January 20, 2017

Inaugural Issue



     Facebook investor Peter Thiel spoke briefly at this year's Republican National Convention. The Facebook investor and noted Gawker-killer bellowed, as well as a pasty Silicon-Valley investor can bellow, into his microphone that he was a proud gay man to the crowd, which on cue, cheered. Thiel also said that gay rights issues were essentially "distractions" from more important issues. It speaks volumes that, as sickening as it sounds, that this is somehow considered progress.
     This past year, Peter Thiel was revealed to be the primary backer of a number of lawsuits designed to take down the infamous website Gawker, and its affiliates. It's unclear as to how many lawsuits he has funded to try to take down the website that so many love to hate read, but he succeeded in his search for the perfect case through funding Hulk Hogan. Gawker had published a sex tape of Hogan that had been recorded surreptitiously by his friend, Bubba the Love Sponge of Hogan having sex with Bubba's wife, with whom he had an open marriage. After many instances in court, Gawker lost the suit in a jury trial conducted in Hogan's hometown of Tampa, Florida. The jury sought to punish Gawker for damages to the tune of $135 million.
     Thiel is a complicated figure. While I don't agree with all of Gawker's decisions to pursue stories, it's often discussed topics that other outlets won't cover. I can call to mind Rich Juziwak's stories regarding Truvada and its cultural impact in the gay community. You'd never read this kind of commentary on mainstream outlets.
     Thiel would later claim that he had been "outed" by Gawker, even though he had been out for quite a while, and was a noted public figure. In 2007. But that wasn't the real reason that Thiel chose to sue Gawker out of existence. Gawker also mocked Thiel on several occasions for his public views. as he viewed them as threatening the culture of Silicon Valley through its critical coverage of venture capital firms, and arch libertarian ideas that impact poor populations (read: the current housing crisis within Silicon Valley, where people are being displaced out of their homes).
     Though it was a quieter form of weaponized litigation, it all sounded more and more familiar. Litigation conducted as a war of attrition, elaborate theatrics, all reminiscent of a one Roy Cohn, the fiery right hand man who helped to execute the Rosenbergs, and assistant to McCarthy in his anti-Communist crusade, who the Washington Post had recently identified as a key mentor to a young Donald Trump. At the time Trump had been fighting a housing discrimination lawsuit. Cohn would later be jettisoned by Trump as Cohn began to die of AIDS, which he insisted was a form of liver cancer.
     Roy Cohn's ghost haunts every facet of the Trump administration. It surfaces every time that Trump opens his own mouth, to when Kellyanne Conway chides journalists every time they question Trump's reasoning. Cohn's philosophy and teachings have trickled through Republican politics to this day, and Donald Trump happens to be his posthumous project.
     In Tony Kushner's play Angels in America, a fictional version of Roy Cohn has an infamous monologue. After having been diagnosed by his private doctor with HIV, and already showing the signs of AIDS breaking down his immune system, a sarcoma-lesioned Roy bellows, as per his usual M.O, about how since homosexuals don't have clout and can't even pass an anti-discrimination bill through a city council he doesn't have AIDS. He has liver cancer. This sentiment strangely echoes with Thiel and Trump's agendas, along with the individuals who support them. Justice and culture wars are mere distractions for them. Guided by an amoral and pseudo-nihilistic approach, Thiel and Trump and those who subscribe to Roy Cohn's sentiments only care about acquiring more power, confident that they alone are the rightful owners and makers of culture and society at-large. As Trump ascends to the Presidency, which has grown exponentially in power in the last 60 years of this country's history, nothing could be more frightening. 



     The skin in her palm looked like it should be firm. If you pressed the inside of her hand you would expect it to feel like an under-ripe peach. It didn’t. Her decayed hands were quite the contrary. Her skin was stretched over soft fat mounds like dough pulled overtop pie filling. I will always remember her hands. Warm but never sweaty, her crone fingers wore a constant array of rings. Although, I am sure that some are lost to being sold to the pawnbrokers for indebtedness of bingo games.  Jewels that sparkled, whether they were scanning the second hand junk at yard sales or thrift stores, or gleaming beneath the glass counters at pawnshops. Those jewels went everywhere. It is a wonder they are still being worn. Some were given away to my aunts, and mum, I am sure, has a few stuck in her jewelry box. The iridescent radiation from my nanny’s hand will forever blind me.

     Like being drunk, but not to the point of forgetting, just the smeary-oil stain, fuzzy drunk, there is a blurry space of time in our childhood where we cannot cohesively remember everything. I believe we find ourselves sculpted out of those memories we do have. In that space of time, I figure, we find out more about who we are than we ever do again, even if we don’t realize it at that moment.

     I can recall my ability to mold amusement right out of the junk found in my grandmother’s drawers. I would find a few marbles, rubber bands, a solar powered calculator and a few minutes later I would have created the next superhuman-thinking computer which would take me off to the worlds found in a book or a movie or a television show or a combination of them all (mostly Power Rangers, the blue one was my first crush). I would sit in the dank smell of my nanny’s pantry, which seemed to be a castle at the time. Now that I look back, I know that it was a cheaply painted six by six room with shelves to hold all of her commodities she received from the surrounding churches. In my cave of imagination she kept her white trash can that would always leave a quilt of moldy dampness in the air. I was unaffected. Somehow my immunity came from my love for my nanny. She would let me mess up her house–scatter cooking utensils across the kitchen, with flour staining the walls like mini powder grenades; I would cook just to cook. I was allowed to do anything. My freedom, my liberties made sense when I was young.

     And since I was young, I had to stay with my grandmother because she was most convenient babysitter –being practically next-door. My mum didn’t have to pay and she truly was one of my favorite people. I was in love with my grandmother. She was a second mum. I never left my mummies’ (aunts, grandmother, mother) sight. I was around four, give or take a year (remember –blurry) and I would demand to sleep in the same room with whomever was watching me. My grandmother had an iron bed frame: chipping white spray-paint, and when the metal lost its scabs rust would show through its pale flesh; whenever anything hit the bed, an empty noise would ricochet around the room, lost. Warm, comfortable, innocent, I slept next to the wall with my grandmother beside me.

     As I said, her light rotted away my sight.

     In this period of time when we find ourselves, the discoveries range from the abstract definitions of what love feels like to a small child to the mazes of our bodies. I was no exception to finding myself. It would not have seemed right to let anyone other than my nanny to guide me on the right path of self-discovery.

     I wasn’t handed a map. No one explained the development of the human body to my six-year-old mind. I did not know my body was capable of being stiff like the straw in my grandmother’s broom, like my grandmother’s bedpost, hardening like my grandmother’s phlegm that she spat up in the middle of the night.

     “Why, Nanny?”

     I somehow became her dog, her pet. Her hands moved back and forth as though I had fur. I was a pup and she was telling me, “It’s okay. That’s Nanny’s diamond.”

     Her fingers were covered in diamonds and stones and colorful pretties between my age of four and five, maybe six, between my sleeping in her bed and then on the couch.

     Sometimes in the absence of the lost noises, I lie in bed and ponder all the items my nanny pawned. And the thought strikes me hot like a match, was I pawned? Maybe I was a diamond in the rough, not what hid beneath my tiny clothes. Suppose my nanny polished me to what I am today. Her crone magic lied. Her love is nothing but an empty sea of tar and quicksand. My conviction is her collateral. I am indebted to her jewelry.

This is an erasure poem using, as source material, a Bible-themed BrainQuest-esque learning implement.


Archita Mittra is a wordsmith and visual artist with a love for all things vintage and darkly fantastical. She occasionally practises as a tarot card reader. You can find out more about her on her website (https://architamittra.wordpress.com) and follow her on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/archita_mittra), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/camelot_queen1996/), and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/WriterArchita/)

Cade Leebron is currently earning her MFA at The Ohio State University, where she serves as Online & Art Editor at The Journal. She recently founded the site www.usforpresident.org, and can be found online at www.mslifeisbestlife.com, or on Twitter @CadeyLadey

Caleb Pendygraft is a Ph.D. student at Miami University of Ohio focusing on Composition and Rhetoric, and is the current Assistant Director of Composition. His research centers on the impact of trauma in rural Kentucky and the literacy develop of queers. 
CL Bledsoe is the assistant editor for The Dead Mule and author of fourteen books, most recently the poetry collection Trashcans in Love and the flash fiction collection Ray's Sea World. He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

Christine Stoddard is a Salvadoran-Scottish-American writer and artist who lives in Brooklyn. In addition to being the founding editor of Quail Bell Magazine, she is the author of non-fiction books and the chapbook, Ova (Dancing Girl Press, 2017.)‚Äč She also has two miniature books forthcoming in the Poems-For-All series.
Darren C. Demaree is the author of six poetry collections, most recently “Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly (2016, 8th House Publishing).  He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry.  He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

jacklyn janeksela is a wolf and a raven, a cluster of stars, &  a direct descent of the divine feminine.  she can be found @ BarrelhouseThought CatalogLuna MagazineTalking Book Three Point PressDumDum MagazineVisceral BrooklynAnti-Heroin ChicPublic PoolReality HandsThe Feminist WireWord For/WordLiterary OrphansPankSplit Lip,LandfillYesfeelings, & Stoneslide Corrective Aftermath issue; Civil Coping Mechanism anthology A Shadow Map & Outpost Rooted anthology; & elsewhere.   she is in a post-punk band called the velblouds. her baby @ femalefilet.  her chapbook fitting a witch//hexing the stitch forthcoming (The Operating System, 2017).  she is an energy.  find her @ hermetic hare for herbal astrological readings.

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and lives in the DC area. She is the author of two full length poetry collections. Recent work is up at Sweet Tree Review, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Sweet Tree Review, and decomP. Visit: http://jennifermacbainstephens.wordpress.com/.

Jenn Monroe is the author of In Anticipation of Grief (Red Bird Chapbooks) and Something More Like Love (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have been published in a wide array of literary magazines, both in print and online. When she’s not writing or teaching she is running, usually great distances. She lives in the wilds of New Hampshire with her husband and their daughter.

Joe Thornton is a former Fiction Editor for Oxford Magazine. He holds a M.A. in creative writing from Miami University. He has previously appeared in Blue Lake Review, and Under the Gum Tree. He currently lives and works in Bloomington, Indiana, where he is an Associate Fiction Editor for Indiana Review. You can follow him on Twitter @joethelion23/

Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

Kyra Gross is a living and breathing art student located in the middle of Missouri. When she isn't wrestling with the Bible Belt, Gross works on zines, prints, paintings, and fibers. Her early affinity for Jesus and later tragic break up with middle class white Jesus informs most of her work now.

Sara Adams (kartoshkaaaaa.com) is the author of two e-chapbooks: Think Like a B (SOd Press) & We All Have to Keep our Heads (Ghost City Press) and two print chapbooks: Poems for Ivan (Porkbelly Press) & Western Diseases (dancing girl press). She's currently selling Trump erasure poetry chapbooks and donating ALL profits to ACLU! Check it out at gumroad.com/thinklikeab 
Sarah Lilius is the author of the chapbooks What Becomes Within (ELJ Editions, 2014) and The Heart Factory (Black Cat Moon Press, 2016). She has a chapbook forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. Some of her journal credits include Tinderbox, Stirring, Luna Luna Magazine, Entropy, and Flapperhouse. Her website is sarahlilius.com.

Suchi loves the slow tedium of sift, through images made in oil paint medium.  When her arm tires she turns to the page or curser to collect the pictures in word. She is currently completing a BFA (painting/drawing) while awaiting her first chapbook release from Prompt Press Iowa, spring 2017.