Tag Archives: Summer 2016 (X)

“Satan’s Gravy” – Poetry by A.S. Coomer & Juliet Cook

Hell - Herrad of Landsberg, circa 1170
Hell – Herrad of Landsberg, circa 1170

Cheerleaders, screeching butterflies, and other assorted oddities inhabit “Satan’s Gravy,”  a spectacularly unique vision of hell by A.S. Coomer & Juliet Cook, straight out of our extra-weird Summer 2016 issue.

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then he bumped his scuffed cafeteria tray into mine.
The demon slopping out potatoes snickered
and drowned everything in an extra ladleful
of the Devil’s own gravy, a torture recent arrivals
and longtimers alike get to experience
–in all nine circles of Hell–on Thursdays.
Each and every Thursday. Forever.

At first I was turned on by how direct he was,
but then I needed insect repellent.
Me and my tendency to turn people into piss ants
and bee sting their tiny heads by telling them
all they seem to do is buzz in front of the tube
that someone else created,
as if they’ve lost all desire
to create their own shape.

He puppydogged me
all the way to the corner where I always sit.
There’s a nice little peephole and sometimes
you can just make out
the slow freefall of a newbie. I think of myself
as something akin to the welcome mat,
(telepathically) sending out:
Welcome to Hell
at the flaming, discombobulated wretches
as they fall.

“Get lost,” I told him.
“Already am,” he smiled back
then started in on the potatoes.
Satan’s gravy snaked out of the corner of his lips.
We ate in silence. Nobody new fell so I let him stay. Continue reading “Satan’s Gravy” – Poetry by A.S. Coomer & Juliet Cook

“Penning the Nasty / Creed” – Non-fiction by Lora Rivera

The Broken Column - Frida Kahlo, 1944
The Broken Column – Frida Kahlo, 1944

From our Summer 2016 issue“Penning the Nasty / Creed” is Lora Rivera‘s fascinating non-fiction exploration of sexuality, spirituality, pain, and the therapeutic power of writing. 

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I AM ON MY KNEES at the table’s end, pen poised over fresh notebook paper. On the first floor below, the air is a warm muddle of voices in amiable chatter. A woman’s jazz alto sashays alongside the human hubbub and the mechanical din of barware clink and clatter, and at the door feet clomp in from the cold to shuffle up to the bar beneath the loft where we are learning to write about sex.

It is a seven-week course and I am reliving seven years of married sex I can only barely remember. Let me tell you what that feels like—to relive something you’ve dissociated from: Step one. Put your finger up to your eye. Hopefully you have a nice long fingernail there. Do you? Good. Don’t blink. Now, touch your eye with your fingernail. Push hard.

I expect you did not follow my instructions. Now on to step two. You must relive that moment of pushing in with your fingernail until you feel the convex mucus lining of your eye give way. Do this now. Relive clapping your hand over your face. Hear it, how you cried out. Feel again the sharp spurt of pain. Relive it, goddammit. Feel it. Why won’t you? Why can’t you?

We are in the middle of a silent exercise, the seven of us, instructor and five students and me: a circle of scratching pens around the long table where our beers sweat on paper coasters. Write about a list of wounds. What does it mean to be disassembled by love? By sex? I have put nothing on my page.

I leave the night class boozy, with a mouth yeasty sweet from two scotch ales and a desperate cup of pretzels. I sob hard on the way home. The welcome green lights blur.

That night, I dream of an old woman undressing. She removes each article of clothing until she’s naked, and then goes on to remove the modesty from her body that had clothed her; the fear, too; and the telltale signs of other people’s cultures and words. She is sexual and wild. And then I dream again of the red, muscly thing inside me, and of vomiting it up and pulling it out of my stomach from my mouth, length upon length of it dropping in wet, loose coils to the floor.

Continue reading “Penning the Nasty / Creed” – Non-fiction by Lora Rivera

“Finnegan Joyce” – Fiction by Ron Kolm

James Joyce - Djuna Barnes, 1922
James Joyce – Djuna Barnes, 1922

From our Summer 2016 issue, “Finnegan Joyce” is Ron Kolm‘s funny & raunchy riff on the late great James Joyce.

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HELLO, HELLO, JAMES JOYCE HERE, but briefly, yes, the voice, yes, I know it doesn’t sound so very good, no, the voice does not fare well here in the dead zone — 0, and I used to be a tenor, such a beautiful tenor that they told me, more than once, yes, that I could have been a contender but don’t take my word for it, listen to the record, do they still have records?– it was a Finnegans Wake rap sort of thing, yes, as you can see I try to keep up — should have used more bass, a little sampling, be ok on the boombox then — but I’m pulling your leg, as if a shade could pull anything — because, now that I’m dead, I don’t have to protect the image I worked so hard to create — I’m finally free, I tell you — though I still rejoice at the number of academics who toil in its shadow — who till the field I manured so well — the me they think they know is a construct, only part of the story — James Joyce as Jesuit — James Joyce the aesthete — going slowly blind — grinding out the great creations in the face of insurmountable odds; misunderstanding, penury, censorship, the lovely chains of Ireland past and always present but, shit, what else could I do? — I was as trapped by the iron logic of my own work as any Joycean scholar — forget modernism, the fetter that bound me and, yes, broke me, was the notion of progress — I started small, a few poems, then moved on to short stories, well-crafted they were, too, and finally graduated, with my Portrait, to the novel — all well and good – I was on an upwards trending line on the graph of life, steadily ascending, and seeing the sense and shape of my literary output I made the big jump, the quantum leap, to ur-novel, the novel as encyclopedia, and the result was, of course, Ulysses — but that particular jump from the novel we all know and love to the thinner atmosphere of ‘Great Book’ is a tricky one, because where do you go from there?

Continue reading “Finnegan Joyce” – Fiction by Ron Kolm

“The Flesh the Grave Cave Ate, Volume One” – Poetry by Jessie Janeshek

Female Spirit of the Night - Remedios Varo
Female Spirit of the Night – Remedios Varo

“The Flesh the Grave Cave Ate, Volume One” is one of five marvelous & mystical poems that Jessie Janeshek contributed to our Summer 2016 issue. To read all five, help yourself to a copy of FLAPPERHOUSE X!

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I DON’T WANT YOUR GLASS BONG                     your glowing pills
                    amber-coated costumes
the blue fluff of decadent saints                in the wood-paneled retrograde

the littering bodies under blonde signs
the blow jobs at the playground               so desperate I’m sloppy.

Something must be out there
                    a bare ass                a baldness                        a god moving in
I try to determine why to keep going

                the broken ghost at the pier mimicking tenderness
beyond night and orange cages and sleepy babies.

I have become               a black-lipped wax monster
                sustaining my fuck-ups         red coat pockets stuffed with plague spices

and the abominable thing is she wants my mineral thunderstorms
my finger-print high heels                      my tattooed value judgments

                                                        and summer descends like an alien ship
                                                        since I wear a striped bra           and an inflatable cock
                                                        under my witch cheerleader costume.


Note: “The flesh the grave cave ate” is a phrase from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Lady Lazarus.” Continue reading “The Flesh the Grave Cave Ate, Volume One” – Poetry by Jessie Janeshek

“Crystal” – Poetry by William Lessard

Crystal - Paul Klee, 1921
Crystal – Paul Klee, 1921

“Crystal” is one of four bewitching poems that William Lessard contributed to our Summer 2016 issue. Get your paws on a copy of FLAPPERHOUSE X to read them all!

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(After Starkweather’s imagine color)

through a stem
metaphysical experiment
the beaker
I drink the pixels
taste like
like Comedy
we talk
all the time
but I never
met you
our failure
as Mystery,
as little
theatrical machine
that assembles
this is
what is it is
to live
with you,
to cast
my spell
the endless

{ X } Continue reading “Crystal” – Poetry by William Lessard

“From the Master’s Table” – Fiction by Christine Ma-Kellams

The Woman of Canaan at the Feet of Christ - Jean Germain Drouais, 1784
The Woman of Canaan at the Feet of Christ – Jean Germain Drouais, 1784

“From the Master’s Table” is Christine Ma-Kellams‘ sardonic yet plaintive story of mental illness & loss from our Summer 2016 issue. (To hear Christine read the story, and discuss it with fellow FLAPPERHOUSE contributor Ilana Masad, check out episode 89 of The Other Stories podcast~)

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MR. P WAS NEVER ONE TO VOUCH FOR HEAVEN but considered God a useful trope for making conversations with people he wanted to keep at bay. He has always been attracted to the idea of being alone, and that’s why being a history teacher seemed like a good idea.

History always seemed to him like a useful way of rewarding and punishing the good and the bad (and sometimes the bad and the good). For this reason he could never take heaven seriously, because waiting until someone was dead to dole out the true consequences of their actions appeared counterproductive at best. He preferred to pay people back while they could still bleed.

He is one of the few functional schizophrenics that I know. I say functional because he is not homeless and owns a Craftsman-style grey house on the West side of San Pedro, in a neighborhood made up of right angles, seven minutes from the ports where he unloaded boats carrying precious Chinese cargo or the occasional carcass, and where celebrity-themed cruise ships now forage for travelers afraid to fly.

When he was in his first year of teaching at West High, several seasons before he was shamed into renouncing vagabondage for a more stable routine of the conjugal kind, Mr. P would spend entire nights at the Coffee Cartel, rambling on the backs of 5-page papers on the necessary prerequisites of civil society, the threat of a perpetual police state thinly veiled by democracy and terrorism, the disappearance of childhood, NPR, the Big Sort into like-minded communities, credit cards, the problem of consciousness, and beauty—usually of the agonizing, thoughtful, forbidden kind. He loved talking to strangers and his students were no exception, though he did not like hugging, which some of them found out the awkward way.

The madness peeked out rarely in those days: an offhand, ostensibly preternatural comment about the NSA, an insistence on sitting in the chair facing the exit at El Burrito Jr.

These days the episodes come on like waterboarding, a deluge of invisible visitors dressed in vapor, narrating every interpretational version of an ever-slippery reality. Mr. P obliges his ghosts, force-feeds them his insides as he tries to disentangle facts from evidence.

Continue reading “From the Master’s Table” – Fiction by Christine Ma-Kellams

“The Past is Prologue” and “Somewhere to Land” – Poetry by Amy Strauss Friedman

The Eternal Silence of These Infinite Spaces Frightens Me - Odilon Redon
The Eternal Silence of These Infinite Spaces Frightens Me – Odilon Redon

“The Past is Prologue” and “Somewhere to Land” are two unforgettably evocative poems by Amy Strauss Friedman from our Summer 2016 issue.

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“The Past is Prologue”

Silence exacts its pound of flesh.
But it’s years on now.
We know nothing else to be truer.

There was a time to speak,
to turn over tables
and throw bud vases
set out only for facade
against drywall. To dent
the flow of air.
To chirp against the rain.

To scream the floors awake.

Children do not wash easily down the drain.
They clink inside pipes, backlog sinks.
Drown in puddles of want.
Expand when we cannot save them.

{ X }  Continue reading “The Past is Prologue” and “Somewhere to Land” – Poetry by Amy Strauss Friedman

“How Often We Confuse Ovens For Rabbit Holes” – Poetry by Kailey Tedesco

Rabbit in Front of the Mirror - Michael Sowa
Rabbit in Front of the Mirror – Michael Sowa

Sensual, Proustian memories meet everyday magic in “How Often We Confuse Ovens for Rabbit Holes,” Kailey Tedesco‘s wonderfully surreal poem from our Summer 2016 issue.

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roses by the dozen. Suddenly, I’m seven

and you’re pulling me out of school, or I’m
fourteen and the mortician hands me a tissue

that I hold, unblown, like my friend, light-
as-a-feather-stiff-as-a-board. What I’m getting

at is I’m sick of sitting in pews doused with
grocery store petals — they affront and I’m sucked

into a whirlwind of pollen. It’s disturbing how
stamen can make such associations, but I can’t

get the local magician out of my head. He pulled
a carnation from his lopsided top hat, elastic strung

haphazardly around his unshaven mug. As he extends
the flower, his face too close to mine, I wonder if he

wears the top hat all of the time– even while eating
beer-dipped sardines poolside? Did I ever tell you

I used to play in the carcasses of whales? They were
washed up all over the tree-line, and I, in my

communion socks, counted the paces from mouth
to tail until the whales became too stuffed with

fungus or the magician pulled up in his rose
gold Hyundai to ask me if I need a ride. A good

witch won’t offer you chewing gum, and I’m not
crawling in, but I am fattening up. And we can

spend our whole lives shouting Bloody Mary
into mirrors, hoping she’ll pop by and bring

us through the other side, but chrome is as murky
as any above-ground pool. All my life, I’ve been

chasing the vermin home, only to wake up
exactly where I started.

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Continue reading “How Often We Confuse Ovens For Rabbit Holes” – Poetry by Kailey Tedesco

“Maggots: A Rapture” and “Legacy of Strega” – Poetry by Christina M. Rau

The Focus Tombs - Paul Delvaux, 1957
The Focus Tombs – Paul Delvaux, 1957

“Maggots: A Rapture” and “Legacy of Strega” are two gloriously grisly poems by Christina M. Rau in our Summer 2016 issue.

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“Maggots: A Rapture”

humans from two paired trees;
after they broke down the body of Ymir:
his skull the sky, his brains the clouds,
bones unbroken into mountains,
his blood all oceans, flesh flensed clean
into all the mortal world,
the maggots came
feasting on unused parts:
the brow, the spleen, the lining of arteries.

Such is the nature of maggots,
to clean up the messes of giants.

The gods wished to continue creating
to fill up the chaotic void unperturbed.

And so, the gods cast their random plan—

Immoral maggots banished
as a race of chthonic trolls—
may a hint of daylight render them to stone.

The maggots deemed moral found
a place to flit about somewhere between
Earth and Heaven, lovely fairies of light.

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“Legacy of Strega” 

HIS FATHER DIED IN CORSICA. Natural causes. When a man gets stabbed, naturally he bleeds. When a man gets stabbed more than once, naturally he bleeds more. When all the blood bleeds out, naturally he dies.

His mother died in Corsica. On a full stomach. She sucked up all the husband’s blood, her lips on each stab wound. Then she found some daggers and plunged them into herself.

Into the tomb they went, his dead mother and him in her womb. Self-sufficient in a dead space in a dead space. Self-delivered from a dead space into a dead space. Then he climbed out. It was night.

From dark place in a dark place to wide open dark place. To dabble with goblins. To make a new race. To suck. To scour. To ghoul and gyre. To hunt nocturnal. On moors. Crags of rock. Pale to the moonlight.

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photo by Kaeti Wigeland
photo by Kaeti Wigeland

CHRISTINA M. RAU is the author of the poetry chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Founder of Poets In Nassau, a reading circuit on Long Island, NY, her poetry has appeared on gallery walls in The Ekphrastic Poster Show, on car magnets for The Living Poetry Project, and most recently in the journals Queen Mob’s Teahouse and Meniscus. In her non-writing life, she practices yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions. She blogs at http://alifeofwe.blogspot.com and does everything else at www.christinamrau.com.