the range of space: 10 states, myriad mountains, dozens of rivers

Lauren Fedorko

11PM: red-table-wine-drunk
            I carved new jersey and california
    from the map in my living room \
with one in each of my palms
I erase the miles separating                me from
/ like a child discovering their magnetic force
                                                   I lay them on my hardwood floor \
            in my bones
                                                                      they border each other / fit like
                                                                                                                  spinning cogs
on my floor
                they overlap \ crashing entwining waves //
                                when three thousand miles feels
                                               as far as the moon
I unravel the roads that lead me to you \
I dismantle the distance that keeps me from you /
                    I take the soil from where we first unpeeled our bodies
                                           tucked into tents on the cliffs of big sur \
and keep you /
with me



About the Author:

Lauren Fedorko, M.Ed., is an Adjunct Professor of writing at Rutgers University, teaches AP and Honors high school English, and advises a creative writing club for her students. Her passion for writing is longstanding and ongoing, composed mostly of poetry and creative non-fiction. She enjoys exploring, good company, and traveling the world every chance she gets. Her work has previously been published in the Kelsey Review.

A Language of the Mind

Jeanine DeNitto

The water frightened me. When I was small, my father, whom I barely remember, would lift and carry me down to a dock that extended long out in to the river. And it was deep and green and completely opaque; so at odds with the tall apartments behind us. We looked across the wide water and I remember gasping, feeling what it would be like to fall into that water from the dock, several feet above the surface and float in the current and be lost.

“I won’t let that happen,” Father said. “Besides,” he continued, “I grew up on the water, sailing boats like those you see across in New Jersey,” he pointed. “So I’ve fallen in this river many times. And I’ve survived it. I’ll teach to you to swim. But I won’t do it here, because now, unlike when I was your age, the water is too dirty.  Damn the polluters.” He cursed and said what sounded like “magar”, something in another language I didn’t know.

“What did you say, Father?” I asked him. But he just shook his head.

“That’s not English.”

He said simply, “No, it’s Rom and you don’t need to know that.” He looked so severe that I didn’t question, although I had heard my father’s sisters speaking it and my mother singing in Irish and longed to know what the words meant. “You’ve got to speak English, girlie.”

“I do speak English, Father. But I want….”

“No,” he said sharply, and I stopped trying.

“Look,” he said, “you’ve got my hair,” ruffling my black curls, “and your mother’s eyes, and they will get you far in this world. But if you start speaking Rom or the Gaelic, life will be hard for you.”

We stood looking down river toward the city, New York City, for a while. Then my father lifted me, kissed me on the forehead, and set me back on my feet.

“Now, run along home,” he said. “I’ve got to get to work.”

I turned and began to walk away. At the corner, I stopped to look back at him, but he was gone. And in my memory that was the last time I saw him. I had walked back home, to meet my older brother Isaac coming in from his baseball practice. His good friend Finn, whom I secretly loved, was with him, and they were drinking milk and eating cookies that our Grandmother Radha had made. She was sitting in her rocking chair, smiling her lovely smile. Finn handed me a glass of milk and a sugar cookie.

Radha said to us all, “Tell me about your school today,” but she looked only at me, and I leaned against her lap.

Instead of answering, I asked her, “Grandma, won’t you teach me your language?”

She frowned. “No, I can’t, my doll, your parents won’t allow it,” and as my father had, she muttered some word foreign to me.  “Someday you’ll learn, so be easy about it. So come, tell about your school.”

I thought about it, hesitating.  I watched Isaac and Finn begin to study together.  I felt like I had to make something up. Did I? I thought about my classes. “We learned in history about when different people came to the new world, and how they spoke all different languages. Some learned English, like our people were forced to do when the English took over our country. But some stayed in small groups and made their own worlds and excluded others.”

“Do you think that was good, child?” she asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “Look at how our people were forced to be slaves to the English and they took our language and customs? That wasn’t right!” I said firmly.

Her smile faded. “My bright golden angel. That’s not what you learned in school.”

I saw that Finn watched me from the corner of his eye. I leaned closer to Radha and smelled her perfume.

“Did you even go to school today?” she whispered. “You can tell me.”

“Oh, I did.” I replied honestly. And I truly had. My mind wandered in class; I scratched in my notebook, dreams and spells and just whatever came to me. I turned the page when the teacher came around, hating her watchful eyes. She knew I was making up my own lessons but there was a look in her eye that approved, coming from deep within her. After class one day, she handed me a small book with a black cover. The Mabinogion, it said. On my way home that day, on the subway, I began reading. Now, I slipped it from where it was hidden in my notebook and showed it to my Grandmother.

“Ah, that.” She patted my hand. “That’s from the Welsh. They’re our distant neighbors. Cousins, if you will. Many of them have hair like yours. Is there a tale in it that you like best?”

“Oh…Blodeuwedd, the owl queen. And Branwen. And King Arthur’s tale, of course. It’s so sad!  Grandma, do you know the Welsh language too?”

“No, I don’t,” she said.

“I wish Father would let me learn another language,” I whispered to her.

Her arm came around my shoulder and she pulled me close. In my ear, she whispered, “I can teach you the language of the trees, the stones, and the water, if you like.”

“Yes!” I said, hushed.

“No one would know except the two of us,” she said back to me, her voice also low. “It’s a language of the mind.” I sat further onto her lap and our foreheads pressed together. “I taught your mother too, so she can’t object to it. And we don’t have to tell your father. Would you like a lesson now?”

My eyes shone. “I would indeed!”

“Put your books away and change your school clothes and meet me in the study.”

I whispered again, “Can you teach Finn also?”

Radha smiled and said, “Someday, child, you’ll teach him.” She kissed my cheek. “Go, change.”



About the author:

Jeanine DeNitto is a Veterinary Assistant and works for a mobile veterinary vaccine clinic. She lives in Central New Jersey.

Summer of Sam

Ilene Dube

The first Star Wars movie blasted across the screen in the summer of 1977. At the end of the movie, as we got up to leave, we heard loud explosions outside the theater. We thought it was the Son of Sam, coming to get us. But it was only firecrackers, as it turned out. It was just a year after the nation’s bicentennial celebration, and the spirit of ‘76 was still flying that July night in Brooklyn.

That was the way it was that summer. Everyone was on edge. Everywhere you went, every corner you turned — Sam might be there, lurking, ready to get you.

I had just moved into an apartment in Park Slope with my fiancé. No sooner had we moved in than he took off. He was a teacher, and with the whole summer vacation ahead of him, he was off to meet friends for backpacking and canoeing out west. It was the beginning of a great relationship. I only paid half the rent and had all that space, was how he put it.

The apartment was the third floor of a brownstone. It had an enormous living room with a giant picture window, and then a triangle of a window above that, ending in the peaked ceiling. The kitchen and bath were newly remodeled, and the cockroaches held frequent soirees in those spaces. There were two bedrooms, one of which housed my darkroom and desk, and the other, where we slept, had a parapet. This was actually a piece of tarred roof above the downstairs bay, but you could climb out the bedroom window and sit out there to get a tan. I decorated it with house plants that shriveled up in the hot sun.

Lenny and Ronny were the guys who lived in the apartment just below us. Lenny worked as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center, and Ronny stayed home and ironed Lenny’s shirts. Ronny was from Georgia and he spoke in a magnificent drawl about the soaps he’d watched that day.

Lenny and Ronny were the nicest neighbors, until about midnight. That’s when all their friends, who were cast members in The Wiz, came over and turned up the volume. They had quadraphonic speakers on their ceiling — our floor — so sleeping past midnight was out of the question.

Our landlady, Anne, lived on the first floor with her two kids. She had creamy skin, blond hair (not a target for the Son of Sam, who preferred brunettes, like myself), and her thighs were incredibly smooth, right up to that last little curve just where her shorts started. Her Swedish father owned the building. Anne was on Welfare, much to her father’s chagrin, and periodically her ex-husband would stop by and have a huge fight with her.

There would be screaming and the sound of things banging against the walls, and kids whimpering.

About a week before he left for his backpacking trip, my fiancé went to do some laundry in the laundromat a block away. While he was there, someone held up the laundromat at gun point. My fiancé was unharmed, but we switched to the Chinese laundromat on Seventh Avenue. For an extra 35 cents, they folded everything.

A week later, someone stole a bicycle from Lenny and Ronny. It had been left in the hallway, just outside their apartment.

We decided to get a police lock installed on the door. The man who installed it was sloppy, and he gouged out a two-inch irregularly shaped hole in the wood floor. “Come by the store and I’ll give you some wood putty to fill it,” he said as we stared at the hole, wondering how much of our security deposit we would forfeit.

That was the summer I started running. And there was an incredible heat wave.

Every night, the sun set in that triangular window in the living room. Because it was the third floor of the brownstone, with no attic above, that apartment retained all the heat of summer. It was hotter than the subway.

We had no air conditioning, just an old fan that rattled in the bedroom window. Most of the time I didn’t bother using it because it sounded like a helicopter about to take off.

I awoke super early in the morning, ran up and down the hills between Seventh and Eighth avenues in Park Slope, then came back and took an ice cold shower.

It made the day tolerable, somehow. Also, I hoped that, by running enough, I might be able to have thighs like Anne’s.

That year, I worked as an editor of romance magazines. I worked at my office in Manhattan, finding photographs that were suitable for the ridiculous stories we dreamed up, then came home and stayed up late typing romance stories on my Smith Corona portable electric typewriter. Stories like “My Husband is a Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde — and I get the Best Sex from his Monster Side!” and “My Father is Having a Baby.” Meanwhile, I was aspiring to the New Yorker, and prided myself on the personal, encouraging rejection letters I was getting. In my spare time, I printed pictures in my dark room and hung them around the apartment in metal frames I bought at The Pottery Barn.

Sometimes I’d stay later in my air conditioned office and use the IBM Selectric, but often I needed the break of the long subway ride in between.

One night, coming home to Brooklyn, I ran into the rich cousin of a friend.

“You have no air conditioning?” Caryl gaped in utmost disbelief. “You poor thing. You should come and sleep at my apartment.”

I experimented with not eating that summer, to see how thin I could get. I experimented with eating nothing but cantaloupe, or maybe a box of frozen peas for my one meal of the day. But no matter what I did, I still weighed 115 pounds. Some women at work ate nothing but a pint of Haagen-Dazs for dinner. I didn’t even try that. I was amazed to learn that, no matter what I ate, I always weighed 115 pounds.

It was also the summer of the great Northeastern blackout.

The freckled cartoonist from my college newspaper was working as an illustrator for Marvel Comics. Marvel was owned by the same company that owned my romance magazines, and so we often had lunch together. We had been chatting on the phone one night, when all of a sudden, everything went black.

One thing that was really nice about this apartment was that, on a clear night, if you stood in just the right place in the living room, you could see the New York City skyline in the distance. But on this night, all of a sudden, the New York City skyline was gone. If I hadn’t been connected to another human being on the phone, I would have been terrified. When the time came to hang up, I fumbled around and found the transistor radio. I listened until I heard about the black out, and then I turned it off to conserve battery power.

I went to bed and hid under the covers, without a clue that, just below me, people were looting stores.

As I slept with the windows open — no one had air conditioning on this night — I heard dogs barking in terror. I kept thinking about the Son of Sam, who claimed to have been motivated by a neighbor’s barking dog.

When I saw his face on the cover of the New York Post and learned that he worked for the Post Office, I felt sorry for David Berkowitz. He was a deeply disturbed psychotic, a pathetic loser. He had a mundane job, which can make one psycho, and then this wretched dog next door was driving him out of his skin, on top of everything else. He had no intimate relationships and no sense of interior design — his sanctuary was as depressing as a dungeon. He went out for walks to escape it all, and couldn’t bear to see other people enjoying life.

Once he got started, he realized the power this whole thing gave him. The headlines in the New York Post, the Daily News. His letters left here and there, clues to the story of who this man was. This was a high like nothing he had ever experienced. He was riding a roller coaster.

That summer, a lot of people asked me what kind of relationship I had, that my fiancé just went off for two whole months. I hadn’t really thought about it until they asked. Then I started to wonder.

I was also confused about my status: was I part of a couple? Or was I like a single person who should be looking to date? This was, after all, the summer of Studio 54. Everybody was having sex with everybody, right out in the open.

I never did figure it out.

That was also the summer I learned that you could walk down Fifth Avenue, starting in the 70s, right on down to the Village, bawling out loud with tears streaming down your face, and not a single person would stop you to see what was the matter.

Then I got sick. It started with a sore throat. When I opened my mouth wide and looked inside from the mirror, I saw a little spot that looked like a whitehead. First I started gargling with Listerine, but that didn’t help. My father had always taught me that sunshine and salt water could cure anything. I gargled with salt water, and I lay a beach towel out on the parapet and sat out in the sun with a book for hours at a time, watching my house plants burn up.

Then I tried swabbing at my tonsils with a Q-Tip soaked in Peroxide. That seemed to help for a while. But then the infection returned, and I realized I needed to see a doctor. I tried a new doctor in Brooklyn Heights.


It was a no-brainer diagnosis. He prescribed penicillin. I took the penicillin for a week, but I wasn’t getting any better.

“In the days before antibiotics, you would be dead by now,” my doctor assured me. He prescribed Keflex, a stronger antibiotic.

I was out of work for a week and a day. My doctor, who learned I was living alone, suggested I stay with a friend or a neighbor. I thought about staying with Lenny and Ronny. Or maybe Anne, but then I’d infect the kids. I moved in with Caryl, because her air conditioning made my days in bed more pleasant. Also it was nice to have someone come home at night and check in on me. Caryl’s apartment was decorated like she dressed – smooth, clean, no frizzy edges. Fortunately I slept most of the time because it would have been hard to be sick and be so neat and clean. Caryl wasn’t exactly sure what kind of relationship I was in either, but was too kind to ask.

I went back to work on a Tuesday. I felt fine, until someone came over and asked me if I felt OK.

“I feel great,” I said.

“But you have a red rash all over your body.”

I looked in the mirror, and sure enough. My boss told me to call my doctor and go home.

The doctor said I was having an allergic reaction to the antibiotics I’d been taking. “You could be allergic to penicillin,” he said. “Or you could be allergic to Keflex. Or, you could be allergic to the combination. We need to make a note on your record that you are allergic to these drugs.”

He prescribed Benadryl for the rash and called it in to the pharmacy.

I had no trouble getting a seat on the subway going home. Every one cleared out of the car when they saw my rash. I picked up the Benadryl at the drug store, then headed for home, walking up the two flights to my apartment. I put the key in the lock, but could not open the door. The police lock was jammed.

With my rash and my little brown bag with a bottle of Benadryl, I marched five blocks to the hardware store. I found the man who had installed the lock and told him the problem.

At first, he ignored me to help another customer. When he was finished, I stated my problem.

“Hey, you was supposed to come and get some wood putty to fill your hole. How come you didn’t come?”

“I’m here now,” I said. “I’ll take the wood putty. But I’m here because I can’t get into my house. Could you please help me with the lock you installed?”

“Lady, I can’t help you. I have a date in half an hour.”

I pulled my little prescription bottle out of the bag and pointed at it. “I am sick,” I said. “I need to get home and take my medicine.”

At that point, he packed his tool bag and headed out to his car. He said he’d meet me there. He didn’t offer me a ride.

By the time I walked the five blocks — uphill — he was already there, fiddling with the lock. Finally he got it to open. He even filled the hole in the floor with the wood putty.

“Well, you’d better take care of yourself and get better,” he said when he left. “If you ever need me for anything, don’t be afraid to call.”


So I took my medicine and went to bed. I must have fallen into a deep sleep, because the next thing I knew, the phone was ringing, and it startled me from my dream. I had to stumble down the long hallway to get to the phone.

“Hello,” I said, and then everything went black as I fell to the floor.

When I came to, Caryl, who had called to check up on me, was shouting into the phone.

In the end, Son of Sam was caught. My fiancé returned, and in September I had my tonsils removed. I didn’t get the electric train set I had wished for, like my little brother did when he had his tonsils out, but my fiancé brought me a bag of apples when he came to the hospital.

“Apples?” I asked. “I’m supposed to be eating ice cream.”

“Soon you’ll be eating apples again.”



About the Author:

Ilene Dube’s stories, essays and poems have been published in Huffington Post, Atticus Review, The Grief Diaries, and U.S. 1 Summer Fiction. She is a writer for Philadelphia Public Media, Princeton Magazine, and U.S. 1 newspaper and was arts and features editor for the Princeton Packet for 20 years. She has recently completed a novel and a story collection.


D.E. Steward

The Getty Center as though astride the 405

In deep dusk outside on the haughty lofty terrace of the South and East Pavilions

Above quadruple taillight and headlight capillary trains on the slant north up Sepulveda Pass leading toward the Valley

Turn fully around to look way below at the pattern, and the quadruple capillary, four lanes of red, four lanes of white reverses, flips

Taillights bound for the Valley and Van Nuys become white, headlights heading south for the 10 toward Westwood and Santa Monica turned to red

The rubber-on-the-road sound river too far down and away to hear any distinctions, only steady humming freeway roar

The direction reversal to do with the unique perspective of the night-sky Getty complex and common twenty-first-century inversion turn-over

On to off

0 to 1

– to +

Flip to flop




Right to left, left to right

Our binomial measure of now

Binomial shifts analogous to a freeway stack

Enter in one direction, out in another

Each intersect a determinate stage

The 405 from up here high above, a paradigm of all freeways

Below, the bi-directional taillight headlight red-white symmetry broken infrequently by the slippery capillarity of the amber lightbar flashes of emergency and ambulance, and by LAPD strobe LEDs blue, red, white


The switch

In West LA

The season now of Santa Ana gravity wind pitched against the coastal effect

Heat from the desert against the cold ocean air drafting in

Happening dramatically like a lilting nocturne with the ascending dusky-rose evening smog mantel lifting off the Santa Monica Mountains

Off above the 405 as autumn’s Coast Range chill settles in over the Getty’s plazas

The museum’s warm beige fossil-laden travertine glows in evening light

The stone of the whole complex is exactly the stone of stalactites and stalagmites in limestone caves

The same stone here as that which built Rome

From the quarries in Bagni di Tivoli on the Aniene, the mountain river that was the source for Rome’s aqueducts

Limestone springs cascading over moss, algae, crystallized

And recrystallizing over eons, with the warm color of sulfur and iron within

Paul Getty a fait l’acquisition du site de 26 hectares de Malibu en 1945. En 1954, Paul Getty a ouvert le premier J. Paul Getty Museum pour y exposer sa collection, constituée en grande partie d’antiquités grecques et romaines.

 La villa Getty a ouvert ses portes au public en 1974 et a fermé à cause de renovation en 1997, six mois avant l’ouverture du Getty Center de Los Angeles

 All that defining architecture, all that intent, all that money, taste and expertise

The noblesse oblige

Getty’s Ozymandian insistence on the significance of his monument

But other than the classical collection in the Getty Villa, there’s a paucity of excellence in the museum’s huge inventory

Only occasionally is there the best in the halls and majestic galleries of the pavilions

But relish the Getty’s spectacular plazas and terraces, site, gardens and pavilions, and enjoy the art

If Getty had been collecting concurrent with Isabella Stuart Gardner and the other American richlings he would have soared

As it is the Getty is grandiose, intense, hip, all-there

And part of all West LA

Like Venice Beach Skateboard Park opened in 2009 dead center Venice Beach Park, steps up as to view a zoo pit without moat or fencing, down into the Snake Run Smaller Flow Bowl Section with Channel Drop In

Where an active beach-curfew issue hangs now to keep every one off the sand at night

People always come out here to the ocean, but with the Big One, or a Los Angeles 9/11, people could arrive here in the millions to escape

Clustered at the ultimate, before the grand Pacific façade

The end of the line

Where there’s a knack for doing things differently

Something else, distinctly of the century’s second decade, the people, the cool, the earnest attitudes

Finish up and then leave up the Pacific Coast Highway, Topanga Canyon, Fernwood, 101 then the Moorpark Freeway to State 23 and Fillmore

West of Santa Clarita, the Simi Hills, the Santa Susanas

Santa Paula on the Santa Clara River

The canyon oak golden-grass country overflown years ago with Eric piloting a seasoned old Piper Supercruiser out of little El Monte Airport on the way to Santa Maria

Strawberry-buoyant Santa Maria

We dropped low over Midland, Eric’s old ranch school, and over Michael Jackson’s Neverland, kiddie roller coaster, zoo, floral clock, and all

Eric came East two years ago, he was wobbly, left blood in the bathroom – “I tried to clean up as much as I could”

He wanted to do nothing more than go somewhere for lunch on the river and sit and talk, stayed two days, drove off to EWR, did not see him again before he died

He was real pushing up US7 into Vermont, muffler gone, flashes in the cold night from the manifold sparking through the floor, headed for Bennington, going for broke

A next-century misty morning now on the way up State 150 by Santa Paula Ridge, singleleaf piñons on the lonely pass, magnificently grayish pinus sentinels with some of the best pine nuts of all

Make the top, the desert to the east, the San Joaquin to the north, the Pacific to the west, LA behind

With the peculiar, eager emptiness of small-town California laid out toward the Bay Area way off ahead

Two full-inventory Santa Paula department stores with momentous piñatas in the windows, run by Pacific Asians for Central American farm-workers

Santa Paula’s multicultural historical murals all over town depicting a derbies-on-the-penny-farthings welcoming fruit-packing railroad town that may have never been

Next, Ojai’s faux-mission plaintive counterculture masque

All the Ventura County Santa Barbara-tending towns seeming to be waiting for LA’s sprawl to advance and transform them

Open up out of Ojai, feeling in the zone on State 33, the Maricopa Highway, in easy range all day of all of Santa Barbara, Kern, San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties

Big California

Climbing through Sespe Gorge in the Los Padres National Forest, the Sespe Wilderness Area on the right, Matilija Wilderness on the left, only forest roads

Condor, bobcat, black bear country, wild

Chumas Wilderness and Dick Smith Wilderness ahead

Dropping into dry, wide, high Cuyama Valley

Empty mountains to the west, the Sierra Madre, lift hard out of the bajada

Pistachio groves and carrot fields

Cuyama Peak, almost six thousand feet

Line of sight distances like Nevada, the Pampas, Western Australia, Botswana, southern Namibia, Chad

You see all the way to the edge in these places

The Cuyama pistachio harvest is early October, when still green they slip out of their skin, then out of the shell, then out of the husk

Aphrodisiacal early-season green pistachios, in demand by magnificent, busty Iranian women in LA who buy them at the Westwood farmers’ market

Take lonely CA166, the Santa Maria to Maricopa and Taft road, then off into the wild Carrizo Plain National Monument on the narrow asphalt-heaved road to Soda Lake

The first miles of its up-and-down temblor heaves follow exactly the San Andreas Fault

No other traffic in either direction the whole fifty miles across

A profusion of migrating horned larks, thousands in the late afternoon, they lift barely higher than the car, rushing the dusk, flushing reluctantly, running not hopping, flying off low, grayish, pale

Serial flocks of hundreds, speed up, then another flock, and on and then another

Dazzling in the road dust’s gilded sunset glow

California Valley crossroads and on across San Luis Obispo County

Long hills and dips of the Carissa Highway Simmler, Syncline Hill (2438 feet), La Panza Ranch, Eddy Camp, Camatta Ranch, Camp 8, French Camp, Pozo Summit, Wilson Corner, Upton Ranch, Walters Camp, and into Paso Robles

Toponymy’s sonority and truths

The camps and ranches, the La Panzas, of the West

Like the Baxter, North Baxter, South Baxter, West Baxter, Baxter Springs, East Baxter, Baxter Flats, Baxter Centers of New England

Like the layered intricacies of Europe, the mysterious and colonial-tinged place names of Asia, South America’s dramatic Indio-Lusio-Hispanic toponymic mix

The big, proud plaza of Paso Robles that must have had a boastful Spanish name is now called “City Park,” the old, thundering, pre-5 spine of Anglo California, US101, is three blocks behind

Paso Robles, the name, the wine, Sideways, expected interior live oaks, expected even possibly vaqueros instead of fat Republicans in Ford 350 pickups

Out 24th Street early direction old Camp Roberts, Nacimiento, Bee Rock that is a lone general store on the Monterey County line

At Jolon, Fort Hunter Liggett, one of the Army’s drone centers in the Homeland, linked with Moffitt AFB on San Francisco Bay

The launch teams in camo fatigues eagerly run around drones poised for takeoff exactly like goofy model-airplane clubs

Death and surveillance

Surveillance and death

Pilots sit here in California killing people in other hemispheres and then drive home

Here in the canyon oaks, yellow-billed magpies, acorn woodpeckers, orange-crowned warblers, a pair of unidentified ducks leaving a vernal pond a quarter of a mile away

West across classic live oak country for the ocean into the Ventana Wilderness Area of the Los Padres and into the eastern canyons of Robinson Jeffers land

Tight, very rough country, that coming to the ocean through ventanas between the peaks becomes high-vaulted sky dramatic and vertigo steep

And there it all is, the California edge again, four thousand feet down, wave-break, kelp-bed silence visible many dozens of miles each way

Henry Miller country in Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, in his explicit, peculiarly conventional, didactic, deeply pre-1950, even Booth Tarkingtonesque, prose

But then the Big Sur of Jeffers, Miller, Esalen, New Age, Zen, Gestalt, Joan Baez, the smooth-shifting hydromatics of the sixties, was freedom “…a whole generation with a new explanation…”

And obdurate bloviation

Dropping down to Highway 1 south of Lucia from the last high ridge below Cone Peak, a switchback passes near the “New Camaldoli Hermitage Contemplative Retreat Experience”

Still Big Sur with resident richlings, crows begging on the spectacular café terrace overlooks, and sage sparrows, brush rabbits, voles venturing from the coyote bush and California sage below to snatch the tourist nibbles thrown off to them

Quizzically hungry like the self-realization full-mooners who come for the Big Sur experience

Stopped on the coast here in sunny fog headed for the San Francisco Spring Mobilization in April 1968, “Gentle people…” the roadside and cutbanks, in places crowded, “If you’re going to San Francisco // Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…”

At Point Lobos the crowds are dense, clambering over the rocks, confronting the maw, the ultimate edge again

With overcrowded parking lots behind

Out beyond at wave-break, the black oystercatchers, wandering tattlers and surfbirds

Canvasbacks, brants, chestnut-backed chickadees

Skim through the fizzling old town of Monterey

The charm of Canary Row already gone two generations ago

The hills and some of the flats covered with subdivision clusters, but Castroville, Moss Landing and Watsonville still farm

Stop in Santa Cruz and then up the Peninsula on the Junipero Sierra Freeway and through Daly City

Through the Sunset on 19th Ave

Park on 21st and walk Irving where Sunset’s east-west streets seem to reach over the ocean to Asia

In Golden Gate Park, with the Presido the only urban space in North America as fine as Washington’s, the mocha-wafer colored sheath screening of the Mayan grandeur of the de Young with its earnest, scanty collection in the Getty mode

The rolling intricacies of glass and green, the swaled roof of the California Academy of Sciences building opposite

California nation is at thirty-eight million and it shows



About the Author:

With many hundreds of publications, way beyond what he hoped to accomplish as an independent writer, D.E. Steward has never had a pedestrian job since college, and never published anything he’s ashamed of. He has never studied writing, didn’t even major in English, the only thing he has ever taught is swimming, and he tries to feed respect for the printed and pixelled word.

Sleeping on Poems

Steve Smith

After a night of dreaming
about reading a poem of mine
with a killer last line to an audience
that couldn’t stop applauding
I awoke, eyes blinking
and swollen, hair unkempt
as prairie tumbleweed, looking
sideways at a batch of famished
poems pressed against each other
as if my bed were a nest
that I’d been warming
in an effort to hatch them.



About the Author:

Steve Smith is a Poet/Artist from Pennington, New Jersey. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, he is retired Theatrical Scenery Painter.

Upon the Pelican

Lavinia Kumar

See that symphony,
the large bill toss fish in the air
soft pouch waving

over warm aqua sea
small cloud-tufts above
the seagull ready on his head

to steal.  We knew
it would happen.
It is often the ending

when being alone
is not enough.



About the Author:

Lavinia Kumar’s chapbook, Let There be Color, was published this year by Lives You Touch Publications, her full-length book The Skin by Under was published by Word Tech in 2015, and a chapbook Rivers of Saris was published by Main Street Rag in 2013. Her poetry has appeared in several publications in the US and UK such as Atlanta Review, Colere, Edison Literary Review, Exit 13, Flaneur, Kelsey Review, New Verse News, Orbis, Pedestal, Pemmican, Symmetry Pebbles, Touch, & US1 Worksheets.

Medium Smile

Emma Ljung

You are sitting at the table, tie askew, mug in hand. The pile of paper has spilled onto the black chair pulled up next to yours: imagination rampant, I put on my medium smile.

“Good morning” I say. It is the professional voice today. You don’t move but your eyes find mine, and meeting your gaze threatens our hollow pleasantry.

“Thank you for coming in on such short notice” you say and scoop up the messy pile, your hands caressing chaos into order. The medium smile stays on as the black chair moves to safety. The chair could have moved out the door, into the busy street, and the smile would have left without much ado: danger lies in the opposite direction and nowhere else. I sit down, back straight, knees hidden by the table. My feet find the metal base and stop before they find something else – fabric, and muscle, and that uncrossable line. One day, they might not stop. You slide a folder across the table and I take in your handwriting instead of the print, your hands instead of the paper. Lately, it is your hands.

“Ready to work?” you ask and I nod. Your professional voice never cracks: in fact, it is the only voice I have ever heard you use. Before, it would annoy me that you never switch, that your veneer never fractures. Now, it reinforces the fence around me. I have learned to think of it as protection.


You leave to get the first candidate. Alone in your office, I look for clues. Your desk holds stacks of paper, neither neat nor messy. The door conceals a trench coat, the color so nondescript, my vocabulary lacks words to describe it. Its scent is hidden from me, as is the soul that inhabits it. The mug is cracked and so old that it is trendy – West German, I think. It looks a bit like a mug in my own cupboard and I suddenly know that I will let no one else use it from now on. I lean over to touch it, to blend my fingerprints with yours on the surface of that single clue, but your voice fills the hallway and I snap back into my seat, the medium smile collapsing because for the first time, I hear your voice wrapped around my name. It is just two syllables but your mouth connects them like body to body, the pause thereafter an overture of meaning. Quickly, before the door swings open, I whisper your name, draping the single syllable over one of those bodies. Temptation floods my mouth, washing away my self-restraint, and I must swallow and swallow to hide the evidence.


When you enter the room, seconds later, candidate in tow, the medium smile reveals nothing. I, too, am a professional.


You interview the candidate like once you interviewed me: every question is the same, every inspired glint in your eye holds the same persuasive power. The candidate responds to you like I did and I recognize your genius in how you lift the best out of a stranger, in how you make an unfamiliar person feel like a friend. I remind myself that this person will not replace me, that I am not in this room to witness my own exchange, yet jealousy sharpens my tongue and targets the candidate. An arm’s length away you watch me break the stranger apart, question by question, remark by remark. It is as though you are barely there, as though you are as inconspicuous as your office. Your impassiveness provides protection yet it infuriates me that after all this time, I still cannot provoke a reaction out of you.


You close the door behind the candidate. Four walls seem like four too many yet not nearly many enough. For a moment, you pause behind my chair and phantom fingers push the sheet of hair from one shoulder to the other, exposing that nuchal scar you have never seen. In this artificial light it is almost invisible but lips can find it, lips will feel the silky cavity of newer skin in that faint incision. Lips and hands touch that scar every night but they are not yours.

“I don’t think we should hire him. He doesn’t fit the profile” you say and tap the application on the table before us. The band on your finger is broad and the color of sunlight, another rule in this game that must never be played. I reach for the papers, for a moment placing the new diamond and the old gold in the same field of vision. They are separated by an immeasurable distance of morality but I can suddenly think of nothing else. The proximity of flesh erases the link between metal and vow.

“I remember when you interviewed me” I say, my finger twitching to catch the light. “I didn’t think I fit the profile.”

“Perhaps not” you say and your voice cracks. “But only a crazy man would not have hired you.” I look up but your eyes are unseeing, focused on the light that travels across the application. Your face holds something that has not been there before and your hand slowly folds over, palm facing up. Your heart line is broken in two. We sit there, hands immobile, space shrinking, clocks ticking, time standing still, until it is impossible not to act. I feel your eyes searching for mine and I know that when I raise my head to meet your gaze, no smile in the world will brace that fence.


A sudden knock rattles the door like a hurricane, breaths catching, metal clanging, papers fluttering to the floor. When I get up to welcome the next candidate, your voice has already restored normality, professional again. I know that it will not crack another time.


“Great job today” you say when the last candidate has closed the door and your eyes fold mine into their green embrace. I hold your gaze for as long as I dare. Sonnets could travel that bridge from iris to iris.

“Any time” I say and I know and do not know what I mean. As I leave the room I pause to reinforce my smile, that medium smile that says nothing and hides everything. It is the smile of a liar who loves.



About the author:

Born in Sweden, raised on Cyprus, and now a resident of Rocky Hill, NJ, Emma Ljung teaches academic writing at Princeton University and runs the Santa Susana Archaeological Project in Redondo, Portugal. Previously published fiction has appeared in the Kelsey Review, US 1 Magazine, and Quantum Fairy Tales.




The Birds

Nancy Scott

Consider my next door neighbor, Barry,
who calls to birds in several hundred voices.
He’s tracked them from Cambodia to
Oregon to the Galapagos Islands.

The whole family speaks bird.
His daughters sport bright feathers
in their hair; his son, a nose like a beak.
From the anonymity of my shaded window,
I’ve seen his wife flap her arms and screech.

I like to keep to myself, but his wife
flutters about my front door
with tins of freshly-baked cookies
peppered with seeds.
What a delight, so warm and so crunchy.



About the author:

Nancy Scott is managing editor of U.S. 1 Worksheets and author of nine books of poetry. Her most recent, Ah, Men (Aldrich Press, 2016), is a tribute to all the men and boys who have influenced her life. Scott is also an artist working primarily in collage and mixed media. She has resided in the Princeton area since the ’60s.



Lauren Fedorko



About the artist:

Lauren Fedorko, M.Ed., is an Adjunct Professor of writing at Rutgers University, teaches AP and Honors high school English, and advises a creative writing club for her students. Her passion for writing is longstanding and ongoing, composed mostly of poetry and creative non-fiction. She enjoys exploring, good company, and traveling the world every chance she gets. Her work has previously been published in the Kelsey Review.

Someday I’ll Love Lauren Fedorko

Lauren Fedorko

After Ocean Vuong

Lauren, don’t settle.
There were artists who painted
the same subject for years until they got it right.
No one talks about their failures.
Don’t be anxious. Your family is only a family
& you can choose the home
you’ve been born into. Lauren,
stop pretending you can carry more than
your arms can hold. It’s dangerous–like
closing your eyes before you shoot.
Here’s the classroom where you taught hundreds
of students that it’s okay to cry because of literature.
It’s the classroom where you showed them
they can give birth to themselves if they’ll just listen. &
in that moment they all did–from
the belly of Yates’s pages they flung themselves
like high jumpers bypassing their pain, &
just like that, they showed themselves the light.
Don’t worry. You can only control so much. The moon
will take care of the rest: she’ll pull you up
with the waves &
let you fall with the tide. It’ll be natural.
As organic as your first kiss, or maybe your
second or third. But we all learn how to sync
with another’s body if we’re given time.
Don’t settle. Beware of the masks people wear
when they urge you to believe they’re telling
the truth. & don’t doubt yourself.  You are light
& you’ll go so far if you’ll just cut your strings.
Lauren, are you listening? The most important
part of your body is its willingness to heal
itself when broken. Here’s a blanket.
It’s the one you buried yourself
beneath when you felt the holes & saw darkness.
Here’s a mirror. It’s the one you thanked
for showing you that beauty
looks like survival.  It looks like you.



About the Author:

Lauren Fedorko, M.Ed., is an Adjunct Professor of writing at Rutgers University, teaches AP and Honors high school English, and advises a creative writing club for her students. Her passion for writing is longstanding and ongoing, composed mostly of poetry and creative non-fiction. She enjoys exploring, good company, and traveling the world every chance she gets. Her work has previously been published in the Kelsey Review.