Cindy Sostchen-Hochman, Jessica Reidy, Luca Penne, Phoebe Wilcox

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Cindy Sostchen-Hochman lives in Brooklyn, New York and is employed at a matrimonial law firm as a legal assistant.  She has previously been published in Sunken Lines, freefall, Thoughts for All Seasons and Alternatives to Surrender, an anthology.  She enjoys being part of the thriving New York City poetry scene and is currently enjoying an online poetry course with Gotham Writers Workshop.



                                                                        “….I exist as I am, that is enough…”

                                                                                                            Walt Whitman


My breasts, size 34B, are in issue now.  Once upon a time they were quiet and hung to themselves, cute and unassuming behind tanks and halters.  Now they are the subject of sinister sonograms and perplexing path reports, to say nothing of my ongoing morbid speculation.  You would think they were pendulous.

They used to be precious and loved, now I treat them like bastard children, the terrible twos, troublemakers, twins gone bad, truly out of hand, spitting pureed peas at mommy, burning their training bras, defying their curfews, smoking Virginia Slims (and Lord knows what else) on the corner with their lowlife friends.  Where did I go wrong?

Old boyfriends call, concerned.  “But are they still pink?  Are they still nubile?  Do they still stand on ceremony, rise to the occasion, and come when called?”  Nostalgia sets in like rigor mortis but I respond in a wholly Whitmanesque way:  “they exist as they are, that is enough.”

George Dubya Bush tipped his ten-gallon hat to them in his State of the Union address last night.  He opined that they were in good shape, yessir, along with Wall Street, the economy, that damnable war in Iraq and, of course, his never-ending search for Osama.  This does not bode well for either the country or me, or more specifically, my previously-insignificant-now-made-into-a-Federal-case (size 34B) breasts.

Next they will be the hot topic of a filibuster (pun intended) on the Senate floor.  Even with 250,000 miles on them and graffitied beyond recognition, they deserve to be signed into law.

This is in memory of David Halberstam.  Not only did I rip off the title of his magnificent book for use in my less-than-magnificent poem.  But I did it in such a cheap and tawdry way.


Jessica Reidy is a graduate of Hollins University's English and Creative Writing BA program. Her work has appeared in Cargoes and Amaze, and she won the Nancy Thorpe Poetry Prize. After racing around various parts of the world in between semesters, she finally lives in Ireland with her husband. Currently, the crushing global recession and her untimely immigration has rendered her unemployed and too poor to go back to school at the moment, so she is living the life of the starving artist in Europe.


One island grew nothing except one boat headed for the mainland, small but full of food and people with language. The priestess would negotiate for the island, a breadfruit, some rice in exchange for fish. Her body was copper, arms rowing water fresh with corruption. In the night, the boat was destroyed—mutiny. Marooned, she did what she could do for the stalks of humans left. Slowly, she changed and grew one spine, one plate. Her skin dried like hot mud on banana leaves, right into a tortoise. She swelled with the spirits of the drowned and wore sorrow like a headdress, adorned with fish bones.

Luca Penne work has appeared in several magazines, including 2River and Heroin Love Songs.

My new office, L-shaped and huge, overlooks a construction site. Three large oak desks, a file cabinet, eight square windows, and an office mate. Yes, I must share. No more dandling female clerks on my lap, no more swapping dirty jokes with thuggish mail boys, no more nips from the quart of rum I like to keep in the bottom drawer. My office mate’s an accountant, and brays in various tones of donkey. Soon his friends swarm the room. They steal everything atop my desk and talk long-distance on my phone. The accountant brays at their antics, his eyes bulging like a zombie’s. After a week I’m so addled I’m screaming at my customers, who weep and threaten to cancel their accounts. Enough. I stomp into the office one grim morning, order the accountant’s friends to vacate, wrestle the accountant after them, and, working quickly, replace the lock with a new brass pick-proof model. Not even the CEO can disturb me.. After deploying the contents of the accountant’s desk into the construction site I sit quietly and review my life. I agree that the calm I’ve purchased, however brief, is perfect because likely to terminate, with my job, in the purest grief I could enjoy. The steel construction equipment creaks and groans. The CEO rattles the door. I lean back in the chair and imagine someone with whom to share this sensation; but abruptly I’m rising up and out the window into the perfect air, where not even my reputation for good or ill may follow.

Phoebe Wilcox is a lifelong resident of Eastern Pennsylvania.  The first chapter of her novel, Angels Carry the Sun, has been published in “Wild River Review,” and an excerpt from a second novel in progress, The Use of Flower Symbolism in Feminist Art and Literature, has been published in “Wild Violet.”  Her story, “Carp with Water in Their Ears,” published in “River Poets Journal” has been nominated for this year’s Pushcart Prize.  Recent poetry may be found in “Blue Collar Review,” “Word Riot,” “Gloom Cupboard,”and is forthcoming in “Fiction at Work,” “VISIONS,” “The Battered Suitcase,” “The Northville Review,” “Waterways,” “Counterexample Poetics,” “Glossolalia,” “Sixers Review,” “13th Warrior,” and in a chapbook of the River Poets.  She has also been the recipient of a James Michener Scholarship award.       







They had been doing their summer school homework when the snake fell from the ceiling.  For two soon-to-be delinquents working out algebraic equations in evanescing afternoon light, it was like the arrival of a live hand grenade in their midst.  The snake, which was probably loaded with venom and raring to strike, landed right in the middle of Randi’s, if x is to y then how-far-is-it- to-Mars-and-what-color-is-the-spaceship-problem.  It was an impossible problem to figure out, and the snake arrived right when she was about to ask Cecelia what the color of the spaceship had to do with anything else in that problem when the snake managed to change the subject. 

Above the window at Randi’s desk, there was a hanger.  The girls’ studded punk rock belts hung20from that hanger, backlit from outside, looking snakelike.  So when the snake plummeted down to further complicate her word problem, Randi at first thought it was just a belt falling from the hanger. 

They tried to find and kill the snake. 

They never finished their homework. 

They told the teacher what happened. 

The teacher didn’t believe them.  They wore studded punk rock belts and heavy eye makeup.  They had suspicious dark rings under their eyes as if they’d been up late doing drugs.

And she didn’t like how Randi kept reiterating how neither the mileage to Mars nor the color of the spaceship had anything to do with anything.