Tempest

Apocalypse, 4 Ways

When the grass stops growing
no one expects that the trees, the vines, the roots will follow
but they do follow and soon all earth has turned

to verdigris dust. When it’s over we split one saved strawberry
between us. What have we done to bring the world to such disillusion?
The end then comes quiet: all beings lulled to a hungry sleep.

***

Also if it’s stormy the sun will no longer have
the power to cut through the clouds. This way

the Earth inundates fully in one tempestuous burst
and it will be hard to say after how long anyone managed:

to hold on, that is, to not bother to die. Lightning will flash
like crazed fields of fireflies and the rain will beat itself

hard into the ground until the soil can’t hold any
longer. Then it will expand, bulbous, as also

the oceans will. Nothing will end, except everything
will end. In one way the end means you’ve wished

your return, though the world will have something
to say about this; the world has heard about your ways.

A drenched and dark world inevitably leads to desolation.
As for the sea, replication makes it lonely and so infinitely alive.

***

Tell me, what does this solar storm have that reminds you
unlike me? I too can wreak havoc on telegraph wires, the dawn.
I listen to you when you are alone, you are a stringed instrument. Tell me
that your clips and half notes are happiness. Tell me the topography
of my body, back to me, so that I may know these thermospheres
as you do. At this point you’ve begun to remember Hyperion’s
daughters, which is not to say you’ve forgotten my own iridescent particles.
Tell me of how, when the light first broke, you waded down
from a brass bed, a blue skylight, and touched the Earth as if for the first
time, all soot and trundle in your hands, and watched the birds’ migrations
across what was then a sky that whispered. Tell me once you loved me.

Then tell me you never did.

***

After the atmosphere pulls from the Earth, the ending becomes clear.
The final way all the air comes out.

Without air the planet cools. This planet was frightened
into being anyway, like a rag doll, so now everything is
as it should be. For a short time all is still and beautiful, as things often are

before dying. Ice clings to all skin, tree bark, the waxy cuticle though
it is not real ice since the molecules have no way to stick

but the illusion of ice, equally maddening. After this first sheen fades,
everything withers. Don’t think that this was painful: it was not, simply
a guard-changing. Look from the window, what was there? a morning

of ravishing sunlight. Could you wait there
a while longer?

Answer me.

Give me back my air.

By Farryl Last

07110018

By Katherine McBride

The Sea and The Storm

My father died on a Tuesday, a heart attack in the shower. An ice-white shock of water fluttered the wings of that bright heart and he fell like Icarus.  The crash he made, going down, must have been stupefying. Jack Reilly had been a great whale of a man, standing a head above the rest, his luminescent beer belly parting the crowds around him like Moses’ staff.  In my mind I thought of George Orwell shooting that elephant in Burma. I imagined it had been something like that.

I picked at the corners of peeling wallpaper and went over my fantasy details. There wasn’t much else to do, anyhow. I was staying at my sister Judy’s house until the funeral was over. Pop Reilly had gone and died while I was in town – a business trip from New York, where I lived now, to Pittsburgh.  The news had come to me while I was flying down the interstate. It walloped me. I had to pull over. Ted, Judy’s husband, had to come take me back to their house. Judy deposited him on the shoulder of the road and drove off as quickly, waving abruptly at me from the driver’s seat. Was it possible – I asked Ted – that my dad could feel that I was close to home? His paternal antennae, buzzing, suddenly aware that his brood was fully gathered round? I wished it were true, knowing full well that in death, as in life, Pop probably wasn’t thinking too much about us. Ted said life was full of surprises, and merged into the left lane, following Judy, who raced away in her tan minivan.

“It was a long time coming,” Judy had said, like a consolation, a suggestion when were back at her house. Her hazel eyes scattered to all corners. “It’s not much,” she continued, showing me Mark, my nephew’s bedroom. She, I knew, did not really give a shit that the room wasn’t much. Judy, god love her, was not interested in domestic comfort. Alone, not a mother, not a wife, and I knew she’d be living like a teenage boy with cigarettes and booze and greasy counter tops. She shrugged at the room. I would be here for a few nights, until whenever Emily drove in from Queens with the kids. Astronaut, baseball player, firefighter all piled on top of each other in a parfait of boys’ dreams. It felt familiar and right. Mark sat on the corner of his bed, pushing his trucks over the hills of his pillows.

“Uncle Frank, watch,” he mumbled, pushing his Tonka trunks to the edge of his bed. Then off, a small plummet.  A marvelous, wicked glow lit in his child eyes, so unchallenged by death. Judy closed the door silently, and left us together. I was just another son.

***

Pop Reilly hadn’t been a good man, a gentleman, or an educated man. We loved him because he struck fear in the hearts of the weak, rattling ambitious coaches and overzealous high school teachers. His bravado, his sheer mass, his unorthodox accumulation of wealth, even the knowledge that Pop had killed (on foreign and domestic shores) – all this Judy and I wore around us like a cloak of invincibility. Our father could fuck you up (he’d done it to us).

He liked us all right, with his noogies, and knuckleheads and grizzly hugs and haphazard offerings of wealth and adventure. Ultimately though we were extra, nonessential. Judy and I were accidental characters, Dada, random elves he’d come across in the wild and owed no more than a decent conversation. Though we had needed him, in fact, desperately. By grade school our mother, always a nervous woman, stopped driving, then leaving the house; her growing agoraphobia was perhaps her body’s reaction to the small cells of cancer that were budding silently in clusters within her.

Of course, he was totally unreliable. He never picked us up from school on time, but more, when the fancy struck. When he did show up often he was so sozzled that he had to nap in the parking lot before we could continue. By the time Judy was twelve, she was driving us home on the off roads.  And of course, there had always been women, their perfume cluttering the car, their misplaced bobby pins enraging Judy into red-cheeked paroxysms. “It doesn’t mean a thing. I love your mother,” he said flustered by the depth of her disgust, coughing and feigning lightheartedness, “you’ll understand when you’re older.” Stony Judy pierced into him.“You know you’ll die alone, the way you treat people,” she stated flatly, “and you’ll deserve it.” A few gin-soaked tears slid silently down his cheeks and Judy drove on.

They were both right, I realized now. The older I got the more I understood his failures.. A prodding finger in the ribs of my self-awareness told me I was the same. And now he was gone and he had gone out alone, and left me to rue my mistakes on my own.

Over the years, I’d come down to Pittsburgh for business a few dozen times, a night or two in the hotel and back to the homestead. I rarely bothered to tell Judy I was in town. I liked moving ghost-like through once familiar spaces. Once, pulled by this surge of memory, I had driven to the home of Anne, a plump-cheeked brunette I’d dated in high school. Her husband had been killed in Afghanistan, I’d heard through the resource of social media. It was a wet, summer afternoon, when I drove to her parents’ house. Just to see it. Just to pluck memories, But when I got pulled up to the house, Anne was standing in the green grass of the front lawn wearing a loose sundress. Her father was dead, her mother moved to Florida to be near her sister. She had a son, Matthew, just a baby in a playpen.

“Frank,” she said, “You still look so young,” and put her hand on top of mine. She made me coffee, distractedly.  Then as easily as that, when Matthew was down for a nap, we undressed each other in the evening light. It seemed to me that we had time traveled and we were kids again in her parents’ house, seeing what we could get away with. Then the spell dispersed as quickly as it came. I left before the sun rose.

Mistakenly, I’d visited Anne a few more times, maybe on four occasions in the course of nearly a decade. Without any rhyme or reason, pulled by some turbulent tide within me.  A year ago, almost exactly, I’d pulled up in her driveway a summer afternoon not unlike the first. I knocked on the door. I wondered if maybe she’d met someone. I’d just pretend to be a salesman. It wasn’t Anne, but a mutated likeness of Anne that answered,  her sister Lizzy. She recognized me almost immediately, like I was still wondering what version of Anne this way.  “Frank, Jesus, how did you hear?” she barked, then tears started rolling down her face and a horrible wheezing cry emanated from her small frame.

Anne had killed herself, hung herself in her bedroom closet. Lizzy’s words spurted out like a bursting garden hose. I thought maybe I didn’t want to know what was happening to Matthew. Lizzy told me he had found Anne. Her wedding dress was lying beneath her, as soft and white as a cloud. I couldn’t stop thinking of Matthew now, with my own father dead. I thought of Matthew’s real abandonment, of a sort of pain I could not even draw near to.

***

That night I woke in the small island of Mark’s twin bed, tiny fire trucks whizzing on the bedspread around me. The mauve moonlight of Western Pennsylvania streamed in through the warped frame of the window, and shone softly on the ceiling. It hovered above me like the beckoning and nacreous glow of a coffin suspended in light.

I fell back into a hypnotic lull I dreamed of my father, not seeing him but hearing his sounds.  There is primal awareness of our parents that we have as children, a sonar connection. Perhaps it begins the womb; our fathers, especially, calling out to us from their alien and removed realm. The night after he died, the sounds of Jack Reilly burst and swirled around my darkened dream. I heard him laughing, booming and delightful above me, his murmured whispers to our mother as he cooed to her, these fell below me (these were the whispers he had used to calm her as she died of stomach cancer). Then the staccato and terrifying blasts of slammed midnight doors, and the wretched timbre of his drunk obscenities launched at this same nimble and diaphanous woman, our mother, in the lingering wild days of his youth. These sounds cut in at angles, like a sniper’s gun and hidden landmines. And at last I dreamed of his full, warm voice, like whiskey and cherries, as he, shadowed in the hallway, disembodied by the night, telling Judy and me, as babies, to settle down. That he could hear us making a racket from downstairs.  Lie still, he would say. Then he would tell us a story of his years at sea. The lingering swell of his voice was a tempest that drowned us into sleep.

When I woke it was late morning. Judy had made eggs and bacon, which she’d kept warm under a plate on the kitchen counter. I saw her drinking coffee on the back porch, her salt and pepper hair held loosely up by a black ballpoint pen. “All these boys,” Judy said, when I came out to join her. She had three boys in a shitty house outside the city, three boys with Ted. Ted, who smelled of aftershave and grapefruit, and was by all accounts a good guy, but who would never understand my sister, really, never know the work she did for him, suppressing the mischief and fury in her genes, pretending so well to be a suburban mother. Ted couldn’t quite grasp that she was Jack Reilly’s daughter, burning madly in every cell.

Judy watched her lineage squared in by a backyard fence and rolled her eyes. She had this way of seeming surprised by her own life, her own choices. “Three boys?” she said with a question lilting in her voice, rubbing the tip of her foot on the floor like a child. She sipped her coffee. Then she cut me an open, blue look full of the childhood only we knew. I wondered how after all these years of being alive we were still kids in our eyes. Those eyes of hers were the same I’d known in forts made of sheets and peeking out from under the covers in the night. In our childhood, she’d worried about dying suddenly in the night. She’d worried about ghosts . I worried about them now.

“He’s dead,” I said, because it occurred to me.  She pitched her head to the side, and smiled a marionette smile.

“I can’t decide what to think,” she said. Her brown-haired boys, the color of dead leaves, ran barefoot and violent with plastic guns and swords, attacking each other. “He wasn’t the best father is for sure,” she smirked, tears welling quietly in the muddy corners of her eyes, “but he was one hell of guy.” The yard smelled of damp and roses and dog shit. She reached out her hand and I squeezed it.  “We’re orphans now,” she said.

***

It was Mrs. Ortega, his downstairs tenant, who found our father. It was the late afternoon, when she’d come home from work at the Allegheny Valley Bank. The sunlight was still warm in the hills. At the wake, Mrs. Ortega’s progeny filled the room from corner to corner. She’d arrived with the chariot of her four grown children, and smattering of deer-eyed woodland grandchildren. The multitude of them came swathed as ancients in increasingly black shades of black. Clutching her rosary, Mrs. Ortega recounted the tale of discovery to Judy and me.  Her hands were marked by the purples spots of age.

Judy held Mrs. Ortega by the wrist, a grasp that looked painful and desperate, but the old saint didn’t flinch. When she’d come home, Mrs. Ortega said, the floor was pregnant with moisture; dancing snakes of water writhed down from the ceiling above. “I knew it was emergency,” she stammered, “Ay Dios mio. Mr. Murphy is so careful with the water bill. I knew it was bad.” She’d dropped the two gallons of milk she was carrying at the threshold and they splattered, exploding lactate stars.  The spare key, she had for when he staggered home after a night at the bar and passed out in the doorway, unable to make into his own apartment.

Though Mrs. Ortega had too much good taste to comment on his indisposed state, I couldn’t help but imagine him, naked as he came, steamed and pasted white with soap, the shower curtain wrapped around him like swaddling clothes, and the tattoo across his chest – a tall ship caught in gale – the waves of black ink beaten upon by a falling rain. “What a good boy he was,” she said, crossing herself. I wondered what in her life she could have seen to make her think a stupid think like that.

Judy and Ted circled in a dervish of welcoming people, people I didn’t know. Their boys itchy in new suits could be heard running and tackling in each other in the hallway and in the display rooms of empty caskets. I watched these strange bodies swarming through the Heavenly Rest funeral home like bats from eave to eave. The heavy floral stench of the place made my head throb. What a shit hole. The rug was crummy, for some reason, as though people had been eating snacks and watching the Steelers in here the night before. Old men mulled about the casket. They were white-haired versions of our father, other merchant marines who’d driven from Baltimore and New Hampshire and coastal homes. Their withered, ruddy faces were familiar to me, scorched in sunlight on my memory, as young men in scenes with my young father.

Our half-brother Neil (Dad’s son from a teenage fling) arrived smelling of whiskey, sweat beading at his neck, shirtsleeves already rolled up. He glanced over, winked and flashed the flask in his sport jacket. We met in the yard off the funeral home parking lot.  “Hey boyo,” he said, slapping me on the back and passing me the flask. The summer air was wet and buzzing. I swigged rye whiskey, and wished to be far away.

***

I learned of it all, about my old man dying, second hand as it were. Voice to voice, a neat game of telephone when I was out on the road. The Pennsylvania hills tumbled navy to purple, and the road weaved and I chased it on and on, familiar and sweet. I had Emily on the speakerphone. She was on a rampage because I was on the way to Pittsburgh to the steel mills and missing a tap dance recital. We had two girls and a son. That our bodies had had the resources to cull these fresh being out of the nothingness of existence terrified me and now that they were here – Molly, Maeve, Andrew. Well, everything I did since they were born was wrong, which I didn’t doubt. She was prattling off a list of atrocities I had committed, as I sped further and further away.

As a little boy, I’d loved the word skyscraper. I imagined digging my nails into the heavens above.  As she spoke, I thought of magnificent heat it takes to make steel, and how to build into the skies, we have to dreg up the coal guts of the earth. The sacred coal earth ripped from the mountains’ cores like a religion. I thought of Babel and the thousand tongues of miscommunication. Then I heard the house phone rang in background.  “Hang on, sweetie,” Emily said suddenly mild, never giving up these small, ingrained kindnesses. I could here her using a diplomatic voice on the other. “Baby,” she said gravely back on the receiver, “pull over.” I kept driving. “Baby, Pop Reilly is gone. He’s dead.” I swerved suddenly, cutting across three lanes. The world lost its gravity, its air. Emily asked me where I was, and I told her.

Judy lived about half an hour from where I stopped. She was coming to get me. She didn’t want me driving. I sat there, paralyzed. I thought of my ancestors in Appalachia and this poverty of ours, much more than monetary, a longing and frightened hunger that can never be satiated. I sat there for a very long time. Judy’s tan minivan pulled up behind me. Ted got out on the side of the road. “Judy’s real broken up,” Ted said, as I got out of the car to get in the passenger seat, “She would really love if you stayed at the house,” he said, his freckled fingers on the steering wheel, “When Emily and the kids get down here, we can set you up on the foldouts in the den.” Ted was a harbor, a safe place, or place he made safe. “Let’s stop and get a drink,” he said.  I wondered what he knew that I just didn’t get.

***

When I finished the flask, I realized Neil was still prattling on about his jazz band.  Emily was calling me again.  She’d called my cell about a dozen times. She and the kids would be down the next morning for the second night of the wake and the funeral and whatever follows that. I put the phone on silent.  I didn’t want to hear her voice. I didn’t want any of them here, in this shrouded and musty past life of mine. No need for the past and the present to collide just yet.

The last time I’d seen my father one-on-one was the night I found out about Anne. After leaving her house, I had driven aimlessly. I had the company hotel for the night, but I couldn’t imagine being alone.  Showing up  unannounced, I rang the bell until he slumbered and flopped down to let me in. I thought he would understand. We drank the place dry and I spilled my guts. He listened and slapped me on the back when I cried.  He did understand me in a way I didn’t understand myself. “Jesus son,” he said, his shaky hands trembling out another drink. He unbuttoned his shirt, making himself a bit more comfortable. There across his chest was the magnificent ship embroiled in the waves.  I thought then, I as thought now, that I glimpsed but the hull of his understanding rising up to meet me, and that he remained largely hidden in a veiled deepness, out of sight.

Smoking the last of my cigarette, I walked back into the wake. Then I went up to Jack Reilly in his oak coffin, his white beard still bright, his leather brown skin in makeup, a slightest smirk resting on his lips. I knew a mermaid was in in the waves below the ship on his chest. She was beautiful, long-haired, bare breasted. That night on his ratty couch, the TV buzzing sports scores in the background, he’d pointed to his chest. “This will never end,” he said placing his hand on the storm, “It moils on and on.” “She,” he said, “the mermaid, sometimes she saves you by luring you out of the storm and into the sea.”

Then that sea came gurgling up in me, as salty tears rolled down me. Judy came up behind me, placing her hand on her shoulder and peeking over my shoulder at him. “Let’s go,” she whispered, “Let’s drown these sorrows.”  As we walked toward the door, old men said Amen and kneeled before our father, asking him to wait for them in the magical and mystical, navy-dark unknown sea.

By Kathleen White

coneyisland2

By Katherine McBride

The Dark Sailor

…For in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget
a temperance that may give it smoothness.

-William Shakespeare, The Tempest

I grew up with an older sister who was mentally ill, though I didn’t understand it fully. Back then we—my family and I—simply knew that we had the task of loving someone who equally needed to feel affection and acceptance as much as she needed to cause pain and destruction.  No one was safe from her contradictory hungers; whether it was my mother or an innocent store clerk, we were all tossed back and forth. It was exhausting and unhealthy, but not loving was never an option, so I loved and idolized and was loyal like a little sister should be. Being the youngest, I aspired to mirror my older siblings, their successes and their faults. Therefore, I fearfully expected to have a hole inside of me as well—some dark void that consumed everything around me, from which only came pain.

It didn’t take long for me to find my void. Fits of rage, depression and anxiety attacks became parts of my life in early adolescence. The darkness didn’t only cause destruction—it seemed intrinsically linked to my tendency to absorb almost every aspect of life. Life consumes me. Or rather I have made living an act of consumption: swallowing every stimulus, every color, every sound. This is quite overwhelming, of course. News of world crises gives me stomachaches, school stress triggered panic attacks and relationships–well, those tend to end in emotional explosions with ground zeroes that smoke and smolder longer than they should. Sound dramatic? Some of my exes would agree, ironically though, since it’s often my “unique” views and passion that drew them to me in the first place. Then my melancholia pushes them away. Like one of the Tyrones in Eugene O’Neil’s “Long Day’s Journey Into the Night,” I often sway back and forth between being warmly charming and broodingly morbid. I find a similar duplicity of spirit in Edmund Tyrone, the youngest of two sons and the only one with any hope. In the final act he reminisces to his father about his time at sea:

I became drunk with the beauty and singing rhythm of it, and for a moment I lost myself–actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved into the sea, became white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm, became moiling and the ship and the high dim-starred sky! …Became the sun, the hot sand, green seaweed anchored to a rock, swaying in the tide. Like a saint’s vision of beatitude. Like the veil of things as they seem drawn back by an unseen hand. Then the hand lets the veil fall and you are alone…

No longer able to drink the beauty he finds in the life of the sea, he gets drunk on whiskey. The low of the highest high is pretty damn low. In response to his speech, his father, a proud British actor, notes there’s a poet in his son after all, though he frowns upon the poets and philosophers Edmund finds solace in when he’s not reaching for the bottle. Nietzsche and Baudelaire are two of his favorites. The play itself is a semi-autobiography of O’Neil, who despite being a successful and celebrated playwright suffered from depression and alcoholism. It was last produced on Broadway with Philip Seymour-Hoffman cast as Jaimie Tyrone, the oldest son who doesn’t stand a chance. Hoffman succumbed to a heroin overdose this winter.

“The Devil pulls the strings by which we’re worked:/ By all revolting objects lured, we slink/ Hellwards; each day down one more step we’re jerked/ Feeling no horror, through the shades that stink,” writes Baudelaire. The devil’s hand is at work in the destruction of creative geniuses and their brilliant minds. In his vices and offerings, these unique minds find solace from the darkness that sails with them through life. Darkness comes as loneliness, regret, emptiness, or maybe even the weight of seeing and experiencing the world so deeply, though that same attribute lends itself to their creativity. Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of my favorite actors, and I was drawn to his work the same way Edmund was drawn to his authors. His ability to represent the shadowy depths of human existence was breathtaking and cathartic to view. He’s often described as playing “people form whom we recoil yet feel sympathy at the same time,” holding up a mirror “to those who could barely stand to look at themselves and [invite] us not only to take a peek but to see someone we recognized,” (Edgar, Junrod).  Tom Junrod states in his Esquire piece that Hoffman’s work “suggested that each of us is the sum of our own secrets,” supporting Baudelaire’s claim that our true selves roam shamelessly in the dark alleys that reek of our dirty laundry. Writing on Vice.com, James Franco went as far to say that Hoffman’s performances were “more human than human.” How powerful it must be to portray a human more human than general humanity! This gift comes at high cost, but how surprising is that really? After all, power is rarely synonymous with goodness, though it is often associated with corruption, destruction, and evil.

If creation is powerful, then we shouldn’t be surprised when the creators themselves fall to the dark corners they pull from.  Baudelaire wrote litanies to Satan not to be cheeky but because it was the “hells on earth”–the dirty urban streets, the whorehouses, the bars full of the les miserables, the tortures of ecstasy and love–that inspired him. Satan, that outcast angel, first invited man to eat from the tree of knowledge, become like the gods and behold the truths of the universe. He fuels our thirst for knowledge, power, truth, and relief. Were not Galileo and Copernicus, our modern heroes, medieval heretics? We demonize sex workers, but there’s a reason why their industry is the “world’s oldest profession.” Desire in every sense of the word is Satan’s realm, and what is life but not a quest to satisfy our desires and feel fulfilled? In an interview with the New York Times in 2008, Philip Seymour Hoffman expressed that his role in Doubt suggests “that being human on this earth is a complicated, messy thing.” It seems that as Hoffman moved through mess and murkiness in his professional life, he also did so in his personal life.

The world is full of natural pockets of darkness that we have always tried to keep lit. First with candles, then street lamps and now LCD screens glow in meditative pockets of darkness everywhere–from interstate bus rides to movie theaters, bar corners and pre-sleep bedrooms. We routinely try to hide from shadows and dodge the demon from hell that beckons us, but why? “You know this dainty monster, too, it seems–Hypocrite reader!–You!–My Twin!–My Brother,” cries Baudelaire, ending his poem by calling out his partner in crime. Like Hoffman, Baudelaire holds up a mirror to the things we’d rather not see, challenging us to not recognize ourselves. My fear of my sister was not that I would become her, but that I already was her. By blood, she was in me and I in her. We may not speak anymore, but in many ways she’ll always be my twin. The inevitability of the situation taught me early on that running from darkness is not an option. Embracing, as Baudelaire suggests, is all we can really do.  We’re floating in it anyway; with his poetry he invites us to dive right in.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was both saddening and terrifying for me; as an admirer of his way of diving into the darkness, what then, will prevent me from ending up with a similar fate? Is it as thin and slight as my fear of needles? A recent documentary produced by Red Bull Music takes a deep look at what it means, artistically, emotionally and psychologically to make music. One of the questions asked to esteemed and accomplished musicians is “why are you still alive?” Death and destruction are tied with creation and art across the disciplines, and while the artist had various answers to that question, they all agreed that they couldn’t not create. They were addicted to creation, to surrendering to the art, and the power they feel through that submission, and the completion the process gives them. By consuming and being consumed by music, they become more satiated and human than their own human selves.

We are shadow-walkers, sailors on vessels surrounded by dark water that we cannot drink, but burdened by insufferable thirst. Art is the hailing of the audience to a call to be consumed, answered because of, if nothing else, the need to experience fullness. Expression and submission—expressing to submit or submitting to the expression—that is the act of plunging into the tempest of our own dark waters to attain the answers that can’t be spoken, the kinship that can’t be defined, filling the void that can’t be filled and, above all, reckoning with still being alive (for those of us that don’t drown). I have survived by learning to embrace and love the dark creature within; I’ve fallen into the hidden pockets of movie theatres, black boxes, concert halls and reading holes to surrender to the parts of me (and you) I need help learning how to see. What about you? Do you sit condemning my glorification of the wicked, or are you a sibling to my split, incomplete self? Maybe you’re not sure, but nonetheless here you are reading and answering the call. Whatever the case, I hope that as you’re battered by life’s temperamental waves you find a way to stay afloat without swallowing too much seawater.

By Elise Peebles

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