Executive Editor Ben Evans writes that he hopes readers will find, in Fogged Clarity, “something resonant here, something stirring and poignant . . .” The sole fiction piece, Benjamin Roesch’s “If You’re Listening to This,” resonates with me. It is a heartfelt look into Luke’s lifelong struggle to remember his father and feel his father’s love for him. Now married to Jasper, Luke donates his sperm to his ex-wife, who is also gay and wants to have a baby in France with her wife. What seemed at first a brainless act, becoming a biological father turns out to be a bigger deal for Luke than he would have guessed. Eager to tell his new daughter that he loves her and will always be there in the way his own father couldn’t, Luke runs into conflict when her mothers tell him that they don’t plan to tell their daughter who the donor is. It’s definitely a standout piece, right from the very beginning, which is definitely an attention getter: “Luke found himself in a small room with no windows. There was porn of all persuasions. There were tissues and baby wipes. There was Jergens almond scented lotion.”
The poetry, for the most part short, offers an audio reading, at least for all but two of the poems. But, in fact, my favorite poem was not accompanied by a reading. Z. G. Tomaszewski’s “Loss” visualizes the color yellow, one generally thought to be happy, but for this speaker, it brings up memories of the death of his young daughter, who was hit by a car as she went down a hill on her bicycle (training wheels still intact). The yellow reminds him of “glittered gold streamers whirling / from handlebars” and the dress his wife was wearing. But it’s written in second person, inviting the reader to feel to feel the same loss he does:
Where does color go when it shifts
away from sight? And when
the pigment presents itself again
does it feel permanent,
as though it never left, etched
inside your eye?
Also compelling is James Grinwis’s “Fragilistics.” Reading it is like discovering truths about our world that are obvious but that we’ve never thought about:
Everyone in my country
is an ex sometime, it is the nature
of many countries and people
to cycle through pain and recovery
like a moose shedding its antlers
year by year, some of us do that
others can’t . . .
It’s a take on “the old becomes new,” but it gives new imagery and light to that same insight.
There are also poems by Andrea Potos, Stephen Siperstein, Michael T. Young, and Sean Lause as well as a musical selection, interview, and a couple of reviews.