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the

b’k

bitchin’ kitsch

8 Iss. 10 Oct 2017 Vol.


The Talent

Cover: “Untitled” by Bleu Heindl. Christopher Barnes Gordan Ćosić Catie Hajek Jonathan B. Ferrini Rochelle Germond Bleu Heindl Clara B. Jones Tommy Paley David L. Paxton Douglas Polk Sy Roth Rebecka Skogg Adam Snavely Dr. Mel Waldman Rodd Whelpley Mark Young

24 9 3 16-17 18 cover, 19 12 10-11 8 13 6-7 5, 26 14-15 20-21 22-23 4


Catie Hajek | Irreverent Melanin | poetry The bees are my sisters The crows are my brothers Despair is my father And the moon is my mother Immortalize my soul This beauty in me - it must be remembered Unmake man Remake him as me I am entirely too divine Part my wings Come between me and the skyme in the sky The tears I shed are glittering like precious gems; Like stars spotting my sweet brown skin Irreverent melanin Oh, I can feel the red sun rising Its burning up inside my chest It feels just like a Texas summer Can’t sweat this out of me Can’t untie my knotted mind Please Please You keep saying you’ll fix me Leave my waywardness alone These scars aren’t yours to touch Fretting again Pettiness and vanity bloom Chewing gum on the pavement On my shoes On the fancy white shag rug in your living room This is what you care about? Me Me Me I will scream it at the top of my lungs I will stomp out all your embers Girls, listen your mothers There is no love in the water Steadfast ignorance Spread the sickness This is all I get for my trouble

Undone again Indifferent apologies Round down your accomplishments Listen closely “One time they-” “Well my cousin told me-” “I read this article-” Bleached out propaganda Reduced, abused and nothing Lips Hips Dicks Thighs Give it all back and then some Memorials on the news Something closer to humanity Up and up On your knees again And up some more

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Mark Young | another slow sunday | prose The car park is full of conspiracy theorists. There is also a large swimming pool Their old-model Winnebagos & converted buses have windows covered with aluminum foil. Passersby are convinced they’re disguised hydroponic gardens on wheels. They think the swimming pool is there to provide the water the cannabis plants need. A continuous loop of the moon landing is projected onto a large popup screen at one end of the car park. At the other, Bugs Bunny cartoons are projected on to the back wall of the local bottle shop so the children have something to watch. The cartoons are regularly interrupted by drunks jumping up & saying either “What’s up Doc?” or “One giant leap for mankind.” Many of those present wear a 40 badge = FourT = Trump Tells The Truth. Others wear 40+ badges: it represents their age, not that they are more fervent believers in the President. Passersby believe the badges — of either kind — are overstating the IQ of those who wear them. The Earth is flat, not just as far as the eye can reach but beyond that, right to the edges. At least that is how the people in the car park see it. To the outsiders, it’s just another example of how shortsighted these people really are.


Rebecka Skogg

Rebecka Skogg | Untitled | Illustration

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Sy Roth | Birth day blues Eubie Blake | poetry It sings a siren’s song lowing in the wind of warmth that leads them to the bowels of the church where sacramental vestiges and burnt offerings wrap them in a temporary embrace of smells, of clanging chains of desperation and of plates heaped with forgotten things. Arrayed in plastic trays the common fare an exudation of enticing aromas before them a phalanx of hair-netted volunteers their salutations and toothy smiles clothed in the greetings of the shepherds, arrayed behind their tabled wall ladle lances held aloft at the ready while the others dressed in their anxious sadness wait. A serpentine line stretches to the entrance doors, snaking around cracked Formica tables. Their hunger forms a pastiche of expectation, paints a silent tableau of bent heads and outstretched arms, a poor man’s Hopper-dream played out in a midnight cafe. Earlier, a day-old cake had arrived, a nameless birth-day-cake-greeting scrawled in pink script HAPPY BIRTH DAY a chasm between birth and day followed by a blank left to whom atop a thick dark-chocolate blanket, draped over pound cake, raspberry-filled. Thoughts secreted away in the blank, the cake rests alone, uncut, at the end of the table, yet another lonely visitor queued up in silent mussitation next to steaming chafing dishes of mac and cheese hopeful in the shadow of its own darkness— arms outstretched.


Hands cup the bottom of flimsy plates they cradle, the plastic knives and forks nestled between thumb and pointer fingers. They balance their plates readying them for loading, as they snake in an out to their finale resting places feet scraping along the old linoleum laid bare in spots like gaping, hungry mouths. Their eyes shun their reality, take umbrage at the barren landscape. Mousy lines of the hungry in an endless parade of evenings seek momentary respite from their discordant, daily cardboard slog up and down concrete corridors of a blindfolded city. She stood in line with them, family of men with their outstretched arms. This night she was drawn to the birth-day cake, frozen by it, becoming Lot’s wife, a salty statue caught in the spiral of the destruction. She could only view it for a brief moment from afar. the cake, homage to nameless, un-happy birth days. There in front of it She wept a heart-broken, silent wail of remembrance. A hairnetted volunteer patted her back as he left the wall to console and cut, giving a frozen empathetic smile wishing her a silent, happy birth day. She shrugged—a shiver of a truth. While the others devoured their own truths alone and the volunteer’s frozen smile receded to the space on the other side wall.

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David L. Paxton | Arranging, mixing, bashing | Poetry Cable suspended jewel boxes glide gilt walls between and under bubbled glass and plastic ceiling panel lights, the lobby a mixture of drunk tourists, defunct business owners, forum members and convention tag-a-longs. Flowers prematurely erect stamens to rush erupt pollen into the town – Spanish guitars, flamenco heels, and Portuguese lyrics mix with elevator jazz saturating among buildings with cracked stucco casings – lane-houses, commercial traders, banks, cafes. Lectures, anxiety, ecstasy, sex – remixed electronic music bounces supple paint plastered above fabric and a belly button. Punctures shake in the wound of a right hand scooping into the injury – the stab of blood, the pierce of a broken look, an estranged heart, charted trigger fingers followed by distant chants, chilled wind in a fluctuating winter. Shoes fill with alien toes, ashen lines trimming brick hotels and dry Spanish moss. Memories choose the reveal, the rest scrapped and left for cats to rummage through. Bourbon isn’t the same as it once was.


Gordan Ćosić

Gordan Ćosić | Untitled | photograph

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Tommy Paley | Investing Heavily in Chicken Fat | Prose I spent a lot of time in my 20s admiring bark. My teachers in elementary school often confused me for someone who was taller, flatter and often used as a chalkboard and, who was I to argue, as I always aspired to be a chalkboard. On advice from a friend, I am putting all my eggs in one basket and investing heavily in chicken fat. I often go downtown on Mondays so I can swing around accountants or, as my dad oddly calls them, street lamps. As a young boy I often peppered my mother with questions until she figuratively “put me out in the yard.” In an effort to be a “numbers guy” I gave up letters for a solid week, only to come crawling back after being pelted with under-ripe tomatoes. It was December. I once jumped over a small pond and, let me tell you, those ducks were super-impressed. To make my little sister happy, I would often spend hours pretending I was a teddy bear. Why this made a 36 year old so happy I was a little scared to ask. After careful consideration, I ceased using the letters “r” and “w” for a full year. I never felt more alive. Seeking revenge, I once ate 25 apples in one sitting. As I clutched my stomach the rest of the afternoon I decided to either let go of my desire for revenge or stop taking suggestions from my friend, the apple farmer, or both. Friday afternoons used to mean three things: buying shaving cream, laughing at kites and reading poetry. Then I got a second job and was too busy. I have to restrain myself from climbing up flights of stairs to the top of buildings and then looking down at all of the people on the sidewalk and shaking my head at how puny and small they are. If only they knew what


I knew. No matter how much fun it sounds, “tickling the geese” is rarely a good idea except with particular geese. When I ride my bike, I like to pretend that I’m being chased by a pack of rabid dogs which partially explains my high-pitched screams and my frantic offers of unlimited doggie treats as I race through the streets. The other reasons have been sealed by the judge who, strangely, usually smells like a combination of wet dog and bike grease. No one and, I repeat, no one comes to my home before the cows do. I don’t care what others say, but from now on I’ve decided to live as if each day is Tuesday. Every six months I go visit this woman who is always going on and on about dental hygiene and brushing and flossing. Others tell me she is my dentist, while I vehemently claim that she is fictional. My impassioned toast at New Year’s was called “an affront to everything we stand for,” “a call to arms,” “funny?” and “evidence that long-term exposure to industrial-strength soap is a bad idea.” I used to live by the following motto “one can never have too many shirts” until I did. One spring morning, I got up, got dressed and went for a walk in the woods. Some say I never returned. I’ve had to ask them multiple times to “stop saying that already.”

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Clara b. jones | Saving sage grouse... | poetry for Chris Talbot-Heindl Saving sage grouse is the price you pay for living in Wyoming Since the Powder River Basin is protected by the tribal council And wildlife photography annoys the birds. Women are the saviors of little chicks and deer That won’t breed near pine trees or roadways Though moose and elk cause a ripple effect Through the sound waves of bats. Game wardens use supercomputers To track grouse movements And animals cross your property line in Laramie Where the remains of pet mice are displayed in vitrines In front of blue lights matching the sky over your barn—red As clay signaling chemical constraints on purpose-built apps And the power of role models to turn your equity into code.


Douglas Polk

Douglas Polk | Praise or Punishment | Painting

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Adam Snavely | A history of minor miracles | Poetry While I convince myself I’m not dying, I stretch out the pain in my chest, swinging my arms around like an idiot before feeling under my armpits for any lumps of wisdom to be found. Nothing. So I flip on the tv, put on a re-run of Chopped and think about how when I go, it’ll be like this: a twinge under my right arm which I ignore because Chef Tonya is frying her lamb chops in a sherry reduction, which is a disaster. The first miracle Jesus ever pulled was turning water into wine, which they call a minor miracle. “Not bad, Jesus,” says Peter, drinking miracle juice. “But I saw Criss Angel put hooks into his eyes last week. Thomas saw it, too. Can you top that?” My mother is three years old and does not speak English yet. Her husband is already ten in a different hemisphere, throwing rocks at cop cars. My heart turns again and again.

Chef Sanchez dabs the lamb in its own juice, turned oxblood by the sherry. “It’s dry!” I yell. “She should’ve seared them separate!” He puts it to his lips. The trumpet sounds. “The lamb is perfect. The sherry caramelized, and when that happens the meat can get tough and chewy in the middle, but you controlled the heat perfectly.” “What about the vintage, Jesus? Do you even know what year it is?” Jesus smiles, sips his wine, knowing Peter will now not contract dysentery tomorrow, knowing Peter will now not die next week. He will die a few years from now, a few miles from here, hung upside down, blood rushing to his swollen eyes in praise of Christ. I see the van put its turn signal on and get into the turn lane. I look right as I pull out onto the street. I look left one last time and hit the brakes as the van takes my front bumper off. My heart turns


“Hello? Earth to Jesus?� The party laughs. Jesus wipes his eyes. Peter will not die next week. I turn the tv off and wander outside. The sun flies over me as I stretch into its warmth. Again and Again.

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Jonathan B. Ferrini | The Final Watch | Fiction Interstate 8 climbs west out of the Imperial Valley and twists through the rugged mountains upward into East San Diego County. My name is Tommy and I recently graduated from the Border Patrol Academy. I’m assigned to work the graveyard shift at the Campo checkpoint along Interstate 8 which is 65 miles west from the Mexican border crossing and fifty miles east from San Diego. The checkpoint is surrounded by rugged, isolated terrain accessible solely by four-wheel drive vehicles. Thousands of vehicles pass through our checkpoint daily but you wouldn’t realize it working the graveyard shift as wild animals outnumber the vehicles. My Senior Agent and mentor is Ben who reached mandatory retirement age. He loves his job and is a widower without children. He is kind, fatherly, and enjoys telling tales of his storied career more than training me. His rotund body is showing wear and tear. He has a limp and bouts of memory loss. Ben’s faithful partner is a drug sniffing German shepherd named “Ruger” who can hold his own in a brawl. We spend most of our shift relaxing in recliner chairs and keep a cooler filled with soft drinks and water. Ben and Ruger nod off from time to time which I don’t mind. Our office is a small trailer. It’s a full moon tonight and the sky is full of stars. A breeze is kicking up the fragrance of the chaparral. It’s 0230 and Ruger barks. Ben wakes and grabs the binoculars looking east down the freeway which is dark. “It looks like CHP Officer Wally is on the beat,” Ben remarks. Although I see nothing, I won’t question a Senior Agent. Ruger is barking relentlessly and dragging Ben to the checkpoint. Ben says, “Hand me a Coke for Wally, Tommy.” I comply but remain dumbfounded. The checkpoint is lit with floodlights but I see nothing. Ben and Ruger cross the two lane freeway to the checkpoint. Ben crouches down and leans as if peering into a vehicle to speak to a driver. Ruger stands on both legs and Ben holds him close. I watch in disbelief as Ben holds a conversation with an apparition. Ruger barks and pulls Ben towards our chase car. Ben yells, “Wally just received a radio call to respond to an overturned tanker truck at mile marker 4. I’m going to assist. Man the fort!” Wally and Ruger race down Interstate 8 with lights and siren. I’m tense and confused. I radio Ben who doesn’t answer. To my relief, I hear Ben request radio assistance from CAL FIRE Station 44, “Overturned fuel truck on fire. Driver trapped. Assisting CHP Officer Wally. Send fire engine and ambulance.” Within minutes, CAL FIRE Engine 44 and an ambulance race by the checkpoint. I run to our four wheel drive truck and speed towards mile marker 4 to assist.


Mile marker 4 is several miles west from the checkpoint. I see Ben’s chase car emergency lights flashing ahead and his chase car is positioned across the two lane freeway as a safety measure to prevent vehicles from approaching. A coyote darts from the brush, crosses my lane, and disappears into the wilderness. I swerve and narrowly miss the animal but at ninety miles per hour I struggle to gain control and keep from flipping. I maintain control of the truck and park but don’t see Ben or Ruger. There is no overturned tanker truck. Engine 44 is parked alongside the freeway with its emergency lights off. The ambulance is leaving empty. A masculine, calming voice calls to me, “Up here on the bluff, kid.” I climb up on to the bluff and meet Chief Johnny of Engine Company 44. He is tall, thin, and has a thick mane of silver hair and handlebar moustache. He is handsome and I suspect many are happy to be rescued by Johnnie. “Call it a night fellas,” Johnnie commands his men who conclude their search for Ben and Ruger. Johnnie asks, “What’s your name Agent?” I reply, Tommy, Captain. Johnnie places his arm around my shoulder and raises his head towards the sky remarking, “You can practically count every star.” I’m flustered and quivering. Johnnie holds me tight and looks me in the eye. In a hushed voice he says, “About thirty years ago, I responded to a tanker truck fire at this very place. Ben and CHP Officer Wally were attempting to extricate the driver. Just as we began spraying the tanker with foam retardant, it blew into flames. The driver was pulled to safety, Ben suffered singed eyebrows but CHP Officer Wally burned to death. There’s no earthly explanation for what happened here tonight but I’ve seen it before. Agents like Ben never forget losing a fellow officer. When their time to die comes, they prefer it occurs doing the job they love and choose to vanish forever into the wilderness. The San Diego Commander of the Border Patrol and I go way back. I’ll call him tonight and explain everything. He’ll understand.” Captain Johnnie and I walk down the bluff to our vehicles. Captain Johnnie waves as Engine 44 returns to the firehouse. I park Ben’s chase car alongside the meridian and will retrieve it later. I return to the checkpoint confused. I stare at the star filled sky and learned tonight life holds many secrets. I miss Ben and Ruger and will never forget them. I hope they are together in a better place. Across the freeway a lone coyote exits the brush, sits and stares directly at me. Our eyes meet for a moment and the coyote belts out a howl before returning to the wilderness.

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Rochelle Germond | Playing House | Poetry The floral-printed cotton is held up by clothespins and chairs, like it was when I was young and would spend my days playing house. Our backs against my Persian rug, we try to form shapes from the billows and pleats above us, as though they’re the wisps in the sky, as though there isn’t a thunderstorm whooshing away any light outside. You say you see a dragon, fire spewing from his mouth, and a princess, needing to be rescued. I say I see babies, like the ones we could have had. I can still feel them beneath me where they fell hours earlier, penetrating the fibers of the carpet, getting lost in the dark naves of the flowers there. The damp paper towel you brought back from the kitchen couldn’t save them: the Chloes with my gold-sharded green eyes, the Jacobs with your mouth, the parentheses that punctuate your skin when you smile. I see them now, in those linen clouds, and I want to know how we get them back, I want to know how we forgot them in the tangle of arms and legs and hands.


Bleu Heindl

Bleu Heindl | untitled | Watercolor on paper

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Dr. Mel Waldman | the resurrection of the real self | poetry Drifting in the vastness & the snow falls lightly after the red sun plummets & dies & twilight pirouettes into dusk & the oval veil of night is an obsidian amulet that shields the self beautiful bestial & invisible the sacred opalescence glittering in the ebony sphere of the lightless the secret self glowing & galloping in the pitch-black night like a gorgeous mustang wild & free the real self covered & buried in the ruins of Un-Reality resurrected & rising in Darkness blessed singing phantom songs & playing vanishing rhapsodies for a mesonoxian journey into the deep of nowhere-the soothing sensuous blackness that beckons & blesses & melts chimerical masks shedding the false self in a seething unveiling for the darkness is a blessing flowing with the soothing river of invisibility & phantoms fly around the eerie emptiness in otherworldly phosphorescence & the real self-sails through Darkness blessed until


the charcoal dreamscape dies dissolving in 1st light & crepuscular beings rise with a yellow-orange sun & the snow falls falls heavily falls incessantly & the snow falls furiously covers the real self a beautiful bestial blessing a strange quintessence & the snow falls relentlessly covers the obscene landscape with unholy luminescence the sprawling sun & the omnipotent snow glittering & eerie cover all bury all cover the real self-trapped in a chimerical coffin & the snow falls forever in the everlasting ruins of Un-Reality

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Rodd Whelpley | Costume Contest | poetry Farmers Market, the Saturday before Hallowe’en As the children step to the judges’ table, we ask them to say who they are. A blue patch of feathers with a Styrofoam cone (a beak?) jutting from his chin, whispers “Mordecai… from ‘The Regular Show.’” “On TV,” offers a woman behind him (presumably the jay’s mother). Others are easier – Disney princesses (who appear with disturbing predictability and in groups, like great murders of false-eyelashed crows descending on cornfields) and cops, doctors, nurses, soldiers, a fellow who from torso up is encased in a cardboard frame with cellophane sides. In there, he’s up to his neck in colorful orbs. “Gumball machine,” he shouts, his voice reverberating the plastic window skins like some off-beat tapping on a drum kit. Next, a little girl, her hair sprayed gray and spiraled sloppily (one roller not removed), presents her mismatched slippered self in a Goodwill house coat, pockets jammed with stuffed animal kittens and more of them pinned to the impossible sleeves. “Cat lady,” she pronounces. We laugh. It’s funny, we suppose, because the second grader has let us in on the game – It’s Crazy Cat Lady, the silly, scary thing she never will grow up to be.


Now, the criteria better understood, we judges scan the crowd – look past the football stars, the Batmen and Darth Vaders, a cabbage patch kid, Bo Peep and her Rottweiler, draped uncomfortably in a fuzz-white blanket – prepared to give the prize to someone out there on the city block that itself is appareled for an October Saturday morning in a make believe atmosphere of warm donuts and mulled cider. We look to award the laurel to one of those uncontested everyday others – fledgling meth head, cuckold, closet cutter – out amongst each other, their shopping bags brimmed with late-season apples. Or to that little guy dressed deceptively (with his mom and dad accoutrements) as a family, non-corpsed and pink, and yet un-living with some deep-sunk secret that speaks itself in their distances and silence.

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Christopher Barnes | That All Day Fizz | Poetry Sun-charmed indulgence By “Plunge Bright Tireless” ™. (A 22 inch smile.) Relish our swimming pool brim-up Pure tonic water from a hose. (Late Modernist façade.) Simply trickle in gin For the legendary party. (Distant, the jet plane.) Dive into all-embracing refreshment.


History — 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. Here’s to the past seven years, and hopefully many, many more.

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Rebecka Skogg

Rebecka Skogg | Untitled | Illustration

The B'K October 2017 Issue  

The Bitchin' Kitsch was created as a monthly zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say.

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