Letter from the Editors

Dear Reader,

Thank you for spending time with this latest edition of Bellezine. We chose this issue’s theme to be “Golden Hour” because we wanted to share complex and inspiring ideas related to hope, perseverance, and the enticing glows of sunrise and sunset.  

Often, the term “golden hour” is used in reference to visual arts, where a “golden hour” can be the moments just after dawn, or just before the sun sets in the evening— times of day when the sun gives everything it touches a resplendent effect.

But there are other ideas— where the golden hour becomes clinical, political, or even apocryphal.  The words “”golden hour” are also defined as the first hundred hours after a successful uprising, or the first hundred days of a new regime. The golden hour even exists as the moments at the opening or closing of a life. From the sixty minutes after birth– a crucial period for parents and children to bond, or the precious sixty minutes after receiving a severe injury, when treatment is vital to prevent irreversible damage. It could even refer to the seventy-two hours after a crime has been committed.

All of these ideas surrounded our theme until we saw the common substance that remained, a core that made us think of hope— with a time limit. 

This issue of Bellezine 2021 is a literary walk through a familiar space that should leave you with an aura of urgency and persistence, a haunting feeling of a long-awaited catharsis to come, or perhaps— a map to the location of your own reservoir of battlefield grit.

We chose the included works because we felt that they illuminated a snapshot of healing or of some sudden inflammation that comes in a time of distress or stasis. Whether it is comfort, catharsis, or a grit from within that drives you to persist, we hope you join us for this journey.

On comfort:

Carissa Caulton’s “same walk as yesterday” takes us travelling through time and consciousness. The speaker’s mind wanders from running errands for change to homeownership, and the longing for smells no longer found— “A comfort both exotic and familiar…” 

One work seemed to call upon the next as we worked to arrange the selections. The poem, “Zuihitsu of an Alternate Reality,” takes the participant to a dimension-strange environment, “on a sea imaginary” where  we can reconsider the classic pantheon of golden gods from the perspective of a zuihitsu, a poem that runs closer to being an entry from a travelogue written in a near fugue-state. 

“Dinner Night” from Mani Nguyen is a story of comfort, company, and food–are the guests taking bites or made of bytes? 

On grit:

 Lyv Vracko’s “Take it Outside” makes the panic rise with the speaker’s ruminating rant on their confines, the feeling of somehow stopping your voice before you’ve said too much, before that idea that can’t be retracted slips from between your teeth, until we find ourselves outdoors, breathing in slowly as we see “the cherry blossom tree… “

 In “The Docks” we can see one summer night vignette after another whirling together—until we stumble home, happy, with the sounds of the waves crashing in our ears.

In our efforts to arrange the works, one piece seemed to volunteer itself as a delicate bead of light illuminating a discordant central issue that persists throughout difficult moments. This piece seemed to naturally be the 2021 Bellezine’s grit-grain centerpiece that develops with time and careful consideration.  “King of the Fruit Festival” raises the curtain on a mercurial place called Merica, where a nightmare reality looms large for a boy coming-of-age in a wall-eager world. In this story by Allegra Keys, lives are lost as a golden hour looms when a child tries to please a parent.

In a golden hour, what is important for us to share? When the light comes down around us, at dusk or daybreak, will we adhere to the conjurations that we devised for ourselves and others? Or will the shift in light reveal some calculus regarding the “secrets tucked in” as suggested in “Thoughts of a Pin”? 

We turn your attention to “Where I’m From,” by Drew Sato and the shared existence where “the sound of Mom cleaning…,” hums nearby “sitting around and doing nothing…,” and wraps you up in “the best hug I ever had….” So many of us are from these places… from “do it yourself” and from “fiercely independent women.” 

On catharsis:

The journey from comfort to the strangeness of other worlds and other lives can be disorienting. 

Grace Lewis’ “The Hudson News in the Desert” is a piece that left us feeling calm but lost,musing on where we were going, and where we had been. “After you drive for long enough you’ll be certain you imagined it…” 

In “August,” Phoebe Skok takes us into a mirage-like vignette where afternoon sunbeams glow along cobblestone pathways and through the guise of some undefined conflict.

“Your callused palm rests on my shoulder, squeezes for a moment.”

“You’re okay, yeah?”

In our golden hour, we hope we find ourselves, like in the poem, with some vigilant champion at the ready.

“I reach over and squeeze back.”

“You know.”

Heidi Ortiz Candelaria and Princess Lamont-Wright Selph