Tag Archives: Spring 2014 (#1)

FLAPPERHOUSE #1 is Out There…

Today at the Flapperhouse, we discovered something peculiar in our basket of bathroom reading:

“Angels Howling in the Trees” – Fiction by Misti Rainwater-Lites

Bunworth Banshee - W.H. Brooke, 1825
Bunworth Banshee – W.H. Brooke, 1825

“Angels Howling in the Trees” is a sketch from an American girlhood in the disco era, from the barbed yet soulful pen of Misti Rainwater-Lites. It reminds us of a clip from some punk rock Wonder Years where bitterness & nostalgia roll around on the carpet pulling each other’s hair. It’s also one of the many multi-flavored literaries you can read in our Spring 2014 Issue, available in full for 3 bucks. 

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IN THE HOUSE IN THE TOWN THAT WASN’T SEYMOUR or Bridgeport but somewhere in between, somewhere forgettable, another ugly bump in the Texas road, Merissa slept or did not sleep in a canopy bed in a bedroom she shared with her baby sister. One night Maternal Grandmother was visiting and she was sleeping with Merissa in the canopy bed but Merissa kept getting out of the canopy bed and tiptoeing down the hallway and getting into bed with the mother and the father. Maternal Grandmother would come get Merissa and bring her back to the canopy bed and Merissa was restless and unhappy but didn’t know why. Merissa looked out the window from the canopy bed and saw the trees in the backyard and she could hear angels howling tangled in the black branches. The angels voiced the despair she was too young and mute to name.

“Will the angels always howl, Ava? Will I always be searching for the warmest, most hospitable bed?”

“You are cursed, niece. I hate to be the one to tell you the truth.”

Buddy Holly was on the stereo and The Newlywed Game was on the television and Merissa was in love with John Travolta as Tony in Saturday Night Fever and when she played house with her least favorite cousin, Sonny’s big sister, she learned what it was to be female because the cousin pretended to be talking to John Travolta, Merissa’s husband. Continue reading “Angels Howling in the Trees” – Fiction by Misti Rainwater-Lites

“The Puddle of Romeo’s Tears” – Poetry by Luis Galindo

Romeo and Juliet - Ford Madox Brown, 1870
Romeo and Juliet – Ford Madox Brown, 1870

Luis Galindo‘s “The Puddle of Romeo’s Tears” is our favorite kind of heartbreak poem: bitter yet playful, melancholy yet comic,  graceful yet naughty. And it’s but one of the many savory slices of lit you can read in our Spring 2014 Issue, on sale for just $3.

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WHY DIDN’T YOU RETURN MY HOWLS
Last night
Under the moon’s silver chains
And pink undergarments?
Were you busy? Were you washing
Your hair in the tears
Of half-assed Romeos
In the unrequited evening?

I was there
Under your balcony
Wearing a green snake-skin
suit that I bought
from the Our Mother of Holy Agony
Thrift store on the corner of
Mistake and Trust.
While standing there
And howling, I could see
The sign of the manufacturer
Of the fire escape under your window.
Stamped into the cold dark steel:
Dirtyfuckinglie, Inc.

I stood there for hours with
A love poem I had written
The night before on a napkin
From our favorite Chinese restaurant.

I had planned on reciting it
To you, at midnight
But it was too late.
You were
Not There
You were

Elsewhere.

Continue reading “The Puddle of Romeo’s Tears” – Poetry by Luis Galindo

“Window Glass” – Poetry by Mila Jaroniec

Frau mit Schleier (Woman with Veil) - Odilon Redon, 1895
Woman with Veil – Odilon Redon, 1895

There’s a question in the middle of Mila Jaroniec‘s “Window Glass” that bites us in the heart every time we read it. This dark, wistful, slightly sardonic poem is merely one of the many fine works of lit that you can read in our Spring 2014 Issue, now available for purchase at the low low price of just $3.

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THE WINDOW GLASS IS TEXTURED WITH DIRT. My eyes settle on smears of leftover Windex in between squished bugs. Wonder if everyone sees the world through dirty glass. Wonder if everyone knows there’s always glass. I consider going outside for a moment but then remember my halfheartedly molting sunburn.

Shelley wrote something about the painted veil, what was that?
That wasn’t this.

            Go clean your room, my mother said. No man wants to marry a slob.

            No one gets married anymore.

            Don’t be silly. Everyone gets married.

                        When we were together I never got a ring
                        or a tattoo of your name
                        but I still feel you next to me when I smell cigarettes or touch leather
                        maybe that’s why I don’t wear my jacket or smoke.

            Who are you going to die with?

Pinpricks of stars dot the expanse of black sky. It’s quiet.
My cigarette tip illuminates the invisible street.

Last summer we looked at that sky, you and I
we lay on our backs on the bike trail and when you put
your hand
under my sweatshirt
my heart
ricocheted violently,
pinpricks of stars,
like air holes in a dark
box that someone keeps
their pets in,
and looks inside
from time to time
to check if we’re alive.

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MilaJaroniecMILA JARONIEC lives in New York City.

“Axis Mundi” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

The Ash Yggdrasil - Friedrich Wilhelm Heine
The Ash Yggdrasil – Friedrich Wilhelm Heine, 1886

Cameron Suey has been one of our favorite storytellers for several years now. His tales of horror and dark fantasy have filled our heads with some of the most deliciously terrifying images our minds’ eyes have ever seen, and we’re eternally grateful to him for that. We’re excited to present his story “Axis Mundi” below, as well as in our Spring 2014 Issue.

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CAPTAIN ELISHA DRIFTS BACK TO HER BODY. Sedative fog curls around her edges for a long, liquid minute before she remembers she has eyes to open. Lids slide across her sclera, a syrupy-sweet motion that tingles her spine like some small secret pleasure. Her forearms feel hot and then cold, as catheters spit the next layer of the wakeup cocktail into her blood. Already, the induced euphoria’s fading, shepherding the last of the delirium and confusion away to be replaced by a conscious, knowing glee. They’ve arrived.

Her new stateroom smells of wood and leather, warm aromas painted in crimson and deep oak hues. The armchair creaks as she moves, and smartbands retreat into its folds like startled snakes. The catheters slip from her flesh, spraying a thin mist of skinbond to cover their tracks, and constrict away into the arms of the chair.

Her vision drifts to a far wall, her eyes looping on a pleasing swirl in the burlwood, where Mithradates projects her feeds in layers of soft amber light. The most important detail rises to the surface in pulsing cobalt: No one has followed. Right up until their unscheduled departure, no alarms were even raised.

Now the slip is over, only a few hours passed, and the slick ebon needle of her new ship, the Mithra, drifts above the ecliptic of Gliese 667C. Mithradates maps the bewildering orbits of the neighboring stars and the six rocky planets around 667C, adjusting for any local eccentricities since the stellar event. The third star, a dull red coal, squats at the center of a tangle of scorched planets. Elisha waits for Mithradates to find any sign of their quarry, but so far she only sees the purples and oranges of worlds and moons.

The nausea arrives as she scans the display, inevitable postslip vomit rising up at the back of her throat. A small basin of burnished silver extends on a silent pseudopod, awaiting her purge. Everyone must sleep during the slip, and only Goetsch claims to have conquered the purge. Elisha could have asked Mithradates to confirm, to see if it’s just more bluster from the mission’s XO, but she’d rather let the man keep his boasts.

With a twinkling of glass bells, a white dot appears in the orbital map, then another. The Odin, and the Yggdrasil. The ghost ships, in the shadow of the third planet. Elation rises up in her, along with something else. Elisha leans into the gleaming mouth of the basin and gags before her throat unlocks to spray a hot foam of sweet pepper bisque, her last meal before their covert flight from Terrapin Yards.

As she blots her lips with a soft cloth, the remains of the first slipprobe from the Reclamation Society appears on Mithradates’ map. Closer in, trailing the orbit of the third planet, it’s just a few hundred thousand kilometers from the Odin and the Yggdrasil. It reads as a scattered cloud of pinprick fragments in the readout, the slip engine still bleeding weak exotic energy signals even a few weeks after the probe’s demise. The second probe, following hours after and launched at great risk of detection, had been more circumspect. From a high and silent orbit, it brought back word of Odin and the Yggdrasil, their distant silhouettes barely visible in the shadow of the dead world.

If there were still survivors aboard, separated by more than 900 years of cultural and technological drift, they would need to be approached with cautious grace. Her spine crawled with excitement at the thought, as if the universe had unfurled to give flesh to her dreams.

When they had told her about the probes, she’d thrown every ounce of social capital she had to get the Reclamation Society’s nomination, abandoning the last of her studies. She’d been the one to propose the theft of her mother’s ship, the Mithra, and she and Goetsch had arranged to patch the ship’s entity, Mithradates, in secret. In the end, they were the only possible crew. She bent and twisted the world to deliver them to this moment.

More sounds, ringing steel this time, as Mithradates tells her the rest of the crew are awake and ready to begin. With his new software, he vibrates with excitement, almost as eager as her to begin. A third tone, hollow wooden chimes, and Mithradates paints new information in the air above the Odin and the Yggdrasil. Her brow furrows. The numinous excitement that suffused her since her selection fades into the background. She leans closer to confirm what Mithradates is showing her.

Around the great sphere of the Yggdrasil drifts a cloud of objects, an accretion disc of ablative armor shrapnel from a thousand years of micrometeorites, drifting screws and abandoned tools, and corpses. Thousands of frozen corpses, lashed by ropes. Loops and whorls of the dead sketching glyphs and geometric shapes drift around the ghost ship, held close by the Yggdrasil’s gentle gravity.

Continue reading “Axis Mundi” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

“What Really Drives You To Drink” – Poetry by Jeff Laughlin

The Drunkard's Progress, Nathaniel Currier, 1846
The Drunkard’s Progress, Nathaniel Currier, 1846

Much like literature’s most famous chronicler of the Flapper Age, Jeff Laughlin has quite a flair for zeitgeist-capture. In his poem “What Really Drives You To Drink,” Jeff examines the darkness and sadness that plague us– drinkers and teetotalers alike– and he does it with great elegance and wit. You can read this poem along with other fine lit in our Spring 2014 Issue, now on sale for just $3.

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I.
OF COURSE, WE ALL WANT REVOLUTIONS
with piano loops playing behind us
driving us to the light of salvation.

We all want the moments of dreams,
caricatures of our destinies; we want
model-sizes of us writhing against evil.

Yes, we ache for sustenance beyond
substances, data ahead of information,
a wealth of armies, breaching battalions.

We want the lines between injustices
ruptured, to rip thousands of tears in our
oblivious brain-skin and sensibilities.

We want to be buried in beautiful
graves, our thoughts and actions resting
non-anonymously but not autonomic.

Above us, floating, are the souls of everlasting
life, their bombastic screams louder than
the empty bottles they hurl at us blithely.

Just out of reach, the albatross, the overt
and countercultural masses; all that lays
here is middle-ground, pain, and sincerity.

Here is intransigence, where we are.

Continue reading “What Really Drives You To Drink” – Poetry by Jeff Laughlin

“Stage Manager” – Fiction by Rebecca Ann Jordan

GhostLight
Ghost Light on Stage, Photo by Jon Ellwood (c) 2014

Rebecca Ann Jordan‘s “Stage Manager,” one of the short stories from our Spring 2014 Issue, has a delightfully waggish voice, though that doesn’t diminish the eeriness lurking in its wings.

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EVERY THEATRE HAS A GHOST. Ours has three.

“Stage Manager is a thankless job.” This was from Stage Manager, the man I was currently apprenticed to. “Director gets artistic credit. Actors get the glory. And everyone loves the beautiful set, the lights, the costumes.” He shrugged thin little shoulders and tore purple spike tape with nimble fingers. I was a good head taller than him, with his faerie-red hair and green eyes, and I didn’t yet know the art of tearing spike tape without a pair of scissors, tucked now in my pocket like a rumble knife. “Most people don’t even know there’s such a thing as Stage Manager.”

“So why do you do it?”

“Well,” he said, “someone has to.”

We ate lunch at 8:35 exactly. A chocolate muffin, hot chocolate, and a carton of Cherry Garcia to split. It was his idea. I had no complaints.

“Do you know we have three ghosts in Smothers?”

I didn’t really want to know about it. Nightmares really liked me. “Oh really?” I wanted him to like me, too.

“Yeah.” His pixie eyes lit up. “One is an unwed bride, haunting the stage in her wedding dress because her fiancé jilted her.” I highly doubted the first place a bride-ghost would go would be Smothers Theatre, but I nodded anyway. “The second is a crying baby. You can hear it sometimes, wailing on the catwalk.”

We were back in Smothers, sitting down on stage and alternating between spike tape and ice cream. “You ever heard it?”

“Me? No. But I’ve seen the bride.” He grinned. “The last one is my favorite. The Stage Manager.”

I laughed. “The collective ghost of all the managers jilted from glory and appreciation?”

“Something like that. I usually lock up. First to arrive and last to leave…” He ripped the spike tape and raised it, a toast to me, and I followed him as he eyeballed its placement. “You can hear him clapping.”

I tucked the finished tub of Cherry Garcia under my arm and grabbed the opposite end of the spike tape as he strolled to stage left. “You’re so full of shit.”

Stage Manager smiled. “You’ll see,” was all he said. “You can lock up tonight.”

“No thanks.”

“I mean, I have to go work on Millie.” The other play he was managing. He was determined to get as much opportunity to be forgotten as possible. “Here.” He tossed me the keys.

Maybe I would get one of the stage hands to stay with me afterward. Unfortunately, I believed in ghosts.

Continue reading “Stage Manager” – Fiction by Rebecca Ann Jordan