Cabildo Quarterly. Issue #6. Belchertown MA; Pittsburgh PA. Early spring 2014. His head was shaved and he still wore bellbottom jeans in ‘99.
Clapping by Bruce Pratt He believed the flashes of light dancing across his shuttered lids were the result of her palm flailing the flesh of his face.
Billyburg nouveau poseurs Boring haircut immovables Sour sweat stink vintage clothes Fake trust fund hipsters – hold your nose! Swill dull beer, indifferent Pushy zombies DEAD DEAD DEAD Remember that thing I just said? Better dying than be dead
Later he realized they came from a lamp on the table, wired to switch on and off when she clapped her hands.
David Lawton’s poetry collection Sharp Blue Stream is available now on Three Rooms Press. He is a co-editor of greatweatherforMEDIA and lives in New York City.
He’s also not too careful with what he says to the women who work here, which has led to the current predicament. He’s a smooth talker, and can usually diffuse a situation himself, but he sometimes goes too far and I have to fix it. The standard bargain is to offer the girl a week of paid vacation. It’s Mr. Koch’s idea of a solution. The standard bargain didn’t work here, though. There’s a new girl, Anne, who started here four months ago. She’s the most recent target of Marc Koch’s tasteless affections. He started off casually complimenting her, but recently his remarks have taken on a more aggressive edge. He had been very good at keeping his behavior purely verbal, but that changed today, and that’s why I have to have these meetings.
What is the sound of one hand? Applause for damming his tears? Credit for fists kept clenched at his side? Praise for believing that a boy’s best friend is always his mother? Snarls in his temple’s bruises, snickers in his puffed eye, rebukes in the swell of his lip, sounds without sound. The sound of one hand. Bruce Pratt’s novel The Serpents of Blissfull was published from Mountain State Press in April 2011. His poetry collection Boreal, is available from Antrim House Books, and his short fiction, poetry, and drama have appeared in dozens of journals in the United States, Canada, Europe, and won numerous awards. He lives with his wife Janet in Eddington, Maine.
Survival by David Lawton Rockabilly tiki bar Psychedelic hibiscus flower Rough hewn axman plucks at Electric fence barbed wire Scrap metal pedal steel Throbbing oil drum beat Tumble down rumble doll Go-go angel shimmy shake Swayback writhing supplicant Field calling us to follow down S’mashed refrain smooths tough leathers Tobacco smiles shine like chrome Shadow puppet in reverse Dancing apparition lights Bogey in putrescent green Moldy elbows stab what passed him by Dessicated unclean jig Gig can’t escape from DEATH DEATH DEATH A simple moral for your head Better dying than be dead Fabled gate’s embrace downtown Motor City atomic sound Proto punk street dirt fires Devil’s Night assembly line Look at you see that cat Pile drive meltdown trance Punk’s bottom line survives Road war fought in Econolines Power packed minutes mine Double nickels on the dime D. Boon lives, deep inside Pedro thud staff writhe
The Stilt Walkers by Karyn Lye-Nielsen Taller than listening Taller than sun Taller than needling spruce Tall enough to perceive boats weaving on smooth fabric Arms arrowed. The woman’s to his They traveled thin of speech the sorry debris they had made At least until At least until without baring Yet no matter all she could do was reach Their weight baltwo poles each.
corn could rise. flowers could see. whispering sighs edging the field. the mirage of sea narrow pleats of faraway water. Arms arrowed. the man’s to hers. air above waves leaving beneath the grounded grief of the earth. the air cleared. they could breathe their teeth. how they tried all he could do was reach. anced on lean stilts two poles each.
Karyn Lie-Nielsen writes poetry and prose from her home in rural Midcoast Maine. She has enjoyed being a sign language interpreter and teacher in addition to writing. In both 2010 and 2013, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance awarded Lie-Nielsen "Poetry Winner in the Short Works Competition." She holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast Writing Program.
Risk by Jeffrey Schroeck I’ve been at this cardboard plant for eight years. I didn’t know anything about cardboard when I showed up, but I put on the best air of adaptability that I could. They gave me a job, and within four months I was a floor manager, which didn’t require knowledge of the work as much as an ability to deal with the workers on a personal level. I had worked with the worst kinds of people for twenty years before this. These people are easy. The company is run by John Koch. He started it in his garage decades ago and has been successful since the beginning, which is a testament to his tenacity. There’re also no other cardboard places within five hundred miles. The people who have been here since the beginning say he used to look out for his employees, but doesn’t worry about the people on the floor as much now. His nephew is one of my workers. When he’s got his mind on it he can be adequate. More often than not, though, he remembers that he’s the boss’s nephew and exudes invincibility. This attitude starts with a noticeable decrease in productivity, then spreads out into his interactions with the rest of the staff. He’s had a couple of fights, and has gone home in the middle of a rush day, leaving his coworkers to pick up the slack.
Anne and her friend Steve, who recommended her to me and had witnessed the incident, came into my office around one this afternoon. Anne was still visibly upset but had mostly calmed down. The incident had happened about three hours before. “Thanks for coming in. I’m sorry you had to go through this. I don’t know if Steve warned you about Marc before you started here.” “He didn’t, but that’s fine,” she said. “I expect someone like that at any place I go. I’m surprised everyone else here is as cool as they are, relatively.” “So what happened exactly?” Anne went through the whole long incident. I don’t want to go into all of the uncomfortable details, but in the end he had touched her ass a couple times and called her a few nasty words when she slapped him away. Steve corroborated all of it. As she was telling her story, though, I started to have a memory of being young. I was about ten years old. I was at my father’s house, out near the woods by the school, where he’d been living with an Army buddy. It was evening, but it wasn’t a school night so I was allowed to stay up, even later than Mom would let me. I was playing with Legos but was starting to get bored, so I asked my dad what he and the other adults were doing in the other room. They were playing Risk, which I had never seen before. It was Dad, his roommate Willy, some friend from the neighborhood who I can’t recall and is probably dead by now, and my mom’s younger brother Dylan. I asked about the game. It seemed fun. It was an adult game, or at least was a game that adults seemed to be interested in, more so than Candyland or Pizza Party. I asked if I could join in, and Dad said, “Sure. On the next game, we’ll get you in here.” I said okay and watched for a few more minutes, but it was too dull to just watch. I went back to the Legos but got bored again. I turned on the Nintendo and put in a game. As soon as I saw the names on the starting screen Dad called out, “Is that Zelda? Don’t play that ‘cause we all got saved games on there that we haven’t finished yet. Play something else.” I turned off the Nintendo, sat on the couch, and put the TV on. As I was flipping through the channels, I stopped for a moment on some Western. I flipped to the next channel, but Dad yelled in from the other room. “That sounds like ‘The Ranch Hand’. Put that back on.” “But you’re in the other room. I wanted to see what was on.” “I want to listen to it.” I put it back on. I watched for a minute but it was stupid and I stopped paying attention. I stared at the tree outside the window until I heard a clear yell of victory coming from the game room. I ran in so we could start the next game. “Not right yet, Bobby. We want to try to get one more game in tonight. Maybe next one…tomorrow.” They started realigning their pieces. “You can play with it all day tomorrow too. See if Christopher wants to come over.” “You said I could play the next game though.” “I know.” He started to get that look that he got when my voice got a little froggy. “Listen, buddy. You’d get bored anyway. Once you’re a little older you can play with us. We don’t want to be slowed down trying to show you how to play. You have plenty of games.” I accepted the logic of what he said, and went back
into the den. I began playing with a deck of cards, trying to figure out casino games.
Anne and Steve left the office. Twenty-five minutes later, Mr. Koch came in. I wasn’t expecting him.He caught me as I was about to go to lunch. “You got a second?” He was already in the seat by the time I said yes. “I’m wondering what we should do about this Anne. Marc doesn’t think he was over the line. I’d say I agree with him. I take it she doesn’t want the vacation?” He grabbed a candy from my desk, taking his time unwrapping its noisy wrapper. “I didn’t offer. She was very upset about the whole thing, and seemed to want us to actually do something about it. Steve was in the room too. I didn’t want it to seem like we’re trying to bribe people.” “Give him a few weeks too. Fuck it!” “She also made it clear to me that this is a bigger deal than when he usually fucks up.” I regretted this phrasing. Mr. Koch stood up. “I feel you don’t like Marc. What do you want from him? I happen to know he’s one of the best guys you have. His attendance is perfect. He’s never had one write-up. Why the vendetta?” “I don’t have a problem with him, John. I just don’t want him acting like he can get away with anything that he wants, anytime he wants.” “What’s he doing wrong? I’ve never heard anything about anything he’s doing wrong.” Mr. Koch’s volume began to get people’s attention. “He’s constantly drinking at work-that’s not just Powerade in those bottles-and he hasn’t been on time AT ALL in the past four months. He’s constantly harassing women and starting fights. It’s ridiculous when you stop and think about it all at once.” “I can’t help it if he’s a charmer and he’s got a short fuse. You’re just not giving him a chance.” “I’ve given him nothing but chances since he started, but this situation isn’t going to go away easily. I don’t think we can afford to lose Steve or Anne, let alone the both of them. Plus, I happen to agree that Marc was out of line. If he wasn’t your nephew I’d have fired him as soon as I met him..” “Bob, listen to me. You can’t be doing something like that. This is a family business. He’s family. Get rid of the girl if you have to, but Marc stays.” I opened my mouth to respond but was too slow. “We’re getting close to the end of the year anyway, right? You’ll get a little extra bonus if you deal with this the right way.” As I sat there thinking about all this, I had another memory. I was at my grandparents’ house. They had people over after the funeral for Uncle Dylan, who had been killed in his house. I was told there was a break-in and the thief shot him. Dylan had a nihilistic outlook, and this seemed almost appropriate. He lived hard and called attention to himself. He must’ve boasted about some expensive electronics he owned to the wrong person, who busted in to get it. It also could’ve been random. Any time I asked about it I got brushed away. “Don’t ask about this right now,” was the response of everyone I asked. I walked over to the deli tray. My uncle Jimmy, from Dad’s side of the family, was standing there watching me place rolls of cold cuts on a piece of bread. “Bob, you gotta unroll it before you put it on the bread.” “Oh.” I didn’t know it mattered. “Think they’ll find Dylan’s killer? Do they have any evidence?” “From what I’ve heard,” Jimmy said, “the cops are going through his address books now to see if they can find anything.” “You think it was someone he knew?” Jimmy looked puzzled. “Of course it was. He was a fucking lunatic, but he wasn’t an idiot. He only dealt with friends.” “So they’re thinking it was a coworker, then? That makes a bit of sense now. He probably wouldn’t shut up
about his stereo.” “What do you think happened?” he said, as he motioned towards the door. “Let’s go outside for a second, away from your Mom and all them.” We went onto the back deck. It was early November, just cold and rainy enough for everyone to want to stay inside, but comfortable for me. Jimmy offered me a cigarette. “Are your folks gonna give me shit about this?” “Nah, it’s fine. They don’t care. They’re all smoking in there anyway.” “I don’t mean…I’m talking about your uncle. What did they tell you?” “He was shot by a burglar, right?” “No, he was dealing. He was trying to scam one of his customers, and they got pissed and killed him. At least that’s what they’re thinking happened.” This was a side of Dylan I was unfamiliar with. “I had no idea. What was he dealing?” “Heroin.” “Is that what he got busted for a few years ago? Mom said it was a child support thing.” I began to smoke deeper and faster. “No, man. It was dope. How old were you then? Seventeen? They should have told you what was up.” “I’m not told anything. It’s been like that all my life. The adults are always locked in one of the rooms in the house, talking about shit like this. I’m kept in the dark about everything. I don’t know why.” Jimmy threw his finished cigarette in a puddle. “Sorry you found out this way.”
Marc sat down in front of me. He was chewing gum, looking like he wanted to put his feet up on my desk. His smirk was infuriating. “Marc, you can’t be doing this.” “I don’t see what the problem is. I’m just being nice to people and saying nice things about them. How is it my fault that someone is sensitive?” “That’s not the point here,” I said, “and you’re not being nice to these people. You’re being an asshole.” Marc sat forward on the chair. “What? You can’t be saying that to your employees. Uncle John wouldn’t want to hear you saying stuff like that.” He sat there, waiting for an apology. “Are we done here?” “No, we’re not. I’m getting sick of your entitlement, and I’m close to telling you to pack it up and leave. I’m trying to run a floor out there, and the last thing I need is some drunken idiot breaking his neck. You’re the worst person here and have probably cost the company thousands of dollars, but everyone is afraid of you because of your uncle. You would’ve been fired years ago if I didn’t know that your uncle would just hire you back and fire me.” Marc stood up and ran out of the office. I knew where he was going.
Mr. Koch sat down. “You’re going to have to apologize to him, you know that.” “I don’t think that would be an appropriate response right now, or ever, for someone like him. He needs to know how the world works.” “I’m not interested in how you think people should be. I just need you to apologize for calling the kid an asshole.” “He needs to be called an asshole. It seems like no one has ever done it before. I’m surprised that no one here has punched him in the face. I can’t apologize.” Mr. Koch leaned on my desk and got quiet. “This is difficult for me, because I don’t like to let people down, but if you don’t say something to him by the end of the day, I’m gonna have to let you go. Don’t make me do that.” I couldn’t afford to leave, but I couldn’t let my decision be made for me like I always had. If I did this time, I always would. I still felt too inadequate to make a choice, and it took me a while, but sometime before the end of the day, I took a walk around the plant and said goodbye to everyone,
walked upstairs, and told Mr. Koch it was time for me to move on.
“Thanks for your time, Mr. Miller,” the Human Resources lady said, “but you’re just not what we are looking for right now.” “Thanks anyway,” I said. “Tell me something, though. Did I ruin it with my answer to the ‘one way you’ve solved a problem on the job’ question?” “Yes." Jeff Schroeck is a writer and musician living Ocean Grove, NJ. He plays guitar in Black Wine. JeffreySchroeck@gmail.com Vistas by Leonore Hildebrandt The house of childhood dilapidates, giving in to rain and rodents. A branch from the Big Spruce pierces the roof. Grasses overtake the remains of the sheep fence, the sandbox, the fallen swing. The salmon-colored sofa––once a curiosity in the wilderness––now shows its rusted coils. But the bathtub still catches water from the eave. A lanky apple tree bears tart fruit. And in summer, visitors from the city marvel at the stillness. To protect the house from shame, they choose the right angle, taking pictures only of the sweeping hills, the shimmering bay. Leonore Hildebrandt’s letterpress chapbook, The Work at Hand, is available from Flat Bay Press. A first book of poems is forthcoming with Pecan Grove Press. RANDOM THOUGHTS OF CONVERTING THE FAMILY POOL INTO A FALLOUT SHELTER by Kathleen Ellis Always on the hottest days before breakfast my father and I would go swimming in the backyard on Kennedy Street. And in our diving into the pool, into everything undisturbed, clouds of steam would rise above our heads. This was a given and not a metaphor. From an old Folger's coffee can, I would sprinkle chlorine in the deep end, half expecting a feeding frenzy of Japanese koi. On our return to the house closed tight against the heat, we’d listen to the conversations of morning, all of us on our toes: Milk on the table, Jerry eyeing the bacon, David erecting a bridge out of Wheaties, father unfolding the do-it-yourself shelter plans on the table— The Yates are planning to convert, the Bishops are talking about it. And the physicist up the street wants to build from scratch. My father, who still smelled like chorine, was only half convinced. The world he'd built with his own hands would not crumble easily. He ate slowly, treading the air, his left hand reaching across the table to pinch the muscle of my swimmer's good right arm
Kathleen Ellis has lived in Maine since 1977. Her poem”Lolita” was featured in Cabildo Quarterly #5.
Cabildo Quarterly, issue #6. First press of 1000 copies 3/7/2014 (in preparation for our Flywheel reading with Joe Evans III, Mike Faloon, Larry Livermore and Brook Pridemore on the 8th). Printing by Collective Copies, Amherst MA. Lisa Panepinto, hustle; Michael T. Fournier, flow. Free in and around Belchertown MA and/or Pittsburgh PA, as well as Atomic Books in Baltimore and Quimby’s in Chicago. Otherwise, it’s a buck for one or a sawbuck for a big ol’ stack to CQHQ, PO Box 784, Belchertown MA 01007. Back issues are the same -- we’re running low on #2, but all the rest are still around. (Simultaneous) Submissions of previously unpublished stories and/or poems is wicked encouraged, kehd:cabildoquarterly at gmail.com for the former, 3-5000 words, and lmpanepinto at gmail for the latter. Catch Lisa on tour reading from her poetry collection “On This Borrowed Bike”: 3/13 at Green Frog, Palouse WA, 3/14 at Revel 77 Coffee in Spokane, 3/15 at Orca Books in Olympia, 4/5 at Visible Voice Books in Cleveland, 4/23 at the Bangor, ME Public Library, and 5/17 at Front Porch Books in Orono ME.More dates for Lisa and Mike (whose second novel “Swing State” will be out on Three Rooms Press this fall) can be found on Cabildoquarterly.tumblr.com (and back issues can be found on both .pdfcast.com and issuu.com). Thanks to everyone for reading and contributing, to Karen Lillis and Small Press Pittsburgh, and, as always, to Rebecca and Ryan for putting up with all of this. Issue #6 playlist: Minutes “Roland,” Sun Kil Moon “Benji,” Skull Defekts “Peer Amid,” Alarms and Controls “Clovis Points,” Screaming Females “Castle Talk,”Great Western Plain “Elastic Smile,” Hurricanes of Love “Quintorian Blues,” Pile “Dripping,” The Rutabega “Brother The Lights Don’t Work.” Awright!