This issue of Empty Sink Publishing is dedicated to Chris Garson. Chris was a good friend of mine who inspired me to become a better writer, reader, and person in general. Without his inspiration and guidance, I can say with full confidence that I never would have thought to start a literary magazine. Chris died on November 28, 2012. This issue is my thank you to him for all the good he did and continues to do.

Allow me to paraphrase the Bard for a moment: To offend, or not to offend. That is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of people who are pissed off by something you wrote, or said, or did, or to take arms against those who take life too damn seriously, and by opposing them, to piss them off some more.

When picking our selections for this issue, we had to make a decision about publishing a particular piece that we knew would piss some people off—maybe even some of you who are reading this right now. I’m not going to tell you which piece it is, though you will no doubt figure it out when perusing the titles in our tables of contents. But we had to decide: as a fledgling literary magazine, is it worth alienating some of our readers in order to publish what we think is an excellent example of humor at its darkest?

We decided that yes, yes it was. Controversial art, in its many shapes and forms, is only controversial if the observer is allowed to confront it head on. And what is controversial today may be considered passé tomorrow, but only if it is allowed to exist in an observable form today.

In addition, we are convinced that it is not our job to determine what is and isn’t offensive. That’s your job. Our job is to find art that we believe is worth sharing with a larger group of people and to publish that art, regardless of who it might anger or upset, and regardless of whether it will turn a group of readers away from our site. Because we know there are others, like us, who will read these works and will want more, because they don’t know where else to go to find them.

You have been warned.

In the meantime, we’ve got a great lineup for Issue 2. For those of you who enjoyed the first part of Terry Davis’s Merry and Joe, the conclusion appears in this issue. In blood in the dirt, F.X. James juxtaposes a grisly crime scene with the failing marriage of a small-town cop. Michael Christani’s Tell It to the Lord forces the reader to re-evaluate honor and death, and Dorianne Emmerton writes about a very unconventional participant in the ever-evolving art of war in The Sad Saga of the War Vet.

In the poetry section, you’ll find two notable entries from poet Kurt Newton. If you enjoy his work, come back next month for Issue 3, where we will publish two more of his poems. Drew Pisarra’s Satan’s Brew begs the question: what’s really going on in your favorite canine’s head? In The Wind and the Mountain, Gene Goldfarb spins a tale of opportunities lost, and Glen Armstrong’s A Brief History of the End will make you question what exactly would be going through your head when the shit goes down and the world is consumed in flames around you.

For those of you suffering from a turkey hangover, how about some seafood? Head to the reality section, where Moneta Goldsmith instructs you on The Least Cruel Method for Cooking Crabs. We are very pleased to be working with Mr. Goldsmith and will feature more of his work in Issue 3.

Check out our media section for works by Glenn Halak, Walter Savage, and Tamny Gilmore. We continue to be impressed by the quality of media works we’ve received from our contributors. If we had the means, we would open a gallery dedicated to hanging these pieces on a wall for all to see—they are that good.

Finally, the much-anticipated second issue of N. Piatkoski’s graphic novel, Strange Fish, appears in this issue. If you haven’t yet read the first issue, you can get it from our archives here. Strange Fish is weird and wonderful, and there is truly nothing like it in print right now. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Our Editor’s Choice for this month goes to the short story Fugue, by Elizabeth Brown. Originally, we were going to serialize Fugue—it’s a long story, and we thought it would work well spread across multiple issues. But after a second read, I realized that Fugue is a story that must be read in a single sitting. The relationship between the protagonists of the story is too complex and multi-layered to be divided in two. It is a modern reinterpretation of the classical story of star-crossed lovers, and we are very proud to be publishing it in its entirety in this issue.

As an aside, thank you to both the contributors and readers who have made our first two issues a success. We hope you enjoy what you find in Issue 2. And if you are offended by what you read, feel free to send your slings and arrows our way. We shall suffer them with pride.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 12/4/2013