Tag Archives: #19 (Fall 2018)

“Chemtrail Mist of the New World” – Fiction by C.D. Frelinghuysen

A frustrated husband and his paranoid wife try to cope with their realities in “Chemtrail Mist of the New World,” C.D. Frelinghuysen‘s paranoid & poignant flash fiction from our Fall 2018 issue.

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MORNINGS BERNADINE HAUNTS THE PORCH.  She glides back and forth, white hair untethered, clutching the egg timer, glaring at the sky. “I dare you,” she tells it, as if we don’t live under the Atlanta flightpath. Right on time, Delta 49 appears from the northwest, slicing the sky with a white wake. Bernadine mutters and winds the timer to five. Ever since the Doctor cut her to half time for unprofessionalism she’s been able to perfect the details of her delusions. And after Bernadine squandered our savings I’ve had to unretire from my fine decade of alcohol abuse and represent morons at traffic court, but business is slow and so most mornings I’m stuck here with her.

Last summer at a minor league game Bernadine got beaned by a foul ball, knocking her into the next seat. She was out for a full minute, but when she came to she waved off the paramedics and pushed through the crowd to the parking lot. She grabbed the car keys and drove home, but took a strange route, and kept looking in the rearview. When we got in the house she had a whiskey and a Tylenol and went to sleep. At three a.m. she suddenly woke and shuffled into Tricia’s vacant bedroom, which we’d turned into storage, and booted up the dusty computer. She spends most of each day in there now. I’d heard of a man who dove headfirst into the shallow end and could play piano afterwards. Bernadine, during her brief time in the void, had mastered keyboard and mouse. I caught the ball off the rebound, by the way. Bernadine called it the instrument of her trepanation, and had it mounted above the fireplace. But the baseball was only the final straw that broke her. Lightning ignites dead woods, not the living.

It’s her fault I know every plane by its name, how many engines move it, every federal poison it belches, and why five minutes of linger tells you what sort of smoke is coming out.

Yesterday I had to coax her down from a box in front of Chase Bank, where she was denouncing the fraud of fiat currency. The police officer didn’t scold me, or laugh. He just wrote down the phone number for Braxbury Convalescent.

The timer erupts. Bernadine measures the sky, clicks her tongue, goes inside and shuts all the windows, despite the heat. She clomps down the basement steps and I hurl my spent smoke into the yard. She comes out wearing her gas mask, no longer a ghost but an olive drab and dumpy elephant. “Looks like arsenic today,” she gasps. The Brauns are watching from their window.

Continue reading “Chemtrail Mist of the New World” – Fiction by C.D. Frelinghuysen

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“Thirteen Reasons” – Poetry by Matthew Meriwether

Pure Reason – Rene Magritte, 1948

“Thirteen Reasons” is one of three trenchant yet tender poems by Matthew Meriwether in our Fall 2018 issue.

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BECAUSE ALL MY MONEY IS MADE OF MY DEAD SKIN

Because I am still trying to tell a long story to the dinner guests with a fly buzzing around my hair

Because I run toward the mirror every time I think I might look like a person

Because I’m still making eggs then throwing them in the trash, their bright yellow like daffodils or a girl in a dress laughing in a closet

Because it’s fun to pretend to have courage

Because it’s fun to pretend to die

Because I prefer spinning around an empty house

Because I wear a dress in the summer to trick all the dirty boys

Because my bucket of treats for the boys is a pile of my dead skin

Because I have sewn my skin into dresses, for tricks and for spinning around as if I were dumb

Because it’s fun to pretend you’re an unknown genius then vomit in the champagne bottle you brought with you

Because it’s fun to think of yourself as already dead, or as not having a body

Because I run to your house every time I think I know my name

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MATTHEW MERIWETHER is a writer and performer living in Fort Wayne, IN. He writes and performs music under the name Fresh Tar, and hosts events in cities across the country, including the reading series ‘Life is Sad, Here is Someone,’ and ‘A Party for All of Our Questions,’ an experimental social gathering. Matthew is recently the author of Knock Knock, a chapbook of narrative prose (Dandelion Review, 2018).

“omen” – Poetry by Monica Lewis

Winged Creature on Silvery Ground – Vajda Lajos, 1938

“omen” is Monica Lewis‘s beautiful, blooming poem from our Fall 2018 issue.

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A FLUTTER OF WINGS CAUGHT
stuck inside a rain soaked gutter
i count the seconds between
each beating

the tree they thought dead last year
now specked with tiny blooms on every arm
a hundred branches splitting themselves open
to flower the life that though
encased, all winter months,
never stopped breathing

this land where beauty lays herself
out like an easy lover, but
between every blink, she reminds,
for every inch given there is an inch
taken, and the seconds between
grow longer,
the beating of wings
grows weaker

he steps out into the mud, sweet, slow
heavy boots toward the life caught drowning
as five turns into ten turns into twenty seconds between
my own beating turns to a bleeding
and the gray fog clouds the mountains until
they are sucked into sky

and i can no longer see the blue or the green

but he returns
points a thick, steady finger to the elm tree
just as the night is all i start to see, i hear,
“there, there, there she goes” and a bird,
not our bird, but a bird with unwetted wings
flits, flies, and flutters above

and the branches are blooming
and the gutter is silent
and i remember amy’s words:
“the woman on the ledge will
ask herself a question, the
question that occurred to that man
in Bogotá. he wondered, how we know
that what happens to us
isn’t good?”

{ X }

MONICA LEWIS lives in Brooklyn, New York and holds an MFA from Columbia University. Both her fiction and nonfiction have appeared or are forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Apogee Journal’s Perigee, and The Margins, and her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Boiler Journal, PUBLIC POOL, Yes, Poetryand(b)OINK, among others. She is a VONA/Voices alumna and has been twice nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2017 and 2018. Her full collection of poetry, Sexting the Dead, will be published later this year by Unknown Press. Follow her on Twitter at mclewis22.

“The Moon Made Out of Bloated Cheese” – Poetry by Juliet Cook & j/j hastain

The Voice – Agnes Lawrence Pelton, 1930

“The Moon Made Out of Bloated Cheese” is one of two fantastically freaky poems by Juliet Cook & j/j hastain in our Fall 2018 issue.

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THE MOON WILL ALWAYS BE PRETTY WHEN IT’S OLD,
at least until it breaks the earth into pieces.
Flings more grappling hooks into each of our eyes.

It all ages quickly. Tomorrow is the day the leaped will
invade my larynx and contribute
to my paranoia. How are we supposed to know
what constitutes a healthy or unhealthy
size or shape of our own voice box?
How do we know if it’s even our own?

Sometimes I wonder where my voice comes from
and where it will go next.
My stomach keeps gurgling like it wants to be my voice.

I don’t think my stomach can handle American Cheese anymore.
It feels loaded with toxic chemicals.
When she asked me if she could change my voice for me,
I was not suspect I was grateful I am tired of this thud.
She got out a large carving knife.
What was she going to cut out

and what would it be replaced with?
Maybe she would somehow ascend
the tired parts of me to the moon

{ X }

Continue reading “The Moon Made Out of Bloated Cheese” – Poetry by Juliet Cook & j/j hastain

“Flu in the Time of Allergies” – Poetry by Juan Parra

The Ninth Plague, Darkness – Gustave Dore, circa 1877

“Flu in the Time of Allergies” is Juan Parra‘s darkly infectious poem from our Fall 2018 issue.

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PLUCK OUR EYEBROWS IN THE DARK.
Stare at the horizon, that place where
Another place is born away from our dark corner

Yield.
Dig furrows and
Lick each other’s knees and elbows in our dark corner

Dance.
Cast voodoo spells on the rotten berries
Love me in our dark corner

Grind the dead skin from the souls of my feet on my shadow.
Incite nightmares to suicide using our umbilical cords
In our dark corner

Sneeze prudently so as not to wake the doves
Sleeping on the homeless dog
And kill the fever with a cold shower in our dark corner

Hold your breath
Transform from flesh to ashes, from ashes to specter.
Play like old people disguised as happy in our dark corner.

The morning that is born
Lame, heels broken, bruised limps
Hush its tears and lure it
To our dark corner.

{ X }

JUAN  PARRA is a Cuban-American poet. His work has featured in the Indiana Review, Basalt, The Lake, Pear Drop, Driftwood Press, 4ink7, FLAPPERHOUSE, and REAL.

“Last Halloween” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

Head of a Stag – Diego Velazquez, 1634

Parents struggle with the dire consequences of a high-stakes bargain in “Last Halloween,” Cameron Suey‘s feral & frightful fiction from our Fall 2018 issue.

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ON THE LAST MORNING I WILL HAVE WITH MY SON, I make him pancakes with fresh blueberries from the community garden mixed in the batter.  When the Patels from down the street heard the news, they brought us a flask of fresh maple syrup from the trees in the western woods, and I’ve chilled it overnight in the fridge. Butter from the community farm sizzles and spits on the griddle as Malcolm drags his feet down the stairs. Outside the kitchen window, perched on the skeletal frame of an old oak, the crow gazes at me. Its head crooks to one side and beetle-shell eyes flash in the October sun, fixed on mine. I look away.

“Morning,” I grunt, trying to keep the desperate quaver out of my voice. “Thought maybe you’d like to try some coffee with breakfast.”

He narrows sleepy eyes, skeptical of the offer, then shrugs. “Doesn’t it, uh, stunt my growth?” I wince, but he doesn’t notice.

“I think maybe one cup is okay.” I set the chipped, steaming mug down in front of him with the first batch of pancakes. “Just don’t tell mom.”

He tries to play it cool, like it’s no big deal, but I can see the excitement in the corners of his smile. He wraps his small hands around the mug, half covering the Notre Dame crest, and sniffs at the steam. I realize that I’m staring at him, so I look out the window again. The crow catches my eye and nods, then takes flight in a burst of sparkling black feathers.

After breakfast, Malcolm lays out his goblin costume, itemizing and accounting for each piece and prop. I watch from the hallway, passing by with the same load of laundry again and again. I don’t want to make this day any harder than it has to be.

From our bedroom, Annie’s tiny cries drift out alongside the sound of Rose singing gentle lullabies. Rose said her goodbyes to Malcolm as he slept last night. She doesn’t trust herself not to upset the boy, so she’s planned to stay with our infant daughter until he’s gone. I told her I would cover for her if Malcolm asked.

When I’ve run out of reasons to pass by his doorway, I go to the garage. In a box above the workbench, still packed from our move last January, I find what I’m looking for. A cracked plastic bucket, molded in orange like a child’s drawing of a jack-o-lantern. It was mine from childhood, in a place far away from here. I’d hoped both my children would have the chance to use it, but if I send it out with Malcolm, I know it won’t be coming back. Annie won’t be old enough to carry it for at least another year.

My throat is tight again, and I clear it to chase away the tears. What’s one more loss tonight, in the greater scheme of things? Malcolm should take it. He’s always loved it.

As I turn back towards the house, I hear scraping on the rafters above. The fox strides across the beam and sits on his haunches. I have an idiot impulse to fling the pumpkin at the animal, an impotent urge for violence in the muscles of my forearms. Instead, I sigh and nod. It looks at me from pools of liquid black, grey fur rising and falling with each patient breath.

There is no malice in those eyes, nor the others. We all know what has to happen tonight. Rose and I signed the pact when we came to this town. We accepted the risk, because it seemed worth it. Maybe it is, still. This is a safe town. Safer than anywhere else on earth. Annie will be exempt in future years.

The fox is gone when I look up.

Continue reading “Last Halloween” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

“On the Backs of Cats” – Fiction by Kathryn McMahon

detail from The Garden of Earthly Delights – Hieronymus Bosch, 1515

A couple fights to survive through their dystopian world of mutant rats & hyper-surveillance in “On the Backs of Cats,” Kathryn McMahon‘s fantastically frenetic flash fiction from our Fall 2018 issue.

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MY BOYFRIEND HAS A CAT NAMED KALASHNIKOV and the three of us go hunting at midnight. He brings his taser, I bring my magic whistle. Kalashnikov listens for the unique squeaks of rats with human ears growing out of their spines. Grenadine-pink test subjects that escaped during The Spills and roam the alleys eavesdropping on every conversation.

To pay rent, we sell the ears to collectors. What they do with them, no one knows. Ear-bearing rats are squishy, naked things, and I feel bad killing them. I tell my boyfriend this every night before we head out.

He has a glass eye that he records me with. I think he records his bar fights too because for him, routine is not enough. When we go to the pub through the crack in the museum wall, we hold hands by rotting dromedary bones and watch combinations of couples and talk about who in each pair would be better in bed. We never ask them to join us, though our lust is harmonic.

At home, I dance for him. He records me then too. It is exothermal, watching him watch me. But does he play back the audio, not just what I do with my hands? “I said I like that it’s only us. Are you listening?”

“Mmhmm.”

Before we go hunting, he shuts off the lights, draws the curtains, and it’s his turn to dance. So beautiful, rough-edged and pale. Taking off his clothes, he pumps up the music pissing out of the ham radio and holds it over the shelves of ears waiting to be sold, white and brown and black. So many extra ears, but for whom? My boyfriend claims the rats were released intentionally. He says the government is always listening, but I’m not convinced.

I lean back on our half-torn mattress. “Just because the ears are full of silicone wires, it doesn’t mean they care what they hear.”

His rollie is crisp red in the shadows, and he blows smoke away from me. “Oh, they care.”

“What, about how much we fuck?”

“They’re pervs.”

“You have theories about everything.” My boyfriend is an inventor and sometimes I wonder if I am another invention. A cog. A circuit. After all, he forgets I was the one who cobbled together the rat whistle.

“What’s mine is yours,” he says, gyrating and squeezing the curve of my belly.

Mmhmm.

Continue reading “On the Backs of Cats” – Fiction by Kathryn McMahon