Tag Archives: Spring 2014 (#1)

“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

“Rules and Secrets” – Poetry by Judith Skillman

Violin Player to the Moon  - Hans Thoma
Violin Player to the Moon – Hans Thoma, 1897

Judith Skillman‘s poetry soothes and spooks us, often at the same time. We enjoy her work so much that we’ll be publishing one of her poems in each of our first two issues. Here’s “Rules and Secrets,” which will appear in our Spring 2014 Issue, now on sale for just $3.

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THE MOON RISES FULL OVER,
constructs its premise of light,
followers, hangers-on, into August.
Glints in a tree, its hunger for clothes
left from the first two who fled.

Moon-sultan. Wicker baskets fixed
just so inside the house, where sleepers lie.
This gift of reflection—how long the breath
of lemon balm, cut, exhales & inhales
through an open window.

What was fresh is sullied.
A man and a woman discuss philosophy
in a bedroom, in fluorescence.
Insinuations.  Institutions.  How many days
left in the domain?

The moon continues south over sleepers.
River harbor colors of stones.
This month passes like a dream into the season
of gathering.  The lemon will rise like the sun,
the schools will fill.

Moon of corn, of don’t-tell.
Perfection-moon, rimmed, haloed, dogged.
Moon of not playing the violin with a newly-haired bow.
Of never being good enough to live in the body
that continues to die.

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JudithSkillmanJUDITH SKILLMAN is the author of fifteen books of poetry. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Iowa Review, Northwest Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Southern Review, and Prairie Schooner. Visit her website at JudithSkillman.com

“Dare” – Poetry by Lauren Seligman

Flamenco Dancer - Sonia Delaunay, 1916
Flamenco Dancer – Sonia Delaunay, 1916

 

From our Spring 2014 Issue, we proudly present Lauren Seligman‘s sultry, swaggering “Dare.”

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SPLIT ME WIDE OPEN, an egg on the side
of a dish. Eat me alive, attack
without permission. I dare you to
come. Godzilla on the prowl for me. Turn over
billboards, trucks on your way. Take me by
the shoulders, shake me
hard, a natural disaster. Burn down

forests thickened in black
ash so villagers choke. Collapse houses into
the pea green ocean. Do not flash, a lightning
storm, be no mumble of thunder that a midnight
shower can bust. I am a flamenco
dancer standing in an adolescent boys’
choir, exotic in my obsessions and intuitions. I am dark

Poland, fragrant bark on the backyard beech
tree I climbed, crouched in the fork, scars on my
knees the color of persimmon fruit. I am July-hot
Washington Square Park, those gypsy
guitar tunes played at sticky night time, London’s
Cheshire Street stones slicked with moss where I
slipped, laughing on my back. I am veiled

Continue reading “Dare” – Poetry by Lauren Seligman

“The Root of Everything Arty” – Fiction by Jenean McBrearty

The Truth at the bottom of a Well Jean-Leon Gerome, 1895
The Truth at the bottom of a Well
Jean-Leon Gerome, 1895

The truth about ourselves is at the bottom of a well, says Donnie Babcock in “The Root of Everything Arty.” Jenean McBrearty‘s story is a droll, twisted riff on art, violence, vanity, and the subconscious, co-starring Gala Dali. Read it alongside other exciting lit in our Spring 2014 Issue (FLAPPERHOUSE #1), now on sale for just $3.

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“AN APPOINTMENT IS IMPOSSIBLE, and Salvador wouldn’t keep it anyway,” Gala told Mrs. Green, the crinkled-lipped woman who had roused her at ten. It was too early to juggle American dilettantes. The Dali Ball had been tiresome after the first half hour. Dali’s glass case and brassiere, worn on his chest to shock the fawners, would work well with the press, but would soon be followed by a what’s next? from the American public.

“I spoke to him about my nephew. Donald. Bunny Babcock’s son. He’s an artist.”

“I know my husband’s an artist, Madame.” Gala was at the phone about to order breakfast.

“No, Donald’s an artist.” Although just sixteen, he was also a high school graduate and his Uncle Marion’s protégé.  “Senor Dali will remember, I’m sure…”

It’s clear why time melts under the persistence of memory. Americans seemed to have infinite recall capabilities no matter how much gin they consumed, and their persistence jellied the nerves. “Could you bring tres huevos and toast?” she said into the phone, and gave Mrs. Green a nod. “Perhaps this afternoon.”

Mrs. Green hoisted a brown leather portfolio case in front of her. “Donald gave me this. He’s says they’re his best portraits. You could tell me if Dali would be interested in them.”

The woman in the crepe dress and open-toed shoes was giving her a way out. She’d take a quick look and deliver a swift dissuasion. “All right.” Gala removed the white porcelain vase stuffed with orange and yellow gladiolas from the table and set the case on it, untied the laces and peeled back one side. She turned the separators slowly, as though reading a manuscript, feeling Mrs. Green’s expectation at her back.  “Have you seen your nephew’s portraits, Madame? They’re all pudenda.”

Continue reading “The Root of Everything Arty” – Fiction by Jenean McBrearty

FLAPPERHOUSE #1 Now On Sale

 UPDATE:

The PDF of FLAPPERHOUSE #1 is no longer for sale, because it is now available for free.
Click the cover to enjoy.

FLAPPERHOUSEwhitecover

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“No More Poems About Resolutions,” “A Highly Magnified History,” “When A Poet Wants To Date You,” and “Yelp Review – Total Wine”J. Bradley
CRYONICS”Mariev Finnegan
“The Puddle of Romeo’s Tears”Luis Galindo
“The Thrill of a Lifetime” – Phyllis Green
“Window Glass” – Mila Jaroniec
“Stage Manager” – Rebecca Ann Jordan
“What Really Drives You To Drink” – Jeff Laughlin
“Rebel, Rebel” – T. Mazzara
“The Root of Everything Arty” – Jenean McBrearty
“Stanley Kubrick’s Shit Happens – Joseph P. O’Brien
“The Better Cowboy” – Todd Pate
“Angels Howling in the Trees” – Misti Rainwater-Lites
“Dare” – Lauren Seligman
“Rules and Secrets” Judith Skillman
“Reach” – Tom Stephan
“Axis Mundi” Cameron Suey

“Rebel, Rebel” – Fiction by T. Mazzara

ChargerBe warned: T. Mazzara‘s “Rebel, Rebel,” one of the short stories from our Spring 2014 issue, contains some extremely salty language. But beneath all that salt there’s also tremendous tenderness. 

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for Shawn

I GOTTA GET TO NEW YORK BEFORE 3 AM or Big Meanie, Jimmy Dread, is gonna fuckin stick-rape me with a broom handle and feed my bones to his bulls, gonna cut off my ears and chop off my head. I been driving this route and driving it drifted for two years now, trying to buy the ticket on dad’s ranch house. Buy it back from my sunk-headed Moms. She’s got not a marble left and they’re gonna take the dump from her, she don’t get square with the bank. I been driving this route since Jean Genie bit the big assfuckin farm on it. That’s my cousin, Jean Genie.

Jean died when his box truck launched off this elevated road (that’s Route 17 East to New York-fuckin-Shitty). Jean buried truck and driver in the woods just betwixt Beaver Kill and Roscoe. And that’s Roscoe “Trout Town USA.” Upstate. He buried Jean Genie good too. Fucker was a mess of blood and knotty, greasy hair and white meat and wood and red meat and metal splinters, buried in bark and sticks and branches, cloaked in wet red and steam and smoke and brake lights. Twisted metal, twisted Genie. Twisted sister. Jean Genie. Ziggy Stardust.

I’m carrying a load of H (and some blow on the side). All packaged neat in 50 pound bags of organic flour. Genie still talks to me. I’m the Jazz. It’s something I do. It’s something I do for the Dread. It’s something that’s done.

I’m passing Slaterville Springs, now. Bug zappers zapping and flashing and it’s 35mph thru here so they’re easy to hear over this godawful loud engine. I’m still on east 79. It goes up to 55mph after here and then I’ll be headed thru Richford and past Robinson’s Hollow Road and there’s fuckin nothing out there.

But there is a red Dodge Charger here now and he’s been behind me and beside me and I’ve passed him real careful-like, twice now, and he’s weaving like a motherfucker. There’s drunks at night out here. Small town, not much to do at night. Day too. Not certain if this one’s a drunk. Can’t never be certain of anything, really, Jean Genie used to say. But Dodge Charger keeps slowing and I pass him and then he’ll waggle in my rearviews and he’s in and out of lanes and I lose sight of him around a bend til he guns it and smashes past me, suckin wind and shakin the Bigtop.

You never can be sure of much. Jean Genie used to say black holes was planets that had evolved some species into machines that needed to eat and needed power to eat and they then went off and e’en everything. And it wasn’t like astronomers said and what the hell did astronomers know? They had theories and observations. Hell, we could make theories and observations. We could make observations and theories all we fuckin wanted, but unless they could magic his ass up to the center of the galaxy and let him stick his finger in a supermassive black hole, he didn’t believe in black holes and thought the center of the galaxy must just be filled with unicorn farts and marshmallow fluff.

He always said that the world as we know it was coming to an end and that everything that is just now, even as I say this sentence here, is now the past and everything back then is questionable and every configuration of us was different from one moment to the next. Or some shit like that. I think I said it right. I don’t know. He was a confusing shit and I was faced when he told me that.

Never seen you so faced.

Continue reading “Rebel, Rebel” – Fiction by T. Mazzara

“Stanley Kubrick’s Shit Happens” – Review by Joseph P. O’Brien

Kubrick

Only in FLAPPERHOUSE could you read a review of Stanley Kubrick’s least-famous Lost Film, “Stanley Kubrick’s Shit Happens.” Hey look up there: Stanley Kubrick took selfies.

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IT’S EASY TO FORGET THAT STANLEY KUBRICK, the pensive, punctilious director of 2001 and The Shining, was also the cheeky, impish ringmaster behind wickedly funny films like Dr. Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket.  Read any critique of Kubrick’s work– even a favorable one– and chances are you’ll find words like “clinical” and “icy-balls.”

Perhaps that’s because so few have ever seen (or even heard of) this esteemed filmmaker’s least-famous Lost Film.

SHITHAPPENSLegend has it that after wrapping up The Shining in 1980, Kubrick was, as you might expect, hungry for a more jocular project.  One night he rents a stack of videotapes, comedy movies he’s been meaning to watch for a personal film festival. About 20 minutes into the first film there’s a loud, plasticky smash. Kubrick’s daughter hears it from all the way up in her bedroom, and she runs to her father’s screening room to see what’s the matter. “I’m fine,” he tells her, standing over shards of shattered videocassette. “Just  disposing of some dreadfully boring cinema. Don’t be alarmed if you hear it again later.”

Sure enough, Kubrick’s daughter hears the smash of VHS-versus-wall roughly every 20 minutes for the next couple hours. Until she hears laughter. Ecstatic, soul-saving laughter, like she’s never heard her father laugh before.

He’s watching  Airplane!

Continue reading “Stanley Kubrick’s Shit Happens” – Review by Joseph P. O’Brien