A brand new litmag, Sassafras Literary Magazine, may be in its third issue, but it has really only been publishing for a month. Putting out an issue every other Monday, Sassafras surprises me in that it has so much material in an issue, but kudos to them—or I should say “to her,” as it’s a one-woman show. There’s a selection of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and artwork, viewable online (in which they each open as new pages) or easier to read as a downloadable PDF.
Jeroen van Honk’s “Something in the Air” is the standout piece of the fiction section. Caught between a mesmerizing, almost dream-like scene, the narrator tries to meet up with a stranger, identifying oneself with a single red balloon. But “it must be something in the air,” because each time he tries—no matter how many red balloons he carries—everyone else brings the same amount, making it impossible to identify the person he tries to meet: “It’s all or nothing. People not belonging to the balloon brigade, not caring for whatever symbolism, whatever protest we are into here, seem oblivious to the crimson-clouded ceiling we create. Are they used to it, already?” It’s a bit abstract but is tethered to a social commentary.
For the most part, the poetry in this selection contains short lines, keeping the reader constantly moving through it. Take Gabrielle M. Geisinger’s “Exit 13” as an example:
Last night we drove along
a one a.m. expressway.
a four door
And we, In the back seat like children,
without seatbelts — a folly —
but your arm
around my shoulders.
In the face of such expedient danger —
eighty miles per hour —
Although Sarah Flemington’s “my palm” seems to break the mold, with long lines, lacking capitalization. This poem has a more tranquil feel, slowing down to notice the minnows at the ankles, the palms hovering over the water. With allusions to Edna’s suicide in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Flemington imagines this as her own fate: “what became of you could become of me, otters swinging beneath a deluged torso / from which beavers may salvage limbs, fingers, toes.” You should absolutely read this one; it’s certainly my favorite among the bunch.