Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

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Two Short Stories by Meg Tuite


Nelson lies in bed at night and wonders what has confused his damn kids. He has never hidden anything. Did he kill someone? Never. There is no evidence of anything. He adjusts his sleeping apparatus. They told him he hasn't been breathing for years in the research lab. Now, that is something to hear. Blasts of oxygen are flushed in through his nostrils while he sleeps. He has had a few good years without nightmares.

Carol lies in bed at night and wonders what gray, old men look like when they're dead. Nelson is already faded and sagging, but doesn't die. What color will he be when the space between them is forever? She is one of an army of women who swallowed their words in front of that asshole like a fucking train that picks up new ones at this stop and dumps the rest of them at the next. Interesting that her mother, Nelson's wife, was a bus driver. Nelson never looks behind to see what might be washed up in his wake.

Alison lies in bed at night and blasts through a few bottles of wine. She has been married three times. George—psychiatrist was a man walking a dog, a man nosing her into a bar, a man shuddering on top of her, a man at the altar, a man walking a woman, a man with a leash. One day they stuffed wedding cake into mouths and one day he pushed her down a flight of wooden stairs. Tom—electrician installed Alison's new appliances. Run, Tom, run. He changed all her light bulbs, got rid of a hornet's nest on the porch, put up her new drapes, fixed her cracked windows, changed the locks on the doors. Stay, Tom, stay, until Alison finds him face down on her best friend, Rita, rerouting Rita's withered wind. Then there is Horace. He came with the name. They lasted a few years until he blurted a few things out in couple's therapy, took off with her hormone pills and the name Hortensia.

Nelson wakes up to another holiday. His children are meeting him at a Greek restaurant. He thinks of memory as shattered pots glued together in museums. He spent a few weeks in Athens when he was younger. The coliseum unhinged him. Whisper something at the bottom and someone a thousand steps above can hear you as though you are standing next to them. It is the first time he realizes that molecules are migrating and shadows bend over themselves until every secret is an echo of itself. He keeps hearing the name Jacob.

Carol wakes up to another nightmare. She is in a foreign city waiting for a train at night. No one understands what she says and everyone gives her directions that compromise all before them. She is a tangled garden of anxiety and misunderstood moments. Today is a day with sister and dad. She paces the rooms of her apartment, aware of deadlines that betray each minute, tick by, without any consideration for her brain lobes unconnected like puzzle pieces in a box. Nelson told her more than a few times that she was inconsequential. No one gave a shit about what she had to say. Carol has signed up for speech classes and dropped them within the first week. She shakes and cries at the thought of standing in front of an audience.

Alison wakes up to three cats and a tubercular Dachshund plastering her in. Their warm bodies create lack of need. She talks to them every morning with no reason to correspond with humans. Anything memorable said by her species can fit easily into a cosmetic bag. Today is a day with sister and dad. From her bedroom window, Alison watches the geometry of bodies outside stiff as two-dimensional arrows, barreling into a tunnel of wind that slams against them. She will be one of those arrows in a couple of hours shooting blanks into relentless edges of awkward family.

Nelson is always late. Things simply happen and multiply in his head when no one is around. He wanders from room to room fumed with multiple conversations that may or may not have transpired, fluttering like gashed birds on the sides of roads. He drinks shots of Jameson and waits for the uglier side of himself to get back into bed. Why did his wife have to die?

Carol and Alison share tiny tidbits of nothing while they wait for Dad.

You look amazing. Where did you get that haircut?

Oh my god, you are skinnier than you were in high school? Are you doing Yoga again, you goddess?

I'll have a cosmos, one says to the waiter. Make that two, says the other.

They laugh as the compliments get drunk on each other. Carol will never let Alison know that she is taking anti-anxiety meds every day to keep her on this planet. Alison will never let Carol know that she hooks up with men on chat lines and pretends to be single. They connect over favorite sitcoms and talk about their kids.

Teenagers? Are you kidding me, there's no hope, says one.

The other shakes her head. Only a few more years and I won't have to hide the liquor. They laugh, study each other, wonder who looks younger than the other.

That L'Oreal rinse can't even cover the gray weeds sprouting up everywhere, thinks the one.

She looks like a decaying sandwich with that Covergirl powder plastered over her face, thinks the other. Her pores are screaming.

Nelson follows the waiter to their table. The girls jump up and swallow Nelson. They fawn and lean into him with every acre of a want that they don't even get. Once that moment is over they all sit, smile, stare into menus, order a few bottles of wine.

They ask him about his lower back.

How has your blood pressure been? asks one. Your cholesterol level?

Are you taking your pills? asks the other.

Nelson had a heart attack. His wife used to hiss "Jacob" when she got drunk. They never slept in the same bed after that. Nelson considers everything another scar from his lack of wife, who confused Nelson with the bleeding in her brain. She had an aneurism while driving the last shift one night, blasted over the curb and well-kept lawn into a suburban home crashing through the front door while a family ate their supper.

Carol had a lump on her breast, told Alison she was having oral surgery and had a lumpectomy.

Alison gained ten pounds she couldn't account for. Her doctor said a glass of red wine at night was the way to live a healthy life and Alison agreed. He didn't know about the two and a half other bottles she pounded through as well. Everything sits inside her like a balloon ready to pop. She doesn't tell Carol that she hasn't returned to the doctor after he told her that her white blood cell count was extremely elevated.

Nelson lifts his glass and toasts his incredible children. These are girls? What happened to Jacob? He looks at each of them, but can't recall their names. Down's Syndrome was what the doctor called it. Nelson didn't need a name for it. He knew there was something wrong when he looked at the kid. Everything on the baby was too large, too small, not of this species. He remembers coming back from the lake one night with an empty baby's blanket, while his wife burned photos of Jacob.

The daughters smile and ask the waitress to take pictures. They pick up their iPhones and make sure to document the occasion. They lean in on either side of Nelson and smile. Later they will post the photos and speak of their deep love for each other on Facebook.

The Professional Artist

Jared studied the latest sign. He'd already dumped four of them into the woodpile. This one didn't look too bad. He chose brown paint. His work was all about earth tones. He labored over each letter, because, no, he was not a painter.

He put the wooden sign and an easel in the back of his lawn mower he'd bought on Craig's list for a damn good price. His ex-girlfriend had said, "Are you insane?" There wasn't much grass in the desert. He used it to pick up the mail, buzzed down the dirt road until he was next to the mailboxes on the side of the road.

Was this a bit premature? His teacher, Minnie Mensan, kept telling him, 'If you don't take yourself seriously, then who will?' Jared had only taken two classes, but he had forged ahead. He got online and bought a 'Clay Emperor' set. It cost 600 bucks, but he was on his way to becoming a professional and now had all the materials he needed, some he couldn't figure out yet, but was sure as he progressed that the speedball glaze set would all make sense. It came with an instruction manual he would read one of these days.

Cars roared past as he smiled at the sign: "Potter At Work," with an arrow leading to his dirt road from the one-lane highway. He also put up another sign to turn off into his driveway, which led to the studio. Well, it wasn't so much a studio as a shed that used to house twenty chickens or so, until a few roosters blasted into the mix and the neighbors complained. Jared thought it would be a great money-making enterprise with all the eggs. His girlfriend had loaded them up into cat carriers and left them outside of an animal sanctuary one night and then left Jared. Other things might have been involved in her departure, but he didn't have time to go over that in his head right now.

He motored up his lawn mower and made his way back to the shed. The scene looked authentic and coarse, unrefined. He grabbed his apron from a fancy hook he'd bought at Home Depot and spent over an hour pounding and twisting into the side of the shed the night before. This shit didn't work so well with Jared. He had a problem when raw material had to adhere to spatial terrain.

He had the clay set up on the wheel. Beside it stood all of his creations. His first one was based on the Sphinx. He'd never been to Egypt, but had a postcard that he'd used as the model. He'd rolled the clay, let it spin and then molded it with his carving tools. The dignified features slowly imprinted themselves out of the mass, but when it came out of the oven a week later, it looked more like a lumpy pyramid with the face of his bloodhound, George.

Minnie was always positive. "Weave a part of yourself into every piece, Jared."

Jared loved the feel of the wet clay on his fingers as each piece spun on the wheel, he molded it until it took on any form he had envisioned.

But looking at the table now, he wasn't as enthusiastic. The Raven looked like a lump of coal with a head smashed on it, the coyote resembled his hunched-over mother, the man on a pilgrimage to Chimayo with a cross on his back was nothing but bad decisions and The Sangre de Cristo mountain range was a mottled woman with three breasts.

Whenever Jared felt discouraged Minnie had nodded her head at him and winked. "Look at it this way," she'd say. "You're telling your life story through a new medium. It's like the first man who carved hieroglyphics in the caves. I'm sure they scoffed at his efforts, but look at what he's done for humanity now."

Yes, Jared thought, that's what it was. Each of these pieces might seem flawed to someone who saw reality through the eyes of reality. Art wasn't like that. It was a distorted vision of truth. He put on his goggles and started up the wheel. He was working Mt. Rushmore in his mind when a car pulled up. His nerves misfired for a few moments as his hands shook. He thought it best to keep the wheel turning. He was a potter at work, after all.

Two girls got out of a beat-up maroon Subaru. He noticed dents on the car. They had the look of artists, with torn jeans, boots and one with hair that stood up on her head. He guessed they were in there twenties, but accuracy was difficult with the wheel spinning and clay flying. They walked toward him. He needed to give them enough time to watch the artist in motion. He took off his goggles and let the wheel whine to a slow, high-pitched halt. He noticed the duct tape that held the windshield in place on their car.

"Hey," said the shorter girl. She had pink hair, a pierced lip and nose ring. "You the potter?" she asked.

Jared rolled his eyes and nodded. What the hell did she think he was doing?

"Oh, look," said the taller one. Her head leaned to the left and her long brown hair threaded her face like bars of a birdcage. "These are interesting," she said as she picked up the coyote. "What the hell is this?"

Her friend moved in for a closer look. "It's a penguin, can't you tell? See," she pointed at the coyote's nose, "that's the beak."

Jared had been mistaken. These weren't artists. Neither of them had ever been near a museum, let alone a metropolis. Uncultured like his girlfriend, who laughed when he'd taken a guided tour of the city she'd grown up in on their last trip.

"You are such a loser," she'd said, as he barreled off with the elderly in an open car tour-bus.

"Yeah?" he smirked. "And who will know more about Milwaukee when we leave?" he said to himself.

The girls were giggling holding up the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

"How much for the camel?" the short one asked, biting her lip as though Jared couldn't tell.

"It's not for sale," Jared said and grabbed it. They held on together for too long and when she let go, Sangre de Cristo went down on the table in a blast of shards. Except for the three boobs that remained intact, but separate now.

"Oh, great," said the tall girl through the bark of her hair. "That probably cost a damn fortune, you idiot," she said to the short one. "Now what are you going to do?"

The short girl pulled out a wad of cash from her jean pocket. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I only have around 20 bucks." She laid out the singles on the table. "I hope that will cover some of it." She lowered her head.

Jared sighed deeply and nodded. He picked up the money and watched the girls get back in the cracked up car and pull out as they waved. He waved back. He was a potter after all and accidents happened.

Minnie told him, "When someone exchanges money for one of your creations, yes, you are a professional, but remember, it's never about the money and always about the process."

He smiled, stashed the dollars in his pocket, just as another car was pulling into his driveway.

Meg Tuite is the author of Bound By Blue (2013, Sententia Books), Domestic Apparition (2011, San Francisco Bay Press), and Her Skin is a Costume (2013, Red Bird Chapbooks) along with three other chaps. She won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award from Artistically Declined Press for her collaborative poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging (2014) with Michelle Reale and Heather Fowler. She teaches at the Santa Fe Community College and lives in Santa Fe with her husband and menagerie of pets. Check out MegTuite.com.

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