Tag Archives: Spring 2018 (#17)

“The Underworld is a Multiverse, and All Your Lovers Are Invited: Part 1 and 2” – Fiction by Laura Podolnick Dukhon

Haywain – Hieronymus Bosch, circa 1488

A woman discovers just how twisted Hell can be in “The Underworld is a Multiverse, and All Your Lovers Are Invited : Part 1 and 2,” Laura Podolnick Dukhon‘s demonically hilarious short story from our Spring 2018 issue.

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Part I: If You Break Hell It Only Gets Worse

I WANDERED INTO HELL BY MISTAKE, on a thunderstorm skulk while I cried and asked God questions. I paused for a moment and ducked into a warehouse, half-hoping to meet my doom and half-hoping to take a break from the rain. The ground split beneath me– smooth pavement separating to an obscene crack directly under my size three Converse high-tops, the crack then growing and sucking me in, enveloping me like a giant, jealous vagina.

Hell is a charade that takes place in a ballroom, and the cast comprises men who no longer love me and men who never did love me, dancing the tango, the foxtrot, the merengue, and a variety of other steps with nubile, big-eyed, dewy-limbed young women wearing slinky satin underthings and too much red lipstick.

Hell is round, so there are no corners in which to hide. My ex-paramours and not-quite-ever-paramours are dapper in tuxedoes and they are all sweet-smelling and cleanshaven. The one I’d taken to calling The Worst Person In The World waltzes by and gives me a wink. His hand, though still managing to hold an unfiltered cigarette, is conspicuously beneath the silky half-slip of his curly-haired dance-partner, who audibly hums a haunting tune that calls to mind requiems, ghosts, genocides.

P___ ignores my presence and is a poor dancer. At least there is that. The girl grasping onto his shoulders looks bored, as though she has been hired to be here. Y____ and I lock eyes for a horrible moment and tears well on both sides, but then he looks down and looks up, all while wiggling a violent tarantella. His partner appears nonplussed, so I want to punch her for her insolence. W___ does not remember who I am. His cha-cha could use work.

A__ comes over to talk. He first whispers to his partner, who crosses her arms and rolls her eyes. He runs over and asks if I am okay. “Considering this is Hell, I’m peachy,” I reply. He seems surprised to know that we are in Hell. I direct him to the sign over the refreshment table: Welcome to Hell, it reads in a fancy script. “I have to get back,” A__ says, pointing to his irritated partner across the room. I nod.

The walls are garish, baroque, pale orange and pink sherbet swirls and curlicues. The carpet is a periwinkle floral. The chandeliers make everything just a little too bright and a little too yellow.

I begin to dance awkwardly, alone, moving towards the center of the room. I feel the girls all staring at me, judging my inappropriate attire, my unkempt hair, my dripping mascara, my tired face. They all glower from stiletto-heeled heights, and their high, neat ponytails flick like whips upon every turn. I figure it is Hell, so there aren’t really any rules of etiquette to break, and it can’t get any worse, so I resolve to make a scene. Now in the middle of the floor, I slither out of my coat, my corduroys, my Henley, my shoes, my sweater, my socks, my unattractive underwear, until I am fully naked. I look to the mirrored ceiling and there I am, pink and shiny, raw, like a scar. The room has moved away from me and I am alone at the center, writhing, naked, arms out, looking up. I am in Hell, so it follows that the rules of physics do not apply, so I try to breathe fire from my mouth. It works. The girls who were laughing at me stop laughing. The gentlemen look less aghast now and more afraid. I shoot blasts of smoke from my nose and I fart tear gas from my very butt. Everyone is coughing and covering their faces, to protect themselves from my glare, my noxiousness. I make swords grow from my fingertips and scales and horns sprout from my back. I commission six tails, each with a dragon’s head, and my nipples are miniature machine guns, delicate, pink. Just when I start thinking that Hell is a lot nicer when I am not the only one having a bad time, the fire alarm goes off and all my exes file out, each holding another girl’s hand. I join the end of the line, but when I get to the double doors, I cannot fit all my new body parts. I try to undo them, but they don’t go. Hell, apparently, does not allow subtraction. The dragon heads on my tails bite each other, and it hurts. I stumble over to the refreshment table and pour myself a cup of coffee. There is no milk.

Continue reading “The Underworld is a Multiverse, and All Your Lovers Are Invited: Part 1 and 2” – Fiction by Laura Podolnick Dukhon

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“The Virus Shaves Her Legs” – Poetry by Katie Longofono

Woman With Stole – Jean Dupas, 1929

“The Virus Shaves Her Legs” is one of four gritty & enthralling poems by Katie Longofono in our Spring 2018 issue.

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ITCHING FURIOUSLY TO BE SMOOTH
like every woman
on the subway, she soaks
for 3 hours and sands down
to the skin. The virus is shocked
at how much it bleeds,
like her shins are crying out.
Must take some nerve
to go naked after dressing
with such intention — she grew
a stole at first to repulse
desire, covering herself
in animal skins and furs
lusty for red paint, and kept them
for the luxurious feel. Slick
and wiry, a boar or a mink.
The virus was a crop
of cacti or dragonfruit,
whatever spike goes right
to your head, she was dying
to get under your skin. Now
she takes off the armor,
goes raw and rightfully
invites you, if you want to
come in.

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KATIE LONGOFONO received her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, where she directed the 2014 SLC Poetry Festival. She is the co-founder and co-curator of WEIRDD, an inclusive monthly reading series that honors weird, rigorous poetry with loving kindness, as well as compensation for their art. She also co-produces AmpLit Fest in partnership with Lamprophonic and Summer on the Hudson. She previously co-founded and curated Dead Rabbits Reading Series 2014-17. Longofono is the author of three chapbooks:  Angeltits (Sundress Publications 2016), Honey and Bandages (co-authored with Mary Stone; Folded Word Press 2015), and The Angel of Sex (Dancing Girl Press, 2013). Her work has appeared in The Boiler JournalTinderbox Poetry JournalBOAATglitterMOB, South Dakota Review, Juked, Slipstream, and more. She lives in Brooklyn.

“If You Water a Horse” – Poetry by Abigail Welhouse

Corncob Horse in Outer Space – Maria Primachenko, 1978

“If You Water a Horse” is one of three exquisitely offbeat poems by Abigail Welhouse in our Spring 2018 issue.

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IF  YOU  WATER  A  HORSE,
flowers will grow from its spine.
They will die if you pick them. If they live, they will grow
into water lilies as large as goldfish aquariums,
then into beanstalks you will climb to giants.

If you dry off a horse, the desert will give you a message.
You will know when you find sand in your boots.
When you empty them, you will uncover a tree.
The tree is a gift from the giants.

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photo by Jason Koo

ABIGAIL WELHOUSE is the author of Bad Baby (dancing girl press), Too Many Humans of New York (Bottlecap Press), and Memento Mori (a poem/comic collaboration with Evan Johnston). Her poems have been published in The ToastYes PoetryGhost Ocean Magazine, and elsewhere. Subscribe to her Secret Poems at tinyletter.com/welhouse.

 

FLAPPERHOUSE #17 Now on Sale!

Sisterhood, Mysterious Treasure, Fallen Angels, Deviant Afterlives, Slasher Barbies, Poetic Viruses, Baboon Warfare: FLAPPERHOUSE #17.

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“The Golden Key” – Fiction by Carlea Holl-Jensen

illustration by Aubrey Beardsley, circa 1895

For a hint of all the fantastic treasures you can find in our Spring 2018 issue (coming March 20), here’s Carlea Holl-Jensen‘s mysterious & alluring flash fiction “The Golden Key.”

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IT’S LATE WINTER WHEN HE FINDS THE BOX, winter right on the cusp of spring, that restless stretch when the woods are no longer dark by midday but the frost hasn’t given up its grip on the air.

Of course, it isn’t the box he sees first. That’s still buried under a foot or more of snow.

What he sees, instead, is a crop of new crocuses growing in amongst the trees. He isn’t looking for flowers, doesn’t much care for them. He isn’t sentimental; in fact, he’s about as unsentimental as they come. He once fought in a war and refuses to remember the last time he cried, but it was certainly not while remembering the death of an animal in a movie he watched often as a child. In short, he’s not the type to notice flowers, and he wouldn’t have noticed these flowers at all if the snow weren’t so deep. He’s surprised to see them, these flowers—after all, even late winter isn’t quite spring. The buds haven’t opened yet, and they look to him like the bulbous nipples of tiny baby bottles.

He crouches down to look at the flowers more closely and wonders how they aren’t frozen. He’s pretty cold himself, even though he has on an expensive jacket designed for extreme weather conditions. The flowers don’t seem to feel the cold at all.

Something must be warming them from below, he reasons. He’s extremely logical, this man. He appreciates marching orders and ranks and maps with little pins stuck in them. He keeps schedules, wears a watch set by a satellite, leaves no room for uncertainty or doubt. Faced with this improbable inflorescence, he thinks of hot springs and geothermal vents.

He brushes aside the snow that surrounds these little yellow nubs, and then brushes away some more. Not too deeply buried is a key, the kind that opens coin op lockers in bus stations and public swimming pools.

The flowers have grown up to mark the spot, he thinks, and his having had this thought surprises him even more than the flowers growing there. He feels queasy at the mere idea. He’s not, as I’ve said, a man over given to fancy.

More likely, he tells himself, this key fell from someone’s pocket as they walked along the trail. He feels better once he’s explained this to himself in plain terms.

But the man’s mind, now that it’s started rationalizing, has no intention of stopping. If there is a key, the man finds himself thinking, quite against his will, there must also be a lock.

Continue reading “The Golden Key” – Fiction by Carlea Holl-Jensen