Month: April 2018

Featured: The Seed, a Sonnet

Having 1 tablet only, you will forget about the problem for two days.
Daria Smith Giraud
The clapping of my beaded braids
were downbeats to dirty New York streets.
Brand new shell top Adidas chasing a gaze
of graffiti tags thrown up subway upbeats
where summers were my treasure under stars and moon.
I’d dance like Ancestors with aether in my lungs
under Union Square women heavenly commune
shekeres chasing trance in polyrhythmic tongues.
And I and I embodied in space and time
channeling forgotten pasts forbidden to die
from Pangea to Americas to this paradigm.
We’d meet in this plane where the dance survived.
Serenaded by a sea of black bodies jumping from the air,
Awakening the dead, this dance became our prayer.
Daria Smith Giraud (Ria) has a performing arts classical vocal music background having studied and graduated from Washington, DC’s, Ellington School of the Arts. Earlier performances include the Kennedy Center sharing the stage with Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones. She offers her gifts to community as an organic gardener, arts as education performer, vegan chef, yogini, storyteller. An Honors Bachelor of Arts, Communications student with a minor in Creative Writing, Daria is inspired by her poetry professor to explore her talents and passions in poetry by discovering open mics where her “metaphysical, transcendent historical voice” can be heard.

From Issue 2: An Explorer's Life Guide

Adriana Hammond
Where are those corners of the world where we find Meaning to fill our heavy desires? The shrouded corners for those who seek and seek for more than triviality yet understand that our dreams may remain in an undisturbed respite without the temptation of the frivolous. I believe in the frivolous as much as I believe in depth and I find myself searching for the profound as two parts (an unbridled duality–not a contradiction, for they are a powerfully united dialogue).
One part, so reactive and so ablaze, carries a compass that points firmly toward pleasure. She breathes to a meditative rhythm of,
“Never stop moving, never stop moving…”
The other is a reluctant follower of the first and heavy with doubts. Her map is riddles, for no direction should indicate north. Therefore, she is meant to always go and while going harness the meaning in that going. Those two are my ceaselessly searching, often unforgiving, and truly inseparable characters.
How then, to navigate the vast and ever-changing milieu? Is there a poet for me? One who, upon discovery, instigates a new inner struggle?
Or, perhaps, I am simply a slave to the curse of interminable yearning.
Those corners of Meaning, I believe are waiting—waiting while I want and I am convinced that this correlation is the mystery of innermost freedom; in that struggle lies the reward when something is found.
Until recently, I had supposed that travel was a simple method of escape from my pains. Abroad in my new world, I could be charmed away from the stings of loneliness and rejection. Late last spring was yet another suffering and it was time to leave, this occasion to the Czech Republic and onward (the proud habits of a runaway—to begin a new fight, rather than sit with an old defeat).
I remember the heat of the train car in that early July. Pulling out of Prague to Germany I swiftly covered my mouth. I felt through my hands the muted shriek of elation in thinking of the momentary romantic encounter the night before with the bluest- eyed Czech. Oh, he was striking with his statuesque chin, golden shag, and strong shoulders. His disposition was very curious, yet unassuming. And so perfect that it was all unplanned. I had gone out to the Old Town find some jazz, drink some absinthe, and ignore my most recent error in love. To find him was a kind of gift and he was mystified that I was alone. The vermillion-punk walls were made for desire as we sat close in that petite bar drinking Staropramen. “You are a sort of adventurer, an explorer?” He wanted to understand me, and at that moment I was thinking I was more like a conquistador of romance, but an explorer is nice too. Then he asked if I liked Kubrick and I knew we were meant to find each other.
What that encounter was for me, I can only understand now as an act of courage. I had been so afraid to engage again in any form of love. Then on that train, in that heat, unlike before, I felt compelled to absorb every insight from fellow travelers as I was now carrying an exhilaratingly new fondness for life. Through this edification was the revelation that I am never truly alone. Now, I better understand, these journeys are not propelled by fear but from a desire to actively engage in the beauty of life— I find no Meaning in passive observance. The transient and the frivolous are an explorer’s life guides. True depth is coupled with the profound consequences.


Adriana Hammond is a candidate for a Master of Arts in Russian Studies at Boston College with an emphasis in literature. Currently, she is finishing a thesis regarding the influence of Buddhism on contemporary Russian literature. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

From Issue 2: For Irina

Peter Zhuang
Dearest Irina,
I arrived in your fair city on Thanksgiving, just short of five years after I first met Alyssa in the hallowed halls of Butler Library. Russia, of course doesn’t celebrate the traditions of North American pilgrims. And no one was celebrating my anniversary with Alyssa, especially not me.
I was welcomed at Pulkovo International airport by crisp, chilly air and a porter named Ivan. He fit every stereotype of a Russian bear that came to mind. Aside from being exceedingly courteous and filled with curiosity about America. Shockingly, no one travels out of the States on Thanksgiving. The plane had been half empty, which gave me plenty of time and space to brood about my otherwise ill fortune.
I was ushered to the outskirts of a St. Petersburg residential district where I met Anya Antonova for the first time. She was not what I expected. I’m sure you knew her better than I did – she was the most optimistic seventy-year old woman with terminal cancer I am ever likely to meet. As I recall, the first words out of her mouth were: “Well, at least Alexei sent a good-looking one.”
I arrived just in time for afternoon tea. I was offered Earl Grey on a lacquered English tea set, along with some imported biscuits. I was stunned by her flawless English, and it was to my great surprise to find among lacquered nesting dolls and traditional paintings, a portrait of Winston Churchill and posters for various James Bond movies. It was a shock to discover that she was a great aficionado of British culture, and that she had an ongoing unrequited love for Sean Connery. I later learned that her admiration was a secret one during the Soviet years, but with the open Westernization of recent years, she indulged at leisure.
I was swept into her pace right away. She did that great impression of Alexei. She told me how he had rebelled in his teenage years by studying in the US rather than in England. And how British English was unquestionably superior. She told me how it took two thousand years for the English to create the language, and it only took the Americans two hundred to butcher it. I was inclined to agree.
During the first week I got very little done. And to say very little is an overstatement. I was becoming better acquainted with local vodka than local religion. I chatted with Anya when she was feeling up to it, but it was hardly ever anything academic. Then, one morning well into the second week, I woke in my over-cushioned bed with my under-stuffed pillow to find a shadow blocking the light. I had stayed up late catching up on the news back in America.
I remember fumbling blindly on the table for my glasses, and finally setting my bleary eyes on you. I do not recall my first thoughts. I highly doubt my sleep-muddled mind had been capable of forming anything intelligible. As you know, my IQ drops to the double digits until I’ve had my first cup of coffee. You were taking down the curtains in the guest room I was occupying, and your blue dress matched the curtains. You noticed me awake and looking at you. So you smiled and said “breakfast is ready!” with a heavy accent and unfounded cheerfulness.
I watched you over the kitchen table as I attended to my bowl of kasha. You hummed to yourself as you washed the dishes. You were wearing the green apron over your dress, and your shoulder length auburn hair swayed slightly with your movements. When you turned off the faucet, you spun to face me. I was startled by the brilliance in your eyes.
You walked over and sat down across the table. You asked me, “is it good?” Our eyes met, and once again I was struck by their light green clarity. Anya had told me about you. You were her nurse, scheduled to administer the chemo-therapy treatments. She told me how you would help with the housework, out of magnanimous charity. I thought you would be a middle-aged lady who would hum Russian folk songs as you waddled around with a broom. I never expected you to be a young university graduate who owned every Taylor Swift CD. Or that you would be so damn beautiful.
I remember we did not have a chance to chat, that day, as you had another appointment later. Anya had plenty to say about you though. She told me how your parents had passed away early from cancer, and how that spurred you into the field of medicine. It seems to be the pastime of the elderly to play matchmaker. Perhaps because their own love lives have been replaced with nostalgia. Anya, as a widow for a good fifteen years was eager to see romance blossom. She dropped some less-than-subtle hints about your probable availability, but I didn’t take the bait. Not initially anyway – Alyssa had been my everything for too long. And so I continued to stew in my melancholy.
A week or so later, I had taken a six hundred word bite out of the twenty-five thousand. You arrived again for a scheduled appointment on a windy, snowy Friday. Frost caked the windows and a foot of snow was on the ground. In other words, it was just another afternoon. When I opened the door, you were drenched. It’s a tragic tendency when you enter snow-covered into an over- heated building. After setting up for Anya, you went to take a shower. You borrowed a baby blue Columbia t-shirt from me. I had never seen anyone look so good in that shirt. We chatted while you waited for your clothes to dry. You told me you were a devout Catholic, which made you far better resource material than Anya. You agreed to help me with the project, and we made our first lunch date.
The next few weeks were therapeutic. I woke up before noon regularly, and even earlier on days we would meet. You had an innate energy and cheerfulness that rubbed off on me. Seeing you was all I could think about. I felt nineteen again. Nights were spent in cafés instead of bars, with a laptop instead of shots of vodka. I had not been so productive in years. Some might have called it a rebound. I call it a much-needed breath of fresh air. Still, I was uncertain. I was years older than you, and my home was on the other side of the world. And nothing could ever completely replace Alyssa.
As my world grew brighter, Anya grew weaker. She didn’t get out of bed for days. I would read her Ian Fleming when I wasn’t working. You were visiting relatives in Moscow for a few days and I was reminded of solitude. You came for the next chemo session on the sixth of January. It was Christmas Eve (according to the Julian Calendar used by the Russian Orthodox Church), and when you discovered we hadn’t planned anything for the holiday, you insisted on showing us a proper Russian Rozhdestvo.
You insisted the hospital party you were planning going to go to was dreadful, and before long I found myself walking with you to the market. My research had revealed that Christmas takes the sideline to Easter for Russians, but regardless there was a holy supper due, a solchelnik. You honored the tradition, for the benefit of a foreign man and a dying old woman. The dinner was exquisite.
Anya retired to bed shortly after the meal, and that left us in delicious closeness. You were once again standing over the sink in that green apron, handing me dishes to dry. As we laughed and flirted with the soapy suds of dishwashing fluid, I finally began to overcome our difference in age and the nagging insecurity left by Alyssa’s departure. I remember our first shy kiss on the grey velvet couch. When you asked me to go out for the night, I was overjoyed. It was the first time you’d taken the initiative.
Your idea for a Christmas Eve date was slightly different from mine. You took me to a church, where we sat in on midnight mass. You were enthralled by the sermon and the choir. I, however, held your hand and was completely captivated by the sight of your eyes glimmering in the candlelight. As fortune would have it, midnight mass is conveniently followed by happy hour. The following events are a bit hazy. You learned that snow angels are a much wetter and colder affair than advertised. I learned that my arms and my heart could be warmed by someone other than Alyssa. The next morning I woke up with you next to me in my over cushioned bed sharing a delightfully fluffy pillow I had recently acquired. Your softness was pressed against me, and your hand caressed my chest even in the ignorance of sleep. Your lips seemed to kiss the very air that you breathed. You whispered my name and I forgot everything but you. It was a memorable Christmas for me, and I hope for you as well. And I sincerely wish that it was for Anya, since it was her last.
Anya’s condition grew critical in the following days. When you moved in shortly after Christmas to provide full time professional care, I must admit my delight was entirely selfish. I know that you felt extremely guilty spending so much time with me. But I truly believed Anya when she assured us that seeing the new happiness of a young couple was the best thing for a tired old woman. She was full of laughter in those days. She would tease us when we were together. Your energy rubbed off on her as well. And when she retired to bed we would indulge in each other’s company. I will not recount those days, because I hope that the happy blur is as deeply etched in your heart as it is in mine.
Then one morning you woke me up with tears in your eyes and tightness in your lips that tore at my heart. It took a moment to register, but I realized what had happened. It was not unexpected, but it still hit us hard. The hospital came and took Anya’s body two hours later. As we stood in cold snow watching them carry the litter to the ambulance, I reached for your hand. You pulled away. You said you couldn’t stand it that we were tangled in each other’s arms while Anya expired in the next room. You packed your bag and left with the sun at dusk. I will always regret letting you go. I called Alexei when it turned 8 am on the other side of the world. I had never heard another man cry until that moment. I felt like crying myself.
I remember the last time I saw you, at the funeral. My flight back to New York was scheduled to depart in four days. I wanted to take you with me. You would not part with your life in St. Petersburg. You told me to be realistic. I would not accept it, hopeless romantic that I am. It was a fight that we had several times since Anya’s death. I guess I pushed too hard, and you pulled away. You probably thought I was trying to replace Alyssa. Perhaps you were right.
The ceremony was an austere reminder of reality. You let me hold your hand when you cried as Alexei gave the eulogy in his booming baritone. It was warm, but it felt so small and vulnerable. You excused yourself to clean up afterwards. When I looked for you, you were gone. I called your mobile, but you wouldn’t pick up. I left messages that you didn’t respond to. A search through the white pages revealed that there were fourteen Irina Dragunova’s in St. Petersburg. Fourteen phone calls revealed that my Russian had not improved at all during my stay. I tried to get your address through the hospital, but the receptionist didn’t buy my clichéd love story, and refused to oblige. Though she did accept a free subscription to this magazine.
That morning of my flight, Alexei handed me a postcard. It was the kind you could find in any gift shop. A collage featuring tourist attractions such as the Winter Palace, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Mariinsky Theater. On the back was a single word in your bubbly handwriting. With it came my very own version of St. Petersburg. I saw memories of us walking down snow-covered streets with glittering streetlights. Of lazing on the couch watching local programing with you in my arms, as hail clinked against the shutters. Of laughing over the ancient dinner table while Anya told us stories of Alex. It said Farewell.
It is a cold November in New York this year, by local standards anyway. But I have known winter, and it was truly warm. Many nights I dream of snow in a far-away place. I will not argue or plead again. I did plenty of that in our last days. But if you read this, I want you to know that winter in St. Petersburg is forever etched in my heart.
I have finished my first novel. My editor said it was the best thing I have ever written. The agents loved it. I was paid more than I could have hoped for, and was promised my fair share of royalties. It is about a Russian family exiled to Siberia, struggling to celebrate Christmas when it was outlawed during the Communist era. It comes out next Thursday, exactly one year since I met you in chilly St. Petersburg. I hope you read it someday. On the page between the title and the table of contents is a page with a single line. It reads:
For Irina.


Peter Zhuang is a student at Columbia University, majoring in Creative Writing. He is currently an intern at a literary agency in New York, and aspires to be a novelist. He has published a piece of poetry as well as two research papers. This will be his first publication of fiction.

From Issue 2: The Girl's Desk

Alan Blaustein
Laurence Kent Halland glanced across his long, neatly rectangular office at the administrative assistant’s desk and sighed as his intercom buzzed. The cold-sounding young receptionist announced that his temp for the day had arrived, and he winced.
He’d had three temps in the past two weeks, each worse than the last. Through phone calls and bathroom breaks, very little was done and not very well despite his constant supervision. He gazed at the pile of work he had ready to be typed, and he wondered how much would actually get done.
As he rummaged through the pile, seeking what he hoped was the easiest task, the receptionist stepped through his opened office door.
“Here’s your temp, Mr. Halland.” Was there a hint of a sneer on those overly colored lips? About a week ago, he had a run-in with her over a call….
“Where is she?”
“He is right here.” The receptionist gestured over her shoulder.
Behind her was a man who seemed an inch or so shorter than she was, and the top of her head barely reached Laurence’s chin. How old was the man? He seemed younger at first due to his height, but Laurence thought he could see a few age lines.
The temp gazed up at him, mentally registering Laurence’s face. Remembering who looked like whom was a problem for most who went from office to office, and the similarities didn’t help. Halland, tall and slender, nearly blond, with a smooth face that was neither too round or too triangular, could have been close relative or even a twin of many of the men Adam had been assigned to.
Halland’s confusion was evident, and Adam was careful not to show that he noticed. In a completely neutral tone, he said, “Mr. Halland? I’m Adam.”
“You’re a…my temp?”
He stuck his head out of his office door, wondering if someone was playing a joke on him. But no one except the receptionist was near the office, and he gazed more closely at the temp. The slacks were obviously bargain-store bought, and the slightly worn-looking jacket was at least a year out of fashion, if not longer. The plain, dark-brown tie was of some fabric he couldn’t recognize.
Adam was looking at the work station, a desk-and-computer setup with overhead shelves holding worn reference books. The office was rectangular, and Halland’s desk and shelves were on the opposite end. A large window was set between the two areas, and the floor was clear except for a three-shelf bookcase under the large window.
Just then, the receptionist flashed another sly smile and walked quickly away.
Halland stared down at the shorter man. “I thought temps were girls.”
“Most are, Mr. Halland. Some men are, too.” Adam didn’t offer his hand, and Laurence didn’t offer his.
“Well, I have typing…can you type?” “Yes.”
“And a word processor–”
“I’ve used those.”
Halland gestured to the work area. “That will be your desk today.”
“Okay.” The temp nodded and walked quickly over to the desk chair. He paused for a moment to look over the desk and surrounding areas before seating himself. “Which word processor are you using?” He turned on the computer, and as symbols spread across the screen, he said, “Oh, I see it.”
Hesitantly, feeling a sudden sense of unreality, Laurence asked, “Do you know this?”
“Yes, I’ve worked with this one.” “Okay. When you’re settled in—” “I’m ready now.”
Just like that? The girls took at least a quarter hour to arrange their area, putting knick- knacks over the computer and hanging photos on the bulletin board, but the temp just sat down. His fingers flew across the keyboard, and he turned back to Laurence.
“Uh, I have a draft for you type.” That sense of unreality deepened as he took three sheets of legal paper from his desk and handed them to the temp. The man just didn’t look like he belonged there—that is the girl’s desk. He was also showing efficiency, something no one else in that spot had even come close to, but that just added to the unreality—Laurence couldn’t think of another word—of the man. He had long been able to fit everyone he encountered into one category or another, but this man didn’t seem to belong to any.
The clicking sound of fingers on a keyboard arose from the temp’s desk, and Halland went back to his suite of desk to read the day’s memos. About minutes later he heard the printer, and then the temp got up and walked over to him with the printout.
Halland thought he had detected a typo, and he felt a flash of anger. Adam had returned to his desk, and Halland stopped short as he started over to him.
He couldn’t yell at this man like he had other subordinates, and that flash of anger dissipated so suddenly that it seemed he had been drained of it. Feeling slightly helpless, all he could do was point out the error in a neutral tone of voice.
“No, I believe there are two “cs” in accessible, Mr. Halland.” The temp’s tone was as coldly neutral as if from a speaking machine. “I’ll check.”
He didn’t ask to, didn’t say anything like “may I?” And he corrected him…politely, but wasn’t Adam a subordinate, “administrative staff”? It wasn’t his place…but what was his place? The temp glanced up at the plain wooden shelf over the workstation and pulled down the dictionary, and all Halland could do was nod. He had to stretch for it, and he noticed that the edges of Adam’s jacket were rather frayed.
Adam sat down and opened the book in his lap and flipped through the pages. “Yes, here it is. Accessible, Mr. Halland.”
He held up the book, and Halland stared at the entry. “Oh, I see. Thanks for pointing that out.”
Coming from his own mouth the words sounded strange, and his voice faltered a little. Did he noticed the smallest hint of a sly smile on the temp’s face? He couldn’t mention that, he realized, and he couldn’t really mention anything to the man.
Something else was different from the other temps, and Halland couldn’t quite see it until Adam looked up and said he had to take lunch, agency rules. The entire morning, he had made exactly one phone call, and that was the required call to the agency. The bulletin board on the wall remained bare.
At exactly 1:55, the temp returned and sat right back down at his desk. More typing and a few corrections followed, and Halland was more mystified about him than ever. Adam conducted himself like a professional, but he wasn’t…could he be?
At the end of the day, Adam stepped over to him with his timesheet. “Please sign me out, Mr. Halland,” the temp said in that same neutral tone.”
Halland slowly took the time sheet, wondering if he should dismiss the man and wait for a girl. He glanced at the finished work and noticed the dictionary, which was still on the temp’s desk, and he decided he could live with the strangeness at least one more day.
“Yes, here.” Feeling muddled for no reason he could think of, Halland signed the slip. “I’ll be needing you again tomorrow, if you’re free.”
“Sure. Good night, Mr. Halland.”
Once, briefly, he had a permanent person. She was hired from the administrative assistant’s pool, and she had managed to aggravate him at least three or four times a week for the six months she was with him. No matter how carefully she tried to follow his instructions something was always wrong, and he felt as aggravated as if confronted with a machine that wouldn’t work properly. He paid no attention to her otherwise, and he had no idea she had been looking for other work even before she was assigned to him. She left with exactly one day’s notice.
That happened on a Thursday, and she informed him that afternoon that she would not be back on Friday and would be starting a new job on Monday.
And then came the temps, five minutes late, then ten minutes, and fifteen minutes late for the third young product of a business school.
Adam had come in five minutes early.
The word “professional” popped into Laurence’s mind as the temp strode in and said good-morning in a tone so neutral that no one could tell whether he meant it or not. He sat right at his desk chair and took the typing Halland handed him.
“I’ll be out of the office for part of the morning, Adam, but this should keep you busy.”
Adam flipped through the three sheets. “Okay, but if you have something else ready, I might have time to get started on it.”
“Well, I think….” Again, Laurence was nonplussed. All the others weren’t so—he couldn’t think of the word—so like him. “Ah, yes, here.” He handed over a second set of papers.
Halland returned around 2:00 that after noon, and a while later, an office messenger rather noisily pushed his cart into the office. Adam turned in his chair and stretched out his arm. “I’ll take his mail for him, if that’s okay.”
“Uh….” The messenger seemed confused for a moment, then a look of relief spread over his face. “Yeah, sure.”
Less noisily, he pushed his cart away. Adam walked over and laid the mail on Laurence’s desk, and his temporary employer scowled as he held up a yellow interoffice envelope, the kind that opened at the top and secured between two cardboard buttons and a string, and black lines stretched across both sides.
“This isn’t my department,” Halland said angrily, scowling. He reached for the phone, but Adam quickly got up.
“I can take care of that for you, Mr. Halland.”
That odd sensation on his face was a smile, Halland realized, surprised and slightly taken aback. “Oh, okay, Adam.” As he handed the envelope to him, he realized that he had addressed the temp by name for the first time.
Adam quickly dialed the mailroom. The same clerk rushed in, this time without his cart but with the correct envelope. Halland glanced up at him, but before he could say anything, Adam handed the envelope to the messenger. Looking even more relieved than before, the messenger darted out.
That afternoon, Halland decided to give him had a different kind of work. “My wife and I invest in art,” he explained, “and we need this material prepared. This isn’t…well, this is personal.”
To his surprise, Adam laughed, showing more emotion than Laurence had so far observed. “Mr. Halland, I’m not concerned at all about the content of my work. Personal, yes, but from my standpoint I am making a living. What could be more personal than that?”
Laurence laughed, and suddenly it seemed as if Adam had grown larger right in front of him, had filled out, taken on weight, height, even—
But he was still the same smaller person, but now he was three- dimensional, rather than—
How had Laurence thought about him? An adjunct to the chair? A mechanized typist? All this ran through Laurence’s head in the minute he handed the materials to Adam. “And you’ll check our spelling, too, right?”
“Sure!” Adam chuckled and turned back to his computer screen.
Later, the temptation to talk to Adam became overwhelming. “Tell me, do you do, uh, other kinds of work?”
“I know what you mean,” the temp chuckled, rather darkly. Halland felt a twinge of embarrassment at how easily the temp detected his real question. “I’m between publishing spots right now, editing. I told the agency to send me to publishing or non- profit…but I need the work, so here I am.”
“Do you like this kind of work, though?”
“Well, as a representative of my wonderful agency, I can’t disparage the client’s business.”
“Of course not.” Was he actually finding himself liking this unclassifiable individual? “But suppose you weren’t a representative,” Laurence smiled, secretly surprised at his sudden glibness, “What would you say then?”
“I’d say it sucks. This isn’t fun, believe me. But that publishing spot is out there. Do you like everything about your job?”
“No, not everything,” he admitted. “But the money, the lifestyle…the work is mostly okay. But some of the people here….”
You don’t want to know what secretaries in your personnel department said about you, Adam thought, keeping his expression neutral through long practice at dealing with men who were as alien to him as he was to Halland.
“The thing is, support people can get resentful and find ways to screw you around without breaking the rules. And the word “people” is what counts here.”
“You mean they are, uh—”
“They have feelings and lives outside the office, and I’m sure they aren’t happy to do the work they are doing. Anyway, is everything all right with the copy?”
“Yes, what I typed,” Adam said patiently.
“Oh, publishing term. Okay. Yes, and thanks.”
Adam left for lunch, and Halland decided to go out himself for a change. As he walked through the office to the elevators, he first thought that a whole new support staff had suddenly been put in place. But they were the same people, he realized as he gazed at the faces. He noticed that they were trying not look at him. Something had changed about them, though, and he couldn’t make out what it was.
Feelings and lives…he continued the conversation Adam in his mind, and recalled how the temp had become a living, breathing, three-dimensional person to him. Was that what it was about the others? He stopped short at the realization that, yes, they were real people. He had never thought in those terms.
When he stepped into the street, his first thought was that something might have happened because so many people were out.
But nothing had occurred. He walked several blocks toward where he thought the crowd was larger, and he was puzzled to find that it wasn’t.
It wasn’t until he was home that he realized that the street was no more populous than before.
He just hadn’t noticed.


Alan Blaustein wrote and edited mass-market magazines for the Mavety Media Group, Ltd from 1991 to 2011. His short genre story, “The Worst,” was published in the July 2009 Necrotic Tissue digest (now defunct). His article “…And I’ll Send You The Money” appeared in New York Minute Magazine.

From Issue 2: Winter Outside a Grocery Store

The road is a messy
half-eaten casserole.
The weekend sun, a limp
slice of lemon.
It sneaks out without a whimper.
and is not missed.
I sit in the car, waiting
for you to return
with vegetables,
their attendance
necessary for updating
the week’s meal roster.
Three young men emerge
with their acquisitions.
Bottles of wine, local and exotic.
Another, a store helper,
battles the stabbing
arctic chill to
push a fresh batch of carts,
left behind by shoppers.
The store’s sliding doors open,
a mother and son come out
bearing yellow bags. Their
tired feet scurry through
the snow.
An old lady
droops under the weight of two
bags–the weekly cross
she must bear for
still living.
Not everyone’s Saturday
is the same.


Bhaswati Ghosh writes and translates fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her writing has appeared in several literary journals, including Cafe Dissensus Everyday, Pithead Chapel, Warscapes, Earthen Lamp Journal, Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Stealing Time, Daily News and Analysis (DNA), Humanities Underground, and The Four Quarters Magazine. Her website is

Featured: Visit to a Small Planet

D.G. Geis
No telling
what He thinks—or if.
His ears,
a zillion light years wide,
pressed to the fizzy heart
of the universe,
a hydrogen gasbag
folded in on itself
like table napkins
on the Hindenburg,
an omelet,
or a quantum quesadilla.
What we call spiral galaxies,
He calls soup and sandwiches.
What we call supernovas,
He calls shoe polish.
What we call black holes,
He calls a paycheck.
What we call space,
He calls the barstool.
What we call the Big Bang,
He calls Louise.
It’s why the sun’s
so hysterical
and the moon
so matter of fact.
But it’s also why
stars twinkle–
The Big Guy winking at us,
humming a little tune
to Himself,
while he helps Louise
with her zipper.
D.G. Geis is the author of ‘Fire Sale’ (Tupelo Press/Leapfolio) and ‘Mockumentary’ (Main Street Rag). Among other places, his poetry has appeared in The Moth, The Irish Times, Fjords, Skylight 47, A New Ulster Review, Crannog Magazine, and Into the Void. He lives in the Hill Country of Central Texas.