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the

b’k

bitchin’ kitsch

Vol. 11 Issue 3


The Bitchin’ Kitsch (2010-present) or The B’K is a quarterly compzine edited and published by The Talbot-Heindl Experience, LLC in Denver, CO. The B’K is an outlet for people who may not be accepted or considered by more traditional publications. The B’K aims to have a diverse publication from a diverse set of voices and promises inclusivity, diversity, and respectful discourse. Issues are published in January, April, July, and October.

Staff

Editor-in-Chief and Design: Chris Talbot-Heindl Editor: Dana Talbot-Heindl

Submissions

The B’K has strict submission guidelines. Please read them before submitting something for consideration: talbot-heindl.com/bitchin_kitsch/submissions

Contact Us

For inquiries or concerns, write to: chris@talbot-heindl.com

About the Cover

“Sherbet Snakes,” an ink and watercolor on paper piece by Emily Rose Schanowski.


Table of Contents Art

Emily Rose Schanowski

Fiction

Mike Hickman Zach Murphy Sutton Revell

Non-Fiction H.E. Grahame Connor Orrico Emily Rose Schanowski Chris Talbot-Heindl

cover, 19, 35

24-27 34 6

8-10 7 19, 35 20-23, 36-38

Poetry

freddie blooms Lucky Chaparro Anne Marie Holwerda Warner Clara B. Jones Mara Panich Joie Peña Alex Andy Phuong Richard Salembier Jacquelyn “Jacsun” Shah Jeremy Szuder Dr. Mel Waldman Nadia Wells

18 14 16-17 12-13 5, 28 15 11 39 33 29 30-32 4

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Like Sheep to the Slaughter by:

Nadia Wells

Since the dawn of civilization, there have been the oppressed and there have been the oppressors. Since the creation of this nation, there has been a tyrant and there have been the exploited. Since the formation of education, they have made it their prerogative to teach young children this fact. To incite the youth to critically think about the fight of our forefathers, to have the capabilities to identify our intimidator, our tormentor, to bring change about the people. They spoke with great repetition the mighty words under which our nation was shaped, “And to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.� Now, however, the finger has been pointed at the very people that govern us. Those who took an oath to protect, flaunt their brawn through unnecessary means of violence. Those who claim to fight the battle of the maltreated, strip their brothers and sisters of dignity, brutalize those who resist, and cower in the face of revolution. They speak of inalienable rights, freedoms gifted to man upon birth. To express any idea through print, voice, banner, or other media. To think freely. To abolish said government, when it becomes destructive of these rights. In the name of the man you claim you stand so proudly for, give me liberty or give me death.


Daily I Read Something More Disturbing Than the Last by:

Mara Panich

a headline a buried lede creates a sense of need empathetic crushing depression an overused word but often the one that describes hits the fingernail on the head no longer able to touch without the pain of remembering pain the body remembers what you tell it worthlessness repeated in blood sugar levels desire for sugar fat carbohydrates the meat of your thigh tell me of a way to diminish the anxiety of social interaction without chemical intervention arrive in the crowd alone indifferent to interaction stand in the corner nod and smile at your glances look away not enough to speak for conversation for need not worth the time it takes to verbally reject the biggest toe hits at the end of a shoe each step a motion toward home each limp a reminder of how far you have distanced yourself from connection desire is the wings of moths substance is an exposed light bulb offering heat in your throat relief from subconscious travel each day is a new victory a new loss in the crowd thirst for alcohol on my tongue in my belly sunlight and warmth improve disorder light lightens burden daily I read something more disturbing than the last.

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fruit fly, corn syrup by:

Sutton Revell

CW: Gun violence (non-graphic). The gravel made indents in my palms and I was thinking about flies. The dumpster was surrounded with them, and I could hear the buzzing from where I was sitting in front of the convenience store. It was November, and I thought all of the bugs would have died by then, or at least found something better to do. I had the urge to find a large swatter and kill them all in one loud SPLAT, to conveniently drop their remains in the dumpster where they so loudly convened. But no such swatter was available, and I was comfortable where I was sitting, the pressure from the gravel biting at my skin in a way that was more calming than cumbersome, akin to a small animal teething on a pinky finger. Something brings me inside the store. I really can’t remember what. Probably the never distant memory of high-fructose corn syrup, something sweet and colorful calling to me like a sailor to a siren, a siren to a shipwreck. The store is quiet, save for the small hum of energy, of lights and freezers, like a heartbeat in a deep sleep. I grab a grape soda and immediately regret it, wanting anything else in the world, but a grand stubbornness inside me forces me to stick with my decision as the door slams shut. Or maybe less stubbornness than it is a small social anxiety passed down generation after generation, one that natural selection learned to love and couldn’t bear to part with, much to the dismay of my racing heart and sweaty palms. I walk up to the cashier and I don’t think he said a word, his mind somewhere else. And I was somewhere else. And we passed by each other like two trains on opposite tracks, and I knew he was there but I had no interest in where he was going, and he felt the same about me. He must have. I paid in cash, and I don’t think I gave him the change, because I kind of like the way loose coins can feel in a pants pocket, the way they make themselves known and the smell of copper they leave on your fingers. And I left. And I watched a car pull in and didn’t think much about it at the time, but I keep going back and back and back because I missed my chance. I missed my chance to see him. To look and to connect and to feel and all that dumb, sappy stuff. Kinder, littler things. Instead, his last memories were waiting for a shift to end, a bright fluorescent becoming, a man with a gun and desperation. Something loud and violent, with the aggression only multicolored candies could bear to see. Because they are fake and nothing real could possibly phase them. And I am real and nothing fake could possibly phase me. But now I wake up with a fly buzzing in my ear and I can’t bring myself to harm it.


My Doctor Must Not Have Seen the Hashtag by:

Connor Orrico

CW: Mention of suicide and self harm. “Patient presents. STATES DEPRESSION IS STABLE. NO THOUGHTS OF SELF-HARM. DOING PRETTY WELL ON [redacted]. NO SIDE EFFECTS. REALLY NOT THAT MUCH EFFICACY, HOWEVER.” That is really in my medical chart, copied here caps lock and all. It is a pretty hot take on treatment-resistant (creatively, “stable”) Major Depressive Disorder, something I feel obliged to write as a proper noun to bolster its credibility. Weirdly we call this stuff mental health, which per Twitter, university listservs, high school classroom motivational posters of breaching whales and healthcare.gov, “matters” — but mental health is either misnamed or its mistreated because many miss treatment without physical evidence of psychological pain (e.g., selfharm) or a well-formulated plan towards the end point of the physical self (i.e., suicide). Even after acknowledging that somatic notions of the link between psychiatric illness and physical anatomy is not without some merit, I think persuading my doctor to appreciate the reality of my depression “independent of biology” (Kleinman and Good, 1985:494) would be met with less resistance if I simply throw myself in the road outside of the practice. Unfortunately, if my physical body were to be destroyed, only the Eliphazs, Bildads, and Zophars retweeting “Ask for help #mentalhealthmatters” would get the glory. So, until our actions align with our words, “mental health matters” is the mass-produced bracelet that becomes a bond. My hands feel tied — bound until they bleed.

Previously published by (mac)ro(mic) on May 16.

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Check the Box by:

H.E. Grahame

Your ballpoint pen hovered over the bright orange paper on the cluttered table in front of you as you paused at the question that was being asked. It was one of those early summer days that felt just a little bit too warm but by mid-July would have felt like heaven and the vibrant green park was alive with celebration. Pop-up tents sat in crowded rows across the grass guiding the river of revelers past their colorful laughing mouths selling rainbow flags and cleverly-sloganed crop tops. Friendly hands offered toothy smiles and glossy pamphlets about the services and support that they offered. A steady stream of reds and blues and pale naked skin danced behind you as the tents and people joyfully mixed and mingled. A lanky blonde with haphazard body paint and a baby blue tutu bumped into you, apologized, calling you “hunny” and excitedly hugged another painted body that was posing and bouncing nearby. Their happiness and the other acts of jubilation and excitement spread through the park, like juicy gossip until it seemed that the entire universe was celebrating too. It was not your first Pride Festival. You had spent several other days in a handful of other years over your short lifetime dancing and cheering with the LGBTQ+ community on hot days and rainy days and days that were more about yelling back at the protestors on the corner than singing karaoke with drag queens. You had been a friend and supporter for so long but it was today, at this Pride Festival, as your pen continued to pause over the volunteer form for the Pride Center that you wondered if you knew where you fit at all. You weren’t confused about the choices listed on the paper. The words were ones that you were familiar with. How do you identify? The paper asked. This seemed like a pretty simple question and one that you had always had a quick answer for before. Straight. Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Asexual. Transgender. Agender. Non-binary. Queer. Write-In-your-(very valid)-other-identity-here. You knew those words. They were terms that were talked about a lot in the places you lurked on Tumblr as people were talking about their experiences and identities. They were concepts you knew from reading countless hours of smutty fanfiction on Livejournal where your favorite band boys fell in love and in lust with one another instead of the screaming fangirls after their shows and let writers and readers explore the ideas of alternative relationships.


They were vocabulary words from every ally-ship pamphlet and Queer Studies textbook you had excitedly read and re-read, hoping to be better than your parents and their friends who “didn’t mind homosexuality but wished the gays wouldn’t shove it down everyone’s throats.” You also knew all the condescending and vile words on the signs that the pious men outside the entrance gates held in their hateful little hands. You knew the words. You knew what they meant, and you knew why they held such power for everyone in this little park. You knew that the words we use to describe ourselves and our feelings carry weight and that language shapes, creates, and recreates identity in ways that can both destroy and empower. Still the words on this bright slip of paper were causing you to pause. Causing you to think about where your pen should fall and who you really are when no one is looking. The body-painted huggers had moved along down the row of tents and the smiling booth attendant had stopped paying attention to you and your simple little volunteer form and was now engaged in an animated exchange with a short rainbow-wigged teenager about the finer points of “queering contemporary art.” Your best friend’s brother, Benny, bounced up next to you, excitedly shoving a folded piece of fabric under your nose. Silky white, baby blue, and soft pink hugged symbolically as Benny unfurled the flag and wrapped it around his soft arms like a protective cape. You watched him twirl around, basking for a moment in his new safe cocoon then dash off to find his older brother, who was somewhere among the colors with a guy whose hand was begging to be held in the safety of the festival. You smiled, hoping that Benny’s flag would make him feel safe from the hurtful words of those who didn’t care to understand. From his dad who still misgendered him and called him “his little girl” From his mom who argued that this identity was “just a phase” and criticized Benny’s therapist for encouraging this confusion. From the old friends who dead-named him every time they spoke. From straight men who would tell him that he just needed to “find the right man.” From every conservative woman who told him what bathroom he is allowed to pee in and from every single person who called him “she” without correction or apology. You hoped this flag would wrap Benny in safety and hope and let him express himself in the same way that the words and language helped other queer people feel authentic, heard and validated. You had grown up in a home where gays were welcome and loved. You went to your first lesbian wedding when you were just seven and understood, without a doubt, that love is love. You recited Shakespeare on stage with men who felt more comfortable in dresses and talked about attractive teen hunks with the half-back of the high school football team. Non-heteronormative was normal in your world. You

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knew, staring at the checkboxes, that whatever box you chose wasn’t going to make your parents cry. The swift stroke of the pen wasn’t going to make the people dearest to you run away. The inky x wasn’t going to change the world around you. But it was going to change the world inside of you. It was going to make you feel different. It was going to start a new fresh page in the sloppy book of your life. Maybe now, with this hesitation about checking a simple little box on a neon orange square of paper, it was time to change your story. Maybe this early summer day in this festive green park, dancing in this gushing flow of laughter and acceptance, was the perfect place to wave your own vibrant flag, paint your cheeks with purples and grays, and shed hesitance and uncertainty. You took a deep breath and guided the pen to leave its inky blue kisses on the paper, sliding it carefully into the graffitied folder with other scribbled papers and boxes checked with other identities. Finally, you had taken this first tiny step, a simple “check the box” and let yourself be swallowed by blues and pinks and drenched in sparkles and love.


Bold by:

Alex Andy Phuong Be audacious Independent Iridescent Color the world And paint over What is dark

Previously published in Sheila-Na-Gig Under 30.

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Cyber Art by:

Clara B. Jones

for Chris Campanioni (and Art in America, 2014)

1.

Congolese have eyes like spores, and Cubans drink coffee constantly. You lost control of your life— it’s tough, but you will get over it. Why? Why did you support the Yemen War? You have been a model citizen, but actors earn less than chefs, and, on a related subject, what is your favorite logic board? You need to figure it out since your life is in disarray, and you should never foreclose your options. You think most artists like snails, but Ibsen was an exception to the rule that made you remember your partner who left two point five years ago, and now you feel less joy—but if you can’t be happy here, you can’t be happy anywhere. Congolese have strong boundaries, so you made gavagebased fois gras before Mobutu’s lithograph sold for eight thousand dollars though Christies® prefers to show Cyber Art [Mobutu emojis are trending on Twitter®], and Fujifilm® no longer sells monochrome [the company remains superior but not solvent]. Your mission was to monetize your project while hiding from ICE in Brooklyn before you and Mobutu ate catfish at Le Bernardin® before flying to Cuba for tacos and espresso with an orange twist.

2.

What if Henrik Ibsen had been a survivalist...if I recite Robert Creeley poems will you promise not to leave me...how do you know what to believe since grace is a fiction though when you move to Kinshasa you’ll eat groundnuts each day (tissue homeostasis and early human development)... you bought lithium 1001 batteries that won’t blow up and your @Twitter feed has 2 million followers but female billionaires buy Mesolithic Art because they have good sense and impeccable taste in shoes (what is your political party and who is your girlfriend now?— fake tweets)...you have a friend who hates snails though parasites engulf their hosts in mutant cells and Aztecs didn’t build the Sun Pyramid that


Weston photographed before you swam in the Amazon where piranhas bit your left leg— fish foraging for food——please pass the collards.

3.

Warhol met Frankenthaler at Venice Biennale while Louise Bourgeois had a solo show on Sean’s yacht floating perilously close to Franco’s cat lying on a blue dock faded by time. Paid family leave is a wise choice since activists need venture capital when sculpture is trending though “all art is photography.” Congolese own cameras that can change your life but before you find solutions collectors must set a price— conditioned to sell in a market dominated by Gober’s Law about creative geniuses and groundnut stew. Acts of war in an era of synths drive the motherboard of culture-drones shooting images of war over Congo where form is function and post-internet markets are not about museums.

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Snatching the Mic by:

Lucky Chaparro CW: Reclaiming a homophobic pejorative (censored)

(That’s not you speaking. That’s the f*g in you.) —Dad

O Ganymede sweater from Barney’s on Seventh, LASIK, winged lashes, and teeth by Marc Jacobs, make me the judge of my old, naked father. My Keurig drips 4Loko in my morning cup; my mother doesn’t expect a call. My ass claps back like thunderslaps. Multiply me in your thousand eyes. Smile and rise for my national anthem: O f*g, beloved be thy porcelain smile, thy vows of self-erasure, the grace, the elegance, of thy bent knees.


Death and Capitalism by:

Joie Peña It’s a funny thing when you begin to plan for your own death. You begin to sleepily search “Google cheap wills” and remind your partner about your 6 figure debt. You compile lists of bills and think about all that you will owe. All that you will owe, as if that is the legacy you will leave. That is the main concern for your partner, not the many hours of memories or where he will hang your wedding dress or his head when he learns of your last breath... You scramble to put life insurance and retirement accounts in his name, wonder if he will be responsible for your collections and your pulse quickens when you contemplate the stress he will endure over the financial implications of a funeral, so you quickly decide that you will, against your Jewish faith, burn your body and donate what’s left and have a celebration of some kind, somewhere, in a park, in a house, on Zoom, for fuck’s sake because the world is closed and because your life is expendable but your debt is not.

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Dutch Wife by:

Anne Marie Holwerda Warner

May wine Elf cups —this tea smells like horses In mid-spring when they are just coming up the name peony doesn’t come, what comes is only the image of ants as they lap and untuck shy blooms—or is that another genteel falsehood? The canvas I want to stretch before you— Do you want to look for twice-stabbed ladybird beetles? Wayside wrought endearment & pickled herring strawberry freezer jam on rusk— To you will I always be toaster tongs If you never leave can you really be home? The seed he scatters is her time. She sets the bar low and is grateful. Julia’s daughters make a campfire cake with Pirouette® logs, stove-charred marshmallow fire pit stones, and food-coloring white chocolate flames. Enough with the cerulean, cadet, robins egg, periwinkle. There once was a crayon called cornflower. It was a stonewashed gray-violet, a sun-bleached summer glove kind of blue. In pandemic every ordinary and unrelated disappointment feels like a shovelful of rocks poured on your head. Still the joy of found things is amplified, a double portion of wonder, a long awaited newborn with ten perfect tiny moons in his fingernails. One fork tine skewers a Takis® chip and another a mango cube. Whatever this was it can’t last. I threw in the language of dominance and something unlocked. I’m just trying to create space for myself. We may have lost the ginkgo during pandemic but not because of pandemic— the same way we lost Mike our Korean War vet neighbor who died in a golf cart accident while wintering in Arizona. In the early morning on the day before Pentecost someone burns a flag at the corner of 4th & Walnut in Louisville, Kentucky.


Slimy trails of sidewalk slugs glisten in the morning light. A damselfly’s wings cast twilight shadows before you at the corner of 38th & Chicago. Wood pewee Spring azure The strawberry moon

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to-do list by:

freddie blooms season the cast irons. scrub the bathtub. file my taxes. everything to avoid counting down the days. fantasies of gasps escaped from your throat. we were nothing before we were everything. expectations are different than hopes, but both lead to disappointment. i kick booze and cigarettes and sugar but can’t stop chasing the highs of desire. i picture you rolling your eyes at my dazzling dramatics, declare, hello, i am ready to love and to be loved! it’s the end until it’s the beginning again. but we’re never ready when we think we are, are we. i grasp and clutch. love finds me only when i finally let go. i am a flailing, wailing child, face flushed and wet with desperation, all wild holler and clenched fists. sooner or later the collapse arrives. i open my eyes to find the transformed sky. it’s there until it isn’t. you paint pictures from meditations. softness exposed in a ray of sun, pen balanced between your fingers, yearnings of your body risen to the surface. i try to be satisfied with what we settled for. it was enough until it wasn’t. when we meet i ride the wave of presence, the tug of war, the balance beam. the spring comes, the waters rise, whether or not we are ready to get wet.


Fortune Cookies by:

Emily Rose Schanowski

Fortune cookies do not have cosmic powers. They don’t affect my life. I know they don’t. They can’t. A few years ago I opened one that said, “Promote literacy—buy a box of fortune cookies!” Even the cookies themselves aren’t trying to fool anyone. Last week I opened a fortune cookie and it was empty. Half of me thought, “oh well, no fortune.” The other half thought, “I am doomed now.”

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Chrissplains Nonbinary Advocacy to Cisgender People: Being Transgender is Not Like Being “Transracial” by:

Chris Talbot-Heindl


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When it Comes to the Crunch by:

Mike Hickman

The situation. A car. A Volkswagen, say. They’re funny. I’d suggested a bubble car, but Graham thought a Volkswagen would be more recognisable and it was his computer, so who was I to argue? So. A Volkswagen on a bridge. A bridge? A bridge. Graham shrugged. He wasn’t too bothered about the bridge thing. We could have the bridge as long as we were agreed on the Volkswagen. We were agreed on the Volkswagen. It’s yellow, he told me, and I didn’t feel anything either way about that. He’s in the trunk, though, I mused. Doesn’t a Volkswagen – yellow or not – have the trunk at the front? Yeah, Graham said, at the front, yeah. We can make something of that. We can? We can. If he’s in the front of the car – if that’s where they’ve put him – They? Him. The dopey one. Frank, wasn’t it? Frank, yeah, that’s dopey enough. If that’s where they’ve put him, Graham mused, doing the thing with his fingernails that I couldn’t watch, then Frank’ll forget the following morning when he gets up, gets into the car, goes to drive to work. He’ll have the shunt – we’re still having that, aren’t we? – and he’ll forget that the best man is in the trunk up front and he’ll stand there – get this, get this – when they come out to assess the damage – the RAC, yeah? – and


it’ll come back to him, in flashback. In flashback? Is that funny? It’ll be funny. Because he’ll have glimpses of the night before. He’ll remember what they did to the best man. He’ll remember trussing him up and then he’ll remember packing him into the trunk of the car. And we’ll see it on his face. The camera’ll come right into his face and his eyes they’ll be all wide and, believe me, Mark, believe me, the audience will roar. I thought about this. Through the window, down below, Graham’s mum was attending to her son’s own car. It was a Ka. Yellow, of course. He’d got it for his birthday. It was washed every Sunday. It’s his car? I didn’t want to ask. Graham seemed so up for it. And when he was up for it like this, that was great. That was to be encouraged. Had to be. But the logic, I thought, the logic. Graham finished picking at his fingernail, moved to change the Queen CD he put on every time I came over. Whose car? His, I remind him. This Frank guy. Fat Bottomed Girls on Bicycles went round again. Graham wandered over to the window and closed the curtains. Yeah, yeah, it’s his. So, right, wouldn’t he know where the trunk in his own car was? Wouldn’t he know that a prang from behind wouldn’t end up with his best man mate squashed to death? Graham rubbed his eyes, mussed his hair, twirled his dad’s swivel chair, played again with the lid of the cow gum. Sniffed it, too. If he was hung-over, he suggested. Maybe it was the cow gum talking. He’d forget where the trunk is in his own car? Okay. Maybe it’s not his car. Maybe he’s borrowed the car. Maybe he’s driving it back for a friend. Whatever. The best man is in his trunk and he only remembers this when the RAC are out preparing to tow it – or maybe they’re on the way and he’s standing there and we get the flashback and we realise what’s happened and… The audience will roar?

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They’ll roar. Fat Bottomed Girls on Bicycles finished again and Graham went off into his bedroom to get the next Queen CD. Before putting the same one on again. They’ll roar. A poor bloke gets tied up, shoved into the trunk of a car, and is then crushed to death in an early morning shunt the next day. Having very likely asphyxiated overnight. The perfect set-up for a comedy script, said Graham, and I could have disagreed but then he was on to how our dopey Frank would dispose of the car. It’s got to get more extreme. He’ll try to push it off the bridge and he can’t. So. So. He’ll try to get it started again. So he can get it out of the way. So it won’t be found. He’s now deliberately trying to cover up the death of his mate? The same mate who was meant to be married in the morning? Have we forgotten that, too? No, no, no, seriously, it’ll be funny, it will. Because… What about setting fire to it? If it’s not his car. So he sets fire to a friend’s car to get himself out of it? He was going to work. Won’t they expect him at work? Perhaps they hear of the accident? Or they fear there’s been an accident? Or there’s been a fog – there’s been a fog – and loads of people have had accidents that morning, so they’re worried he’s been caught up in it and they send people out to find him. A search party? A search party. In the fog? Lots of scope for people lost in the fog. We’re probably quite a way from the last big laugh by now. No. Yes. No. Graham swirled the cow gum and rotated a bit on his dad’s chair.


No? No. Because – get this – this is the punchline, right? He’s not in the trunk. Frank? No. The best man. He’s not in the trunk. He fell out or got out or whatever. He’s done a Houdini? He’s done a Houdini. And he’s wandering about in the fog and that’s where we leave it at the end, after Frank’s tried to set fire to the car – after he’s had it crushed. He’s had it crushed into a cube. Thinking the best man bloke is still in there? But it’s alright. It’s alright, Mark. Because he’s not. And we see him at the end. There he is. Still dressed in stockings and suspenders from the stag do and he’s alright. You see? They’ll laugh. How can they not? How can they not?

They rejected the script, of course. The BBC. ITV. Anyone else we could think of. They said it was too unreal; said we’d need “life experience” to really rock the comedy thing like we wanted to. Did you write anything else with him, then? This Graham? I can’t remember. Awful, isn’t it? I can’t remember whether there was anything else. I remember that one day, with the cow gum and the Ka out there he wouldn’t get to drive being washed by his mum. And I remember thinking – because I did, the whole time – that this wasn’t going to go anywhere. And, of course, it didn’t. Especially for him. And that’s it. That’s it? It was a long time ago. But, you know, perhaps we shouldn’t regret so much what we forget; that we’re only left with so much. Because, you know, sometimes it’s just the funnies we’re left with, even when we’re not so sure whether they ever were. When it comes to the crunch.

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Desert Mother by:

Mara Panich you’ve always found beauty in a tumbleweed but never in yourself. a ridiculous notion of rambling free form and distracted


The Think Tank by:

Jeremy Szuder Life’s days are spent swimming, floating in a rectangular prism stuffed plump with water and bile. Tears mix with laughter bubbles, and the occasional grain of sand falls from these eyes to the floor of the tank. Years mix with years. It has gone on this way, on the surface of liquidity, a gentle dance of miniature waves and pointilated peaks protruding above the rim of glass every now and then. The blood has stayed warm through it all, my pruned fingers pushing matter sideways and swirling around this eager mind. I scratch at the tank from within, and I wonder, would you approach from the outside, close enough to see this submerged diorama that I have fussed with and made welcoming under the filtered light from the lamp of hard electric skies? What all that’s been written is fine for the dip, is of the right temperature for you to approach from above, dipping your naked legs into, or throwing all caution along with your clothes at the winds with, and simply diving in head first.

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Survivor, I Am by:

Dr. Mel Waldman

Survivor, I am in the swirl of sorrow that suddenly engulf us after the apocalyptic arrival & I watch/inhale the chilling cornucopia of despair/death Trapped in Un-Reality, I wear a smothering mask & keep my distance from others & long for the beautiful strangeness of everyday life I left behind Survivor, I am but some frightful nights when I taste the ineffable, the terrible revelation eats my spirit Shrouded in isolation/desolation, I remember the kindness of touch & the healing/holy power of humans embracing the divine but some uncanny nights when I am a ghost of a ghost of my vanishing self, I rush slowly through deserted Brooklyn streets & the emptiness shatters my brain like broken glass


Yet tomorrow I shall remember the miracle of creation & hear echoes of love from the caverns of my soul & I shall say Survivor, I am & I receive the gift of hope & see the transcendent truth The vastness of the cosmic breath & I am The eerie everlasting life force flows through me & I inhale/exhale the earth & the air & an otherworldly wisdom from beyond I taste the celestial mystery & the opalescence of the sea I smell the aromatic scent of soil after the cathartic rain, a beautiful petrichor & I am blessed I gaze at the Heavens

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Gold eyes swallow a kaleidoscope of divine visions & I transcend my physical being Now, I pray to the Source I travel through the invisible universe & worlds within worlds & souls within souls & within the vastness of the cosmic breath I am


A Little Jazz, A Little Soul—1965 by:

Jacquelyn “Jacsun” Shah SOUL is like hip emotion, he wrote, for emphasis making the S-O-U-L bigger than the other letters trying to teach me, his white girlfriend something. I drew in vivid colors an abstract rendering of the same. Sugar, he said, you’re somethin’! I laughed, loving his eyes, the lights they threw to me. And you! I teased. But then I learned another thing––fear the run-for-your-life type, the kind that lived in bone-marrow, fear that dissolved the light in his eyes when he drove into neighborhoods like mine, fear when I got into his car, sat next to him as he asked me to crouch down in the seat. In his house we relaxed, though one sister frowned and his mother did her best to smile. He was a student, working during summer break, playing piano at a bar called Herbie’s. College drop-out, I worked in an office. Traveling the keys, his fingers explored a wilderness–– a little jazz, a little soul made those barflies sit up, pay attention as black keys, white keys, tamed yet rapturous sang in chorus––My Delight, Angel Eyes, Satin Doll–– resounding from the shiny black piano.

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Spiders on Goodrich Avenue by:

Zach Murphy

A fine mist lingered as Dao went for an early morning run on Goodrich Avenue. The only problem with running before the sunrise was that she was the first person to brush into all the spiderwebs that formed overnight. It isn’t a particularly comfortable feeling — sticky strings clinging to your face when you’re going full speed. Dao didn’t fault the spiders, though. In fact, she admired their ways. How did they spin such stunning webs of intricate beauty? On the way back to her small art studio full of vivid acrylic paintings and meticulous clay sculptures, Dao noticed that one of her shoes had become untied. After tying the laces in a tightly crafted knot, Dao popped back up and gazed upon an imposing mansion. The thing looked more like a castle than a home. Ambitious vines sprawled across the bricks, as if wanting to smother the enormous structure into oblivion. Dao stood there and wondered how much it would cost just to heat the inside of the place, especially if the people living there had cold hearts. Just then, an elderly man who was wearing a painfully obvious wig and a bitter scowl on his face poked his head outside of the lumbering front door and yelled “Do you have a problem, miss?” “No,” Dao answered, quietly. “Then why are you standing there staring at my house?” the old man asked. Dao paused. “It’s ugly,” she said. Dao sped off with a satisfied smirk on her face. I am a spider, she thought to herself.


Magnets by:

Emily Rose Schanowski

My dad sent me a box of various thoughtful gifts for my twenty-sixth birthday, and one of them is something called “thinking putty.” I would call it advanced silly putty. A large magnet is included for the purpose of charging up the putty and sticking it to things. It’s very neat. However, the warning label caught my eye. Warning: contains strong magnet. Swallowed magnets can stick together across intestines causing serious infections and death. Seek immediate medical attention if magnet(s) are swallowed or inhaled.” Well, that’s terrifying. I’ve never eaten magnets. I don’t plan to breathe them in. I’ve made it twenty-six years without any magnet issues. But now any time I’m near a fridge or a cute store display I think, “remember, MAKE SURE you don’t eat the magnets!”

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No Thanks! Issue 1: Performative Apologies & Valuing Identities for What They Provide You by:

Chris Talbot-Heindl


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Construction by:

Richard Salembier We the people in order to form a more perfect union pray for the strength of a thousand masons as we restore our faith from the top down as we rebuild our house brick by brick from the ground up.

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Profile for Chris Talbot-Heindl

The B'K Volume 11, Issue 3  

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