Vol. 9 Issue 7
Cover: “House of Worship,” photograph by Mark Myavec. Sissy Buckles Benjamin D. Carson Salvatore Difalco Robin Wyatt Dunn Stephanie Jones Robert McCready Mark Myavec KG Newman DF Paul Sy Roth Olivier Schopfer David Sermersheim
14-15 3 4-6 18-22 11, 17, 26 12 cover 10 16 8-9 7, 13, 23 24
Benjamin D. Carson | My Heart is a Liver | Poetry For Ella “Why isn’t my heart called a liver?” my daughter asked as I stood folding laundry. Looking puzzled, I folded a shirt, as she patiently explained. “Live. Er. It’s what makes you live. So shouldn’t your heart be called that since it’s the most important part?” In the silence that followed, I turned socks inside out, pressed creases out of jeans, and felt in my core the steady rhythm of love.
Salvatore Difalco | Day of the Flies | Fiction Must have been the hottest day of the summer. My T-shirt was soaked with sweat, arms and face sunburned. My mother was on day shift at the Brill shirt factory around the corner, where she sewed pockets. My father had been out of the hospital for a month or so. He was in bad shape, working on one lung. He looked caved in. I’d been in the park across the street, hitting some baseballs around with my friend Vinnie. Being in the house with my dying father wore me down. I dragged my feet up the porch steps. Flies buzzed through a rip in the screen door mesh. As I walked through the entrance hall they flew around my head, and bounced off the ceiling lamp and the walls. I had to plug that rip, my father couldn’t do it. I walked into the living room and his black Naugahyde recliner, where he spent most of his days, and sometimes his nights, sat empty. It looked strange without his stretched, skeletal presence, but I could still smell him in there. The flies hummed about chaotically. My mother would have freaked out if she saw them. We had a can of Raid in the kitchen and a fly swatter somewhere. I heard voices in the kitchen. My father had company. “Where have you been?” my father asked me, his face lathered white, a white towel draped across his chest. Cousin Angelo, black-haired and sweating in an undershirt, was shaving him. He had been a barber in the old country and would come over every few days to give my father a shave as he couldn’t do it himself and my mother had a nervous hand. “Hi Angie,” I said. “I was at the park with Vinnie, Pa.” “Hey kid,” Angelo said as he leaned into my father and swiped the straight razor down his cheek, leaving a fleshy stripe. He wiped the straight razor with a little towel on the table. My father said, “At the park, at the park, always at the park. While your mother’s breaking her back at work, you’re fucking around like a child at the park.” Angelo leaned in again and swiped off more lather. My father wanted to say more, but Angelo, face pimply with sweat, kept at it. Now and again he swatted away a fly that got too close to him or my father. “Pa, I’m gonna get the Raid for these flies. And I’ll plug up the screen.” “Yeah, good. Make yourself useful. I told your mother about the screen, but she can’t do everything.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” Angelo said. “Take two seconds to patch it up.” “He can do it. He’s got nothing better to do.” While Angelo continued shaving my father, I grabbed the green can of Raid from under the sink. The blood-specked fly swatter lay on the table next to the ceramic shaving foam cup with the brush in it. A stranded fly struggled in the foam. I watched it for a moment—it was taking a long time to die—before I went to the living room and hit the mass of flies with Raid. The fumes burned my nostrils. The flies didn’t die immediately, and didn’t quiet down. I went back into the kitchen to get the roll of duct tape in the junk drawer. As I rifled through the drawer, I noticed a rill of blood worming its way down my father’s neck. “It’s just a nick,” Angelo said, dabbing it with the small towel. But the blood kept coming. It stained the towel draped over my father’s chest. “Go on,” Angelo said, “you’re making me nervous standing there with your mouth open.” “Get out of here,” my father said in a dry voice. I grabbed the duct tape and headed to the front door. Dozens of flies convulsed about the floor, crunching under my sneakers, but the Raid had barely made a dent on the humming swarm, now blackening the room. I hurried to the screen door and clumsily unrolled a length of duct tape and ripped it off. I repeated this and taped up the hole. The flies still seemed to be pouring into the house. I checked for other breaches but saw none. I shut the inner door. My hands dripped with sweat. As I walked through the living room I could hear yelling. The flies were so thick I could barely see in front of me. I entered the kitchen waving my arms, spitting flies from my lips. His face and hands greased with blood, Angelo leaned over my father, applying the blood-soaked towel to his neck. “Call an ambulance,” Angelo said. “The bleeding won’t stop.” “It’s the blood-thinners,” my father said. “For the embolism.” “Geez, Pepe, you should have said something.” “I’m saying it now.” The blood kept flowing from the cut on my father’s neck, despite Angelo’s efforts at compression. Flies began to cloud around them.
Salvatore Difalco | Day of the Flies (continued)
“Hurry, kid, he’s really bleeding.” “Do something about these fucking flies, you idiot,” my father said. “Call the ambulance,” Angelo said. “I’m telling you the kid’s an idiot,” my father said. “Takes after his mother’s side, fucking hillbillies.” “Call the ambulance!” Angelo shouted. I hurried to the telephone in the hallway. My father and Angelo continued yelling from the kitchen. A shaggy mass of flies covered the telephone. I was afraid to touch it. I went out the front door. I walked out to the park. Some kids in red jerseys were hitting balls at the baseball diamond. I sat in the grandstands and watched them lope around in the afternoon haze. “Hey, wanna hit the ball around?” one of them asked me. I could hear sirens. “No, I’m good,” I said, still holding the roll of duct tape.
Olivier Schopfer | Dreamy | Photograph 7
Sy Roth | Him with the Chesire Cat Smile | Poetry So, they will come for him Again, Finally — After hiding, he thought so well, in the niches of their society — behind his Cheshire-cat smile. They sometimes wore their kipas in camaraderie — The others — And he thought himself safe behind his cleverly constructed hidey-holes and their true hearts secreted behind their Cheshire-cat smiles. He hoped for some peace From the finger-wagging fools, Yellowed stars decaying on their sleeves. He killed their Christ — And they sharpened their teeth, Bared them behind their Cheshire cat lips. And his rictus of a smile Drooped in a flatline When he looked into their eyes, And he knew that they saw only The Leader’s inability to XyclonB them all Into non-existence. He tried too hard to be the lovable Jew. He tried too hard to get them to see into his heart, That he cared. But they cared nothing for his lovable heart — Nothing for his obsequious smiles Nothing for his kindnesses — Nothing.
And they were coming, again The Frankenstein mobs, To his door in the night In nacht and nebel Torches lit And they would try, Once again, To wipe away Him with his Cheshire-cat smile.
KG Newman | Smoke Screen | Poetry At Green Heart all the budtenders are women. I buy an eighth and go to Altitude, where they are women too, tatted but lacking grunge — they vape, hit the gym between shifts. When couples counseling is suggested I suggest the young blonde who says she’s a fair arbitrator and she’ll hear me out. The waterfall and incense makes it all sound and smell so promising. I open with a long list of vices by which we barely coexist. Just tell me your best possible outcome with this, she says, setting a pinner on the end table. I reach for my lighter in the hopes I can remember.
Stephanie Jones | Untitled | Digital Illustration 11
Robert McCready | Diane Evans at the Wedding | Poetry I wore a wig to his wedding at Biltmore. All the guests, our mutual friends. They implied: lousy camouflage. During the reception, I snaked the courtyard, escaping the wedding party. I scurried past knee-high fountains. I wolfed down champagne behind the statue of a nude woman. My mantra: don’t do something crazy. Afterwards, I perched near a furtive guest. She turned, and turned again, trapped with me, the groom approaching. I pulled down my bangs, like one would a hat bill. “Another friend of the bride,” he was saying, “I’m Justin.” He recognized me. I said, “Fuck you, Justin.”
Olivier Schopfer | Overgrown | Photograph 13
Sissy Buckles | Everyday she takes a morning bath, she wets her hair | Poetry Some guy died today at work I heard the news in between one more tedious Skype meeting and wondering when the A/P clerk jabbering three cubes over would ever stop noisily effusing about the ongoing antics of “My man” as if she was speaking about her dog or something, a phrase both banal and insidious at once and that only sounds good in a tragic Billie Holiday song, and it was the one thing she exclusively ever seemed to get excited about, spreadsheets be damned but I was getting the feeling again as if I would start shrieking like a banshee if she said “My man” one more time in that proprietarily shrill tone of hers, when I overheard the autistic mailclerk who was prone to talking to and answering himself as he meandered in his practical way cradling his packages carefully through the hallway maze and once the building manager told me that he walked in on the odd spectacle of him in the bathroom without his shirt using an electric massager on his back because it was hurting (since I’ve been known to slip into the stall for a quick cry, I’ll not be one to judge) and now was gossiping again with the gabby admin who had to constantly keep her fingers
in everybody’s pie so it seemed this dude, one of the vast anonymous herd I cross paths with in the impassive corridors every day staring down lost in their phones, he was only 40 years old and expired alone in the basement computer server room nobody had seen him for an hour and a half when he had a heart attack and choked on his dentures upper and lower and I sat there brooding for more time than I should on just how in tarnation could a person choke on their dentures even later consulted with the bi-polar disabled Vet who hangs out regular at Dirk’s Horseshoe Lounge in downtown Lemon Grove and goes by the name old Shaky J because he used to box and doesn’t suffer fools gladly and had ended up getting a set after having all his teeth pulled when he got hauled in for loitering in a liquor store parking lot on Broadway with the other homies sipping a Colt 45 tallboy while taking a break from collecting cans to turn in for cash and add to his monthly SSI allotment because his part-time under the table construction job had temporarily dried up and now making the ultimate mistake of calling the
cop questioning him an idiot because really he wasn’t doing anything but sitting in a parking lot with a beer this impulsive spouting off resulting in him being unceremoniously cuffed then thrown in the cruiser & sped away to central jail booking and hauled three, count THREE separate times out of the holding tank to a special locked cell hidden off the beaten path and then getting savagely slugged around and his cranium/mouth bashed mercilessly into the concrete over and over and over by gargantuan thick-headed officers, coming to the last time at dawn face down in a river of his own blood the slick crimson liquid streaming towards the handy drain in the middle of the gray grimy floor and they said that the only reason he lived through it at all was because he was ‘Airborne’ Marine his face rocked so hard as to be completely unrecognizable for weeks to come and after tossing the question around in his head for awhile he then pronounced with finality regarding the alleged choking — “it’s possible” and me taking a quick moment to perversely envy the vets’ fake choppers while dreading my scheduled root canal and the surefire pain to come, stomach automatically knotting at my inner visceral dentist anxiety; so when they finally found
the engineer he’d turned blue with no pulse, and of course the Fire Department showed up and couldn’t revive him it had been too long then Herb in Security tried to call his wife at home and all he got was the antiquated landline with a message on their recorded voicemail — his voice & his wife’s and their little girl chanting in unison “we’re not home so please leave a message at the tone.”
DF Paul | The Liar and the Partisan | Poetry You can trust the everyday liar because he will always serve himself; he knows he is beneath something, and he will try to convince you otherwise. He is predictable. He is low. He is servile. The whole charade is steeped in worthlessness. But the partisan is a different beast. His lies serve a cause he believes greater than himself, a cause so necessary, so vitally important not just to him, but to the world at large, that the very act of standing in its defense supersedes the truth. He is dangerous because even as he lies, he allows himself to believe it is the truth. The liar knows he is beneath human dignity; the partisan believes he is above it.
Stephanie Jones | Untitled | Digital Illustration 17
Robin Wyatt Dunn | Birds | Fiction
Something was waiting inside.
Maryella had remembered the furniture; it fit just right in the room. It matched the feeling of the street; north of the mission. She had arranged the cello against the wall and intended to play it. The same way she had played it for her husband. He had died shortly after their last visit to the desert; a sudden heart attack. She walked to the café and met Harry, who was still in love with her, and ordered a sandwich and her coffee, which she drank on the street, holding the sandwich in her hand. The apartment was still fresh in her mind; the white room, and the chest of drawers. Over the roof she could smell the sea. You could always smell the sea here. A car was traveling very fast down Van Nuys; it careened through the intersection, burning rubber over the asphalt before disappearing around the bend. Sirens lit up and followed it after she had swallowed her coffee. Harry brought her the sandwich and she called her friend Elizabeth who had promised to make her dinner to welcome her back; she didn’t like Elizabeth but had no other friends, not after Brian had died. -After lunch she tried to play; she held the bow in her hands and stared into the alley below her window. Pigeons were muttering on the fire escape. The light was perfect; a filmmaker’s light. She always wondered why more films weren’t made in San Francisco. Brian’s face in the tent hovered over her mind, in the bright orange womb they had constructed for the desert, where she had done her music and he had watched her. When she had been twenty-one she had met him at a concert. She had known there were – what was it exactly? Future premonitions.
She gave up and drove to the gym, playing some of her recordings on the stereo, looking for the right place to insert something new. -The cello is the instrument most like the human voice. The word most likely derives from the Roman Vitula, goddess of joy. Joy was not happiness, she had discovered. It was something underneath. After the gym she had dinner with Elizabeth, which was delicious. Elizabeth had a new boyfriend and told her about their problems. The food was better than almost anything Maryella had ever had. Elizabeth was studying to be a chef. There was something in the sound of her friend’s words; she realized it now. Some thing they were talking around. “How long have you been in the city?”’ Maryella asked. “Oh, you know. Since, what, 1995? Almost ten years now.” “Why did you move here?” Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, I was following Jack. He led me here. On the back of his motorcycle.” “But when you came here, why did you stay?” “I love it here. I’ll never leave.” “But why?” Some sound in her friend’s voice alerted Elizabeth. “What’s wrong,” she said. “Nothing, I’m just curious. That’s all. Why do you stay?” Then she heard the sound outside; she walked to the window. “What is it?” Elizabeth asked. “Shhh,” said Maryella. She walked out of her friend’s apartment and out onto the street.
Robin Wyatt Dunn | Birds (continued)
The car was sitting there; the one she thought the cops would have caught. It was idling its engine, low and quiet, like her cello. She thought to raise her hand, but realized it would be a crazy thing to do. “Get out of here!” her friend shouted, raising her smart phone like a weapon. The man in the car smirked, and winked at the women, and then sped down the street, through another red light. Over the buildings Maryella could see what it was. “I have to go,” she said. They hugged and she drove home; listening to the traffic. The walls were the same when she returned; whiter than anything she had ever seen.
We’re going inside; put on your sweater. We won’t stay long; she’s still playing her cello. Sometimes I still watch her play it, when she doesn’t know I’m looking. I can see her even through the walls. They say that Silicon Valley destroyed San Francisco but I know that’s not true. It changed it into what it had always wanted to become. Inside the studio it’s like I’ve always known here; she was always coming to be here, even when she was an art student. Even when I still thought I would be young forever. The thing I found, it won’t stay long. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it was always here. It’s what she has in the music. Some thing I can’t look away from.
She had dreamt of him again; his voice. The party was relaxing but she had drunk too much; she leant against one of the strange modern art sofas and tried to catch her breath.
Outside the lights were flickering; Harry held on to her hand and was whispering something in her ear. She closed her eyes. The shape of the apartment was clear to her; it was a performance space. She hadn’t bought it to move in to; not as a newly single woman. As a widow. It was an artist’s space. Like the one she had had as a student. But something was different. Not the light; it was almost exactly the same. Something underneath the light she had never noticed; some wavelength of light, or a distant sound that only dogs could hear. It was like a memory one knew one had but could not recall; or conversely, a memory one possessed vividly but did not seem to assign to any known events in one’s life. She kissed Harry on the cheek and called a cab. In the back of the leather seat, she could see the moon flying over the Mission, like a widowed woman, still not free. -She set up the equipment at once, and the cameras. She called her friend who did installation art, and asked for a favor. She held the bow against her cheek, remembering. That bright light outside the studio. The fire escape. Brian’s lips. It wasn’t the desert; not that. It was before they were married. She had only just moved to the city. It was the pigeons; that’s what it was. It was just birds. She saw there was one now; ordinary grey and white, outside on the brick ledge.
Robin Wyatt Dunn | Birds (continued)
She played to it; marching it out; holding her instrument. What did the pigeon know? It had always known what it was she was looking for. Did that make any sense? It was close to making sense. Something next to it. She played for about forty-five minutes and then took a shower and lay on her sleeping bag on the floor. Overhead the bare lamp mocked her; told her she was single. Told her she was dead. Told her she was a madwoman. She got up and went up to the roof, raising the hatch that was like a submarine’s. The city’s skyline was on fire with light; and she watched the birds wheel overhead. In the arpeggio of their shape; the movement underneath and above her head she could discern the gravity of their weight; not their mass but the gravity of their movement; it could even be relativistic, she thought, the shape of the movement of the bird down under and above San Francisco, who had never really meant Freeman, for she had never been free here, nor wanted to be, but meant instead the division between that gravity and that weight; that pulling neither down nor up but in, and underneath, to look for the door out.
She performed the first time a widow on stage in the Western Addition; the first piece of her new album, Birds. She flew overhead, watching not the light but the gravity underneath the actors and media moguls and rich girls and boys come under the stunning dim light of San Francisco to wonder at the shape of the world. It isn’t round, she thought, but a whorl. Spinning around a slowly sliding center, underneath and in.
Olivier Schopfer | Leaves | Photograph 23
David Sermersheim | Man and Cart | Poetry an old man pushes his cart through the commerce of the day moving among others without leaving his shadow passing monuments named in honor of the fallen dropped from memory’s roster threading his way through a roiling throng protesting something they can do nothing about reaching the edge of the group he bends down, picks up a pamphlet announcing a rally for ‘the plight of the working man’ tosses it into the debris on his cart shambles down a side street reaches his hovel tips a tot and toasts those who ‘cope and endure’
History of The B’K
The Bitchin’ Kitsch (2010-present) or The B’K is a compzine edited and published by The TalbotHeindl Experience, LLC in Denver, Colorado. The Bitchin’ Kitsch was created as a monthly zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who had something to say. It was born out of a necessity to create an avenue for editor, Chris Talbot-Heindl, to remain artistic after school, with her subversive style, while continuing to live in Central Wisconsin. It exists for the purpose of open creativity and seeks to be an outlet for people who may not otherwise have an opportunity to show their work. Although the idea was created as a “what-if” brainstorm between the Talbot-Heindls’ whilst in bed and sort of groggy, it has since blossomed into a legitimate publication that has gone international Through the grace of the Internet, The B’K has had the opportunity to create a juried book and the opportunity to publish four juried chapbooks. Today, it is a quarterly zine published in January, April, July, and October. Here’s to the past nine years, and hopefully many, many more.
Stephanie Jones | Untitled | Digital Illustration