The Chapbook, Number 3 2013 ÂŠ The Chapbook, Editor: Alan May All rights revert to individual authors and artists upon publication. Submissions for The Chapbook are accepted year-round. Manuscripts that contain previously published poems are welcome, but only if authors retain full rights. Previously published small press chapbooks are welcome, if they have been out of print for five or more years. Manuscripts should be typed and consist of around 20 pages. Authors should include an email address and telephone number on the title page. All chapbook submissions should be sent to Alan May, The Chapbook, 121 Greenbrier Drive, Knoxville, TN 37919. Manuscripts will be recycled. From time to time, The Chapbook will focus on authors from particular regions of the U.S.A. and, hopefully, other parts of the globe. The Chapbook welcomes chapbook reviews and art submissions. Reviews and art submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cover and interior art by Volodymyr Bilyk. For more information, please consult our website: http://chapbookjournal.com/ The Chapbook is published in Knoxville, TN. ISBN-13: 978-1493680535 ISBN-10: 1493680536 ISSN: 2164-991X
The Chapbook, No. 3
Body by Corey Mesler / 5 The Fallacy Carriers from Bombyonder by Reb Livingston / 29 Six Screenplays on the Nature of Collective Experience by Steven Wingate / 65 Art by Volodymyr Bilyk / 87 Errol, Inland by Susannah Felts / 99 Algunos Mirrors by John M. Bennett / 113
BODY by COREY MESLER
The Chapbook, No. 3
“Body Doctrine” in Now Here Nowhere “Lips” in Petrichor Review “Mouth” in The Scrambler “Nervous Stomach” in Halfway Down the Stairs “I Only Want What my Arms Want” in Softblow “Truth Hand” in The Smoking Poet “Be my Legs” in Seeker “Little Heart” in Toxic Flyer “The Body Opens Like a Flame” in Blue Lake Review
“There are things in us that are larger than we can know. Life in us. Death in us. They hide huge in the small shells of our bodies.” --M. Allen Cunningham
‘The home of the ego is the body, and the body treats the intellect as a stranger.” --Rumi
Contents Body Doctrine / 13 Lips / 14 Mouth / 15 Headlong / 16 Nervous Stomach / 17 I Only Want What My Arms Want / 18 Truth Hand / 19 Heart / 20 Be My Legs / 21 The Healing / 22 I Have Cleaned Myself / 23 Little Heart / 24 The Body Opens Like a Flame / 25
The vagina is a window. The head is a helmet. Iâ€™ve lasted this long believing the body is a template. I am slave to desire, stranger to comfort. The sword at my side, well, you know what that is. Just like in the fairy stories we told each other when we were younger. The head is an aerie. Like children we use the word thigh when we mean something darker, more cogent, where the wound is.
I found a pair of lips half-buried in the loam of my garden-space. I took them inside. They were so tender, tiny creature with soft wings. I made a pleasance for the lips and placed it near my bed. The first night, as soon as the light was out, they spoke to me. They said, You are godlike. I love you as fiercely as the encircling room round a forge. The next day I returned the lips to the garden and went for a walk. I was hoping to run into Sandra again. I had already broken her sweet heart once.
Itâ€™s midnight in my illusion. The angel is made of ash. The outside is where I go if the longing goes on too long. It always goes on too long. The ceiling light is dim like a sun. The mouth doesnâ€™t speak. The mouth is where I go for the longing.
â€œI must burn my allegories by the lamp.â€? --Gong Zizhen
I rely on it, the slippery escape of words, their coxcombry. I hide, here behind an oxymoron, here inside facetiae. God help me. I am lost in my own head, in its endless need for logomachy, its lowdown, lexical masque.
“You have a nervous stomach. Try to be calmer.” --my family doctor
Encopresis is not my friend. Every morning the prospect of a fresh day turns old food into toxin. Diagnosis is like shooting at stars. Life settles never. Nor the psalterium. I’m stuck at the loose end of the sentence, the spot where we are all humbled and made human. The day is a chain. Each link rumbles like a GI on maneuvers. It’s a separate language, my borborygmus, too many verbs and cantankerous adjectives. And too few solid, adjuvant nouns.
I Only Want What My Arms Want
“Whoever embraces a woman is Adam. The woman is Eve.” --Jorge Luis Borges
The distance between us accordions like the death of a planet, the black hole that is flesh-loneliness. It’s a funny world: I can pull your picture up on this outer space screen, the same space I use to write these words. And you say: your words are warm on my flesh. So, I long for your flesh, across the great uncharted pelagic wash of stars, loose in the huggermugger world.
He offered hope. He took me to the woods. I undressed slowly. The sky was full of glue. Moles broke ground, looked forward to progress. He took my hand. It felt like balm. He wrapped my wounds. He bound my feet. Years later this is all I remember. Oh, and there were bats, thousands of affectionate bats.
If I speak of heart and I do let it be a thread between us, an accord. If I move back and then not I only do it because it is human. The vacillation of focus, the unsteadiness. The day slows down near the end; we touch, we reach out and touch. At least that, at least we are, at times, the people we mean to be.
Be My Legs
Poem, get out there. Rend the veil. Love women. Talk to children. Hold the wind. Debauch trees. Run with dogs. Touch something deep within yourself, myself. Love women. Be my legs.
“[N]o doctor does the work of the carpenter It’s our nerve and ideologies die first.” --Robert Lowell
After my appendix burst and I walked around with the poison pooling in me for days they cut me open from naval to pube. I woke from the sweet anesthesia with fear and nausea, and a joke. It’s the joke my wife remembers. I lay in shackles of sheets for a week, weak and sore and afraid. I only wanted to jump from the window. I only wanted to fly. I only wanted to get home and write all the poems that would ever accumulate in me, today’s poems, tomorrow’s. I wanted to write all the healing poems so that you could read them, you who waited with me, just outside my door, afraid to catch your death.
I Have Cleansed Myself
I have cleansed myself with silence. I have felt my bones thickening in the soup of my body. I spoke your name only once, to the priest inside my trousers. Now I lie down because what is left for me is the restlessness I am prisoner of. I lie down because I lie, and because you call me back every washed-out day.
Little heart, how came you to be what I rely on, little canker, no bigger than a lie?
The Body Opens Like a Flame
The body opens like a flame. There is stillness in vulnerability, a stillness that is almost consoling. Pain sears, then scars. The body fancies its humanness. It knows no other way to enjoy things. It is its own worst enemy, the selfimmolator, the killer dreamt. The body opens, in this desert of the heart, like a flame.
Corey Mesler has published in numerous journals and anthologies. He has published 7 novels, 3 full length poetry collections, and 3 books of short stories. He has also published a dozen chapbooks of both poetry and prose. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize numerous times, and two of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His fiction has received praise from John Grisham, Robert Olen Butler, Lee Smith, Frederick Barthelme, Greil Marcus, among others. With his wife, he runs Burke’s Book Store in Memphis TN. He can be found at www.coreymesler.wordpress.com.
The Fallacy Carriers from Bombyonder by REB LIVINGSTON
The Chapbook, No. 3
Acknowledgements Selections from this chapbook have appeared in Map Literary, Hobart and Drunken Boat.
Reb Livingston On the turds of elks a thumping arrived without a name. This tragic parasite writhing for a breath or admonishment. Whatâ€™s in its stomach is a liar. Whatâ€™s in its mouth can be persuaded.
When we slowmo-drifted to the silent casino to spend our hard earned ghoulishness, our boat needed something specific to cut through the ice created from the methodic chomping of alligators. We possessed so few specifics with our pockets full of pearls and teeth. Werenâ€™t there any schematics or blueprints or subterranean planners? We needed coins and slips and we needed help drawing a blank and we needed to do it here before here was printed and sold to scuba divers and archivists. Slots were hard on a body, on a door, on the ear, on a belief system. All the empty slots ironically filled with junk. A silent casino was not a good place for sleeping or rowing, so quiet all you could do was think about the teeth cutting through your ass. What to be avoided: a wrench in need of a bolt, a full drawer of records, masked pageant preparations, whales, thumping funnels spewing bloodworms. What needed to be done needed to be done and this now would be a time for a renovation, reboot, an inspirational quote, pee break, an appointment lending attention to that still needing attention. The things we lost: a feather, an orb, parrot, cat, donkey, status, privacy, Heath Ledger, our lice. Reflection brought the freeze, I looked and it all stopped, I counted, I wept, I preserved, I slept. I woke practically a reptile. 34
Reb Livingston The butter churn dissolves. That is your cue to crank it. Let me repeat: the black ring on you finger disappears when you start producing answers. Thereâ€™s one way to reach mercy and it involves a crumbling wall circling a deepening pit. I repeat, there are answers that do not require recollection simply repetition.
We were sexing it up on a very fine mattress. Experts said sleep would be improved, but sex remains sketchy on memory foam. Sleeping and sexing was pretty much the same for me so I didn’t notice much difference. When he poured mouthwash on my chest was that part of the act or the dream? Did he really liken our sex to slitting our throats? That made me think of my father and I didn’t want to remember him while I was sexing on a memory foam mattress. What did it mean that this lover masturbated all over my scarf collection? Was this a trick to keep my neck exposed? Was he serious when he said he wanted to see the latest Johnny Depth film? Was that what reminded me of Heath Ledger in Monster Ball? Were the hysterics the film’s or mine?
Reb Livingston Some were shot. We considered them the lucky ones because the bullets were really small. They could barely feel their pin-prickled deaths. Over before they knew it and soon back to their daily routines. For them, nothing much came up, a random glimpse of a favored childhood toy, breakfast cereal, a glass of Tang, all forgettable, tame. The rest of us endured our deaths for years. It took a long time to be crushed by a falling sky and even longer to be smothered by it. You could barely feel the weight holding you down. Each gasp full of thin air and feathers, practically tickled. Our daily dying became our infinite routine. We became so well acquainted with it, we could do it in our sleep, squirming, crying for it to stop, laughing when we coughed feathers. It never stopped and we barely died, just felt the dying continually. The more we recovered, the more it killed us, over and over until we couldnâ€™t forget a damn thing. I couldnâ€™t forget the penises, so many angry penises. Pissed penises squinting. Marching penises of fury. Oh ee oh, ohhhh! The Pencil Dick Dilemma and its Unlikely Collaborations: A Play in Infinite Acts
The giantess of the swamp descended from the genetically engineered fish of lore. They were silvered and when you sliced them, they split apart like fabric at the seams. Soon these fish of lore began genetically engineering humans to slice apart. For years the humans and fish dissected one another, in the name of engineering. Then the historic rebellion happened and all fish and humans were freed from the swamp and sent to their lands of assigned origin. Except those assigned to be from Pompeii. Those fish and people no longer had a land to return to, so they remained in the swamp, breeding, undisturbed in the muck. Until they were disturbed. The giantess with the ancient penis protruding from her chest emerged from the swamp for one purpose: to knead bones.
Reb Livingston Under the uterine sky the many windows reopened after the robbery, vulnerable like a matryoshka exhibit, crippled like a classmate. So many things taken, toys and games and teeth and shoes and a silver birdcage. I don’t know where they were stolen from but I knew they were gone and I couldn’t get them back. I knew my robbers; ex-lovers and cousins of friends with their pocket knives and laughter, taking keys and iPhones and along with all the other goodies. The ex was the worst criminal and the worst of people, the worst of all I spat and put up no fight because I couldn’t come up with a purpose any of this would serve. When they left I locked the doors and hung the screens like fly traps. I huddled in my womb of no entry and saw no trapdoor, not that I tried, not that I wanted to ever get out or wanted anyone in. I lived a warm and cellular life until one day the house pushed me out and I couldn’t get back in. Outside was too bright and cold for anyone to exist, yet so many did. Somehow I did too.
We approached an impressive city we had never been before. We could not help but notice its deceiving beauty, the skyline littered with rows of brightly colored rotundas. We watched a man work on the roof of a dome, the most incredible view we ever had. We saw a man on the corner with a sign that said TEETH FOR SALE. We were so young, even sunlight seemed beautiful and necessary. But what was really necessary was that we braced ourselves seconds before Mother rear ended the car in front of her. Maybe she hit the car or maybe she swerved just in the nick of time and hit something completely different. That part isn’t important any longer. Or if it was, it is no longer because it’s been blown to pieces. What is relevant is how frightened we were and how thankful to have survived the event. We tried to join Mother for a hug, but she didn’t want our hugs, she wanted an apology. How dare we be frightened around her. Didn’t we realize how terrible that made her feel? How very selfish to display such brazen terror in her presence. Imagine how we made her look in front of all the others. The cops arrived, Mother fell asleep, arrangements were made and you and I were put in shackles, forced to share a cell with a forgotten elderly couple. All for our own safety. We were brutalized with paper shoes, the safest method of brutality which we were grateful because we expected so much worse. We weren’t really prisoners, the shackles possessed a stark, snug beauty. In their clutches I slept deeply for the first time in months. Eventually the real prisoner awoke, a specimen possessing true movie-star beauty. Someone remarked, “utterly intoxicated.” She escaped by speedboat, wind in her hair, probably on her way to rendezvous with Harrison Ford or
Reb Livingston Bruce Willis or some other ridiculous alpha persona with a stone face and well-muscled arms. We watched it all through the barred window of our safety. You thought for sure sheâ€™d come back for us once she tired of real man. I was relieved when she didnâ€™t.
By the time Mother returned from prison, I was a teenager. You’d think we’d be happy living in our mansion overlooking the swamp, but she never let me go to the bathroom. Every time I was in there, she’d bang on the door and then another door would open and people would flood in like it was a public lobby. She ran that mansion like her personal prison yard with heavy foot traffic and revolving doors. I told her that I couldn’t pee while she banged on the door and people walked through and she said, “Good.” My bedroom was like that too. I said that I couldn’t sleep with her banging on my door and people milling about. She said, “You poor, delicate porcupine.” Then Mother said, “Your therapist is here.” While I wanted my therapy, I wanted to fight Mother even more. Come on, let’s go, prison rules! Not only did I want to show that I wasn’t afraid of her, I wanted to smash in her face with a bar of soap wrapped in a sock all while giving her the prisonrule advantage so there would be no question who was in charge. Also, I enjoyed yelling “prison rules.”
Reb Livingston Something about a plate cracked in half, something alluding to the shrimp that didn’t make it on the plate, something particular to a specific presentation that transports me to another locale. She who left us to take a shower and never came back. She who hurts and eats everything on her plate and yours, then belches, then criticizes your table manners. Then asks for a loan she never intends to pay. Then belittles you for worrying about your own bills. Then reminds you of her many sacrifices so you could be here right now, starving, breathing in gas, being belittled and shamed. She who stays still while growing more deformed as she waits for something to insert itself. Well fuck you, I have nothing to penetrate anything with and I certainly never desired to be a penetrator in the first place. I reject this penetration method. Everyone skinny dips. Everyone is asked to visualize a giant drill penetrating the swamp’s bottom. Everyone on this motorboat is a suspect. I’m looking at the ghostly Bruce Willis and Han Solo, half-frozen, rapidly putrefying into a bubbling hospital dessert. I’m thinking they’re looking pretty good right about now.
Today’s concern about the proper use of orbs and their many implications may not be a concern after all. Maybe the concern is being alone in a hotel room, waiting for the waiting to stop, maybe murder is the concern, maybe she’ll be prosecuted for her crimes, maybe the death should be recreated in a bathtub, there might be concern as to whether a person can ever truly be dead, somebody take away her orb, tell her she can’t participate in this expedition anymore, tell her she wasn’t pulling her weight, tell her that we hate her so very bad. People done gone underground, people don’t concern themselves with their litter cluttering the community. When we emerge from the underground the middle-aged woman points her gun at me, “be tougher,” she says, “bad things happened down there for a reason and don’t you forget that.” Her new strength makes her the unpleasant, paranoid woman who is truly correct, tough to make out, pretty much tough shit, she doesn’t need a bed to rest her head, she dreams in the tough language of advertisements, she barks a mean jingle when you touch her, you have to rewind really slow, it’s a tough time getting to work, it’s tough walking stairs in these sharpened sandals. It’s tough giving the message to hurry up and save the pooch. I tell it to the tough guy plotting to fix things, the one who always has a tough time relaxing, he tells me he’s tall, I tell him to stand up and prove it, I explain how it all went down, I tell him to bring my identity back to Upper Bombyonder, I tell Tough Guy I don’t care how, I can tell Tough Guy is not a happy excavator, he doesn’t want to do this, he’s neither a Christian nor a supporter of the death penalty and this seems like little more than necrodiving.
Reb Livingston Heâ€™s concerned about crossing boundaries, I tell him I understand that he needs to simmer down. I tell him to move it. I tell him to dig like its his own grave. I tell him these corpses arenâ€™t for his sensual pleasure. Theyâ€™re for mine.
Beware of the panic. The suspicious monster pretending to fight. In this dimension youâ€™re capable of fighting pretty much everything that confronts you but how do you fight the machine attached at your temples? The cops trace the panic and oh fuck THE PANIC IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE NARRATIVE.
Reb Livingston Maybe the snake wasn’t a snake but a person, but it looked like a giant white snake to me so I needed to cut its head off. I couldn’t get the saw all the way through and then the altar caught on fire. Most of the pages of my father’s bible incinerated, but two tiny leather-bound volumes remained unscathed, filled with poems written from the fragments of older poems eaten and shat. Since I couldn’t kill the snake, my task was to rewrite those post-shat texts. The problem with recovery is that when you don’t go very far from where you were born, you shit and piss where you live, the same place where your parents, and their parents shat and pissed and so on, meaning you’re swallowing the same ancient, recycled shit and piss that seeped into the wells that all the generations drank before you. Pretty sure I didn’t need to drink from the water, that shit was already in my blood. Original pickled veins. Or maybe that wasn’t my problem. Maybe the problem was that I failed at killing the snake. Or maybe the problem was I tried to kill it in the first place. A great deal of appropriated pickles. And snakes. And penises. The phallus quandary? The fallacy of phalluses? Talk about distractions. When you added it all up, these penises didn’t amount to much.
To assist the ordered kindred fluster named as the extinct and blessed we sketch a timeline to offer emphasis to these layers of humanity and suggest a point of view to be confronted and revised at a later time by future descendants with their need to reshape the line into a different form. The rest we ignore.
Reb Livingston My trailer graffitied but it was much worse than that. The animals inside hadn’t behaved, they went positively wild. The leopard ate the caretaker and most of the cow. All that was left of Mizmoo was her head and shoulder, sounding so mellow, mooing on the floor, like she forgot a leopard gobbled her. Maybe she understood that her purpose was delicious. All I found of the caretaker was his silent, severed foot. Difficult to say if this was my fault, if the animals should have been fed, if it was my responsibility to feed them. Should I have separated them? Put up some kind of boundaries? I left them as they arrived. Who was I to implement a change in the order? I barely could make sense of the existing rules. Couldn’t even be sure the leopard was the culprit, but the zebra hadn’t appeared as a contender. It had to be the leopard, the zebra was inconsequential. The scrawl on the outside of the trailer: THE VICTIM IS THE PERPETRATOR IS THE VICTIM IS THE CULPRIT IS THE CASUALITY IS THE FUSE AND THE FUTURE JUST A PAWN IN THE END
An outfit calling itself “The Carries” claimed authorship and included an email address.
Clearly an attack on my feminism with bait for my reply. I gave no reply nor showed any tears or concern. I walked away and when I returned much later all that remained was leather specks and bone splinters, piled like magic refried beans, like a pile of runny shit caught in a rainstorm. Donâ€™t ever bring my feminism into question again, you psycho-cunted arsonists, I seethed to the specks and splinters, else Iâ€™ll rain down onto you the most terrible Twitter mob who will tweet your titties to crumbs.
Reb Livingston Really well put highlights, wild, famous and disconnected, shampoo experiment, volunteer rinse, adjusted stress tress, additional trim, sideburned private landing strip, thick ribbon strung, shaved orange wig, figuring out the giant bath, glass dutch oven. Geometric bush-maze patternâ€”the new rage, find your self before your self finds you infested with lice. Crones silvered to tarnish, clips among peeking roots, hair dunk, everywhere dog and vacuum, snake shooter, permanent surprise, mustached roots, curling wealth, defused donation bag, handsome forgetting what it was to be straightened. I pee myself a little, I squat, it burns. Psychic jealousy, knife-pressed conditioner, intense wastrel treatment, blondepoured bleach, stuck engagement, better bald rocker, salon scavenger, hairdone slop, sale ribbon, flat approach, crushed penis accessory, covert wet look, working afro, canned heavy heat, tubed devil horn, receding motherline, discouraged towel dry, blacker celebration, curly queued intention. 50 Hairstyles for Medusa-American Hair Honey-mustard hairspray, more fish oil for the finish, more points, woken by a new face, grease rinse, greased reunion, earwax on the needle and I did a really good job punching that hole, I can leave my hair wet and air dry, Iâ€™m a woman, long hair, breasts, see, woman, hole puncher, petting men like squirrels.
Kinky Joaquin Phoenix braids, shoebox full of bikini hair clippers, pick-up truck with a mattress where the engine should be, the world runs how the world runs. Hairblown interpretation, declined. Itâ€™s a cash economy out there. Vroom. Boomba and beyond.
Reb Livingston As we laid in bed together my lizard dragged his long gaze across my recollection. My lizard the lover, the iguana, the prickly vulcan, the seizure delivered by butterfly. This widespread affair no one prepared to fight. We prepared for other events. We prepared for traveling and camping, duffle bags tagged and zipped, ready for flight. We prepared hiding places for when the authority invaded to confiscate our pipes and pills. We dug bomb shelters, practiced drills, stocked gas masks. Aside from some adequate meals, my preparations amounted to crumbled toys. The lizard came and I took him to my bed without inspecting his tongue or demanding his name. Because he said I couldnâ€™t pronounce it and because I took him at his tongue. The lizard kissed me with his mouth full of gears and robotics ready to collect and compute all the violent data with dates. Crumbs on the bedspread. Crumbs on the floor. Scraps. Morsels. Splinters. Bits. Seeds. Specimens. Relics.
Never forgot sexting the monstrous faces of butter, but for a long while I did forget the bloodied whales pulling themselves out of the river, beaching themselves on the road like a bloodworm tossed in a bowl of pasta. We maneuvered around their bloated corpses like an art form. Those whales and their tired, flabby arms made us sick in all kinds of ways. Was it death or escape they crawled toward? Or did they just wish to be dicks and fuck up traffic? If I had a toilet big enough, I’d have flushed them all. To avoid a whale, a big truck full of men swerved and rolled over. An impatient motorist hit-and-ran the truck and the inevitable cop chase ensued. Some lady stood in the middle-of-the-road yelling at the cops. I yelled, Hey lady, you’re an dingbat. She yelled back “How am I an dingbat?” and I yelled Look around you, these are extreme days. Pick a side and get out of the way, wolves are coming for the blubber! They’ll come for you too. Until that moment, I always hated the police, but with all the whales and the abandonment of the overturned truck the world seemed different, harder and more putrid. Something expired and the soft and foamy stopped doing it for me. I wanted those pics to stop popping up on my cell. I needed the beeping to stop.
Reb Livingston Chained to a large bird, this bird gets more water than me, pissing off the bird, bombing the bird, a bird flying into the audience, we all clap, two birds in the nest, the blue bird lying near a bush, wondering if the bird is going to use the bush as a bathroom, wondering how clean can this floor really be? When I drop my doughnut, I think real hard before picking up and eating it. Wallowing in vomit of the dead bird, goes deeper and deeper. A swallow whole, huge bird made of wave, a one-time catch, a tempest, doves so close together they’re practically connected. Look, love doves. No, bulimic vultures stuffed with laxatives. Something is going to blow and it will certainly be foul. Reviving the individually wrapped birds, turtles on alert, the pornographer with a large stick and bird of prey, the owl and the strange bird, bird-like critter in the lock. It’s like you can’t offend people anymore. A bird feeder rejected for not being the real world. A very special birdcage, or a totem on a high pole, mythical confusion, owl as Easter chick, low hanging owl pendant, the owl from the ritual strikes. She’s not deformed, she’s an owl. She’s not obsolete, she’s a dodo. 55
She’s not a mother, she’s an ostrich. Swinging under the headless ostrich tree, handheld goose contraption, goosenecks smeared with some high-grade shit, a less expensive ducky, the fatwa of rubber duckies, shivery yellow duckies offering no warmth, floating with personal menace. It’s not a swamp, it’s a Jacuzzi and nobody ever got pregnant in a Jacuzzi. A turtle, a salamander and a duck go into a grocery store and eat watermelon. They spit the seeds into a belly of vomit.
Reb Livingston The contrast between the stylish mask and the functional smiley face and the women who loved the contrast. The belief that computers could think like humans and the women who, at their own peril, questioned the intelligence of artificial parrots. The fable parade carried over from last weekâ€™s episode and the women who marched for the rights of witch practitioners. The women who loved the bomb makers and the women who embraced mass destruction for all its brooding mystery. The women who pursued strategy and the monsters who engineered their fishing shrouds. When the women get all steamed up tell them their responses are manufactured imitations. I am the monster-woman who carried you back from the woods to the swampâ€™s safety. Intelligent behavior, like logic, is a fish story. I am the snorkel-mask and here is my snout.
Two spoons facing one another, spoons tied with ice cream, metal spoon, plastic spoon breaking, forks and spoons for cake, small bowls and spoonful, fork gathering, a fork in the highway. Sandwiches waiting in the library. These kids are picky eaters, hot turkey, reasonable sandwiches, mixed-up sandwiches, she stole my cheese, slugs in the salad, sandwich not a sandwich omen. Salads again and again. Salad on the dinner plate, gummy worms and salad, bags of salad in a suitcase, salamanders eating fruit, comparing cookies to salary, salary salad with the entry-level pay grade. Bugs like short worms, pasta with worms, bloodworm like a flacid penis, worm-like armpit growth, worm-like creature at the root, brightly colored worms and their tentacle like things. These worms taste like dick. Opting not to go the silly penis route. Sperm cup, sea giant with a large penis growing from her chest, her penis tucked back, penis over pants, salty thin penis, getting some Neosporin for that penis, penis torment, stretch and pretend, the animalâ€™s penis, like a corkscrew, the animalâ€™s mouth, about to bite down on that penis.
Reb Livingston When I was a girl, I regularly wandered fields and open spaces. Sometimes there’d be men shucking husks and other times there’d be women’s bodies strewn between the crops. I turned a blind eye to both the pie-making ventures and atrocities. Back then it was all the same to me, horrors to be rejected. Once I tripped and fell over half a six-pack. When I pushed myself up I observed a surfer ride the waves of corn. I thought, ain’t this America, ain’t it? It sure was, I was pretty sure.
Finally found a cabinet with a Carry completely redone and in need of repainting, a glass cabinet with a lot of old knickknacks and books, a cabinet designed to hold crafts, like a filing cabinet, the cabinet where the drinking glasses went, right next to a closet, full of lice, packed in containers with puppy veneers. I discovered that once there was a national mothering cabin, a cabin open for people to eat their produce while not worrying about worms. But it burnt down years ago. After the fire, work began on a large replica, similar to the cabin where Lincoln once slept. Then some pasty motherfucker came by and chopped down all the trees and lied about it so they put him in a position of extreme authority, obviously. Find me another cabin, one that is willing to serve a few good women, a cabin built as a triangle with a permit, a cabin with a Jacuzzi, gourmet kitchen appliances, super furry window treatments. Afraid to share as much as I have, details to share with a man, it really sucks to share such a small space, willing to share the bathtub, share the pie, share with my boyfriend, share my criticism, rather not have someone share my bed, we share the tacos, toothbrushes, an intimacy of plaque that partners share, thereâ€™s enough to share, but letâ€™s keep something for ourselves. Sharing my fish, sharing my snakes, my orbs, pencils. The relationship between the man and woman sharing a tomb, I mean really
Reb Livingston sharing it with the plan of sharing, sharing a single, sharing the same seat on the school bus, it wasn’t about her sharing her attention, it wasn’t about the lack of food, lack of care, instruction, fondness. It wasn’t about everything I lacked. But it was.
Reb Livingston is the author of God Damsel (No Tell Books, 2010) and Your Ten Favorite Words (Coconut Books, 2007). She curates The Bibliomancy Oracle and lives in Northern Virginia.
Six Screenplays on the Nature of Collective Experience by STEVEN WINGATE
The Chapbook, No. 3
Acknowledgments "Every Seventh Word" and "Dreams and Receivers" first appeared in Luvah Journal (Volume 4, June 2013). â€œIn the Beginningâ€? first appeared in Witness (Black Mountain Institute, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Volume XXIII, 2010).
Contents Every Seventh Word / 71 In the Beginning / 73 Dreams and Receivers / 75 Machetes for Stonehenge / 78 Fortress Walls / 81 The Breathing Voice / 83
EVERY SEVENTH WORD
OVER BLACK: THE UNIVERSE (VOICE OVER) Suffering lies atom bombs peonies Oxford yes. Coffee arsenic horsetails mountains sky napalm yes. All my stars in beauty born yes. FADE TO: EXTERIOR — THE UNIVERSE — NIGHT — THOUGH HOW CAN WE TELL, WHEN LOOKING AT THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE, WHETHER IT IS DAY OR NIGHT? Stars collide at their appointed moment yes of eternity. Radio broadcasts from planets yes that were born and died unnoticed yes by their brother and sister planets yes slide across the screen like bright yes pink, flaming evanescent phantoms. CUT TO: INTERIOR — YOUR BEDROOM — NIGHT
Passion descends yes onto your mattress, your soft sheets -– yes, even onto your skin made callused yes by disappointment and your tongue absolved yes of all past wrongdoings by this yes transcendent moment you have longed for:
YOUR BELOVED Yes, I love you. I always have, yes. CUT TO: EXTERIOR — THE UNIVERSE AGAIN — DAY — YOU CAN TELL IT IS DAY BY THE SUBTLE GLOW EMANATING FROM THE LOWER LEFT CORNER THE UNIVERSE (VOICE OVER) Paper clips pig feet quince cilantro yes. Eyes ears nose thighs bosom belly yes. I, too, have always loved you yes. Fox barn chicken thievery farmer gunshot yes. Cop abscond money Barbados partner dead yes. These words can soothe you now yes. Open wide and taste their beauty yes until your mouth hungers no more yes. END
IN THE BEGINNING
EXTERIOR — EARTH – NIGHT – IN THE BEGINNING was the word, yes yes, as we’ve been taught ad infinitum, and before there were words there were no words, and before there were no words there were rocks that broke into smaller rocks and pieces of inert matter that became salamanders or the cocoons of insects with wingspans as broad as city boulevards, who by mistake left no fossil record. FADE TO BLACK: as the wings of just such an insect whirr above your head, disturbing a strand of hair that lifts skyward before settling improperly on your pate. You consider replacing it but stop when your own heart, made sullen and reposed by the rhythm of the insect gracefully floating past you, skips not one beat but three. But four. You close your eyes to listen to one more vast wingbeat, trying to keep hackneyed, traitorous words like gossamer and diaphanous out of your head. But they belong, my dear. They belong. FADE TO: EXTERIOR — GENESIS – EGYPT AT THE TIME OF THE SECOND JOURNEY – TWILIGHT – HELICOPTER SHOT – TIME LAPSE
Judah and Benjamin and Reuben, sons of Israel, trudge circles in the desert sand: sometimes deliberate, sometimes dizzying in their fervor, sometimes so mindful in their presaging of Zen that they appear not to move at all. DISSOVE TO: EXTERIOR â€” EGYPT AT THE TIME OF THE SECOND JOURNEY â€” PRESENT DAY The city this spot will become, with its cheap gas and sweaty soldiers on the streetcorners and spice shops and tacky leather goods for tourists who haggle over prices because their guidebooks tell them they should. When the brothers wax ecstatic you can see their shadows dancing like Sufis. Such as now, such as the moment that stands before you. After three thousand years they believe their circle is a straight line. This, friend, is the price of too many ellipses around our cloistered sun. END
DREAMS AND RECEIVERS
EXTERIOR — A CREEK IN INDIA — DAY I’m in dirty brown water up to my chest, gently waving my arms through it so I don’t disturb what I’m looking for. Very intent. One hand finds a lamp with an ornate, yellowed shade fringed in fake pearls, and I hang it on the branches of a dead, leafless tree behind me. CLOSE UP as water drips from the fringes of the lampshade and hits the water below. Count the drips with me. One. Two. Three. Four. BACK TO ME, IN THE CREEK IN INDIA as I continue searching through the water and pull out a three foot high birdcage in the shape of a pagoda, its bars painted white. Its many small peaks have red flags atop them, perfectly preserved, and I marvel at their durability as I hang the birdcage next to the lamp in the tree behind me. As I return to my search, a dozen yellow-headed finches appear inside the cage, chirping. Then the water recedes — all at once, so that by the time I realize what’s happening it has fallen to my waist. I look through my shirt for signs of leeches, find none. In the time it takes me to do this the water falls to my ankles, revealing more human detritus: a plastic rake, knives and forks from a matching set, an old industrial stapler. Then the water disappears entirely. 75
MY SON (OFFSCREEN) Where creek? CUT TO: INTERIOR — MY BEDROOM — NIGHT I hum a little, deep in my chest, so my son knows I’m in the room with him. Sometimes he wakes up in a panic, and simply knowing he’s not alone is enough to calm him. He rolls over in his crib, mumbles profanities. I roll over in my bed, grab my notebook, jot down notes on this dream. For is it not true that all dreams will themselves into being, and some of us simply receive them? Might an infinite number of people receive the same dream, if their minds were so tuned? For example: CUT TO: INTERIOR — BEDROOM IN INDIA — NIGHT As a man wakes from this same dream, looks at his son, decides he must take him to see his grandmother when the day breaks. CUT TO: INTERIOR — BEDROOM IN WARSAW — NIGHT A woman wakes from this same dream, goes to her mirror, laments the deepening channels of her skin. CUT TO:
Steven Wingate INTERIOR — MY SON’S CRIB — NIGHT as he falls deeper into the dream. Hears the yellow-headed finches, now lined up in formation, sing their marching song. Watches the lamp, the plugless lamp, flicker three times in appreciation before expiring forever. END
MACHETES FOR STONEHENGE
EXTERIOR — STONHENGE — MOONRISE — PRESENT DAY Manics of every creed and color gather naked, machetes hanging by their thighs, to line up and take a run at these august stones: some ritual dreamed up simultaneously by the heads of two opposing religions that merged surreptitiously, spawning a third that engulfed them both. SLOW DOLLY SHOT — THE LINE of men and women, mumbling secret prayers as they await their turn. Their bodies covered with ash and blood / their lips aburst from some ancient red intoxicant / their forearms pulsing as they grip the machetes / exhausting themselves / believing that some untapped strength will rise like sap through their limbs when the moment comes. CLOSE UP — FACE OF A MAN his lips chewed to red pulp / his eyes crossed / his nostrils aflare. He sucks in a final breath before he takes off running.
Steven Wingate TRACKING THE MAN as he races toward the furthest upright stone â€” for this, the fathers have ordained, is the one that must fall first. With the last of his strength he smites the stone with all the fervor of an Old Testament murderer and falls, exhausted, to the sacred turf. BACK AT THE LINE the assembled manics fall to their knees, fists to their foreheads as they mumble a prayer. Then, at some unheard internal command, they simultaneously rise and beat their chests, reinvigorated. They grip their machetes and chew their lips and beat their chests, all of them ready to race at once to the furthest stone and destroy it. But they must wait. You and your fellow audience members grow as pensive and impatient as these naked manics of every creed and color, who await the signal commanding the next in line to spring forth. CLOSE UP â€” A WOMAN now as tired as the first runner was before he launched toward the furthest stone. Her machete dangling weakly by her side / her eyes crossed / her nostrils aflare. She sucks in a final breath before she takes off running. We remain with the line, dead silent as the womanâ€™s footfalls fade. Then we hear the CLANG of her machete against the stone, and the line falls to its knees again.
DISSOLVE TO: EXTERIOR — STONEHENGE — DAY — A THOUSAND YEARS HENCE Who knows what our species will look like by this time? Our only certainly is that this line stretches on forever. So many have joined the consecration. The furthest stone is a pile of rubble / the second stone teeters, a wedge cut four feet from its base / and if we are lucky / we will live to see it fall.
EXTERIOR — A FORTRESS WALL — NIGHT — LIT BY THE MOON You are a fortress wall overlooking the Panama Canal / overlooking Fort De Soto State Beach in St. Petersburg, FL with old-fashioned cannons at your crest / surrounding the quasi-castle I can’t remember the name of in Paterson, NJ where I used to go as a child / perched on a hillside twenty miles from some grand European capital, best viewed by passing riverboat while clutching a glass of champagne and nibbling Gruyere. But it matters not which you are, for all the world knows of you in the moonlight is the surface of your stone. Only seasoned geologists could tell you apart in such darkness, and for their sake we offer this montage in quick succession: 1) the first wall 2) the second wall 3) the third wall 4) the first wall again, to test their powers of perception 5) the fourth wall, which lingers picturesquely and flickers onscreen as we— FADE GENTLY TO BLACK AND DISSOLVE TO: EXTERIOR — THE WORLD — A WALL’S POINT OF VIEW AS YOU BECOME IT — DAY 81
You hear the sound of your own breathing. For walls have souls, do they not? Walls allow air to pass in and out just as lungs do, and can this not be called breathing? You listen closely to yourself as you look out on:
1) The ruins of a long-abandoned city in Turkey, now dotted by barely enough tourists to keep the workers coming. 2) A square in North Korea, forbidden for Americans to see, where magnificently-attired troops prepare for the war that will destroy all the fortress walls of all their enemies. 3) The satisfied architect of first fortress wall ever built, probably a Mesopotamian in his ceremonial white tunic, as he pushes his slaves aside and places the last stone himself. Then you see the slaves themselves, relieved at your completion, who foolishly believe that there are no others like you to build. CUT TO: EXTERIOR â€” THE WALL â€” AS IT LOOKS IN ON ITSELF scrutinizing with love its varying shades of gray, tan, brick, black. What joy and fortune to be a wall! To outlast your makers and the progeny of your makers! To know that some hands who made you have left lineages that eradicated themselves through war, spent their gifts in selfish dissolution, crumbled from lack of desire! END
THE BREATHING VOICE INTERIOR — WHEREVER YOU ARE NOW — PRETEND IT IS OUTSIDE — SUSPEND YOUR DISBELIEF — PRETEND IT IS NIGHT The lover is silent / the child is silent / the G is silent / the T is silent / the dog is silent / the cat is silent / the F is silent / the V is silent. And in this silence comes: THE VOICE THAT WON’T GO AWAY Breathing. Nothing but breathing. Listening to your own breathing. The sound of you listening / to the listening / of your breathing / as you listen / to your breathing. The voice of yourself as you observe yourself. A meta-voice, more vain and vulgar and polished and demure and skeptical and hubristic and selfish and hollow and worldly and coy than you. CUT TO: INTERIOR — WHEREVER YOU WILL BE TONIGHT — BUT PRETEND IT WILL BE DAY — WITH YOUR EYES OPEN LISTENING to the voice again as it emanates from the mattress beneath you. No lover beside you / no casual fuck / no friend in need / no blood kin seeking comfort.
The dog silent / the cat silent / the T and the G and the F and the V / all expunged from the alphabet / replaced with symbols of the moon / of nether stars exploded long ago. THE VOICE THAT WONâ€™T GO AWAY Breathing. Always breathing. Selfish and worldly and coy. Innocence constantly stripped away by an ever more robust innocence. Innocence like shed skin sloughed off and eaten by another. Innocence leaving traces on the body like time leaves its traces in the rings of an ancient tree. END
Steven Wingate's short story collection Wifeshopping won the Bakeless Prize in Fiction from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2008. He is the author of two prose poem collections, The Birth of Trigonometry in the Bones of Olduvai (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and Thirty-One Octets: Incantations and Meditations (WordTech Communications/CW Books, forthcoming 2014). Short films he has written or produced have screened at festivals from Brussels to Tokyo. He is Associate Editor at Fiction Writers Review and an assistant professor at South Dakota State University, where he directs the Great Plains Writers Conference.
Art by Volodymyr Bilyk
The Chapbook, No. 3
Volodymyr Bilyk is a writer, translator and visual artist from Zhytomyr, Ukraine. His book of visual poems was recently published in the series This is Visual Poetry (thisisvisualpoetry.com/?p=1151), and another book of asemic short stories, CIMESA (whiteskybooks.blogspot.com/2013/07/volodymyrbilyk-cimesa.html), was published in White Sky Books. His work has appeared in The New Post-Literate, A-Minor magazine, REM magazine, Cormac McCarthy's Dead Typewriter, The Otolith, Altered Scale, Ex-Ex-Lit, Truck, Maintenant, Apparent Magnitude, 3AM and many others. He is coeditor of Extreme Writing Community.
Errol, Inland by SUSANNAH FELTS
The Chapbook, No. 3
Acknowledgements Errol, Inland first appeared in ALL HANDS ON, an anthology of work published by The2ndhand.
It was May, and the air was sweet with honeysuckle and ligustrum. Errol stood on his back steps, breathing it in, thinking about that word, ligustrum, and how it was last year at this very time that Jess had taught him that word, or hadn’t taught it exactly, but had told him about those trees, that invasive species. She’d said it filled her with guilt to enjoy that smell. They sat for hours on a blanket in Errol’s backyard, slicing small pieces of some cheese she brought, staring into the dark shapes of the woodland that edged up to his neatly maintained fescue. He remembered the way Jess kneaded her thighs as she talked, when she was caught up in the story or the argument. She drank white wine, which was all right, because it was not a temptation for him the way beer would have been. He remembered the way she lifted her glass into the night to emphasize a point, sloshing a bit if she got too excited. Now the sweet air was back, but Jess was gone, off on a boat somewhere way off the Gulf Coast. She was out there lassoing sea turtles, checking their gums for mineral deposits. Errol wasn’t sure about the job’s specifics. What he did know was that she’d chosen it over him. It had taken time, but he felt he had gotten some clarity on the matter. Jess loved her work, but she had abundant love for many things beyond her work. Those strange cheeses and fancy mustards (she talked of opening a cheese and mustard shop someday, when she was too old to go to sea); French pop music from the 1960s; running; wetland conservation (she’d dragged him to a benefit or three); animals of any and every kind. She had loved him, Errol believed, but no more or less than these things. Errol had enjoyed learning her passions. And then she had to go. She got up one morning and announced it between bites of whole-grain pancakes she’d made, which Errol tried to enjoy, pouring syrup and more syrup until his plate became a shallow lake. She told him she’d been afraid to tell him until then. She hadn’t known if it would even work out, so she’d kept it to herself. But yesterday, she’d finally gotten the call from Noah. She took a bit of dry pancake, as if to let this sink in, and chewed it, staring at Errol sadly. He watched her mouth worm around as she chewed. Noah who? he thought.
“The funding came through. There’s an amazing new project, I can’t believe how lucky this is,” she said, and then went on to describe it in detail. NOAA. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Of course—now he remembered her mentioning NOAA, in one of their late-night conversations; how she’d applied and applied for jobs with them, with no luck. Until now. Errol sank the tines of his fork into the pool of syrup. He couldn’t shake the image of Noah, the former lover. Or Noah, the old man with the big boat full of animals. Which was a place Jess would fit right in. A better place than his shabby little home, for sure. He stared at the syrup bottle, where a woman mocked him with her open-mouthed smile. Eventually, Jess finished talking and there was silence. Didn’t he have anything to say, she finally asked. Errol took his unfinished pancakes to the sink. Syrup slid off the plate, leaving sticky spots that he stepped on for weeks to come.
*** Tonight, home from his Thursday meeting, Errol sat in the driveway with his truck windows rolled down, letting the sweet air in, thinking about Jess and how it had been a year, but thinking about other things too. He had noticed a cluster of small signs on the way up his road; they seemed to have appeared during the two hours he’d been gone. They were sunk into the earth at the intersection where his road, Cherry Pike, formed a perpendicular with Prestige Lane. Prestige Lane was the gateway to Cherry Grove Estates: 450 new Prestige Homes, and lots for homes yet to be built, all the work of Prestige Developers, LLC. The roads were still dirt-streaked where earthmovers passed back and forth, but Errol had observed that people had been living in some of the finished houses for a while. This cluster of signs was new, but there had been others, and he had never seen a human responsible for putting them out. They rose overnight like weeds, spotting the length of Cherry Pike and adjacent roads in clusters of three or four each, identical signs in each cluster: Prestige Prestige Prestige, New Homes This Way New Homes This Way New Homes This Way, . Ugly, Errol thought. Jess sure would have agreed. And all of them staked down on someone’s private property. The signs reminded Errol that the quiet country road where he’d bought his modest home nearly fifteen years prior could now be considered neither quiet nor country. In only a handful of years, scenic Cherry Pike had become an artery road, servicing a number of new housing developments. Neighborhoods with names, names including words like “Estates” and “Downs” and “The Residences at.” Maybe he should have seen it coming, but he had not. He had not foreseen his ten acres becoming surrounded by showy,
Susannah Felts cookie-cutter houses run amok with children and dogs and adults who still drove too fast down Cherry Pike, because that was not where the children were. Cherry Pike had become just one more road in a set of directions that one of these newcomers would recite to the pizza delivery kid—some guy with a low-interest mortgage on a new four-bedroom, 3000 square foot, cathedralceilinged monstrosity on a quarter-acre lot; some guy whose late-model SUV either blocked the path or bit the ass of Errol’s truck every time he left the house; some guy whose teenage son would soon get drunk with his friends and go out joyriding, bashing Errol’s mailbox for the sixth time in as many years. Errol stayed for a while in the truck in the driveway, thinking, hands still on the steering wheel as if he were sitting in traffic. At meeting a few weeks ago, he’d struck up a conversation with another man, a younger man named Royce. He’d thought about Jess, how they’d talked on the phone once after she left for the coast, and she’d suggested he would be better off with a few guy friends. He exchanged phone numbers with Royce, on the pretense of plans for a fishing trip. But then neither one had called the other, and when Errol figured he’d just run into Royce at the next meeting, Royce wasn’t there. And he wasn’t there the week after that or the week after that, and Errol figured that was not a good sign. But tonight, Royce had showed up again. Yes, he’d been drinking again for the last month. Just a few beers here and there. But he’d had nothing for two days. Everyone clapped, but after meeting, when they were all standing around drinking coffee and smoking, he shrugged and leaned in close and told Errol he wasn’t sure about all of this meeting stuff. He’d been ordered to attend because of a DWI. He didn’t really think he had a problem. He’d asked Errol to keep it quiet. Now Errol unfolded the little piece of paper where Royce had written his phone number for the second time (Errol had misplaced the first one), and dialed. “Yello,” Royce answered. “Hey, man. I’m sitting down here on Cherry Pike, thinking about a little covert environmental action,” Errol said, enjoying his choice of words, an image of Jess in her tall rubber boots flashing through his mind. “Is that right,” Royce said. “Thought maybe you might like to join the cause.” “Tell me more,” Royce said. No doubt Royce had stolen some signs in his day, Errol guessed. And at twenty-seven, and soured from the DWI and no doubt some other recent losses, he’d probably be game again. Hell, it might be a healthy, or healthier, diversion. Errol figured he knew where Royce was at: right at the point where acute nostalgia for boyhood and all its small and stupid transgressions itched worst. And so he humored the mid-life crisis jokes Royce tossed his way, and smiled and nodded to himself when Royce said buddy, just tell me where and I’m there.
Errol drove slowly back down Cherry Pike. The night was earlysummer perfect: clear, cool, the moon a little less than half-full, resembling a fat garden slug. Near the intersection of Prestige and Cherry, he parked his truck back a few hundred feet behind a big old maple. Royce drove up minutes later and parked beside Errol. The two men stood facing each other, leaning against their trucks. Royce reached into the bed of his truck and opened a beer. “You all right with this?” he said. “I can be,” Errol said, with the practiced nonchalance that came with eight years of sobriety. If he’d known Royce a little longer, he would’ve scolded him. Errol walked to the edge of the road and plucked up the five small signs there. They weighed less than a pound each; it was easy as ripping clumps of oxalis out of the vegetable garden Jess had started for him last summer. He tossed them in his truck bed. “There’s more down the road. I’ll drive.” “What’s got into you, man? What’s this all about?” Royce said as they drove to the next intersection. “How old are you again?” He chuckled. “I used to pull this stuff in high school. What are we gonna do, stick ‘em in one of your neighbor’s yards? You got some vendetta?” Errol came to a quick halt, headlights pointed directly at three more Prestige signs. “Your turn,” he said. “You get these.” Royce pulled too hard on the first one—probably expecting more resistance, Errol thought—and almost smacked himself in the face. Beer flew from the can in his other hand. “Motherfuck,” he said. “Keep your voice down,” Errol muttered, annoyed with the other man but also with himself. With his talk of covert operations and whatnot, he’d led Royce to expect some quasi-dangerous mission. But in truth this was a quiet and simple job, and one he should have done by himself. It shouldn’t have turned into some bonding opportunity with a guy who was over ten years Errol’s junior, and possibly drunk besides. He tried to shake his bad mood. “We’re cleaning up the environment,” he said out loud. Jess would have approved. “Damn straight,” Royce said, slamming the pickup door. “Where to? What’s next on this mission, bro?” Errol did have a plan. They headed east towards Shutes Ferry Lane, stopping three more times along the way to uproot more small signs, not all of them for Prestige Homes’ “Cherry Grove Estates.” Some of them were advertisements for contenders in a city council election. Errol thought maybe they should leave those be, but Royce pointed out that the election had been over and done with since April. “Shit. I should have known that,” Errol said. “You keep up with metro politics, huh?” He stared at the pile they’d amassed. It wouldn’t be enough.
Susannah Felts “Nah, not so much. My boss’s wife is friends with the wife of one of them guys that ran. They tried to get us all to vote for him,” Royce said. “His big agenda was something about water treatment.” Errol thought of Jess out at sea. He pictured one of her long, thin fingers prodding one of those giant turtles’ slimy jaws. He pictured her in bright yellow neoprene, surrounded by nets full of turtles scrabbling all over each other, her hair in a ponytail, sunglasses. She believed in the efficacy of government. She would have voted in that council election if she were still around. He remembered hearing her lament the endemic apathy towards local electoral politics. That phrase, and others like it, rang clear and isolated in his head, detached from whatever context she’d put them in. “Let’s go, man; someone’s gonna see us and get suspicious,” Royce called out from the cab of his truck. Maybe he should have asked her more questions. Maybe he should have fought the Prestige Developers in some real way, before it got to be too late. He shouldn’t have been so complacent. But he’d been so happy being sober and in love that everything else had faded into background noise. Maybe Jess was back on land. The last time he called her cell phone it’d said no longer in service. He had her email address, but he didn’t know what to write. For all he knew she was here right now, inland, back in middle Tennessee for a visit with her family. Maybe she would drive by and see Errol on the side of the road, with his truck bed full of signage. Something scurried in the drainage ditch nearby. Errol flinched. From Royce’s truck cab came the shhick of a can popped open. On Shutes Ferry, a quarter mile from the interstate, Errol pulled onto the shoulder. This sign stood eight feet high and three feet wide, moored to the ground by a stand made of four-by-fours. Royce got out his truck and leaned against it. “Signs, signs, everywhere-a sign, blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind,” he sang. “Do this don’t do that, can’t you read the sign.” He got down close to the sign and kicked at one of the legs. “Buddy, this thing is built to last. I don’t know about this.” “Whose idea was it to come get this big one?” Errol said irritably. His mouth was dry. He should have brought something to drink. He had not forgotten, not for one second, how good a cold beer could taste. “It didn’t look this sturdy from the road,” Royce said, circling the sign, shoving on it here and there. We might need some equipment. We can’t just pick this one up. This here’s a different animal.” He finished his beer and threw the can off into the scrub. “This sign ain’t going anywhere, at least not tonight in your truck. What you got planned for these bad boys, anyway?” Errol stared at the sign. It was made of some sort of thick, ribbed polyurethane. He tried shaking it. “What’s the big secret? You got some enemy over at Prestige? I guess I just don’t get it.”
The sign didn’t budge. “Get on the other side, Royce,” Errol said quietly. “Man, I’m telling you—“ “Get on the other side, dumbass,” Errol said, gripping the sign. Royce’s lower lip drooped slightly. “Fuck you, Earl.” “It’s Errol.” Royce was silent for a few seconds. “Okay, Air-roll. But I think, as your partner in crime here, I should know why hauling this thing off is so damn important to you. Right now, however, I got to go take a piss.” He stumbled off to the edge of the scrub. Errol rested his forehead against the sign’s wooden frame. He felt a splinter take root above his right eye. He wished Royce had never mentioned this large sign, because now he had to have it. Without it, he knew he wouldn’t have enough for what he wanted to do, his big vision. At his meeting tonight, he’d listened to a woman testify about how she’d abandoned her husband, her friends, her job; she’d tossed it all down the drain, she said. The bottom of my glass became my focus, she said, and I didn’t need to look no further. Errol thought she sounded like she was reading from a script. So many of them sounded that way. He didn’t want to sound that way, so he tended to just listen. He knew they all wanted him to talk. They were just waiting for it. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed when he heard Royce shuffling through the tall grass of the embankment, coming to the opposite side of the sign and taking hold of it. “Let’s lift her,” Royce said. “On three,” Errol said. They lifted the sign a foot off the ground. “You get on that end,” Errol said. Slowly, they tilted the sign horizontal and began moving crab-like up the embankment to Errol’s truck. The splinter in Errol’s head itched furiously. Both men’s breath hissed through their noses, developing into a musical pattern of rounds: Royce’s exhale beginning on the tail of Errol’s, their inhales following in kind, against a backdrop of dry grass crackling underfoot. “This isn’t a crime,” Errol said, once they’d loaded the sign onto the truck. “What?” Royce huffed. His shirt was starting to calico where the sweat soaked through. “You said we were partners in crime. This isn’t a crime.” “Huh. Tell that to my wife when she has to bail me out again.” “You’re married?” Errol said. “That’s what she tells me,” Royce said. “I take it you aren’t?” Errol shook his head. He was glad when that was enough for Royce —no further questions. Not that there was an especially sordid tale to hash out or skirt, one. He’d never been married, frankly never been close. Had the drinking had something to do with that? Yes, it had. Had he thought that
Susannah Felts giving up drink might lead him into a woman’s arms, her into his? Against his better judgment, he had. By the time Jess came along he’d abandoned the expectation of that cause and effect; he’d been so pleasantly surprised by her appearance in his life, and the strange worlds she held within her, that he’d felt he had little if anything to do with her being there. She was operating according to some great pattern of levers and pulleys that was invisible to them both, and he wasn’t fool enough to question or refuse it. And then her departure, even a year after all was said and done and he’d been on a few dates and had time to clear his head, even after all that, felt like yet another kind act beyond the hands of them both. After all, she’d cried the last time she saw him. He kept this in mind, held it like hope for a long time, until he just didn’t anymore. He was hard pressed to say how it had even happened, that healing that had come without any real relief. “I do have a plan for these,” he said. “Come over tomorrow night if you want.”
* * * Royce called late the next afternoon. “My wife says I forgot we had dinner plans,” he told Errol. “Dinner plans, yeah,” Errol said, feeling a small, sharp relief. “Well, that’s a shame. Some other time, maybe.” At dusk he unloaded the signs in the backyard, the little ones atop the big one like puppies on a bitch. He spread a colorful picnic blanket that Jess had left behind out on the grass and beside it placed a cooler. He’d stocked it with six regular beers, six nonalcoholics. He’d bought the regular beer with Royce in mind, but had opened the cooler repeatedly to stare at it all day. Jess had been passionate about a lot of things, for sure. Maybe a little weird about some things. Last summer, while they lay on this blanket, Jess struck whole books of matches, one sulfurous tip at a time. Said she loved the look of a single flame, loved the smell of a burning match. She made miniature haystacks with the burnt matches, and then burned those, too. And one night she’d orchestrated a bonfire of limbs and leaves. She flung lighter fluid on the heap, whooping with glee, so infectious in her delight that Errol had no choice but to echo her. His shouts had felt stiff, a little undercooked. But when the fire died down, he took her to Wal-Mart, and filled the truck bed with stolen wooden pallets, to keep the flames coming. She had loved him for that, he thought. Before he lit the pile, he went inside to his computer. Hello Jess. It’s been a long time. But I decided to have a little bonfire tonight and it made me think of you. Wish you were here. Errol.
When the flames got going good, he lay down on the blanket and stared up at the night sky. The earth felt good and solid beneath him. He reached over to the cooler and gripped a can. Heâ€™d take what he got.
Susannah Felts is the author of a novel, This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record (Featherproof Books). Her work has appeared in publications such as Hobart (web), the Oxford American, Wigleaf, Quick Fiction, Five Chapters, and others. She's working on a novel and story collection and lives with her husband and daughter in Nashville, Tennessee.
Algunos Mirrors by JOHN M. BENNETT
The Chapbook, No. 3
Contents Walking Mirror / 119 Espejo de la Calavera / 120 Climb the Mirror / 121 Espejo Ahogado / 122 Espejo Ranitico / 123 Espejo de las Tripas / 124 Opening Mirror / 125 Mirror Break / 126 Mirror of the Nails and Grease / 127 Espejo de Segundo / 128 Espejo del ComuniquĂŠ / 129 The Breaded Mirror / 130 The Suitcase Mirror / 131 Miroir du Chemin / 132 The Mirror Speak / 133 Espejo del Tos / 134 Wet Mirror / 135 Espejo Textual / 136 Espejo de la Muerte / 137 Mirror of the Drowned / 138
Ice Mirror / 139 Espejo de la Cara Mojada / 140 Eel Mirror / 141 Espejo de la Ara単a / 142 The Mirror of Memory / 143
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett
John M. Bennett has published over 400 books and chapbooks of poetry and other materials. Among the most recent are rOlling COMBers (Potes & Poets Press); MAILER LEAVES HAM (Pantograph Press); LOOSE WATCH (Invisible Press); CHAC PROSTIBULARIO (with Ivan Arguelles; Pavement Saw Press); HISTORIETAS ALFABETICAS (Luna Bisonte Prods); PUBLIC CUBE (Luna Bisonte Prods); THE PEEL (Anabasis Press); GLUE (xPress(ed)); LAP GUN CUT (with F. A. Nettelbeck; Luna Bisonte Prods); INSTRUCTION BOOK (Luna Bisonte Prods); la M al (Blue Lion Books); CANTAR DEL HUFF (Luna Bisonte Prods); SOUND DIRT (with Jim Leftwich; Luna Bisonte Prods); BACKWORDS (Blue Lion Books); NOS (Redfox Press); D RAIN B LOOM (with Scott Helmes; xPress(ed)); CHANGDENTS (Offerta Speciale); L ENTES (Blue Lion Books); NOS (Redfoxpress); SPITTING DDREAMS (Blue Lion Books); ONDA (with Tom Cassidy; Luna Bisonte Prods); 30 DIALOGOS SONOROS (with Martín Gubbins; Luna Bisonte Prods); BANGING THE STONE (WITH Jim Leftwich; Luna Bisonte Prods); FASTER NIH (Luna Bisonte Prods); RREVES (Editions du Silence); NEOLIPIC (Argotist); LAS CABEZAS MAYAS/MAYA HEADS (Luna Bisonte Prods); BALAM MALAB (Logan Elm Press); LA VISTA GANCHA (Luna Bisonte Prods); THE SOCK SACK/UNFINISHED FICTIONS/MORE INSERTS (with Richard Kostelanetz; Luna Bisonte Prods); T ICK TICK TIC K (Chalked Editions and White Sky Books); THIS IS VISUAL POETRY (This is Visual Poetry); EL HUMO LETRADO: POESÍA EN ESPAÑOL (Chalk Editions; 2nd ed. White Sky Books); ZABOD (Tonerworks); TEXTIS GLOBBOLALICUS (3 vols.; mOnocle-Lash Anti-Press); NITLATOA (Luna Bisonte Prods); OHIO GRIMES AND MISTED MEANIES (with Ben Bennett, Bob Marsh, Jack Wright; Edgetone Records); SUMO MI TOSIS (White Sky Books); CORRESPONDENCE 1979-1983 (with Davi Det Hompson; Luna Bisonte Prods); THE GNAT’S WINDOW (Luna Bisonte Prods); DRILLING FOR SUIT MYSTERY (with Matthew T. Stolte; Luna Bisonte Prods); OBJECT OBJET (with Nicolas Carras; Luna Bisonte Prods); CARAARAC & EL TÍTULO INVISIBLE (Luna Bisonte Prods); LIBER X (Luna Bisonte Prods; CUITLACOCHTLI (Xexoxial Editions); BLOCK (Luna Bisonte Prods); THE STICKY SUIT WHIRS (Luna Bisonte Prods); SOLE DADAS & PRIME SWAY (Luna Bisonte Prods); and LA CHAIR DU CENOTE (Fidel Anthelme X). He has published, exhibited and performed his word art worldwide in thousands of publications and venues. He was editor and publisher of LOST AND FOUND TIMES (1975-2005), and is Curator of the Avant Writing Collection at The Ohio State University Libraries. Richard Kostelanetz has called him “the seminal American poet of my generation.” His work, publications, and papers are collected in several major institutions, including Washington University (St. Louis), SUNY Buffalo, The Ohio State University, The Museum of Modern Art, and other major libraries. His PhD (UCLA 1970) is in Latin American Literature.
Includes fiction, poetry, screenplays, and art. Titles include The Fallacy Carriers of Bombyonder by Reb Livingston, Errol, Inland by Susann...
Published on Jan 12, 2014
Includes fiction, poetry, screenplays, and art. Titles include The Fallacy Carriers of Bombyonder by Reb Livingston, Errol, Inland by Susann...