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    Thanks to 277 generous backers for our Interfictions Indiegogo Campaign, we raised $10,318 by the time our campaign ended at midnight, July 14th, 2014.  When we launched on June 3rd, we were staggered to find donations doubling almost daily, until after about 3 weeks we had reached our original target goal of $8,500, and were able to move on to our Stretch Goal of $10,000.

    Which means we not only get to publish Interfictions Online for another year, but we can pay our contributors at higher rates now, rates more in line with the effort and talent that innovation requires. Thank you, each and every one of the 277 generous donors who stepped forward to say that interstitial art is valued and valuable. The number of people is as important as the number of dollars raised. We are awed by your generosity.
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    INTERFICTIONS issue #3 is up online!

    The editors of Interfictions Online are happy to announce the birth of the journal’s latest issue, on May 22, 2014!

    The Spring 2014 issue’s non-fiction offerings include Mark Craddock’s poignant collage in Aerial Acrobatics and Gender Reassignment Surgery – A How-To Guide, while Inda Lauryn’s Parallels and Transitions splices analysis of contemporary female vocalists into a graduate school memoir. Isabel Yap’s Life Is Not a Shoujo Manga speaks for itself. And in an interview with Jeff VanderMeer and Jeremy Zerfoss, the two creators discuss their illustrated guide to writing, Wonderbook.

    The fiction offerings remix tropes from ghosts to automata, with new work by Richard Butner, Su-Yee Lin, Kat Howard, Tade Thompson and S. Craig Renfroe Jr.

    Several of the poems in this issue reimagine older narratives: Sridala Swami’s AI Winter draws on the Mahabharata, Sonya Taaffe’s Double Business on Hamlet, and Mary Alexandra Agner’s Hypothesis Between Your Ribs on the brief life of Charles Darwin’s daughter.


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    For the Love of Carrots
    Kelly Cogswell

    Work dried up after the crash. My magazine folded, and the creditors came around demanding the office furniture and telephone and rent. They got one chair, a cancelled stamp, and a hundred and twelve copies of the second edition of Honeypot, which hadn't sold as well as the first. "And why should it?" Betsy asked. "Nobody's into poetry. Especially in the language of bees. They could be saying anything."

    I didn't argue, just hummed a song from their epic poem, Abeus Anthophileus.

    "Catchy little number," Betsy scoffed.

    I sucked it up and tried all the rags from the new-fangled New Yorker to the Ball Bearing Bonanza, which publishes a European edition on the subtleties of German steel. One place took a detective story, but didn't pick up the phone when I called to demand my fee. The only thing left was pornography.

    With plenty of warnings, Betsy put me in touch with a guy who sent me to a girl, who sent me to another guy who worked out of a caf tabac in Belleville. He had slicked-back hair, dirty fingernails, and a ring of smoke around abnormally tiny ears. The first assignment was strictly primate. When I left the caf there was a couple necking on the bus. For twenty minutes I had a chance to observe the particularities of lip-sucking, slobbering, and the difficulties of arranging two protruding noses before the woman looked up, saw me staring and scribbling, stormed over and gave me a hard right in the face.

    If I knew nothing about arousing primates, vegetables were another world.

    She wasn't much to look at. Her eyes were watery as blue goes, her face pale except for a nose that got pink with excitement. She had a raw red cold sore in one corner of her mouth and a mole as hairy as a hamster just over her left eyebrow. Her best feature was her neck, one of those long elegant ones that tapered off into shoulders you could hang a sweater on. She had. Unfortunately, her arms were of no particular shape underneath. On the other hand, her nipples had hardened into two knobs you could see through the thin pink wool. Besides that, what? I could say her fist was as bony as most. Hard. Luckily she hadn't had much practice swinging it and her boyfriend was too busy covering the tent pole holding up the front of his pants to do much about me.

    She'd gotten it all wrong, though. It wasn't me watching their convulsions, but the man just off to the side with a gaping mouth and one hand between his knees, which he hid with a newspaper. It told me all I needed to know to watch his eyes bulge and water in time to the faint crinkling of the paper and the amorous sighs and slurps.

    I sneered a little and left the bus near the zoo at the Botanical Garden. Two orangutans were shaking a tree in front of a group of schoolgirls from St. Sebastian's. They snickered and explained what was going on to their blushing teachers, who looked increasingly terrified, not of the apes, but the soft sweaty flesh of the children, flailing and shoving, pinching and prodding like little chimps. Mouths opened and closed like hands. Candy sucked by one girl was coughed into that other one's braids, retrieved, then sucked again. What would they be accused of? the teachers wondered. Would the union protect them, or hang them out to dry?

    On the promenade, under the chestnuts, the kids pulled out sandwiches and potato chips. They chewed and spit, their pink tongues protruding to lick away the smears of butter and cheese and salty potato chip grease. Young white teeth cracked into insensate apples, spurting juice down chins. The kids bought ice creams and sucked them. Their lips, glistening with sugar and fat, caressed round red chunks of strawberry. The young male aid refused to take the hand of even the smallest child. "I should have been an accountant," he muttered.

    I was hungry myself, so I bought a crepe oozing with hazelnut and chocolate, then went back to the zoo where the orangutans had finished their business and retreated to separate trees. They had already forgotten the smell of hot fur and hormones. The male chewed on a leaf, and scratched at his penis, which had all but disappeared. The female picked lice from another, and cracked them between her teeth like fruit.

    I worked it all in, and Roberts liked the story so much, especially the little snickering girls, that he moved me straight on to vegetables.

    He had clients, he said. A Daucus carota convention was coming up, and organizers wanted to produce a special commemorative edition, if you get my meaning. With etchings. No humans in it, he reassured me.

    If I knew nothing about arousing primates, vegetables were another world. Spinach XXX had been yanked off the stands and I couldn't get it online without paying an arm and leg and proving I belonged to a leafy species. Corn Quarterly had a personals section, but it didn't reflect what Roberts had in mind. They leaned heavily towards S&M, a lot of group stuff, peeling back the silks and yanking out kernels one by one.

    Carrots were a different story, less complex in their appearance, but inhabiting, I noticed, two worlds, buried in the earth like little trolls, but with feathery fronds coming out under the blazing sun. What would it take to get that off? A trip on the bus wasn't enough to find out. I bought a bunch of carrots at the market and had a glass or two of wine while I thought about them. In fact, I had half a bottle imagining grapes on the vine and then in the press – all that weight coming down, juice going out – without unlocking the secret Roberts swore every vegetable had inside.

    Face it, the days were over when the sight of a naked ankle got men hot and bothered. A couple of years ago there'd been that portrait craze of carrots with their orange or purple or white taproots bulging in thick rings. Carrots were on the walls of museums, in books – lying, for that matter, on caf tables in front of drunken writers. "Interspecies dating?" the barmaid accused. "Not this week," I said.

    My own sex life was no ideal, with orgasms separate, banal, and brief. For a carrot, maybe the key lay in transgression, a reverse burial, maybe, its single orange root staked into air and the wispy green buried. It didn't do anything for me personally. Maybe it would be more obscene to remove the whole thing from its natural setting, scare it a little. Probably there would be a little frisson when it was yanked up from the earth and loam that exists not just an inch or two around it, but all those feet plunging below through memories of volcanoes and swamps to that hot and molten core, then back to China. The soil around the carrot translates into minerals and growth, confers with the air and water in perpetual exchange, not through one pathetic orifice or two, but its whole entire self. Would a little disorientation be enough for a carrot with a life as highly charged as that?

    Setting is everything, I decided. Maybe a kitchen. Would a carrot like to watch, for instance, a casual bath of radishes? Cold water and a scrub brush going at them? The vegetable could imagine the scrubber on its own skin, or a fingernail peeling the dirt from its crimson root. Another bracing it. The hand itself getting red from the water. A finger rubbing itself across the fleshy knob. A human hand. A delicate finger extended, a small motion.

    There was only one way really to see. They let me into the kitchen at L'Inevitable and I watched the cook handle carrots for an afternoon, sometimes scrubbing them before the knife came out, and with shining metallic grace cutting them into little rounds for the beef stew. These carrots hadn't seen the ground in days. And they'd been separated from their ferny tops almost as long. They waited stoically, though, in the walk-in fridge for the moment she'd go in and with her chapped red hands, grab a pound or two.

    Sometimes, though, she'd line them up like soldiers and strip them of their outer skin in long swathes before she lay them down naked on the cutting board and maneuvered them into little julienned strips that she combined with slivered green beans and sauted quickly over high heat in a slick of oil and slivered garlic. In a soup, they gave themselves over to the heat, their tough fibers softening into mush that she pureed with ginger and served with cream. What utter, irreversible transformation.

    I ran home and wrote all night about cold steel and boiling hot broth.

    Roberts' clients were impressed, and demanded a second. I squeezed an advance from Roberts and went outside the city to a small town near Sancerre. Betsy had a country place there, and every spring planted a small garden outside the little stone house that was cold and drafty and spider-filled. The garden wasn't much, either, but there were carrots, of course, whose ferny tops had been crushed by a neighbor's child chasing a soccer ball.

    I watched and waited for days, off to the side behind the pear tree so they wouldn't notice me with my telephoto lens shooting the dew collecting between their leaves in fat wet glistening drops, the earth rising around their burgeoning roots. The only problem was the neighbor. He peeked out from behind his curtains and frowned. One day I figured he'd come out with a butcher knife and I'd have to run.

    What happened was the cops came with flashing lights, grabbed me by the ears and wanted to know exactly what kind of dirty pervert I was. It didn't help any when I explained I was a journalist studying carrots, "An anthropologist, if you will. There's nothing illegal about it."

    "There will be in about a week," said the spindly one. "Don't you follow the City Council?"

    They clapped me in cuffs and took me down to a station where the House psychiatrist got busy with his ink blotches and measuring tape, testing for other vegetable proclivities, a fondness for precipitation and dew. I had an affinity for Okra. "Not at all natural," he said. "Your eyes light up at the slime that glistens on your hands after you cut it."

    They sent me to one of their new camps and made me watch porn. "Stick to your own species and you'll be out of here in no time."

    I tried again to explain it wasn't me at all, but carrot-on-carrot erotica I was after, but no luck. To guard against unexpected and inappropriate attractions, the garden on the military ground had been paved and all the colors muted to the dull grey of old wallpaper paste. They even took taste from us, feeding us intravenously by clever devices that penetrated our skin without either pain or pleasure. The worst cases they suspended in a kind of gel that prohibited motion and any sensation on the skin. All they left was human stink, our bodies neither washed nor deodorized in the hopes that pheromones would draw us to each other. I began to find my own species repulsive, their four limited limbs arranged in bilateral symmetry and skins naked in the air. In the movies they grappled energetically and stupidly, unlike the ape's brief humorous couplings, or the long knowing lust of the taproots. I began a diary called "Crimes of Love" and for my pains spent six months sedated in the gel, with my eyes wedged open to watch games between schoolgirls, and nuns, and naughty librarians chiding nurses about overdue books.

    I slept anyway, as the images flashed past, immobilized in the gel and dreaming of the orange fur of orangutans and the hard reddish flesh of melting carrots, unctuous cream.

    It was fall when I got out. Roberts was closed for business. The kids avoided the gardens, or the teachers did. Only a few visitors were there, half of them plainclothes cops looking for pervs. I'd been told to stay away. But who could? The last few apples hung from the trees. In the center, orange fruit hung from a tree. The birds had at it. I picked one and bit. The sweetness hit me first, and silky mango juice, then that tang, that puckering persimmon wrench.

    The Luxembourg Gardener: A Companion Poem

    I pay tribute daily to what saves me
    millimeters, centimeters, brass
    the meter's certain logic I tattoo
    upon my brain like hope of heaven, like
    a careful wound that tells me when the branches
    of the palace paths are out of true.

    Then chaos falls like wilderness to knife.
    Then loss transmutes to beauty training pears
    and apples into candelabras bearing
    fruit instead of ash and flame, and humbly
    lend themselves to pies and ciders, ripe
    for harmony. A human Eden. Peace.

    Why plant in that a snake, I ask? Why grow
    a kaki tree, its untamed limbs akimbo
    ruining ordered rows, disdaining pastry?
    Was it some senile gardener's whimsy that
    persimmon? A mistake? Like me, their roots
    are elsewhere like Kentucky where they worship

    serpents in the hills, where only frost
    in fall can tame the swollen, orange globes
    into the grinding sweetness of a mango
    or a Georgia peach. In fall, the birds
    possess the trees with beating wings. The black
    birds and sparrows shake the tree and gorge.

    Juice plasters flat the feathers of a throat.
    And juice obscures the angles of the world.
    Geometry, perhaps, comes afterwards.
    Faint puckering gives balance to the sweet.
    If you can stand it. Love, grief each broken
    arrow of their beaks pierces me.

    About the Author

    Kelly Cogswell is the pseudonym of Q. Sutherland, the editor of Tetrapod Press and author of a number of works including the upcoming play "Diary of a Breast." She is currently finishing a roman noir.

    Author's Note

    What is a genre but an identity, a home? And how many of us these days belong to one place, one culture, even one time-zone? We move from the countryside to cities then bigger cities gradually homogenizing everything from our clothes to the cuisine of our regions until at the point of erasure we flee our homeland to rediscover what's left of our roots. As we go, we continue to drop seed pods, pick up others, cross-pollinate, cross boundaries, why not literary stitials?

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    Carrot love – challenging, border-crossing, possibly illegal. At the Interstitial Arts Foundation, we bring you daring literature served with a healthy dose of Vitamin A. Join today!

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