By Glen Armstrong

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She finished her spiced-rum gimlet,
             placed her toenail clippings

             in the glass with the ice cubes

             Such was her resolve
             to drink no more
             that night,

and the hi-fi played
             island songs so old
             that the brown girls

             locked inside them
             were skulls and misplaced photographs.

She dreaded going to bed,

yet she dreaded standing there

             near the open window
             where the entire physical world

             might disappear
             in a bullfrog’s throat
             or worse,

             might not.

Glen Armstrong

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On the Periphery of Scandal: A Review of ‘Our Little Racket’ by Angelica Baker

By Alexis Shanley

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‘Our LIttle Racket’ – Angelica Baker

There’s a scene in Angelica Baker’s debut novel, Our Little Racket, where the underaged daughter of a fallen financial tycoon escapes her Greenwich, Connecticut community and runs off to New York City. She’s looking for a reprieve from the suffocating attention her family is under and winds up at a noisy bar. It has an underlying din dominated by male voices and interspersed with female shrieks in reaction to them. The moment is an apt metaphor for this book and its rumination on the ways in which women can become the collateral damage of scandal. In this novel, the men at the root of the story create chaos and then proceed to exist in shadows, while the women are positioned to be reactive, left to process the situation they’ve inherited and face societal scrutiny head-on.

Baker’s book takes a traditionally male-dominated tale and shifts focus away from the man directly involved. It tells the story of Bob D’Amico, the CEO of an investment bank that has collapsed, as he faces allegations of malfeasance. Instead of following the intricacies of the scandal, Baker takes us through the reverberations of it through the perspective of five women in Bob’s life.

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My Biggest Fear

By Lindsey Roberts

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“My biggest fear…” I could tell him my biggest fear, but he wouldn’t understand it. Only two people in my life have understood it and one of them would never admit to understanding it. We are the 1%. The cosmic joke. The empty. The unexplainable.

We are living contradictions because we are not one person. No, we don’t have split personalities. We are always us. Always complicated, and always multiple things, never just one thing.

We want so badly to be a part of all this, but we will never be a part of this because we cannot commit to being one person. We will not take one path because we do not see the point in walking when the destination is not our decision. The destination is the same no matter the path. The walk is our decision.

The only time we can truly connect with someone is when it’s with our own kind, but to do this is to deepen the hole. We are the loneliest creatures in the universe.

We are also the best actors. So talented that you will never know us unless you are us. We are the unspoken race.

Humans write our story for us when we do not know the stories ourselves.

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By Claudia Rojas

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Because I’ve felt up the smooth spine of books
with the caress of my finger, and I’ve passed time
under the hold of a good book, I know my mother.
When I was seven, I learned about stone soup
from hungry soldiers in an audiobook, and you
wouldn’t believe how the stomach thinks in hunger.

My mother grew up and lived against a menu of hunger
and her Bible was the mountain peak to a pile of books.
She’s stopped going to church, but she’s said to me, you
have to believe. I was fifteen the first time
a pastor’s preaching made my tears collect like soup
in a falling bowl. I have seen my mother

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Interview w/ Carol Smallwood

By Aline Soules

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Carol Smallwood

A multi-Pushcart nominee in RHINO and Drunken Boat, Carol Smallwood’s founded and supported humane societies. Her 2017 books include: In Hubble’s Shadow (Shanti Arts); Prisms, Particles, and Refractions (Finishing Line Press); Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction (Shanti Arts); Library Outreach to Writers and Poets: Interviews and Case Studies of Cooperation; and Gender Issues and the Library: Case Studies of Innovative Programs and Resources (McFarland). Here, she is interviewed by author Aline Soules.

Your books cover a wide range of topics and genres—poetry, creative nonfiction, and non-fiction mainly aimed at the library world. How did you end up writing such a broad array of work? How do you balance these various projects?

I started when teachers asked me for classroom materials as a librarian. Then, seeing my first book spurred me to do another, and then another. After a while, I wanted to try fiction and then poetry to balance reading the writing of others. I found writing a novel to be very challenging, so I finally tried poetry, feeling I had nothing to lose; I was very surprised to get acceptances right away. It probably worked for me because I’d taken so many notes in college as a history major (my first Master’s) that capturing ideas economically with words was already instilled in me.

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