Black Words On White Paper â€“ Issue 03 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: It's been awhile since our last issue, but this one was worth waiting for: It's a particularly meaty edition, with at least two pieces bulging at the seams of our one-page limits. It's weighted heavily in flash fiction, but as this month's author William Akin writes, it's difficult to have “a strong grasp on the differences between prose and poetry, [or] myth and truth, often confusing them hopelessly.” I agree whole-heartedly. Although it was entirely coincidental, there is a bit of a bell curve to the work (and word count) this month. I've tried to mix and match themes, and the outcome is a trail from the open plains of poetry through a dense (and often dark) forest of prose, leading at last to the sandy shores of Sergio A. Ortiz's The Three of Us. Thank you for your patience, and, as always, I hope you enjoy the publication. I believe it's a great compilation for autumn; a time when many of us reflect on “the journey.” - Shawn Adams
Contents Scott Lucero
Jane Rosenberg LaForge
B. Kari Moore
Kerri Farrell Foley
Erin Lynn Cook
Shane Ryan Bailey
James H Duncan
Sergio A. Ortiz
Scott Lucero Scott Lucero is a writer and teacher from eastern Kentucky, where he lives with his wife and children. His work has appeared in memoir (and...), Kudzu, and Pluck: The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture.
Kicks in hard when the rain kicks in hard it blows through the screen and leaves thick sloppy kisses along leddyâ€™s neck and shoulders she pulls her yellow cotton sheets over her head and rolls to watch big thick drops whip and lap at the sheets for a second she smells ray on the breeze feels his fingers whispertouching her belly tastes his kisses on tongues of rain hears his private prayers in the wind in the half shadow of waking leddy lets the rain that is ray wipe her clean
Owl Song a lone owlâ€™s song has drawn you down to where the yard slopes into the creek charming you, seducing you, captivating you your face glows then fades in the moonlight you roll the top of your lighter against your blue jeans the friction makes tiny sparks dance like faerie dust down your leg like you, the sparks brighten my dark like you, the sparks fade in shadows like you, the sparks fade as I draw closer
Jane Rosenberg LaForge Jane Rosenberg LaForge lives in New York City with her husband and daughter. She is the author of two chapbooks, After Voices, published by Burning River of Cleveland and Half-Life, published by BigTable Publishing Co. of Boston. Her work has previously appeared in Black Words On White Paper and other publications.
A Solo Branch A solo branch of your breath rises above the river and pines into a canopy of needles and sap. Under cover of condensation and and contorted light, the sunflowers push to meet up to meet it, as if completing promises of lust unrequited. As a child I tried to tell somehow how Astonishingly the sunflowers peak and I was laughed at, told my imagination Was far too undisciplined. But without The proper nutrients, how can desire Exist, or spasms that birth new planets, Or lies that distinguish friends from lovers. What grows from a river of seeds, like a Dream arrested: baubles stitched through The water, the attention of a mud and grass Background, as if this is how stones are Goaded into tapers and shapes and their Most perfect moments. I might like to be A sunflower, unbelievable and punishing in its inelegance, gawkiness, thriving in a whitewashed culvert, poking through the blood red rust that circulates beneath bark, and waits three seasons before losing vigilance. Or I might be like a flood, liquid hedging whether it should restore or ruin by being too much with the roots, manipulating them beyond the soil; harvesting too soon those first bones of sound, expelled at the level of jade twigs and garnet buds, where birds wrench them beyond all hearing.
Ally Malinenko Ally Malinenko has been lucky to have had poetry and fiction published in numerous online and print journals. Her first book of poems, The Wanting Bone, was recently published by Six Gallery Press and she just completed her first novel. Ally lives in the part of Brooklyn none of the tour buses come to.
Tête-á-tête All month we talked, our heads pressed together in the heat of nights, our hands gripping sweaty beer bottles in twilight of waning days, toes rubbing the back of calves in early morning light, the talk then, just a murmur. We told stories. We answered questions. We stepped all over each others sentences - little bread crumb trails that we have spit out and scatter with our sneakers– we talk and talk, loud over the radio, softly over the downy sun scented hair of the baby. We talk. We start at the beginning and if we get to the end we start over again, but usually someone comes along and we switch gears like travelers pulling to the side of the road to switch drivers, stopping for a stretch, our backs sweat soaked in this desert of language. Sometimes we laughed. Sometimes the words stuck like hard little triangles in my throat and they didn’t want to come out. Sometimes we had to type them out. We talked through windows, the mesh pressed against your nose and then over the food that was brought out in trays. Over the wine, the beer, the water, the gentle snore of a dozing grandfather. We talked, as if the words were bricks and we were building a fortress, a wall, and a tomb, all at once and nothing was going to change. We could stay there forever and later eat the words, and finally die there.
George Moore George Moore’s poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, North American Review, and Colorado Review; and recently internationally in Singapore, New Zealand, Ireland, and Tasmania. Nominated this year for two Pushcart Prizes, two “Best of the Web,” the Rhysling Poetry Prize, and long-listed for the Wolfson Poetry Prize, his collections include Headhunting (Mellen 2002) and All Night Card Game in the Back Room of Time (Pulpbits 2007). Moore teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Survivor I a stranger and afraid in a world I never made. - A. E. HOUSMAN The place you inhabit was carved out by storms along the coastline of a self, with mothers' sails and fathers' infrequent and spastic winds, brothers' absolute darkness and sisters' light, a red barge, floating on the edge of distance. You wish time were more malleable, that it might be worked like clay, but it is stone enough now, this self, the perfect cave, where the water comes in at daylight and leaves by dusk, and in it you whistle against the drums of surf. No matter how long the world survives, this place by the shore, where water remakes the fingers of sand, and cups of pools begin and end, shifting their momentary tide lines, will always be the self, fused to the earth, but carried along on the life of each new wave.
Alex Schillinger Alex Schillinger is currently a student at Eastern Michigan University majoring in Creative Writing and English Linguistics.
Stale Angel He who is not I crept up her leg. Rain like daggers fell between towers on their heads. I’ll bet he wore a leather jacket. The old wives of old timers pass my stale angel. Fire at the end of that cigarette burns slow. The smoke stays, dances on the tongue, and leaves. Those old wives of old timer’s whispers become ghosts in the wind. Scratches of lead left from her hand. Chilled by the concrete, she filled that page. When she and I were us, that page was unscathed. She would smile. She would hold my hand. But her grasp loosened and dropped from mine. Her walk, steady, away from us. She wrote. Her black words filled the blue book with vibrant colors. Pages filled with heroin. Numbed to the heart, not to the soul, her words raped every thought. She wrote. He who is not I, who probably wore a leather jacket, finds her lips. She lifts her skirt to hide the scars. She lifts it to prevent more. He probably was too rough. I read what she wrote. Many people did. You must be happy, for her, they’d say. Good for her, they’d say. Wow, that’s amazing, they’d say. I’d smile. Fuck that skirt, on those legs. She’s on her knees, refuses to look up at Him. She is stilled in the stained light. Speechless in the face of forgotten faith. Her fingers, still covered with blood, walk down her side to reach the floor. She picked up that which brought so much damage, pointer on the trigger. She let he who is not I do what he wanted to a girl like her in an alley between two towers. She pulled that which was about to do so much damage from behind her. I don’t think she got blood on his jacket. She wrote.
Anushka Manov Anushka Manov is a high school senior from Boca Raton. She has been featured in iamb and Considerable Thoughts.
Islands She began to worry about her daughter and men. She looked at her with such concentration not because she was angry, unless you counted the dull anger she always felt at things that fell outside her narrow ideology of what was normal and what was not. No, she looked at her because Estrella was pretty and Rebeca was not, because the latter had fallen to the ground and been helped up by Mr. Martinson who, as she would remember the story in ever simpler terms, took her to a church and made her his wife, slapped her every time she said Estrella instead of Esther. She looked at her because Estrella had angry eyes, one green and one brown, and strangely full breasts pushing at calico. She looked because time, although she couldn't say it clearly, although no one wanted to hear it anyway, played strange tricks. There was an assignation with Raffi, was his name, buried deep in a part of her brain she never dug up, and now her daughter asked and he acquired dimension, as did she, as did the event that at the time was nothing more than bodies crossing paths. It is strange, she thought, that I can only move along one life per life. She began to say it, but her husband, pale and sinewy and Jewish, pulled her under. In the rainy earliest hour of morning, after he had left, after she had cleared the table, she stood watching the road. It bent, intersecting a sky of a rusty ombre. The water, draining and splashing and filling again, reflected the lights in a color not muted at all, not drowned or weakened but of exactly the same intensity: full glow. Red and green spilled straight down in distorted intervals of horizontal lines. When she got closer, when she leaned over and squinted to see with the correct perspective, the road was in fact a dulled, dried out progression of gray, but from so far away it was a wash of black ink. The houses sent an apocalyptic shiver through her, somehow, somehow the immediate spraying and shedding of white lights across so many roof tiles appealing to a culture that never existed hit deep within her. It seemed to light up the people within, to point them out and say: no one thing is innocent. Instead of the truth of empty air there was so much space full of water: water in points, water in lines, water in a constant wave and water becoming a cloud. Water became smoke, one couldn't see the smoke, the bodies moved, there were hardly any.
B. Kari Moore B. Kari Moore is a second-year MFA Fiction candidate at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. Originally from England, she moved permanently to the US in 2004 and received her BA in English Language and Literature from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2009. Her work has appeared in publications such as Humid and Postcard Shorts, and she is the 2010 winner of the Robert Olen Butler Award in Fiction.
Those Eco-Friendly Shopping Bags At every single store, during every single shopping trip, Sara sees the bags. Those eco-friendly shopping bags, made from hemp or canvas or another hippy fabric designed to last longer than the paper bags Sara used to wrap her textbooks. Sara keeps all of her paper bags under her sink. One day, she thinks, she will use them to wrap her plates and goblets to move away from wherever she is now. One day, she will rip them into shreds and line a dog bed or a kitty litter box. After the dog and the cat, but before she moves, Sara is sure she will use the bags to wrap all of his things up and place them at the front door. She will keep one bag, maybe two, to save the things of his that she really likes: a baseball hat, the shirt from their first sleep-over, a pair of orange plaid boxer-shorts. Sara knows this isn't enough to fill a paper bag, but the air on top she will fill with all of her unspent emotions. So this trip, to the supermarket for bread, milk, onions and pepper, when he tries to grab her hand, and ask if she wants one of those eco-friendly shopping bags, Sara will shake her head, use both of her hands to reach into her purse, search for coupons for kitty litter and say no. "What will I use it for?" she tells him, turning to the cashier, asking for paper over plastic.
Meg Tuite Meg Tuite's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Calliope, San Francisco Bay Press, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Fast Forward Press, SLAB Magazine, Monkeybicycle, The Nova Scotia Review, Boston Literary Magazine and many others. She is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review.
Religion A woman limped out of a liquor store with the submissive stoop of the genuflected and the promise of a liturgy to come in a bottle. A radiant, old face with the slight tremor of the merciful, holding a brown paper bag reverently out in front of her with both hands as a priest holds his chalice. And what would be the difference? She has been living, breathing and drinking the blood of Christ in a lifetime of unparalleled singularity that the clergy can only read about and shamelessly attempt to enact, mouthing their long-winded, incredulous interpretations of the Bible, done up like showgirls in their mawkish vestments.
Tobi Cogswell Tobi Cogswell is a Pushcart nominee. Her publication credits include Bellowing Ark, Willow Review, Rhino, Slab, Blue Earth Review, Decanto (UK), Red River Review and Askew among others, and are forthcoming in Spilt Milk (UK), The Enigmatist, The Blue Hole and Iodine Poetry Journal. She has three chapbooks and her full-length poetry collection Poste Restante is available from Bellowing Ark Press. She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review ( http://www.sprreview.com )
A Slice of John John wakes up every morning at 6:00, not because his alarm is set but because the sprinklers go off outside his window promptly. John has not used an alarm in years, certainly not since he moved to this house. While waiting for his morning tea to brew John does his daily yoga. He looks out over the hedge to the bay below and greets the sun. His stretches come naturally, a roadmap well traveled by his lean body day after day, this centers and strengthens him for whatever may come. His breath is even and calm. His house is stark. Although lovely, there is no sign of messiness or frivolity. There are no mementos. Dark floors, pale rugs, low furniture, very quiet. Many books are properly shelved or neatly stacked. A cleaning woman comes weekly to ensure that everything is just so, there is not even a dish in the drainer. John is stark as well. Tall and angular he moves with grace, with not a wasted gesture. When writing for himself he wears white shirts and listens to Debussy. When reviewing other people’s writing the house is silent. Even his walking from room to room leaves no sound. Sometimes he realizes he has not said a word to anyone since his last trip to the market. This makes him sad. John has no pets. He has words. Words with clever repartee and gentle barbs attached. He practices them at the market several times a week. He always goes to the same store famous for meeting people and making connections but normally observant, he does not notice. He does his shopping, fruits and vegetables to supplement the organic meals already prepared and delivered to his house to put in the freezer and cook at will. John favors a heart-healthy menu although he gets little joy from it. His doctor says he has the body of a man 10 years younger. He does not remember how long it’s been since he inhaled the bouquet of a fine red, or smiled across the table at a beautiful woman. He aches for intimacy but acknowledges that perhaps what’s left for him is only to write about the possibility. Since she died he’s been existing with half a heart. John is keenly aware of this around certain times of the year, particularly when summer turns to fall and the days get shorter. His holidays are tied to the Earth and he misses her around his holidays. John is not a sad man, not at all. He is simply a scheduled man. A realist. The things most people would do for fun or relaxation, John does for research. He would not come back from somewhere hung over and sunburned, rather he would bring back with him the perfect description for the taste of salt at the edge of the sea as the world is waking. The poet in him has grown, not an even trade, but a small consolation.
Laura Whelton Laura Whelton is a former pastry chef, living in the south of Ireland, where she spends way too much time on her PC, focused on web and graphic design. She loves the sea, photography and writing.
Kerouac Slowly wilting The cotton buds of yesterday sank Into my today I cried before I were torn in two I was no borrowed female I loved And loved I lost To a vacant internet space Left open for no one Hackneyed treasures of discontent Oh yes she was forgotten Who was she I no longer know The softest of old memories play on the radio Blue some tunes awesome in depth Never gone Always left for me to dwell On the teenage dandies I left behind Kerouac lives in my temple Morrison bleeds in my dialect I have not been and gone We live still The undead The heroes The poets The strong silent songs Rise above
Kerri Farrell Foley Kerri Farrell Foley lives in Houston, Texas. Her short fiction has appeared as part of POW Online Flash Literary Review and her first novel, Drama, is under the consideration of several publishers. The National Association of Dance recently accepted her article â€œMusical Theatre Choreographyâ€? to be part of their education text. http://kerrifarrelfoley.blogspot.com
Reply “This is the most important moment of your life, Jules.” I’m not looking at him. The building is showing its age with a silver semi-circle that sticks out from the tile wall. The first time I saw it, my lungs leapt and my yellow fingers twitched until I saw the sign above the ash tray that bore the international symbol for “Not so fast, smokers.” I’m wondering why they don’t just strip the walls clean of deceptions and false hopes when he says, “Jules? Are you listening? This is it for you.” The books are starting to crease my arm, so I shift them to the other side as I surrender to eye contact. He’s the one who doesn’t carry a water bottle to class and never gets creased, because he leaves his books at home. “No, Thomas. It isn’t.” The South inside me won’t allow my feet the luxury of simply turning, walking. “But it could be.” His voice is too awake to be anything other than annoying. He smells like a vegan and he doesn’t care about his hair and the twitch in his eyes keeps making the sign of the cross on my face. “Okay, Thomas. Okay.” He asks, “Are you humoring me again?” A door down the hallway pops an echo off the tile, swings wide, and permits the exodus of some scuffling undergrads. I’m concerned about the girl in dark monochrome who carries Sartre and lifts a palm of recognition at Thomas. “Who’s that?” I ask this because I’ve had no coffee and because I’m wearing last night’s clothes this morning. “She’s in the class that I assist.” I know what class he’s talking about, but this knowledge is buried beneath the bad decisions of the past twenty four hours. It’s violating when he somehow knows to provide, “Postmodern Literature, Jules.” “Ah. Yes.” Everyone in the hallway but us filters out into the grey heat that threatens rain at any moment. The books are hurting my hip now and I want to be in the library before the sky breaks open. “Listen, Thomas, I’ve got a lot-“ “I know you do. Of course you do.” It looks like I’m following him as he walks toward the door I want. Fat raindrops are already plunking down on the sidewalks, so I submit when Thomas presses up against a granite wall beneath an eave and says, “Come here.” I let him take my books and tuck them under a bench we don’t use, but when he tries to peel the bag from my shoulder I flinch and say no. “Okay.” He has a bad habit of lifting his shoulders only to drop them again. My thesis stays safe, close to me in the messenger bag I’ve been dragging from class to class for the past six years. “Here.” He hands me a lit cigarette. “Not my brand.” But I take it anyway and the humidity has already soaked the filter, making it painful to hold and thick to inhale. “I was wrong,” he says to a mushy pile of leaves clogging a drain out in the middle of the sidewalk. “That wasn’t the most important moment of your life in there.” “I know it wasn’t. I told you it wasn’t.” “You did.” He’s got a smile that I would give anything to be able to hate when he says things like, “Maybe this is it. Maybe this is the most important.” I can feel my hair growing bigger in the rain as I announce, “I doubt it.” “Why not?” My cigarette is gone so I pull another one, a proper one, from my bag. He flicks his lighter before I can object, so I blow smoke in his face and say, “Because, Thomas. For over a year you’ve been stopping me after class and telling me that ‘this is the most important moment of my life.’ You’ve been wrong every time.” His eyebrows ask before his lips can say, “Are you sure?” “Yes, Thomas. I’m sure.” I don’t know who the hell he thinks he is when he moves a slick strand of hair out of my eyes and tucks it behind my ear. “It got your attention, though. Didn’t it?” “At first,” I admit. “And now?” He is fearless about meeting eyes, but I’m finding most things blurry except for the patch of his sleeve that’s sopping wet. There’s a leak in the eave but he won’t stand closer to me just to avoid it. I know what he looks like under that sleeve, and this is the kind of knowledge you can’t unlearn. “Now?” He is persistent and I’m annoyed by the better qualities of the people I know. “Now, it’s not raining.” The sky is calming and I can finally look away, knowing that his shirt won’t be getting any wetter. “I’ve got to go.” I get my books and huddle my head against the straggling bit of the storm misting through campus. I can feel my flip-flops flinging grainy water up onto the bare backs of my legs when he calls down, “Jules. Just remember, okay? This could be it for you.” He slouches toward his wet side. Little pieces of last night, little pieces of him are still crusted on my thighs as I remind him, “Please, don’t call me Jules.” He shows me the smile I know from multiple angles and flings water as he waves at my back. I know he’ll be there tomorrow and as the clouds split again and I’m running through mud on the student green, I choke on a laugh or a sob. 24
Erin Lynn Cook Erin Lynn Cook's work has appeared in numerous journals including: Southern Humanities Review, Quiddity: International Literary Journal, Slice Magazine, Harpur Palate and South Dakota Review. This is her second publication with Black Words On White Paper. She is the mom of two awesome boys and instructs college/high school English. She received her MFA from California State University, Fresno and thinks Poets & Writers should add it to their ranking. email@example.com
Fig Orchard It should have been easy. The glass could break with a snap of a wrist. A fist clenched and bam, it would give away like an eggshell. It could break like that because it was single paned. Because it was such an old window in an old house. But you miss your target, or your hand isn’t strong enough, or you just don’t really want to as badly as you thought you did earlier that day. Maybe she wasn’t quite as worth it. She had texted you that morning. It should have been a relief to hear from her, wandering off like she did out in the fig orchards. No one knew where she’d gone and you were too afraid to call her folks. Too afraid that somehow you would deservedly be held responsible. She was your date, after all, you had asked her to go out there with you. You’d seen her at school, watched her walk in and out of the class you shared. Watched her fall asleep on her desk, a small puddle of drool where her lips had been. You’d seen her and thought she looked good enough. Really you thought she looked easy enough. But when her name popped up on your iphone you did nothing. Just stared at it. Then turned your attention to the little bit of relief you felt. Not relief really just the quietness of knowing that you wouldn’t be blamed for her absence. Your friends wouldn’t care if she’d disappeared. In the back of your truck she had crawled out, she’d stepped on glass from the bottle of rum you’d thrown out earlier, landing hard and scattering on a rock. Not asphalt or cement, you were in the figs where the ground was soft and if you went pee it splashed back up to your pant cuffs muddy. She didn’t have shoes on, you remember that. Her sandals had come off in her struggle. She didn’t scream when she cut her foot, the others parked nearby would hear and she’d have to explain why she jumped out of your truck. Out of the bed you attempted to make with towels from the drive to the lake. You knew why she jumped out. You knew why she took off running even though her foot was bleeding. You didn’t care, not really. And at school she’d come into class just as usual and you’d never have to give up any kind of explanation or apology. She was the one in the back of your truck, she knew what she was doing, you had no culpability. But you’d been a little pissed at her for making you look bad. Which is why you try to break her flimsy window that is so unlike the triple paned windows in your neighborhood. The ones your folks have in their house. You bang again and this time it cracks. It gives enough to where a shove with your shoulder cracks it clean. You’ve seen in films someone wrapping their hand with a shirt or a towel to clean off the jagged edges before climbing over the sill. It’s all like a film. Her being in the bed of your truck, the alcohol, the groping, telling her to do what you wanted her to do. She had to throw up afterwards. Which is why she jumped out initially and then she realized she was free and she ran. Her cut foot bleeding on the dirt. The blood washed away easily when they flooded the orchard. Your hand is bleeding and needs to be wrapped not for fear of getting cut crawling into her window, but because it is cut. Because you’ve been cut. Her bedroom could be another window in the house it was a guess to choose this one. The blood tastes like metal and you want to just go to sleep.
Ron D'Alena Ron Dâ€™Alena was born in San Francisco, earned an MBA at the University of San Francisco, and now lives in Southern Oregon with his wife and son. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in: A cappella Zoo, Word Riot, Johnny America, Falling Star Magazine, Lowestoft Chronicle, Big Lucks, Underground Voices Anthology 2009, EDGE, Reed Magazine, Slipstream and Criminal Class Review, among others.
27 Lousy Picnic They parked under a tall conifer on the shoulder of Route 102A. Kurt’s wife looked out the passenger window to where the pink granite cliffs of Bass Harbor Head met the Atlantic. “I don’t know why you had to drag me all the way out here,” she said. Kurt frowned. “I was hoping the fresh air would undo your headache,” he said. Kurt retrieved the picnic basket and blanket from behind his seat and together they got out of his Lexus. “It’s too hot for walking,” she said. “It isn’t either,” Kurt said. “When we were first married we went on plenty of walks in hotter weather.” They crossed a patch of earth overgrown with sea lavender and went down a path that led through two granite crags before ending at the sea. Kurt went over to a shadow stretching away from the crag. He unrolled the blanket, making sure to tuck the corners under the small pebbles and sand. Kurt’s wife discarded her high-heeled shoes and sat down upon the blanket. She crossed her legs at her ankles. Her yellow cotton dress hugged her breasts and hips and bunched-up above her knees. While Kurt emptied the picnic basket, he admired the line of her jaw, the edge of her cheekbone, the clean cut of her blonde hair. Kurt's wife caught him looking at her. She held her chin higher and fussed with her hair. They sat next to each other and ate heartily - potato salad, blackberries, corn griddle cakes, cherry wood smoked tuna. “This is fine tuna,” said Kurt. Kurt’s wife smiled at him. That morning they had gone to a local deli and afterwards, driving along the coastal highway, Kurt became angry over flirtations between his wife and the broad-shouldered deli owner. He recalled standing at the counter, flustered, going on and on about the beautiful spot he had selected for picnicking. Now as he finished the tuna, he tried to forget the incident, but it was no use. His wife had acted as trashy as a dog in heat. Kurt’s wife said, “That Scott seems like a nice guy.” “Who’s Scott?” “You know, Scott, the deli owner…Scott’s Deli.” “How do you know that was Scott and not some employee?” Kurt’s wife stood up and lit a cigarette. A hot breeze came up and whipped her dress about her legs. “I need to stretch,” she said. They went to a spot below the lighthouse, an outcropping of deeply pockmarked rocks near the shoreline. Kurt’s wife bent over the tide pool. Starfish clung to the side with their tiny-tubed feet. Green anemones swayed against the surge. Spiny-skinned sea urchins hid at the bottom among the algae and broken shells. She brushed some sand from her hair and said, “I feel like a giant with the power to crush a tiny hidden world.” They went back to the shade against the cliff and stretched out on the blanket. Kurt’s wife talked and fanned herself with her cupped hand, trying to fight off the perspiration emerging on her forehead along her hairline. Kurt was about to say something when a shirtless man wearing white shorts and sandals appeared at the trailhead. The man walked into the cove and stood with the edge of his hand against his brow. Kurt’s wife waved to him. “Scott!” she yelled. “Hey, Scotty, we’re over here.” He waved back to her. “Debbie!” he yelled. “What’s he doing here?” Kurt asked. “What’s the matter with you? You invited him when you paid for the food.” Kurt’s muscles tightened. His wife turned to the approaching man and began yelling something. Kurt watched her lips move, but he was not listening anymore. He was trying to recall standing at the metal counter in front of the cash register and extending the invitation. But he could no longer remember any of the conversation. He leaned back on the blanket and sighed. “When we get home, Debbie,” he said, “we’re going to have another little talk. I think it’s time to lay down some new rules.” Kurt’s wife turned and looked at him. “Kurt, I want a divorce,” she said, and then she stood up and flipped her cigarette butt into the sand before going over to Scott.
Merlaine Sivels Merlaine Sivels is a sophomore in college who has made a promise to her mother to have at least one of her stories published before she is twenty-five and to have at least one book done before her mother's death.
29 Easy Decisions He knows my every irrational fear. When we talk about them, he laughs and taunts me, poking me in the side and in the chest repeatedly like a child with a question. When we argue about them, I yell that being afraid of death and the dark is not irrational, and his reply is a calm, yes, they are because death and the dark are both inevitable. In my head, there is the noise of both memories but outside there is silence. He does not taunt me with my own unusual thoughts, nor does he poke me in the side or the chest. Especially not in the chest. He stands in the kitchen, back facing me. His body is still, posture stoic, but his elbows bend and contract, busy with the meat in front of him. The movements are jerky, decorated in anger and resentment, and tell me that I should be doing something. I don’t bother to glance at the phone that was placed in front of me nearly an hour ago. I know it is still there, awaiting a decision. From my peripherals, I ignore it, my eyes instead falling on the cat. Since the phone’s placement, she has licked every part of the device that her scratchy tongue can reach, and the odd sound of saliva being worked in her mouth echoes in the room. In my minds eye I see myself reaching for it, hands steady, brave, dialing with determination But that is only in my head and when I don’t reach for the phone, I tell myself it I because I do not feel like being bitten today. Her feline eyes meet mine as if knowing the momentary consideration, and the amber in them reminds me sunlight. “I wonder what it would be like to really have nine lives, to see that many sunrises and sunsets.” I say out loud. His busy elbows cease working. My heart skips a beat then flutters. I tell myself it is because I’m scared he will make an angry comment. He says nothing, and the jerking motion of his elbows resumes, this time moving up and down heavily. The noise that follows the fall of his arm is rhythmic and steady like the beat of a metronome. My heart flutters again, off beat with the steady lead his is providing. He is taunting me, silently telling me that I am broken and need to be fixed. The beating sound is as palpable as his pokes to my chest that I have not felt in weeks. I hear his voice in between beats, quiet and calm as always, but angry also. Confused. “I never imagined this to be a hard decision.” His last word was heavier than the rest. Nor did I, I want to tell him. I don’t have to tell him that I am scared because I know that he already knows. “But for someone who is so afraid of death and dying...” My heart flutters when his lips release the word death, and I feel lightheaded. “You’re making something completely avoidable into the inevitable.” There is pain in his voice. When I look up at him, I see it, in his eyes, lips, forehead, hands, legs, decorating every movement he makes and has made over the past month. I want to be the one to laugh now. To be the one to poke him in the chest and tell him that he shouldn’t be afraid of death, but I cannot even bring myself to smile. He glances at the phone next to me, then at me. It’s so simple, his pleading eyes tell me. He is tired of waiting for me to choose life, and as I reach for the receiver, I am weary of the unnecessary battle that I have waged in my head. My heart flutters heavily. My hand grips the phone tightly, a lifeline, and I stare at the numbers. His back is to me, and he begins the metronome pounding again, steady, correct. My heart slows to meet his pace, and I allow my fingers to fall heavily on the correct numbers, the high-pitched beeps matching the rhythmic beat of my heart.
Shane Ryan Bailey Shane Ryan Bailey's fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Salome Magazine, The Linnet's Wings, BULL: Men's Fiction, Faraway, Dash, Rosebud, Debris Magazine, and Out of the Gutter. He lives in Nebraska where he divides his time between a full-time office job and writing. His favorite author is Joyce Carol Oates.
31 Anatomy Lesson The man had just finished rinsing soap from his body when he sensed that somebody was watching him as he showered. He turned around. Through the glass shower door he could see his young son seated upon the lid of the toilet seat. The boy was looking at him with a curious expression upon his face. The man returned to his former stance and faced the showerhead, lifting his chin and closing his eyes, allowing the streams of water to rinse away all traces of soap and shampoo. He then turned off the water, opened the glass door, and stepped out onto a bath mat. Reaching for a towel, he looked at his son, and asked, “Need something buddy?” The child pointed at the man’s chest and inquired of the hair growing there, asking if he, too, would become hairy someday. The father smiled, began to towel himself off, and said, “Boys do get hairy when they become older. Boys grow up to become like their daddies. My daddy was hairy, and his daddy was hairy, too. So it’s very likely that when you become a big boy, you’ll be hairy like me.” The boy gave no indication whether he felt one way or the other about developing a hirsute appearance later in life. Instead, he pointed at his father’s groin and inquired of the dark patch of hair growing there. “Yes,” said the man. “You’ll get hair there, too, someday.” The boy then commented on how much larger his father’s dinky was compared to his own. This comment made the man laugh, and he responded by mentioning that boys experienced significant changes down there as they got older. The child then proceeded to ask if his own mother had similar features. (His son’s newfound interest in corporeal matters had certainly come as a surprise!) The man chuckled, then mumbled, “No, she prefers to shave down there,” before saying aloud to his son, “Your mother is a girl, and girls don’t have dinkies.” The boy drew one knee up to his chest and rested his head upon it; a look of profound confusion appeared upon his face. “Because,” continued the father, “they have babies. Girls have different body parts, so that when they become mommies, they can have babies.” The puzzled expression remained upon the boy’s face. The father began to explain how a dinky was really called a penis, and that a daddy placed his penis inside a mommy to make a baby; that was its main function, apart from being used to pee. He stopped toweling himself off and studied his son. He could tell that the child was still struggling to make sense of this new enigma. The boy asked if the penis had any other function. A sly grin crept across the man’s face. He said, “Well, it can be used to please a woman. A mommy likes it when a daddy places his penis inside her. It makes them both very happy.” The boy asked if it made them happy because they knew they would be getting a baby. “Something like that,” said the father. Again, the boy asked if it had any other function. The man wrapped the towel around his waist and stood silently for a moment, considering the boy’s question. He then stepped toward his son, leaned down, and placed a firm hand upon the boy’s shoulder. He opened his mouth to speak, but stopped. The open door of the bathroom had caught his attention. Peering over his son’s shoulder, at the doorway, he listened for a few seconds, and then, after hearing nothing and sensing no other presence, he turned his attention back to the boy and began to speak in a low voice. “It can be used to silence a woman . . . to put her in her place . . . but that is our little secret . . . not to be told to Mommy or to anybody else. Okay?” The boy, in response to his father’s magisterial air, quietly nodded. The man stood up, clutching the towel at his waist, and said, “You’re still young. Someday you’ll understand.” He patted the boy upon the head, mussing his hair, and then walked out of the room, leaving his son to sit there and stare down at the trail of wet footprints he left behind, which the boy eventually followed.
Jeff Weyant Jeff Weyant is an undergraduate at Arizona State University with several competing (and distracting) obsessions for Hugh Grant, the Los Angeles Lakers, and Lily Allen. He cites among his heroes Norm MacDonald's celebrated impersonation of Burt Reynolds, that iconic breaker of machines Ned Ludd, and that one guy who looked like Waldo but wasn't.
an indication of what it's like to be alive today rather than yesterday He sighted her through the lens as she stopped to look at the flowers at her feet. He had arranged them such that two white flowers, three petals apiece, were laying face down on the gray sidewalk, petals sprayed outward. A third flower, red, was similarly arrayed so that the ensemble created a red-tipped triangle with a hole in the middle, a gray center. She pulled a phone out of her pocket, pressed a button, and then held it down to the flowers, the screen facing her. As she pressed another button on her phone he pressed a button on his camera. She then spent several seconds pushing more buttons on her phone. A car backfired somewhere in the distance. She looked up. Her phone rang. She answered it. She was animated. She started walking. Her foot came down in the center of the flower triangle, catching all three corners, crushing the flowers, scattering the petals when it lifted. She walked out of the frame but he didnâ€™t move the camera. A car drove up, the door opened, she hung up the phone and got in. It drove off. He looked at the destroyed triangle through the lens for several seconds until the sound of the car died away. He pressed a button on his camera. Then he set it down and exited his hiding place from the back, winding his way in a circle to the flowers so as not to arouse the suspicion of other potential voyeurs. He collected the mangled flowers, gathering the pieces in his open, gentle hands. He then recreated the triangle, placing each disfigured petal in the appropriate position. He worked quickly but carefully. He took the same route back to his vantage point and then sighted the flowers through the lens. He turned a dial on the camera. He waited. She stretched her legs in the chair and then adjusted the string holding the blinds away from the window. The wooden chairâ€™s hardened edges bit into her skin. She waited. It was hot. The sun was bright.
James H Duncan A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure. James H Duncan is a New York native and the editor of Hobo Camp Review. A lifelong student of the road, youâ€™ll find him picking up non-credit courses in dive bars, roadside cafes, and train station platforms. Plainsongs, Red Fez, Reed Magazine, and The Battered Suitcase, among others, have welcomed his poetry and short stories. http://jameshduncan.blogspot.com
where the sun don't shine skipping out on the 9-5 to recall San Fran rush hours sitting on a curb in Union Square fresh from a pint at Rocky Wybleâ€™s and watching all the slender legs walk by, men in slick grey chinos, women in cool lengthy skirts fluttering like Monroe covergirl photo shoots, shoes-a-million making a noiseless clattering din, noiseless because the trolley guttural romping drowns out everything in the sunlight, in the western heat of seventeen hills, paved maws of one-time Spanish paradisia, but not no more, no more because the curb isnâ€™t in San Fran no more, and the skirts are no more either, just sitting here escaping the 9-5 trick for a moment realizing that those fantasy yesteryear visions when I was truly alive are nothing more than empty drive-in theaters now, feet on hot New York sidewalks like so many years before, all those miles in between the first sidewalk sit and this one, and you know, the 9-5 will be there when I open my eyes again, but not when I blink, though blinks are as fleeting as pretty skirts twirling by in the hot San Fran sun, and sadly, the sun donâ€™t shine when your eyes are closed
Cody Magee Cody Magee is a student of English at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee where he lives and writes with his dog. He was recently published for the first time in the Los Angeles Review.
Close, Almost Deafening The damn warplanes overhead are so loud and close that I nearly spit out my coffee. I hate coffee. The girl next to me loves coffee. She loves coffee so much that she made me walk here with her from our house just so we could get a cup. I live with the girl next to me, kind of. “Do they even bother to ask us whether or not we’d like to have an air-show?” I ask no-one in particular. “No they don’t, they just bring their damn machines here and parade them through the sky. Loud damn machines too.” I say this to the girl, though she’s not listening. “How much did you drink last night?’ she asks me as if it even matters, these 25,000 pound pieces of shit flying above us. “Not enough,” I say. Another plane flies over us. Brightly decorated and the size, I imagine, of a small cumulus cloud in it’s early development, not fluffy and white, but all steel. We begin walking back to the house after what was at least thirty minutes of my ignoring the girl’s speech about whiskey. There are kids around here because of a school only a few blocks from our house. The kids don’t bother me. They’re having some kind of field-trip procession at the moment. They’re waiting in line, all awkwardly shaped, backpacks as big as hundred pound apes clinging to their underdeveloped shoulders. Thinking about it makes my back hurt and I massage as well as I can with my left hand. “Have a look at that guy,” the girl says to me pointing at a clumsy little man in a blue and white striped shirt. He has found a rock, and is examining it behind a parked car. “I think he’s about to miss his bus,” she says. The girl cares about people. Before I can even talk her out of helping, and into walking as quickly as possible back to the house and out of the sun, she’s on her way to help him. I follow. The boy is interested in his rock. She’s just begun talking to him when another plane flies over. All of the children’s faces look up unconsciously, including the boy in blue and white stripes. None of them run away, though I imagine they should. One kid even fist pumps, or does some childlike equivalent and a little girl with strawberry blonde curls claps. “Those things kill people you know,” I shout at the children. The adults of the group have noticed us now and they disapprove of my lecturing about the war machines. They see the boy with the rock now and come to gather him up. The girl waves, I’ve already begun walking. “I don’t know why you have to say things like that,” the girl says to me. “Like what?” I say noticing how a piece of her hair has fallen across her forehead, continuing to walk. There is a little family owned grocery up the road, and I imagine buying myself a bottle of whiskey. I can feel the thing in my hand as I’m imagining it. “I just don’t think you have to ruin the kid’s fun like that. Seeing a plane that close is very exciting for them I imagine.” She says this to me as we turn past the grocery and on to our street. “Those things kill people,” I say, and we stay quiet like that until another plane flies overhead.
Jordan Ward Jordan Ward is a full time student, born and raised in the West Yorkshire area. His fascination with the English Language led him to start writing creatively at the age of 12. When he has a heavy feeling down inside of him, be it anger, love or awe, he says that writing a poem about it is like â€œpulling the feeling out and putting it onto paper where others can see it.â€?
Night Flight A sable plateau with golden cracks, Seams of gold on the expanse of black, The network of amber laces and veins, Run freely over the stygian plains. The webs of auric glamour sprawl, Across the inky onyx ball, Connected so by delicate strands, Tiny hair-like golden bands. Such beauty viewed from such a height, A city viewed from the sky at night, Viewing the lamplight's gilded litter, Through windows thick with argentum glitter. The silver frost that paints the panes, Partners the shining Aurelian chains, Gold and Silver on the ebony sheet, Viewed from thirty thousand feet.
William Akin William Akin lives in the Pacific Northwest, perched on the edge of an extinct cinder cone, alongside his wife, two daughters, and a dog with which he has a rather ambivalent relationship. He hasnâ€™t a strong grasp on the differences between prose and poetry, nor myth and truth, often confusing them hopelessly.
After Dinner With Diderot we stood on the bottom stair and kissed the tip of her tongue nearly upon mine and she said -Tell me what you see when you close your eyes. i see a land of words lost and forgotten unborn and abandoned. where the streets are busy with all of the hellos and goodbyes all of the pleases and thank yous that go missing everyday. they bustle about upsetting the bags of kindly old beg your pardons tripping over the shuffling feet of elderly excuse mes. from a nearby public house where last night is never forgotten the laughter of witty retort and keen observation spills drunkenly while across the street the idle hands of curiosity swing open the doors of a library built upon writers’ blocks. in the school house children’s unasked questions are answered but never once are the cries of i love yous and i’m sorries rocking in the asylum but forgotten prayers whispered in the church soon give way to voices uplifted in hymns remembered. i see a sullen bone orchard awaiting stilled tongues outside the stained glass windows and i see the dark woods beyond where some unspoken intentions have grown feral and hungry. i look past the trees farther and further still to where the sea crashes and foams against the sheer cliffs and there sit all of the words left unsaid out of fear staring off towards where they once came from lacking the courage to jump to their foregone conclusions. i opened my eyes and it was gone a bubble that floated away. or burst or never was to begin with.
Sergio A. Ortiz Sergio A. Ortiz has a B.A. in English literature from Inter-American University, and a M.A. in philosophy from World University. His poems have been recently published, or are forthcoming in: The Battered Suitcase, Zygote in my Coffee, Right Hand Pointing, and Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing. Flutter Press published his chapbook, At the Tail End of Dusk (2009).
The Three of Us She is a paralytic relapse, a succession of fixed images completes her figure. I am surprised I can’t remember how quickly she walked with her crutches among the magnolias, showing off the doll smile polite children carefully rehearse to use on special occasions. My memory of her is set like a picture from my photo album, flat; my aunt wearing furs and white gloves on Hollywood Beach in Chicago. I remember her sitting by the lifeguard weeping, or pretending to weep so he would approach. She’d give him miniature cacti in bloom. She never asked what he was reading, but when she’d look into his eyes I could see her going through the pages. She’d soak in every one of the images, poked the ones that were sad and laughed wanting to give them a new perspective. Then she’d lick the steel legs of the park bench and hide under it imitating poodles and canaries. Didn’t mean anything to me. I also remember her alone on the beach. My eyes alternating between the book and her long-shiny-black-hair. She-he-I was always different, it depended on the lifeguard.