SPRING 2021 ISSUE: 

The Warrior

During the night the fire had crept nearer to their house in the deep canyon north of town. But after a perfunctory breakfast, lost in thoughts of past glories, and famously proud of never paying heed to anything that passed as news in this piffling bourgeois time they happened to live in, Edgar Sims sat in his leather armchair just inside the French windows, fondling the copper mask. More like a new father than an Endowed Professor of Military History and War Studies with a reputation for toughness and brilliance both in generous measure (though in that order), Edgar Sims ran the soft cloth along the delicate curve of the cheeks, the gentle half circles under each eye, the full lips.

By Christie B. Cochrell

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nonfiction

GRADE SCHOOL

First Grade

It was the year my grandmother died. My parents’ descent into alcoholism followed. The nightly ritual of inebriation renders my memories of school to a near infinitesimal level of significance.

My mother spiraled first, but my father soon followed suit. It astounds me how well I recall their binge drinking, and the subsequent passing out or vomiting on the bathroom’s linoleum.  

 

I similarly took to anesthetizing myself, telling myself that it was “weak to feel.” Children have an interesting way of coping.

By Alexander Lazarus Wolff

Serious Boy

Answering the call from eternity

Formed from the dusk and born into humanity

His origin most known of a foreign land

Strength far powerful than the use of his hands

Descendants as the sand which is upon the sea

Rules and kings fear what he can be

Brutality from those sworn to keep us safe

Their sacrifices never forget his face

By Reginald Thomas

Black Marble

My boyfriend is a better feminist than I am. He doesn’t frequent questionable categories on PornHub. His language for consent is expansive and deliberate, practiced at every turn. He’s got an annoyingly Socratic approach to my self-deprecation, answering my indulgent questions with other questions. He’s a better man than me. He must be a woman.

By Rachel Stempel

Light Shaft

At the coffee shop where he took me afterwards, he played the Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor on my arm, tapping a few notes, raising my blond hairs, tickling my skin. He leaned forward across the table, whispered the Kimball organ measurements in my ear, 4 manuals, 96 speaking stops, 96 ranks, 5,949 pipes. I felt the beat all the way to my toes, everything pulsing. Right away he took liberties, called me Hella, his shining light, though I preferred Helena. He was Noland, Nollie for short he said. Because he had a class after the coffee, I walked back to the dorm alone, singing Nollie, Nollie, Nollie, rolling the word on my tongue like the toccata, developing full chords and rapid runs in my head. Already I was in love.

By Jeanne Althouse

Playing the Piano

My grandmother once told me
that an elephant never forgets.
While I didn’t believe her at first,
I’m starting to think she told the truth.

My grandmother once told me
that if I don’t practice the piano,
I will have to solve an equation
for every minute of time I waste.

My grandmother once told me
that every Irishman was a poet,
but that they only practice the craft
after meeting someone they love.

By Azriel Cervantes

Image by Glen Carrie

fiction

SUMMER'S END

Green Mountain blackberries freshly picked in August provide the makings of a pie more highly prized by many folks around Saint Albans than a hogshead of pure Vermont maple syrup.  The trick is to obtain a batch ripened to the full before that occasional early frost kills them, one week can make all the difference between a delectable feast and a ruined summer. It is evident from the crescive chill in the afternoon winds that Francis Griffin’s Great Aunt Pilsey dispatched him for the vaunted berries on a propitious Saturday morning.

Before arriving in Saint Albans a week ago for the funeral of his great uncle, after whom he was named, Francis had lived all his nineteen years in the high rise apartment dwelling at 884 Riverside Drive in Manhattan.  Like most New Yorkers living in the seemingly interminable row of Riverside high-rises, Francis is more provincial than other Americans, even the Green Mountaineers who are his own age—a fact that this New Yorker, like most, is oblivious to.

By Thomas Penn Johnson

Image by Ulvi Safari

The sun shining through the stain glass windows created a noon day gloaming in the cavernous nave. The tropical sun was brutal at its apex, and Lieutenant Cruz welcomed the shade despite his aversion to large cathedrals. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light he reflected on his trip to the Holy Land as a young man. He had been disappointed to find many of the Christian holy sites smothered under imposing cathedrals. The visual and spiritual impact was more indicative of a European sense of grandeur than any recognition of the underlying biblical event. Indeed, he found more spiritual connection in the small open-air churches of the provinces.

The entrance to the cathedral was flanked by statuary of the notable religious figures of the New Testament, as well as a few of the church hierarchy responsible for its erection. A statue of Christ to the right of the entrance was flanked by a statue of Mother Mary. An elderly woman was stroking the stone robes of an effigy of Christ with her right hand. Her furrowed and cratered face was a roadmap of her hard life.  She was holding a bible in her left hand, and quietly chanting a canon that he did not recognize. His law enforcement colleagues in the U.S. would have taken this as a sure affirmation of their Sothern Baptist belief that Catholics were idolaters. The rapt expression on the woman’s face would be a further verification.

By Francis Flavin

Image by Matthew T Rader

Just as she reached out to take the bags of noddles, the woman suddenly stopped and stared at Yi Hong. She was a pretty lady with dyed light brown hair pulled to a pony tail and smooth pale skin, dressed in a stylish white blouse and black skirt. Yi Hong guessed she was probably from one of the high rise offices nearby.

“Er... Ten ringgit, miss,” he said still awkwardly holding out the bags.

She just continued to look at him with her dark brown eyes. She didn’t even blink, her fingers were outstretched but stock-still. It was like she was a broken wind up toy, frozen in time. Yi Hong felt uncomfortable under her gaze, the coffee shop was already hot and muggy but now it was like he was burning up. He felt like his head was being dunked in the boiling soup next to him.

By Feng Gooi

Photo credit: Original painting entitled "Two Bowls of Pork Rib Noodles, Please" by Feng Gooi

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