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Agave Magazine

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Agave Magazine

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Agave Magazine

  1. 1. A G A V E M A G A Z I N E L I T E R A T U R E : A R T : P H O T O G R A P H Y Vo l . 2 , I s s u e 3 { W i n t e r 2 0 1 5 }
  2. 2. AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 Two years ago, Agave Magazine was born in a wintry desert, under the vast expanse of wide open desert sky, where tumbleweed-strewn roads meet the curves of adobe-walled edifices. I was inspired by the silence, the bold cobalt blue and red clay mixing with the straw-hued, dessicated and dusty earth, the landscape building between the rise and fall of the mesas. It was here in this place, in this overwhelming quiet, that I dreamt of sharing contemporary narratives, ones which provided all of the essentials —nothing more, nothing less. Agave Magazine: a mixture of literary genres, art and photography that would leave an impression upon readers long after they had turned the final page. In the winter months, when much of the Northern Hemisphere finds itself swathed in snow and ice, as a penetrating sun hangs low in the sky, we naturally retreat inwards, seeking comfort in the familiar. At times, this repose comes in the form of time spent alone, a break from community in order to catalogue thoughts as they run through one’s mind. At others, it is a gentle wave of nostalgia, washing over the interior and exterior spaces we inhabit. Whatever we have felt, and whichever methods we have utilised to retrieve those feelings, we know that what we find is entirely personal to our experiences and exceedingly real. From the incredible technical photography that graces this issue’s cover to the imaginative and emotionally charged literary and artistic works inside, Winter 2015 has a very distinct voice. In this issue, our contributors explore themes of impermanence, memory, solitude and loss. Motivated by spirit, expression, and a sheer devotion to the aesthetic, the pieces that fill this issue are as achingly beautiful as they are thought-provoking. To the contributors who fill these pages: I wish to thank-you for your masterful acts of creation. Our publication is brought to life each quarter by your willingness to share your visions with our readership, and it is always our pleasure, and theirs, to view the finished product. To my editorial team: Anna, Deb, Grant and Issraa—as always, my immense and heartfelt gratitude. Without further ado, I present to you, our treasured readers, Agave Magazine {Winter 2015}. {EDITOR’S NOTE} Dear Readers, Ariana Lyriotakis Founder/Editor-in-Chief Yours truly,
  3. 3. AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 AUBADE FOR THE LAST PERFORMING TATTOOED LADY Daniel Sundahl 7 IMPERMANENCE NO. 4 Steve Frosch 7 LONDON SNOWY DAY NO. 2 Madiha Abdo 8 A HISTORY OF DEHYDRATION Barbara Marsh 9 FREE Cassie LaRussa 9 STRANDED Alex Kruchkovsky 10 DREAMS NO. 3 Alexandra Vacaroiu 11 HEADLOCK Allison Grayhurst 11 UNTITLED NEW ENGLAND Danielle Susi 12 STREAKS Sam Marshall 13 COMPASS Jeff Burt 13 LH Sam Marshall 14 IMPERMANENCE NO. 2 Steve Frosch 15 DEATH WATCH Heather Osterman-Davis 16 GONE II Caitlin Crowley 19 LAYERS OF LOVE Katherine Minott 20 THE OFFERING Katherine Minott 20 BROOKLYN Hugues Jauneau 21 {Contents}
  4. 4. AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 BROOME STREET Julie Larocque 22 TREE HOUSE Radford Skudrna 23 FINS BLUE AND WHITE FRACTURE ONE DAY Kate LaDew 24 NUDE PHOTOGRAPHY NO. 6 Nysrine Mokdad 24 EXPURGOS Oscar Varona 25 AT THIRTEEN I PICTURED MY FATHER Jeff Burt 25 ICE AND FIRE Larry Thomas 26 TANJA Tatjana Debeljacki 26 WATER Dave Petraglia 27 CRACKED MUD Eric Rosenwald 28 MNEMONIC Benjamin Goluboff 29 IT IS BETTER TO BE FELT THAN THOUGHT OF Ceaphas Stubbs 30 1976 Linda Zanni 31 LAST ORDER Martin Keaveney 32 JACK’S UNCLE LIVES LIFE WITHOUT A WORD OF COMPLAINT Kevin Brown 34 CALYPSO Michael Pagan 34
  5. 5. AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 BOLOGNA Linda Zanni 34 IF I HAD MY WAY Anthony Bailey 35 ALTERNATE VIEWS Brigitte Goetze 36 ON A THEME BY PHILIP LARKIN George Freek 36 DISARRAY Doug Bolling 37 DREAMS NO. 10 Alexandra Vacaroiu 38 BEAUTIFUL BLUES Allie Rohletter 39 THREE HOURS AT THE MET A.K. Afferez 40 FORGIVABLE Douglas Nordfors 41 DEEP CALLETH UNTO DEEP, OR: THE SERAPHIM’S OPPOSITE NUMBER Chelsea Eckert 41 DREAMS NO. 9 Alexandra Vacaroiu 42 AN UNANTICIPATED CLARITY Susan Sonde 43 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS WITH CATHERINE EVLESHIN Deb Ain 44 WASHED UP Dylan Liebelt 45 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS WITH CHARLIE BAYLIS Deb Ain 46 FULL COURT DRAMA Nortina Simmons 47
  6. 6. AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 From a technical standpoint, I approached this shoot with a very modest set up. I wanted to focus on technique with minimal post-production to bring the mood to life as organically as possible (only slight black and white adjustments were made in post). The shot was taken in a tunnel under Vyšehrad Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic. I used it as an impromptu studio while testing shots in a light rain. Ambient natural lighting helped to capture some frontal details, while long exposures were used to capture the rain drops falling in mid-air.  {ON THE COVER} —Ian Adams, “Space”
  7. 7. AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 EDITORIAL STAFF Ariana Lyriotakis Editor-in-Chief Anna Mattiuzzo Editor-at-Large Issraa El-Kogali Contributing Art Editor Deb Ain Blog Manager Grant Macdonald Business Manager A G A V E M A G A Z I N E L I T E R A T U R E : A R T : P H O T O G R A P H Y CONTRIBUTORS Madiha Abdo Ian Adams A.K. Afferez Deb Ain Anthony Bailey Charlie Baylis Doug Bolling Kevin Brown Jeff Burt Caitlin Crowley Tatjana Debeljacki Chelsea Eckert Catherine Evleshin George Freek Steve Frosch Brigitte Goetze Benjamin Goluboff Allison Grayhurst Hugues Jauneau Martin Keaveney Alex Kruchkovsky Kate LaDew Julie Larocque Cassie LaRussa Dylan Liebelt Barbara March Sam Marshall Katherine Minott Nysrine Mokdad Douglas Nordfors Heather Osterman-Davis Michael Pagan Dave Petraglia Allie Rohletter Eric Rosenwald Radford Skudrna Nortina Simmons Susan Sonde Ceaphas Stubbs Daniel Sundahl Danielle Susi Larry Thomas Alexandra Vacaroiu Oscar Varona Linda Zanni Agave Magazine is a quarterly publication showcasing exceptional writing, art and photography from around the globe. Open call for submissions: all are encouraged to submit original, previously unpublished works for consideration. http://www.agavemag.com Agave Magazine Vol.2, Issue 3 (Winter 2015) ISSN 2375-978X (print) ISSN 2329-5848 (online) Copyright © 2015 Agave Magazine and respective authors, artists and photographers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express written permission of Agave Magazine.
  8. 8. —7— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 AUBADE FOR THE LAST PERFORMING TATTOOED LADY There remains only the picture, endowed with this rich quality of immobility and of this lasting, enveloping silence. —Jean Guitton, The Madonna Footsore this morning, like any other woman Rising, setting breakfast on the table. Lately though you’ve been more stiff, Sleep has not found its swallowing flow. You see yourself as someone’s shadow, Shortening eastward, enwinding, wrapping. Why is it you’ve begun to think your life Is something other, a neighbor you once knew Muttering at night deep tones of meditation? You remember telling your daughter dying Is losing the heaviness that comes on all of us, An even distant blue beyond which forever. You remember her resting her head on your lap. Like dishes, you put away those days, days like A great wall, the top of which you some day reach. —Steve Frosch, “Impermanence No. 4”—Daniel Sundahl
  9. 9. —8— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Madiha Abdo, “London Snowy Day No. 2”
  10. 10. —9— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 A HISTORY OF DEHYDRATION It was a one-car accident, she died instantly. Four wild rose buds around her little finger. A kind of seat belt, for good luck. She wore none and didn’t believe in daylight time. Most of the time she rode a bicycle around town collecting her life, full as a needle. She had a houseful when she died. She tried violets, they were too much like change and we all know how she hated change. Her journal told us each reader in their reading reveals something of herself. Like birds who watch us with their bird’s-eye perspective and ascend to the stars. The car door flew open, she flew out. The playa received her onto its plates and sent her whittled pencil out of ordinary time. “My poems are informed by my life as a working journalist/poet, by my life as a publisher, and by my landscape. I believe that poetry in telling its truths, can change worlds, be they large or small.” —Barbara March —Cassie LaRussa, “Free” Model: Kasimira Mosich Miller Location: Agoura Hills, CA
  11. 11. —10— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Alex Kruchkovsky, “Stranded”
  12. 12. —11— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Alexandra Vacaroiu, “Dreams No. 3” HEADLOCK It runs away to the room where nothing moves, not from dying nor from finding its joy. It was warm, but is now harmed and drenched in grief like a child too broken to speak or dream of flying. It breaks the base of my heel, preventing a hope-filled dance. It knows me in the afternoon, stealing the smoke from my ribs, the hunger from my muscles and the flesh from my gender. It circles me at night like an eastern cloud, cutting the black with its grey, changing the words in my dictionary, spilling my love in unnatural oil. It is my creature to contend with, the armour I have been sworn to carry, a twist in the brain that has me soiled, taking cover in its inhospitable hovel. —Allison Grayhurst
  13. 13. —12— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 UNTITLED NEW ENGLAND Ineeded the cold to feel whole again home again. Like late October in New England. On our back porch, I sit in the dampness after rain and read in the crack of light that falls through a door ajar. Despite the chill, I turn on a fan to drown out the sounds of myself: of my metered breathing and the quiet settling of my skin. I wonder often if my dreams are louder than the fan and if their vibrations loiter in the room as I sleep. This is the rain I live in. This is Sunday afternoon chicken wings or pork fried rice with the oven door propped to heat the house. This is windows open to clean the air on the first floor and my father watching football. This is sweaters and denim and chilled un- socked feet laying flat on the quilts of my twin bed. This is isolation to surround myself, and interruptions when dinner is ready. When we make fried rice now, in our apartment on Kimball, my roommate cooks the chicken and her boyfriend chooses the music. I chop things and scramble egg and splash soy sauce into the pan (and sometimes onto the floor). And after eating, we fall into respective comas of monotony and seek a warmth that radiates from secret corners. I brew lavender tea, and it brings me to late July in New England, where I needed heat to feel absent again. —Danielle Susi
  14. 14. —13— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 COMPASS My daughter finds as she dances she cannot expand the horizon nor will she find there is more than one no matter how many turns on a single point she spins. Like love cannot have two objects at single time, so the edge of a possible life is drawn like a compass draws a circle and she will stand like a sharp point scrawled in paper stretching out with a leg to draw the boundary no wider than her own brief reach. But now the day is done, and stars like chalk dust on black paper draw her gaze up, the circle she’s drawn collapses, folds up, and she breathes, a single point in time, in space. Wonder comes and stills ambition, and now in the dark, she sees how close the limitless appears. —Jeff Burt —Sam Marshall, “Streaks” from URBAN ABSTRACT
  15. 15. —14— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 “My work is concerned with the aesthetic re-interpretation of beauty, thereby changing context and creating a new focus for the viewer that encourages them to re-evaluate the world around them. By incorporating the very essence of abstract expressionism, the images are at once striking and graphic, ambiguous and beautiful. They capture a sense of urban anxiety but at the same time celebrate the results.” —Sam Marshall, “LH” from URBAN ABSTRACT
  16. 16. —15— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Steve Frosch, “Impermanence No. 2”
  17. 17. —16— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 DEATH WATCH —Heather Osterman Ifillmyplatewithastrangeassortmentoffood,nestlingdelicatelywrappedsushi rolls next to rough, hacked steamed artichokes and vegetarian chopped liver. The NewYear’sEvespreadlookslikeitwasplannedbyaclassroomofgourmandtoddlers, gleefully throwing together random favorites with utter indifference to cohesion. But given that I haven’t eaten a relaxed meal since the birth of my oldest child almost three years ago, it pleases me. I look over at my husband who is bouncing our six- month-old daughter Nora on one knee while clutching a champagne flute in the other. He sets the glass down to jab one-handed at his own artichoke with the grace of a boxer whose hands are swaddled in gloves long after a fight. I sink gratefully into an armchair, happy for a moment’s rest. “Mommy, the floor’s on fire! The floor’s on fire!” my sons yells the second my back connects with the overstuffed cushion. I spend close to 20 percent of my day fighting imaginary fires so I’ve honed my ‘arm-chair firewoman’ skills to Herculean levels. I shout back, “I have a hose; I’m turning on the water! Watch out, here it comes!” “Mommy, it’s not pretend,” he says, seemingly exasperated at my inability to grasp simple concepts. “It’s really on fire.” Like a stray dog, knowing it’s in my best interest to eat when I can, I shove a tuna roll into my mouth before running over to the fireplace to find Owen pointing at the marble hearth where embers are in fact smoldering and smoking. “Dad, the floor’s on fire!” I call out, echoing my son, belying the fact that the 37 years between us should have rendered me more eloquent. My dad hurries into the room, his measured gait startling. Unfazed, he assesses the situation, sweeping the embers from the hearth before placing a screen across the fireplace. It seems like a glaring error in judgment to have left it off in the first place. My dad has always been a blur of energy, virtually allergic to leisure. A lifelong agnostic,industriousnessisperhapshistruereligion,andwatchingthedeterioration of his body forcing him to slow down, lodges a knot deep in my chest, like a pill I can’t quite swallow. I pat my son on the head. “Good job, Fireman Owen.” “Super Kid Owen to the rescue!” he shouts, raising his fist in the air, already running off to his next mission. I head back into the living room and pick up my plate. It’s only six o’clock but the party is in as full swing as it’s going to get. My step-brother Martin and his wife Anne are sitting next to me in two stiff-backed chairs brought in from the dining room while my niece Mandy, whom my dad is raising, is in the corner, texting, likely bored with all of us. And then there is Alan. My dad and step-mother fill their house with strays, rotating one needy person after another. Alan is this year’s addition. Temporarily homeless while going through a nasty divorce, he moved into a room on the second floor a few months ago and, just as my dad and step-mother began devising a move-out plan, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and his stay became indefinite. When we visit, we sleep on a pull-out couch in the office next to his room. Through the wall, we hear him continually clear his throat as his airway closes in on him, a slow, cruel strangulation. In addition to being an international businessman, Alan is a yachtsman and has sailed all over the world. Tonight, he’s telling us about the trip he cancelled for treatment. He rattles off islands with whose names I am so unfamiliar, I know that they must be magnificent. “When I get this out of the way, we’ll reschedule that trip,” he says, as if chemo is an annoying errand or a house renovation running behind. His confidence makes me anxious. Alan sees victory as clearly as Olympians must picture gold against their chests, the heavy weight of it already there, reassuringly warm over their hearts. I don’t understand such certainty; I can fret for hours about ordering the wrong thing while out to dinner. Alan has brought his girlfriend tonight. She is beautiful, younger than him by at least a decade and the only one dressed up for the party even though she was told it was casual. “This is casual for her,” my stepmother had whispered to me earlier. “She’s always immaculate, dressed to the nines.” Iinspectherfur-cuffedsweater,impeccablecreamheelsandshininghairfallingin perfect waves to her shoulders. I glance down at my purple and white rag socks, only one of which appears to be clean, and tuck my feet under my legs. She is describing her house in South Carolina where she lives part of the year, where she would be living now I gather, if it weren’t for Alan. Her voice is both oddly nasal but lilting in a somewhat syncopated rhythm. I try to place her accent but can’t. Alan continually shifts closer to her and she keeps inching away. She must catch our quizzical glances because she explains unasked, “I have a cold. I don’t want to get him sick.” “I don’t care,” Alan says, “I just want to be close to you.” Then to us, “Can you blame me? I mean look at me and look at her.” Nora starts fussing and I reach out for her. Mitch passes her to me slowly, as if
  18. 18. —17— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 reluctant to let her go. He has had less time to bond with her than he had with Owen, whose incessant colic kept Mitch pacing the bedroom at night for hours, bouncing him while singing, “The Rainbow Connection,” and “Midnight Train,” his slightly off-key lyrics and Owen’s piercing cries merging into an artless but earnest mash- up. But Nora does not require such intense intervention. She’s irritated only by the things by which babies are supposed to be irritated: food, sleep, and diaper changes, so Mitch and I often fall into a zone defense where I nurse and cuddle Nora while he takes Owen to the playground or on errands. And now, Nora clearly wants to eat. She cries again, grasping at my shirt, frustrated at the thin fabric separating her from nourishment; I shift in my chair and bring her to my chest, trying to turn my focus back to the party. When I tune back in, I hear Anne saying, “I read the most interesting thing in The New York Times the other day. Did anyone see the piece about the ‘Death Watch?’” I start to say that reading anything without pictures is a luxury I’ve given up but stop myself. Anne wants a child and if things had gone differently this year we both might be nursing right now. I know that heartbreak is nothing compared to lack of sleep and literature. “So this watch has a computer where you input your age, race, and health, etc. and it calculates when you’re statistically likely to die and then counts it down. It’s called ‘The Tikker,’ or ‘The Happiness Watch.’” “Why would someone want to wear that?” my step-mother asks as she tidies up the food table. “I don’t know but supposedly all these people reported a surge in happiness after wearing it.” “I don’t get it,” my stepmother says. “From knowing you’re going to die?” “I guess the idea is that it reminds you to live in the now. Like if you only have a certainnumberofminutesleft,youchoosethingsthatmakeyouhappier.Apparently people find it liberating.” “I wouldn’t find that liberating,” I say. I’ve had panic attacks about death since I was seven; if that watch was on my wrist I would spend my life clawing my way out of despair. Besides, as a 41-year-old mother of an infant and a toddler, I don’t need a death watch to be aware of the passing of time. Like an autistic child, I constantly make calculations in my head. When they graduate from college, how old will I be? If they marry at 20 or 40, will I be too decrepit to dance at their weddings? Will my mind slip into an Alzheimer’s fog before I learn my hypothetical grandchildren’s names? I didn’t meet Mitch until I was 35, got married at 36. When we started to talk about getting pregnant a year later, it seemed like everyone needed to warn us how hard it would be. Well-intended friends shared both their own struggles and seemingly the struggles of everyone they ever knew who tried to have a baby over 30. Doctors threw out phrases like ‘geriatric pregnancy‚‘ ‘advanced maternal age,’ and depressing numbers for how long it might take —seven months, a year, two years, nevermind how likely we were to have a baby with a birth defect— which apparently would increase every single day I did not get pregnant. Mitch was just finishing graduate school and wanted to wait until he had a job but, thrown into a panic over the potential hurdle ahead, we started the month after graduation. With a roughly one in 10 chance we got pregnant on the first try. We took pregnancy tests for four days in a row before Mitch actually believed it was true. In utero, we nicknamed Owen, ‘Muffin.’ When he was around four months old, I was pushing his stroller down a busy city street and passed an octogenarian shuffling in the opposite direction, his hands beating out a staccato tremor on the handle of his shopping cart. I looked at his furrowed face under his thinning page-boy cap and thought: you must have been somebody’s Muffin. My heart slid from my chest burrowing into a hollow in my abdomen as I realized that even if I lived to be 90, Owen could pass 40 years of his life without me, eventually shuffling down some street, possibly alone. Glancing at some watch claiming to tell me exactly how much time we had left might have made me step in front of a car. “I would not find it liberating,” I repeat. “I don’t know if I would either,” Anne says, “I just think it’s interesting.” “Maybe let it go,” my step-brother mutters to her under his breath and she looks at him confused; he is not the type to edit her. He glances pointedly at Alan who is gazing intently at a piece of cheese as if reading his fortune in its holes. So then if we weren’t already, we are all directed towards the question of what Alan’s ‘Tikker’ would say. I’ve heard people say that throat cancer is not ‘one of the good ones,’ as if there actually were ‘good ones.’ Cancer is fickle: you never know which one will turn the other way as you slip through the woods to safety and which will callously bar the door destroying any hope of escape. This Death Watch’s statistics are immutable; they don’t account for personal will, don’t give extra credit for seeing next year’s boat trip so clearly you can already feel your toes dipping into the warm, smooth water of the Antilles, hear the whispered caresses of the wind as it wakes at dawn promising a day of speed. Alan’s girlfriend says something about how wonderful the food is, filling the void with fortune cookie talk. As I listen to her subtle over-enunciation and slightly syncopated rhythm, I’m in disbelief it took me this long to realize she is deaf. Alan coughs again and she looks at him, as if assessing his well-being from the flush of his skin.
  19. 19. —18— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 “I should go. It’s getting late.” It’s barely nine o’clock. “Don’t go,” Alan pleads. “I’m not tired.” I think of my three year old pleading to stay up, never wanting the party to end. He fights the separation fiercely, as if not trusting that life will ever be this good again. “I have a long drive,” she says. “I want to be off the roads before the parties let out.” “Of course,” I reply. “No one one wants to be on the road with drunks.” Alan concedes, rising from the couch slowly. “I’ll walk you out.” I look down at Nora, who has fallen asleep on my breast, her mouth gaping fish- like against my partially exposed nipple. I think, I will have even less time with you. I argued hard for Nora. By then I was 39, and Mitch was 40. He joked that we were too old to go through another round of sleepless nights again and more seriously, what were the chances that we would get so lucky again and have another healthy child? But I could feel Nora waiting, her soul hovering on the boundary, wanting us as much as I wanted her; soon enough, Mitch agreed. I read message boards filled with disaster stories; still births, miscarriages, birth defects, infertility. I read somewhere my odds were less than one in 20 of getting pregnant at all, and that my risks for birth defects were through the roof. But breath held, we dove in anyway, and got pregnant on the third try. But statistically, I tend to be the outlier anyway, whether for good or for bad. After all, my mom had an IUD in 1972 when she got pregnant with me and I surmounted both its presence and its subsequent removal. WhenIwasincollege,abonedisease,affectinglessthanoneinamillion,gnawed its way into my ankles, changing my semester abroad to a semester in a wheelchair back at home. As I wheeled around my mother’s house, crawling upstairs, lugging my useless feet behind me, I could still hear the doctor’s amazed voice as he first inspectedmyx-rays,mysad,softenedboneslitupingrayandwhite:“It’sremarkable; I’ve never seen this before. I mean, what are the chances of it showing up in both ankles?” AnotherdoctorwarnedmethatIshouldnotexpectevertobetrulyactiveagain.I finally returned to school, hobbling around on crutches, trying to coax my atrophied muscles back to life, each wobbly, painful step served as a fuck-you to every medical professional who told me to prepare for the worst. Alan comes back in from walking Anne to the car. “I’m going to hit the sack,” he says, glancing at his watch. “It’s been a long day.” I watch him a moment too long; he catches me watching and shrugs. I wonder what he sees on its face. 9:30 P.M.? 90 minutes until his girlfriend arrives home and he can quietly call her to say goodnight in the guest bed of somebody else’s home? 10 hours until another chemo treatment? Would he fight to stay up until midnight if it read that this were his last New Year’s Eve, or does trusting his body’s pull towards sleep, towards survival, towards next year, change his odds? Betting on the odds is bullshit anyway. After a painful caesarean with Owen, I was determined to have a vaginal birth with Nora. Mitch and I did research, weighed the pros and cons. Almost all studies indicated that there was less than a 1% chance of uterine rupture from a VBAC. When I went into labor on my own, which I had not with Owen, I was absolutely convinced I could do it. Even at the hospital as we signed page after page of forms, acknowledging the risks, we felt we were doing the right thing. A risk of 1% is nothing, even when you say it in the oddly more disconcerting ‘one in 100 chance.’ But halfway through my whirlwind and excruciating labor, I stopped making progress, and after a gut-wrenching talk with the doctor, we opted for surgery instead. When the doctor tried to take Nora out, my uterus was as see-through as a plate of glass and it took her over an hour to find a safe place to slice. If I had gone through with labor, I would have been that 1%. As is, I narrowly avoided bleeding to death and a hysterectomy but won the jackpot with both deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism. Each day for the next six months, as I injected blood thinners into my stomach, watching large purple bruises cover my skin like battle wounds, I would cry, and think how lucky we both were to be alive. After Alan leaves, Mitch and I stay long enough for dessert but exhaustion trumps our desire to socialize and we head upstairs, too. Mitch reads Owen a story in his bedroom as I carefully ease Nora into the crib in our room. Constantly sleep deprived, I am anxious to take advantage of that long first stretch of her sleep cycle before she wakes, a hungry velociraptor, desperate to feed again. I settle into the pull-out couch, attempting to make myself comfortable, and fall asleep to the sound of Alan clearing his throat again and again like a sad ocean. At some point, Mitch crawls in beside me. Just shy of midnight, Nora wakes, bright and full of energy, as if starting the day. She does not want to nurse, she wants to play. It is her first New Year’s Eve on this planet and apparently she wants to celebrate. It is easier to yield than to fight, so we curl into each other, watching the Times Square ball drop on television and taking selfies on my phone. As hundreds of thousands of people jump around in the cold, counting down in unison, Nora and I laugh our way into 2014 and I know for a fact that I would rather watch her face than the face of time running out.
  20. 20. —19— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Caitlin Crowley, “Gone II” “With my photography, I re-examine the surrounding world. I take a second, closer look, to realize the texture of plant life or to see previously unnoticed details for the first time, or the change in perception a strange angle creates. This leads me to photographing small objects in extreme macro, things old and forgotten, and the natural world. I chose to work in medium format film to achieve a very shallow depth of field. This allows me to print large with high detail. The use of bellows and macro tubes enhances the macro images and creates an even shallower depth of field. I process and shoot with standard roll film, polaroid film, and bulk film I re-spool myself. The technical aspects achievable through medium format film is why I chose it initiall; the analog process behind it is what made me continue. My film never leaves my hands. Whether it is roll film I have shot, developed, and printed in the darkroom, or polaroid film that was shot and manipulated to create a transfer, emulsion lift, or recovered negative. I have total control, which comes with the knowledge of where every modification came from. The digital revolution has au- tomated time-consuming tasks, aided problem solving by readily providing useful information, gives instant feed- back, and makes things more cost efficient. But the ease of use can make it easy to work without thinking. Working in an analog process forces consideration and builds a vested interest in each image. Each image can represent hours or days of work— each has a story of the journey the film and I took.”
  21. 21. —20— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 “With my abstract style of photography, I explore the beauty hidden in everyday objects, the sacred hidden in the mundane. I am infatuated with inanimate objects long past their prime. Why? Peeling paint, wrinkled, tattered cloth, and rusted steel teach us about transience. And they impart three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. I celebrate these teachings in my photographic images which reflect the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi (an intuitive way of living that emphasizes finding beauty in imperfection, and accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay). My images are a celebration of authentic change and homage to my teachers of transience. These teachers are found in classrooms disguised as junkyards, abandoned ranches, hoarders‚ backyards, and long-forgotten trailer parks. It is here that I capture the patinas on boxcars, 50-gallon barrels, and water tanks, and discover the hidden life of rust on the backside of discarded paint cans. This is how my abstract photo- graphs are born.” ”Layers of Love” “The Offering” —Katherine Minott
  22. 22. —21— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 — Hugues Jauneau, “Brooklyn”
  23. 23. —22— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Julie Larocque, “Broome Street”
  24. 24. —23— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 TREE HOUSE Pop surveyed the beech tree: its trunk rooted firmly in rich soil, leaves full and viridescent, crutch high out of reach. He measured every limb twice, marking blueprints for a platform at the tree’s hub, each plank counter-beamed and fastened so not to cut circulation. The collapsible ladder, he said, would keep others out, and knotted a thick-braided rope from an offshoot for my fluttering escape. By autumn, a thick bark swelled around the twisted strands. My palms, too, toughened. I’d climb higher and higher before swinging, letting go later each time. Bunches of leaves came loose, drifting from the parent plant, my grandfather watching out the window. From the highest branch, rope extended, I tied a half-hitch knot he’d taught me around my angular waist, but the makeshift harness tightened into abrupt strangulation as the line caught, my body dangled and overlooked like a pendulum. The flexed bough cradled a silent screaming, my wrung breath under that groaning tree house barely heard. By the time my grandfather made it outside, lifted me with one arm and unlashed the noose with a tremor, the swaying stopped, an impression twined around me. Still, to be sure, the rope came down before nightfall, exposing an abraded mark where it once clung to the tree’s sturdiest arm, the bark worn with organic transience, the heartwood exposed as he carried me away. — Radford Skudrna
  25. 25. —24— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 FINS BLUE AND WHITE the sky is a big mirror reflecting oceans I still look for sharks in the clouds FRACTURE small slight fractures are spreading branches in my chest whole forests growing without you ONE DAY Ihave said ‘one day’ so often the words coat my throat, leave my tongue swollen each letter rising white and thick branding me a failure —Kate LaDew —Nysrine Mokdad, “Nude Photography No. 6”
  26. 26. —25— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 AT THIRTEEN I PICTURED MY FATHER Iwanted other men to call him boot licker, piss and vinegar, skirt-chaser, sot, crazy, menace, hairball, brute, beater, liar, sloth, paprika, pepper, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, anything but salt of the earth, not good, not funny, not loving, not kind. I wanted fault, sin, dereliction, legends of bad behavior, renegade, spit, delinquency, rot. What I got was solid citizen, that granite-piked block chiseled by good behavior, charity, amiable wit. No chaos, no wayward walk, fall-off-the-wagon Joe, secrets whispered behind doors of the garage, not the real-deal Dad, not the bumper of shiny chrome but the flared fender of rebellion. The world loved him. And I did too. —Jeff Burt —Oscar Varona, “Expurgos”
  27. 27. —26— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 ICE AND FIRE pretty much tell our story, as Frost so eloquently penned in his piquant, little poem. One thing I like about living in far West Texas is the seasons, all four of them, so unlike the two in Houston: nine months of summer and three of spring. The ice here has cleared, at least for the time being, and the deer appear to be enjoying the respite from the cold. It took the life of a fawn but the rest of the herd somehow managed to survive with nothing but their thickened hide and the good sense to hunker down in the dead yellow grasses for a modicum of momentary warmth. It’s strange how the ice, so blue with cold and unforgiving, burns like the flame of a blowtorch. —Larry Thomas —Tatjana Debeljacki, “Tanja”
  28. 28. —27— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 “Instantly familiar, new to the eye—if I’ve done it right— this is how I describe my photography. I rarely take more than one shot of a subject, concentrating instead on the correct composition from the beginning. I generally shoot or bracket several exposures of that same frame of the subject. In post-process, those individual exposures are layered, then color temperature, saturation, contrast, and other values are manipulated, full and/or partial masks applied, and individual features are tone-mapped or ‘painted’ in or out of the scene. All objects are found objects, as are the emotions they stir up within us. A thing gets our attention, be it a building in a certain light, or a thought about that building in a certain light, or the thoughts we imagine of a person entering that building in a certain light. We may use a keyboard, a paintbrush, a lens, a chisel, a hammer, or a cursor on the drawing stage of a pixelated canvas to reveal it, explore it, interpret it, and present it to others. The process enables us to discover what it does to us. Sometimes I write about what I see; other times, I reach for a camera. To me, photography and writing are the same. In both, when the work is done, it speaks. Not one more pixel needs filtering, not one more word can find a place there.” —Dave Petraglia, “Water”
  29. 29. —28— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Eric Rosenwald, “Cracked Mud”
  30. 30. —29— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 MNEMONIC The woods are full of the past today. It haunts a disused path our younger selves would walk in days imperfectly remembered. How did we find the time (our kids still small) to learn so much of this place? What were we chasing here, what fleeing? How is it that I still can find my way beneath this canopy, still find the thread of a path almost erased with time, but can’t recall the thread of what we thought and said here? Here where the oaks end and a line of aspens marks the edge of a grove, you spoke, casually enough, some piercing truth. I remember how the light swam, how the world adjusted itself, but I no longer know what you said. Where the wood duck startles from the green-scummed pond I made confession of some error or failing, some shameful breach that the record does not show anymore. The woods may be wiser for the years. I know that I am not. Too much has fallen from me, deserted memory. But I believe that memory is itself a woods. In the subtle light beneath its canopy some paths connect and some just trail away. —Benjamin Goluboff
  31. 31. —30— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 “My practice is an exploration of narrative weight using ephemeral material, and pushes the contemporary notions of what Sculpture and Photography can/should be. As such these works are often of interest to a broad readership including those interested in Photography, Tableaux, Installation, Formalism, Figurative Art, and Patterns.” —Ceaphas Stubbs, “It Is Better To Be Felt Than Thought Of”
  32. 32. —31— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Linda Zanni, “1976”
  33. 33. —32— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 LAST ORDER —Martin Keaveney There was one more call to make on the back road, a long and hilly trail through a remote townland in the south-east corner of the parish. The home of Walter Reilly, yet another of the village’s numerous elderly bachelors. Reilly was unusual from the others in that he did not own a bicycle and walked everywhere, particularly to the local pub, where he was to be found most nights. The boy pondered on the evening’s sales as he cycled the final ascent. Since he was nine, his father had annually entrusted him with the village door- to-door sales of the Christmas Club raffle, selling them at 50p each and three tickets for a pound. The most exciting part was the club’s allowance of the seller to keep the extra 50p from each book individually sold. In this route, bachelors, widows, and characters whose marital status was questionable, the single ticket purchase was popular. It meant the boy’s inside pocket rattled with £4.50 of commission. He looked forward to visiting Sweeney’s travelling shop on Friday where he would convert it into Macaroon bars, a bag of Chickatees and a small bottle of fizzy cola. Reilly’s house was hidden beneath a thick veneer of gorse and long, jungle-like grass. Years of failure to cut what had probably once been a proud front garden had resulted in wild plants, joining together and mutating higher than the first slate on the roof. The house too, had suffered years of neglect; ivy crawled messily across one whole gable and now threatened the front window. Numerous plants hung from the roof gutter, making its original function an impossibility. A rusty stain down the corner served as a reminder of its futility. The boy parked his bicycle against the gatepost. It was a gatepost which bore no gate, and there was barely enough room to pass. He could not know that Reilly had abandoned the treacherous late night struggle through his thorn infested pathway many years ago. He now crawled through a gap in his back fence and awkwardly scaled his neighbour’s galvanized gate whenever he came or went. Theboy,bookofticketsinonehandandbluebirointheother,struggledthrough the swamp of greenery in front of him, until he arrived at a mahogany front door, its base black with damp. A saucer once used for cat’s milk sat motionless under the fractured windowsill, an immobile spider presiding over its centre. Heknockedonthedoor,hisfingersfeelingthehardnessofthewoodwhichsenta small signal of pain to his brain. There was no answer. However, the boy knew Reilly was at home, he was never anywhere else except the pub and that didn’t open until half seven. It was only just after four. He stood, looking around the site, wondering what it would have been like in its heyday, when Reilly was a young man and his mother was still alive. The boy’s father had told him that Reilly was once an excellent tradesman. One of the finest in the county. He had built the house himself, only employing some labourers. He had made a great living as a local builder in the fifties and sixties. But like many, Reilly had succumbed to the ‘aul’ drink.’ “Too fond of it,” the boy’s father had said. Reilly had progressed from a few relaxing pints of stout on a Friday evening to becoming an ever present fixture at McGovern’s Public House. He had become messy. AcommonscenewasReillyinaconfrontationoveranallegedunpaidbill.Hewas often to be found in the centre of the front lounge, holding his own kangaroo court. His voice raised toward a bemused local; stubbled, half-smoked Major in one hand, tightly held pint glass in another, a mouldy shirt hanging outside loose trousers. The dripping beer creating a small pool near Reilly’s untied boot on the wooden floor. By the seventies, Reilly, then in middle-age, had lost most of his clients, mainly due to rows in the pub. The locals murmured Reilly couldn’t hold his drink anymore. He began raving, talking in riddles. People who had known him in his prime shook their head slowly and moved away when they saw him coming. Others just laughed, and used Reilly as a light-hearted conversation topic of a Saturday night. Reilly became less interested in his appearance. Grime and unmentionable stains became a regular feature of his attire, and he gravitated toward the small snug at the far end of the pub where he drank alone. There, in wonder as a child, Reilly had watched his father and friends thirstily slurp stout and half-ones. It was where Reilly had made the torn leather-topped stool with metal arm-rests in the corner his own. It was where he had sat every night of the past 20 years, since long before the boy was born. Yet to his credit, Reilly had bought a ticket last year, and the boy had sold two of this current book, so he knew a sale was likely here, if he could find him. The previous meeting had been amicable. The boy recalled a light hearted grin of Reilly’s, while a ball of saliva drooped from the old pensioner’s lower lip. He pictured the large woollen sock Reilly had conjured from beneath the tattered sofa in his kitchen and the pile of coppers he had spilled out onto the table. He was, indeed, more forthcoming with his purchase than some of his neighbours, only once inquiring if there were ‘fair good prizes.’ A good deal easier to deal with than Mrs.Rainsworth who wanted to give the boy six free-range eggs in lieu of the 50p or Joe Craddock
  34. 34. —33— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 who told him that the club committee, of which the boy’s father was the chairman, were “a bunch of aul’ gangsters.” There was a noise somewhere within. A scraping, banging noise. The boy peered through the dusty front window. He rubbed the glass but could see only dirty lace. He tried again to make a satisfactorily loud knock on the old door, but the result was merely an insignificant thud. He moved to the glass and rapped it as loud as he could. The light breeze died away. It seemed the world had gone asleep. The boy looked around as a hush seemed to roll across the winter landscape. The crows perched silently on the telegraph lines, defining the horizon. Maybe Reilly was getting dressed, he wondered. Perhaps that was the noise he had heard. Reilly falling out of bed. It was said that he fell into the drain that ran along the boreen most nights on his way home. The boy imagined Reilly struggling to put on his old musty clothes and looking out the window to see who the unexpected caller was. It was strange how the world looked different when a person had to wait. A circular pool of water in a field of bog rushes lay like an enormous pound coin, one of those which had only came into circulation in the last year. The line of telegraph poles along the boreen overlooked Reilly’s cottage. Their small galvanized rungs attached for maintenance men, two each side and one below, created a sly, smiling expression. He walked along the cracked footpath. At the side was a windowless gable. Behind the cottage was a mish-mash of bread crusts, old potato skins and tea-bags. The boy thought about abandoning Reilly. It had been a good day. Still, another sale here could bring his earnings to five pounds. He looked in the back window. The kitchen table, where 12 months before Reilly had offered the boy a mug of tea from a questionable looking teapot and “a few bishkits,” occupied the middle. A worn, flowery tablecloth covered it. A brown wrapper clung half on and half off a sliced brown loaf. A yellow Harp Lager-emblazoned ashtray spilled with crushed cigarette butts. A tall fridge was in a corner, a worn sticker on one side proclaimed ‘Montreal 1976.’ The boy could hear it hum. But there was no sign of Reilly. He looked at the sofa behind the table for a clue. Beside them, the familiar woollen sock that Reilly had used last year. Coppers were around it, he could see more within. Reilly had been getting the change ready, he guessed. He knocked on the window. “Hello? Walter?” he said. His voice seemed strange against the backdrop of the silent landscape. The boy walked toward the back door which faced him as part of a small built-on scullery. He pushed it and it opened slowly. It stopped less than half- way and the boy quickly found that it was jammed by numerous bags of rubbish. He walked inside. The kitchen seemed more neglected in the sharper definition on the other side of the glass. Something crackled under his feet. His eyes quickly followed a trail to a broken whiskey bottle near the peeling wall. He looked again at the sock. Perhaps Reilly was unwell and wanted him to collect the 50p. Reilly had been friendly and more accommodating than most. Indeed, now he thought about it, Reilly had given the boy 20p for himself. He doubted the old man would accuse him of theft, not if he left the ticket on the table. He walked over and looking around once more, picked up the coppers, counting them as he did so. To his surprise he reached 50 without the need for them all. He slotted them into his jacket pocket and sitting on the hard chair wrote out Reilly’s name in the blue biro. He tore off the ticket, which bore details of the New Year’s Eve draw and dance in the Community Centre and placed it on the table, even though it was highly unlikely Reilly would attend. “Just leaving your ticket here, Walter,” the boy said. He got up and walked toward the back door again, eager to leave the dead quiet of the house. As he reached the scullery, he looked into the hall. The bedroom door was half-open. The boy felt compelled to walk down the hall. Something was wrong. He looked toward the front door. A smell of old clothes wafted through the air. “Left your ticket on the table, Walter,” the boy said. He found himself hoping for an answer. “For the raffle.” He walked on the creaking floorboards, passing the converted toilet, the former bedroom of Reilly’s sister, who had emigrated to foreign lands many years earlier. He reached the bedroom and looked in. On the floor Reilly lay, unmoving. His eyes were open but they were still. The boy dropped his biro. It made a loud ‘clack’ when it hit the linoleum floor. A small stream of blood had trailed along Reilly’s jaw and was drying quickly. “He’s dead,” the boy said aloud. For what seemed a long time he could not move. He eventually turned to the front door and noticed his fingers shaking as he twisted the latch. The cold air offered relief as it hit his lungs. The boy decided to submit Reilly’s ticket to the draw in spite of his passing. His mother said if the old builder won the top prize of £250, it could be donated to a mental health charity or an Alzheimer’s disease support group. His father mused it would be fitting if Reilly won the spot prize of a bottle of Jameson. The Committee might have a drink in his memory, he added jovially. But Reilly’s ticket didn’t win anything. On the night, the boy, sipping a coke, stared at the hundreds of stubs in the base of the drum. He wondered then if some tickets like Reilly’s were always destined to remain unpicked.
  35. 35. —34— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 CALYPSO Iimagined mother pulling up her skirt, then pointing to the hieroglyphics of her thigh: the shapes & the gestures as she speaks body & voice lodged into the muscle, bringing furniture to lean on its compelling voice, describing itself dumped onto the floor; oceans pressed into leaves, the live body with all of its props saying: “They had this idea to kill all the first-born children, but maybe, just maybe, their memories were written into the skin, shaped into scars, into believing, like a water-burst eardrum.” JACK’S UNCLE LIVES LIFE WITHOUT A WORD OF COMPLAINT As kids, my cousin and I would wonder which was worse: going blind or deaf. We were shallow, said we would miss beauty—neighborhood girls whose breasts were just becoming or guitar solos by Steve Vai or Eddie Van Halen—but we knew not to hope it happened. We never wondered, though, what it would be like to be made mute, what words we would miss most, not until twenty-five years later when his father can not speak—throat cancer, they thought, though he had never smoked. We watch him loll in his La-Z-Boy, unable to cheer his Dolphins when they score—not often, he used to say. We walk with him in the mall; he wishes he could whistle at the way a woman sways, regrets the one word he did not say often enough, the one his generation did not speak of, tries to tell us with his eyes, his tongue and lips useless, saying nothing. —Kevin Brown —Michael Pagan —Linda Zanni, “Bologna”
  36. 36. —35— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Anthony Bailey, “If I Had My Way”
  37. 37. —36— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 ALTERNATE VIEWS Love means to look at your self the way one looks at distant things. —Czeslaw Milosz Though I have coveted the eagle’s home, high on a cliff, commanding the longest reach of an outlook, I am more earthbound— a chicken, squawking as it flaps its wings to evade encroaching competition; or a turkey, unwilling to consider raising above the immediate unless prodded by necessity; more often a budgie, in intimate conversation with its own mirror image, never tired of exploring at close range the endless vagaries of reflection. ON A THEME BY PHILIP LARKIN Everywhere the moon is the same as the moon I see. But beyond that moon some star has gone up in a burst of flame, though it’s light still shines on me. Night falls into a cave, where doves are never seen. The moon turns to ashes. A dove cries out. He awaits an answer silently. Is he calling to his mate, sending comfort on a cheerless night, or was he seized by a passing hawk, on his last unfortunate flight? —Brigitte Goetze —George Freek
  38. 38. —37— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 DISARRAY Je est un autre. —Rimbaud Ihave forgiven myself for not existing. Long languor of nighttime & the cries of shadows in their weightless abandonment. I have counted twenty selves of myself, each a thin membrane without beginning or middle, ribbons drifting unsouled in inner storm. I walk. I talk. I wear my clown face to visit the market, inspect the potato, the beet, the onion. I buy a slice of the Gouda, another of Brie. I am only my name I say to any who ask. Look for me at the bottom of an inland sea, if there. Even these rose petals know my terrible truth. They turn away to sun, to shadow leaving me only the chalice of emptiness. I remember pale Ophelia as she walked into the pond of her destiny leaving how many of herself behind to be counted and sealed inside a single face as though there is only one entranceway to hell. —Doug Bolling
  39. 39. —38— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Alexandra Vacaroiu, “Dreams No. 10”
  40. 40. —39— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Allie Rohletter, “Beautiful Blues”
  41. 41. —40— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 THREE HOURS AT THE MET Sure, there was the thrill of his presence, but most importantly his delight over things that resisted wonder— the eyeless jackals, the mutilated marble torsos. I remember having the map, and getting us lost (not on purpose). But there is no meaning in this, nor is there any symbolism in the closed Valladolid gate at the end of the visit or in how long it took us to find the exit. I keep saying we when all I should say is: he and I. Two bodies unable to touch even when he slipped his arm under mine to cross the street later that night. I remember the exhilaration: short-lived; yet it keeps coming back, phantom sensation. Post-amputation veteran. Tingles, twitches in an empty place—but who’d deny it was real? Who’d deny the fullness of the feeling in the hollowed limb? The comparison is valid, I think, though I do not know what I am a veteran of or where and what my phantom organ is. I remember making breakfast runs in the morning to find him still asleep when I came back. He had not moved, had not perceived any emptiness in the flat that was small but felt like home, with clothes strewn about and the tiny terrace in the back that would have been useful, had it been spring, and warm, and just after a rainfall. And it’s been so long since that time—yet I still do catch myself wondering how it would have turned out, had I gotten lost in the museum on purpose, had I kissed him when we crossed the street, had I never returned home in the mornings. “I strive for finding the words that remind us of the sharpness, tenderness and urgency of our day-to-day situations, always privileging the raw and the visceral to the toned-down and the polished. But to be perfectly honest, it’s also mainly to sidestep constant heartbreak.” —A.K. Afferez
  42. 42. —41— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 FORGIVABLE In that way I have, I imagine that the sand-colored horse on this beach in Maine walking between a man and a woman walking uneasily over the sand, reins slack in one hand, the woman’s, cannot suffer itself, is a third hand rolling in endless waves out beyond salt and water, mane drowning, spine afloat, four legs purposely drifting and kicking. And now that I’m close enough, I see the man’s only eyes, dead ahead and yet searching around for a wild, idle image of love, pointing sideways through neck muscles, through hide and skull, searching for the other side, where she dwells— I see a man and a woman together not so much implicating as improbably symbolizing the horse, its loose bridle both a circle and its circumference, over its back a dark blanket that can’t, of course, stop the light rain from falling. —Douglas Nordfors DEEP CALLETH UNTO DEEP, OR: THE SERAPHIM’S OPPOSITE NUMBER you may know their approach from the pier by the hillock of sea gaining momentum like a hunchbacked thing come to surface they will propel towards your clasped hands, towards your desires which alerted them (for your questions are grains of sand in the ear and under the skin) they who twinkle backwards, who devour light and release the dark, who orbit His chair below the subduction zones, His six-limbed messengers in the sea oh to know you will be drowning in the atlantic among the perch that dazzle away from you oh to see all you have done wrong in the alien eyes of gulls —Chelsea Eckert
  43. 43. —42— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Alexandra Vacaroiu, “Dreams No. 9”
  44. 44. —43— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 AN UNANTICIPATED CLARITY From the shadows into the frame of the picture, the sun’s congress with the land is tympanic, trumpets its apricot light to a chirping of crickets where the river stutters through bracken. He lives Spartan and no longer wants to wrestle with the thick ropes of meaning. Will weighs down his tongue. A room words quickly fill holds people: their bones, their needs pressed against his. He urges the boat up-river, askance from the falls, in a current resistant as wet cement past a sand-barren sprawled against the shingled houses the highway evades. Comes from the color-weary cottage, the fade of sienna snap shots to steer an unused hour away from the boredom that bleeds him. Cypress aspire to a watery view, twist capricious in a rash of shadow. He back-tracks, pilots the boat into its own wake and takes the roundabout, a brocade of dirt-covered granite, island complicit with a stand of birch. Death knows him by name...he once signed a shred of bleached paper and could be persuaded to ward away by the next knelled hour. He wants out before the use is wrung from him. He is not young. Come to the party, Death says, guest of honor and all like that. Why not loiter in a fine-tuned calm, not in this mendicant’s life. The boat scuds along past a heron in the shallows. He poles to the swells that feather his field of vision like breath deconstructing on a cold day. Where to now? Death coaches, as if he were a tourist. And what does he own, what owns him? He’s not earning diamonds in this place: life on the wane, the river a casket. Time wants more from him, He wants more from himself and why shouldn’t he have it? Shoots rats when he sees them. Revolver always loaded. A song vaults from the loudspeaker affixed to someone’s dock. Ask me for anything, Death says. He responds by staring at the rusted holes of the oar locks. Wants to go into something and never come out. His feet are cold, water in the bottom of the boat, water bobbing in front of him like a fishing line. No one there to see it. No one there to understand how palpable death feels in the moment before it becomes substantiated. —Susan Sonde
  45. 45. —44— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS WITH CATHERINE EVLESHIN —Deb Ain Catherine Evleshin's crisp, vivid writing graced the pages of Agave Magazine in the form of a short story entitled “Maceo's Rumba.” A former dancer, she neatly weaves the rhythms of dance into her writing, creating works that pulse with energy and meaning. We were proud to nominate her piece for the most recent Pushcart Prize. As a former performer, researcher, and teacher, what motivates you to write? As an ‘objective’ researcher, I found I could not tell the stories that I knew were out there. Fiction can often reveal more profound truths. I went back and forth for some years, swinging deeper into the world of fiction. What themes are you most interested in examining through writing? I am concerned with environmental issues and social justice— intrigued with the near future. Most of my stories could be labeled political or science fiction or fantasy, but dance creeps in, because I can demonstrate setting and character best in the mode of celebration, especially since music and dance are so central to African and Latino cultures. What role do you believe dance can play in literature? That depends upon the author’s experience. I can spot a surface understanding not based on actual participation by the author. Not that she must be “professional,” just authentic. "Maceo's Rumba" practically vibrates with energy. What you you believe is the key to maintaining a steady, elevated pace throughout the story? “Maceo’s Rumba” is a paean to my favorite dance complex, the Afro-Cuban rumba, and a tribute to the Cuban artists and everyday people who suffer family separation, physical deprivation, and bureaucratic torment. African drums, Spanish poetry, flamencopassion,uniquetoCubaandinformingmusicalanddancestylesthroughout the Americas, even back to Africa. Alternately sensual, tender, combative, or comic, performed with fierce pride and synchronicity. I love what you said about the story vibrating with energy. That is because Havana itself does that. No one comes away from that city unchanged. I kept the pace by visualizing, dancing in my mind, if you will, the tension and rhythm of the city. What experience would you like to give your readers? You might ask, why not use film/video to illustrate dance. Been there, done that. I took on the challenge of fiction to do what no other medium can, get inside the head of the dancer, with the goal that the reader can vicariously experience the intensity.
  46. 46. —45— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 —Dylan Liebelt, “Washed Up”
  47. 47. —46— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS WITH CHARLIE BAYLIS —Deb Ain Charlie Baylis is a poet, author of short stories, a blogger and a tweeter. He is a poetry reviewer and a translator. He is a fan of Dylan Thomas, Prince, Nottingham Forest, and typos. His Puschart Prize-nominated poem “Along the Westway” (which first appeared in Agave Magazine’s Fall 2014 issue) is an enchanting, lyrical marvel of pacing and language, and will be published in his forthcoming chapbook collaboration with our newest extension, Agave Press. Why do you write? When I was 16, I was listening to Sea Change by Beck. I think one of the songs had a strong affect on me. Possibly the one about his mother passing, anyway, that happened and I picked up a pencil. I couldn't really help it. I got hooked. I wrote more seriously from the age of 17. I was truly awful. Terrible attempts to be like my hero, George Byron. I wrote an irreproachable bad poem at 18 that placed in a competition (entitled “Vodka Kicks and Teardrops”). It was praised for playing with being Artless. (The judges did not know that I was, at least at that age, genuinely Artless). After that, I just picked up the pencil and ran. I couldn't stop even if you held a gun to my head. It's in my veins. It's in my blood. Of what poem are you the proudest? I think the first poem that came out. The first good one, anyway. It was in SAW Magazine. I wrote it at 22, fresh from graduating. It's a sonnet called “Lilia by the Fountain.” It’s about the stillness of winter being untied by love's strings. Publication was a beautiful feeling—I'd had so many no, no, no's, even a ‘you're so bad, it hurts’ rejection slip. Then Colin S. wrote and said he was putting it in his magazine. I think I cried. I'm a little emotional, at times, at least for an Englishman. What effect do you hope to have on the reader with your poem “Along the Westway”? I wrote “Along the Westway when I was really down. I'd been fired from a job, I'd been dumped by my girlfriend, I'd sent myself back home to live at my mum's house, and it was unbearably sad. I was broken, I'd been living in essentially paradise (I was in the south of Italy, teaching English). I needed to recover. So, anyway to answer the question, the poem was not written with a reader in mind. It is a failed attempt to escape the pain, chaos and sorrow around me. When I was in Italy, I slit my wrist. I had another go in another country. Then I came home. I'm proud to say I've recovered completely. I am healthy and happy again. I've no gratitude for the people who made me feel that way. I do have a lot of gratitude for the people who published the poem (others have said no to it!). Finally the Pushcart Prize nomination was a super feeling. I didn't win, but to be nominated meant the world to me. After the hell I went through. I didn't cry. But it was close! I'm really grateful to Agave. I love you guys. It's been true love from the start. You seem to pull no punches in your reviews. Do you find it difficult to write a negativecritique,ordoyouagreewithJayRaynerthatit'smorefuntoreadand write a negative review? IjusthaveverystrongopinionsandIcan'tlie.I'vewrittenpositivereviewsinmyhead that other people have thought were negative. I’d agree with Jay (love his writing!): being insulting comes more naturally to me in a review. If you met me in person after suffering one of my vitriolic reviews, you’d be shocked. I’d be more likely to buy you an ice cream and talk pleasantly about the weather. I’m a nice guy at heart (Jay is too). It just doesn’t come across in reviews!
  48. 48. —47— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 FULL COURT DRAMA —Nortina Simmons I told Arnett Little that it was a bad idea to play a prank on Mr. Jacobson. Mr. Jacobson scared me, and I had always done my best to steer clear of him. I hated that he only had one good eye, that it was covered in a murky film and rolled so much in its socket I was sure it would fall out, and that it was only considered ‘good’ because the other eye was permanently sealed from years of Mr. Jacobson’s never wiping away the sleep in the morning (according to my older sister, Leah). Mr. Jacobson was an old man with a temper, and although he couldn’t walk without a cane, he was still bigger than any of the ballers in our neighborhood. The slightest provocation was the difference between life and death. Arnett and I stood on the sidelines of the cracked, concrete basketball court in the center of Roland Courts, the housing project in which we resided. Roland Courts was a cluster of one-story apartment buildings, each with two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen-living room combination. All of the buildings formed a circle around the basketball court, close enough for the children to play safely and for their parents to watch from their living room windows. The teenaged boys were playing a competitive three-on-three game of pick-up basketball that afternoon. It was ‘best three out of five,’ and The Skins were winning, which wasn’t much of a surprise since the first ones to strip off their shirts usually had some skill. Mike-Mike had just crossed over Big Tone and was leaping towards the six-foot rusty goal for the finishing dunk when Arnett nudged me for my answer. “C’mon Candace, it’ll be fun. Seeing his face when he opens the door and nobody’s there? And his eye looking all over the place! He always cracks me up with that eye!” she said, laughing and slapping her knee. “Don’t you wanna watch the game?” I asked. “Why? Just to watch Mike-Mike ball hog the whole time? Ain’t none of them going to the NBA, no way. Let’s do something fun,” she whined. “And what if Mr. Jacobson’s wife opens the door?” “Does he even have a wife?” Arnett shrugged her shoulders. “I’ve never seen her.” Leah once told me that Mr. Jacobson had actually murdered his wife and buried her underneath the floorboards of their kitchen. He did it because she wasn’t home when he was ready to eat dinner, and when she finally arrived, he took a cake knife to her throat. No one knew much about the Jacobsons other than Leah’s stories. The only facts were that he was strange, she was a recluse, and their children hardly visited. Leah spoke with so much confidence and detail that no one dared to refute her stories. I had learned to never take what Leah said lightly, ever since she had correctly predicted that my former third grade teacher, Mr. Cockerham, would get fired for following me into the girls’ bathroom one day during lunch period. “He was trying to see you naked,” she had said. “Good thing you had to pee really bad and locked the door behind you, or else, he would’ve went in the stall with you too.” Mr. Jacobson’s house was directly behind us. He usually stood in the screen door, watching silently for anything out of place, but he was missing. I expressed my concern, but Arnett wasn’t having it. She suggested that instead of knocking and running, we’d open and slam the screen door shut, scaring the old man so bad that he’d crap himself. She approached the first step, and I started to follow, but hesitated when I saw something move in the screen. It was Mr. Jacobson. He was standing in the doorway and his wandering eye was oddly focused right on Arnett. He held something to his side. At first, I thought it was his cane, but it was too wide at the bottom and didn’t have a curved handle. I hissed for Arnett to come back, to abort the mission. She had been looking down at her feet as she tiptoed up the steps, and didn’t realize that Mr. Jacobson had returned to his post. Arnett placed her hand on the door handle and turned around to look at me. “If you’re too scared to do it, just go on home,” she said. Behind her, Mr. Jacobson raised the object in his hand and thrust the end of it through the screen door, shattering the glass. A startled Arnett let go of the handle to shield her face, and fell backgrounds, her butt bouncing off of the edge of each step until she landed in the grass. I stood, frozen in horror, as the old man charged through the glass, slicing his arms on the jagged edges and yelling, “Get! Get! Get!” The item in his hands, very clear—a shotgun. The boys on the basketball court heard the noise and paused their game. They approached the edge of the basketball court towards Mr. Jacobson’s yard and began taunting and urging him to shoot while Arnett frantically scrambled backwards on her hands and feet to get out of his range. “What you ‘bout to do with that gun, old man?” Mike-Mike asked bouncing the ball. “He ain’t gon’ shoot. He can’t even see,” Deron said laughing. “Please don’t kill me! I’m sorry!” Arnett whined. “Get!” Mr. Jacobson said. He wobbled down the steps, one by one, with the shotgun aimed at her head. “Aim the gun at me!” Big Tone called. “No, me!” said Julian.
  49. 49. —48— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 “Hold it steady,” Ricky teased. Mr. Jacobson rose the gun towards the boys, pointing it at each of them, then back at Arnett, and at the boys again. He did it in a rhythmic motion, as if he were playing ‘eeny, meeny, miny, moe.’ “Get!” he shouted. The boys laughed harder. Arnettrolledoverandcrawledonherhandsandkneestowardsthecourt.Iwaved my arms and screamed for her to get up and run, but my voice was drowned out by the boys’ shouts and claps for Mr. Jacobson to shoot at them. Then, the gun went off. To this day, I don’t know if Mr. Jacobson intentionally tried to shoot us, or if he just meant to scare us and accidentally fired. All I know is that one shot changed everything. The not-so-fearless boys dispersed in different directions towards their perspective homes. Only Dylan dropped to the ground with his hands over his head, screaming, “He shootin’! He crazy!” repeatedly. I ran across the basketball court to my house and banged on the door until my mom emerged with a greasy rattail comb in her hand. “Leah, stay inside!” she called behind her. I directed her to the basketball court behind me, and she rushed towards Arnett, who was sprawled out on the court with her hand to her back, howling. I was sure she had been shot. Our next door neighbor, Mr. Fairview, who had darted from his house as soon as the shot was fired, tried to wrestle the gun from Mr. Jacobson’s grasp. Mr. Jacobson, however, was a lot stronger than his age led us to believe. We weren’t sure how old he was, exactly. Leah had guessed he might have been between ninety and ninety-five. Although he could barely see, and his weak legs could no longer support his six-foot- tall body, everything between the nose and belt were that of a much younger man. He had a thick neck and muscular arms connected to broad shoulders. His hard, round stomach protruded over his belt, and several times, Mr. Fairview bounced off of it as they tugged and pulled for possession of the gun. Eventually, Mr. Jacobson’s knees buckled underneath him, and he collapsed to the ground. His huge hands still maintained a firm grip to his gun, however. Mr. Fairview was unable to pry it away from him. “What...the hell’s...wrong with you?” Mr. Fairview asked with his hand on his chest, gasping for air. “Shooting at kids!” Mr. Jacobson didn’t respond. His eye had gone back to wandering. After patting her down, rolling her over, and lifting her shirt, Mom could find no visible wounds on Arnett, and concluded that Mr. Jacobson had missed, thanks to his cataracts. I sighed in relief. Mom put Arnett’s arm over her shoulder and walked her to our apartment. I rubbed Arnett’s back as they passed by. Mr. Jacobson remained seated on the ground, hugging the gun to his chest, the butt resting between his legs in the grass. He jerked his head from left to right, looking for any potential threats. In the screen door of his house stood the pale apparition of a woman in a white night gown. She had frizzy, gray hair that grazed her shoulders. She twiddled her fingers as she examined the broken glass scattered on the front steps, on the carpet by her feet, clinging to the doorframe, dripping with Mr. Jacobson’s blood. I stared at her, puzzled for a few minutes before I followed Mom and Arnett inside and shut the door behind me. Some of the neighbors congregated into our tiny apartment kitchen that night to discuss Mr. Jacobson. Mom served everyone a cool glass of water to calm them down before taking her place as mediator at the head of the table. Mr. Fairview quickly gulped his water down but didn’t ask for a refill. He seemed to be out of breath. I wondered if he was still recovering from his scuffle with Mr. Jacobson. Mrs. Fike sat next to him. She was a calm woman in her sixties. The skin under her cheek bones sagged so that she looked like her pet boxer she occasionally took out to walk. She lived next door to Mr. Jacobson and was probably the only person in Roland Courts who knew him personally. Arnett’s mother, Mrs. Little, sat on the other side of Mrs. Fike fidgeting in her chair, while Mr. Little angrily paced between the stove, sink, and refrigerator, shaking his balled up fist. Arnett, Leah, and I leaned over the counter that separated the kitchen from the living room. Arnett was shaking. She dug her fingernails into her forearm until she pierced the skin. When she saw that she had drawn blood, she began to cry again. LeahbroughtArnettaboxofroughtissuepaperandinvitedhertositonthecouchin the living room. It wasn’t the newest couch, but it didn’t have bugs crawling between the cushions either. Arnett nodded her thanks, unable to speak. When she blew her nose, I squeezed her shoulder to let her know that the worst was over. “That man belongs in a home!” we heard Mr. Little shout from the kitchen. I looked up to see him slam his fist onto the table with a loud bang. The glasses rattled. The water in Mrs. Little’s untouched glass spilled over. She wiped it up with her hands and went back to fidgeting. “Amen to that,” Mr. Fairview said. He raised his empty glass in agreement. “The man is old. He’s senile. He’s got dementia,” Mrs. Fike said. IturnedtoLeahforclarity.“It’slikeAlzheimer’s‘ceptyou’recrazy,”shewhispered. Mom had been braiding Leah’s hair into cornrows when she was interrupted by
  50. 50. —49— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 the shooting. Half of Leah’s hair was braided in long, light brown extensions that reached down to the small of her back, while the other half was pulled into a puffy side ponytail. I wondered if she was annoyed about her hair being half done. “Arnett did provoke him,” Mom said. “That gives him no excuse to shoot at my daughter!” Mr. Little said. Arnett began to cry again. I squatted down in front of her and patted her knee. I hoped that everything would be OK, but I knew it wouldn’t. Arnett would be forever changed by this event. The elderly were dangerous. And it didn’t matter their age or stature, whether or not they could still walk. Just because grandma baked us cookies that afternoon, it didn’t mean she wouldn’t beat us with her cane that evening if we changed the channel from “Wheel of Fortune” to “SpongeBob Squarepants.” Mrs. Fike would soon become like that. Mom too. Already, she had exhibited elderly, manic tendencies. One day, she had thrown dirty dishes that were piled up in the sink onto the floor, ranting about how we didn’t appreciate the things she did for the house. Leah and I waited for her to cool off, and after she had stomped off to her room, we swept up the mess and wrote paper plates on the grocery list attached to the refrigerator door. I dreamt about Mr. Jacobson that night. He was standing on the front step, sweeping the shards scattered around his feet with the barrel of his shotgun. It was dark, though the sun was just beginning to rise. There was a faint glow of the sun behind the crumbling smokestack of the old textile mill down the street. Mr. Jacobson continued sweeping, deaf to the screeching sound the barrel made as he pushed it across the concrete step. The sounds combined to make a high pitch shrill that dug deep into my eardrums, causing my brain to rattle, and when Mr. Jacobson’s gun suddenly fired, my head nearly exploded. Mr. Jacobson flew into the air. He dropped his shotgun, and barrel first, it landed vertically on top of the pile of glass. He landed on his back next to the pile with a loud thud. The gun and pile shook, but the gun remained balanced on top. Mr. Jacobson reached for his shot foot to nurse it, but he couldn’t move past his stomach. No matter how much he tried to raise himself up, the weight of his stomach pushed him back down. Eventually, he gave up. In spite of my fear of him, I wanted to help. However, the woman appeared in the door again. She stepped over Mr. Jacobson’s outstretched body, around the shotgun and pile of glass, and down the steps. She walked to his feet dangling over the platform and caressed the wounded foot in her tiny hands. She kissed it repeatedly, and Mr. Jacobson’s tense body finally began to relax. He exhaled, and I could see his breath, as if it were cold outside, rise from his mouth towards the sky. I woke up to the dim light of the street lamp outside of my window trying to penetratethoughtheblindsoverhead.“Leah.Leah.Areyouawake?”Iasked,tapping her shoulder. We shared a bedroom together, our beds side by side underneath the lone window. Leah was a wild sleeper and occasionally, she would roll into my bed. Mom had pushed the beds together, to keep her from falling onto the floor in the middle of the night. Leah groaned before saying, “No,” but she rolled over to her side, facing me, and propped herself up on one elbow. “What?” she asked. “I had a dream about Mr. Jacobson.” “Goodforyou,”shesaid.Iheardarubbingsoundaroundherheadandconcluded that she was wiping her eyes. “I saw her too,” I said. “Who?” “Mrs. Jacobson.” I couldn’t see her face, but I could tell she was staring at me blankly. “His wife?” I added. “Oh.” “You told me she was dead.” Leah sighed. “I thought she was.” She dropped her elbow and fell back into her pillow. I turned my head towards the window. I thought about peeking through the blinds, but feared I might see the images from my dream. “So, you just made up that story about him killing her?” I asked. “No, not really. I remember Mrs. Fike telling Mom that she had heard him threaten to stab her. When she stopped coming out the house, I figured he finally did it.” I squinted my eyes in confusion. I had never seen Mrs. Jacobson before that afternoon. “‘Course, I only seen her once,” Leah continued. “And she was so bony and white, I still don’t think it wasn’t a ghost I really saw.” She turned her back to me and laid her head on her hand. With the other, she pull the comforter up to her chin. “Now, go back to sleep. It’s too late to be thinking ‘bout old people nobody cares about.” They care now, I thought. I remembered how angry Mr. Little was earlier, how worried Mrs. Little looked, how Arnett had covered her face and ran home when Mom walked them out the front door, refusing to look across the basketball court to
  51. 51. —50— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 the site where she had almost lost her life to a man who was nearly blind. A week later, on a rare Sunday afternoon when the boys had not taken over the basketball court, Leah and I decided to shoot some hoops. No one had been to the basketball court since the shooting because of its proximity to Mr. Jacobson’s apartment. I had visited Arnett a few days after the shooting to see if she had recovered from the traumatization. She looked worse, rocking back and forth on her bed with her knees drawn up to her chin, staring at the wall, vowing repeatedly never to go to that evil basketball court again, as if the court was to blame for her or Mr. Jacobson’s actions. Leah bounced the ball. It was flat, and she had to pound it with her fist so that it rose higher. When she was bored with bouncing it, she passed it to me. I drew it back over my head and lunged it towards the backboard. It ricocheted and landed with a splat at half court. “What kind of shot was that?” Leah asked, jogging to retrieve the ball. In the distance we heard the sound of sirens. We ignored it at first, thinking that someone might have robbed the corner store again, but when the sound got so loud it vibrated in our ears, we looked around for the police car, fire truck, or ambulance from which it came. An ambulance pulled into the complex and parked in front of Mr. Jacobson’s house. Nosy neighbors emerged from their homes and converged in a semi-circle surrounding it. I hovered behind them, trying not to appear too interested. “What’s happened now?” Mr. Fairview asked. “Did the old man finally keel over?” Julian asked. “Good riddance,” said Mr. Little. He wrapped his arm around his wife’s shoulder, squeezed her against his body, and kissed her ear. I stood on my toes and looked over the shoulders of the adults in front of me. The glass on Mr. Jacobson’s front steps had been cleared, but the broken screen door was still there. I stared through the door and could picture Mr. Jacobson charging towardsme.Icouldseehismusclespulsinginhisthighsandneck.ThegunfiredandI quickly shut my eyes. I didn’t want to see my death coming as Arnett saw hers. When I opened them, I watched Mr. Jacobson get carted out of his home on a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance. His frail wife brought a balled up tissue to her puffy, red eyes and followed closely behind. “Guess shooting Arnett was too much for him,” Leah whispered in my ear. I learned that Mr. Jacobson had woken up that morning and couldn’t get out of bed. He couldn’t feel his legs. He couldn’t walk. It worried his wife so much that she finally dialed 9-1-1. “His disease is catching up with him. He probably just forgot how to walk.” Mrs. Fike said to the crowd. She took Mrs. Jacobson by the arm and guided her towards the parking lot. She told Mrs. Jacobson that would be too much for her to ride in the back of the ambulance with her husband. “I’ll take you to the hospital instead,” she said. I spun around to face Leah. “We should ride in the ambulance with him.” “I don’t think so,” she said. “Why not?” I asked. “Because he’s really sick. I don’t think he wants to play with you like last time.” She raised her eyebrows at me, giving me the same look Mom gave us whenever she tried to hint that we were talking nonsense. “I’m not trying to play,” I said. I didn’t want to play then. Games were the cause of his trouble. He never hurt anyone before Arnett’s little trick. He was strange, yes, but he had never bothered anyone before Arnett, other than possibly his wife. “I want to help,” I said. “They got Mrs. Fike,” Leah said. “I’m gonna tell Mom what happened.” She retrieved the basketball from the court and walked back to our house. I watched the ambulance pull from the complex and disappear behind the apartments. No one moved from the semicircle in front of Mr. Jacobson’s house. The neighbors talked amongst themselves in hushed tones. Some occasionally paused and looked in the direction the ambulance departed. There was a collective assumption throughout Roland Courts that Mr. Jacobson would not return. Sure enough, Mike-Mike and his crew were approaching to reclaim their ownership of the basketball court. I didn’t want them to return. They had mocked Mr. Jacobson. He couldn’t shoot them; he was too weak, they joked. They were the cause of his sickness. We all were. Everyone who laughed at him, thought he was crazy, wanted him locked up in a home, ignored his crumbling mind for the sake of a good story. As the boys dribbled the ball between their legs, shook one another until he fell, and kissed the ball off the backboard and into the hoop, Arnett was rocking in her bed, the barrel of a shotgun permanently embedded in her brain, Mrs. Jacobson was crying in the passenger seat of a Buick following an ambulance, wondering if her husband would ever get to taste her cooking again, and her husband, Mr. Jacobson, was in the back of that ambulance, unable to walk, confused, unaware of who he was or where he was. Lost. He left us to die, and I was the only person who cared.
  52. 52. —51— AGAVE MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, ISSUE 3WINTER 2015 NEXT ISSUE: VOL.2, ISSUE 4 {SPRING 2015} ORDER A PRINT COPY OF AGAVE MAGAZINE HTTP://AGAVEMAG.BIGCARTEL.COM

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