Volume 6, Issue 6 June 2015
The Bitchin’ Kitsch is a zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say. It exists for the purpose of open creativity. All submissions are due on the 26th for the following month’s issue. Please review the submission guidelines on our Submissions page (www.talbot-heindl.com/bitchin_kitsch/submissions) before submitting your work.
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table of contents.
On the Cover Octopus in Net Chris Talbot-Heindl Mixed media
On the Back Cover
Men on Bench from the series City Life Allen Forrest Ink on paper
20-21 – Insomnia, Dr. Mel Waldman
33 – Woman Posing with Mirror, Allen Forrest
22 – Alphabet Soup Brain Bath, Roo Bardookie
34 – Your average Muslim Joe and Mary, Arif Ahmad
23 – Pop Topped Man/Boy, Jihane Mossalim
35 – Garnet, Ricky Garni
24-25 – Eulogy for a Muffin, Jocelyn Mosman 26 – Fragmental Rock, Marjorie
36-37 – Pillow Talk, Kathryn Jerabek 38 – Hands, April Mae Berza 39 – Retention, Gary Beck 40-42 – A Natural Introvert, Kathryn Buckley
In This Issue 4 – Due Process, Woodrow Hightower
44-45 – Super Bowl XXXVI, Mike Andrelczyk
5 – Kelly Freed, Tamer Mostafa
46 - Donors and Index
6 – China Dreams, Howard Winn
48-49 - June Calendar Shot
8-9 – Air Landing, JoAnna Michaels 10 – Letters to my Brother – The Railroad Bridge, Sarah Frances Moran 11 – The Glamorous LifeStyle of the Not So Rich & Famous, Nathalie Maldonado 12-13 – Dear Miss Dipietro, Rodd Whelpley 14-15 – Bite Back, Scott Thomas Outlar 16 – Locked, James Mahon 18 – Laughter, Hal Johnson 19 – lichtenstein girls, Mike Jewett
Jihane Mossalim - pg. 23 Turner 27 – The fourth person, Alfonso Santillana 28-32 – A Boy’s Best Friend, James R. Kincaid
Allen Forrest - pg. 33
woodrow hightower. Due Process
By: Woodrow Hightower You couldn’t read my chicken scratch So instead of a right on Bolero Street You took a left on Freedom-of-Disinformation Causeway The cityscape downgrade immediate Before breakfast had even been served Before the polar bear club had jumped the shark While I was still pre-dispositioning myself in sleep What will happen to me you thought? You locked your doors Determined not to become Another zero gravity, body-bag particulate You recalibrated travel time With one eye on the gas gauge The other on the snakeology manual You were bringing to the crime scene The air was filled with hangdog dust You saw sky decks and long black barges Impromptu one-size-fits-none gender bending And a grass roots sunup parade Fear giving way to cardboard tenderness As you distilled the back-channel moment Wondering why you’d always avoided Brick and rust travel guides The alarm sounded and I poured myself French Roast Then stepped across the World War III caution tape To wait for you in a lounge chair on the patio And I thought about life in prison without parole And pull-some-strings deniability And was relieved when you called Saying you had gotten lost Would be later than expected A river of words forgiving my bad directions That’s ok I had laughed End notes take time You’ll be pleased to know The cops aren’t even here yet
tamer mostafa. Kelly Freed
By: Tamer Mostafa A young middle school secretary sits low in the backseat of a Camry, dressed in a white beaded gown indistinguishable from the color of her skin. The driver, notices a car passing on his left points to the void of light, gesturing that it’s too late at night to be without vision. The two occupants in the passing car, see the white finger clearer than the reflecting dividers on the dark pavement, view themselves as omissions being clipped like a burnt wick in the middle of a melted candle, and punch their hands in the air. Words are spoken on both sides, but neither window is rolled down. Just a repeating finger point and muddled punches within each car. A chase follows and ends when the secretary sits bewildered, unknowing the speed of a bullet can travel through stiff air with enough force to pierce a clean hole in the steel of a trunk door, leaving her to rip her outfit bead by bead winding down the words “I’ve been hit,” “I’ve been hit.”
howard winn. China Dreams By: Howard Winn
Rising China with the plutocracy bursting from Maoâ€™s long march through defeat to victory with a German super car in the hands of each Chinese oligarch, or a super Buick, the American favorite, perversely purchased for status, single children flying to America for prestige prep school entre to the Ivy League, or UCLA and Stanford as alternatives in a parody of the American new rich from our very own Gilded age, a second great leap forward now Mao-less, has turned to golf for the young. Tiger Woods is the new obsession, the hero to the affluent parents who start their solitary male children while still single digit in age, training for international golf fame, that game once banned by Mao as bourgeois nonsense while tearing-up golf courses for productive farm land. The world will be forced to acknowledge the superiority of the new super-heroes of country club golf-dom and the sports pages of the worldâ€™s important newspapers. Perhaps no one will notice the killing air quality surrounding the high-end real estate as China accepts the homage of the world of golf.
joanna michaels. Air Landing
By: JoAnna Michaels I wanted to fly and I felt I had the wingspan to guide me to new altitudes, new octaves. another chance at making it. I wanted to fly over valleys and deep chasms, explore the unknowns of ancestors, linked together by a single gene. I wanted to give up that weight, pressing on the crown of my head, telling me I was crazy, telling me I couldnâ€™t do it. I wanted to scream so many times, knuckles bloodied from punching steering wheels. I wanted to let go of those images, those nightmares, the sounds and the tastes, to erase the whispers and dirty verses. I COULD have flown, dear, to Mexico in the 20â€™s, to hear Frida speak and kiss her so deeply the next three paintings would be a dedication. I could have taken that pilgrimage to a home now destroyed
joanna michaels (conâ€™t).
by bombs and misogyny. I could have opened those clinics I spoke about for years, given the homeless, the veterans, the prostitutes, the refugees, the undocumented, the unknown, a place to share THEIR stories and THEIR voices instead of having some privileged white folk write constricting dialogues. I wanted to sit in tents, wipe the tears of the uniformed children-turned-adult-too-soon-because-we-choke-on-oil soldiers. I wanted to fly. I wanted to soar. I wanted those clichĂŠs of success. I wantED. Now I just want that salt to stop tattooing my cheeks and to resurrect a girl gunned down by words and selfishness. Maybe sheâ€™ll get there. With an emergency landing
sarah frances moran. Letters to my Brother – The Railroad Bridge
By: Sarah Frances Moran
Do you remember that time Dad walked us across that railroad bridge at Studewood Park? I was probably nine and you six. We had to watch our steps and make sure a tiny foot didn’t slip between the cracks. The Buffalo Bayou whispered below. Moving all the muck out of the city. The trek across was decently long but I don’t think either of us worried about that or about the probability of a train’s horn. We never considered we might have to run across it, Stand By Me style and jump at the end. Dad said let’s cross and so we did. It was a gorgeous day, warm and sticky. The plan was the park and then a stop at Tilley’s Bar afterwards. Where we’d have bottled Coca Cola and Dad would have a beer. Dad’s park ventures never centered solely around the playground. The swings grew tiresome quickly and the boredom racked up with every push. To Dad, Studewood Park was a place of fantasy. There was more to it than the playground, swimming pool and trails. The magic happened in all the places you couldn’t see or wouldn’t normally think to inhabit. The railroad bridge, the hidden stream behind the woods, the curve of the concrete leading down to the bayou and the hobos who slept in the shadows of the underpasses and in between the trees. Harmless, is what he would say. They are harmless, like children in a park following their father with pride and with abandon. Later that night we recollected for Mom our adventuring with Dad. It came out with all o¬f the excitement children harbor without the consequence. As her face turned from interest to lividness we realized simultaneously that Dad was in trouble. She picked up the phone to call him and our daredevil railroad bridge crossing days were over.
nathalie maldonado. The Glamorous LifeStyle of the Not So Rich & Famous
By: Nathalie Maldonado
I’m fed up with having it my way thinking outside the bun speaking fish doing chicken right it always being Friday. The fact that every day before the irksome cockcrow I have to shock my baby blues alive, haul my soul’s case about the desolate residence I call my own, and staple the corners of my mouth 3 centimeters closer to my cheek just to get through the day without an “are you okay?” aggravates me even more. But I swear, the most god-damn awful part of it all is that you’re lovin’ it.
rodd whelpley. Dear Miss Dipietro â€“ By: Rodd Whelpley
As you suggested at our conference, I am working with Ethan on the principles of sorting the expressions of unknowns. So that: 2a + 3b is not 5 times the sum of a and b or 5 plus the sum of a and b because 2a + 3b is simple as it gets
But, 2a x 3b = 6ab
To check our work: Letâ€™s say that, through some happy fortune (say by the textbook, but more likely from the government or the bank), we discover a is 100 and b is 1
Thus, 2a + 3b is 2 x 100 + 3 x 1 = 203 not 505 or 106
And, of course, 2a x 3b is (2 x 100) x (3 x 1) is the same as 6 x (100 x 1) is 600 is 600
QED Is that what we say, then, in the end?
Often, I make my son repeat: You can never add unalike terms (But multiply them? Sure, I guess.)
rodd whelpley (con’t). You did say demonstrate with real examples. I tell him: One tiger and one tiger are two tigers. One tiger and one bear don’t add up. Yet my son is eager to remind: Two tigers can multiply, making three or more, but bears don’t multiply with tigers, though, by principle, they should. And don’t forget, he says, a lion and a tiger makes a liger. Of course all of this is true. An unlikely man and a woman multiplied, and added to the world both he and I. And you. I worry, Miss Dipietro, that the jig is up with him, that he’s already apprehended how words and gods, people, objects tigers, bears have been disproven. Are our ways to figure now unfounded too? Strange, I thought (Perhaps at conference did you say?): Math makes promises it’s designed to keep – that is to affirm when the house is finally mine; and how long before our birth the stars we see tonight have died; all elegant ways to calculate the azimuth of love; and how to tell a hired hand how much paint these walls will hold.
scott thomas outlar. Bite Back
By: Scott Thomas Outlar She lays beside me at night and whispers prophecies of the Apocalypse into my ear. I turn and lick the sweat from her eager flesh. Just because an animal has been caged doesnâ€™t mean it wonâ€™t bite back. I stand on the bridge between two polar vortices as the sun pours down through the trees onto my head, into my eyes, washing over all the questions I pose to the abyss. I think about my fallen Father, remembering the advice he once gave me, and then toss a cigarette over the edge where it splatters into the flowing river. All things eventually travel back to the source. We are no different. God is everywhere. Warm halo symphony envelops my passion as I am made anew in the image of something greater.
scott thomas outlar (conâ€™t).
I sit in the woods alone, but not alone, never alone, never apart, never forsaken. I sit on a bench and think about the coming Revolution. Nothing can stop the momentum of an entire generation ready to burst into flames. Welcome to the explosion. Fourth of July firecracker fantasies bubble up in liquid molten lava, and Pompeii has got absolutely nothing on a decadent empire ready to be swallowed in ash. She wakes up beside me in the morning and begs me to give her all my poison. I dance above the bed, hovering with Icarus wings, ready to melt away the lustful sins from the last two thousand fifteen years. The spring is blooming in full all around as honeybees swarm the scene to sting my prideful ego. I snatch them from flight in the palm of my hand, loving the abuse of stigmata I receive. Reciprocation is a bastard, is a bitch, is the cross I bear without hesitation. My teeth are daggers, my jaw is a force of nature. I snap down on their unholy needles and suck dry every last ounce of venom. Pain is my antidote, suffering is my quick fix.
james mahon. Locked
By: James Mahon “Everybody wants to be a playboy,” but we pair off to maintain some semblance of credibility even while erecting walls yet wider, as uninteresting as ourselves— averse to the drama of height. A revolver crammed with faceless supervisors, each ascribed with our misgivings, but we wonder if the underling’s acrimonious plight is universal: overseer sullied by perception and position, or predestined for ascent? Unanwsered, temptation abounds, venery loosed on the land to occupy our idle meanderings, avarice indulged in small dishonesties, minds rendered gelatinous by consensual inanities. Yearning to relate, but swollen with tumors of self-interest, we are unable to navigate toward another without aid from multiplex chambers flushing and pressurizing emotions— a Miraflores of the heart. So we flounder, armchair supplicants attempting to dull the focus of ghosts long-flown, safely, nonstop, to the alien tarmac where an aging school bus chokingly idles, waiting to deliver us to the terminal ahead.
hal johnson. Laughter
By: Hal Johnson All around, rolling in mirth beneath my window, the masses were teeming. Only after I had joined in on their laughter did I realize they were not laughing but screaming. Tapes of the interviews came in too late to be beautiful, but not too late to be useful. I passed around more surveys, but no one could hold a pencil any more. â€œThese, too, are too late,â€? they said. The streets were littered with cereal boxes and a few scattered tears, so I rooted around to get a prize. I rooted around in both the cereal boxes and the tears, and I pulled out a slide whistle. Not bad for a third try. I whistled and everyone assembled, staggering beneath the weight of their glowering brows. We all had a good laugh about that. Only after, only after we had all been laughing for several minutes straight did I realize that we were at it again.
mike jewett. lichtenstein girls By: Mike Jewett
o clouds look like perfume spritzes & the way they cling in the mall. we are moths flitting through, or aside; breakdancing, our dust will scatter. o mushrooms plopping up at nighttime identified by a starlit audubon fieldguide, you are glee; hens-of-the-woods set into a hyacinth basket; morels & black trumpets set aside for muslin cloth. o flower moon, drops in wildlife may empty africaâ€™s landscapes like lichtenstein girls dotted with self-doubt.
dr. mel waldman. Insomnia
By: Dr. Mel Waldman Inside the vastness of the night, I almost never sleep & so I listen to its strange seductive music, a silent symphony; alone, in the cage of insomnia, I listen interminably. Yet what do I hear in the eerie night, an ethereal space that flows around and through me? What do I hear? Is it a mournful silence that seeps through my bones, or a requiem that slithers into my psyche? What do I hear? Ensconced in the swirling sphere of sleeplessness, I dart and flit across the mansion of my mind, lost in a meandrous labyrinth, & I listen to the ineffable; I listen
dr. mel waldman. (conâ€™t). & pass through corybantic hours and rummage around in my ancient house in search of my shattered self; alone, in the cage of insomnia, I listen. But what do I hear? I taste the gunmetal silence, swallow the haunting, harrowing sounds of a thousand battered butterflies, furiously flapping their broken wings, in the bestial landscape of my wounded brain, & vomit human debris, eldritch explosions in the wilderness, & listen interminably to the ineffable; alone, in the cage of insomnia, I listen
roo bardookie. Alphabet Soup Brain Bath:
Roo Bardookie Responds to Jihane Mossalim’s Pop Topped Man/Boy
By: Roo Bardookie
In the special needs room of our school, I grew so tired of feeding the man/boy with the tubes. We didn’t like the nurse they sent us. So one day when she was absent, we cut his head and pried it open. They were having alphabet soup for lunch. We poured some into his head. Suddenly, the letters began to attach to his brain and synapses, and his IQ shot up. He could write, he could speak, he read some heavy text by Einstein and Hawking, with some Carl Sagan thrown in. We sent a letter to Campbell’s Soup, requesting the special Chicken Noodle, the one with the numbers, + and - signs, and the division and X signs. We’ll get back to you on that one. It was hard to explain at the man/boy’s next IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting, how his IQ shot up, and why we put a hinge and small combination lock on his head. The other kids would try to open his head at recess. When they put us in jail, he was our non-licensed lawyer, and he got us out on a technicality. He has since earned his law degree, and is now studying black holes and neurology.
Pop Topped Man/Boy Jihane Mossalim Illustration
jocelyn mosman. Eulogy for a Muffin By: Jocelyn Mosman
It was a good muffin, the way it crumbled gently as it touched my moist lips. It knew no other mouth but mine. It was made with care and dedication and love, baked from some kitchen. I don’t know who baked it, but I like to pretend it was a big burly man with a beard. Something about this muffin, it tasted like strength, had the consistency of my father’s belt, and taught me patience as it melted on my tongue. A beautiful muffin! Its aroma filled the entire room, smelling of sweet pumpkin and spice and all things naughty and nice. It reminded me of Christmas — the one we had at my grandma’s in Pennsylvania after grandpa died. It was sweet, but had just a hint of salt. I can’t be sure if the baker cried when mixing ingredients, if he, too, had felt loss. This muffin left its remains sticky on my fingers like ashes, like play dough, like muffin dough
jocelyn mosman (con’t).
if muffins are made using dough. (I’m not sure, I don’t cook.) I wanted to know the man behind this muffin, the great bearded one. I wanted to meet the two cats, calico and black, that crawled up onto the counter, blocking the view of the recipe, and made this man create this muffin literally by scratch. I want to know this muffin man, the one who lives on Drury Lane. He created a muffin so insatiable, metaphors won’t do it justice. A muffin like that would win poetry slams because it was so damn poetic when devoured, and the empty plate, licked clean by two cats, calico and black, looked more like a broken heart than a well-loved dish. The plate and me, me and the plate, we tasted the tears of the man behind this muffin. We both knew tonight, there would be no more inspirational muffins to kiss us goodnight.
marjorie turner. Fragmental Rock By: Marjorie Turner
I shattered the way all glass shatters when it does â€” the way pieces are left as smaller beauties of a broken whole, the way you can never really just eat an apple, the way knowledge hurts going in. I shattered the way a skull does on pavement.
alfonso santillana. The fourth person
By: Alfonso Santillana
This three-dimensional language of I, you and they needs a fourth person. A fourth person to exist in timeless tense, to be awakened by a sunray bound to be a verse. A fourth person to finally see through: Taller the tree, deeper its roots. A fourth person to corral the infinity trapped outside meaning; to look out and into ourselves with the same view. A fourth person to unbind our glance to a higher perspective, and lighten the burden of all mind-based lies, to be the witness above our eyes.
james r. kincaid. A Boy’s Best Friend
By: James R. Kincaid
Mother was not a comely person. True, by the time I could register a view of her she was not in her first youth. But a few photographs of Mother as a young flapper survive, and these tell the same sad story. I was going to include samples here, but thought better of it. After all, Mother’s physical being, her body, is not the point, has little to do with ways in which she wrapped herself round and strangled my developing sexuality. Not that Mother didn’t have her good points – in the same way every human mixes good and bad. Norman Bates’s drew a shorter straw. Still, I now see that my problems in life – all that ignorance, awkwardness, embarrassment, humiliation, failure – can be pinned right on Mother’s ample bosom. I understand that the coupling of Mother and sex might cause discomfort among some; but, then, you didn’t know Mother. To start with Mother’s positive attributes, that is, to give the appearance of being fair and balanced: everyone (else) regarded her highly. “A fine Christian woman!” “A woman of courage!” “You ought to feel lucky to have such a Mother!” She was a pillar of the local church, a dedicated schoolteacher, a friend to the poor and needy, volunteering at ever so many agencies, centers, hospitals. She went to Zambia at age seventytwo to help out on a mission station, teaching children and doing all manner of good. Yes she did. I was myself, upon attaining my majority, a most attentive son – just to give me the credit I deserve. In the early days after my father’s death, I visited Mother dutifully and helped her with homework – she was going back to school to get her degree. I did a few household chores too, I think. I don’t want to distort that part of it. Not like I was handy or did much. Mostly I sat and listened to Mother’s stories, the same stock of maybe eighty-nine stories sparked by random associations and repeated without significant variation – with no variation at all – whenever she heard a proper noun. Mother, in this regard, was like certain parrots or, say, sprin-kler systems activated by definite signals.
james r. kincaid (con’t). I’ll give you an example: in those days the Pirates had a shortstop named Clem Koshorek, of whom I was an admirer. But I dared not mention Clem Koshorek before Mother, lest: “Did I ever tell you about your cousin Martha’s friend Clem – what was his last name? – worked at Wheeling Steel, had that lazy eye; they were keeping company years and years, never married, some people don’t, and Martha was such a good soul, didn’t do much out of the house what with her spinal curva-ture but made those Christmas ornaments, you remember – her house was full of them poor dear and...” It did no good to tell Mother that you had heard the story hundreds of times, nay, that very morning – that you had no idea who cousin Martha might be. Better luck stopping a freight train with a folding chair. I also taught Mother to drive, I did indeed. My Father had done all the driving and now she had to learn. I taught, perhaps not skillfully but patiently – well, not patiently, but I did accompany her on perilous drives on the back roads (they were all back roads) around Elkins, West Virginia, where she spent summers taking care of her own mother. Now, my grandma was a wonderful person, through and through, which just shows you that sometimes apples not only do fall far from the tree but land in orchards several counties over. Anyhow, it was around Elkins that I guided my Mother, including, one morn-ing, straight through my grandma’s barn door. I have tried since then honestly to assess whether, deep in my subconscious, I was attempting to do Mother in, wheth-er I might have said, “Hit the gas!” instead of, “Brake now!” Please excuse this background. I am just as anxious as you are to get to sex, my real topic and the one you paid to hear about. First, I need to expose what I have recently concluded about Mother’s view of me. For some time, I thought Mother was unaware of my presence, was preternatu-rally self-absorbed, a little like Sarah Palin without the blazing intelligence. But now I think maybe it was me who so bored Mother she was driven to blather to fill in the time, keep from running one of her volunteer badges up my nose. Maybe it wasn’t boredom I inspired in Mother but annoyance. Mother could hardly stand to be around me, unlucky for her as she also thought it was her duty to be my nearly con-stant companion. So, simple as pie: Mother was determined to love me, but she didn’t like me, not a bit, found me insufferable. I can now see she tried to smother this, but how could she?
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james r. kincaid (con’t). The problem was what I was: more or less, an asshole. I’ve changed since then. As I say, Mother tried to restrain herself, just couldn’t. I will give but one ex-ample, one being all I can stand. I remember talking to Mother about a girl at school, a smart girl, so naturally I was jealous: “She’s sort of stuck up, you know.” And not having the good sense to leave it at that (remember I was a jerk): “What’s she got to be stuck-up about I’d like to know. She’s so ugly. Yes she is. So ugly. Ugly as a…” Mother stared at me for a second, unable to let that pass, then: “What makes you think you’re such a prize?” Mother may have felt she was striking a blow for all women, trying to calm my nasty ego, teaching me that appearances are unimportant, or any of a million other things – but I know what she saying: “What a first-class, award-winning shit you are” and also – here it comes – “how sexually undesirable.” Anyhow, as I was saying, I wasn’t possessed of all this insight when I first found myself sputtering in the deep waters of puberty. Mother it was who told me that wet dreams – she called them “it” – were nothing to be ashamed of — so long as I tried to conquer “it” and didn’t allow “it” very often. But Mother’s sexual presence in my life, although looming, was not centered in direct sexual instruction. Mother also equipped herself with more general, posi-tively universal, opinions on all body parts, not just those of reproduction. She often found reason to remark that she couldn’t fathom why anyone wanted to glimpse a naked body, except, she’d add, getting a dreamy look in her eye, with babies. To this day I cannot stand to look at an unclothed infant or to hear the word “naked” without feeling an upsurge of something like nausea. Mother also was very open about the ways in which she and my father la-bored long and hard to bring forth my brother and me, specifically me. Between us had been a lapse of four years. Mother seemed to feel a passionate need to explain that gap to everyone in range, including, I swear, visiting friends of mine: “You know,” she’d say without provocation, “we tried and tried to get pregnant. We worked so very hard, tried and tried.” Imagine hearing that and striving ardently to block any horror show images of this heavy labor from entering your head. It doesn’t work – didn’t for me. Even now when someone speaks of repeated efforts, I see Mother, naked, sweaty, striving earnestly. Father doesn’t enter the scene at all. There’s no room for him.
james r. kincaid (con’t). Burdened with such notions and, worse, gnarled and diseased images of nu-dity, arousal, sexual doings, I entered high school, where things were about to come to fruition. But not for me, as you guessed. I found my greatest sexual excitement in the backseats of cars and in the hallways of our school. If I leave it at that, you’ll imagine I was normal. But that’d be too much fantasy even for me. Lustful excursions in backseats were undertaken with five or six other boys, riding around in the streets of our town, singing “Roll Me Over in the Clover.” That, as I remember it, was both daring and arousing. Maybe not arousing, but it gave us (gave me) the feeling of ac-complishment, of putting myself out there and finding something like sex. Not much like sex, you’ll be thinking, but more like sex than, say, going to church with Mother. I referred to school hallways, which also sounds almost illegally racy: up against the lockers, inside storage closets. But what it really amounted to was some advanced but sadly limited groping of remarkably pretty girls. Sandra Mahoney –one of the 75 Sandras in my class – would come up to me and, grinding her chest in-to my back, even guiding my hands to her breasts, say, “Oh, you’re going to give me cancer.” Brenda Lawrence would slip her perky buttocks into my waiting hands. Marci Babcock blew in my ear, Sandra Miller licked it, Mary Lou Wylie stuck her moist finger in there. Oh glory. All this quite out in the open as classes changed. The thing was that when the milling crowds faded away, so did the erotic ac-tivity. For me anyhow. It was only when things could be contained, when the young women – girls, we called them and they called themselves – were secure, em-powered — only then that such play was common. All through high school, I had plenty of sexual experience: singing of sex with boys, fiddling in the hallways. And so did every other boy, I think. I knew of about four boys and just as many girls in my class of three hundred that had what anyone now would call sex. So I was by no means alone, which made me feel better, only no it didn’t. It made me feel that Mother was winning, that she had ordered a world replete with yearning and no fulfillment. All that changed when I went to college, but very little. I won’t pursue
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james r. kincaid (con’t). this, as there’s nothing to pursue. Sex took pretty much the same forms, only changing loca-tion: now boys sang slightly more raunchy songs in fraternity houses. And now I actually went into back seats of cars with girls and almost groveled once or twice, inconclusively and, from my point of view, pathetically. You know, what now strikes me most about all this was how kind these 1950s females were, how generous. They weren’t teasing, rather signaling that they were willing to share a form of power they knew, deep down, was theirs for only a brief time. Before long they would have real sex: settle down into some replica of a dreary Father Knows Best without any real future and no more sexual excitement. But we’re talking about me here and how Mother crippled my own sexual au-thority, which otherwise, as you can plainly sense, would have been massive. Hav-ing come this far, though, I find I cannot keep the fires of resentment burning so brightly against Mother. True, I was absurdly slow in matters sexual and it’s equally true that that was all Mother’s fault. But what the hell. To yield completely and say that Mother was indeed the saint other people saw, to throw in the sponge, would be facile and sentimental. But to conclude the opposite, that I was altogether right, is plain wrong. I suppose my feelings are all befuddled. And will stay that way. So be it. All I know for sure is that I wish Moth-er and her voice had never been silenced.
Woman Posing with Mirror from the series City Life Allen Forrest Ink on paper
arif ahmad. Your average Muslim Joe and Mary By: Arif Ahmad
Eradicated en masse by the Muslim fundamentalists for not being Muslim enough and siding with the West Tried unilaterally in the media, embarrassed, condemned, regarded with suspicion, frisked at the airports, many having lost their lives and checked off as collateral damage by the warring West Often misunderstood and taken out of context Never for a conflict, we like it quiet and out of limelight Not expecting anyone to bail us out or elevate our status Some fault for all this surely lies with us We are your average Muslim Joe and Mary, the single largest casualty, the silent tragedy of this war on terror And it is for us to find a way out of this rut To become a world-class scientist, a politician, an artist, an entrepreneur, a philosopher Excel at living and never say never
ricky garni. Garnet
By: Ricky Garni I discovered that I could be paid to live in a ghost town in Montana and I liked it. There would be no running water or electricity but still I would like it. I would live in a little cabin. I would be able to walk outside between the buildings which are quite weathered and old and look at the sky which is tremendously blue and listen for the sound of laughter at night which would be sort of like watching television, or maybe listening to television, perhaps it would be more like the radio. There would be many stars and there would be no animals. There might be lizards. I would like that. There is a man in Montana who runs this ghost town â€“ even though I am not sure what that means - and I was told that he could answer all my questions and he did: Where do I get my food? (There is a store 30 miles away) Where is the nearest movie theatre? (100 miles away) Where do I take a shower? (There is an outdoor shower stall) Where would I wash my clothes? (In the outdoor shower stall) Would I make any friends? (No) What do you think of the town? (Eh) Are the buildings nice (No) and then finally I asked: Is there any other things I should know about this ghost town? (Yes) What? (There are no ghosts.) Why would he say that, I wondered. There are only two possible reasons: because there are no ghosts, or because there are.
kathryn jerabek. Pillow Talk
By: Kathryn Jerabek You better quiet down in there. Or quick, muffle your sobs under the blanket. Ignore your rumbling stomach because your waist still measures 25.36 inches around. And careful about the blood. Don’t let it drip on the carpet. You better hope it’s cold enough for long sleeves tomorrow! Open the window for some fresh air and consider the ground instead. Pounding, pounding. They’re knocking, their fists hitting again and again. Pounding, pounding. You knew it was only a matter of time until they filled up your head. Pounding, pounding. There they go now — Down your face, onto your pillow, Escaping. They run amok. You know that.
kathryn jerabek (con’t).
Pull it together before they start to wonder what they heard down the hall. And what if they ask tomorrow before school, “I heard you sniffling last night, are you getting a cold?” And with that plaster smile you wear better than any of us, you’ll say you think so and fake a sneeze as you grab your backpack. Maybe you’ll learn your lesson next time. I heard that mints curb your appetite. Don’t forget to count those calories! Word of advice, from one girl to another, You might want to work on your fake sneezes, But man is that smile convincing!
april mae berza. Hands
(After Glen Sorestadâ€™s When Hands sleep, what do they dream?)
By: April Mae Berza
His hands dream the calisthenics of metals of an automobile, while hers dream of cooking her thoughts, her passion; his hands dream juggling numbers, a jumbled telephone, while her hands dream of imprisoned letters finally freed; his hands dream a marriage of spoon and fork as he moves brown rice to his innocent mouth, while hers dream the bipolar bond of nude fingers in the canvas plate painting her hunger, her hunger; his hands dream how the soldier fingers camp the softness of her breast, her nipple, a caged nightingale, her hands dream the aggressive texture of his buttocks as he enters, her fingerâ€™s surrender to his hips. Sometimes his hands and her hands stop dreaming but lie restless like defeated warriors lost in the subconscious of hand against hand in combat. Sometimes hands sleep in the awakening of desire.
gary beck. Retention By: Gary Beck
Distortions of memory reconfigure the past uncovering, concealing earlier experiences, chemically forgotten in the daily effort to endure trauma, conveniently buried for self-protection from painful remembrance.
kathryn buckley. A Natural Introvert
Childhood Heartbreak in Of Mice and Men and Adult Lessons of Mary Gaitskill’s Veronica in the Classroom
By: Kathryn Buckley
The first novel that ever really broke my heart was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. As a seventh grader it was on my summer reading list, one of the few aspects of school that I failed to despise. I adored Lennie, the character who had a learning disability. His dream in life was to tend rabbits with his friend George on the farm they hoped to own someday. “I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you,” he told George. I thought he was good, warm-hearted and that he loved in the way only innocents do. Back then in the early nineties computers were not at the tips of my fingers; there was no Google search or spoilers to prepare me for what was coming. I cried once I reached the page where Lennie died, so much in fact that I threw my copy of the paperback down the wooden staircase of my childhood home, watching it fall. Yes, Lennie had made a terrible mistake when he accidentally snapped Curley’s wife’s neck but like George said, “He never done this to be mean. He di’n’t know what he was doin’.” I wanted Curley and the others to give Lennie the benefit of the doubt too instead of leaving George with no other option than to shoot Lennie before anyone else could, his words, “Lennie, I ain’t mad,” offering me little solace. It seemed so unfair to me that George lost a friend and Lennie lost his life. When I picked up the novel the cover was slightly bent and some of the pages were crinkled, my eyes burning with fresh tears. Years have passed since I thought about that moment but what brought me back to it was how I felt this semester while teaching my favorite novel which is Mary Gaitskill’s Veronica. To read a novel is one thing but to teach it is to temporarily live inside of that author’s story and locate not just the beautiful elements but the ugly ones too. From the beginning of the novel readers — my students and me in this case — knew that Veronica had died by the end because of the candid line spoken early on by her friend, the narrator Alison. “Veronica died of AIDS. Nobody was with her.” So although it was no great revelation to me the way the ending of Of Mice and Men had been while I was preparing materials for our class lesson that would conclude our work on the novel I felt similar pangs of hurt, regardless. I had selected Veronica as part of the curriculum for selfish reasons; no
kathryn buckley (con’t). teacher, including myself, wants to be bored during class meetings, and also because what student wouldn’t be interested in reading about sex, drugs and parties in literature? That, however, did not quite sum up our experience of getting to know Alison through her honest self assessment, her love of music and especially her mistakes as well as Veronica’s brilliant hindsight about beauty and having made choices that turned her from a healthy to a sick individual. “I’ve done things that looked self destructive all my life,” she said. “But I wasn’t really being self destructive. I always knew where the door was. Until now.” We were not merely entertained but provoked by these characters. For the students it was about examining societal values and themselves as they became aware that both Alison and Veronica made decisions using free will and the knowledge they possessed at certain intervals, stirring up many possible topics for final papers. One of those topics was regret and we unanimously agreed that if we could turn back the clock in our own lives each of us might do something differently, a lesson I am still learning as a thirty-four year old woman. Through intense discussion over a six week period we broke down themes of family values and the world around us in addition to the dreamy prose that carried us through Alison’s journey which was compared to poetry in many reviews. Different ideas were tossed around like a beach ball. Alison was brave for going out on her own at age fifteen, Alison had zero self respect because of the way she slept around in the modeling industry, and Alison was addicted to the fast life based on her overall choices. Many students felt that Veronica was beneficial to society within the novel, in particular to Alison who at the start of their friendship was young and had much to learn from her and the way she lived. “It’s my show now,” Veronica said, similarly to the way I felt every time I took the center stage in my classroom. I was a leader of a group of people who expected to learn something from me during that hour and a half window in a New York City classroom twice a week, a role I took seriously. Sometimes it felt so personal to discuss concepts that were near and dear to my heart with complete strangers that I had to force myself to be present and not removed, particularly since I am a natural introvert. They didn’t know how much I related to Alison putting blind faith in the wrong people or her feelings about herself and losing a friend to something beyond her control. That was where the dividing
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kathryn buckley (con’t). line between educator and student came in; the secrets we harbored upon reacting to the material on a purely intellectual level. All of us had demons just like “the wicked little girl” in the fairy tale that opened and closed Alison’s narration but they were for us to keep guarded as individuals; this was an English class, not a giant therapy session. Still as a community we reached the conclusion that the novel had tons to offer by forcing us to examine that the truth about life was not always pretty but for damn sure it was real, a lesson my twelve year old self could not wrap herself around upon learning about Lennie’s terrible fate in Of Mice and Men. I knew that I was too old to simply throw my worn and wilted paperback copy of Veronica whenever I was distraught over its contents but on a Tuesday afternoon when I walked into my classroom to discuss Alison’s great realization that she never should have left Veronica a part of me wished that my students and I didn’t have to leave her either. “The writer on the radio is talking about her characters like they’re real people,” Gaitskill had written. I smiled because in many ways to me literary characters were real people. The only difference between them and my students and me was that the pages of our lives were still turning.
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www.ta lb o t - h ei n d l . c o m r.c bl um om “Dancing Girls in Colourful Rays” Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
mike andrelczyk. Super Bowl XXXVI By: Mike Andrelczyk
I woke up with a murderer rubbing my left foot. Which is a dramatic way of saying something that really happened. I pulled my foot back and stared at the murderer, who said, “I brought you some juice kid. I know you’re feeling sick.” I was 19 and was intoxicated with freedom, though not quite as intoxicated with freedom as I was with alcohol and pills. Now my freedom was pretty limited. I was in a treatment facility with drunks and murderers and a drooling brain-dead guy named George. I sat up and drank the yellow-colored fruit juice and thanked the murderer for bringing it. There was a meeting starting in 10 minutes, but I was too sick to go to it. In the meetings they would make you say your name and then make you immediately lie about yourself. And if you didn’t lie they said you were lying. Sometimes after the meetings I would sit in the dayroom and drink very hot coffee and play chess with George. I would move my horse around in a circuit on the board and George would drool over his queen. Eventually when I got bored I would say checkmate. Even if it wasn’t checkmate, but George would only just say, “Yeah…” But this morning I just stayed in bed and remembered how the guy that just got released last week gave himself a haircut that one time. He took one of those cheap plastic Bic shavers and broke it apart and removed the skinny razor part and then kind of wove the razor into the teeth of a little comb he had. Then he started combing his hair. It worked pretty well I guess. His hair was shorter after he was done anyway. In the afternoon I felt a little better. I was bored so I put on my jacket and went out to the porch to sit on one of the white plastic chairs facing the mountain with the bare birch trees on it. I started smoking cigarettes at the facility. The brand I smoked was called Maverick Menthols and the package had a picture of a little kelly green cowboy riding a little kelly green horse. George was sitting on the other white chair. “Hi George,” I said. “Yeah...” he said.
mike andrelczyk (con’t). I lit a cigarette and drew in the cold mint-flavored smoke. I pretended I was that little kelly green cowboy riding my little kelly green horse. My horse’s was name Cococonowegogo. It was an Indian name that meant “little kelly green cigarette horse.” I rode my kelly green horse along the yellow Wyoming plain and in the distance I saw the famous green Wyoming mountains with their caps of pink snow. I led my green horse to a stream where he bent his neck down to drink from the icy pink water. I lit up a Maverick Menthol and looked at the package with my picture on it. Then I saw my Indian friend Rick. He waved and I nodded back darkly just like a cowboy smoking a cigarette. Rick slowly drew an arrow into his bow and pointed it at me. I nodded darkly back just like a cowboy smoking a cigarette. When the arrow pierced my chest bright orange blood began to trickle out of my green body. I didn’t mind though. It was actually pretty nice just being there with Cococonowegogo drinking the cold salmon pink water and me bleeding my bright orange blood and smoking a cool Maverick Menthol. It was nice to be outside anyway. The minty menthol freshness of the Maverick cigarette eased my mind as my bright orange blood poured out. Which is all just a dramatic way of saying something that really happened. “I think I could write a pretty good advertisement for these cigarettes,” I said to George. “Yeah… “ said George. “Is that all you ever say you carrot-faced lame-brain?” I said even though George didn’t have a face like a carrot. I guess I was just bored and sick of being in the place. Over the mountain there was another treatment facility, but that one was for celebrities. It was tucked away back here in the woods in the middle of nowhere. I heard they had a Jacuzzi, a sauna and a chef. All we had was George. I got up and went inside. That night it was the Super Bowl. I went into my room. I still felt like I had a fever sort of. And I didn’t want to watch the damn Super Bowl anyway. It was Super Bowl XXXVI – the New England Patriots against the Saint Louis Rams. The Saint Louis Rams used to be from Los Angeles. Someday I would say I used to be from Los Angeles. It was the first time I didn’t watch the Super Bowl in my life. It was Super Bowl XXXVI. The Patriots beat the Rams 20 to 17. That’s what I found out the next day anyway. I forget who told me. It wasn’t George though. Or the murderer.
donors, index. artists Ahmad, Arif Andrelczyk, Mike
Berza, April Mae
36-37 Mossalim, Jihane Mostafa, Tamer
Kincaid, James R.
Outlar, Scott Thomas
Garni, Ricky Hightower, Woodrow
Michaels, JoAnna Moran, Sarah Frances Mosman, Jocelyn
23 5 14-15 27 cover 26
Waldman, Dr. Mel
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Men on Park Bench from the series City Life Allen Forrest Ink on paper
The Bitchin' Kitsch is a zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say.