Author: Amanda Miller

Changes to our Masthead: A Thanks and a Welcome!

Changes to our Masthead: A Thanks and a Welcome!

Happy September, everyone!

As we move into the Fall 2018 semester, I’d like to pause to appreciate our Spring/Summer editors and welcome our Fall editors.

I was blown away by the energy, vision, and wisdom of Johanna Bulley, Lynn Martin, and Michael Tucker this past Spring and Summer. The Hedge Apple has changed immensely during their editorial term as we:

  • moved from only accepting work from the HCC community to accepting work from around the world;
  • moved from traditional publishing to publishing and marketing on Amazon;
  • increased our social media presence by creating a Facebook page;
  • introduced special themed issues, one of which even included Spotify playlists;
  • represented the Hedge Apple at the Barrelhouse conference Conversations and Connections;
  • provided copies of the magazine to 40 contributors of prose, poetry, art, and creative nonfiction.

It was a pleasure to work with Johanna, Lynn, and Mike as they explored their aesthetics, communicated with writers and artists who submitted work, and pushed through boundaries that might have overwhelmed other editors.

I have a strong feeling that this is not the last the literary community will see of them, and I look forward to watching them write, publish, edit, and otherwise contribute to our shared community of letters. I want to thank them for their friendship and for the inspiration they have given me to go beyond the status quo, to dream big and then follow those dreams.

Stay tuned… as their last action as editors, Johanna, Lynn, and Mike will each nominate one of our published pieces for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. You can see their choices here sometime this week.

I’m also very excited to welcome Blake Garlock and Katelyn Hogue, our Fall 2018 editors. Blake and Katelyn come to us enthusiastic and anxious to read your work, and I can’t wait to see the new levels we will achieve as they take over the editorial reins this semester. You’ll hear from them soon with a brand-spanking-new list of three themed issues for this Fall.

Thanks to all our followers and contributors for your support this year. You mean a lot to us!

Amanda Miller

Faculty Advisor, Hedge Apple

 

Cassiar Highway by Kersten Christianson

Cassiar Highway by Kersten Christianson

Cottonwood

spins like a dervish

in this lonely road.

 

Cinched tunic,

the white funnel

skirt takes spherical

 

flight, a twister grounded

only by dancing feet,

by seed in the breeze.


Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage) and recently published her first collection of poetry Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017).  Kersten is the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak.  www.kerstenchristianson.com

The Garden After the Fall by Floyd Cheung

The Garden After the Fall by Floyd Cheung

Eating the fruit flipped a switch

for Adam and Eve—

a bite and then eyes wide open.

 

Not so for Eden.  For a long while

edges stayed neat, shapes trim,

grass even, and bushes pruned.

 

But cherubim don’t wield loppers.

 

Clover blows small at first, green always;

smartweed’s pink blossoms charm;

vines, branches, roots

stretch where they may

breathing  felix culpa

under the light of the moon and all the sin-filled day.

 

Floyd Cheung was born in Hong Kong and raised in Las Vegas. He is author of the chapbook Jazz at Manzanar (Finishing Line Press, 2014). He teaches the fierce, thoughtful, and creative students of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

 

From the Night’s Window by Kersten Christianson

From the Night’s Window by Kersten Christianson

From the Night’s Window

Bee balm & forget-me-nots,

lupine cluster bloom

by north’s long sun

Thin, white cuticle

of shape shifting moon

won’t be viewed

from this June mountain

of birch trees and burls

crinkled vellum, pregnant

belly knotted wood.

Pack up your magic & drive;

wander widely the pockmarked road.

Find the place where you think

you can translate the wind,

the silence.


Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage) and recently published her first collection of poetry Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017).  Kersten is the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak.  www.kerstenchristianson.com

 

Cabin Fever by Judy Gitterman

Cabin Fever by Judy Gitterman

“Ted, are you in there? Are you alright?” It was Dennis, his father.

“Yeah, Dad. Just a minute.”

Ted took a quick look in the mirror over the dresser but barely recognized the visage staring back. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his skin was so pale it looked like he hadn’t been outdoors in months. That wasn’t far from the truth. He was at the family cabin in upstate New York for the weekend, and it was the first time he had ventured out of the City since Susan died. They had always traveled together to the annual family “Oktoberfest Weekend” near the Finger Lakes. He hadn’t wanted to go this year, but his father pressed him, and he’d finally agreed.

He had at least three days’ growth of beard. Instead of the usual thick dark curls, his hair hung in listless strands, plastered every which way on the sides of his face. Ted couldn’t remember when he had last washed his hair. He splashed his face with water from a glass on his nightstand and opened the door.

Dennis was wearing pressed corduroy pants and a new hunter’s green plaid flannel shirt. At 6’2” with broad shoulders and angular features, he always seemed so put together. He was 60 but looked ten years younger. Dennis stayed in good shape by running five days a week and working out with weights. He could be the poster boy for AARP’s “aging well” campaign. Dennis handled whatever life threw at him and made it look easy. Ted’s mother Joanne had died from breast cancer when Ted was nine. But Dennis had taken this in stride; he had never appeared bitter or angry and had taken on all the childcare responsibilities with enthusiasm. He managed to juggle Ted’s Boy Scout overnights and soccer games with his job as an engineer for Con-Edison. When Ted was twelve, Dennis married Andrea, and Ted’s twin half-brothers were born three years later.

Dennis creased his brow and frowned. Ted hated that look. He knew his father had good intentions, but Ted wasn’t in the mood for conversation. He braced himself.

“Ted, you’ve been up here at the lake three days already, and you’ve barely left your room. I know what you are going through. But Susan’s been gone eight months now. Why don’t you take your camera outside and get some fresh air? You know, today’s the perfect day to take some pictures—the foliage is at its peak. Ted, do me a favor, just try it.”

Ted looked at his father and quickly looked away as he fought to suppress the tightness welling up in his throat. He didn’t want to talk about Susan, and he didn’t want to talk about his camera. He’d brought it with him and had even charged the batteries but had yet to use it. It didn’t seem right to take pictures without Susan. Though they both worked long hours—Ted was a software engineer, and Susan was an attorney—they had shared a passion for nature and landscape photography and always made time for it on weekends and vacations. Their pictures lined the walls of the cabin.

“Hey, it’s okay, Dad. Don’t worry. I just needed to rest, that’s all. Go on back downstairs. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

Ted found his clothes crumpled in a pile on the floor and put them on. No need to shave or shower. What was the point? He went downstairs. The twins Chris and Kurt were playing their new Super Mario Brothers game on the Wii.

“Hey, guys,” Ted said.

The boys did not take their eyes off the television screen. Their faces were set with resolute determination as they deftly moved the game controllers with the confidence of experienced fighter pilots. No one would guess they were related to Ted; they didn’t look anything like him. While Ted had Dennis’s build and affect, the twins were skinny as string beans and had their mother’s sandy blond hair and bright blue eyes. Ted liked the twins well enough, but he didn’t have much to say to them. At twenty-eight, Ted was fifteen years older. He could have tried harder and invited them to do things with him, but he didn’t feel like expending the effort this weekend. Anyhow, they were lost in their alternate universe of video games.

The air in the family room was dense with wafts of roast beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions. Comfort food. But he wasn’t hungry and didn’t want to be comforted. The smell of a home-cooked meal just made the pain of Susan’s absence that much sharper. He was an interloper, looking in from the outside on the domestic bliss of some other family, not his own. He needed to get outdoors and clear his head. Ted found his hiking boots by the front door and laced them up.

He walked over to the kitchen doorway. Dennis and Andrea were preparing dinner. Dennis was chopping up vegetables for the salad while Andrea sliced the roast.

“Hey, I’m taking a walk,” he said. “Back in about an hour.”

Dennis glanced up. He looked relieved to see that Ted had emerged from the bedroom.

“Sure son, have a nice walk.”

Dennis turned his attention back to the carrots and lettuce.

Ted zipped up his bomber jacket. It was his favorite jacket even though it had a long gash in the left elbow and the brown leather was faded and crinkled. Susan had given it to him for his 21st birthday. He wore it every day now, and in a way that he couldn’t explain, it gave him some semblance of security.

Ted opened the front door when a photo in the front hall caught his eye, and he stopped. It was a photo of a eucalyptus tree Susan had taken in Kauai, on their last vacation together. He remembered that Susan had spent almost an hour getting close-ups of the eucalyptus grove on the North Shore. A stab of guilt hit him when he remembered that he had been impatient and had asked her to hurry up so they could go to dinner. But with her usual equanimity, she had just smiled and said she hadn’t realized the time. They ate dinner as the sun set at a small café overlooking Hanalei Bay that night, and he remembered feeling how lucky he was.

Susan had cropped the photo of the eucalyptus to magnify the rainbow colors of bark, and then she over-saturated the colors in Adobe Lightroom. The result was a stunning abstract of bright, crayon-like colors. She printed it out on their home printer, and Ted had made a white mat and cherry wood frame that made the colors pop. They gave it to Dennis and Andrea for Christmas last year.

Ted turned his attention to the open door. Outside, the sky was a brilliant blue and crystal clear after last night’s rainfall. The leaves on the maples and sycamores that surrounded the cabin were deep wine red, bright orange, and yellow. Ted held his gaze on the trees, then turned and ran back upstairs. He grabbed his camera backpack and tripod and went outside.

Almost as soon as he shut the front door behind him and walked past the property line, the tension in his head evaporated as he breathed in the crisp autumn air.

Ted took the trail that circled the lake. When he was just about halfway around, he turned off the trail and climbed through piles of leaves and underbrush until he got to the water’s edge. Setting up his tripod, pushed the claw feet into the mud to stabilize the legs and locked his camera into place. The grip of the camera in his hands felt warm and welcoming, and only then did he realize how much he missed it. Over the summer, friends from the photography club he and Susan founded had asked him many times to go on weekend shoots, but he always declined, making one excuse or another. His friends didn’t believe him and kept asking until finally they gave up and stopped calling.

The early evening light brought out the rich tones of the leaves on the white oak, red maple and river birch trees lining the lake. Ted peered through the camera’s viewfinder and adjusted the aperture setting to focus on the foreground as well as the distant trees lining the far side of the lake. He took some wide-angle shots and then switched the camera to panorama mode. The shutter clicked and whirred as he moved the camera in a 180-degree arc, the camera’s internal software stitching together the frames into a single image.

Ted took a quick look at the LCD screen and was satisfied that he’d captured the vista in optimal lighting. He sat down on a rock and gazed out over the water. The wind whistled faintly through the trees, and a lone hawk called off in the distance. Snowy cloud pillows drifted across the canvas of blue sky. Perfect solitude. Susan would have loved it.

As the sun sunk down lower in the sky, the wind picked up, and the air chilled. He slung the tripod with camera attached over his shoulder and started to walk up the hill, toward a small clearing that would give him the best view of the sunset over the lake. The incline was steeper than it looked from below. Ted was out of shape, and he had to stop several times to catch his breath before continuing the climb.

Drenched in sweat, he reached the summit just as the sun was about to set over the lake. The view was worth the effort. Pink and red streaks illuminated the sky. Ted drank in the deep red, orange, yellow, and green tapestry of trees with his eyes. It was too windy for a reflection of the trees on the lake, but as the sun hit the ripples, the light shimmered and danced on the surface of the water like Fourth of July sparklers on silver.

Just as he was about to take a shot, a double rainbow appeared, like oil pastels that mirrored the image of Susan’s eucalyptus he still held in his mind’s eye. He clicked the shutter, catching the sun as it melted into the lake.

Ted felt a gentle wave of tranquility wash over him. He smiled, packed up his gear, and turned to make his way down the hill, back to the cabin. He was hungry and looked forward to dinner.


Judy Gitterman is a writer living in Santa Monica, California. She recently received her MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, where she was co-lead fiction editor and on the interview team of Lunch Ticket. Judy is currently working on a collection of interwoven short stories.

Signs by Kersten Christianson

Signs by Kersten Christianson

Signs

Did I miss
the mile markers?
The signs? Dead
lilac bush in spring,

raspberry canes
stripped of verdancy,
their fat digit fruits
a memory from summer

past. Moss-tangled flower
beds, the wild Yukon rose
you gifted me, run amuk.
I’d give all the dandelions

pushing through hard ground,
coiled fiddleheads, the first
blush of rhododendron bloom
for one more fall with you.


Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing (University of Alaska Anchorage) and recently published her first collection of poetry Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017). Kersten is the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak www.kerstenchristianson.com

The Gardener on Rustaveli By Timothy B. Dodd

The Gardener on Rustaveli By Timothy B. Dodd

Oh — what did he say, Tamari?
Did he ask why
every new building cuts
his work in half?
Did he ask why
the roads are black and hard?
Did he ask why
the birds must swerve
in a feast of dust?

I wanted to understand —
his soiled hands, what they had fed, freed.
For, you know, who listens today?
— to the running of the land
and the river — unless it’s to change
its course. They say he speaks gibberish
now. But not me. I wanted to say
in his old language, “Please, sir,
show me all the differences,”

your efforts, your dreams in little plants
getting stepped on, this old space hanging
a bit longer in clouds of diesel and damned
youth docked in vogue and denim, no kiss
for dirt. For, old man, your flowers and ferns,
sweetly arranged like your earned smile, soon
must run to the unwanted mountains,
abandoned lands, and narrow valleys, a last
chance to flourish, to nurture wrinkles,
to grow in soil and spring old truths.


Timothy B. Dodd is from Mink Shoals, WV. His poetry has appeared in The Roanoke Review, Stonecoast Review, Ellipsis, Broad River Review, and elsewhere. He is currently in the MFA program at the University of Texas El Paso.

Cityscapes By Dimple Shah

Cityscapes By Dimple Shah

We are alone, walking on the street, staring at that particular nothingness that exists just a couple of feet ahead of us, at eye level.

We stand alone in the elevator, surrounded by pressing bodies jutting into us as the door closes on our 10 seconds quarantine. A smorgasbord of cologne and nicotine wafts over us while we observe napes and cowlicks, collars and wingtips.

We sit alone on the large floors with rows of desks, in cubicles and open plan offices, with connections all over the world.  The hum of power and ambition drown out our attempted camaraderie. By ourselves in the coffee shops and smoking zones, in our libraries and chat rooms, we get our fixes in anonymity.

We cruise the aisles of supermarkets and shopping malls, circling like large birds of prey, filling the emptiness. The tomatoes blush at our social awkwardness.

We strive to connect at singles bars and pulsating nightclubs. Music and alcohol conspire to obliterate our thoughts as we sing along to another’s words.

Isolated in our schools and our classrooms, we treat knowledge as currency. Books wish they could organise their own book burning with shame.

We are alone in our gyms and pools, flagellating ourselves to the sound of podcasts and playlists, clad in our Lycra and Velcro armour.

In the dark in movie theatres, and plays and concerts, our singular experiences with art make way for mindless, pretentious chatter during intermission.

We segregate ourselves in our cars, and in our trains and subways, trying to decipher the names on spines of books that others read, watching with interest as the woman seated across applies lipstick without a mirror.

In cafeterias, and restaurants, we peruse elaborate menus and today’s specials on the blackboards, and nitpick on the lighting for that perfect picture of steaming noodles or pink seared meat, served with cursory dialogue on the side.

We pray in secret in our temples and churches, our mosques and synagogues, searching for the heaven that will make sense of our living hell. If we listen closely, we might hear the sound of the universe laughing.

In our parks and in our playgrounds, with our Fitbits and the screens in our hand, we try to catch make believe monsters, bumping into each other like wounded bats.

We are alone on our dates and our dinners. We are alone on our wedding night, our birthdays, and anniversaries. The calendar feels the weight of our self-importance and falls off the nail in the wall.

On our holidays, in the forests and on the beaches, we try to capture our perfect moment of loneliness to share with the world. The list of mountains to climb grows longer, even as our relevance decreases at an exponential rate.

We age and die and go mad.  In our hospices and hospital wards, in our asylums and recreation centres, our limbs shake, like dead leaves on rotting branches, as we try to learn new tricks in the game of survival.

The lady walking in front of us trips and falls. Her shopping bags skitter away from her hands, straining to hold their innards but failing. Her handbag winds up under her hip with the strap half suspended over her shoulder. She is a large woman, and she looks comical, lying there with her legs splayed out, dress hiked above her knees, enough to flash a glimpse of her unattractive underwear, because she didn’t think to wear the lacy black thong just to pick up the milk and bananas.

We are laughing together – bystanders, strangers. The woman grins, sheepish, as she struggles to stand up and pull her dress down and collect her wayward stuff. We coexist in this moment of a mishap.

We come together as skin and lips and tongues and limbs. We shine bright, like stardust, like a thousand million suns, before our radiance eclipses our momentary happiness. A child’s laugh rings out, filling the void.

We cheer as one at football matches, and political rallies, and protests, revelling in shared righteousness and ranting against otherness. Drinking beer is the acceptable way to conclude a lynching.

We stand together behind the sniper’s stock, the wayward missile, the extremist’s explosion. Widows and orphans will be cared for from our collective largesse.

We come together in criticizing, and judging, and denigrating, and discriminating.

We are together when we scream aloud with a strident, binary voice and deafen the world.

I am alone again, walking on the street, staring at that particular nothingness that exists just a couple of feet ahead of me, at eye level.

 

 


Dimple Shah arrived in Hong Kong 10 years ago and promptly decided to forego a lucrative career in Banking and Finance for the unquantifiable joys of writing. An avid consumer of words all her life, she has only recently officially assumed the mantle of producer of words and spinner of yarns. Read more about her and her work at www.dimpleshahchronicles.com

 

 

TREE WISDOM BY DON STEVENSON

TREE WISDOM BY DON STEVENSON

A few years back on a winter morning, I walked the north portion of Paradise Church Road.  On this rather cool day, I witnessed the falling of a limb from a large tree in an adjacent pasture.  With no indication of the cause, the limb just dropped from its place of origin. And as it fell, the limb was caught by siblings and remained in their arms.  I was inspired by this event and wrote the following:

 

In winter, the limb from a large maple tree fell toward the ground;

But not yet, did it fall entirely, for its descent was interrupted

By a sibling limb that reached out to catch the fall.

Now the broken limb lay hanging on its brothers-sisters.

When will it fall again and finally reach the ground?  

 In springtime, perhaps, or during the blaze of a summer sun?  

 Who knows.  But I will watch it as I walk by each day and weep

 When I see it lying dormant on the soil.

 Indeed, life is seasonal.

Trees, O that we might listen to the trees, for they voice a language that surpasses much of the garble of human rhetoric.  A tree’s branches give earth its umbrella to shield a beaming sun, providing earth’s inhabitants with a cool spot on a warm day.  Their arms/limbs reach out to hold up climbing children and the ropes that hold their swings. A tree’s leaves brush with the space they are given, showing evidence of an eternal breath that fans a sweating world.  Even more, the leaves wave to passers-by, clap for joy in gentle breezes, and persuade beholders to be glad in a freedom that only nature can provide.

Trees know of arctic blasts, wintry days, and winds that howl on dark nights.  They can tell us about spring, too, when buds are born and later blossom into a beauty that surpasses all human fabrications.

Trees know about the fierce heat of summer, when the ground is parched and rain is future.  And they rise up to meet the sun, giving pedestrians an umbrella to thwart a thermal advance and give shade to that which is weary.

The trees know about the autumn, too, for they begin preparing to yield their leaves paying homage to the soil that gave them their birth.  And in so doing, this offering gives death its definition and advances a hope that another season awaits.

Suffice it to say, the trees hold a part of the universe’s wisdom, for they can interpret our brutal times when winds, floods, fires, and the ravages caused by human violence.  The trees can tell us how to grow, mature, stand stately amid all that has been and now is, and what might be. Trees can tell us how to age and leave the earth appropriately. G. Manley Hopkins said it long ago: “The earth is charged with the grandeur of God.”  It really is, and the trees are divine exponents.

The arborist in me grieves the passing of all that is, and that includes the falling of trees.  Even more, I grieve when the environment is raped and void of human care. I grieve when the greed of man bulldozes and uproots the good earth not for the nourishment of its contents, but for the advancement of a prevailing economic avarice.


Don Stevenson is a retired UCC clergyman who is also an adjunct instructor of Philosophy, Ethics, and World religions at Hagerstown Community College.