A gazillion gallons of glittery gratitude to everyone who helped make last night’s reading such a groovy deee-lite: Kim, Armando, Sarah, Anthony, and Devin for performing your flappy lits; Alibi Jones for your scintillating singing & photography; Pacific Standard for the ever-gracious hospitality; and all you gorgeous people who came in from the unseasonable warmth to witness it all…we’ll see you again on March 21…
[photos by Alibi Jones]
Kim Coleman Foote reads stories inspired by playing with the letters in her friends’ names
Join us Wednesday night, February 21, from 7-9 PM at Pacific Standard (82 Fourth Ave in Brooklyn) as we celebrate FOUR YEARS of FLAPPERHOUSE with our TWENTIETH reading and launch our 2017 print anthology!
I TRY TO TELL MY BRAIN, you are an organ, luminous in your undulating layers, and like a comet, you are not a dirty snowball of space, you are made of dust (my trauma, my moments of star bones, love that combusted my life, on repeat, a recurring dream i continue to pirouette through), and dust, dirt can glitter if the light of the night hits it just right. like a comet, you have brought water to my most deserted, desiccated parts. i try to tell my brain, you are a little girl in her first chiffon, and when you spin, you set the earth aswirl in possibility: the softest wisconsin green grass of a dream, a field of lavender, spreading, and the blood-jet of sylvia or every poetess who preceded both your grace and your pain, or those slippers, ruby made into a dress, reminding us all that home is the heart we all seek. brain, often, you cry. often, you must find a moat to make certain no sailors make way through your lake of ache. brain, your skull is simply one big bone and bones break easily and often, brain, i do not always handle your structure, or even your waves of sea with all the love the ocean deserves, but here is my promise today, right now: i will hold you as my mother did when i pushed out her womb and was held at her breast. i will kiss your bloody body. i will be unafraid of the grime, the slimy guts. i try to tell my brain, you are an organ, but you are the life of all that makes me a life of my own, and i will claim you as my own. i will sob at the life of you now out of me and now all of you. still, i will do my best to protect you as a wolf does; come for its kin and it will kill. and the bones of the hunter, the mother will lick as clean and as pure as the moon.
TOUCH, YES, BUT JUST A LITTLE—she said, her, the mule, the one who would stop having a head. Sitting on the church’s pew, she waited, blouse unbuttoned and skirt lifted, looking at the altar. Many things crossed her mind as he helped himself: his hands, hot like maize cake, freshly baked. The wooden cross, gilded, the thrushes outside, singing. Not a word to anybody, yes?—he said, and she nodded, blushing. How glorious it was, to be loved, again, and touched, by someone, anyone, even if it was him, even by a priest.
The widow covered herself, and kissed the tip of his nose. Will we see each other again?—she asked. Tomorrow, or the other day, or on next Sunday’s Mass?
Sure thing—he said, covering his crotch with his cassock. She leaned for another kiss, but didn’t receive any.
Outside, it was night, well, almost. It was that hour where the clouds fog the furious lightness of the day, and orange and pink turn slowly into blue, purple and black. I will miss you—she said, finger twirling around a loose curl. The priest disappeared in the shadows of the closed church.
She hid under the veil, as dark as her clothing, and hurried to leave as well.
Some children still played in the park, and their nursery rhymes could be heard between the birds: last one there is the priest’s wife, the priest’s wife, the priest’s wife… She hugged herself, feeling strange. Her forehead felt numb, her hands and feet throbbed, her nape hurt. The wind erased the day’s hotness, and a chill went down her spine.
There was still a long way to go to reach her home, but she could only think of him—the priest’s wife, the priest’s wife, the priest’s wife—his hands, his smell, his ways. If they had been lucky, they would have been born far away, and this secret wouldn’t have existed in the first place.
The widow looked up, walking beneath the trees, following the path of the dirt road. Slowly, she realized something was happening to her: her weak knees hit the floor, her elbows contorted, turning, breaking. Her skirt furled around her legs, and she screamed, thinking again of the priest: if someone saw her, would he help her? Or would he turn his back on her, and pray, washing his own hands? Continue reading “The Headless Mule” – Fiction by H. Pueyo→
21THE MOST BEAUTIFULEST SHIT in the whole world can
be the ugliest shit at the
same time/ like toilet paper
& black plastic bags
hanging from a cherry blossom
in the spring/
or the smile of a wretch as you
put the dollar in his cup &
he says god bless you & you walk away/
or the wrath of a mother’s
love/ beaten into her
or the son’s tears as he chokes
the doctor who cannot
22 when was the last time we
dreamed? what did
we dream of?
23 it gets hard to think with
all that laughing in
24 it gets hard & you think
that shit will never
change/ & the desire
to pass through
life like a shadow becomes
greater than the desire
to raise your voice in vain/
25 plus all everybody do is talk & take
pictures of themselves/
so you can see why folks might
just save their breath
when you see everybody
huddled up crying on
the news/ asking why/
& you see so much beauty in the world
& you wonder how much
of beauty is really real
TELL ME, SYCORAX, of the time your heart was broken.
How it almost killed you.
How love itself decayed overnight like filet mignon
Left out on your kitchen table.
How flies gathered to buzz your rotting meat
Your heart meat
Your love offal.
Tell me of the bottomless pain in your chest
The razor sharp scissors of reality to your center.
How you turned to magick and witchcraft
To transform you out of your misery
To exact your revenge
How you sat for months in the botanica backrooms
With more seasoned Latinx brujas
learning, honing your abilities
Your plans for revenge.
Tell me of the spells you wrought
The hexes you spawned
How you drew your own blood with a flea market switchblade
The crimson rivulets that flowed from wrist to chalice
On those Mariachi midnights.
The thick burn of mezcal on your wounds,
Your tongue fat with chanting and prayer
With Marlboros and songs.
How it singed your innards
On those Summer nights in Texas.
Your body and soul engulfed
By the melancholy flames of forever.
Creating sigils, mixing tinctures
Conjuring saints, spirits,
anyone and anything to help ease the pain.
Tell me, Sycorax, how you conjured
The ghosts of Selena and Ophelia
How Selena, with electric wings and voice
attempted to ease your sorrow with songs
and held you, her broken sister
And sang, “bidi bidi bom bom” in your ear.
How Ophelia (who was taller and more powerfully built
than you imagined) appeared
In her diaphanous gown
drenched from her descent from that willow branch
How you said to her, “I thought you were fiction?”
How she replied, “I thought the same of you.”
Tell me, Sycorax, of your bruised heart
swollen and bleeding, nailed above the blue door
Of your consciousness
Like some throbbing crucifix
Your whole impossible existence hanging from a rusty nail
Tell me of your attempted suicide
How you drove to Matamoros and jumped in El Rio Bravo
How you wetbacked your spirit into damnation
On the banks of despair.
How your Americanized pig-sty soul
Was drenched by the river your grandmother crossed
that eventually led to you, wailing and crying
In the gringa nurses’ arms to here
now, wailing and crying again
The Mexicana- Americana tears of lost and unrequited love
congregating, flowing, dividing two countries
dividing your will to live and your longing for an end.
Tell me, Sycorax, how Selena and Ophelia
Cried and pleaded with you from either shore
Watching as you bobbed in the water like a cinnamon stick
until they sensed your will to live had won
how they pulled you to the Mexican side
and held you, wept, howled, laughed and chanted with you;
a triumfeminate coven of tragically wounded witches.
How they whispered and sang in your waterlogged ears
“Bidi bidi bom bom bidi bidi bom bom
And I of ladies most deject and wretched
That sucked the honey of his music vows
Blasted with ecstasy, oh, woe is me
T’have seen what I have seen, see what I see,
Cada vez, cada vez que lo veo pasar
Bidi bidi bom bom.”
Tell me, Sycorax, how you woke at your altar
wet and muddy, dazed and mumbling
how you opened your book of shadows and wrote,
“We are the dreams of the All, falling in love
with one another’s magnificence in spite of
our limitless capacity for avarice, violence and cruelty
and that, my sisters, is the real miracle of life.”
How you tore the page from your book
and set it aflame atop your black candle
and began writing again,
“Ovum, sanguis, cerebrum, aenima
Behold the girl, the woman
Being born again and again.”
WHEN THE STEREO BEGAN TO BUZZ AND DISTORT I knew it was time and my heart leapt up to take its place in my mouth his voice was garbled and faraway as if speaking into the phone through a glass his profile picture was a close up of his EYE the picture had an effect added to it the name of the effect might have been X-Ray it turned light colours dark and vice versa giving the picture an unnerving quality inverted colours everything a variation of green I saw the EYE when I closed my own it followed me into my dreams I had the feeling of my organs clasped in an icy grip I stopped breathing out I passed the time waiting for Messages and Signs the relationship seemed to be taking place on another planet he had to be the one to contact me if I tried to initiate he would not respond there were rules that were never said out loud some of them I might have imagined whether imagined or not I devoted all my energy to following them I needed to keep the EYE on me without it I knew I would become hopelessly depressed
finally we met in real life I knew him by the way he crept towards me his lips did not move when he spoke he immediately placed his hands on my breasts and put his mouth over mine I was sure I could hear something inside him I imagined that it was his heart the details of him I can remember his clothes made a great deal of noise squeaking leather I could hear his steel toed boots walking a street away he wore a lot of glinting silver attracting attention from local birds his flesh was cool to the touch turning blue in some places today I search for him on the internet I find him commenting on message boards for a television programme that has been off the air for ten years I feel the EYE urging me to do the things I did in my youth the undoing of my shirt and jeans the slow pulling of a sock from the end of my foot the teeth of his zip raking along my cheek on the mattress on his floor he said I was sexy enough to be a glamour model now the skin of my breasts is growing slack a cluster of spidery veins has appeared on my left calf I would be ashamed for him to see me still I yearn to be watched I find myself scanning the blank faces of people in the vicinity customers I’m serving passersby I realise I am taking stock of their EYES as I do this I recite a minor prayer waiting for my breath to catch then hold and hold.