Tag Archives: Michael Diaz Feito

“The Mandrill’s Smile” – Fiction by Michael Díaz Feito

Mandrill – Franz Marc, 1913

Jealousy & paranoia possess a married couple in “The Mandrill’s Smile,” Michael Díaz Feito‘s demonically dysfunctional short fiction from our Winter 2019 issue.

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PRESSURE IN THE NIGHT. There was a foreign presence, a stuttering breath in the drywall and a pulse in the warm carpet, and then the shock of shattered glass: A window broke in the bedroom upstairs where Lily slept. Helio jumped, rising from a jumble of half-conscious worries and from the couch where he’d been dozing off, bathed in the muted TV’s blue light. What’s his name, the monkey. He crossed the living room of the small townhouse in three paces, crouched by the staircase, and listened for another suspicious sound, or for his wife’s reaction.

Quiet. Nothing moved in the darkness at the top of the stairs. Helio knew that nothing without knowing and climbed toward it. He joined it and couldn’t see his legs or his feet in it. With each step, he felt weaker, like his knees might give, and his heart drummed faster, because he was so scared of it. The monkey wants to hurt our marriage. His hands tightened into fists. Sweat pooled on his back. It was hotter upstairs.

Helio’s eyes adjusted. Shards of glass glittered on the bedroom’s carpeted floor, and the night, jaundiced by a single streetlight, pressed through the broken window, as did the fronds of a royal palm. Lily wasn’t in their bed. She wasn’t in the room. But there was something else. A crib composed of bamboo slats rocked beside the bed. It shook because a shadowy baby shivered and kicked within it. The baby was a dense oval of darkness, and it seemed featureless, except for a curled upper lip, which exposed broad, flat, gleaming teeth.

It disgusted Helio. It wasn’t his baby. He retched and hid his face, afraid to look again, and dropped to his knees. His body went slack, releasing tension in spasms as he began to understand what he didn’t understand. Yes, it was a home invasion. The offender was demonic. It violently mocked him with those big teeth. And Lily, wherever she hid, had invited it. Why would she do this. Helio sobbed and pleaded with the bedroom.

A noise boomed outside. It moved closer. Soon it rustled the palm fronds, then the window’s shattered glass, and then the bedsheets. It became like a law-giving voice, which could have been the smiling baby’s, reverberating from the crib. Where your wife is, it seemed to say. I am that I am. Who she’s with. We are that we are. Do you?

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Continue reading “The Mandrill’s Smile” – Fiction by Michael Díaz Feito

“A Cat Maybe, Or Breaking” – Poetry by Michael Díaz Feito

Cat Eating a Bird – Pablo Picasso, 1939

“A Cat Maybe, Or Breaking” is one of three fantastically feral poems by Michael Díaz Feito in our Spring 2017 issue, now available in print for $6US or PDF for $3US.

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                  framing an empty
oval of sidewalk where its
body would be.

                                    Food, the
stripped joints even gory
like that look like food, I

          but the feathered arcs
splayed seem living like they
would fly at a touch,
                                              or react
to another thing’s movement,

the cold maybe, or barking.

It’s singular, worth a nod.
                  (See the space between, and how
                  easy, violent the crack along
                  that fine cartilaginous border is.)

Then today I stepped into a
stringy crunch,
                                    and stuck
to my step lifted a smaller
pair of otherwise
wings except younger. I
shook them   off the tread
and the question, Is what

kills the birds watching now?   passed

into then out of my mind,
                  because I was so late for lunch.

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MICHAEL DÍAZ FEITO is a Cuban American writer from Miami, Florida. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Acentos Review, Axolotl, Big Echo, The Future Fire, Hinchas de Poesía, Milkfist, and Petrichor Machine. You can find more of Michael’s work at michaeldiazfeito.com and follow him on Twitter @diazmikediaz.

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #14, in Pictures

An ocean of thank-yous to everyone who helped make last night’s reading more fun than a mosh pit at an anarchist pep rally: Gregory, Lisa Marie, Michael, Anne, Kurt, Adam, and Abigail for performing your flappy lits; Alibi for your scintillating singing and photography; Pacific Standard for your infinitely warm hospitality; and all you hip & gorgeous people who came out to watch. Let’s do this again sometime in late May, maybe? 

(photos by Alibi Jones)

Gregory Crosby, author of FH13’s “Nine Masks,” reads his alluring & mysterious poetry

 Lisa Marie Basile spellbinds the audience with her evocative poetry

Michael Díaz Feito reads “The Rats Are Ready,” one of his three poems in our new issue

Continue reading FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #14, in Pictures

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #14 / Issue 13 Flight Party

We’re gonna project our souls lightspeed into the future as we celebrate the flight of our 13th issue with our 14th reading! Wednesday night, March 22, 7-9 PM at the always-hospitable Pacific Standard, 82 Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn.

the late KURT COBAIN

Admission is free, and you can get your paws on print copies of our Spring 2017 issue for the special reading price of $5!

(Join the Facebook event page here.)

And Our Pushcart Prize Nominees Are…

Just in the nick of time, we’ve mailed our nominations for this year’s prestigious Pushcart Prize, which will honor literary works published in 2015 by little magazines & small presses throughout the world.

And our nominees are (in order of appearance):

“The Rud Yard” – short fiction by Vajra Chandrasekera
“She Used to be on a Milk Carton” – poetry by Kailey Tedesco
“The David Foster Wallace Empathy Contest” – short fiction by Wm. Samuel Bradford
“Spanish Donkey / Pear of Anguish” – poetry by Jessie Janeshek
“the things that are left behind” – poetry by Joyce Chong
“Ewart” – short fiction by Michael Díaz Feito

Congratulations & best of luck to our nominees– and thank you all for contributing your phenomenal work to our weird little zine.

“Ewart” – Fiction by Michael Díaz Feito

In the jungle, Florida - Winslow Homer, 1904
In the jungle, Florida – Winslow Homer, 1904

“Ewart” is a spectacularly swampy slab of Southern Gothic by Michael Díaz Feito from our Fall 2015 issue.

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ān æfter eallum …


IT IS WRITTEN THAT A RIPPLING SPHERE OF MOSQUITOES often rose from that yellow sedge spot where N. Ewart Nance put up his cabin. A unique species, when underfed the wiry girls were themselves a glowing yellow. They purpled when glutted. Shifting in their spherical swarm, they swapped hues, off and on. They shed generations too. Unlike the average others, these mosquitoes led no three-day luxury life but had only the one. Up, then down. Their throng’s heart dropped out dead by each morning. Then the young and yellow leapt from the still sedge-water, rearing up like one open mouth.

Sustain—this ever-adolescent species kept a lumpy shade cast over the sedge. A point of origin, south of the Miami River.

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Ewart never named his homestead. Although he did consider himself that spot’s first inhabitant, he never christened it. He would not care for those who had, would, or will. That spot of yellow sedge has had many names: one in the Tequestas’ tongue, then Meados del Fraile, Coño de la Coja (briefly), Clarke’s Kill, Ooki-lakni, Panther’s Breath, Okeelacknee, Telegrams, Monmouth, and (after draining and ingesting it) Miami. Before the end of the nineteenth century, South Florida’s place names were transient like human life. This is meant in a literal sense. Names went into graves with namers and kin, swallowed all in perennial union by bog muck and waters. These swamps boil and lack phosphorus, so they do not preserve pristine skin-bags—no moaning faces visible, beatified. In and around sinkholes, you’ll only dig up brushfire ashes and teeth, peat-packed. Teeth irreverently strewn like Onan’s seed. But the water is clean.

That yellow sedge spot was mapped once in 1896 as Monmouth. In a local accent, Moan-mouth. That town was built, burned, rebuilt, burned in roughly the same spot. A prominent hotelkeeper named it for his favorite fruit pudding, and that was meant to evoke the tropics for tourists. Monmouth slouched by Biscayne Bay.

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Ewart, at age thirty, hides beside his mother on a backless pew in the Cumberlands. A sturdy woman. She grips his shoulder. A chafing of linsey-woolsey and calico—other shoulders settle close by them on the pews. Ewart feels smothered. He hunches his shoulders and tenses his arm, to signal that she grip tighter. She does. All these parishioners sweat from slogging through frost, so they stick together at the shoulders, fixed by foggy breaths and stamped-up ashes.

The church itself is only a gray box. Its ceiling runs low, low enough that most men reach up and rest their hats on the crossbeams. Another pew of broad-brimmed hats. Most men spit chaws on the floorboards. These form one sticky pool.

Ewart does not doff his hat. His head sits huge on a short body, and the hat tightly hugs just its upper slopes. To hide his face—miniscule features meekly clustered at the flat, chalky center—Ewart bends the brim. Somebody flicks the back of the brim. And again. An opening hymn is chanted. His mother chants loudest, nasally, and Ewart says, She whinnies only to outdo the others’ holiness.

This hymn dies down.

Most men spit chaws again.

Somebody flicks Ewart’s nape.

The preacher speaks at the pulpit:

On this most airish day, ladies and gentlemen, we are swept together like strands of twine today. A single thread tied in blessed God’s big hand. We are not separate ones. He has entwined us into a strong rope stained with the Blood. He has knotted us. Now, hear me. We came from somewhere far from Him, that is, sin. And nay, do not turn ye back like Lot’s wife! For there behind ye is surely Satan. The Lord our God tugs our rope safely through fiery flames, us upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. He tugs us over yonder, poor mourners, toward Him, toward Salvation! Knotting us together, tighter and tighter, as we turn unto Him. Verily, I say, He is fitting a single sacred garment of us, Salvation, for to leave our lone bodies behind!

His mother Winifred nods along with the sermon’s words. Her lipless mouth is only grayer cracks in the skin by the teeth.

Ewart tugs his arm from her grip. He does not want to leave his lone body. As he plucks his patchy beard’s bristles, the preacher reads a psalm.

Past the pulpit is one window. A redbud tree presses its panes. Six panes bloodied by the wintery buds like a picture of fire, and branches also gnash the panes.

Watching the preacher, his mother pushes her knuckles into his shoulder. Her wiry fingers wrap his arm again. A small fear simmers Ewart’s loins. He snaps together his knees to hide the hard horn. The preacher’s voice rising, most men weep. Somebody knocks Ewart’s hat and it flies into the pool of spit chaws. Continue reading “Ewart” – Fiction by Michael Díaz Feito

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #4, In Pictures

A million butternut squash-flavored thank yous to everyone who helped make Reading #4 such a blast: Bud, Shannon, David, Scott, Anna, T, & Michael for performing your flappy lits; Pacific Standard for your warm & welcoming hospitality; Alibi Jones for your superb singing & splendid photography; and to all you scintillating individuals who attended and gave us our biggest crowd yet. 

See y’all again this Winter…

Photos by Alibi Jones

Bud Smith reviews his corner bodega in an excerpt from “Tables Without Chairs”
Shannon Moore Shepherd reads her dark & ravenous poem “Creature Feature: Caligynachtmare: Dread the Beauty”

Continue reading FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #4, In Pictures

FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #4 / Issue #7 Flight Party

Flap into Fall like a skull-faced pixie on a rocket-powered vacuum, and join us as we celebrate the flight of our 7th issue with our 4th reading on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 from 7 to 9 PM at Pacific Standard, 82 Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn.