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Black Words On White Paper – Issue 02 published by DEPTH3D, INC. collection copyright 2010 by DEPTH3D, INC.

Editor: Shawn Adams Biographies Editor: Jennifer Giles

Visit http://www.bwowp.com for the latest issue and submission guidelines.

ISBN: 978-0-557-49396-8


Letter from the Editor: I didn't quite know what I was getting into when I decided to start Black Words On White Paper. The last few months have been an education into much more than just editing and publishing. I've learned a great deal about connecting with new writers through social networking sites, the “right way� to deliver printready PDFs to Lulu (our distributor), as well as what's involved in preparing these issues for the digital realm of Nooks, Kindles and iPads. Luckily, I really enjoy the work of reading new material, and that makes the rest of the process exciting. I'm passionate about finding new avenues to share these great stories with a global audience, and any technology that I can master to that end is a step in the right direction. - Shawn Adams


Contents Jeffrey Alfier

1

Kevin Brown

4

Tobi Cogswell

6

Peter Emmett Naughton

8

Stephanie Valente

10

Parker Tettleton

12

Romie Stott

14

Rich Ives

16

Jon V.H.

18

Joseph D. Reich

20

Eric Cumings

22

Brandon Blackburn

24

Thomas Cochran

26

Diane D. Gillette

28

Jane Rosenberg LaForge

30

Gary F. Iorio

32

Allison McMaster

34

Amanda Deo

36

Jason Huskey

38


1

Jeffrey Alfier Jeffrey Alfier is a 2009 Pushcart prize nominee. His work has appeared recently in Crab Orchard Review, Rhino, and The Saint Ann’s Review. He is author of two chapbooks, Strangers Within the Gate (2005), and Offloading the Wounded (2010), and serves as co-editor of San Pedro River Review.


2

The Benefit of Light and Dark at The Nightshade Club She’s at the end of the bar, cutting limes. Two quick slashes and they fit down the throat of bottles you’re handed for one more round. You pass them down your left to men dispersed along bar stools like silent figurants, bottles lined up as good soldiers they are. We’re simplified in this barkeep’s domain, her glances shuffling coolly between us and the doorway light that falls obliquely over pool tables. Asleep on her feet, she scours lipstick prints from last night’s glasses, her voice clear enough to chase us all home, each passing through her doorway light, awkward in a ballet in which only arms move, heads nod, all dancing outgrown, or outlived.


3

Things I Would Explain Come Fall My grandson has been my charge for the last year-and-a-half. But this is the month he returns to his father who’s again laid claim to a steady job, and a steadier woman. I have scolded the boy one last time for leaving shoes strewn about, disassembled toys stabbing my feet. But October’s come, gathering inventories of departure, its sun-gilded clouds draping shadows across foothills, each one like a discarded coat, flung by someone who refused to believe in winter.


4

Kevin Brown Kevin Brown has had work published in over seventy journals and was nominated for a 2007 Journey Award and a Pushcart Prize. His first book, Ink On Wood, is scheduled to be published in the summer of 2010. Read more at his website: http://www.InvisibleBodies.com.


5

Hong Kong Karma The summer I realized girls didn’t have cooties, my father died of liver failure. I was not present at my father’s death, but figured it even, as he was not present for most of my life. The man I refuse to call “Dad” worked for people who never looked at him. Walking by, they’d say things like, tea or coffee, or just snap their fingers while my father smiled so wide his eyes closed and bowed until they’d passed. He smiled so much at work he developed a facial tick at home, and believed the only way to relieve it was to never stop frowning. At home, he rarely spoke when he talked, and never looked at Mom and me for more than a second. He’d drink bottles of Dynasty X.O., then snap his fingers for his shoes. He’d slam chairs and glasses and doors as he left the house, coming back late smelling not like Mom’s perfume. Mom would cry and yell while he sat in his chair, swigging brandy, his cheek nerves twitching. “It’s not our fault you’re just a corporate world eunuch!” she’d scream, and I would close my eyes and sometimes hear a sound like slippers slapped together and my mom crying even harder. Most times, I just heard snoring. His proudest memory was that he’d smelled Bruce Lee in person. He had the chance to shake his hand, but when the star walked by my father smiled and bowed, his eyes closed in instinct. “His cologne was so strong,” he’d tell me, his words slurring, his watery eyes upturned to the ceiling. “It was the smell of an important man.” One night, my father left to get right and never returned. The last time I saw him alive was the afternoon Mom and I went to yum tsa in Victoria Harbor. He was leaning over the railing, staring at a junk crossing the sea, the dark water like dragon scales in the breeze. “Father!” I said, waving my hands over my head like scissors. “It’s Cheuk Fan!” He gripped the rail until his knuckles went white, lowered his head, and walked away. Liver failure was listed as his cause of death because, Mom said, “You can’t just put ‘failure’ on a death certificate.” At his funeral, a woman we had never seen before cried. Mom did not. It is Chinese tradition that if a son is not present at his father’s death, the son must crawl toward the casket, wailing for penance. On my hands and knees, pushing his memory out behind me with each touch of palm and knee to the floor, moving toward the man who had always moved away from me, I could not help but marvel at what I didn’t know was karma—that finally, someone is bowing to my father, except that now, he is flat on his back.


6

Tobi Cogswell Tobi Cogswell is a 2009 Pushcart nominee, and 2008 co-recipient of the first annual Lois and Marine Robert Warden Poetry Award from the publishers of the literary journal, Bellowing Ark. Her recent publication credits include Blue Earth Review, Pilgrimage, and Sugar House Review. She has written three chapbooks, and her full-length book of poetry, Poste Restante, is available from Bellowing Ark Press at http://www.bellowingark.org. She serves as co-editor of San Pedro River Review.


7

The Artist Sometimes she does not feel like telling a story words just so, no room for misunderstanding misdirection miscommunication misogyny misspelling no one to blame, no one to blame her no victim no pain no desire yes desire no platitudes no triteness no line breaks no punctuation sometimes the page cannot contain the words the smells the tears the inadequacy the rage the vision the magnitude the inescapable adverbs sometimes there are no adverbs. Sometimes she sees herself with arms outstretched braced against the currents that purport to drown she will not allow it she takes the letters the damning words the hateful words the heretic words the lies the lies the lies the lies she cuts them into little pieces delusional sabotage indefensible insane I hate you I love you she buries them deep within canvases and collages an artist imprinting her work with DNA she buries them deep under colors and columns, pieces of cork Starbucks coffee containers cherubs and trees she buries them under seas and skies the letters turning golden and poisoning someone else’s house, not hers. Sometimes she just has to get off the fucking bus be angry scream at the top of a mountain not ask for help hurtle the minutiae from more than one surface not sweep it up leave it there until it rots paint the French dictionary 8 feet by 10 cut her hair and burn the wedding album after the tide the calm is a blessing now she can get back to words.


8

Peter Emmett Naughton Peter Emmett Naughton was raised and currently resides in Chicago with his fiancĂŠ and cats. He fell into fiction by writing stories to amuse his grammar-school classmates, which helped him overcome shyness, but led to several incomplete homework assignments. He has an abiding love of cheese in all its gloriously stinky forms; horror movies with a sense of humor; and trashy punk and garage-rock. His writing has appeared in The Delinquent and Candlelight.


9 Misprint Mark was only three lines into the article and already he was agitated. He had spelled his last name for the reporter twice and yet there it was in black and white Heiman instead of Heineman. Just the sight of it on the page made him flash back to high school and Jeff McKinzie who had given him the nickname “Cherry” his freshman year; a moniker that became hellishly popular with the other kids and had stuck with him until graduation. This unpleasant trip down memory lane would prove to be only the first of a virtual onslaught of errors and oversights. The piece gave the theater’s name as the Mason School for the Performing Arts instead of the Mason Center and the address listed the street name as Sutton Road rather than Sutton Drive. It would be a miracle if anyone reading the article could find the place, though given what they had said so far he thought that might be a blessing. The reporter had described the building as “quaint and rustic”, but in a backhanded way that implied the structure was small and dilapidated. There was no mention of the historic architecture or Mark’s heroic fundraising efforts to restore the edifice and interior to its original condition. The worst though, was the quote attributed to him about his upcoming staging of A Memory of Two Mondays. He had called the Miller play “a stark vision of Depression-era America that resonated with the current climate while simultaneously putting it into a broader historical perspective”, which was chopped and mutated into simply “a stark vision of Depression-era America that puts the current climate into perspective.” They were trying to destroy him. This rag and its insidious reporter were out to ruin everything he’d worked for. The entire tone of the piece was openly mocking, like the article was some kind of cruel joke he wasn’t privy to. ‘But why? What had he done to invoke the ire of the paper?’ There was that incident with one of the editors, Brenda Taylor, at the Wolcott’s cocktail party where he had made that unfortunate comment about her daughter’s audition. ‘Was this her retaliation? A hatchet job in the local fish-wrapper?’ But that party had been ages ago and this didn’t feel like her style. Brenda had always taken a hands-on approach when it came to dishing out scorn. She liked to look people in the eye when she demolished them. No, this was clearly someone else, someone with a grudge against him. He searched his mind trying to think back over any verbal slights or snide comments he’d recently made, but couldn’t come up with anything that would warrant this kind of retribution. Whoever the culprit was, they had gravely underestimated him. They had insulted his theater, put his livelihood in jeopardy and painted him as an out-of-touch curmudgeon by willfully misquoting him. He had no intention of letting this go. Mark slammed the paper down in disgust and got up from the table. He was going to find who did this to him, and when he did, God help them.


10

Stephanie Valente Stephanie Valente lives and writes in New York. One day, she would like to be a silent film star. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Italics Mine, NANO Fiction, and Prick of the Spindle.


11

An Assignment Endearing eyes, He taught me how to drink Hold the stem of the glass Shake, stir, smell And take a cigarette Here, This is better. A soft, pulpy plume Saunters past some lips, A lawyer’s tongue Full of swagger and persuasive regret There, Like that The ashes fall His fingernails touch my palm & I think I hope, I hope, I hope I consolidate every wish into One puff More wine, please Smell the herbs It is good, I touch your thigh and think Of petulant door slams.


12

Parker Tettleton Parker Tettleton is an English major at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. His work is featured in or forthcoming from: Short, Fast, and Deadly; The Chimaera; Right Hand Pointing; and elimae, among others. He blogs at http://parker-augustlight.blogspot.com/.


13

[the author] I’ll put my words up against hers any day. Now she’s talking in her sleep. I keep two extra blankets on my side of the bed so she’ll wake to the smell of sweat and pull them off. Dream of those seasons we only had the one sheet and didn’t wash it nearly as often as she should have. So far, she’s kicked my leg three times and let out one particularly foul example of karma. When the thin envelopes containing checks began matching the white stacks of eight and a half by eleven’s, we decided to move into this neighborhood. It was her mother’s dream, she reminded me, to not live to see the day we’d move out of the garage apartment our best friend christened the grannyless flat. Six years and three states away she still gets mail forwarded from her mother’s from time to time. Fred is barbecuing while I get the napkins and more beer. She and Fred’s wife, Ann, are in the bathroom with Fred’s sunburned baby boy. She asks from the back if we have any Banana Boat left over from the cruise. None, I remind her, that hasn’t been on Aunt Esther’s back by now. We go home anyway; poor kid’s been peeling for four days. We both use them. The love’s and fuck’s and hate’s and liar’s and trust’s and failure’s and leave’s. She goes straight for where the lotion would be, if we had any. I keep the screen door from rattling with the summer wind. Our best friend once told me, “You’re [the author]. You’re who she’s wanted to be and be with.” I didn’t, then, just know who’s the better drinker.


14

Romie Stott Romie Stott is an editor of the slipstream e-magazine, Reflection's Edge. Her work has been published by Strange Horizons and Jerseyworks, among others. Her poetry was featured in an article in the Huffington Post. As a filmmaker (working under the name Romie Faienza) she has exhibited at the National Gallery in London and the Dallas Museum of Art.


15

Gigi In her sketchbook, Gigi has drawn a thousand naked women, each of which holds an automatic weapon. They all have her face, the naked women, but not her automatic weapons, or she doesn't have theirs. She is also not naked, not while she draws, although she must also draw when I do not see her in order to accrue so many drawings of women, and of weapons. I do not know why she draws them, over and over and angry and screaming, although they are undeniably good, and remarkably clean of line.


16

Rich Ives The works of Rich Ives have appeared in North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Verse, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from the Bitter Oleander Press. His story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, was one of five finalists for the 2009 Starcherone Innovative Fiction Prize.


17

Some of My Selves Treat Me Badly Clyde Barrow spattered his face on the air in defiance of even natural laws. It stayed there. A lot of folks around here still see it like that. For a moment, the bewildered stalk of his body couldn't understand why it could not follow, then sagged like a sack of mashed potatoes and forgot itself. Hard Times, Texas. That place grew inside Clyde till it burst. But Clyde said, "I ain't gonna risk my life in Oklahoma!" He seemed to know a certain kind of thing was foolish. Some people are clever and stupid at all once and they get things done in their life that no one else would do. Clyde didn’t know why he did what he did, but he knew he was damned well gonna do it and get the hell out. He wrote Bonnie Parker a poem that realized death wouldn't be much of a sorrow when it finally crashed the party. One day, after the banks began to all look the same, Bonnie’s Momma got into Bonnie’s head like a fever. "Weren't nothin' for it" but to descend on that woman like a whole other kind of bank and withdraw what was needed. That’s when Platte City, Iowa welcomed the whole gang with an armored car, three machine guns, a baker's dozen shotguns and several helpings of unrationed lead, plentiful now since the war's end. Buck ate till he burst, while the rest of the gang ran off the weight of the town’s gratitude. Not long after that, they kidnapped Thelma Dayton and Eugene Grizard and Eugene an undertaker besides. Then Frank Hame got caught sneaking up on the gang and Bonnie got a kick out of "getting her picture took" kissing that Keystone Cop who just dragged along like a kicked dog. On the way home, they shared a pear. By the time C.W. Moss finally got his name in the papers, his pa had decided he wasn't really a bad kid, just a sensitive boy led astray by bad company. “The best of bad company,” he added later on. But some folks, like Clyde’s pa, knew about how luck don’t last forever. "Some days nothin' much good seems to come of even the most memorable events. Some days a fella oughta have better sense than to want anyone to notice. Some days is better left alone." Clyde's pa talked like that, picking at a scab that never seemed to heal. "Ain't none of my doin'." "Not so's you'd notice," Clyde would have answered, picking at a few scabs of his own till they finally blossomed behind a shotgun blast, his face all kind of twisted and smiling squinty like he’d just figured out how the sun come down on his eyes if he looked at it wrong and heard a funny story about a dead man he might’ve known sometime before he done that.


18

Jon V.H. Jon V.H. lives in a remote fishing village outside Las Vegas, Nevada with his first wife Jenna and his second wife’s two children, B. and O. His works have appeared in the Black Cover issue of Black Words On White Paper and pseudonymously in Shoots and Vines.


19

Regrets Are Ghosts As children We feel them Caressing our dreams. As parents We assure That the closet is clear. At mid-life We're deaf To the poltergeist-rattle. At the end We're haunted, But, moreover, shamed.


20

Joseph D. Reich Joseph Reich is a social worker in Massachusetts. His poetry has appeared in a wide variety of literary journals in the U.S. and abroad. His most recent publications include A Different Sort of Distance (Skive Magazine Press), If I Told You To Jump Off The Brooklyn Bridge (Flutter Press), The Derivation of Cowboys & Indians (Poet Works Press) and Aphorisms Written On A Fine Overcast Day (Lummox Press).


21

Pain Diary Consider at the close of some clinical day when the stray crickets start to show up at dusk and long shadows caress popsicle-stick fences some blessed breeze and band of sunlight wrapped around trunks of trees how you love to ease back in the patient’s chair how it feels so much better in the patient’s chair holding on for dear life to some truth or dare hot tar roof of a new england nightmare a weathered hot-buttered wall the clock that slowly revolves siamese sulking on top of table the wavering of elms your room with its dysfunctional and dismantled dollhouse the bullshit and the brawls the secret suicide scribble the stories you never saw the toy cars on the sill the pastoral pictures on the wall the hush of white noise in the hall the peel of punch-drunk steeple bells the sudden swell of ripe rivers somersaulting to fall that chair where you simply like to hang your head there’s something to be said about hanging head sometimes all one can really do is hang their head to be wasted and full of a beggar’s bread more inclined towards a wise man’s dread like everything else that lingers out there the trees and shadows and siamese filthy and confused and redeemed like rivers of fog spilling through the forest at the aperture of evening.


22

Eric Cumings Eric Cumings's works are influenced by his ever-changing geographic footing. Born and raised in "West, by God, Virginia," he has since spent time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Prague in the Czech Republic.


23

annotations so much is written on skin* so much can be written in skin, never to be erased but instead grown over, planted in* so much remains so buried for instance i no longer worry about or carry around the colour of candy but i know that i did and somewhere i still care about how sweets fall and don't necessarily seed* these concerns*, a grammar of weeds* were i lay, were i worship the new spellings of spring as it quickly races into dirt*, as the ink* searches forward, rolling into bulbous drips, searching for my title in the wind* seeking anonymous words* our hymns* her skirt* her hems* the taste of candy* on the first warm day* of a year that will stain us* the world* growing around our imprints on a hill, mountainous*


24

Brandon Blackburn Brandon Blackburn lives and writes in Cincinnati, Ohio. By day, he edits documents for pharmaceutical companies. His short stories have been published by Artifice, Skive, Jersey Devil Press, and Calliope Nerve. An excerpt from his novel-in-progress, “Whiskey & Cigarettes,” is forthcoming in Midwest Literary Review. He also holds a Master of Arts in English from the University at Albany, SUNY. His master’s thesis on Thoreau was published in 2010 by LAP Publishing.


25 End It All All the streetlamps on Isabelle’s road were illuminated, but not shining through a cloying fog that dispersed their light, turning the evening sky a sickening yellow like a healing bruise, like what you would visualize if someone said “mustard gas.” Crows wheeled through this miasma cawing, harbingers of some insignificant and long-forgotten apocalypse and this was it: this was the moment when every desire, dream, foreboding, and insecurity garnered from thirty-three years of stubborn living had coalesced into one aqueous ball of despair filling the soft, pale walls of John’s body, threatening to split him apart like the lobster corpses vended by fancy restaurants downtown. John sat behind the steering wheel of his old, idling, red pickup truck and Johnny Walker dressed in a silver flask rode shotgun as the truck perched at the crest of Isabelle’s steep gravel driveway, sat before her ranch home, her windows all black, her house shakingly dancing through fifty veils of yellow fog. The ball of despair in John’s chest couldn’t go nowhere. It stabbed at his stomach, demanding release. The pain of it made him groan, then scream, then scream her name through his open driver’s side window: “Isabelle!” “Isabelle!” he howled again even as the echoes of his first call were ricocheting from the surrounding brown hills and twisting themselves up a nearby phone tower like ribbons entwining themselves around a maypole. The tower’s winking red lights kept winking through the thick fog. John was crying. He took another long swallow of scotch. Two hours passed. The fog dissipated. The sky darkened. And then the sky opened up as it had been threatening to do all day, dumping millions of gallons of water over the little hill where Isabelle lived. John rolled up his window quickly as rain assaulted his truck, pooling against the windshield, looking for any crack, hoping to force its way inside. The house, Isabelle’s house, scene of late night conversations and furtive, but arduous sex for the past several months, became an indistinct gray polygon hidden by eddies of polluted water palpitating against automotive glass. John would be afraid to drive in pounding rain like this, not that he could bring himself to leave anyway. Not when this was his last stand, his last rush against her defenses, her newfound desire to reduce chaos in her life and her new boyfriend and, of course, the wrongness of what they’d been doing, a fact that only after six months seemed to have impressed itself upon her consciousness as John proffered one excuse after another for not leaving his wife, his hated wife who he pictured always at home boringly washing smudged mud from their son’s sticky face and plotting to ask him to shave his beard or get a new car or find a better job, requests Isabelle would never in a million years think to make. This was his last bombardment upon all the pretty little truths Isabelle had told herself, all the reasons to call for an end to the nights of beer in the hot moonlight and spasms of ardor. He couldn’t make sense of it. He felt trapped there on that gravel driveway between six months of trysts with Isabelle, six months of guilty, momentary happiness to make life feel okay, and the Draconian logic of marital bliss, the paying of bills, mowing of grass, and killing of time ‘til death mercifully separates him from the woman with whom he’d foolhardily vowed to become one. From his glove compartment, he retrieved the letter he’d spent the day the writing, the plea to let things return to the way they were, the smattering of oblique promises to someday relatively soon unsnare himself from his wife’s clutches, the counsel to be patient with him, the reminders of how happy they had been on a few secretive nights when he had ostensibly been working late, the letter he would bear before dark-eyed Isabelle, held tight to his chest, then hold before him and read aloud, falling to both knees in the rain that was like full buckets being dumped from the yellow sky, reading to the furthest point possible, the last legible word, before the rain transmuted the notebook paper into dripping white cream in his desperate hands, the ink running through his fingers, six blue rivers, and her pitiless eyes watching him as her lips curled to spit at him that one fatal work, “No,” while her boyfriend waited three paces behind, slouching, letting her tend to her own business, but flexing his muscled arms in encouragement. The distinctive headlights of the new boyfriend’s Porsche were just topping the western horizon, speeding John’s way like a cherry red bullet. John finished off his scotch, took a deep breath, and stepped into the rain.


26

Thomas Cochran Thomas Cochran was raised in Haynesville, Louisiana. His credits include the novels Roughnecks (Harcourt) and Running the Dogs (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Poetry under his name has recently begun to appear here and there. A schoolteacher by trade, he currently lives in rural northwest Arkansas.


27

Achilles in Suburbia The olden wars required lines, an ordering prior to slaughter. Forward, ever forward, you moved into the intimate clanking struggle. Afterward, if you survived, you took account of the blood you wore and wondered which was yours, which your enemy’s. I have never killed a man and do not intend to, though once, just to see, I sat in a tree and aimed at passing drivers, the click of the hammer audible above the roar of my troubles.


28

Diane D. Gillette Diane D. Gillette has: a Masters in Fine Art from Emerson College, a day job that is unrelated to writing, and two demanding cats. Her short fiction has appeared in such journals as Hobart, Sniplits, Every Day Fiction, Inch, and Johnny America. When she is not busy enjoying Chicago with the love of her life, she is hard at work on her first novel.


29

Absence Her mouth was sour; her forehead was still damp with perspiration. She leaned against the bathroom wall and noted her complexion had gone pale. She wanted to slide down the wall and rest until she felt steadier, but she opened the door and slipped out of the ladies room. She needed to be back at his side. She didn't trust his promises. He had a history that spoke louder than his words. Nonetheless, his words brought her a thin veil of comfort. His hands were not nervously tapping on the tile tabletop, as they had been when she turned her back on him. His long, lean legs no longer stretched out into the aisle, an inconvenience to anyone who may try to pass. His sunglasses no longer covered his eyes against the early morning sun that was streaming through the coffee shop windows. His words, already meaningless, no longer hung in the air around them, beacons of false hope. Indeed, there was nothing of him at all left sitting in that chair where she had last seen him. Hope vainly fluttered inside her. Perhaps he was getting another cup of coffee. Perhaps he stepped out to make a phone call. Maybe he was getting her a mug of peppermint tea to sooth her stomach in an unprecedented moment of selflessness. But she knew better. She never should have met him at a cafÊ called Ennui. It had no choice but to be a breeding ground for melancholy and disappointment. But yet, it was the first place that came to her mind when he finally agreed to meet her to talk. Face-toface. Heart-to-heart. They had a future together now whether he liked it or not. While his chair was empty, the newspaper still lay open to the classified section across the table. Blood red lines encircled potential jobs, cheap apartments, and one ad for gently used baby furniture. She sat on his chair and buried her face in her hands. He'd made his decision, obviously. She felt the absences of what he took with him more keenly than the presence of what he left behind. His jacket was no longer slung across the back of his chair. His paper coffee cup no longer held down one corner of the newspaper. The shiny picture he'd painted of their life together had vanished in the moment her body had purged itself of her breakfast. There was no indication as to who had been pouring over the newspaper. There was no evidence that anyone had ever sat at that table, held her hand and spoon-fed her one syrupy sweet line after another. And there was no proof that she'd gobbled them up – greedy, greedy, greedy – a baby bird, helpless to do anything but consume her weight in regurgitated lies until she either learned to fly on her own or ruptured from it all.


30

Jane Rosenberg LaForge Jane Rosenberg LaForge lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. She is the author of After Voices, a chapbook published in 2009 by Burning River. Her work has appeared or will be included in Edison Literary Review, The Broome Street Review, Poetry Quarterly and Boston Literary Magazine.


31

An Astronaut Considers Her Commute The moon is a dead world, the winter of the orbits; what is fallow and suspended, depending on the nomenclature, could be called refuge, of a culture: waves and coils, discarded probate actions; missed prosecutions, benign omissions, fruitless conspiracies and their theorists. I wish it were different, that sighs and coughs, the intonations of drama that rise up in the spaces of sound recordings, coordinated what was surplus: the plains where the deaf can dance, for if they do not understand the manipulation of rhythm, they understand the pulse. The deaf may not know of space walks, yet they know of space, and breathing; and surely the friction that produces conditions like flautist’s chin, if not the seething of follicles from repeated exposure to maple dressings. There is no friction in space, only drag and thrusting, so travel results neither in sound nor scarring. Upon my return from my cheap day excursion, I discover my father has become disoriented. It happens to the deaf, whose skull bones no longer function for balancing. At the end of all my journeys, my father is always lost, in his asthma and the white vacancy of his listening, even if he believes he has preserved so much just to perceive my return, or to still claim purchase on the preponderance of his senses.


32

Gary F. Iorio Gary F. Iorio was raised in Brooklyn and Massapequa, in the great state of New York, where he presently works as a real estate attorney. He earned a Masters in Fine Art from The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His past and upcoming works have appeared in: Fiction At Work, The East Hampton Star, The Wisconsin Review, The Mississippi Review, Front&Centre Magazine, Pigiron, The Penny Dreadful, The Fault, and Echo Ink Review. He is currently collaborating with actress and playwright Moira Keefe to write a new play.


33

With Technology Three thousand miles away her time-line snapped. We were talking on the e-mail, technology that didn’t exist forty years ago when we spent a drunken-summer together. Four months ago I got a poem; Whiskey Was Our Chaperone. She sent it as an attachment. Her time-line was stretched, but hadn’t snapped yet. In the body of the e-mail she was in the present: Busy getting one son ready for high school, sweating her husband’s biopsy. Life. After I got the poem, she sent me a long, chatty e-mail, she was nervous about taking a fiction writing workshop at the university. As attachments she added a blurb off of one of her chapbooks and reviews of a book of poetry. “I’m looking in the mirror at this shit to get my courage. They’re just grad students for fucksakes! Think they’ll know fiction better than me? Should I bring my poetry books to the first meeting? I’m such an a—hole.” We didn’t know e-mail etiquette. Were her questions rhetorical, or did she expect an answer? Did she think it was rude when I didn’t respond? She didn’t wait. In October I heard that the students weren’t all in their twenties; there was a guy back from Afghanistan, a retired English teacher and some sexy lawyer. She liked it and would show her work soon. Attached to that e-mail was a picture of her carving a pumpkin (several years ago), and a picture of her swimming in the ocean, her ocean (this year). “Is it too cold to swim by you?” It was too cold, her question was rhetorical. Over Thanksgiving weekend we exchanged twelve e-mails. Her husband’s radiation went worse than predicted. Her oldest son wouldn’t be home for Christmas. Later, I was Xmas shopping and read an e-mail on my small screen. The text mentioned: Peri/menopause, thyroid-shit, and drugs vs. herbs vs. alcohol. There was an attachment, “…look at this…,” but I couldn’t open it on my cell phone and ended-up erasing the whole damn thing. When I got home, her message wasn’t on my computer. Recently, she told me there were “rules” to today’s technology. We had to learn to google, twitter and tweet. There were “rules” for fiction. They told her to “show” and not “tell” in her stories. She was to avoid adverbs, and never use the words: “love,” “anger” and “fear.” I typed back that “Google, Twitter and Tweet” sounded like a law firm in a Dickens’ novel. Through our computers I heard her laugh. I remembered her laugh, she was seventeen and turned her head and seemed to genuflect when I was funny. Let me tell you how desperately I love the memory, and how angry I am at her pain, and how much I fear I will never see her again. Tonight, New Year’s Eve, at my computer I heard a time-line snap. The past merged with the present and the linear passage of time was lost. Of course, the snap was within me.


34

Allison McMaster Allison McMaster is from Norwood, Ontario. She's the author of Beach Rot (WithWords Press) which was recently shortlisted for Best English Book at the Expozine Alternative Press Awards. Her work has appeared on the web in Joyland: a Hub for Short Fiction. She currently lives in Montreal, where she is completing a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing.


35

Tetracolor The apartment building was round. Like a soda can. And it sat on top of a hill, at the end of a dead end street, just before the fields of burnt grass and gravel. And he lived there, in an apartment with beige walls, a tan leather couch and khaki pants. He fed his fish slow-sinking flakes called Tetracolor. The guppies swallowed them but the Longsnout Butterflyfish just wanted to suck on the corners of the aquarium, its snout working up and down like a vacuum cleaner accessory. At night a girl came over and the girl mentioned that the place smelled like a new camper trailer. Her parents owned a camper trailer business. They made out in the bedroom with the light off and he removed his khaki pants. Now that it was nighttime there was some kind of smoke curling up from the fields, and a glow from the aquarium. The next day they went walking in the dry fields, feet crunching. They walked around groundhog holes. They walked over wooden boards rotted to the point of softness. They walked through broken corn stalks bent in extreme degrees, pale corn leaves wilting and crisping. The girl got a red face. She wore flip flops and he could see pinpoints of blood forming on the tops of her feet. They came to a pile of sand. The girl dragged her big, bare, bloody toe in it. She said they might be dog ashes, that someone must have spread their cremated dog ashes here, like a funeral. This abandoned sand. His fingers grazed the cotton lining of his pockets in his khakis. He thought about coyotes. He didn't talk and they kept walking. They walked until they came to the back lot of a furniture store. A square of pavement. A beat up leather recliner sitting by a dumpster. He sat in it and rolled up his khakis. She stood nearby with her feet bleeding, her red face squinting and wrinkling in the sun. A big, white delivery truck backed up beeping. She tried to sit in his lap and make out with him. He stood up and made a joke. They walked through the furniture store where it was air conditioned and full of living rooms. They walked back to the soda can apartment building along the side of the highway. He went into his apartment and closed the door. It was almost nighttime again and the aquarium was glowing. He gave the fish their flakes.


36

Amanda Deo Amanda Deo, a Canadian ex-pat, currently lives in Montclair, New Jersey. She has two chapbooks out, North of the Mason-Dixon Line (2005) & The Hanged Man (2010). Amanda draws inspiration from Modernist poets like Irving Layton; she is currently starting her own fiction and poetry publication, Thunderclap Press. You can check out more of her work by going to http://www.amandadeo.blogspot.com.


37

In With the New She didn't have a vase so she stuck the flowers in the fishbowl. Screwed the fish at the first sight of love.


38

Jason Huskey Jason Huskey writes poetry and fiction. His work has appeared in a few journals, including Keyhole Magazine, Thieves Jargon, Word Riot, and Zygote In My Coffee. Links to his work can be found at http://jasonlhuskey.wordpress.com/. He lives in Virginia.


39

For The First Time In The Long, Long Marriage "No more pampers, baby; it's time to grow up. Time to wipe our own ass and shut the fuck up." I don't mean for it to rhyme, but there's no going back as a frying pan of congealed grease comes whizzing by the couch. My family's been saying it for years, how she doesn't do anything, unless it's whine, or complain, or lie. How her fingers just don't seem to lift. There are no tears as the tumblers march off the shelf, one by one, into a fine dust on the linoleum below. Not one whimper as a simple shard dances down her itty-bitty arm and opens a valve so spectacular it blots out the incandescent sky. She bows to the blood, eyes closing. As the phone rings on an operator's end, I apply a pressure she'd probably call abuse. My hands warm to her slick pulse fading. Lips prepared to kiss the hurt away as always.


40

Aokigahara Souvenirs I keep the pocket watch wrapped gently like a baby or the body of the grandfather from which I acquired it. It keeps perfect time. Crisp seconds that force an instep cadence of my pulse. Centuries-old silver without markings or wear-the only modification, a lock of lover's hair woven into the chain--black and coarse like the noose from which he hanged. I'm still unsure why I snatched it--what compelled my adventure inside the hell of the Aokigahara. I tell my wife that a young soldier sold me its careful hands, so he could feed his family of five. A lie I tuck away each time I bury the watch in the back of my sock drawer. Always laid down with a deep pull of breath from the folded fabric. Just enough aroma of his rotten flesh to overwhelm the lungs and keep the guilt firmly in communion.

BWOWP_WHITE02  

Black Words On White Paper is a unique literary journal, publishing poems and flash fiction that fit onto a single page. This is the second...

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