Alina Grabowski, All Good Things, Angelique Stevens, B.A. Varghese, Believers, Broken Eggs, Charlotte Boulay, Confessions of a Facebook Mom, Devin Kelly, Elizabeth Moseir, Emily Steinberg, Growing Up, If Nothing Changes, In The Mews, Melissa Duclos, Nicole Callihan, On The Q, Scientists Have Discovered, Scorcher, Tahneer Oksman, Tricia Park
What were the most-read stories/poems/essays in Cleaver’s 2014 issues?
1. BROKEN EGGS by Emily Steinberg, with an introduction by Tahneer Oksman. (GRAPHIC NARRATIVE, Issue 7, September 2014)
To read Emily Steinberg’s autobiographical visual narrative, Broken Eggs, a set of sixty-seven images accompanied by sprawling text and recounting her struggles with infertility, is to witness a series of concurrent, sometimes even conflicting, emotional transformations. From the first, our narrator appears engaging, intimate, and raw. She sits on the ground, her hands wrapped around her knees and her brow furrowed, delivering a back-story for the whirlwind series of events that follows. She spent her twenties as an artist and her thirties unsuccessfully looking for love, while other life events—depression, anxiety, her mother’s dementia—got in the way as well. This is how she finds herself “on the cusp of forty,” just married, trying to have a baby, and suddenly encountering the possibility that what seemed like such an inevitable life course might no longer be a possibility…
2. CONFESSIONS OF A FACEBOOK MOM by Melissa Duclos (NONFICTION, Issue 5, March 2014)
I’m with Teddy and Elliot, sitting on the floor amidst a pile of Legos and a stack of books, and I find my eyes wandering up to the shelf. My fingers get a little twitchy. I find a reason to stand up. “Hold on, honey. Mommy just needs to check something.” I slide my finger across my touchscreen, unlocking the phone. The familiar blue banner appears, and I swipe my finger upward, my eyes scanning the Newsfeed. Pictures of other people’s kids, other people’s dinners, other people’s yards covered with snow. Justin Bieber got arrested; Derek Jeter is retiring; there’s an interesting article on parenting in The Atlantic; a good op-ed on writing in the Times. The kids play happily together—they’ve just entered this magic phase of chasing each other giggling in circles with rarely any fighting—while I stand leaning against the kitchen counter, my eyes glancing up and around every few seconds…
3. SCORCHER by Alina Grabowski (FICTION, Issue 5, March 2014) June had been eating a creamsicle on the front porch when she saw them. It was the third week of July and the entire house was sweating, drops of condensation sliding down bookshelves and chair legs. Her father was having his annual boys’ weekend with some college buddies, and her mother was at an artist’s retreat in Vermont, working on her new series of collages. June was left to babysit Lily, whose tyrannical seven-year old behavior she’d only expected the heat to magnify. Instead she had become drowsily acquiescent, content to sit in the shade of the porch as long as she had a constant supply of chocolate milk and coloring books…
4. SCIENTISTS HAVE DISCOVERED by Charlotte Boulay (POETRY, Issue 6, June 2014)
that there are whirlpools
in the wakes of stars. Birds run on
at the mouth in different languages
and the horses are lonely: we must keep
mothering the empty plains. Detroit’s salt mines
are becoming saltier every year, and unrelated studies
show that street sweepers are seventy-five percent
more effective when they whirr the curbs in threes….
5. ALL GOOD THINGS by B.A. Varghese (FICTION, Issue 5, March 2014)
The milk was white and it squirted out from under his hands. He pulled and pulled the cow’s udders one at a time to a rhythmic beat and I watched it fall down in spurts after each pull. I didn’t know that. I just didn’t know that. I was mesmerized by Appachan’s hands as he pulled and pulled and out it dropped and when it hit it made a metallic clink until the bottom started filling then it sounded like liquid hitting liquid. I didn’t want to come here. I didn’t want to leave home without my father. I told him I didn’t want to go but he told me I had to. He told me we didn’t have family here and that we had no one to help my mother once the baby came so we had to go. He told me I’d get…
6. GROWING UP by Devin Kelly (FLASH, Issue 6, June 2014)
She is naked save for pink socks, and her pale young behind squeaks as she slides, or inches, down the balustrade. The sound echoes off the wooden floorboards and she imagines a tiny creature screaming in short bursts. She cannot determine if the screams are pained or joyful. All things contain a little of both, she thinks. Twirling, orbiting around the living room, she laughs as only a child can laugh at the midnight hour when her parents are asleep and the dark, turning world seems to house a different sort of life. Pale moonlight filtered in slatted lines across the floor. A painting on the wall of a high-heeled woman in a red dress with legs splayed in mid-dance. She recalls something her dance teacher said just a week ago: “All life is a delicate balance between love and hurt.” She did not know…
7. ON THE Q by Tricia Park (NONFICTION, Issue 6, June 2014)
Someone is singing “Rocket Man” on the opposite side of the NQR stop at Prince Street. “I miss the earth so much, I miss my wife; It’s lonely out in space; On such a timeless flight.” The black pillars stand tall, sprouting like steel trees from the train tracks, holding up the street as the singer’s guitar competes to be heard over a trumpet wailing at the far end of the platform. Now the downtown train blows its horn, a loud f-sharp, and through my earplugs it sounds like an amplified cello. I look up, expecting to see a cellist somewhere and wondering if it’s someone I know, someone I went to school with. And I think of you and the day you played your cello outside in Central Park and how that brown beagle stopped and wouldn’t leave, holding his owner steadily in…
8. IN THE MEWS by Nicole Callihan (POETRY, Issue 5, March 2014)
Two feuding gardens are thought to be responsible for the most recent blooming. According to the rain, in late summer, a band of tiger lilies recruited a pack of peonies, and those peonies, comely as they seem, have been holding stamens against the backs of wandering clouds. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t really notice when things blossom on the other side of town. In my tidy neighborhood, I tend to my little potted plants and sing them well, hardly ever forgetting to water them. Nights, I wipe their leaves with a soft, clean towel. It’s true what they say about talking to them: my baby gets bigger and bigger, flush and blush; the window crowds with her brush. I had thought my street so safe, my safe street, I might have called it, even though it is a city street and not even country roads are safe, what with their rocky turns and sandy hooks. Neighbors say they heard the blooming but decided it was just a truck. Me: I sat on the corner seeking solace from the concrete and stuffing petals into the little prayer pockets of my mouth.
9. IF NOTHING CHANGES by Angelique Stevens (NONFICTION, Issue 8, December 2014)
I was twelve and sitting in the back of the Number 5 city bus with a bag of cheap Christmas presents when I saw my dad stagger up the steps. I was about to call to him but stopped myself. He had fumbled with his change too long to be sober. I slunk in my seat and tried to make myself invisible. He lurched his way to the front, talking and spitting as he moved. I watched him from behind my propped-up arm and wished it were any other night but Christmas Eve.There were times when Dad’s drunkenness didn’t matter, when it was almost enjoyable. Those few months when Mom’s psychotic breaks put her back into the state hospital, he would come home loaded and give my older sister, Gina, and me money to buy fried clams and hush puppies. He never knew how much money he put into our hands, and he was often passed out by the time we got back. We lived off of Lake Avenue, a road that led straight through Rochester…
10. BELIEVERS by Elizabeth Mosier (NONFICTION, Issue 6, June 2014)
The sauceboat showed up in a bag of filthy artifacts dug up at the National Constitution Center site. To my untrained eye, it was just another dirty dish for a volunteer technician like me to wash, label, and catalogue. But judging from the buzz in the archaeology lab the day the ceramics collector visited, this piece was important, even precious. The archaeologists believed they’d unearthed a Colonial-era treasure: an intact example of Bonnin and Morris soft-paste porcelain made by the American China Manufactory in the Southwark section of Philadelphia. Corroded and discolored, the sauceboat didn’t resemble the company’s 19 known surviving pieces (sauceboats, tiny baskets, pickle dishes, and stands) exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Tests to determine its chemical structure were inconclusive and the underglaze blue-painted decoration was gone, but the sauceboat was the right shape and bore the right factory mark. If authentic, it was historically significant: a souvenir from the campaign to sell locally-produced ceramics to colonists, which lasted until Josiah Wedgewood flooded the market with cheap imported English porcelain in the testy years leading up to the Revolutionary War….