By Joey Hedger

Your slow, steady collapse begins with the words, just my luck, spoken from your own lips as you recline against a crinkly seat at Gate 12, where on a ceiling-mounted television across the crowd reporters discuss plane accidents or something of the sort, the noise barely reaching you between the voice of a nearby mother saying that’s enough now, I mean it to a boy crawling on hands and knees looking for dimes and pennies across the carpeting where shoes have plodded on and on for centuries—oxfords, narrow nose, slick leather, wingtips, flip-flops, stilettos, flats, blue suede, Birkenstocks, Crocs; so the boy climbs onto his glow-up Nikes and takes a seat on the other end of the aisle from you, his eyes still casting about as though in the dark for dirty coins that store clerks would barely accept anymore, and the mother exhales for a moment, relieved at relief, while beside her, a uniformed flight attendant tries to conduct an official-sounding personal call on her smartphone, saying into it I agree with Betty that more direct data would help for making this decision and Could you hold for a moment, please as she spots a free power outlet where she can find her own solace in unlimited energy—yet you bear through the noise to interpret one more thing said on the TV, that great white encounters are up from recent years, possibly due to global warming, which can only resurface the anxiety you managed to bury about returning to your old home in the state most ready to dip off into the ocean at any second—Tampa, Florida, calls the gate attendant, boarding for Tampa, Florida; and getting up, you forget that most passengers still must line up and find their seats before you, based on the instructions printed across your boarding pass, but you still get up and go off to stand beneath another half-audible TV reporting on proper packing rituals for summer vacationing; when you are finally nestled onto the seat, 32F, by the window, you lean into the felt cushion, feeling yourself grow heavier and heavier as the plane takes off, and you wonder if this is indicative of your own weight, your own body growing denser and denser the higher you go, then beginning to weigh down the plane gradually until it slowly sinks back toward the earth, breaking past the land mass and zooming over the Gulf of Mexico, still sinking closer toward the waterline, toward the great white sharks, toward the unpacked sunscreen and seagulls and sandbars—it is out of your control, this density in your bones, this pain you find buried in your own veins at the very idea of facing the new lens of this old town, the new events, the funerals, the absent family, the growing population, the tourists, the eroding beaches—until it, the plane, careens into the airport, sidles up to a gate, and lets you all out with a wheeze, and here in his new airport, you ask the boy who plucks a penny up from beside a trash can whether he found it face up or face down, and the boy, not seeming to understand the question, runs off, leaving you nervously waiting for your bag, not ready to leave the building and see for yourself whether or not the land is still there or whether the ocean and sharks have already eaten it whole.



Joey Hedger lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and can be found at joeyhedger.com.


Art by Nick Botka, who runs the cassette tape label, StillVHS, and who snaps stills of VHS @stillvhs.

By Dylan A. Smith

RECEIVED 2021 APR 30 | 10.39AM ||begin|| MRWOOD ||stop|| ||space|| this is DYLAN ||stop|| ||space|| writing you this by candle by flame in the jungle ||stop|| will return mid|MAY to the desert | to the lake | to the dark in america ||stop|| would like very much to make on beds w. you to swim naked lakes w. you before ships make haste back east ||stop|| JULY ||stop|| think waterfalls making rivers filling bays like blue lakes down here etc ||stop|| ||space|| must say that life you had it was admirable mr.wood ||stop|| regret what was lost and respect all decisions you made throughout ||stop|| anchoring westward seas by casting inward nets etc ||stop|| ||space|| daddy going north for the coast come autumn ||stop|| plans to go w. him to make new life in green america w. him to eat right and catch clean fish w. daddy etc ||stop|| would like to work on boats | to write about my body my breasts my aching shape on boats in winter ||stop|| caught word of you twice|a|week|teaching in summer ||stop|| vessel on the lake called bluebell i heard ||stop|| very nice yes very fitting ||stop|| ||space|| would like to do something similar ||stop|| a lake like the neon|blue|casino|screens you cracked w. fists like thrown rocks in the desert ||stop|| ||space|| sometimes i wonder what a moonless|neruda might do ||stop|| his word for candle the same as his word for sail you said ||stop|| VELA ||stop|| ||space|| mr.wood the chapel caught fire it burnt down ||stop|| that chapel w. the blue roof w. the blue door you remember ||stop|| southward winds felled white candles unmooring white heat up the altar cloth etc ||stop|| chapel built w. century|old|chestnut of course not growing anymore in america ||stop|| tragedies all spring in america ||stop|| like from what dark what womb might a sail|shaped|flame twist out and swallow up your life etc ||stop|| daddy reading JOB again ||stop|| very nice yes very fitting ||stop|| ||space|| but how are you mr.wood ||stop|| you always were the best of em ||stop|| really mr.wood i mean it ||stop|| i remember everything | you always were true ||stop|| ||space|| but the sins of our youth make feast in my bones mr.wood ||stop|| make blossom in my thighs make fountain of my center mr.wood ||stop|| ||space|| and oh mr.wood please w. these moonless nights in the jungle ||stop|| please let us bind face again in bright lakes in secret again mr.wood ||stop|| and mr.wood please give my flower to america ||stop|| america our lighthouse its candlepower our greed mr.wood ||stop|| ||space|| or mr.wood please come north come to help make brighter days ||stop|| come to make repentance w. me w. daddy mr.wood ||stop|| or please mr.wood please remember ||stop|| when this baby comes i ask for only this ||stop|| ||space|| let us please | please let us call this baby VELA ||stop|| ||space|| warmly | DYLAN ||stop|| ||end||



Dylan A. Smith has stories in Maudlin House and Vol.1 Brooklyn and sometimes helps to curate fiction workshops with a project called Think Olio in New York City.


Art by Dylan A. Smith.

By Katie Ganfield

Doug swung the saddle easily over his left arm, cradling the skirt on an arm sudsy and stained mahogany by the hard work that must be done in the tack shed, and it was obvious he was strong and I was not, the horses knew that as well while they gorged themselves in the pasture, where soon they loosed manure in steady plopping streams, in rhythm with their shearing of the hip-high grass that surrendered to eight efficient sets of 40 (less some bridle teeth in the mares), and every tooth yellowed at the base and seven times as long as ours and deserving of my respect, for when a chestnut pinto snapped like a small novelty firework on a sidewalk, he snuck a bite of Doug’s daughter’s bare shoulder and that wound bruised black-purple, the color of the nightshade berries that dangled over every trail.



Kathryn Ganfield is a nature writer and essayist who has always lived in river towns, including her current home of St. Paul, Minnesota, from which she’s rafted words to Up North Lit, Portage Magazine, Tiny Seed Journal, The Talking Stick, and soon the Eastern Iowa Review.


Art by Jeff Kallet.