trans lit mag

intransigents

 

 

 

 

 Issue #11

Autumn 2013/Winter 2014

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

1 Cover

3 Letter from the Editor

4 Contributors

5 Events

6 Fiction – “The Rocket Man” by Nathan Dixon

9 Essay – “Breakfast of the Gods” by Briane Pagel

13 Poetry - "Battle of Metaphors" by Clemencio Bascar

14 Photography - "Bunny" by VA Smith

15 Nonfiction - "By Her Own Hand" by j/j hastain

18 Poetry - "Sound" by Sara Walters

19 Poetry - "Music, the Infectious" by Adam Schrum

20 Photography - "Ducky" and "17th St" by VA Smith

22 Nonfiction - "Help, I'm Alive" by Alyssa Ross

25 Poetry - "In the World of the Scrawny it is Often Night" and "Someone in Space" by James Grinwis

27 Photography - "Pipes" and "Red" by VA Smith

29 About Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter from the Editor

IMG_3555Dear Reader,

This is where I write something nice about fall in New York once again, the beginning of our fourth year as trans lit mag and all the wonderful things that have happened in the last three years, the beautiful pieces we’ve read, the kindness of friends and strangers and all that, about coming together in agreement, about watching as those in charge refuse to come to agreement, refuse to compromise, both for and against, and in some ways this is what we need to do to be the artists that we are, the community that we strive to be, in some respects we need to be intransigents, and in others we need to collaborate, to come together to carry through, to carry on together, to reach for agreement, so that’s what we will do, those will be our goals, and it will be lovely.  Warmest,

– Christina Phelps

 

 

t.o.c.

 

 

Contributors

Clemencio Bascar

Nathan Dixon graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008 with degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing. Since then he's spent time rock climbing and traveling through California, New Zealand, Europe, and South America. For a year he lived in Brooklyn selling waffles from the window of a big yellow truck. He now lives in Durham, NC, bartending and reading and writing.

James Grinwis

j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things.  j/j performs ceremonial gore.  Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j, simply, hopes to make the god/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning seasons of the moon.  j/j is the inventor of The Mystical Sentence Projects and is author of several cross-genre books including the trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press), The Non-Novels (forthcoming, Spuyten Duyvil), and The Xyr Trilogy: a Metaphysical Romance of Experimental Realisms.  j/j’s writing has most recently appeared in Caketrain, Trickhouse, The Collagist, Housefire, Bombay Gin, Aufgabe and Tarpaulin Sky.

Briane Pagel: I am standing on State Street, in Madison, Wisconsin.  It is 1995, late spring.  I am staring up at Bascom Hill, which is the seat of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I am remembering that I started school here in 1987, as a pre-med freshman, only to drop out 6 months later when I got an A in a literature class, a D- in a chemistry class, and an Incomplete in calculus, which I'd dropped midway through the semester after getting a 17% on the mid-term.  I am now – in 1995 – getting ready to go back to UW-Madison to attend law school, having subsequently broken my neck in a car accident, gone skydiving, traveled to Morocco, and worked as a dishwasher en route to getting a B.A. in political science.  I am wondering, in 1995, if I have what it takes to come back to the scene of my previous failures and this time succeed.  And after a few minutes of staring up at the green grass and leafy trees and statue of Lincoln staring down the Library Mall to the state Capitol, I go and buy a "Jim's Journal" coffee mug.

Alyssa Ross was born in Guntersville, Alabama.  After her parents’ divorce, she moved with her mother and sister to the outskirts of DC.  She spent a year painting at VCU's art school, but then went on to pursue writing.  She now has an MFA from George Mason University and is currently teaching and working on her Ph.D. at Auburn University.

Adam Schrum spends too much time thinking in Rochester, Minnesota.  But not enough time, actually.  His poetry has recently appeared in Fox Cry Review, Foliate Oak Magazine, and Dirty Chai Magazine.

V.A. Smith is a writer and photographer who feels lucky to live and work in Portsmouth, NH. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gravel Magazine, Star 82 Review, Compose Journal, Driftwood Press, Connotation Press, Scissors & Spackle, Petrichor Review, Temenos Journal, Stirring, and Paper Tape.  She can be reached at vixworx.com.

Sara Walters holds a BA in English from the University of South Florida and is now a student in their MFA program.  Once, she packed her life in three suitcases and moved to a place she had never been.  Sometimes, she likes to write love letters to leave in library books, and is still patiently awaiting her Hogwarts letter.  Her work has appeared in Embodied Effigies, Barely South Review, Sugared Water, and The Dying Goose, among others.

 

 

 

t.o.c.

 

Events

10.29.2013 – trans lit mag begins transmitting issue #11, “intransigents.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

t.o.c.

Fiction

“The Rocket Man”

by Nathan Dixon

Back in March of ’86 there was a man on Ninth Street who called himself the Rocket Man.  People said he was crazy – the adults did – but we liked to listen to him.  Probably in his mid-30s, maybe his 40s, pacing around in a tin foil space suit with a fishbowl on his head, standing beside the rocket that he’d built out of cardboard boxes.  There was a chalkboard on wheels that he rolled out to the sidewalk every morning, and on this chalkboard he’d work out complex math problems, scratching from left to right, from top to bottom, the indecipherable script trailing out in neat little symbols behind his hand.  He talked to himself.  None of us knew whether or not the numbers and letters added up.  We were young.

More kids began to stop and listen during the second week.  We brought friends.  He’d stand there, even in the rain, shouting about the wonders of space.  Then he’d clam up, draw into himself like a little hermit crab and whisper in a coded speech that we couldn’t really hear, let alone understand.  Scratching away at his chalkboard, frowning as he worked along, waving his arms, pausing to put a hand to his chin.  Until he came to the end when he’d turn with a smile to his confused observers.  It was during the third week that he claimed he’d soon depart.  That he’d soon blast off – taking to the skies to hitch a ride on Halley’s Comet – into the outer reaches of our solar system.

None of us knew where he went at night until Jack Chalmers and Lefty Larson followed him down the train trestles to the bridge over the river.  Apparently he tied a rope around his middle when he left his spot on the street corner and totted the chalkboard and the cardboard rocket along the metal rails of the train tracks.  They said he had a camp with a couple of tents and bunches of radios and electronic gadgets that beeped and buzzed in the night.  Strange voices reaching through the static.

Tommy Powell said there was no way he could have electricity down there without wires running to it, but Jack and Lefty stuck to their story.  They said there were telescopes, too, and more chalkboards, colored lights blinking in the dark, and big metal objects.  They said the whole time the Rocket Man whispered to himself, busy with whatever it was he was planning.

The day came gray and wet.  We’d all seen the Halley Comet, though none of us had been that impressed.  I said I’d seen it, I’d looked to where my dad pointed in the sky, but I wasn’t really sure.  Our science teacher told us it was still about 40 million miles from Earth.  The same as driving around the planet 1,600 times.

But the Rocket Man didn’t seem deterred.  He showed up to the corner wearing his aluminum foil suit and his fishbowl helmet.  He told us he’d have to launch from the old ball field because it’d be too loud and dusty to do it on the street corner.  We marched behind him, down Ninth Street and onto the dirt road that would lead us there.  There were maybe 12 or 15 of us, and though we shouted questions at him and kicked up dirt and horsed around in the pale light of the afternoon, he kept right along in front, a man on a mission, whispering always to himself.

No one had used the ball field since summer and the weeds had grown taller than the smallest of us.  In the middle of the outfield a circle of tall grass had been mowed, and in the middle of the circle was a rocket.  A real one.  Not the cardboard cutout he’d been setting up on the street.

This one was made of metal, though it still looked pieced together – made up of rusted quarter panels and sheets of copper and steel.  It must have weighed a ton.  We all took off running as soon as we caught sight of it, but we stopped in the tall grass on the fringe of the mown down circle.  Curious, excited, skeptical.

The Rocket Man took his time, never changing his pace.  He walked through the infield, into the outfield with a smile on his lips, his head in the fishbowl bobbing up above the grass.  It began to drizzle, and it was strange how it smelled like summer with the cut grass in the ball field.  The water dripped from the glass sphere on his head, and he told us that we’d have to back up.  That we’d get burned if we didn’t.

We listened to him, all of us excited.  Then something happened.

Lefty Larson stepped into the circle and said he wanted to go with him.  We all knew he shouldn’t have done it, but we didn’t know how to stop him.  Jack Chalmers said he wanted to go too.

We watched the three of them climb into the thing, listened as it began making all sorts of noises.  We didn’t know what to do.  A couple of kids ran back into the grass as the dust cloud came billowing out from underneath it.  It was the loudest thing I’d ever heard.

I remember the rain on my face.  I remember as it lifted off the ground.  Up and up and up, fire blowing from underneath it.  We couldn’t breathe.  Kids coughed in the high grass.  The dust was everywhere, everything was hot.  But I watched the sky as the rocket roared into the clouds.

They never found them.  Some of the kids told the police there’d been a beat up station wagon parked on the road.  That it’d been gone when we headed home.  But I never saw it.  The adults said anything could’ve happened once that dust started blowing.  That the Rocket Man could have crept away with our friends under his arms, but they weren’t there.  They never found his camp under the railroad tracks, just some gizmos half buried in the mud.

A man was picked up two counties over a couple of weeks later, an astrophysicist who’d been fired from his university job under strange circumstances.  They put him on trial, but it wasn’t him.  I saw his picture in the paper.  I think he went to jail, but I was never sure.  They didn’t tell us kids that stuff, and my family moved away at the end of the school year.

It’s been more than two decades since that gray day in late March when Lefty and Jack disappeared with the Rocket Man.  Halley’s Comet is due to pass again in 2061, a bright string of light in the night sky.

t.o.c.

 

 

 

Essay

“Breakfast of the Gods”

by Briane Pagel

Cultivation of wheat began about 8,000 BCE, with increasingly better strains of wheat eventually reaching the point where they had enough gluten to make yeasted breads by 1,350 BCE, according to archaeologists.

Skip ahead, a few thousand years, to 1922, when some wheat bran is accidentally spilled onto a hot stove, resulting in baked brown delicious-tasting flakes.  For over two years, in 36 separate mixtures, this accident was worked over until a way was devised to make those flakes strong enough to be put into a box and shipped around the world.

The cardboard box those flakes would be shipped in didn’t exist, in any form, until a German came up with the idea of folding hard corrugated paper layers into a cube.  That was in 1817.  But it would be 63 years of trying before someone came up with a way of mass-producing those boxes, a discovery by accident: a misplaced metal ruler resulted in paper-cutting going wrong, and the box was created.

The bowl you pour the flakes into has existed for thousands of years. The spoon you will use to pick up the flakes and put them in your mouth is a mere child by comparison, possibly not having been in common use in the western world until 1259 AD. 

Milk for cereal has been available since 9000 BCE, though it was not until many, many years later that we would think to heat the milk up a bit before shipping it out so it didn’t kill you as you ate your cereal: heating liquids up to preserve them began with wine in 1117 AD.  That method of preservation continued in France after 1795 and was applied not just to wines but to vegetables, fruits, and once, an entire sheep in a jar, but it would be 69 years before we progressed from appertising to pasteurizing, and milk followed a few years after.

2,513 years ago, people in India began boiling sugarcane to produce sweeteners.  Sugarcane came back to Europe because Columbus had an affair with the governor of the Canary Islands on one of his voyages, and she gave it to him as a parting gift. 

Canes of sugar are milled to extract juice, treated with lime, dipped in enzymes to destroy harmful bacteria, then concentrated through a series of evaporators until ultimately the syrup is packed into a vacuum to remove all air from it, then bleached by sulfur dioxide to make it whiter.  Even then it is not ready for you to  dip your spoon into and sprinkle it over those accidental bran flakes that stretch back 10,000-plus years, as it must first be immersed into a concentrated industrial syrup to separate the crystals, then the solids must be precipitated out by a process known as phosphotation, and then an ion-exchange resin is used to make the crystals even whiter, which is to say your sugar was run through a series of beaded polymers suspended in an insoluble matrix in order to trap some ions while releasing others so that it would be pleasing to your eye.

Even then, it is still not ready: it must be boiled and cooled and seeded with other sugar crystals that teach this as-yet-unrefined youngster how to turn itself into the pure white delight you have on the tip of your spoon, then spun in a centrifuge, dried, packed into bags, put on trucks shipped around the country, and eventually put into the bowl on your countertop.

While all that took humans millennia, about 93,000,000 miles away, a mass of hot plasma held together by magnetic bands compresses in on itself, taking its constituent parts, which are essentially just loose electrons, and pushing them together with so much force that they become something entirely new.  It does this 620,000,000 times per second, and in the process, those compressed-and-made-new electrons emit energy, a burst so powerful that it can fly at a speed of 299,792,458 meters per second – the earth is only 4,000,000 meters in circumference, if you want a comparison, so this speck of light could circumnavigate the Earth 4,500 times in a minute—that light speck zipping through space, avoiding all obstacles, skirting around hot, metallic Mercury and past cloudy sulfurous Venus to enter our atmosphere, not hitting a single atom of air in the (relatively) dense soup of molecules piled 700 kilometers up from the ground, down down down through the sky and past the trees and through your window and over your shoulder until it strikes just right and reflects back off the paper and into your eye, at which point you finally realize, the end product of all of this, that you don’t understand the punch line to Garfield.

t.o.c.

 

 

Poetry

Battle of Metaphors

by Clemencio Bascar

Tonight as I make

One final attempt to establish

A bond with emptiness,

My scarred sub-consciousness drifts back

Swiftly to the unrecognizable spaces of distant twilights;

Those desolate segments accidentally chosen to be underground

Beds of eternal repose for my comrades-in-arms whose only crime

Was innocence plus their transcendental fascination for the

Ideals of civilized nations;

Tragically, they were the first casualties of the lust-inspired

Confrontation between daylight and darkness which

Started the reign of human decay

And the methodical corruption of equatorial cultures;

I, too, could been instantly erased from that material landscape

As easily as wiping away the tears of an orphan

For we were trapped in the same line of defense

Nursing the same fears and fantasies;

Desperately,

We fought, for it was our only choice and way out, was an invisible ghost

No one dared to talk about; yes, honorably we fought in the finest

Traditions of heroes, using nothing but the gifts of

Language, reason, conscience, and the

Unbreakable covenant of brotherhood;

Suddenly I was all alone

Under the protective custody of silence,

In my confusion, catalyzed the conviction

That our quest for peace was not a valid reason

For war;

I stood the only survivor

Of the battle of metaphors

That fragile side

Of glory.

 

 

t.o.c.

 

Photography

Bunny

by VA Smith

 

t.o.c.

 

Nonfiction

By Her Own Hand

by j/j hastain

On the day that I found out she had died I was at work.  I had walked into the cafeteria and saw a tiny article posted on the cork board: a double take and then a triple take fell from me in shock.  How had my dear friend just died like that?  I mean, we were scheduled to spend time together in a couple of weeks!  Why hadn’t she called me?  How the hell had my work gotten word of her death (by obituary) prior to my getting word?  Denver is not that far from Boulder.  Had she needed me I would have found a way to have gotten there to help her!

Then the terrors: did she commit suicide?  Did she commit suicide using the same belt she once used to whip herself while jacking off in that dank and dirty bathroom when she was still Neil and her wife, Veronica, was still a husband’s wife and not a lesbian lover?  They were in the wilderness camping then, though they were no more or less happy then than they were after Sandra transitioned.

I had dispatched on her routes many times (telling her what location to pick up this or that ill passenger, sending a relief vehicle to her location when she had bus trouble) but our friendship really began before that when she offered to give me rides to work.  I had been walking miles (literally) to work at three and four in the morning.  In the blizzard-like conditions, sometimes I would arrive to work completely soaked, frozen from buzzed head to steel toed boots.  I think she felt sorry for me: so sorry that she was willing to get up even earlier than was required of her in order for her to fulfill her shift.  She wanted to help ensure that I get to work safely.  She did not like that I was walking alone in the dark.  Though she had always known herself to be a woman (even when her anatomy or her harassers said differently), she had also lived a whole life as Neil, a chivalrous and submissive man, and I am sure that affected her desire to help me.

Our friendship was born in the dark of those cold mornings, when she had gorgeous drumming or the sounds of singing bowls coming through the crappy speakers in her crappy ruddy van.  As our friendship deepened, Sandra was mid-process in her physical transition.  She was growing her hair out, wearing pretty colors of lipstick.  I loved to compliment her.  I loved to crack crass jokes with her as we zipped around the bare streets on our way to work when everyone in their right mind was still sleeping.

I can’t tell you how many times I responded to people’s inaccurate reference of her (at work) with abrupt correction.  I wrote a letter to employees in the company news, encouraging (nay, demanding) accurate reference for queer/Trans identified people in the workplace.  There were many times when Sandra and I spoke at length about how we could work together (causing a stink!) to get queer-friendly bathrooms at the place where we worked.  She was reluctant to do it.  She had had a whole life of reasons to be scared to fight for what she needed: for what was her right.

“Why can’t all bathrooms be single stalled and lockable?  I mean, what really would be the big deal about making that kind of a transition?” I would ask.

“It’s more of a reluctance based on previous culture than it is something that makes sense” she would say, gently, with sadness.  It seemed that she bore the weight of an awareness of how seemingly death defying a feat it is for someone to actually find a way to change culture.

“Well, I won’t settle for anything until it does make sense to me.  I will fight for us.”  The look on her face was a wash of runny reprieve: tear soaked exhaustion followed by appreciation.

When she finally returned from Thailand (where she had her Vaginoplasty) I was so excited to see her.  I had missed my friend.  She stepped out of the car and I could see that she was walking a little bit differently: her own body as a healed place was in her eyes, in her gait.  I could see more of her in her.  That lasted only for a few moments.

I heard a few days later that she had been involved in rape-like rough sex (that she did not even know how to call “rape” due to having nearly no boundaries with her X, Veronica) and V had torn some of the stitches in Sandra’s beautiful, new vagina.  This made me cry.  She talked about it from a distance; I felt her forced into distance (as many women who are raped are) from her own, beautiful, accurate, and whole body in that one moment of violent affront.  It was not much later in conversation that she started to share with me the kinds of things separatist lesbian feminists were saying to her in the on-line lesbian communities in which she had hoped to get support once she had transitioned.

Oh world, Sandra was so much!  I walked out of the doors of my work and continued walking until I got a ways away from the building.  I lifted my dark, velvet dress (it was snowing) and put my bare thighs onto the snow that was so cold that even though it was something soft that fell, it felt hard to the undersides of me.  Knowing she had struggled with suicidal thoughts since she was a child I pondered her, her life, her bravery in how long she actually did stay.  I guess for her to have gone in the way that she had made sense to me after all: by her own hand.  Our hands are our leverage; our stories are embedded in creases and scars.  To go by her own hand: the very hand with which she once jacked off and choked herself in order to feel something of herself beyond all of the pain of the dysphoria of her gender and anatomy.  To go by her own hand: the hand that ran through her thinning gray hair as it whipped across her collar bones while she waited for me to arrive in front of the coffee shop where we usually sat together and talked.

Maybe it was that Sandra had long wanted to die on her own terms and those terms vehemently required accurate relation between her body and her identity.  Perhaps it was simply that my sweet friend went to Thailand in order to return home and feel at peace enough to die when her body finally reflected the beautiful woman she had always known herself to be.

 

t.o.c.

 

Poetry

Sound

by Sara Walters

you played me like harp strings

newly tightened and tuned

but snapping and popping

with each pull of your fingertips

the notes that came from my body

were sharp — my music like thumbtacks

and paring knives into ripe avocado —

it was summer and my skin

must have tasted like it

we sat on barstools and drank

beers with orange slices

and you yelled over the noise

"I feel like I've always known

you."

while you tuned and tightened

me, I memorized the creases

in your bedsheets and the rings

our sweating beers left

on your bedside table.

 

 

t.o.c.

 

Poetry

Music, the Infectious

by Adam Schrum

He expels music

but it keeps coming in

no headphones on him

His fingers tap

His feet zap

His tongue and teeth click

His breath whisps

Kicks the floor for bass

Rubs fabric for high-hat

Key ring, maracas

Coin-castanets

Ever see a guy turn his piece of the restaurant

Into a drum kit like that?

and this, the no-smoking section

He’s gotten three tones

for tom-toms off that table

With his thumb knuckle bone,

palm flesh, and fingernail

I’m not sure where

he gets the snare

But I’ll be batman’s robin if

what threatened at first

to wake the baby jesus

grooves enough now

to turn Hell’s fanged heads

The room is rhythming,

no, it’s my head jiving

and thigh thumping

I think the lady-patron over there

is fixing to stand on the table

and, I think, sing.

 

 

t.o.c.

 

Photography

Ducky

by VA Smith

t.o.c.

 

17th St

by VA Smith

 

t.o.c.

 

Nonfiction

Help, I'm Alive

by Alyssa Ross

Crying out of sadness is a predominantly human phenomenon.  Though other species can feel pain, distress, and sometimes even empathy, they don’t shed tears as an emotional response.  Only humans do that, crying over death and heartbreak, over sickness and grief and life’s general miseries.  In our social world, tears are a recognizable sign of distress and loss and love.  And yet, like most animals, I’ve never been much good at crying.

 

When I was five years old one of my Great Aunts died.  At the viewing people walked up to the body and began to sob.  I sat next to my Grandmother, whose knotted hands cradled a cream handkerchief that she had yet to use.  I felt the warmth of her palm as she patted my leg in reassurance.  We quietly watched the mourners dab at their eyes with flimsy pieces of tissue, which seemed no match for their tears.

I shyly whispered to my Grandmother, “Can we go up there?”  She wrapped my little hand inside her long, thick fingers and guided me up the aisle toward a line of crying women.

My Grandmother held my Great Aunt Ella in high esteem, maybe because she was a good deal older and they had grown up together in our small, Alabama hometown.  I too was drawn to her, but for a simple, childish reason: every time I saw her, whether in church or at a family dinner, she gingerly pulled a handful of shiny, foiled candies from her pocket and tucked them in my hand without a word.  The exchange felt dangerous, as if we had shared some secret folly.

When my turn came, I peered over the shiny, black edges of the coffin.  Standing on my tip-toes, I could see my great aunt’s flat, white face and delicate hands folded neatly across her lap.  Her wrinkles looked so textured and intriguing that I couldn't help but reach out to touch them.  My fingers met a cold, waxy surface.  I thought I saw her chest heave, but I wasn’t frightened.  I was content to sit there with her for a bit longer, though another group of teary-eyed mourners was forming behind me.  Opening my eyes as wide as I could, I willed the tears to come so that I could prove myself worthy to stay.  But nothing came.  I imagined rivers and waterfalls, torrents falling from the sky, but my eyes felt drier than the Sahara.  I thought of my German shepherd, his beautiful white coat bloodied after my father had backed over him in our driveway.  He was my first and only dog and my father didn’t have the heart to buy another.  Despite the memory of his cold, wet nose against my bare skin, the feeling boiling inside me refused to surface.

Soon I was pushed aside by the sobbing mourners.  The lucky ones – I now think – the ones who knew how to show their pain.  And as I walked away, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a peppermint, or perhaps a half-melted caramel, lying deep within Great Aunt Ella’s dress pockets, a final secret sin that we would never share.

 

I am twenty-six years old, but the tears still won’t come.  They don't come when my friend Curtis, who’d protected me in grade school from the thugs at the bus stop, gets shot and killed in the middle of a parking lot, his blood flooding the black pavement.  His two small children will never know their father’s kindness.  They don't come when I put my fist through my ex-boyfriend’s window after seeing him inside with another woman, a woman who’s blond and thin, just like me.  And I'm sure as shit not crying when I have to pick the pieces of glass out with my finger nails; I'm laughing like a fool as I remember that strange, fearful look on the woman’s face.  They don’t come when, as I child, I’m forced to leave my hometown after my parents’ divorce and remarry, or when, years later, I meet with a lawyer at his musty, downtown office to sign away my own marriage.

My lovers accuse me of being cold.  They yell, throw my shoes, my car keys out into the woods, anything to try and get a reaction.  “Why doesn't anything hurt you," they ask.  But the question doesn't make any sense to me.  I understand the nature of pain, and I feel it just as acutely as anyone else.

Instead of tears, I drink my grief.  Both actions have the same end result – dehydration.  When I feel overwhelmed with a sharp, creeping sadness, I crack the seal on a new bottle of Virginia whiskey.  Almost instinctively, I load a glass with crushed ice and pour the brown liquor slowly, deliberately.  The smell of charred wood wafts from the open bottle.  I don’t bother putting the cap back on.  I lift the glass and fill my mouth, letting the sweet, pungent liquid rush down my throat.  Everything starts to feel dull and fuzzy as I crush the ice between my teeth.  I drink my sorrow, one glass at a time.  I drink until the harsh, straight edges of the world become soft and blurred.

It’s a different way to cope.

 

t.o.c.

 

Poetry

In the World of the Scrawny it is Often Night

by James Grinwis

An atmosphere like a spindly hook

that snares no particulates

but the tiny astronauts that percolate

inside of your breath.

The sky of hooks grows and seems

to ignite, and I think

about milk.  The shoes being sold on a street

in a suburb of the district

remind of the saying that elegance

dies each year.

The musicologist says

I’m a mule.  I am also

a pump, pushing an image of her up

with each print

I leave in the snow.

To believe things harshly, do not neglect

the cold.  Larvae of wasps

are cracking open

with the frost.

Some skinny little kids

donning attractive bone helmets

run around the pen.

The caves left and right are pounding out bats,

the ice melts into a honey bush,

and the way she stands

is something hewn.

 

 

t.o.c.

 

Someone in Space

by James Grinwis

Suppose it is someone’s job

to wander around lost.

I spend time writing dots next to words.

A dot on this page, one on that, little espionages of dots,

hatchlings of them.

Tiny miscalculations in the surgery.

The Pictophiles outnumber the Phoenicianophiles.

Time passed looking at gutters and curbs.

It’s cold enough to crack teeth, the expression.

Appreciation for the finer things, one said,

comes not with skill it comes with luck.

A cobbling together of parts.

Half rowboat half pasta-making utensil.

Doors into rooms full of nice people.

 

 

t.o.c.

 

Photography

Pipes

by VA Smith

t.o.c.

 

Red

by VA Smith

 

t.o.c.

 

About Us

trans lit mag is a continually-expanding quarterly name-changing online literary magazine.  Submission guidelines can be found here on our blog, where you can also find past issues.  Find us on Facebook and Twitter

Editor                                  Christina Phelps  

Poetry Editor                       Elana Seplow

Email                                   translitmag@gmail.com 

t.o.c.