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SF&D | Short, Fast, and Deadly Winter 2014 | [PushCart]

ISSN (print) | 2163-0712 ISSN (online) | 2163-0704 Copyright Š 2014 by Individual Authors | All Rights Reserved

Joseph A. W. Quintela | Editor Parker Tettleton | Editor

Published by Deadly Chaps Press www.deadlychaps.com www.shortfastanddeadly.com DCsf&d2014| 1

Rebecca Nison | Cover Photo

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iv | Note from the Editor v | Featuring

Silvia Bonilla | Questions // Silvia Bonilla | Photograph // Silvia Bonilla | Papa // Silvia Bonilla | The Ernest Trade Off // Silvia Bonilla | Muzzled // Silvia Bonilla | Body // Silvia Bonilla | They Lean On Doorless Time // Silvia Bonilla | The Making Of Celia xiv | Featuring

Thomas Fucaloro | Questions // Thomas Fucaloro | Photograph // Thomas Fucaloro | Bop (with Tom Waits Refrain) // Thomas Fucaloro | As you get older it is harder to fake happiness // Thomas Fucaloro | Give up and vote // Thomas Fucaloro | You don’t like me, you like the idea of me // Thomas Fucaloro | Thought we were in love // Thomas Fucaloro | Conversion Therapy xxvii | Featuring

Erin Entrada Kelly | Questions // Erin Entrada Kelly | Photograph // Erin Erin Entrada Kelly | She Had the Spirit of a Hummingbird // Erin Entrada Kelly | Higher Now // Erin Entrada Kelly | Vonnegut // Erin Entrada Kelly | Tread Softly xxxvii | Featuring

Sarah Kendall | Questions // Sarah Kendall | Photograph // Sarah Kendall | How to Tolerate the Dawn // Sarah Kendall | Our Kids Are Not Us // Sarah Kendall | Griffin // Sarah Kendall | The Desperates xlviii | Featuring

Rebecca Nison | Questions // Rebecca Nison | Photograph // Rebecca Nison | Love Song for the Dying // Rebecca Nison | Nomads, Ahoy // Rebecca Nison | In Gratitude to the Wolf // Rebecca Nison | Blobs in Love // Rebecca Nison | Technology and Nature in Cahoots Against Mario // Rebecca Nison | The Map

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lxii | Featuring

David Tomaloff | Questions // David Tomaloff | Photograph // David Tomaloff | Bruises/Insect Exchange (Footnotes to an Excerpt from Jane Hirshfield’s “Bruises”) // Heavy Tenancy: The Philosopher // Heavy Tenancy: Heavy Tenant // David Tomaloff | Heavy Tenancy: The Mannequin // David Tomaloff | Heavy Tenancy: The Mannequin // David Tomaloff | The Professionals

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Joseph A. W. Quintela | A Note from Our Editor

Dear Wordslingers, Paintdrinkers, and Friends, I am pleased to launch into 2014 with a special issue featuring the six 2013 Pushcart Award Nominees from Short, Fast, and Deadly. Along with re-publication of their nominated work, I offered each a section of up to 5 new pieces without any constraints. What I got back was simply amazing. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I have. Stay warm! With Words! Go read! Joseph A. W. Quintela Winter 2014

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F

eaturing

Silvia Bonilla | Questions // Silvia Bonilla | Photograph // Silvia Bonilla | Papa // Silvia Bonilla | The Ernest Trade Off // Silvia Bonilla | Muzzled // Silvia Bonilla | Body // Silvia Bonilla | They Lean On Doorless Time // Silvia Bonilla | The Making Of Celia

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Silvia Bonilla | | Questions

Who? These poems were fractured, amnesic and silent for some time. They made themselves heard with loud arguments between memory and connection, logistics and irrationality. What? Lines are scanning for smells, colors, texture, anything memory and reality play with. It is always appealing to ignore or distort both. What one remembers and what one sees. When? They are assessments, giving memory permission to reveal, propels some kind of connection with the present. Where? Finding friends in both the past and present. Why? You can't walk on ruins without stepping on ashes. How? Becoming a stranger.

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Silvia Bonilla | Photograph

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Silvia Bonilla | Papa

Your grief revives everyday and everyday you shoot at it with a hand that is rubber theatrical rowdy

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Silvia Bonilla | The Ernest Trade Off

My father brings back tomatoes after a day's work of packing A bag labeled malos in his handwriting he passes to my mother She inspects them for bruises hands lolling in their skin She talks about the supermarket circular about the chipped bones of animals And finds the urge to name The pelvic bone and ox tail circling In the pale intimacy of soup Mother's hair is starting to gray her crown of illogical roots Weathered by the walls of the three room apartment She sniffs searching for the glam of a new country

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Silvia Bonilla | Muzzled

Coming back from the airport we weighted our father's sorrow a net of extremities hauling him down He missed her walking around the house spraying lilac on the furniture the accordions of her movements He ate every curve of her letter's calligraphy but soon kissed others You are a lot like me he told me once when you kiss you listen for stranger's voices

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Silvia Bonilla | Body

You go chasing after something though not violent, brisk. Touched by an electric haze. How strange the man resting on a bed-like desert, the mouth a prickle pear and light/any light, nestles deep in his skin. Ribs pressing the breasts so boldly and you know you are sending your heart out like a dog that'll go astray but you don't care, you exult with rhythm. A small fighting gesture your tongue tied to his throat.

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Silvia Bonilla | They Lean On Doorless Time

Nothing ambushed the moon before it cut out the man and the woman on a bench with dead marigold light it witness what it witness a ferry moving on weeping wings he lifts his hands to the sky as if to withdraw a pair of apples then hugs her waist A moon knows the embrace will strap them always as they walk or rest infinite braid Longing to be reborn into the black letters of a book

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Silvia Bonilla | The Making Of Celia

When she starts taking chlorophyl I tell her you don't need it, you are not a plant When she dates everyone in church I tell her you didn't grow up on a farm When she spits outside a police precinct I tell her you will be fined When she talks about him a bluish body down the river Zigzagging like wipers on a windshield I tell her lets do therapy When she replies I am not crazy I bring out the rum When she flushes down an embryo I take her to the hospital When she gives it a name I cry buckets When you spend a lifetime gorging on tears as if they were good wine You become

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F

eaturing

Thomas Fucaloro | Questions // Thomas Fucaloro | Photograph // Thomas Fucaloro | Bop (with Tom Waits Refrain) // Thomas Fucaloro | As you get older it is harder to fake happiness // Thomas Fucaloro | Give up and vote // Thomas Fucaloro | You don’t like me, you like the idea of me // Thomas Fucaloro | Thought we were in love // Thomas Fucaloro | Conversion Therapy

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Thomas Fucaloro| Questions

Who? these poems What? they all represent a little part of me equalling a hole When? always Where? my heart Why? my heart How? my heart and alcohol

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Thomas Fucaloro | Photograph

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Thomas Fucaloro | Bop (with Tom Waits Refrain)

When the flask is always empty and there is murder on the brink and the bars are all closed and its cold like the meek and every person passing is another terrible reminder of another person passing oh the piano has been drinking And you find yourself alone on a bench in a city you vaguely remember and the cops watch you as if some sort of vagrant and you clutch your book of Bukowski and mix it with Garcia Lorca you got the most mind-blowing whisky on the make oh the piano has been drinking Bourbon shots and ladies breath. The sultry in your hips provide the right amount of light to spectrum shine the right amount of love pours into me and the piano has been drinking And I ask for another round and the barkeep shows me the door and the cold outside seems warmer then snow but still cold enough not to remember your name and the same standstill won’t stop wobbling and the piano has been drinking From the veins of the lost ones, the ones without melodies that can still be SF&D | xvii


sung and the proof is heart and the proof of that is the breathing and the late night moments to myself looking for where to set my keys oh and the piano has been drinking and this brickle battered bark of tree is the only honest shade I know and I watch the morning rise as the workers walk and the walkers walk past me like any other Tuesday morning in some city where the next bar opens at 9 and loneliness begins at 10 And the piano has been drinking oh yes the piano has been drinking not me. Not me.

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Thomas Fucaloro | As you get older it is harder to fake happiness

The eternal damnation of loneliness feels so good when it starts gnawing on the heart ever so delinquently splitting the self into tiny little splintered crumbs of bread. One rolls off the table and out the door into oncoming traffic. We are all lonely ants chasing crumbs, dodging cars.

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Thomas Fucaloro | Give up and vote

They are all voting whether to cut my foot off or not. The cameras are rolling. They have already cut off 2 fingers, a thumb and 3 toes. That woman in the front row has a nice pair of tits. While I wait for America to text in their votes I imagine laying my head atop of them. They feel almost like home. We are on a beach and the sky is as blue as the ocean ever was.

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Thomas Fucaloro | You don’t like me, you like the idea of me

Your heart is in the right place too bad the rest of you isn’t. You think you know the real me well would you mind introducing him to me because I would like to get to know the real me too. Maybe my real me was when I was with you? I would imagine my real me would know it at the time so maybe that’s not the answer. She said she knew me and I was making a big mistake. I told her mistakes are like stars, there are so many out there shinning, guiding us. I like stars. I wonder if she knew the real me would respond this way? You see we met through the internet so she had already mapped out who I was from my virtual presence. Some of my best friends are PDF files, some of my past lovers as well. Our profiles are who we would like to be. Meeting people through the internet is fun because insensitivity and sarcasm don’t always translate. If you think you know me through some profile’s eyes I gotta tell you, I’m a poet and I’ve been lying to myself SF&D | xxi


for almost 20 years now what makes you think I’ll have any problem lying to you. I usually don’t. I’m a prick. I usually send then an instant chat message, “I never loved you, only the idea of you.”

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Thomas Fucaloro | Thought we were in love

We were in hell we never considered we might be in love She said she lost the baby. I asked her if she wanted to get more coke. She said yes. I asked her for money. She wanted so much more. I didn’t ask her about more just what was feasible.

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Thomas Fucaloro | Conversion Therapy

What’s on your mind? Well there’s a spot of barbecue sauce a skull and sexual orientation. It seems to be on the mind of many these days and there is electro-shock therapy you can invest in to help your brain out of the muck of the heart. Freud stated that, Homosexuality can sometimes be removed with hypnotic suggestion. He actually said this after removing my balls from out of his mouth. People make homosexuality sound like a thing when all it really is a heartbeat. Why would you want to keep the heart from beating? It’s one of the most honest things we do as humans. Fraud also stated that, Homosexuality involving boys is identification with their mothers.

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Why is it a bad thing for a boy to identify with his mother? We should be more worried about when they identify with dead beat dads, no pulse in one of them. Also when they identify with scientists. They give you nausea-inducing drugs during presentations of same sex erotic images to vomit the gay out of you. I’d like to repeat that they give you nausea-inducing drugs during presentations of same sex erotic images to vomit the gay out of you. Are people really thinking the more you vomit the more your heart will change? (Ask a poet about that) Are people actually in buildings, behind corridors, behind closed doors, behind themselves, strapped to a chair, watching TV and getting sick? (Ask Fox News about that) Are people really hooking themselves up to car batteries electro shock beats the heart SF&D | xxv


and I’m telling you know matter how much you shock the heart it’s still not going to change, from fire. You don’t need nausea-inducing drugs to change just need your lover’s arms and watch the world change around you.

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F

eaturing

Erin Entrada Kelly | Questions // Erin Entrada Kelly | Photograph // Erin Erin Entrada Kelly | She Had the Spirit of a Hummingbird // Erin Entrada Kelly | Higher Now // Erin Entrada Kelly | Vonnegut // Erin Entrada Kelly | Tread Softly

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Erin Entrada Kelly | Questions

Who? Everyone. What? Everything. When? Always. Where? Everywhere. Why? Because. How? Quietly.

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Erin Entrada Kelly | Photograph

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Erin Entrada Kelly | She Had the Spirit of a Hummingbird

She had the spirit of a hummingbird – sharpened direction and none at all. I built a cage of sea glass and ivory so she could find her way. The clasp was shaped from melted gold and inside I placed a pillow of perfect white feathers. I laid there. Waited. Said, I built something for you. She peered inside. Her eyes, curious and shining. She peered, but did not come in. I heard the hinges creak and moan as she closed the door in front of her. Then I heard the gentle drumming of her wings and I was alone, on my pillow.

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Erin Entrada Kelly | Higher Now

How to fly like a bumblebee, according to Michael Dickinson, an expert on insect flight: Put your arm out to your side, parallel to the ground. Make sure your palm is facing down. Now sweep your arm forward and pull your thumb up, so that you flip your arm over and your palm is upwards. With your palm up, sweep your arm back, flip your hand over again, palm down for the forward stroke. Go again. How to fly like an eagle: Your wings are spectacularly long and large and your neck is short, which makes it easy for you to carry your weight. It takes a lot of energy to flap such vast wings, so don’t bother with too much flapping or you may grow weary. Technically, you can flap your wings as much as you want, but why would you? Powering your wings demands much of your pectoral and supracoracoid muscles. Also, it’s exhausting. Instead, spread your wings and take advantage of rising warm air currents, which allow you to soar and glide for hours. You should be ready for your first flight about thirteen weeks after hatching, once you’ve lost your downy feathers. After you master the art of flight, you will fly as fast as fifty-file miles per hour—more impressively, you will dive at 100 miles per hour. Conserving energy and honing your soaring skills are particularly important during migration periods, when you’re shifting from one life phase to another. How to fly like a ten-year-old girl: Stretch your arms to prepare. Stand at the edge of a precipice, such as a bed or sofa. Close your eyes. Feel the breath of wind. Lean forward. Dive. When you feel the air swell beneath you, spread your arms and stretch them as far as possible, as if you’re touching the ends of the world with your fingertips. Do not open your eyes—not yet. Breathe in deeply. Allow the growing space between man and earth to pull you up. Higher now. Raise your arms and bring them SF&D | xxxi


down again, gently. Allow your ears to pop. Never doubt that you are flying. Count to ten. Don’t rush it. Open your eyes.

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Erin Entrada Kelly | Vonnegut

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Erin Entrada Kelly | Tread Softly

Lagner Guth knew all the daytime bus drivers, and he could tell by the way they treated him that they thought he was a retard—or “touched,” as his mother used to say. “Retard means that your brain doesn’t work right,” she said one afternoon years and years ago, when he’d come home and told her that the boys at school called him a retard and pushed him to the ground. “Sounds like those boys are the retards. You’re touched, that’s all. But there’s nothing wrong with that.” She was painting her toenails as she told him this. He sat next to her and watched each stroke turn the tips of her toes pink. His nose burned from the polish. When she finished, she said, “Voila!” Then she kissed the top of his head and told him that there was nothing wrong with him. When she died, the woman at the funeral home asked what he wanted her to be buried in. He picked his mother’s favorite outfit from her closet and bought a tube of pink nail polish from Walgreens. “Only paint her toes,” he said to the funeral-home woman. She nodded, smiled faintly, and rubbed his shoulder. She thought he was a retard. He thought she had nice feet. ***

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When Lagner finished rubbing the prostitute’s feet, he stood up and shook the water from his pants. For the past fifteen minutes they’d been sitting on separate sodden milk crates near a Dumpster behind Shark Check Cashing. Lagner knew prostitutes gave sex for money, but he didn’t want sex. He just wanted to rub someone’s feet. He just wanted to be around a nice woman who didn’t care if he was a retard. He just missed his mama. “What’s your name?” Lagner asked. “I don’t have a name,” she said. She slipped her feet into a pair of scuffed pink pumps. Her shoes were ragged, but her feet weren’t. They were soft, just like he expected. He could tell what people’s feet looked like without even seeing them. “A lot of guys have a thing for feet, you know.” “I just miss my mama,” Lagner said. She raised a single eyebrow and took the wad of bills Lagner handed to her. “Be careful going back to the bus,” she said, looking up at him. “Okay,” he said. He took a step forward, then hesitated. “Your feet are soft. You should be proud of them.” “It’s important to take care of your feet,” she said, nodding. “My mother used to say, ‘I have only my dreams. I’ve spread them under your feet, so tread softly.’” Lagner smiled. “My mother used to say ‘If you have a mother, there is nowhere you can go where a prayer has not been.’”

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“I like that,” said the girl. Her smile turned into something else. Not a frown, but not a happy smile. Sadness, maybe. Lagner wasn’t good at reading faces. “Me, too,” Lagner replied. He turned away from her and said, “Goodbye, Girl With No Name,” as he walked off, splashing lightly through puddles as he moved further from the garbage and toward the open night.

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F

eaturing

Sarah Kendall | Questions // Sarah Kendall | Photograph // Sarah Kendall | How to Tolerate the Dawn // Sarah Kendall | Our Kids Are Not Us // Sarah Kendall | Griffin // Sarah Kendall | The Desperates

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Sarah Kendall | Questions

Who? Dedicated to those men, women, and children who also battle with this daily process—the careful, torturous transition from the world of dreams, blankets, and tangled limbs to this stark, uncompromising reality. What? It’s one solution, not a guarantee. Tolerance is a learned state of being. I also find solace in lists: words slashed through, boxes checked, steps ticked off. In order to manage the dawn, such a harrowing villain, we need a concrete plan, a back-up scenario, and at least one last-ditch effort. And sometimes, we need a coping strategy. When? When you least expect it. She’ll arrive and infiltrate your safe, cozy cave, the serenity of sleep. Though the blinds are closed, the curtains shut, she’ll find a way to break through. It doesn’t matter where you hide, she’ll find you each and every morning. Where? Before the day, after sleep, under the covers, beside your love, inside the room, outside yourself.

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Why? I wanted to capture in a short burst that moment of struggle and indecision. And more than that, I needed a strategy to reference. In the early hours, when the night still crusts your eyes, and the world is blurry and full of possibilities, you just want to extend your time with the night—with your dreams, your lover, your pillow. Perhaps it’s a shallow desire, but maybe one we all share now and then. How? “I am writing as though nothing were easier.” (Luray Gross)

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Sarah Kendall | Photograph

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Sarah Kendall | How to Tolerate the Dawn

Reason with her gently. Buy the good sheets with infinity thread count. If she persists, suggest bargains, send for reinforcements. Nudge the sleeping bear beside you. He’ll join in negotiations. If she still won’t yield, then mourn her arrival. Stretch like cats one last time together. Yawn and praise the night, the dreams that cradled you safely, far from her reach.

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Sarah Kendall | Our Kids Are Not Us

Grandma On Saturday night, Maria Prochazka takes a fall. She’s listed Millie Porter on the program, but she doesn’t care enough to mind. Losing her spot on the second kick turn, her mind wanders to the bowl of polévka in front of an empty seat at a short wooden table thousands of miles away. The piano slows, and she looks at a hand that is reaching up from the front row. The man, the man that belongs to the hand, slim and white as a cigarette in his sharp white suite, winks. Offstage, the manager chews on his cigar and slides a fat thumb across his throat when Maria glances over. After the show, the man from the front row buys Millie a whiskey on the rocks. He will buy all the drinks and all the things for her for the rest of her life. By this time, his friends have left, expecting just the usual, not expecting their future together. The man will sleep in other beds with other women, but will share a child with only Millie, who will give all of herself to that child. Mother The headline reads: Mother-to-be Protects Cubs. She doesn’t save every red fox in Dane County, but enough to make the papers. Five years earlier, Samantha drove 937 miles from New York to Wisconsin to study agriculture. Across town, William Farratay goes to work on his father’s farm. When he is alone on the tractor, listening to the metal hums, his knuckles whiten around the clutch as he thinks about his future. When he meets Samantha, he falls for her instantly,

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and for such a level headed woman, she gives into her heart, not for a moment considering how a man changed her own mother’s fate. The foxes come later. The couple moves into a small house together. Before unpacking the silverware or blankets, Samantha opens the box full of spades for gardening. She first hears the kits yipping in the dumpster out back, and when she sees them crying for their mother, she vows to care for them until they are strong enough for freedom. A reporter from The Dane Tribune arrives once word gets out and snaps a picture. William worries, as he always does, about Samantha’s dreams. He fears one day she will realize that this life with him is not enough. Holding a smile, his cheeks begin to ache. Daughters Wind gushes through the attic windows, destroying in moments what took weeks to create. Photographs swirl the attic before being swept out and into the night. A newspaper article, held to the wall with a piece of chewing gum, holds fast and survives. But the headline is torn, so the title now reads Mother-to-Be. The next morning, after the storm, the sisters scale the pull-down latter and witness the destruction. Betsy sobs when she sees what remains on the wall: the torn article, the picture of the foxes and their dead parents side by side, gone. Hannah won’t have to explain why Betsy is crying because nobody asks anymore. It has only been two months since the car accident. Grandma Millie will heat a bowl of smelly soup and offer them beanbag chairs in front of the TV. They will not talk about the new life they must share, SF&D | xliii


laid out for them like old-fashioned clothes they can’t question or critique. They ignore the ill fit, the unraveling seams.

In this moment, Hannah decides that nothing good stays for long. For the past month she’d slipped photos out of dusty albums in the attack, tacked them on the wall, and wrote out make-believe stories for Betsy about the frozen scenes. All gone now, all wasted. “We’ll make another one,” Hannah lies. They hear the railing whine, the burden of Grandma Millie’s lean as she walks up the stairs. Hannah slips down the latter after Betsy into the guestroom, locks the ceiling hatch with a key she hides in the bottom of her shoe. No one ever discovers the soggy remains, the museum of memories. Kids Betsy tells Chloe that they shouldn’t have sex this weekend. Chloe places the last fork down hard on the table. “Do we have a mega phone attached to the bed?” Chloe asks, indignant. “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Jesus,” Betsy answers, jabbing the pan of stir-fry above the burner. “I’m pretty sure your sister got the memo. Look around—s we’re gay and it’s okay.” “Just stop it,” Betsy whispers.

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“Yes, I’ll keep it down. I’d hate for our kids to find out I’m not the babysitter.” Betsy calls for Mimi to turn off the TV and come help make the salad. The parents let the popping, sizzling vegetables fill the silence. Mimi doesn’t mind the organic vegetables Betsy brings home from the market. Concombre, that’s what she’s cutting into coins with a butter knife. Chloe likes to speak to mothers in French. She’s learning fast. Mimi once overheard Chloe call her cousins gâté. The way her mother’s voice spiked up at the end, Mimi knew it wasn’t a good word. Two hours past dinner, Hannah and Dale and the girls arrive. The grownups stay up late talking on the deck. Upstairs, Dana and Lydia pass magazines open to different quizzes back and forth. When they all change into pajamas, Mimi casts her eyes down to the carpet. At school, Mimi’s classmates taunt her. They say she like-likes girls. “You’re born that way. You’d probably already know if you were gay,” Lydia tells her cousin. Dana lifts her t-shirt up and shows her chest and her small pale nipples. “Does this turn you on?” she asks, giggling. Something inside Mimi boils. They are gâtés, both of them. Mimi rips the magazine from Lydia’s grasp, rushes to the window, and chucks it outside. It lands with a splat in the glimmering pool below, the faces of all the pretty girls dissolving in the dark water.

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Sarah Kendall | Griffins

I could hear nothing but those clipped laments snipped like ribbon from the wreckage. Her cries were short, self-contained. Hysterics was not a language she knew well. The men in their yellow piping lay in the grass like griffins, lion hearts with steely talons. Shrouding her in white, they fed her into the screaming red mouth of the ambulance. You’ll be all right, I tell her. Just a little while longer, I say. Everything collapsed. I remember the smell of blood in the air, thick as fog. People circle around the demolished car. I stand as close as they’ll let me. In this moment, I’ll give you anything—my hand, my heart, my life. I want to. But the griffins, they lie like golden gates before their treasure trove, before you.

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Sarah Kendall | The Desperates

Only Desperates stalk the aisles of Stop & Shop after one a.m. on a Thursday night. Any green-smocked, bleary-eyed clerk will say the same. No sane reason drives a person here at this late hour in this strange place. But here they are, scanning the shelves under the blinding white lights, because Desperates are fueled by urgency; it courses through their veins like venom as they wheel a squeaky cart down only one of two aisles. Even if a clerk felt compelled to help, they don’t dare. Desperates have their mission. Tonight, by cruel happenstance, the fates of two Desperates align. They each collect their item and meet, moments apart, at the single open register. The man is lanky and blonde, a giraffe with glasses. He wears a denim jacket and a three-day beard. The woman is short and slim and tired. A long black coat covers her sweatpants and t-shirt. In a split second, a heart breaking beat, their eyes connect. They each recognize the other and place their item down. One holds a 27-pack of Cottontails diapers, the other a box of Trojan condoms—lubricated, ribbed. They once explored each other’s minds and bodies: through conversations, under sheets. They once walked hand in hand through graveyards and airports. At one time, they thought things might be different. Now, something as strong and invisible as gravity separates them, pulls them together, pushes them apart. They are Desperates, each happy in their own way, but marooned by lost words, wasted time, and open wallets. Only a receipt and a silent nod will save them from themselves. SF&D | xlvii


F

eaturing

Rebecca Nison | Questions // Rebecca Nison | Photograph // Rebecca Nison | Love Song for the Dying // Rebecca Nison | Nomads, Ahoy // Rebecca Nison | In Gratitude to the Wolf // Rebecca Nison | Blobs in Love // Rebecca Nison | Technology and Nature in Cahoots Against Mario // Rebecca Nison | The Map

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Rebecca Nison | | Questions

Who? I am full of many people, some listed below: Rainer Maria Rilke, who brought me the closest I’ve come yet to spiritual awareness; my grandparents, Shirley and Hyman Peltz, who left many stories untold, and who therefore (unintentionally!) taught me to stay attentive to what remains unsaid; Vladimir Nabokov, my first literary love; Joseph Cornell, who makes the unconscious transportable and containable; Aimee Bender, who makes magic simultaneously fun and dark, and who uses the strange to enhance emotional truth; Frank O’Hara, who playfully brings me to tears; and, perhaps most importantly, strangers, whose perplexing gestures, overheard words, and curious behaviors inadvertently get stories jingling through me daily. What? I write stories full of strange situations, schemers, the unknown becoming known, the known becoming unknown, pinches of the surreal, and characters who I hope feel like real people. I also make poems, paintings, collages, and mobiles. When? Every precious second I can.

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Where? Every place my body goes, I make things with it: on the subway, in beds, at traffic lights, on mountaintops, in bathrooms, basements, attics, garages, backyards, rooftops, caves, bars, cafes, kitchen counters, galleries, alleyways, staircases, fields, shores, museums, theatres, airplanes, canoes, dentist’s offices, and elevators. Why? Because every human needs play, and play occurs for me by way of scribbling my imagination into words. Because we must create meaning for ourselves, or else we’re left to nourish ourselves only by gobbling down the meanings others make. Because I am most at home shaping stories out of letters on paper or defining images with colors on wooden board. Because stories cultivate empathy, and assure people they are not the only wanderers adrift in murky seas. Most of all, because: if not for these things, what would I be for? How? By giving my unconscious the utmost respect. By moving just beyond what I know, to recognize humans are in some magnificent and some terrible ways the same. Most of all, by listening.

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Rebecca Nison | Photograph

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Rebecca Nison | Love Song for the Dying

Tired of survival, we left home dressed in children's clothes. While our wounds stood open, pensive, waiting for healing that would not come, we did not sit medicated and blue with soap opera light in recliners remembering our young legs dashing between our childhood houses or the warm baths of long ago. Like teenagers in heat, we broke into abandoned buildings, scaled trees and electric towers, got drunk off schnapps and river water, stole animal air into our expiring lungs, and danced until our limbs went useless as unhinged doors, whistling all the while. In the morning, we lay our bodies down and our cells bloomed away from us. We became the field, where we learned nothingness is nothing more than birth reversed, nothing worse than forgetting.

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Rebecca Nison | Nomads, Ahoy

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Rebecca Nison | In Gratitude to the Wolf

If you are out doing chores in the wood one night, if a wolf approaches and says, “Come with me,” my advice is: run. Run through the wood, away. Notice the river twinkling beside you like a new machete. Don’t enter the water. Sprint next to it. If you stick with the river, the river sticks with you. Run until the sky darkens like a terrible bruise. Keep going. Think thoughts. Continue knowing each one is likely your last. Re-remember your life with this in mind. Remember your feet like a ballerina would, your hands like a sculptor does. Remember your brain as an elegant equation, solved, your family an ecstatic choir, your arms thick as a guardian’s. Give your life this kind of credit, but know in the caverns of yourself that this credit is not deserved. Wolves don’t do well in cities. Follow the river until you find a city and a good staircase to call home. Stay there until you find someone to love.

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Love her silently. Don’t let her know you. Day and night, sit on your stairs and watch her window. When your woman shutters her blinds, don’t be discouraged. She will open them again. Keep watch, keep steady. Sleep on your stairs each night. Find a comfortable blanket and some cardboard. Stay for days, months, years. One evening, the sky darkens like a terrible bruise, and a silver dog approaches your staircase. Give this dog your day’s food. Remember something very old in your life: air hot in your chest as you sprinted from the wolf. This is your night. Look up to the fourth story, to the woman you love. Tonight, she slides the window open and climbs onto the sill. Watch her stand, then step out of the frame, from inside to outside: a portrait come to life, her face peaceful as absolutely nothing. The wind sculpts her hair, lassos it around her neck, covers her face like an unfinished mask. Otherwise, she remains still until she is not. She jumps. Light as blank paper, graceful as flight, she falls. Do not panic. Your arms SF&D | lv


are strong as a guardian’s. Move your body to catch hers. This is what you are for. You human solid, you living bed, it is time: your first touch. Extend your arms, then hold her in them as her weight breaks you.

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Rebecca Nison | Blobs in Love

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Rebecca Nison | Technology and Nature in Cahoots Against Mario

Mario Twombly’s new job brings him minimal satisfaction and hefty paychecks, and it is for the latter he sits in his cube analyzing sales data while the hurricane outside whistles then hoots then hollers. His phone rings. Holes of static bore through the automated words so he hears only: “This is a severe—lert—Hurriccane—Cynth—inds—home as soon as—” Mario gets the gist. Although he cannot see it from his windowless office, Hurricane Cynthia’s force swells. Putting on his designer raincoat, he stands. Only one other dedicated employee remains in the office. “I hope you’ll head home soon,” he says to Ricky, who has an infant, a toddler, and a wife, and currently sits scrolling through an Excel grid. “Get home safe.” In the parking lot, clouds are bulbous tumors. On the two-minute walk from building to car, rain beats through Mario’s raincoat, his slacks, tie, socks, underwear. In the car, he sits in a puddle of storm water. The outdoors invades the indoors, transforming inside into outside. Natural disasters are presumptuous like this. Trees and their mangled roots splay across Mario’s preferred route home, and across his second choice path five streets down. Knowing no other alternate routes, he chooses Home on his GPS. The GPS claps out robotic syllables in a British woman’s voice: “Turn right.” Mario does. Down streets like shallow rivers, Mario drives slow, then slower, parting the waters with his SUV’s massive tires, watching the windshield wipers chop. “Bear left.” Hail and debris plunk on the car’s roof and windshield, sounding like pennies then keys then rocks. He turns the radio up against the clatter.

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“We cannot reiterate the severity of this situation enough. Everyone please get to the closest indoor place, or stay where you are right now,” Top 40s DJ Derek Durak says, unusually somber. Mario clicks off the radio. “Make a U-turn,” the GPS commands. Streets are filled as deep as moats. Streetlights blink until they sputter out, and houses go dark. The only light left shines from his GPS and from the evening sky, glowing the color of cooked shrimp. Fifteen minutes pass. No other cars occupy the road. Mario recognizes nothing around him. All the streets and all their names are foreign: Conch Road, Sandy Hook Way, Buried Treasure Court, Big Bay Lane. “Make a sharp left.” He follows the machine’s dictation, continuing on the path spoken at him by this familiar voice belonging to no one he’s ever met, perhaps no one ever born. “Make a right.” Thank the godless heavens for this GPS, Mario thinks, which knows more roads and routes than his limited human brain could store. “Merge left,” it says, its voice now harsh and high, like a mother about to lose her temper. The trees dance crazedly, bowing so low to the wind their limbs snap off. Mario continues as commanded, thankful to the machine, hungry for dinner and shelter. Rain scabs the windows, so he can only view fragments of the scene outside. “In another half mile,” the GPS says, “you will reach your destination.” Mario follows, his desperation rising as the water does, breaking through any container striving to hold it. Then the voice says what he has longed to hear: “You have reached your destination. Welcome home.” Unable to see out the windows, he imagines his plush bed, just steps away now. He will peel off his waterlogged clothes and towel himself dry. Naked and warm, cocooned in down blankets, he will watch out the window as the raging wind fails its fight against his house. Mario pushes his whole body’s strength against the car door to open it.

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Outside, sand rushes into his eyes, smacks his face. The world is dark marble veined with lightning. It is a cloud of sand and the ocean’s salty spit. The GPS has led him to the beach. With eyes squinting against the grains invading them, Mario watches the sky gather itself into one terrible coil. The water smashes and surges. It stampedes. He is lifted by the tide. Suddenly weak as meat, his arms slap against the liquid, craving to swim, to survive. The ocean holds his body like one thousand hands, lifting him high above land and toward the swirling sky. He gulps for air, but can swallow only liquid. All his life until now, he was a creature of land. Now, as he fails to fight the churning sea, he becomes a creature of water, which howls at him with countless voices belonging to those never born.

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Rebecca Nison | The Map

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F

eaturing

David Tomaloff | Questions // David Tomaloff | Photograph // David Tomaloff | Bruises/Insect Exchange (Footnotes to an Excerpt from Jane Hirshfield’s “Bruises”) // Heavy Tenancy: The Philosopher // Heavy Tenancy: Heavy Tenant // David Tomaloff | Heavy Tenancy: The Mannequin // David Tomaloff | Heavy Tenancy: The Mannequin // David Tomaloff | The Professionals

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David Tomaloff | | Questions

Who? [INT. A CLOUD OR A LAKE – STOCK FOOTAGE] I am an all night full of everything because that is what you intended. —a partial list of objects present in the room: a nail. another nail. a white scarf. a note denouncing the existence of a white scarf. two soft blurs, one of them slouching. every arm in the room is a suggestion— set into certain walls, tip jars constructed of feathers and glass. + What? [EXT. PHONE BOOTH – NIGHT] The what is a ringing balloon caught on the outcropping of a canyon. —have I mentioned that the moon is not mine to give? I used to think when I was young SF&D | lxiii


and still very old that sky-writing was something done exactly how it sounds. + When? [EXT. A GARDEN – INTO A MIRROR, OR READ IN REVERSE] I know that you’re thinking you don’t have time for this. —first a finger but then an arm, then a head, and then something more. the heavy smell of blood is really just water, continually rewritten over grains of hourglass sand. + Where? [INT. THE BODY OF A SMALL PIANO – CONTACT, ESTABLISHING] these two walls, and two more, and this top and this bottom, interlocking— a matryoshka and wooden world.

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what, then, should we call our flag? —what would you do differently if the door never opened to the same space twice? tree / a tree / a tree // tree / {a foal} / a tree— / a tree / a tree // some trees + Why? [INT. A CLOUD OR A LAKE REVISITED –MORNING, WATER] I tell myself very little about a lot of things. Do you believe that? —explanation where art is concerned is one apology too many.

If I levitate only by my hands with my nose to the bottom of the ceiling, I will hear there the dirty children of violins, and I will no longer be able to return what I have taken. I have done this in so many sets of several at a time. What, then, should I do with the excess music that lingers? Each idea must flow like water to another destination, or the pool upstream will overwrite itself with a beehive of wolf-tooth sharks. And now I have said too much. + SF&D | lxv


How? [EXT. ABANDONED CONVENIENCE STORE – NEWS MONTAGE] The echoes of all things trail behind them, the echoes, trailed in turn by their own. —musical phrases, once dissected and pinned, can no longer be studied harmony intact. it is a good idea when catching fireflies to wear the forest and carry the softest net— to become becoming. it is also important to take the utmost care in making sure not to catch any. fireflies are like angels, maybe— they bear the weight of those who seek them. better to diagram your angels than to risk their discovery.

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David Tomaloff | Photograph

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David Tomaloff | Bruises/Insect Exchange (Footnotes to an Excerpt from Jane Hirshfield’s “Bruises”)

You who knew yourself kissed1 by the bite of the ant,2 you who were kissed by the bite of the spider.3 Now kissed by this.4 ______________________________ 1

dissolving to the extent of insect exchange. a. motor impairment; b. the process of degradation c. as experienced through a filtered or indefinite pitch.

2

medicinal rituals; sequenced exploration, a. capable of transmitting signals through touch.

3

an emphasis on legs & fangs. a. the ability to avoid detection by prey through visual or auditory camouflage.

4

petals exhibiting curling, a. decomposing into simpler matter; b. a children’s game known as taphonomy

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David Tomaloff | Heavy Tenancy: The Philosopher

hands bound together by a distance measured in light. kaleidoscope fractals, stones overturned. the dream is a devil of a thing to lose among the ruins of a scavenger beetle’s nest. if you place two found bottle caps over the windows of your ears, you can almost hear them there, listening to our every unsaid word.

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David Tomaloff | Heavy Tenancy: Heavy Tenant

throw your hands in the air if you’re scratching parade routes into the dirt— there is no time to explain that there is no time for explanation, that soil is the new machine from which abbreviation now grows.

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David Tomaloff | Heavy Tenancy: The Mannequin

[camera one] a midsection built of an impossible series of revolving doors— fear era shit begets faith eraser, anagrammatically ,

or vice versa.

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David Tomaloff | Heavy Tenancy: The Mannequin

[camera two] a fifteen-second clip of the melody from Lust for Life, snared in the gut of an oil wearied steel-toe boot. implied: the ritual burning of a house of cards— something akin to a royal flush.

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David Tomaloff | The Professionals

we followed the elephant to the top of the stairs, machine guns and bows and bowies and things in hand. in a windowless room, we formed a pile of dust, each of us talking in turn about anything except the reason that we came.

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SF&D | Winter 2014 [Pushcart]  
SF&D | Winter 2014 [Pushcart]  

The [Pushcart] issue of SF&D features new work by the six 2013 Pushcart nominees from Short, Fast, and Deadly: Silvia Bonilla, Thomas Fucalo...

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