FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #22

Join us as we dance the dance of the seven veils, and bring us the head of John the Baptist– it’s our 22nd reading! Wednesday, May 23, 7-9 PM at Brooklyn’s Pacific Standard.

Starring:

MARY BOO ANDERSON
ALIBI JONES
RON KOLM
KEEGAN LESTER
MELISSA MESKU
JESS RIZKALLAH
SHY WATSON

Admission is free; facebook event page is here.

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“Dead in the Eye” – Fiction by Melissa Mesku

Pond with Ducks (Girl Amusing Herself) – Paul Gaugin, 1881

From our Spring 2018 issueMelissa Mesku‘s “Dead in the Eye” is a short coming-of-age story about ducks and cigarettes and the strangeness of adolescence. [And if you’ll be in the NYC area on Wednesday, May 23, you can catch Melissa read among our stellar lineup of writers & performers at FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #22.]

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THE BOYS CAME BACK FEVERISH, YELLING OVER EACH OTHER. Aunt Grandma climbed down from the trailer to hush them. It was just after twilight but their eyes were wild, glowing. Bright impossibilities spilled out of their mouths.

Among them:

1/ Some witches had turned a boy into a duck and then murdered him

2/ Raven-haired sorceresses had buried a dead duck which came back to life

3/ A pair of girl Satanists had burned a duck alive and then drank its blood

Aunt Grandma’s twin came out of her trailer next door. The boys saw they had a new audience and ran to her, shouting. They crowded around her like dogs. She was a bit drunk from what we could tell – rum, no doubt – and we listened to her “Mmm hmm” and “You don’t say” while all four boys ran at the mouth. More details emerged.

1/ The witches were sisters

2/ They weren’t witches, but vampires

3/ Regardless, they were lesbians

The way they told it, the whole mountainside was abuzz with rumors. Apparently, the only fact they agreed upon was that the offenders – two females – had disappeared at sundown in a cloud of smoke.

Violet and I sat in our tent with the lights out, our sides heaving. We clutched our hands over our mouths and stayed silent, stone silent. We had nothing but contempt for the boys and their ridiculous stories, but for once we were enthralled. The cacophony was theirs, but the mischief that had unleashed it was ours.

That night, in the dark, Violet and I swore that tomorrow, we’d return to the scene. “If what those boys want is a witch, a witch is what they’re going to get,” she said ominously.

It’s just as well we made that promise under the cover of night. I had trouble looking her in the eye those days. Or maybe she had trouble looking at me. In my naïveté, I assumed it was because if our eyes did meet, we would have cracked up and blown our cover.
Continue reading “Dead in the Eye” – Fiction by Melissa Mesku

“Offbeat Writing with a Sexy Twist”

We’re blushing pretty hard over The Review Review‘s recent 5-star review of our Spring 2018 issue, FLAPPERHOUSE #17. The review, aptly titled “Offbeat Writing with a Sexy Twist,” was written by Kim Jacobs-Beck, with whom we swear we have had no prior contact nor relationship of any kind. She says that our latest issue is:

“well-edited, with a coherent theme. Most pieces in this issue address the surreality of coming of age, of burgeoning sexuality, of gendered interactions, of the way former lovers can haunt, and other life transitions.”

Ms. Jacobs-Beck highlights a few pieces in particular: Katie Longofono’s “The Virus Shaves Her Legs,” Melissa Mesku’s “Dead in the Eye,” Michael Chin’s “Forever,” and Gabriela Garcia’s “Mark.” And in conclusion, she writes:

“FLAPPERHOUSE is an interesting journal, definitely off the track of academically-affiliated literary journals, and that is a strength. It would no doubt make a good home for work that is hard to place in more conventional journals…

“In addition to being a home for unusual literary works, FLAPPERHOUSE 17 was engaging and fun to read; I would recommend subscribing to it, either in print or PDF.”

Should you care to follow Ms. Jacobs-Beck’s wise recommendation, you can check out our various subscription packages here. And you can read her very flattering review in its entirety at The Review Review.

“Angels and Cowboys” – Fiction by Catfish McDaris

An Angel – Marc Chagall, 1960

A drifter makes a brief but unforgettable companionship in “Angels and Cowboys,” Catfish McDaris‘ flash fiction from our Spring 2018 issue.

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BEING NEW TO CALIFORNIA, PORTERHOUSE ADJUSTED TO THE SWAY of the Angelinas and palm trees. Surfboards, skateboards, smiles, and bikinis, what was not to like. Porterhouse’s pockets were flush, he’d been breaking horses in New Mexico. He learned how from the Apaches and his father, they took them into water and learned the horse’s language. When a wild animal is treated with respect, miracles often happen. Porterhouse got a room with a stove and a bathroom near the beach. The ocean was a new experience, he listened to the waves and tried to hear the fish singing. He stood on the beach and picked up a hand full of sand, smelling it slowly. It was like a desert, but full of salt water, full of many things to learn. Watching the golden buttery sunset, this seemed like a magnificent adventure. Porterhouse got thirsty and his stomach was growling. He stopped and bought two bottles of Archer Roose Carmenere Chilean wine and a corkscrew. At the market he bought green onions, flour tortillas, canned frijoles, and hamburger meat. From above he heard a whimper sob, he saw a few bloody feathers on the sidewalk. Half hidden in a tree was a winged lady. She was blonde and had a blue suit on and long white feathered wings. Except one wing was clearly injured.

“I need help, I’ve been hurt by a drone helicopter.”

“How can I help?” Porterhouse asked.

“I have money, please rent a hotel room near a park with lots of birds. Also, I need a large trench coat to conceal my wings and a first aid kit. Will you help, please?” She dropped a large stack of hundred-dollar bills.

“Are you an angel?” She nodded yes. “Stay there and I’ll be back.” Porterhouse grabbed his bag, tossed his grub, got a nice big London Fog trench coat, got a first aid kit, and found a fancy hotel with room service. “Are you ready, Angel?”

“Don’t drop me, cowboy.” She floated down into his arms and smiled through a grimace. He helped her into her new coat and removed the tag. They passed a nice forested park on the way to their hotel. Porterhouse let her take a shower, then he doctored her wounded wing. They ordered surf and turf and ice cream sundaes. He opened a bottle of wine, but they were both soon asleep. Porterhouse slept on a couch. Angela took the bed.

Everyday Porterhouse went into the park and gathered feathers of all sorts from the wooded area. He left them in the bathroom and wasn’t sure what Angela did with them. This went on for two weeks. One quiet morning Porterhouse woke up, on the dresser were two tall stacks of hundreds. A note with a lipstick print kiss goodbye and what looked like a duck call. The note read: if you ever need me, blow the angel whistle. Porterhouse packed his rucksack, leaving the whistle, and money. He figured he was the one who saddled his horse and he’d ride it alone.

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Catfish In Milwaukee Doing a Pee Wee/Urkel Poetry Monologue

CATFISH McDARIS’ most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. He’s from Albuquerque and Milwaukee.

“Let’s not pretend everything is going to be OK” – Fiction by William Squirrell

Canary – Tsuguharu Foujita

Some ships come down in the middle of the night, and a whole mess of bad news follows in “Let’s not pretend everything is going to be OK,” William Squirrell‘s hauntingly apocalyptic short fiction from our Spring 2018 issue.

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THE SHIPS CAME DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. They were huge. Gigantic. They stretched the sky, it bulged. They smeared the stars between their forefinger and their thumb. Have you ever seen water in a balloon? Have you ever felt the tender weight expressing? Pushing against the skin? Milk from a breast. Push! Push! Breathe! Have you felt it in the palm of your hand? That weight? Pressing, pressing, pressing down, impatient to be borne.

They stretched the sky so thin you could almost see through it, see the shapes on the other side, drifting in the bubbles and the scum. Is that God? Is that the singing angels? Fellow travelers through the void? Or just the bodies in the lye?

We never saw them coming. Too late we heard the creaking door, the creaking floor, too late.

What’s the use of radar? What’s the use of a radio telescope in a crater the size of New York City if it doesn’t give fair warning? What’s the use of Hubble? Of Elon Musk? What’s the use of a fictional marriage? Mutual funds? What’s the use of hope? Of love? What’s the use of a lockdown when they’re already in the building?

Oh, Emilia! Emilia! And Winston and John and Lauren, little Lauren, Oh Emilia! And Winston and John. They stole them all. Sucked them up through their rubber skins, through their prophylactic skins. Did they eat them up? Did they eat the children? Did they take them somewhere safe? All the human children? What are we now that they are gone?

There is no one left but us grownups; us old ones; us already dead ones.

When the ships came down in the middle of the night, so massive and catastrophic like heart attacks, we all groaned. Pain in our left arms. Shortness of breath. Nausea. Palpitations. We were squeezed. Massaged. We all felt it. We moaned simultaneous.

“What would you do if you could get your kid back?” said the man at the bus stop who used to always talk about the Government. “No other kids, just yours. Would you kill that old lady over there? The one in the green coat. Would you crush her skull with a hammer? If I gave you a knife would you cut her throat? Would you let me kill your wife? Would she let me? If I could guarantee it: your kid.”

Continue reading “Let’s not pretend everything is going to be OK” – Fiction by William Squirrell

“Menace” – poetry by stephanie roberts

Carnival Clowns – Willem Cornelisz Duyster, 1620

“Menace” is one of three fiercely evocative poems by stephanie roberts in our Spring 2018 issue.

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THERE IS A WORD FOR EVERYTHING
a flock of seagulls
a menace of clowns
the ova of fish
(known informally as delicious)
the offspring of mr. lion and mrs. tiger
another name for the reverse
the moniker for squirrel tits
the inner sex organs of women
and the outer petals
(often referred to erroneously as vagina)
i call you beloved
(you dismiss this,
insisting on freudian terms
cathectic,
hysterical, i hope
you mean funny)
we’re never talking about the same thing
open your thesaurus
pass your each, every, per
pass your one plus one
pass your zeta
what describes your broken dream
of forever?
i say won you say second
i say me jane you
true husband
then it is sunrise
the earth lights agreement
let’s right the dictionary
for our common prayers.

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stephanie roberts has work featured in numerous periodicals, in North America and Europe, including ArcturusThe Stockholm Review of LiteratureOcculum and Atlanta Review. A 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee, she was born in Central America and grew up in Brooklyn, NY. Twitter shenanigans @ringtales.

“Prolific: The Obituary of Jack O’Brien” – Fiction by Andrew Davie

Papio cynocephalus – Gelber Babuin, 1927

From our Spring 2018 issue, Andrew Davie‘s “Prolific: The Obituary of Jack O’Brien” recounts the adventurous & litigious life of an unorthodox TV producer.

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JACK O’BRIEN, CREATOR OF SOME OF THE MOST PROVOCATIVE SHOWS ON TELEVISION from 1974-1983, died Friday. He was 87. The cause is reported to be complications from diabetes.

Born Hyman Lipshitz, O’Brien started out as a page for Warner Bros. He transitioned to the mailroom before becoming a staff writer and eventually a supervising producer for the hit show Knuckle Sandwich. Former middleweight champion Dwight Franklin played “Slip-Slap” Jenkins, a boxer who moonlights as a short order cook for an orphanage who uses his purse money to provide better meals for the children. (O’Brien later unsuccessfully sued the producers of Nacho Libre, but lost during Writer’s Guild Arbitration — see “Lipshitz v. Hess/Black&White Productions.”)  The show’s theme song “Slip-Slapping Away” broke the top ten on the charts in 1975. (O’Brien was successfully sued by Paul Simon, who claimed the theme song plagiarized “Slip Sliding Away.” O’Brien was unable to argue parody as a defense — see “Slip-Slap-Slide-Same; judge votes in favor of Simon.”)

O’Brien helped develop Marlboro Jones starring T.J. Burnell about a private investigator in an iron lung who solves crimes from his apartment. Former Oakland Raider John “Killer” Katoogan played Marlboro’s partner Dan “Slade” Anderson. A fundamental reworking of Nero Wolfe, Anderson would do field work and report back to Jones who would figure out the culprit while incapacitated from battling the effects of botulism. The episode entitled “Just the Tip of the Spear” would win O’Brien the coveted EGAG that year (an Emmy, Golden Globe, AVN award, and Grammy).

This was followed by a show O’Brien developed, The Shankbone Redemption, about an incarcerated Orthodox Jewish prisoner who must remain observant while trying to negotiate the pitfalls of prison life. A memorable episode involved everybody’s favorite inmate Moshe Horowitz digging a tunnel but being unable to use it until sundown. Another fan favorite included the episode where Moshe made kosher “Pruno” in his toilet. T-shirts with Moshe giving the throat slashing gesture and depicting the words “Give ‘em a Hebrew haircut” were a best-selling item in 1981.

A spinoff of Shankbone followed: A Spoonful of Pruno Makes the Heroin Go Down, a musical about the heroin trade in a maximum security prison. This generated the hit songs “Balloons & Mules,” “Cavity Searches (No Fun for Anyone),” and “ABC, Easy as GED.”

Toward the end of his career, O’Brien found a resurgence with a remake of the British show Spousal Privilege, about hitman Llewelyn Headstrong-Jones who tries to marry a witness who saw him carry out a murder.

In 1982, after suffering from exhaustion and a possible drug addiction – see “O’Brien and O’Caine; substantiated reports of Hollywood drug addiction” — O’Brien joined the French Foreign Legion under the nom de guerre “Ironbar Bassey.” He was later sued for defamation by Gary “Angry” Anderson who played said character in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and for licensing rights by George Miller — see “Anderson/Kennedy Miller Productions v. Lipshitz.”

During this period, O’Brien participated in the Chadian-Libyan conflict for two years before disappearing into the Democratic Republic of Congo. There he released a memoir, Dread Medicine, in which he purported to carry out covert military operations for the CIA; he was later sued by Chuck Barris and settled out of court — see “Chuck Barris Enterprises v. Lipshitz.”  Continue reading “Prolific: The Obituary of Jack O’Brien” – Fiction by Andrew Davie