Welcome to our Seventh Issue!
Collected here is the work of unique and diverse artists who all share a similar conceptual interest in what is new, edgy & experimental in their chosen mediums. These are artists who are making their own paths, guided by voices, visions, and passion to create, to explore & to discover.
In this issue, we offer a wide range of poetry, prose, photography, music & video. Please continue to scroll through the entire issue to see the work of these artists who are trying new things & approaching their creative pursuits in different ways.
Thank you for reading, listening to, viewing & sharing the collective work of the artists featured in our 7th issue. Please click on the links below or on the side panel to view each artist’s individual page & find out more about their work. We thank you all for your support.
Issue Seven, Summer 2015
Rachel C Williams
We, living things, are the twinkling treasure
of sunlight, vacuuming ghosts;
seabed dust on achromatic oysters
dredged into fishing boats.
Sub rosa bones, bound by tattooed skins,
are like ribbons on diplomas,
inked with the letters of misspelt names.
Tributes are often made in precarious ways,
but tradition insists white crosses,
scarlet roses, ashes scattered across golf courses,
black ties, white shirts, solid coffins,
rain, red eyes, looking solemn.
Change. Life doesn’t happen that often.
Everyone was young to someone once.
Another Girl Goes Down
Into a ditch. Maybe she hit
a rock. Maybe she did not
pay close attention. Maybe
she’s only twelve whereas
threat is an f-10. American
truck with a large bed. Used
to haul things like lumber.
Dogs. Men. Men who ride
wild in mongrel packs and
play air guitar or smoke up
their cigarettes. Men who
know how to disintegrate
the world from a Ford
window. Their ashtray. A
dump site shoveled down
deep just for them and the
ground opened just for her.
Rachel C Williams
I Dive To Rise
I give it up – the racing dread, erasing
the good from my garden and the dawn from my eyes.
I give it up like a heavy stone that once tied my sailor’s bones
to the earth. I dive deep into the salty liquid,
healing as I let go of the weight,
the power, the need for control.
I give it up – the undone deeds of expectation,
the ability to swim or breathe or feed on blood and bread.
I’m done with planting and days of endurance.
I’m done with mouthing platitudes of hope and guilt
that shouldn’t have been mine to bear. I’m done with self-pity
and the wages of truth.
I give it up and dive deep into the watery belly
where no footprint has ever been. Sleeping is the same
as waking is the same as staring at the minnows
and piranhas head on – the same as growing gills and talking
without sound. I give it up and give to get
a way out of these decade-old barriers, a way away from
the quarter moon heart and the vices
I hear every day like corpses rising
among the vulture birds, voices that have hands
frantic, with no where to go . . .
Rachel C Williams
Dominic F. Marceau
He is the one at the wheel. From the passenger seat I’m supposed to press the gas. Or alternatively the brakes. He asked me to and I complied. I don’t know why he can’t do it by himself but I don’t feel like discussing. Not now. I can tell he’s half drunk. And I’ve heard he made time since I last saw him. I trust him nevertheless – maybe for I don’t have a choice.
I have trouble with handling (so to speak) the pedals. I don’t know if it’s a matter of strength or angle… position I mean. But to get an appropriate response (that is obviously paramount) I have to put all my weight in my pushing. Still I don’t gather sufficient momentum. Timing is delayed… We didn’t crash yet but our progress is bumpy to say the least. Crash we will.
My partner shows a mild discontent. Embarrassed I wish he could use his own feet, conveniently set in the proper place, to get the truck going or stopping. I’m about to suggest it when an afterthought makes me keep my mouth shut. Better this inconvenient (and illegal) teamwork than to wholly surrender my part. Having him in total control. After all my strain is the modest price for my share of power. I won’t give it up yet.
Suddenly I think of his wives: such an idle thought. I’ve seen them all through the years: each time I came visiting. Always noticing what they had in common, the obvious similarities. Almond eyes, olive skin, curly dark hair: as if they belonged to a same lineage. That caused a reassuring feeling. The aesthetic continuity seemed to mend the fracture, the repeated failure – if so defining divorce were justified. That I don’t know.
Now – briskly – I see the girls in terms of bare bodies. Yes: devoid not uniquely of facial features but of the head itself. I see them decapitated. Nothing gory in the picture, no severed necks. But the upper extremity is temporarily eluded. Evaded. Their limbs, hands, feet, torsos, abdomens – with relatives widths, lengths, curves, angles, weights, consistencies – come alive with shocking precision. As if my brain had registered all data with great accuracy yet complete unawareness. I had no clue until it all poignantly drew itself in front of my inner eye – and I was shocked.
Well: they couldn’t have been more different from one another. Did he notice? I guess. How did he manage? The task appears grotesquely complicated. On the verge of the impossible. Superhuman at least.
I know it is not true. Anyone can perfectly deal (intimately I mean) with a variety of human shapes. Also weights, textures, proportions. The adjustment is instantaneous and effortless. It can be repeated for countless times. Anybody can handle as many bodies as opportunity allows. Why should I be surprised? Why now? I realize our driving has sickened me. I am dizzy, that’s all. The world spins around me: uncreated, undone.
Luckily we stop at a gas station, both needing a break. We are walking into the bar when I notice his weird collection of rings. They are three but huge, entirely hiding two of his fingers. I wonder how he can even bend them, braced as they look. Maybe he can’t.
One piece is clearly made out of all his wedding bands fused together. Quite irregularly: they are different in thickness and shade, some darkened by oxidation, some with a reddish hue (maybe a lower alloy). Such metameric device gives out a reptile feeling.
He sees me watch. He smiles for himself. “There’s no end,” he mutters. Then again: “there’s no end, no beginning: just one love”. Something about his tone bothers me. What, I can’t pinpoint: a sort of evangelical halo. Vague, non-descript.
Two more rings – identical, one next to the other – complete the display. Two skinny gold leaves wrap his middle finger like a bandaging. In the center of each a gem is cast. Shining diamond-like yet clearly worthless. Is it just opalescent? No: shining and disproportionately small. The stones capture me like the eyes of a snake. I can’t stop staring at them.
He notices. He smiles again, now overtly for me. He explains what that double blazon signifies in a tone yet more declamatory. I nod but I do not listen.
I must call a cab. With some chance I’ll be back in town before dark. I know he won’t ask questions. I know he won’t care.
Rachel C Williams
The Hard Screw
Rachel C Williams
Packing List for the Damaged
ear of lynx
can of kerosene
tail of newt
bottle of bitters
schmear of snail
stretch of tentacle
wild monkey screech
Rachel C Williams
Early to Rise
Buzzing phone. I swat to the left. She sleeps to my right. The chill bites at my exposed shoulders and toes. I groan. The warmth of my breath rolls across her neck and she turns over releasing my arm, half-circulated. Tingly reanimation. Hooded eyes smile briefly as her stubbly thighs wrap around mine. Bodies mush together. Mornings are a rush.
Snooze button. It’s almost over. I’ve admitted worse with more grace. She sighs. I put my right arm around her. My hand on her belly squeezes softly for comfort. I hold her there while we sleep. My eyes close after a few seconds.
Second alarm. Annoyed, just as planned. “Don’t get up,” she whispers as though it needed whispering. Chapped lips meet. Dead skin flakes poke at one another. Little pecks. Armpit sweat and the acrid odor of bodies lingers between us. I bury my nose in her hair. It smells like jasmine. Her powerful thighs absorb mine. Fingers interlock. She has no intention of moving. She greets the morning with the same stubborn tardiness.
Didn’t realize I fell asleep. I turn off both alarms. Eyelids are dry, there’s crust in the corners. I plant a kiss behind the ear. “Forty, maybe fifty minutes,” I tell myself. Anxious kisses up and down her oily neck. Had I held her too tightly? She turns over, ass pressed into my pelvis, and slings my arm around her, claiming it for herself. She giggles and whispers, “You don’t have time.”
“When can I see you again?” I ask. “Whenever.” She smiles. Fourth time this week. Feels natural. How much is too much? I won’t ask.
Dank breath, burnt aroma— marijuana, last night. Thick saliva makes for pursed lips. She kisses the back of my hand, holding it to her lips. Warm when she exhales. “Stay here,” she suggests jovially. I sigh next to her ear. Grinding against her, I draw heavy breaths between sentences, “There’s a dinner… Friday night… For my cousin…” Rolling over to face me, she smiles, “Sure.”
“How did you sleep?” I ask. “Alright. Not bad,” she says in a seesaw tone. “You hold me so close,” she laughs. I mimic nervously.
“I like you,” she says sweetly. It’s a dizzying high. “Oh yeah,” I reply, leaning over her. I try to smirk but end up blushing. Nails claw at my back. Short glances at her lazy breasts. “When do you start?” she asks, running her hand over my stubble. Her fingertips retain a salty, vinegar musk from last night’s hummus, not unpleasant though it’s distracting. “I have to be there by 8:45.” She moans. I’ve yet to shower and eat, and I’m defiantly erect. All she has on are a pair of faded, fluorescent yellow panties. I push against her with a cotton barrier. She pecks at my cheek then bites. “Ouch!” I recoil at the pinch. Again, she giggles.
“You feel so good,” she coos. Words escape me. Looking down at her, my teeth sink into my lower lip. Her neck cranes up, feet point at the ceiling, and she calls my name twice in exasperation. She gets that choked-up look as I hit spots previously unrevealed. I would drag this out forever.
The cat leaps on to the bed to bathe himself. Head buried in crotch, he goes to town. His bumpy tongue sounds like greasy sandpaper rubbing against carpet. She’s pretending he’s not there. I can’t help but snicker.
Behind her, one hand on her waist, the other her neck. Her hands are up against the wall. Past the point of no return. Her back is wet and spots drip on the sheets. I’m on my knees, hunched over, still hard, gasping urgently.
On her side, she glides a finger up my forearm. A drowsy smile. “I like this view,” she says. Her hair spreads out across the pillow like midnight waves. White teeth and brown eyes. I’m beaming with post-coitus confidence but panting too much to be coy. She pulls me in. Foreheads touch. “That was fun.” She bites her lip. I can’t avoid the wet patch. The rest of the world comes into focus— a locomotive roars in the distance, the patter of morning showers, the back and forth wail of a police siren. “I’m gonna hop in the shower,” I say. “Mind if I stay here?” she asks. “Not at all,” I respond.
Radiating heat, towel around my waist, I return to the bedroom. She opens her eyes and watches me dress. I check my phone. Four minutes. My legs and arms are still damp as I pull up my jeans and throw on a sweater. There’s something so final about dressing. “C’mere,” she whispers. I lean over her. “Keep sleeping if you want.” “You sure?” she asks. “Of course. There’s a spare key on the rack next to the door. Just leave it in the mailbox.”
“How about you call in sick and we get breakfast?” she jokes. The thought is too sweet to entertain, but I do. I pepper her face with kisses. “Two days,” I chuckle. “Too long,” she complains.
“I’ve gotta go.” Biting my top lip, she sucks on it, then runs her tongue along my gums. “For real!” I laugh. “Alright!” She rolls me over and with both legs kicks me out of bed. “Have a good day,” she says. Her face is half hidden under the covers but I can tell she’s smiling.
Rachel C Williams
Hugo Esteban Rodriguez
I learned about love from a woman
who loved women
her hands were rough
when she grabbed my face and kissed my left
she was writing a book about romance
about being misunderstood
she sat next to me on her couch, her purse-sized dogs dollies
napping between us when the lesson began
To love a woman is to have warm hands, she said
To hold, to caress, to scratch that itch in the back of her bra strap
that she quite can’t reach
Love was looking at the girl’s eyes and just knowing right then and there
that she was the one
“Was she the one?”
“How did you know?”
“I just told you.”
She told me love waits for the opportunity, the brief window of time
when two heavenly bodies align and the sun casts the right shadow
the right spot
“The G spot?”
“That helps, too.”
She told me love was entertaining temptation
but knowing how to keep it at bay, turning supermodels
and curious experimenters down with a hard smile.
“A drunken smile?”
Flirting with disaster without fiddling with the
jean waistline but holding out, because
true love isn’t hunting
Dominic F. Marceau
Why We Love the Rain
We’ve come from the ocean. Swimming together. We’ve brought our love of swimming from our separate pasts. Hers Californian, the Pacific, the bright west coast sea. Mine Midwestern, Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes, where we could bring our long-haired German Shepard and, at dusk, light a bonfire in a hole dug in the sand. The lake with its silty mud against the soles of my feet and small silver fish flitting by and mild rhythmic waves, if any. Not like the salty, seaweed-strewn gray waves of the Atlantic that tumble you until you’re dizzy. We’d both been displaced as adolescents, but even if we’d never relocated, we’d have grown up dislocated.
She kisses me on the walk back, where no-one can see, our backs to the small dunes with their patches of long grass. Her tongue moves over mine. She presses it so close I can feel the rasp of her taste buds. She suggests a shower.
In the building that houses the showers, each shower has a separate stall. We take the corner one. We turn on the water. Mothers are bossing their kids and teenage girls are having inconsequential conversations just to hear themselves talk, so we need to make sure our feet can’t be seen. We squeeze into the corner of the corner shower.
Her mouth covers mine again, and then she squats, one of her hands reaching up to cover the inevitable sound I can’t stop, another tugging one of the red triangles of my bikini top. Her tongue does what it does. My knees give out and there’s no handhold, just slippery tile, the skinny neck of the showerhead. I don’t know where she finds the strength in her legs, to last for so long. When she stops, I’m wordless. My eyes are vulnerable and my heart is, too.
We stand under the running water, arms around each other. She rocks me back and forth asking if I’m okay.
She’s at my house. We’re drinking wine. We haven’t had sex in months. By her decision. This has happened before and I’m waiting for her to change her mind again. Now we’re not girlfriends, we’re best friends, and it’s as if all the pride that came with defining myself through her has no reason to exist anymore. I’m clearly a wife, and clearly a mom, obviously a hard-working woman who holds down two jobs, but no matter how she and I try to define ourselves with each other, the whole situation is always amorphous.
I don’t really know why or how it happens that she’s taking a shower and then I’m in the shower, too. My husband is one room over trying to get our daughter to sleep. We need to be quiet about this. “Don’t get my hair wet,” I whisper.
She promptly pulls my head into the water raining down, so I smack her, and she smacks back. Our laughs are in whispers, but the wet smacks are loud and we’re relentless, backhands or full palms aimed at nipples and asses, faces, bellies, thighs. We’re saying “sshhhh,” and then winging a new smack across the small space. We’re stumbling against each other, slippery as salamanders, catching each other, laughing.
We get out and go downstairs to the pull out couch, where I sleep next to her when she sleeps over. We may not euphemistically sleep together these days but we still literally sleep together, taking turns spooning.
What started hasn’t ended and we’re rolling around in a girlfight on the mattress, slapping and pinning each other. She’s been winning from the start and finally I pin her. I work my knees, frog-like, towards her arms. I’m going to claim victory until she pulls an arm free and, in inspiration, sticks her finger up my nose.
Now there’s blood. It trickles down over my lips.
One night, over the summer, at the beach, we walked the wooden slats between the dunes and lay down to kiss. She rambled something about cutting me, to drink the blood. It was confessional, and she seemed exposed saying it. She tried to backtrack, like she’d said something too dark to share.
I work my knee back over her arm and now I have her pinned down. “You’re bleeding,” she says.
I laugh, and she echoes it.
I exhale hard, spraying the blood all over her face. Blood speckles the pillows and sheets, too. There’s a red spot of blood on her tongue.
She finally lands a full time job. I’m taking her to Wataba, for the lychee martinis as much as the sushi, to celebrate.
When I pull up at her place, there she is at the edge of the driveway doing something between pacing and bouncing as I park. A wide smile and wide-open arms. “I missed you,” she says. I’ve missed her, too. I’ve driven straight from work to see her without stopping home first, or even doing any of the errands I have to do. My kid is sleeping over my mom’s and, after a financially frustrating winter, my man is back to long hours of outdoor work.
At the restaurant, we lounge. A family sits at the table next to our booth. Then a couple replaces them. The lights dim, but like newts in the sun on a rock, we’re in our element, and not leaving anytime soon.
By the time we’re home to her place, I walk straight into her bathroom, wanting nothing so much as a shower.
I’m washing and conditioning my hair when she opens the bathroom door. I hear her taking a piss. She says, “You’re taking a shower?”
“I’ve been in work clothes since six-thirty this morning.” I’m rinsing my hair. “Come in.”
She does. Just like that. I know because I hear the shower curtain slide open and closed.
I turn around and the eye contact is intense, electric, like it was one night after months went by after another, earlier phase when she told me she wasn’t attracted to me anymore. We were in the car and we looked at each other like that and then we started kissing, deep. That night kick-started a ten-month phase of fucking and love-making and love-proclaiming that took me past where I’ve ever been with a woman before. I’m not sure how many months it’s been since she shifted our status back to best friends again. Late August? And now it’s March.
The eye contact is there, and we’re kissing. We kissed in December a few days after my car broke down, and again in February after she took me as her date to her cousin’s sweet sixteen. She asked to watch my husband and me together a week after our smackdown.
We’ve changed places and now she’s standing where I was when she stepped in. Our bodies are as wet and warm and pressed close as our mouths. The water washes down across our faces and shoulders. She draws back and says, “You can’t tell my boyfriend we took a shower together.”
She answers me.
“Then we might as well kiss more,” I say, and we kiss more.
Our tongues are surfing the waves of our kisses.
She’s been with her boyfriend since November, as long as my husband’s been sober. Over six months. I haven’t told her how lately he’s been questioning me, uncharacteristically Socratic in his approach, to prove to me what he thinks I should realize about her. He’s rescinding the blessings he always gave freely. She hasn’t told me what her man says, or what she says to him, only that his first response was “That’s weird,” and that when she tries to talk about us, his face gets pink and he avoids eye contact and says very little. She’s texted me, “he knows that it’s you and me or no me,” and I’ve answered, “we stand our ground on that.” The ground we stand on is always shifting.
We’re thirsty for this. We kiss more with the water spilling down like false purity. It’s not washing away what’s happening. It can’t.
Her boyfriend breaks it off on a Tuesday night. “No explanation,” she texts me on Wednesday morning, “I made it easy for him.” She insists she’s fine. Maybe, I think, because she only convinced herself she was in love with him. Or because she has the capability of shutting off like that– a self-protective mechanism, a result of her father’s abandonment. Maybe because these days Celexa dulls what she feels.
On Thursday night, I let her know I’m doing work from home, so if she needs to talk she can call. We text back and forth a bit. Then hers just stop.
I’m upstairs in bed with stacks of papers, my husband is out and my daughter is watching t.v. downstairs, when series of loud knocks on the front door startles me. “Don’t answer it! Ask who it is,” I yell to my kid, and I dash down the stairs, looking out the window on the way down, asking, “Who is it?”
There she is. On my front porch. I open the door and my daughter hears her voice and comes running out to welcome her. They hug it up and dance around the living room. Then my kid runs back to her show.
We sit at the kitchen counter. I say, “You shouldn’t have driven.” She’s drinking tequila now, on top of whatever she drank before. “But I’m glad you’re here.” I’m drinking Barry’s Irish tea. The caffeine will keep me up all night so my work will get done. My husband comes home. He knows about the breakup already. Silently puts his arms around her. She leans into him and finally cries tears. Says, “I just want to have what you two have.” Despite it all, he’s tender right now, so is she, and I’m in love with this moment, the two of them holding each other.
We sit on the front porch, she and I, feet on the railing, looking up to the night clouds. She smokes a cigarette. I drink more tea. She says, she feels spinny and sick. “Go to the side of the house,” I say.
She’s there for a while. When I go to check on her, she’s leaning one hand against the oak tree and still hurling. I rub her back feeling it spasm under my palm. “I peed myself,” she tells me.
“It happens,” I say. “You can take a shower and borrow pjs of mine.”
She holds my arms for balance up the stairs and as she takes off her clothes. Under the threads of water, her hair becomes longer and darker. She tips her face to the water, eyes closed.
“Come in with me,” she says.
My husband is in the next room. He was none too pleased about our conduct in the shower last time. I side-stepped his complaints as I usually do, but I heard him. I still have to take my daughter up for stories and snuggles. I’ll read her Shel Silverstein poems and a paperback SkippyJon Jones. I’ll stay with her, forehead to forehead, until I can tell by her breathing she’s asleep. Then I’ll stay up most of the night, swimming through caffeinated hours toward my deadline while the three of them sleep. I’ll hear the night-time chirps of early summer froglets from the ‘creek,’ a huge water pipe, three blocks down. I’ll pause to stretch my legs and check on each one, dropping my face to each cheek for a kiss and a deep breath, breathing each one in. Having all three asleep, here, in my home, will give me more energy than any substance.
“Coming in?’ she asks.
I open the shower curtain. Open my arms. She leans forward. I hold her. Her warm face against my chest. My arms around her bare, slippery back. Water soaks my shirt. Here I am, half in and half out, my feet on dry tiles, and my face resting against her wet hair. I’m looking down at the water spreading across the thirsty cotton over my chest, wetting my skin. The air flutters with heat. The shower water slaps the tiles. We are as still as the moment, which will slither into a new summer in a matter of weeks. We close our eyes and listen to the shower water that sounds close enough to a rainstorm, but without the orgasms of thunderclouds. We feel the water on our skin, and the humid, sweet air in our lungs.
We’re amphibian, darting into the heat of the sun, skimming through water clear as glass, burrowed in the silt and sludge. We love the rain. We love the rain because we can’t choose between land or water.
Rachel C Williams
Lay Down My Arms
This was my favourite jacket.
It was a modish, stylish coat.
Timeless Irish threads were sewn by fingers
adorned by calluses embedded at the tips.
My arms slid into cordial sleeves
like my mother’s squeeze;
the clasp of her beating heart,
embroidered like a crest.
Savoured love lived inside its pockets.
Punk concert stubs, lover’s keepsakes;
the folded, red-silver foil love-heart,
manufactured from a Tunnock’s teacake.
The talcum scent of my niece’s head
as she pretend-wed her favourite ted;
my jacket, both a feigned veil and cathedral train.
Neutral, elephant grey shades
rescued me from the Old Firm riots
escalating at Cessnock Underground Station.
Emerald-coloured duffel coats
streeled into kerfuffles, the knuckles
of Ibrox billy goats concealing belt buckles
beneath those long, navy trench coats.
It has been a victim.
Hostage to nightclub cloakrooms
where Marlborough lights
suppressed the overpowering perfume
in the neon-lit queues exiting.
Returned, it reeked of careless whiskey,
New York subways,
my last thirteen birthdays;
every passing one, sot.
And on each of those birthdays
gifts of chalkstripe suits, khaki parka’s,
navy wool bombers, herringbone blazers
in shades of cinnamon stone.
Relatives second-hand offerings
of leather jackets which more resembled
George Michael than the Ramones.
I have held it together, sewing on buttons
when my own circumference expanded.
I have darned the shoulders, wiped clean
the last scuff marks of friend’s existence
before taking them to their place of rest.
Collar raised at funeral sermons
and tributes of coats adorned by Elvis.
God’s spilt rose wine is absorbed by clouds
as we cross over flushed fields
filled with curious cows, homeward bound
through the Bellsmyre tunnels.
Perhaps now, and only now,
you will understand your appeal
as I remove this jacket and lay down my arms
across these rubescent puddles.
Rachel C Williams