"And to Herod I said This niece is not yours / and to the headsman / I said This head is not yours"
"Bix Beiderbecke is bluest pale. He is silent. He wheezes from deep within in his trachea. The color of life appears."
"I had true gardeners’ hands with stained palms which often bled. I was nicknamed Lumberjack, and I felt a part of something big and great. "
"In my mind I’m thinking Justin, Jack, Jay, I see a pattern, and so I said, ‘I bet his name starts with a J,’ and he said, ‘No, it’s Eustace.’ "
WE WANT TO SAY:
The dogs are sprawled lengthwise over the carpet. Lights are on, but daylight is trying its hardest to get through the pummeled glass of our basement windows.
City, garden-level living.
Lawnmowers? Odd. November brought a frost I crouched down to look closer at this morning. Not sure what I was looking for, hoping for. Some tiny ice sprites, dancings in yellow jumpsuits from crystal to crystal, singing merry songs in time to a tiny ice banjo player dressed in motley.
Morning hopes for days full of magic.
When it doesn't spring from the fabric of the real world, it's straight to the written word for me.
Last check-in, we closed off submissions here at the Bake. My apologies to those of you who've come to the door knocking, listening for some sound of movement within. They'll open again, but for now, hibernation.
As promised though, we'll be publishing from the extant stacks. And what a glimmer of goodness comes this month.
Scott Rooker, if we're speaking of worlds without our world.
Not sure if its his decisive turns or his play, but I've now read… like twenty Scott Rooker stories, segments, scraps, and iterations on his biography– he's got something.
Each of these three briefs is as though Scott'd gathered spun yarns, warbled it up, and miraculously popped out the other side with that Jacob's Ladder you kept hoping to do at the cafeteria table. They're humorous, quick, intelligent, born of a curious writer's intent to find the bottom of every rabbit hole he uncovers.
Put on your backwards reading glasses, scope, shift to Gooseberry by the queen of plucked fruit and matching underwear sets, Natalie Baker.
Another trim tale, this'n set garden-side, farm-side, beside a young lass who despite rough on her fingers and days in the sun finds softening, ripening, in the approach of a bent stranger.
What worlds does it call to mind, that this place of learning, development, personal surrender summons? Baker blends that crisp feel of shade with visceral, dedicated intent– if Gooseberry is any indication, gooseflesh might be another. Goosebump might be too far, too R.L. Stine.
This is no children's serial.
Summon the ice sprite once more, the man in motley; they're probably up and down Joseph Spece's metrics by now. Chanting Bard bard bard ard rd d .. to fade out as the sun touches them.
Now I'd slow here, were I you. Measure your voice and let it out in tempered manner. Don't lap up the attar, that's too close, cannibalistic even, but read these aloud. Spece sets his own rhythms in each, is strung between sounds that on re-read seem so much closer to what you thought you'd read.
Study at the edge of his frothing waters. Make note of your erosions.
Baptised, squint into the warming sun of Katarina Boudreaux's November interview.
She runs around the house, a dervish of kinked hair and musical energy. She's stock full of stories and they rise as carbonation through the morning chitter we had– discussing, family, form, dialogue, Cheetos, containers, cats, and that honky-tonk ragtime piano her grandpa, the wanderer, played so long ago.
KB's a dynamic force, and to sit and hang with her was a real pleasure– one of the finest finest interviews we've had an opportunity to transcribe. Like talking to a bird that you didn't expect could.
There's the magic.
And here's the end (also a start, for you– get yourself to the readings, ska!).
My doors shutter close. The dogs shudder again in rest, twitching, wishing they were outside and not tense on the floor.
Perhaps it best if you don't go straight into reading. Bookmark us. Go outside, take a walk. Write.
Be dandelions, briefly.
More to come, as usual.
Natalie Baker currently works as Product Editor in children's entertainment publishing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Synaesthesia and United Press.
Katarina Boudreax's work appeared in this issue of the Bacon Review. Her bio is there as well, if the interview isn't history enough.
Scott Rooker is an artist, musician and writer from Raleigh, NC.
Joseph Spece is the editor at Sharkpack Poetry Review. His first book of poetry, ROADS appeared in February and he lives outside of Boston.