Not One Of Us #45

Not One of Us 45Not One Of Us #45
Edited by John Benson and Sonya Taaffe
Reviewed by Francesca Forrest

Not One of Us is a small print zine “about people (or things) out of place in their surroundings, outsiders, social misfits, aliens in the sf sense—anyone excluded from society for whatever the reason. We want to explore ‘otherness’ from every possible angle.”

In each issue, there are echos and resonances between the various short stories, flash pieces, and poetry. Even within the poetry alone, you will find one poem calling and another responding, one taking a stand and another reinforcing.

Let me show you with a selection of poems from issue 45. In Erin Hoffman’s “A Storm at Night, and” the speaker’s mind goes walkabout in the rain:

the rain soaks it in a second,
pelts grey membrane, seeps, drips
between wrinkled folds in channels

But a rainstorm’s a dangerous place for a wandering mind:

the rain now is penetrating its
jelly surface, threatening to liquify
membrane, extinguish neuron, and so my mind
hurries home…

The next poem, Kelly Rose Pflug-Back’s “Birch,” picks up the theme of wandering:

I closed my eyelids with masking tape
and walked with my arms stretched out
into the wind-snapped firs
and the white trunks of birches,
convinced that I could find you if you thought I wasn’t looking

The poem after that, Sonya Taaffe’s “Incubation,” echos other elements present in “Birch”: old books, and a flame. “Birch” gives us “a book on a shelf / full of drawings of birds”; “Incubation” gives us “the mildewed page / of his face.” “Birch” gives us you, “sitting cross-legged somewhere / catching moths with the flame of your butane lighter”; “Incubation” gives us an “image limned within his pupils / the candle forever diminishing into the dark.”

Those are just the resonances of the poems with each other, but they also resonate with the issue’s stories, as do the other poems. The issue’s first poem, K. S. Hardy’s “The Hidden Places,” riffs nicely off the opening story, in which a monster lurks beneath a city sidewalk, while the second poem, Lee Clark Zumpe’s “Understudy” has a completely different subject but a similar mood to the opening story. Toward the end of the magazine, the narrator of Malcolm Morris’s “Another Day”is washed down the drain in a “foul faucet gush”; that poem follows on a flash piece that begins down a drain.

The final poem of the issue, Holly Day’s “Birds Fly,” echos the mood of the issue’s final story, a gritty tale in which a boy tries to incubate a basilisk. In “Birds Fly,” the narrator’s cat brings her a dead bird; she closes her eyes and wills

my own wings to unfold, feel their stillborn nubs
twitch vainly beneath my skin. I am too heavy now
to fly even with wings. Too heavy, too old.

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