Tag Archives: Summer 2014 (#2)

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“San Vicente” – Fiction by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Bathsheba - Franz Stuck, 1912
Bathsheba – Franz Stuck, 1912

The grand finale of our Summer 2014 Issue is Robin Wyatt Dunn‘s short story “San Vicente,” a surreal, shadowy, sensual, and satirical tale about the purposes of art, the products of revolution, and a few other things we’re kind of scared to examine too closely.

{ X }

THE KUMBAYAH SCENE AT THE END WAS THE BEST PART: The Jews, and the gays, and the Uzbeks, they all held hands and danced in a circle, singing pretty songs. I was crying throughout it, though I knew Janie found it a bit much.  Still, it had great production design, the color was beautiful.  I think they’d actually shot it in 35.  It was a shame we had to watch it over the noise of the generator.

Afterwards we went out to get a cup of coffee from the man on the street;  shootings were way down this month and the air smelled okay to me, so Janie and I stood there for a bit, drinking the coffee and sharing a French cigarette.

“What the fuck was that movie about?” she said.

“I don’t know, umm, overcoming personal obstacles.  Empowerment.  A new spirit of internationalism.”

“It sucked,” Janie said.  Her eyes were hard, and flat.

“Well, I liked it,” I said.  “You can pick the next one.”

“Why would you go to all the trouble of making a movie about a bunch of random people who all hate each other only to have them improbably embrace, sing and flow their tears at the end?”

“Well, Shakespeare had a lot of improbable endings like that,” I said.  “What’s the matter with it?  Besides, people like it.”

“It sucks,” she said.

“Shall we go home?” I said.  “You want me to call a cab?”

“I’ll walk home,” she said.

“You don’t want to walk home at this hour,” I said.  “Come on, I’ll call a cab.”

“No,” she said.  “I’m walking.”  And she took off.  I followed.

San Vicente got a lot weirder after the revolution.  It was not unique in this respect, I knew, but I knew its weirdness was unique.  For one thing, we had no cars at all now, only jitney-cabs.

Continue reading “San Vicente” – Fiction by Robin Wyatt Dunn

“The Workaday World” – Poetry by Jeff Laughlin

Sunset - Felix Valloton
Sunset – Felix Valloton

Jeff Laughlin‘s yet-unpublished poetry collection “Life and Debt” is a sad, sardonic howl of rational insanity from the trenches of 21st Century office drudgery. We were extremely lucky to have two poems from that collection in our Summer 2014 issue: “Lunch,”  which we posted online back in July, and  “The Workaday World,” which you can read below:

{ X }

DON’T LAMENT THE HORIZON’S AFFECTATION,
the sun only does its job every day.

Don’t forget the simpleton orators,
their brilliance has so little say.

Don’t dissuade a boss’s gentle import,
even if they have such brittle ways.

Don’t permeate your intelligence,
it will only give your hair some gray.

Don’t forget there’s little to work for,
you’ll never earn your needed play.

Don’t egress unless you’ve something more,
be penniless as you overstay.

{ X }

JarffJEFF  LAUGHLIN writes about the Bobcats Hornets forCreative Loafing Charlotte & about sports in general forTriad City Beat in Greensboro, NC. His 1st book of poetry, Drinking with British Architects, is riddled with mistakes but available free if you want it. His 2nd book is Alcoholics Are Sick People, and If you ask nicely, he’ll probably give that to you too. Contact Jeff on his seldom-used twitter (@beardsinc) or email him (repetitionisfailure @gmail.com). He likely needs a haircut.

“Waning & Waiting” and “Erotics of Silence” – Poetry by Lonnie Monka

Gun - Andy Warhol, 1981
Guns – Andy Warhol, 1981

Lonnie Monka‘s poems “Waning & Waiting” and “Erotics of Silence”, included in our Summer 2014 issue, are very brief but very powerful, so without further ado:

{ X }

“Waning & Waiting”

BULLETS WHIZ
        past people’s ears
every day
      on city streets;
I have shot
      the same gun
others have used
      for suicide.

The stop signs have
      no gun holes here,
the sun is blocked
      from flirting strands
of light, flickering
      with the rising
& the setting
      of lust-filled days:—
Maybe tomorrow
      I’ll find her,
perhaps I will pull
      hard on her hair.

Every day
      I wake up
a blinded bird
      that craves to fly:
Who can resist
      the savage pleasure
of pushing hard
      against the air?

{ X }

“Erotics of Silence”

IF ONLY—OH! IF ONLY THE BURNING,
scorching bits
of I-don’t-know-what
would stop.

{ X }

LONNIE MONKA is a U.S. native now living in Jerusalem. He loves the finer things in life, like reading & writing. Lately, he’s been happily hard at work developing Jerusalism, a literary community based in Israel.

“Still Shooting” – Non-Fiction by Todd Pate

Drink Coca-Cola - Weegee (Arthur Fellig), c. 1950
Drink Coca-Cola – Weegee (Arthur Fellig), c. 1950

Our good buddy & hobo journalist extraordinaire Todd Pate gets personal and shares “Still Shooting,” a plaintive account from some of his darker days, which you can also find in our Summer 2014 issue.

{ X }

I CAME UPON THE OLD JUNKIE at the corner of 111th Street and 3rd Avenue. Spanish Harlem. He’d just finished shooting up in the middle of the sidewalk. The thin rope he’d used to cut off the circulation to his left arm dangled loosely around the elbow. The syringe lay on the sidewalk at his feet but he still held his right hand to his left arm in shooting position, pressing his thumb down on the invisible plunger, over and over. People passed by with Spring afternoon speed, going in and out of the bodega, dollar store, fried chicken shack, Cuban or Chinese joint or liquor store. Never noticing, never caring.

I can’t say I cared, either. I’d quit drinking that Winter, I cared about very little then. I had no compassion for myself, much less for that old junkie, in those early months without the drink. I didn’t even know what compassion was anymore. I knew nothing about anything in those days. Without the drink, everything was one greasy unformed thing. The only thing that made sense was drinking and I wasn’t drinking anymore and the only thing to do about that was to walk, day and night, above freezing or below, around Spanish Harlem. The noise in my head faded a little when my feet were moving. While in motion, I could forget about the gaping hole running through the center of me, quit worrying if it would ever close up. I took each step as if they’d been predetermined. But my feet froze about 10 feet from that old junkie. Seconds after I stopped, the noise rushed in. I fought to push it away, putting all my focus on the old junkie…

His eyes were broken windows in his sagging gray face, curtained by stringy, salt-and-pepper hair. Sparse cactus-needle whiskers grew around his open mouth that looked to be stuck on a syllable of a word he’d failed to finish. A skinny and bony creature, but rogue flab managed to collect about his midsection. Shoulders rose and fell with each slow breath. Dirty sweater, holes in it. Dirty pants hanging below a pale ass. Belt buckled in the last hole, excess of belt swinging about like the withered remnants of some mysterious appendage. Sockless feet disappearing in tattered tennis shoes much too large.

He took three tiny crab steps toward me as if to balance against a wind blowing in his mind. Once stabilized, he looked at me. I looked down. I was wearing a sweater, too. Belt buckled on the last hole, too. My green cargo pants too big, cuffs shredded. The pants I wore the last time I drank. I pulled them up over my waist and there were my black tennis shoes. I felt the hole in the right heel. I wore them the last night I drank, also. I looked up just as the wind blew the junkie again. He crab stepped closer, I crab stepped further away as if he were the bull and I the matador. I couldn’t take his eyes anymore so I looked down. The same pants, the same shoes. But I can’t remember anything else about the last time I drank. Crab steps, crab steps. I just know Mount Sinai was the hospital…

Continue reading “Still Shooting” – Non-Fiction by Todd Pate

“The fallow months” and “What’s cooking” – Poetry by Daniel Ari

The Rock of Salvation - Samuel Colman, 1837
The Rock of Salvation – Samuel Colman, 1837

Daniel Ari has spent the past few years working in an original poetry form called “queron,” in which each poem contains three quintets and a final couplet, an interweaving rhyme scheme, and a question. We’re thrilled to include two of Daniel’s queron poems– “The fallow months” and “What’s cooking”— in our Summer 2014 issue.

{ X }

“The fallow months”

MY HUNGER, LOVE, IS LIKE AN ALIEN MOON.
I know you feel its phases subtly
as tired nights pale from busy afternoons.
The strange globe with its aching liquid pull—
astronomical and inopportune—

has stirred storm clouds lately, love. It grows full
and stirs tides and winds into two hoarse cries.
In here, we’ve battened down, sorted the mail.
Do you remember the last time that eye
closed in satisfied rest in the cocoon,

turbulence muted under the duvet
of earth’s shadow? Did you know sixty-two
moons (nine of them provisional) fly by
Saturn, not to mention the rings? And do
you know how insistent my orbital

gravity winds up? Even typhoons blow!
You’re the sovereign sea, but I’m thirsty, too.

{ X }

“What’s cooking”

MY GRANDMOTHER CALLED THIS “SNARE-A-HUSBAND.”
She never wrote out the recipe but
made me memorize it before she died.
I’m humming the song of ingredients,
stirring around your name, my bowl, my bird.

Yet your freedom’s what I love most, my heart,
and I’m far too giddy to bake a trap
even if I wanted to. When we part
tonight with our bellies full, night will wrap
its separate dreams around us. My David,

will you dream of me? Earthy smells rise up
layering the edible atmosphere
held steaming beneath the coal-crusted tarp
of stars. If you will be mine, then we’re here
for that purpose. Eat, my friend. Fill your plate.

Two birds told me about the weight you bear.
Swallow that bite then share, please, share your thoughts.

{ X }

DAUmbrellacropDANIEL ARI writes, teaches and publishes poetry. His blogs are fightswithpoems.blogspot.com and IMUNURI.blogspot.com. He has recently placed work in Poet’s Market (2014 and 2015 editions), Writer’s Digest, carte blanche, Cardinal Sins, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Daniel also works as a professional copywriter and performs improvisation with the troupe Wing It in Oakland. He lives in Richmond, California.

“Boko” – Fiction by John Grey

The Clown - Edward Middleton Manigault, 1912
The Clown – Edward Middleton Manigault, 1912

Many clowns are silly, and sad, and terrifying, but we doubt many clowns have experienced as many absurd twists of fate as the title character of John Grey‘s short story “Boko” from our Summer 2014 issue.

{ X }

MY REAL NAME IS JEREMIAH STEPHEN DENNIS KUNITZ, though people call me Boko. My story begins when I had just graduated clown school and was excited to be entering the real world of false noses and big stick-on ears. However, much to my dismay, the circuses were not hiring that year. My gloomy red smile drooped even gloomier.

And so it was that I spent at least two months pounding the pavement on my unicycle looking for work. Sadly, many doors were slammed in my face. If you’ve ever wandered down Fifth Avenue and wondered why many of the door-knobs are smeared with grease paint, then wonder no more.

I did think myself fortunate when, after sending in my résumé, I received a call from Human Resources at Bestial Labs. I was ushered into the office and steam-bath of a Professor Stamp. Unfortunately, there’d been a misunderstanding. The company was under the impression that my background was in cloning.

“Oh no,” I explained. “I’m a clown. I do squirting flowers and I’m absolutely amazing with a rubber chicken. Oh yes and I can ride an ostrich.”

Professor Stamp set his cloned voles upon me. I was lucky to escape with my red wig and pantaloons intact.

Without a job and no money, I soon found myself being kicked down the stairs by my landlady and almost strangled by her boa constrictor.

I tried an employment office. The woman assigned to interview me merely laughed in my face. Now whether that was because she had nothing for me at that time or she thought clowns to be hilarious creatures, I cannot say. The bites in my leg from her pit-bull service dog would indicate the former.

I must confess I was a very depressed clown and I had the scars on my wrists to prove it. But I refused to give up my dream and go into chicken sexing like my father. No way I would follow in anyone’s footsteps. Besides, my size three-foot-long shoes precluded such a mode of walking. I vowed to stick it out no matter what. I’ve always believed that people need a good laugh. Or any kind of laugh. Besides, my head was designed for shoving in the barrel of a cannon, not retail or banking.

For two sticky summer nights, I slept on a park bench. No one bothered me. A serial killer dressed as a clown had been disemboweling ballerinas up at the dance studio in the Heights. The lowlifes kept their distance in case I turned out to be the Baggy Pants Butcher.

On the third night, however, I was shaken out of my shaky dreams by a cop.

Continue reading “Boko” – Fiction by John Grey

“The New Mother” – Poetry by Judith Skillman

from The Creation of Adam - Michelangelo, c. 1512
from The Creation of Adam – Michelangelo, c. 1512

“It’s like a finger always touching you,” writes Judith Skillman in her poem “The New Mother.” It’s just one of several pieces in our Summer 2014 issue that wrestles with the anxiety of motherhood, and it dwells somewhere along the blurred edges between mundane suburban reality and the uncanny surrealism of  subconsciousness. 

{ X }

SHE STANDS ON HER DECK SMOKING, LEANING
on those lovely arms.  How is he, we ask,
passing, nostalgia welling up
for our lost chunky ones.  She stands
and smokes, steeped in her hair,
her face, her jeans.  He’s good, his Dad
came home late and took him for a walk.
The secret’s out, she can’t put it back
but she does. I’m fine until 5 but after that,
well, it’s like always being touched,

I can’t even pee without—
We interrupt, our late middle-aged laughter
gnawing at what’s left of September summer.
I remember, I say, I was always ready to—
looking sidewise at a man
I barely remember marrying.
Glancing up at the loveliness of her,
all the elements of home lit
by the kitchen beyond, its canisters
where mystery blends and foments.

I’m fine until 5, she repeats, her faint smile
like the day moon, and we turn away,
see the father heading downhill, the stroller
and blanketed cargo, its selvages
burning like skin meant to be taken
and taken again.  That night
we make love until we fall back,
old in faded blue sheets,
sated with too much—like a finger always
touching you she said, it’s like that.

{ X }

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

“One of those women” – Fiction by Aoibheann McCann

Black Madonna of Częstochowa, Poland.
Black Madonna of Częstochowa, Poland.

Great gods almighty it’s been a brutal summer, hasn’t it, with all the rage and hatred and violence and warfare piling up in our newsfeeds?  It seems like every day’s been a fierce reminder that this mad world of ours could always use a little more mercy. With that in mind, we hope you enjoy Aoibheann McCann‘s “One of those women” from our Summer 2014 issue.

{ X }

I BROUGHT ON THE BLEEDING SEVEN TIMES OVER THE YEARS before it stopped altogether. Miriam down the road, then her daughter, would peer out from the darkness and give me what I needed.

I could have got my husband to leave me alone, but I knew he would blame my first lover. My husband was a quiet man. The other men avoided him, walked by him as he stood in the dust. The shame I had brought him and he had borne. Forever the man who had married a woman who bore her first lover’s bastard.

I am one of these women who from the beginning of time have known it was not time, not my time, not their time. I am one of the women who chose. I do not hide my face.

So my son was fed, and the others bled into the ground. I thought when he grew up and started to be a help to his father that I would not take the turn down the track for the bitter herbs. I would have a child I could kiss. My son never wanted to be kissed. He cried until I picked him up, then he would twist away and stare out, at what I could not see.

Who am I? Who are these women? Who are the six thousand from this country that leave to find an end to the not-bleeding? Year on year, multiplied by all the countries in the world. Who are these women who do not seem to know what is right? Who from the beginning of time have committed this evil. Continue this evil even as you march against them, stones in hand to throw at their glass houses and smash them.

It was my husband who would go to find him as he roamed, we’d only hear of the trouble afterwards. People whispered our renewed shame. I bore it as I had promised to when I first noticed the absence of bleeding, the morning lurch, the heightened sense of the smell of the junipers. Worrying long into the night, the thought repeating over and over; he is dead, he is dead. Then he was. It was a relief that there were no brothers and sisters to see his broken body.

I am the statue at the side of the road. I am the statue in your churches. My face appeared to you in France, in Portugal, in Mexico. In the West of Ireland where you pace righteously. I appear in the tree stumps and the cliff faces to remind you. I am not ashamed of what I chose. Let them choose.

You ask me to have mercy on you, you mouth it in your prayers; Hail Mary, Mother of God, have mercy on me. You pray to me in your cold churches, cut off from the world of heat, hunger and dust where I came from.

Have mercy on me, the woman who is now stone. Have mercy on those who are flesh and blood. They stand before you.

{ X }

8x10_High Res_DSC_0560AOIBHEANN McCANN lives on the West Coast of Ireland where she writes fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional poem. In real life she is the manager of a residential service for cancer patients. Her work has been published in THE EDGE, The Galway Advertiser, Xposed, The Galway Independent, The Galway Review, wordlegs, and Crannog. She has also been a featured writer at The Over the Edge Event and on Galway Culture Night 2013.

“Faerie Medicine” – Fiction by Julie C. Day

 

The Mountain Ash Fairy - Cicely Mary Barker, 1926
The Mountain Ash Fairy – Cicely Mary Barker, 1926

Like many of the pieces in our Summer 2014 issue“Faerie Medicine” by Julie C. Day is about metamorphosis. But it’s also a moving tale of folklore, family, and rebirth in the beautiful, mystical forests of New Brunswick.

{ X }

THE TREE’S QUESTION STARTED WITH A CLEAR PLASTIC BOTTLE. One of those liter containers of “mountain spring water” people buy from a gas station cooler for $1.99.

The brown-haired girl poured two bottles of Aquafina into the hole she’d dug at the base of its trunk.

“But, Molly, Poppa Chris isn’t leaving. He’s not like—” the boy said, hesitating nearby.

“The water’s for the faeries,” Molly cut in. “Just like Poppa Chris, sometimes they need help keeping their promises … even if they swear and cross their hearts.” She lifted a pendant from around her neck, a cluster of blood-red berries hanging from a silver chain, and dropped it into the hole.

The tree could sense the children’s mother just a few yards distant, near the line that divided forest from bog. The woman had long wavery-gray hair and frowning lips.

“I mean it,” the mother called. “I’m not waiting.”

“For the faeries,” the boy repeated and knelt down beside his sister. Soon both children were pressing rough handfuls of peat between the tree’s roots, sealing both the necklace and the spring water inside.

“Molly? Matthew?” The mother’s voice was fainter now. “What’s gotten into you? Chris will be waiting for us.”

Molly glanced around as though just noticing the dim light and the mass of stunted evergreens. “Mom, wait!” Soon both children were hurrying away into the gloom of the forest.

The little tree held itself still. A low breeze, cool in the fading twilight, pushed its branches out across the bog and then back toward the stand of pines. Something felt different. The water in the peat bog was plentiful, but also full of acids that seeped up into its branches. Almost worse was the lack of soil. The tree had to survive on nutrients from the rotting remains that had settled near its trunk.

From the outside, one hundred and fifty-three years of bog life had hardly changed the little pine. But, inside, the two liters of spring water carried with it something new. The tree found itself suddenly concerned with one particular question: the matter of its name.

Concern was something it hadn’t felt in over a century and a half.

{ X }

Continue reading “Faerie Medicine” – Fiction by Julie C. Day