The 15th issue of Bop Dead City was released last month with the theme “Dreams,” a dreamlike state carrying over to much of the work in this issue.
Most obviously, we see the theme in the Dreams Contest winner, “Freighthopping” by Alison Liu. In writing that mimics both the airiness of dreams and the dreaminess of being with someone you love, Liu sweeps readers away into the night where “kamikaze fireflies dive into the creek” and the speaker follows “you” waiting for a train. Liu makes way for two more fiction pieces, leading me to have a bit of a problem with this issue: I loved the fiction so much, I wanted more than just three pieces.
My favorite of the three, “The Vest” by Lauren Spinabelli looks at two girls in similar but very different situations: one is apologetic and soft, young and desperate to fit in with her Girl Scout troupe while the other is a new member to the neighborhood girl-gang, too big and awkward for their stolen Girl Scout vests, not cute with “no rosy glow, no traces of baby fat sitting like dollops of cream on her cheeks or arms.” Even though these girls are each other’s opposite, they’re still so alike in their sadness and their inability to fit in, a perfect illustration of girlhood, coming-of-age, and the sudden awareness of what they might lack in the presence of other girls.
Backtracking to the poetry that opens this issue, readers can find Kailey Tedesco’s poem “On Flowers in the Attic.” A tribute to V.C. Andrews’s 1979 novel, the speaker’s body is the attic worn “as a blouse, Alice- / style.” The language is haunting, beauty juxtaposed with images of danger: arsenic, smuggled opals, walls crumbling “like laundry.” Tedesco’s strong piece is a well-chosen opening for the issue.
Next up is Carla M. Cherry with “Love Letter.” Continuing the streak of strong poetry, Cherry pens a love letter to “my dear sisters,” reexamining and rewriting the same poem, the same lines, all stemming from a bigot’s racist comments on an Instagram post. Cherry’s love letter to her sisters is a frantic pep-talk, modern and relevant.
Although schools are letting out for summer, Tristan Silverman carries us back to class in “What We Studied,” in which school subjects are compared to learning another boy’s body at boarding school: “history – blonde grass growing from loin to belly – math / his nervous laughter scratching the windows, biology . . . ” There are things we’re taught at school, and other things we end up learning outside of class “after dinner / against boarding school rules,” things even all the classes can’t prepare us for, like trysts coming to an end.
Bop Dead City consistently presents great writing to its readers, a slim little chapbook that can be stored wherever to be read whenever. Grab a copy of Issue 15 for some of the sweetest dreams you’ll have.