89 cover front.png

CutBank 89

2018

Contents

The Things We Do For Family
Fiction by Daniel Paul [read an excerpt...]

English 206
Poetry by Joh Koethe

Bucyrus
Nonfiction by Matthew Gallant [read an excerpt...]

From Granite Illusion, So the Conjoined World Follows
Poetry by Abi Pollokoff

Tether
Winner: Montana Prize in Fiction, by J. Matthew Gottwig [read an excerpt...]

What Isn’t Dead
Winner: Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry, by Freesia McKee [read the poem...]

I Am Coming For You
Winner: Montana Prize in Nonfiction, by Tammy Delatorre [read an excerpt...]

Bitter Candytuft
Poetry by Danielle Shuster [read the poem...]

Painting Park Lake
Nonfiction by Amye Day Ong [read an excerpt...]

Near Misses
Poetry by Alysse McCanna

The Ice
Fiction by Fortunato Salazar [read an excerpt...]

My Evil Twin
Poetry by Taisia Kitaiskaia

Good Dog
Fiction by Michael Byers [read an excerpt...]

Cannonball
Nonfiction and Photography by Sam Olson & Will Adams [read an excerpt...]

After the War
Fiction by Jordan Eleftheriou [read an excerpt...]

Contributors’ Notes

Masthead 89

Editor-in-Chief
Bryn Agnew

Online Managing Editor
Barry Maxwell

Fiction Editors
Liana Imam
Connor McElwee
Taylor White

Poetry Editors
Georgia Dennison
Zack Rybak
Aya Satoh

Nonfiction Editors
Jason Bacaj
Emma Pfeiffer

Interviews Editor
Emma Pfeiffer

Reviews Editor
Molly Gray

Social Media Coordinator
Skylar Salvatore

Special Events Coordinator
Jordan Chesnut

Publication Intern
Jeron Jennings

Cover
Golden Larch by David Miles Lusk
Digital manipulation by CutBank

 


Daniel Paul | Fiction

The Things We Do For Family

I finally met the girl I want to make a part of my family. After five years of working in bars, of half-heard conversations and half-seen faces, Kelly made me want to turn on the lights and turn off the music. After the parade of one night stands I refer to colloquially as “my twenties,” simply holding her hand felt like putting on clothes after using fabric softener for the first time (something, incidentally, that I’ve finally started doing since dating her).

But as much as I want to take the next step, for Kelly to meet my family, it’s not as simple as just dropping by my parents’ house for Sunday dinner. My mother died when I was very young, and my father and I were never close. I have no siblings, no aunts; all I have is Gammy.

I’ve told Kelly half of the truth about Gammy. I’ve told her that I have to take care of Gammy because of her illnesses (true), but not the nature of the symptoms or the root of their cause. I’ve told her that we can’t go back to my apartment because it will upset Gammy (very true), but not that when Gammy is upset she can become dangerous and violent. I’ve told her that Gammy will not care that Kelly isn’t Jewish (probably true), but not that Gammy will care that Kelly is new and unfamiliar to her. Most importantly, I have told her that Gammy is my family, my blood (true and true), but I have not told her that Gammy is not human. Gammy is actually a member of an extinct species of cat-sized lizard from which human beings in general (and I specifically) are directly descended. It is either because of this, or just because she is old and curmudgeonly, that Gammy has so much trouble adjusting to new things.

•••

So, how is it that I’m taking care of a relative who is also an extinct lizard?

About six months ago, some asshole walked into the bar where I work and began talking about time travel. He said he was from the future, and that no one in the future used fossil fuels or drank PBR, so we were idiots for doing both. He talked about some movies that hadn’t been made yet but we still “had to see,” and he told us that you can’t fully appreciate Pulp Fiction until you seen all four vignettes simultaneously by using something called beta wave technology. He hit on one of the female regulars by telling her that she had a really “classic” look, then he downed a shot of what he called “Vintage Jack,” paid his bill, and left the bar. That’s when I noticed that he had left his bag.

This happens all the time. Some patron will get shitfaced and leave something. We put it behind the bar, and usually they come the next morning to get it.

Also, I look through their stuff.

I realize it is not the most ethical thing in the world, but someone needs to look through the bag to make sure there isn’t a bomb or a human head inside. Anyway, I’m really into music, and sort of a curious person in general, so it’s hard for me not to look in their iPod or laptop and scope out the bands they listen to. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and have scrutinized the files of six laptops, eleven iPods, five smart phones...

And now I’ve done it to one time machine.


Matthew Gallant | Nonfiction

Bucyrus

bjuːˈsaɪrəs

In the center of Bucyrus, Ohio, there is a town square and two patches of grass roughly one hundred feet across that flank Sandusky Avenue. The Pelican Coffee House is to the south and the newest branch of Farmer Citizen’s Bank to the north. The courthouse sits on the east block—in various states of repair—and two bars are to the west. This is the heart of the city, my hometown, the place where the native Wyandot, before the Europeans arrived, gathered to make maple syrup.

Bucyrus was named, so the legend goes, by combining the words beautiful and the name of the ancient Persian leader Cyrus the Great. It’s a city both hated and loved by its residents. It’s a Midwestern city with typical Midwestern drug problems, crisis of identity, and longing for its past. Through the middle of the 20th century the city was a productive, Midwestern hub. It was a symbol of progress. Where it once was a place of burgeoning industry, Bucyrus has since fallen on hard times. Much of the production from the previous century has slowed or halted. It recently ranked third in heroin overdoses in the state of Ohio.

Near the town square is a large mural, spanning the entire side of the Pelican Coffee House, that shows what the city looked like in its heyday during the Industrial Revolution. In the background you can see Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford, who once stayed at the local hotel for President Harding’s funeral. Both Al Capone and Thomas Edison stayed when they passed through as well—fittingly, Capone stayed in a room below ground and Edison above. The hotel is now closed and most of what is left of the building sits unused. The mural images cling to greatness; the painting represents a time in the city’s past when it was looking forward rather than backward, when it was filled with hope instead of resentment. The mural also portrays a vital artery of the Lincoln Highway that still runs through the center of town, but construction of a bypass that loops around the city rendered it useless.

That mural is made to give the effect of looking into the city’s past, when there were just as many horse-drawn vehicles as there were horse- powered. The artwork is so realistic that it was nicknamed the “bird killer mural,” due to the fact that birds fly into it and often die. With this mural the town square operates as a place stuck between present and past, a place that can’t stop lingering, sitting in perpetual nostalgia.

The mural is one attempt at progress. It’s an attempt to alter a vessel by filling it with something new, trying to rebuild a community once again. It’s an attempt to look forward, to expect progress, not failure, even if the paint is meant to last just 100 years.

Bucyrus is the place that raised me. I was born in Bucyrus, metaphorically and physically. For 22 years, it was my home. It is where I went to school, where I went to church, where my family and many old friends still live. At 15, I had my first drink in the vacant half of the Ramseys’ duplex at the end of Wiley Street. At 13, I smoked my first joint by the Taco Bell dumpster. When I was 8, my family planted two maples in the side yard of my mother’s house on Poplar Street. I went to school in the Norton Elementary building, named for Samuel Norton, the founder of the town. As a child, I sat on Sandusky Street curb and watched the Bratwurst Festival parade with my grandparents from their spot in the grass. They got the same spot every year by going the day before and laying out their lawn chairs on the ground.


J. Matthew Gottwig | Winner: Montana Prize in Fiction Selected by Monica Drake

Tether

When the rattlesnake bites Jack, his mother prays, Please Lord Jesus, draw the venom from my boy; bring the color of life back into his skin; keep him breathing, Lord Jesus, keep my boy alive!

But she doesn’t cry.

No, that woman is strong as stone, but her boyfriend cries. Yes, William cries the whole sixty miles to the clinic, because he loves that boy more than he loves himself, and he cries because Katie’s prayers make him think of that rattler’s schc-schc-schc-schc. “We’ve got to be strong for him, Katie,” William says, but when the doctors and nurses cover that boy (so still and ocean blue), they weep quietly for the mom who can’t let go. William places a hand on his girlfriend’s shoulder and whispers, “Jack loved you, Katie,” which is all he can think to say.

But Katie is having none of this and pulls those linens back!

This she prays as her boy’s spirit rises from his body, No, Lord Jesus, I will not relent, Lord, because you are all powerful, and this she prays as that boy’s spirit ascends into the rafters, You can do anything Lord Jesus, I know you can. I believe it in my heart of hearts, and Katie’s prayers are powerful prayers that call like eagles cry. Even as her Lord sings to Jack, prepares a place, a golden throne just Jack’s size, her prayers keep that boy tethered to the earth.

But there Jack is, reaching for the sky.

Katie feels him leaving her, feels it deep inside, and hasn’t ever felt this kind of sorrow before, not when her sister died, not when she quit her husband, not ever, and it is an awesome sorrow, the kind filled with glory, the kind that rises up and overcomes and gives her just the lines she needs to pray. Death means nothing to me, Lord Jesus, because you are, stronger, Lord Jesus, I know you are, she prays, and when Lucifer has his little look, she prays, I bind these evil spirits of death, Lord Jesus, bind them in the pit of hell, because they have no place here among the innocent, and when the sky opens so wide even she can hear the heavenly host, she prays, I reject your judgement, Lord Jesus, reject it, because it is unjust to bury one so young, and when that tether is about to snap, she wails, You will bring my baby back!

And Jack comes tumbling down!

That boy opens his eyes, and the doctors and nurses and even the janitor can’t believe what they’re seeing but know they need to finish what Katie started. The nurse with the plucked eyebrows whispers, “If you wouldn’t mind escorting your wife to the waiting room...,” and never misses a day of church after that.

“These people need to do their work,” William tells Katie, but she won’t go, not after everything, not until her boy looks at her and nods, and when she coos and strokes his little cheek, he does that very thing. Katie stands and takes William’s hand but keeps whispering to herself, Thank you, Holy Christ; thank you for bringing my boy back to me. Thank you for trusting me with this blessed gift, and she and William step out to the waiting room and pretend to watch the news.




Freesia McKee | Winner: Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry Selected by Sarah Vap

What Isn’t Dead

I don’t remember the favor,
if she was carrying my bag or helping
me put on my coat or pointing out
a tall step, my ex-
girlfriend, the gentleman,
the one who told me at the final
break that she wished we had
never met

at the gay bar, in what felt like the loneliest
place, with the same broken friends every week, under
the glow of the sober dyke DJ who said someday
she’d be famous, carrying out the same night
over and over for the same broken friends
who said someday they’d go back
to school, someday they’d get married to a really fine girl,
introducing the bar to their third fiancée, the same bottle
thrown over the back fence from the strip club’s
parking lot, broken, wished we had never gone on

to meet over beers the two curious women
who decided we were not
interesting enough for their company, not
exotic enough, not queer
enough, we were young and old and already shacked
up, stable jobs and bored out of my mind, my ex-
girlfriend who wished we’d never
gone up north to spend time on the 4th
with her family in their flag shirts, the neighbor
on the lawn singing God Bless
America 
into a karaoke microphone
like a cantor. No, I don’t remember the favor, before
my very own Stone Butch Blues,
her sister screaming in the living
room over a mysterious rivalry, I don’t remember,
with all we had been through as I ran away
from my life by staying in place on that night near

the end, of what gentlemanly act she had partaken,
I really don’t remember, on the dark
Seattle street, the reptilian glow
of the food store behind us, what tender favor
she towered over to help me with
when the anonymous figure yelled
across the street, cheering her on,
low and emphatic, the inadequate statement, “chivalry is not dead!”


Tammy Delatorre | Winner: Montana Prize in Nonfiction Selected by Sarah Gerard

I Am Coming For You

I am coming for you. My mother might have said those words the night she went after him—the bearded man, the one she took to her room all those nights. He would come over after I’d gone to bed. She carried me from her room—the only place I could fall asleep—to the room across the hall. In the sticky Hawaiian heat, I’d wake to their loud moans and groans in the middle of the night and sit straight up in bed. At six years old, the only thing I knew of sex was a glimpse I got on TV: two bodies moving under a white sheet.

The room I was in was not my room. My room was my mother’s room. I was afraid of the dark, afraid of being alone, but I also knew I could not go in there with them doing what they were doing. Still, I got out of bed and sat with my back against her bedroom door and fell fast asleep.

I am coming for you. I repeat these words like a mantra, like a prayer, like a blessing. I am coming for you. What I am actually doing is driving in the early morning in Los Angeles to the gym. There is little traffic. I am going fast, wanting to be reckless, wanting to wrap my car around some pole rather than to think the thoughts I’m thinking. I am coming for you. It crosses my mind that revenge is not a reason to write, and yet it is the reason I am writing today.

That morning in Hawai’i, when I am six years old, the door I fell asleep against is pulled away from me. I look up, smiling, expecting it will be my mother, but it is the bearded man.

“Listen, you little brat, your mother doesn’t need you hanging around.” He digs his fingers into the soft, pulpy part of my arm, digs until his fingers hit bone, until I wince with pain, until he’s dragged me across the hall to the room that is not mine and throws me against the bed. He pauses for the briefest moment, considering if there’s more to be done to me. “Stay there,” he says and shuts the door.

I do not come out until I know he is gone, his deep voice absent from down the hall. In the living room, I find my mother lounging on the couch, body relaxed and loose, eyes dreaming, smile crooked, like she’s about to lie. “He makes me happy,” she says. “Do you like him?”

I shrug, wanting to show her the red welts he’s dug into my arm.

“Oh, don’t you want Mama to be happy?”

I do, but why does it take him? Why not just me?

After my sister was taken away by Child Protective Services, after my father left, I slept with my mother in her bed, skin to skin. Her sweat. My sweat. I long to know her in this way again, a time when a barrier to her body did not exist. Her hard muscles against my soft belly, her pelvis against my thigh, her clavicle, a resting place for my arm. Mine. All of it. That was my happiness, but I nod anyway for hers.


Danielle Shuster | Poetry

Bitter Candytuft

Iberis amara

The desert lets out a briney sigh
as if it remembers
the ocean. Sometimes

I see you in the candytuft—
four-petaled,
white as hospital sheets.

A compulsion towards trauma
leads me to hem & re-hem
the Camel-Wide-texture

of your laugh, to settle
on a tuberose
for your lapel, to hold our absence

in my belly when I am restless.
Recollections handled
until they’re threadbare reveal far too little

& too much. Loneliness is submissive,
but thistled. I wake in the night,
the never-coming-back of you
clustering in my throat.


Amye Day Ong | Nonfiction

Painting Park Lake

Color Apparent

Up close the lake’s water is green—a hollow green full of emptiness. Gulp it down and still there’s that tickle in your throat, the need for more. When green, the lake can only offer promises unfulfilled. Flickers of fish tails. A dimple where the snapping turtle was. The taste of moss thick and wet on the tongue though not a clump is in sight.

In a wide steel bucket the lake’s water disappears completely. The only indication of its existence: a surface film that refracts a shot of light here and there. Perhaps the water vanishes into gray because it instinctively wants to be carried away. It yearns to have a pail dipped into it, to slosh itself side to side as it’s carted up a hill, back to a cabin buried in the woods.

On a sunny, cloudless day the water mimics blue. It’s a beauty overwhelming and impossible to tolerate—a mirror held up to the heavens that blinds. How to behold such majesty? Trap it in a picture. Twice remove it from the source.

In the black of night, the lake assumes powers of absorption. The line between water and air evaporates before the eye, becoming perceptible by touch alone. Terrestrials learn of their limits too late, after the water, animated in its inkiness, has already surrounded them. The lake can make anything its own.

Below a moon the water becomes as solid and white as an egg. So easy to grasp and roll around in your hand. A weighty ovoid holding all the elemental matter of the universe. In the morning you crack it, fry it for breakfast.

Fauna

Inside the lake live swimming contact lenses—freshwater jellyfish as big as quarters. An “X” marks the spot over their translucent hearts. They map the lake, hovering where the water is cold and deep. When disturbed, their gelatinous bodies contract, descend, dissolving back into the empty green.

Skinny-nosed snappers poke out their nostrils, poised for movement. The tiniest current of a canoe paddle or crunch of gravel from a nearby road causes them to dive deep down into a safe murkiness where they cannot breathe. On sunny, quiet days, they climb onto collapsed tree trunks. After jockeying for the best sunbathing spot they close their eyes and bask in the heat, relishing its penetration from rugged shell to squidgy core.

The smell of smooshed white bread, the lingering wriggle of a worm that’s been pinched apart by hand, these dangling treats bring out the bluegills. In the water, the bread dissolves like an old tab of Alka-Seltzer, hurried along by pecking nibbles from the school. The worm is meaty and requires mastication. It is this thoughtful chewing that ultimately results in the bluegill being shot into the air like a daredevil from a cannon. Se- quined scales glitter in the sun from all the asphyxiated twitching. What really bothers the bluegill—more than the lightheaded disorientation that’s beginning to take over—is the dawning realization that the bit of worm sitting just inside its lips will never reach the stomach.


Fortunato Salazar | Fiction

The Ice

I met a citizen on the ice, older guy, had quit his job, now living out of a teardrop trailer with his spouse, who identified as a Boilermaker. We talked ferments across a picnic table while the spouse bundled the pug into a parka: a brutal sea breeze carried her words off into oblivion. Mauve was the color of the parka. You will settle down here and endure a decade on the ice, were her words. You will bounce around from low end to dead end to odds and ends. Odds and ends, you’ll discover, are the meat and potatoes of commerce on the ice, such as it is. Oh, commerce, she sighed.


Abnegation figured into the commerce. The couple with the pug after selling their bungalow and investing in the teardrop put the rest of their sav- ings into abnegating. The banner at the entrance to the marketplace flashed a trademarked jingle about abnegating, minus the melody. The neon was loud. Nonetheless the pug snoozed in its mauve cocoon. I commented on abnegation in regard to ferments. I noticed a definite austerity trend. I com- mented into my cupped hands. What? said the older guy. Into my cupped hands I shouted an observation about a starvation diet. What? said the older guy again, startling Herschel awake. Herschel opened his mouth and nothing came out.


Some other old guy had a picnic table to himself; he was hogging a coveted picnic table. Feeling that I’d been monopolizing the Boilermaker, I went over and began a shouting chat with the ancient mariner. See that blade hanging over your head? he shouted. Blade? I shouted. He shouted back a gruesome moralistic anecdote from his childhood. You were only supposed to pull, never to push, was the premise. Pushing imperiled the sibling. It felt like he’d never left the ice just so he could recount his mischief on his home turf. Make a home for himself at the head of the table, milk the anecdote for all it was worth, lie in wait.



The blade belonged to him, and then again it didn’t. If ever a blade could be said to have an owner...and the picnic table, and the cone of space, and the drink coasters from an interior lair. I watched him go off inside to this lair and I thought of riding the elevator up to the ice and how you normally walked out the front doors but if you were a mischievous child determined not to outlive your parents you punched buttons at random until the rear doors opened onto an alcove where obsolete implements existed in a state of suspended abnegation. He brought out into the crowded patio a stack of coasters, all alike: the ice had shifted as it did from time to time. As he knelt, I thought of the lackeys with their antique elevator keys who checked in from time to time on the implements.


Michael Byers | Fiction

Good Dog

No, his wife Deborah hadn’t wanted a dog from the beginning, but then there was this let’s call it opportunity, Irina had to change apartments and therefore Max came available, a shaggy friendly old retriever, no threat to anyone, though yes in the first week he did eat the back of the green velvet sofa, heirloom from Stan’s aunt, his loss, Stan pointed out, and yes there was the issue of not having asked before he furnished the guest bedroom with a big crate, but they were both more or less retired and the children grown and gone and Stan, at least, found solace in Max, a perfectly joyous beast, purely expressive of his canine rectitude, that in the elevator Max would sit upright maintaining the lifelong apartment dweller’s open-faced neutrality, ready to engage if required but otherwise holding his opinions to himself. He fetched tennis balls as though they were partridges, and he committed his business to only the most convenient patches of scruffy dirt, looking not at Stan but up at the trees and the changing weather, a naturalist at heart. 


Sam Olson & Will Adams | Nonfiction and Photography

Cannonball

Crowding around the propane heater in the mess hall
eating stew, someone steals my gloves. No, they just disappear.

A voice in the crowd asks where our ancestors call from.
“Minot, North Dakota,” I say, even though my family stayed

just one generation before continuing west.

•••

All night he feeds the wood stove. In his wheelchair in the corner of the wall-tent,
an army blanket across his lap, he waits for rounds to reduce to coals.

It took us all day to split that cottonwood.
He lets us lay our sleeping bags here as trade.

•••

Wind shakes the walls of the tent. He’s fallen asleep, but another man
crouches in longjohns, loading wood.

I watch the stove’s open mouth glow across the ceiling,
smelling cottonwood catching. The ceiling canvas rolls,

nautilus in deep, deep water.

•••

In the dream, the red outline of a man stomps at my feet, pistols held high.
Only shadows surround us. “You’re sleeping on my bed!” he yells.

“No, I’m only scratching this Earth,” I say, finding he placed
a coho salmon in my hands.

2

Women start whispering about the airplanes
that circle the camp day and night.

An elder has a heart-attack and is driven to Bismarck. Someone says
the doctors find traces of pesticides in her bloodstream.


Jordan Eleftheriou | Fiction

After the War

Look at the guns. Look at the horses, rising. The wife in her wife-beater. The musket. Look at the men. This is our history.
In the year of our lord 2019, a massacre.

We had been trembling for months. The men who rode us had been trembling for months. In the barns, buckets rattled against walls. They rode us at night instead of the day. I thought it was their trembling, I thought it affected their clocks, that the clocks rattled against the walls, and the minute hands bumped into the hour hands because they were rattling because of the humans who for months had been trembling.


C O N T R I B U T O R S ’ N O T E S

Will Adams is child of Mother Earth longing to return to her wondrous embrace. He is a lover longing to truly love. He is a blade of grass learning to surrender. He is a man struggling to find his voice. He is a flower in perpetual bloom.

Michael Byers is the author of The Coast of Good Intentions (stories), and two novels: Long for This World and Percival’s Planet. His fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards.

Tammy Delatorre is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her writing has received numerous literary awards, including the Payton Prize and the Slippery Elm Prose Prize. Her writing has also appeared in Los Angeles Times, Good HousekeepingThe RumpusViceMany Mountains Moving, and The Nervous Breakdown. She obtained her MFA in creative writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. More of her stories and essays can be found on her website: www.tammydelatorre.com.

Joanna Eleftheriou teaches at the University of Houston–Clear Lake and the Writing Workshops in Greece. Her essays, poems, and translations appear in journals including The Crab Orchard ReviewArts and Letters, and The Common. She’s completing her first book.

Matthew Gallant is a photographer and writer based in Memphis, Tennessee. He holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Memphis, where he served as Managing Editor on The Pinch. He has essays previously published in Zone 3The McNeese ReviewEssay Daily, and other places.

J. Matthew Gottwig is a Montana native now living in Baltimore, MD with his wife and kids. He works for the University of Maryland library system and is pursuing his MFA from the University of Baltimore.

Taisia Kitaiskaia is the author of Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers (2017), illustrated by Katy Horan, and Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles (2017).

John Koethe’s last book, The Swimmer, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2016, which published Walking Backwards: Poems 1966--2016 in 2018. He has received the Lenore Marshall, Kingsley Tufts, and Frank O’Hara awards and is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Alysse Kathleen McCanna is pursuing her PhD in English at Oklahoma State University. She is Associate Editor of Pilgrimage Magazine and holds an MFA from Bennington College. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Poet LoreTriQuarterlyLunch TicketBarrow Street, and other journals. Her chapbook Pentimento is forthcoming from Gold Line Press. She lives in Stillwater, OK, where she and her husband bask in the heat of the prairie and tend to their growing menagerie.

Freesia McKee is author of the chapbook How Distant the City (Headmistress Press, 2017). Her words have appeared in cream city review,The Feminist WirePainted Bride QuarterlyGertrude, the Ms. Magazine BlogCALYXSinister Wisdom, and Nimrod.

Sam Olson was raised in Portland, Oregon with family roots in Libby, Montana. A University of Montana graduate, his poetry has appeared in Camas. He has been accepted as a Resident Artist at Holden Village, a remote community in the North Cascades, where he will continue exploring social and ecological justice through poetry and essay. He lives, teaches, and learns near the Salish Sea.

Amye Day Ong grew up in Kentucky, spending her summers at Park Lake. She has since moved north to the Windy City, where she received her MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia College Chicago. Her essays have appeared in ImageThe Common online, and Green Briar Review. Her essay “Chest Percussions,” for Image, was selected as notable in The Best American Essays 2018. She is currently working on a memoir. Visit her online at amyedayong.com.

Daniel Paul received his MFA from Southern Illinois University. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency,The PinchPuerto Del SolHobartPassages North and other magazines. He lives in Ohio where he is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Cincinnati. Find his work at danpiercepaul.wordpress.com.

Abi Pollokoff is a Seattle-based writer with work forthcoming from or previously in The SpectaclePoetry NorthwestBlack Warrior Review, and Guernica, among others. She holds an MFA from the University of Washington. Find her at abipollokoff.com.

Fortunato Salazar lives in Los Angeles.

Danielle Shuster is an MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College. She is from Reno, Nevada. Her work has appeared in Badlands Literary Journal. She is interested in the ecology of the Great Basin and tending to her menagerie of other obsessions.