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...  (read more)

WHITING by Deesha Philyaw

WHITING HAS BEEN CALLED the “hot dog of the sea” because it’s so cheap. But fishermen love this tasty sport fish because it grabs the lure hard and puts up a good fight.

My father said, “Every Sunday morning while your mother lies across town dying, I will make you fried whiting, grits, and cat’s head biscuits to make up for telling a judge that you weren’t mine. Something to fill your thirty-three-year-old belly for that time I tried to pass you off as my little sister to my new girlfriend, when you were three...  (read more)

THE PREACHER by Mac McCaskill

Helena Wurzel

“I’LL TELL YOU,” HE SAID. “If you promise not to follow him.”

I nodded, knowing I’d break the promise. Anyway, he couldn’t do anything about it.

The overhead fluorescent lights reflected off the yellow jumpsuit he wore and made his brown skin gleam… (read more)

TWO POEMS by Dani Janae

a tulip of fear.

dark hue of bruise; skin
like a plum, so sweet the world
surrenders its jaw to the flesh...  (read more)

ARENA by Brian Broome

THE ONLY TWO THINGS in life that can show you who you really are—what you’re really made of—are war and public sex.  I know nothing of war but the images I’ve seen of desperate men locked in combat or wandering around the battlefield, exposed and vulnerable. I know perhaps too much about public sex.

When I say “public,” I am not referring to that vanilla, elevator sex that men and women have....  (read more)

Helena Wurzel

WHAT GOES IN by Iris Anixter

IT’S A SUNNY TUESDAY morning, and my husband and I are in Nurse Nancy’s clinic looking at pictures of human feces.

“Like pudding?” asks Nancy from behind her wrap-around desk. Her face is creased with wrinkles… (read more)

THE BONES by Corey Farrenkopf

WE FOLLOWED THE SAME PATH as always, the bare earth worn raw by coyote paw and deer hoof. Spearmint and holly sprigs pushed through layers of moldering leaves, lending their scent to the decay of late fall. Did either of us think these walks … (read more)


Helena Wurzel

the dry filtered ocean, by
the length of water left
on clothes and skin... (read more)

TWO POEMS by Claire Scott

THEY TAUGHT US TO PRAY mother  to our lord
jesus for strength mother to refuse

the call of gin of vodka of vicodin
to call our sponsor eat three… (read more)

CALENDAR by David Ruekberg

ONCE, BEFORE THERE was counting—
but there was always counting

if not the divide of six days
and a Sabbath, then the idle

and desperate annular scrawling… (read more)

WHITE MAN IN ASIA by Tristan Durst

THERE IS A CERTAIN KIND of expat that my friends and I liked to call “White Man in Asia.” We wrote his theme song, to be caroled loudly on the journey between the foreigner-friendly bars that served as his hunting grounds: White man in Ayyy-sia! Can put his dick in anything he wants to! There’s no shortage of women, foreign or Korean, trying to date White Man in Asia. He’s not buying any cows, because everyone’s giving him milk for free… (read more)


HELENA WURZEL IS AN AWARD-WINNING painter who lives and works in Cambridge, MA. She is also an educator, wife, and mother. 

While her “butt portraits” are featured here, the larger theme of her work is women “in singular moments of self-reflection and celebration.” Of her work she says, “I make paintings of women. Whether capturing a glance, the way we look at ourselves, an irreverent bootie shot, my work is tied to the reality and imagination inherent in the feminine realm”...  (read more)