dirtflask no. 2
Dearest, “Fifteen minutes later the doorbell rings. You explain to the ambulance
attendant that you had a momentary lapse of happily. The noun, happiness, is a static state of some Platonic ideal you know better than to pursue. Your modifying process had happily or unhappily experienced a momentary pause. This kind of thing happens, perhaps is still happening. He shrugs and in turn explains that you need to come quietly or he will have to restrain you.”
— Claudia Rankine, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely”
Sometimes, our world cracks open. We uncover something about ourselves. Or the world uncovers something about itself. These cracks are black holes in the fabric of our universe. Objects get caught in their grip. They spin in tornados over plains we never saw. We found the objects where they fell, and put them here for you to read.
Love, The Editors Dirtflask www.dirtflask.com email@example.com
::: table of contents :::::::::: ———————————————————— Letter from the Editor — — — — 2 — — — — — — — — Quinn White — — — Housesitting With Dogs — — 4 — Shenan Prestwich — —LRZ Dream — — — —5 — — Ryan Dilbert — The armorer, the scavenger, the nephew, the Grand Champion — 6 — — — — — — — — — — — — Caleb True - — — — —Shop Vac — 7 — — — — — — — Kyle Hemmings — — —Cult Classics of the 1950s: The Boy Who Cried Zombie — 8 — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —Tokyo Girls in Science Fiction: Wild West — 9 Eleanor Leonne Bennett — — — — — — — — — — — — — All That Comes From Ores — Cover — — — — — Settle The Dust With A Hit — — 10 — — — — — — — Richy Campbell — — — — — — — — Georgia — 11 — Agholor Leonard Obiaderi — Habit Accomplice —12 — Ray Succre — — — — The Sniveler — — — — 14 — — — — — — — — —Sonny Boy — — —15 — — — — — — — Thomas Mundt — — — The Problem — — — 16 — — — Krishan Coupland — — — Movie Night - — — 20 — — Kenneth Mulvey — — — — — troubled tracks in circular, coin flips in no gravity — — —21 — — — — — — — — — David Keplinger — — — Aloysius Bertrand — 24 — — — Author Biographies — 25 — — — — — — — — — — — ————————————————————
Housesitting With Dogs Iâ€™ve plugged the hallway with chairs. So my sleep will be free from their stink, their flea-biting snorts their bored leg slurping their belly to the ceiling carpet orgasmsâ€”such pigs, such mirror-eyed tubs of fart and gnash. They crawl to me even after feeding even when the door is open and sunshine squirrels about the trees. I tell them that I am not a warm bone. I am no stick thrower. I do not teach creatures to sit and die and speak. So why do they persist and nudge my feet with their cold noses? What goodness do they see? What gives them hope that I will this morning run barefoot through wet grass blind without my glasses and join them in their raucous yawping.
i curl my toes to tight, round pebbles, hold them there, then let them sink into the fleece around my feet, surrendering to warm, blue quicksand. This is not going to work. i am jealous of the way the Xanaxes and Valiums of the world make other people melt into a puddle of honey and half-lidded harmony. i bet those blankets would be like a mother’s fucking love to them; those greater benzos swaddle you in the world itself your body fights so hard against. Not me. Not this time. Not Ativan-not-Ativan. No slow exhale, no calm glissade release to mirror my toes. No sweet sticky gauze upon my eyes. Instead i have a heart rate like a dull and steady bass drum, a mind alert, though now connected to the scene, not stumbling through a movie scanning every still frame frenziedly, snapping up each grainy detail, braced for every door knob, every sidewalk leaf, each tooth in the cat’s mouth, to tell of the sickening climax yet to come. Is it possible to feel betrayed by a 1mg tablet? There are still bills stuck beneath this morning’s coffee mug, tattooed with a ring of stale amber. Still clown shoes trampling my good intentions. i still fail myself everyday. i shutter up my ears, i board their cavities with spongy headphones, and Leo Kottke’s 6- and 12-String Guitar embraces me like Lorazepam could not, swallows me in something i have heard the world try telling me before with its smell of hickory smoke at dusk. i picture you and i out west—or dream it?—i keep thinking Kansas, but maybe it looks more like Wyoming, a patchy spot of dirt rubbed bald amidst a prairie, huge rocks rising all around us, in the distance, waiting for our palms and feet. We eat dehydrated eggs in the morning off a sterno, drink hot coffee from cold tin. At night the flecks of your beard catch the light of fire and are haloed, held ablaze. i want to stay here with you. i’ll long for you there with the trauma of tomorrow. i was not destined for LRZ. It was not my destination. i had hoped it’d be an incidental, just a detail setting up the story more uniquely: a roadside attraction we passed on our way west, a blackbird atop a highway sign we pointed out, its throaty caws a rush of lemon light that cut the fall’s dry husks, of bright in the cold, his swoops and runs all dizzying as we lingered on his image in our rearview mirror, for a moment, then looked away.
The armorer, the scavenger, the nephew, the Grand Champion Did you know that the stitches from a brain surgery look like haphazard sewing? That even though your uncle nods at you when you enter the room, he may not know who you are? That there really isn’t any point in handing him the pen and paper he asks for because he will just write the letter i and go over and over it like the darker it is the more it will mean? Did you know that when you buy the Benirus Manor in Anvil, it is haunted and when you wake up you will have to fight off at least two ghosts? That normal weapons will not harm them? Did you know that your uncle’s rough dried feet look like bear paws? That when he slides his leg over and his robe slips up and you see his diaper that you will be overcome with a feeling you don’t understand? That the feeling will taste like wet canvas? That even though you are the Arena Grand Champion that some of the Imperial Guard will still talk to you like you were some dog begging at their feet? That melted ice cream will hang off your uncle’s beard? That he will have to be fed and changed and dressed and moved every few hours to prevent bedsores? That his breath through the trach will sound like the languages ghouls speak? That stealing wine is a good way to make money? That the clink of wine bottles going into your unseen pockets is nearly as richly satisfying as hurling a fireball at a cougar? That the longest part of the day is the time between pain meds? That a master armorer can improve a weapon’s usefulness? That a full recovery is not certain? That sometimes the count’s stewardess will say, “the count is waiting for you, follow me,” then walk in jerky circles in front of the fireplace, never going anywhere? That sometimes you will be scared and you will be ashamed of your fear and you will not talk about it because how silly would that be? That your poisoned sword will have no effect on a faded wraith? That you can swing and swing until your shoulder burns and it won’t matter. That it is easier to answer to a name that is not yours instead of correcting him again? That it is easier to let everyone else do the fighting for you and then go scavenge the bodies?
The teacher said “Don’t use dreams as a plot device, it is too typical”— well Hey, guess what, in my dreams there really is a man who pulls down his pants and instead of a, you know, he’s got a Shop Vac hose, and it’s turned on, waving around and sucking and sucking and its pulling at my shirt until it comes off, and I’m in my bra, and the man laughs and chases after me, so what am I supposed to do? The man chases me all through the house and his Vac thing is sucking up dust bunnies and quarters and jewelry, getting stuck in the carpeting, and he trips over it and swears, and I’m looking back and trying to stay ahead of him, thinking how to get out of there without getting sucked and then he corners me in the kitchen. I back into the basement door and open it, and he chases after me, clomp clomp clomp, down the steps into the dusty cement darkness, and I head for the breaker box, but he has my hair in his Vac, pulling it out in strands. I tear my hair away and open the breaker box, switch all the switches off, and all around me in the big house things are powering down with small mournful sounds, and the Vac Man is swearing and saying “No, No,” and I don’t know what I’ve done, but he is on the floor and his thing isn’t vacuuming anymore and then he looks up and says, “Please, I’ll die!” (and No, fyi, He’s not my father; it’s not a Freudian thing). He wants me to turn his power back on, so I say, “Hold it, Buddy, where’s my shirt?” and I realize how chilly it is down there. He points a shaking finger at the corner of the basement, where a key ring dangles from a nail. I go and fetch it, and I plug the key right into the man’s back, and open him up. “Inside,” he says, and liquid pours out of his back, his guts are all there, pumping and burbling. I reach in and feel around, squeezing and pushing, palpitating and fingering for fabric. “Hurry, please,” gasps the Vac Man, expiring there on the concrete floor. I find it, at the front of his body, tucked in front of his liver—How did it get there?—and then I close him back up, hang my shirt over a pipe to drip dry, and go to the breaker box to turn him back on. I flip the switch, and his hose starts sucking again, but that’s it. He’s gone already, his thing sucking away at the cold basement air, and I won’t be able to write about it for anyone.
Cult Classics of the 1950s: The Boy Who Cried Zombie I had this habit of shutting the door on their fingers which I still mistake for mine. I cut them off forever but I thought they would return like flowers. What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t mean to--I don’t compose scenarios and direct them as well. Then, 30 years became a single dark chord on the piano. I keep telling my pretty cousin who plays cello. She practices six hours a day and can’t be retrieved by phone. That’s second generation for you. I tell her how they keep coming back in thirds and in fifths. When I tell her this, it’s like she’s deaf. A part of her complains that she can’t finish a song. I can’t finish a sentence. Maybe I’m the idiot savant. Sometimes I try to scream: Please Come Back! There are only vowels of silence.
Tokyo Girls in Science Fiction: Wild West
My Buffalo girl is a bird of paradise who turns out to be an aural vampire tone-deaf to mute spin. On rainy nights, skyscrapers nil, she’s all saori destiny & melancholy squeeze box. When she slaps me with jungle or tooth organically grown nails, it’s to let me know that she’s anti-Metal & she ain’t no BaBe with backhorn. I offer her a baroque love, devoid of funky monkey & boom, bump & gRind. Too trigger on pistol valve, she shoots my iceman. Come back, plastic porno princess, we are both rats and stars. She’s all cool, z-chick & pink lady smile. I hold up my hands. I’m no Jello Biafra. I was once a blood stained child.
eleanor leonne bennett
Settle The Dust With A Hit
In the beautiful building, Georgiaâ€™s sins will be irrigated and she will forget about the creeping skeleton-hand that reaches toward the growing weeds at the bottom of her garden, by the patio. * She will blusher a cheek against the velvet drapes and will sigh with the rustling of fabric, a bare thigh brushed by the twining ties. * She swims in the oval and pauses in the pool centre, jumps with quivering vigour to the blackening sky, clasping open palms on surface as she descends, splaying shards of water around her. * In the house she likes to walk around in her dead loversâ€™ underwear while lying on fire-side rug, the television blazing, with brandy-giggles and lolling eyes.
agholor leonard obiaderi I am slowly killing smoking, burning decaying leaves. The cancer of life trudges slowly, the deserted street as angry as stale breath. My hair turns green from loss of love. Now in prostration, my husband blows me an e-kiss over the smart phone. I am knitting a sweater, weave hair fallen off from my bald skull. A vulture peeps through the window. Brings in the decadent stink of the street. My glance is humid. Contemplate the smoke in slow motion.
I hardly hear his voice the guardian of souls at the foot of the Baobab tree. Rotten, the dead fish in the pond, my system riots, exploding a mutiny of genes. The enemy lies within, keener than both flesh and spirit. My thirst smokes a long pipe.
The Sniveler was dumpy in the unmoving swing, just hanging, swatted at, itchy, and de-pantsed, the parents that constructed him oblivious, dirt in his ears from beautiful Summer children in shorts near the tetherball court. He had been slapped after stupidly kicking his fat leg not-high-enough into a toady’s groin, then shoved into the woodchips and stamped into an undulating, whimpering mess. In time, he returned to the swing. The kids played with his taken shorts, rubbing them in mud and saying it was shit, stretching the legs until the seams tore, “Hey fat-ass, here’s your size!” Then they took his shorts and tied them over the tetherball, hit it around and around. When they tired, they approached the swing. The Sniveler was shaking. One of the boys was doing a little, spastic dance-walk. “Oh my, good day to you, fat-ass.” “Get out of my swing or you’ll make me throw up.” “His underwear’s huge! Look, it really is!” “God, I bet your dad’s jizz is all retards.” The Sniveler’s wet filled up his eyes and tethered him into their hands again. He moved and swung but only ever missed. “Ha ha, check it out; he wants more!” He always did. “Fucker missed the point.” He always would.
I have pet the mules that, in a sense, brawn into dainty air. Do they bray, slow punks in the heat? My lead-shoed, ancient mothers, they whine over the clogged ground, whose wafting dust rises up in a salvage of the field through shifty clops. I start to take the shape of mustered hornets, stinging the mules with swift intercourse, whining, myself, to and fro, to draw my horehound mothers from these forms of mule, tattered in a scud of but one dayâ€™s bright loan.
Hot Trash told Pajamas Outside Bitch to meet her at the Oasis Café, a falafel counter in the back of a jewelry mall on Wabash. She told her they had important-ass business to discuss. “Why can’t we do it at the Wendy’s?” That’s what Pajamas Outside Bitch wondered. “Wendy’s is hot trash, and you know it.” “I want a baked potato.” Hot Trash put her palm over her cell, so Pajamas Outside Bitch wouldn’t hear her telling the dude asking for change to suck her dick. Then she talked. “Baked Potato Bitch.” *** From the street, Hot Trash watched Pajamas Outside Bitch ogle some white gold. She was standing in front of a glass case and a Ukrainian woman was showing her chains in a blackvelvet box, some with words like EXPEN$IVE and JUICY AS HELL hanging off their ends. Hot Trash also witnessed Pajamas Outside Bitch scratch her pussy through her fleece Old Navy pants. 16
The jewelry mall smelled like onion-y sweat. Hot Trash pinched her nostrils and grabbed Pajamas Outside Bitch’s bicep, dragged her away from the trinkets. “Cheap-Ass Bitch.” *** “We got a problem.” That’s what Hot Trash told Pajamas Outside Bitch when the two sat down with their lentil soups. Pajamas Outside Bitch’s was dripping down the side of the Styrofoam bowl and getting everywhere. Hot Trash noticed but she didn’t have time to fuck around with somebody’s soup. “Can’t be riding the El all casual.” Hot Trash said that people were starting to talk. They were talking about how Hot Trash and Pajamas Outside Bitch were dykes for each other because they always sat next to each other in the two-seaters on the El. “One-seaters from now on.” Pajamas Outside Bitch accidentally dunked her entire pita wedge into her soup. It sunk to the bottom and when Pajamas Outside Bitch scooped around for it, more lentils got barfed out the top. It was a debacle. 17
“What kind of people?” That’s exactly what Pajamas Outside Bitch wanted to know. “People people.” “Bet it’s that lazy-eye motherfucker. The one with the tank tops.” Hot Trash blew on her soup, made waves. “Don’t matter in the least who.” *** They tried out their new arrangement. Hot Trash boarded the train first and found a one-seater along the windows. Pajamas Outside Bitch took the one directly in front of it, sat perpendicular with her feet in the aisle. The other passengers had to step over her Jordans as they passed. “Already hurts.” Pajamas Outside Bitch made it a point to cup her neck with her palm, rock her head back and forth like a porch swing. Hot Trash looked around for people. People people, like the lazyeye motherfucker. Nothing. She smiled at Pajamas Outside Bitch. “You get used to it.” *** 18
At Montrose Harbor, Hot Trash and Pajamas Outside Bitch sat next to each other on the rocks, watched people ride tandem bikes and Yellow Labs retrieve tennis balls from Lake Michigan. “Float all the way to Indiana, doin’ that shit.” Hot Trash had on sunglasses, ones that made her look like Donna Summer. Pajamas Outside Bitch just squinted a lot. “Would you go after your dog, if you saw him floating away like that?” Pajamas Outside Bitch was serious. “Naw. Just people.” Their fingers got all tangled up. They kissed, eyes closed.
It’s a snuff film, he says, holding out the box, the slim black box, innocuous as bad rice. You don’t know how you ended up at this house party, this night, but your boy grips your hand like he did when he wanted to ride Nemesis and you wanted to go home and sleep, and then you’re sitting in a hushed room, on a bed, someone’s bed, hip to hip, hot and smoky. Your boy still suckling from that same cold whiskey sour, and it starts without warning: a girl (why a girl?) lies naked on a mattress. Bad light. Static camera. A man enters with a coil of rope, and thirty seconds in you swallow pride and bile and leave, picking over legs, sorry, sorry, sorry. The corridor outside is so hot, and smells of beansprouts, and your fingers feel like little coals are in them. You still hear the noises, and they’re beautiful: you’ve never heard anyone scream that way. Your boy lasts the length of it. When he comes to collect you, you say you’re tired. You don’t know whose house this is. He looks at you and his face is wet with sweat and snot. You hug, and feel him, hard through his clothes.
troubled tracks in circular, coin flip in no gravity amy throned upon alleyway shit crust mattress east 10th street right twixt salvation army and abandoned house acrumbling away, streaked arm again cunt smoking fake cubans again puff puff clencht abdomen inhale slow relaxation, pure white smoke tincture 4am crisp slogging guffaws, thicken fog ecstatic yeah baby yeah babys go her duke fuck trenchcoat spectators echo off her pink, off her contortions to me shivering sidewalk’d with scissors and rusted pliers coz I loved her first, her much coz I come back eventho she always come back to here coz you don’t always gotta say fuck you to life so gently and I’m trying not to get hard thinking bout how she used to sway out bathrooms ella fitzgerald on the hip, a fresh smoke she’d hold to my lips when I needed a drag took it away mascara smiled just before a nasty cough took hold but it’s so far removed now, so far but what’s the word goodbye, what’s the lack of it, what’s an empty bed of a sudden, flaccid with steel gripping dry cock is enough and I can not regret mass castration, I am revelation, I can sweaty palm holocaust, 21
I am nerve and cowardice siamesed but it’s her shrill crackling scatter and mold pulp trash last night’s rain drunk bring virus words falsely happy, whorish assembly line technique sweet voice bringing guilt serene till trick’ll neither come nor pursue time bought but pull out premature, trembling rage of inadequacy and big tips for silence so she get on to another who she’ll say be her guy, her potbellied nervous knight and filtered masterful I hear, if only hear now hold on a sec boys, baby amy gotta ash, don’t want my sweet little kitten scorched, you don’t wanna get your dick wet thataway, huh darlings? so it’s metal splashed to asphalt, the morning is black the 7am carbon fumes are black the bubblegum black the sublime solar light black aerosolling this cityscape, a man hustling out the alley going back to earth, adjusting his crotch speed past me checking his silver watch, he got some sublime polish shoes, moist lip grin, drool fresh in tiny spheres on his tie, the grin, the black, I drive, slip southbound interstate, I see miles of northbound traffic stacked standstill, I know what they 22
want, I can’t count the fucking shits thought or wordly manifested but I know they’re there, I know what they want and I want it too, the city is waiting, the towers are secure, just, but I can’t figure it out, they drive into her, me, a tiny flick’d quarter losing spinforce, it is the last act about now, I’m home drinking 2 month expired orange juice, it is the last act, a trick cigar amy licks and rolls up inside, she asks for a volunteer the crowd demands another cigar in there she has them around her finger now, old safe bets, amy slides both feet behind her head a breathless queen panting vagabond aristocracy shop doors unlock and tink tink chime, cigars dangle zippers unzip, starch and concrete perfume it is the last act before the train pipes up and spews black once again
Something in the grass is moving, but so small I can barely make it out. Maybe itâ€™s the poet Aloysius Bertrand, who is mostly now amphibious. When I bend to the grass to try to see, to try to see if I still recognize him since his metamorphosis, I have a memory: a girl with bucked teeth gets smacked by her mother, for sucking her thumb in church. Then Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s Aloysius. For one, I made the whole thing up. Furthermore, the girl is unfazed, red face smiling, her closed lips covering her teeth.
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Agholor Leonard Obiaderi
is a High School teacher in Delta State, Nigeria. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the English Language and has a hobby of collecting poetic imagery.
writes stories. He has a M.A. in history from Umass Amherst, is a record-holding classical fencer, and does other neat things, like once he was a rock star. He likes to read stories, and likes to hear from people who write stories. If you read his story and like it, why don’t you email him? firstname.lastname@example.org.
is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently The Prayers of Others, which won the Colorado Book Award. He’s received an NEA Fellowship, the T.S. Eliot Prize, and a grant from the Danish Council on the Arts. A new book is forthcoming, The Most Natural Thing.
Eleanor Leonne Bennett
is a 15-year-old photographer and artist who has won first place contests with National Geographic, The Woodland Trust, The World Photography Organisation, Winstons Wish, Papworth Trust, Mencap, Big Issue, Wrexham Science, Fennel and Fern, High Peak Radio, Postal Heritage, Bolton Museum, and Nature’s Best Photography.
(chose not to submit a bio).
was born in Southampton, and recently graduated from Staffordshire University. His work has appeared in Brittle Star, Aesthetica and 3AM Magazine. His website is: www.krishancoupland.co.uk.
has chapbooks published by TenPagePress and Scars Publications. He has a new e-chapbook coming out soon from NAP, called Tokyo Girls in Science Fiction.
is a MFA poetry candidate at Virginia Tech. Her work has appeared in The Straddler, A Bad Penny Review, and is forthcoming in Hot Metal Bridge.
lives on the southern Oregon Coast with his wife and son. He has been published in numerous places and has two novels out. An online collection of poetry, Other Cruel Things, is available through Differentia Press.
is a writer based in Staffordshire, England. He has been published in Short Fast and Deadly, Four and Twenty and was shortlisted for the 2011 Live Canon Poetry Prize. He is studying for an MA at Manchester Metropolitan University and works as a freelance indexer.
is the author of Time Crumbling like a Wet Cracker(No Record Press 2011) and has terribly bad posture. He edits Shelf Life Magazine and is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. He makes a mean spinach artichoke dip.
is a Washington, DC area poet and graduate of the MA in Writing program at Johns Hopkins University. She is a research analyst by day, writing poetry and co-editing Magic Lantern Review, a journal of poetry and film, by night. She lives with her husband, Dan, and two cats, Tango and Cash.