Certain Circuits

About this site

Founded by artists, Certain Circuits Magazine publishes poetry, experimental prose, art, and new media. We are especially interested in documenting multimedia collaborative work between artists.

Showing 18 posts tagged prose

How to Move
It’ll happen in small moves, like when you learn how to spell Conshohocken, wait for those as you would inspiration, forcing is the worst kind of mispronunciation.The channels are different, not the ones to inspiration but to your television stations. Don’t waste your breath on a diatribe of how 2, 4, 7 has some kind of innate unity, boasting even of the beautiful assonance of Fox 5.  It’s not worth revealing the level of your addiction and, just for once, consider what it does to his circadian rhythm.Rest, finally, because you aren’t running around making a meeting point with the cabbie who has your soggy wallet or in dizzying debate over local vs express, grappling with countless bodega umbrellas and cursing those mammoth size uptown blocks.  That gridded cacophony, that’s the other part of the city that doesn’t sleep, apart from the 10 pm haircuts and 4 am last calls.  Speaking of, revel in the money you save because of these losses. And rest, finally.Small talk is different, at first, no will ask you to watch the store while they go out for milk, because you graze shoulders less, because you are less likely to feel the buckle of each others’ girth on a crowded subway car, share a blaring headline in the meantime there too.  But it’s there, the Conshohocken of it, in the groan over the 109 degree heat allergies, the groan again over the steely reporter who informs you of these climes, the one you posit moonlights as comic book super villain, wielding that pointer like a dagger, and there with the rush hour radio, DJs in the tradition, that are your first friends, your own blue route to kinship.You think, who needs more friends, but you do and it will be better because there is less to chase away.And in that eddy of an hour where you are waiting for all of that to click, hunkered in traffic circles, take up that plan you thought you’d never get to, the one thing where you don’t feel lost.NINA SHARMA JONES is a writer from Edison, New Jersey. Her work has been featured in The Feminist Wire, Reverie: Midwest African American Literature, Ginosko Literary Journal, Big Apple Parent and Riffin. She recently was awarded a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. With Quincy Scott Jones, she co-created the Nor’easter Exchange: a multicultural, multi-city reading series.  She is an event curator at Big Blue Marble Bookstore and is currently working on her first novel, “Jumping the Jharu.” High-res

How to Move


It’ll happen in small moves, like when you learn how to spell Conshohocken, wait for those as you would inspiration, forcing is the worst kind of mispronunciation.

The channels are different, not the ones to inspiration but to your television stations. Don’t waste your breath on a diatribe of how 2, 4, 7 has some kind of innate unity, boasting even of the beautiful assonance of Fox 5.  It’s not worth revealing the level of your addiction and, just for once, consider what it does to his circadian rhythm.

Rest, finally, because you aren’t running around making a meeting point with the cabbie who has your soggy wallet or in dizzying debate over local vs express, grappling with countless bodega umbrellas and cursing those mammoth size uptown blocks.  That gridded cacophony, that’s the other part of the city that doesn’t sleep, apart from the 10 pm haircuts and 4 am last calls.  Speaking of, revel in the money you save because of these losses. And rest, finally.

Small talk is different, at first, no will ask you to watch the store while they go out for milk, because you graze shoulders less, because you are less likely to feel the buckle of each others’ girth on a crowded subway car, share a blaring headline in the meantime there too.  But it’s there, the Conshohocken of it, in the groan over the 109 degree heat allergies, the groan again over the steely reporter who informs you of these climes, the one you posit moonlights as comic book super villain, wielding that pointer like a dagger, and there with the rush hour radio, DJs in the tradition, that are your first friends, your own blue route to kinship.

You think, who needs more friends, but you do and it will be better because there is less to chase away.

And in that eddy of an hour where you are waiting for all of that to click, hunkered in traffic circles, take up that plan you thought you’d never get to, the one thing where you don’t feel lost.

NINA SHARMA JONES is a writer from Edison, New Jersey. Her work has been featured in The Feminist WireReverie: Midwest African American LiteratureGinosko Literary JournalBig Apple Parent and Riffin. She recently was awarded a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. With Quincy Scott Jones, she co-created the Nor’easter Exchange: a multicultural, multi-city reading series.  She is an event curator at Big Blue Marble Bookstore and is currently working on her first novel, “Jumping the Jharu.”

HAL SIROWITZ AND JEFF SIEGEL: COLLABORATION
Uninviting Bedroomby Hal SirowitzOut of all the bands in the world to like she happened to admire the one I hated the most, the Archies. Whenever I heard “Sugar, Sugar” on the radio I felt like free basing saccharine, even though it was proven to be unhealthy. She insisted on turning up the volume whenever the song was being played, even at ungodly hours. Also, I was a writer.It was disparaging to go back to her place and find only popular horror novels in the bookcase. She didn’t have any of the masters, like Lovecraft and King, but the imitators, like Koontz and Farris. The rest of the space was occupied by an old collection of stuffed animals. None of the bears turned me on. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but if she had no books that I wanted to read, what would I have done if I was stuck there in an emergency?
—
Choosing Heaven
by Hal SirowitzIf I sold my soul to the devil, what currency would he use? The Euro or U.S. dollars. If they made money in heaven that’s one more reason to opt for hell. I doubt whether they had paper currency in hell - the constant high temperature could cause the currency to burn. If heaven is up and heaven is down, according to mythology, then wouldn’t it be better to climb mountains than explore caves. If on the day of judgment God tells you to make your own choice – heaven or hell - it looks better if you go in the right direction.
Hal Sirowitz is the former Poet Laureate of Queens, NY, serving for 3 years under Borough President Helen Marshall in the year 2000. He’s the author 5 books of poetry. His first book, “Mother Said” was translated into nine languages and is the best selling translated poetry book in the history of Norway. He was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry. He was once the opening act for “They Might Be Giants.” One of his poems was selected to be posted on busses and subways in NYC. He has been awarded residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Artist Colony. Jonathan Ames said, “Hal Sirowitz is the bard of the deadpan delivery.” Gil Scott Heron said, “Hal Sirowitz is one funny motherfucker.” He has been in anthologies edited by Billy Collins and Garrison Keillor. He now resides in Philadelphia with his wife and poodle.
Jeff Siegel has worked in a variety of different media over the years, from short fiction to design to music criticism, as a self-styled “renaissance man,” never realizing that that’s the polite term for “dilettante.” He can often be seen bloviating on topics about which he really, and obviously, knows very little.  For more of Jeff Siegel: theprivatesector.org High-res

HAL SIROWITZ AND JEFF SIEGEL: COLLABORATION

Uninviting Bedroom

by Hal Sirowitz

Out of all the bands in the world to like she happened to admire the one I hated the most, the Archies. Whenever I heard “Sugar, Sugar” on the radio I felt like free basing saccharine, even though it was proven to be unhealthy. She insisted on turning up the volume whenever the song was being played, even at ungodly hours. Also, I was a writer.

It was disparaging to go back to her place and find only popular horror novels in the bookcase. She didn’t have any of the masters, like Lovecraft and King, but the imitators, like Koontz and Farris. The rest of the space was occupied by an old collection of stuffed animals. None of the bears turned me on. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but if she had no books that I wanted to read, what would I have done if I was stuck there in an emergency?

Choosing Heaven

by Hal Sirowitz

If I sold my soul to the devil, what currency would he use? The Euro or U.S. dollars. If they made money in heaven that’s one more reason to opt for hell. I doubt whether they had paper currency in hell - the constant high temperature could cause the currency to burn. If heaven is up and heaven is down, according to mythology, then wouldn’t it be better to climb mountains than explore caves. If on the day of judgment God tells you to make your own choice – heaven or hell - it looks better if you go in the right direction.

Hal Sirowitz is the former Poet Laureate of Queens, NY, serving for 3 years under Borough President Helen Marshall in the year 2000. He’s the author 5 books of poetry. His first book, “Mother Said” was translated into nine languages and is the best selling translated poetry book in the history of Norway. He was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry. He was once the opening act for “They Might Be Giants.” One of his poems was selected to be posted on busses and subways in NYC. He has been awarded residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Artist Colony. Jonathan Ames said, “Hal Sirowitz is the bard of the deadpan delivery.” Gil Scott Heron said, “Hal Sirowitz is one funny motherfucker.” He has been in anthologies edited by Billy Collins and Garrison Keillor. He now resides in Philadelphia with his wife and poodle.

Jeff Siegel has worked in a variety of different media over the years, from short fiction to design to music criticism, as a self-styled “renaissance man,” never realizing that that’s the polite term for “dilettante.” He can often be seen bloviating on topics about which he really, and obviously, knows very little.  For more of Jeff Siegel: theprivatesector.org

Daruma Ichi
There’s an orange stuffed dog long ago whose eyes, having peeled, I’d painted back on. Nowadays, there’s something called the daruma market. This is a wooden town. On Saturday there were rice pastries on sticks from the festival stalls, and the mustachioed, plaster eyeless buddha heads for sale—the Daruma. Buy a small one for san sen yen and, making any wish, draw a pupil in the right eye. He’ll look in different directions, one eye without, one eye within, and if your intention comes to pass, some several months hence, you take him down from the shelf and paint on the left eye. At Hokoji Jinja (the local shrine) there’s a burial bin for used Daruma. Varying sizes, and varying degrees of eyed or eyeless. There was one with pinpoint pupils, as if catching something brilliant; there was a winking one, and there was one with blank sockets. Of this last, there’s only theory: that person must  have been happy, and not wanted anything. 
Monica Pace tries her salt with languages and language, voice and guitar, travel, watercolour landscapes, hiking, cooking, and picture-snaps. She believes in a good breakfast, science fiction and poodles, and baking soda in every refrigerator by the year 2092.  High-res

Daruma Ichi

There’s an orange stuffed dog long ago whose eyes, having peeled, I’d painted back on. Nowadays, there’s something called the daruma market.

This is a wooden town. On Saturday there were rice pastries on sticks from the festival stalls, and the mustachioed, plaster eyeless buddha heads for sale—the Daruma. Buy a small one for san sen yen and, making any wish, draw a pupil in the right eye. He’ll look in different directions, one eye without, one eye within, and if your intention comes to pass, some several months hence, you take him down from the shelf and paint on the left eye.

At Hokoji Jinja (the local shrine) there’s a burial bin for used Daruma. Varying sizes, and varying degrees of eyed or eyeless. There was one with pinpoint pupils, as if catching something brilliant; there was a winking one, and there was one with blank sockets. Of this last, there’s only theory: that person must  have been happy, and not wanted anything. 

Monica Pace tries her salt with languages and language, voice and guitar, travel, watercolour landscapes, hiking, cooking, and picture-snaps. She believes in a good breakfast, science fiction and poodles, and baking soda in every refrigerator by the year 2092. 

KEVIN CONVERY: cross-genre
The Bitter Sea - Calypso
   Homer’s ancient epic, ‘The Odyssey,’ set in a world of fantastic and faraway places, inhabited by exotic monsters and equally exotic enchantresses is surprisingly modern in some of its passages.  Beneath the strange exterior ripple themes quite familiar to us: unforeseen change and loneliness, the desire for a lost home, the allure and threat of the erotic.
   In an early part of the poem, which actually takes place sequentially toward the conclusion, the hero, Odysseus, is sitting on a beach looking across “that tract of desolation, the bitter sea” which separates him from his home kingdom of Ithaka. He desires to return there from ‘nowhere.’  Nowhere is, specifically, the island of Ogygia, the domain of a minor sea goddess, Calypso. She had pulled the half drowned warrior from the Aegean Sea and nursed him to health. “I sang that he would not die…”
   Calypso becomes Odysseus caretaker and lover, but also his warden. Her cave, lush with grapevines, is also his prison. The vast barrier of hostile salt water is far more effective than any barbed wire. We can sense that there is an internal necessity to this. Caves in the wilderness and remote islands often function within myth as places of ‘second birth’, outside of the ordinary order of things. There is also a necessary time period which human effort alone cannot alter, in this case, seven years.
 When he washes up on the shores of Ogygia, Odysseus has lost everything. He has truly become the ‘No Man’ he claimed to the Cyclops to be. His ships and men have all been destroyed. Military prowess and his famous cleverness are quite useless here. It is at this point that he falls into the hands of the benevolent sea goddess who shares with him the fruits of her island; but she asks something too, for there is a very human side to Calypso. She feels lonely and slighted when he shows his desire to return to Penelope: “That bride for whom you pine each day… Can I be less desirable than she? Less interesting? Less beautiful?”
 Calypso even offers him immortality if he will agree to stay. This, however, only seems to emphasize that she is of a different order of things than that to which Odysseus naturally belongs. Forces beyond the control of either of them are already conspiring to send the hero back to the world of ordinary time and society. His period of isolation and regeneration is over. 
   Ordered by Zeus’s winged messenger, Hermes, to release her homesick guest, Calypso reluctantly helps him build a raft and trusts her lost lover to the winds and currents. She and her island are an ancient counterpart to Peter Pan’s ‘Never Never Land,‘ and we sense, correctly, for Homer’s wanderer there is to be no coming back.
From “The Golden Thread – Reflections on Myth and Memory”   Kevin Convery (2009)
Image: Kevin Convery:The Bitter Sea - Calypso oil on canvas 36 x 44” (2003)
www.mythicgold.com

KEVIN CONVERY: cross-genre

The Bitter Sea - Calypso

   Homer’s ancient epic, ‘The Odyssey,’ set in a world of fantastic and faraway places, inhabited by exotic monsters and equally exotic enchantresses is surprisingly modern in some of its passages.  Beneath the strange exterior ripple themes quite familiar to us: unforeseen change and loneliness, the desire for a lost home, the allure and threat of the erotic.

   In an early part of the poem, which actually takes place sequentially toward the conclusion, the hero, Odysseus, is sitting on a beach looking across “that tract of desolation, the bitter sea” which separates him from his home kingdom of Ithaka. He desires to return there from ‘nowhere.’  Nowhere is, specifically, the island of Ogygia, the domain of a minor sea goddess, Calypso. She had pulled the half drowned warrior from the Aegean Sea and nursed him to health. “I sang that he would not die…”

   Calypso becomes Odysseus caretaker and lover, but also his warden. Her cave, lush with grapevines, is also his prison. The vast barrier of hostile salt water is far more effective than any barbed wire. We can sense that there is an internal necessity to this. Caves in the wilderness and remote islands often function within myth as places of ‘second birth’, outside of the ordinary order of things. There is also a necessary time period which human effort alone cannot alter, in this case, seven years.

 When he washes up on the shores of Ogygia, Odysseus has lost everything. He has truly become the ‘No Man’ he claimed to the Cyclops to be. His ships and men have all been destroyed. Military prowess and his famous cleverness are quite useless here. It is at this point that he falls into the hands of the benevolent sea goddess who shares with him the fruits of her island; but she asks something too, for there is a very human side to Calypso. She feels lonely and slighted when he shows his desire to return to Penelope: “That bride for whom you pine each day… Can I be less desirable than she? Less interesting? Less beautiful?”

 Calypso even offers him immortality if he will agree to stay. This, however, only seems to emphasize that she is of a different order of things than that to which Odysseus naturally belongs. Forces beyond the control of either of them are already conspiring to send the hero back to the world of ordinary time and society. His period of isolation and regeneration is over.

   Ordered by Zeus’s winged messenger, Hermes, to release her homesick guest, Calypso reluctantly helps him build a raft and trusts her lost lover to the winds and currents. She and her island are an ancient counterpart to Peter Pan’s ‘Never Never Land,‘ and we sense, correctly, for Homer’s wanderer there is to be no coming back.

From “The Golden Thread – Reflections on Myth and Memory”   Kevin Convery (2009)

Image: Kevin Convery:The Bitter Sea - Calypso oil on canvas 36 x 44” (2003)

www.mythicgold.com

Our next deadline is September 1 for inclusion in the October or November issues.  We fill issues on an as received basis so submit early for inclusion in October’s multimedia issue. All published work is in consideration for our annual print issue, 3.1 (slated for spring 2013).  Priority is given to collaborative and cross genre work.
certaincircuits:

To be published on certaincircuits.org 
(as appears on certaincircuits.tumblr.com)
Art: all genres considered, send link to portfolio
Video/film/audio: send embed code or link
Poetics: all genres considered, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered for concrete poetry
Prose:  1500 words or less, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered
Cross-genre:  encouraged
Collaborations: encouraged
Email to certaincircuits@gmail.com.
High-res

Our next deadline is September 1 for inclusion in the October or November issues.  We fill issues on an as received basis so submit early for inclusion in October’s multimedia issue. All published work is in consideration for our annual print issue, 3.1 (slated for spring 2013).  Priority is given to collaborative and cross genre work.

certaincircuits:

To be published on certaincircuits.org 

(as appears on certaincircuits.tumblr.com)

Art: all genres considered, send link to portfolio

Video/film/audio: send embed code or link

Poetics: all genres considered, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered for concrete poetry

Prose:  1500 words or less, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered

Cross-genre:  encouraged

Collaborations: encouraged

Email to certaincircuits@gmail.com.

(via certaincircuitseditorial)

SEEKING SUBMISSIONS
 certaincircuits:

To be published on certaincircuits.org 
(as appears on certaincircuits.tumblr.com)
Art: all genres considered, send link to portfolio
Video/film/audio: send embed code or link
Poetics: all genres considered, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered for concrete poetry
Prose:  1500 words or less, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered
Cross-genre:  encouraged
Collaborations: encouraged
Email to certaincircuits@gmail.com.
High-res

SEEKING SUBMISSIONS

 certaincircuits:

To be published on certaincircuits.org 

(as appears on certaincircuits.tumblr.com)

Art: all genres considered, send link to portfolio

Video/film/audio: send embed code or link

Poetics: all genres considered, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered for concrete poetry

Prose:  1500 words or less, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered

Cross-genre:  encouraged

Collaborations: encouraged

Email to certaincircuits@gmail.com.

(via certaincircuitseditorial)

Plantains
With a long blade, she slices plantains along their bellies. Lime-colored peels split, reveal yellowed flesh. With a wrist flick the fruit is sliced into discs. One after one, they plop into hot oil, start a soundtrack I’ve never heard.
My friend tucks strands of black hair behind her ears and says, “See, just like that.”
I shake the pan, nudge chips with a wooden spoon. The plantains sizzle in their oil house.
Bubbles erect fences around each one. Tops burn gold. I flip them with a fork.
She tells me to cover a plate with paper towels. My clothes breathe canola. I know it’ll take a long hot shower to scrub the scent from my skin.
Plantains ride a slotted spoon, emigrate from oil to paper. Liquids seep into prints of daisies, tulips. I sprinkle salt over the plate in the way I’d powder a child that is not my own.
The oil stops its chorus. We sit.
Michelle Tooker works in marketing by day and writes by night. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Asia Literary Review, Ampersand, Gargoyle Literary Magazine, Ruminate and Foundling Review. Her second passion is traveling—she’s been to 34 countries and plans to visit at least 100. www.michelletooker.com High-res

Plantains

With a long blade, she slices plantains along their bellies. Lime-colored peels split, reveal yellowed flesh. With a wrist flick the fruit is sliced into discs. One after one, they plop into hot oil, start a soundtrack I’ve never heard.

My friend tucks strands of black hair behind her ears and says, “See, just like that.”

I shake the pan, nudge chips with a wooden spoon. The plantains sizzle in their oil house.

Bubbles erect fences around each one. Tops burn gold. I flip them with a fork.

She tells me to cover a plate with paper towels. My clothes breathe canola. I know it’ll take a long hot shower to scrub the scent from my skin.

Plantains ride a slotted spoon, emigrate from oil to paper. Liquids seep into prints of daisies, tulips. I sprinkle salt over the plate in the way I’d powder a child that is not my own.

The oil stops its chorus. We sit.

Michelle Tooker works in marketing by day and writes by night. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Asia Literary ReviewAmpersandGargoyle Literary Magazine, Ruminate and Foundling Review. Her second passion is traveling—she’s been to 34 countries and plans to visit at least 100. 
www.michelletooker.com

Thank you!  Because of you, we are now 100% funded.  Please note that the Kickstarter is the only way to pre-order the issue.  We can use any additional donations for postage, printing, and towards our issue launch. A “Subscriber” donation gets the issue at a discounted rate.  We have only 11 days left for this type of pre-sale.  Thank you for helping us print our second issue of a cross-genre multimedia magazine featuring work from artists in Korea, India, UK, and North America.  Several of our contributors are being published for the first time while others publish frequently and exhibit internationally.  We encourage international collaborations and cross-genre publication.  We would love to offer our contributors print copies, and your contribution directly funds our artists’ copies of the magazine.  $1 is not too small to donate toward the issue.  Every dollar goes a long way on a lean budget. Thank you so much for supporting Certain Circuits!

 
A Beautiful Day
(1929)
  
The crowd was gathered under a green and white striped awning.  Under the awning, the storefront window was open and a radio crackled.
 “It’s day three and the market panic continues,” said the radio announcer in a deep even voice.  “An angry mob has gathered outside of the New York stock exchange and we have heard reports that this morning a stock broker jumped from the ledge in mid-town Manhattan.”
The crowd gasped.
“Did you hear?” a man yelled.  “Stock brokers in New York are jumping off ledges.”
“And they should,” another man retorted. “People are losing everything.”
“Serves them right, for being greedy,” said another.
“Yeah, people were buying on margins and investing money that they didn’t have,” said the first man.
“There’s nothing wrong with a little speculation,” said another.
“The brokers are running around like chickens with their heads cut off,” chimed in another.
“Everyone is either greedy or afraid,” yelled another.
“I blame Hoover… he’s no good for the country,” said another man standing on the outskirts of the crowd.
 “It’s Coolidge’s fault,” said another man.  “He did nothing for eight years and now look what’s happened.”
The two men, both dressed in workmen’s clothing, started shoving each other.
“Stop it,” said a third man, wearing denim overalls and a cap.  He threw his arms around the man standing closest to him, pinning the man’s arms to his sides.  The man was forced to stop shoving the other man. 
 “Neither of them are worth it….  Besides, this will blow over.  Things will get better,” said the man in the overalls and cap.    The man, who was shoving the other man, stopped struggling. The man in the overalls slowly took his arms away. 
The man standing on the other side of him, wearing a suit and a bowler hat, looked at him in astonishment. “What do you know?” he blurted out.
“Hey, just because I’m a dock worker doesn’t mean that I don’t own stock.  This is America, the greatest country in the world.  Anyone can get rich.  I bought shares in the American Fruit Company – and I intend to keep them.  People need to eat – and they will always eat fruit!”
Several deep throated guffaws rose from the crowd. 
The man in the bowler hat turned away pointedly and looked toward the café.
 “President Hoover is about to make his speech,” he announced.
“Awww….what can he tell us,” remarked another man loudly, “that the House of Morgan is still hoping for a miracle?”
“And that American securities are the most desirable,” shouted another man.
“That’s right,” shouted another, “and the American economy has nowhere to go except up.”
Joseph couldn’t tell if they were serious or joking.
“I’ve had enough,” said the man in the overalls.  He walked away from the men and toward Joseph.
 “You look like you’re new in town,” he said in a low voice.  “Can I show you around?”
Joseph nodded, glad to have a friend.
The two of them walked down the cobbled street together.  Joseph looked up at a wrought iron balcony festooned with hanging baskets of brightly colored flowers and ferns.  The baskets were hanging from a corner house on the end of the block.  The façade was painted a pastel coral and brown wooden shutters hung on the windows.  Slabs of stucco were falling down – leaving patches of whitish yellow underneath. One of the shutters—painted black – hung askew from its hinges.   But baskets of leafy green ferns hung from the roof of the balcony and from the decorated ironwork railing of the balcony wrapped around the corner of the building.
Joseph looked at the man next to him.
“Name’s Charles,” he said.  He was shorter than Joseph with chestnut brown hair sticking out in tufts from his flat black cap.  Joseph had noticed earlier that he had the muscular build of a dockworker.   “Charlie, to my friends, though I can’t say I have many.  When I’m not working or playing cards, I spend my time at the New Orleans Public Library.”
When he smiled, his dark brown eyes flashed.  Joseph smiled back. 
 “Let me show you one of my favorite streets,” said Charles.  “This way.”
They turned right and walked down a narrow street that was more like an alleyway.  Strains of jazz met Joseph’s ears.  First, the clear tones of a clarinet soared toward him.  Then a harmonious blast of trombone music filled the air, and a steady drum beat began.  Joseph was so immersed in the music that at first he barely noticed the grand cathedral standing next to him.  Its grandeur slowly captivated him. First, he gazed at the white washed walls, then his eyes travelled upwards to the arched windows with the wooden slats running across them.
Then he craned his neck and looked up to where three dark spires towered.
Notes of music reverberated off the white walls.  Joseph had heard that jazz was everywhere here in New Orleans, and here it was.  Each note was precise.  The musicians were in synch with each other.  The drummer struck the rack of chimes hanging next to him – and colors, translucent peals of blue sky, filled the air.  Joseph listened intently.  It was called different things.  Jism. Jazz.  The heartbeat of America.  The pulse. The lifeblood.  It was French. Creole. African.  American.  It was conceived in Africa – from the blue notes, the poly rhythms, the syncopation, the improvisations – and born in America as call and response, Delta blues, Gospel blues and just blues with Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith.  Then, ragtime and waves of jazz rolling in with Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges.
Joseph didn’t recognize the tune, but as the notes swirled around him, he recognized the sound — improvised jazz with a hint of honky tonk ragtime blues.  Storyville may have been closed in 1917 and Jelly Roll may have moved on to Chicago more than a decade ago but the sound was still here – and it sent Joseph’s foot a tapping.
Charles turned toward Joseph and smiled.  “Welcome to New Orleans.”
 “Hey, we can go have a coffee.  I’ll spot you—or we can go to my favorite place off of Decauter Street by the Mississippi. It’s a stone’s throw from here.”
Joseph smiled and touched the right side of his jacket which bulged slightly.  “Forget about coffee,” he said. “Let’s go to the river. I have something we can drink.”
Charles smiled. 
The two men walked past the painters at their easels, past the back of the statue of General  Andrew Jackson on his rearing horse, and then left on Decatur Street.  They had come to the end of the pavement and along a small dirt path that took them to the edge of the mighty Mississippi.  There were a few wisps of clouds in the sky.  A barge was floating up river, one tug boat in front of it and another one behind, spewing an arc of water into the air. 
Joseph took a long draught from the flask, swallowed, and then commented, “I guess they didn’t hear the news.”
“What news?” asked Charles, as he took the open flask that Joseph handed him.
“That everything is going to hell.”
“Doesn’t look like hell to me.  Unless hell is a beautiful day,” said Charles.
Then he took a long drink and handed the flask back to Joseph.
Their hands touched.  Joseph smiled. 
Joseph nodded as he scanned the river.  The tugs and the barge were moving closer.  He could see the curl of the muddy waters as it swirled up and around the rusty red barge.
 “Looks like it rained recently,” said Joseph.
“That’s the way the river always looks.  There’s sediment in the water – from the Mississippi Delta.”
Joseph smiled to himself and thought that Charles was the type of man who had an answer for everything.  “It is a beautiful day,” he said.
He sat on the log, gazed at the blue sky and thought about his life.  The news about the stock market crash meant nothing to him.  People were talking about losing everything – their money, their homes, their dreams.  Joseph had already lost everything.  First he had lost the general store.  Then when he left his wife, he lost his children.  He lost his boyhood friend, Vince.  Then he lost his mother.  Then when he moved to New York, he lost his sister.  He lost his father a long time ago – even when it seemed that he still had him.
Joseph lifted the flask to his lips again and took a swallow.
He closed his eyes and then opened them again.
Losing everything had brought him here – to this beautiful day.
Janet Mason is an award winning writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry whose LGBT literary commentary is regularly featured on This Way Out, an international radio syndicate based in Los Angeles and aired on more than 400 radio stations in the U.S. and also in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe. She is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, including When I Was Straight (Insight To Riot Press) and a woman alone (Cycladic Press). Her book, Tea Leaves: a memoir of mothers and daughters will be published by Spinsters Ink/Bella Books in 2012.   She is currently working on a novel.  You can visit her at www.amusejanetmason.com High-res

A Beautiful Day

(1929)

 

The crowd was gathered under a green and white striped awning.  Under the awning, the storefront window was open and a radio crackled.

 “It’s day three and the market panic continues,” said the radio announcer in a deep even voice.  “An angry mob has gathered outside of the New York stock exchange and we have heard reports that this morning a stock broker jumped from the ledge in mid-town Manhattan.”

The crowd gasped.

“Did you hear?” a man yelled.  “Stock brokers in New York are jumping off ledges.”

“And they should,” another man retorted. “People are losing everything.”

“Serves them right, for being greedy,” said another.

“Yeah, people were buying on margins and investing money that they didn’t have,” said the first man.

“There’s nothing wrong with a little speculation,” said another.

“The brokers are running around like chickens with their heads cut off,” chimed in another.

“Everyone is either greedy or afraid,” yelled another.

“I blame Hoover… he’s no good for the country,” said another man standing on the outskirts of the crowd.

 “It’s Coolidge’s fault,” said another man.  “He did nothing for eight years and now look what’s happened.”

The two men, both dressed in workmen’s clothing, started shoving each other.

“Stop it,” said a third man, wearing denim overalls and a cap.  He threw his arms around the man standing closest to him, pinning the man’s arms to his sides.  The man was forced to stop shoving the other man. 

 “Neither of them are worth it….  Besides, this will blow over.  Things will get better,” said the man in the overalls and cap.    The man, who was shoving the other man, stopped struggling. The man in the overalls slowly took his arms away. 

The man standing on the other side of him, wearing a suit and a bowler hat, looked at him in astonishment. “What do you know?” he blurted out.

“Hey, just because I’m a dock worker doesn’t mean that I don’t own stock.  This is America, the greatest country in the world.  Anyone can get rich.  I bought shares in the American Fruit Company – and I intend to keep them.  People need to eat – and they will always eat fruit!”

Several deep throated guffaws rose from the crowd. 

The man in the bowler hat turned away pointedly and looked toward the café.

 “President Hoover is about to make his speech,” he announced.

“Awww….what can he tell us,” remarked another man loudly, “that the House of Morgan is still hoping for a miracle?”

“And that American securities are the most desirable,” shouted another man.

“That’s right,” shouted another, “and the American economy has nowhere to go except up.”

Joseph couldn’t tell if they were serious or joking.

“I’ve had enough,” said the man in the overalls.  He walked away from the men and toward Joseph.

 “You look like you’re new in town,” he said in a low voice.  “Can I show you around?”

Joseph nodded, glad to have a friend.

The two of them walked down the cobbled street together.  Joseph looked up at a wrought iron balcony festooned with hanging baskets of brightly colored flowers and ferns.  The baskets were hanging from a corner house on the end of the block.  The façade was painted a pastel coral and brown wooden shutters hung on the windows.  Slabs of stucco were falling down – leaving patches of whitish yellow underneath. One of the shutters—painted black – hung askew from its hinges.   But baskets of leafy green ferns hung from the roof of the balcony and from the decorated ironwork railing of the balcony wrapped around the corner of the building.

Joseph looked at the man next to him.

“Name’s Charles,” he said.  He was shorter than Joseph with chestnut brown hair sticking out in tufts from his flat black cap.  Joseph had noticed earlier that he had the muscular build of a dockworker.   “Charlie, to my friends, though I can’t say I have many.  When I’m not working or playing cards, I spend my time at the New Orleans Public Library.”

When he smiled, his dark brown eyes flashed.  Joseph smiled back. 

 “Let me show you one of my favorite streets,” said Charles.  “This way.”

They turned right and walked down a narrow street that was more like an alleyway.  Strains of jazz met Joseph’s ears.  First, the clear tones of a clarinet soared toward him.  Then a harmonious blast of trombone music filled the air, and a steady drum beat began.  Joseph was so immersed in the music that at first he barely noticed the grand cathedral standing next to him.  Its grandeur slowly captivated him. First, he gazed at the white washed walls, then his eyes travelled upwards to the arched windows with the wooden slats running across them.

Then he craned his neck and looked up to where three dark spires towered.

Notes of music reverberated off the white walls.  Joseph had heard that jazz was everywhere here in New Orleans, and here it was.  Each note was precise.  The musicians were in synch with each other.  The drummer struck the rack of chimes hanging next to him – and colors, translucent peals of blue sky, filled the air.  Joseph listened intently.  It was called different things.  Jism. Jazz.  The heartbeat of America.  The pulse. The lifeblood.  It was French. Creole. African.  American.  It was conceived in Africa – from the blue notes, the poly rhythms, the syncopation, the improvisations – and born in America as call and response, Delta blues, Gospel blues and just blues with Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith.  Then, ragtime and waves of jazz rolling in with Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges.

Joseph didn’t recognize the tune, but as the notes swirled around him, he recognized the sound — improvised jazz with a hint of honky tonk ragtime blues.  Storyville may have been closed in 1917 and Jelly Roll may have moved on to Chicago more than a decade ago but the sound was still here – and it sent Joseph’s foot a tapping.

Charles turned toward Joseph and smiled.  “Welcome to New Orleans.”

 “Hey, we can go have a coffee.  I’ll spot you—or we can go to my favorite place off of Decauter Street by the Mississippi. It’s a stone’s throw from here.”

Joseph smiled and touched the right side of his jacket which bulged slightly.  “Forget about coffee,” he said. “Let’s go to the river. I have something we can drink.”

Charles smiled. 

The two men walked past the painters at their easels, past the back of the statue of General  Andrew Jackson on his rearing horse, and then left on Decatur Street.  They had come to the end of the pavement and along a small dirt path that took them to the edge of the mighty Mississippi.  There were a few wisps of clouds in the sky.  A barge was floating up river, one tug boat in front of it and another one behind, spewing an arc of water into the air. 

Joseph took a long draught from the flask, swallowed, and then commented, “I guess they didn’t hear the news.”

“What news?” asked Charles, as he took the open flask that Joseph handed him.

“That everything is going to hell.”

“Doesn’t look like hell to me.  Unless hell is a beautiful day,” said Charles.

Then he took a long drink and handed the flask back to Joseph.

Their hands touched.  Joseph smiled. 

Joseph nodded as he scanned the river.  The tugs and the barge were moving closer.  He could see the curl of the muddy waters as it swirled up and around the rusty red barge.

 “Looks like it rained recently,” said Joseph.

“That’s the way the river always looks.  There’s sediment in the water – from the Mississippi Delta.”

Joseph smiled to himself and thought that Charles was the type of man who had an answer for everything.  “It is a beautiful day,” he said.

He sat on the log, gazed at the blue sky and thought about his life.  The news about the stock market crash meant nothing to him.  People were talking about losing everything – their money, their homes, their dreams.  Joseph had already lost everything.  First he had lost the general store.  Then when he left his wife, he lost his children.  He lost his boyhood friend, Vince.  Then he lost his mother.  Then when he moved to New York, he lost his sister.  He lost his father a long time ago – even when it seemed that he still had him.

Joseph lifted the flask to his lips again and took a swallow.

He closed his eyes and then opened them again.

Losing everything had brought him here – to this beautiful day.

Janet Mason is an award winning writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry whose LGBT literary commentary is regularly featured on This Way Out, an international radio syndicate based in Los Angeles and aired on more than 400 radio stations in the U.S. and also in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe. She is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, including When I Was Straight (Insight To Riot Press) and a woman alone (Cycladic Press). Her book, Tea Leaves: a memoir of mothers and daughters will be published by Spinsters Ink/Bella Books in 2012.   She is currently working on a novel.  You can visit her at www.amusejanetmason.com

 
 Art: all genres considered, send link to portfolio
Video/film/audio: send embed code or link
Poetics: all genres considered, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered for concrete poetry
Prose:  1500 words or less, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered
Cross-genre:  encouraged
Collaborations: encouraged
Email to certaincircuits@gmail.com. High-res

 Art: all genres considered, send link to portfolio

Video/film/audio: send embed code or link

Poetics: all genres considered, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered for concrete poetry

Prose:  1500 words or less, send in the body of an email or as a MS Word document, PDF considered

Cross-genre:  encouraged

Collaborations: encouraged

Email to certaincircuits@gmail.com.

item #0144I see you, darling, a forced entirity full of light. Hence some kind of preternurtured, joyous contamination of meaning. You fray my edges, in that regard; or am I still inthrawl to the writen word, a mawkish them and us? All I know is that I like it when you argue and I get money. Such connections with me are via a growing number, say n+x … SAY IT … I  know someone ventured further but can she trust and understand me, too? I doubt it. If we agree then this is a form of compliance; so much so that I am full of bodies, each keen, over-enjoyed, and riding the screen. In the end, I will be eager and that will frighten you. But, darling, I simply wish to finish myself around the world. What hinders this? He does. Him and the river. I posit myself between them, but still … crisis after crisis… a venture, a renting, those endless rooms and the thoughts of others within them. Banging. Slamming. I say again and for the last time, I cannot understand you unless I see in you an aftermath exactly like this and of your own making.
I am here until six your time; after that yahoo only. Or speak tomorrow.Carer
Anthony Donovan: artist, musician, writer, composer, working solo as Murmurists. Improviser - with Vultures Quartet, Donovan/Graham, Familiars, and others. Member of Lux P0g0 and the.clinamen. Ardent collaborator. Co-founder of Classwar Karaoke. Erstwhile academic. Born North West UK; now Middle-England UK. Mid40s; moderately-healthy. Interests all either obscure or intentionally opaque, but morally authentic.

item #0144

I see you, darling, a forced entirity full of light. Hence some kind of preternurtured, joyous contamination of meaning. You fray my edges, in that regard; or am I still inthrawl to the writen word, a mawkish them and us? All I know is that I like it when you argue and I get money. Such connections with me are via a growing number, say n+x … SAY IT … I  know someone ventured further but can she trust and understand me, too? I doubt it. If we agree then this is a form of compliance; so much so that I am full of bodies, each keen, over-enjoyed, and riding the screen. In the end, I will be eager and that will frighten you. But, darling, I simply wish to finish myself around the world. What hinders this? He does. Him and the river. I posit myself between them, but still … crisis after crisis… a venture, a renting, those endless rooms and the thoughts of others within them. Banging. Slamming. I say again and for the last time, I cannot understand you unless I see in you an aftermath exactly like this and of your own making.

I am here until six your time; after that yahoo only. Or speak tomorrow.

Carer

Anthony Donovan: artist, musician, writer, composer, working solo as Murmurists. Improviser - with Vultures Quartet, Donovan/Graham, Familiars, and others. Member of Lux P0g0 and the.clinamen. Ardent collaborator. Co-founder of Classwar Karaoke. Erstwhile academic. Born North West UK; now Middle-England UK. Mid40s; moderately-healthy. Interests all either obscure or intentionally opaque, but morally authentic.

Family Tree, Three Ways
I.
One way is to start out at the widest and work down narrowing. The greenest leaves being, in this
case, the most distant ancestors, who came from where, exactly? England or Wales, if guessed by the names. Somewhere there’s a Granny Faust in the family, too. Shielding the eyes to look skywards, those leaves blur, hidden by sun glare and height. A great-great aunt claimed to have come to North Carolina in a kivvered wagon, but that of course makes no sense, unless it was a wagon that gave up, one that turned back at the pass, the American Rubicon, the Cumberland Gap. And then there’s the country doctor, entirely mysterious, Dr. Gray, even his name shadowy and equivocating. Nothing else known but that he left his nurse in a bad way. The nurse’s daughter became the town bastard, her only other friend another bastard girlchild, years later revealed to have the same shadowy doctor father. Another leaf lost in the rustle. And then a branch sweeps in, meeting at the bough – a clan of dairy people, country proud. Mr. Edwards, a widower with a handsome son, marries the nurse against his family’s mutters. Her bastard daughter is now fifteen, just a bit younger than the handsome son. The whole dairy farm aghast when the stepchildren marry a few years later, but they stand their ground: the son amongst the cows, the daughter cooking for the men. Their children are Ruby, Rufus, Shirl. The women’s lines meet only with knotted twigs: Ruby weds a crazed Kentuckian, the seventh son of a seventh son, who spent his youth with a rope around his waist, exploring the depths of Mammoth Cave. He will use the rest of his life to try and get back underground, digging bomb shelters beneath the house, living entirely on Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies. Their daughters will have useless limbs: one girl overgrown and motionless in her mechanized chair, the other with an adult’s head on a doll-sized body, never to rise from bed. They spend their days in a small house in the woods which sit invisibly upon a palatial bomb shelter, minor celebrities on CB radio, communing with the truckers passing through in the night. Shirley marries a Chatham County military man, and their union will bear only a succession of small dogs: Scooter, Duchess, Buddy, Chaney Lee, Scooter Lee, Buddy Lee. Rufus leaves school at twelve to ride on the back of the milk truck and run the bottles to the door. By 20 he drives the truck, and he marries the prettiest girl on his route, the 17-year-old Vivian. This branch is low enough to reach up and touch the sun-warmed bark, firm memories of a tall woman who read endless books and sewed endless quilts (and, as Shirl will reveal one day, drank endless amounts of light beer and bourbon from 10am to night), and a short man with a snow-white mustache and a loud voice, telling bad jokes and exclaiming, “Well, I’ll be John Brown!” when surprised. And from them, two children, a boy who will grow up to love nothing more than planes and flying, who will join the Air Force during the Vietnam War. And fifteen years later, a daughter who will receive his gifts from Thailand and Hawaii and other exotic places. She will be shy and smart, the first to go to college, the first to move to the city after she marries a boy from Raleigh. And this is the trunk of the tree: the solidity of your own mother. All these innumerable, unknowable leaves, all of this energy, coursing toward a common root, converging into you.
II. A second way is to start at the trunk, usually with some legendary patriarch. For instance, the base of the tree might be an Ulster Scots man, who moves to Carolina when all the Ulster Scots move to Carolina, one of seven brothers who fought on the winning side of the Revolution. His wife is Honour Cravey, as good of a name as there ever was. His son, according to family lore, was the first student enrolled at the University of North Carolina, a notion which could easily proven or disproven by a trip to the college archives, but which notion no one wants to dispel. Here it is the middle of the tree that is blurriest: centuries of branches sprouting and crossing. One line moves to South Carolina and then back. Someone marries into the Overstreet family, who own nearly all of Edgecombe County. Alexander MacDonald comes over from Skye, fights in gray, survives a POW camp and brings home a working pocket knife he carved out of bone, engraved with eerie Masonic symbols. Elizabeth Ellinor marries Jefferson Davis Webb (b. 1862) and all the women of the line have the middle name Ellinor after that. Jane Ellinor Webb marries Frederick Crouch and they have Grace Ellinor and Frederick Jr. Grace Ellinor marries and has two boys, strange ones it’s said, one who moves away and never speaks to the family again, one who never leaves her side, never marries. They drive around the south together, locating Confederate graves with insufficient markers or broken tombstones, writing to the government to request new ones. It is the U.S. government’s policy to provide tombstones for any fallen American soldier, and whether including Confederate soldiers in this policy comprises a kind of loophole or not is a matter of opinion. Grace’s old car rides low to the ground, with its trunk full of stone. Her brother Frederick Jr. goes to the University of North Carolina, as is family custom, studies physics, is supposedly invited to work on a government-sponsored bomb-building project but is disinclined to move to Manhattan and instead goes to work at the Raleigh post office. Hazel MacDonald, granddaughter (or is it great, or great-great) of Alexander, daughter of an English teacher, herself desires to be an English teacher. She graduates high school at age 16, graduates from NC State at 19, constantly mortified to be one of only four women in her class. The school board tells her she is too young and too small to teach English to high school boys, so she goes to work as a secretary at the Raleigh post office. She is 23, an old maid, by the time Fred Crouch Jr. comes to work there and, as she says, “I chased him ‘til he caught me.” They will have four children, and each other their four children will have three children, and you (whose middle name is Ellinor) and your two siblings and your nine cousins, along with all the other cousins and second and third cousins, the Overstreets and Webbs and MacDonalds you will never meet, you are the youngest green leaves at the top of the tree. You are the ones who bring it sunlight, who feed the history and legends, and yet who know nothing of the past.
III. The third tree is a mirror-tree, a shadow-tree. It is the tree that lives underground, the invisible roots. It is the tree of the people your family owned – just a few, your father will tell you, and it was the South Carolina branch, South Carolinians being prone to such things. They would have had the family name, though maybe they chose to change it after the war. They may have had the family blood. They may have been separated and their children’s children may not have even known one another down the line. This tree is harder to trace, so much of its story hidden in dark. It is the tree that fed and sustained its twin tree. It cannot be severed from your history; it is your history. Roots surface in places, like fish frozen in swimming. How much blood in that family name? Which is the greater crime, to invent or to ignore? The bark is the same when you bend to touch the knots that rise up. Look what direction those roots are pointing, turn your feel to face the same: outward. Follow them or follow the branches: either way the trunk is at your back. Step over the edge of the canopy’s shade. Then keep moving. You can look back all you want, but you have to walk farther. Farther does not always mean away. 
Michelle E. Crouch is one of the co-founders of APIARY Magazine, a Philadelphia-based literary journal for humans of all ages. She recently relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina to pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Her work has been published in the Indiana Review and on mcsweeneys.net.  http://mcrouch.tumblr.com   www.apiarymagazine.com  High-res

Family Tree, Three Ways

I.

One way is to start out at the widest and work down narrowing. The greenest leaves being, in this

case, the most distant ancestors, who came from where, exactly? England or Wales, if guessed by the names. Somewhere there’s a Granny Faust in the family, too. Shielding the eyes to look skywards, those leaves blur, hidden by sun glare and height. A great-great aunt claimed to have come to North Carolina in a kivvered wagon, but that of course makes no sense, unless it was a wagon that gave up, one that turned back at the pass, the American Rubicon, the Cumberland Gap. And then there’s the country doctor, entirely mysterious, Dr. Gray, even his name shadowy and equivocating. Nothing else known but that he left his nurse in a bad way. The nurse’s daughter became the town bastard, her only other friend another bastard girlchild, years later revealed to have the same shadowy doctor father. Another leaf lost in the rustle. And then a branch sweeps in, meeting at the bough – a clan of dairy people, country proud. Mr. Edwards, a widower with a handsome son, marries the nurse against his family’s mutters. Her bastard daughter is now fifteen, just a bit younger than the handsome son. The whole dairy farm aghast when the stepchildren marry a few years later, but they stand their ground: the son amongst the cows, the daughter cooking for the men. Their children are Ruby, Rufus, Shirl. The women’s lines meet only with knotted twigs: Ruby weds a crazed Kentuckian, the seventh son of a seventh son, who spent his youth with a rope around his waist, exploring the depths of Mammoth Cave. He will use the rest of his life to try and get back underground, digging bomb shelters beneath the house, living entirely on Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies. Their daughters will have useless limbs: one girl overgrown and motionless in her mechanized chair, the other with an adult’s head on a doll-sized body, never to rise from bed. They spend their days in a small house in the woods which sit invisibly upon a palatial bomb shelter, minor celebrities on CB radio, communing with the truckers passing through in the night. Shirley marries a Chatham County military man, and their union will bear only a succession of small dogs: Scooter, Duchess, Buddy, Chaney Lee, Scooter Lee, Buddy Lee. Rufus leaves school at twelve to ride on the back of the milk truck and run the bottles to the door. By 20 he drives the truck, and he marries the prettiest girl on his route, the 17-year-old Vivian. This branch is low enough to reach up and touch the sun-warmed bark, firm memories of a tall woman who read endless books and sewed endless quilts (and, as Shirl will reveal one day, drank endless amounts of light beer and bourbon from 10am to night), and a short man with a snow-white mustache and a loud voice, telling bad jokes and exclaiming, “Well, I’ll be John Brown!” when surprised. And from them, two children, a boy who will grow up to love nothing more than planes and flying, who will join the Air Force during the Vietnam War. And fifteen years later, a daughter who will receive his gifts from Thailand and Hawaii and other exotic places. She will be shy and smart, the first to go to college, the first to move to the city after she marries a boy from Raleigh. And this is the trunk of the tree: the solidity of your own mother. All these innumerable, unknowable leaves, all of this energy, coursing toward a common root, converging into you.

II. A second way is to start at the trunk, usually with some legendary patriarch. For instance, the base of the tree might be an Ulster Scots man, who moves to Carolina when all the Ulster Scots move to Carolina, one of seven brothers who fought on the winning side of the Revolution. His wife is Honour Cravey, as good of a name as there ever was. His son, according to family lore, was the first student enrolled at the University of North Carolina, a notion which could easily proven or disproven by a trip to the college archives, but which notion no one wants to dispel. Here it is the middle of the tree that is blurriest: centuries of branches sprouting and crossing. One line moves to South Carolina and then back. Someone marries into the Overstreet family, who own nearly all of Edgecombe County. Alexander MacDonald comes over from Skye, fights in gray, survives a POW camp and brings home a working pocket knife he carved out of bone, engraved with eerie Masonic symbols. Elizabeth Ellinor marries Jefferson Davis Webb (b. 1862) and all the women of the line have the middle name Ellinor after that. Jane Ellinor Webb marries Frederick Crouch and they have Grace Ellinor and Frederick Jr. Grace Ellinor marries and has two boys, strange ones it’s said, one who moves away and never speaks to the family again, one who never leaves her side, never marries. They drive around the south together, locating Confederate graves with insufficient markers or broken tombstones, writing to the government to request new ones. It is the U.S. government’s policy to provide tombstones for any fallen American soldier, and whether including Confederate soldiers in this policy comprises a kind of loophole or not is a matter of opinion. Grace’s old car rides low to the ground, with its trunk full of stone. Her brother Frederick Jr. goes to the University of North Carolina, as is family custom, studies physics, is supposedly invited to work on a government-sponsored bomb-building project but is disinclined to move to Manhattan and instead goes to work at the Raleigh post office. Hazel MacDonald, granddaughter (or is it great, or great-great) of Alexander, daughter of an English teacher, herself desires to be an English teacher. She graduates high school at age 16, graduates from NC State at 19, constantly mortified to be one of only four women in her class. The school board tells her she is too young and too small to teach English to high school boys, so she goes to work as a secretary at the Raleigh post office. She is 23, an old maid, by the time Fred Crouch Jr. comes to work there and, as she says, “I chased him ‘til he caught me.” They will have four children, and each other their four children will have three children, and you (whose middle name is Ellinor) and your two siblings and your nine cousins, along with all the other cousins and second and third cousins, the Overstreets and Webbs and MacDonalds you will never meet, you are the youngest green leaves at the top of the tree. You are the ones who bring it sunlight, who feed the history and legends, and yet who know nothing of the past.

III. The third tree is a mirror-tree, a shadow-tree. It is the tree that lives underground, the invisible roots. It is the tree of the people your family owned – just a few, your father will tell you, and it was the South Carolina branch, South Carolinians being prone to such things. They would have had the family name, though maybe they chose to change it after the war. They may have had the family blood. They may have been separated and their children’s children may not have even known one another down the line. This tree is harder to trace, so much of its story hidden in dark. It is the tree that fed and sustained its twin tree. It cannot be severed from your history; it is your history. Roots surface in places, like fish frozen in swimming. How much blood in that family name? Which is the greater crime, to invent or to ignore? The bark is the same when you bend to touch the knots that rise up. Look what direction those roots are pointing, turn your feel to face the same: outward. Follow them or follow the branches: either way the trunk is at your back. Step over the edge of the canopy’s shade. Then keep moving. You can look back all you want, but you have to walk farther. Farther does not always mean away. 

Michelle E. Crouch is one of the co-founders of APIARY Magazine, a Philadelphia-based literary journal for humans of all ages. She recently relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina to pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Her work has been published in the Indiana Review and on mcsweeneys.net.  http://mcrouch.tumblr.com   www.apiarymagazine.com 

cypresses here you are silver i see you are sleepless still and i myself am gold yet amid cypresses each of them castle tall each implores lend me a king cypresses cynthia is silvery above you and your imploration is golden enough by me kings pale wonders by silver valued exclaims a cypress oh an awful one you are of them what tower holds you phoebus would you not set your flambeau atop me and so each hand upon cynthia  pomegranates aglaia in pomona likeness to abjure obscurely gratiae total gave pomona almost aglaia likeness ah aglaia must abjure pomona to obscure aglaia passersby who beheld a sublimer pomona due to aglaia longed each an enfoliage visited upon their skin by some divinity so to gain her tutelage what pomegranates you bear passersby and how changed near utmost hushed as luminous diana is aglaia as she passes   heights this narcissus mimic of adonis it could be his fountain addressed with away quadruped you waved aside with your caress the regret of water for the volitional a mountebank by any scope though reared by stars this narcissus speaks of the heights remembrance learned recall none other haunt fountain than this framed by my face
Jeff Harrison has publications from Writers Forum, MAG Press, Persistencia Press, White Sky Books, and Furniture Press. He has e-books from Blazevox, xPress(ed), Argotist Ebooks, and Chalk Editions. His poetry has appeared in An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions), The Hay(na)ku Anthology Vol. II (Meritage Press), The Chained Hay(na)ku Project (Meritage Press),Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics, Otoliths, Xerography, Moria, NOON: journal of the short poem, Dusie, MiPOesias, Big Bridge, and elsewhere. 
(Image courtesy of Bonnie MacAllister) High-res


cypresses
 
here you are silver i see you are sleepless still and i myself am gold yet amid cypresses each of them castle tall each implores lend me a king cypresses cynthia is silvery above you and your imploration is golden enough by me kings pale wonders by silver valued exclaims a cypress oh an awful one you are of them what tower holds you phoebus would you not set your flambeau atop me and so each hand upon cynthia
 
 
pomegranates
 
aglaia in pomona likeness to abjure obscurely gratiae total gave pomona almost aglaia likeness ah aglaia must abjure pomona to obscure aglaia passersby who beheld a sublimer pomona due to aglaia longed each an enfoliage visited upon their skin by some divinity so to gain her tutelage what pomegranates you bear passersby and how changed near utmost hushed as luminous diana is aglaia as she passes 
 
 
heights
 
this narcissus mimic of adonis it could be his fountain addressed with away quadruped you waved aside with your caress the regret of water for the volitional a mountebank by any scope though reared by stars this narcissus speaks of the heights remembrance learned recall none other haunt fountain than this framed by my face


Jeff Harrison has publications from Writers Forum, MAG Press, Persistencia Press, White Sky Books, and Furniture Press. He has e-books from Blazevox, xPress(ed), Argotist Ebooks, and Chalk Editions. His poetry has appeared in An Introduction to the Prose Poem (Firewheel Editions), The Hay(na)ku Anthology Vol. II (Meritage Press), The Chained Hay(na)ku Project (Meritage Press),Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics, Otoliths, Xerography, Moria, NOON: journal of the short poem, Dusie, MiPOesias, Big Bridge, and elsewhere.
 

(Image courtesy of Bonnie MacAllister)

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