Lay down in greener grass to cry

This selection is paired with Chapter 6 of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Get NonBinary Review #16 from Zoetic Press.


As lonely with rose as with
desert sand: Paths endless or short-circuited,
straight ahead doesn’t go far.
The work of it, the hair shirted
myth of better world,
the snapped wishbone.

Love is a small world:
a day of forty-four sunsets
on tamed animals asleep in boxes.
Regrets for dreams of ferality
curled sadly ’round
a flowering shrub:

No time wasted is less closed,
never not worth the secret place.
A passive-aggressive rose is a
casing is a rose is his revers,
a glass globe to show
unbuttoned sublime.


Brian A. Salmons lives with his wife and children in Orlando, Florida, where he writes and occasionally performs at open mics. His work has previously appeared in Eyedrum Periodically and Man in the Street Magazine and he is the host of @BrianAndTheNight, a poetry podcast on Facebook.

I Am She

This selection is paired with Chapter 9 of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Get NonBinary Review #16 from Zoetic Press.


He believed my lament to be a love song, the first he’d ever heard, but caterpillars are impatient creatures, so he interrupted.

“Have they gone, those beaks, those beady eyes?”

The flock was by then just a speckle on the sky, carrying away my lost Prince, who was no more than a golden fleck. Reduced from royal company to larval. I shook the tears from my petals. “I’m afraid we’re quite alone.”

Caterpillars know exactly what they want and never pretend otherwise. He emerged from behind the smaller volcano. “Sing again.”

I understood at once: even the rose’s sorrow charms. “Do not ask this of me, don’t make me think of him again, not at sunset.”

“But the melody was sweet as a stamen, and I crawled half way around the world to understand it.”

“A grand boast for a small world. And the other caterpillars?”

“It’s their dinnertime.”

“As always. I suppose the ordinary flowers over there sing a little?”

“Never. They chatter about soil and sprinkling cans.” He crept closer. “Though they’re very kind to caterpillars.”

Brazen, these caterpillars, but forgiven, because they’re the promise of a butterfly. In all my fascinating life I’d never seen one. “Will you be very beautiful?”

“If you’re kind to me.”

The rose is ever magnanimous, but his undulation was too eager, his mandibles looked too sharp. Raising all four of my thorns I cried, “Stay back! I’ve slain tigers.”

“There are no tigers here.”

“From which you may draw your own conclusions.”

“I have. I’m hungry. You look tasty.” He hastened to me.

As darkness arched over us, there came the appalling sensation of his many crochets on my stem. “Appearances can be deceptive. For both our sakes, stop!”

If I embellished, it was in the circumstance of a ravenous progress towards my lower leaf. “I’m poisonous,” I cried into the night, “Horribly, devastatingly, excruciatingly. There is, alas, no cure for me.”

He fell away. I heard the pattering of departure without goodbye. Cold pierced my bloom. Two abandonments in one day! I listened to myself weep, wept again for the caterpillar’s perspicacity, for the melody was delicate indeed.

Woken before dawn by increasing sounds of mastication (noises which rose shall not elucidate), I found he’d lingered. The caterpillar had found a shoot, or, as he explained, another shoot, just beyond my roots.

“Baobabs,” he said, with his maxillae full. “Or maybe roses.”

Caterpillars make poor horticulturalists. There are no other roses. I am She. His victims were therefore baobabs. The Prince had been meticulous about weeding them. Though I’m naturally immune to jealousy, I’d teased him for it. It occurred to me, too late, that his daily dig had been for my benefit. Baobab shoots ignored are inevitable trees, within whose shadows I would wither.

I have a particular horror of withering. “The baobabs are delicious, I hope?”

“Everything is,” the caterpillar sighed, “Until they’re gone.”

“You graze efficiently, dear friend, if not painstakingly. But tomorrow there will be new shoots.”

“Too late. I’ve wasted my time on a love song. I’ve eaten too little, and the flowers are far away.” He curled up against my stem and closed his twelve eyes. “I’ll never fly. Sing again.”

“What will happen to you if you don’t become a butterfly?”

“Caterpillars only get one chance at happiness.”

As I turned towards the rising sun, the smaller volcano coughed. With nobody left in the world to tend it, a convulsion followed. The earth of my roots shook. I could not prevent the disaster. One of my petals, one of my perfectly placed, delightfully crimped, dewy, fragrant, beloved petals fell from my bloom and floated, with tragic grace, to the ground.

The caterpillar regarded it. “Horrible, excruciating,” he said, settling back into defeat.

In her heart, the rose expects to blossom forever, but after one petal has fallen, she knows that the others will soon follow. This I considered, watching the volcano puff out smoke rings. I could not bear to watch my pride wither on the ground around me, uncomforted, alone but for the recriminating husk of a starved bug.

“Caterpillars make poor horticulturalists,” I told him, “So you wouldn’t know that the rose has as many chances at happiness as she chooses. I’d be happy if I made the acquaintance of a butterfly. With great endeavour, a supreme triumph of will, I shall avoid poisoning you. That is why I gifted you that petal, as a sign of good intention, please do me the courtesy of enjoying it.”

The consumption of that dear petal was an agony, for, though I averted my gaze, I heard all. Singing the caterpillar’s love song, I shook most of the rest down to him, keeping barely enough for modesty. He left not a trace to mourn over, made a tickling ascent red-faced, to begin his repulsive spittle-spinning. All I endured with hardly a complaint, certainly fewer than were justified.

“Talk to me,” he said before entirely enclosed, “I’ll be listening.”

The rose does not tittle-tattle, she knows the value of a well-placed silence. She talks of herself, her anguishes and difficulties and dangers, only when circumstances demand it. She prefers to speak from the soul, of the temper of the stars and wishes on breezes. Of the last, I spared him the sulphurous details. I explained to him the intensions of each dawn and the auguring in every sunset, made vivid by the volcano’s effusions. I knew he heard, understood that he was comforted by my voice during tremors, as was I, holding my last petals in place. If once or twice I urged a swifter metamorphosis, it was out of regard for his safety, not the rose’s.

Aside from the glistening, which is a matter of taste, he was beautiful, though his colours approached excess, he was beautiful, despite inky limbs and twitching appendages, beautiful. In a quite different way to the rose.

“I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, butterfly.”

“Dear rose, we’re hardly strangers.”

“I hope you’ll overlook my appearance. It rains dust today.”

“Don’t be embarrassed.”

“How could I not be, when your grace is beyond the reach of art?”

“Because you have been brave and kind. The kindest flower in the world.”

“A small compliment in such a small world.”

“Because, dear rose, a part of me is you.”

I know the value of a well-placed silence.

Ash fell upon the butterfly, and at last he observed the volcano’s fractures, the billowing steam and smoke stacked above.

“When it erupts, as surely it must, which way do you think the molten rock will flow?”

“What does the dawn say?” He fluttered about me.

It was a pleasant sensation, if wistfully so. A butterfly is a caterpillar who has the exact thing he wanted, and has found that instead of happiness, doubt results. “I flew once, as a seed, though it felt more like falling. The rose does not fly. She holds tight to her rightful place. You must go.”

“The song,” he said, “I understand it now. I know what it means.”

But butterflies, like Princes, are creatures of impulse. Away he flew.

Perhaps he’ll bring the Prince back, or a sweep or a fireman, or an elephant with a trunk full of water. No matter. The rose is not afraid of ashes. I tell you, laughing stars, she’s not afraid of anything.


Jenny Gaitskell lives, writes and hunts for antique dictionaries in Lewes, Sussex. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the anthologies Tales from the Old Hill, Hysteria 6 and Everyday Epics.

On Belief

This selection is paired with Chapter 1 of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Get NonBinary Review #16 from Zoetic Press.


The snake is real. The snake bites
the ankle. That much is certain. The prince
is another story. If I am a pilot
hallucinating in the desert, then what

is real? My father explained the plane crash,
the dehydration, the vast plains of sand,
how they fool you. I was very young,
didn’t want to know that the prince was a trick

of light, of desperation. To believe is to ask
the questions without expecting
an answer, to see the elephant, l’essentiel
est invisible aux yeux. There exists

in my mind a place where the prince is
and isn’t: please lend me a hand,
draw me a sheep, cover me
in a glass bell every night

before I go to sleep. The space between
the two things is small: he existed.
He was never there. If I have to choose
I choose the snake bite, the moment

of falling. L’essentiel est invisible. Choose
the desert, choose water, choose flying
off alone in your plane. Comfort me.
The night is dark and full of little lights.


Liz Hutchinson is a horticulturist living on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Her first collection of poems, Animalalia, published by YesNoPress, is available for purchase.

Essential Questions

This selection is paired with Chapter 4 of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Get NonBinary Review #16 from Zoetic Press.


“When you tell [the grown-ups] that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

 

What shape do her eyes make when she’s not yet smiling?

How does it sound when she’s ready to stop feeling cross?

Which yellow is hers? Is it the same as yours?

Who calls first when you decide to meet?

Are her hugs bright? Or thoughtful?

What is her opinion about sunlight on the underside of leaves?

Where are her landscapes?

Tell me the way her hands move when the work is going well.


Kimbol Soques has been writing since before she got her first typewriter at age 3. In poetry, she strives to pare down to the bone, using white space like breath. Her work has been included in Festival Writer 2:13, Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, and di-vêrsé-city 2015 and 2016.

A Crash, A Collage

This selection is paired with Chapter 1 of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Get NonBinary Review #16 from Zoetic Press.


Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew
—Jack Gilbert, “Failing and Flying”

I learned to pilot airplanes. I have flown almost everywhere in the world. I could tell China from Arizona at first glance, which is very useful if you get lost during the night.

The fragrance Vol de Nuit, “Night Flight,” was inspired by the thrills and dangers of the brave, early days of aviation, and by author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a reckless romantic, one of the first masters of aeronautics.

I do love flying as a passenger, especially at night: on an airplane, the engine’s hum and vibration, the isolation, and the suspension of physical activity all induce drowsiness and serenity.

But no one is ever satisfied where he is, and the mood captured by the perfume marks a bitter turn, the uncertainty suspended between two wars, a foreboding sense of compression, like that inside a cockpit – After dark you will put me under glass. How cold it is where you live – a darker theme of loss and separation: I was more isolated than a man shipwrecked on a raft in the middle of the ocean.

A pilot, wrenched from the comfort of his domestic life, manning his aircraft through the dangers of the skies, into the inmost heart of night, often without sufficient flight instruments. Saint-Exupéry would navigate by landmark, his only entertainment the pleasure of sunsets, would watch, at twilight, the work of a veritable army of four-hundred-sixty-two thoughsand, five hundred and eleven lamplighters. Seen from a distance, this made a splendid effect. The movements of this army were ordered like those of a ballet. Without a navigation system, he relied on these lamps, on his flashlight and compass, or when, after several hours in silence…stars began to appear.

I’m lonely…I’m lonely…I’m lonely…

The cold steel carapace of the plane a thin barrier between himself and the freezing elements, the sky, the stars, the world looming up beneath him.

No wonder the pilot-author imagined a being, a little prince, hurtling through space in the dark, alone on his lonely planet.

So you fell out of the sky, too. What planet are you from?

Saint-Exupéry was himself killed in action over France in 1944, his body never recovered. His friend Jacques Guerlain created the perfume Vol de Nuit in his honor, a celebration of flight, of mastery of the air and the thrill of danger. Telling these memories is so painful for me…. If I try to describe him here, it’s so I won’t forget him. It’s sad to forget a friend. Not everyone has had a friend. The bottle’s design blends glass and metal in Art Deco design, imitates whirling propeller blades beneath a blocky brass lid, its nameplate framed in two circular lines mimicking the propeller’s drive belt.

Renowned perfume critic Luca Turin considers the scent a gold standard against which to measure all others, yet admits, “In truth, [Vol de Nuit]…is by Guerlain’s standards a somewhat shapeless perfume, lacking a legible structure.” The vast lonely landscapes and elemental space that surround the aircraft mirrored in the distancing effect of its first bitter green notes, taking to the air. Then, the plush base surrounds you like a halo of pale light, the perfume’s engine purring through to its outer reaches. I’ll certainly try to make my portraits as true to life as possible. But I’m not entirely sure of succeeding. Turin concludes, “But it gives me pleasure, …the feeling of unobstructed space and pinpoint clarity.”

The stars are beautiful because of a flower you don’t see

Unlike many perfumes of the period, Guerlain downsized the floral opulence, turned instead to herbal and leather notes. Vol de Nuit is renowned as the first perfume to incorporate the fiercely green, resinous odor of galbanum. So, while technically an oriental composed of sandalwood, oakmoss, ambergris and leathery castoreum, its distinct opening green makes it steer between an earthy oriental and an abstract chypre, a scent caught between land and air, a leather bomber jacket suspended in the sharp, cold night sky.

I’ve always loved the desert. You see nothing. You hear nothing. And yet something shines, something sings in that silence

The perfume’s surprise, what pulls everything together, is its heart of tentative sweetness. It’s as if the dark night sky suddenly reveals a falling star, a falling prince, and the loneliness and danger of flying turns into an adventure, exhilarating instead of treacherous. For travelers, the stars are guides. This heart is a facet of narcissus, of jonquil absolut. Suppose I happen to know a unique flower, one that exists nowhere in the world except on my planet. If someone loves a flower of which just one example exists among all the millions and millions of starts, that’s enough to make him happy when he looks at the stars. He tells himself, ‘My flower’s up there somewhere.’ This swift diminuendo into delicate flowers – What does ephemeral mean? – similar to those pressed between the pages – What does ephemeral mean? – of an explorer’s antique journal.

What does ephemeral mean?
It means, ‘which is threatened by imminent disappearance.’
Is my flower threatened by imminent disappearance?
Of course.
My flower is ephemeral, the little prince said to himself.

Perfume, too, is ephemeral. In Guerlain’s composition, there’s no narcissistic rose to be sniffed, with or without the heart. Its heart holds only narcissus and subdued jasmine. You must never listen to flowers. You must look at them and smell them. Vol de Nuit is a beautiful, enveloping aura of pulverized starlight that lets us fully imagine the gloriously new sensation of drifting almost effortlessly, and timelessly, above the clouds. If you love a flower that lives on a star, then it’s good, at night, to look up at the sky. All the stars are blossoming.

Resolutely not beckoning and un-come-hither, the perfume is quite assertive and spiky, a study in contrasts. It’s a beautiful but odd perfume, not as popular or appreciated as Shalimar or Mitsouko. Flowers are so contradictory! But I was too young to know how to love her. Mine perfumed my planet, but I didn’t know how to enjoy that. Its cool leather and wooden dashboard undercut by a smoldering, growling cinnamon note that suggests daredevils. A scent by turns soothing and unsettling. Look up at the sky. Ask yourself, ‘Has the sheep eaten the flower or not?’ And you’ll see how everything changes…

The young pilot, the little prince, who could have been Saint-Exupéry, a pioneer of that uncertain time when a night flight could easily mean death.

…he was dropping headlong into an abyss,…nothing to hold him back…lost and remote

What does ephemeral mean? Today, vintage Vol de Nuit loses much of its topnotes, the famous galbanum, on liftoff, loses altitude, plummeting too swiftly into its darker heart and base. I miss its tension, its weirdness.

Don’t let me go on being so sad.

Despite these vagaries of fate, he nevertheless lived, risen above, on top of the world, literally, and, like the magnetic pull of the perfume and its graceful descent, the pilot has reached some kind of bliss.

For me, this is the loveliest and the saddest landscape in the world.


All italicized passages are from Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince (1943) translated by Richard Howard (Mariner, 2000). Luca Turin’s quote is from his entry for Vol de Nuit in his and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes: The A—Z Guide (Penguin, 2009). Other material comes from the perfume blogs Monsieur Guerlain, The Perfume Shrine, Now Smell This, Yesterday’s Perfume, Bois de Jasmin, and Black Narcissus.


Heidi Czerwiec is a poet and essayist and serves as Senior Poetry Editor at Poetry City, USA. She is the author of the poetry collection Conjoining, and the editor of North Dakota Is Everywhere: An Anthology of Contemporary North Dakota Poets. She lives in Minneapolis. Visit her at heidiczerwiec.com

St. Exupéry

This selection is paired with Chapter 1 of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Get NonBinary Review #16 at Zoetic Press.


Poor Antoine, marooned in the dunes
flying blind in bad weather:
Saharan, Andean expanses
dissolving into
the Mediterranean.

His postal routes criss cross the sky
and we receive
missives from faraway lovers
postcards from dads
grandmothers’ scribbled Valentines—

their voices almost audible
as he rounds the globe with good news
reams of dreams bulking up his biplane
cursive contrails in his wake
his starry breath clouding the cockpit.


Christina Lloyd holds a master’s creative writing from Lancaster University (UK) and a master’s in Hispanic languages and literatures from UC Berkeley. Her work appears in various journals, most recently in The North. NonBinary Review published her poem “Clytie” in the Bullfinch’s Mythology issue a few years back. She is pursuing a PhD in creative writing through Lancaster.

Ghost in the Way


This selection is paired with Chapter 1 of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Get NonBinary Review #15 at Zoetic Press. 


We Have Always Lived in the Castle is Shirley Jackson’s story of a child named Mary Katherine Blackwood, who, after poisoning her family, lives with her sister Constance in a large house, which she eventually sets on fire. Constance was originally blamed for the murders. She indulges Mary Katherine (Merricat) in all of her misbehavior and outlandish fantasies. The sisters lock themselves away from a world intolerant of murderesses until an insufferable cousin shows up, and that’s what leads to the fire.

Or is this the story? They live with an invalid uncle who flirts with senility, saying at one point, “My niece Mary Katherine has been a long time dead. . . . [She] died in an orphanage, of neglect, during her sister’s trial for murder.” And one may think of other Shirley Jackson characters: Jannie in Life among the Savages, the child who adopts a bewildering variety of names and moves among them comfortably, shifting the blame for her mischief to whichever one she is not currently inhabiting; the conceivably schizophrenic Natalie in Hangsaman; Elizabeth in The Bird’s Nest, as she wrestles with her multiple personalities.

So it’s possible that this isn’t the story of two young women living in an old house but of one young woman living in an old house. She was originally blamed for the murders because she committed them. She handles the pain of that by splitting off the uncontrollable, stream-battling, world-ruining part of herself and naming it after the little sister she killed.

Is cousin Charles a fantasy too then, the embodiment of an intruding past and an intruding world? Or is he real—his rough treatment of “Mary Katherine” a rough treatment of Constance simply transposed onto the imaginary sister and managed that way? The scene in which the strangers from the village come to see the fire and end up participating in it orgiastically suggests a certain flair for persecution fantasy, so Charles should be a finger exercise for her. But all too real in his petty acquisitiveness, Charles could just as well be the mote of reality that gets in the mind’s eye of the imaginative girl and triggers a conflagration.

Of course, none of this is the actual story. The actual story is that of a house, the huge, ramshackle house that everyone knows from childhood with the haunted-house legends attached to it. By the end of the book, though Mary Katherine and Constance seem not to have aged, the vines have grown up so that evidence of the fire is erased. There was no fire. There were no murders and no sisters. There is just a scary house that needs explaining. This isn’t on the surface a ghost story, but all stories are ghost stories in a way, all fictional characters ghosts of a kind. That’s the sense in which they have always lived in that castle, out of time or in the parallel stream of story.

How many of them are there in the castle,
That scattered family or just a girl
Living there with her personalities?
Or do such odd inhabitants exist
More in the minds of us, the villagers,
Who need these bogeymen, these bogey-girls
To fill the haunted houses of our towns?

Remember “Mary Katherine has been
A long time dead,” words dropped by one who flits
Around the edges of his own decline.
This tense—what does it mean to have been dead
Unless now dead no more; that is, a ghost?
Ghost in the way that every story is.


Jack Granath is a librarian in Kansas. 

How To Protect Your Home


This selection is paired with Chapter 1 of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Get NonBinary Review #15 at Zoetic Press. 


“There had not been this many words sounded in our house for a long time, and it was going to take a while to clean them out” – Shirley Jackson

It’s no longer enough to nail father’s gold watch chain to a tree
To bury coins and blue marbles in the creek bed
Baby teeth planted only dragons know where

No    the Words must now change daily     No Repeats
Must never be spoken aloud
Yesterday was TURQUOISE     ELLIPSIS     PORTABELLA

And additional barriers must be built
Monitored    reinforced
Crucifying a book is a beginning

But you also need to start curating a new kind of kindling
To scatter it on the intruder’s linens     To feed his embers
To smash the biggest mirror in the house

Kill all the familiar faces trapped inside
Because to truly protect your castle
You must be willing to risk gutting it     roof razed

Attic     a sodden museum
All forty-four of Uncle’s chapters    published as ashes
Windows stoned    figurines shattered

Mother’s harp toppled
Yes    in the end    you may be forced to let all the intruders in
To run riot on your turrets and battlements

Let them think they broke your harp and won
You may have to sleep some nights beside the stream
Slink shadows with black paws    pink pads

But as long as you have
Constance you can reclaim your castle
Inventory your preserves    build better    thicker barricades

Repair your magic till it’s strong again
In time     you’ll laugh to see the cruelest intruders
Become your humblest patrons

If they leave words on the stoop    burn them in your stove for warmth
If they leave you eggs and frosted cakes    let them supplement
The pumpkin pies and mushrooms you are learning to grow on the moon


Daniel Hales‘ hybrid book, Run Story, is forthcoming any day now from Shape&Nature Press. He is also the author of three poetry chapbooks, most recently, Shake My Ashes. I play in 2 bands: The frost heaves and hales. and The Ambiguities. I also have a recording side-project called Umbral, and our debut album, Predawn To Postdusk, was released by Spork Press in April.

 

Fool’s Journey


This selection is paired with Chapter 1 of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Get NonBinary Review #15 at Zoetic Press. 


 


Barbara Martin grew up on three continents, and has lived in eleven states coast to coast. She currently lives in Oregon where she keeps a studio and teaches art classes. Art is an adventure for Barbara, where each painting is a new exploration of place and emotion.Her work is contemporary in style and leans toward the abstract, and sometimes surreal. Her subjects range from the serenity of a landscape … to the horror of a nightmare. Barbara belongs to the Oregon Society of Artists and is a member of several galleries and artist groups in Oregon. Her work has been featured in galleries, shows and museums around the country, as well as in Norway.

The Sweet Sleep of Roses or, After the Fall


This selection is paired with Chapter 1 of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Get NonBinary Review #15 at Zoetic Press. 


There are rats in the roses;
I know this is true.
I feed them feathers and pearls
and, in return, they keep us safe
from the more dangerous pests,
eager to blacken our bounty.

I’ve sugared the soil
where the brambles bowed
around the rambling castle,
stains scoured, walls tumbled
under the weight of words—
melodious, Pegasus, digitalis.

Oh, sweet sister, you should see
what I’ve seen blinded by thorns;
smell the sweet sin hidden,
bound in a pentagram of petals;
taste the devilish seeds buried
deep inside the ripened fruit.

I turned back time, the thirteenth hour
wound down counterclockwise
past rotting hearts and golden coins,
poisonous passions and thorny crowns,
until the paths were closed forever
to anyone who wasn’t you and me

and you will sleep safely forever
in our moon-kissed tower
guarded by dragon teeth sharpened
and wandering eyes plucked,
planted among the twisting roots
of blackberries ripened to rot.


Carina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of speculative fiction and interstitial art. Her short fiction and poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies including the Journal of Mythic Arts, Mythic Delirium, NonBinary Review, Timeless Tales, and The Horror ‘Zine. Her work has been nominated for several awards and she was the recipient of the 2016 HWA Scholarship. For links to stories and poems, stop by http://carinabissett.com.