Tag Archives: Devin Kelly

“Caulking the Wagon” – Poetry by Devin Kelly

A classic computer game inspires meditations on suffering & struggle in “Caulking the Wagon,”  one of two darkly beautiful & profoundly moving poems by Devin Kelly in our Summer 2017 issue.

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after Nate Marshall’s “The Oregon Trail”

IN THE CLASSROOM, I GATHER KIDS around & make them relive
my childhood. I type their names into the wagon, call myself
a carpenter because I know a wheel will break eventually.
I have no desire to spend my money on what can be repaired.
Dirty sweat & knowledge. The human condition is always
in need of upkeep. Because I know a house is not a home,
I ask them to imagine our wood lined with fur, a mess
of rug begging for the shaking out. We will take turns.
We will leave as the last frost thaws free the first flowers
of spring. There’s no option to pause the game & bend
to harvest milkweed. There was no vase for sale
in Independence, Missouri. We will deliberate the crossing
of water, delegate the tasks required to caulk the wagon –
who here has not hammered tar-soaked cotton into a wedge
in order to keep their body dry? How easy our suffering,
that we may make the pace grueling. How we stop
to view a tombstone & laugh when Michael dies
of dysentery. In our heads we know there is no time –
we will bury his body with the one shovel we own,
taking turns in heat, & leave above him just a pile of stone
some stranger might use to bludgeon an animal into meat.
                                                                              This isn’t real.
Not the sun, not the pixelated bullet slow-twirling
to kill the buffalo, not the purple mountains swirling
round the plains. When I was younger, I believed
in this nation’s majesty, each loss a synonym for some
greater gain. But look. Even here, the children are dying
one-by-one, lost first to cholera & water, then to what
this game offers no name. A bullet, a color, a wrong place
once thought safe – call the outside of this school a mass
grave, a massacre, a high mass turned toward God in a language
riddled with blood. The oxen are bowing their knees, bending
weary heads to push the earth away. There are no pixels
in heaven. There is only the song of your life sung backward
through the mouths we call the stars. You listen & feel
the wagon wheel’s roll, the crunch of it winding in reverse,
the land unbound & unnamed, the paper turning back to trees,
the trees un-leaning their way toward sky, all of eternity
driven back to dawn. By which I mean the promise of something,
that slick patch of morning when what you expect is the same
as what you hope. When my father returned from the West
he brought back a soft pack of cigarettes & a custom
cowboy hat. His mother was still alive. Later, no one sang
at her funeral, or if they did, I don’t remember. There was
only my father & his returning no longer a story & how his brother
left for West so many years ago & never came home. Most days
I want to give in to nostalgia, surrender my body to the burn
of light curling at the edges of a memory, trade old stories
like currency.  Sometimes the going-on is the dirty speckle
on the petal of a rose, beauty gone to hiding. There’s no option
to turn back, the kids say. How will we carry all that meat onto
the wagon? The sky does not look like that. They sigh. They moan
open their mouths like fish to unhook themselves from twine. This game
sucks, they say. This game sucks, this game sucks, this game sucks.

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Continue reading “Caulking the Wagon” – Poetry by Devin Kelly

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #16, In Pictures

A sky-full of thank-yous to everyone who helped make Reading #16 such an unforgettable affair : Ron, Francine, Devin, Kailey, Gabriela, and Leland for performing your flappy lits; Alibi for your lovely via-satellite singing; Pacific Standard for your always-gracious hospitality; and all you magnificent people who came & graced us with your presence.
We hope to see you again in the Fall…

Ron Kolm recounts tales of his bookstore-working days

Francine Witte reads a heartbreaking poem of parenthood

Devin Kelly reads his Oregon Trail-inspired poem “Caulking the Wagon”
Continue reading FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #16, In Pictures

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #16 / Issue 14 Flight Party

We’re gonna throw your brain off a freaking plane as we celebrate the flight of our Summer 2017 issue with our 16th reading! Wednesday night, June 28, 7-9 PM at the always-hospitable Pacific Standard, 82 Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn.

starring
LELAND CHEUK
GABRIELA GARCIA
ALIBI JONES (via satellite)

DEVIN KELLY
RON KOLM
KAILEY TEDESCO
FRANCINE WITTE

Admission is FREE, and you can buy copies of FLAPPERHOUSE #14 for the special reading price of $5.

Facebook event page here

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:

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

“After Lincoln, Nebraska” – Poetry by Devin Kelly

Nebraska on the Plain - Albert Bierstadt, 1911
Nebraska, On the Plain – Albert Bierstadt, 1863

“After Lincoln, Nebraska” is one of two haunting yet beautiful Springsteen-inspired poems that Devin Kelly contributed to our Summer 2016 issue.

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THROUGH THE BADLANDS WE KILLED
& made our killing into love.

That time I went, sawed-off,
through the back door while you

charmed the checkout clerk
for some bread. I want to say

love’s real fun, but I don’t know
what came first – that smile

you cheeked while I peeked down
your blouse to find the wad of bills

you robbed like the sunlight stolen
in your hair,  or the kiss of your knee on

mine as we drove all night under
big moon & stars & some

good or evil god. We was something
else, road kill resurrected in dust

& the light of blue sky. I deserve
the chair for all the killing I’ve done,

but there was that day in Missoula
where you took the green you’d been

keeping & bought me a suit all paisley
& pink & used the rest on a dress

that made you bloom & twirl without
my helping. You took my hand & we pretended

we weren’t running. We waltzed our time,
whistle-cooled diner coffee on my dime,

told the waitress we were married
& expecting. Nothing is realer than

an honest lie. & nothing’s more fun.
God’s a good lie. & even God knows –

you can chew fat & still stay thin
& love is both a blessing & a sin.

{ X } Continue reading “After Lincoln, Nebraska” – Poetry by Devin Kelly

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #8, In Pictures

Our most effervescent gratitude to everyone who helped make Reading #8 such a non-stop highlight reel: Deirdre, Monica, Armando, Devin, Oscar, Bill, Jeanann, and Dolan for performing your flappy lits; Alibi for your glamorous voice & exquisite photography; special guest Joseph SW Hasan for your wonderful music; Pacific Standard for continuing to be the best place to read in NYC; and of course, everyone who came out to be part of our gorgeous & enthusiastic audience! Let’s do this again on August 3rd

photography by Alibi Jones

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Deirdre Coyle kicks off the readings with a tale of sex demons & burn scars

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Monica Lewis reads “Letter to Your Chromosomes,” one of her prose poems forthcoming in our Fall issue Continue reading FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #8, In Pictures

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #8 / Issue X Flight Party

FLAPPERHOUSE X PosterThis WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22 from 7 – 9 PM at Brooklyn’s Pacific Standard, we’re gonna get weird like a libertine’s fever dream as we celebrate the flight of our 10th issue, FLAPPERHOUSE X, with our 8th reading.

Starring:
DEIRDRE COYLE

ARMANDO JARAMILLO GARCIA
ALIBI JONES
DEVIN KELLY
WILLIAM LESSARD
MONICA LEWIS

DOLAN MORGAN
JEANANN VERLEE
& the late OSCAR WILDE.

Admission is 100% FREE, and you can buy print copies of FLAPPERHOUSE X there for the special Flight Party price of just $5.