Helena Wurzel



UN·MEN·TION·A·BLE /ˌənˈmen(t)SH(ə)nəb(ə)l/ NOUN: a thing that is too embarrassing, offensive, or shocking to be spoken about. Synonyms include: taboo, censored, forbidden, banned, proscribed, prohibited, unspeakable, unutterable, off limits, and, my personal favorite, unprintable.

If I had to pick one word to sum up issue twenty three, “unmentionable” would be it. This issue is full of dark alleys, dirty laundry, red-light districts, skeleton closets, and many other topics that are simply off limits at the dinner table. As I write these “editorial remarks,” I find myself wondering if I should be writing an introduction or a trigger warning.

And yet, you’ll want to read all of it.

Brian Broome, one of my new favorite people and writers, takes us on a no-holds-barred tour of a gay bath house in “Arena.” Mac McCaskill takes us to “the rez” where a crooked bible thumper is preying on teenage girls in “The Preacher,” and Deesha Philyaw details the devastation that a deadbeat dad leaves in his wake in “Whiting.” Tristan Durst takes us along on some darkly comic blind dates in “White Man in Asia,” and Corey Farrenkopf treats us to a bit of archaeology and the slow, silent death of a relationship in “The Bones.” We also have a fascinating essay by Iris Anixter — “What Goes In” — about feces.

We also have some haunting poems from Dani Janae that deal with “the physical and emotional legacy of trauma” and from Claire Scott (who you may remember from the last issue) on the topic of addiction and elder abuse.

You can think of the other two poems — David Ruekberg’s “Calendar” and Karla Korman’s “The Floating World Leaves Now” — as small intermissions or palate cleansers. They aren’t necessarily in conversation with the rest of the issue, but may well be having a conversation with themselves. Consider: “Once, we listened to a running below rocks / instead of the dishwasher—” “the bending to the river of honey / when it lowers from the mouth.”

Our featured artist this issue is the brilliant Helena Wurzel — incidentally, the artist we featured in the inaugural issue of Slush Pile Magazine back in 2009 — who doesn’t exclusively paint butts but who contributed this collection of butt portraits in support of the theme.

Last but not least, some mentionables! This issue we have the pleasure of announcing three exciting additions to our masthead: contributing editor Ayesha Harruna Attah, whose story “Losing Hassana headlined the last issue; contributing editor Brian Broome, mentioned above (who you should consider following on Facebook), and our talented and generous senior reader Lelah Simon.  

Until next time!

 — M. R. Thomas


back to Issue Twenty Three