THINKING ABOUT AFGHANISTAN BY TESSA POPPE 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 28
I wanna go back to Afghanistan.
I think I lost something.
I stare out the window a lot.
I don’t even know what the hell is wrong with me.
Watch out for culture shock!
I need to hide from society.
Society as a whole needs to get punched in the face.
I’m worried about you.
I have been drinking more than I normally would here.
But it started because I can’t sleep, so it’s ok.
Don’t make me cry. Put that lower lip back in your mouth.
I miss you.
You’re especially nice. I’m high as fuck.
Do you? Do you get me?
I’m duct taping my fingers after this.
So I won’t spend another 40 bucks on a conversation,
or keep typing ridiculous shit.
OH. I do get you.
You’re gonna be fine.
It’s just a phase, remember that.
Ps my hair is falling out.
I like to write about relationships of all kinds and how people connect with others and the world around them, to find meaning in both the mundane and the absurd. Writing has been that one constant in my life that does not necessarily define me, but helps me define or attempt to define those things I struggle to understand. I write because it wakes me up. As a writer and a human being, I am still struggling to see what’s right in front of me, what I am missing or have missed all along, and to put words to that image or feeling, no matter how painful or obscure, to pin down its significance even if I never really come to any conclusion. I am currently working towards my Master’s degree in Security Studies at Georgetown University. I am a native of the Midwest, but I currently live in the DC metro area. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and English from the University of Iowa and I am a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where I served as a military police officer in the Army National Guard. I am new to getting published and thus far, some of my work has been published in 0-Dark-Thirty.
I traveled extensively after graduating college through the US and Mexico in what was, in part, an attempt to find the answers to questions that haunt many young people trying to find their place in the world. Many of these experiences have inspired my writing, which often focuses on themes of alienation and misery as human constructions that can be overcome through self-understanding and the acceptance of suffering. I’ve written two novels, five screenplays, hundreds of poems, and about sixty songs. My latest novel is Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story. It follows a group of recent college graduates who struggle with feelings of alienation and their addictions as they try to survive a year of teaching at two dysfunctional Miami public schools. jonlapoma.com
For personal fulfillment outside of work I love examining photographs, fashion exhibits, and bright images on the internet and pictured in magazines. Couple that with some reading about pop culture and in this case an article that reported selfies to be officially classified as a mental disorder and there she was, Ariana Peracino. When we are at our best and most successful it seems as though society is a beautiful and welcoming place for our differences to thrive. At our lowest however, no one wants to know us or at first opportunity they are there to criticize. Ariana, like many who attempt to be a part of mainstream culture, experiences those instances of rising and falling as do today’s celebrities who are often catapulted into a limelight they are unprepared for. We never know exactly what is around the corner or how luck can change in either direction, an important lesson she and we are not exempt from. My writings have appeared in From the Heart of Brooklyn Volume 2, Toad Journal, The American, Ebibliotekos, XOJane, Eclectica, Press Play, and The Chaffey Review. firstname.lastname@example.org
JANE ST CLAIR
Mario Vargas Llosa says in his book Letters to Young Novelist that writers are rebels who began to live in their imagination and fantasy lives when they were little. In that way writers are rebels from reality. Writing detaches you from reality in another way too. If you are a writer, you can be at your best friend's funeral and be thinking about what a great story you'll write about it when you get home. I have published stories in magazines such as Clockwatch Review, Rosebud, Thema, descant, QWF, Clare, Thematic Magazine, and Red Rock Review, and in several anthologies, including Times of Grace, Times of Sorrow by the University of Nebraska, Mourning Sickness by Omni Press, and Best Sports Fiction by Main Street Rag Bookstore ; a novel Walk Me to Midnight by Oak Tara Press.
I have been writing poetry for the better part of two decades, finding beauty and inspiration in all aspects of life. I recently experienced an incredibly taxing twenty-four months including a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, a divorce, a move, then several job changes. It was after I left my second job I realized there was only one thing for me to focus on—my health. I found myself writing more than ever during the months filled with confusion, sadness and anxiety, in addition to vitamins, acupuncture, and meditation. My poem Fearless comes just from this place. When faced with a variety of trying and difficult obstacles, we each have a choice—to go forward or to crumble. I chose the former and continue marching ahead. Originally from Connecticut, and after exploring time in San Francisco (where I drove cross country to intern for the lit mag Zyzzyva), then travelling back east to Boston, then Ithaca, NY, I now find myself back in my home State surrounded by old, dear friends and the comfort and beauty of family
I only ever wanted to be a writer until I discovered teaching and now I can’t imagine my life without both. I live in Chicago where I teach at Loyola University.My work has appeared on Opium.com, Abaculus III, Hair Trigger 32, and Double Dot Magazine. I started this story two years ago and felt no need to finish it until my wife found it and thought the names were funny. I finished it for her. When I was done I gave it to a friend who hated it because the main character was such a complete asshole. I think this was a fine critique.
I was a teenager on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the 70s and 80s. The city then was much grittier than it is today. I was prompted to write this story by Suzanne Vega’s song Zephyr and I, a poignant ode to that time, place, and phase of life. I wrote it under the influence of such literary figures as Homer, Longfellow, Twain, Melville, Thoreau, Burgess, and Pynchon. Please don’t hold it against them. I now live in Brooklyn. I think about, read about, and try to write about wilderness and civilization; culture and subculture; individual, familial, and tribal identity in a complex society. My work has been published in The Portland Review and Workers Write!. @WmVerdigris
ALEXANDER J MOTYL
My Ultra is about my unexpected friendship and artistic collaboration with the former Andy Warhol Superstar Ultra Violet (aka Isabelle Collin-Dufresne) who died on 14 June 2014. I have written seven novels, Whiskey Priest, Who Killed Andrei Warhol, Flippancy, The Jew Who Was Ukrainian, My Orchidia, Sweet Snow, and Fall River; my poems have been published in Counterexample Poetics, Istanbul Literary Review, Orion Headless, and New York Quarterly. My artwork has been exhibited in solo and group shows in New York, Philadelphia, and Toronto. I teach at Rutgers University-Newark and live in New York.
In writing, I love exploring the human landscape, the hidden depths, the lives within lives. The secrets simmering beneath the surface are what lead me to believe there is no such thing as an ordinary life. Sometimes facing the truth is the only way to happiness. Sometimes the right place can be some place you would rather not go. I have a BA in English from the University of British Columbia. As a technical writer, I craved a more creative existence. I am now a Hatha Yoga teacher and Reiki Practitioner in Toronto, Ontario, where I live with my husband and son. As a nature lover, I escape back to BC to hike and soak up the ocean vibes as often as I can.