Poet of the Month, May 2017
My name is Chelsea Brown and I’ve been writing for a long time. However, I always write more consistently and better when I’ve suffered recent heartbreak- the silver lining, I suppose. I recently had my heart damaged a bit and am also suffering through the effects of a different unrequited love so get ready for some quality shit.
I started a writing journey when I was 22 after being dumped by a “boyfriend” (because there’s no other label that quite sums up what we were) because he was in love with his best friend, a girl who had always hated me. I decided to go around and interview all of my ex-boyfriends and see what they had to say about me. However, as a writer I have always struggled with consistency and this project was enlightening but hard to stay behind, so I started investing more of my time in poetry.
“Science” was written about the love of my life- the one who got away- etc. and so on. Most of what I write is about him and while that’s sad, it’s also excellent because the material is so endless it provides its own consistent tone to my work overall. I write often while driving (don’t do this- it’s not safe), before I go to bed, or at work.
When I’m not writing, I work full-time for a non-profit that helps support students in under-resourced schools. I graduated from West Chester University with a degree in Women’s and Gender studies and Youth and Urban Empowerment Studies, so I’m insufferably feminist and constantly worried about the state of our world, and not fun at parties (but that’s more about social anxiety then being opinionated.)
My family means the absolute world to me and I would not be successful or anything, really, without them. I also am particularly close with the folks I live with (Leona, Phil, John & James), and those who I don’t (Rileigh, Lauren, Chris, etc.) and love and appreciate them constantly for never letting me mount my high horse and instead knocking me down several pegs when necessary.
So even though heartbreak is horrible and it can be caused by any number of things beyond boys just being big old bags of dicks, use it to empower and fuel your writing, because heartbreak blows but being uninspired is way worse.
I’ve seen a lot of things regarding the body renewing its cells every 7 years.
It’s been about 3.5 year since I saw you.
This means that there is still half of you that I have touched and kissed that exists. My lips have danced across the cells that haven’t renewed yet. Half of you still knows what I feel like.
But days pass and soon it will be 4 years and over half of your body won’t even know that some nights my skin wanted so badly to be an uninterrupted continuation of yours.
In some number of weeks, the majority of your body wouldn’t be able to recognize mine.
My cells renew as well.
And they’re forgetting you, too.
For more of Chelsea’s poetry, follow her blog: blackoutsandmakeouts.com or her instagram: @Blackoutsandmakeouts
Prose Author of the Month, May 2017
My name is Benjamin Rozzi, and my coming-to-writing story is probably significantly different than most and, then again, maybe not at all. At face value, I’m one of a multitude of pre-health hopefuls who didn’t quite fit the bill (if you listen closely, you can probably still hear the boom of the cannon echoing through the air). However, not everything is as it seems. I wish it were.
I was a science man for most of my life and had dreams of being a surgeon, and when I found out in my sophomore year at Washington & Jefferson College that my dreams weren’t the same anymore (and were only my dreams in the first place because of the idea of financial stability), I suffered from a massive identity crisis and subsequent spell of deep depression. To anyone who has ever experienced depression, I’m so unbelievably saddened that you had to go through that. I sympathize with you wholly, and I wouldn’t wish depression on my worst enemy.
But, then, I found creative writing and became empowered by words; and slowly yet surely, these words and the power that they held drew me out of my depressive state.
(That’s just a fancy way to say writing made me happy again.)
“Ten Minutes,” oddly enough, is the first piece of fiction I ever wrote—a little over a year-and-a-half ago at 3:30 in the morning on a Thursday night (or, rather, Friday morning) under the spell of McDonald’s black coffee. Granted, the version you see in print for the inaugural issue of 1932 is slightly different than draft number one (it now has fewer hyperboles/clichés), but the fact that this first baby of mine is my first national publication is justification for this new path I hope to walk in life.
As far as motivation for “Ten Minutes” is concerned, I wish I knew. But, perhaps my draw to writing darker-themed stories stems from my personal experiences, knowing that life isn’t as perfect as we would like to believe. I have since dabbled in writing on death and marginalized groups and mental health, just to name a few topics.
To all those who have supported me in my endeavors in finding myself again, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Look ma’. It seems as if I’m on my way.
Birds nestling in trees draped in auburn and goldenrod leaves—sunshine streaming through the gaps. A gentle breeze came whistling by, causing some of the browner foliage to fall to the earth below. Cigarette smoke from the designated zone pulled away with the wind—patients infectiously smiling at one another. Today is the day, the day we are finally taking our little one home. Claire.
Born 11:42AM on October 22 nd . Seven pounds, eight ounces. Twenty inches long. Her piercing squeal was reminiscent of Marie’s loud mouth—something all of the Smithton girls innately have. Each cry sent a lightning bolt down my spine, which coursed through my body and exited through my toes into the linoleum floor beneath my feet. But, when our eyes met, the tension between my wife and I subsided. Our daughter was here, and she was healthy. Claire.
I always associated the hospital with death row—a marginal amount of the populace rotting away as they walk their own Green Mile. All through the halls, sounds of coughing and somber moaning surface between beeps and squeaking cart wheels. However, today is significantly different. Today, as the automatic doors close behind us, I picture the gates of heaven closing and a cherub in Marie’s arms. Claire.
Luckily, Marie and I were the planning type, so our baby making an early appearance didn’t catch us off guard. After the news of the unexpected pregnancy, we kicked our asses into high gear. Or should I say, Marie kicked my ass into high gear, ordering me around. I always knew that gag-gift whip from her bachelorette party was going to backfire. By the end of the first trimester, I had already baby-proofed the house and had a new IIHS top safety pick sitting in the garage bay. Claire.
As ready as we were, nothing can prepare a new parent for putting the carrier in the car for the first time, which I failed to do until Marie’s water broke. “Damnit, Henry! I told you to get that done a week ago!” Marie exclaimed between her contractions. Now, with Marie silent in the front seat and our daughter asleep in the back, all of that seemed pointless—the nagging and the screaming and the fighting—because our sweet angel is going home. She’s finally going home. Claire.
Smooth roads are something for which West Virginia is not known, a fact I knew too well having worked for the Department of Transportation for the past few months. “I thought you were supposed to fix all these holes, not make them worse!” Something Marie doesn’t realize is the entire state is sitting on quicksand. No matter how many times you patch something, it’s going to come back—sometimes worse than it was before. Even parking lots are Swiss cheese. “I just need to make sure I don’t…” I begin to say before hitting a crater at the top of the street. “Shit. So much for the baby having an easy first car ride.” Claire.
“Henry, can’t you do anything right? I can’t even trust you to drive home without messing up,” Marie said. I know it’s difficult to believe, but Marie has redeeming qualities. She keeps the house clean, makes dinner every night, and respects my mother, which can be quite difficult considering Marie’s short temper; and—let’s be honest—my mother isn’t always the easiest person to get along with. Let’s just hope our daughter doesn’t inherit the short fuse. Claire.
Red rings began forming around the angel’s eyes from all the crying. I turn around in the driver’s seat and begin singing a lullaby to the bundle of fire, crackling raucously. “Hush, little baby, don’t say a word. Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. And, if that mockingbird won’t sing, papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.” Marie chimed in, sarcastically, with a “Yeah, I’m sure,” probably referring to the fact that I couldn’t afford a proper engagement ring given the circumstances. In the few moments it took to glare at Marie contemptuously and glance back at our baby, the wailing had ceased, and all was calm once more. “Well, Marie. If this is a telltale sign of what parenting is going to be like, I think we’ll be just fine.” Claire.
Staring at my baby, I gently press the gas pedal to begin into the intersection. High-pitched screeches fill my ears. A truck hits us and sends us careening onto our side. Through my winced eyes, I caught glimpses of my surroundings. Glass shards glimmering in the same sunlight that was filling the gaps in the trees just minutes before. Sparks as friction brings our vehicle to a stop. A pacifier flies from the back of the car, rattles off of the dashboard, and rests just out of reach. Complete silence. And then, nothing but black. Claire.
Everything is hazy; reality is coming back to me in waves. The car is resting on the passenger side. The faint smell of gasoline fills my nose. “Marie? Marie, are you okay?” I see blood, forming a pool under her head. “Marie?! Answer me!” Why isn’t she responding?! But, wait…the baby…our daughter. “Claire, honey?!” Her arm is limp, hanging across her body. “Someone help!” I began screaming through coughs. The smoke filling the cabin is starting to grow more dense. But, just then, I heard the Smithton squeal and glanced quickly enough to see her hand clench into a fist. “It’s okay, baby. I’m here. Daddy’s here. Hush, little baby, don’t say a wo…” Blackness fills my eyes once more.