By Clare Flanagan


I’ve come to recognize, under the untouchable boughs

of this live oak, that loneliness

is a fundamental frequency.


Between the roaring chord

of the highway & the sound

of the sky, I hear it humming,


thick and black

as the line between what could have been

and what was. They say,


given the stark bounds

of the root and the fifth,

you can hear a note that isn’t present –


like the sun’s afterimage

seared onto the eye, or the way, when I stand alone

in the cold lightless evening, I can sometimes feel your hands


as they found each other once

at the small of my back, pulling me into you, away

from the wrong edge of August – don’t open


your mouth. I know the places

to which we cannot return. Why is it, then,

that as I shut my eyes


to the high tangle of  branches, I see it all so clearly —

the overturned milk crates in the alley,

smoke from American Spirits


winding skyward, or before you, even,

the single-track trail by the ageless lake,

the salt taste of the miles I ran


that wore it deeper? It’s February in California,

all the solitary maples slender

under drought, but I smell rain in the air,


millefoil, musk,

hear red-winged blackbirds & leopard frogs

from Julys ago, telling me it was. It was

and I was, I was and


I am

there’s the song

that carries

through the summers.





By Clare Flanagan


From age twelve & onward I was warned

about them – notelong departures

from the prevailing key, hanging stealthy

between staff lines, barely heralded

by some arcane mark. Accidentals

stretched my knuckles to gristle

over stiff-sprung valves, derailed

whole melodies, hammered breath from me

til the true sound came into being. It’s been years

since I last read music, but today

on the commuter trail behind the Knollwood

Super Target with its wayward shopping carts

like loose cattle & empty apartments

metastasizing by the highway, those were the kind

of notes tearing through me –

teasing unready fingers

on the left handbrake, a rough reflex

half a beat behind. I’d seen the car

too late, but I was wheeling, coming in

sun-blind and hot, and in a single slow moment

I spiraled forward, a body-nautilus, back wheel rising

over wordless mouth. Curled before the hatchback

that stopped feet short of me, too-long shoelaces tangled

in the stilled pedals, I saw open skin hash-marking

my elbows and knees, road-carved sharps

across a measure of skin –

bloody blue-notes like the ones

I used to pencil in, meaning

don’t make that same mistake

you keep making. Even as I took

the hand of a stranger, who helped lift me back

to the world, the only word I could say

was sorry. But now, my legs being

less pavement-shaken, I want to examine

these bruises, let water sting the gravel

from the wounds. I want an ablution, a blessing

for white knuckles grasping

the wrong brake. I want to hear

the wrong note in the right place, a divine slip

from the key of speed, my still face feet

from the short-stopped vehicle, the voiceless

two-ton warning that all this momentum

is temporary. What I want most now

is to learn the best and most difficult song —

the chord that sets the wheels spinning again,

rate regardless, the one sung in gratitude

for being given one more mile

to fly forward, another day

to fall.


thought plumbing

By Alex Harristhal


I wasn’t feeling so hot this day, and my mind was really racing. I had a loong to do list and no motivation, but i wanted to get my mind busy on something physical so I flopped on my bed and doodled this. I felt helpless to circumstances, and this drawing helped me acknowledge that.

Its all pen to paper without penciling, the marks that you see there were erased from a previous sketch. I started in the lower left corner and followed the marks as they led me around the page, a visual map.


I remember I was just straight angry this day, a few weeks ago. There’s a bit of everything in there, frustration, desire, anger, worry, a lil hope, and some kung fu. Like the kite flying drawing, drawing these two pages led me towards understanding what it was I felt.


This woman is a fun experiment, I’m still playing around with those angles some, like her eyes to her nose, and her nose to her mouth. I had been looking at some Picasso and felt giddy. The body is sort of three ideas pushed into one as I was testing them all out.


I wrote all of this a few weeks ago, tryin to regurgitate all this stuff flyin around my thoughts and clogging it up. I had also just rewatched A Scanner Darkly and woody harrelson calls these dudes albino shapeshifting lizard bitches, an upgrade to what i had been saying, spineless lizards. The couple up top on the right I drew in my Fine Arts Seminar class.


This is what it is.




These are some hatched sketches of houses and structures. I really love hatching with a nice smooth pen, getting the lines as parallel as I can and gradually building it up is meditative and nice for distracting the hand while I think.



thought plumbing