“The Flesh the Grave Cave Ate, Volume One” – Poetry by Jessie Janeshek

Female Spirit of the Night - Remedios Varo
Female Spirit of the Night – Remedios Varo

“The Flesh the Grave Cave Ate, Volume One” is one of five marvelous & mystical poems that Jessie Janeshek contributed to our Summer 2016 issue. To read all five, help yourself to a copy of FLAPPERHOUSE X!

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I DON’T WANT YOUR GLASS BONG                     your glowing pills
                    amber-coated costumes
the blue fluff of decadent saints                in the wood-paneled retrograde

the littering bodies under blonde signs
the blow jobs at the playground               so desperate I’m sloppy.

Something must be out there
                    a bare ass                a baldness                        a god moving in
I try to determine why to keep going

                the broken ghost at the pier mimicking tenderness
beyond night and orange cages and sleepy babies.

I have become               a black-lipped wax monster
                sustaining my fuck-ups         red coat pockets stuffed with plague spices

and the abominable thing is she wants my mineral thunderstorms
my finger-print high heels                      my tattooed value judgments

                                                        and summer descends like an alien ship
                                                        since I wear a striped bra           and an inflatable cock
                                                        under my witch cheerleader costume.

 

Note: “The flesh the grave cave ate” is a phrase from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Lady Lazarus.” Continue reading “The Flesh the Grave Cave Ate, Volume One” – Poetry by Jessie Janeshek

“Crystal” – Poetry by William Lessard

Crystal - Paul Klee, 1921
Crystal – Paul Klee, 1921

“Crystal” is one of four bewitching poems that William Lessard contributed to our Summer 2016 issue. Get your paws on a copy of FLAPPERHOUSE X to read them all!

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(After Starkweather’s imagine color)

IMAGE LIQUEFIED,
drawn
through a stem
metaphysical experiment
the beaker
below
I drink the pixels
50Mbps
taste like
Horror
taste
like Comedy
taste
like
we talk
all the time
but I never
met you
our failure
as Mystery,
as little
theatrical machine
that assembles
analogy
this is
what is it is
to live
with you,
to cast
my spell
into
the endless
blur

{ X } Continue reading “Crystal” – Poetry by William Lessard

“From the Master’s Table” – Fiction by Christine Ma-Kellams

The Woman of Canaan at the Feet of Christ - Jean Germain Drouais, 1784
The Woman of Canaan at the Feet of Christ – Jean Germain Drouais, 1784

“From the Master’s Table” is Christine Ma-Kellams‘ sardonic yet plaintive story of mental illness & loss from our Summer 2016 issue.

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MR. P WAS NEVER ONE TO VOUCH FOR HEAVEN but considered God a useful trope for making conversations with people he wanted to keep at bay. He has always been attracted to the idea of being alone, and that’s why being a history teacher seemed like a good idea.

History always seemed to him like a useful way of rewarding and punishing the good and the bad (and sometimes the bad and the good). For this reason he could never take heaven seriously, because waiting until someone was dead to dole out the true consequences of their actions appeared counterproductive at best. He preferred to pay people back while they could still bleed.

He is one of the few functional schizophrenics that I know. I say functional because he is not homeless and owns a Craftsman-style grey house on the West side of San Pedro, in a neighborhood made up of right angles, seven minutes from the ports where he unloaded boats carrying precious Chinese cargo or the occasional carcass, and where celebrity-themed cruise ships now forage for travelers afraid to fly.

When he was in his first year of teaching at West High, several seasons before he was shamed into renouncing vagabondage for a more stable routine of the conjugal kind, Mr. P would spend entire nights at the Coffee Cartel, rambling on the backs of 5-page papers on the necessary prerequisites of civil society, the threat of a perpetual police state thinly veiled by democracy and terrorism, the disappearance of childhood, NPR, the Big Sort into like-minded communities, credit cards, the problem of consciousness, and beauty—usually of the agonizing, thoughtful, forbidden kind. He loved talking to strangers and his students were no exception, though he did not like hugging, which some of them found out the awkward way.

The madness peeked out rarely in those days: an offhand, ostensibly preternatural comment about the NSA, an insistence on sitting in the chair facing the exit at El Burrito Jr.

These days the episodes come on like waterboarding, a deluge of invisible visitors dressed in vapor, narrating every interpretational version of an ever-slippery reality. Mr. P obliges his ghosts, force-feeds them his insides as he tries to disentangle facts from evidence.

Continue reading “From the Master’s Table” – Fiction by Christine Ma-Kellams

“The Past is Prologue” and “Somewhere to Land” – Poetry by Amy Strauss Friedman

The Eternal Silence of These Infinite Spaces Frightens Me - Odilon Redon
The Eternal Silence of These Infinite Spaces Frightens Me – Odilon Redon

“The Past is Prologue” and “Somewhere to Land” are two unforgettably evocative poems by Amy Strauss Friedman from our Summer 2016 issue.

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“The Past is Prologue”

SHE SAYS IT AS IF IT WERE SIMPLE:
Silence exacts its pound of flesh.
But it’s years on now.
We know nothing else to be truer.

There was a time to speak,
to turn over tables
and throw bud vases
set out only for facade
against drywall. To dent
the flow of air.
To chirp against the rain.

To scream the floors awake.

Children do not wash easily down the drain.
They clink inside pipes, backlog sinks.
Drown in puddles of want.
Expand when we cannot save them.

{ X }  Continue reading “The Past is Prologue” and “Somewhere to Land” – Poetry by Amy Strauss Friedman

“How Often We Confuse Ovens For Rabbit Holes” – Poetry by Kailey Tedesco

Rabbit in Front of the Mirror - Michael Sowa
Rabbit in Front of the Mirror – Michael Sowa

Sensual, Proustian memories meet everyday magic in “How Often We Confuse Ovens for Rabbit Holes,” Kailey Tedesco‘s wonderfully surreal poem from our Summer 2016 issue.

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IN GROCERY STORES, I HATE THE SMELL OF RAW
roses by the dozen. Suddenly, I’m seven

and you’re pulling me out of school, or I’m
fourteen and the mortician hands me a tissue

that I hold, unblown, like my friend, light-
as-a-feather-stiff-as-a-board. What I’m getting

at is I’m sick of sitting in pews doused with
grocery store petals — they affront and I’m sucked

into a whirlwind of pollen. It’s disturbing how
stamen can make such associations, but I can’t

get the local magician out of my head. He pulled
a carnation from his lopsided top hat, elastic strung

haphazardly around his unshaven mug. As he extends
the flower, his face too close to mine, I wonder if he

wears the top hat all of the time– even while eating
beer-dipped sardines poolside? Did I ever tell you

I used to play in the carcasses of whales? They were
washed up all over the tree-line, and I, in my

communion socks, counted the paces from mouth
to tail until the whales became too stuffed with

fungus or the magician pulled up in his rose
gold Hyundai to ask me if I need a ride. A good

witch won’t offer you chewing gum, and I’m not
crawling in, but I am fattening up. And we can

spend our whole lives shouting Bloody Mary
into mirrors, hoping she’ll pop by and bring

us through the other side, but chrome is as murky
as any above-ground pool. All my life, I’ve been

chasing the vermin home, only to wake up
exactly where I started.

{ X }

Continue reading “How Often We Confuse Ovens For Rabbit Holes” – Poetry by Kailey Tedesco

“Maggots: A Rapture” and “Legacy of Strega” – Poetry by Christina M. Rau

The Focus Tombs - Paul Delvaux, 1957
The Focus Tombs – Paul Delvaux, 1957

“Maggots: A Rapture” and “Legacy of Strega” are two gloriously grisly poems by Christina M. Rau in our Summer 2016 issue.

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“Maggots: A Rapture”

AND AFTER THE THREE GODS CREATED
humans from two paired trees;
after they broke down the body of Ymir:
his skull the sky, his brains the clouds,
bones unbroken into mountains,
his blood all oceans, flesh flensed clean
into all the mortal world,
the maggots came
feasting on unused parts:
the brow, the spleen, the lining of arteries.

Such is the nature of maggots,
to clean up the messes of giants.

The gods wished to continue creating
to fill up the chaotic void unperturbed.

And so, the gods cast their random plan—

Immoral maggots banished
as a race of chthonic trolls—
may a hint of daylight render them to stone.

The maggots deemed moral found
a place to flit about somewhere between
Earth and Heaven, lovely fairies of light.

{ X }

“Legacy of Strega” 

HIS FATHER DIED IN CORSICA. Natural causes. When a man gets stabbed, naturally he bleeds. When a man gets stabbed more than once, naturally he bleeds more. When all the blood bleeds out, naturally he dies.

His mother died in Corsica. On a full stomach. She sucked up all the husband’s blood, her lips on each stab wound. Then she found some daggers and plunged them into herself.

Into the tomb they went, his dead mother and him in her womb. Self-sufficient in a dead space in a dead space. Self-delivered from a dead space into a dead space. Then he climbed out. It was night.

From dark place in a dark place to wide open dark place. To dabble with goblins. To make a new race. To suck. To scour. To ghoul and gyre. To hunt nocturnal. On moors. Crags of rock. Pale to the moonlight.

{ X }

photo by Kaeti Wigeland
photo by Kaeti Wigeland

CHRISTINA M. RAU is the author of the poetry chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Founder of Poets In Nassau, a reading circuit on Long Island, NY, her poetry has appeared on gallery walls in The Ekphrastic Poster Show, on car magnets for The Living Poetry Project, and most recently in the journals Queen Mob’s Teahouse and Meniscus. In her non-writing life, she practices yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions. She blogs at http://alifeofwe.blogspot.com and does everything else at www.christinamrau.com.

“First Souls” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

Head of a Sick Man - Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1917
Head of a Sick Man – Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1917

From our Summer 2016 issue, “First Souls” is Cameron Suey‘s tantalizingly twisted tale of pandemics, gut flora, and folie à deux.

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THE WAITRESS BRINGS US OUR COFFEE, dishwater pale murk in cracked porcelain cups. Behind the thin surgical mask, her face is unreadable, but her gaze flicks from me to my companion and back again before she leaves without a word. Mickey watches her go and then fixes his eyes on me. For a long moment, the silence continues, as our eyes confirm what our hearts seemed to know the instant we passed on the street.

“Okay, Dale,” he says, his voice hoarse and still raw, like my own. There is an accent I can’t place – perhaps a district on the other side of the city. “I’m going to ask you a couple of questions, but I think I already know the answers.”

I pick up the coffee, finding it smells as weak and thin as it looks, and contemplate taking an exploratory swig. Around us the few lunchtime patrons of the dingy coffee shop are listlessly eating, lifting up paper masks to shovel in crumbling and greasy burgers, backsides squeaking on red vinyl seats. Those that aren’t eating are staring at us, at our uncovered faces.

“Okay,” I say, “Shoot.”

“You had the sick. But you didn’t report it, or go to quarantine like you were supposed to. Didn’t tell anyone.”

I nod, scared to say out loud that I’d broken the law, and willing him to lower his voice. He smiles a little, showing one blackened and rotting canine.

“Yeah. Me too, I mean, obviously. Look at us. We still look like shit. But, you got better. They say 1 in 10 do, and you took the chance. No family, no close friends, you weren’t worrying about passing the sick along. Or maybe too scared to let that stop you.”

I nod again, excitement and night terror churning in my gut. I knew all this when we first saw each other this morning, that he and I were the same.

I came out of my office building, fighting the paranoia and nausea that had plagued me since my recovery, pulling my necktie loose. I couldn’t be around my coworkers, couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Guilt from ignoring the quarantine, from lying, but something else. Something wrong in every pair of eyes. Ever since the fever broke, and I lay awake and sweating in my bed, the sheets clinging to me, I knew something had changed. That feeling is worse than the sick ever was.

Mickey was just outside my office building, crouched on the edge of a planter box. He was sucking a cigarette down to an ashen nub, and dressed in torn jeans and a stained green nylon jacket, worn thin by time. Our eyes met and I froze, held in place like two sparking nodes of an electric arc.

“We should talk,” was all he’d said, and he led me here, to this grim and filthy diner.

“So,” he continues, “We were sick, we hid it, we got better. But it’s not really better is it? There’s something wrong.”

“Yeah…” I croak, and take another mouthful of bitter coffee. “Something’s wrong. But… I don’t think… it’s not with us.”

“No,” he smiles in agreement, the black tooth sliding into view, “Not us.”

Two hours ago I was convinced I was going mad. Now, I am not alone. I could cry, the relief is so great.

Continue reading “First Souls” – Fiction by Cameron Suey