By E. Nolan

A collage of images, flowing, ebbing, bobbing, weaving, a close up of you walking through a woods, pushing away branches from pine trees that block your path, block your youth, when other images take over the focus: a moody ocean, a boy climbing down a ladder, a steelworker welding in a factory, sparks flying, sparks from a sparkler stick at a parade, a spinning basketball, a candle in the corner of an attic flickering, the music coming out of an extended synth intro, the analog character slightly distorted, meaty, a little dirty, the chords droning, vintage yet modern, cowboys sitting on contemporary furniture, a weirder America, a stranger, more welcoming setting, your voice, the lyrics, the nonsense, the chorus, the instrumental section, the fingerpicking, the cadence, the swing, the gentle way you hold that thing, your voice front and center, not hidden at all, not tucked away, but offered to the listener like a gift, you’re running in the woods, the spinning camera on the top of a building in Brooklyn, the boy still at it on the ladder, flash cuts, dodging and burning, the burning sun on the waves of Jones Beach, the jangly iron sculpture welded and unwieldy, a fire in a trashcan under a bridge, the heavy, final chords lingering, fade out.

E. Nolan, whose work has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Passages North, and X-R-A-Y, as well as other magazines, teaches English as a New Language in a public school in the Bronx and can be contacted at @normanunfirom.

Art by Andre Dos Santos, a photographer who can usually be found wandering the far flung, industrial, and (increasingly rare) desolate areas of New York.

By Amy Barnes

I’ve returned to my hometown but not my home because that is gone forever and all that’s left is a stripped down strip mall left standing in strips and straps and strops with closed department stores and childhood haunts, all label scarred across openings and exits, jagged in my mind jean stores and Jean’s Store and pet stores with cats and smells of cat food in tins and warm cookies in tins too wafting when I try to shop in the shops but have no money and there is no one selling anything anyway, as I can feel smell radiation smoke clouds hovering in blown out windows and glass ceilings and over the empty center fountain that is dry and full of only rusted pennies when I grab handfuls of dry change and make wishes but they only leave ghostly orange dust on my fingers, granting nothing to nobody even the man that is there trying to rescue all the cats while wearing a detective trench coat filled with ticking alarm clocks and candy watches hung on hooks, dragging on the ground with cat food cans and bacon in his pockets on the news, on TV store tube televisions that blast Max Headroom anchors spouting propaganda and praise songs and the national anthem of somewhere, telling me he’s searching and rescuing because that’s what he does but refuses to rescue me or see me as I pick up a hungry cat that is shopping for a home and stand in this man’s path, but he brushes past, brushes my shoulder into cinder ash fallout, all the while there’s a sale on cat food in the second floor pet store that is still announcing sales on a loop de loop when I drop penny dust in the carousel ticket box and climb aboard a looping copper dappled horse that sends splinters of hot wood into my thighs as we stand still, a girl and a cat and a horse that can all hear dog barks echoing but don’t encounter even one spaniel or pit-bull or bull terrier, just a deep voice on the loudspeaker and sad Burl Ives Christmas music playing because the man isn’t there to rescue the dogs, either.

Amy Barnes lives in the South with dogs and kids and words and at @amygcb on Twitter.

Art by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado, living in Oregon by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.

By Laura Rink

My Armenian grandmother, who told us little of her life in Turkey, planted her window box with red geraniums, and now that she is no longer here to answer my questions, I wonder if the geraniums and their color meant anything other than a personal preference—a quick internet search reveals that red is the color of Armenian national garments and rugs, and what’s more, the dye comes from an insect, a cochineal, indigenous to the Armenian Highlands, and its use is noted in the Old Testament and records dating from 714 BC, and as my research continues I find the narrative of the Armenian people stretching back three thousand years on the same highlands, on a major trade route, merchants and soldiers, nomads and crusaders, the entirety of human history a tide bringing goods and war, and taking away horses and sovereignty, which is the story of my unnamed ancestors spread across some 200,000 square miles, three thousand years as mysterious as twenty-three, my Armenian grandmother’s age when she came to America, her life before hushed, her voice hidden in the brown and brittle letters spread over the top of the black steamer trunk as I search for my family, as I seek a single cochineal insect in a field of red flowers.

Laura Rink is pursuing her MFA in creative writing at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, researching and writing about her Armenian family and the 1915 Armenian genocide for her creative thesis and for her critical paper, exploring how authors write into silence, the private silence of untold stories and the public silence of suppressed stories.

Photo by Jeff Kallet.