‘This Moment Now’, ‘Arrival in Luhanka’, and ‘Departure’ by Katherine Zeserson

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This moment now

sky and rain, rain and sky
darkness under the hawthorn trees
a rabbit waits

darkness under the hawthorn trees
wind and stones, stones and wind
a crow, hiding

wind and stones, stones and wind
the sound of the sea a way away
spider motionless

the sound of the sea a way away
sky and rain, rain and sky
rabbit, crow, spider

a strip of light at the edge of the earth
the wind roughing up the leaves
lifting and falling, falling and lifting

the wind roughing up the leaves
the rain thinning
the light spreading
rabbit on the grass, eating
crow in the tree, watching
spider motionless

Arrival in Luhanka

I am no Finnish poet to know this snow,
but I have northern bones.
There is darkness in my marrow.

My blood thickens, slows down, as shadows stretch
between light and the night. I am a woman of wire,
hanging, pressed against yellow sky;
fire streaked, lavender, tremulous,
bright as breath, then paling to silence,
I raise my hand to the sun.

Ice wraps the rowan tight.
Red berry stars burst out in the molten dusk.
I lie my cheek upon the white wave of earth and drown in the dark.

Departure

Dawn is stealthy.

Look away, look back, she has not come,
then a swelling in the east, pressure,
night leaning on frail birch,
a quiver of silver, again black.

Look away, look back, she has not come,
then a deepening of darkness,
a bird, detaching from a branch,
releases a shiver of ice.

Look away, look back, she may have come,
a tree has formed, a rock, a roof.
Dawn has crept in, coral sky,
stain upon the snow,
my cheek knows the glass,
we are small and we are gone.

‘I Guess That’s Just Like Her Shampoo Or Whatever’ and ‘Toad Road’ by Eric Delp

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I Guess That’s Just Like Her Shampoo Or Whatever

Nothing
in this world
smells like strawberries. Nothing,
not even strawberries.
When the poet writes
so-and-so like strawberries
be wary.
When the lover sings
the honey-brown hair of the beloved
she means some experience
attached to the experience
of the idea of the beloved.
She means
some attachment to the experience
of the idea of love
recalls the experience
of reading once how so-and-so
with her honey-brown hair gathered at the back of her head
just so
recalls the experience
of after berry-picking as a young child
her father cracked the tab on a can of soda pop
there on the curb outside the ice cream parlor
the sunlight honey-brown in strands across the parking lot
gathered
and held the can’s mouth still sparking sugar
to her own
just so
like strawberries.

Toad Road

While you were whiskey drunk and ginger

falling through the hotel’s steel-
shimmer lobby with the hundred

strangers who all shared our uncle’s face,
I was drowning in the bathtub
back home. The place is at the edge
of a field of dry wheat husk
golden in the television screen.
There is a sharp turn in the road
and a path
and a sharp turn in both directions
and a path into the woods.
The drugs were in the glove compartment.
You were on the balcony
cupping your eyes against the sun.
Your telephone was ringing in your pocket
which I know
because I was calling. I was calling
and it rang and rang
inside your pocket on the balcony
and the sun was setting
behind you. The drugs were in the tape deck.
A stranger’s face was at the door.
The place is at the edge of
the woods and all throughout
the woods there is a sharp
turn in the road in both directions
and a path into the woods.
I met a stranger with our daughter’s face. He told me.
I met a boy who said he knew
the location of the seven gates of hell.
The drugs were in the bloodstream.
After the final turn there is
another turn.
It was the most romantic thing I’d ever heard.

Eric Delp is from Harrisburg, PA. He currently lives in Oxford, MS, where he is an MFA candidate at Ole Miss. He recently got a haircut which, according to his friend Jan, “looks great.”

‘It’s a Secret to Everybody’ by James Edward Schier

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“Well they blew up the chicken man in Philly late last night
Now they blew up his house too”
– Bruce Springsteen

Some days, I’m fine.
Other days, I listen to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska over and over again, and play video games from the 1980s.

Zelda, like Laura Palmer, had secrets. Move the block, get the dopamine rush of the tingle-jingle chime (the ‘official lyrics’ to this iconic piece, I learned, are apparently something along the lines of ‘ho-ot sau-uce’ in Japan. I don’t hear it, or get it, and don’t quote me on that, but there you go).

But I’m starting to wonder if she, or they, didn’t have other kinds of secrets, too. Bomb a wall, you might find a secret shop, or even an old man asking you to pay for repairs on the door you just blew through; that’s fine, that makes enough sense. You just destroyed his god damn house, even if he’s inexplicably living in a cave, coordinates 36°45’13.63”N & 3°50’4.57”W from the nearest 7/11 with the old lady who sells potions and kinda looks funny at you if you keep buying the blue one, like are you hooked on this stuff kid? behind a sheer cliff of solid rock, with only two completely exposed balls of flame to his name… it’s still his house.

But some of these caves contain monsters. And they are not hostile. Not friendly, but… under some kind of treaty, perhaps, both sides observing a kind of wartime diplomacy in these select meeting rooms, maybe because these aren’t foot soldiers, they’re accountants, moneylenders, specialized units, etc. Kind of like a medic is supposed to heal both sides in a war. They’re willing to talk, to deal.

But why? If we take these games as fact, which is about the only thing we can take, every monster in the game is an embodiment of evil; this being why every Zelda game ends with crushing, I-wanna-go-back finality, and you cannot continue on, because to continue on would be to adventure in peace, every monster exorcised from the land. Presumably, this is how the citizens of Hyrule et al. experience the place most of the time. Even the outside-the-box, throw the box away, get on top of the box and sail it across the water Breath of the Wild doesn’t let you go on… it would be defeating everything Zelda has ever stood for and the main story that runs through each and every game. Evil is gone, and, well… good just ain’t that interesting without it.

That means, as far as I can see, that we cannot treat these beings as wild animals. They are Evil, Ganon’s Evil, down to the last Octorok, the last Gel, the last Tektite, even though they don’t really attack you; they generally mind their own business jumping around in the mountains. They are part of Ganon’s Army and thus scorched from the Earth when the game is finished. No sympathy is allowed, and no-one in this game has a choice.

Which leaves me with, as I see it, a couple of explanations here. The first is mundane: Ganon’s creatures surely can’t be domesticated, beings of pure evil that they are, but can they defect?

It seems improbable. They are, of course, extensions of Ganon himself, spawned to protect him and block the way, thru labyrinth after labyrinth, FBI men at Death Mountain surrounding & protecting the President on the Grassy Knoll… trying to protect the president… how many Arrows of Light? Just one, or… rerun the tape, reset the machine… find Miyamoto’s original Zapruder scrolls of A4 paper, the whole game laid out on it in squares, for real & not a Kerouac self-myth… find that secret sheet of A3 with the rest, & the Second Quest on the other side of the ROM… might tell us who truly shot Liberty Valance… and Miyamoto will always print the legend…

The second option is much more sinister, as it implies underhanded dealings with the Enemy and perhaps even conspiracy on behalf of the Hyrule government, which I believe to be some sort of monarchy.

If Hyrule, or the King of Hyrule (who is never seen) is in fact working with the enemy, it utterly shatters the presumed reason for the mission. Link’s just following orders, sure, but he’s 12 years old, a real child soldier… and sure, the Princess had to be saved, but was that rookie, green, the best agent they had? (Did she want to be saved?)

Again, this place is supposedly used to peace, so maybe they didn’t train too many pitched fighters. There was no Achilles by the beaked ships to call upon when it was time to go and get back Helen… there was only you.

“Through the badlands of Wyoming
I killed everything in my path”
– Bruce Springsteen

Every time the boulders roll down the cliffs of Death Mountain, I think it’s Shigeru Miyamoto doing it. I don’t think of him, or the other designers (Tezuka-san deserves his own article, but who really knows who did what…) overmuch while playing the rest of the game, but every time I walk those cliff sides suddenly He’s there, the clearest sign of the Hand of God in the game, Zeus throwing rubble off of Olympus or maybe just Mount Ida to screw with Herc or some young upstart…

So maybe, like Herc’s famous trials, this whole thing is a controlled scenario to get a man into fighting shape… ah, but now I’m just describing the game, and all games. A dead end. But maybe, just maybe, there’s a way around it…

This game, the first one, is Zelda, or rather Hyrule, before it turned into Twin Peaks. This game is part of a lineage of Cosmic Joke stories, Seinfeld’s NYC where everybody but you is crazy to the point of outright hostility for no apparent reason at all, Scorsese’s After Hours (screaming ambulances chasing you ‘round every corner of that black wet night-street, bloodred Octoroks with no rhyme or reason), maybe even A Confederacy of Dunces, depending on how much of a reasonable person you think this Link kid really is… & did his mother or grandmother approach the archaic printing press and say “you gotta hear what my son did, what he did before, you know, before he passed…”

It’s 3 miles of, no, it’s many more than 3 miles of bad road… it’s all bad road. It’s a never-ending trek thru the baddest of the Badlands, and one day you’re gonna spit in the face of ‘em, maybe throw an arrow of light in for good measure…

“There’s no love in your violence”
– Ichi the Killer [2001], dir. Takashi Miike

It’s a game of unspeakable violence, your only chance at getting through this sun-baked, hostile environment… they say Zelda is about exploration and adventure, and it is, but I think this game is really about survival. You’re your only friend. Your only friend. I don’t trust those old men, those old women, not really. Do you? They are distant, cold, you will not break bread with them. They dispense their advice—”good luck out there kid, you’re gonna need it”—and then sometimes, quite literally, fuck off completely and disappear, leaving only darkness, if that, or a pair of uncontrolled fires that do not sooth your bones, standalone Burning Bushes without the bush, empty balls of red that do not quite brighten up the corners.

The only thing you can trust completely, besides your wits & violence, is the fairy. And even she’s skittish, turning up at complete random, sometimes in that white-hot split second you find yourself burning the candle at both ends, walking that tunnel, and she’s the sudden burst of light, and you offer your praises, but you know it was just luck, not something you can count on… unless you visit her where she lives, introduce yourself properly.

Even then… as an immortal, does she take some kind of twisted pleasure in reviving this kid over and over again, as many hearts as he can take, full to bursting, right thru the IV… maybe she gets a rush out of it. Considering later fairies in these games and their suggestive eccentricities, proclivities, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Nowhere is safe. The safest place in this game, to me, is in one of the labyrinths, which features four, maybe five of these big jelly guys. This is the safest place in the game because the walls are mental-hospital slate grey and I am in a position of power. They are slow, and I am fast. With a powered up sword, they are just about the easiest enemy in the game. I feel safe here, because even though, in their tiny, Ganon-possessed brains they don’t know it, I can kill them any time I want. And, ya know? Sometimes I like just having them around. For company. Better than that old man again, who I can’t even kill if he gets on my nerves.

And yeah, the second game (Zelda 2), is pretty harsh too. Pretty hostile. But even that pointed towards the Twin Peaks future of the series—not quite the idyllic towns full of decent folks, farmers and tradesmen and friends, along with, of course, a mixture of sinister and bent folk, Outside and Unknown weirdness and Fear, and the necessity of fighting—but there are actual towns in that game, barebones as they are, and women on the street will actually say “Hello!” to you, if you chat them up. I don’t know about you, but that cheers me up.

Men will invite you into their houses, and sure, their hints are still cryptic and strange, but they’re actually trying to communicate, to help you, to give you a roof over your head, even if only for a moment. There are women who will stand in front of their houses like Bob Dylan on the Street-Legal sleeve, and let you in… come to think of it, they must be related to those questionable fairies…

Which brings me, finally, back to the first one. To the, let’s say, Hyrulian psyop that might be going on in the shadows…

Could someone, a 007-like agent, have snuck in and turned these money-giving monsters, inserting a little help along the way to our unwitting friend, about to run this hellish gauntlet to rescue the princess? Does Hyrule have that kind of power? Are the Gods involved? How high up does this go?

There’s no way to know. Could these monsters, really, not be monsters at all? Maybe they are in fact Hyrulians, waiting in caves in their Nixon-masks, government stipends for the hero, write-offs… a secret war economy operating underground in case of an event like this, a red alert, an APB suddenly put out on a giant pig up on Death Mountain by the King, maybe that’s why taxes went up, think the good citizens, after this is all over (after having thought oh, it couldn’t happen here)… It’s a Secret to Everybody.

But of course, this is the legend. They say that once a great hero saved the princess, and it’s taken as fact. This would, incidentally, happen over and over again, but that comes later… or before.

Perhaps it really happened the way they said it did. Maybe this young man was officially supported by the King (unless Link, en-route, was somehow captured by the Enemy, in which case I’m sure they’d have had to Deny All Knowledge, not that there’d be any knowledge left to deny), and perhaps the Princess really was terrified, up there in that cold, cobblestone room, hearing the breathing, pawing of that invisible monster just outside the door, hoping but never really believing the hero would come… or maybe she laid there, open eyes, going over the plan in her head, getting up occasionally to shoot the shit with the man in the pig mask next-door, wondering idly whether that little kid in green was still alive, gambling on his odds… wondering if this little stratagem would work out, if they’d have a Plan they could put into operation against this happening again in the Future, or if it could be made to happen again, improving & complicating it each time like a well oiled machine, a machine that prints legends…

“There’s a white diamond gloom on the dark side of this room
and a pathway that leads up to the stars
if you don’t believe there’s a price for this sweet paradise
just remind me to show you the scars”
– Bob Dylan

The talking monsters remain unexplained, unexplainable. I never promised you an answer that doesn’t exist. Why am I so obsessed by them? Well, it’s one of those nights… tomorrow will be different. Maybe. But one more thing:

Shigeru Miyamoto, director and producer of The Legend of Zelda, has said, time and time again, that he was inspired to make a game based on his experiences in Kyoto, as a boy, wandering around and adventuring through fields, rivers, caves, forests.

Now, when little Shigeru was traipsing about, having the time of his life, fantasizing that he was on an adventure, not dreaming of video games and code but of those things every boy dreams of, pretending, telling brand-new stories in real time, projecting a better world on top of the real one in a way we somehow forget how to do… then needing a rest, maybe sitting in one of those little caves for awhile, a little scared, a little excited…

Did he talk to the monsters?

Follow James Edward Schier on Twitter

Four Poems by Terrence Abrahams

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Scorpio moon

The dark puts us out

of ourselves. Into each

opening we go filling.

This life an underground

lake. Not clean, but safe

to drink. A key distinction

to make. Remember:

reflection only exists until

light cannot go on.

So faced with myself,

I’d rather look at you.

thoughts on lately aspiring to beetles

lifting my body toward the sun

should be so iridescent

everyone I love is an animal

and vulture-hearted I am here knowing

the best way to preserve anything

is to leave it outside

amateur geology

There is no universally accepted definition of a mountain. So maybe I am one and maybe you are too. I’m saying this because I want to valley you, which means I want to be under you in all manners of landscaping. None of this is easy to explain. I read more on geography than I do on people. Abhorred by the way hands speed up the erosion process, I deign to touch as little as possible. However, I love to talk, and talk I do, mostly with my hands. Listen: if you want to sign up for rock-climbing, I know someone. If you want to visit a valley, I know someone, too. If you want to talk, I have capable hands. What I’m saying is we have no defined boundaries. You make your own. You move your own stones. Leave a little or take it all with you. What I’m saying is we too are growing at less than an inch per year thanks to an effort that is no effort at all.

Terrence Abrahams lives and writes quietly in Toronto. His work has been a part of Hobart, The Poetry Annals, Peach Mag, many gendered mothers, the Puritan, Witch Craft Mag, and ZEAL, among others. He tweets at @trabrahams.

Four Poems by Sara Matson

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seismic darling

astrology characterization –
a classic
steel (self)
wading thru breath by
rose gold eye’s
perfect geometric oval
pierce ur body with sun //
shine
seismic darling
of anonymity
an omission of ascent
by the oracle
arcade clawed from
obscurity
she smoked the bed
to that barren triangle
wild lights
she radiates
(god’s gender)
a condemned hawk
authenticity
the weird // the secrecy
she wore
obsessive institutions
in a glass jar
around her throat
+ remained a symbol soaked
in nighttime shock
future //
hanging menacing beauty
in oil stains
applied with fingers
my eyes’ inability
to adjust in darkness
trans // formed her into
a black velvet ghost

nursery rhyme

her tits swung low
like a nursery rhyme in
// s l o w m o t i o n //
her armpits were
tufts of hairy pizza
seasonings
casually sprinkling
alcoholic junk
secrets across a knit
sequence of blinking
eyelights //
was the dead electricity
clutching the basil plant at
the hour of her death or
is this postmortem biennial
p r e v a r i c a t i o n

sprouting between
(in)fertile
sacrum leaved fingers
scratched at
freeze dried blood
wiped across the faces
of so many trusted adults in
the course of her perverted
growth

ocean thickets
scheming weightlessness
plucked language from
incandescent tongues +
distant dances welcomed
radioactive mourning //
the timely sunset
even the liquored slumber
cried out upon the
discovery their
kingdom was an
asteroid belt

capture

wrist skin
scented saboteurs
a broken staircase
(in)visible thru her
velvety cemetery ghost //
harmonic decay
paper wrapped fingers
capture the limited confession //
experimentally we lie
under cellophane sheets
a warm hurried crash
behind guilty battle
sunglasses + reeking leather
mouth //
folded on darting starlight
a perfectly strange paper scrap
documenting the puckered
seam across the vapid
edgeless
skin highway

haus

neon geisha hemlines
strewn into
blistered air
the smell that makes you
nervous
beautiful women have died here
whispered a house voice
between decaying floor boards //
windows didn’t crack
under the weight of birds
(a boring fear)
((flightless and sick))
all ransom notes are
love letters, the house explained
vellum paper shapes hiding
sticky fingers //
between floorboards, house mites
marched in tiny lines
hungry, hungry,
hungry

sara matson’s writing can be found or is forthcoming in Rabid Oak, Mannequin Haus, Anti-Heroin Chic, FIVE:2:ONE, Burning House Press, OCCULUM Journal, Dream Pop Press, Waxing and Waning, and elsewhere. she lives in Chicago with her rad husband + cats, and tweets as @skeletorwrites.

‘sadderdaze’ & ‘4183 / 3524 / 2042 / 1961’ by Caroline Grand-Clement

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sadderdaze

there are some days when the line between self care
& giving up becomes too blurred to make out.
on those days, i do not change my routine;
i do not try to catch up on the sleep i have deprived myself of;
i do not try to give myself the mental space to breathe.
on those days, i am so scared to move i barely move at all.
if i am scared it will lead me to you.
i do not want this to be another love letter to my self destruction.
it is not lovely or poetic.
it is laying on the kitchen floor because you promised
your best friend not to lay down anywhere else.
it is making those kind of promises to make sure
you do not break down in the middle of class or of a corridor.
it is laying down on the school floor anyways, sometimes.

sometimes: a word that means “now and then”.
a word that means, there are days when i am not like this,
i swear. there are days when i laugh at your jokes.
there are even days when i paint you my favorite song
& say i love you, & mean it.
but today, is “now and then”; today is sometimes.
so today, forgive me if i complain without accepting any of your solutions.
i am still trying to solve this equation, but it keeps on changing.

4183 / 3524 / 2042 / 1961

it is no particular hour / a place between places / i hear your voice from the clouds / & the sound that settles in the silence of your tongue / 850 kilometers per hour away / from the pitless fear of losing you / if i squeeze my eyes shut i won’t hear my heart breaking / after you slam the door / i am still building you the castle i promised / the barn / the goats / the trees / water flowing from anywhere / but your eye sockets / only luck / i throw pennies at you until you turn copper blue / my only wish / to melt in the light of your arms / the sun never sets / we are falling through the clouds / leave all our organs in the air above our sin / time stretches like chewing gum caught in your hair / shave it off / throw it to the wind / corals have heard of our love / deep as your voice /

Caroline Grand-Clement is a seventeen years old, half-time poet, half-time student at an international school in Lyon, France. She dreams of art in any form, falling stars & late night conversations. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Beyond the Shallows, an anthology by L’Ephemere Review, Rose Quartz Journal, and elsewhere. She takes part in the school magazine as writer & co-editor. You can find her on Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram @octopodeshearts.

‘The Artist’ by Tomas Marcantonio

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Grey-feathered gulls barked at the sway of the marina masts and a black cloud grew across the water. The artist snapped open the newspaper with a whip-crack across his folded knees and observed the sun’s descent into the burnt-honey haze at the horizon. The rub of cheap ink smudged the prints of his thumbs and ingrained on them the stale smell of recycled paper. He wrapped his slender fingers around the beer glass, moistening his palm with cold crystals of condensation. He raised the glass to his mouth and tasted only the bitter melt of the foam.

Reece Wilde’s latest masterpiece is perhaps the most stinging piece of satire to come from the controversial artist in years. ‘The Dirty Brexiteer’ is a step away from Wilde’s recent forays into watercolour, and the return to a more abstract style is a welcome return to form.

Wilde looked up to regard the changing hue of the sky. He couldn’t think of the last painting of his that wasn’t labelled a return to form. The article went on:

Wilde is a known student of the Cubist movement, and this is evident more here than in any of his previous work. The harsh angles and vivid, almost aggressive palette on show in the unnamed subject’s face are the product of a frustrated, albeit hugely masterful, creator. And the results, it cannot be argued, are astounding. ‘The Dirty Brexiteer’ is already causing a stir in the art world, and further cements the already concrete reputation of Brighton’s own prodigy.

Wilde raised the glass again and let the foam dissolve on his tongue as he shook his head. He wondered if the article had been written by a kid; an intern, perhaps, or an art student. Or just another of the blindfolded sheep-men behind their typewriters. I dance for the bears, he thought to himself, and the bears clap their stupid paws together because someone whispers to them that it is a dance and that they must clap.

‘It doesn’t look anything like your work,’ came a voice at his shoulder.

Wilde craned his neck and raised a slow, greying eyebrow to the chestnut, cat-like eyes of the waitress standing behind him. The lamp above the table cast a white glow on the crests of her olive cheeks. She stood with an empty tray tucked under one arm, and a ribbon of silky, raven-black hair fell across one eye.

Wilde regarded her and motioned to the chair opposite him. The waitress sat, her angled brows slightly turned in as she surveyed the artist.

‘You haven’t painted anything for a long time,’ she said at last.

Wilde smiled. So, one of my little rats has squeaked, he thought to himself.

‘Who have you been speaking to?’

She shook her head. ‘I’m just not as blind as everyone else, that’s all.’

Wilde’s forefinger skirted the rim of his glass. ‘And what do you know of art, exactly?’

‘I know that your true paintings are deeper than a six hundred page novel, and far more complex. I know that the way you mix colours takes my breath.’ She picked up the newspaper from the table and examined the black and white photograph. ‘And I know that your last three pieces were not painted by anyone so talented, unless you painted them with the brush between your toes, and a blindfold over your eyes, and a worm burrowing into your brain.’

Wilde observed the almond eyes before him, the cool expression.

‘Why are you doing it?’

Wilde gazed at the last heat haze of the disappearing sun. The truth was, he didn’t know why he was doing it anymore. An experiment, he told himself at first. But now what? It had backfired spectacularly.

‘If only everyone had half your wits,’ he said finally, his sentence trailing off unfinished.

The balcony was filling quickly as the lamps across the waterfront flickered into life.

‘I need to get back to work,’ the girl declared, standing up.

‘Come to my studio,’ Wilde said, fishing a card from the inside pocket of his suit jacket. ‘Tomorrow morning, open house.’

The girl scrutinized him.

‘Take the card,’ Wilde said calmly, his eyes fixed on hers. ‘I still have some pieces of my own.’

The girl took the card. She turned towards a table of new arrivals, looking back once to see the artist’s eyes still trained on her as he stood up to leave.

Wilde strolled the length of the marina in the fading amber light, his cane clipping the wooden boardwalk as he went. He came to the stairs of his basement studio at the end of the promenade that ran from the marina to the pier.

‘Ah,’ Wilde said, opening the door and finding the lights already turned on. ‘Found your way in, did you?’

Continue reading “‘The Artist’ by Tomas Marcantonio”