Letter From the Editor

Nikki Gonzalez

I wasn’t naïve.

Of course not.

Putting out a call like ‘truth serum’, I was asking for writers and artists to strip for me, to shed their protective layers, to bare themselves.

And yet, I wasn’t prepared for the response -- both in its quantity of people willing (needing?) to submit and the depth of the rawness with which I was entrusted. I invited people to spill it and spill it they did. More than one made me laugh aloud and just as many made me openly cry.

The challenge of truth serum exposes the conundrum that the very nature of truth often presents. Truth is real; it simply IS. And yet, in so many instances, we are called to conceal it; bury it; pretend that it ISN’T. As one submitter wrote to me in their cover letter, imbibing in truth serum suggested to them the act of “revealing things against my will”, something seen as both terrifying and utterly liberating.

Why are we so compelled to hide our truths?

What became immediately and screamingly clear as this issue came together was that so many of our truths -- the ones we guard and hold tightly to -- are, in fact, shared with others. The same hurts and joys that we are reluctant to discuss belong to others, as well. Even our fictitiously crafted stories, presented several steps removed, tell the tales of the next submitter who claimed them openly as their own truth. Photos with faces cut to conceal truths not yet ready to be told fully are complete and framed by the next person. We come to our truths in different ways and at different times.

The challenge, too, for this issue, became our willingness to address some of the truths that were presented to us. Were there some truths that we were not willing to give light to or do we have a responsibility to put them all on the table, openly and without censure and uncensored? We strove to tackle even the hardest with few exceptions, knowing that the discussion is important, hard though it may be. Our issue, as you will have seen, comes with a Trigger Warning; an indication that when we set to the scales our responsibility to truth and to the care for each other, we do so cautiously and measured.

And then, in this issue, too, is our art contest.

Our art contest, with the image of “La Donna” provided by the extraordinarily talented artist and award-winning educator, Richard Thompson of Highland Park, NJ, in all its florals and bright colors may seem starkly contrasting to our truth serum theme. But perception of a scene or of a person -- even in the form of a cartoonish older woman -- draws from our inner selves. Truths from our own depths unwittingly reveal on the pages we write as we impress them onto others. The response for the contest was impactful. With great difficulty, I chose my favorite, Liz Hart’s “Open to the Wind”, while Richard couldn’t choose between two: Tatia Veikkola’s “Her Pale Envelope” and Justin Byrne’s “Symphony of Flowers”, so we declared them all our winners, quite deservingly.

I will close this letter with an expression of my tremendous awe for our writers and artists. I am so proud of this collection of stories, poems, and art. So. Damn. Proud. I know that many of these pieces came rooted in hurts and fears, pulled from dark, uncomfortable depths. And I can only be inspired by the strength of each person that squared off with their pains and CREATED beauty in its place. I cherish your creations for all that they are and that they represent. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of that.



Nikki Gonzalez

finally free (1).jpg


Liz Hart

Open to the Wind


Eddie Brophy

Leave the Funerals for the Dead