Tag Archives: FLAPPERHOUSE #14

“Birdland”- Fiction by Julia Dixon Evans

Child and Bird – Kaoru Kawano, 1950

After their parents’ deaths, three sisters reunite & resurrect some unsettling secrets in “Birdland,” Julia Dixon Evans‘ unforgettable short story from our Summer 2017 issue.

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MY SISTERS ARE DUE ANY MINUTE. A rush of birdwing-flap overhead, the shadow of their cloud. Migrating sandpipers maybe, or golden plovers; I am a bit rusty these days. It’s cold out, the sun still up but June always seems like the wintriest month we have here: moody and overcast, unpredictable, twenty degrees cooler at night than at noon. Bits of crabgrass fall from between my fingertips and thumb. I rub them together like a chef dusting rubbed salt over a pan and that metaphor probably means I’m the salt, ground up and rubbed to within an inch of my life so that whatever’s in the pan has a better time of it.

I wait for more birds. I wait for my sisters. This is all I have.

When we first took over the mortgage on this house it seemed like the best idea. Our parents, dead younger than anyone expected, left us an unfinished mortgage, anemic life insurance policies, and a disastrous filing cabinet full of 5% useful documents about their finances and 95% shit that should have been shredded ten years ago. The worst part about their death was being annoyed by them because of this. I just wished they’d give me some time to miss them. It sometimes feels like they died forever ago, not four months ago. It sometimes even feels like it’s still happening.

Sarah is the oldest, the wildest. She’s thin and tall, disarmingly brilliant, and she’s mean. Louise is the youngest, the kindest, the timid one. She’s built like me, which is to say: not thin, not tall, not disarmingly brilliant, not mean. I usually can’t stand Louise.

Next to my sandals in the grass there’s a can of strawberry soda. I stopped drinking soda ten years ago (for Lent, for superiority, for the squishiness around my stomach) but it’s all my parents left in this house. Soda and five or six bottles of expensive whiskey with only an inch left each. I lift the can up, a straw in the metal hole, and drink until the straw rattles with empty. I turn my back to the late sun in the hope that it’ll warm me more. Last night when it was also cold, I sucked Rafael’s dick in my car and he loved me and grabbed at my stomach and said what does it feel like to have someone this into you? and today he said I think I hate myself when I’m with you.

Continue reading “Birdland”- Fiction by Julia Dixon Evans

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“Spider-Woman” – Prose Poetry by Satoshi Iwai

Illustration to “A Week of Kindness” – Max Ernst, 1934

“Spider-Woman” is one of three haunting and fantastically surreal prose poems by Satoshi Iwai in our Summer 2017 issue.

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SHE IS FALLING DOWN from a height of 30,000 feet to the thoughtless land where she has served as a careless agent. Someone whom she has never known betrayed her and bombed the airplane. Watching her colleagues being carbonized in every second, she wonders whether the thread of her white silk dress is longer or shorter than 30,000 feet. The hem of the dress was cut by a broken glass when she was thrown out of the window. The glittering thread is being unweaved in every second. At a height of 20,000 feet, her butt has already been exposed. At 5,000 feet, she starts shaking with cold. In her eyes, thousands of old spires grow bigger and bigger. Her grief and shame reach a height of 30,000 feet along the white silk thread.

An hour later, she is still falling down while the coroner pours her brain tissue into a small cup.

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SATOSHI IWAI was born and lives in Kanagawa, Japan. He writes poems in English and in Japanese. His English work has appeared in Heavy Feather ReviewRHINOSmall Po[r]tionsYour Impossible VoicePoetry Is Dead, and elsewhere.

“Molecular” – Poetry by Kofi Fosu Forson

Untitled (Phallus Girl) – Hans Bellmer, 1964

“Molecular” is one of three subversively sensual & supremely surreal poems by Kofi Fosu Forson in our Summer 2017 issue.

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INTO THE LACERATION human body suspended divine cathartic thing
An anus mount. Figure formed penetrating to assume role of Alpha.
All that there is, denouement. Capricious as phallus-erected-god(dess).
Within resurrection this being governs a king made submissive queen
Neither sensory nor circumcision feeling person pure in luminescence.
Lamprey kiss, long limbed leg on leg, fortuitous embrace. My brossa
I am bro. Butch temptress on air, Omega having spun her life cycle.
Bars uphold weight, flesh and bone. Pillar points where the head
Meets the feet. Erroneous adventures, our false selves decapitated
Either or dethroning, crown relinquished, disrobed. Nude culture,
Tempestuous taste. In the droned season, ghosts give off sensations.
What we become, maturation from thought-positivity, embryo, cell.

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Continue reading “Molecular” – Poetry by Kofi Fosu Forson

“Vote For Arnie” – Fiction by Leland Cheuk

A politician makes some extraordinary promises in “Vote For Arnie,” one of three sharply satirical flash fictions by Leland Cheuk in our Summer 2017 issue.

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HI, I’M ARNIE CHANK, FOUR-TERM SENATOR of our great state of M—. This presidential primary season has been marred by the usual cynicism and incessant criticism of our federal government and its waning ability to solve the problems of the American people. There’s gridlock in Washington. Partisan rancor is at levels we’ve never seen. I get it. You get it. Hell, the UFOs get it. And I admit that, on many of the average of ninety-four days per year I’ve actually shown up to work to represent the great people of The Urchin State, I’ve been part of the problem, not the solution.

But today, I’d like to send a message to the American voter. Hear me now for words will neither be minced nor julienned.

I have come to help you take our country back…in time.

Yes, you heard correctly.

Recently, I was bored at The Capitol Building during yet another filibuster—this one for the Stop Child Abuse While Ensuring Potable Water Act—and I began looking up the oldest laws in our nation’s existence.  I came upon an obscure piece of Congressional legislation from the summer of 1789 which stated that every citizen of our great nation is entitled to one chrononautical vacation per year facilitated by a practicing Time-Traveling Witch, Wizard, or Magus so long as the aforementioned trip is utilized for the sole purpose of reversing a regrettable action by said citizen.

Imagine the possibilities. We can go back and reverse our many mistakes as a people. Yes, we can.

Continue reading “Vote For Arnie” – Fiction by Leland Cheuk

“Summer Water” – Poetry by Sarah Bridgins

Woman with a Glass of Wine – Lovis Corinth, 1908

“Summer Water” is one of two witty & intoxicating poems by Sarah Bridgins in our Summer 2017 issue.

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I’M NOT AN ALCOHOLIC,
but I lie to my psychiatrist
when he asks
how much I drink.

I come from a long line of women
who luxuriate in pain
adorn themselves in velvet trauma,
spend their days
in coffin-dark rooms
using wine and longing
to summon dead loved ones.

All I want to do
is play chess
with a set made from dead mice,
read books about women
who were murdered
by strangers,
take boiling hot baths
in dirty tubs.

In a crowded bar,
I spill whiskey on my leg
and rub it in.

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Continue reading “Summer Water” – Poetry by Sarah Bridgins

“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