“Watch the news. Take the bailout stuff.”
trillion-dollar infusions to keep alive a capitalist system
founded on the assumption of unlimited growth of
“You ever balance your checkbook, Davis?” capital. What’s the problem with that, Davis?”
he asks, on account of my name being Davis.
“Not really. The bank sends me a
“Unlimited growth is impossible. Sooner
statement online, so—”
or later, there will be no new markets and you
“Figured. Those guys who worked up the
know what happens then?”
paper; I’m not an animal. I’ve got two tiers to this
“Bullshit. The whole world is linked into
house. Got enough space for gardening on the
one economy that’s defended by a bloated,
second to grow essentials. Solar and wind on the
over-spent military force—ours—all of which is
top to keep the refrigerator and the perimeter lights
dependent on a finite energy source. It won’t be any going.”
fucking depression. It’ll be a goddamned dark age.
You know who does balance their checkbooks?”
“You think other people aren’t going to
“My wife’s pretty good about hers.”
see my little fortress here? You think they’re not
“The Saudis. You know what they’re doing going to want to come in, help themselves to my right now?”
food, my daughters, etc. I’ve thought it all through.
Corner house, wide back yard, got room. From
“Drilling offshore. They’re sitting on one-
the roof, with a good rifle, I can pick off anybody
fourth of the world’s oil in the dirt and they’re drill- comes within fifty feet.”
ing offshore. How come?”
“Mitch, my house is closer than that.”
“Apparently it’s got something to do with
“Yeah, sorry, bud. When the shit hits
the fan, I figure I’ll have to raze your place to the
“They know the shit’s running out, man.
They’re gonna grab every damned drop they can
so they can keep enjoying their Mercedes Benzes
lives with his wife and
and their harems with seventy virgins for as long as
two children in El
Paso, Texas. He has
“I’m thinking they’re not virgins anymore
an MFA in Creative
once they’re in the harems, no?”
Writing from the
“I’m just saying, they’ve got a plan.”
University of Texas
“And so do you?”
at El Paso. His professional writing has been published
“I’ve stockpiled a life-time supply of am-
in English in Texas and his fiction has been published
munition and water purification tablets—and toilet in the Rio Grande Review.
By Walter Holland
Anna in the morning searches an unfamiliar room a chance. “Well then,” she says, laughing. The toilet wondering if she really said “Where’d my sock
flushes. His callused heels gracelessly bang the tiles.
go?” or just thought it. A mess that’s yours isn’t a
“The first day of the universe started with a Big
mess. The room’s not hers; neither is he. The left
Bang,” she calls out. The bathroom door muffles
sock is missing, and it does matter which - it has
his response. “No pressure!” she calls out. “What?”
little asymmetrical toes and everything. He’d called
he says. Bella rolls her eyes, looks at her wrists,
it ‘adorable’ and sort of tugged it from her foot
her arms. Little asymmetrical bruises. He’s a lefty,
“Did you say
He had the grace or wit not to mention his wife’s name something?”
he says as he
to spill the wine. Last night. This is the price, she
flopping around cheerfully. “Not every Bang has
thinks or maybe says. Somehow this missing sock
to be Big,” she says. He scratches himself, says, “Is
will come back to haunt me. He had the grace or
that a joke?” “Never you mind,” Bella says. She
wit not to mention his wife’s name. Anna’s too
laughs again, points to a spot on the bed beside
preoccupied with the sock, now, to be grateful.
her. She sparkles.
Carmen in the morning doesn’t feel like dealing
Bella in the morning stretches sore muscles and
with Mama but she has to go home. She knows.
arches her back to look out over the upside down
Mama will let the silence settle in a little first.
city. Rain whispers at the window, hush, hush. Not
“Emilio doesn’t know what you do at night,”
she’ll say. “Thank heavens.” Of course he doesn’t Thank heavens.
know, Carmen thinks, it’s worse that way. He
feels she’s gone without knowing it. He doesn’t
Emmie in the morning awakens alone
know yet that those scary feelings are called
remembering, like every morning, and doesn’t start
Questions. Bad enough facing Mama’s pursed
crying so much as pick up where she last left off.
lips and disapproval. Emilio loves her even when Maybe she’ll sleep away the day, die, dissolve, she’s...A kettle hisses, whistles. Katherine’s in
disappear - or maybe awaken, blessedly, finally. One
the next room making breakfast. Goal-oriented.
or another. But probably not. Probably she’ll just
Carmen doesn’t want to say: “Cata, listen.” She
have to live one more day, by habit if not choice.
won’t say “I have a little boy.” Or “I can’t walk
The room was theirs but it’s just hers now.
into my baby’s nursery again smelling like a
Everything is an intrusion. Nothing is familiar.
strange woman.” She won’t, she won’t, yet she
Emmie says, I have nowhere else to go.
Debby says, I guess I’m going crazy.
Debby in the morning looks right and then down, Carmen says, I need to go. No, now.
whoa, he’s naked, then left and down, OK also
Bella says, I’d go again, you?
naked, then up at the ceiling and down at herself, Anna in the morning says, Where’d my sock go?
naked, check, iiiinteresting, and hands and arms
are just everywhere. Hers and everyone else’s.
The stereo was on all night: blue jazz,
Walter Holland is a
bedroom music. Debby wriggles, remembers,
full-time dad and part-
opens her eyes wide. WELL then. Debby thinks:
time writer/editor from
Am I a perv now? A brand new smile comes,
Cambridge MA. He
suddenly, and she thinks: I don’t care. She reaches
has never published a
over, squeezes somebody’s something-or-other,
work of fiction.
hears a contented sigh. Debby surprises herself.
By Danilo Lopez
“The journey, not the destination, becomes the source of After work, when he was able to, he would stop by wonder” her house. She would try to penetrate the heart and
Lorena McKennit, “The Mask and Mirror” mind of that quiet man, so loved, so lonely, in vain.
She, tired of being closed, would open to him as
At the Hotel du Lys, 23 Rue Serpente, Paris,
naturally as water and salt. He, tired of being open,
France, it wasn’t her nipple that froze in the garden, would close to her as naturally as dust and air.
but the inconstancy that served them well. The rest,
At the Hotel Carpati, Str Matei Millo 16,
adorned with festoons and clairvoyant silk roses,
Bucharest, Romania, she discovered that in the
was a monument to passing loves, boring laughs.
legend of Dracul, the reincarnation of the love
No cats could be mastered, no clogs to ride. Only
of his wife kills him in order to reach eternal
her expectant smile, eternally asking “how much
salvation. It was not the destiny of the two souls
to sail together and be saved in pairs. Each soul
At the Hotel Endri, Rs. Vaso Pasha 27,
had to reach its own salvation alone. From this
Tirana, Albania, she realized that in the beginning
stand point, she concluded, soulmates didn’t
the heart rules over the head. She didn’t care much
exist in eternity (souls are timeless) but in brief
about not seeing him but once in a while. She didn’t chosen associations formed in the temporal care about him not answering her calls. So many
plane. So, in the end, she would sail into
endless nights she cried until dawn waiting for the
infinity by herself. She learned that in eternity
phone to ring, in vain. Right before sunrise she
the concepts of loneliness and separation didn’t
would then slowly rise, shower, get pretty for him,
apply to a soul freed from a body: her soul was
drop off Brian at school, and head off to the of-
interconnected to all others, and all others were
fice. At lunch they would have long conversations.
connected to the Cosmic Mind.
On the way back from Sevastopol to
Market and yellow like the dying sun in Vilnius,
Odessa, she crossed the Black Sea. Standing at the Lithuania, illuminated the back patio with large veranda on starboard, looking into the dark blue
dancing shadows. The smoke became thick like the
waters and the misty coastline in the horizon, she
walls of old castles in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and then
slowly opened her purse, pulled out a packet of
the ashes, gray like the skies of Oslo in mid-winter,
Virginia Slims, took one with expert fingers, and
were swept by clear rains and gentle winds.
lit it with her left hand. She inhaled deeply as if
trying to trap in her lungs the countless memories
that came to supplant reality, the mosaic of happy
moments gone so many years ago.
But it was at Kadriog Park in Tallin’s Old
Town, Estonia, where she convinced herself—in
mind and heart—that having him incompletely
was more painful than not having him at all. She
decided to peel off one by one the conquest
poems read in bed, the postcards received from
unknown places, the memories flooding her mind, Danilo Lopez (Nicaragua, 1954) immigrated to the United the punctual flowers on each of her birthdays, the
States in 1985. An architect by training, he has published
infinite nights embracing nothingness, the
several poetry collections in English and Spanish and three
painful unreturned messages, the absent phone
anthologies with funding from the Miami-Dade County
calls, the mad lovemaking, the Orvietto Classic
Cultural Affairs Council, the latest being Dona Nobis
drunk by the terrace, the warm baths together, the Pacem. His work has appeared in many printed literary odious unstoppable tears, the flaring disco dances, magazines (Hayden’s Ferry Review, BorderSenses, etc.) and the Mother’s Day unwrapped gifts, the unrealized
on-line (Baqueana, Loch Raven review, etc). He has ap-
Christmases. Until she stopped needing him.
peared in poetry anthologies from the United States, Spain,
The box burned for several minutes. The
Argentina, and Nicaragua. He is a candidate to the MFA
flames, red like the awnings in Riga’s Central
at the University of Texas, El Paso.
By Monica Martinez
She raised her glass, swirled the remaining
ice and wordlessly called the bartender. He retrieved
the Jack Daniels and mixed her a second drink. Bianca
The coffee mug from this morning, the water
retrieved her netbook from her silver and black Coach from lunch, and the lunch itself sat untouched. Dad’s Mia tote. She logged into her email, moving her hands Colts were playing the Broncos and his eyes never left along the keyboard and mouse pad without taking her the TV. Ada had retrieved her laptop from her room.
eyes off the TV. The Weather Channel broadcasted
Having no interest in the game, she tabbed between
the storm would clear before the night was over. Her
Facebook and Yahoo. Waiting for her was an email
eyes turned to her computer screen. The Yahoo
from Julliard, the subject: New Student Orientation.
messenger indicated Ada was online.
Her eyes darted at her father, then back to her email.
As Bianca debated chatting with her little
She left it unopened.
sister, a new email appeared on her screen. She
It had been sixteen minutes since Ada
opened up the note from her boss:
logged on and she knew Bianca had seen her. Ada
clicked the chat. She typed, CALLED THE AIRLINE.
Hope you have a safe flight. To answer
DAD’S BEEN WONDERING WHERE YOU ARE.
your questions. The Austin branch of the
law firm has a position open for associate
but it is a lateral move. You heard right,
The chime of the chat window pulled
Carl is retiring. We will have an opening for Bianca’s eyes off the Weather Channel. She rolled partner. Off the record…You’ve got a
her eyes at her sister’s comment. With her drink in
shot. See you in a few days.
one hand, Bianca’s fingers searched for the letters.
Ada stared at the words her sister sent.
Yes, because this was Ada’s choice. Because she
was doing this to herself. There was only one way
The chime of the chat window let Ada know she could still go to Julliard. YOU’RE COMING
she had received a response. Bianca had written,
HOME THEN?, she typed to her big sister. Bianca
responded with the same response she’d been
THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR LIVING
giving for days, FOR THE FUNERAL AND THEN
IN NEW YORK. NEVER SNOWS IN TEXAS, Ada
BACK TO WORK. Ada typed what she’d been
responded to her older sister’s message. She
asking for days, AND DAD?
looked at her dad. The game was on commercial
break. “Papa. Why don’t you eat something?” He BIANCA
didn’t even look at her when she spoke to him.
Bianca picked up her glass and took
She looked back at her computer screen. Bianca
another sip. So what would they do with their
father now? I DON’T KNOW, Bianca typed.
NEED TO KNOW, Ada responded.
I’VE GOT A SHOT AT PARTNER, Bianca
Taking a long slow sip of her drink, she
wondered how to answer. Bianca wrote, YOU DO
I’VE GOT A SHOT AT SINGING MADAME
KNOW THAT JULLIARD IS HERE IN NY NOT IN
BUTTERFLY AT THE MET SOME DAY, replied Ada.
TEXAS, RIGHT? It took a few minutes for the chat
After the capitalized “WE” that Ada had
window to chime again but when it did Bianca did
wrote, the “I’ve” both sister had started their sentences
not like what it read: DON’T THINK THERE WILL
with looked so selfish.
BE ANY JULLIARD FOR ME. Bianca set her Jack and
coke down and typed, ADA, DON’T DO THAT TO
She wrote to Bianca, EVEN WITH THE
NURSE MOM HAD TROUBLE WITH DAD. WE NEED
TO DO IT TOGETHER.
YOU COULD GO TO SCHOOL AT NIGHT,
Bianca wrote. A small consolation prize for the girl
Bianca Grayer has signed off, appeared on
who had been accepted with a full scholarship to
Ada’s screen. Ada opened a blank word document.
In it she wrote:
Ada responded, AND YOU COULD TRANSFER.
To Whom It May Concern,
I CAN MANAGE UNTIL THEN.
I regret to inform you that I will not be able
to accept the full scholarship to your fine
establishment this fall...
Transferring to the Austin branch was an
option Bianca wanted to avoid. She spun around to
look at the airline board. Her flight was still marked
WE’RE BOARDING. WE’LL TALK MORE
WHEN I GET THERE, she typed.
Bianca changed her status to invisible so
her sister wouldn’t know she was still online. She
opened Albert’s email and hit reply. In an email to
her boss Bianca wrote:
Thank you for your kind words but I have
to take the transfer. My dad had a stroke
and my sister can’t care for him alone now
that our mother has passed away. I will make Monica Vanessa Martinez is a student at the University the request official when I get back from the of Texas-El Paso where she is working towards her MFA funeral.
in creative writing. She lives and works in Austin, Texas.
When she is not writing she enjoys training for half-
marathons, scrapbooking and cooking.
The Purple Hat
By Melanie McDonald
Alice’s mother enjoyed going out with Dr.
they were leaving the house that morning, her mother
Dexter, who was funny and handsome and owned a
paused in front of the entry mirror, set down the
sailboat. He had invited both of them to sail with him picnic basket, examined her reflection, and said, today. Alice’s mother volunteered to bring the picnic
“Here, trade hats with me.” She swept the yellow hat
lunch. They met him at the lake, where his boat was
off her head and held it out toward Alice. Alice
docked. The boat, moored in its slip, looked huge to
understood then the purple one wasn’t hers really, but
Alice. Black stenciled letters proclaimed it The Siren.
a spare, in case her mother changed her mind. Alice
had to wear
the yellow one
in the sun.
Come aboard here, matey
Dexter emitted a
wolf whistle of
them climb aboard. He kissed Alice’s mother on the
delight when Alice’s mother stepped out of the car.
cheek, a playful kiss, as he took the basket and made
Her mother, looking pleased, said, “Oh, David,” in a
sure she got across the swath of water between the
teasing voice. She had bought new swimsuit covers,
walkway and the boat. Then he turned back to help
“sailing togs” she called them, for herself and Alice,
hers in red terry cloth and Alice’s in yellow with white
“Come aboard here, matey,” Dr. Dexter said
daisies. She also had bought two straw hats, one
in a jovial voice a little louder than necessary, perhaps,
yellow and one purple.
for just between the three of them, and extended a
Alice had been delighted with the purple hat,
hand to help her. His blue eyes crinkled at the