Ophelia at the River's Edge
Ophelia at the River's Edge
By Helen Georgia Stoddard
By Timothy Day
It was not the kind of party that I usually went to. I said this, over and over as I shook people’s hands and made little bows. It felt right to somehow excuse my presence, my very existence as a living and breathing entity occupying a portion of space, ears sucking up their share of the jazz music blaring from some ambiguous source, as if the house itself was alive, an active participant in the festivities, celebrating its size and extravagance.
The musical house, I said to no one, and smiled.
What was that? someone said.
I didn’t have to turn because she was standing in front of me, all shim and sham, bobbing her head back and forth to the trumpets.
I was thinking that the house was musical, I said.
Everything is right now, she said. We’re united in that way.
I paused, then stepped back and knelt down and picked up one side of the rug beneath our feet.
Do you mean to say, I said, that this fabric would be dancing if it could?
Her eyes stayed on me as she stooped and brought up side two.
Perhaps it only needs help, she said.
Her hands began swaying left and right, and since we were united so did mine. The rug flailed back and forth, wider and wider, and on the seventh swing released. It danced through the air before falling on the back of a man in clean white. I clapped at the rug, draped over the man like a kingly robe, and said,
Quite a move.
She nodded and laughed, an eternal effervescence.
I have to try it, I said.
My arms began swinging left and right, disconnecting from my brain, developing a ligament’s life of their own. Her smile as she watched, similarly absent of control. Soon I could feel my feet being lifted from the floor, my musical arms becoming too much to stand. The flustered man in white now free of his patterned attacker, looking towards me with a lowered brow. The rest of the room’s population held tight to their glasses, checking the party schedule handed out upon entrance. With 9:57: Man flailing arms nowhere to be found, I remained nothing but an interruption to 9:30: Wine and friendly discourse. Finally my arms made their move, flinging me off my feet and over to the man in white, hands landing on his shoulders, chest bumping into his drink and causing a spill. Her laugh isolated in a room of silent stare.
You told me that it did not hurt to die, but that it hurt to be dead
the weight of the soil
the stubborn darkness
the profound silence
You told me that, though your heart had stopped, you still loved
the lads you kissed as a lass
the men you knew as a woman
the lads you wanted as a hag
You told me that sometimes you wondered about your memory
the rumors, the gossip, the lies
the letters, the write-ups, the news
the scandals, the cover-ups, the legends
Producers: Sidney Shuman, Lindsey Story, and Amy Gatewood
Photographer: Jasmine Thompson
Model: Anneliese Grant
Stylist: Shannon Minor:
Fashion Designer: Melissa Jiannalone
Hair & Make-up: Omar Kukash
Waking with Sundown
Photographer/Writer: Christine Stoddard
Model: Shawn Everett Jones
I sought your ghost, but then I saw you in the flesh--
ravenous, delighted, and enraged in the sun's rays.
Your tomb could not trap you à cause de mal du pays.
So you chipped away at the rocks and roots,
one grasp and one gasp at a time, an eternity of clawing,
until you escaped the company of beetles and the air smelled fresh.
Now, as you tread the soil once more, free from the worms, you spot
your mother's face peering at you from the clouds and trees.
She warns you of evil, forgetting she speaks of you.
The God of Nostalgia handpicked you for mayhem.
Attack the town that birthed you, raised you.
All your friends and lovers are dead,
but buried far from where you once restlessly slept.
Your old haunts only haunt you with their cobwebs.
They are caves and your heart is cavernous.
Go on your one-man rampage without me.
I came not to greet you, but to destroy you.
Break down fences. Tear through wire and mesh.
Throw stones at windows. Scream. Weep.
Your memories are more fragile
than the stained glass in the parish
where you were baptized as a child
and sealed up in a coffin years later.
There is but one road to Bethlehem.
Ride the mule until you are sore
or walk and stumble by yourself.
Either way, the road is long.
And no one living knows your name
better than they do the
name of a particle of dust.
Room for Rent
By Kristen Rebelo
Piece from Quail Bell's latest print 'zine, order your copy here.
Would you like to become immortal?
By James Case
Brown water welled in the bottom of his stomach, acid drips cutting at the lining. Three cartons of sour milk spilled over the counter. There are wet chunks falling over the edge. It is so thick, it looks like white paint.
A table goes out of focus. Two old birds are deadlocked—talking about money—as big as crumbs puffed in small dabs of water.
Uncus goes for a walk in the park to forget about his failures. In the park, the trees and branches and sun and birds remind him of his failures. He can hardly look at the stuff; he can hardly look at anything. You see that bird up there? That bird is absolutely looking like it wants to get fucked up. Who’s he to not throw a rock at a bird, if the bird is asking for it?
Uncus finds himself shivering in his hoodie, thumbing through his smartphone, counting the people he can’t call anymore. He wants to delete them from his phone, but he doesn’t know how. The phone asks if he wants to sync all his information with all the other information.
“We can back up your life for $5.99, upon terms of agreement which you approve soon and will never read. We will make this document inaccessible.”
He sends an echo on a pink cord into his stomach. It doesn’t come back. He waits for it though. His sonar may be broken. He feels some small peace in that. He wouldn’t have to listen anymore. He thought—if I were a smoker, I think this is a time I would smoke.
By Byerly Young
Byerly Young graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Arts. While there she received the Mallory Callan Scholarship in Illustration, the Dean's International Scholarship in Fine Arts and was selected to participate in the annual juried School of Fine Arts Student Show at the Anderson Gallery. She has participated in numerous group exhibits in Richmond, Virginia and recently had her first solo show at The Camel in August. Her mediums include printmaking, oil painting, and drawing. Her subject matter is highly figurative and strives to question/probe the subjective, voyeuristic gaze utilized when viewing the human form and the subsequent narrative created by this experience.
See more of Byerly's work here.