Barista by Blaize Dicus

Blaize Dicus is a graduate student at the University of Central Oklahoma. His thesis questions genre by melding prose and poetry to tell one narrative that explores the influence of internal and external forces on identity.

 

Barista
She loves A$AP Rocky. She listens to every word her mother tells her. She cuts her curls short. She hears, You look like a boy now. She doesn’t care what her father says. She cries alone, in her Pottery Barn comforter. She cries with him, under a flea-infested Walmart fleece. She makes coffee for the pinstriped-crew-cut. She finishes her Psychology for Adults homework at two a.m. She orders herself a new sofa. She never sits on it. She just wanted to prove she really was Jennifer Garner with that stupid wishing-dollhouse. She makes a vanilla bean, two pumps caramel, three shots of expresso, no water safety-net for the nineteen year old nursing student. She never sees her again. She calls her brother, her expert, to ask if she should apply for other part-time jobs. She hangs her Associate’s degree on a nail she beat into the wall with her seventeen year old temper. She feels our dad’s boots on the hardwood floor. She waits until they stomp concrete. She knows he won’t tell her goodnight. She knows what he does in his man cave. She feels he’s gone. She feels safe. You can be anything you want unless the government tells you that you can’t. She doesn’t know what to do with her grandmother’s tits. She thanks the boys. She doesn’t get another job. She rolls her eyes while making a chai. She pauses to look—buzzed neck, pearl earrings, and a painted-purple lip. She wonders if she felt like her, too.

Electrostatic & Magic by Mitchell Nobis

Mitchell Nobis is a writer, an educator, and an aging pickup basketball player in Metro Detroit. A Philip Levine Prize semi-finalist, his work has appeared in English Journal and other publications. He co-authored Real Writing: Modernizing the Old School Essay, a book for writing teachers. Find him at @MitchNobis.
Electrostatic & Magic
Our atoms are
           99.9999999999996% empty,
yet here it all is, everything.
Here we are, empty.
Maybe that explains the anxiety that keeps us awake at night.
Here we are,
          0.0000000000004% matter
and the rest a wicked brew of
vacuum & abstraction,
our empty space filling itself at night
with…well,
maybe with magic.
Shitty magic, it would seem, but perhaps still magic.
Is that what keeps us up every night, dark & unknown
I’ll lie there, listening,
eyes closed to the dull streetlight seeping through the blinds,
feeling my heart thrum
like a train rumbling across America—
rumbling over tensions, rumbling through time,
keeping an eye on the trestles, praying they hold together,
trusting in the Science & Magic
of the train I ride.

Hardly Worth Mentioning by Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller is a student at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. When not writing, she enjoys taking care of her chickens and avoiding major sporting events.

 

Hardly Worth Mentioning

The night is dark except for the soft cigarette glow between my fingers. Somehow it’s even hotter back here behind the main cabin. But it’s the last place anyone would look for stray smokers, so here I am.

READ MORE…

Photography by Jury S. Judge

Jury S. Judge is an internationally published artist, writer, photographer, and political cartoonist. She contributes to The Noise, a literary arts and news magazine. Her ‘Astronomy Comedy’ cartoons are also published in the Lowell Observer. Her artwork has been widely featured in literary publications such as Claudius Speaks, South 85 Journal, The Tishman Review, and Dodging The Rain. She has been interviewed on the television news program, ‘NAZ Today’ for her work as a political cartoonist. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 2014.

 

Pasture Products, Digital Photography, 2017

 

Slot Canyon, Digital Photography, 2017

 

Purple Rose, Digital Photography, 2017

Colours of My Life by Smrita Jain

Size: 22”X30” (without frame)

Medium: Tempera Pigment, Gold Ink, Pencil on
Arches Natural White Cold Press Watercolor Paper
1/1 edition
2014

Life is a set of millions of experiences, all juxtaposed to create an illusion and sensation of happiness and sadness. “Colours of My Life”, is 1/1 edition from a series of more than 25 paintings created by Smrita titled, “Broken”. The series depicts Smrita’s life experiences–shattering moments that created an unforgivable hole. At the center lies, an illusion of breakdown or coming together. The unease and the tension between the forms is Smrita’s representation of life. An asymmetrical, yet rhythmic, flow of colors and movement forms into pieces, leaving a gap in the middle. This theme has become Smrita’s patent and signature style, especially when working with Tempera pigment.Smrita Jain is an NYC-based award-winning designer at The Aquario Group and an internationally renowned artist at Surmrit Gallery of Art and Design, with studios located in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Her art has been showcased in New York, London and India. She is a cultural documentary photographer. Her first photography book Creating Durga gained international recognition. Her second book, an autobiography, called Fat Free Samosa is due for release in 2018.

She was the keynote speaker at KADLondon2017, a creativity conference and has also spoken at Global Status of Women and Girls. In addition to being a published writer, Smrita is a design mentor for students. She has exhibited at Pratt Institute, Javits Center, Queens Museum, The Juliana Curran Terian Design Center Pavilion, The Arthur M. Berger Art Gallery and The Nehru Center London.

As a designer, she has worked with various companies including Wilbur-Ellis, Financial Accounting Foundation, Ernst & Young, WebMD, Manchester Designer Outlets, Google, JDRF, Tyco, Rockefeller Center Collaborative Research Center, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Ministry of Indian Tourism and Supreme Court Museum of India. She has won awards, amongst others, from American Graphic Design, Creativity International, Summit International Creative, London International Creative and Design Firms.

Spoken Poems by Rose O’Gara

Rose is a sophomore in college. She’s not good at writing these, but she loves to write fiction and poetry, mostly, but anything when inspired. She lives with her family in Rhode Island, that tiny state everyone thinks is part of New York. She’s always gotten a kick out of that.

My Mother Always Told Me:

 

They Say We Are What We Eat:

 

Wasteful Thinking: 

Spoken Poems by Stephen Scott Whitaker

Stephen Scott Whitaker is a member of National Book Critics Circle, and literary review editor for The Broadkill Review. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in dozens of publications including Oxford Poetry, Anderbo, Grub Street, and others. He lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with his family.

The podcasting duo, Alpine Strangers, recorded these poems. The Alpine Strangers consists of Nate McFadden and Cody Grimm.

Surrender: 

 

Winter Fever: 

Spoken Short Story by P.A.W.

P.A.W. is a musician, writer, dancer, and audio documentarian. After a few years traveling with the band Tumbling Bones (including two State Department-sponsored tours of Eastern Europe), P.A.W. refocused their energy into audio art. Most recently, P.A.W. finished production on a historical audio documentary titled, “Making an American Folk Song: Children, Go Where I Send Thee.”

“The Christmas Tree” is a short story set to music. Text, arrangement, narration, and tin whistle by P.A.W. Audio engineering, mixing, and guitar by Chris Connors. Upright bass by John Murchinson. Background song is “Christmas Time is Here” by Vince Guaraldi.

Short Play by Emma Johnson-Rivard

Emma Johnson-Rivard is a Masters student at Hamline University. She received her undergraduate degree in Film Studies at Smith College in Massachusetts and currently lives in Minnesota with her dogs and far too many books. Her work has appeared in Mistake House, the Olive Press, and the Santa Ana River Review.

 

The Painter Seeks A Muse And The Historian Lectures on Jack The Ripper

A short play

Two friends sit drinking coffee. The Historian carries a book bag. The PAINTER has a portfolio and is taking notes on a piece of paper.

PAINTER

Be as honest as you can.

HISTORIAN

I wasn’t aware people interviewed their muses.

PAINTER

I don’t have to take notes, if that makes it easier.

HISTORIAN

Studies show that handwritten notes improve memory retention and increased comprehension of abstract concepts.

PAINTER

So…

HISTORIAN

Go ahead.

PAINTER

Thank you. I just wanted to say, you don’t have to answer everything. I’d like you to be hones, but if there’s anywhere you don’t want me to go, just say so.

HISTORIAN

That’s very polite of you.

PAINTER

I don’t want to hurt anyone with my work unless I mean to.

HISTORIAN

Do you mean to hurt people?

PAINTER

Sometimes I mean to insult them or force you to see a painful truth. I mean “you” as the collective, not you personally, of course. I very rarely direct my work at specific, individual people, and only then to historical figures or politicians.

HISTORIAN

Because they expect it?

PAINTER

I suppose they do. But it’s more because they’ve shifted into the background of our collective unconsciousness. They mean something more than themselves. And sometimes they cause great harm or great innovation by being more than themselves.

HISTORIAN

So a painting of Copernicus is more important than a painting of a crowd?

PAINTER

I wouldn’t say it’s more important. Just different. And I’d probably work with Galileo, anyway.

HISTORIAN

You’re pretty good at this.

PAINTER

Thank you.

HISTORIAN

Do you write papers?

PAINTER

Sometimes. The collective you tends to think there’s this great divine between painters and historians, but we’re all academics, really. We take notes and draw conclusions.

HISTORIAN

And neither of us get rich.

The Painter laughs.

PAINTER

Nope! Though I’m supposed to be interviewing you.

HISTORIAN

My apologies. I got carried away.

PAINTER

That’s fine. Do you mind if I begin?

HISTORIAN

Not at all.

PAINTER

Excellent. As I said, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. But I’d like you to be as honest as you can.

HISTORIAN

I understand.

PAINTER

Then I’ll jump right in. Why do you study historical crime?

HISTORIAN

Why do I study it, or why should the collective you study it?

PAINTER

Both, please.

HISTORIAN

I research crimes concerning women; whether as perpetrators, bystanders, or victims. It became a fascination of mine in high school when I saw this movie about Jack the Ripper and I found myself wondering about the women. The ones who died, of course, but their families as well. Annie Chapman had three children. No one really talks about them.

PAINTER

She was the first victim?

HISTORIAN

Second. She was murdered on September 8th, 1880.

PAINTER

So you write about the Ripper.

HISTORIAN

No. I don’t care about the Ripper.

PAINTER

Just the women.

HISTORIAN

Looking at the crimes is a way of looking at multiple levels of society all at once. How these women died is extremely well documented. Working backwards, I try to get a picture of how they lived.

PAINTER

Like with the Ripper.

HISTORIAN

I don’t want to talk about him.

PAINTER

So why look at crimes at all? If you’re interested in the lives of Victorian women, I can think of other ways you could do it without encountering such gruesome history.

HISTORIAN

You’re not the first person to ask me that. With this kind of history, it’s easy to get drawn into the sensation of the narrative. Make a spectacle of the blood and guts. And I can’t speak to why other people are drawn to this particular field, but for me, there was a profound sense of injustice that women like Annie Chapman are remembered for what was probably the worst moment of their lives. The reason people know her name is because she was murdered and the collective we, as you said, has developed this whole subculture around the person who killed her. You can buy replicas of the knife. People dress up as Gentleman Jack for Halloween. And the general consensus is that Annie and the others put themselves into dangerous situations and got themselves killed. The dominant narrative in this case is about the grand mystery of revealing the killer. It’s treated as an intellectual puzzle and not a tragedy. The truth is, Annie Chapman and the other women died because a man who hated women decided to murder them because of it.

PAINTER

So you don’t have any theories about who the Ripper was?

HISTORIAN

Everyone has theories. I have my own, but there’s not enough evidence to prove them.

PAINTER

Does his identity matter at all?

HISTORIAN

I’m not saying we shouldn’t look or that there’s anything wrong with trying to figure it out. People have done very thoughtful, important work trying to close the case. It’s too late for the victims and their families, but the pursuit of justice isn’t something that should come with a time limit. But I also think that the whole conversation has shifted to putting this almost mythical killer on a pedestal. It’s become the legend of Jack the Ripper and his so called “perfect murders” rather than a historical evil we should be working to eradicate in the present. When we come to the point where you’ve got people idealizing this kind of violence against women, then you know we’ve got a problem.

PAINTER

What do you mean, idealizing the violence

 

HISTORIAN

The Ripper has become a sort of folk hero, in the collective consciousness. He’s called a criminal genius, his crimes are praised for how they were carried out. You can buy replicas of the knife we think he used, for God’s sake.

PAINTER

Is this something you find with a lot of the cases you study?

HISTORIAN

Occasionally, though never to this extreme as the Ripper case.

PAINTER

Why do you think that is?

HISTORIAN

Victorian crimes were reported to the public in a very specific way. Information was released episodically and it was purposefully sensationalized. Criminal cases and trials were followed closely by the public. Executions were treated like county fairs. People sold food, souvenirs; people made a day out of it. The Ripper case also touched on a lot of fears that people were grappling with at the time, but didn’t necessarily have an outlet to express. That time period in London saw extreme wealth disparities, and tensions between various ethnic and religious groups were quite high. People were afraid. A lot of prejudice came out of the proverbial woodwork because of it. And people in London, especially around the Whitechapel area, lived in very close proximity to each other, in horribly squalid conditions.

PAINTER

There wasn’t any way to escape.

HISTORIAN

Exactly. The Ripper case brought a lot of that tension to the surface and so there was a great deal of interest in the case. But I’d say even back then, the crimes started developing a mythology of their own. “Jack can’t be caught, he’s a monster, a criminal mastermind”, things like that. And of course he was never caught. The mystery appeals to people.

PAINTER

But there are a lot of unsolved crimes in the world.

HISTORIAN

Thousands. Part of the problem, at least from my perspective, is the facts of the case are consistently overshadowed by the legend. Jack the Ripper wasn’t a criminal mastermind who just vanished into the night; the police didn’t have access to what we would consider standard forensic tests, the victims were all vulnerable, and Whitechapel was a notoriously dark area. I mean that literally; there was a great deal of smog and the public street lamps of the time were quite weak. Furthermore, it wasn’t difficult to avoid the police. We know from other accounts that the Whitechapel police wore a specific type of boot, and these boots made a distinct sound on the cobblestone roads. So even before a criminal would see a policeman, they would hear him coming. Add that to the fact that the patrol routes were predictable, and even a moderately clever criminal could avoid detection at night.

PAINTER

So Jack wasn’t so special after all.

HISTORIAN

No. He was a criminal and he never saw justice for his crimes, but that was hardly unique for the time. People zero in on the legend rather than the facts of the case.

PAINTER

Given your feelings about the way the case is approached today, why research it at all?

HISTORIAN

I want to say because someone should do justice to the memory of the victims. And I do want that, I want these women to be seen as whole people instead of just props in the saga of Jack the Ripper, but I’m also very aware that I can’t speak for these women. I can only speak about them. There’s always a risk of turning them into props of my own; I’m not arrogant to think I’m above that.

PAINTER

That sounds difficult.

HISTORIAN

I believe we should be thoughtful about history, especially as it concerns violence against women. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

PAINTER

I agree. If we never tried to engage with the past, how would we ever learn from it?

HISTORIAN

Is this helping at all? I don’t know what painters look for.

PAINTER

You’re being very helpful. I appreciate how honest you’ve been with me.

HISTORIAN

All right.

PAINTER

You should dubious.

HISTORIAN

I guess I don’t see what you’re getting out of this.

PAINTER

Quite honestly, it’s part of my process. I don’t think many people like saying this, but the majority of artists are scavengers. We take pieces from the world around us and mash them together. I don’t want to paint just for myself, so I have to step outside my own wants and aesthetics, and think about what bothers other people. What haunts them, like the Ripper case haunts you.

HISTORIAN

I’m not a Ripperologist.

PAINTER

I know, but it’s something you feel deeply about. And to be entirely cavalier about it, that’s something I can use. That need to remember these women as they really were, when they’ve already been distorted into some strange myth. I don’t think I’ll sit down and paint Annie Chapman when we’re done. I’m not that literal. But I’ll be thinking about her as I work, about how deeply you feel for the truth of this case, and something will probably come of that.

HISTORIAN

I’m not sure I understand.

PAINTER

I know it’s strange.

HISTORIAN

This work is strange.

PAINTER

You’re quite right! But it is important, I think. Otherwise it might be lost.

HISTORIAN

I want someone to remember Annie Chapman as a person. Just one to remember her and not the Ripper.

The Painter smiles.

PAINTER

I promise at least one person will.

HISTORIAN

Thank you.

PAINTER

Shall we continue? There’s still so much I want to ask you.

HISTORIAN

Yes. That would be all right. There’s a lot to tell.

PAINTER

I’ll do my best.

HISTORIAN

I know. Will you show me, when it’s done?

PAINTER

The painting?

HISTORIAN

Yes.

PAINTER

Of course.

HISTORIAN

Then let’s begin.

Blackout.

 

 

 

Poetry by Josef Krebs

Josef Krebs has a chapbook published by Etched Press and his poetry also appears in Agenda, the Bicycle Review, Calliope, Mouse Tales Press, The Corner Club Press, The FictionWeek Literary Review, Burningword Literary Journal, the Aurorean, Inscape, Crack the Spine, The Cape Rock, Carcinogenic Poetry, The Bangalore Review, 521magazine, Organs of Vision and Speech, Tacenda, Former People, The Chaffey Review, The Bohemian, and The Cats Meow. A short story has been published in blazeVOX. He’s written three novels and five screenplays. His film was successfully screened at Santa Cruz and Short Film Corner of Cannes film festivals.

Here are three poems by Josef Krebs. We hope you find them as engaging and dynamic as we did.

 

And tremors that begin in your hand

And spread to the city

Are no longer a factor in the war that followed

The turmoil a mere residue now of unforgotten dreams

And ideological stubbornness

Or ignorance

The eyes that saw no longer hesitate to witness

But the images drip away barely burning into the soul anymore

As if taste buds had died along with retinal ganglion cells

In order to protect the no longer

And the no longer innocent

Alike

 

 

 

 

As the thesis of existence inoculates us to our last departure

I rapture over past

Memories of other

That no longer is

As if a moment had passed

Into past

A droplet reabsorbed into the collision between water and sky

That might come around and around

As distance becomes foreshortened into thesis and antithesis

With all lost from the let go get go

In order that a new race might emerge

 

 

 

 

Distance accounts for half the effect of inconclusive adaptability

As direct dialectic deception gives the perception of equality of opposites

When the balance is all off

And one should make a stand for something however simple and multilayered if not multi-angled

Or is all just perception and necessity of the moment

With no tense balance possible

Beyond the momentary interaction with those you love too much