Black Words On White Paper published by DEPTH3D, INC. collection copyright 2010 by DEPTH3D, INC. Editor: Shawn Adams
Visit http://www.bwowp.com for the latest issue and submission guidelines.
Letter from the Editor: During the course of laying out this journal, I imagined myself piecing together pages as a DJ might string together a playlist: the soothing lyric of one song flowing effortlessly into the fierce rhythm of the next. The reality of the final outcome, however, is something entirely different. I’ve endeavored to choose a wide range of ideas and styles for Black Words On White Paper. As the title of the journal suggests, my aim is to provide a blank, public wall where all can share their thoughts through a sort of literary graffiti. There is no theme here, other than the vague thread of the English language, and as such, there is no particular order to their presentation. I’ve attempted to place absurdity next to realism, innocence adjacent to perversion and anger opposite joy. As a result, this isn’t the sort of mix tape that you can dance to without missing a beat; it is full of stops and starts, a staccato blend of pretty phrases and disturbing details. I’ve chosen a sans-serif typeface for the same reason that you won’t find illustrations or photos. The design is minimalist with the intent of presenting these stories and poems to the reader with as little distraction as possible. I’ve even opted to dismiss the byline from the same page on which the poem or fiction resides. Instead, a short bio precedes each writer’s piece(s). I hope you enjoy this first issue of Black Words On White Paper. It has been a great pleasure to read all of the work submitted, and each day I look forward to all of tomorrow’s stories. - Shawn Adams
James Allman................................................1 Kirsty Logan...................................................4 Neila Mezynski...............................................6 John Greiner..................................................8 Paul Piatkowski............................................10 Stephanie Valente........................................12 Erin Lynn Cook............................................14 Ben Nardolilli................................................16 Paul Kavanagh............................................18 Diane Andrews.............................................20 Joseph D. Reich..........................................22 Robert Long.................................................24 Michael Flatt................................................26 Meg Tuite.....................................................28 Steve Kissing...............................................30 John J. Trause.............................................32 J.S. MacLean...............................................34 Bryan Jones.................................................36 Luanna Azzarito...........................................38 Parker Tettleton............................................40 Christina Murphy..........................................42 Corey Tarreto...............................................44
James Allman James Allman, a Memphian with degrees in biology and business, sees life neither dissected nor austerely economized. He lustfully admires the poetry of T.S. Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mary Karr, B. H. Fairchild and Charles Wright. A poet himself, he is a semi-finalist in the 2009 New Millennium Writings Contest. His work has been published in the poetry journal Anemone Sidecar.
Trains in Passing A train blaring westward but Having no more lassos to Throw, no more west to blaze, no More buffalo or natives To trample. Only asphalt Breaks its strideâ€”the wild is gone. Nevertheless, there are well worn Boots, buckles with flash and dusty Hats worn as are red wristbands By knee high kids that, though With admiration, lampoon Anotherâ€™s toughness; so the Whistling train squeals its parody, And the wild-west lives on.
Brummagem Smiles (Or the Etiquette of Grins) At that moment she smiled but not so much with her eyes. Still it was gleaming like that of a child’s or new pages not yet yellowed through with the antiquity of use (all courtesy of the whitening gels that do away with the coffee, the wine and the nicotine that were once used by her to feel more grown up and now so that she might forget the weight of her adult-ness). It isn’t always a camera turned that elicits the upturned corners of her lips or the dimples donned like costume jewelry. There are plenty of times one knows to simply “put on a face,” but this time it was a camera that asked and to which she responded, “Everything’s fine,” with her plastic smile filled with gleaming white lies. Her son? His eyes did agree with his smile; he however unawares that there even was an etiquette to grins. Of course, that’s why most of his photos had caused them all so much grief (they had to contrive ambushes to trap his smiles), and why in retrospective flips through his album they encountered “crank” or malaise in abundance and only occasionally that beam which waxed and waned from one page to the next…his baby-fat-jowls filled with spontaneous and pure, white joy as now in his mother’s arms he sat untainted, watching with wonder a pantomiming man and a flash. Her wishing he’d never need the gels, but knowing better that baby teeth are soon lost and how easily her own teeth stained.
Kirsty Logan Kirsty Logan is a writer, editor, teacher, reviewer, and general layabout. She is currently working on her first novel, Little Dead Boys, thanks to a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust. Her short fiction and poetry appear in PANK, Popshot, Polluto, and some other publications that don’t begin with “P.” She lives in Glasgow, Scotland with her girlfriend. Get in touch at www.kirstylogan.com.
5 The Gold in Her She is your crowbar, your vodka chaser, the loudest fastest punk song you ever heard. She’d eat what you discard; she’d lick up your saliva, bathe in your sweat. She is a tick, thick on your blood, sickening on your scent. She’d drive across desert to get to you, even in this wet green land where she’d need a major detour to even find desert. She would, for you. She is your mistake to make, and you know what you will do. You will detour around your life for a day, a week, a year. You will feed her on poetry, wine, engraved chocolates. You will let her grow fat on you. You will consider staying. You will imagine life with this scattershot pillarbox muffin of a girl; you will wonder if she could fix the knife-edge cross-hair details of you. You will look for gold in her; scrounge through her insides for the glint of coins, so sure that there is treasure. You will find kidneys and anger and bent cogs and red blood cells and mixtapes and tarnished keys and bone marrow and everything except that glint of gold. By then she will have scratched at your surface, pushed the dirt of your skin right under her fingernails. She will keep the bits of you there, pushed down with toothpicks so they won’t wash away. You won’t even notice that the dirt is gone, but she will. She will keep scraping that dirt away until your skins shines like apple-peel, until her face is reflected in it. But then when she is too full to run, so gorged that she can only fumble around and grasp between her palms, you will let go. She will topple, this leech full to bursting. She will rupture like a glob of mercury. Later, you will miss the taste of her: that sicksweet reek of lust and desperation. You will wonder if you could have glued the parts of her together; that cross-hair detail of yours would ensure that the cracks did not show. You could have made her softer, cooler, harder, hotter. You could have made her. You could. But she wouldn’t really be soft; she’d just be less hard. She wouldn’t be hot; just thawed at the edges, frozen at her centre. She’d memorise all the words, everything you ever said, and she’d twist it around so it sounded clean and new, so you’d think that she was. So the sun and the snow will fall, and you will sleep along with the day. Before sleep you will think about stopping and you will think about running. Finally you will realise that you had fun; and end-of-a-chapter fun is what it’s all about. You have a party, you take a photo, then everyone goes home and it’s another thing to think about in the endless moments before sleep. Of course, you will forget that your dirt is still under her fingernails. You will forget that the taste of her still sticks to the inside of your cheeks.
Neila Mezynski Neila Mezynski is a dancer/choreographer turned painter/writer. Her works of fiction and poetry have appeared in Snow Monkey Journal, Word Riot, Kill Author, Dogzplot, The Scrambler, Mud Luscious, and Apt, among several others.
Leland Way Standing, staring, her doorway. He waited. For let down defenses and a sad rainy night. They went and left her, stupid thing she was, they believed her. She said: donâ€™t worry it will be fine. Yeah, right. Hot dogs and sex to sustain, no mustard or babies, yet. Men, too many, not enough. Mr. Excitement, on empty. Sweet Joes for breakfast. Eat them and syrupy pancakes. Just about a gaping hole. Almost. Fill her up with empty until sheâ€™s full and through and smart.
John Greiner John Greiner is a poet, playwright and short fiction writer living in New York City. His works have appeared in numerous international magazines. His theatrical pieces have enjoyed successful runs in New York, Chicago and Gloucester, MA. Greinerâ€™s work with photographer Carrie Crow has appeared at The Queens Museum of Art (Queens, NY), The Emily Harvey Gallery (New York, NY), Mairie IX (Paris, France) and the Otis College of Art and Design (Los Angeles, CA).
Conductor The blonde haired boy with the pool stick to push back the approaching armada swung out wildly, and sadly not at the sea, nor even at the winter fountain, but rather at the aged conductor, smashing him in the face and drawing blood. Being that the boy was only a boy, too young to be a dauphin, let alone a king, the man with crumbling scores under his arm could not hold his not so highness in contempt. He wished that he had brought his own swinging stick, but sadly he had forgotten it at the symphony hall. If he had remembered it then he could have raised up an orchestra in revolution with heavy Wagnerian brass and delicate Saint-Saens strings, but today would not be the day for such an uprising against the boy who would be whatever he could be, given time. The conductor tasted the blood that flowed over his lips. The blow would provide him with a blackened bruise and a not too short scar. He would have something to talk about between movements tomorrow at rehearsal. Chatter on such a brutal mishap would provide him with a few moments of respite from swinging his arms about and rousing up the fallen notes of heaven.
Paul Piatkowski Paul Piatkowski lives in Winston-Salem, NC with his beautiful wife and precocious corgi. His work has been published in U.S. 1 Worksheets, The 2River View, The Daedalus Review, Tonopah Review and Lines + Stars.
Brown Mountain Lights: Boone, North Carolina The star light show was in the evening. Everything else was following. The university was aspark with hearty handshakes from one schoolboy to another and, laughing at one anotherâ€™s quilted slacks, they did stop and shared a pipe, and the glass did fill dark with their smoke, and the schoolgirls did curtsy in their loose dresses, to return soon home and cook sweet and savory seaweed rolls that this night would be most enjoyed before the star light show at the gathering. Meanwhile even the most photophilic of students stayed indoors and read their copies of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Platoâ€™s Republic atop their soft cushioned seats in the library, near the windows where the sun might still spy their beardless faces. The boy-remembered thanked his Yale-graduated-ring-giver after the most scholarly of lectures, the dialogue favoring ideas of race, class and gender, and he made to leave the classroom close behind the fleeced herd already abroad in the last hours of daylight, the chill to the air tyrannical. He made light of the sun and wind and went to dwell awhile in a forested house on the hill, atop that street called Hill Street. There the boys did sweeten that harsh air with a most languid drumming and strumming, some sharing a glass of mead and others a pipe to stall. The boy-remembered began discoursing on some tales he knew and the pipe and the mead made many rounds while the sun sank through the floor and everything was illuminated in the boy-rememberedâ€™s words. When dinner did fill their hollow stomachs, the girls laughing as the boys belched and made faces at the other boys, the many did move into their metal vehicles and ride to a most commonly deserted mountain stretch not many miles down the parkway. The boy-remembered and his companions, many barely sighted on the light of day, and more from beside their hearths did quest the night, to find this place which had been calling. Heavy quilts lay soft the ground, their bodies atop and under the many layers. On the hard rock did the echo of the sky trickle, most mystical incantations of light from the heavens on high, and new songs the boy remembered did write, to match the fruit in their hands and the beauty of the night sky.
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.
Autumnal I wonder if we will ever be lovers; stones and barnacles, the last wash of sea foam, a sailor, a dove, a hymn for us lost at sea i want to know what the lines in your palms mean the deepened, healed over scars, an adventure-accident or just a handful of carelessness. you are mirrors and most things, sometimes I think you are just tugging on my limbs and arms, to play a game inside lips with the secrets hidden inside a lost letter, or just an old boat to cast out a time for fleeting and legs, that will rub together in the mornings.
Erin Lynn Cook Erin Lynn Cookâ€™s fiction has appeared in numerous journals including Southern Humanities Review, Harpur Palate, South Dakota Review, and Quiddityâ€™s International Literary Journal. She instructs college and high school English and is the mom of two awesome boys. Erin lives in the San Joaquin Valley, dangerously close to the edge of California. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am trapped in the mind of a man who watches women dance. Though I am bodiless, he makes me dance too, though my dancing isn’t the exotic kind he watches through his beautiful irises. ~ I am trapped up here in a small corner. Oh, I’m special to him, but only when he wants to play. Meanwhile I sit in my comfortable corner of his creative right side and wait for his knock on the bedroom window. He never comes through the front door that would be like commitment, like he wanted to talk to me in person. No, instead he raps on my window expecting me to open it just enough to hear me and for me to hear him. Very important in this strange relationship that I hear him. For it is his words that guide my dance. ~ How do I dance if I’m not erotic? I misspoke earlier. I am erotic and exotic. But instead of dancing for him with my body I use my words. They tantalize him drawing him again and again to my bedroom window, but never to my front door. Of course, the front door is also inside his mind. I don’t know why in the privacy of his cerebrum he doesn’t admit his affections. ~ You’re asking how I got here? It’s a question I ask myself daily. It keeps me awake in the middle of the night. Wondering. How did I get stuck here? Why can’t I leave? Can I just open the window? What would happen if I walked out the door? I am afraid that if I walked out the front door I’d be mired even more inside this man’s skull. At least in the comfort of my rooms—a kitchenette, a bathroom, a sitting room, a bedroom—I feel secure. I know how to move about and fix myself metaphorical food. ~ I am a woman. I know because I used to inhabit a body. It’s how this man found me. Some meeting of some sort, it’s hard to imagine now. I feel shades of my body, memories. Like an amputee after the war. I feel part of me that used to be. Still must be somewhere. When I said I don’t know what’s on the other side of my front door (I called it MY front door…see how it happens? So seductive, he is.) I was not quite telling the truth. On the other side might be my body. The one I used to possess. The one that some men liked, but he didn’t. Some men thought it womanly and sensual. I’ve been whistled and stared at admiringly. I have beautiful eyes (There! Were they my actual eyes or only memory?) and hair and lips. I have a lovely face. Men like certain parts of women. They are drawn—all of them—to the outside first, but for each it’s a different item off the menu he sees. What did he see in me that made him capture me and design for me a comfortable spot inside his mind? He saw what my hands and clever mind were capable of. He saw my stories and tales the ones that made him blush and lose all reason. ~ Sometimes he doesn’t stay outside the window in a brain matter hedge, he climbs over the sill and sits with me on my bed. Rarely in the sitting room. Unless he’s lecturing me on some point of morality I’ve lost. He scolds me when he’s scared of losing his whole brain to me. ~ I’m greedy and competitive. I hate the women he watches through his hazel eyes. The perfectly formed women with plastic parts. I hate how they draw his attention so readily away from me. It’s those times I feel most alone. When I feel like opening that front door to see what’s outside. But he’s so clever, my muse. He senses when I feel separated and so pulls me close again with a seductive word or phrase. His favorite is “Tell me a story.” This is how I dance for him. ~ Sometimes I use his desire for me against him. He craves my stories. If I’m angry I’ll stay silent in my room. I won’t answer his window knock. He never rattles it. That gets me angry too. Instead he taps until I open it a little (It’s rarely ever closed.) and he puts his hands over the sill so I can see his fingers and nails that will never scratch my back. Never touch my hand. I try to show him my hands but they are tied to the story. ~ My woman body had obligations and commitments. She had a family and a home. She had children who kissed her cheeks and a husband her lips. She had experiences and a childhood, a life to call her own. The memories seduce him the most. The ones he loves to hear again and again as if they were his own. He wants them. Because unlike me his body is all he has, he’s all cerebellum and convergent thinking. Which is why he chooses to fill his cerebrum with my divergent stories. ~ I could open the front door to reality or stay in the folds of his forming self. ~ If I had the plastic body I might be able to be both. Inside and outside. Then he would rattle my windows and break down my front door and make himself known to the whole world as a complete man.
Ben Nardolilli Ben Nardolilli is a 24-year-old writer. His work has appeared in Perigee, Elimae, Heroin Love Songs, The Puritan, Quail Bell Magazine and Cantaraville, among others. He maintains a blog at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is currently trying to publish a novel.
Desdansa Afraid that if she kissed me now, She would only taste tepid coffee. Lucky for the distance, she poses Against the cleverly laid brick. If she asks about beauty and truth, In this afternoon, there is the coffee, Though there is also the desire to say The pants and dress are unappealing: She covers herself in an elephant’s ear And walks in an elephant’s trunk. If she asks about love and truth In this afternoon, there is the coffee. This was my late brother’s waltz.
Paul Kavanagh Paul Kavanagh lives in Charlotte, NC.
The hour of the defeated Eliot had to stop to urinate. He looked behind him. This city is on the up. A wisp of steam ascended softly in swirls into the descending night. Fifteen new skyscrapers, said Harold. Harold was on lookout, he could feel the danger. It’s like Florence, said Eliot shaking. He zipped up his fly. Harold watched him wipe his hands upon his trousers. You mean the towers of Bologna, said Harold. Yes, that’s the place, said Eliot. Harold was about to point out a star, but it was an airplane. I once read about the Investiture Controversy, said Eliot. The streets were deserted. It was that strange hour between the bankers leaving and the night crowd. Eliot wasn’t smiling. A bead of sweat appeared upon his brow. Another turned up and caught the last of the light. Magic is so simple really. If magic was complex then nobody would care. Magic has to be simple. They’d climb up those towers and throw down rocks, said Eliot. Here it is tables, computers, and chairs, said Harold. They laughed. The other week there was a terrible fight and a man was killed by a falling coffee maker, said Eliot. It landed upon his head and killed him on the spot. Their pace had quickened. Eliot suddenly realized that he would not eat again until the morning. He was lost in a sea of drink. A sadness he knew well was now climbing upon his back. I saw one eviscerated, it wasn’t a pretty sight, his insides poured out, he was an old banker, he tried to mix it up with a young buck. The blade zipped through his protruding gut with ease, like a wine sack bursting, said Harold. Wind careened through the skyscrapers, wind that only a city could produce.
Diane Andrews Diane Andrews was born in Wainuiomata, New Zealand in 1953. She’s worked in many jobs from laboratory assistant and waitress to theatrical wigmaker. She and her husband sailed from Sydney to Cairns in a sixteen-foot boat. She now lives in Cairns, Australia and is involved in many activities, from fossicking and writing to sailing the tropical waters of the North. See www.dianeandrewspublishing.com ‘ABOUT’ for more info.
The Door A sharp slap on her cheek told her the door was open. It was a stinging blow, like the sea air as it is blown across Cape Leeuwin. Her hand was clawed like the fist of arthritis - the knuckles white. Her wrists twitched. She felt another smack – of needley salt crystals borne in fat drops of rain – the points digging into her cheek, right to the bone, worming their way into her bloodstream. I like it. To me it is the far better of two evils. There is no braver rain than that of a West Coast gale as it rages for days. The sky outside the window had been brooding all day - moonstone blue fading to sour milk white, giving way to grey mares leaping through surf on the Margaret River coast. Then the horizon had grown an indigo purple hoodie, like a vampire slowing raising its arms. The light of the sun had been subsumed into the hood of the feasting bat.. The day mirrors my feelings, I am at one with it; my life is painted by this sky. Now the door was open and the day had entered like a theif, curling its fingers around the very coals in the hearth till they turned blue and choked – then gained purchase on the hands of the clock on the mantelpiece. The ticking slowed under the weight of the leaden air. Time stands still whenever I open the door and once again let him in. “For fuck sake, woman - move aside! Let me get in the door! It’s friggin’ freezin’ out here and I am frozen through!” Each time I’ve come to her door she’s taken longer and longer to open it. Now it’s as if she’ll never close it – even behind me, as if I’m not welcome to stay. The wooden weight swung back into place and the man and woman stood in front of the fire and crossed their arms across their chests, shivering like flax flowers in the wind. He put his hands against her cheeks and she felt the marbles roll around in her mouth. Her hands raised in the manner of a supplicant and made the sign of a cross in front of his face. The bonds fell away from her face. The man’s eyeballs stopped smiling and froze. Hard paws sounded a loud crack not two inches from her hazel eyes. She did not jerk. I reacted the very first time I opened the door to see him standing waiting for me. Then it was a warm sunny day but I let him in quickly.
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).
A Brief (he ate it) Life Story i was born in a snake egg right by the lake beneath the library and cracked open by a pretty little mother in a pink hat with paprika sprinkled on top served with pork chops and eaten up by the delinquents sneaking off to rainy day matinees in the dim opaque autumn and getting into brawls in the back of the movie theater what happens when they’re all self-destructive and tulips come up early in the late winter all reflected in some brilliant dusk apocalyptic puddle overlooking the foghorn river? heroine addicts trying to hold up a bank in the world trade center and getting caught and busted like a bunch of old time classic idiotic slapstick comedians on the five o’clock eyewitness news –hey isn’t?
Robert Long Robert Long lives in Romford, England, with two housemates whose living space he is destroying with his book-buying addiction.
Everything Has Been Done For You Marjorie stood at the window. The room was full of noise, a violent banging, raging away, fists against walls. Marjorie made no sound. Passively, she went out of the back door and into the garden. It was cold, the wind forcing her to rub her hands together. The sheets were dry. She took them down, folding them with the necessary concentration. Walking back towards the house she thought of her car, where, she now remembered, she had left the chequebook. Swearing under her breath, she put the sheets down in the kitchen. Her steps hastened as she made her way through the house. The chequebook wasn’t the only thing. Her list was in there too: Call Diane about dinner New Year’s Day Take Geoff’s suit to the dry cleaners Make sure Dad has paid his bills She balled the paper up in her hand. The clock on the dashboard said that Geoff would be home in an hour. Hopefully he would bring a good film home for the evening, something light she would enjoy. Back in the house she threw the list away, the sound of the bin lid clapping shut after it making a satisfying end. She put the chequebook down in the living room by her son’s school photo, where it wouldn’t be missed. The banging had stopped but now it started again, harder, as though stoked by some fresh outrage, new energy audibly thrown into the pummelling. Marjorie could see the door under the stairs shaking, but the padlock held its ground. The noise grew even louder: the hammering was joined by a momentarily deep and strong human cry that soon dipped, broke and whimpered. The punches against the door became slaps. She wondered how long it had been. Long enough. She undid the padlock and pulled the door open, her father pouring out from behind it, panting and struggling even to stay on all fours. Marjorie was unimpressed. “Was that long enough for you?” She said. “Yes. Long enough. Please.” She nodded. “You’ll remember now?” “I will. I will remember. I do remember.” “Always write down the important things. Write them down and cross them off when they’re done. You taught me that and I do it every day.” She paused. “And now here we are.” She looked at her watch. “I need to go.” Her father nodded, composed himself, and slowly stood. He looked ridiculous, Marjorie thought, stood there in his vest and underpants. She felt embarrassed for him. She stepped across the living room and gestured to his clothes, piled up on the sofa. “Go on,” she said. “Everything has been done for you.” She looked away as he dressed, taking the car keys from her pocket and tapping them against her leg. Her eyes looked through the window to the car outside, impatient to get away.
Michael Flatt Michael Flatt lives and teaches in Denver, CO. His work has appeared in SpringGun Press, Arsenic Lobster and In Stereo Press, among others. His reviews of poetry can be found in Octopus Magazine and Cutbank Reviews Online. He also sings in the band, Sherman to the Fucking Sea.
from absent receiver bright dirt, what are you doing? undercarriage rust in cold salt cities. driving slow to work, hoping the squeaking will stop itself. the sky with so few clouds is not the same sky. there is tapping on the other side of this wall. lamp that we turned on; lamp that turned on us. grains of field, of printed image of audio track, of thought. I ask these questions with answers in mind. would you like to see me? we could visit the cathedral, and maybe your Nana. skip the red gown. that satin husk. wear me to your mother’s wedding. kite lost without a string in the field. scattered lamplight. feign certainty and truth a snare struck in a choir when my cuticles are little white mysteries to me. wreaths of letters hung around my bed. lift your head. talk you into soup and crackers. the city is an empty lung. a topography of sleep in the amplitude of your breath.
harmonica warble in suspended particles clamoring to settle into a low point blood speckled like spilled tacks crumbled foliage in crackways in walks love it more for every singed lash your clothing rubs and scratch word written in the chests of the dead if you’re looking for poetry turn to the classifieds in six months I’ll press Saturday morning’s hand-made creases on my desk. the air across the air repeats itself cool over cold under foot in our boots. snow floats into accidental melodies jotted by the headlight dots in the trees. throat-clogging lilt of French in my mouth il n’y a pas une autre chanteuse dans m’oreille. I dreamt you built me a wood boat to bream and found your breath on the scripts near my head when I woke. nothing makes me want to disappear as the vows not yet made that are amended. cloth after cloth, and twisted them in two. the way the grass lays in lieu of the fawn. grayscale morning, say good morning. say the gray lips dark tongue. the tree is colloidal half-invisible, black and white.
Meg Tuite Meg Tuite has been published or will soon be published in Calliope, The Boston Literary Magazine, SLAB Magazine, Santa Fe Literary Review, Fast Forward Press, Galleys Online Magazine, Crash, Jersey Devil Press, Midnight Screaming Magazine, Sleet Magazine, Ink Monkey Magazine, Blue Print Review and Fractured West out of the UK. She won a cash prize in the fiction contest at Santa Fe College for a story that was published in their Fall 2009 contest issue.
Congealed Solitude in Blue Landscapes come in many forms. Mine was the glacial terrain of distance. Each letter I received from you, sometimes three in a day, was a despondent testimony of a devotion that required horizons that never converged. It was subterranean and unfathomable, but each cherished letter bore the fervor of requited love that treasured a pen. Each piece of paper was capable of offhand vagrant sentences that made me read them over and over to uncover something that might foretell the end. I just received another letter. I read it through many times and then put it in the trunk with the others. There was no staring at walls when alone with your words. Combustion begged for turbine. It was 50 below wind chill, so I piled on whatever clothes I could and blasted outside. A cast of raised fences of snow, blued from the banks of twilight, shadowed either side of the frozen path that cracked up beneath me. Faces blurred into their woolen bondage spared me the weariness of the man swarm, and I was as well hidden. A mutual alleviation of gloom on either side cloaked this tundric underworld. We wrapped ourselves in its congealed solitude. I walked for miles lost in this layered landscape of a spectacular muted empyrean of endless ice. The edges of gray were withered away by the haunting blues of these frozen reflections that spilled out everywhere in massive tidal waves. Maybe they were of the sky. Cloud upon cloud of rolling mounds filled in beneath me like a childâ€™s visionary heaven molded in tumbling oceans of blue. It was a blue as somber as the day I left youâ€“miles of it. An expanse crusted and weathered into raging months of barometric highs and lows that spired it into its raw architecture, sculpted in crudely multi-leveled vistas like the slow, tiered leakage of exiled sand from out of a million closed fists. A blue diffusion of rising mounts and falling cavities went on forever and spread over this whispering globe. The audible stupor of the wind held itself back, swelled with inflated restraint, and then hurled out from place to place in small, inflamed pools blasting over the snow in random howling drifts, echoing tremors that could never be located. Cars, buses and pedestrians continued forward through this remote landscape that somehow altered them as they now moved through this dense frame of ice in a dual world that recorded itself as a city, and yet, I remained remarkably alone, somewhere inside this blue nowhere, wishing only that you or the ghost of your words were added to this vaporous landscape, walking and talking with me, anywhere.
Steve Kissing Steve Kissingâ€™s poems have appeared in more than a dozen print and online journals. His first chapbook, Survival of the Fittest (Big Table Publishing), was published in the fall of 2009. You can find more about Steve at www.stevekissing.com.
Polishing a Turd That’s how those in the advertising business describe those situations when they’re forced to take a client’s lame idea for, say, a TV commercial and make something out of it that doesn’t completely suck or ruin their professional reputation. Like when the owner of a vacuum cleaner repair shop insists on putting himself, his wife and their three homely daughters in the spot. Or when the marketing director for a computer company wants the voiceover to read like a Limerick. I fear that as you date me you are polishing a turd since I forget to wait until you have your meal served before I start inhaling mine; I show up at your parents’ for dinner, my hair uncombed, a series of condiment stains on my pants; and I fall asleep almost immediately after we make love in my bed atop sheets that haven’t been washed in months. But don’t forget this all comes with a blessing: You’ll always be able to claim some plausible degree of irresponsibility since I wasn’t your idea to begin with.
John J. Trause John J. Trause is a Pushcart Prize nominee and library director. He is the author of Seriously Serial (Poets Wear Prada) and Latter-Day Litany (which was staged Off-Off Broadway). His translations, poetry, and art appear in Sensations, Cover, Global City Review, Xavier Review, Radix, NowCulture, The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow, Off the Coast, The Journal of NJ Poets, Lips, Xcp, Offerta Speciale, Plainsongs and elsewhere. He participated in Visible Word (DeBaun Auditorium), which paired poets and artists. He co-founded the WCW Poetry Cooperative in Rutherford, NJ.
Go Round We’re going round now — Now we’re going round! Mommy goes round and Daddy goes round. Uncle John must go around now. The three-year-old martinet named Stephanie goes round and leads us counterclockwise from the north, from living room to kitchen to dining room to living room kitchen dining room, living room kitchen dining room. Stephanie, Mommy and Daddy go round all the time; Uncle John goes around now. Stephanie goes round holding the doll — I don’t know its name. Mommy takes the train (Thomas?) — I don’t know. Daddy has the stuffed toy (?) — I forget the name. Uncle John must pull the toy on the string; I don’t care to know. But Stephanie knows every name and every collocation and association, has invented it all, and all is fully fetishized by four-years-old, no deviations, no. Mommy and Daddy know. Uncle John better know and is going round now, or else she’ll wish us into the cornfield or set our mattresses on fire while we nap. We go round, And tomorrow — tomorrow’s gonna be a real good day!
J.S. MacLean J.S. MacLean lives in Calgary, Alberta. His work has appeared in such places as ditch, Why Vandalism?, Battered Suitcase, Feathertale, Soundzine, Pemmican, tinfoildresses, The Toronto Quarterly, Wilderness House Literary Review, Callused Hands and various others. His latest work will appear in The Chimera and Misunderstanding Magazine. In his spare time he wears a number of hats while helping out on a new online journal, The Triggerfish Critical Review.
Do You Really Need a Title? The New Order is a linty black sock loose upon a pasty ankle propped on the edge of a willow desk. Outside the stained glass window the press ants carry the forest one leaf at a time to the wounded. The Empress has gone to her forest retreat where she used to blind shoot the snowy bears that followed the lemmings in those days. She whitens softly now like a Russian princess. Donâ€™t dare mess with these words with your own thoughts! The truth is right between here and your eyes. These words are like my old mate whose funky smell I miss. Yeah we were those ripe old goats who stayed behind on the tor with the ark as the rest followed wash down the canyon drain. We chewed that thing to sawdust leaving the figurehead for last, last trace of the ancient race. Her bones are pure light now as condors cruise, their tilts telling me the earth exhales, the flood returns, but do I care?
Bryan Jones Bryan Jonesâ€™s short fiction has appeared recently in Eclectic Flash and Concisely Magazine. He lives and works in Texas.
37 The Price of Hammers The apartment manager couldn’t concentrate because of the hammering. He got up from his desk and went to look out his office window at the crew working on the roof of Building Two. Four men in blue jeans and work boots were up there. Their shirtless shoulders burned in the summer sun. Between the hammering, he could hear their voices. The construction area directly below Building Two was roped off for safety reasons. Some black roofing material had fallen near the perimeter of the swimming pool. The night before, his wife had moved her things out of the apartment they had been able to stay in rent free. He had gotten that apartment because of the management position. She had shouted before she left that she wasn’t coming back. Not this time. She had had it. He had tried to call her cell phone that morning. She hadn’t answered. His messages weren’t returned. The manager looked out at the empty pool. He tried to remember the last time the chlorine levels had been checked. He knew exactly how much the pool maintenance cost, the price of pool chairs, even how much the owners had paid for that stupid blue umbrella shading the corner table. One of the marriage counselors had said he knew more about those details than what his wife needed. The manager tried to put a dollar figure on all the items out by the pool. But it wasn’t any good without scratch paper. He couldn’t carry over the numbers in his head. Suddenly, an attractive young woman in a bright orange swimsuit walked up and opened the pool gate. She had a pink towel. He had noticed her before. She was a resident. She had raven-black hair. She looked like she took good care of herself. He watched her walk to the edge of the pool. She tossed the towel on a plastic chair and then tested the water with her toe. His wife used to do that. They had celebrated in that pool after he got the management position. She had held her drink just above the surface of the water and kissed him. She tasted of alcohol and chlorine. They had been happy then. One by one the blows of the hammers stopped. The manager looked up and saw the four workmen standing near the edge of the roof with their faces intently focused on the woman swimming in the pool. Another bare-chested roofer came over the top of the ridge and stared down with his coworkers. All work stopped. The manager went to the back door, which he tried to open. The deadbolt was locked. He tried to flip the lock, but it stuck. He couldn’t budge it. This had happened before. He had been meaning to fix it. He jiggled it furiously. Finally, after three or four tries, he got it to throw. He opened the door and went outside. “Get back to work!” he shouted up at the men on the roof. The sun had climbed in the sky behind them. Their dark faces stared down at him. “You’re behind schedule already!” he barked. The woman swimming in the pool heard the shouting. She stopped near the edge of the pool. She raised a hand to shield her eyes from the glare and looked up to see what was going on. The men went back to their work. One by one, the blows of the hammers resumed. The woman shrugged and started swimming again. The manager turned and walked back into his office. He closed the door behind him and went over to the air conditioning unit. He adjusted the dials to make the room cooler. Then he went and sat behind his desk. He didn’t look out the window again. He had some paperwork inside a desk drawer. He didn’t get it out. He put both his hands flat on the desktop and tried to concentrate. He couldn’t. There wasn’t any rhythm to it. The hard, flat sounds echoed outside.
Luanna Azzarito Luanna Azzarito is originally from Rio de Janeiro. During her senior year of high school she gave her mother a heart attack when she said she was quitting Brazil to come to the U.S. A few years later she gave her father a heart attack when she said she was quitting law school to write. Everything else is work in progress.
Fireworks He never called me by my name. It was always: “Baby this, baby that.” I blamed it on my mother. She named me Carmina Josephine, after my grandmother. The one before tried “Mina” a few times. Never stuck. I met him at a bar on Lover’s Day. He said if he’d known he would’ve met me he’d have called his flower guy. He said I looked like lilies. Like tulips. Like bears and balloons. And on that barstool, it was: “Baby this, baby that.” Then came the Fourth of July. In South Florida that means margaritas and fireworks on the beach. Laughing and singing. All of his friends, none of mine. He wanted to take me on a boat ride, but his stomach couldn’t take it. So on the beach, in the glow of “Gold Comets” and “Chrysanthemum Bursts,” it was: “Baby this, baby that.” Thanksgiving he said he wanted to bake me a turkey. But his uncle was ill and his mother wasn’t having it. So he flew up there to be with them, snow storm and all. And on the phone, as I had take-out over waves of silence, it was: “Baby this….” Christmas he wanted to take me to the mountains. He said, “Poconos. You belong in the Poconos.” Skiing and hot tubs. Except his brother’s new wife was having Christmas at her house this year. First time ever and all four families were coming. She had a pool party on the 25th. “Deck the Halls” in the background, and on the water, I heard: “Baby this, whatever…” He came over the night Lucky died. I’d had her since she was a puppy, so he thought some wine might help. “Baby, dying’s what animals do.” He put on an old comedy. He held me, kissed me. He said everything would be okay. There’d come the days when we’d make our own luck. And, the movie on pause, it was—well—you know. Then in bed, I said, “I love you, John,” and he said, “I love you, Angie”. I saw him on the sand again, Fourth of July. He was stepping off a boat holding her bag. She had a margarita in one hand and his back pocket in the other. I heard them laughing and singing. Saw them kissing. And over the hiss of “Bottle Rockets,” the burst of “Roman Candles,” it was: “Angie this, Angie that.”
Parker Tettleton Parker Tettleton is an English major at Kennesaw State University. His work is featured in or forthcoming from Short, Fast, and Deadly, The Chimaera, Right Hand Pointing and elimae, among others. He blogs at parker-augustlight.blogspot.com/.
The Flood The lights were still on. The water was knee deep now. He put down the book he was about to finish, grabbed his glass and headed for the kitchen. He reached into the sink and found his vodka bottle and a flashlight. He headed for their bedroom. On his way down the hall, he picked up the floating brassieres. There were blues, pinks, purples and whites. Of course, he said aloud. He’d seen the whites before. It was Summer. June, perhaps. He knelt beside the neatly manicured grass and stroked it with his fingers. Carl shouted hello. He waved across the street. He sat down on the grass. His wife drove up in their station wagon. Three apples fell onto the carport. He wondered if he should take off his shirt. The door was locked. He tried it again. He thought of calling out his wife’s name but remembered he was holding all of her bras. He could go put them in the sink but would he make it back in time? He tried stuffing them into his pockets but most of them fell into the flood. Since the incident, Bobby had stayed with his grandparents. His father’s parents. He asked for apple pie every day. It was almost Fall. The leaves were about to turn. The door opened by itself. Carl, his wife said. Is that you, honey, she said. He dropped his glass. He looked at the lavender and green stripes beginning to curl above the water line. He’d always hated that wallpaper. He sat down on the edge of the bed. That’s my side, she said. Jim, that’s not yours to touch, she said. He laughed at this. Since when did she own half of their bed? He took a drink from his bottle. The flashlight splashed and his wife’s eyes became pieces of fruit. The water was up to the side of the bed. His alarm clock was silent. The whole house was silent. He rubbed his eyes and felt for his slippers. He brushed his teeth and made coffee. He didn’t feel like reading the newspaper this morning. He thought he’d go for a jog before work. That would explain it. He came into the bedroom drenched. She was still face down. She was in the middle now.
Christina Murphy Christina Murphy’s writing has been published or is forthcoming in a number of journals, including ABJECTIVE, A cappella Zoo, POOL: A Journal of Poetry, Splash of Red, Counterexample Poetics, and Blue Fifth Review. Her work has received an Editor’s Choice Award and Special Mention for a Pushcart Prize.
blossoms red and pink cherry blossoms bloom before the bitter snows and freeze like small dreams of lonely voyages home across cold and mournful seas
Corey Tarreto Corey Tarreto is a young poet who currently lives in Buffalo, NY. She minored in creative writing at Mansfield University. She is greatly inspired by nature and spirituality and is in awe of Mary Oliver. When sheâ€™s not writing, Corey plays the guitar and djembe, rides her bike, recycles, swims, or camps. Corey currently works as a community organizer but will begin her masterâ€™s degree in Divinity at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in the fall.
Telescope Iâ€™ve stood here pointed at your skies so long Iâ€™m stiff. I am focused on your empty place. Each day new constellations dance past, mocking my patience. Dust grows on my lenses. Storm fronts rattle through. Have all your stars burned out? My love is for year old light.
Sig Fig â€œAnd so the sum of our routes is this?â€? she says strumming her fingers on the hood in the cool morning mist. A smile melts her face because she knows this mess is the best story sheâ€™ll ever tell. And so her fingers rest. Neither stirs as their minds stew. The mist is thinning, the road is straight. They can see for miles.