Two Pieces by Mark McKee


That night they go out for drinks, spelunking through the haze of their favorite bar, and his friends, barely visible in the corner booth in back, stand up, duck under arms, wade through bodies to clap him on the back and say, "Hey, that's great, man, so cool you guys got back together," and he smiles and she smiles, his real, hers feigned, and he explains to these people he's known since grade school that, no, this isn't Josie, this is Franny, from Chesapeake, which is almost like Poughkeepsie; and after his friends go back to their table, visibly embarrassed, but comfortably buzzed, she will ask him, "Do we really look that much alike?" and he will say no, it's a game with them, these friends of his, and sometimes they got carried away, but he will say something to them about it, just not right now, because right now it would make a scene; because right now they should find a table where he can build a scene in his mind, where he can gaze right through her 'til she becomes uncomfortable, the word forming on his lips, over and over 'til it becomes audible, and she hears that name that means everything to him: Josie, Josie, Josie, Josie…



We both agreed it was for the best. Cecile jumped from the bridge. I watched her plummet, head first, into the Wasawee River. The water below was smooth. The wind had been calm all day. There was a light splash, then Cecile surfaced, gasping. She paddled in place, drew a breathe, submerged. Moments later she surfaced again, screamed. As she paddled, she yelled, "Jump, you bastard! Jump!" I stood at the edge of the bridge, looking down. I didn't know what to do with my mouth. I didn't feel like smiling, exactly. Cecile disappeared below the surface, then reappeared; just her face this time. She was growing weaker. I couldn't make out what she said. Her voice below was quiet. It sounded like, "We agreed." And then she vanished below the rippling surface. 



Mark McKee is from the American south. In his spare time he collects nervous breakdowns. His work has appeared in decomPCheap Pop, and others. 

Ricardo by Brett Bennett


    Ricardo smoked Mavericks. He bought them online for 27 dollars a carton, with alarming regularity. If he could smoke he would smoke: outside, in his apartment, in certain bars he knew all the ones. I always said he looked like this guy from archival footage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. A man involved in a tussle on the convention floor, the cigarette not leaving his lips. 1968 personified.

    Predictably, Ricardo’s apartment was littered with empty Maverick packs. But he always had an air of clutter about him. His bed a pile of clothes and books and liquor bottles while unfinished food sat among the flies and ants of his kitchen. He even had old issues of the New York Times laying around “just in case” though he never explained in case of what. When we first started dating I wore his jacket one night. It was summer, but late enough, dark enough, cold enough. More importantly in that moment I wanted it. To wear some part of him, I guess. I put it on and began emptying the pockets, tossing each object on the bed. A moleskine notebook, a mini reporter’s pad, three broken pens, three broken lighters, a working lighter, an empty pack of Mavericks, a full pack of Mavericks, a half broken Maverick, a bowl, a grinder, some complicated device that looked like something rich Victorians snorted cocaine out of, a small hand mirror, a crocodile skin wallet, someone else’s keys, a photo of Lenny Bruce and a 1970s baseball card of a “Howie Fox”.

    “You really shouldn’t have all this on you.”

    “What? I like Lenny Bruce.”

    “No, I mean- I’ll get to that- but what if the cops stop you, man?”

    “I don’t have any actual drugs on me, I’ll just say I’m really passionate about tobacco.”

    He was impossible.

    I wasn’t sure what he did all day exactly. I didn’t ask about his job and he didn’t ask about mine. He vaguely hinted at some “work from home” scheme. “It’s nice, I can get drunk all day in my apartment.” but I just pictured him at the dining room table that was covered in trash and ants, his feet propped up on a 24 case of PBR and it didn’t seem like anyone’s “nice”.

    Nights though, I knew nights. I had been stagnating in this town the past few years, sick of the same people and the same mistakes and the same well trod places. All anxiety and saying too much and feeling the churning of whiskey under your chin or next day heaviness of beer in your stomach and everything sticky and embarrassing. Cultivating a reputation of being drunk, depressed and always on your phone so you can brush off awkward or unwanted encounters by pretending to be one of the three. But nights with Ricardo felt like a parallel universe version of everything I thought I knew. The angles were different, new people ubiquitous for the first time. Nights with him stretched out well past last call, hopping from friend to party to someone’s late night crisis. Vomiting while the sun rose but smiling at the dizzy beauty of it all. If this was how he lived his life then I was inclined to think he just slept all day. And that it couldn’t last much longer.

    He would disappear for days at a time. Not that he wasn’t often in a state of absence. We only communicated by knocking on the others’ door. Usually it was a daily thing. When I knocked and there was no answer, I felt an unexplainable emptiness.

    But ours was a relationship with an expiration date. I knew the exact moment I would be in a new city and our lives would fit together less than they did already. Still we adopted a kind of exclusivity. “Because no one else can stand to be around me.” and he paused, “and really kinda the same for you.” He was right.


    He visited me a few months after I left. Most of my stuff was either still packed up or back at my parents house so when he lay in my twin bed on the sterile sheets he gave the whole room more character. He didn’t want to go all the way to the first floor to go outside and smoke so he fiddled with the window. It opened just a crack— as if an elegant way to prevent suicide, unlike the spikes on balcony railings or the desperate blue emergency hotline sign on the Golden Gate Bridge. He angled his face and head and mouth and body so the smoke floated out the window and I saw his shoulders relax.

    “Move up here with me.” I blurted as if I hadn’t spent months and months thinking and rethinking. Blurted knowing with his head turned away from me I would only hear and feel, not see, the lengthy pause.

    And then the laugh.

    The laugh was Abbie Hoffman at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Carefree, young, beautiful and watching everything burn down around him, caring but not really caring, not as much as he should. A carelessness that was self destructive. A laugh of drugs and street fighting and nominating pigs. A “don’t trust anyone over 30” a “tune in and drop out.” 1968 personified.

    “It’s almost like you said you love me.”    

    He was facing me now. Sitting crosslegged on the bed. He put his cigarette to his lips and I wanted to say something about the smell of cigarette smoke seeping into the wallpaper, the carpet, the bedsheets, my clothes, my hair. A constant presence. A lingering memory.


Brett Bennett currently lives in Athens, GA where she is inspired by her friends, her scorned lovers and most importantly herself. All of her published works can be found at

Indian Summer by Jane Lai

It’s 2 AM on a Saturday morning and the roads have nearly cleared…in the distance, there are trucks with blaring headlights riding along us we make our way across the George Washington bridge back home to the Garden State.

Adam is resting his head gently on my shoulder as I hear his pop punk tunes backpack through my earbuds, which are whispering back a soothing Iron and Wine tune. His half empty box of cheddar Goldfish are sitting snuggly beside his feet. I move towards him and lean my head on top of his. I love him so much. I slip away my copy of A Clockwork Orange in the side slot of the backseat of the vehicle and soon, fall asleep to the whirring of the wheels that greeted the concrete and the blooming rain-etched air of a restlessly impending brew of summer. Adam has been the friend that has treated me with heaps of care and affection and laughter and support–and I will never be able to thank him enough.

When it’s this late at night, it’s as if the universe had flicked the off-switch for society and laced us in its hands…and every glaring fixture and steel bolt planted on the rims of the highway barriers along with each dent and curvature in what seems like a never-ending road, looked so meticulously crafted. It felt like being trapped in a picture that an oil painter had worked on fervently for for decades of his life, yet hadn’t been quite satisfied with. So he nitpicks each and every shadow and edge, trying to change something about his picture, trying to pick out something, anything, that will make him satisfied. And with each precise stroke of the brush, he paints us–the moving vehicle–and the city that houses us intimately under a pitch black sepulcher.

And I think that we are all moving along in an orderly fashion towards out death–but what we feel satisfaction from is our need for affection. To affirm our existence, we crave affection.

There are different types of love in their world like there are different types of ethnicities or countries or shapes of fries. There is romantic love and there is family love and there is friendship love. I think these can be experienced separately, but not all in the same person, but certainly, you are lucky if you experience them all at once, and even luckier if they fall on the long-run side of things. Friendship is one…here is another…

Being with her was a vacation and a reality at the same time. I got a breather from society but I also felt like she was also what reality was composed of–working hard for something that was worth it, at the time.

So everywhere we went became our vacation and our reality. We broke our banks to live together in a slipshod 100 square-foot apartment in New York City…but we were more content despite the rather crowded circumstances. We were pinned down paying for rent that we barely made it paycheck to paycheck. All we could afford at the time were Wendy’s combo meals. And we’d procure just the perfect amount of nickels and pennies and carry them in our ten-year old jean pockets filled with cuts and then a couple grocery bags, to pay for our laundry cycles that we meant to do four months ago.

So we went to do laundry–and with her, that is both a vacation and reality. Laundry isn’t exactly the most exciting of activities, you may think…

It’s 3 in the morning and we’re alone in the building where every color that reflected the walls drenched in a pale, melancholy blue–and we’d dance offbeat to her favorite Taylor Swift track in bright lights and this way, time passed a little more leniently.

And for the coming week, we stocked up the cabinets–loaves of whole wheat bread from Walmart and some tubs in bulk of peanut butter and then some jelly, limited to twice a week if we were feeling a treat. We bought several tubs of strawberry ice cream from Shoprite to make our teeth smile a little more and we snuggled up next to our half-working radiator (you’d have to give it a whack once in a while so it doesn’t overheat itself) and watch the next installment of Breaking Bad.

There is beauty in being penniless, scraping whatever you can to make ends means–as long as you’re surrounded by people you love whom love you. Without the physicality of money, you learn to sacrifice more than just materialism, but selfishness, presumptuousness and hubris.

I think there is something astounding about people who yearn affection. It is absolutely terrifying. You run the risk of everything falling apart…like a clay bomb is latched tenaciously on your forehead and you are the one pushing the button to set it off.

We desire affection because we feel like its worth it, despite the turmoil. We crave it because it is human. I guess it is because it is human nature to empathize for other people’s emotions because it is what we experience.

And I think love is just like dancing. There are two fine dividers. There is yes, dancing. And there is no, dancing. You have to commit your entire self to reap the joys and the short-lived ecstasy of that single moment. See, if you’re standing there, shuffling your feet in small increments and just bobbing your head to the steady beat, you are not really savoring, but rather, you are waiting, like everyone else around you. You are waiting for something better, something that will make you magically flail your arms and legs and cover you in happy sweat and uncontrollable laughter and a heartbeat that keeps up with the movement of your feet. But sometimes, you have to be the one to make yourself dance or you will miss every opportunity to do so. And with love working in its peculiar ways, the outside forces will not come to cordially greet you all the time.

But if I were to pose a hypothetical situation, I believe love is a little like this. It’s when you spill take out over your significant other’s favorite shirt so you start a food fight with them instead, laughing the entire time, and when you’re finished, you lay on the floor together covered in hot sauce and black beans and you just take their face–their perfectly perched lips, complementing their array of various-sized freckles, and you look them right in the eyes in committed intimacy–and kiss them gently and then a little quickly, and then slowly again. You kiss them and you feel the softness of their skin as your trace your fingers towards the back of their right ear, even if they smell funny, like cilantro… and feet because they’ve been in the same socks for 16 hours.

What makes love is so terrifying because we live in a society where we’d rather fill up on snacks and empty calorie soda cans piled high with heaps of saccharin rather than sit down for a complete, home-cooked dinner. In fact, we’d prefer twenty double-stuffed Oreos and a dollop of Ben&Jerry’s, half a can of Barbecue Pringles and then some, to somehow feel as satiated as an Olive Garden 3-course dinner. Cue the popular hobby known as instant gratification.

I want you and I want you now. I want you when I’m drunk or when I’m sober, as long as it’s right now, with no long-term feelings attached. My head is spinning and I’m using you so I can feel better, for tonight. And I want you and your friend and your friend’s friend…I know the difference between love and satisfaction. And right now, I just want satisfaction. You are the 3-day old fried chicken soaked in trans fat that I emptied my wallet for with $13 because I haven’t eaten for the entire day. And I want to pretend that it feels like it’s good. This isn’t love.

Love should be like the gentle hand of Indian summer, perfectly in season, heartwarmingly laid out on the kitchen floor, encapsulating every detail and flaw of the person you love– because suddenly, everything becomes beautiful. Each new day spent with this person becomes an experience to illustrate on a blank canvas, and strapped tightly in the backseat is you–ready to be blown away.


Jane Lai is a 19 year-old sophomore studying English Literature and Journalism at Monmouth University. Her writing interests lie primarily in intertwining classical literature with modern day ideals, although she does pounce around emotional and ambient  topics once in a while. She is en route to publishing her first novel in December 2016 titles 'Saccharin,' which analyses 1960s counterculture, juxtaposing it to 2016 societal values.

Godzilla by Wesley Cohen

On Tuesday we elected Godzilla as president of the United States of America. You know, my mom and I had talked about calling people to go to the polls and I even thought about donating a few dollars to the other candidate but I honestly just didn’t believe Godzilla had a prayer. I thought we knew better, as a country.

Turns out, there was a pretty large secret Godzilla vote—people who didn’t want to own up to being Godzilla supporters to their friends or neighbors, but still voted for him. It’s a global movement, Reptile Nationalism, and it’s rising in Western Europe too but this is just a totally new scale.

My friends from abroad messaged me and asked if I was okay, but honestly I don’t even know. Godzilla is starting slow, assembling a cabinet, but he’s promised to destroy at least two coastal cities in his first 100 days in office. I live in Western Massachusetts so it definitely could be worse, but I know that he’ll hit here if he can manage it so I’m pretty stressed out.

A lot of people, celebrities, politicians, and so on, are saying this means it’s time to reach out a hand to Godzilla supporters and establish a dialogue across party lines. That mainstream America has ignored the experiences of kaiju-allied Americans for too long, and we had this coming to us. That what matters most is a peaceful transition of power, and remembering that we are all Americans first, before we are terrified, frantic civilians or toxic-waste-driven creatures arisen from an oceanic trench lost to the passage of time.

There’s a few thought pieces making the rounds about how the coasts are too insulated in their wealthy liberal bubbles to truly understand the desperation of rural, reptile-loving America. When your Rust Belt job dries up and the coal mine closes, they say, you just feel so angry and betrayed by the Washington elite that you’ll elect anyone who promises to make change, even if it’s a man-eating, rampaging evil dinosaur that can spit fire. Others are interpreting this swing towards the depths-of-the-ocean end of the political spectrum as a response to the ongoing fights for racial and gender equality and ‘political correctness’ in America; that white men and women feel that if they can’t count on every incoming freshman spot at their state school and they can’t call Black people the N-word in the grocery store they might as well inflict a monstrous, nuclear-blast-breathing ancient terror on our whole nation. Take back America, they say—either back into the sweaty, blood-sticky hands of landowning lawnmower-riding white men, or back into the fearful depths of the Pacific where terror immemorial lurks, waiting to be awoken.

I hope President Godzilla won’t be as bad as everyone thinks. I’m scared for my friends who live in big cities, who are right by the coastlines, for the people who have come out loudly and publicly against letting a vengeful sea monster rule our country. Some of my friends are saying that we should impeach him, but with the lizard men holding such a large section of Congress, it’s hard to be hopeful.

Mostly, selfishly, I am scared for me.

At night I swear I can hear him walking.

Tomorrow morning we build the bomb shelter. 


Wesley O. Cohen is a San Francisco-based author who specializes in short stories. Her work appears in Matchbox Magazine and Star 82 Review, and is forthcoming in Prized Writing. You can follow her at

Schecterman by Alan Swyer

Battling rush hour traffic on his way to Marisa's place in Santa Monica after a rotten day at work, Schecterman couldn't stop thinking about a joke.

Her version: My boyfriend came by with the weight of the world on his shoulders. In the hope of cheering him, I put on mood music and lit candles. Then I opened a bottle of wine and tried to make small talk while serving a lovely dinner. At last he unwound sufficiently so that I could boost his spirits by luring him to bed.

His version: Shitty day at work, then some douche bag nearly plows into me on the way to her place. So what do I get when I finally arrive? Corny music and candles. Then something prissy instead of real food. Least I got laid.

For reasons Schecterman could neither understand nor explain, what Marisa referred to as their relationship remained, in his eyes, a holding pattern, with every aspect qualified by the word enough. It was fun enough, comfortable enough, and at times even sexy enough. Yet rarely did enough feel like enough.

At times – too many times – Schecterman found himself wondering why, almost a year after they started dating, Marisa was still part of his life. Much of it owed to her sense of humor, which continued to surprise him. She could make him laugh by quoting Dorothy Parker (You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think). Or by improvizing about Godzilla showing up in her childhood neighborhood in Oakland and getting mugged. Or by putting chopsticks in her mouth like a pair of fangs. Nor did it hurt, thanks to her spinning classes and Pilates, that she was always in great shape. But despite those pluses and others, including a personality far more upbeat than his own, he couldn't quite squelch the sense that the glue, so to speak, between them was either lethargy or a fear of change.

After the break-up of an ill-advised marriage, which unraveled when his wife turned into a hypochondriac who squandered most of her time – and nearly all of their cash – searching for cures for psychosomatic ailments, Schecterman spent time on what he dubbed the bimbo circuit. That meant a whirlwind of would-be actresses, singers, and dancers – plus a magician, and even a ventriloquist – all of whom had, as their primary topic of conversation, themselves.

Next came another well-defined L.A. group: women, as Schecterman put it, who hadn't, as he put it, just fallen off the turnip truck. Closer to his own age, they were excellent company the first couple of times together, waiting until the third or fourth date to reveal their membership in what he termed The Walking Wounded. The common denominators in their tales of woe, Schecterman learned quickly, were two-timing exhusbands, insufficient child support, excessive shrink bills, and, with surprising regularity, messy flings with narcissistic yoga teachers.

Little wonder that Marisa was a welcomed change. Not burdened by obvious neuroses, nor filled with rage against a father, brother, ex-boyfriend or husband, she seemed satisfied with her job as a voice-over agent, free from addictions to pharmaceuticals or alcohol, and not in the least bit beholden to a guru, cult leader, or TV evangelist.

Marisa made no effort to convert Schecterman into a tree-hugger or a meditator, nor did she proselytize a vegan lifestyle. There was no waxing rhapsodic, as was the case with one of her predecessors, about healings, whatever they were, and no attempt to read his aura. Still on the plus side, she never bothered him about conversations with Jesus, or messages emanating from the center of the earth. And on top of that, she was a fastidious recycler, drove a Prius, and shared his affection for a gelateria in Culver City and a Persian ice cream place in Westwood.

The only real problem with Marisa, as Schecterman saw it, was that despite all of her virtues, he was not – and likely never would be – in love with her.

Which made him wonder if he was even capable of love. Certainly he could think of times when he was interested in a woman, or enamored of, or even, as he occasionally phrased it, in lust with. But love? To him was an enigma – something even more alien than the GI Joe gene that was absent from childhood on, or his total lack of interest in opera, the Oscars, or science fiction.

He could be aroused by, turned on by, and even enjoy the company of a woman. But to feel in love as portrayed in films or books or in popular culture? Not with Marisa. And perhaps, he'd come to feel, not with anyone.

That, in moments of introspection, was disturbing, for it made him feel that he was being less than fair. He didn't want to be a stinker who was using Marisa, nor a creep who was taking advantage. But by allowing what he thought of as their situation to continue, he couldn't help but feel that he was creating the impression that it might ultimately be permanent. And that, as he saw it, was not only incorrect, but also selfish.

No matter how awkward, difficult, or painful it might be, it was appropriate, Schecterman decided, to stop denying, and prolonging, the inevitable. He would, at last, tell Marisa the truth: that it was time for both of them to move on.

Hoping that Marisa had simply stopped somewhere for take-out food, Schecterman's heart sunk when she opened the door wearing the apron she donned only when, as she termed it, she felt like fussing.

“Here's my favorite guy!” she chirped, giving him the kind of affectionate hug and kiss that made him feel even worse about the tidings he was bearing. “Thirsty?”

“More or less.”

“Then guess who's got a mojito ready, just the way you like it.”

“You didn't have to.”

“Says who?” asked Marisa with a smile.

Dashing into the kitchen, she returned a moment later with a drink that proved to be just what Schecterman had found on a trip to Havana, unlike the overly sweet concoctions served in far too many local bars.

“I hope you're hungry,” Marisa then added. “But if you're not, I suggest you take a jog or something, because somebody around here cooked up a storm. So if you'll excuse me for a few minutes...”

Fearing that his plans were going up in smoke, Schecterman simply nodded.

Not wanting to be a bad sport, Schecterman refrained from divulging what was on his mind during the Caribbean feast served by Marisa. First came cod fritters with a mango salsa, followed by chicken cooked with red peppers and ripe plantains. So it was only when out came a tres leches cake, plus tiny cups of Cuban coffee, that he stopped procrastinating.

“There's something I've been meaning to say,” Schecterman said softly.

“Me, too,” Marisa replied.

“Really?” he asked, praying that maybe, just maybe, Marisa had reached the same conclusion.

“You go first.”

“No, after you.”


“Wouldn't have it any other way.”

“Well,” Marisa said, taking a breath, “Okay if I spare us a preamble?”


“So the big news is --”

“Yes?” said Schecterman hopefully.”

“I'm expecting.”

“Expecting w-what?” Schecterman babbled.

“You know what I mean. Happy?”

“More like amazed.”

“How come?”

“You always said you didn't want kids.”

“Until I was ready. Say something, please.”

“I-I don't know what to say.”

“How about 'Wow!'? Or 'Goodie!'? Or even 'Congratulations.'?”

Schecterman studied Marisa for a moment, then rose to his feet. “We talked about this.”

“I know.”

“And both of us said we weren't certain we wanted 'em.”

“Still --”

“And frankly, I thought you were on the pill.”

“I was,” Marisa said with a shrug.


“Up to a point.”

“And then?”

“C'mon on, don't you think it'd be great? And exciting? And wonderful?”

“Marisa --”

“Imagine a kid lucky enough to have the two of us as parents.”

“I-I've got to think about this,” Schecterman said softly.

“What's there to think about?”

“A lot.”

“But what about what you wanted to tell me?”

“It can wait.”

Having heard far too many stories about women tricking their boyfriends into parenthood and marriage, Schecterman found himself thinking of Marisa's revelation as part of a fiendish, gender-specific plot. But then he realized that perfidious behavior was hardly the exclusive domain of womanhood. In fact it was only a month or so before that he had learned, to his dismay, that an ex-boxer he knew had knocked up a girlfriend after feeding her a bogus tale about a vasectomy.

The issue, in truth, had little to do with women, men, or even humanity. Indeed it came down to three simple words – her, as in Marisa... him, as in himself... and them, as in couple – plus the potential for a fourth: family.

Try as he might to justify, or even understand, Marisa's reasoning – that a child might solidify their relationship by figuratively and literally adding new life to it – Schecterman kept hitting a wall.

He was in a state of confusion by the time he got home, torn by conflicting emotions that weren't helped by an hour-long stint on his treadmill, or by downing an overly large snifter of cognac.

A sleepless night, in which Schecterman wrestled with whether Marisa's decision was naïve and optimistic, or simply willful and disingenuous, did little to help his frame of mind. Though he knew the best and most grown-up approach would be to sit face-toface with her and have a calm, rational, grown-up discussion, he feared that doing so prematurely would almost certainly result in acrimony.

So despite Marisa's repeated entreaties by phone, text, and email, it was not until several days later that they met at last, and on neutral turf: the patio of a funky Santa Monica coffee house referred to by Schecterman as the anti-Starbucks.

After several strained attempts at small talk, Schecterman looked Marisa in the eye.

“So,” he said.

“So,” she repeated.

“How do we start?”

“I guess it comes down to whether you've got thoughts. Or ideas. Or best of all, a decision.”

“Seems to me that you're the one who's made the decisions,” Schecterman mumbled.

“How do you figure?”

“Stopping the pill without telling me, then getting pregnant.”

“Seems to me you had a part in it.”

“The act, yes. The decision –?”

“There's such a thing as a tacit choice,” Marisa announced. “I think that has more to do with, say, keeping the same dry cleaner, or going out every Friday for lobster rolls.”

“You've made your point,” Marisa said with uncharacteristic coldness. “So how do we proceed?”

“I won't presume to tell you what to do.”

“That's noble." 

“But as for we --”

“Is this a declaration of war?” Marisa asked.

“I beg your pardon --”

“Because if it is, I hope you're fully prepared,” she said icily, displaying a side of herself that Schecterman had never before seen or even imagined.

Subsequent contact came only via email, beginning with a lengthy one that Schecterman sensed had been ghosted by an attorney. Based upon our nearly yearlong intimate relationship, which both of us acknowledged to be exclusive, it began, giving Schecterman such a case of the chills that he turned off his iPad.

Only later in the day did he have the wherewithal to finish reading an epistle that proved to have two objectives. The first, which Schecterman found to be both disappointing and distasteful, was clearly an ultimatum: that he come on-board or else. But it was the second that was even more troubling, since it was without any doubt meant to serve as the prelude to a lawsuit. If you and I can not proceed amicably, it said, I reserve the right to seek all appropriate remedies.

Unable to decide whether Marisa had suddenly changed, or that he simply had not known the real her, Schecterman did his best to put that part of his life out of his mind. Yet no matter how much he immersed himself in his work, taking on assignments on which he might otherwise have passed – promotional work on a documentary about epilepsy that, though well-intentioned, he could never force himself to watch all the way through; a PR campaign for a political group whose stated ideals were far superior to the personalities of the members of the Board – there were thoughts, issues, and questions that couldn't fully be ignored.

How Marisa could possibly believe that extortion would ever reunite them was at the top of Schecterman's list. Next came how she could expect him not to recognize what were clearly attempts to put together a dossier for her lawyer – which is why he made certain to reply to every email with carefully worded rebuttals. Then there was his own role in what had transpired, which led to constant self-examining owing to his total and complete failure to anticipate such a turn of events.

In his moments of anger, confusion, and self-doubt, which were not the least bit abated either by evenings spent with other women, or by the commencement of weekly sessions with a shrink, Schecterman's only solace came from an unlikely source. For years his dream of putting aside P.R. work so as to write a novel had been kept at bay not merely by financial realities, but more importantly by the absence of something crucial: a story that he wanted to tell. But that, thanks to Marisa, seemed no longer to be the case.

Yet while his reveries about down-scaling and at last doing something that was personal, meaningful, and most importantly his, helped buoy him through a trying time, there was still something unavoidable and inescapable that he couldn't deny.

The problem was not, and would never be, simply an issue involving Marisa, or even a potential lawsuit. Far more important was an ever-nearing event: the birth of a baby.

Despite his resentment, rancor, and rage, Schecterman would not – could not – allow his negative feelings to extend to a child. And especially not to one who was his.

Though Marisa's use of the baby as a pawn exceeded Schecterman's definition of dirty pool, he would not, he vowed, let her rage mar a new life. Nor would he let her ruin his relationship with his soon-to-be-born son or daughter.

Retaining a lawyer of his own, Schecterman turned Marisa's demands and threats into a negotiation – one that keyed not merely on her needs, but also on his.

Though Marisa fully expected a girl, it was to a son that she gave birth in late September – one who, from the very beginning, which meant entering the world by peeing all over the place – insisted on things being his way.

Whereas Marisa tried her best to create what she called a gender-free environment – which meant dolls and girly things in addition to cars and trucks – Benjamin, as she named him, found immediate joy not in cuddling, but in breaking things.

Instead of diminishing, the tension between Marisa's realm of Kumbaya and Schecterman's rediscovered boyhood world of rough-housing and pranks, only increased as their son discovered sports.

Initially, that meant an obsession with Nerf baseballs, basketballs, and footballs, plus ballgames watched not just on TV, but also at Dodger Stadium and Staples. Then, as Benny, as he liked to be called, grew older, it meant more and more father-son time. Playing catch and shooting hoops led to participation in local leagues, with Schecterman, drawing upon his jock past often serving as coach, then as Benny grew older, to travel teams, which left Marisa even further in the lurch.

Was that payback? Or punishment? With no certain answer, Schecterman at times found himself wondering.

Rarely, though, did the thoughts linger, since he was having so much fun with the son he never thought he'd have.

In giving of himself, Schecterman found a greater sense of fulfillment than he ever dreamed possible. Did that mean he didn't cringe when Benny had a less than perfect day on the baseball field or the basketball court? Or that he didn't chirp when a ref or ump made a bad call? Or when Marisa grumbled about a game conflicting with an activity she'd planned? Not in the least.

But even as Schecterman found his dream of being a novelist going the same route as his hope of being in love, instead of grumbling about the possibility of a lifetime of public relations, he found himself surprisingly contented with his life.



Alan Swyer is making his living as a filmmaker -- of late, mainly documentaries. His fiction has been appeared in Ireland, England, and in several American publications.

Untitled by Noah Cicero

    The whole earth is trembling. The leader of the most powerful country (with the most powerful military the world has ever seen) is an illiterate reality television star. It is true, Trump will be the president of the United States for at least four years. At least if you are a small country, and things go wrong, from a dictator to a flood or earthquake, you can ask the United States, China or Europe for help, and they might help. But if the United States needs help, we have no one to call, no one can help the United States, no one can interfere, we are alone.

    I thought Hillary Clinton was going to win, I was convinced of it, I kept thinking, “No one would vote for a person that has so many sexual assault allegations against him, no one would vote for such an overt racist, for such an overt misogynist, for someone so unqualified to lead the most powerful institution on the planet. For such an obvious liar.” But they did, people went and voted for Donald Trump.

    My friend called me on Whatsapp from Korea on Tuesday, he was drunk, he said, “The world is changing again, the world is changing again.” Since World War 2 the United States had dominated, for better and for worse, but they ruled, the United States was there, and people, in general, had an idea of how they would behave, but the people of the earth on November 8th, 2016 saw the moment, when the people had to change.

    What is this change? The impact of World War 2 is over, it ended last Tuesday. But what are we now? My friends and myself, from college professors with IQs of 130 who speak three languages, to grocery store workers with high school diplomas have said to me, “I don’t know what to think, I’m not sure what I should even be thinking about now, I feel odd.”

    It is like ‘time stopped.’

    Time stopped.

    The whole history, the progression, the movement, was stopped suddenly.

    We had worked so hard while Obama was president, we had so much faith things were going our way, that the history of mankind, was going toward justice.

    It wasn’t.

    We were wrong.

    The Democratic Party had failed us, by supporting Hillary Clinton, our fellow Americans were more racist and misogynist than we ever imagined, we are mad at the media for giving Trump so much airtime for ratings, we are furious because the Republican Party outsmarted us, they truly did, they innovated, and we did nothing.

    Jean Paul Sartre said “We were never more free than during the German occupation.” What we are ALL experiencing now is absolute freedom, the paradigm set by World War 2 maybe coming to an end, which leaves us out in space floating, it leaves the people of Japan, South Korea, Iran, Russia, the people of South America, the people of Europe, the whole world is floating in space now, anxiety stricken, but what is this anxiety, it is freedom. It is your responsibility. It is our responsibility bearing down on us. The era of Wes Anderson and Jim Jarmusch and meaningless NYC artwork, and making funny jokes at other people’s expense, is over. We have to grow up again, we have to become Committed. We have freedom now, we are condemned to authenticity, to a now, because there is no future now, there is only a now, we do not know what Trump will do, we do not know how the Democrats will react, will the Democrats protect minorities or will they give in? Will the Democrats stick with the Clintons and Goldman Sachs instead of fight for the little people who will get hurt by Trump’s proposals.

    Will a Caesar rise from the ranks of the Democrats to restore hope and give us a new direction? We thought Obama was our Caesar, but he said nothing when Hillary Clinton demanded the Superdelegates and colluded with the Democratic Party to win the nomination. He said nothing, and we have to admit that.

    It does not seem, at this moment, that anyone in the Democratic Party has the strength to defend minorities, the LGBTQ Community and the environment from Trump’s stupidity.

    One of the reasons we know nothing, is that, Trump is such a liar, in Trump’s reality that we all must live in, we never know what is truth and what is fiction, we can never tell what he is going to do. We don’t, we just fucking don’t.

    As of this moment, there is no hope. There is only a sense, that something has gone wrong, and we do not know how to fix it.


Noah Cicero has several books published; recently The Bathroom Reader and Bipolar Cowboy have come out on Lazy Fascist Press. Noah Cicero has a Twitter

Twigs and Little Animal Skulls, Pt. 2 by Robert Stone

Read Pt. 1 here


"What do you keep in that pocket?" I asked. The creases that were starting to make their homes around my eyes and lips showed themselves on the left side of my face when I spoke. I felt like being playful. "Twigs and little animal skulls." She was laughing, "you don't believe me?" "You keep silver dollars in it, individually wrapped in cloth so they don't clink against each other, and you use them to buy candy for kids whose mothers look at you in horror and hurry off with their little parka'd cargo, whispering reproaches to them and snatching the chocolate up and looking desperately and frantically for the closest public trash can." "The moms don't know that I slipped some of the sweets into their pockets." "And the kids look back at you in the bustle and make impish faces and you know they'll never grow up to be good boys and girls." "And I feel useful and good." She was laughing wildly from deep in her chest as she reached across the table and picked up my glass and slid out from the booth and said "stay, wait" as she walked with one in each hand. She looked back at the table from the bar and tilted her head down slightly and pressed her lips together in a neat and private smile and her eyes were glinting and narrowed.


But I am no longer sure how the taxonomy of my memories of these things works. If I felt this or that way and held on to it to one day build stories out of as reminders. Or if I built stories about how I felt as a way to understand and make sensible the way I unraveled when she left. If the hole was so big, it was because the person who made it must have found all the ways into me.

And if someone that came later didn't make me feel whole the way she did, it was because they couldn't fill in the empty space she left.

Or it was because I dammed the many unmarked passageways to the pockets and recesses of myself.

In my adult life I have tried to know people well and to let them know me well in return. I have understood this as something that can be done with a willingness to be vulnerable with people not once they know you well, but as a way to build that intimacy. I see this as a way of unfolding myself, of smoothing—not flattening—out creases, showing a more complete map of me.

This is a work in progress. A work under review.

When I met Rachel we talked through the night and into the morning, and again and again for three more indigo nights and soaking heat days after. We spoke of many things, of what we had lost and how we had suffered. Of how we wanted to be, of what lives could look like.

Our intertwined lives became like a project, something to be built up and expanded in degrees. A future would be something we actively worked toward, made sacrifices and compromises for. The kind of thing that people would tell me was mature, practical. And for a long while I believed this too, that if I allowed time to play with my fondness, allowed her to bear witness to my wounds and my wilting, she and I would never come unstuck.

But what I have kept quietly tucked in incubation, nurturing it with prideful remembrance until I could finally speak it here, I could not say to her. I could not say that yes I love you from the highest heights of my heart but I do not feel that it will kill me to be without you. I could not say that I would drive through the night and sleep in cars and on cement floors not because I wanted to see you but because I needed to be near you. I could not say that I saw your family as my family and mean it in the same way. I could not say that you cannot be these things for me because in some dark part of me, something has decided that this is something I had once but did not cling tightly enough to and will pay for over and over again.

I decided that to say these things would be to inflict a violence. It would be to cross a threshold that could not be returned from. It would be to say you are not perfect enough and then ask forgiveness for this.

This, I know, I suspect, defies logic in many ways. I know that my memories of Anne, of how I felt with her, have likely become misshapen with time. I know that it is not productive or healthy for me to think in this way. I know that perfect is a story we tell. What I do not know is this: are there such things as other kinds of love? I want this to be true, to know and believe that as there are different iterations of me, so too are there different iterations of how I can love and be loved. And yet the passing sidewalk smell of a specific kind of cigarette sends me reeling into memory, into myself—apart from the people I want to love fully but cannot tell of what is stopping me from doing so.


She pulled a blue pack of Pall Malls out and bent it open. I looked at her, at the streetlight, at the cigarettes. She extended her arm so that I would know to reach with mine and take one, and would need to step toward her to do so. She took one after me and brought her eyes to mine. Her face didn't move. I reached my right hand into a coat pocket then lit the cigarette and handed the lighter to her. She inhaled and closed her eyes and sat on the ground. I stood watching the smoke plume toward the streetlight, watching it break apart on its way. I spoke without looking away, my voice flat. "What should we do now." "What we're doing is okay." "Look at the smoke. No, up." She put her free hand on the pavement behind her and craned her neck toward the sky before speaking softly. "There's a guy dancing in that window. His eyes are closed." "How old were you when you stopped dancing alone in your room?" "He doesn't bang into any of his furniture or his walls or his cat." "You should give your cat a name." "He imagines the neighbors watching him from their windows, that someone will buzz his apartment tonight or stop him on the street tomorrow and say 'I was passing my window and noticed you dancing, you move so gracefully.'" "The wig is perfect right now." She lifted herself from the sidewalk and kept walking.


I do not know what it means to remember and think of love in these fragmentary, opaque ways. To see it reflected in events that do not shine with gentler, more tender emotional gilding. To see it felt in mundane words and in glances and in the corners of eyes. I do not know by whose hand the markings that would translate into what love is were carved into my bones.

These are the markings by which I have traced others onto me, indistinct and disfigured across and outside the lines and with gaps and blank spaces within.

I left Rachel in these shapes, hoping that with time the lines would shift and be made new. That I would stop waiting for the lines to be filled in just so, with an exact likeness.

I left Bluets on my coffee table for months, took it out of its bookshelf hiding place, hoping it would show me that what I was missing, was mourning, was Rachel, who got me to read it and feel moved by it in the first place.

But it turned out that every time I looked at it, read it, I saw Anne's face, wild and alive in light. I saw my history and my not-yet-history billow up to the ceiling and watched from the floor as it spread outward into thinner strands, into the corners, through the windows and into the night sky, the light of the lamppost cutting through them so that they might be seen and known to be moving further from my reach.

I do not know if recognizing that I have searched for substitutions and likenesses of one thing will keep me from doing so again. I do not know if I believe that I should want that to happen at all. If there isn't a kind of private, isolated act of self-destruction we commit when we willfully reshape how we think of how we relate to and love people. This is not to say that these acts of violence cannot be productive or even necessary, but rather that there is a nostalgia buried deep within me for a time in my life when I felt a specific kind of fullness and sense of possibility. To reconstruct this would be to banish these more beautiful parts of myself to memory, to live with them as ghosts that tell stories of who I used to be rather than of who I still am. To tear larger pieces from myself and scatter them further about.

I do not know if recognition will allow me to say these things when or to whom I need to.

I do not know if it is good for me to hold to these things. I want it to be okay, but know it has not been. I want it to be okay to not be okay.


Robert Stone lives in Boston, where he studied English lit in grad school, and his Twitter is @robert_stone. He hails from Philly.

Twigs and Little Animal Skulls, Pt. 1 by Robert Stone

How strange we are. How different we are from how we think we are. We fall out of love only to fall in love with a duplicate of what we've left, never understanding that we love what we love and that it doesn't change.

—Sara Majka

Cities I've Never Lived In

You love once, I told you. Even when you love over and over again it is the same once, the same one. And you sent me your recipes—Ezra Pound Cake, Beef Mallarmé—and you wrote: Do you think if you eat one meal, every meal after that is the same meal, just because it too is a meal? And I said some are the same meal.

—Lorrie Moore

Like Life

You should read this.

Lots of people I've known have said this to me about many things—novels, stories, headlines, the articles themselves—and I've sometimes listened to them. Usually I don't think much about it. I either read the thing or I don't.

This was supposed to be a story about a book, about how it has helped to make space for people I have loved to live as ghosts in the dimly lit passageways of my mind, etched and warped in unfamiliar shapes.

I came into the apartment on a winter afternoon and watched the words fall from Anne's mouth onto the ground, her things huddled together around her feet.

I can't do this anymore. I have to leave. To use a metaphor, I didn't leave that apartment for months. What I'm finding is that maybe I still haven't left.

I left the building, bought cereal, other food, ate it in small portions, showed up late or not at all to everything; withered rapidly. I lost something like three pounds as a weekly routine, something automatic and undetected. This is something I pieced together later—I did not watch it happen. This, the weight loss, lasted a few months. It must have been something to see frailty grow out of frailty. It must be strange to see the word grow there, but when I think of it now, the way it makes sense is that my weaknesses found that they only had a place to grow from once a hole had been made. A thing to be filled.

A thing to empty out.

Anne never asked me to read Bluets. I don't know if she has heard of Maggie Nelson, has ever been in love with a color. The year I spent with her was a thousand hues of the same color, shiny and reflected in screaming train windows and puddles dancing under electric-bright streetlights.

When Elle asked, I didn't listen. When Rachel asked, I could not, did not wait to find a copy.

When I finally read Bluets I was in the habit of writing notes to myself in the fronts of books to mark when I began. To mark who was reading. I've now left many inscriptions in the front, but the first, the one that marked when I would read for Rachel, began drawing the fault line for how I would think about Bluets, how I thought I would think about this piece.

A black ink scrawl, it reads: I'm finally reading this book. I opened to a random page & thought of Pessoa.

Disquiet is a prettier word for the state I have lived in at low levels for many years. Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet is what brought my attention to this word, to the idea that you could try to take your fears and your pain and put them into a container to be made separate from yourself and then kept there. That you could try to write yourself out of a well. Out of yourself.

Writing as himself, Fernando Pessoa prefaces what he will then write as Bernardo Soares, a fictional pseudonym he has adopted to write what he calls "my factless autobiography, my lifeless history." He says, "I am, in large measure, the selfsame prose I write. I unroll myself in sentences and paragraphs, I punctuate myself ... I've made myself into the character of a book, a life one reads. Whatever I feel is felt (against my will) so that I can write that I felt it." My terror in writing here is that in making a jar and writing into it the things I find and have kept in my memory, I will leave myself without a way to break the jar into pieces and turn its contents to dust.

When I read the note again, I opened Disquiet to a random page and thought of myself. 194. A terrible weariness fills the soul of my heart. I feel sad because of whom I never was, and I don't know with what kind of nostalgia I miss him. I fell, with every sunset, against my hopes and certainties.

Bluets is barely a text to me. It is an invocation of multitudes, of the lives I have repeatedly chosen not to live, and, within them, the many lives I was not permitted to live.

I had a dream the night I reread Bluets. In it, I was in a field I had never seen before, folding a paper plane in tall grass with a woman whose face I did not know. She pulled my hair back and I knew she was Rachel, though she had the face of another. When I woke, I couldn't be sure that I hadn't simply forgotten what she looked like, that she hadn't grown into someone else in my mind.

Then I wondered if she hadn't been someone else the entire time I knew her. If the things I loved in her were only refinements or recurrences of things I had loved in Anne. There is an odd thing that happens in the way we build narratives around the events of our lives and then make meaning out of these narratives. The different cycles of our lives are stitched together in kid craft ways that we do not see as threadbare. We didn't know ourselves then, were reaching feebly in the night to strange bathroom walls for light switches so that we would later learn from our shortcomings, be better, see the walls lit less dimly.

We believe that when two people are sewn together, their plumage blending into a single pattern, then cast into the world to walk as ghosts, it is so that space can be made for another. That it was a test run. But we live with these specters.

I understood my dream about Rachel, then, as a sign that my relationship with Bluets was about my relationship with her. I had forgotten, momentarily, that those relationships, like each one I've had in its wake, were mainly about my relationship with Anne.

When I'm asked what I loved best in Anne, I only know how to explain in terms of emotional memory. What I remember of her, what I have measured others I've loved against, is how utterly whole I remember feeling on deserted roads lit beyond her headlights by a waxing moon tucked in part behind a low and scattered cloud ceiling, on the steps of our building, sat propped against the edges of its alcove entryway, cigarette smoke climbing to streetlights and treetops as wheels went drifting by in twos and fours. How electric and alive I felt talking and listening to her. How it broke me to be without her.


She stopped walking and turned to face me underneath the streetlight and, grinning with the right side of her mouth, spoke in a muted tone. "I feel like a great beauty." "Don't." "Don't?" "Say that." "Don't say what." "Great beauty. Things like that." "Like that." "People don't say things like that." "What things do people say?" "Why did we stop walking. Why did you stop?" She turned slightly, bringing the streetlight into view, and looked up at it. As the light hit her face it stole into her eye and her grin grow sinister. I looked down at the sidewalk, away from her feet. After a minute or two she spoke again, her face and body still turned toward the streetlight, her voice brass, loud and laughing. "Let's fight. Let's punch and kick each other and have a fistfight." "A fistfight. Okay." "You don't like the wig." "Have you ever been in a fight?" "You were laughing when you said it looked good. 'Yeah, it looks great,' you said." "I like the color of your real hair. I like the wig." She crossed her arms and started walking rapidly in wide circles, the light hitting her in intervals, the shock of purple the last thing I saw each time she slipped into darkness. She stopped walking and reached into her coat, into a concealed interior pocket in the lining that I had asked about once from across the table in the deep violet glow of a near- empty bar on a different Tuesday or Wednesday night.


Robert Stone lives in Boston, where he studied English lit in grad school, and his Twitter is @robert_stone. He hails from Philly.

DAY FOUR: Selected Artwork by Noah Tavlin

Noah Tavlin is an artist, animator and writer. He is a native of Hoboken, New Jersey and the greater Jersey City metropolitan area. His work draws on influences from a variety of themes, including: punk music, secular and religious Judaism, New York, New Jersey, masculinity, environmentalism, cartoons, comedy, war, displacement, psychedelic drugs, and anxiety. Noah's work has been recently featured in Noise Love Fest in Brooklyn and at the Jersey City Art & Studios festival. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @noahtavlin, and contact him there to purchase his work, to inquire about commissions and collaborations, or to say hi.

DAY THREE: Selected Artwork by Noah Tavlin

Noah Tavlin is an artist, animator and writer. He is a native of Hoboken, New Jersey and the greater Jersey City metropolitan area. His work draws on influences from a variety of themes, including: punk music, secular and religious Judaism, New York, New Jersey, masculinity, environmentalism, cartoons, comedy, war, displacement, psychedelic drugs, and anxiety. Noah's work has been recently featured in Noise Love Fest in Brooklyn and at the Jersey City Art & Studios festival. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @noahtavlin, and contact him there to purchase his work, to inquire about commissions and collaborations, or to say hi.

DAY TWO: Selected Artworks by Noah Tavlin

Noah Tavlin is an artist, animator and writer. He is a native of Hoboken, New Jersey and the greater Jersey City metropolitan area. His work draws on influences from a variety of themes, including: punk music, secular and religious Judaism, New York, New Jersey, masculinity, environmentalism, cartoons, comedy, war, displacement, psychedelic drugs, and anxiety. Noah's work has been recently featured in Noise Love Fest in Brooklyn and at the Jersey City Art & Studios festival. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @noahtavlin, and contact him there to purchase his work, to inquire about commissions and collaborations, or to say hi.

DAY ONE: Selected Artwork by Noah Tavlin


Noah Tavlin is an artist, animator and writer. He is a native of Hoboken, New Jersey and the greater Jersey City metropolitan area. His work draws on influences from a variety of themes, including: punk music, secular and religious Judaism, New York, New Jersey, masculinity, environmentalism, cartoons, comedy, war, displacement, psychedelic drugs, and anxiety. Noah's work has been recently featured in Noise Love Fest in Brooklyn and at the Jersey City Art & Studios festival. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @noahtavlin, and contact him there to purchase his work, to inquire about commissions and collaborations, or to say hi.

day five: for emi by friends of emi

At Cadillac Ranch


I was sitting with my boyfriend Matt, in the middle-of-nowhere Amarillo, Texas with some rusty spray painted Cadillacs sticking up out of the ground en route to Los Angeles when I found out.

Deep breaths. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

My shattered illusion of hope that she would come back, the one I was clinging onto failed. I thought there was time for a miracle. Where was the miracle? 

I scrolled through my text messages. E-m-i-l-y. The familiar photo in my favorites list. What was our last conversation? 

We were going to see each other in a week. Maybe less. She had another cool project. She was writing a lot. She enjoyed school.

Where was the miracle?


I remembered an experience I had heard recently. It was a woman who actually died for a minute. And then she came back. But she didn't have a huge chance at living. It was possible her heart would stop permanently. Her family thought it was the end, and they gathered at the hospital. And the father, her husband, said to everyone: "If your mother lives, it will be a miracle. But if she dies, there is also the miracle of death." 

Miracle of death. The phrase stuck with me. I didn't know what it meant. It didn't feel very miraculous then or on days when I'm driving and I forget and I think about calling her or texting her to see how she's doing, what other amazing new project she's thinking about.

But there is. 

I saw the miracle at her memorial. All the people that gathered. Inspired words. Her writings and special objects displayed like a museum. Emily displayed. Honored. In my mind, I saw her looking at everyone. I saw her observing, interacting, appreciative. And happy. 

There is the miracle that she truly does live on. Not only in the remembrance of those she loved and loved her, not only in her writings and thoughts, and experiences she taught me and others, but in eternity. I believe that. I know that. 

She transitioned into something greater.

So Matt and I took the spray cans we had previously bought — blue and white — and created something for her in the middle of this nothing. On layers and layers of other spray-painted Cadillacs. "For Emily" it says. In a sky of periwinkle blue and clouds of white. Surrounded by an encircled heart. Because in that moment, it's all we could do. 

And no one around us saw, no one realized the depth of my sadness. No one knew what we were doing, who we were doing it for. But it didn't matter. It became. It existed. And it still does. Probably under more and more layers of spray paint. But it's still there. Just as life layers and continues to build. More memories. More happy. More sad. 

She is permanently one of those many layers. Influencing all the other ones on top and in-between, whether anyone sees it or not.

She is always remembered. 

— Madeline Kleinman, May 2016


Your Name Is My Favorite Refrain


emi, I've been writing your name across the country
emi, I've been leaving you notes
emi, I saw you as the strawberry moon

last night in Wyoming
the sky was glowing
the road flowed onward
and I felt I knew
what was happening
behind the scenes

—Leah Clancy, July 2016 

day three: for emi by friends of emi

dropping new fruit

the little tomato plant in a can
that was handed to me
is still stretching its long neck up
toward the light
that hand i held yesterday
everywhere i look
still dropping fruit


A Hundred New Pieces

It's been a little over two months, emi. By now you will have flown far over the moon and back. You will have been to the Marianas Trench and made friends with an angler fish. You will have pressed yourself between two tectonic plates and shaken us awake in the night. By now you're wondering what else there is to be. Today, perhaps you will have already become a hundred new pieces. A hundred newborns squeal for the first time, all bearing a mark on their souls, of which you will be a small but integral part. Happy birthday. 

July 7th, 2016


—Rebecca Jordan



Here's a sketch I drew of emi on our first day of class. The quote is what she said she was interested in writing about. of course. :)

— Jamila Reddy

day one: for emi by friends of emi

Total Solar Eclipse

by Jacqueline Young


                The mechanics of rocks passing each other
                the way we saw you one moment and
                not the next

                we all stood on the sidewalk our
                makeshift pinhole cameras—
                drawing cardboard forward and back

                to watch up close as are beautiful
                and very far as are fact