on my own and even when I wasn’t, I found the estuary. Better yet I made it there in the evening after dismissal. It was the salt of the sea for which I hungered, not the cookies awaiting me on the kitchen sideboard.
I had yet to outgrow the supporting columns of the wrought iron fence along the esplanade paralleling the estuary. A shiny globe topped each pillar. These were my mates, particularly the one I had met from my pram, the one with the purple nick of a smile. Nick. He told me what transpired on the estuary during my absences.
Nothing much had changed, Nick said. Everything is different, he explained. Look there. That wave was rippling in Lake Pandora the last time we spoke. And the rain that fell on us in April has reached the Cape by now.
Ships. Sailing ships. Ferries. Freighters. Cruisers. Liners. Tugs. Whalers. Ghost ships. All ships all. On the bridge buggies, lorries, surreys, cabs, coaches, broughams, curricles, gharries, hackneys, hansoms. Whims. Every one a carriage. Weather westerly, weather northerly, wet and dry. For years we conversed.
“Soon,” he said as I neared my fifteenth birthday, “the water will rise beyond its banks.” It often had, of course, but at my next visit, Nick was despondent. “The surge is at hand.”
And I felt the stranger’s grasp of my upper arm. I stared at Nick. Five fingers from thumb to pinky splayed upon his head. We were speechless. But the stranger said it was time to go.
“Nick can’t leave,” I whispered.
“No.” He released Nick and seized my other arm. He lifted me easily, until I had to look directly into his eyes: dark and bright, widely awake, framed by sun-whipped skin held together by a head and face of wavy wine-dark hair. I could impose any emotion I felt on his frown-less, smile-less, altogether unrelaxed visage. When he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me close, I felt the firmness of his pea coat. I smelled the newness of its collar and the mingled essences of soap, unguents, and talc from somewhere within.
He spun me round so that the back of my head affronted his own face and I melted into him until I disappeared. I had no chance to ask where we were going.
“To sea,” he said.
BANG! by Callum Leckie
Adrian S. Potter
After work you drive past a building with broken windows and contemplate breaking what few windows remain intact. But it’s not easy to damage what’s already beyond repair. Think hard enough about coping and it becomes a stereo turned up way too loud, drowning out the neighbors’ quarrels. You have to improvise this life to make it tolerable. Try silence until secrets slip out, try compassion until it twists itself into cruelty. Squeal like an animal caught in a trap. Dredge the river for murder weapons and missing children. Strike a match and light the world like a Molotov cocktail, then dance as the flames consume us.
The Original Rockstar by William CurrieR
Get Me Outta Here
I am no exception to blood
I haven’t found anyone who is
Where are those mad to live?
I am being spoonfed the Eaters’ leftovers
Night is prison-poking holes in my throat
Snags clog the openings
with sound of Machinery.
Moonlight no longer comes in
Uvela burns out
A daisy’s lips are bruised by two lovers prying their faces together
I stabbed Gatsby to illustrate hopelessness, how hopeful!
Our poetic community is Chinese finger trap
Our intellectuals dissected
creatives are bees too
Frogs of the classroom
become flies of the world.
Our culture is composed of drunk 7 year olds given wrench and glue
Art is reverse aging, till miscarriage
stumbles in the room and kisses us,
the orphans of stars.
This matter of opinion is broken.
the decay of culture is just change,
a collective sneeze.
Egos are Tienanmen’s tanks
Buddhists trying to teach Buddha
The middle line is squiggly.
The American Dream is a cop story where the cop shot two black kids in spite,
and got away with it
I dug wounds hungry to be wounded and shoveled disgust in them
I wasn’t careful with my shovel,
or my dick.
This poem is venereal,
filthy, abandoned pregnant on a street corner.
This is another piece of art
that should be burned.
I Wanna Be A Robot by Killy Dwyer
Venus in PVC by Callum Leckie
I am without
blackbirds. I am
I rearrange my
is best. Fuck!
I let her
What the fuck
was I thinking?
What is it
and their penchant
I never felt guilty,
until the day
he came out
and asked: how long
you been fuckin’
around on me?
our vows fit
like rope pulled
my skin. I long
for the fuck me
Think about it:
fucking and loving
are so close
on the verb chain,
fucking always takes
I read Buddha.
I read Ghandi.
I read King.
I still want to beat
the fuck out of you.
Some girls prefer
to the simplicity
of a resounding
Tell the truth.
How many times
do you get
What are you fucking doing in my house?
What are you doing fucking in my house?
What are you doing in my fucking house?
What do we think
of the evolution
of modern English
Do we encourage
of language in this way?
by any other
name is still
just a fucking word.
No Mans Land by William CurrieR
Signs of the Impending Apocalypse
Adrian S. Potter
Too many chemicals in the soil and the plants won’t grow. Tulips falter, swelter under the smog-red sunset. Too much humidity in the atmosphere and cars rust into nothing. Pavement buckles and the kitchen smells of sickness. Sediment in the iced tea, and we all begin having visions. Brutal imagination prods us from quilted slumber. Death gathers at the doorstep. Yesterday, we witnessed three riots. Pitchforks and hacksaws. Even the bodies pulled from gutters were woundless, immaculate. Rinsed clean as the timber bones of flooded houses, ghosted acres of sun-scorched crops. Door to door, insomniacs wander in the low hum of disaster. The collision of their bodies sparks brushfires. We are all equally far from happiness, unhinged, the night closing on us tight like a fist.
Measies by Callum Leckie
The Rules We Follow
I am a high school freshman, but I have my brother’s rules to guide me. I wear jeans because boys look up girls’ skirts when they descend the school’s center stairs. I carry just one, single-subject notebook and one Bic pen because that’s the most I’ll need the first few days. I wear earth tones that won’t catch anyone’s eye or suggest I’m trying to look cool or funny or sexy. I sit in the middle seats on the school bus, not close enough to the front to be a goody-two-shoes, but not far back enough to have my ears flicked or my book bag emptied or, worst of all, to end up absorbed by what my father calls “the wrong element.”
I am a college sophomore. My freshman year roommate took me on as a project last fall before she abandoned me for her sorority. Her lessons proved no more or less difficult than any first-year survey course. I wear a denim skirt that hits my thigh low enough to say I’m not a slut, but high enough to say I’m looking. I wear a black top that’s cut to draw attention to my boobs, which have blossomed nicely since I got on the pill last summer. I sit at the bar with my girlfriends, hiding the magic marker Xes on the backs of our hands, sitting far enough from one another to say that we’re friends, but we’re not above going home with new acquaintances.
One day, a high school senior’s car breaks down. He and his two younger brothers revert to the bus. The boys clog the middle section. My brother and I sit farther back than we ordinarily would for the ride to school. My brother has always had poor balance. The bus lurches forward before we can sit and he bumps his hip against the shoulder of a fat girl who wears black eye shadow. He mumbles that he’s sorry, avoids eye contact, and sits. She stares at the back of his head for the rest of the ride.
At the bar, a boy in a Barney-the-Dinosaur purple collared shirt buys me a Sex on the Beach. I ask if that’s an innuendo and he says, “What? There are no beaches around here.”
The bus stops outside school. The fat girl moves with uncanny speed and blocks my brother’s path just after he stands, but before he can get in the aisle. She asks if he can spare her some lunch money. My brother says he’s sorry but he only has enough money for his own lunch. She asks what he had for breakfast. He says Cheerios. She says they don’t have Cheerios in her house. She says her mother doesn’t cook dinner at night. She reaches down and catches my brother’s penis in her hand so the outline of it presses out against his blue jeans. “I’m hungry.”
The college boy in the purple shirt is named Sergio. The name seems exotic and sophisticated. He’s a senior studying finance and expects to walk into a job at the investment firm he interned with last summer. He played lacrosse in high school. He lives in an apartment off campus and makes his own guacamole. “But that’s enough about me,” Sergio says. “What about you?”
In the seventh grade, I had to interview someone in my family about a historical event he lived through. My uncle told me about Vietnam. He talked about a friend who stepped on a mine; how the guy was there one minute, in pieces the next. Had my uncle seen the trigger a half-second before his buddy stepped on it, or was that just his imagination? Could he have tied enough tourniquets to stop all the bleeding at once and get him out of there? Did he run for cover when he should have stayed close? The questions came later. The moment it happened, all that registered was a “god damn it I hate this place,” followed by a “thank you, Jesus, it wasn’t me.” He came home to a medal, not for anything noble, but out of rote—confirmation he had gone away, confirmation he had come home.
The fat girl moves her wrist up and down. Her knuckles turn pale as her grip tightens around my brother’s dick. “Are you gonna give me the money, or am I gonna have to squeeze out some juice?”
One of the fat girl’s friends laughs.
My brother keeps his eyes fixed on the girl’s neck.
Sergio kisses my neck. He hugs me tightly from behind, palm crossed over forearm, over my stomach. He spins me and shoves me down on the couch. I ask about his roommates. He kisses me, hard and wet, scraping his tongue against the roof of my mouth. He forces his hands under me, cupping my ass. He slides his hands upward and his fingers feel cold. He wrestles my shirt off. I hear the fabric around the neckline rip.
Keep your head down. Keep walking. Don’t snitch. These words compose my brother’s guide for survival, and so they compose my own. A new rule develops—an elaboration of an existing one: avoid the back third of the bus at any cost. The wrong element my father described not only absorbs, but attacks.
“Last chance before I rip your pecker off,” the fat girl says. “I’m not bluffing.”
My brother’s trembling hand pulls a crumpled dollar from his pocket. She pats the little bulge in his jeans and lets him go.
I have broken my own rules. I don’t go home alone with strangers. Particularly not on Saturday nights. Particularly not after drinking. I felt Sergio’s bicep in passing at the bar and imagined how nice it might be to kiss him, to touch him, and, yes, maybe even to fuck him. I hadn’t imagined it like this.
The condom smells of rubber and hospital-room sterility. Sergio rams his cock against the outside of me to bully his way through.
My brother once told me there are two kinds of people: predators and prey. He said you’ve got to know your role and act the part. He said, you and me, little sis’, we ain’t the predator kind.
I catch Sergio’s penis. “Stop.”
He asks what I’m doing.
“Stop, or I’ll rip your pecker off.” I squeeze and dig my nails into him. “I’m not bluffing.”
In the second that follows, I see the options run through his mind. He might apologize and slow down. He might punch me in the mouth and force his way through.
Sergio climbs off. He tells me to leave.
I step into my white panties with polka dots the same shade of purple as Sergio’s shirt. Another night, I might have suggested that color proved our compatibility, or our shared destiny. I pull on the torn remains of my shirt. The lace embroidery around the neck hangs limp and loosely clumped together; my battle scar, my medal.
The kitchen adjoins to the living room where I dress. By the refrigerator light, Sergio opens a bottle of beer against the counter. He stands naked, drinking, staring at the floor.
The air outside feels cool on my skin. No stars shine tonight. In the distance, I hear boys laughing. I fold my arms close to warm myself for the walk home.
ligato by William CurrieR
Sometimes I dream in music. It winds toward me like a carpet gone mad, and if I stay in place it twists its scale around my neck, pulling tight until I cough up reds and yellows and greens, every color there is except for blue. Blue I get to keep for myself, blue that is touched in places with gray like mist, sky-light on one side, ink on the other, scattered patches of an evening’s moonlight in places breaking through.
The blue is what saves me, in the same way blue-colored blood saves you through the simple act of reaching your heart. It saves me when I fall and scatter the mist so that wherever I look, I see its shades glimmering, colliding against each other, failing to coalesce, everything around me shimmering in the way water shimmers as the sun goes down. The mist will rise from the water and surround me, blocking everything from sight except what I stand on, which is wet and firm, blocking the music, letting me dream for a scant minute in pictures before I smell the salty, sour tone of stagnant water. It makes me think of other places, of old wood boats that float tentatively with algae and barnacles growing thick around their hulls, their decks slick even in dry weather, held in place by the fog that plays around them, in with the tide, out with the tide.
Standing at the stern I see only halfway up the deck. I see nothing over the rail, hear only algae brushing the water and the occasional patient footfall of the woman who stands at the edge of my sight, her hand wrapped lightly around a shroud. A beautiful woman, she is years older than me, but younger in her movements, voluptuous and tall, with skin a perfect tan from living in bright light though she seems comfortable here on this old boat, in this night’s fog, and I move quietly toward her, softly, softly, and when I am close enough so that I am something more than a blur she turns and her eyes alight on mine as if she has known me for years. The coat she wears is unbuttoned, what she wears beneath is gray and tight and I feel that if I speak I will change things, for better or worse, I don’t know, but will change things.
She turns to me and I think she’ll give me something besides blue, but all she concedes is the slightest of slight, sad smiles and then she says, Oh, my darling, I’m looking for a man who dreams in words.
Come, by William CurrieR
With Bleach and Blood
Joely Johnson Mork
Bleach bath me, she said
see me in white like a slice of
bread close-grained and resilient
‘neath your teeth as they sink.
Harder than she, but not very,
bleach bath in hand he asked, can you
lay down your life for me,
can you lay down?
Her frown intrinsic to her smile,
after a small while she slipped
into the tub, into the warm water
of his world.
See me in white, again she said, bathe me,
save me, raise my hopes.
Bleach bath in hand,
his assent was inevitable, intractable.
In sight, in white light together they sink
knowing full well a bed of soft bread
could cushion their way, pave their fall
with bleach and blood, risk and reminder
remaining intact, remaining, in fact,
true to their word, each
to love and to teach love,
What I Brought
- A copy of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “So Far.”
- Three sticks of Buddhist incense that had been hand-delivered to me from Japan by a former lover.
- A single change of clothes thrown without thinking into a canvas bag.
- A week’s supply of Zoloft and Ativan.
- My journal.
- My marijuana pipe.
- The turquoise necklace Mary brought back for me from Scottsdale.
What I Heard
- Gale saying very solemnly, “Be prepared,” bowing her head to me as I walked toward the dining room where Mary was lying in her hospital bed.
- The old-woman rasping and crackling of Mary’s wet lungs.
- Her husband’s surprised-sounding sobs.
- The mechanical ocean noises of the oxygen tank.
- Jeanne’s musical voice telling her daughter over and over how honored she was to have been her mother and that it was alright to die now.
- The familiar, precious echo of Mary’s speaking voice breaking through her unconscious attempts to cough.
- The anticipatory growl of thunder approaching from the north.
- The eventual release of rain on the leaves and earth outside the open dining room windows.
- The grinding of the hospital bed motor as we lowered the mattress after Mary had left us.
What I Said
- On arriving, entering the kitchen to meet the crumpled faces of my friends standing there, “Oh, is she getting ready to spread her wings?”
- To Mary when we were all together, “You have led an amazing life — you’ve done so much, we will all remember you.”
- Whispered to Mary, when we were alone, “You are standing in front of a gate to a beautiful garden and the key is in your hand. Open the lock and let yourself walk inside. The sun is shining there – go, go on.”
Christmas Lights by William CurrieR
Wishing all a happy, healthy, and creative New Year!
Anal for Christmas by Killy Dwyer