Shoots and Vines April Issue 2009
More great writers from the underground. More art in this issue and flash fiction by Jason Michel.
Shoots and Vines Issue 2 April 2009 Read more great magazines online: The Rusty Truck Full of Crow The Legendary Lit Up Magazine dogzplot Yellow Mama Heroin Love Songs Outsider Writers Gloom Cupboard Calliope Nerve Dogmatika Editor: Crystal Folz Cover Art: Audrey Victoria Border for Editor’s Note: Justin Reiger www.shootsandvines.com Shoots and Vines PO Box 489 Poseyville, IN 47633 Online and print submissions accepted. Black Dog by Howie Good I grab a pitchfork from the shed before going to get the mail. You never know when a strange black dog will be running loose on the other side of the road. And just because you donated to the veterans selling paper poppies at a table outside the A&P, that doesn’t mean the dog won’t suddenly stop chasing arrows invisible to you and stare as if you were some kind of turncoat. You can try to frighten it off – whoop, wave your arms, throw a handful of stones. But the thing will only raise a grizzled muzzle and seem to grin, and then you’ll realize with a slash of your heart that no cars have passed in the last half-hour, and that though the month is wrong, it has begun, very lightly, to snow. Ray Timmins Button by Peter Anderson She hurried along the platform, heels clattering, shoulder bag bouncing off her hip. Ahead the conductor leaned out, waving her forward, his urgent gesture saying she had only a few more seconds to board. She was glad the bag was her only luggage; carrying more, she might have missed the last train. Another day in this city was more than she could endure. As she ran, scattered images crossed her mind: the leering desk clerk at her third-rate hotel, his pleasantries oozing impolite innuendo; the ceaseless assembly line in the filthy factory; the bitterly windy sidewalks between. She reached the stairs and grasped for the conductor’s extended hand. As she did so her arm brushed the front of her cardigan, knocking loose a button. The button plinked once on the platform and rolled slowly toward the tracks, disappearing into oblivion under the train. It was all she would leave behind. Madrea Marie Sullen by Melanie Browne The vampires In Mount Vesuvius get sullen from time to time There isn't much to do and they are prone to depression and anxiety attacks One of them brought his Pekingese pup with him but this is boring because most of them like cats These sullen vampires throw rocks or play Scrabble, getting excited when they get an A, a P, or a V killer by Jack Henry a black crow followed me as i made my way down a two lane road in the middle of fields of wheat and corn. yellow summer light burned across my flesh and with each drip of sweat i left a trail for you to follow. we met at a thrift store in the center of a tiny farm town, across from a diner, next to a bank around from the A&P miles from home, miles from home the bus broke down and most moved on i stayed and slept in the basement of an old record shop, stole clothes from a tithings drop, worked as a laborer out at a farm just up a two lane road - twenty bucks a day for all of that black crow followed me as i staggered back to town, a bloody knife in my hand, her heart in a box Crossing the Hudson by Doug Mathewson After her father died, I'd take the pickup to Westchester every Sunday and bring her a carton of Camels. Only family was allowed in locked wards, but the staff thought we were still married. Holding hands in the Day Room, we'd talk and laugh for hours. When time came to go, we would kiss each others eyes, as it was our little custom. Coming home, I'd pull over to think, have a smoke, and watch the Hudson for awhile. Funny how things work out, you know. She'll always be locked in the Mental Hospital, and I'll still be in love. HOW by Craig Sernotti I don't play well with others. I will light your hair on fire. I'm a multicultural mess, a Jew with an Italian last name. I look like a gaunt Vladimir Putin and talk like I'm gargling marbles. How do you love me? You're as beautiful as sleeping animals, dried flowers, decapitation Madrea Marie Dusk Flowers by Ray Timmins I had a flower for you the color of a dusk sky upon a chromium sea— I gave it to you when the whites of your eyes glowed innocent—you sighed through smiling lips. I gave you another flower of the same dream-like color—you held it for a moment and cried. when I gave you another flower from the garden shrine I'd planted for you, you smiled and kissed it gently. the fourth flower was special to me and sacred to you, you ate its petals slowly, seductively, with deep swallows— your eyes rolled back in your head. the following flower I gave you left you supine, placing it symbolically between your legs. the next few flowers you gazed searchingly, but less passionately than before—they wilted to dust on some secret shelf. the last flower I gave you was flawless, the aroma of a million years of ecstasy— you looked it over once and tossed it over your shoulder, spiting the beauty of its careful evolution. I grew more flowers, persistently, but none were good enough—nothing compared to that one perfect flower you cast away. Scrapbook by Antony Hitchin Everything speaks billboards, road signs, street signs, adverts, a glimpse of text in a newspaper … one must sift, lift these clues with the care of a forensic investigator, excising the blemish of finger prints, splicing skin between glass linking the railway announcement with the overheard phone conversation with the radio blast of the passing car, to the broadsheet, face-up, folded and creased upon that line, to the bent black silhouette with walking stick crossing a white void, to the white noise of the TV you fell asleep in front of with the slanted picture frame, to the remote control in the wrong place … examine them all. Cut along the dotted lines and assemble. Cellotaped by Constance Stadler The Wicked Witch (of the West of course) …and a bitch of a witch she was! Has broomsticked through my cornfield As I frittered with friend crow …quite a lovely day on straddled post with just a few straws, so soft astray… And noticing the stalks teasing this stuffed hay thigh She did it yet once again. There an arm, where’s me leg, is me torso about? Is some cellotape handy? I’m really tired of this interminable tirade. Oh wait, you’re her brother, And you fancy me? Well… You are quite a piece. But lover, don’t hold your breath. For I far prefer clear sticky run amuck Unity of me. Then a peck From The Angel of Death. We Chased the Sun Across the Sky by Jason Michel He had escaped by the skin of his seat once before, having gotten a bloody nose and one of his balls cut off with a rusty old meat cleaver, a hammer, and some nails by Killer Cain. He had asked for that one. If you are going to fuck a villain’s moll then slap her around a bit, first make sure she is not a vindictive bitch. And Jezebel could certainly be said to be that, and oh so much more. Damn her and all her beauty. Damn those legs that went all the way up. I mean all the way. Damn her back to the hell she crawled up from. Secondly, make sure the said ‘gangland nightmare’ is not waiting to get back out of the abyss. Spending time locked away with a bunch of maniacal bastards, who pretty damn near invented crime and immorality, is not likely to improve one’s love for his fellow creatures, or to make one turn the other cheek. But luckily for Sunny Delight, the Boss was free and deemed it well to pardon him. Just take the one ball, he had told Killer Cain. Just the one. The Boss knew exactly what his woman was like - a slut, but one worth dying for. I think he almost felt pity for the shiny fellow. Stranger things have happened. The things that girl could do; Christ himself would have swam through a frozen lake to get to the warm spot between those legs. But that Sunny always was a vengeful fucker. He got his own back. It was Saint Valentine’s Day night. A card game was in full swing. I was winning, too. The Boss was there. Jezebel, too. I was sure he had brought her to mess with our minds. She wore a low-cut silk dress with a slit up the right leg. Concentration was breaking up like biscuits under a hammer. But I have luck with cards, even though not much else. Spades. Diamonds. Clubs. Hearts. They seem to fall in the right place, like a jigsaw. I am a pretty good bluffer, too. Comes down to the fact that I never smile; the drama is all in the eyes. We heard nothing. We never saw that half-eunuch come out of the sky. Suddenly Sunny was there, light streaming in, blinding us. Joey Two Snakes’s eyes were burned right out of his skull, two little smoking black holes. I couldn’t see right for a week, just a little black sun wherever I looked, enough to remind me. And the Boss? He was scalped, hung, and dragged from the back of two horses whose manes flamed without burning. His head was tied to one horse, his legs to another, and when he came apart it was damn near modern art. Sunny took Jezebel, took her screaming and hollering. Her violation was heard from the Sea of Japan to the Baltic. Her head came down over Russia. Her right leg dropped in Peru, her left in Zambia. One arm drifted in The Atlantic Ocean, and the other off the coast of Alaska. Her torso was split between Queensland, Singapore, Paris, Tennessee, and The Hebrides. I sure was upset about that. The Sun had to die and that was that. This time, there were to be no mistakes. I, for one, would not shed any tears for the illuminating cunt, none at all. We knew where to find him. We took elevators. Tooled up is not the word I would have used to describe us. We could have invaded Poland with the armoury we were carrying: handguns, assault rifles, anti-aircraft guns, a cricket bat, hand grenades, eight pair of knuckle dusters, an ornamental SS dagger from WWII, a scimitar, a bazooka, and a couple of kilos of plastic explosives. It was quite a collection. The boys were indeed inventive. Jason Michel The Sunny faggot must have heard we were looking for him. When we got there he was gone, had jumped straight out the window. The boys took no chances. They set the explosives to blow the place into space debris. He had nowhere to go except the sky. He should have stayed in the first place, stayed where he belonged. I spied him high up in the atmosphere. It did not take us long to catch up. Nothing would have stopped us. We chased Sunny across the sky, towards his red and gory death. I would have gone through the devil himself to tear this solar bastard apart. He went off like a Japanese firework, a flower in the sky. As we ripped and tore and gouged and stabbed and shot, all I could think of were Jezebel’s legs: how I would never feel their tiny little hairs against my cheek again, how I would never feel her arch her back. no music, no laughter by Ross Vassiler these sidewalks i’ve spent so many hours, years walking them bottle caps like lost coins neon signs in windows candy wrappers in the gutters dead dog like a newspaper someone threw away by the curb i’ve wasted my sorry life walking up and down wet streets and cold, dry streets and i never got anywhere. echo by Matt Finney through the glare of infinity and everything diminishing in slow degrees. it was cold despite all of the burning and it was the absence of you. all these days i wasted waiting for things to get better. open all night by Scot Young i stumble out of last night into sunday morning beating the church crowd to denny’s i keep a poem folded sweat stained inside my hat under the band i pull it out sometimes between night and morning between a boilermaker and a grand slam when I leave alone and all the sadness poured in a glass at closing time follows me down the sidewalk kicking me in the ass tonight i unfold it unable to make out the words under the sepia glow of old downtown i open my hand let the wind mix the pieces with cigarettes blowing paper waiting to cross the street i wonder how many times something is lost on sunday mornings just like this one ride the horse by Jack Henry down in the pit with fag hags and leprechauns drinking stale beer from plastic cups we trade secrets, war stories from the streets, lower east side escapades our tattoo train tracks in the corners of our soul tell far more than verbs and nouns, more than butterflies that destroy the earth Ramones at CBGB’s - ah, back in the day the Germs over at Stan’s - i get weepy sledgehammer memories, mosh pit metaphors over at Barney’s with Claudette and her crowd, snorting coke between the tits of a trannie named Vesper up to SoHo, flip-flop flat, six stories up, cold air seeps through windows and doorways, sleeping on threadbare carpet, nodding with needles pointed toward god blowjob sunrise from a girl named Forever tastes like heaven but at a much higher price another sun forgotten as weeds climb through concrete - back on the A train to Harlem to score our sweet delight Fleshlight by Hosho McCreesh Somewhere, probably Beijing, a small man with dirty hands is molding soft plastics, sculpting them to look like a mouth, an anus, a vagina, a cold plastic hole for lonely men to jam their cocks into. A broken-backed widow desperate to keep her roof is gluing & encasing them under the screw-top of a fake flashlight, then a pregnant teen boxes it all up to ship. Rusted tankers burrow under Pacific swells, and the stevedores in San Pedro unstack cans between hangovers, methed-out truckers drive them to Van Nuys, Boise, Corpus Christi, and Foxborough, while the owners of adult shoppes await catalog orders while they listen to their wives over a sack of McD's, hardly interested, and all of this hidden even while in plain sight– Ah yes, sex in America. Slave Mentality by Constance Stadler Poetaster Thieving Bitch So clear to me that you Are unfit for Human intercourse Or any calibration of worth. …a walking lamentation… If you had the capacity To look into the embers of your soul, I doubt you'd recognize the pathetique Rot reek from your wormwood cinders… Your very presence disturbs blue ether of the ones who came before you Carvings in gut cleaving blight The Word. The Holy Rite of taking the lone, single stand. Your flat lined dignity, your waning sands Render you free from assault, remorse Although you are the face, the force Of Man's bestialities.. "Like me, praise me, give us a scritch." Feed me kudos. I don't care If attic pauper Slams his fist weeping as he sees his ware dismembered; Splayed by your twisted venom sacrilege. But why worry, "I-they" slave Glom on to mangle, your raving need For you have no veins, no blood to bleed. Dust puff in waves of puffery "matter". What can you do? But splatter. Oh yes, you are legion Spam. Bury "self" into cocooned void. Your Jones, your rush Your Never "Am". the day is ice and smoke by David McLean the day is ice and smoke and the hard air is sumptuous torture, the luxury of suffering as we breathe our days back to wherever it is that we forget them, a cold disk full of memories in an attic, with no power running through it or a box full of pieces of paper we don't like to touch, because paper does not know how to breathe or love and is not enough yet still the day is ice and smoke and this is perfection until it is ice and smoke and forgotten memory for no one and ghosts, and we are dead men flowers designed by David McLean flowers were designed with cemeteries in mind, so we crossed some gray industrial junkie landscape daily. we thought we were going places like suicide like trying to get away. nevertheless there is a huge account of happiness in emptiness that comes when you let go and let meanings nobody needs dream themselves asleep. and this is immaculate passivity, letting inactivity nibble like a mouse at the foundations of the structure of Marxian analysis, which may be correct in general, hopeful, but time was designed for suicide and cemeteries too, bad faith and bad babies are vermin to nibble further the structure of love, to rupture it. so we respect ourselves less if we are sensible. the man standing at the top of the tower of analysis is grinning fatuously. he will not jump. his suicide consists in his standing there, dreaming hope we used to share Madrea Marie Haiku Sonnet: Love Letters by Scot Young someday you will read the love letters you have kept tied with red ribbon saving a gentle kiss to pull out when you are alone and no one cares about sunday afternoons and chalk drawings in the park. it will be me writing this lover’s letter disguised as a haiku sonnet thinking of you some sunday remembering me Clear Cutting by Mike Berger The land stretched out naked devoid of trees. The surrounding forest wept. Carelessly strewn about were the remnants of an ancient tree whose arching branches shaded animals and provided food. That once proud life is now just so many two by fours. The land now bears deep scars where a chain saw inflicted slashing wounds. That old tree withstood the ravages of time. It's now just a memory. Compromise by Adam Moorad If you do the recycling, I’ll do the dishes. And when you leave, I’ll take all the dirty dishes from the sink and throw them against the kitchen wall and watch them shatter and scatter across the floor. Then I will spread the broken pieces around evenly across the floor and hide at the other end of the room and wait for you to return and cut your feet on the dirty, broken dishes. And when you slice your foot, old spaghetti sauce with sink into your wound and the acidic sauce will sting your flesh as your foot leaks. And you will cry and I will come out of my hiding place and ask you what’s wrong. And you will say you are happy because there are no more dirty dishes in the sink. And you will sit and bleed and cry tears of joy. And I will stand there watching. And we will stare back and forth and count the different ways we would like to destroy one another. Ray Timmins Symptoms by Joseph Goosey The smoke of my Pall Mall (regular one hundred) causes the geese to take flight as I look up from the current issue of Pyschology Today. I am learning the symptoms of borderline personality disorder or as those who are in on the scene refer to as BPD; Irregular spending habits, tumultuous relationships, inability to recognize social signals, instability of self-image, frantic efforts to avoid real or emotional abandonment and, of course, transient ideation. The geese have made it to the other side of the lake. I love you. Scared by A. Razor One girl gets scared of another in a flirtatious moment turned vulnerable. A noise is made in haste and then a moment of suspense as the breath and life is stifled for as long as it takes to make a point or end a life. Either option is preferable to the sound of interruption and complaint. Compliance and silence is more what is desired in a moment like this. Her hand pressed so hard as to cut off all air and squeeze the young flesh of the face against the skull and the eyes open wide as she tries to see and hear what the moment has in store for her next. Her heart pushes hard against her chest, and her vulva swells with blood as her juices flow like a river. Her captor is betraying safety and boundaries in exchange for the upper hand and she is feeling the power of dominance surge through her as she gives in to the fear driven temptation that she can take what she wants and it’s time to do so. She maneuvers her weight over the grip she holds across her victim’s face, buries her fingers into the other vixen’s crotch, and pulls an ample handful of sweat and secretion that belies the order of the moment. Desire is begotten by desire in perfect unison, without any judgment or moral to cloud the rush of intensity that is now delivered to every extremity in this coupling. Sounds are liquid and air surging and sighing, gasping and flowing. The air smells thick and sweet as if blood has engorged the walls of the room and made it thickened with lubrication. There are no social boundaries left. This is fucking with all the twisting and writhing and struggling that word promises but is seldom delivered at its utterance. This is the sub-conscious moment that all masturbation defers to, whether it be pussy or cock or asshole or nipple or lips or earlobes. This is that moment that is under the surface of every held hand and exchange of phone numbers and last glance before we turn away from each other. In the dark, damp caves of our primordial desires, this is all we ever wanted. In one moment, before orgasmic splendor drips away into human culpability and order that will superimpose and bring about a condition where a role must be played with a past and a future. The sad fact is this moment has a drain plug that will be pulled and the fulfillment will drain away like used motor oil from an engine that is long overdue for a change. It becomes dark and regrettable as it is thought about afterward. But, in the moment, it is expulsion of the ordinary and capture of the taste of relinquishment to the carnal instinct to fight for pleasure anyway you can. El Chefe THE REAL ME by Jason Hardung I turned 36 today. I think of death more often, it's around every corner, the bats are always waiting. It will probably be raining and the wind will blow and the obituary will be nothing but lies: I never went to church I wasn't a beloved son and I wasn't loved by everyone. I worry about who will clean up my mess when I'm gone. And what will they find? My secrets will be revealed as they go through my pockets and my dirty laundrythe shit stains in my boxers the sock I wiped my ass with. The half-written love letters will be found and the women I wrote them to will be in bed with other men. The unopened bills dirty dishes and self help books will tarnish my character. I'm sure there are syringes and spoons stuffed in an old pair of shoes somewhere or stuck in the couch like an old penny. I've been wearing this mask for thirty six years. I've kept my secrets in my room. When I am gone the real me will reveal its ugly face. dream fulfilled by Ross Vassiler there was a time when i was trying to decide whether i wanted to be a lawyer when i grew up or an outlaw biker. after some thinking i realized that you need hard work and brains to become a lawyer. so much for that. and what kind of biker likes cats? so i decided to lower my standards decided to aim for unemployed high-school graduate still living with his parents. dream fulfilled. MR. BUBBLE meets the ANGRY SAMOANS by Bradley Mason Hamlin I usually drink the beer that people leave behind when they finally get the hell out of my house not open beer, you know, but the strays that get abandoned in the fridge I like those beers best this time La Cerveza del Pacifico imported from Mexico, not bad … it’s St. Patrick’s Day and soon I will have to go to someone’s house and talk about whether or not I’ll eat the cornbeef & cabbage or maybe we’ll just talk about the weather meanwhile, I’m going to take a bath instead of a shower cuz it’s easier to drink beer sitting in water plus I can read an old Aquaman comic book and listen to the Angry Samoans … you really cannot underestimate the peace of mind Mr. Bubble can give you and the assurance punk rock provides that the world is not totally stupid and that there is somewhere a rhythm, a rock to pick up and look under … and it is the worm squiggling on the ground underneath that says it all. Madrea Marie