Although the November issue went live literally minutes after I finished reading this issue, I urge you to excuse the fact that this review is for the October issue. The October issue marks the magazine’s one year anniversary, and I figured it needed a celebration. And there’s a lot to celebrate here.
The first of the four featured pieces is poetry from Katherine Coles. Here is a sample from the start of her poem “Two Kinds of People”:
Those who love the wind, and. Those
Who believe in words. Or who believe
In time as if an instant were something
Anyone could measure, who believe anything
Can be divided into two. Or three. And.
John Elliot’s “The Song of Sirens” is a fiction piece about a man in his forties who feels stuck in his normal day-to-day routine. Every day, when he goes to the park, he notices “The Crazies.” He describes them in the beginning of the story—a foreshadowing to the way he slowly loses his mind throughout the rest of the piece:
The Crazies are made of flesh and bone, like you and me. Their haggard faces and twisted fingers only suggest what they really are; their curse is worse than exile to the urban underworld: panhandling for change, flashing a cracked-tooth grin, weaving stories of unfathomable sorrow for the well-dressed passerby.
They sing too. Their music is the wail of the banshee, and the sweet song of sirens. Thankfully, most of you can’t hear them: like the tones emitted from a dog whistle, they sing in pitches unrecognizable to the 21st century sound-bite trained ear—a marvelous product of accelerated evolution.
Michael Copperman contributes the nonfiction piece, “Club Sweet.” Copperman taught at Delta Horizon’s after school program for a while, but he never felt like he belonged there. One night he was invited out to Club Sweet—the only bar in the town—with his female coworkers. The night turned into something he wasn’t expecting, and some of it feels like a dream. For example, he can’t find record of the band that played there ever existing. “I never belonged in the Delta when I was there,” he says. “I thought then that was the fault of the place, hadn’t realized isolation is what you carry with you. Once I left, everything returned me, demanded reckoning. That night was just there, linking me for a moment in a chain whose ends rarely meet.”
And then there is Jamie Grefe’s “Headcheese.” I can’t really do this chase justice by describing it: you’ll just have to read it. Here is a small sampling:
Shots hit everywhere. The barn is swiss with stars at night peeking through. Too much smoke. The axeman is frozen, body fluttering and holier than a roast duck. Those bullets he’s feeling are strings of blood. He roars smoke, goes down, topples, stumbles, topples, falls and shot upon shot pour into the barn: polka dots. Light it up in holes and through blasted wood I can see it, taste the old man’s house. It burns brighter now, orange popping, but the sheriff, when he comes in, is redder than a B-flick devil. He’s cracking off rounds into the axeman, fuming and cussin, until he sees me.
And so, so what if the party month is over? We can still celebrate: enjoy the October issue! And, of course, head to the home page for the November issue which features an interview with New Orleans poet Bill Lavender, a nonfiction piece by Santa Jimenez, a fiction piece by Roy Bentley, and poetry by Paul Hostovsky.