8 Iss. 9 Sept 2017 Vol.
Cover: “Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale, Traveling Love as Music for Two” by Stephen Mead. Gale Acuff
Teddy Duncan Jr.
Ryan Quinn Flanagan
Eric D. Goodman
Sergio A. Ortiz
Dr. Mel Waldman
Eric D. Goodman | Inconvenience | Fiction An excerpt from Womb: a novel in utero Mom’s inconvenient day was one that weighed heavy on me. It was Dad’s day to go to the store after work; Mom knew she had an extra hour or so before he’d be home. It was time to validate what she already knew but wouldn’t admit. Mom stopped by a pharmacy (not wanting to run into Dad at the grocery store) and did a little shopping of her own. Another thing she didn’t want to do was to draw attention to her purpose for being at the pharmacy. So instead of buying only the pregnancy test, she bought it along with other items: a value-pack of chewing gum, a box of amber hair-color, a bottle of shampoo, and a bag of extra crunchy potato chips. The pregnancy test moved along the black conveyer belt as an afterthought instead of the main attraction. Mom carried the brown bag of products to her Honda Insight and drove home. Mom needed to pee on the pregnancy test. She didn’t have to wait — it seemed Mom always had to pee, except for when she had just finished peeing. I felt ill. Mom’s stress level was high as she anticipated the test, making me dizzy. I already knew what the test would say, but I still could not rationalize away her jittery emotion. On that afternoon, in her bathroom, Mom carefully read the instructions and wet the plastic tester. As she waited for the result, anxiety swelled in her, ready to burst. I didn’t see exactly what she watched come into focus, but I didn’t have to. I began to vibrate, first small movements, then, like waves building momentum, large, full, shuddering. Mom was crying, and her mood seemed to waver between joy and despair. Now there was no denying me. Some denial remained. Mom looked at the clock; Dad would be home any minute. She rushed to the corner store for another test. A fusion of feelings welled up inside her: joy, anxiousness, excitement, apprehension, all held together with the adhesive of confusion. At the convenience store, she purchased an assortment of items: a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of Pepsi, a box of vanilla Zingers. By that time she was afraid Dad might already be home. She decided not to risk being caught. “Can I have the key to the restroom?” she asked the cashier.
Eric D. Goodman | Inconvenience
The haggard woman took from beneath the counter a wooden block as big as the box of Zingers. Attached to the block of wood hung a chain, and at the end of the chain was the key to the public restroom. Mom took her plastic bag and the block of wood and walked outside where I could smell people pumping gas into their vehicles. She walked around the corner to the side of the building and struggled to unlock the metal door, balancing the bag of groceries in her arm, using that same hand to hold the weight of the wood block and using her other hand to unlock the door. She had to feel around on the wall for the light switch; she found something sticky before she found the switch. “Shit,” she said, although it was actually someone’s discarded gum. She locked the door behind her and secluded us in the small cell of filth, smelling of urine, waste, cleanser, bleach, and gasoline. She set the bag down on a dry section of the tiled floor. Mom peed again and administered the test. There, in the convenience store washroom, she confirmed the inconvenient news: she was indeed pregnant with me. The water around me was still, but I had the sensation of descending. It was the feeling of Mom’s emotions, falling into an acknowledgement of me. I’d imagined her moment of realization to be a euphoric one, the high of hang-gliding. Instead, we sat in the smelly, filthy bathroom, sadly sinking. I could have told her, weeks earlier, about my residence within her, had she listened, or had I been able to speak in her primary language instead of this subtle language of feelings and moods. Her mood shifted again and she cried out loud. Now what? she asked herself. We’re not ready for this. It’s not the right time. But for some people, it’s never the right time. I wanted to get the idea across to her, but her crying was too disorienting. Someone knocked on the door and asked if she was okay, and she lied and said that she was, that she would only be a moment. She didn’t bother washing up; this was one of those wash rooms in which washing and drying your hands was more likely to make you dirtier than cleaner. She didn’t bother to collect the groceries she’d bought. She just exited the room, dropped the block and key on the cement sidewalk outside, and returned to her car, sinking into the driver’s seat but feeling more like a passenger with no control over the road ahead.
Frederick Pollack | Belial | poetry I was the one who, as the others grieved in the place already, prematurely, called Hell, tried to see positives: “Guys, look what we’ve got here!” Iron, copper, aluminum, tungsten, salt, uranium – I knew I was mocked for always looking where my feet were going, but the result was knowing ores and signs. We even had gold reserves; we could start something. There was also the embarrassing fact that our hermaphroditic state was breaking down. The scene was very male, and with all due respect to my comrades, the Chief, and, eventually, Plato, they weren’t my type; we’d have to make arrangements with the upcoming “daughters of men.” Before the war I’d counseled patience: let’s see how Man works out. But the others were proud. I’m not proud; I was simply tired of all that celestial fluff. “What the hell did you expect?” I asked – playing, so to speak, devil’s advocate – as my friends complained. Since then they’ve kept me off the line, on office duties. You dream that someone comes from afar, speaking a language you don’t understand, with a gift specifically for you. Let’s say it’s a map, gorgeously decorated, priceless; it must lead to incomparable treasure. But step back a moment. How far is “afar”? Does it even exist in the age of Google Earth? If you type “illuminated map” and “arcane language” into a search-engine you’ll find them eventually. For mystery to exist, there must be distance, even growing distance, and lack of communication. That’s what I’m for.
Gale Acuff | Amen | Poetry In Sunday School today I fell asleep again and again nobody caught me except maybe for a classmate or two or even three who didn’t squeal on me to Miss Hooker, our teacher, and then there’s God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost and maybe Satan but I don’t think he hangs around church but on the other hand who knows but by sinning I’m responsible for bringing him around anyway. I dreamt for just a few moments I was near dead and up in Heaven just waking when Jesus reached down and pulled me to my feet, I was surprised to be all-soul and still have them and my clothes, too, and then He said Congratulations, you’re dead and not in Hell, and I said, Thank you kindly, and shook His hand and on the third pump I woke to see Miss Hooker with her glasses off and eyes closed, looking asleep but she was just praying, praying, it was the Lord’s Prayer so I drowned my voice in all the others and heard all our voices, then, as one, and Amen as well, and then she set us free did Miss Hooker, the way the Bible says the truth will even though it never does until it’s too damned late. Like it is now.
Fabrice Poussin | Error | Photograph
Sissy Buckles | Movement #4: dragon seeks path...dragon whips its tail | Poetry Surreal April days returned again, just like they always did. My fingers ached from typing all day folding and filing and filling coffee cups for men blissfully unaware of the 19th Amendment in a dusty construction office and sneaking quick peeks at my Shakespeare homework in between boring invoices while the spring Santa Ana wind whips hot brick dust up my nose offending my eyes and making me sneeze. After work my sister cuts her ex-husband’s hair ‘ in the sunshiny kitchen still arguing about what classic rock station to listen to and what caused their baby’s rash. The story of Michael also ended on a spring morning with the death of my father, mother’s monotonal whispering out of my dream a pinched rasp through the decayed phone at 1AM ‘daddy’s dead from a heart attack’ choking up the spaghetti dinner my mom cooked that night all over their marriage bed, his expensive watch stolen in the ambulance ride to the hospital. My brother is a redneck
who holds conversations with his hands down his pants like Al Bundy on TV reruns I once brained him with a peanut butter jar when he said my old boyfriend Michael who looked like John Lennon in Trotsky glasses while studying photography and zealously framing classical black & white nude compositions of me in campus Art class, was a loser and me, momentarily losing my cool (I’m ashamed to say after an instantaneous flashback of him almost drowning me in our backyard pool, my fear to this day of close spaces assuredly exacerbated by the many darkly locked closets) that heavy jar traveling a straight geometrical trajectory up to the side of of his big head, but hey, all those times he forced me to practice ball with him after school finally paying off, or you could say a spontaneous snappy comeback to reactionary politics, a bald implication (perhaps) but I’ve never been a coward,
well, hardly ever. The vernal winds bore me now with the sickening stench of flowers scattered on unkempt graves in April and once again I must concede my next convicted lover with the softest blonde hair to the evasive sea she puts out fires in a condescending way of burned up shuttles my loveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s astronaut bones welcomed by charming mermaids swallowing ash. Leaving me behind in this flea-ridden city. I search now. The cemetery closes at sundown. My naked hands rake the tall grass while something small and mad and furry shakes in my holes in itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s newborn slime it whimpers and wonders in the name of lost dignity and summery mornings it shimmies in itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s corner with infernal perplexity.
Darren Demaree | Emily as she trapped herself in her garden | poetry Once you turn your back on the house & pattern the seeds from the driveway inward you have to choose exactly which dirt you will disturb as you attempt to tiptoe from the black to the black. I love that she sat there for an hour with her iced tea, ass planted in the epicenter of her favorite place. That hour was perfect in her heart. She dragged her toes a bit when she got up. She knew there was no reason not to leave an exit sign for herself there. When she looked back at her work from the rest of the world, she sighed, sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d left her glass sweating there, in the sun.
Rebecka Skogg | Untitled | Illustration
LucĂa Damacela | The Flesh | Poetry This slice of life, this pineapple; its tanginess muted in a salad, tamed by intermingling with less robust fruits I go to the core of the matter and indulge in the central axis, tubular, harder, its flavor more subdued Inviting juicy flesh, a glimpse at natureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work the ovaries: berries in a Fibonacci sequence of interlocking helices a math pattern on its rugged skin the whole of a pineapple as we know it Tricky little things we are we devour it avoiding the burdens of reproduction and feast on organs sterilized for our consumption: this fruit will breed only when and where the growers dictate Its crown, the last thing we slash when we undress it.
Warm thanks to the editors of Sein und Werden in which this poem first appeared.
R.J. Zeman | Mutants | Poetry His room was always the same: Billy Childish blasting on the stereo, a bottle of cheap rum and an ashtray full of cigarettes. We passed the rum around like insane pirates, as clouds of smoke drifted around our bodies. The later the night went on, the louder the music got. At around 3 a.m. his mother would pound on the door. “Get these people out!” she’d scream. We’d head outside, into the cold winter, our heads dumb with alcohol, our ears deaf from lo-fidelity.
Ryan Quinn Flanagan | When You are a cyborg, the dish soap cries | Poetry she was the leader of her world and her arm got caught her metal arm like a flagpole with rusty fingers and some men from the conservatory came and stood in concentric circles and the sandpipers pecked at many seas things above the waterline of her head so that she was no longer the leader and my dish soap cried for hours inconsolable by ruse or embrace.
Michelle Brooks | Cat Eyes Detroit | photograph
Adreyo Sen | Ghosts | Fiction Sometimes, when a family loses its beloved, they take comfort in its ghost. This comfort is cold comfort. The ghost is a less than corporeal presence â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the blood it sheds if you prick it is chimerical. It is a presence stripped of morals and empathy, which come from an affinity with the earth. You cannot even say the ghost is self-centered or selfish. It has no sense of self. Without will (for it has no will), it sucks in all your light and joy. It becomes the black hole you have to nurture and cherish even as you starve spiritually. Ghosts, given as they are to lolling about and secreting themselves into corners with a book and a cup of tea, are liable to trip you over or give you a heart attack if you come across them suddenly. They resolve themselves from dingy sofas. It is thus important to always keep track of a ghost. We are building machines that detect storms of repressed hate and overflowing sorrow. Ghosts can be found under these storms. Ghosts have strange eyes. Some think they reflect intense agony. In reality, they are pools of deadness. The ghost is in other worlds, usually of his own creation, and their architecture is so complicated that he cannot make it back to this world. Most ghosts are quiet. We forget their presence. Some, however, are a whirlwind of violence. Some of them are trying to, or have tried, to leave this world. Others are trying to return to it, but have forgotten its language and lost the necessary passport. In our ignorance and our cruelty, we chain up these ghosts. We throw them into windowless rooms. When we discern their melancholic presence, we make fun of them and lash out at them, even as they study us keenly, trying to understand the roots of our barbarism. Leaving this world, ghosts undertake mental journeys. Because their minds are riven, their journeys are tortuous. They cross schisms and climb mountains. With their last ounce of courage, they attempt to breast the last frontier and return. Most, of course, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make it. But on the way back to us, they learn wisdom and kindness and empathy both for themselves and for others â&#x20AC;&#x201C; for is not becoming a ghost the severest kind of catastrophe? Why then, when they return to hospital beds and roadside hovels and even the corner of a sweltering room where a family stores its things and its shameful secrets, treat them with savagery and contempt?
Douglas Polk | Untitled | Painting
Robert Beckvall | Origin | Fiction “I can show you how it was bounced off computers from private homes, to businesses, to universities. It was sophisticated. It’s why the cyber-criminals don’t get caught, captain.” “You know for sure that this went on?” “Oh yea, it has all the tell-tale signs. We know what program or pirate of the program it was too. But, you can’t link anything to anybody.” The detective was the “bad cop” when they used to interrogate guys. They knew how to shut down cameras just when a guy would slip, or spill hot coffee on himself. Internal affairs said there was a pattern in their interrogation methods, but the guys who hit the switch were never the tech guys themselves. These guys weren’t on the take for money or drugs, they were out to get results. They were one of the most decorated units in the L.A. area for getting the worst of the worst out of the human zone. They took out the guys that needed to be in places like hell. There was something about the vent professor. He had dealt with the white-collar creep-aholics before. They were usually dealing on a different plane, and were brought down by the mundane. They usually hadn’t thought of that simple thing, or they went into patterns where they thought they could play games. We also had Link, who had gone to Stanford and Cal. He took psychology and sociology courses, and dabbled in the brain. It was always funny to get him and the clever criminals to say they hadn’t thought of that. He was a natural; classes, IQ tests, and studying be damned. Dr. Tier left a taste. The tennis pro confirmed it. Dr. Wang said that he had a type of personality to get what he wanted with charm, but had to take off the mask while working in these circumstances. She had not read him well, and would not have hired him. She had gone over their interviews in her head many, many times. The E-R-* leader would still have hired him based on what he presented. Dr. Wang should have done better background on him. The captain got some coffee and eggs, said hello to some of the usual workers he saw in the morning, looked at the news on the TV, and prepped to meet the vent professor in his lab. He signed in. There was a lot signing in as safety was of the utmost concern. There were two places he could recall hearing about accidents and catastrophes, and the difference between the two. There were the autobahn accidents in Germany. The police he talked to said that these were like aircraft disasters, or military planes crashing. Another one that hit close to him was in the Phoenix Metro area. You would think that a guy from L.A. would say California Highway Patrol had the worst stories. While they did have some gruesome tales, it was the police and firemen of Phoenix - where they had
boulevards where people were often going and coming in opposite directions, hitting at 50+ mph a piece – who had stories of jaws flying into swimming pools, eyeballs popping out and rolling down the road, and stuff you wouldn’t believe abounded. The freeways had dividers. The Phoenix boulevards had painted lines or none at all. Accidents at the bottom of the ocean were not accidents, they would be catastrophes. They would be enough to turn a co-worker to chunky soup. He was brought into the heart of the beast of vent and volcanology. It was strange lights here, and artificial pressure there, with poison gas baths for the colorless beasts that they did manage to keep alive. They had to mix and match the water and the spew that came from the vents just right. Everyone used gloves to work, as you didn’t want to get scalded or get the skin exposed to it on a daily basis. The professor sat in a raised platform where he looked out on all the activities, plus screens that surrounded the room. They had permanent cameras keeping constant watch in night vision hues so as not to disturb the creatures that lived there. If you were to constantly shine a light on them, then changes would occur. He followed the professor into this office, and took a seat as there was not much standing room. “We want to cooperate in any way we can, captain. He was our colleague, and the foremost expert and idealist on the vent culture.” “What does an idealist on vent culture mean?” “A man can have ideas about how things should be done. A perfect way to do things. A Utopian ideal of how to work with and use the vents.” “Are you saying you and he differed on what was to happen at the vents?” “Oh no, no, no, not differed at all. We were like birds of a feather. We got along quite well.” “Maybe you wanted to exploit the vents for more profit? Maybe you had some people to show or some to prove something to?” “How so?” “Maybe you are an alpha male in a place where it is best to be symbiotic.”
Robert Beckvall | origin
“Please, I have shared the credit many, many times on projects.” “Have you ever had a project of this magnitude and importance?” “Of course. We were some of the committee that put together initial reports on the feasibility of this project as part of this Yi-Er-San project. Without our initial reports that were checked and rechecked by other experts and computers, there would not be the seat you sit in now.” “Very comfortable. It must have been hell to see your co-worker vaporize into mush.” “It was traumatic, and it made me ill.” “How did it make you ill?” “I was sick to my stomach immediately, and I have had nightmares since then.” “Do you know that one of the first hires we made for the police on this project was to get an expert in technology?” “I see.” “We hired him away from the government. They tried to match his pay and we played back and forth with the numbers. But, it was the adventure that got him.” The professor studied the face of the detective. No reaction to his story. “He tells me, that so far it has been a bore. The usual hackers and etc. trying to get in. But, we have the best walls and security, and constant changing codes. He was chomping at the bit for something to do.” “Of course, he thought the adventure would be a romanticized version.” “So finally I gave him something to do. He takes care of the usual, which is really being done by the computers themselves. But, he has found that someone might have changed the numbers and calibrations of the vent sheath.” “I don’t understand.” “At the exact time your co-worker was in the suit, a program or something changed the calibrations ever so slightly. But, with the extremes in temperature and pressure, the result was Campbell’s Chunky professor.” “Please captain, a little respect.” “Respect? Like fake gagging and pretend dreams you tell a shrink?”
“Look captain...” “Pressure? Try this on for size Johnny English. You are going to get the young gun as an assistant. You could have gotten along with a guy you came up in the trenches with, but the new breed will see new things and have the tech to do the new things. Pretty soon they will be the favorites of Dr. Wang, and you will be the new soup.” “No one understands the vents and what we can do like me.” “Pressure, Dr. Tier. Every day my tech guy is working and the computer will backtrack. If you fuck up once, then the pressure is on. For now, I leave this case open because I think you or someone you hired pulled your co-workers plug. So, I am not putting this down as a simple accident. We can’t prove it yet, but something will give under so much pressure.” The professor stared out from the pod. “I’ll see myself out, Tier. Thanks for the interview. I’ll leave my card on the seat.” The professor continued to stare out from the pod. He leaned forward to watch the policeman being escorted to the door. He was right, the pressure was giving him a terrible headache. The captain made his way back to the snack bar to get another cup of coffee. After he drank it, he made arrangements to get himself to the surface. It reminded him of the ride at Disney. It was a hybrid of Captain Nemo and The Little Mermaid. You don’t see shit but black ocean for the most part on this ride though. It would not have a long line, and it had no action on it to warrant a height requirement. The villain, on the other hand, was not flamboyant enough for a movie, but a villain all the same.
Sergio A. Ortiz | Night Bird | poetry I ask for nothing of this land that has given me everything I loved and hated its men found my Adam he fled with a bodybuilder as soon as I gained weight I sought God and in his place found knowledge I discovered a home in my body and since then moved from place to place without desires this is my way my destiny does not depend on luck I am the night bird foretelling death in its song
chad fisher | Shell creature vs. the goo menace, part 3: return of the goo | pen and ink 23
BT Hathaway | alligators | poetry an alligator cannot live well at a new jersey truck stop, too cold for motion, more than most of half of the year. he would starve as cars swerved and people screamed and shouted and shot the hissing troubadour, clad for battle with dinosaurs as he is, rather than ready to prop up and play the lute by the diesel pumps as he ought, as he does wish to do... wanting at heart to help poor truckers and tourists pass the time, as he would if given half the chance which creation (to our great mercy or disappointment) has not as yet bestowed, and the claws would pluck a string almost too well in current conformation, and tend to tear the spruce delicate clean apart at first downbeat. and northerners remain grateful that he plies his slithers, waddles and long crooked smile among golfers who ought to un-develop the everglades, instead of unsettling jersey tourists, as the family pauses for gas and a snickers, on the road from boston, to see the national archives in d.c.
Richard Salembier | Sadness of Pencils | poetry The bus so happened to be the thing he stepped in front of if not a bus then something else he need look but one way or maybe he just had a certain look.
Dr. Mel Waldman | Schizophrenia is a Blessing | Poetry “Schizophrenia is a blessing,” the shrink revealed. “A dark, lonely gift
“creating beauty, out of grotesquerie, out of traumatic truth,
“to the human who travels through the Labyrinth, lost in a vast maze,
“moving toward divine metamorphosis, moving and embracing love.”
“listening to voices, and watching apparitions appear suddenly.”
“Schizophrenia is the possibility of human salvation,
“Schizophrenia is a blessing,” the shrink confessed. “A dark, bestial gift
“a blessing, a curse, a dark, lonely gift from the other side, ghostly
“to society, frightened but moved by eerie, weird revelations.”
“whispers and shrieks and always the chance of sudden death or redemption,
“Schizophrenia is dark potentiality, transcending Darkness,
Rebecka Skogg | Untitled | Illustration
Teddy Duncan Jr. | Maya hammock | Poetry Pecked at tree remains unperturbed/ what does the sea know of offenses?/ what does this bark know of anger?/ --hammocks swift swang accompanied by gritty grinding of metal against wood on tin inner roof-Softly sleeping girl breathing softly (unconcerned unconscious reflex) ((dog and human learned to breath asleep allike)), Where does she dream? Where does wood pecker peck? --tree propped up by gracious brother soil and roots rooting-Where does tree stand erect?
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.
Fabrice Poussin | Rebirth | Photograph