Tag Archives: Ian Kappos

“The Louse” – Fiction by Ian Kappos

Portrait of a Philosopher – Lyubov Popova, 1915

A philosopher encounters a metaphysical parasite in “The Louse,” Ian Kappos‘ bitingly bizarre flash fiction from our Winter 2018 issue.

{ X }


He discovered it during an attempt to see into the future. He had been sitting on the edge of his mattress, looking into his scrying mirror, when something caught his eye that quite literally made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. In the light spilling through his window, it was unmistakable: tracing a wild path through his thinning hair, like a confused grain of brown rice, was a louse. A godforsaken louse.

In a burst of panic, the philosopher jumped up and looked around his studio apartment for something with which to deport the louse: a spear, a hammer, a solvent of some sort. A sealant or maybe helmet that he could affix to his head in order to suffocate the thing. But he found nothing. As luck would have it, he had traded most of his belongings at the pawn shop in exchange for the scrying mirror. He admonished himself for his lack of foresight. He leaned out the window, curled his fingers into a fist, and thrust the fist up at the sky.

He stared directly into the sun, as if trying to burn the memory of the louse from his retinas.

Wait, the philosopher thought. That’s it.

He grabbed the scrying mirror, poked his head again out the window, looked up at the sun with suspicion, then drew his head back inside and inspected the scrying mirror.

He would not have long.

Due to nonpayment, the electricity had been turned off, leaving the philosopher no choice but to make do with the resources at his disposal. But he would do it, he vowed, and fell quickly into work.

The philosopher reviewed what he knew about classical electrodynamics. He studied the scrying mirror, turning it over in his hand, examining it from all angles.

f = pE + J x B

He racked his brain. He racked his scalp. After several minutes of fervent racking, the philosopher concluded that if he used the Poynting vector as his basis for directional flow of energy, the surface area of the mirror (“B”) should concentrate and redirect a sufficient enough charge distribution (“p” being the density of the charge and “E” being the speed of light) for his purposes.

In other words: it should concentrate and redirect a sufficient enough charge distribution to blow the little bastard to smithereens.

He scrutinized his reflection in the mirror, sifted a hand through the sweaty tassel of hair on his head until finally, with a tiny yelp of victory, he located the louse, and, feeling his way over to the windowsill, lined it up in the crosshairs of the mirror.

Almost immediately he felt the handle of the mirror grow hot with the concentration of electrical energy transmitted from the sun. But just as he was beginning to feel triumphant, the heat of the handle rose to an uncomfortable level. When it got so hot that it started to burn his fingers, he bit his lip and blinked through his tears, determined to keep the louse in his sights.

The philosopher’s head erupted in fire. He ran screaming around his apartment, overturning everything in his path, running to the faucet and finding that the water had been turned off, too. He dove headlong into his mattress, driving his skull beneath a pillow, and rolled around there until the fire was out.

He rose from the blackened sheets, venturing to feel, hesitantly, that he had won.

When he turned around, there was the louse, standing over him. It was now at least twice his own size. The philosopher sank back into the mattress.

“Please don’t eat me,” said the philosopher.

The louse stared. Continue reading “The Louse” – Fiction by Ian Kappos

Our Most-Viewed Pieces of 2017 Were…

Eyes – Nuri Iyem, 1979

Before we set our sights completely on 2018, let’s look at the pieces from 2017 that attracted the most eyeballs to our site…

10. “When I Die Someone Just Fuck My Body Please,” Ian Kappos’ punker-than-hell poem from our Summer 2017 issue.

9. “Picnic” A. E. Weisgerber’s potent & evocative flash fiction which served as the opening piece of our killer & cinematic Spring 2017 issue.

8. “Drought,” Kim Coleman Foote’s eerily surreal & fable-like flash prose which kicked off our Fall 2017 issue.

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

6. “Mission Concept,” Pete H.Z. Hsu’s trippy & unearthly (and Best of the Net-nominated) flash fiction that launched our Summer 2017 issue.

5. “Caulking the Wagon,” Devin Kelly’s poetic meditation on suffering & classic computer games, from our Summer 2017 issue.

4. “Love Song of a Femme Fatale on Scholarship,” Maria Pinto’s frisky & infatuating flash fiction from our Winter 2017 issue.

3. “Torture Game”, Ryan Bradford’s fiendish short fiction about a dark night at the drive-in, from our Spring 2017 issue.

2. “Left Behind,” Kaj Tanaka’s brief yet profoundly haunting flash fiction, and the grand finale of our Summer 2017 issue.

1. “The Cake,” Jonathan Wlodarski’s deliciously disturbing (and Pushcart Prize-nominated) short fiction from our Winter 2017 issue.

“When I Die Someone Just Fuck My Body Please” – Poetry by Ian Kappos

Mannequin de Salvador Dali – Raoul Ubac

“When I Die Someone Just Fuck My Body Please” is Ian Kappos‘ punker-than-hell poem from our Summer 2017 issue.

{ X }

NO CHECKERED FLAG FOR ME as carsick I       cross the divide the
closest there is       on this side of town to a demilitarized
zone between the living       & the dead         I       watch an obese
woman lean over a gravestone drawing thru straw unmarked cup stomach
turns     liver face up       kidneys & jelly knees I’m       not sure if we’re
even related       in the chapel outrageously symmetrical floors a big brave
fuck you to disorder take   that death/ now I need to learn real fast how
to hug a man you know the type     strong concrete beer-gut good humor
lives at the race track fresh oil change eyes
bends             left in grief       we’re all of us staring at the body burping up
lies how beautiful the blouse is & happy but she looks
terrible I mean what sick roughshod     imitation of life is this/  well, case:
roadblock anatomy weird ditches around lips those teeth
pushing eager like I did my time let me out Dali
clock ears & nose in eternal flux of smelling obscene
smell (that’s formaldehyde baby & it’s gonna
cost you)          it just doesn’t       add up, face erasure the glasses
for everyone else’s sake &     you’d be kidding
yourself to think otherwise/ old man
shoulders quivering now saying      how he
fell asleep           by the casket       & dreamt I thought she & I’d just
hop right up &                    get out of here.             & it hits me then
the flowers       shitty carpets canned          flute music CD & pickled
grief repeating       void whistling          closed inside the straw why even
pretend/ I’m no iron       stomach is the woman at
the gravestone dead yet am I a fucking mannequin how       will
death animate me       fuck all the post-haste posthumous let’s just
go for a            joyride you & me/       get younger while the time is ripe

{ X }

IAN KAPPOS was born and raised in Northern California. To date, over thirty of his works of short fiction, nonfiction and poetry have been published online and in print. He plays in the hardcore punk band Cross Class and co-edits Milkfist, and is an MFA candidate in the School of Critical Studies at California Institute of the Arts. He maintains a website at www.iankappos.net.

“Post-It Notes Left by Failed Actors” – Poetry by Ian Kappos

New York Movie - Edward Hopper, 1939
New York Movie – Edward Hopper, 1939

The dada-esque collage of “Post-It Notes Left by Failed Actors” is one of three wonderfully weird poems by Ian Kappos in our Winter 2016 issue.

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MOVIE—FOUND IN THE “LIES” SECTION, w/ all the pickled would-have-beens. “PG”; sugary, oratory. All the kings dead; the documentaries digress, amnesiac. Foreground: Lao Tsung clip-notes, predating his resumé (drafted by his progenitors). This coming after the “talkies” & before the color, & w/ the low keening death of the word, drowning in the shower, we all choke down the synonyms & stem cells.

{ X }

His words are pharaoh: anything of worth uttered to anyone will live on in pages pickled in ink, maybe moths. Tombs rise & births conspire belowground. Three pages for every worm. A novella of creepy crawlies yearning for a translator that dies at first breath.

{ X }

Curled nose at the dawn: she wants the kind of weather that’ll inspire her to stay inside & watch Rosemary’s Baby, so she can soak up the hellfire without baring her skeleton to the sun, to the sons. To the daughters of the sky. The infidelity of the screen scorches her, reassuringly.

—Is this American Romanticism? she thinks. —Or does the fair-haired angel-child lie beneath my boxspring? is he giggling, egging me on to wait it all out in the trenches? until I contract tuberculosis? until my friends scramble out of their hoods to time-share my static gaze? until I am a poet?

{ X }

He is made of mesh: awake, he quakes into being some new moths. The janitor. He doesn’t dreams of brooms; he dreams of railyards, just past noon, & the cargo which he wakes up knowing is you & me. That is when he wakes up & takes up his chant, beating the moths from the cats’ mouths.

{ X }

An inconvenient crew: They will be your ushers at the movie theater, & you won’t feel sorry for them that their legs are distorted & stunted. You won’t because their eyes are projectors & you are entranced. They will handicap you. The credits roll.

{ X } Continue reading “Post-It Notes Left by Failed Actors” – Poetry by Ian Kappos

“djanitors” – Poetry by Ian Kappos

Ganesh - M.F. Husain
Ganesh – M.F. Husain

Gods and guardians and age-old  resentments  haunt “djanitors,” one of three decidedly flappy poems by Ian Kappos in our Winter 2016 issue.

{ X }

I couldn’t name,
down toward the lake, can’t remember which, but
there was a spatula in my chest flinging oil thru my teeth,
speckling your back and on it making daytime constellations.
The pillars spooned green-gray onto our saddlebags, we could’ve been
new, or as good as

She could’ve taken us
Into her pantry, I thought, into her ancient loam,
named us, tongue click-clack cloud applause—she
could’ve named us
caretakers of those
untenanted archives

But you well know, those were
ancient times when
my skin was dead to stirring winds, dry lips

now: you follow Ganesh
up a staircase to Babylon, wide eye smile cutting walls
crumping mirror-frames, joy untold on a veranda, a beach
awaiting everywhere

And I angry-read,
starlit on the carpet, colonizing
the stucco w/ ceramic eyes,
thinking about our unborn empire, the nirvana-life
of custodians

{ X } Continue reading “djanitors” – Poetry by Ian Kappos

“Hearsay from the Locusts” – Poetry by Ian Kappos

Insects - Theodor Severin Kittelsen, circa 1900
Insects – Theodor Severin Kittelsen, circa 1900

“Hearsay from the Locusts” is one of 3 poems dripping with dark weirdness that Ian Kappos contributed to our Winter 2016 issue. Buy yourself a copy of FLAPPERHOUSE #8 to read the rest…

{ X }

GIVE ME TO THE INSECTS, let me oil their mandibles.
Sprockets and painless hive death, become
the machine, eat
the lice.
It’s something to feed
the roots you once trod on, gummy-eyed and
heart-wrenched at the
coming dog-year, thinking
“Float me on down your canopy,
strange and mutant sky,”
hive death
nectar-drunk, in utero,
no man is an island—archipelago.

{ X } Continue reading “Hearsay from the Locusts” – Poetry by Ian Kappos

“Undergrowth” – Fiction by Ian Kappos

A Rushing Sea of Undergrowth - Emily Carr, 1935
A Rushing Sea of Undergrowth – Emily Carr, 1935

“Undergrowth,” from our Spring 2015 issue, is Ian Kappos‘ coming-of-age tale about loss, mysterious moss, and The Great Beast.

{ X }

WE CROWNED THE LEVEE, crossed the railroad tracks, and descended toward the river. The air was crisp and wet. Not like the city.

“This one is old,” Lyle told me, pointing through the murk at a tree that craned over the river. “I looked it up online.”

It was 1999, the last year that it would be cool for fourteen-year-old boys to listen to boy bands. Neither Lyle nor I was cool, but we grasped for a point of reference as earnestly as anybody our age.

“And check this out,” he went on, and led us scrambling through the underbrush. There was a full moon lazing above us, so we could see beyond the tangle of branches the river shining ripples of silver. Frogs croaked, mosquitoes buzzed. It was summer and we both wore denim shorts and polo shirts.

“See?” Lyle said. He pointed again. “Just around this bend.”

I tripped over a rock but found my footing in the suction of damp earth bordering the river. The water played at my shoes. Then I saw it: A bright green moss, or something like it, hugged a branch. It seemed to pulsate, going from a dull olive color to a sharp lime that made me squint.

Lyle then said something very fast that I didn’t catch, but he sounded excited.

I asked, “What is it?”

Little wormy things were fawning from it, dancing in different directions. They stretched and retracted, though there was no breeze.

Continue reading “Undergrowth” – Fiction by Ian Kappos

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Starring Wm. Samuel Bradford, Vajra Chandrasekera, Juliet Cook, Sagnik Datta, Ariel Dawn, Robin Wyatt Dunn, j/j hastain, Rebecca Havens, Anna Lea Jancewicz, Sally J. Johnson, Ian Kappos, Damien Krsteski, Rachna Kulshrestha, Jasper Lo, Danielle Perry, Arman Safa, Bud Smith, Kailey Tedesco, and Jasmyne Womack