CURRENT ISSUE: Summer 2017

FICTION

Pig Roast

 Under a waning moon, the climber climbed. We sat in the shadows, not twenty feet away, holding our breath. All things considered, a very fitting image, we thought: here was this perverted creature, putting left foot right foot left foot right foot on that porous rock, on which the Lord is my witness he did not slip once. The dull moonlight turned the image positively grisly, and we hoped that it was not only the half light of the day we were witnessing, but God willing also the last half hour or so in the life of this cursed being.

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POETRY

Epiousios

Introduce me first as a victory

of grain measurement. ‘Here is a man made

well, wheat flour packed without overflow.’

Introduce me next as a miracle.

 

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COLUMNS

Turning About: or the online entanglement of an email sex scam and a Christian romance novelist

There are enough uncertainties here that to do anything other than face them head on would be, at worst, disingenuous and at best, cowardly. This could all be hearsay, sort of. The leveling of voices brought on by the Internet has made it possible to peer across the room and eavesdrop on a conversation between strangers –– only the room is much bigger, and it may turn out that the strangers are estranged even to each other; they may not even know they are talking. This story follows one of those conversations, albeit a conversation in the most literal sense, as in the word’s latinate root, derived from the verb conversari meaning “to live with, to keep company with,” or literally, “turn about with.” This could be hearsay in the sense that it is my account of how two distant stories came to turn about with each other in the far reaches of the web, and that there is little other than the turning in question to go off of. 

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FEATURES

Sweet Girls, Pretty Girls

When I started to menstruate, my mother handed me a pad and told me to do nothing stupid.  When my sister started to menstruate, I handed her a tampon and told her to only put thatinside of her, nothing else.  I wondered if my mother would have been happy if she had heard that.

Every other weekend, the three of us would drive up to Northern New Jersey to visit my grandparents.  My mother told us to look nice for those visits.  I’d wear my nice white dress that I saved for picture days, and my sister wore her black slacks, the one she saved for cello recitals.  When we got there, the five of us--my grandmother, grandfather, sister, mother, and I--sat staggered at an eight person table.  While we were hunched and eating, my grandmother, who sat between my sister and me, would run her hands up and down our backs.  She rubbed and rubbed.  She was slowly ironing us out, bit by bit, taking out all the bends and kinks, until our spines stood nice and straight.  She’d smile and say, Guai nǚ nǚ, sweet girls, pretty girls.  

My grandmother loved to cook for us.  In her green silk pajamas and matching slippers, she’d waddle around the kitchen using a pair of waxy wooden chopsticks to stir everything.  In an afternoon she’d make six bowls of scallion pancakes and chicken feet and shrimp.  She didn’t let us use plates, wanting to feed us the food by hand instead.  She tapped our chins with her chopsticks, and we opened our mouths.  She watched us swallow and smiled.  

One day after lunch, when my sister and I were getting up to wash our hands, we heard my grandmother let out an annoyed aiya.  I looked down and saw my sister’s white chair stained red with blood, a circle the size of a quarter on the seat of her chair.  Our grandmother handed the two of us sponges reeking of hydrogen peroxide.  We got on our knees and scrubbed and scrubbed.  We watched the red sink into the white of the chair, spread across the seat in a watery pink.  We looked down at our hands and saw that they were stained too. My sister pulled a bright purple tampon out of her pocket and started to walk to the bathroom.

“Hide that thing, nǚ nǚ.  Your grandfather’s sitting right there.”

My sister put the purple plastic nervously back into the pocket of her jeans.  It crackled as she stuffed it into the denim.  My grandfather looked down at his plate and pretended he couldn’t hear the noise.  

“You’ve got to lead by example.  She’ll follow what you do.” Grandma whispered.

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FROM THE BLOG

House of the Mountain Goats

If you listen to their tracks on Spotify, lyrics aside, the Mountain Goats (historically) sound almost exactly like a mixture of those names on the “related artists” list; Neutral Milk Hotel, The Thermals, The Magnetic Fields, Okkervil River, etc. Their sound is cohesive, the music comforting in a way NMH or Beirut are, and not to get personal but they were all I listened to freshman year during my first big depressive episode. The band is, to put it simply, relatable and easy to enjoy- even if and maybe because sometimes it’s all blended together in a folk-jazz-indie kombucha mix. But their tour's House of Blues gig last Monday night (led by front man Darnielle and opened by Mothers) absolutely shattered any expectations I had- and only, somehow, in ways that had me wondering why I don’t listen more.

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FROM THE BLOG

Jenny O. and The Solars

I’m gonna preface this write-up with a clarification, of sorts; something I’ve been taking for granted but never bothered to articulate (before now). Unless I say otherwise – and it’d take a productive imagination to think up any relevant scenario(s) – these bits are reviewing specific gigs; not the group, band, whatever you want to call it, that’s performing outside of how they present at the gig and how that jives with prior exposure. Before any of the reviews, if I haven’t already, I listen to relevant discographies, but unless I wanna take a God-like stance on “getting” the dynamics of a group from one measly gig (let me assure you I do not, don’t think my rabbi would be down w that anyway) these reviews are just reviews of the gigs they purport to cover. EOM. Having prefaced this then, I have to say that Monday night was not a great gig.

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