From the Editor
I’m listening to Beirut as the Pacific Starliner weaves through the tinder-dry California hills to the ocean. I journeyed to a friend’s house on the foggy Central Coast to finish Issue II of Bracken, and, between two-hour hikes into town to get coffee and excursions to see Hearst’s zebras wandering the cow pastures, finish it I did.
I am excited and relieved to present to you Issue II. Stirring, unusual, and mythical pieces await you just behind the cover—which I think you will find is a fitting mirror for the issue’s contents. We had solicited “Juliet” from Caren McCaleb for Issue I, but wound up keeping it for Issue II, perhaps foreseeing the diversity of what was to come.
The birth of this issue was a complicated one. Many factors contributed to this, not the least of which was Piper and myself getting new jobs in the “real” world soon after Issue I was out. Also, the slush pile had many rare things in it, most of them not set in the woods. Yet these were the pieces that I wanted the world to see. They were still far away from the urban landscape, set near rivers, oceans, meadows… and so they still counted, didn’t they? I struggled with this, but ultimately took this shift as a sign of Bracken’s desire to grow, and so I let it. The result is a slimmer issue, stretching its tendrils outside the woods.
In fiction, we have a treat for you from one of my favorite contemporary writers of short fiction, E. Lily Yu. “The Gardener and the King’s Menagerie” is a tale set in a country of “brief memories and few remembrances,” whose elefoils and crocodils you’ll have a hard time forgetting.
Also in fiction, “A Man and a River” by Megan Tilley is a sweet story of an unlikely friendship. “Imago” by Erica Rupert is a story of transformations physical, spiritual, and mythical. And in “Panorama” by Davis Oldham, time runs fluid around a father as his daughter keeps growing up.
In poetry, Bryce Emley’s “Prayer, Apostrophe” prays a thirsty sea, and his “All Their Elegies” is a dream about a dream. Lucia Cherciu’s “Nettles” reached deep into my nostalgia and I was suddenly 16, in Eastern Europe. Bogi Takács’ “Marginalia on Eiruvin 45b” is spiritual, spell-binding, and deeply grounded. Laurie Kolp’s “Approaching the Mountain” invites us into the self and its hollow of truth.
In art, Piper and I are excited to feature the works of Hong-Kong-bred and Sydney-based Henry Hu, and UK-based Anja Uhren, born and raised in Germany.
It is wonderful to see Bracken becoming borderless, just the way I’d hoped it would. There is a rich multiplicity of locales, life situations, and identities in this issue. Through Bracken flow experiences from Seattle and elsewhere in the U.S., Hong Kong, Germany, Austria, Scotland, and Romania. And more, I’m sure, to come.
I want to thank Vanessa Wesley, Jed Myers, Mila Kolodin, and Mariya Kryuchkova for their support, and for keeping coffee, tea, love, and encouragement always stocked. Thanks also to Michael Matheson for offering his invaluable advice in the shakiest of moments.
I love having you all with me on this winding ride. Who knows what might lie ahead as we travel the wild, in and out of the woods.