The amazing thing about online literature is that in order to put together an issue, the staff of a magazine doesn’t really have to be in close proximity. In fact, the founders of Amarillo Bay say that they haven’t lived closer to each other than 100 miles—and now live nearly 2,000 miles apart. Jerry Craven and Bob Whitsitt put out their first issue in 1999 and are now in their fourteenth year of publishing. This issue contains a wonderful collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
At first seeming to be an innocent story of a child and her imaginary friend, Theresa Nealon’s fiction piece “When I See Her” nearly had me in tears by the end of it. To tell you the ending would be an injustice, but just know that this piece delicately straddles the ideas of perception and “seeing.”
“Snowman #4” by James Warren Boyd is a nonfiction piece that had me both clenching my teeth in horror and silently laughing as snowmen dancers, wearing their costumes for the very first time, participate in their first parade at Disney. As one would imagine, the snowmen tumble and fall, stranded on their backs like turtles, and the parade aide has to call for ground support. While waiting for assistance, he rolls on his side “like a fluffy bowling pin” to maneuver to the middle of the street. “Some other snowpeople had the same idea,” he says, “and we all move to form a white lumpy island in the middle of the street.”
In Minka Misangyi’s “The Haystacks,” a young girl named Rebekah discovers some of the—to her, horrifying—“joys” of becoming a woman as she witnesses her cat Fifi give birth to babies: “It can’t be true, Rebekah screamed in her head to dispel the images that collided like fragments in a kaleidoscope. The bloody pulsating masses that came out of Fifi, her legs open; her mother, her own mother the same; and even herself—surely such things could not be harbored within her.”
Elya Braden’s poem “What the Snow Says” is eerily magnificent: “You’ve never seen yourself dead in a dream before, / but I am always with you now, ready to gather you, gather you back up.” Perhaps a tribute to his grandmother, John McKernan’s poem paints a picture of an old woman and of silence:
Explain the word quiet
More than the letters of her name
Engraved in granite
On a sloping hillside
In Omaha Nebraska
There are several more stories and poems to round out this issue of Amarillo Bay. Still strong since ’99, I hope this magazine is able to stick around.