Monthly Archives: June 2016

Issue 13 Table of Contents

Cover Art
Front: Baboon, Gary Birch
Back: Keith 3, Gary Birch

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Poetry Contest Winners
Best in Show: Freedom Train, Vanessa O’Kelley
1st Place Adult: Road to Lake Malawi, Lori Gravley
2nd Place Adult: After Flushing His First Muskrat, Cathryn Essinger
1st Place Youth: Papillae, Sarah Senne
2nd Place Youth: Aniston, Brandon Feagle

Special Feature Section: St. Vincent de Paul at Wright State University Tutoring Program
About the Program
Ja’Shaun, Grade 1
Donnell, Grade 6
Myah, Grade 6

Summer D’Ruthers, Cecile Cary
Algebra, David Lee Garrison
I Am From, Latisha Ellis
Toddler Storytime, T.J. McGuire
Little Kings, Christy Lynne Trotter
Bourbon Street Jazz, the Co-op Poetry Lab
Garden Economics, Eric Blanchard
July 4th, Carter Jordan
A Terrible Tableau, Betsy Hughes
A Land Without Secrets, Jake Sheff
Driving from San Francisco North to Marin, Kerry Trautman

Amos, Anna Cates
Numb Courage, Jaylin Paschal

Numb Courage

Jaylin Paschal

It was a bad night for both of us. The bartender cut us off and some asshole (pickpocket, opportunist, whatever you may call him) stole my wallet out of my purse while I was trying to convince you that broken could still be beautiful.

We stumbled out of the bar smelling like liquor and pipe dreams. Even the moon had this haunting look of disappointment pressed into it. Cab drivers were already too tired to pull up to the curb beneath our swollen feet. Eventually one man, too desperate to pass up the fare, drove us back to your apartment.

Once there, we found a strange comfort on your balcony. We dangled on the edge a bit to flirt with Danger; to let Gravity know that drunk girls don’t fear falling.

We woke up late the next day covered with bruises and scrapes without matching explanations. We found that broken heels had scratched your hardwood and turned our noses up at the smell of our own vomit. We cleaned to the best of our abilities and tended to each other’s shameful injuries. Band-Aids and Neosporin were ineffective in a desperate attempt to fix ourselves or to erase the past twelve hours.

When we were done cleaning, and the hangovers had dwindled to mild headaches, we shared a cigarette out on the balcony, still toying with the idea of brokenness and beauty sharing spaces. We stood against the door this time, though.

Sober girls know that Gravity would make a mess of them.

about the author
Jaylin Paschal is a journalism and political science student. She publishes her sociopolitical rants on her blog, Creative Liberation.



Gary Birch
acrylic and charcoal on board

about the artist
Gary Birch is an artist now living in Milford, Ohio. He paints, makes sculpture, and does art conservation. His primary influences are 20th century industry, popular art, and indigenous arts from around the world.

Keith 3


Gary Birch
acrylic, charcoal, and collage on board

about the artist
Gary Birch is an artist now living in Milford, Ohio. He paints, makes sculpture, and does art conservation. His primary influences are 20th century industry, popular art, and indigenous arts from around the world.

Freedom Train


“Is this here freedom on the Freedom Train really freedom or a show again.”
—Langston Hughes

I was 7 in June of ’76
when my parents took me to see
the American Freedom Train in Archbold, Ohio.
A red, white, and blue train
to commemorate America’s Bicentennial,
a traveling exhibit of historical artifacts,
including Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Jesse Owens’ medals.

For 40 years I remembered,
only, standing under a blazing sun
in an endless line that snaked across a field toward
a shimmering mirage of red, white, and blue.
On a whim I decided to google it,
to verify my memory, maybe write a poem.

I discovered that for 40 years I have lived in ignorance
of another Freedom Train, another poem.
Like its descendant, the ’47 Freedom Train was integrated,
but only after Langston Hughes wrote
his scathing poem Freedom Train,
only after Paul Robeson read it out, loud
and proud, in his rich, booming god-voice.
In the South the ’47 Freedom Train did not stop.
The all-white board of trustees
heeded the call to integrate,
but stopped short of actually fighting for it.

I didn’t know this, at 7, while I waited to see Dorothy’s shoes.
My only black friends were on TV,
the Jefferson’s, the Sanford’s, the Evans,
Roger, Rerun, and Dwayne.

Now I know about the ’47 Train,
and I’ve heard Robeson read Hughes’ poem.
I lived, as a child, in an America
where the number of black families on TV peaked in 1976,
with black characters written by white writers.

I live, now, in an America,
where black lives still fight to matter, and
where white privilege is not having to learn any of this.

Antioch Writers’ Workshop Best in Show

about the author
Vanessa O’Kelley had a passion for writing as a child, no surprise for the daughter of an English professor. She was convinced that one day she’d be a writer, but that passion was sidelined by her love for movies. In 1997, she graduated from Wright State University with a B.F.A. in Motion Picture Production, and she has worked in either film preservation (Library of Congress) or film production (as as production designer, set decorator, or set dresser) ever since. Now that she has rediscovered her passion for writing, she intends to pursue the writing life every day, although she’s not quitting her day job just yet.

Road to Lake Malawi

Lori Gravley

The roads are barely paved
then gravel, then just dirt, unrelenting
and kicked up through
cab windows. Our driver
says he’s from the Lake
two hours outside the city
and stops to hug his sister.
Everything along the road is corn
green and upright in the sun.
Puffy white clouds sway overhead.
It could almost be Ohio,
home, but for the women we pass
their wooden hoes slung over shoulders
bags wrapped and balanced atop their heads.
And I said women, but many are girls
walking so upright I sit taller in my seat.
At the beach resort, there are no plows
only wood carvings and waiters in crisp suits
and on the beach dugout boats with fish
some still flapping against the boats
resisting the air. I photograph the boys
who’ve brought in the catch,
and I photograph the fish
and the miraculous boats
still holding the shape of their source
like the memory of some straight tree.
The boys balance wide legged
over the edges, only the fish ride inside
crowded one against another
on the bottom. Our driver chats
with first this fisherman then the next
and we don’t know Chichewa
so we don’t know that
he’s bargaining for fish
until he pulls the rope
and lets the five he’s picked
dangle against his thigh.
He holds it away, but still
some wetness finds its way
to his khakis. I wonder,
for a moment, if there’s a cooler in the trunk
if he’ll beg ice from the resort.
We find a little shop
just outside the grounds
and pose with carved crocodiles.
When we reach the taxi,
an aging Corolla, we find the fish
slung over the driver’s side mirror.
I wonder if he’ll close the windows,
but on the long trip back to town
the window stays down though I cannot
smell the fish, only, once in a while,
I see the tail twitching in the wind
the fish gliding against the green
of the car door, their mouths
open in the evening air.

Antioch Writers’ Workshop 1st Place Adult

about the author
Lori Gravley writes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. She earned her MFA from the University of Texas at El Paso. She has published poems in a variety of journals, recently including I-70 Review, Burningword, and Crack the Spine. She travels the world for her work as a USAID consultant, but her home is in Yellow Springs, Ohio. You can hear her read her own work and others’ on Conrad’s Corner at WYSO Public Radio ( You can learn more about Lori at

After Flushing His First Muskrat

Cathryn Essinger

Since he is a modern dog who expects kibble
in his bowl and a bed from LL Bean, I open
Wikipedia and read to him about muskrats—

“semi aquatic rodents familiar to most inland lakes
and streams,” and he moves closer, panting
thoughtfully, so I continue. According to legend,

it was the muskrat who made the Earth, although
all of the other animals tried. It was only he who
could dive to the bottom of the primordial sea

and bring back enough mud (on his nose) to smear
on the turtle’s back where the earth then took shape.
And the dog thinks this is possible—he has seen

muskrats dive, and it is impressive, and he has seen
their dens stacked beside the stream like small cottages.
It’s the next part that worries him: “When the woman

fell from the sky, in her skirts were the seeds to grow
the trees, the corn, the grasses….” He has never seen
anyone fall from the sky, although he has watched

the woman stumble about at the edge of the stream,
crouching in the grass to return a turtle to the water,
and even bend over the fox, dead in the meadow,

to see if it could be brought back to life.
Mostly, he remembers the smell of wet musk in
his nostrils, the adrenaline rush as the animal

dove between his legs and slid into the current.
And then it was gone, leaving only the world that
he loves behind—the mud beneath his feet,

water pushing forward, the dizzying mix of sun
and shadow. Of course the story was true–
why would anyone doubt it? Just look around.

Antioch Writers’ Workshop 2nd Place Adult

about the author
Cathryn Essinger is the author of three prize winning books of poetry: A Desk in the Elephant House, My Dog Does Not Read Plato, and What I Know About Innocence. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of journals, from Midwest Gothic to The Southern Review, The Antioch Review and Poetry. She is a retired Professor of English and a member of The Greenville Poets, a small but well published poetry group that has been together for more than 25 years.