in Issue 7

ANTIOCH WRITERS’ WORKSHOP POETRY CONTEST WINNERS

How to Get to Heaven from Ohio, Eileen Klug
Two Small Town Girls, Kerry Trautman
To the Boy Who Sat Behind Me in Physics, Elizabeth Schmidt
Pillbox, Ursula M. Kremer
Trumpet, Deborah Rocheleau

Cover Art

Fox, Skull and Grapes, Chad Wells

Drama

Shoebox, Stacey Lane

Fiction

Half Lit, Dayton J. Shafer

Nonfiction

Haunted Again, Herbert Woodward Martin
Sew Dayton, Tara Pettit
Stuck, Gina Giardina
Shagging Flies, Bill Vernon

Poetry

Carrot and Lotus, Kathi Kizirnis
Fire Girl, Andy Bergeron
Winter Hymn, Ron Rollins
The Sound that Will Interrupt, Paige Huskey
All of a Sudden, but Not, Eric Blanchard
Contrails, Nancy J. Little
White Fins, Mary Jo White
Morning News, Kathy Austin
A Walk Down Memory Lane, Henry Potts-Rubin
Corpus Callosotomy, Brandon Edward North
What’s the Difference Between a Cuckold and a Widower?, Jake Sheff
Shade, Ed Davis

Visual Art

Forrest’s Flower, Meredith Rowe
Hell, Heather Lea Reid
Race Ready, Alison Bour

And thank you to
the Sponsors of Issue 7!

Fox, Skulls and Grapes (Cover Art)

fox

Fox, Skulls and Grapes
Chad Wells
pen and ink/watercolor on paper

about the author
I take a holistic approach to the arts. Never satisfied to settle into a style, niche or particular medium, all of the my life experiences, influences and visionary explorations weave their way through my entire catalog – from my vocation as an award winning Tattoo artist to my illustration and design work for a broad clientele of rock bands, clothing companies and assorted other projects to my own musical work and as a writer for other musical acts – I look to inject the energy and urgency of my youth spent in the punk and underground metal scene and my Surrealistic, Shamanic and Psychedelic point of view into everything I touch. Whether pencil, pen and ink, acrylics, photography, digital art or manipulations of sound – I am interested in accessing multiple layers of reality and non-reality. I want the first experience someone has with my work to strike them in an emotional way and for the viewer to be able to journey into deeper symbols, archetypes and conceptualizations as they spend more time with the work.

How to Get to Heaven from Ohio

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
Best in Show

How to Get to Heaven from Ohio
Eileen Klug

Directions:

1. Put your feet up on the dashboard after removing shoes and socks.
Your feet will be warmed by the sun and you will want to

2. Smoke all of the cigarettes, back to back, blue smoke ascending
to the blue sky. This is your offering and the oblation,
this is you tasting your soul. This is you, needing
your own sacrifice, demi-goddess that you are.
This will come in the form of your

3. Stop at Grandpa’s Cheesebarn. Taste samples, revolving around the store
like stars around a cheese moon, stuffing your face
and giggling in a suspiciously mousey way, but

4. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t ever feel guilty for needing
the open road and rainstorms, for singing at the top of your lungs.
This is your heaven and highway and it is time to

5. Make peace with your life. Offer yourself to yourself and lick
the postage stamps that will send you home. Be a skeleton
made entirely of backbone and wishbone.
Be made of mostly heart-muscle and everything else. In the car, pray
to things that will cause problems: hamburgers, sunsets,
Marlboros, old age, youth, highways, the sensation of love
on cold skin, tea. This will make you

6. Shiver for your life—shiver as though everything depends on it.
Never mind the air conditioning—you will shiver your way in to heaven,
way above the roof of the car you were born into.
You will vibrate like a rocket launching into space, leaving
warmth and a handful of coins in the pockets
of your leather jacket—now the shell where you, heaven, and hell
once were. But

7. Don’t cry. You’re not gone. You are from the earth
and of it and always crashing
back to there, exactly where you could be
and exactly how you should be now,
and exactly as you once or always were. I promise, you will

8. Be again.

about the author
Ellie Klug is a junior at the University of Dayton. Originally from Cincinnati, she now lives in Dayton studying psychology and women and gender studies alongside her “Dayton family” and dog, Arrow. Ellie loves performing spoken word poetry, and most recently did so at Celebration of the Arts, held in Dayton’s Schuster Center.

Two Small Town Girls

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
Second Place, Adult

Two Small Town Girls
Kerry Trautman

They walked along the storefronts—several boarded shut, or emptied to dingy linoleum,
labeled “for sale,” since a two-years-ago flood. They peered in the antique store and the bridal boutique with a single hopeful shopper fingering the satins, and they wished to slip
into those voluminous, shimmery gowns, or lie on the lavender velvet sofa in the thrift store window, or lap the garlicky sauce wafting its warmth from the door of the diner as a man
shambled out, full, unsmiling. They ticked their quick feet down the rigid sidewalk, a dry
unsettled wind whipping leafy debris against brick walls, sandstone, cinderblock—the trash
of the weeks twitching as it landed in cold corners, or stuck between curbs and parked tires,
or hurled upward toward the frayed canvas awnings, toward upper apartment windows,
toward the networks of suspended iron stairs no one ever has used for escape.

about the author
My poetry and short fiction have appeared in various print and online journals, including The Toledo Review, Alimentum, The Coe Review, The Redwood Coast Review, and Think Journal, as well as anthologies, including Tuesday Night at Sam and Andy’s Uptown Café (Westron Press, 2001,) Mourning Sickness (Omniarts, 2008,) and Roll (Telling Our Stories Press, 2012.)

To the Boy Who Sat Behind Me in Physics

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
Second Place, Adult

To the Boy Who Sat Behind Me in Physics
Elizabeth Schmidt

I didn’t calculate the trajectory of your shoulders
as you walked (though they were fine enough
and wide) or look for you before the bell rang
as one searches the night sky for the North Star.

I never thought your eyes were anything more
than brown (but a nice dark brown),
didn’t dream at night of falling somehow
on the ground with you, two bodies in motion

attracted by a force they couldn’t control.
(In short, there was no chemistry.) From my side
of the equation, we were both students of uncertainty
living in a common spacetime we couldn’t name.

Perhaps you felt the same? Not noticing
my hair or jeans, not formulating theories
about the laws of my universe or how to
get me into your backseat at the speed of light.

(Or not.) The day you took a quantum leap
and passed a note that said I was beautiful
was what Mr. Bowman would have called
a transfer of matter and energy.

We never kissed. We went to prom
and later on took Calculus and Advanced Chem.
After high school our orbits crossed
occasionally and then they didn’t (as they do).

But I remember you, your boyhood crush,
and still value the evidence, the thing itself:
a torn piece of notebook paper +
your handwriting = my time machine.

about the author
Elizabeth Cantonwine Schmidt lives and writes in Kettering, Ohio. Her poetry has been published in Flights, and featured on WYSO’s poetry program, Conrad’s Corner. She is married with four children, and works as a Librarian at Wright Memorial Public Library.

Pillbox

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
First Place, Youth

Pillbox
Ursula M. Kremer

An empty grey
box sits
small and alone
on a cliff overlooking
the blue sea.
Forgotten
but for the few
kids who have left
their names and thoughts
on its walls embedded
or painted as if forever.
Never
to be moved but
never to be loved.
Impenetrable
but for a hole
in the flat roof.
So close to the edge
it should teeter
and fall but
sturdy it remains.
Sturdy
and
alone.

about the author
Ursula Kremer, a freshman residing in Yellow Springs, has been writing since the first grade and hopes to continue it as a career. She would like to thank Ms. Nickell, for encouraging her to submit an entry, Ms. Blake, her Power of the Pen coach, and her family.

Trumpet

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest
Second Place, Youth

Trumpet
Deborah Rocheleau

The instrument begins as a sheet of metal
which the sculptor bends around a mold, then with a hammer
pounds into a dented tube
getting thinner and flatter
battered
‘til the crinkles are pressed
and the smoothing can begin.

So how come some things can’t be muscled into shape
but most flow organically from the mind
a teardrop
a poem
a prayer
yet other things we pound and wrestle and flatten and smooth
until they sing?

about the author
Deborah Rocheleau is a writer of short stories and poetry, and a PSEO student at Sinclair Community College. Her work has been published by the Tin House Open Bar and A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. She is currently writing a contemporary young adult novel. She blogs at deborahrocheleau.wordpress.com.

Haunted Again

Haunted Again
Herbert Woodward Martin

in memory of Jay Hoffman

My father’s death came to him like a hard roll of dice against a wire cage, tossed across a felt embankment to finally stop at some grave, unanticipated place. It was just such a noise that rattled in his lungs, ice cubes clinking in crystals they wait to crack beneath a steady stream of warm liquor in a place where warm music sounds in smoky lounges.

He died of a casual cigarette, white smoke turning into exquisite ash, an ecstasy he would not forgo, not even for life itself. It killed him, left his still body abandoned, wrapped in that dark aroma by which he had been seduced.

I, the perfect young witness, kept him from that wry embrace, which he told me he would have long ago entered willingly. He often told me of the exotic warmth of women that every man like himself wished for, searched for, and hungered to taste. He knew he would never escape. I, on the other hand, hung on to the good in him as long as I could. Then I let go.

His dying was not easy to watch; one late afternoon between a hard martini and the aroma of strong morning coffee, he surrendered. He had insisted on dying with his eyes open, so nothing would ever surprise him again.

about the author
Herbert Woodward Martin has published eight volumes of poetry and edited three volumes of the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar. He is Professor Emeritus of English from The University of Dayton. He is at work presently on a work about Nicholas II, the Last Tsar of Russia.

Half Lit

Half Lit
Dayton J. Shafer

Lee pulls down on the black rings underneath each eye.

Man … I really am getting old.

Blackheads scatter around the u-shaped divots. The restroom light is not forgiving. It’s one of those florescent tubes of blinding unnatural light, one of those tubes that spotlight imperfections. The blackheads. The zit he popped this morning. Ingrown stubble that has left a cloud of maroon on his jawline. He pulls his hair back to look at his wrinkled forehead. Yesterday was his thirty-sixth birthday. A knock echoes through the single-person coffeehouse lavatory.

Be out in a minute.

Lee still hears the soft hum of the singer on stage. He was sitting beside the out-of-tune piano listening to her sing Carole King and Joni Mitchell numbers before the caffeine began to streamline through him. He studies his widow’s peak. It had begun creeping toward his crown these last couple years.

Lee’s father and grandfather had thick sets of black hair until the day they died. His grandfather was born in South Dakota and one could see the high cheekbones and hairless skin of the Sioux nation. His father had the silken jet black coif, but his Irish mother’s eyes are a haunting, striking green against his more swarthy features.

Lee looks about as British as a colonist could look. Pasty freckled skin. Long boney frame. No distinguishing features. Growing up, he always wanted to look like his older brother. Even his brother’s name, Sven, aptly fit the Sioux prowess he possessed.

Lee taps his hairline as someone taps on the door. He leans over one shoulder.

One minute.

Half of the florescent tube flickers and fades out. It cuts the room in half, cuts Lee’s reflection in half. The lit half is what he has been mulling over for the past few minutes—a hopeless thirty-six-year-old having a premature midlife crisis. But the shadowed half is what Lee has wanted for years—his crow’s feet diminished, his pock-marked cheeks tanned, his sunken eyes now spirited. In the dark, he can still see the dagger shaped scar in the corner of his right eye. He digs his pinky nail into the scar and thinks back to the day it happened.

Sven was chasing him through the kitchen. Lee took too wide of a turn. Sven stepped on his heel. Lee went flying, smashing his socket on the corner of an heirloom butcher block. He remembered coming to and seeing a reservoir of blood settling between his cheek and a stepping stool.

The knock becomes a banging. Lee smirks at himself. He turns to relieve the lock of its duty. Taking his time, he shivers at the smooth slide of treated metal on treated metal. Lee turns the knob to open the door but is thrown against the sink. Gathering himself, he looks up in time to see a pink blur sneak through the small space between the door and the wall. In the half lit room, he sees quick hands lock the door and lean against it.

What the hell have you been doing?

The sound of anger can be heard outside the door. He thinks she’s a line cutter.

Turn around.

Lee listens without a second thought. He only saw a glimpse. Young and cute. Brown hair and eyes. Pink shirt. He hears a rustle and then the familiar sound of splashing liquid.

It’s not cool to hog the bathroom … This is the only one they have.

He opens his mouth but she cuts him off.

Was that you sitting by the piano?

He nods.

Thought so.

She finishes and sidles up to him at the sink. Her moving hip presses his as she lathers.

You shouldn’t be so brooding … It’s off-putting.

Lee’s surprised. He didn’t think he was brooding.

Come out of the corner and talk to people.

She leans across him and plucks a single paper towel. He still faces the wall. She throws the towel away and abrades his back from shoulder to shoulder.

Come buy me a coffee.

She enters into the shadowed half of the room and fights her way through the small space again.

The tube of light flickers on fully.

Lee turns in time to see the light shine a tinge of red in her hair. He hears her push people back as he relocks the door and steps to the mirror.

The tube of light splits his reflection.

Lee thinks of the girl, thinks of youth. He looks into the mirror and admires his imperfections. He thinks that youth is overrated. All that work. He thinks of the girl. He thinks of sex and stupid love and letting go and wanting nothing more than to experience experience itself until you can’t help but bite down and scream.

Thirty six … thirty six …

The tube of light flickers on fully.

Lee picks up the gritty soap of the coffeehouse. He turns on the hot water, washing his hands softly, carefully, finally cupping a handful of water and splashing from chin to brain stem.

Thirty six … not that old.

The tepid tap water emphasizes his window’s peak. Lee desperately shifts and organizes his remaining locks, attempts to deceive by way of strategic care and placement.

He thinks of the girl, thinks about their grandkids. About telling them about the weird little love nest where grandma peed in front of grandpa right after meeting him.

Whoa … thirty six … I do not like you.

The florescent tube splits his reflection again.

Only this time, Lee steps wholly into the darkness to make himself different, to make himself into what he wants, into what he thinks he needs—not what he is.

about the author
Born and raised in Springfield, Ohio, Dayton is a freelance writer and editor now based in Vermont. He is a former Editorial Assistant at Green Mountains Review, Writing Fellow at The Vermont Studio Center, and current unrepentant theatre nerd and pastry enthusiast.

Carrot and Lotus

Carrot and Lotus
Kathi Kizirnis

Pull up the roots and
shake off the dirt

look closely
at your knots and ridges.
They’re not pretty, are they?

Still, they feed and connect,
your blossom, your green
is just for show.

Love the muck,
even (especially) when it stinks.

Smell the earth—
you’ll be in it someday …

never mind, you already are.

about the author
Kathi Kizirnis is a recovering journalist, editor, co-founder of Practice Yoga in Dayton’s Oregon District and the proud mother of two — not necessarily in that order.

Fire Girl

Fire Girl
Andy Bergeron

The girl steps into January’s first week.
She shudders through the bluster that preys
on her not-quite-crimson hair
twisting about her chestnut eyes
as her wanting lips accept the cigarette.
She squints with pupils scored by flakes
packed down, a thousand suns against her search.
She longs for the black glasses in the car,
but her other urge stirs her
striving for the blaze in the callous cold
and she is blind,
indifferent to the wind slicing the New Year.

The fugitive lighter laughs in hiding
and her need dangles unlit and loose.

Anxiety prowls like a sick cur
as she pulls away, feeling
for her stainless steel flame.

It’s distress she digs in
and sighs. Then, triumphantly,
she raises the treasure, brings the spark

and she is Teflon, again.

A flash of sub-atomic satisfaction
in the lightening of her eyes and the sun cowers—
pulling a slight gray comfort around the needle air,
where the snow lies frozen

but warming under the purpling sky
where she burns
minutes into hours.

about the author
Andrew Bergeron lives and works in the wilds just north of Downtown Dayton with his giant of a son, Luke, and trusty Pitbull, Rizzo. Currently, he is hatching a plan for world domination involving aliens, robots and zombies.

Winter Hymn

Winter Hymn
Ron Rollins

Night wind shakes the house,
rattles winter windows.
Awake, I flick

off flatscreen weather jabber,
wrap myself in a blanket from the couch
and go out. I know how the stand

of tall pines sounds in a wind like that.
Beneath them, I listen, sway and

hum as they moan. Long trunks creak
like ancient ships, branches sigh low, sigh soft
and needles crunch underfoot as

I remember: Neruda says, “Night wind spins
in the sky and sings.” He’s right;
in the steeple of my yard-pines

the winter keens,
its hymn cold, wondrous, and fine.

about the author
Ron Rollins is a writer, editor and painter in addition to being a husband, father and grandpa. He lives in Kettering and has only recently gotten around to sharing his poetry.

The Sound that Will Interrupt

The Sound that Will Interrupt
Paige Huskey

Just outside the
window above my bed
the lonely cricket
takes center stage
playing a sonata.

Other night noises
are second fiddle
to his loud, shrill violin.
I am forced to listen
every night.

My daughter crawls into bed.
Too old, yet I can’t say no.
Will dad ever come home?
I stroke her hair as we fall asleep
to the cricket’s serenade.

I wonder
how long can he sing—
unanswered?
Black pearl in the ocean
of weeds that is my backyard.

Tonight the song is broken,
half-hearted, diminished.
The nights grow longer,
getting colder.
The nights.

I listen.

My feet search for warmth
under the covers,
traversing the cold plains
to find a ridge, a bump, something
to burrow my toes into.

I envision his belts hanging,
forgotten behind closet doors,
waiting for pants to bind,
longing for a waist to hug.
Useless.

I count the holes only I can see
where pictures once hung.
Each like the memory of a pin prick
which lasts far longer
than the actual wound.

I wait.

The dog’s modest snoring rises
from underneath the bed,
like the intermittent rumblings of
Old Faithful before each eruption,
comforting.

Then barely audible the gentle plop,
plop of a leaky shower head.
If I try really hard
the jagged buzz of my son’s iPod
as he studies for college classes.

I listen for a beat,
kneading the random sounds
to form a rhythm.
Gradually I discern a bass vibration,
that which can only be felt.

My hand slowly comes to rest
as if I’m pledging my allegiance.
The throbbing of my heart
completes the tempo.
It will have to do.

about the author
I am an assistant professor at Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio, where I teach writing and literature and also coordinate for the developmental reading and writing program. I hold a B.A. in literature from the University of Colorado and an M.A. in literature from Wright State University. My essays have been published in The Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story, The Facts on File Companion to the American Novel, and Special Gifts: Women Writers on the Heartache, the Happiness, and the Hope of Raising a Special Needs Child, which was an award-winning finalist of the National Best Book Awards 2007. I also co-wrote a chapter of A Guide to Teaching the Norton Field Guide to Writing.

Sew Dayton: Where Hand Made Trends Are So Dayton

Sew Dayton: Where Hand Made Trends Are So Dayton
Tara Pettit

As we all know, fashion trends have a tendency to recycle themselves back into society, bringing with them timeless styles that have been created and kept alive by the influence of past generations. With the classic styles we have seen brought back to life in the past decade and in light of generational movements like eco-friendly and simpler living, it makes sense to preserve the ageless art and practice of crafting our own clothing, not only to prevent the loss of such a vital practice, but as a means to further inspire innovation and creativity to a long-held household tradition.

The ‘almost lost art’ of sewing as a household practice is exactly what design artists and seamstresses, Jesy Andeson and Tracy McElfresh, have sought to preserve with their creative business endeavor, Sew Dayton, a start-up dedicated to teaching and showcasing handmade clothing designs. This is the first business of its kind in the Dayton area, helping people of all ages, with any level of sewing experience, in their current projects and to further develop personal seamstressing skills.

Through public classes and private lessons and as a source for high quality fabrics, patterns and project ideas, Sew Dayton aims to focus the Dayton community and surrounding areas back towards highly creative, handmade, quality fashion.

Tell me about your business, Sew Dayton.

Jesy: I created Jkessel Design in 2008 while I worked for corporate America. Then in Oct. 2011, after 11.5 years, my job was eliminated and I needed to figure out which road I wanted to take, the road back to a salaried corporate job or to follow my dreams. I discussed this with my fiancé at the time, and he told me to do what would make me happy. So I pursued my dream of working for myself selling on Etsy and at craft shows.

I met Tracy in Nov. 2011, hitting it off creatively with her right away. We kept talking about sewing, asking each others’ opinions on projects. Then Tracy approached me with the idea of signing up for activated spaces to open our own shop. I was elated! I agreed and we worked for 6 months on business plans, funding, location scouting, and marketing ourselves.

When we were accepted to the Activated Spaces Pop-Up program, we were both so excited and accomplished opening our shop in three weeks after signing a lease!

Tracy: I’ve been working from home, making custom-ordered dresses, for a couple of years and am ready to grow into a new space and branch out in the community with Sew Dayton.

Tell me about your roles and your daily schedules. What are your responsibilities?

Jesy: Tracy and I are both filling the roles of customer service, owner, payroll, social media, marketing, banking, purchasing and planning. I come from an accounting and logistics background, which helps.

We both have clientele that we previously worked with and are now bringing in some new people. Tracy makes custom made-to-fit party dresses, alterations and cute wool hats (among a list of other things). I specialize in accessories, such as purses, bags, totes, Kindle/iPad cases, clutches, makeup bags, zipper pouches, etc. I also paint, teach art classes, work in graphic design and photography.

Tracy: Jesy and I are “wearing many hats right now.” We are working the books, balancing custom orders, ordering fabrics, etc. Networking is huge for us right now, and we are also creating cool and cute classes.

How did you get to this point in your career?

Jesy: I have always worked on the side, helping people with design work, sewing a bag for a granddaughter’s birthday or a commissioned painting. But after my full-time job was eliminated, I used the tools from my previous job and dove into learning all I could about owning a small business and selling products online. I believe natural progression and a lot of hard work got me to this point in my career. I have had the support I needed from my family and friends and put pride into everything I make.

Tracy: I worked at a local fabric shop for eight years and learned, hands-on, the ins and outs of dressmaking. I am a third generation seamstress, and that helps.

What do you feel passionate about at work?

Jesy: Customer service is number 1. Listening, understanding and helping our customers is what we love to do. Tracy and I are passionate about the art of sewing. Going into a shop where none of the employees can answer a question about a sewing foot that I need to get, or which fabric will work best with a pattern, is frustrating. When I started sewing, I relied on the Internet and blogs for answers. It was hard to find anyone who knew answers here in Dayton.

Tracy: I am passionate about great customer service and really understanding what my customer needs, as well as product presentation and looking at things from a positive attitude.

What do you find most challenging?

Jesy: Trying to get all I want done in a day. Tracy and I both tend to take stuff home to finish or Tracy will definitely come in early a lot to get a jump-start on a project. It feels like time flies while we are working and the next thing we know, it’s 7:00 and time to close. It’s great, but we both want to get more things done in a day than we do now.

Tracy: When I sew, I lose all track of time.

How does your work relate to and positively serve the Dayton community?

Jesy: There is nothing like our shop (yet) in Dayton. People have to drive to Columbus or shop online for the fabrics we carry. Also, we will be providing classes on accessories, quilting and garment construction. Right now, in Dayton, the most you can get for a class is quilting or a making tote bag. We want to empower those who want to sew to be able to make exactly what they want.

Tracy: People keep saying our work is a lost art, although there is a huge demand for classes and sharing our knowledge.

How would you like to see your job develop in relation to the community?

Jesy: I would love to see us doing more events that help the community. Tracy and I are working on an event for We Care Arts, which happens to be a fashion show. Maybe at some point we can work with the job center to get some people that want to learn easy mending. We are looking to schedule Girl Scout group classes and mother/daughter classes.

I would love to see Sew Dayton become a staple of Dayton, where people are driving from another city to see us, and then they realize everything else that is here. I think it could be a great way to get people coming downtown again, like it was before.

Tracy: I would like to see Jesy and I be able to give back to the community, succeed and make many more great relationships.

Sew Dayton is a part of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan to help launch local businesses down the path of successful entrepreneurship, while revitalizing downtown abandoned storefronts. Activated Spaces is the child project developed to foster these business goals and the backing organization that enabled Sew Dayton to integrate into the larger business community. Jesy and Tracy can be contacted through http://www.sewdayton.com.

about the author
Tara Pettit pursued journalism at Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism. She broke free from her hometown mold by becoming an impassioned cultural observer and writer. Tara found herself drawn to environmental and social justice reporting and has written for various publications, including the InterActivist, Athens Messenger, Collective for Women, Southeast Ohio, and BookPage. She considers herself a sort of “ramblin’ woman” who dabbles in many different activities and projects, which often lead her to her next literary idea. Currently, Tara is a writing partner with the United Nations, and has been devoting many of her freelance writing projects to her interests in Ayurveda, nature and social justice.

All of a Sudden, but Not

All of a Sudden, but Not
Eric Blanchard

The flat tire was a surprise (in a way),
since I thought it was merely low. Of course,
the screw sticking out between the treads
explained it.
But it was the windshield
that shocked me. Not only one crack, but two
or three (actually, it’s three) cracks weaving
their way from one edge to another.
“Yes, it’s still safe,” I told you
when I saw the worry in your eyes.
But what did I know? It was only today
that I looked closely at it from the outside.
The upper corner is smashed as if
someone took a brick to it or a baseball bat,
even the trim damaged. And you reminded me
of the day the storm came and stones rained down
as we passed under the railway tracks.
That is when it dawned on me: I should
be paying closer attention to things.

about the author
Eric Blanchard grew up in Houston, Texas. He earned degrees in philosophy (B.A.) and
jurisprudence (J.D.). Eric has practiced law, written appellate briefs, been editor-in-chief
of an international trade law journal, and worked for a state representative in the Texas
legislature.

Eric’s poetry has been published in numerous literary journals and reviews, both on-line
and in print, including Autumn Sky Poetry, Rust and Moth, Borderlands: Texas Poetry
Review, Pudding Magazine, Amarillo Bay and Turbulence Poetry.

He currently resides in Dayton, Ohio with his beautiful girlfriend, her young son, three
dogs, and two tiny fish.

Hell

hell

Hell
Heather Lea Reid
oil on primed fabric

about the artist
Heather Lea Reid’s artwork is born out of a love of personality and pattern. The resulting subject matter of her work is a mixture of figurative and pattern and design. For her, “art making gives me space to indulge in my romanticized admiration for thoughts, emotions, sciences and passions. I aspire to represent detailed and layered truths.”

Reid graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wright State University with her BFA. She has painted professionally since in addition to organizing art exhibitions. Painting and drawing are her main disciplines. Acrylic, gouache, and pencil are Reid’s favored mediums with surfaces of paper, canvas, and printed fabric. She lives in Dayton, OH with her husband, daughter and a large collection of fabric.

Stuck

Stuck
Gina Giardina

I was trapped; the noontime feeding-frenzy encircled my car as we all waited for the light to turn green at Airway and Woodman. The smell of gasoline punched its way into my car and I looked around for the culprit who no doubt would have failed those old Ohio emissions tests. It was behind me—an old beat-up pickup truck with a rebel flag framing its license plate.

When I was a child, I spent a good bit of time in Knoxville, Tennessee. My entire family lived within fifteen miles of one another so Thanksgivings, Christmases, and many summer vacations were spent there. Beater trucks parked in front yards, coon hounds running fence lines, and huge families filing into Cracker Barrel after church every Sunday were all scenes I was accustomed to. These scenes play back in my head on occasion, fond memories set to the sound of a Hee-Haw banjo or a Charlie Daniels fiddle.

My Dad, to this day, loves country music—Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson. I grew up with these sights and sounds, so my decision to hang a huge rebel flag in my bedroom when I was about twelve years old was simply about identity.

“If the south woulda won, we’d have it made,” I sang, not having a clue about ambiguity.

I proudly wore cowboy boots and bow-lo ties, blasted my favorite twang on my car radio once I was old enough to drive, and even wore a cowboy hat to school. Eli Clare talks about culture and how it lives in and on our bodies in his memoir Exile and Pride: “The body is home, but only if it is understood that place and community and culture borrow deep in our bones.”

“Where did you park your horse?” Coach would ask as I strolled through the hallway on my way to my first period Spanish class at Beavercreek High School—my boots clicketing against the floor.

I don’t think I ever replied with anything other than a smile, but I do wish I would have said something clever like, “Next to your car. Careful you don’t step in anything.”

I could say that comments like Coach’s never bothered me—I was going to be who I was going to be and no one could stop me! But the fact that I recall them just proves that those comments did affect me. Teachers and coaches have so much influence on young lives, and many of them have forgotten that.

Thankfully, I was one hell of a stubborn kid! I still smiled and said hello to passing strangers, many of whom looked at me like I was nuts. At home, my mother and I sat on our front porch swing—talking, rocking with Vince Gill or Reba McIntire, or just listening to the crackle of the ice in our glasses of sweet tea. The negative symbolism of being a southerner was far from my mind until I became an adult. So when I saw that rebel flag on the man’s pickup truck, it struck a nerve.

The stench of it nauseated me, and I prayed that my own symbolism might out-scream the flag’s proclamation. The fact that my rainbow sticker was on the ass of my car suddenly seemed well-planned as I thought, “Kiss it.” But as I glanced at the truck again in my rearview mirror, I saw that no one was in the driver’s seat.

I had bought the car about two months before. Always the type to keep my cars long after they are paid off, I opted for a new small four-door sedan. I was 23 years old, and this was my first new car. As soon as I drove it off the lot, I sped to The Import House in Yellow Springs to find the perfect rainbow sticker—a long thin rainbow bar. I cleaned the bumper, pulled off the white backing, and labeled myself.

My girlfriend at the time did not understand why I would stick something, anything to my nice new car. “Why do you have to share your business with strangers?” she asked.

I didn’t really understand it either, but it had taken me so long to find a community that accepted me, I felt that I needed to proclaim my allegiance, just like all the people who stuck American flags on their cars after 9/11. I felt that if I didn’t state this allegiance, it would mean that I was not proud. It would mean that the others had won. It would mean that I was ashamed.

“I parked my horse right next to your car, asshole! Watch out when its tail rises up!”

The light was still red. My mind raced—Who in the hell was driving that old clunker behind me?

I shifted in my seat and glanced in my side mirror. A scruffy man was walking towards me, sporting a “If the south woulda won” muscle shirt.

The light was still red. The lunch crowd still boxed me in. What had I done? Why was he out of his car? I didn’t think to roll up my window at the time, though I know better now.

The man didn’t say anything until his tattooed arm had reached inside my car and grabbed the collar of my shirt.

“Faggot,” he screamed, his eyes red.

All I could do was try to roll up the window, trapping his arm. So many times I’d heard about hate crimes and thought how I’d be the one to kick everyone’s ass. Those thoughts were nowhere to be found amid my fear.

The light turned green, and I inched forward, his arm still trapped. I would have driven off with him attached to my car, but thankfully, he did move his arm and run back to his truck.

I drove and drove, fearfully aware of everyone in every car around me. I thought about not going back to work. My boss would understand, but I’d have to explain it. I tried hard not to let my personal life into my work because the words teacher and homosexual don’t always harmonize, especially in a military environment. So I went back to work.

The smiles and everyday hugs of my preschoolers eased the remainder of my day. But as soon as I got home, my girlfriend helped me remove the rainbow sticker from the back of my car. I realized that to me, the sticker meant acceptance and pride in a specific group of people. But to others, it was a slap in the face—a shouting defiance of “the norm”—a statement that threatened the “good ole boy” life.

This experience made me think more about symbols and their connotations. It made me realize that although I did not have any desire to inflict harm on someone whose culture was different from my own, I did judge it. The beat-up pickup truck wreaking havoc on the environment—the rebel flag—the muscle shirt—the wording on the front of the shirt. To me, these meant violence and ignorance.

Recently, I saw a bumper sticker with a rebel flag that said, “If my flag offends you, you need a history lesson.”

It did offend me. I’m thankful to that individual for prompting me to dig a little, but it made his ignorance even more clear. That version of the Confederate flag was not even used in the Civil War. The “stars and bars” that represented the southern states actually has red and white stripes and a circle of white stars in the corner.

Yes, it offends me because the flag now seen in popular culture has a meaning far deeper than the pride I felt as a 12-year-old lying on my bed staring up at the emblem that made me feel closer to my family back in Tennessee. Bigots tore the pride from my flag, as if they themselves used a permanent marker to draw the huge X that now reaches across its borders.

As an adult, that symbol and the danger it promotes makes me want to take a big permanent marker and write ROSA PARKS in the middle of it. It makes me want to cut out the letters O-B-A-M-A and make a new flag to be proud of. But I won’t do that. I won’t do that, because yes, I am scared. I am scared of those few remaining “good ole’ boys” that still have gas-guzzling pick-up trucks and gun racks and misdirected anger. I won’t do that for the same reason I took that rainbow sticker off. Fear.

Those sheet-wearing bigots—their proud hatred—that scares the shit out of me. Those bible-thumpin’ judgers—their devotion to personal gain and self-preservation—that scares the shit out of me.

So I will sit quietly in the back of the bus. I will avoid establishments that do not like “my kind.” But while I do that, I will observe. I will learn. I will educate myself so that the layers of grit and grime on my own glasses can be noticed and wiped away. It’s harder to see people with that layer between us. I want to be a better me—a more aware me. Follow or leave. That is your choice.

But me…I will be free.

about the author
Gina Marie Giardina is an English graduate student at Wright State University, with a focus in Composition and Rhetoric. A Technical Writer at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, she has been employed by the base for eighteen years. Gina has had two essays published in WSU’s Fogdog Review and various poems published in Stepping Stones Magazine and previous editions of Mock Turtle. Her recent awards include WSU’s 2011 Library Research Award as well as WSU’s 2012 English Department Poetry Contest and 3rd place in the 2011 Dayton Metro Library Poetry Contest. She would like to thank her dad (Sam A. Giardina), Dr. Annette Oxindine, Dr. Barry Milligan, Dr. Adrienne Cassel, and Dr. Kelly Zaytoun for all of their encouragement and support.

White Fins

White Fins
Mary Jo White

Everywhere / giant finned cars nose forward like fish.
—Robert Lowell
“For the Union Dead”

Displaced Motor City son, with brothers back home serving
life sentences at GM, Chrysler, Firestone, my father bought
their babied cars, each odometer nudging the hundred-thousand mark,

a Lincoln Continental with encoffinated spare tire, Cadillac
Seville, various Chryslers, one, his favorite, a finned Imperial
that swam through Rochester traffic like some jade-green piscene predator.

Only at ease when prepared for anything, he filled their trunks
with jumper cables, tools, tire chains, a cooler, a jack, stray cans
of oil, a gallon of wiper fluid and, always, a case of Old Fitzgerald beer.

The front passenger seat was reserved for a succession of springers
named Skipper, evil dogs so loathe to leave their privileged perch
at journey’s end, they regularly bit the hand that fed them.

He taught me to drive in a ‘58 swept-wing Dodge, a blue and white boat of a car,
a beauty to be docked rather than parked, one that visits me still in dreams,
his voice telling me, slow down; use your turn signal; dammit, I said slow down!

about the author
MJ White’s poetry has appeared in The Dayton Daily News, Nexus, Fogdog, The English Journal and The Main Street Rag, in the on-line journal Persimmon Tree, and on Border’s (sadly now defunct) Open-Door Poetry website, as well as in Mock Turtle. Some of her poems have also been read on WYSO, on Conrad’s Corner.

Shagging Flies

Shagging Flies
Bill Vernon

Thanksgiving day, early afternoon, and I wasn’t happy. Leaning against the Harmon Park backstop, staring at the infield: it was nothing but half-thawed mud. Ice glittered in the depressions at the batters’ box. I felt abused. “I knew it. We can’t play here.”

Behind me, Dad came up with John. “You boys want to sit at home, and let the weather get you down? Let’s work up an appetite for dinner.”

John said, “We’ll get dirty playing here.”

Despite my own angst, I smiled when Dad shook his head in disdain. He turned, motioned with the hand holding two balls for us to follow him, then led us behind the fence out into right field. He stopped on the foul line and pointed the bat in his other hand toward the outfield. “Go on out there. Time to exercise. I’ll hit you some flies.”

John and I trudged with dramatic reluctance through the grass into centerfield. When I figured we were far enough, I turned around to face him.

“You ready?”

“Yeah,” John yelled back.

I put my glove on, not about to give up a good sulk, not after leaving an excellent book on the cozy chair by the fireplace to come here, not with a big football game on television. Damn. Already my toes were damp.

Dad tossed a ball up above his head, grabbed the bat with both hands and swung effortlessly. “Crack!” The ball rose directly between John and me. I ran back but the ball landed 20 feet away.

“Move it!” Dad yelled. “Get some life out there!”

I picked up the ball, turned, and “Crack!” here came the other, right at me. I didn’t even move, just lifted my glove and caught it. I half-heartedly threw one ball, then the other back, but nothing was rolling today. Even though the outfield felt firm underfoot, the ground was wet under the grass, and the grass was thick and tall. It hadn’t been mown since season’s end, three months ago.

In spite of an impulse to go in and get the balls for Dad, I didn’t. He could get some exercise, too. Dad walked a third of the way out to us, picked them up, went back to the foul line, turned around and yelled, “Get the balls to me.” I was glad he didn’t sound mad.

He hit the next one to John, then to me, and we threw the balls back harder. The throws came easier as we warmed up. Our legs loosened up, too, as Dad hit the balls farther to our sides. We ran and felt good doing it. The balls were getting wet, but so what?

“Now call it!” Dad yelled, and hit a short one.

“Mine!” John yelled, running forward. He caught the pop up and threw it back.

Dad deliberately hit the balls between us and ahead of us so we were running to the ball and back into position. A rhythm developed. We took probably 20 hits each that way.

“Over our heads!” I yelled. “We need practice going back.”

Dad put them just over our heads at first, then farther so we had to turn at the crack of the bat to reach them in the air. That spread John and me farther apart, and Dad hit into the gaps between us, to our sides and before us. We called for the balls as we ran, often catching what looked uncatchable. “I didn’t think I could get that one,” I yelled one time.

Dad said, “Never give up on a ball. You don’t know what you can do until you try.”

He hit them as fast as we threw them back. Our aim was to throw the balls back so they stopped at Dad’s feet or bounced up so he could catch them barehanded.

The sun came out as we played. Everything looked better in sunlight. Eventually, though, the glare was low enough to blind John and me if we looked in that direction. By that time, Dad’s hits were shorter and softer. He accidentally hit several grounders as if the bat were too heavy to handle. We ran up and threw them back quickly, afraid Dad would quit if we didn’t. My feet were soaked, and the balls were, too, and both were mud- and grass-stained. But we’d take whatever he’d hit us as long as he’d do it.

John and I both ran forward to get a grounder that ended up just 50 feet from Dad, and he waved for us to keep coming in. “You boys worked up an appetite?”

“I’m hungry,” John said.

“Me, too,” I said.

“Then let’s head home. By the time we get cleaned up, it’ll be time to eat.”

“Are Joan and Frank and the kids coming?” I said.

He nodded. “Besides turkey, we’re having a duck Frank shot last week. And a rabbit. A little bit of each to get a taste of the wild.”

I carried the balls in my gloved hand, John carried the bat, and Dad walked between us with his arms over our shoulders. The three of us sat together in the front seat of the car, John in the middle.

As the motor cranked up, I think I said, “Thanks, Dad.”

I hope I did.

about the author
Bill Vernon’s poems, short stories and non-fiction have appeared in four poetry chapbooks, anthologies and journals, such as APPALACHIAN STORY, HIPPOCAMPUS REVIEW, YANKEE, ALBANY REVIEW, CINCINNATI REVIEW, BLUE UNICORN, THE ARCHER, GRASSLANDS REVIEW, POETRY OHIO: SPECIAL ISSUE OF THE CORNFIELD REVIEW, THE RUNNER, HEMLOCKS AND BALSAMS, and PASSAGES NORTH. Five Star Mysteries published his novel OLD TOWN in 2005.

Morning News

Morning News
Kathy Austin

I note
how the sun plays
upon the old clay planter
resting on the wooden seats
of the backyard porch
as I shuffle outside
in my loose, blue slippers
to gather up the morning news.

The headlines are not
what I really want to know —
I read them out of habit
and a wish to slurp cereal
with more than just myself
and some annoying blue jay
creating havoc in the yard,
though sometimes I think
that I would be better company
than famine
or drought.

about the author
I have been writing poetry ever since I could put words together, and was later inspired by poets such as Emily Dickinson, Mark Strand, and Margaret Atwood. I especially enjoy writing poems about nature, relationships, journeys, and spirituality. I believe that poetry is crucial to our humanity. It gives us a voice, a different perspective on the world, and an appreciation for the beauty and power of words. At this time in history, that is especially important. I have received awards for poetry from the Iowa Poetry Day Association and the Paul Laurence Dunbar Memorial Competition. My poems have appeared in The Writing Path I anthology, Nexus magazine, and various local publications.