“Number 59” – Fiction by Rayna White

the-chess-board-1935
The Chess Board – Victor Vasarely, 1935

The grand finale of our Fall 2016 issue is  Rayna White‘s chilling, dystopian story “Number 59.”

{ X }

THE PEOPLE STOPPED FIGHTING IT A LONG TIME AGO. They used to make a show out of securing their homes. They would barricade the doors. They removed family pictures from the walls and replaced them with photographs of famous landmarks, skylines of cities they’d never seen, and Impressionist paintings. They tucked their children into small holes in the wall behind the bookshelf. They hid them in secret cellars, and under loose floorboards. They harnessed them behind the furnace in makeshift contraptions.

Nothing surprised the Retrievers. It seemed the breadth of innovation when it came to concealing one’s own child had its limits. The Retrievers knew every trick and every secret hiding place, and had heard every lie, sometimes more than once on the same day, sometimes on the same street. The children were either safe or they were not, and every cycle they never left a house without the child they had come for. If the child was chosen, the child would be found and the child would come.

It’s been decades since anyone has resisted the Retrievers, not in any meaningful way at least. Occasionally, there’s a bribe offer, which they always reject, or a demand for proof of authority, to which the Retrievers respond by showing the parent the roster, leaving them to sulk, defeated in their doorframes.  Most just comply now. Fate is fate they say.  They watch as the van rolls down their street, and as it slows to a stop and the Retrievers exit, they clutch their child instinctively — a final protective measure before their fate is finally revealed to them. Then they whisper to themselves, “Not this house, please, not this house,” because that is all that they can do. Continue reading “Number 59” – Fiction by Rayna White

“evermore” – Poetry by Lonnie Monka

Eternity - Mikalojus Ciurlionis, 1906
Eternity – Mikalojus Ciurlionis, 1906

“evermore” is one of two edgy & profound poems by Lonnie Monka in our Fall 2016 issue.

{ X }

PRAYING FOR LIGHT
                while pooping in the dark outside
                                 a car approaches
people often anger
                in an inverse proportion to their true faith
& faith can’t help
               but support absolutely everything
just as G-d’s footprint must be too big to see
              realists don’t think
they are just sub-conscious statisticians
              trying to be helpful
so what is eternity without thinking beings
              forever trying to understand
the end of time
                 the bottom of the sea
                                  no toilet paper?

{ X } Continue reading “evermore” – Poetry by Lonnie Monka

“The Invention of H.P. Lovecraft” – Fiction by Shay K. Azoulay

weird_tales_september_1952From our Fall 2016 issue, Shay K. Azoulay‘s “The Invention of H.P. Lovecraft” is a fictional– yet, perhaps, plausible?!– theory on the origin of the influential horror author.

{ X }

The following is the first and only post, published on 15 December 2014, in a blog named “The Invention of H. P. Lovecraft”. No author has been identified.

MUCH LIKE DARWIN IN HIS DAY, who was prompted to present his theory of natural selection when he discovered the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace had made similar discoveries, hoping to establish precedence and preempt the young upstart, so am I forced to release my own revolutionary findings prematurely, with absolute conviction but without what many would consider substantial evidence or incontrovertible proof. Due to these constraints of time and resources, my presentation of the discovery will be rudimentary, a symbolic staking of a claim if you will, to which I will later return with expansions, clarifications, revisions, and refinements. This is certainly not how I imagined I would present such an explosive theory, which I have been formulating for several months now, but in our lives things rarely go as we plan or imagine them, and the people we thought we could trust fail us in ways we could not have imagined (but no more on that).

I owe the discovery of H.P. Lovecraft’s true nature to my recent rereading of The Book of Sand (1975) by Jorge Luis Borges, specifically the story “There Are More Things” which is dedicated “to the memory of H.P. Lovecraft”. This seeming parody of Lovecraft’s themes, style, obsessions, and concerns is dismissed by Borges himself in the book’s epilogue:

Fate, which is widely known to be inscrutable, would not leave me in peace until I had perpetrated a posthumous story by Lovecraft, a writer I have always considered an unwitting parodist of Poe. At last I gave in; the lamentable result is titled “There Are More Things”.

I was struck by two things immediately – why is the story dedicated to the memory of Lovecraft rather than to the man himself (Borges dedicated only a few of his stories to people, usually with the generic “For…”), and why does Borges consider the story a posthumous creation by Lovecraft rather than a tribute or homage to him? The answer to both of these questions is as simple as it is astonishing: because H.P. Lovecraft was invented by Borges. Continue reading “The Invention of H.P. Lovecraft” – Fiction by Shay K. Azoulay

Our 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominations

Two and a Pushcart - Kazimir Malevich, 1911
Two and a Pushcart – Kazimir Malevich, 1911

Our nominations for the 2017 Pushcart Prize, which will honor work published by little magazines & small presses in 2016, are:

*
*
*
*
 *
“The Cake” – short fiction by Jonathan Wlodarski (FLAPPERHOUSE #12, Winter 2017, coming December 21)
 *
Congratulations & best of luck to all our nominated writers, and thank you for contributing your phenomenal work to our weird little zine!

a prose poem by Nicole McCarthy

Memory - Rene Magritte, 1948
Memory – Rene Magritte, 1948

From our Fall 2016 issue, here is a poignant prose poem about the peculiar powers of memory by experimental writer Nicole McCarthy.

{ X }

I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY. Or maybe
a   memory.   When  I  was  a  child  I   built
forts     out     of     couch     cushions     and
ratty      blankets.     I     packed   food  and
flashlights     and     books     and     stayed
quiet    so    no    one    would    find   me.  I
stowed   away   stacks  of   coins,   beaded
necklaces,     love      letters      and      diary
entries-    things    I    needed    to    protect,
or    to    hide.

Overnight    the     clips       would       snap.
Blankets     would    lose     their     footing
under    boxes.    Holes    in    my    fortress
would    appear,   and   I’d    be    revealed.
I    sat   exposed,   in   the   middle   of   my
ruins, wondering what I did wrong.

{ X }

I   built   a   fortress   in  my   body   out   of
words       and       cement.       Incantations
reinforce          walls          composed          of
affirmations.         Graffiti         scars         my
intestines        like         stretch         marks—
remnants   of    damage    left    before    the
partitions went up.

A    city    of    memories    hum    in    a
molecular cacophony.

The   blueprints   of   my   body   are   filed
away   for   safe   keeping.  Memories   are
currency,       we       exchange       one     for
another.

To get closer or to pull away.

To heal or to harm.

{ X }

“Would you ever consider memory
suppression?”

“Is that possible?”

“Maybe. Through therapy, or trial
drugs, or shock treatment.”

“You’d be willing to damage your
body to clear your mind?”

“I’m just asking would you do it.”

“I don’t think I have any memories
I’d need to suppress.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

{ X }

You kiss my knees to part them and
whisper “what are you hiding?”

You outstretch your hand and enter
without a map.

Once inside, you search through my
blueprints, in nooks and valleys,
down short hallways to scale, for
what is bitter on my tongue.

How long will you stay now that
you’ve opened the vault?

Do you see yourself, anywhere, in
the city of memory?

{ X }

Continue reading a prose poem by Nicole McCarthy

“Alone with All You Can’t Hear” – Fiction by Jason Namey

The Twin Stars - Luis Ricardo Falero, circa 1890
The Twin Stars – Luis Ricardo Falero, circa 1890

From our Fall 2016 issue, “Alone with All You Can’t Hear” is Jason Namey‘s twisted tale of a troubled twin & an eccentric assassin.

{ X }

THE CORK BOARD FLYER SAID I CAN KILL YOUR HUSBAND in discreet serif; I laughed at how funny it would be to call the listed number, but I wasn’t married. I called anyway.

I had sweated two coffees past midnight, time spent necking bare toes beneath a cafe table, avoiding the graphic design jobs my sister had been sweeping my way.

“Just find the shape for the puzzle pieces of your life,” she had said as we shared a glass of wine in bed a few weeks earlier. “Like take for instance me and Paul.” Every time Paul looked at me, I could feel him thank his luck for finding the fairer half of that zygote. Except when it was Christmas at their house and we sat next to each other on the couch and he pretended to need the remote control but really just wanted to reach over my legs and let his elbow brush my knee.

“What am I supposed to take for instance from you and Paul?” I asked.

“Well for one we don’t ask so many questions.”

My sister did not like questions. Not normal ones, not rhetorical ones, not moral ones.

I liked questions.

Like for instance: If Paul wasn’t around, would me wanting to move into their guest room still be considered “needy and pathetic”?

I flattened the flyer with my hand, while the ringing phone gave birth to blank space.

“Hello,” a tired, female voice said.

“I’m looking at your flyer outside Coffee Hut.”

“And you’re interested.”

“Give me the scoop, kid.”

“Be patient, lady. I need to be up soon to feed four kids eating their way to JV. We’ll meet in twelve hours, fifteen feet to your right.”

I tiptoed home over the cyanide white sidewalk, leaping cracks, not letting the palms of my feet touch. Each streetlight I legged under was the sun of some legendary world. I danced across galaxies.

I want to make love with everyone; I don’t want to make love with anyone.

I want to make love with my sister.

At home, I crawled onto the couch, a ball of caffeine flesh. I put in headphones and played Beck and dreamed about chewy toast on Sunday mornings.

{ X }

Continue reading “Alone with All You Can’t Hear” – Fiction by Jason Namey

“Visiting Elizabeth” – Poetry by M.A. Istvan Jr.

Family - Pablo Picasso, 1965
Family – Pablo Picasso, 1965

Families, and all the complicated emotions they can make us feel, are all over our Fall 2016 issue — like in M.A. Istvan Jr.‘s richly-detailed & deeply affecting poem “Visiting Elizabeth.”

{ X }

{ 1 }

THE LAST TIME I SAW MY SISTER, ELIZABETH,
was the last time my dad did. It was 1999,
upstate at the city hall in Poughkeepsie
for one of those CPS-supervised visits.
She was three at the time. I was fifteen.

Grandpa drove us up there from Beacon—
me cramped each way on my dad’s lap
in the backseat, holding back as usual
garbage bags and disgust, the stench
amplified by Grandma and her Yorkie.

{ 2 }

My dad said he needed cigarettes first
and to drop us at the corner gas station.
He had me hold the brown-bagged 40.
He was off beer and Grandma was eyeing
from the junkyard Mazda, hand-brushed red.

“Mike,” Grandma yelled as we passed.
I followed my dad pretending not to hear.
“Mike! Don’t forget the camera, the book.”
I went back for the disposable Kodak
and the coloring book with wax crayons.

Beside a tree in the park close to city hall,
my dad took swigs of his King Cobra malt.
Looking around nervous in a Newport cap,
he dribbled down his fresh-shaved chin.
He wanted helping swigs, but I said no.

He asked me to carry what was left.
My face the answer, he resisted at first.
“You got baggy pants, boy,” he reasoned.
But I knew enough not to be in city hall
struggling to keep my sloshing sweats up.

Either the fantasy of the plan or thoughts
of how the sloshing would ruin the beer
had him give up the fight. In the snow
next to a bench he buried it. To the eyes
of a passing suit I said, “Gotta keep it cool.” Continue reading “Visiting Elizabeth” – Poetry by M.A. Istvan Jr.