How long can I go on shooting Wild Turkey on a Wednesday night
and still bounce back the way a rubber ball splats on the pavement
then returns secure to palm? How many microwave meals before
I miss my mother’s cooking, her red rice a code I never cared
to decipher? How did I miss the suddenness of things?
Katie Montgomery, “Blaze”
Happy Tin anniversary to Verdad Magazine!
No small feat. Any parent will know, getting that child, in this case an online, biannual literary and fine arts journal that showcases poetry, fiction, non-fiction and art, is a major milestone to be celebrated. The editors of Verdad are the unsung heroes of literati. The quiet soldiers trench digging, ambulance-driving, making slow but solid progress against the banal online rattle that threatens to turn our reading habits into candy-coated trivia.
Two plot-driven, with clear prose style, short stories are featured in this issue. Gilbert Zamora’s “Roads and Hornets” is a straight forward story about coming to grips with grief over the death of a friend, who has drifted apart and is no longer spoken to: "Once, long ago, the three of us had been friends. That had to be enough to make it okay to be sad, to miss someone from a life that you’re not sure how to remember."
The second story, Brooke Rexroat’s “Casino Girl” is full of regret and longing. An Ohio-Everyman-middle-manager in a French casino, lonely, worried about money, nurses his drink and loses chips while half-heartedly conversing with a “go-go girl.” The bleak emptiness is cross between John O’Brien’s Leaving Las Vegas and Dave Egger’s Hologram for a King:
This is what he tells himself: He’s too late. He didn’t get her out of there soon enough, but he can leave. He can rescue himself before it’s too late, before something sinister befalls him. And so out onto the street he goes, where a boy stands on a sidewalk with an American football and tries to throw it in stride to a friend on a bicycle, and there’s a basket they’ve laid on the curb with a small cardboard sign that asks for tips. Even though they don’t complete one as Freddy walks by he leaves a Euro anyway and walks toward his hotel, away from that sad casino and all those makers and takers and breakers, away from all those powerful men dressed like children, away from sad, beautiful Marta who did not even know what she’d gotten herself into but it couldn’t be helped, not at all.
The poetry leans towards the traditional. Most of the contributors have MFAs and a hearty list of publication credits. In particular, Ryo Yamaguchi’s “Circumference” has some profound and dashing couplets:
Something else that he said, uncertain; later I shined a light
on the engine, shadows darting across my neck.
I want to be returned to the open where nothing I made can
There is the idea of hurt; there is the idea of wanting something else,
what he said that animated in the apartment, with the smell of paint
and the alkaline heat buried in our skin. A country no one
has lived in
The web design is simple and uncomplicated, allowing the reader to get straight into the texts. They also publish art and book reviews. In this issue, stark, evocative photographs taken at White Sands National Monument are the subject of Fabrice Poussin’s inventive lens. The wild skies, curling dead tree trunks and symmetrical wind-swept dunes would look lovely blow-up on a gallery wall. Michelle Boisseau’s Tampa Bay Poetry Prize winning collection, Among The Gorgons thoroughly impressed reviewer Bill Neumire.
Archives are readily click-able. The letters to the readers from the editors are intimate and entertaining. These volunteers care about Verdad and it’s visible. In a nutshell, Verdad is a sweet and solid site. No distracting bells and whistles, aptly named, as the editor’s are curating “truth” in content. The contributor’s are mid-career and looking for readers and Verdad is reassuring readers with unadulterated content, a favorable match. The tenth anniversary of Verdad went to print in August. Let’s hope they make it to Crystal.