Cleaver Magazine, Issue # 28 (Winter 2020)

Flash by Alex Behr, César Valdebenito, Kim Magowan, Tommy Dean, Matthew Greene, Anna Oberg, Savannah Slone, Marianne Villanueva, Mary Senter, Corey Miller, Connor Goodwin, Jude Vivienne Dexter, Francine Witte * Short Stories by Stefani Nellen, Marilee Dahlman, Theo Greenblatt (Trigger warning: sexual assault) * Poetry by Alice Hall, Nathan Lipps, Jeremy Rain * Creative Nonfiction by Keygan Sands and Kharys Ateh Laue * Visual Narrative by Trevor Alixopulos * Art by Nance Van Winckel * Emerging Artists and much, much more!

from A History of Anyway

Intermedia

by Nance Van Winckel

Sad lad of the far north, you with no means and no true lassie, with no way home and no home anyway

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Gloomy Forest 1 (#amwriting)

Self is attempting to finish all she has left unfinished.

Attempt # 1:

The woman took the letter and set off, but soon got lost and found herself wandering in a forest. In the gathering darkness she saw a faint light glimmering among the trees. She made for it and eventually found herself in front of a cottage. Inside, an old woman sat dozing at a cheerful fire. The old woman took fright at the sudden appearance of the stranger and demanded, “Where have you sprung from and where are you going?” The woman answered, “I’m taking a letter” but forgot everything else. In the end, what is true is what remains.

 

Opening, New Flash

Living and breathing Philippine history for two weeks does have its advantages. Such as

HISTORICAL FLASH! HISTORICAL FLASH! HISTORICAL FLASH!

  • In the city of Manila, on the twentieth of May, in the year one-thousand, five-hundred and eighty-nine, Doctor Santiago de Marquina saw a girl he estimated to be about fourteen years of age rising about a foot above the floor while she made her confession. This occurrence took place in the chapel of the convent of the Barefoot Saint Clares, situated by the Puerto Real in the old fort known as Intramuros.

Stay tuned.

Two Pieces Out, One Upcoming

Self is in the issue of Jellyfish Review curated by Grace Loh Prasad: SIGN. The pieces are so delicious and fun. All are really different, showing what self has always known: FLASH RULES. Grace’s opening essay is kick-ass.

(BTW: Seventeen Syllables will be reading at San Francisco LITCRAWL, 19 October, 6:30 – 7:30, at FELLOW, 820 Valencia Street, on the theme: Strangers and Ghosts! These readings are always SRO. Be sure and COME EARLY!!!)

Another story, Tu-an Ju (dystopian science fiction), just came out in Vice-Versa, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa’s e-zine. The theme for the issue was Otherworld/Underworld, a theme self felt could have been tailor-made just for her. Thank you to Pat Matsueda, Lillian Howan and Angela Nishimoto for putting this issue together.

And vol. 3 of msaligned is coming soon! Thanks again to Lillian Howan for soliciting a piece specifically for this volume, and Pat Matsueda for editing the series.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Featured in Jellyfish Review: Flash by Seventeen Syllables

Grace Loh Prasad curated, Roy Kamada’s Grey Matter has just posted.

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

More goodness — from Caroline Kim Brown and Grace herself — to follow.

Grace’s introductory essay, here.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SIGN: Flash Stories by the members of Seventeen Syllables, curated by Grace Loh Prasad for Jellyfish Review

From the Introduction by Grace Loh Prasad:

A hand or patch over one eye. A rainbow flag. A kneeling athlete. An eggplant emoji. A thumb pointing down.

What do these have in common? They are all symbols, representing something more than what is literally pictured. A symbol is a kind of sign — at its simplest, a unit of meaning. Whether they’re labels for places or ideas, indicators of prestige or health, or warnings of what’s ahead, signs operate at a level deeper than language. A sign is like a boat, but instead of water it navigates through meaning, through a shared set of references within a community.

Read the rest of the introduction, here.

Stay tuned.

Flash Fiction Tuesday: Shirley Ancheta

Kristine appeared in Going Home to a Landscape: a Filipino Women’s Anthology, co-edited by self and Virginica Cerenio (Calyx Press). From the moment self first came across the piece in the submissions pile, she fell in love. This is an ace piece of writing, one that straddles prose and poetry, and is so achingly poignant.

Where is Shirley Ancheta now? Self doesn’t know. She hopes she is well.

Kristine turns a corner in San Francisco and is struck by an oncoming car. She is floating, she thinks, in the air with the seagulls. Her teeth ache. A man steps up to her and says, “Dear God, I’m sorry. What can I do? What?”

She thinks he has said, “Desire … here … what will you do?” The only man she wants to reach is married or dead or related to her. She smiles. She can’t remember.

She thought she was kissing a boy in the dark, in the back of the house near the pineapple field. His hands could hold down a pig for the killing. They were caught by their grandmother who threw her slippers across the yard. “No do dat wit your cah-sun! Wassamaddah you kids? You no feel shame o’ what? No good fo’ cah-sins fo’ make li’ dat!”

It is cold on the pavement of Stockton and Pine. The wind is enough to pick up Kristine’s skirt. She rolls her head from side to side. As someone puts a blanket on her, she hears a siren rising to meet the ringing in her ears.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 55: DREAMY

Thanks once again to viveka for inspiring self to try posting to the current Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: DREAMY.

Self is a short story writer (though some of her stories are over 50 pages!).

  • This Red Riding Hood Lamp followed her from one childhood home to another; self’s parents gave it to her when she was about five.

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She brought it to the States with her, when she left for grad school. And here it is now, in self’s home in Redwood City, California.

It was the perfect gift — one that nurtured her imagination and encouraged her to dream.

  • Here’s an image from the cover of Hotel Amerika, a literary magazine (based in Chicago) which published self’s flash, Ghosts. She loves the surreal, and so she loves the image.
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Hotel Amerika, Vol. 8 No. 2 (Spring 2010)

  • Finally, a landscape absolutely made for dreaming: Mendocino.
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Mendocino Headlands: April 21, 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

For Sarah Balabagan, OFW, by Marianne Villanueva

FOR SARAH BALABAGAN, OFW 

Note:  OFW stands for “Overseas Filipino Workers.” As of 2010, there were believed to be close to 2 million OFWs working in almost every country in the world, including Albania, Mongolia, Romania, and Swaziland.  

You with the round face, the dark blue headscarf, I saw you first at 3 p.m.

It was a hot afternoon in September.  I’d opened Marie Claire or Glamour, I don’t now remember which, and there you were, grave and unsmiling. (But what cause would you have to smile?  I found out all, later.)

Your father’s name was Karim, and your mother’s, Bai.  You grew up in the island of Mindanao, in the Philippines.  You were fourth in a family of fourteen children.

The man who raped you was dead (I was happy to read).  You stabbed him 34 times.

You knew that most likely you were never going to get a husband. Not after what had happened.

It was the worst thing you ever imagined.  Not just the pain, no — it was worse than that.  The telling to your mother – it nearly finished you.

He gouged the skin of your throat with his long fingernails.  You were afraid, but the fear was nothing compared to your shame.

You asked yourself, “Why?”  Your brothers too said it, but they pointed fingers at your mother (who wept, who refused to leave the house for months, who even attempted suicide) and sometimes, (though not as much) at your father.

Your brothers shouted, “Why did you let her go?  To a place like that?”

The newspapers recorded every accusation.

As if anyone could ever have foreseen such a catastrophe.

The man who sat across the table from you at the police station in Abu Dhabi, the man you knew only as “Pak,” said over and over:  “You said that such and such a thing happened on such and such a day.  Why do you make up such stories?”

You said, “I swear to God – “

“Swearing is a sin.  Whose God are you swearing at?  You will be tortured if you don’t stop these lies.”

They said you would be permitted to return home, but only after you confessed.

You held out for four months.  Then, the man named Pak came again with the form and this time, you signed it.  “Now you have nothing to worry about,” Pak said.

A week later, you were in the courtroom to hear your sentence. While you waited for the translation, you imagined yourself back home.  Your lawyer patted your hand.  The look on his face was sorrowful.

Sentenced to death, he said.  “What?” you said.  He repeated, Sentenced to death.

I read how the murdered man’s sons spoke on your behalf.  Yes, they told the court.  We believe our father capable of rape.

Because of their testimony, the sentence was reduced to 100 lashes.  After another year in prison, you returned home.  You were thin and wan – Oh, you were much changed.

They said you became a singer. Your voice, though untrained, was described as “pure,” which must have pleased your brothers no end.

You became quite well-known, and sang in shows with Heart Evangelista and Dulce Amor. You opened for Dingdong Avanzado, and were invited to record a duet with the popular Ogie Alcasid.

As for your mother, she still says, over and over, It was never my idea.

You had your first child at 18.  The father was a journalist.  He left you after two years.

In your mind, you have never left Abu Dhabi. You are still in that small barred cell, shrinking in horror from the jailers who point at your shaved head and mutter curses. You will always be there, enacting penitence for an event that never ends and a guilt that never leaves.  It is there always, in your blood, as is fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

– End

Stonehenge/Pacifica

In 2014, self went to see Stonehenge.

She signed up for a small-group tour, the only one allowed on the site towards sunset. All the big tour buses had left. The guide, a retired military officer, led the group across a sheep meadow.

This is unquestionably the best approach. It allows the view to unfold gradually. You are reminded that this was how people, in time immemorial, must have approached the monument: in procession. Self could hardly contain her excitement at her first glimpse of the pillars of stone.

The mystery of the site has stayed with her. The fact that no human habitations were ever built around it. What was it used for?

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From this vantage point, we could clearly see the jagged outline of the stones, just above the rise.

Well before she saw Stonehenge, she’d written about it in a piece called Stonehenge/Pacifica, published in Wigleaf, 2012.

It was a dream I had, some restless night. One of those weeks or months or years when we were worried about money.

But when were we ever not worried?

First there was the mortgage, and then the two.

And then your mother got sick, and your father died.

And my mother I think developed Alzheimer’s, but we never mentioned it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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