Although Iconoclast may not appear to be your typical magazine, it contains a plethora of magical writing just waiting to be discovered. The magazine itself is stapled-stitched on non-glossy paper, and some works share pages based on size (which to me seems like the ecologically friendly route to go). Something that also intrigued me is that they have a lifetime subscription to any country for a base rate. If you like what you read, this seems like a great investment. The magazine is mostly poetry and prose; however, they normally include reviews which were excluded from this issue (their next issue will be even bigger and include the reviews).
Early in the magazine, Kevin Driscoll’s poem “An Ode to a New York City Sidewalk” both entertained and intrigued me. It begins:
Oh great, flat, gray mass of stone,
In a vast metropolis, you make your home.
And through this city’s screeching drone,
Do you sometimes say, “Please leave me alone?”
Upon your soul, other “soles” are placed.
The poem really made me think about how much a New York City sidewalk would see and live through—what a great idea for personification! One could argue that there are few things in the whole world that have lived through as much. Driscoll continues to point out: “Do they not realize what you have lived through? / Of prohibition and pushcarts and the depression too!” The sidewalk is recognized for the trash people throw all over it, and if you’ve been to New York, you know how true that is. This was a really fun poem that broke the ice for me with the magazine.
Scott Abrams writes a story full of family memories after his grandparents pass away. Each of the characters has distinct and believable personalities, and it was a pleasure to get to know them. The father is gone a lot and only returns home every other Friday and must promptly assimilate back into family life. The narrator takes you back to a Sunday afternoon when “for an hour [my father] grilled lunch at the hibachi in our yard (the size of a large sandbox). When finished, he’d plunk burgers and beans and dogs onto the kitchen table. Below the front window, the meal suddenly seemed cramped by his sneering demeanor, as if overnight the world had rotted to its unspeakable core.” There is only one thing that calms him, and that is washing his “rig.” The act of washing and lathering was a physical act and required no mental stimulation. The family dynamic is interesting to read about in this two-page story.
“Maraschino Sunday,” a poem by Gene McCormack, shows the battle between hope and reality. Every Sunday night, alcoholics meet for an AA meeting even though they are described as “damaged beyond repair.” The last bit of strength the alcoholics use up is described as:
the maraschino cherry atop
the Sunday morning church congregation
sitting in orderly pews, singing and clapping
and praying for someone else to heal them.
The poem reminds you to take responsibility for your own life and your own choices. As Ernest Hemingway once said: “Never confuse movement with action.” Just because people go to meetings or go to mass does not mean that they are fully embracing the ritual at hand. There are lots of little things like this that Iconoclast made me think about; it turned into a bit of a soul searching experience. Happy hunting!