Issue #26

December 20, 2016

Letter from the editor

msrpicBeautiful words and art are always one of the greatest gifts from my perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy the gifts of the amazing writers and artists in this month’s issue. Happy holidays to those who are celebrating, and I wish you all the best as you start your new year!

Sometimes a person makes a decision and keeps following the path of it for months or years, even though from the very beginning it felt wrong on some level. This sounds illogical, but Nancy McCabe’s essay takes an in-depth look at one of these decisions – the decision to marry someone you shouldn’t – and shows how easy it is to fall into this trap, how easy it is to keep convincing yourself to stick with the choice you made. It also presents the more hopeful side of the situation, which is that usually, eventually, a person can find their way back – and that the detour becomes an integral part of who they are. Looking at old photographs, McCabe reflects “I wish I could time travel to the past to rescue that girl who thought she was rescuing me, my middle-aged self, from spinsterhood, from hell. You will be OK, I want to say, but maybe she really did save me, in ways I can’t fully fathom.”

Seth Copeland’s poems use dense, beautiful language to capture moments where people (perhaps, mainly, boys coming of age – “suburbia’s aimless posterboys”) attempt to engage with the world as heroic figures but are perpetually unsure how to do so. From disturbing unidentified graves to stealing cars to breaking into abandoned nursing homes, these individuals seem so intent on finding a larger meaning in their environment that they are willing to impose that meaning themselves through adventurous or aggressive behavior – not to mention heavy drinking. But in the middle of this degenerate activity, there are moments where they break through the bravado and see the “nude reality” of their surroundings clearly, such as in “Lawtonka Beachcomber” when the speaker initially describes a beach in violent language (“The shoreline heaves” and “Jenny Hanivers snarling”) but ends up standing quietly in the water, touching “the soft mirror’s skin” with their fingers.

In Vi Khi Nao’s poetic story “Winter Rose,” a rose is no longer a symbol of eternal love, but a symbol of the sexual body. It is a phallic symbol that, through its blooming and wilting, reminds the reader of the brief role the penis plays in the sexual/reproductive cycle compared to the uterus. It is a symbol of a soft center of vulnerability covered up by protective petals. It is a symbol of menstrual blood, or of blood that runs in feminine veins, connecting women, as when the two women in the story are making love, and their “two currents of liquid rose collaborate, merge, sharing the same currency.”

Rose B. Simpson seeks to honor the bravery and vulnerability of humans in her sculptures. She is driven to form connections with the people and even the inanimate objects in the world and to use that force of empathy to create pieces that embody an emotional response. These pieces ask us to look beyond the “surface” interactions that are most common in our society and tap into a deeper intimacy that will allow us to better know ourselves and each other – and by doing so form a stronger relationship to the world as entity.

Lauren Bender, editor-in-chief