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Dear Reader,

Where do you go from Andromeda? Volume 1 of the Santa Barbara Literary Journal, titled “Andromeda,” was only the beginning of what I hope will be a long run for this journal, which aims to show the best of Santa Barbara’s writers, musicians, and artists. And our community extends further afield, to those who attend the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference or come into town regularly to play music, or simply those who are part of our nebulous trible of creative minds, spread all over the world. A family, if you will, of pens and guitar strings and paint brushes. These are the things my father taught me to value (along with a good coleslaw recipe and a pitcher of Budweiser). 


To represent this interconnected family, I’ve decided to name each volume after a constellation. As Moby says, “We are all made of stars,” and the constellation of the Santa Barbara Literary Journal is nothing if not a family of bright lights, people who have chosen to make creative expression their priority. Without such communities, the world would be a dim place, indeed. 


But what constellation for Volume 2? When I was doing what all good researchers do (i.e., looking at Wikipedia) and pondering the different names for constellations, one jumped out at me in particular. The Serpens Constellation, or the snake constellation. This snake, in star form, is held in the hands of Asclepius, the son of a Greek God, who learned how to heal by watching a snake regenerate. I could simply say that all writers and artists and musicians are snakelike, shedding their skin and constantly reinventing themselves, telling new stories, writing new songs. Well, the good ones do, anyway. But in that particular instant, I had snakes on my mind for another reason. And to discover what that is, you will need to read my interview of our featured author, Stephen T. Vessels, in the “Down the Rabbit Hole” section. I promise you that a snake will make an appearance there! Stephen’s artwork also graces the pages of this volume, for which I thank him profusely.


Look carefully and you will see flickers of tongue and shiny scales all through the book. Medusa and her sisters appear in Poetry, something deadly lurks in Fiction. If you find yourself in church in one of our stories, you may just be hissed at. The cover art features a winsome snake (“Shadow in the Vines”) that was painted specifically for this issue by the talented and prolific Robin Gowen, a woman who is just as generous with her paintbrushes as she is with her homemade bread and literary critique. 
 

I hope you will enjoy these offerings as much as I do. Please visit our bookstore to purchase Volume 2 Cor Serpentis. 
 

Best,
Silver Webb
Editrix

Volume 2

Cor Serpentis

 

November 2018

Le Menu 

 

Fiction

Blow, Winds, and Crack Your Cheeks by Shelly Lowenkopf


Blood Moon by Chella Courington


Dry Run for Doomsday by Max Talley
 

Night Must Wait by Robin Winter


The Rune Maker and the River Python by Cyrus Cromwell


Roundabout Protection by Yvette Keller


The Weather on Mars * Three Simple Rules

by Nate Streeper


Behold, I Give You the Power by Ted Chiles
 

The Rift by Nicholas Deitch
 

The Demon Lover by M.K. Knight
 

Trunk Road by Tom Layou

 

Peshmerga by Gwen Dandridge

 

Clean-Up on Aisle Three by Jordan O’Halloran

From Dust Returned by Stephen T. Vessels
 

Poems

Luminary * The Scarecrow Bride  

by Terry Wolverton


Mommy as Snake I   * Mommy as Snake II 
by Nina Clements


The Wisdom * Back to the Garden 
by Yvonne M. Estrada


Still Life * Yoga for the Too Much Alone
by Lisa Cheby
   
Late September by Kim Dower
    
The Singing Body by Sharon Venezio

Medusa by Chella Courington

Lyrics

Beauty Queen  & The Love Still Shows   
by Donna Lynn Caskey

Timbuktu & Eyes to See the Wind   
by Ian McCartor


August * Only Love   
by Cathryn Beeks


Strange Summer Snow  * Made for Something More  
by Gabrielle Louise

   
Greenland  * West of Sky   
by Annika Fehling

An excerpt of "Behold, I Give You the Power"

by Ted Chiles

I didn’t want to open my eyes. Throbbing temples, dry mouth, and weak limbs all spoke of tequila. The sheets were ironed and smelled of lavender so I wasn’t at home. But I wasn’t going to open my eyes until some fragment of last night rose up and apprised me of my current circumstances.
“I can tell you’re awake.…”
“Please don’t yell.”
“William, I told you not to play nine ball for tequila shots,” she said.
The mattress shifted, and I felt her lips on my ear. Her kiss raised goosebumps. 
“I got you a Coke and a couple of aspirins or do you need a Bud?”
Georgia? Georgia who tends bar at the County Line?
“Come on Professor, I got a place I need to be,” Georgia said.
Thankfully the shades were drawn. Wrapped in a red kimono covered with intertwined gold serpents, Georgia looked down at me. Her hair still damp from the shower and her breath fresh with the fragrance of Crest. I was naked and sticky.
“Hi,” I said and reached for my vapor pen.
“You can’t smoke in here.”
“What time is it?”
“It’s 9:17, and you have twenty-three minutes to get showered and dressed. Your clothes are in the dryer,” she said, handed me the Coke, and popped two aspirins in my mouth.
“Where’s my car?”
“Back at the County Line. Now get in the shower.” She started to pull the covers off the bed. I held on and she laughed. “Come on Professor. I saw every inch of you last night and kissed a fair portion of it too.” She looked at her watch. “You got twenty minutes. I’ll make you an egg sandwich. You can eat it on the way.”

***

Georgia turned her black Ford F-150 into a crowded gravel parking lot in front of a single-story red brick building. A white cross was painted on the wall to the left of the door. A small sign that read Red Rock Holiness Church was posted on the door.
“Why are we here?”
“My Uncle Mike is preaching today. I’m not missing him for you.”
With my best professorial stare, I radiated disapproval and disappointment.
“You can wait out here or walk back to the County Line or come to the service,” she said, exiting her truck. “Want me to roll down the windows?”
The next twenty minutes were spent leaning against Georgia’s truck, vaping and analyzing the cultural implications of the assembled vehicles. Most were domestic. Red was a popular color, which could be attributed to either political or sport affiliation, and I wondered what color they would have chosen if the Crimson Tide had been the Blue Wave.
The faint sound of voices and a keyboard could be heard, and I discerned or imagined a few Amens. The volume rose as a guitar joined the keyboard.
“What the hell,” I told the empty parking lot and opened the door.

 

What becomes of William? Pick up a copy of Volume 2 Cor Serpentis from our bookstore and find out!
 

"Medusa" from the Poetry Section


by Chella Courington

Athena saved me. 

It happened so suddenly.  
Strands slipped away, piled at my feet
enough to weave a shawl.                               

But then something strolled along my scalp
like curls tousling in the wind, pausing 
to check their way. Tongues flicked
to smell my skin.

Now, at night, their heads curl 
near my face. They stroke    
my head, absorb 
my warmth, press 
against my skin.

When a twig snaps or a leaf crunches, they hiss
sensing intrusion. Usually a male who fancies
he’ll be the one to take me like Poseidon.
Tearing my clothes, fouling my body 
with slimy hands, forcing me under him.

Divine males are no different 
from mortal males. 

Their scales are black. 
Once the color of my hair.
Her curse, my blessing.

"Strange Summer Snow" from the Lyrics Section


by Gabrielle Louise

When I die won’t you carry me up the canyons of stone
where the light echoes like the prettiest song—
and cast out my ashes, a strange summer snow
spinning down on the current that’ll carry me home. 

And if you can’t find me: look under your boot-soles.
Pick up a fistful and be at peace.

I’ll water the almond tree, its roots are my own—
mirror the branches, where sweet blossoms grow. 
Come and gather the petals, in the pale moon they glow,
Shaking down on the green grass 
like a strange summer snow.

And if you can’t find me: look under your boot-soles.
Pick up a fistful and be at peace.

In a basket they’re carried with wicker and wine
to give to a lover on her wedding night.
Oh, they’re tossed like confetti, a new baby cries and moans
while everyone’s barefoot and dancing 
in a strange summer snow.

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