Issue 93: Liana Roux

Liana Roux

About Liana Roux

Liana Roux has an MFA from the University of Minnesota. Her work appears in Salamander, Hole In The Head Review, The Experiment Will Not Be Bound anthology (Unbound Edition Press, 2022), The Rupture, The Queer South anthology (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014), and elsewhere. She lives in North Carolina with her wife and two sons. You can visit her website here.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on “81/2 Mariana “, “Gnash”, and “Spring, Loring Pond”

“8 ½ Marina” is a poem for my friend Risden. My girlfriend and I were staying with him in Atlantic Beach, at a condo that sits on a long slab of concrete, surrounded by water on either side. A true ecological nightmare, something the sea ought to reclaim. I loved it. This was years ago now. We were trying and failing to catch a fish, while an actual fisherman was out in the water in his boat. I wanted to capture that moment, our gay melancholy and joy, meandering like the tide.

“Gnash” is such a great word, one of those words that sounds like what it is. I did eventually go to a real dentist and get a mouth guard, which my dog ended up eating a week later. Apparently that happens all the time, something about how your mouth guard smells so much like you, it’s irresistible. They’re compelled to consume it. I also learned later that the divots in my teeth are actually caused by acid reflux, not grinding. Another of the body’s little revenges.

“Spring, Loring Pond” is about living in Loring Park in Minneapolis. What a joy to move to the gay neighborhood, to live on the same block as one of the oldest gay bars in the country. And then what a shock to read, in old newspaper articles, that a gay man was killed in 1979 in the park around the corner. His name was Terry Knudsen. I don’t know what duty, if any, public spaces have to acknowledge the horrors that happen there, but it made me uneasy how that park, where I would walk every day, seemed able to shed the past. I kept coming back to the water, and what it might or might not remember.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

My toddler will listen to nothing but ABBA, so that has become the soundtrack of our lives here. I was in the top .005% of ABBA listeners on Spotify last year. My wife was in the top .01%. That does not include the ABBA records my son puts on our record player every day. I don’t want to exaggerate, but I do not think many other human beings are listening to as much ABBA as we are.

All that said, Super Trouper? A perfect album, no skips. “Me and I” should get more love.


Three Poems by Liana Roux

Gnash I’m grinding my teeth straight through the enamel. The dental hygienist asks if I’m experiencing any stress. Has my wife noticed anything?Does she hear tumbling rocks? Gnashing, from Middle English from Old Norse,may be onomatopoeic, grown—ground?—from sound. On the tip of my left canine tooth is a divot,a deepening pit that catches my tongue. … Read more

Issue 93: Meg Kelleher

Meg Kelleher

About Meg Kelleher

Meg Kelleher is an English Literature Ph.D. dropout and licensed clinical social worker who specializes in creativity and trauma. Her work has been published in The Shore, The Broadkill Review, and elsewhere, and she was Fellow for Kaveh Akbar at StoryBoard 2021 and a 2022 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Contributor. She is currently at work on a novel and a book of nonfiction, and she lives in her birthplace of Chicago. You can find her on Instagram.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on “Nokomis Groves”

“Nokomis Groves” is named after a defunct citrus operation in Sarasota County, the coastal Florida community where I lived from age 7 to 21. After beginning this poem years ago, some shadowy subliminal force drove me to finally complete and submit it to the contest at the last minute. It’s been a dream to win.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I should have expected the news that Nokomis Groves is being converted into a gated housing development of single family homes. I should have expected that the orange trees would be torn out, the ones that scented the winters of my childhood with their dissolute blossoms. This is a place where prehistoric shark teeth litter the beaches, antediluvian monsters prowl waterways, and over-55 restricted retirement communities spread like exotic creepers, strangling more fragile life. 

I should have known. As a child in Florida, I learned to fit myself into the preexisting order and accept the absolute dominion of the old regime. The fact that it grows relentlessly, ever proliferating in conch-white high rise complexes and eel-blue swimming pools, does not make it any less the old regime.

Yet it’s easy to take for granted that a home is yours and always will be.

After my father retired from the Chicago police in the 1980’s, we moved to Sarasota, where he worked as a sheriff’s deputy. For years he was assigned to oversee evictions, reporting to rental properties on the precise day that tenants’ time had run out. My father said that he never had to force anyone to go, that he’d just knock on the tenants’ doors in his uniform and they would step away from their homes willingly—albeit in some disbelief, a sort of daze. They’d frequently leave behind their televisions and stereos and abandon boxes of clothes and records on the lawn.

That was my father’s day job. But the seat of his true vocation lay in our garage, where he fixed things in his off time. No car, computer or appliance repair was beyond his ken. Sometimes he’d rehabilitate the broken things the tenants had left behind.

After my father retired for good, my parents developed an unconventional streak counter to the currents of more common snowbirds. They sold our home in Sarasota and moved near me in Chicago, where I’d previously relocated. My mother retired shortly before the pandemic began and increasingly devoted herself to caring for my father.

But a few months ago my mother admitted that my father’s needs now exceeded her capacity. She placed him in the secure memory unit of an assisted living facility near us both in the Chicago suburbs. 

The facility is called Saratoga Grove. We slip up and call it Sarasota Grove all the time. Just before we moved my father into the facility, I traveled to Sicily, to the Kolymbethra Gardens in Agrigento. Between the ruins of Greek and Roman temples, near a quarry that served as a prison for the slaves who spent their lives carving out limestone for their captors, there are citrus groves. Today the 2,500 year-old aqueduct system still flows, and ancient varieties of oranges and other fruits are irrigated in the classical Arab tradition.

The staff at Saratoga Grove reassure us that they want to help my father be comfortable but not to “snow” him—in other words, not to use unnecessary sedation. They want him to remain as much himself as he can be—still funny, charming, amiable—for as long as he can be. 

But sometimes my father wriggles out of the electronic monitoring bands on his wrist and ankle, hacks the elevator keypad code, and watches for the perfect moment to run for it. He attempts to arrest the staff who try to curtail his escape and keep him from returning home. He’s made it as far as the parking lot. 

Does “home” for my father refer to Florida, or to Chicago? Based on my experience, I’d say it just means not here.


Surrealist Prize Finalists

Surrealist Prize Finalists Winner Finalists Nokomis Groves by Meg Kelleher Who would I be if fear were not my twin? Still me, still dreaming of wasted oranges? Sore & sour as sweet long untouched, but for the branch and its pinched calculations-each limb here cups an untapped sun. Daughter of red tides, of coasts painted … Read more

Issue 93: Carol Potter

CW Potter

About Carol Potter

Carol Potter is the author of six books of poetry including What Happens Next is Anyone’s Guess, winner of the 2021 Pacific Coast Series in Poetry from Beyond Baroque, and a finalist for the 2022 Vermont Book Award. Her fifth book, Some Slow Bees won the 2015 FIELD Poetry Prize from Oberlin College Press. She has published in numerous journals including The American Poetry Review, Field, The Massachusetts Review, Sinister Wisdom, and Poetry Magazine. She has work forthcoming in Plume. And on a final note, she grew up on a farm in Northwestern Connecticut where no glass eggs were used, no snakes were killed, and the chickens roamed freely as did the children (after the shores were done.) Potter lives in Vermont and teaches for the Antioch University MFA Low-Residency program in Los Angeles.

You can view her website here.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on “Good God Damn”

The poem started out on a fall day in the early dark, two men shouting, cursing under the truck, and the pup wide eyed once more trying to figure out what the hell species it was that he was leashed to. All he could see of the man were some feet sticking out in the wet cold—furious, out of luck, deep inside the rusted machine. And that’s where we are sometimes.

Notes on “Glass Eggs or They Eat Just the Same As You”

Just two years ago, I learned about glass eggs and what they were used for. Having been the one in the family to wash and sort and package the eggs on my family’s farm, and after reading Ondaatje’s description of the cobras, and the ping pong balls, I went for it. But above it all, in it all, there’s that dream, hope, desire for some potion, some word, some something to just put it all right once again. With gratitude, respect, awe to both the serpent and the egg.

Two Poems by Carol Potter

Issue 93: Matthew Baker

Matthew Baker

About Matthew Baker

Matthew Baker is the author of the graphic novel The Sentence, the story collections Why Visit America and Hybrid Creatures, and the children’s novel Key Of X. Stories have appeared in publications such as New York Times MagazineThe Paris ReviewAmerican Short FictionOne Story,Electric Literature, and Best American Science Fiction And Fantasy. Digital experiments include the temporal fiction “Ephemeral,” the interlinked novel Untold, the randomized novel Verses, the intentionally posthumous Afterthought, and the collaborative tete-a-tete Terminal, along with the cyber zine Code Lit. Born in the Great Lakes region of the United States, the author currently lives in Hong Kong.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on “Stricken”

I began writing “Stricken” on January 19 2021. Had been in quarantine for almost a year in an apartment in Manhattan. Writing nonstop. Day and night. Writing nonstop. Night and day. Like all of my stories, “Stricken” began as a concept. A narrator who would strikethrough words and phrases and clauses, strikethrough entire sentences, strikethrough entire paragraphs, in an attempt to negate negative thoughts. I finished the story on March 31 2021. Got vaccinated. Walked to the park in the rain. To be honest, I hadn’t expected to survive.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

I still have zero tattoos. I still have zero kittens. So what’s new in my life that maybe you’d want to know. About a year ago, May 5 2023, I decided that if I actually cared about the climate crisis then from now on I should do whatever was necessary to power my computer with green energy. I dropped half a grand on some solar gear. My starter kit was a Goal Zero Nomad 50 panel and a Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC battery. With those my writing is now 100% solar-powered. These words you’re reading now were 100% solar-powered. “Stricken,” unfortunately, was powered by fossil fuels, although all of the stories from my fossil-fuel era have since been offset by a giant sequoia in the Great Reserve.


Coming Soon