EDITORS’ LETTER: Issue 6…
I sit oceanside, and the vast gulf stretches to the horizon, beckoning. It’s always like this. As my years increase, so does the pull of that inner something I cannot see and often have no words to adequately express. As Norman MacLean in his A River Runs Through It, I too find myself ever “haunted by waters.” In this I am not unique, of course. Plop down any artist, or anyone with a soul really, and the draw is the same, that longing to become part of something greater than one’s self—to a time before. As I come to Issue 6 of Peauxdunque Review, I find that I am not the only one cogitating such things. If this issue is any indication of the world as a whole, and I feel certain that it is, we are all caught up in something unthinkable and unknowable—an itching within our lizard brains telling us to run, save ourselves. And it is this fight or flight, ever gnawing, that threatens to swallow us. So, we do the only thing we can when the storm clouds gather and the darkness seeps in: We write it away. If this issue is nothing else, it is an affirmation from my writing brethren that I’m not alone. We are all writhing in the pressure of this arduous moment, crushed between the nostalgia of a romanticized before and the tantalizing hope of an ever-elusive after. In page after page of this issue, the little inner voices come forth to save us. The songs are all here.
The singing starts, as it always does, with the cover art—our glorious Painted Bunting. We chose this imagine, months back, for the obvious visual appeal, and the inclusive metaphor its rainbowed body represents. As the guts of the issue took form, however, and the months of storms, global division, and mutation wore on, I found myself, yet again, searching for some deeper meaning to all this … half-life. I found the meaning I so craved in the oddest of places, a local tourism website for Beaufort, South Carolina: eatstayplaybeaufort.com. Here, I learned that the Painted Bunting species name, ceris, comes from the Greek myth of Scylla, a princess who was transformed into a sea bird, Keiris. Remember that crushing pressure we’re all under? Scylla and Charybdis, anyone? Come on. You must admit that’s a pretty sweet coincidence. But if you’re still skeptical, Native American legend tells us that the Painted Bunting is the physical embodiment of knowledge and intelligence, and that witnessing one should encourage us to sing our truths. You can’t make this stuff up, Peauxfolk. Well, you could, but it wouldn’t be nearly as gratifying. So, let’s turn a few pages and listen to the music.
We start our quest for greater meaning with “The Dream of Light: Walter Anderson, Seahorses, ca. 1960,” by Benjamin Morris, the poetry winner of the 2021 Words and Music Writing Competition, where the word “… swims across the page, swallowing ink like krill.” Then, Andy Young invites us to “… find a way to sink our teeth into this life,” in “Botero’s El Gato del Raval.” Almost immediately, the weight lifts a little, and I begin tapping my toes to the silent music. Then the gravity of our task returns as the “Elephant’s Foot” hurls us through a world of loss and yearning, as the main characters, brothers Gabe and Lucas, sit atop a “corium” not of their making, ever threatening to poison whatever joy they have longed for their entire lives. The intersectionality of C.A. Munn’s work and our current world’s plight cannot be ignored. This is also true of the gut-wrenching currency of “Chronicle of My Blood-Summer,” our 2021 Words and Music creative non-fiction winner, by Ella Latham. Latham’s heartbreaking tale is a grim reminder of the literal “blood” we have on our hands here in America as the plight of female health and choice hangs in the balance, where “… it is definitely someone’s fault, a whole nightmarish bevy of someones.” This same lessening and normalizing of mental pain is echoed in “The Abyss,” by Robert Detman, by the main character’s every-increasing “lassitude,” and the “ruminations” in Mark Hall’s, “Quarter Turn.” But in all these works, and their weight, there is hope, a resolve to weather this tempest.
Interspersed within these universal truths are also the uplifting notes of “Night Music,” by Maria Carrera, where music is a salve, and “What’s Going On,” by Vito Monti, asking us to sing “… like there’s no tomorrow, as if we could bend the notes long enough to last forever.” And no reader should skip the tribute, “The Water’s Running Free and It’s Waiting There for Me and You,” by Kory Wells, where “My alto followed my father’s tenor as if we too were Opry stars who’d forever rhinestone the radio waves. The darkness swallowed our singing, but I was never scared.” And with that I will leave you, with a hope for tomorrow and a proposal to embrace the darkness as fuel. For without the bass lines, one can never appreciate the allegro.
I’d like to thank all our brilliant, patient, soul-soothing contributors, whether they’re mentioned above or not, for informing and guiding my thoughts on Issue 6. You never cease to amaze and ensure that we are not alone. Never are we alone. Now, sing along with me. You know the words.
Larry Wormington is a Dallas-based fiction writer who grew up in the piney woods of East Texas. He received his MFA from the University of New Orleans and his BA from the University of North Texas. His stories have appeared in Redivider, Elm Leaves Journal, Harpur Palate, and the fiction anthology Monday Nights, among others. He is a Marine veteran and a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance. Professionally, he works as a technical writer and runs several small businesses in the greater Dallas area – the rest he saves for his Khaleesi and their four incredible children.