An Overview (Log A.0003)
The greens, the greys, the ocean waves—together cross.
Enveloped within infrastructure, like an orb with swirling insides: the waters settle in the center as trees surround them. Three oceans connect through a narrow river; these oceans huddle close. The architecture: high-rise. Sky-high, arching over the oceans, shielding them. The buildings reach out to one another through pathways (connected, like the oceans)—and these know no time. Similar to skip travel, almost. Each piece in this machine of a home fits and functions as planned, always.
The fresh breeze, the silvers, the tides—these are what make up home, and yet, home would be incomplete without its inhabitants. This Realm has always been known for its residents’ hyperosmia: heightened olfactory senses. Other neighboring Realms are known for other things. Hyperosmia plays a vital role in the circulation of energy.
All this Realm’s energy is generated from its very own oceans. There are the tides: natural, relatively predictable, but insufficient and intermittent (the oceans cherish their quiet time, too). There is the concentration of salt: with hyperosmia, energy management poses no challenge. In other words, apart from the tides, the oceans must have an exact percentage of salt for the energy to be distributed evenly in the Realm. An exact percentage, a very specific scent. Each piece in this machine of a home fits and functions as planned, always.
Amidst distinct realms, here lies Elesphal.
The Oliques and Their Ancestral History (Log A.0028)
Elesphal was once led by the Scentress for ages and ages as tales go. Essentially, she was the founder; the scholars of the Realms speak of her oneness with nature and how she foresaw the need for Elesphal to live upon such providence.
The Scentress began, along with a few others of her time, to construct the Elesphal of now, from its architecture to its energies. She is the sole reason for the inhabitants’ hyperosmia; from her the idea of mastering the sense came about and hence, her name.
However, since her passing, the Olique family—the Scentress’ descendants—had taken over. The Oliques maintain order in and ensure the needs of Elesphal. All have equal roles: mother Morea takes the general governance over the Realm, father Lesthe takes interactions with the other Realms, older brother Iressen takes infrastructure management, sister Midence takes energy monitoring, and younger brother Alsgne takes nature development.
Even in the seamless machine of Elesphal there exists widespread rumors of the Scentress. As indicated in the records, she has transformed into an ancestral ghost, roaming around Elesphal, soul stuck for reasons unknown. As much as all inhabitants sand the Olique family would like to further study this and assist in sending the Scentress to fulfill herself into a higher, more peaceful being, everyone fears what she might do to them or their Realm. She later on became detached from the residents after achieving hyperosmia herself, tales tell.
The Scentress Herself (Log C.0147)
The oceans are off, Midence mutters.
All seems well to me, sister, Iressen assures her.
I agree with brother. It might just be your nose, sister, Alsgne has a light laugh.
Midence ignores her little brother, looks away. Had all really meant well, her nose should not be twitching as it is now, should it? Midence tries asking around, but to no avail; the rest of the inhabitants seem fine. Not even her mother and father side with her.
Midence sets her eyes on the oceans once more; she tears away from the waters almost immediately, the scent too powerful for her to even look.
If the oceans are unwell, might this lead to overconsumption, and possibly ruin Elesphal? The worry rings in Midence’s heart. She leaves her brothers and rushes to the records hall, in hopes that the scholars might shed light onto this disruption. As quick as she can, she goes through any and every log in her immediate sight—she fears no time can be wasted.
Midence, nearly drowned in all the books, discovers an eccentric dent in the brick walls. When she touches the dent, a slip of paper falls into her hands and it reads:
If someone were to call for me aloud, or if these very lines were to be found out,
I assure you—have no doubt:
Visiting one, you have my blessings. And now, to you, I shall call out.
Midence resumes her research to look for more answers. She finds that those lines are a message from the Scentress herself. Further research tells Midence that the Scentress, at certain circumstances, chooses to appear to whoever calls for her or discovers that particular message. The scholars inferred that the Scentress appears to the chosen in either episodes of erratic voices and visions or through her unique aura projected onto ordinary objects in the Realm.
Never had Midence feared knowledge until this moment. The Scentress might—oh, the thought alone is awful, Midence winces—play around with her, haunt her, torment her. There is no way to rewind, and Midence is well-aware of that fact. She continues on, averting the ocean crisis while convincing her kindred of the Scentress’ words.
I’ve never heard of this before, Iressen says.
The scholars might have made mistakes, too, sister, Alsgne taps his finger on his chin.
And in those moments of skepticism, obscurities arise: glitches, bright sparks appear before Midence’s eyes. At first only she was directed by the Scentress, then the latter began making contact with Iressen and Alsgne as well. Obscurities—yet clearly of the Scentress’ mark—and other times the most ordinary objects in the oddest of ways: tree branches intertwining, reaching out to them, intertwining, and repeat, and more. The three siblings share the same fright in the beginning. Her motives incomprehensible beyond compare, they believe the Scentress made her presence a curse for having found her message, a supposed secret.
Midence continues with the oceans. Moment after moment of the Scentress’ calls upon the three, at long last, she appears fully to the siblings.
“Visiting one—and her company—you have my blessings.”
She is…at best would be to say: light, albeit a dim one.
A silent nod, a greeting from her to the three. The Scentress proceeds to explain the behavior of their oceans:
“Our marine energy has been fluctuating—too strong or too weak for the established scent—due to the lack of light. Have you ever considered the light?”
The three shake their heads in sync.
“Elesphal, truly, and I discovered this only upon my passing, is a world of light. Elesphal…comes from light sphere, you see? For our Realm to continue with its marine energy at normal levels, we must intersect it with our innate light capacity. Both energies must work alongside each other, yet this light energy has been neglected for so, so long. And that is one of my deepest regrets as the Scentress—not having utilized our truth.”
The three siblings look at the Scentress in awe, still trying to process her words.
“This architecture is my fault. Too completely enveloped, trapped, shunning ourselves of our open sphere and the oceans that yearn to sparkle.” The Scentress looks upward, then down in dismay. “Midence, and Iressen, Alsgne: you have always been doing well—the Oliques truly never fail. And so I must ask of your assistance to set this all anew.”
“Elesphal has,” she tries to disguise her brokenness with soft sobs, “it has become a machine, all too rigid. We directed our focus to the oceans…if we do not solve this, I foresee the oceans may lose their power and Elesphal will, in turn, fall.”
“Here, visiting ones,” the Scentress says and this time, faint and friendly glitches surround them. “What we must do is make use of both light and waters. With the warmth of direct sunlight, we will utilize the temperature of the surface of the waters. In other words, visiting ones—”
“Now, not only the scent matters, but the heat from the light as well,” Midence interrupts.
“Indeed, indeed,” the Scentress smiles.
Elesphal, with the guidance of the Oliques, turns anew: the architecture opens up, allowing light to spread onto the oceans. The energies return to the usual, but with a faint—warm—change.
Elesphal lives with the ocean and the light, now a true home to its inhabitants, to the Scentress, to itself.
The Scentress to the Olique Children (Hidden Log)
Every exhale is an act of devouring space and time.
Now, it is one hundred percent clear. Absolutely.
Visiting ones, here I must send my deepest thanks, and bid my farewell. I shall rise.
The ancestral spirit of the Scentress disperses and brightens, light above Elesphal. She is finally fulfilled into a higher being.
The Scentress is dearly missed by the inhabitants of Elesphal. Scholars say she makes appearances from time to time, to those who call out to her, or to those whom she wishes to call out to.
⑆ka⑉t⑇ is a BFA Creative Writing student very much into unreality. She tries to channel unreality through her works and her fashion. She can be found as typeflux on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram.
I was told (who told me? what voice?) to imagine
a porthole, to focus across the blue. Wait
for the glare of clarity to abate, subdue it.
Acknowledge the blue, it said, like breathing
used to be. It will be cold, like the first snow,
as you ease yourself across. There is the sea.
Concentrate. I become my focus, which is her.
She watches the sky (I remember the sky). I don’t
see her, it is not sight, yet she’s there on the terrace
watching the clouds, seeing vertebrae.
The voice says, It’s like blowing. I remember
breathing, taking in a deep breath. The thought,
or what sounds like a thought, makes me smile.
(A smile is just a metaphor now.) Focus.
I’m entranced with the mirror image. I need the sea
for practice. She’s searching for letters – an L – but clouds
are untamable, they stand on end, wisps
trailing away into a spider’s thread that I follow (again,
a metaphor) in wonder (now I know wonder)
and she is no longer on the terrace, no longer
looking, though her ache crimsons the scent
of pine and honeysuckle. I translate touch, sound,
sight, want, pain. She is trying to translate, but knows
only blue, sea. Sees only vertebrae, thinks I don’t hear.
I resist dissipation. I dally, imagining our two mists
mingling (what sex used to be?), though I’m becoming
wisp already. Her every thought like a blood-red
light flashing in the empty blue. Listen.
Kymm Coveney was born in Boston and has lived in Spain since the 1982 World Cup. Some poems are in Under the Radar, Prole, and The Interpreter’s House. Several flash pieces reside at 101Fiction. Online translations include a poem at Surreal Poetics and a short story at Palabras Errantes.
Blog: BetterLies Twitter: @KymmInBarcelona.
I am and I become
abecedarian as a personal charm
to am and become
to be and become
remind me to be light
inside each memory egg a gold inlay of an incident
how the brain compartmentalizes like a chambered nautilus
yet it is all one sand – the brain distinguishes one from the other to understand
i’ve made a career of privacy and compartmentalized objects
i’ve made a career of my traumas
what is privacy here with all exposed and sifting over one another in an endless span
how much of privacy or keeping secret is wrapped up in fears around judgement
light exposures popping up – the privacy book the mean latitudes of reason
a wish to bold concave belly flesh shoulders wrapped in marbled warscape
a wish to stand tall to withstand the seas at the door
i biked all over town in the early dawn popping off light exposures drunk on tall boys and crashed into a lexus
the me then the me
mortal rigor in the fountain in the landscape chasm
to rack focus like an aperture to let light in
object/frame stillness among the raging
majestic orifice right there
alate lion in the yard
these death energetics
i swallow hieroglyphs like a carceral bee
fires all around the island in a glacial crisis
war on my nerves a pallor a fungus
the lens has holes in it
a disintegration of the ephemeral
the segmented abdomen becomes integrated
losing its segments as an insect ages
cerci wave in weapons of copulation
wingless among the deciduous
the sense making
malicious octopus reticular trap
alphabet laughter in the yarrow
when you become the lens itself
so the pallor is swallowed, excreted
the moult can moult
Electra clasp the wretches
wretched the wretches wash ashore
pubic schema old days of the goddess
stressed belly the “curved inflorescence”
irascible pharaoh egg-shaped coffin
bury me in this alleged
receiving familiar Legend
Hers is the felled heart a sword-shaped segment
when i curve toward you
the air stretches me pinnate
radio neuron electra radial split inquisitive
I split I fire on all radials
electrons of nostalgia acquisitive longing
how the “stigma persists at the tip” even though its buried
how trauma persists the skins a sun coming through it
wild mouths wild mouths
when the agor settles
when gold dust lament
covers it all
i am a beetle captured
my green thorax aglow
among the amber
my pincers akimbo
like come at me bro
i still believe in a female god
Melissa Eleftherion is a writer, librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & nine chapbooks, including the forthcoming trauma suture (above/ground press, 2020). Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa now lives in Mendocino County where she manages the Ukiah Library, teaches creative writing, & curates the LOBA Reading Series. Recent work is available at www.apoetlibrarian.wordpress.com.
out the machineries of cold manufactured delight.
Push broom down aisles of persuasion,
Tidy stray cardboard packaging, lost lollipops,
Tab ends, water bottle tops into clear bags.
Push sud and scrub machine down
Avenues of enticement, lift shoe scud,
rice, sugar, dripped carbonated water,
my own boot print to be released, slopped out
into whatever weather drips, ices, the shop car park
through the detached nozzle of cleanliness.
Latest Fad Is
with the soft robots
under your skin.
Caterpillars and pigs
your transparent skin
and muscle into shadow
plays of nostalgic silhouette
cathedrals, medieval streets,
Capability Brown gardens,
rivers tumble from mountains.
Only the rich can afford
the best internal silhouettes.
Some prefer strip shows
and a pole dancers writhe
inside them they control
with a flashlight. Others
fantasy battles. Internal
tattoos that some say
rot inside after so much
bleeds into vital organs.
Paul Brookes is a shop asst. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls (Alien Buddha Press, 2018),Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019).Forthcoming Stubborn Sod, (Alien Buddha Press).
as the missiles launched by the famished, agency-severed headless palmyras make love as yatchan/yatchini in the expansive space above the sea, unusually intense acid rain pours down which enthralls the soft-spaceships orbiting the earth.
‘the upholders of absolute truth say—.’ in the process of putting down: ‘in this wounded era in which a few of those still remain, those who had lost along with their limbs and memories their history to those that call themselves civilized; in this era that makes one wonder how is it even possible to be this much cultured, in this cultured era in which the ancient invisible technology that creates histories out of fictions and makes them myths has meshed itself finely with high technology, truly they say: a society that has not written down and preserved its history proper will be wiped ou—’; in the process of putting down and reading this, does a missile called silence advance up toward my vocal cord and sever my part-asinine chain of thought.
the multiplied yatchi/yatcha missiles fly past mountains and cities invisibly, lighting up electromagnetic spectrum, picking and savoring microwaves, but unsatiated and still famished, they migrate in many directions, departing and arriving toward the targets.
Ahimaz Rajessh (@ahimaaz) has been published recently with Marlskarx, Burning House Press, Big Echo: Critical SF, Paint Bucket, Speculative 66, formercactus, Dream Pop Press and MoonPark Review. He lives in the Union of India.
California mouth sore
gas station brass
where a rich black mass
is still in the window
I feel like
and now I know
how it ends
don’t walk sign
just says walk
in either orange
I always wonder
what her cruelty means
She tells me
it means nothing
Hauntings take time
you cannot haunt
all at once
and if you ever tried
you wouldn’t understand
what it truly means to haunt
like a horse in the jungle
the cool smell of chlorine
the nearness of your dress
stories only 🡪 this message has no content / i will devour / like a written thing 🡪 loomed untitled. /// The / empathy empathy / the main character should die 🡪 submenu / enter // my question is when u say you are say u are sad, what are you sad about? are you sad about the world? the compounded sadness? is a thought sad? how is happy? whose is it and what is it like? mouseclick 🡪 palpable turn //// thought n. – a reliquary of loss; an open document; a semblance; a letting; a source; everyone who’s there.    🡪 the season nonetheless some evocative partially solid thing 🡪 extra limbic 🡪 carrier wave 🡪 mostly 🡪 really 🡪 and as the subject of / what do you see 🡪 praxis in reasonable portions 🡪 father on religion save / save save the whales 🡪 they sick / from heavy metals (character’s demonstration of preconceived prerecorded a priori desires /// “exist” or 🡪 my biological episode (to descriptor string   blessed end blessed beginning) 🡪 second death / wearing the gradual retreat still heard and felt / Object. / have been the road       see if you put this like this and this like this / you can make / a mouth a mouth a myth / and it’s the same the same same [the question is]
Ian recently finished his MFA in Poetry from Louisiana State University. His work has appeared in the tiny and Aberration Labyrinth and is forthcoming in Always Crashing. He lives and walks his black lab, Gabriel, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
. . . something about a man and his dog (in the grand, non-linear scheme of reincarnation) as being one in the same. Soul, that is. Ethereal transient dweller, is another. Here now, there they are: Situated between two distinct, bloody meat husks, between two separate states of existent being — at once, under one roof, simultaneously — with one foot in man, the other, a dachshund-terrier mix.
. . . is comprised of both end and endless, singular and infinite, of omniscient oblivion, bright-dark heavy-light, of both shape and void, each with their own distinct name. As a man: Brandon. In dog form, she is Mocha, among countless others (i.e., Mochi, Mookie, Monkey, Chunky, Chubbers, Chunkmonster. . . ). As mutual entity, root identity, as timeless core incarnate, a loose translation: Daielaareux.
. . . will spend seven months at the shelter, gone unadopted longer than any other dog, before rejoining herself again. Meanwhile, she cries her jaw off. Starves herself down to a coffee-boned silhouette. Even draws blood from the hand of a guileless child, to make clear the message: I will never be yours. She waits patiently for what she already knows will eventually be.
. . . remembers what, on pure impulse, will drive him to the shelter in this manic grasping for purpose, going on six days without medication. He will come upon himself, caged separate. His ovaries scooped clean. Groggy with shots to keep him quiet, stagnant, alive. Not even finding himself to be particularly cute, or unique, or enthralling, yet feeling instantly connected, just the same. Might he’ve recognized then, in those muted eyes, himself? She knows the next years ahead of them together will be nothing so glorious — that they are in no way ready or responsible enough to take adequate care of themselves. They will ingest things that will make them violently ill. They will be too poor, too careless, to seek medical help. Will endure vast chunks of boredom, chewing holes through themselves, incapable to leave the house. Will watch themselves from the foot of the bed sulk and rot away for days on end, treading the grey wash of their skull, directionless, besides down. Will be the only life force to keep them afloat, strong enough to pull themselves upwards, and eventually, out.
. . . yanks on their leash in unruly directions, and, out of sheer spite, he tugs them back the opposite way. Each will struggle to tell themselves what to do. He instructs her to obey: Sit. Heel. Eat. Fetch. Up on the couch. Now, off. But she refuses to listen. Years later, their heart crushed by a lasting love, lost — the one who used to (she now learns) smack them in private, but still loves her, despite the abuse — two months out, having still not washed the pillows or sheets, incubated with the tortuous scent of their ex’s shampoo, she has no other choice than to piss on the bed. She instructs him to: Be calm. Go for a walk. Know your self-worth. Move on. But he refuses to listen. He tells himself: No. He calls herself: Bad girl. They scream as themselves: Shut up shut up shut up.
. . . Daielaareux, in countless other forms: A bridge in New Zealand. A strip mall in Detroit. An unbuttered croissant. A great big pile of leaves. A spanned lineage of prehistoric, neon-colored crabs. A comfortable silence. An impossible dream. The 37th Annual Miss America pageant. A one-hit wonder. An impotent king. A fortuitous accident, recognized only in hindsight. The Divine Mouth taking the earth like a vitamin. A newborn horse’s first step. Another one biting the dust.
. . . forever amounts to, returns back to, self-love.
. . . just seconds before the New Year, 2018. Time hibernates. Thoughts shuffle like a deck of cards. Head loud. Skull turned inside out on psychedelics. A blubbery, sunken, self-contained mess of fleshy slop packed inside a transient shell. A dark stain on the carpet, on a mother’s pelvic floor. He rushes to the bathroom, convinced an empty bladder will cure him. It does, then doesn’t. Grime sits in every wrinkle. Gravity’s tandem held hand lets go. The universe’s veil pulled down like a shower curtain, their many forms spilling out over the linoleum floor. On their knees, hands, back, she perches on his chest and he catches it — a quick glimpse, the uncanny resemblance, atoms stacked like dodged shoved in a cage. He holds herself behind the ears, kisses himself on their wet, hot stinking teeth. Noticing it fully, this tethering between them — an ethereal cord, conjoined. He she they them are all was once will have had we become continuous as one day slips seamlessly into the next without a clock, as the crackling bursts of fireworks resound from outside, at last. They have made it, for now.
. . . in the same windowed timeline, will cease just as abruptly as its start: The man, at the tender age of fifty-six, from an untreated pulmonary obstruction; as a dog, age nine, a pack of stale Oreos left accessible at the top of the trash. And yet, both still remain incapable of saving each other, themselves, from what must be in order to happen again.
Stephen Wack is an Atlanta-based writer. He earned an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from the University of Georgia, where he briefly interned at the college’s literary magazine, The Georgia Review. His work has previously appeared in Five:2:One, Rougarou, and Cleaver Magazine, and is forthcoming in The Hunger and New Flash Fiction Review.
The Electric Keyboard Dreams
I take the notes out, I take the sounds away.
This is how I unravel the piano player.
When I let her fingers travel me,
The treble clef trembles.
The bass weeps for the silence
One scale and the next —
And this is how I’ll play,
This is how I play.
Heavy ghosts pour down,
The swimming pool’s full.
Gelatinous grubs wriggling myopic war dance.
The drum behind the keys
Throbbing against the head of a child.
Piano player with a guillotine
for a voice. Squelching arteries. Shine the jugular,
Upside down the garments
Of the Sun. Right-side up now,
Watching her light spill out.
And this is how I’ll play,
This is how I play.
She knows more than she can handle,
She knows more than me,
A girl-child child-self holding a program for the apocalypse.
She dreams of heaven every night she runs away.
She dreams of heaven every night she can’t run away.
And this is how I play,
And this is what we play —
A symphony the susurrus of ancient leaves,
Worn down by a million solar winds.
Spines lying bare at the mother’s feet,
the poetry slipping out her teeth.
Us lying awake — him reaching, she running, we becoming
little nothings, all over again. Smash the keys.
The stars shine, all over again.
The seas rumble, the F Sharp screaming
against D Minor’s weeping –
all overwhelming again.
Emptied bellies growing fangs, together
The kids gang up on the weather.
Heal the ice caps by melting their knees into hot tarmac.
No ancestral fevers now to wipe the ash of the world with,
Just these songs. Just these songs,
Sang into the hollowed-out trunk
Of a dead tree. A prophecy
constellated in the stars. Brightly now
the fingers of children
dreaming themselves alive
between arpeggios and wet bed sheets.
The planet’s heart strings
in every child’s unheard
A Strange Joke
Sometimes you bruise a fruit
To make sure it’s real.
The songs of plastic
Have nowhere to go
But back into the
The hollowed-out hearts of their
Price tags. A scratch on this orchid
Won’t release the same
Geometry into the air
The form of bliss, the shape of scent.
The sugars in these melons
Won’t attract ants, not even in decay
Will they be squashed. If not for the
Fire the winds wouldn’t sing
Through them. She told me, “Here,
This flower, token of our
Love, look. It won’t ever die.” She placed it
in a vase full of water, a strange joke. Alone, I said,
“But it smells like nothing. Can we really
Call it love without ever having breathed life
Into it, without having gardened
Through debris and detriment, building from nothing
The roots needed to feed
The stories we shape – or is this enough,
A slide across the screen, the slippery
Borders between attraction and rejection,
Handing our love over to the anxiety
That nothing here was built to last past
The twenty-first century, so why should we ever
Get real flowers for each other? Why should
Anything living be kissed
into the lonely water of the flower vase,
To grow old, to wrinkle up and dry,
To die. Why risk it,
When all our foods have turned
More lifeless than stone?”
I want to be fed by the heat
That comes from fears overridden not
By staying somewhere in the middle,
Draining the feelings out of every sentence. I want
To be a vessel for the kind of dreams
That grow through even the worst decay —
But she never heard a word I said
As she sunk her head back into a pixelated wall
Further away than I could see. And that
Was the last I heard of her, for my phone never
Rang again. The apps stopped their pulsing for my attention
After I drowned the old thing in sugar and spice
And everything nice. The ants cling desperately
To the floor, the vacuum cleaner we bought
Isn’t strong enough to clear out
All this rot.
Dhiyanah Hassan is an artist, writer, and energy worker whose practice explores the relationships between art, storytelling, and healing. Her work seeks to connect the soul and soil of the internal worlds orbiting within us, finding transformative expressions of the wild, the mystical, and miraculous through artistic and multidisciplinary mediums, facilitating spaces and conversations where creativity is utilized as a catalyst for healing and trauma recovery. Dhiyanah’s poetry has appeared in sister-hood, OCCULUM, and Rambutan Literary. Website: http://www.bydhiyanah.com
Moonlight Part 2
The moonlit hills, silvery sentinels
guarding the silent
desert. The jagged
mine mouth, a black
hole into twilight
Tim’s voice changed,
When I hurt
my hand in the mine, something
remarkable got under
my skin something
begun to change
me for better
I know it is connected to a great plan
set in motion billions years
ago out among stars
there is substance in this mine
allows a human change from mortal into a god
I am being transformed
into a creature of the universe
What do you think?
I think you need to go back to the hospital
This is a found poem. Source: Pike, Christopher. Hollow Skull. Hodder, 1998. Page 75
She has grown great
your own sake
head slurped back
she saw stars grin
This is a found poem. Source: Pike, Christopher. Hollow Skull. Hoddler, 1998. Page 76.
Originally from the hilly corner of Ohio, Mark Allen Jenkins’s poetry has appeared in Memorious, minnesota review, South Dakota Review, Every River on Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio, and Gargoyle. He recently completed a PhD in Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas and currently teaches in Houston.
There was a girl named Swan Elias. I don’t remember what grade she turned up in. She was overweight, nice and sweet, and had blue, cool blue eyes and light, wavy brown hair. I would watch her erase her paper. It seemed her hand and the eraser were made of the same textures, gummy soft. And warm. It seemed she could erase her paper or incorrect markings so effortlessly. Because there was, in my mind, this special oneness between her hand and the eraser. A certain chemical reaction which made the eraser really malleable.
Sometimes, when maybe I erased, I erased too hard and could leave a mark. A streak. But she could erase really cleanly. Leaving no tell-tale sign. Not that it mattered. We were allowed to erase. But it was a kind of magic she possessed and performed and for some mysterious reason it caught my attention. I would become transfixed and allured by her head turning toward me with what I now imagine to be a seductive and sweet smile while she worked her wonder. I wonder if she was doing something to my heart and mind in that moment. Hypnotizing me slowly, warmly, and softening my heart, relaxing my zaniness, and releasing my uncontrollable urge to please. It was like a you can be near me look she gave, and back off a little and watch. You can swim in my electrical, starspinning aura. All those things kids, we kids were attracted to. Sparkles, bangles, gold, magenta, azure, rainbow colors of glitter swirling in Swan Elias’ aura while she smiled at me. And I swirled with them. I was them for that moment and then would land in a pure stream of milky-colored happiness.
Blue eyes, plump, warm hand. Clean white paper. Pink eraser. Charcoal pencil shaped to a fine point. A cylindrical hive of possibility humming at the tip. A cylindrical hive of possibility humming into a fine point. Shavings and curls of shavings resting sweetly in a metal canister—future beehives. No, future bird nests. And I swear, I think Swan Elias wore a head band with birds and baby birds hatching from their nests. Her clothes are in my mind now brushed into a fine velvet. Everything was fine about her. Her sweat beads, her chewed lips. She was good enough to eat. I must have been in love with her, though I didn’t know it. Her big, strong marks of letters, cursive on her paper. Her wrong answers. All of it was acceptable to me. All of her. All of Swan Elias acceptable to me. Swan Elias and her golden heart.
Danielle Notaro grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania and has been writing, acting, & directing for a zillion years in the Lehigh Valley. She also taught acting & playwriting to kids in the Lehigh Valley as well in Boston where she studied acting with Reality Theater. She participated in several Les/Bi writing workshops. In NYC, she studied with Karen Malpede, Jean Claude Van Italie (Open Theater Playwrites) and at the Henry St. Settlement she studied with Crispin Larengeira. In Vermont she was in a longstanding writing workshop led by Cora Brooks. In 1982, she joined The Feminist Writer’s Guild and started a theater group, The Onsemble Theater. She has published poems in Women Spirit, Gaia, Womankind, Juxtaposition, Love Your Rebellion, Ovungue Siamo and written a few pieces for Healthy Living (a Rodale newsletter). She published her first book of poems and some prose in 2013 entitled, Limn the Mask. In 2019, she released a CD of pieces from her book w/ improv music entitled, Limn the Chord and won Outstanding Spoken Word Artist from the Lehigh Valley Music Awards.