Sugared Water issue no. 002

56 pages, handbound, limited edition of 195 with hand-pulled covers.
Contents include poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction.
SW002 was released in 2014.

Contributors

Katie Berger, Jessica Bixel, Su Cho, Wendy Creekmore, Kelly Dumar, Malisa Garlieb, Lois Marie Harrod, Scott Hartwich, Yume Kim, Anna King, Christen Leppla, Rebecca McLeod, Caitlin Neely, s. Nicholas, Dustin Parsons, Marina Petrova, John W. Sexton, Wes Solether, SJ Stephens, & Steven Wolf.


 

THE LITTLE GIRL AND THE BLUE UMBRELLA

Yume Kim 

she stands under rainfall 
droplets cascading onto 
her long pigtails
her mother yells from afar 
for she has forgotten to 
take her blue umbrella 
yet she pays no attention 
as she dances underneath 
the oak tree 
                              (lightning strikes) 
her body suddenly pulses
                              (the tree snaps in two) 
she begins floating 

                                                                    Up 

                                                           Up 

                                                                               (into the air) 

 

Yume Kim is an MFA candidate in Poetry at San Francisco State University. In June 2012, she was a fellowship recipient of the Kundiman Asian-American Poetry Retreat. Her other works can be found in sPARKLE + bLINK, all my shit is gone to shit, gesture, West Wind Review, and Transfer.

 

 

THE PAIR

Malisa Garlieb 

Hallelujah for sun in February so we walk
the afternoon and I hold his wrist
so his mitten won’t fall off—
its mate left to the mismatch bin.
His little feet lift the boots Vermont requires,
thick-soled waterproof and vermillion.
Flame boots that will not get left
behind somewhere. 

His father, or rather the man I want
to father him, lives
with a wife a thousand miles west.
He may choose us someday. Maybe not.
My son isn’t speaking, which is unusual,
and I think he knows I have no answers 

anymore and damn it, why can’t he walk
without shuffling. Pick up your feet child.
But then I see his over-big boots are
on the wrong feet.

You’d be more comfortable, I say
if you switched your shoes,
but he keeps up the clodding.
And then I know
as a lamb knows cold spring,
how we choose our slow suffering.
And that we could
end it with a swap—boot
or stubborn heart.

 

Malisa Garlieb is a Waldorf teacher living and working in Shelburne, Vermont. Her poems have appeared in Off the Coast, The Salon, Lines + Stars, and Compass Rose, among others.

 

 

THE LEGEND OF FLIGHT

John W. Sexton 


In the grain of the door is a trapped bird. 
Before the door was a door it was a tree,
and while it was still barely a sapling 
the tree was in love with the bird. But the bird
wandered minute after minute, day after day,
onto sapling after sapling, until the sapling
learnt to keep the bird by growing over it. 
The sapling in time became a tree and the tree
grew over the bird until the bird was deep inside.
The tree grew upwards, feathers budding 
from its branches. The tree called to the sky
but the sky wandered minute after minute, 
day after day, night into night. 
Then men came into the forest and saw the tree,
tall to the sky, budding bright with feathers.
They cut the tree and built a tower from its wood, 
wooden steps of itself climbing up through itself.
In the final room of the tower was an outer door.
The door is still there now, swollen in its jamb.
Beyond the door is the sky, waiting to be entered into.
In the grain of the door is a trapped bird. 

 

John W. Sexton lives in the Republic of Ireland and is the author of five poetry collections, the most recent being The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, 2013). He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem "The Green Owl" won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007. In 2007, he was also awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. 

 

 

DUMP

Lois Marie Harrod

This morning, on the opposite side of the road,
my neighbor is tending his dump, that hollow
in front of his house, which he has been filling.
It’s hot today so he is wearing an oily undershirt 
and a kerchief around his face soaked in turpentine,
says it wards off the odor on these summer days.
He asks for clean trash, but people are always
bringing mice still in their traps and dead hamsters
in shoe boxes with their garbage bags
of tin cans and broken glass. I can’t be 
too discriminating he says, if I am too choosy
they will dump their stuff elsewhere,
and then where would I be, a man with half
a landfill in front of my house. He is the only one
whom he allows to go through the dump,
picking out little treasures, things we’ve lost
and never found, not that he returns them,
they are just gone. But he’s more honest
than our mortician, who removes the 
the gold and platinum from our teeth before 
he sews the mouth shut. Still we’ve lived so long
that the neighbor has begun grading. By next spring
he says, he should be ready to plant it all
in zoysia. Flexible. Slow growing. Tolerates 
traffic. Produces a lush carpet. Loves sun and shade.

 

Lois Marie Harrod’s 13th and 14th collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis and How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth, were just published. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest. Brief Term, teaching poems, was published in 2011. She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey.

 

 

FEED

s. Nicholas 

like the raccoons                     
                                                              once a year

who sneak 
slowly onto the back porch 
                                                              our yellow kitchen bubbled
                                                              with the grey smell of death
scavenging 
for discards and remains
                                                              neck bobbed in the pot
                                                              mocking me
you discover my shell
                                                              with its curved swell

crack it open                          
with your teeth
                                                              husks and feathers 
                                                              lingered around the sink 

a growl gurgling up 

                                                              mother hums and chops

from your throat
glance around 
                                                             his soft heart in bits
                                                             sticks to the wooden board

in the dark at the dead 
                                                             wrestles her clawed fingers

rustle of other night creatures 
                                                             into his hollow

use your delicate 
humanish hands 
                                                             stuffs him full

to retrieve the meat.

CHERRIES

s. Nicholas 

I drive through the dark
cherries 
ziplocked
in my lap
I've forgotten my smokes
one thing to go ashing
out the cracked window
with night sucking in heater
blasting another to lean
your head out pits pinging
onto passing cars
I need a grasp at the tips
of my fingers
but I'm afraid 
perhaps when I bite
one is moldy
and I discover the soft 
black rot sliding onto my tongue
only after I've split the skin
perhaps there is
curled fetal within
spooned with the center
a worm that only begins 
to wiggle
when I have 
swallowed it whole

 

s. Nicholas teaches middle school in the San Bernardino mountains where she lives with her three children and one husband. She has a BA in English/World Literature and Psychology from Pitzer College, as well as a Master's in Education from Claremont Graduate University. She recently earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Cal State San Bernardino. She is educated far beyond her intelligence. More juicy info about her can be found on her website: www.sNicholas.net.

 

 

ENOUGH

Kelly Dumar

Some day with more courage we might 
account for all the ways we failed 
to make any of your small miseries sweeter 
while waiting that week for you to die, 
when your silence bloomed and bit the air, 
climbed the walls like ivy, poison, until
not speaking to us was no longer your choice,
and my head, bowing, could not help sinking 
into the hard hill of your womb, still warm, still hoping 
I might hear something you never said like 
goodbye, you did enough, you’re good or good enough – 

but in the hot half circle your grown up children 
made around your death, how could we even hear anything
with your eldest son’s voice droning on like that
in praise of your virtues, naming the loss, until 
this blistering rash rose and someone who might have been 
me screamed shut up shut up shut up, and when he did, 
we all did, and for a few seconds or a minute or more
weren’t we?

 

Kelly Dumar’s plays, short stories and poems are inspired by nature, family, and her belief in the artistry of shared stories to transform individuals and communities. Her poems have appeared in Lingerpost, Blast Furnace, *82 Review, Emerge, and Apeiron. Kelly founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 8th year.

 

 

DON'T FORGET TO HANG THE NEW CURTAINS IN OUR BEDROOM

Rebecca McLeod

You complain when I sleep with all of the lights on,  
but I can’t follow directions in the dark.
(Is it really so easy for you?)   
Forests grow backwards, into swamps,  
where cypress trees pull me under. 
I feel the hunger in their roots, 
laying eggs in my stomach. 
I crack them into your mother’s recipes, 
but the edges still burn. 

 

Rebecca McLeod is in the final stages of her MA in English. She spends most of her time with a cat named Oyster and she enjoys painting, constructing dollhouses, perusing entomology textbooks, and dabbling in any other obsessive field of tedium.

 

 

THIS PLACE TURNED HEADSTONE

Wendy Creekmore

Appalachian coal hot ceremonies 
in root cellar churches with altars 
of blackberry vine, funeral
hymns for a fallen chicken coop. 

Geraniums clung untamed to rusty 
bedsprings behind an old truck 
and cool springhouse confessions
of honeysuckle stories grown wild. 

I swam naked in quarries, swung high 
over gemstone dark water, adolescence 
dropped rough     
off twisted kudzu vine.

Coming home sounds familiar
rooted gravebeds unchanged 
crumbled cherubs sing

Old wounds tell me angry
old hurts strum me low 
old lungs tell me this 
tell me     this
land is dead

Like dust hung heavy
in lungs 
and veins of wiped out Blue Gem coal.

Fiddle songs sing 
let it die, let it die

I ache to slice the plum liver of this town
ballad for those one breath short
of outrunning a-foot-a-night vine.

 

Wendy Creekmore lives in rural Northern Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband, Virgil, and two kitties. Her poetry appears in the Journal of Kentucky Studies, and her first collaborative chapbook is in these cups.

 

 

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HIGHWAY, THERE IS A GARDEN

Su Cho

No cabbages or beds of blossoming azaleas,
just fourteen rows of loosened soil
sprinkled with chicken and cow manure.
Drop the pruners and sweat stained hat, slip
your shoes off, and push the rusty wheelbarrow 
into the traffic—hear the brassy clash and
accompaniment of honks that follow.
Sink your toes into the dirt, bowing underneath 
the rhythm of your prudent steps
as you bend and reach down, breaking 
clumps of dried soil—place a pinch on your tongue to taste.
Better yet, toss my ashes across this garden,
and throw them far, never mind it getting in your hair, close 

your eyes and
                            toss. 

 

Su Cho is from Indiana and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Aesthetix and Star 82 Review.

 

 

THE SISTER AND OTHER INVENTIONS

Jessica Bixel

I am calling myself magpie, lilac,
moon in a ravine before a river. 
Lighthouse. I do this for you,
of course. I understand my name
only as I am able to change it.

 

Jessica Bixel writes and works in Ohio, where chewing gum was invented. Her work has recently found homes with Midway, Red Lightbulbs, and Leveler.

 

 

I LAY FLUSH WITH

Wes Solether

with water, a pine.
For hunter. No.
Withered hands.
Wet with open.
Snare hollowed. 
And newcut rope.


                                  Just still.

                                              I lie still.

 

Wes Solether just moved back to his home state of Illinois to better connect with Sufjan Stevens’ Come On Feel the Illinoise. He has rediscovered reading novels. House of Leaves is becoming a literal page-turner, and Blood Meridian was devastatingly gorgeous in all its violence. He’s been published some. 

 

 

TRANSMISSION

Dustin Parsons 

     We decide that the best way is to drop the transmission onto my dad’s chest and let him hold it there while I replace the seal. We could have found some padding, I suppose, an old mattress or the seat to a ’56 Willys sitting in his shop, but this seems faster and, besides, we’ll have a man who has his ass behind the weight when it’s time to put the transmission back. He lowers it as slowly as he can, but it plants itself on his sternum like a funnel cloud kissing ground


     The inside of a transmission, when the housing is disassembled from the transfer case, looks like the bottom of a bell, but with a grinding set of gears for a clapper hidden by the torque converter. It oozes fluid like a sore and the old seal is all but gone already. What is left has crusted to the edges of the housing and I scrape it off with a putty knife.


     There is my father, the weight of the transmission bearing down on his chest. He breathes shallow, looks around the transmission at me to direct what to do next. I lay the seal along the housing’s edge. I’ve greased it with transmission fluid. When I was a kid he worked all day long and answered phones all evening as the pulling unit crews checked in. He was never off. Never done. He tells me the transmission isn’t too heavy when I ask him later. About one hundred pounds, he says. But I remember the weight of it, and it was more than that. 


     We put the transmission back. He bench-presses the weight while I grip it as best I can and help. We slide the housing to the transfer case like putting a cap on a pen. We attach the output shaft, replace the bolts. We are silent. On my father’s shirt is the Rorschach print of grease from the transmission. When he is working it is a crooked river. When he reaches for a bolt on the floor and his arms open, it is a mushroom cloud, a tornado. When he stands, it is a furious ringing bell.

MULBERRIES

Dustin Parsons

I discovered only later that a white mulberry tree launches its pollen at half the speed of sound. My grandfather pushed mulberry branches back and forth with a broom handle to let the light, sweet fruit fall for my wife and me to collect, my wife’s allergies at their peak in the August heat, so she sneezed repeatedly while my grandfather roamed the grass and passed by the bachelor buttons and the wild carrot and the lacy overgrown beauty of my grandmother’s garden, from which this mulberry tree sprung, of an Asian origin, I would find out later, while he, my grandfather, full on long sleeve and jeans even as the temperature approached one hundred degrees barely broke a sweat. My wife and I, cowering in the shade of the back porch, would run out to collect the fallen fruit, place it in a Tupperware container. The fruit wouldn’t make it out of town before we’d eaten it all and the temperature wouldn’t break the entire time we spent in Kansas and my boys wouldn’t even wear shirts some days and my grandfather only had a few years left on him before a stroke combined with cancer to finally take his life, but before all that he still picked us more mulberries to send us on our way back to New York, a long drive. We ate much more carefully the remaining mulberries, the white fuzzy fruit now cold because we put it on ice and a handful would be just a little sweet, like watered down fruit juice, and then the next would rush my senses, a sour so fingertip combined with a sweet so palm that I salivated after the bite, wanting to lick my hand for what was left, but the sensation vanished like a jet leaving a white streak of wash against the sky.

 

Dustin Parsons is an Assistant Professor of English at SUNY Fredonia, and has work most recently in Seneca Review, American Literary Review, and Fourth Genre. He lives in Western New York, and more about him can be found at dustinparsons.info.

 

 

VALENTINE'S DAY

Katie Berger 

     This started during what I can only call a drought—the advertisements of the glossy-shine paper with the cartoon pine trees, angels, boughs of holly, decked halls, and orbs of red ornaments, stopped appearing in the mailbox. Gone were the black block dollar signs and pictures of giant toy soldiers and dinky horses—gone the candy cane kitsch, the chaos of perfectly round wreaths, the crinkle of all the ads in the trash. Change was surely afoot.

 

     In that same non-season my neighbor Adam banished his bed from his bedroom. A single scoot-creak across to the door, a question mark of dust, a bump on the wall that led to a corner-sized dent, and his bedroom fell under new governance. It was no longer an oligarchy of dreams and disenfranchised hands groping blindly about under the rule of sleep—the new space filled with nothing but a fuzzy sock and ideas. Adam began to fill the room with a work bench, a set of notebooks, a pile of pens, and a now-kinked Slinky I saw on television last month. Adam then announced he was building a robot.


     Oh, Adam, to declare independence from the dictatorship of dreams—this is how I first began to admire him and his creation. Every night, a creaking collage of nightmares, all set to the tune of a booming voice hawking those very nightmares, held me (or didn’t) in bed. Some mornings I’d awake to find the bedroom door wide open and the earth itself on my feet. Adam called this a possible case of sonambulance and an abuse of power by the dreams. Before I’d succumb to the rule of sleep myself, I would catch glimpses of a yellow and green glow through the window—the instruments he was using to build the robot always there, always fully controlled by no one but Adam. 


     And where did Adam sleep? Crooks of leafless trees, porch swings unhooked for the winter, a black metal park bench fuzzed with frost, even a storm drain dry in the dry season, were happy to cradle his body well into the afternoon. He told me he stopped dreaming, as he had no need for it.

     While an advertisement may sing the praises of a doll who can chatter a stray “mama” or “dada,” or while a store window can revere a coat that can cover a body, Adam set out to create the body itself. I could not stop thinking about the idea that things can exist on their own with no companion advertisement—I wondered if Adam himself should be assigned a glittering advertisement. 


     But I would not let myself fall in love with Adam because Adam was already in love. His eyes gazed at invisible things and the tip of his tongue tasted the air whenever we sat in his newly birthed laboratory and he spoke of the girl he sees walk past his bedroom window at night. Wearing white lace but never fully dressed, despite the season. Unconcerned with everything yet walking deliberately—as if something in the world mattered besides the ads on television. She never turned her head to look at Adam as she passed the window, the glow of Adam’s machinery barely revealing her bare feet on the gray dirty snow. This nonchalance was surely sexual interest of some sort. Bands with four or five members in matching suits write songs about this very thing.


     And then Adam would drop the subject of the woman in lace, return to the robot, experimenting with possible eyes. Marbles? Bouncy balls? Kix cereal? Even the hollow candor of the Cheerio?


     Adam could have crafted the eyes from his disinterested own and it would not have changed my feelings for Adam (whom I could not love) and the robot (whom I could). Sometimes the robot would stare directly at me, through the scatter of cereal, the pile of toys, the sound of Adam humming a math equation to himself that would make the robot’s fingers move.


     The scientist on TV believes in gravity!


     We could add it to the trajectory!


     And my heart would spring to life.


     I preferred the gaze of the robot over Adam’s, though. I preferred his simple interest in me over that of Adam’s cloud of conjecture about the ghostly woman. I preferred to fall in love with one not already in love, and so I did.

     It is with my love for the robot in mind that I asked Adam to hire me as his laboratory assistant. I spoke vaguely of an attention to detail and an interest in science television programs, and so he handed me one of his white shirts with a collar and buttons and called it my official lab coat.


     Coats with long sleeves are nothing but a hindrance when you are in love, as they render you too warm to think clearly about your feelings. Add to that my hazy state brought on by my disruptive sleep—the awakening every morning to chattering leg pain, dull shoulders, the feeling of defeat despite, somehow, having traveled far. Oh, Adam, sometimes you forget that some of us are still held prisoner by our dreams!

    

     And so in this overheated sleepy state I worked, Adam rarely allowing me to stand close enough to the robot to touch it, send my heart beating. 


     For days I stood feet from the robot, handing Adam pipe cleaners and bits of silly string, watching his fingers slice through his hair in both curiosity and frustration, listening to his equations.


     Hand me the top to the pop bottle.


     The robot stared at me.


     Hand me the slap bracelet. No, not the friendship bracelet, the slap.


     The robot may quiver an elbow or finger, then return to its inert state.


     I need you to hold one end of this Silly Putty for me.


     Our fingers brush, his thumb on my forefinger, and I hear my heart. I look at the robot. Nothing.

     It is difficult to disagree with great minds on great topics, but after handing Adam an entire toy box piece by piece, slowly, so slowly the sun rose twice and I neglected sleep, I began to grow angry as well as more exhausted than usual. Adam then banned my hands entirely from the proximity of the robot. His words were “clumsy,” “sluggish,” “unskilled,” and “prone to messing this up.”


     So I said it.


    Oh Adam, maybe the robot won’t work for you because you haven’t perused the correct advertisements on the subject!


     I’ve read them all. Twice!


     Then maybe the one you need hasn’t arrived in the mail yet!

     Such is the nature of the cold gray non-season of empty mailboxes. The streets are lined with nothing but images of snow and dead leaves, and the words we need—sale, clearance, special—have vanished. Adam collapsed into trees and porches more and more—once even going to the side of the house where he’d left his mattress to stand and stare at it with something close to longing. He asked me if maybe the robot couldn’t be stuffed with the mattress—a filler, a substitute, for all the complex functions the robot increasingly required. 


     For now, instead of simply playing with multiple iterations of trinkets and snacks, Adam and I were creating a bodily system of bendy straws with no end, a veiny mess of day-old spaghetti with no clear purpose, even a full set of Cheeto toes with no foot. All our inventions seemed to lack a clear center—for even the snowiest of snow globes in the snowiest of seasons require a Santa Claus or a leprechaun or an Easter bunny in their hearts.

     One night, as I prepared for my nightly attack by the dreams, still dressed in the lab coat, I thought, despite my failure in all things scientific, I could, in some way, truly help Adam. 


     The robot did need to be filled with something we didn’t yet own, I agreed with him for once, and I thought of my own insides, my heart scurrying when Adam bumped into me during our experimental hours. My heart again when I woke from my dreams, fear pulsing against confusion. The twist of my heart when Adam spoke of the ghost-like girl who passed by his window.


     So Adam would build the body of the robot, so I would build the heart!

     It is a special thing when the marketing departments and advertising firms of the universe all conspire to agree with you. I could nearly feel fate and public relations pulling me by the hand when the drugstore advertisement winked against the gray of my mailbox.


     Pink hearts, naked cherubs, red hearts with smiling faces, roses and endless red—my own heart replied with a large thump. I ran to the address listed at the bottom of the ad, despite my tired arms and legs, always tired.


     It would have been easy—too easy—to buy for the robot a cardboard heart whose shape was already cut and molded, whose arteries were already clogged with chocolate squares. It would have been too easy to buy a plastic heart that lit up and played “Love Me Tender” when you squeezed it. I thought of Adam and the parts from the toy box, the iterations of the eyes, the care with which he installed each Play Doh finger with his own.


     I bought red construction paper, a pair of scissors, a bottle of glue with an orange top, and a spool of lace—the heart would be built, not bought.

     It is now that I wish I could speak of love with some semblance of authority. I wish I could speak of love’s power to animate lifeless forms. I long for love’s ability to make all beings love who they were meant to. I want to say that my heart, crafted from paper, glue, and some well-placed cuts, brought to life a being that required no sleep and hence was entirely free from the tyranny of dreams. I want to say that my heart saved the world, with the help of the world itself, with its ads, its promises, its two-for-one sales.    


     Yet it was in that moment, the moment when the paper and glue and lace were spread across my kitchen table, that the sleep and the dreams combined to defeat me. Fingers sluggish, I cut a heart that was not quite a heart. I cut length upon length of lace, no segment fully fitting the perimeter of the heart. The glue was a ruse—more of it spilled on the table than the heart. A body failing, I laid my face on the table.


     The advertisements speak often of energy. It takes its forms in drinks and medicines and in machines that work the various limbs of the body. Energy cannot often be obtained through simply being - acquisition of a product is usually required. So when I awoke at my own kitchen table with the tips of my fingers tingling and the muscles in my face relaxed, I knew something greater than a marketing strategy had occurred. My legs did not ache, I knew I had remained in my chair for the duration of my sleep, my arms were spread yet still across the table, and the dream—not a nightmare, but a dream.


     Possibly Adam’s mailbox, possibly mine, stuffed not with the cool gloss of advertisements but blank white sheets of paper. I held a pen to fill the emptiness with something, perhaps a letter to Adam woven and lacquered with my true feelings. As I wrote “Adam” on one page, the letters forming easily, Adam himself placed his fingers on the pages, and only Adam—no robot, no scatter of misplaced gazes, just him, and between us, the white of blank spaces, both the nothing and everything of words that could convince. 


     Sitting at my table, the last of the wild yawns exiting my body, the imperfect heart sat before me, nestled against the stray clippings of some red paper. 


     The laced ends dangled too far outward from the shape. One side of it had a protruding small corner. I could see the sloppy pencil marks I had drawn on the paper to guide (and ultimately misguide) the scissors. 


     Yet it was still a heart, and like all things in the universe, it was a potential component for Adam’s robot. I left my lab coat behind when I scooped up my creation and walked over to Adam’s house. I also left in my hair some bits of lace that had found their way into it as I rested my dream-heavy head on the table.


     Possessed by the clarity of thought that came along with a good nap and abandonment of the lab coat, I simply opened Adam’s laboratory door. There stood Adam before the robot, a length of Scotch tape attached to the fingers of one hand. 


     He noticed the lace bits in my hair. He said that with the lace attached to me, he was reminded of a girl he’d seen around the neighborhood - a very pretty girl, maybe he’s mentioned her.


     I showed him my heart. This is for the robot.


     He took the heart with his fingers free of tape, ran his short nails along the entire circumference of the lace, turned the heart over. The glue was particularly gooey there. I did not look him in the eye.


     He looked at the robot and back at me. He understood the meaning of the heart, he said. The advertisements tie this particular heart to this very season, in fact. The colors, the shapes, the stuffed animals with the manic smiles, the perforated cardboard greeting cards, the relentless lace of it all, the cursive script that even hints at something beyond our pitiful present existence: “Love forever.” Oh what a holiday!


     Yes, yes, he understood the winks and gazes and larger implications of my heart. He understood me, he assured me. He handed the heart back with a chuckle. He admitted the lace was pretty.


     But the robot would not care that today’s season of red would eventually be replaced by the season of green shamrocks and then onto the season of the pastel eggs—a kaleidoscope of 30-second jingles we as humans can never escape. That was the point of the robot—to be free of sleep and advertisements.


     No, Adam had been considering the conundrum of the near-inert robot for some time now. What the robot needed was a brain, not a heart.


     The heart fluttered to the floor. Oh, the puzzle of it all. Adam, brilliant Adam, should have realized that the season of gelatin brains struggling in oval-shaped brain-shaped molds, the season when all our fears leap into a crepe paper logic of white ghosts with gaping mouths and crazed smiling pumpkins, is many, many calendar pages away. By that time of year, the hearts and the ads for the hearts would have been long since consigned to the trash, nestled among the long-forgotten scraps of the hearts we attempted to create.

 

Originally from rural Nebraska, Katie Berger is in her final year in the MFA in creative writing program at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Her work has appeared in Catch Up, The Broken Plate, otoliths, ditch, The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets, and elsewhere. Her chapbook Time Travel: Theory and Practice is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. 

 

 

EVERYTHING AFTERWARDS HAD BEEN

Anna King 

After the girl becomes an inspector she learns the whereabouts of symptoms painted with lightning. After the girl becomes an inspector she jettisons the cobblestones lodged in her grief. After the girl becomes an inspector she finally sees that no diagnosis is without new respective parameters of love. After the girl becomes an inspector she sees the flu that killed millions was only a prelude to her loss. After the girl becomes an inspector she starts dreaming he was never dead. After the girl becomes an inspector she sees his eyes in the mirror like the man in the gym who held steel like a clever warlock You must be Greg’s daughter. After the girl becomes an inspector she reads books everyone had forgotten. After the girl becomes an inspector she uncovers that everything afterwards had been a response to loneliness of being a child-adult. After the girl becomes an inspector

she frees her myth of soundlessness and erupts
into stars.

 

Anna King is a high school English teacher in McDonough, Georgia. She is working on her PhD in poetry at Georgia State. Her favorite poets are Sylvia Plath and George Seferis. Her most recent works appears in Stone Highway Review and West Trade Review. 

 

 
Sugared Water no. 2
7.00 10.00

Contributors

Katie Berger, Jessica Bixel, Su Cho, Wendy Creekmore, Kelly Dumar, Malisa Garlieb, Lois Marie Harrod, Scott Hartwich, Yume Kim, Anna King, Christen Leppla, Rebecca McLeod, Caitlin Neely, s. Nicholas, Dustin Parsons, Marina Petrova, John W. Sexton, Wes Solether, SJ Stephens, & Steven Wolf

56 pages
handprinted cover
edition of 195

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