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NO CONTACT Issue Twelve: Tricks and Treats

by Pascale Potvin

 

Just in time for my favourite season (the spooky one), this latest issue of NO CONTACT links to the chuckling “Six Feet Apart and Six Feet Under”, then follows with other wonderful oddities in poetry, prose, and lots of in-between.

 

Six Feet Apart and Six Feet Under, Sophia Frank (Bonus Treat)

 

Frank offers us her list of the best cemeteries to visit in NYC (while following CDC distancing  guidelines, of course, to prevent turning any visit permanent) (…was that too dark?). Its charming tone aside, it is genuinely good advice if you’re a penniless teenager like I was, or a writer looking to connect with nature (plus perhaps lots else), or a genuine history enthusiast. 

 

Ghosts for everybody!

 

Little Merritt Rides the Elevator All the Way to the Top, Nate Brown

 

This story handed me a hardy example of violence as performance. Merritt eyes his intentions to his family’s camera lenses, lets them know that he wants blood, draws himself as a giant because they call him Little. He has murdered his nursemaid, sure, but theatre can only become if  there’s an audience for it. Is it possible the act was to get his parents to pay attention, then? The question took a handful of my brain and pulled.

 

Nearby Bushes, Akhim Alexis

 

The concept of the Pain Bird here is gorgeous, in the best and worst ways. We all have our own little Pain Bird, of course: whether it’s pecking at us, or singing while we try to sleep, or building a nest in the depths of our brain tissue.

 

A House With No Walls, Akhim Alexis

 

The surrealism in this piece is hard and harsh, just like the capital letters leading every line, just like stone walls appearing from nowhere: a violence akin to Titus Andronicus. It’s lovely.

 

St. Lucy of El Paso, Amy Barnes

 

I wonder if the losing of eyes is representative, here, of eyesight lost to photosensitivity. Albinism is portrayed as a sense of paling away, of having body parts stolen in a dimension of violation still unknown. The Mother does her best to restore the eyes of her daughter; in the context of St. Lucy, Mother is thus clearly God.

 

Werewolf, Satya Dash

 

As its title suggests, this poem comes alive by light. Within every line there is desire like howling, an opening of the self like pupils for the sky. It is transformative and it transforms, as folklore should.

 

Porch Song, Jack B. Bedell

 

With its form this piece highlights a descent—a steep fall, ending with a curving back around, just like its hurricane. Unease before curling satisfaction quite does justice to this tale of Julia Brown; what had become a local ghost story is still, to her, just a porch song.

 

Insect Bellies Full of Fire, Leslie Ylinen

 

The Smoldering Woman smoldered in the ways that she burned and she seduced. In the end, the acts were tied, and she put fiery mosquitoes into a man that wronged her. Yet it is not the act of the sucking that births revenge, this piece so aptly reminds; worse is the lingering itch. If you lived with that flavour of itch forever, how would you make it dull? Would you replace your blood with ethanol?

 

A cast of the causeway, Jordan Harrison-Twist

 

What I first read as a piece about dementia flipped me face-down: I saw a young man remembering only unconsciously that he was abused, his mother upset that he hurt himself again trying to end his life. My interpretation could still be totally distanced from that of the author, of course; that is what makes this work so sparkling.

 

liv’d but three, Jordan Harrison Twist

 

I especially enjoyed the dauntlessness of this piece. It points a finger to the concept of the other, to the second lover who does not exist—the one abstract, and missing details, and therefore perfect. One can only wish for them out of a window, to pretend to be watching the reflection of one’s fleshed love.

 

Elegy for a Field of Pumpkins, November 3rd, J.R. Allen

 

This work is a wonderful stop in time, a well-written slowing to just a moment or two. It’s distinct as critique of those of us who go too fast: us, rushing to the next holiday the very morning we’ve stopped worshipping our pumpkins. We run from time as if it’s a predator, but the most alert we’ll ever be will be from sitting in its jaw.

 

Marmalade, Brenna Lee

 

What I enjoy most in any work is the feeling of emotion taking shape within the body, emotions akin to nature: after all, the former and the latter are essentially the same. In “Marmalade”, the concept of emptiness taking shape as a pit to be sucked on is especially enjoyable.

 

Bedroom, Ameer Malik

 

The description in this piece is very effective; to ‘warm the blood’ is just like giving it tea, asking it to stay a while longer. Blood, once lost, doesn’t linger or leave a scent; one’s grieving of it peaks just at its sudden absence. Always most remembered is the thief of one’s blood, instead—the one whose cologne threatens the air like sulfur. 

 

Some Delicacies You Can Live Without, Laura Hemmington

 

“I lost my boyfriend to a cult, but really, he was insistent,” is an incredible first line. Everyone likes a cult story—and, often-done as they are, the second part of this sentence is what really makes it grip. The rest of the work feels like a great satire of overconfident men whom overstate themselves.

 

The Intermediary, Laura Hemmington

 

I got all tangled inside this work, more than I did the rest of the issue, and I mean that as a compliment. It took me a few reads just to sort of pull its wires apart.

 

“I’m not sure if it’s only my hands that flutter, though, or all of me at once. Like all dust, I’m sure I’ll settle.”

 

Getting to Know You, Lauren Swift

 

This piece started in my mind as “Getting to Know You” and after a couple of more reads ended as “Getting to Know Myself”. The ‘myself’ refers to humanity as a whole, of course, but also a distinct being slowly making sense of their past mistreatment. It really is like going on a first date with oneself, trying to figure out one’s self after a stunting trauma. It certainly is just as nerve-racking.

 

I’m sure there are different interpretations to the work, though—and of course there are, because it is just so widely human.

 

Blowing Through, Ross Peterson

 

The wordplay here is as strong as the wind that it surrounds and which surrounds it, an unforgiving “wind or whatever thing or things it carries”. The work’s hell climate is well-established by the sun coloured like a pinkeye infection, the smell like diseased gums, the sensation of blisters freshly popped. I enjoyed it throughout.

 

Old Ghosts, Juleigh Howard-Hobson

 

Roots are the networks of trees, the ones used to warn one another about doom and danger. If a corpse were to intermingle into a web of roots, then, would they hear new and welcome voices? Would they spring new voices of their own, with which they’d express their disdain about being stepped on? All of these questions came to head through my reading of this ghostly poem.