When Michael Hower began digital photography ten years ago it was founded upon a fascination with abandoned buildings and landscapes. His work focuses on historical themes, portraying human objects/structures in modified environments now devoid of human activity with a particular interest in places of industry, prisons and graffiti. Mike’s work conveys themes of wear, deterioration, and nature’s reclamation of manmade environments via architecture and landscape. He has taken dozens of place-seeking journeys across the Mid-Atlantic states showcasing a whole range of forgotten, other worldly and bizarre places, including the pieces in this series of the abandoned Hospital for Contagious Diseases on Ellis Island.
A crack of thunder jolted Sarah from a dream as lightning flared, casting shadows on the bedroom walls. She blinked. A fleeting thought: secure the unfurled patio umbrella and outdoor cushions, or the storm would ruin morning brunch with her parents. Beside her, Nick snored. She slipped out of bed and left the bedroom. After living with her family in the two-story colonial for over twenty years, she navigated by the storm’s light with confidence.
She descended the stairs, her bare feet sure-footed on the carpeted steps, her hand gliding lightly on the staircase rail, smooth from years of Murphy’s Oil Soap buffing. Rain pelted on the roof while the wind howled through a downstairs open window. Quickening her pace, a series of lightning bursts illuminated a view of the kitchen below.
At the counter, a side view of Powell, her nineteen-year-old son, naked. When was the last time she had seen him naked? He stood hunched behind a nude woman, her bent torso sprawled face-down on the kitchen island, his flesh pressed against hers, his large, bony hands gripping her hips. The freckled pallor of his skin contrasted against Serita’s complexion as he banged her from behind, his face contorted, eyes closed.
Long dark hair cascaded across pale granite swallowing Serita’s face. She panted the softest of moans. Waifish arms extended beyond her locks. Serita’s fingers gripped the opposite edge of the counter. Silver nail polish shimmered. Was metallic in fashion?
Powell uttered a low cry, squeezed a final release as his eyelids fluttered. A tympani drum of thunder rolled. Sarah’s hand broke from the railing to cover her mouth. She stopped herself from gasping, but she was unable to stop the downward, automatic motion of her feet, and when her eyes connected with her son’s, she stumbled, tumbling down the last steps.
Julia Poole is a writer and former speech-language therapist who worked with a variety of patients, including incarcerated youth. Her writing has appeared in The Sheepshead Review, Hypertext Magazine, and Dunes Review, among other publications. She’s received a Pushcart Prize nomination. A Midwesterner at heart, she has lived on both coasts but prefers the wooded tranquility of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Lena Neris Gemmer is originally from the quiet foggy town of Montara CA where she began her love of writing on her grandfather’s Remington Rand typewriter. Before deciding to pursue her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at UNH, she received her BA in English and History at Allegheny College in Meadville PA. As a nonfiction writer, she believes in connecting to her readers on a visceral human level by experimenting with structure, form, and voice. When she is not writing essays, you can find her taking photographs, teaching First Year Writing at University of New Hampshire, or scolding her Norwegian Forest cat Mitchy.
Issue 106, published April 2023, features works of poetry, flash fiction, short nonfiction, and photography by Elizabeth Curley, Johanna DeMay, Alan Elyshevitz, J.V. Foerster, Lena N. Gemmer, Kimberly Goode, Ken Haas, John Robert Harvey, Gloria Heffernan, Ken Hines, Richard Holinger, Kate Hopper, Jennifer Randall Hotz, Michael Hower, DB Jonas, Eun Seo Kim, Cyn Kitchen, Mary Dean Lee, Paul Macomber, Victoria Melekian, Jahin Claire Oh, Hari B Parisi, Min Sung Park, Julia Poole, Paul Rabinowitz, Caroline Reddy, Lisa Rigge, Jim Ross, Yujin Suh, Ron Theel, Cristina Trapani-Scott, and Joan M. White.
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