Tina Hope, That Dog (No Contact Information Provided)

This was an interesting morning. There was a copy of a short story left outside of our front door – in a manila envelope, propped up against the door. The cover page was filled out completely with what turned out to be a fake name and fake contact information. We are declining to print any of the content in its entirety here because we’d LOVE to publish this one. Unfortunately, with no legitimate contact information we just don’t feel comfortable going to print.  

So please, if you are or know this person, get in touch with us!  

Here are some excerpts that may help to identify the work: 

…. the sun was everywhere, dripping, glowing, melting, sending, writing, and we beneath its rays doing the same, days were so long and we were so lonely despite having one another. We had both been sent here, independently, and had expected solitude for these years. When we arrived and saw another, it felt at once disappointing and a relief.”   

“She was never here. This is the sentence I repeated on a loop as they interrogated me as to her disappearance. She was never here and I likely would not have noticed had she been here.” 

Aaron Trompel, Gracious Gracious Gracious (Contact Information Redacted)

Aaron wrote his grandfather’s obituary and epitaph, it turned into a longer and longer piece about grace in men and how culture rejects this notion. Because portions of this were included in a previously published newspaper piece, we are leaving it out of our zine and posting it here.  

Grace was lost on the male Trompels who were expected to do manual labor, carpentry, automotive work, plumbing, etc. The male Trompels were expected to have rough hands, rough senses of humor, and no time for sweetness or grace. Exhibiting grace or gentleness was begging to be called FAGGOT or SISSY. 

John Trompel was different. He was full of grace, he smiled and laughed, he delighted in the emotions of those around him. He wrote love notes to his wife, to his children, to his grandchildren. I still have one in which he referred to my infantile giggle as “a heartsong, the reason for human creation.” 

Jennifer Sands, The Truth About Poetry (Submitted Without Contact Information)

We don’t really publish poems and we seldom receive them for consideration. So we’re throwing this one up for its meta-criticism and nuanced relationship with itself.  

The TRUTH about POETRY is that it is manmade –  

it is not other-worldly or celestial or made of stardust like the most beautiful ones tend to purport.  

The TRUTH about POETRY is that it expires –  

it is not as timeless as it is ephemeral and that’s the reason people want so badly to preserve it.  

The TRUTH about POETRY is that no matter how much of it I write, I am never happy –  

tt does not bring joy to share my truth, it does not define me to write in rhyme, and it does not alleviate my depression to compose a stanza.  

The TRUTH about POETRY is that through mediation, we are whole –  

whether that mediation be a solo journey down a lined form or a conversation from couch to armchair. 

Markus Feeori, The Van Days (Contact Information Removed)

This was not published because it reads more like a diary than non-fiction and we tend to publish non-fiction pieces primarily. When we followed up with Markus, he informed us that his genre was “revisionist journaling” which is a sub-genre of “creative non-fiction” that he had invented.  

Image result for punks van

I am Markus, a lacrosse playing punk rock listening all-time designated driving tattooed young black man in suburban Cincinnati. When my friends give me shit, I yell HATE CRIME at them. When people need rides home, I’ll do it in multiple shifts. When women need rides home, I do it with their comfort and safety as a priority.  

I’ve never been a drinker or drug-user. In part, having a father in prison has made me take on a great deal of responsibility early in my life, so getting fucked up has never been appealing. My younger brother Brendan is diabetic and has always required lots of my care and attention. I do wish sometimes I could fuck off and join my friends in partying, but I always snap back to reality to handle my shit first.  

I’m the only black guy in my group of friends and there’s seldom a conversation at which this isn’t a central tenant. Some of them invite me over for family dinner – often I feel they’re doing it to show their family how tolerant they are! As though I am something to be tolerated. The school counselor calls me “brother” every time we meet – I don’t mind it, he’s Latino so I feel like it’s allowed. 

Erica Camden, The Woman (Contact Information Removed)

Our team loved this piece but it was submitted at almost three times the length maximum for our publications. It was just beautiful though, and here’s a chunk that we swooned over for days: 

It was never meant to be like that, the woman thought as she gained consciousness. She was a girl when she passed out, when that man passed her out, and she awoke knowing she was not a woman before even checking her anatomy. He had wanted it this way, he lead her down the long hallway, made a point of closing the door behind him (as though that made him a gentleman) and he was gentle and sween with her for many minutes. She was giddy and excited to have his attention, sharing the occasional girlish tone and giggle that he received as consent.  

She was comfortable with the kissing, the touching, the rubbing. It was new to her but she saw its appeal almost immediately. Every little moan that escaped her advanced his moves. By the time he was removing her shirt, she stopped moaning realizing it was his go-ahead.  

She didn’t start actively pushing back until he was trying, unsuccessfully, to unhook her bra. And it’s the last thing she, now a woman awaking, remembered. Her bra was discarded across the room as though it had been rodeo swinged above the man’s head before he let it fly. Her jeans too. She was nude, the door was ajar, and she ached.  

She walked out of the party to applause, her broken bra in her canvas tote bag. She walked home a woman. She walked home knowing she had two choices moving forward: accept that she was a woman now and how it had happened, or make a scene, lose her entire social life, be a martyr for sexual assault at a school that pretends it doesn’t exist, and let it dominate the remaining high school years, her relationship with her parents, her relationship with any men in the future. 

She was a woman now. And the hardest thing to admit was that she was not ready to be.