Lyrical Experimental Flash Nonfiction Bug Struck Me

Cover art by Alex Walsh
Issue 45.1
Winter 2015

Table of Contents

Special Feature: Honoring Alan Cheuse

  • Nicole Idar & Elizabeth Gutting, “Alan Stories”
  • Michael Cowgill, “Major Key”
  • Priyanka A. Champaneri, “Lessons from AC to PC”
  • Nicholas Delbanco, “A Chapter in a Long Tale”
  • And back from our winter ’88 issue, Alan Cheuse’s “Bio”

Fiction

Nonfiction

  • Jason Arment, “Fear City”
  • Luanne Castle, “Ordering in Four Movements”
  • Gail Griffin, “Gloria”

Poetry

  • Drew Attana, “Parallel Parking”
  • Brian Ma, “Mirage Roche”
  • Ellen Noonan, “Ditto”, “Certainty”
  • Heather Bartlett, “A Mockingbird Sings”
  • Katie Willingham, “Let’s Hope Kepler-186f Is Baren”, “Honey Locust”
  • Monika Cassel, “Feeding Cake to the Storks”
  • Felicia Zamora, “No Fisher”
  • Shareen K. Murayama, “Exploded as in Fairy Tale”
  • Amy Jo Trier-Walker, “Prowl the Marriage Away”
  • Phoebe Reeves, “ˈƐƏˌtaɪt (airtight)”
  • Vanesha Pravin, “Dialectic Through a Stained Glass Window”
  • Champa Vaid, “Neither Sleep nor Death”, “Tree of Memories”

Editorial Staff

  • Fiction Editor: Lina Patton
  • Poetry Editor: Qinglan “Q” Wang
  • Nonfiction Editor: Eric Botts
  • Assistant Fiction Editor: Sarah Bates
  • Assistant Poetry Editor: Douglas Luman
  • Assitant Nonfiction Editor: Kerry Folan
  • Faculty Advisor: Eric Pankey

Readers

Betsy Allen, Sarah Batcheller, Kristen Brida, Edward Capobianco, Andrew Cartwright, Christina Crockett, Sarah Davis, Kyle Freelander, Kelly Hanson, Michael Hantman, Frank Harder, Darcy Gagnon, Ariel Goldenthal, Kelsey Goudie, John Guthrie, Stephanie Klien, Joey Kuhn, Madison Lennon, Isaac Lewandowski, Lisa Macedo, Janice Majewski, Yousra Medhkour, Katie Ray, Katie Richards, Rebekah Satterwhite, Cloud Spurlock, Melanie Tague, Alex Walsh, Madeleine Wattenberg, Sarah Wheeler, Lily Wright

Special Thanks To

Leslie Steiger, David S. Carroll, Kathryn Mangus and the George Mason University Office of Student Media, Eric Pankey and the George Mason University Creative Writing Program.

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Flash Nonfiction, Literary Journals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Go, Read, Enjoy!!!

Let’s talk about Sheila Morris‘ new book The Short Side of Time. It’s a collection of some of her best blog posts. Click through the cover image to order her book.

I’ll let the blurb I wrote for her book (yes, she asked me to write a blurb–woohoo!!!) describe The Short Side of Time:

These hand-picked treasures from the blogs of Sheila Morris showcase her humor and heart while immersing the reader in the day-to-day life and decades of experience offered by a lesbian now on the “short side of time.” Morris loves her sports teams, the written word, and her friends. What means the most to her, though, is family, including her partner Teresa, her dogs, and her late grandmother. Morris’ lively and thoughtful voice draws readers into the drama of her Texas upbringing, as well as how recent milestones for the LGBT community have contributed to her life.

Sheila and I first met through her blog about her dog The Red Man, Red’s Rants and Raves, and my family history blog The Family Kalamazoo.  Red writes the blog posts in his own voice, which is very appealing to this animal lover. Sheila has two other blogs, as well. Imagine my surprise when I first read I Will Call It Like I See It, written in Sheila’s voice, rather than Red’s! Sheila showcases her photographs on The Old Woman Slow’s Photos. Slow is what Red calls Sheila. Sheila’s partner Teresa is called Pretty. After reading Red for a long time, I had to get used to thinking of them as Sheila and Teresa, rather than Slow and Pretty!

One of the most distinctive qualities of Sheila’s writing (and there are several) is the way she uses humor. She uses it liberally, yes, but also with a carefree flourish that I admire.  She is someone you would want to have around you a lot, maybe a coworker who works in the same space, or a friend you spend a lot of time with.  Since that isn’t possible for most of us, reading her new book is the next best option. Then, if you haven’t yet, read her memoir, Deep in the Heart. You can read my review of that book on the post “A Lesbian in Mayberry.” You’re going to want to get your hands on a copy of that one, too!

Go, read, enjoy!!!

I’m closing comments today because I have to travel so please take the time to go check out one of Sheila’s three blogs!

***

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book Review, Books, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Reading, Writing

Between the Lines with Doll God

I’m grateful to Zinta Aistars and WMUK radio. They produce a show called Between the Lines that showcases writers. Zinta interviewed me about Doll God. You can read about it and/or listen to it here. She posted a short version, as well as a full-length version, so take your pick.

In addition to the book, I talked about the origins of my writing ;) and about my interest in family history.

I seriously hope I didn’t make too big a fool of myself. Yikes.

***

More “on the road” with Mom: hubby and I took her to a fundraiser for the medical fund at the pet shelter. We had cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres at Blue Martini in Phoenix. We didn’t win the raffles, alas. But I know our ticket money went to provide treatment to animals that have no one else to care for them.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Books, Doll God, Family history, Food & Drink, Interview, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Poetry reading, Writing, Writing Talk

The Museum Exhibits Michelangelo Drawings, But The White Shirts Drew Me In

We took Mom to the Phoenix Art Gallery. We’ve been before, but they always have some good exhibits. The one I really wanted to see was Gianfranco Ferré’s “The White Shirt According to Me.” The Italian designer took the classic image of the white shirt and embellished and distorted and improved it.

 That spot of humble plaid in the middle is hubby.

Here is the detail on the bottom of this gown shirt.

They also had an exhibition of stunning cameos. The details on the curly hair was so remarkable it took my breath away. But they were under glass and, besides, I don’t think I was supposed to take pix.

The Asian art really appeals to me and to hubby both.

The above piece represents a marriage of east and west: the Chinese vase is held by a French-designed stand.

I was also amazed by a tall red-painted and gilt-decorated cabinet with Chinese designs that was made in Mexico. So interesting how the Chinese designs were popular there in colonial days.

Contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei cast some bronze Zodiac heads using the old method.

Chinese Zodiac is what some people think of as being born “in the year of the . . . . ” Hubby and I were both born in the sign of the sheep or ram. According to the information at the exhibit, the personality of these people is supposed to be artistic and elegant and peace-loving. They like history and are sensitive. I like that description, but suspect that they left out the negatives so people wouldn’t leave the museum miffed ;).  Mom has the sign of a dog, and she says that Dad was Dragon. That fits pretty well. However, the sheep description fits me better than it does hubby, and the dragon description fit my dad better than it does his twin. So you can only take this stuff just so far . . . .

What will hubby and Mom and I be up to next?

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Art, Inspiration, Sightseeing, Writing

Imagine Alice So Small She Can Fall Down These Holes

The other day I was out by my pool (yes, it’s Arizona and we have a pool). My pool is small, but it has an attached jacuzzi and a little fountain. I glanced down at the fountain. It was shut off, so I mainly saw the empty fountain pool. When I noticed the side of this empty pool, my stomach lurched. [Pause to go look it up: an abrupt, uncontrolled movement–yes, definitely, it lurched]. ICK. Those little dots completely creeped me out. If you click on this photo, you’ll see what I mean. I’m sorry if it bothers you, too. Truly, I am. But I feel a need to share!

I began to think that maybe I am getting that phobia that my daughter has. It’s called Trypophobia, and it means a phobia of little holes clustered together. There are fabric patterns that resemble holes, and if you are Trypophobic, you can have a reaction to those. Or it can be a lotus seed pod, that you can see in this Pop Science article on Trypophobia. You could feel sick when you cut into a block of swiss cheese. Or, in my daughter’s case, even a massing flock of birds can bring out this phobia. Or is that her bird phobia (Ornithophobia)? Or a combination phobia?!

You will note that in this photo there aren’t really any holes. These are little “pimples” on the surface. Maybe these were created by the pool builder for traction. I suspect my pool looks like this, too, but I promise not to look at anything except the water surface! Any kind of pattern where a multitude of holes could lurk can cause a reaction in sufferers.

How about this one? A little coral–

Oh my. Some people say that this phobia is when a natural fear of something dangerous has become a fear transferred to things that are not dangerous. But I always say you can’t be too careful. Imagine all the bugs that could slither out of your basic pancake batter.

Do these kinds of holes or pseudo-holes or patterns that vaguely resemble holes make you squeamish?

A writing question: if you create a character with Trypophobia, how important is this to your characterization? Does it just become an interesting “tic” and a way to identify that character or is there a more intrinsic purpose to that character trait? Would it affect more important aspects of what motivates the characters and how the character lives her life?

On another note, remember how my mom is here through February? Now my aunt and uncle (my dad’s twin) are coming here for a couple of weeks in February, too. We are going to be busy!

P.S. If you’re wondering about my weird post title, I was thinking about my poem “Waking Up” in Doll God that features an Alice in Wonderland  character. I read it aloud the other day and was thinking about Alice when she’s so small and at risk in her environment.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Characterization, Lifestyle, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing Talk

What Are Your Writing Customs?

Some of you probably remember a post by my friend poet and writer Carla McGill last year called “Poetry, Loss, and Grieving.” It’s a beautiful essay and has had a lot of readers.

Carla just started her own WordPress blog! Please go visit and welcome her. Blogging is all new to her, especially the technology, so she can use a lot of support. Also, you’re going to love her blog. It’s about writing and called Writing Customs. Be one of her first blog followers! And follow her on Twitter, too, here. You will love Carla’s posts (I promise). She’s so thoughtful and insightful and a wonderful writer and person.

I’m still trying to catch up with work and visiting with my mother, so don’t think I’m off writing a novel or something hahahahahaha. I hope to be back Monday.

Go tell Carla what YOUR writing customs are!

P.S. This is a chandelier at the Wrigley Mansion I visited with my mother and my husband. It’s Waterford crystal and Arizona amethysts!

 

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, WordPress, Writing, Writing Tips and Habits

You Hoo! Woo Hoo!

The best way to find something is to stop looking for it. I cleaned off a really messy shelf and inside an old gift bag, I came across you-know-who.

Imagine my surprise when I peeked inside!

Her head is a little wobbly (neck string loose?), so I was careful with her.

I put her in tissue paper so she would be more comfortable with that bad neck. And I marked the box with her name: MARYGOLD

MaryGold in pink tissue

We’ll see if I lose her again.

Off working on tax prep and hanging with Mom! Maybe a little writing . . . . Have a great week, everyone!

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Dolls, Writing

Places to Go and People to See

My mother is visiting for two months. So that she doesn’t have to sit around while I work all the time, I decided to take her to southern California and visit her grandson and his fiancée. And to stop off at a few wineries . . . .

Did I ever mention that I discovered my father’s grandmother’s family owned vineyards in Germany? It was in a village called Budesheim, right outside of Bingen. I explained to Mom that proves that I come from a long line of winos.

We not only checked out Chardonnays, but other wines as well.

We were picky about which wineries and even walked out of one before we bought our tickets. Calloway above was a favorite.

Mom was entranced with the snow on the mountaintops so early in the season.

I was entranced with the egrets sneaking around every vineyard.

On an unrelated note, if you’ve read Doll God and haven’t yet written a review for Amazon, I am shamelessly begging for another review to boost the book up to 30 reviews. It’s been at 29 for a loooooooong time. xo

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book Review, California, Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Travel

My Angel Survived the Ball Breaking and Other Miscellany

Today is a grab bag post. Know that this mirrors my mind right now–an assortment of miscellany.

I have both poetry and prose writing projects in the works, a post to write about Sheila Morris’ new book The Short Side of Time, a book review to write for Adrienne Morris (loved The House on Tenafly Road) for Goodreads and Amazonand Mom arrived this weekend. She’ll be here in Arizona for the next two months, trying to catch some sun rays. Her knee is in a brace, as it’s bothering her lately, but it’s so nice to have her here. The kitties at the shelter need lots of help, and Kana and Tiger still don’t get along (sigh). If only Tiger realized that she only has to make an assertive move toward Kana and she would earn some respect. Or not.

And then it’s time to start pulling everything together for the TAXMAN (how come it’s never the TAXWOMAN?) for our businesses and personal. So much tedious work on top of regular work. If you can’t tell, I resent this extra burden.

I had a flash fiction piece accepted by Story Shack. They will assign an illustrator to illustrate the story, a feature I love about their magazine.

Remember those German glass ornaments I keep in my antique trunk? Did I mention that daughter’s boyfriend accidentally broke one last year? It was a silver ball that was open on one side (like a little diorama) with an angel in the snow. The ball broke away, and all that was left was the angel standing on a glass shard. I just found it in a drawer where I tucked it because I couldn’t bear to throw it away. I hope I’m not going to turn into a hoarder, but she doesn’t seem like something I can throw away as if she were trash.

Maybe I’ll keep her to stand guard over 2016.

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A Truck to Remember

When I was just past thirty,  I wrote a poem about my father. It took an Honorable Mention in a contest sponsored by The MacGuffin literary journal and judged by Diane Wakoski.  I gave him a copy of the journal after it was published, and he acted like he always did when he didn’t know if he was being subtly criticized or if he should be flattered. I told him to be flattered.

“Little old ladies” (his term) always loved my father. And I think that’s how he found some of his treasures. Maybe that is where my trunk came from, now that I think of it!

A Scout Truck Grows Older

 

The only time my father did not bury

himself with obsolete and imperfect things–

rice-paper widows with old iceboxes and documents

to give away to someone who cherished them

for their age–was when he loved a ‘sixty-four

gray-green Scout, still toddler-new and shiny.

I took this as an omen of better times;

not knowing he wanted to see the decay of beauty.

 

My father and I travelled long and alone

in that truck that was not really a truck–

no caked mud flaps, corroded door frames,

three-year-old garbage under cab seats.

In January he cranked its heavy plow,

flexing the biceps of the Scout’s compact body.

It whined and startled from the weight

of Kalamazoo’s heavy winter, my father

pushing it on and on way into dark.

 

That summer he steered us bouncing across

the spongy edge of Long Lake, passing closest

when breath-near the bottomless drop-off.

I imagined the truck tipping and me

with no orange life jacket to endure

the cold whirlpool, those obsidian depths.

But we spun on, tilting, along that damp sand,

crushing the last fishtail-smelly driftwood

and snail shells that lake would ever spew out.

 

The Scout began aging–coughing and slowing.

When it held enough soiled shirts and rusty tools–

things not new, too common to call antiques–

I was too grownup to dress in boy clothes

and pretend to be my father’s son, loving

the feel of destruction beneath our wheels.

The MacGuffin 5.3 (1988): 18

I couldn’t find an old photograph of the truck. I realized I don’t have many photos of those years.

I’m not sure if my dad’s truck was #1 or #3 in the ad. I remember running away and getting out to the garage and seeing the Scout sitting there. The world looked exhausting from the garage, so I hauled my little laundry bag of clothes into the truck and fell asleep.

 

 

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Family history, Literary Journals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Poetry, Publishing, Writing, Writing contest