Seven Anorexics

Issue No. 17 | Spring 2012 Prosetry Contest Winner


To explain anorexia to you if you didn’t understand, it’s like wearing a dress full of tears. 

Tear (noun):  a rip or slash, a pulled apart

space through which one can see.

Tear (noun):  a drop of saline, a clear fluid

appearing in or flowing from the eyes as a result

of emotion, esp. grief.


Tears or tears, it’s all the same.  The dress is transparent with millions of heavy metal buttons up the front.  You spend hours on those buttons, starting at the bottom, meticulous, your fingers raw, preparing to go out in the world safely covered.  You could spend your whole life squinting down at those unfaltering, silver clasps and never realize you’ve chosen a dress that will always show you naked.  You’re buttoning and buttoning and buttoning, every day, all day long, frantic in the middle of a winter street.

Seven anorexics walk into the store. Seven anorexics walk into the store at separate times through the late July afternoon. I’m behind the counter.  I could stare at them for hours.  The seventh anorexic’s knees are bigger than her thighs.  Her feet poke out like rabbit claws from open toed sandals.  I can see her whole collarbone, the broken-pipe stretch of it, where it connects to her shoulders, the places people would kiss if they ever wanted to kiss her. 

It happens all day.  A girl walks into the store.  A girl and her mother walk into the store.  A girl and her friends walk into the store.  A girl with thick hair walks into the store.  A girl in a soccer jersey, a girl in 3 inch heel boots, a girl in baggy jeans, a girl from Iowa State, a girl from Canada, a girl from the farm, a city girl, a girl from the sea, a girl with a book, a hairbrush, a cell phone, walks into the store.  There’s a woman from Dallas, a woman from San Francisco, Vancouver, Massachusetts, Alaska, a woman on Lexapro, a woman on birth control, a woman with a snipped credit card, a woman with her two gay man friends, a woman who almost died, a woman with her husband, a woman with a chocolate bar, a woman humming, a woman losing her hair, a woman so happy she doesn’t recognize the feeling, a woman imagining this feeling, a woman in red, a woman in brown, a woman in a map of her life that, until now, until today, has been made up of everyone else’s lives, a woman about to drive away, then another woman, another woman, and another woman walk into the store. Women all day. 

Even when I’m happy, even when I’m inspired, or satisfied, when I see the women, I love the anorexic ones best. Just for a moment. Even after recovery, it’s our faces that make us obvious to each other: when the shadow of your loneliest world crawls in there, into your whole face, when your face eats the rest of your body. 



Alice Neiley is an alumni of the University of Vermont who now lives and writes out of Provincetown, Massachusetts. She works hard, teaches yoga, writes poetry, and is working on a creative nonfiction book about the body, anorexia and recovery.  Her nonfiction work was recently featured at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center, Scholars Program.


p style=”text-align: justify;”>Guest Editor: David Wagoner has published 18 books of poems, most recently A Map of the night (U. of Illinois Press, 2008) and ten novels, one of which, The Escape Artist, was made into a movie by Francis Ford Coppola.  He won the Lilly Prize in 1991 and has won six yearly prizes from Poetry (Chicago).  He was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets for 23 years.  He has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and twice for the National Book Award.  He edited Poetry Northwest from 1966 to its end in 2002.  He is professor emeritus of English at the U. of Washington and teaches in the low-residency MFA Program of the Whidbey Island Writers Workshop.

Man Like That

Summer 2011 Prosetry Contest Winner

I have stories to tell, he says, his diamond eye sparkling in the bright sun. I can hardly believe I would get in a car with a man like that man. Blasting along, wind whipping hair, he’s saying words as fast as he can spit them out, I’m looking with some wonder at the flower growing out of his ear and the blue fire dancing on his tongue and thinking, you’re just crazy as a shit house rat aren’t you baby?  He takes both hands off the wheel and presses ten fingertips into his skull, screaming, My brain! My brain! That’s right baby, that’s right. It’s about 102 degrees and looking for more, dry lighting snaps in the air, a lizard atomizes on the hood, twang factor everywhere. He’s easing down on the brake now, gliding to a silky stop. He turns his dove eye to me and says very sweetly, have you eaten anything yet I haven’t eaten yet what shall I get what would you like what sounds good? I say, yes.


Sally Reno is a writer, producer and newscaster for Pacifica-KGNU Radio in Denver-Boulder and the CFO of Shining Mountains Press. Her flash fiction and short stories have appeared in print and online journals, including Fast Forward, Indigo, Lady Jane’s Miscellany, Used Furniture Review and flashparty.


p style=”text-align: justify;”>Guest-edited by Molly Gaudry, author of the verse novel We Take Me Apart and founder of The Lit Pub. Read an excerpt of her novella, We Take Me Apart, in Moon Milk Review.

Prophecy as a Reducing Mathematical Certainty

Spring 2011 Prosetry Winner

These are the tiny wanderings that core the heart in spectacular revelations and inspirations and allusions, and all of it getting up, standing up, leaping up and wanting more than anything to staunch the disjuncts and disparities between the things that our hands can hold and the things that want more than anything to tear our fingers out, strip the meat from our little bones and fashion the lot of it into stinking jewelry we cannot pawn no matter how hard we try — try telling that to Cassandra when she is lounging around the palace on her day off, amusing herself with cigarettes and game shows, crappy local soda and whole collections of underground comics that absolutely no one has ever read or will ever read. Cassandra can see forever in any direction, in every direction, in everyone, and to her, the whole sweep of it is so clear that even the rim of the past is no barrier, she can see the baroque twistings and all sorts of ridiculous blasphemies that keep on happening before time starts and keep on happening even though time started long ago. If it was any less bleak, she says, she would leave, get up off the couch, make some sort of excuse, and get on the nearest bus. The whole mess is a conversion high, a phone call that ends in someone getting arrested, that burns until the whole world is doomed. Cassandra can see it all, but the detail is so fine that it all becomes a blur.

Carl James Grindley is a transplanted Canadian who lives in New Haven, Connecticut. His last novel, Icon, was published by No Record Press in 2008.

Guest Editor for Spring 2011 Issue | Laura Ellen Scott | Laura Ellen Scott’s collection of 21 creepy stories is called Curio and is available free online and as an ebook from Uncanny Valley Press. Her novel, Death Wishing, a comic fantasy set in New Orleans, will be released in October 2011 by Ig Publishing.