Ashley Lester currently lives and works in Saint Petersburg, Florida. She will graduate the University of South Florida in 2020 with her MFA in Sculpture.
Tag Archives: Best of Gandy Dancer
Allison Piedmonte is a first-year art student at Alfred University who aspires to be a designer of household goods and furniture. While she dedicates most of her time to the studio, nothing makes her happier than curling up with a cat by her side and crocheting. If she were to have a best friend that was a fictional character, it would be Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.
Catherine McWilliams is an aspiring artist and senior English (creative writing) major at SUNY Geneseo. As a life-long nap enthusiast, Catherine commonly falls asleep while reading next to a piping hot jar of tea. When she isn’t napping, Catherine spends her time taking photographs, studying art, drawing strangers and leisurely reading.
Last Prayer To Mack Wolford
And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.
– Mark 16:17-18.
It’s a book, jackass.
– Lane Smith
You said the snake that bit your father had my eyes. You remembered his
reflected like new moons or bottoms of whiskey bottles through the nose,
so you could see in them for one holy moment the Appalachian stretch sinking
into the hot faultline of America. The snake’s, I mean,
not your father’s. Not the eyes of the man whose be alive in the Lord drenched your skin
even when we were grafting into the fake leather of your car’s back seat. The dead
are disruptive. You balanced a kerosene coke bottle on your throat in memory and spit
flame: praise the Lord and pass the rattlesnakes, brother, but that rattlesnake passed
you right by as if it never heard you sing the Gospel. What a casual fuck you,
no drama, no fuss; how enviable, unaware of its own forced story. What shine it left in its path
into the woods, where your wife’s animal cries echoed for so many miles that the dying
gathered to shake happy morphine heads at the hole in the sky. What a kindling of faith
that your blade-to-tongue sermon tremble could never conjure. We are setting up snake
as El in the ruins of the church where you said we could all be saved. Once you kidnapped
me in joy just to deny me in the weeds of your ancestral burial ground. Once you saw the Lord
and the strychnine reminded you of my mouth, asphyxia turning paralysis. Once you heard the blues
and understood, and had to spend a week on top of a mountain where Indian ghosts
ignored you and you could wait for the lightning crack of salvation. The dead were never
as disruptive as you wanted them to be. You must’ve watched your entire bloodline dissipate
into the haze of West Virginia, where history was already setting up its own noose. In dreams
I sense vaguely the heat of your thigh, and I open my mouth for prayer and a familiar taste
Lara Elmayan graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2015 with a double major in English Literature and Journalism/Media. Since then, she’s been battling post-academia existential angst and working as a copywriter on the Global Creative team of M·A·C Cosmetics, where she leads social and store experience copy. She currently lives, brunches and avoids exercise in Astoria, Queens.
Prayers for Vagabond
When Achilles fell in love with me I wanted
not to kill myself but die with my stomach
blown straight through in violence of crashing like cars.
of returning back to this earth. My breasts dragged
across the skin of earth, which is why they bruised
to bone & back, but still this was the only way
I could know how to survive like herds of planets.
I know that my mother loves me even when I
cannot return this love because she will drive
to me at 3 a.m., touch blow light gentle against
my cheeks, then yell at me like the spots festering
white sprays of mucus down my throat.
Picture god’s leap of moon through my mother’s bedroom walls.
I visit my mother & am surprised when she does not strangle me
like the heel of Achilles, who still loves me. How can I
separate him from my mother. There is never music
in my mother’s house. The silence is constant & buzzing
like the headaches that I used to get when I was young
& sitting by cold rolls of saltwater.
Gold wheat bombards itself through my mother’s kitchen window.
7 a.m. I am only 1 of 2 awake in my mother’s house. The fridge
is shined & opening like the uprising of a new country.
Out the window still rests Achilles & he is teaching me to beg.
Loisa Fenichell is a SUNY Purchase student with a double major in creative writing and literature. She is passionate about Tetris, mythologies, and her phone’s flashlight feature.
Where a Boundary
So many of us have this idea of what a space mission would look like to another planet or to an asteroid. And it’s a crew of mostly men and maybe a woman, you know, because that’s what Hollywood tells us these missions look like.
It’s fantastic to just turn it upside-down and conceive of an all-female crew. And what would that actually be like? And if it saves money, then maybe it should be worth discussing.
“For Mars Missions, Sending More Women Might Make Economical Sense”
I remember the engineers trying to decide how many tampons should fly on a one-week flight; they asked, “Is 100 the right number?”
“No. That would not be the right number.”
They said, “Well, we want to be safe.”
I said, “Well, you can cut that in half with no problem at all.” [Laughter]
And there were probably some other, similar sorts of issues, just because they had never thought about what just kind of personal equipment a female astronaut would take. They knew that a man might want a shaving kit, but they didn’t know what a woman would carry. Most of these were male engineers, so this was totally new and different to them.
“NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project, Edited Oral History Transcript.”
eastern meadowlark, thirty-ninth mile of morning
i tire of the pounding. the
fogged windows, incessant
static of sleeves and stations,
the hum hum hum
the rusted engine of a thing and of me.
to the left, i notice
dappled auburn under-
bellies among dirt clods & dry
inserting beaks into soil,
sweet lazy whistles
from splintering wood beams,
gentle hymns for sunup
pull over. i rest
a moment after cracking the door,
watch the grassland
fledglings learn to nestle in
dips & hollows
of the wintered stubble
field. when engine revs
they flit & swoop, chaos
shrouded in smog
while i softly tap
At the viaduct, the Hudson in March, fourteen days since he fell under
Grace Gilbert is currently studying creative writing and childhood education at SUNY Geneseo. Her hobbies include eating Manchego cheese, daydreaming about Sir Elton John, and whispering the word gazebo to herself until she dissociates from the English language.
There’s a priest in town. Monsignor Something-Or-Another. He’s been wandering up and down the streets with a saunter like his knees hurt. Makes it out as if he has a place to be and carries a face like he knows we’re watching. Something’s wrong about him, Ma’am. Young lot said he’s been huffing old incense. Next-door Granny called it a stigmata. I spoke with the altar boy and he said there’s a Cathar psalm in the cellar. Whatever it is, it’s making him misspeak. Last sermon he said, “This life on Earth is just as it is in Heaven.”
The liquor is beginning to yell at me. This morning I mistook it for thunder. Remember when I knelt on the bathroom floor and you shaved my neck? Dad’s demon prowls deeper than hair. Now I know why they pray at AA. I know why they drink vanilla on Sunday.
When I do sleep, I spit out my teeth. It’s not always a bloody mess. Sometimes they clack out like Chiclets on the table. And I’m back in third grade, shoeless, with Mrs. Politski writing repent repent again and again on the board with a gluestick. When I wake there’s no sweat in the sheets. My teeth fall out but I don’t quiver.
Joseph Sigurdson is a prose poet from Buffalo, New York. He currently attends SUNY Oswego as a creative writing major. He has recently completed his debut collection of poetry, and has been published in Great Lake Review.
“Good to see you.” the blurring lights
of northern boulevard slinking in sleep
paralysis; the hills the valleys of a fringe
town whispering salt-mined promises
meanwhile: across millennia of trees and
interstate highway, the long island
mansions & green park and clean street fill
me clean empty-full like the nassau county
eyewitness news 7 and the hum of the
long island express-way the backnoise for
ponzi schem-atic villages their vibrating
anxiety and i love them, the way i love
friends who were never friends in a three-
story estate, should-have-gone there-
should-have-tried-harder; please, prove:
that i want the city because my friends say
i want it, “Complacent,” i say about the
upstate campus, sipping overpriced bub-
ble tea, in 48 hours i’ll be in a yellow valley,
still wondering what complacent means—
(wherever i am i always want to go home)
Isabel Owen is a sophomore English (creative writing) and history double major with a minor in Latin American studies at SUNY Geneseo. She likes to post poems in unexpected places and pretend that she didn’t do it, even though everyone knows that she did.
Reading Philip Levine
on a sun-drenched beach
a Wednesday day on Lake Michigan.
This morning a friend had messaged me
offering up her afternoon
shift at the bar we both work.
Reading, reading. Trying ever so hard
to ignore the words entirely.
Nathan Lipps is a graduate student at Binghamton University. He studies poetry and German philosophy.