Tag Archives: FLAPPERHOUSE #12

“The Unfed” – Fiction by Nancy Au

gwashingtonsteethlocFalse teeth, depleted mountaintops, and mysterious fruit tarts are just a few of the key ingredients in “The Unfed,” Nancy Au‘s fantastic short story from our Winter 2017 issue.

{ X }

BEA OGILBY POPS HER NEW DENTURES into her dress pocket for safe-keeping, runs her fingers along the empty grooves & bumps of her mouth’s spongy pink mountain range. She glances at her reflection in the mirror before heading out. White hair twisted in a bun. Her smile, all gums, no more chomp and chew.

Outside, blinded by the bright September sunlight, Bea nearly stumbles over a fruit tart left on her doorstep. The mountaintop, which once protected her home from the afternoon glare, had been stolen by Ye Old Mining Company; millions of pounds of rock and dirt, acres of trees and shrubs ripped from the mountain in order to extract coal. The village’s sacred mountain could no longer be called The Great Peak because all that remained was a grizzled, flattened stump. No trees to glue the remaining boulders in place, to keep mud from surging down the steep slope and destroying the village during the next monsoon. No guide posts pointing tourists up the path, nor signs to indicate the diminished mountain ever even had a name.

Across the narrow dirt road, her neighbor, Teddy Nun, waves. “Hello there!” Teddy is working in his meager vegetable garden. Misshapen carrots and wilted kale poke out of the sandy soil. Bea bends down to pick up the tart, observes the glistening strawberries and buttery crust. She eagerly dips her finger in the sugary dew, and tastes a lick.

“Hello there!” repeats Teddy.

Bea points to the tart, “Did you see who?”

Teddy shrugs, Bea nods. His useless I don’t know shrugging responses are legendary in town. But Bea appreciates this in a neighbor, with stories and gossip flowing in only one direction across the narrow road. Like, when the last of her teeth were pulled, gums red, swollen, tender—a finger without the nail—she’d asked the incurious retiree: How does the Tooth Fairy for the elderly work? Where do your teeth go when the Tooth Fairy dies? Teddy’s response that time was a handful of ice carefully wrapped in a red dishtowel, a cold compress for Bea’s sore mouth.

{ X }

The first to perish while rebuilding the mountaintop was an aging horse with a three-year-old mentality, named Wilson. This equine senior dragged boulders and planks of knotted pine, in metal carts with leather straps, up the steep rocky trail using just his chompers. Every tooth of this odd-toed ungulate were bloody and broken by the time he reached the top. Bea had nightmares for weeks after this first death, awakening at dawn, soft mouthing the horse’s name over and over, as if in prayer.

Continue reading “The Unfed” – Fiction by Nancy Au

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“Send in the Clowns” – Poetry by Chris Muravez

Noah's Ark - Edward Hicks, 1846
Noah’s Ark – Edward Hicks, 1846

“Send in the Clowns” is Chris Muravez‘s vivid & irreverent poem from our Winter 2017 issue.

{ X }

PATROLS OF POPPY COLOR AND
kicked up under boot there
was once life no sunlight
in grand emoticons slightly bored
by rumors or mirrors.

Nothing. Not flower panties in early
morning sex scenes pursed for fucking.
There is no revolution. Deception by desire
and i fucking hate how sloppy my agency has become.

Flying fish stargaze briefly like mental notes
of we who have escaped the anthropocene.
Art is the new ark. Data mining and limp
dicks can’t stop it. Two breeding pairs
of every unstable mammal. They’ve covered
their perfection from shame. They’re as
invalid and embellished as a family of rabbits
praying the rosary
asking god and jesu christo
to clean this poet’s filthy mouth.

Tempus Fuckit.

Sideshow clowns squeeze through spandex
so sad they’ve lost light like genocide
and everyone in the museum is so white
so sans jouissance
so sans petit mort.

This crusade of fun passes out
piss cups for communion
for throats so rich with blood
their owners beg their rotten guts shut.
The body ceases to function
but they’re already dead.

{ X }

CHRIS MURAVEZ is a veteran and a poet who is tired of his own petulance. He is working on his MFA at the University of Notre Dame, where he spends most days locked in a dungeon waiting for the end of the world.

“The Number of Grains of Sand on Earth” – Poetry by Matt Alexander

The Abundant Earth - Diego Rivera, 1926
The Abundant Earth – Diego Rivera, 1926

“The Number of Grains of Sand on Earth” is Matt Alexander‘s epically awesome poem from our Winter 2017 issue.

{ X }

I GRAZE ON BEEF-FED GRASS.  Four packs
of cards left out. The clubs curdled,
so they’ll need to be discarded.  Diamonds
were fine over night; they last forever.
Retain the offal and you may find yourself
a soul departing.
Withstand enough peer pressure and perhaps
you’ll capture one as it flees.  At least
sense it.  What is it to be alive
if not to be sensate?  Life’s a game
of spades.  One pass through
the digestion system is never enough.  Sixty-four years
later and it’s never enough.
I’m sorry.  My language
has over sixty-four words

for a snowball’s chance in hell.
One for each year.  He loves you,
now, but the only way to know
if you two will make it for sure
is to appeal to sabermetrics.  Take heart:
the regressions look good.  They project
many years into the future.  Strategically adjusting the R2
results in our crossing the Rubicon
of significance. Traditionally, hell was depicted
as a cold place.  In Svalbard the candles
are expected to last only one night
but routinely last eight.  Miracles do exist.
They are called forests, and my language
has over sixty words for the way atheists
disavow them.  I appreciated your interrogation
very much, but I already discarded
all my guilt.  You won’t find my prints on it

Continue reading “The Number of Grains of Sand on Earth” – Poetry by Matt Alexander

“The Shadow’s Insomnia” – Fiction by Shawn Frazier

The Shadow - Pablo Picasso, 1953
The Shadow – Pablo Picasso, 1953

An acquitted killer finds himself stalked by guilt in “The Shadow’s Insomnia,” Shawn Frazier‘s dark & powerful story from our Winter 2017 issue.

{ X }

AFTER SIX NIGHTS OF INSOMNIA, I SAW THE SHADOW. It appeared on the paisley wallpaper of my bedroom, as black rings transforming into a pitch black child-size figure. It stepped off the wall, tip-toed on its black cat feet, and sat on the edge of my mattress. Then, as if seizing control of my thoughts, my mind filled with memories of the black boy I killed: his screams, his blood pouring onto my manicured lawn, where my new SUV was parked in front. His opened eyes staring out of a sleeping face.

Fear paralyzed me in bed, though not enough to stop me from moving. I willed this charcoal illusion to return to the wall where it belonged. What right did it have to invade my space like this, to forcibly remind me of that boy? I was found not guilty by a jury of my peers. All I wanted was to keep intruders from burglarizing my enclave. I knew every-one who crossed through our front gate.  How was I to know this boy had friends here?

The shadow returned to the wall.

I shook myself awake and jumped up, thinking my insomnia was playing tricks with my head. I turned on the lights and touched the wall to see if I could feel where he— “It,” I mean— went…but it had vanished without a trace.

In the morning, on my bedroom bureau, I saw a photo of my grandmother crying. She was not crying before.

My friends and family have kept away from me. Frightened of my story. How I acted. Jumping at shadows I see on a wall. They thought I was losing my mind.

Was being alone really becoming so scary for me?  No—this phantasm manifested from my lack of sleep. I prayed before going to bed that this black boy—I mean shadow—would soon be nothing more than another bad dream. And would go away.

But at night, it returned. It floated across the carpet, passing right through my TV set, picture frames. In a photo of me, where I once flashed a gleaming white smile, I now sulked pitifully.

Continue reading “The Shadow’s Insomnia” – Fiction by Shawn Frazier

“Aftermath” – Poetry by Anthony Cappo

Resistance, or The Black Idol - Frantisek Kupka, 1903
Resistance, or The Black Idol – Frantisek Kupka, 1903

“Catalogue all you resist / and call the wrecking crew / to the walls,” declares “Aftermath,” one of three trenchant poems by Anthony Cappo in our Winter 2017 issue.

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the only thing to do is simply continue
is that simple
yes, it is simple because it is the only thing to do
can you do it
yes, you can because it is the only thing to do

                                    –  Frank O’Hara

 

CATALOGUE ALL YOU RESIST
and call the wrecking crew
to the walls

When your ox is gored
on all sides
the kingdom isn’t come

The confectioner has taken
his whisks and mixing bowls
clean out of town

I’d rain elegies
in sympathy but I’ve
become so

shallow lately
I screw my muse
to the sticking point

roll over and fall asleep
Unbuckle your holster
We’ll broadcast our griefs

to the sky    Just because
I’ve sniffed out your tricks
doesn’t excuse mine

Somewhere a mighty engine rumbles
a curtain is rent
But here the air’s still

The ground a trembling silence
as scathed we set out again

{ X } Continue reading “Aftermath” – Poetry by Anthony Cappo

“Evolution” – Poetry by Francine Witte

evolution-of-man
Human Evolution – Octavio Ocampo

“Evolution” is one of two brilliantly biting poems by Francine Witte in our Winter 2017 issue.

{ X }

FIRST, THE APE,
paw-digits poking
at sticks.  Monkeybrain
seemed to want
a fire.

Later, early
man.  Thin coat
of intelligence against
the cold.  Someone stumbled,

flint against rock
and sparkshower tumbled
into the unlanguaged night.

Now, there’s us.
Filthy with fires
and bloated with words.
We are scorched with war
and we say nothing.

Future man
looks back on us
and shivers.

{ X }
Continue reading “Evolution” – Poetry by Francine Witte

“The Cake” – Fiction by Jonathan Wlodarski

Hunger - Kathe Kollwitz, 1923
Hunger – Kathe Kollwitz, 1923

“The Cake” is Jonathan Wlodarski’s deliciously disturbing and Pushcart-nominated short story from our Winter 2017 issue. (And check back here on Monday when we’ll post an interview with Jonathan by our senior editorial consultant Maria Pinto…)

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THE CAKE ONLY GETS MADE WHEN SOMEONE DIES—the baker calls it his mortuary masterpiece. “A recipe from my great-grandparents in the Netherlands,” he explains when we ask. “So sweet it expunges the grief right out of you.” The first time he brings it to a wake, we think he’s crazy—cake can’t heal our wounds, erase our sorrow for the town dentist’s death. We’re pretty sure he was overcharging us for crown work anyway, so we’re not even certain it’s sorrow we’re feeling, except maybe for all the money he’d weaseled from us.

The cake really does all of those things, though—as soon as we eat that first bite, our tears dry, our wails melt into sniffles. Some of us even start to look forward to funerals—fingers crossed it’s just our neighbor’s great-uncle, someone who’s already 85 and lived a good life, but we’re not picky. The twenty-four-year-old who crashes his car into a tree is a tragedy, sure, but at least no one else suffered at the hands of his drunk driving.

The cake is black, or sometimes dark gray, depending on how much food coloring is in the icing. “It doesn’t take much,” says the baker, “just five or six drops.” Some of us don’t like the icing’s anise flavor, not at first: it reminds us of our alcoholic grandfathers, or nosy maiden aunts who visit twice a year. But we come around.

The cake has a slab of almond paste in the middle, a thick, golden mortar that shrivels our tongues and puckers our lips with its sweetness. But almonds take a lot of water to grow, water which has been in short supply for so long, despite some of our efforts to form a resource conservation council and unify the town to save water, which generally fails. Little water means few almonds, so often we settle for imitation paste, which isn’t as good. It has a bit of a chalky flavor simmering underneath. Better than nothing.

The cake goes unmade for three whole months, the entire town in suspended animation like prehistoric mosquitoes in amber while we wait for someone to start counting worms. Our nerves get worn down—we’re on edge, our patience constantly pressed against the edge of a knife, screaming at our spouses for chewing too loud, and one of us snaps and runs over the dog next door that just won’t stop barking. Maybe this will count as a death, we think. We hold our breath.  Continue reading “The Cake” – Fiction by Jonathan Wlodarski