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Posts Tagged ‘underdogs’

The cephalopod, specifically the octopus, is our mascot for this autumnal lament/salute to impermanence. (Thank Sy Montgomery’s marvelous The Soul of an Octopus for our current obsession.) I’m thinking not only of its amorphous shape and feats of disguise—It can escape from its tank and squeeze into cracks in the wall! It can camouflage itself to look like a cloud passing over sand!—but also of its vulnerability. It’s a nautilus without a shell, “a big packet of unprotected protein,” who received with the gift of shapeshifting the curse of perpetual defensiveness—and of hunting down the calories to maintain its constant flight and invention (Montgomery, 82).

Since it wouldn’t be Gloom Cupboard if we didn’t find some metaphor for human mortality and general fallibility, I would suggest that we’re in similar straits. We need just enough intelligence to communicate, and ingratiate ourselves, with one another; too much, and we’re melancholic, antisocial, and misanthropic (and read online literary journals with names like Gloom Cupboard). Too much, and we store our collective memory and cultural markers on external servers (like GloomCupboard.com) and keep little inside. Worst of all, it makes life too hard to give up. All of the shapeshifting and makeovers and striving and dragging our packets of protein through school or work or traffic or behind a lawn mower. We know how it will end, but we need to see the shadow pass over us. We need to escape our tanks.

~T.M. De Vos, Editor

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You can’t even be somewhere without spending money anymore: to earn the right to perform your cellular respirations in any given square foot, you’d better have a receipt or be standing in line to get one. A cup of coffee buys you an unharassed half hour on a high stool; a jaunty shopping bag shields you from suspicion while you linger for a moment on a bench. I once spent time in a city where the mall for the affluent was protected by security guards with machine guns. The people they let in were taller, robust, pressed. The ones whose path they stepped into were slighter, hungrier, looser in their clothes. In another city a hemisphere away, sidewalk guards stepped in front of men from the provinces and told them that the parks and stores were closed. 

To be treated humanely, you must seem to be doing well. 

We’re still more interested in the friendless, the bereft, the people who are left out of the sanitized exchange of the marketplace, the bleaching streetlamps of public life, the invisible fences around gated communities. There are those who are completely outside, and those on the edges, who eke out their positions every day.  The story of the have-not is the only interesting narrative; stories of success are all alike: find your market, trade up. 

~T.M. De Vos, Editor

Current Issue

Poetry

Cathedral by Samir Atassi

Like Brothers and People Who Have Nothing by Roy Bentley

Friendless by Colin Dodds

Two Poems by Simon Perchik

Creative Nonfiction

The More Things Change, or How Facebook Has Ruined Reincarnation by Zeke Jarvis

Potato Chips by Jessica Wiseman Lawrence

Art Untied by Katy Masuga

Fiction

Cassandra by Lindsay Merbaum

The Greyhound by Wendy Vaizey

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