2nd Session

In those early days, I walked into a Virgin Record Store, carrying a copy of Another Chicago Magazine. In passing, I’ve discussed the quality of this particular issue with Ron Mohring and we were both able to speak about a few of the poems and one short story in particular nearly twenty years later. I’m not sure whether that details a quality of shared mania in the two of us or simply speaks well of the journal. It was a great issue and I mistakenly left it at the counter like some kind of sacrifice when I bought Melissa Ferrick’s The Other Side album. That album, though, saved my life.

My first apartment in DC was a tiny studio just off the circle, Pennsylvania Avenue. Its best feature were the two giant double-hung windows that gave you the sensation of spilling out into the street when you stood up anywhere in the 8×8 room. It came pre-furnished with Ikea furniture, a broken bunkbed I propped up with books I didn’t love, a dresser where the top drawer opened to reveal it was bottomless, and a small white desk that I was forced to actually work from since the state of the bed was precarious at best. I had no control over the heat. The landlord on the first had sway and those glorious front windows let in all the light, all the sound, all the weather. My neighbor in the apartment next to me was industriously coupled and so too seemed anyone walking in and out of the Spanish Embassy on the corner.

The hospital was just off the circle, across from me. The consequence of which was that an ambulance would often have to wind around the circle nearly fully to get there. It was cold and I was alone in a new city and the constant play of sirens that came through my room all hours of the night sunk me deeper into sadness. And then I met Melissa Ferrick’s music at the bridge in her song “Nebraska,” and the opening chords of “Anything, Anywhere,” the verve and vibe of “Westbound.” After I reached out to her about providing music for our session, my dearest friend may have summed up the personal part for me the best when he said, I’m not sure you’ve made a mixtape where she wasn’t on it. The way we sequence the work here, cognizant of the way one song bleeds into the next, it feels only fitting then. I’m so grateful to Melissa for lending song here.

The thing with second turns is they can’t help but be influenced by the first. Though I feel there might be something contrarian in me and the team that kind of rails against that notion. But I suppose even if we bend against it, it remains a kind of call and response. I still argue that the line between prose and poem is not so tightly drawn and it’s made to be crossed and danced over. You will find examples of the epistle in Becca Carson’s piece, as well as Liz Marlow’s. Though one draws on the present and feels deeply personal and the other pulls from the past with affecting persona. Mathieu Cailler’s “I Took a Trip” is a micro prose piece that runs like a poem. And Sean Sexton’s “Capital Gain” may prove prose and brass tacks but it’s still an ode, and maybe also an elegy. If a focus on narrative is a clear shared trait between the prose poem and flash piece, then Jaydn DeWald’s “With Fire, the Field” and Valyntina Grenier’s “To lovers who canoe the day” challenge and defy the notion in unique ways. Still, only second to breathing, humans will find and create narrative.

Cathlin Noonan, on our editorial team, noted that there was so much movement, travel and journeying alluded to in the work. This begins with Melissa Ferrick’s “Burn this Guitar” and spills into Gaia Rajan’s “Intuition.” Even when there isn’t, it’s there, Cathlin said. Consider the emotional progression in work by Michael Montlack, Eileen Frankel Tomarchio, and Ren Koppel Torres, to name a few. Cathlin’s thought reminded me of something Mary Ruefle wrote about beginnings and endings, and Emily Dickinson.

But it is growing damp and I must go in. Memory’s fog is rising.’ Among Emily Dickinson’s last words (in a letter). A woman whom everyone thought of as shut-in, homebound, cloistered, spoke as if she had been out, exploring the earth, her whole life, and it was finally time to go in. And it was.

MARY RUEFLE, MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY

I am blessed to pass notes with this talented team of editors. Thank you to them for their care and attention; and thank you to Dimitriip for his original artwork on a number of the pages. As always thank you to these writers who’ve joined our makeshift band. There is no music without you.

Kevin McIlvoy passed away suddenly at the end of October. His “The parable of the robe” is the final piece in the session. I want to thank his wife, writer Chris Hale, who helped us finalize the page. Mc was a harmonica player in life and here, too, in our dream band. Maybe there is no greater instrument to signify travel, the road, than the harmonica. A fitting close as I head back inside.

EIC, Rogan Kelly

Read our 2nd Session here.

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