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EAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW AUGUST 2010


Table of Contents

SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

AUGUST 2010

Game Rules Robert Montilla . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

If I Lost My Mind Josh Goller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 El Paso Carib Guerra. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 The 145th Battle of Aiken, South Carolina Adam Moorad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Incompatible Titan Charlie Puckett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

To Answer Your Question Rachel Walker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Dreams I Hope Don’t Come True, Number 73 Thomas O’Connell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

Elusive Dillon Mullenix. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28 Tommy’s Little Pity Party Thomas Sullivan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30

Broad Midnight KT Mitchell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Explosive Interview Fritz Kessler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34

The Verbose Gourmands Daniel Eli Dronsfield. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Lost in Americana Trevor Richardson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 Life With Gretchen Danger Slater . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56


EAHORSEgame RODEO rules FOLK REVIEW

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robert montilla

WELCOME TO GAME RULES, where musicians stretch their muscles and athletes tune their instruments. Please wait to be seated. The curtain opens like a candy wrapper to sweet words: GRAFFITI IN BATHROOM STALL IS CLOSER THAN IT APPEARS. Lose a turn. The bouncer requests proper identification as a respected member of society, only to get a pie to the face and a bill the next morning. The enemy is spotted at 9 o’clock, dalmatian-like, but without the makeup. SEC. 1771. It is unlawful

to bear a clean face. Let’s face it, yesterday has passed, so tomorrow will fail. These are the wise words from a man that never existed. The editor rolls her eyes down a steep hill, chasing the prose into a corner. DEAD END. Please stand. The antagonist gets his back-story-Humpty Dumpty’s. Whereas the protagonist gets her backyard converted into a graveyard. Trick question! The referee blows over into the neighboring city. Ingredients: wings, muscle power, NO TURN ON RED. Instead, raise the


white flag, pluck the violet, and eat a blue-green orange. The antagonist takes the devil’s side, yet the protagonist takes THIS SIDE UP. Hint: use a can-opener. REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING THE DOOR TO STRANGERS. The antagonist is selling cookies. STOP AHEAD. Suddenly, the protagonist buys a kilo. STOP. Look both ways before cross-dressing. HELP WANTED: Absurdist flash fiction readers. The tension builds when the protagonist discovers the antagonist’s antics. Spoiler: at the end, the protagonist dies of old age. Meanwhile, the antagonist pulls out an ace of spades which does nothing to the chess match, though the fourpawed opponent does not know any better. The checkered board waves fabric-like. Jackpot! The protagonist wins the race to the toilet. PUBLIC BATHROOM PERMIT REQUIRED. Call for a nurse. Will the protagonist’s essay, Game Rules, end with a bang? Cast in the votes. Then expect nothing. To continue, INSERT TOKEN. NO VACANCY. Skip ahead with passport in hand. Welcome to the next part. CAUTION: A chain of ducks have gotten loose, slipping out of the story. The four characters so far mentioned jump into their emergency duck costumes and dive into the pond, nearly drowning. NO DIVING INTO CONCLUSIONS. The lifeguard reveals the pond is a holographic representation of a court hearing currently in session. The four make their way out of their bodies and into the astral field. DANGER. How does the antagonist spell curse? The same way the antagonist spellbound the protagonist into this non sequitur. The audience in another story delivers a standing ovation. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. Cite the references, then--means next. Next in line is the protagonist, but that is of little importance. To confirm, SIGN HERE ___________________. The antagonist loses his pen followed by his arms and legs over a bet, except not really. BE-

SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

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WARE OF DOG. Having only taken Elementary Barking, the antagonist misunderstands the rules to hide-and-go-seek. Any questions? The protagonist asks the antagonist out on a date, today’s date. The following day is not here yet. SORRY FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE.

If the protagonist’s Game Rules were a dish, what would it taste like? False. To retrieve water, turn the faucet handle as shown in Fig. 12 of the mind. The antagonist follows the instructions stalker-like. EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS, whereas those unemployed need not apply, ever. Regardless, the washroom remains in use despite its lack of faucet, toilet, and walls. ATTENTION: The fourth wall is broken beyond repair. Exactly this is written on a long aerial banner. The protagonist jumps out of its airplane without a hula hoop, but why? Those are for second and third place winners.

Speaking of elephants, send this manuscript to at least ten trash cans, else toasted bread will be a thing of the past. The present tense is here. The winner is the player with the most fingers. Bang! Who shot the antagonist? EXIT.


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If I Lost MyJoshMind Goller If I lost my mind, I would shave every hair from my body and slather myself with paints of all colors. I would dance in the rain, my umbrella turned upside down, and sing “London Bridges.” But I haven’t lost my mind, so I obsess about fixing errant strands of hair in place with product. I lament the occasional pimple. I remove lint from my nicer clothing with a band of masking tape turned inside out around my hand. If I lost my mind, I would wrench off the miniblinds in my bedroom. I would punch through the window panes and rip holes in my bedroom walls with a claw hammer. I would glut my lungs on the newfound breeze and bask in the halo of settling drywall dust. But I haven’t lost my mind, so I sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, tucked away in the dim corner of an office, surrounded by stacks of paper. I return home to search for the elusive job that will promise a larger workspace, taking breaks to stare at a television screen and watch commercials I now know by heart.

If I lost my mind, I would greet everyone on the morning train. I would shake every hand as I walked down the street. I would pat the backs of passersby and offer unsolicited words of encouragement. I


would assign concocted names to each stranger and greet them as such. “Hello, Walter Kensington.” “Top of the morning to you, Charles Pittman.” “Looking well today, Abigail Peppercorn.” But I haven’t lost my mind, so I avoid eye contact even when it takes considerable effort to do so. I do not engage in candor or camaraderie. In the instances where polite greetings are unavoidable, I take care not to call people by name for fear of using the wrong one. If I lost my mind, I would run through the park, limbs flailing, face red. I would find a moist spot and rip clumps of sod. I would shower my head with the soil. I would overturn the largest rock I could manage and stuff beetles down my shirt. But I haven’t lost my mind, so I trudge up three flights of stairs to my apartment. I squash centipedes on my wall with Kleenex. I slump onto the sofa and watch a man on television get dunked upside down in a tank of cockroaches and win a million dollars. If I lost my mind, I’d hit the streets with a pack of cigarettes, case of cheap beer, and pocketful of onedollar bills. I would comb the city for all the panhandlers and hobos I could find. I would gather the old woman singing badly through broken teeth. I would collect the man who thinks he’s Jesus and hasn’t washed his feet in months. I would grab the fat man in the lime green polyester suit

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who talks to himself under the bridge. I would gather them all. We would each have a drink and a smoke. We would talk loudly all at once. We would each buy a single lottery ticket and beg for a penny to scratch it. If nobody won the jackpot, I would invite them back to my place to use the toilet and play Twister. But I haven’t lost my mind, so when I pass the homeless I clutch my spare change in my pocket to stop its jingling. I scowl. “They’ll just use it for booze.” I pick up a six-pack and some Parliaments at the Safeway and cross the street to avoid passing a man in a sleeping bag. Once I return home, I use my toilet without joy.


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EL PASO CARIB GUERRA The trees to the edge of the road are tall, and block the sun in a blinking sequence as he drives by. They’re moss drenched. Fern sprouts out in the branches nooks where the moss grows thick. The sun visor is pulled down and out to shade his eyes, and the car will stop soon. There’s no gas. He can feel the choked rattle coming on, but he’ll drive it until it stops. The sun is getting close to the hills, and he’ll walk for a while before he sleeps. Just for a few hours. Using the backpack for a pillow. Under the wool blanket. The smell in the wood is soft and rain. The ground gives. It’s sweet on his back. There’s still some light in the sky. The clouds carry it around, and it sits on the bark tipped outline of the trees.

He breaths in, silently, and soon he falls asleep. He’s a child & there are other children with him edged out from the large chain lowering them on a stone disk down the well. The walls are dripping & one of the children sits very close to him immediately next to him is crying [Where are we?] around her shaking tongue. He doesn’t know but it feels like forever & at last he’s resigned. It’s darker when he wakes. It won’t be long till the sun rises. There’re birds already sounding, and the wind is laying in wait. It may rain. There’s always a chance up here. Better to expect the rains. He rolls his blanket ties it to the backpack. The backpack rests well on his body. He undoes his zipper, and reaches in with his fingers to maneuver his penis


from the fly styling, and when he pees there’s a stale tension in his cheeks relieved to his temples a moment in his neck. His face dips. A smile release it’s warming. Does just what it should. He’s walking on the side of the road again while the sun is rising. He had been running before. He always begins in a sprint, and when his legs hurt and his chest burns he walks. He’ll run again in a few hours because nobody will have picked him up, for company or pity, and he won’t stop unless he finds water or food. The sky is thick and close with clouds. Some heavier and grey but the others lit as though light were their color. There are some flowers in the grass past the pavement. Small white flowers that remind him of a dress that a woman with red hair had worn in a photograph. He had always hoped to see her in the dress under sun and near those flowers. He had wanted to take a picture like that one since the smile in the other wasn’t meant for him, or had she known? and thought of him saved that smile for him to see then. But he had never known her on a sunny day. Close to nightfall, when the bottoms of the clouds are pink against the graying blue, and the stars sneak out when his eyes stop searching in the rich blue descending, a truck pulls to the side of the road. He walks through the warm exhaust He hears the lock click open on the inside of the door. The handle is roughed plastic. Beads of water are pressed against his palm, and he feels the mechanism release. The side mirror catches the tail light when he opens the door and again when he closes it. Now the red and waterbled halo stays in view, colors the trees and road which begin to move instead. The man to his left is thin and not old, but probably looks older than he is. The truck is newer, but not fresh. Mostly plastic bottles line the floor he can feel the fold of a magazine which has been wet and dry before. A gallon jug is heavy with water or some other liquid against his boot. The driver looks at him with no intent, then back to the road and the headlights rolling over what moves by. He flashes the brights at hills and sharp curves. At some point he smokes a cigarette and

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cracks the window to a thin whistle. “Where’re you headed?” The driver says. They all ask that question in those words. He wonders if they all would normally use the word ‘headed’, or if the context somehow demands it. “El Paso,” says the man. The driver lets a few quick laughs in his closed mouth. “Well I could take you down to Eagle’s Pass. I’ll bet you’d get a ride to Reno from there.” On the radio a slow deep voice that knows that this is its audience, and so speaks mostly for its own sake. Weak sad strings open behind it. They grow more pleading. The hot air is drying his skin. The driver nods with the undertow of the violin. “So what’s in El Paso?” “I’m meeting somebody there.” “Who’s that, some sweetie?” he slips, then quickly, “Look at me being nosy.” “It’s fine. I’m meeting an old man. A friend of mine.” The driver looks over at him for a moment then back to the road. “I used to have a friend who lived down around there. Las Cruces, really. My roommate in college. He was all right. He was tall. Funny guy.” Neither man talk for miles in the night. On these higher roads, clumps of snow sit unmelted, and flash bright in the headlights when they pass. “Do you mind if I sleep?” “No,” says the driver, “Go ahead.” “Thanks.” “No problem. Bet you’re real tired.” “I am,” says the man. The driver nods in the glow of the dash. Ave Maria begins its creeping blue rise. The grace comes in with that golden cello and with closed eyes—lashes brushed aside and aside by the wind leaked through the driver’s cigarette smoke—he forgets himself again. In a room with no ceiling hardwood a smell like an old cigar box. The walls are divvied compartments with holes for handholds & though they’re all different sizes the drawers are stacked to fit. He’s running the fingers of his right hand against the smooth wood some


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small drawers in the far corner rattle as though with the very sensation on his fingers. He removes his hand the rattle stops like it never began & when he touches his chest it sounds again. This time a few of the larger drawers clatter above him slide open then shut in rhythm. There’s a ripple of wood against wood as the drawers open shut in a rising wave. A sudden ripping bang as they all move at once. It’s almost deafening in the instant, but when it ends, again, it’s as though it never happened. He shakes from the frame a bright light sun on metal sounds that shouldn’t be in this room. He knows. Then it’s still again. He reaches for a large drawer the height of his chest. He pulls it open it’s very light as if on rollers but the feel is grain against grain & he looks inside of it. The drawer is a long way down & lined in an elegant pattern with oddly sized slats. In the corner far left from himself is a small wooden man opening one of the slats. Bright flash of sun off metal the smell of gasoline & restrooms & tires sound of freight engines in long rows, the driver’s voice— “Hey there,” says the driver. The man rubs his eyes awake and the world opens up around him, “Took you all the way through to Doyle, but this is my stop.” “Thanks,” he says, grabbing up his backpack. “No problem,” the driver pauses, looks down for guilt or sympathy, “You need a little cash or something?” “Could I take this water jug?” “The jug?” the driver looks at the jug, as if to appraise its worth, considers, and then shrugs, “Well sure. I guess so. It’s yours.” “Thanks.” The sun is bright, but the air has a dry chill. The man lowers his cap, but the light gray parking lot is blinding in refraction. Windshields each hold another sun heat from engines shimmering hoods the bending of vi-

sion around metal mirages. He walks around to the side of the shop, spots the spigot next to a stack of plastic milkcrates all different colors, darker tones and one light blue. The tap is hot, and tough to open. Like the wind-

shields, each drop of water holds another sun. They splatter on the browning soak concrete, and onto the tips of his shoes. It feels good in his hands. It’s starting to cool. Against his face, he can feel the dirt and salt holding thick where the water doesn’t wash and he holds


both hands under the glutting stream brings them to his face over his hair. His cap falls to the ground beside. He fills up the jug and sets it near the wall. It’ll make running bulky but he knows that he is water. Constantly refilling,

cleansing, never let your water sit, become a cesspool. He turns to pick up his hat which he wets before running his hair back and fitting it again to his head. He turns the tap off. The straps on his shoulders are wet now, but the backpack is still light. His body feels good

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when he slings it off, relieved, like his back is floating. From the backpack he pulls out a coil of nylon rope and a small knife he keeps sharp in a leather sheath. Wrapping the cord around two fingers, tight into the meat, the man measures a length from his elbow to fingers twice and cuts it free. Reties the cord. places it and the knife in the backpack. He picks up the jug which he loops the rope through and once the backpack is on he rests the rope sling over his shoulder on the strap. He stands up, and walks back into the glare. He feels like a centered point. An apex from which two unavoidable truths become equally immediate, and both equally unattainable in their constant withdrawal. Moments pass, and shiver still from his distance—ever growing—as he’s carried on into everything new, still familiar. He does move, of course, in a certain way, but always towards and away, towards everything else. Limitations. When he’s running again he feels the movements as specifically as he can. Just the brief touch of his foot, the lean of his chest. The duck and bounce of his forehead and the skin on his cheeks. His arms move as though they must, in sway opposite his tense calves, and from the shoulder he pushes hard with his elbows, his thighs. He wonders how fast he can make his body move without losing control of its rhythm. There is no movement everything in perfect function the right place all adults & their infinite children all with no faces which is a same face since the face itself never changes looking out of blood chapped swollen eyes pus pore lashes the tired blink of necessity solving the dryness of inaction which is to say constant action all parts realized at once & shown here in varying degrees of now in chains ball gags match the color red of their eyes their nipples like the smell of spit the sound of screaming every sound in an otherwise void.


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The Seahorse Rodeo Folk Revival was created by a group of artists and writers looking to give to other artists and writers the treatment we feel they deserve. In the hope of doing things differently, the Revival has begun many projects for the future and, as an outgrowth of those ideals, we started publishing fiction. For the past three months, the Review has published work from writers and poets that “got it” and we have done our best to do more than simply take their work and send them on their way. We have aimed for a more personal connection between artist and facilitator and we have brought them back, here, for our first print issue. Presented below are the writers that decided to come back for more. They are our MVPs, our starting lineup, our cream of the proverbial crop. In the same vein as old time traveling stage acts building their troupes and carrying them around the country, or Hollywood directors famously reusing their favorite performers, we have sought to build an eclectic crew of writers to come along with us for the ride. With any luck, those described in the pages to come will be coming back for more, and maybe then, somehow, we will have actually done something new, something different, and maybe it will have a shot at really change things for our ragtag gang. So read on. Watch the little birdie. And smile.

Robert Montilla 26-year old writer extraordinaire, Robert Montilla, was born in Venezuela, but grew up in Florida. An unemployed X-ray tech by day, and international man of mystery by night, Robert is a man of many hobbies, hats and spy gadgets. One of his biggest hobbies includes anything surrealist or dada, 20s/30s/40s comedy stars, and anything resembling the jester or magician archetype. He started with poetry ten years ago, though recently, within a year, has branched off into absurdist flash fiction and humor inspired by Daniil Kharms and Groucho Marx, the dadaist prose and poetry of Kurt Schwitters and Tristan Tzara, as well as the various metafictional techniques. Titleholder, published in the May edition of the Review, uses various meta-fictional techniques with characters and the narrater going above and beyond their call of duties. Kharms-esque absurdist moments, puns, non sequitors and more are used while trying to keep a “down to earth”, simply-expressed writing style. More on Robert as the story unfolds. Although, perhaps, not too much more...Masked vigilantes have to maintain some degree of mystery.


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Carib Guerra is an experiential explorer and archivist specializing in affirming or implying the existence of a thing, or sets of things. est. 1984: +41.2 -123.2; 1/6,697,254,041; loc. +20.63 -87.08, circa 2010.

Carib Guerra Josh Goller sprouted in Wisconsin soil but the winds carried him to the gloom and damp of the Pacific Northwest. He now resides in Oregon where he enjoys driving through fog and listening to raccoons fight on his roof. In May 2010, Josh contributed his story “Flickers,” to the Seahorse Rodeo Folk Review’s first issue and has returned to share “If I Lost My Mind” in our first printed quarterly edition. He runs his own literary zine called The Molotov Cocktail out of Portland.

A contributing writer to the May issue of the Review with his story “La Goma,” Carib was among the first to be accepted to a very young experiment in literature. Since that time, Carib has traveled to Playa Del Carmen, Yucatan, Mexico, where he spent some of his summer. He currently lives, works, writes and attends school in New York City. Playa Del Carmen had to watch his dust settle when he got word that he had been accepted, with scholarships and a whistle, to the school of his choice, Eugene Lang, The New School for Liberal Arts. As a New Yorker and writer for the continuing adventures in all things Seahorse, we all look forward to more work from Carib in the future.

Josh Goller


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T h e 145 t h Battl e of A Once a year, the frontline is redrawn. Towns men stand in two separate groups clad in regalia with feathered berets. They are soldiers, admiring one another’s ornamental attire.  This year, there is a canon. Someone built a float.  Another inflated a bouquet of red, white and blue balloons.  The men are positioned in opposing brigades of grey and blue. Their members take months to organize. The breaths they breathe are so gradual some forget to exhale.  Above, an airplane strums an antebellum key.  A Winnebago idles on gravel. Its bumper sticker proclaims PRIDE. The soldiers fumble with small moustache combs. From their shoulders, leather tassels swing.  Their country is the freest country; this is why they reenact.  Their ancestors bawl bugle sobs.  The soldiers listen, holding up their muskets, freezing for a newspaper flash.  Some of the muskets are the soldiers’ own; others are lent from local antiques stores.  A dragonfly lands on a corporal’s hat.  Winds wisps through everyone’s beards. The field has been mowed by a piece of machinery supposedly not yet invented.  An observing cow burps pond water.  Everyone ignores the telephone lines transecting of the recreation field.  A peewee tee ball game plays out on land that looks like cake in the battleground’s acoustic shadow.  Some men shiver and shiver.  The sky is blue. The Confederates mount a faux-attack on an imaginary rampart.  The grass between the North and South looks clumpy and cow-chewed.  Sounds become more intricate.  Families clap when someone swings and knocks a tee ball.  There are moments when the soldiers stop and look behind them, remembering where their

automobiles are parked. Someone picks gum from the sole of his boot with a Calvary lance.  Another touches his stomach.  Another stretches his arms.  A collie pees on the grass.  Its owner holds a leash and a plastic bag.  The owner prays the dog won’t poop. One solider asks another if his real teeth look false enough.  “Like false teeth,” he says. A different solider flicks the soldier’s teeth with his finger, and says, “They do.”  Someone says, “Union!” Someone else says, “Dixie.” Everyone says, “Charge!”  Fake gunfire echoes against an elemen-


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iken , So uth C arol in a Adam Moorad

tary school. Yankee fighters picture what grey Rebel coats look like plashed with blood.  Some men loosen their belts and play with their buttons, which come undone.  White smoke from black power fills the spectators’ lungs.  The crowd is comprised families and an entire Baptist youth group. Flags the size of sea monsters cloak the whole South in shadow.  The flags this year are newer, nicer ones; embroidered by hand.  A small kid waves a plastic toy cutlass.  The sticky air fills with funnel cake fume.  A baby avoids watching, eating ants beneath some bleachers. 

Rickety pistols are pointed but fail to discharge or injure. The soldiers play swords with sticks, picturing a victorious Robert E. Lee: The General walks upright, not slouched, lips pursed, smiling, never surrendering.  It’s almost sexy in their thick hick heads.  Like Ulysses Grant getting fucked by a canon in the behind.  The soldiers’ teenage sons and daughters are off having sex or sneaking liquor. A mother squirts lotion on a little girl to protect her from the sun.  Squirrels frolic selfconsciously, changing direction with the want whiff of buried nut.  A freckled soldier bats thirsty mosquitoes, spits tobacco juice and leaf on the ground. He watches it dissolve into the orange Carolina clay.  The threat of sudden rain makes every solider flinch with a scrotal tightening.  One cadet makes a face.  Another touches his heart.  A Yankee bumps unintentionally into a Rebel. Both men exchange an apologetic glance.  Breezes move like honey, brushing trees, making them sway.  A black bird shits in the distance.  Drivers on the road glance over as they pass and look away.  None look back.  The entire battlefield gathers around to watch a policeman load the canon.  Each solider watches attentively, as if listening, wanting to learn.  Their faces change.  Their lips make strange sounds.  The entire war grows longer.  Each annual incarnation becomes larger and more elaborate.  Barbecues are ignited.  Old women whip grits with bayonet-shaped spoons. Clouds gather in cauliflower bundles, reminding everyone what Abraham Lincoln’s brains must have looked like. 


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Incompatible Titan Charlie Puckett

I was ugly because my lips curled back like a horse with a bit. The children, when I was a child, told me not to smile. So I won’t, I said. One of them said I probably shit like a horse too, just like the ones in the Memorial Day Parade. Stop it, I said. They did a good job clapping their hands together in the sound of a trot when I walked. I don’t think any of them had ever been near a real horse. When I was a child, there were sirens that went by my mother’s apartment that screamed into the night for hours. I collected these sirens and took comfort believing someone like me was shapeless under the sky won-

dering about the massive sheath of autumn’s unchanged beauty. When all were asleep in the apartment and the old wood stretched, the sirens reminded me night would go and the dark would leave and day would come with the clouds and the blue. I think about it now, when the tired wood in my apartment aches at night, that those people in the sirens did not concern themselves with the shapeless beauty of the autumn sky. They were probably praying the bleeding would stop or their child would stop screaming or the hole in their intestines would close. Or they didn’t think about anything at all because they weren’t breathing. I still think when I hold my


breath right now. I didn’t think to try holding my breath when I was younger, it might have worked. I was seven years old and scared shitless and full of shit when I decided that a good purpose in life would be to just stay alive because I believed I was just supposed to wait for something. I listened for the sirens. What I waited for was beauty. Like the autumn sky, the beautiful for me was shapeless, but passively determined. It was something that I could not freely choose to have or make go away. I did not choose to have my lips curl, nor did I choose to hear the trotting claps of hands when I walked, but I believed everything was given beauty at some point. It was just a matter of waiting for it. I didn’t mind waiting because when I was nine I moved south to New Orleans and I was placed in a small Catholic Montessori school. There, I learned that waiting was a test of patience and that if you chose to stop waiting the beauty would never come. The priests told us this on the first day of class when we all stood up to pray the Our Father before the Pledge of Allegiance. The priests troubled me because I was never more than a piece of God’s creation to them. When we tarnished His creation, we had to go to confession. I owned nothing for myself and I could not own myself because God owned me. I believed I was a slave. But the priests meant well, they were kind, and I knew they seemed to know what beauty was and where to find it even though they didn’t tell us. They converted the bread of everyday life into something permanent. How do you do that and not know how to have beauty and how to use it? I wanted beauty like the northern autumn sky, like the mimetic desire for those sirens and the silence they broke, explaining everything into a simple moment’s raw reality, a calling to the perfection of humanity in motion at that moment. I outgrew my fear of smiling but I don’t think I ever grew to understand the threatening and awing beauty that was unavailable to me when I was a child. I never knew what I’d have to do to have it, what I’d have to do to own the autumn skies, hear the sirens, feel alive in every moment,

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no matter the cost. I wanted beauty because that was the only freedom I thought I could ever have. I wanted a calling to this freedom, whatever it was.

After I graduated, I had little ambition to take responsibility for my future and I decided to either enter the Jesuits or quickly marry and raise a family believing either direction would wash my hands of having to choose independence or an idle life without purpose. I wanted these things because I feared, above all, a quick life without fulfillment and, more than anything else, free will. I demanded a reality that was mine and mine alone, I demanded it all have shape. It was when he showed up that I started seeing demons and, for the first time in my life, dreaming. I saw the demons first, one or two at a time, occasionally and sporadically, off in the corner of the park or across the street walking off somewhere. They were never alone, always in couples and very near one another and carefully touching in some way. The demons moved like any other person pushing a stroller in morning sidewalk traffic or moving across a storefront window with purposeful gait. Lanky and leathery, black, they never spoke, just stared with watery eyes that had no whites, and they were large, like horses, appearing chained in silence, or waiting in patience or confined to motions of hidden clockwork and a sorrowful, immortal existence. I did not make the connection that their gradual materialization into my reality was related to his sudden arrival that night. My name is Malakai Vacey. I do not know his name, this man, and I don’t think he found it necessary that he should share it with me. I first met him at Miss Mae’s, the scarred and haggard bar on antique Magazine St. owned by an unholy woman. Miss Mae was the visible spirit of wan flesh and breasts that sat at the end of the bar every night in a blue cloud of cigarette smoke. On that particular night, I sat in the bar, the only soul besides Miss Mae


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and the presbyopic bartender, when this man quietly seated himself next to me with a sensation of prediction. His person smelt so heavily of wet earth, a cologne of storm rain upon clay and dust, I thought he may have just come from a grave he belonged to, even though the dead in New Orleans are buried above ground. His white suit was immaculate, ivory white, with not a wrinkle. He only spoke to me when I placed change on the bar for the last glass, turning his head to solemnly ask me with convicting calm: “Do you know of a motel where I can have a woman?” That was all he had wanted to say. It was then that I saw his face and the two eyes without pupils, just blue irises that shone, without expression, like oxidized pennies. I was surprised at how young he was. I apologized for not having an answer to his question, looked away from those eyes and left, very drunk and sweaty from the unusual humidity that February night. I saw him the next day standing beside what was to be the first demon I ever saw. I was too poor to own a car and my grandfather’s two-stroke café racer that I came to own had a cracked head gasket, so I walked to take the trolley every morning to my temporary job. I worked as maintenance hand and caretaker of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Baronne St. I saw him standing next to two of them at the intersection of Valence, engaged calmly in an intimate conversation as though he were sharing a slow, detailed story with close friends or asking kindly for a motel where he could have a woman. I suppose I was startled at the time, but I do remember not questioning any legitimacy of what I saw or asking a passerby what they thought of the demons speaking with this man, instead my general interest produced in me such an openness of curiosity I felt something like marrow or pith or my soul uncomfortably cool under the surface of my skin—so near the surface, magnetized, so suddenly vulnerable to everything around me that it felt like adrenaline and I hated it. The onset of vulnerability and this agitation of my sense of self, the abrupt

scrambling of my id, ego, superego; whatever churned without my will inside me made me scared and sad and then alone. There was a tall one and a small one, a mother and a child I assumed. I could make out breasts and the outline of hair on the tall one, which both reflected and dulled light like a thick, hardened oil even though the sun was timing out behind some clouds. Where their bones made joints there were corners in their black garments that looked very much like their skin, which, stretched and leathery, pulled their stringy muscles close to the bones like tightly wrapped garbage bags. The man wore the same white suit from the night before at Miss Mae’s and I noticed him holding a small riding crop in one hand. He spoke to them in a calm and direct manner and the people around them moved past on the sidewalk without glances or delay. He finished speaking and put his arms at his sides, the crop in his left hand, when he turned his head and looked across the street to me standing still, facing them. It took a moment, but I turned away believing they had not seen me in my transparent curiosity and vulnerability, my sober sadness, and I walked to the bookstore several blocks away forgetting it ever happened. The next time I saw them the man in white was talking to them and on two separate instances in the same day. It was late at the church and I was buffering the floors of the main lobby. The church entered a float in the Krew of Crescent City for Mardi Gras under the troupe name Mithra every year. Members of the congregation met at the church on Tuesday nights and then walked to the narrow streets of the warehouse district where people from all over the city escaped their lives and disappeared inside gutted factories, steel hangers, and empty storage facilities to build their floats. Inside these large, cold buildings was an unearthly silence and the remains of previous year’s floats, stacked to the ceilings, broken, frozen in glitter, always cannibalized for the next year’s parade. These were graveyards of papier-mache carnival horses, jesters as big as trucks, mermaids and goddesses. Obscene themes drew the most ap-


plause on Fat Tuesday which was less important than beads. Penises as big as trees, naked, caricatured Hurricanes Rita and Katrina fingering each other, penises with teeth, penises with top hats and canes, clowns with breasts, dragons with breasts, skeletons with penises and breasts filled the dark buildings waiting to be brought back to life. I was not asked to participate. You had to give a lot of money to be a part of a troupe. People had just begun to leave the narthex, making small talk in pairs and threes. The last to leave were two demons and the man in the white suit, who stopped in the middle of the hall and spoke to them as they listened. I turned off the buffer and stared. He continued talking and I began to wrap the electric chord slowly. His back was to me, and from this distance I noticed for the first time that he was a tall man. He held the same riding crop in his left hand. I placed the chord on the buffer in a pile and, assuming they had not seen me, walked towards them. They turned, the man in the white suit still talking, and without noticing me down the hall, they disappeared around the corner into the next corridor. When I got to the corner they were gone, but the door to the church office opened and Father Lindsey stepped into the hallway. “Ah, Malakai, is something the matter?” “Nothing, Father.” There was no one else in the hall. “Are you finished for the night?” “Yes, Father.” He looked at me. “How have you been Malakai? It’s been a while since we’ve spoken.” “I’ve been doing well, Father.” “I see you are not joining the troupe tonight?” “No, I have not made a decision yet, Father.” “I asked about the Mardi Gras troupe, Malakai, not your life. But I see you haven’t decided on the priesthood either?” “Yes, Father, I mean no, I’m sorry. No, I am still unsure, Father.” He was old and hard, a man full of

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strength, enough to have been a butcher or a writer, like Hemingway. He was a man hardened by something dark in his life. His posture said he saw the world as fallen and immutable and life as a collection of years in time rather than the very color of the rose or the cat’s smile. Unaware of the personal altar he always preached from, he wore the collar as though a marked man, dignified in distance from others, alone by calling. But he was pure. I believed he was pure because he was a priest and that God had hand selected him to live his life as one. “Tell me, do you pray, Malakai?” he said. “I try to, Father, but I think I pray in a way that displeases God.” “You cannot displease God with prayer. Speaking with God causes you to think, which allows you to notice how He already plans to answer your prayer.” I did not want the cross he carried, but I wanted his purity and his wisdom. I wanted the peace. I thought both of these would provide and keep me spiritually fed and satisfied like a child, full of warm milk, asleep in the universe. “There is a calling to the life I live, Malakai,” he said, “one that you have to choose, in the end, if you want happiness.” I straightened my back and shifted my weight. “But you have to listen, Malakai,” he said. He was holding a box of matches and a Bible in his arm. “You have to listen and, in the meantime, you have to just wait.” I wanted happiness and I wanted to be a priest if it meant happiness, so I wanted a calling like I wanted a reward for another man’s deed. But Fr. Lindsey spoke of happiness from the same altar that kept him alone and allowed him to keep time as some ether vector through the stars, keeping God a mortally adjusted creation in his head to explain his life. “I do feel something, Father, and I’m wondering if it is a calling,” I said. What I felt was my soul displaced from contentment, but I wanted an answer that would


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give me this peace, and maybe the answer was a calling to become a priest, maybe all I had to do was enter the seminary and I’d be born. Or maybe this was my own placebo, my own false altar of mortality. “Just keep waiting,” he assured me, “you’ll know a calling when you find it, it will be just for you.”

Until the world is no longer. Still, he looked at me. “Goodnight, Malakai,” he said and walked away as though we never spoke. I took the St. Charles trolley home to the Irish Channel. The trolley rides always gave me an altar of familiarity. I liked the motion and

This last statement took something out of his posture, as though it tapped him ever so gently on the back of his knees, and something left his eyes. I felt pity for him, as strong as he was physically and as chosen as I believed he was spiritually, something ached inside of him and I did not want to look at it. “Well, I better finish for the night, Father,” I said. Universal love is not what one person wants. “Good,” he said and looked at me. But to be loved alone. “Goodnight, Father.”

the sound of the earth under me. I could drift in my reality and notice the world when I rode the trolley. In New Orleans, the evening sun sets off the spoon of the earth an innocent pink swelling. Nights ease to rest above the horizon and welcome the moon. The live oaks line the streets dutifully and I like to imagine the purple embers of alcohol warm bodies and blanket souls in a masonry of bliss, where everything smells like earth and couples’ hands cup together in bed as if in prayer, holding a single universe in the build of a firefly. All a burlesque agape before sleep. I like think God is that big. A warm rain fell lightly on everything. I got off at


SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

AUGUST 2010 Napoleon. I liked to eat at Ignatius Eatery because they served you beer and bread before your meal. The restaurant was no bigger than a boutique and it was always well lit, even late at night, like the Father who art in nada. I sat in the back at a table for two and the waitress looked up from her book. She brought over a basket of

she’d probably say no to all of it. That is probably why she called me babe, to let me know her affection wasn’t mine. I wanted to tell her that her face was pastel with that band-aid makeup. I didn’t like her anymore and I wished I had a different server even thought there wasn’t one. She came over with the water. “You ready to order, babe?”

bread and a beer. She was sharp. Her blouse was unbuttoned and you could see the cup of her bra when she bent over. Her jeans were tight and her dark, curly hair fell over the sides of her face. “I’ll get you a water, too, babe,” she said. I wanted to ask her to join me. I knew I’d have to do it right before I left in case she said no and felt too embarrassed to continue serving me. I didn’t want her to serve me, I wanted to serve her. I didn’t want to put her through that. Maybe she’d say yes and she’d sit down and I’d find out this was the girl I’d date and love and marry. I ate my bread. I thought

I told her my order which she wrote neatly in her book and smiled. I pictured waking up next to that smile every morning in a farm house painted white and thought maybe it would work after all. I used to dream of owning a farm when I was little. I wanted to own a plantation with fields and animals and guns that I could carry around. I’d have grown tobacco in large fields surrounded by woods with tall trees. I wondered if I would have owned slaves and if I would have been a plantation owner that treated the slaves as human. I don’t know who would have told me that slavery was always wrong and that I should have known that from the begin-


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ning and that I was a fucker and had free will so should have chosen not to be a part of it. I would have owned a riding crop but never used it on anyone. I would have listened to other men tell stories of taking black women in the night and I would have said nothing. Then, after the war, I would have been for negro rights as if I had been all along. I would have died an old man with white hair in a wicker chair on a porch, looking out on a world I believed I owned. I would have had a calling to be a farmer. “Here you go, babe,” she said. She placed a bisque in front of me. “Can I get you another beer?” She asked this as she walked past me to put something on another table. I turned and saw the man in the white suit sitting with two demons by the front window. “Who is that man in the suit?” I asked. “Which man in what suit, babe?” “I’m sorry, yes, I’d like another beer.” She winked and brought me another beer. I felt my blood electric again and I was scared and alone. “Wait! Would you like to join me?” I said. I did not want to be alone while the man in the white suit was there. “Please, I’d like it if you joined me.” She smiled. “How old are you, babe?” “I’m 20.” “You aren’t 20, babe. You a virgin?” “No.” “Yes you are, babe. I’m afraid all I can give you tonight is drinks.” I was a virgin and society told me I was oppressed because of it and I believed it, she had just told me. I did not own myself. I wished I had not said anything to her. I wanted to go back to thinking about the farm. He was still sitting there and talking. I took one sip of the bisque. It wasn’t late. What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know. Who then am I? If no one tells me, I know not who I am. If I wish to explain to him who asks, I

do not know. She wasn’t going to sit with me. I would be a titan, a priest without happiness. I felt drunk again. My mind, my crop. The man in the white suit and his demons. All of this. I spun around. “WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU!” The man in the white suit and the demons were gone. All of the tables were empty. The waitress looked at me terrified and put her back against the wall behind the counter. I had scared her and made her look at me like I was something to fear. I put money down on the table and left. I thought that was the end of it. I had not seen a demon or the man in the white suit for a week. I went to work. I smelled of sandal wood incense when I came home. I ate at bars and when it rained the water soaked through my clothes to my skin and I felt it and it felt good. I read on my porch in pink sunsets. On one evening I watched a pack of children play Red-Rosie on the street in front of my apartment. They were so small and they all moved so quickly and they laughed and laughed. When I walked down the stairwell I could hear their voices and cries and the sun was so golden through the barred window. I wanted to be golden with them. I went outside and watched them by the sidewalk. They held each other’s hands in two lines. When a car came, they stood still in their lines and the car passed through the gate of children and all watched the car in silence with their chins racked in and eyes down. They lit with life and became golden again when the car passed. I walked over to the end of a line and took a little black girl’s hand. “Red-Rover, Red-Rover, send Siobhan right over!” A girl broke from my line and the other line braced for her. She made it through. They all made it through. They always held up their unlinked hands and waited for the newcomer to join and then they reformed as one. They chose one after the next. No one was left uncalled. “Hey, mister, what’s your name?” “Malakai.”


This made them all giggle into their shoulders and tug at each other’s arms. “Red-Rover, Red-Rover, send Malakai right over!” I ran hard and I made it through. I was golden. I felt the sun on my shoulders and the children laughed. They looked at me to rejoin the line with their hands out. I was taller than all of them. I did not want to be taller than any of them. I stared at their hands and at the gap. I wanted to play all night. An adult yelled supper from a porch. The hands dropped. The lines broke and four of the children ran off. The others decided it was a good time to go and left. “Goodbye, Malakai!” I said nothing to the children as they ran away. The sun was setting and everything was pink and no one was in the streets. The next day was Fat Tuesday, the day of New Orleans. The city emptied to the parade routes on Fat Tuesday. I went to work at the church and caught the trolley home when the sun began to set. I didn’t have anyone to go to the parade with so I decided to not go. The trolleys heading into the city were full of people in costumes and masks and their mouths were all open in laughs or shouts and they all looked very happy with one another. I got off and walked to Magazine St. Miss Mae’s neon eponym was seared in red below the pink sunset. The outside of the bar was black and both of the doors were

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propped open to the night and the street light at the corner began to glow. I sat at the bar. Miss Mae sat at the end of the bar in a blue cloud of smoke, looking at me, and the presbyopic bartender stood in front of a line of liquor bottles one hundred deep in the mirror. “A beer, please,” I said. He reached down and handed me a beer. “What will you have for the lady?” he said softly. “I just wanted a beer for myself.” “What will you have for the lady?” “I just want to drink the beer I ordered.” I looked around and no one but Miss Mae staring at me was in the bar. She bent her neck back and blew more smoke. “Please, I don’t mean to offend her, but I don’t see why I need to buy her a drink. I’m not looking for trouble.” I looked at Miss Mae to my left. She said nothing and took a long drag. “Leave him be. He doesn’t know,” said a calm voice to my right. The man in the white suit was sitting next to me. “The lady will have a vodka from me and a beer from the young man,” said the man in the white suit to the bartender. The bartender made the drinks and placed them in front of Miss Mae. “No,” I said. Something shifted in me, magnetized to the surface. “Every year, on Fat Tuesday, for every


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drink ordered in this bar, one is also given to Miss Mae,” he said. “Who are you?” I said. He ignored me and continued. “At the end of the night, the person that gave her the drink that she chooses to drink spends the night upstairs.” He pointed to the ceiling. “The other drinks are poured down the pipe. Every year.” He reached out to touch a black steel pipe that came up from the ground behind the bar. He lit a cigarette with a match. I looked at Miss Mae. She lit another cigarette and the lines in her pale, soft face darkened in the flame. Her dress was tight on her frame and I could see the small folds of her stomach. The muscle hung from her arms. She looked like a used candle. She looked at me through her blue cloud. I turned back to the man in the white suit. I didn’t know what to say to him. The riding crop lay on the bar and he looked at me under the white hat with those bluecopper coins. I wanted to leave. I wanted to never find out who this man in the white suit was and I never wanted to see him again. I didn’t want to go upstairs with Miss Mae and I didn’t want to be in a place that seemed to accept that all of these things were natural occurrences and customary. I stood up and turned. A demon occupied every seat at every table in the bar. Like the sea’s ancient foghorn, they sat silently in waiting, capable of shattering

the night at any moment. I sat back down. “Why aren’t you at the parade?” the man in the white suit asked. “Do not say anything!” I said. The number of full glasses in front of Miss Mae had suddenly quadrupled, there were full bottles and pints, shots and highballs.

“It was just a question,” he said calmly and looked straight ahead. “Who are you and why are all of them here?” I demanded. I was so furious I wanted to cry. I felt


sick. The man in the white suit looked behind himself in the mirror and then turned to me. “Does it really matter?” he said. “Yes, it does.” “In that case, I am a man in a white suit.” He lifted his hat off of his head and smiled. “What are you doing here?” “I came for a beer. It’s Fat Tuesday. On Fat Tuesday, a man in a white suit drinks a beer. Why did you say you were not at the parade?” “I didn’t. I never said anything to you. I never did anything to you to bring this— whatever all of this is—to me.” He looked like he wasn’t sure what I was saying. “I think you are right. I don’t think I have ever met you,” he said. “Fuck you, you don’t say something like that!” “Are you alright?” he said. “Not with you I’m not. I don’t want to see you again. I don’t want to see them!” I said and turned around and pointed at the tar scarecrows and the silence. I was crying now. They all looked at me. I owned nothing. I chose nothing. I threw up on the floor and felt nothing. Nobody said anything for minutes and my breathing was watery through the spit in my teeth. My mouth tasted like iron and I could smell the cleaner on the barstool. Nobody did anything. There was the dark womb and me, silent behind the pink film of skin. There was the night and me under the pink rise of the sun. There was the black soil of the fields and me with pink hands. There was the stained leather crop and the pink skin on my back. The pink wine. The blood. The pink vagina. The body. The pink rise of the sun. The pink set of the morning star all in my mind. I heard children laugh and I opened my eyes. Miss Mae took the cigarette out of her mouth and placed it in the ashtray before her. Her hand hovered over the many glasses and bottles in front of her and she carefully selected the vodka the man in the white suit had bought. She drank it as everyone watched. She stood up, walked over to him and took his hand.

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She said to me: “This is life, it is not a calling. I choose every moment of it.” I looked at the man in the white suit. He was young and tall from the front too. His face was dark from the sun. He looked at me. Bluecopper coins. His eyes said they did not recognize me and I felt the faintest sense of longing, like I had lost something but could not remember what it was that I had been looking for, and, for the first time, I did not feel alone. Miss Mae picked up his crop and guided him to the stairwell. The bartender was holding open the door for them and when they passed him, he disappeared through the door as well. I felt my hands and I felt my thoughts. I was one hundred deep in the mirror. All the demons were still, one hundred deep. I reached out in front of me and took a booklet of matches from a small bowl on the bar. The single struck match lit the others in the booklet like a holy fire. I dropped the booklet down the black steel pipe. The dreams came every night. They were peaceful and I woke up warm after each one, the feeling of returning to reality. I dreamt of roosters in the morning unstitched under the sun and red haired lionesses still asleep in the dew with sea shells in their hair. The wood was old and it burnt in on itself before the fire crew could do anything. There were beautiful sirens, wailing into the night. I dreamt of a saucer of milk that the moon soaks in every night and free driftwood without tide. I dreamt of farmers in a line pushing bicycles up the wall of a gulley in unison under white cotton clouds. When the women called them from below, they fell and the women received them in their mouths and arms. The newspaper said the building burnt so fast that the only two people in the bar could not get out in time. I chose to stay still in bed for as long as I wanted and then I’d finally rise to wash my face. They were good about it. I turned the sink on and off. Then I turned it on and off again. Over and over until I wanted it to stop. The sun was golden through the bars in the window and I was golden. My name was called over the block intercom.


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Currently existing in a state of unreliability access to all answers will be bordered by patrol. Useless to arrive unprepared for popularityPlan to feast on clichés and the tender touch of tyrants in your dreams. Height will triumph volume in our quest to count the layers. Lifeboats leak in silence cloaked in shadows by the stars. Why seduce an angel versus cosmic co-mobility? Best to speak in volumes or you’ll be speaking alone. Cracking through the casing we uncover swarms of vengeance, -lucky for the moment, our belief system holds strong. It’s not as though we’ve never known a nightmare for a plaything. Even if we prove it odds are high we’ve proved it wrong.

To Answer Your Que Rachel Walker


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Dreams I Hope Don’t Come True, Number 73 Thomas O’Connell

She came upon a picnic table by the river. A birthday cake sat at one end. The candles were still lit and dripping opaque wax, which gathered on top of pale frosting. Matching paper plates and napkins sat facing each other on either side of the table. A piñata had been lynched in a nearby tree. There were no party guests around. They had been hiding in the river, holding their breath, waiting for her to arrive. They were going to jump up out of the water and yell, ‘surprise’

Because she was late, they all drowned and floated down stream to somebody else’s party.


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Elusive There is a new attraction on the back-country roads of San Diego County, and it isn’t the ferocious and hard to kill wild boars (currently en route from Texas), which I’ve been hoping for. No, this is a mutant anomaly far more intriguing, even to a non-scientist, like my neighbor Ed, who finds these creatures fascinating and calls them, “Crooked thieves, locked into a death grip with the rest of the world.” On countless nights we’ve gone out with flashlights, and one particularly bright strobe light, looking for these strange beasts. It was a misadventure in search of these loathsome men that brought me near them at first, their psychosis engrossed me, and became an addiction so consuming that it’s rivaled the strongest narcotics. Now, it has to be said that this is a tricky endeavor - chasing the natives - one requiring much skill and patience. All the driving, when you’re out after sunset with your camera, must be done with the headlights off so that the animals won’t know you’re coming and flee into the darkness. Don’t worry about the hum of the engine, though, they usually mistake that for the natural vibrations of the desert, which they are particularly familiar with and attuned to like Aboriginals. In the truck, or whatever you are pursuing them in, you must be silent and ready, no talking and mundane chit-chat, and for

Dillon Mullenix God’s sake keep the speed down or you’ll miss them. Mostly they are found hiding in roadside ditches or roaming through high grass, their black plastic bag slung to the curb as they pick up one can at a time. Now, if you see a creature as previously described then you’ve probably seen him! The miraculous high desert road tweaker. You are now part of an elite club, my friend, but beware, this person is not to be approached, they are violent and have been known to attack passersby unprovoked. This, however, will not deter you, I’m sure, because this minor setback does not, to the passionate observers of the road tweaker, diminish at all their incredible draw.

They are, in fact, akin to Darwin’s finches. When the road


tweaker first appeared they weren’t seen during the day, but now that isn’t the case, they are braver, no longer scared to show their shallow faces, emaciated bodies, hunger ridden bodies, pacing with a quickness not common to normal men along the roadside. They are driven by an incentive to consume and everything counts. They are going green (in the American Business Sense), but they didn’t mean to. It was just the only viable option when it came time to score another hit. Occasionally, these men of leisure sickness stick out their opposable thumb, in hopes of conning you to the side of the road, like a traveler might, but these transient clones will rob you blind and steal your car, and your woman, to trade on the black market for speed, a small butane torch, and a few good light bulbs. Then they’ll be on the road again, like a run-dry Kerouac going crazy in the high desert of San Diego County. This is the land of wine and tweak, good old fashioned chemical nuts with guns and flu medicine, cooking methamphetamine in white trailers hidden in rocks and brush. The flowing industrial stranglehold on the economy has made it worse, the rich are noticeably nervous, and the poor are more virulent. The world is different for me today, but history has seen it all before, and is laughing at our short-term memory loss. If you ever get curious, and you’re already coming out to Julian to eat pie, or Temecula to drink wine, or Ramona to hit the rodeo, or the Salton Sea to score meth, drive a little slower and watch the roads, we’ll be out here, Ed and me, watching for the ghosts of moonless nights and sun beaten days, and if you’re good enough, maybe you’ll see a good example of the Nation in Action also. The road tweaker is a microcosm, a personification, of the modern America, a keyhole into its paradigm. He’s eco-conscious because it helps to subsidize his dwindling economic resources and make him seem reasonable to those who question him. He has many addictions, none of which he is willing to give up, even in times of drought and economic rancor.

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He is happy to sustain his incomprehensible lifestyle by stealing and suckling from the tit of other hard working people(s) of this country. He poisons the land he uses, pollutes the air with escaping plumes of fumes, pours toxins into the water supply, occasionally blows things (including himself) up, ruptures the ground he builds on, and creates a bio-hazard catastrophe on a global scale. But, he is private and therefore uncontrollable. He is perplexing… and he doesn’t think. He acts without a thought to what it does. The road tweaker is a total narcissist and he is distinctly American. For those of you that are scared, don’t worry, they only run wild by night, in the day they are little more docile, especially in the summer months. The sun is baking their brains then, and cooking them alive as they walk with their shirts off – but the summer is a scant season, and nothing much is seen by the weekendwarrior, only the real road-dogs like Ed and me, out here every day & night like hounds, baying when the guttural squeal of a road tweaker is caught by the hot wind and flown across the valley. If you see this ravenous animal, starved and mangy, you’ll know him by the burnt red color and texture of his skin, thoroughly abused it barely holds on to their corpse like bodies, and his pipe will be hanging out from one of his haggard pockets, ready for use at any moment – but they will act like they don’t see you, staring at the ground. It will look almost like they are buffalo waiting to be shot, huddled in their diminished number that are, now, somehow on the rise like an inflated Titanic rising to the surface. Get a sense of the epidemic that’s spreading across these hills and making us all hunters. In the city no one thinks of the madmen high on adrenaline and crystal, looking like the re-birthed homeless depraved dead who walk around like burnt-out wrestlers on a starvation diet. But here, in Warner Springs, CA, it’s a daily reality, and it’s amusingly caustic.


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Tommy’s Little Pity Party

COLUMBUS DAY, NOON When I click open my inbox the name pops up. I’m not sure how to feel. Excited, but also nervous. This agent has shown interest once before, the only one so far. I breathe in, staring at the name in the inbox. This needs to be good. I open the message and read it quickly. It’s the exact opposite of what I’d hoped for. A diagnosis of a tumor when you’re banking on that lump being a zit. Humor stories are hard to sell, didn’t quite connect for me, blah blah blah. Arrrrgh. I feel like one of the indians on Hispaniola in 1492. Cut down. Blown away. Unknown and primitive, awaiting disease. Maybe I should go down to the corner pub, load up the jukebox, and drink the day away. Like Richard Buckner sings, “Gonna pour the last year down my throat.” Come out a few hours later like the guy I saw the other day, the one who staggered out the door and barely caught himself before stumbling into the busy intersection. That would definitely improve this situation.

Thomas Sullivan

I’ve always wondered why many artists who make it proceed to disintegrate into a haze of drugs and alcohol. Like the guy in Motley Crue who writes about being slumped on his bathroom floor and shooting heroin into, among other places, his thing. I used to think it was excitement and momentum over their success. I now realize that it’s pure relief, at least at first. Years of missteps, frustration, and wondering how long a body can survive on ramen before rickets set in – it packs down in the soul like a cannonball, just waiting for the fuse to be lit. Note to self. You know something’s amiss when you find yourself wishing you’d wake up one day with a burning desire to be an accountant. Join some humorless vocation where things are linear and logical. Junior Accountant to Senior Accountant to Comptroller, finally morphing into Golf Course Retiree before the heart attack. Maybe I need to change my approach. Jane Austen is hot right now. Not Jane Austen’s books themselves, which would make sense given her obvious talent, but books about women


getting together to read Jane Austen. Perhaps I could jump on this gravy train with a new approach. Come at it from a completely different angle: Four guys with a host of problems – substance issues, car problems, too many children by different women – form a book club. They all agree to read Austen, with each guy choosing his own book to read during the month. At the end of the month they regroup for intelligent discussion, but chaos breaks out when it’s revealed that one guy is reading the memoir of Tracy Austin, the tennis star. Tempers flare and they don’t talk to each other for days. But then they work through their issues and emerge stronger, filled with love and renewed self-awareness. Well, hell, this isn’t something that can’t be overcome by a pity-purchase and a huge cup of coffee. I hop into the car and head down the road to a bookstore. Halfway to my destination, I get honked at for driving the speed limit. I’m getting better at handling these affronts – I just picture the sound from the horn turning into big block letters that say “I NEED COUNSELING.” Glancing in my mirror, I see a Mustang with the side-view mirror hanging down against the door. Zero surprise there. Ten minutes later I park and walk to the bookstore. It’s closed for the holiday. Screw Columbus. The bakery next door is open and I head in for a couple of pints of coffee. It’s crowded, with the only free table sitting in the back, in the kids’ room. I grab a seat and start reading the paper. Maybe a good accident story will lift my spirits by way of comparison. My mind drifts from the paper to a story I overheard at Powells, told by a book seller. Some guy managed to sell his book and held a party for his friends and family to celebrate. It was a raucous, boozy affair. Later in the night he hopped on his motorcycle and proceeded to drive it off a bridge. Note to self. Posthumous recognition doesn’t count. I’m broken from these thoughts when two women with a child enter the room. While the women vainly attempt to socialize in peace, the

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kid picks up a large Tonka truck, mutters something to himself, and starts slamming it on the ground. He looks at the busted toy and then breaks into a pout. I know how you feel, little guy. Don’t worry, it’ll get better. NOT! I ramble out of the bakery, wondering how I became a forty-year old man with an allowance. I’m not asking for a lot here. I just want to get the thing published, sell a few million copies, and then choke on my own vomit. That’s all. Driving back home I recall something I read about a woman whose second book had just been published. She was upset because the publishing house was comparing her work to that by male authors, well known ones at that. Hey, call me the Britney Spears of verse or compare my language to Charles Manson’s, I can handle it. Maybe we never run out of things to complain about, even as things improve, shoving gratitude under the carpet like dog hair. I think the rest of us should bundle our rejection letters and send them to this woman for Christmas. Maybe this is just a marketing approach problem. I just need to get creative to open a few doors. Two ideas come to mind:

CREATIVE MARKETING IDEA #1 Marry a rock star. Gender of target is less important than degree of dysfunction and exposure. The more of each quality the better. Ideal candidate: once-big-but-now-downward-arcing, rehab-weary rock veteran hanging on by a string. Organ transplant a plus. A year later release a tell-all book, tapping into the “He did that? crowd by appearing on morning news shows and daytime TV. Throw in a personal eating disorder (Peeps) to generate sympathy and broaden appeal. CREATIVE MARKETING IDEA #2 Hike into forest with small chain saw. Use saw to gouge out chunks of wood in base of oldgrowth tree, with cuts suggesting attack on tree by a small pack of beavers. Slip leg under tree as it crashes to the ground, and then hack off leg


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with chain saw. Bounce back to car and return home. While recuperating in hospital write inspirational memoir titled The Audacity of Hop. Something feels right when I enter the coffee shop near my house. A guy at the counter is talking about his experience last night. He woke up in his VW bus at 4am, roused by a thumping noise. Lying on the foam mattress he heard a “Shump, shump, shump’ coming from outside, at the rear of the vehicle. He rolled out of the bus and found a guy with a gas can at his

feet, sucking on a garden hose that was plugged into the fuel tank. He chased the guy of foot for two hours, continuing the pursuit mostly for fun, and then stopped for breakfast. When the conversation shifts to movies, I note that you can always tell if a marriage is doomed by watching a couple pick out a movie at Blockbuster. We laugh. I don’t care if it sells, it makes me tick. Humor always brings me back to where I should be – squarely in the here and now.


Broad Midnight

13 years ago, dreamt about this sight Broad daylight broad midnight Gather, drag lawn chairs worship it like television awakening to rosy twilight on my dream street Neighbors tumbled from the windows of their homes onto uniform Kentucky fescue they gathered, dragged lawn chairs to worship it like television Some only wore walkmans and socks in broad daylight. Judging from position of the sun in dreamtime it was sometime around noon. the Moon, the second hand on some kitchtzy Cosmic cookoo clock, circled under our feet and up into the sky to meet, block the sun broad midnight no alarms, only auroras radiating through the sackcloth.

An eclipse.

In fourth grade, long before that dream saw a real eclipse all that can be recalled is black no one would pass me the viewing box so I stared directly at the sun one day in central park 7 years ago. Judging its position it had to be some time around Noon.

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KT Mitchell

I had a picnic for one.

Tumbling about like a toddler I was glad to realize that the grass was just good old weeds and not some genetic synthetic Kentucky fescue. I was new to the city, taking pictures of everything when I happened to look up at the sky

On the edges of the Imprint previously burned onto my retina I could see spectral auroras Radiating through the daylight

Marveling at the sight, I lay in the grass to worship it like television


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The following is a rush transcript from tonight’s Barry Bang Tonight interview with Cheezy Greening.

BB: Is that why you came here tonight, do you think the stories being written about you aren’t fair?

BB: Welcome everyone, glad to have you with us folks. We’ve got a big night tonight, lots of fascinating guests, so lets get right to it. With me now is controversial pop star Cheezy Greening. Cheezy, as many of you watching are no doubt aware, is about to be confined to his penthouse in the Hollywood hills under house arrest. He is accompanied tonight by two police officers currently doubling as bodyguards. Cheezy, good to have you here, and may I say before we get into things, that’s a fine tie you’ve got on there.

CG: Well, no one’s written my side, not yet anyway, although I can announce now that I have a cover story in GQ next month that I hope will….help, in my efforts

CG: Thanks Barry, I really appreciate your courtesy, and you having me on, so I can….you know…set the record straight.

Explosive Interview

Fritz Kessler


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AUGUST 2010 to set the record straight.”

BB: Do you miss her now?

BB: You keep saying you want to set the record straight. What is it you want to say here tonight? To your fans, to the people of America who feel like you’ve betrayed them?”

CG: Like I said Barry, if I could take it all back, I would. I miss KarissaÔ with all of my heart, and, even though all this went down, I like to think that somewhere, maybe up with God, part of her wants to be with me too.

CG: Truthfully Barry, truthfully, from the bottom of my heart and my soul….I just want America to know how sorry I am. I wish I could take it back, I wish it never happened, I wish she and I could just be happy again…..I’m sorry, I don’t mean to get all teary and s***. BB: Do we need to go to commercial break? CG: Nah I’m good. BB: Alright then. So, you’re sorry. Sorry for what, sorry for Karissa’sÔ brutal murder at your hands? CG: Yes. BB: That’s brave of you to admit in front of everybody here, but no doubt some will say it feels like too little too late. Do you see why someone would say that? What can you say to let people know why you did this, what were you thinking when you strangled her?

BB: Why would she want to be with you? Even before you killed Karissaä, there were reports of abuse in your relationship, police were even involved on more than one occasion if I recall correctly.

CG: I’m not saying it wasn’t rough sometimes Barry, and some of that may have been partially my fault, but still we had something….something special. Those six months were some of the best of my life. BB: You’re 17 now, correct?

CG: Yeah, 17, that’s right, almost legal Barry. But even though I know we had our problems in the past, even when her eyes were all swelling… with tears, I could still see love for me in there. BB: Very moving. We’ve got to go to commercial, but we’ll be right back with more from homicidal pop star Cheezy Greening, after this.

CG: I was sorry then too Barry! I was so sorry when I did it, even when my fingers were around her neck I felt sorry, I knew I was gonna be sorry….and I wished, I just wished so much it could have been…even five minutes before, wished it had never gotten that far.

*Commercial Break*

BB: Why did it get that far?

*Commercial Break*

CG: Well, you know Barry….I just got something inside me I guess. My Dad was real mean to my mom, lots of violence in the house, that sort of thing. So, you know, I hate to say it, but a lot of it was just some learned behavior and S***.

BB: We’re back, lets get back to our guest, Cheezy Greening. Cheezy, how do you respond your critics, who say your behavior is reprehensible and repulsive, and that as a celebrity with near constant media coverage that you invite, you set a poor example for the way women are treated in the entertainment business and else-

BB: You’re watching Barry Bang Tonight, and we’ll have more with pop star, socialite, and alleged murderer Cheezy Greening, right after these messages.


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where?

for the dead -

CG: Barry, I love girls. My momma is a girl, how could I not love girls? I think anyone who knows me knows how much I love girls and anyone who’s listened to my music would recognize not only my love, but my respect, for girls. I think that, with a couple of exceptions, I’ve always treated girls with the utterly-most respect and admiration. For me, girls are above all us men, I personally think of them as being up on a pedestal. In fact, I would tell anyone who doubts me, any haters out there, to check out the hot new video for my latest single, “Pedestal Skanks,” to see how much I love girls.

CG: That b**** didn’t respect nothin’ I did! Why should I respect her now that she’s f****-

BB: I’ve heard that song, very catchy. CG: Thanks Barry. BB: Your new cover story on GQ magazine features you holding a scantily clad model around her throat as she poses seductively, bent over your knee. How do you justify exploiting this situation for your own personal gain? CG: Exploiting? You say that like it’s a bad thing Barry, of course I’m exploiting this, this was a personal tragedy for me. BB: For you? You’re the one who killed her. CG: And isn’t that tragic Barry? That a young, up & coming pop star with all the potential in the world could fall so low as to murder such a clean, beautiful, talented girl? That’s got tragedy written all over it, and that’s more than just personal, that’s the kind of story America was built on. And now the whole world can see me rise again, why shouldn’t I use, exploit it, if you will, to express myself….artistically? I’m startin’ to feel you’re just like all the other haters out there Barry!” BB: Easy now, no need to get heated. But some would say – and these aren’t necessarily my words – but some would say that out of respect

*Commercial Break* BB: Once again, we’re talking with pop star turned abusive partner and murderer, Cheezy Greening, and I have reminded Mr. Greening that he is on national TV and he needs to watch his language. Now, Cheezy, for all of your apologies, we still haven’t heard the side of the story you keep telling us all about. What is it? CG: Well, you remember when we met Barry, back in ’09, and it was love at first sight, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. BB: I remember your photo spread in People. CG: Yeah, it was amazing. And we both thought it was gonna be forever too, we really did. But there were always some things she just couldn’t handle. BB: Like what? What couldn’t she handle? CG: I just got to get it on after a show Barry, I got to. That’s part of my image, my profile, and it just, you know, helps me wind down after I give my 110% out there. And I thought that, you know, as someone with an image to maintain too, she’d understand it wasn’t personal. Hos are never personal Barry, they’re strictly business. BB: And you’re saying she couldn’t accept that? CG: Nah man, and I was really hurt by that. I felt like she….mis-representationed herself to me, I felt betrayed. BB: That’s understandable, the pop star’s life is demanding. CG: See, you get it Barry. So, anyway, one day she said she was leaving me, said she wasn’t


gonna stand for this anymore. And I was like, “Stand for what? Me working hard, trying to build a career, a life for us?” But she didn’t get it, said she was still leaving, and was gonna tell all the tabloids a bunch of….lies….about me. And....darn it, Barry, I worked way too hard for that. And that’s it really, simple as that. BB: Well…I think that certainly does cast these events in a new light, but I suppose whether it helps your position or not is best left to a court of law. Where does your case stand right now Cheezy? CG: Well, my lawyers – and I have the best lawyers in the world right now Barry – are working overtime to make sure my case gets, you know, gets a fair trial. You probably know Barry that there’s a video out right now that probably wouldn’t help my case, so that’s kinda, sensitive to deal with right now. Some people say it shows me actually in the room with Karissaä, doing some things that aren’t really....acceptable for most people, including me. Personally, I hate both hard boiled eggs and Ex-Lax.” BB: Yes, I’ve seen that video, very disturbing. CG: But the guy in the video, he’s not even wearing my signature Cheezy Greeny Big D*** Pimp cowboy hat, so there’s a lot of good evidence that the guy in the video isn’t actually me. BB: Isn’t it though? CG: Well yeah, but in the courts it’s all about reasonable doubt Barry, reasonable f ’n doubt. BB: And when does that case go to trial? CG: My lawyers are tellin’ me about five years or so, they got some other stuff that can hold the process up, some paperwork they’re filing or some s***. BB: Well, what can your fans expect from you in the meantime Cheezy?

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CG: Like I said Barry, the “Pedestal Skanks” video will be droppin’ soon, I’ll be working on a new album, and I also got a reality show that’ll be dropping on the Country Music channel soon. BB: We’ll all look forward to that. Once again, I’ve been talking with homicidal pop star and possible pervert Cheezy Greening, and you’re watching Barry Bang Tonight. Cheezy, thank you, and nice tie again, goes well with those famous blue eyes. CG: Thanks Barry.

BB: Stay tuned for the second half of our show, I’ll be speaking with the latest starlet to blow up the web; reality star turned illegal 14-year-old pornography actress Milan Coochie. That’s up next on Barry Bang Tonight. *End Transcript*


EAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW Adam Moorad

AUGUST 2010

Adam Moorad. A Brooklyn writer, Adam published with us in June. His story “Margot in Reverse” proved to be just the sort of bizarre, eclectic voice we search for in fiction and he has proven consistent with his latest contribution, “The 145th Battle of Aiken, South Carolina.” Adam has a natural ability to take seemingly mundane details and shape them into a subtle, objective statement about who and what we are as a culture and as an animal. His writing is proof positive of the old adage, “less is more.” We don’t need to hear Adam’s opinion to know he has one, and, perhaps, to even understand what it is. Writers are portrait painters, not preachers. Adam seems to know this as well as any. Look out for more work from Adam, as well as the rest of the gang, in the not too distant future.

Charlie Puckett: Bloody Finger on a Keyboard. Poet. Carny. This is his story:

I worked alone while a black man cleaned the office floor. I told him he should work for the circus. He told me this was his circus. I asked how that was possible and he said he could not afford the circus. I told him that when I was a kid I dreamed of sneaking away to work in the office during the hours of the night so I could feel time in my heart like cold plums between my toes and know wine like a poet and women like a titan... So I write. It’s the only thing that allows me to feel like myself, it is my fish-eye to the sublime, something Joyce and Baldwin knew in their hearts and their hands and the worlds they crafted were bottomless. I’m twenty-two, currently graduating from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. I am an author with several others of theworldlooksbetterinpink.blogspot. com, feel free to read and join. Editor’s note:

Charlie Puckett is our first contributor to cross media. He contributed poetry in June and has benefited the quarterly this time around with a short story, “Incompatible Titan.”

CHARLIE PUCKETT

For twenty-one years I was a carny and only the circus knew it. For those twenty-one years I did not know sleep because I snuck away at night to a cubicle in an office in a metal-glass rectangle in the clouds of the night sky.


Rachel Walker Rachel Walker

Thomas O’Connell Thomas O’Connell

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Thomas O’Connell: Librarian. Space-Age Folk Art Dabbler. Poet. Family Man. Virginian.

Thomas O’Connell is a librarian living in the mountains of southwestern

Rachel Walker. Writer. Poet. Panpipe artist extraordinaire. Although a relatively rare example of a third generation San Diegan, she does not tan well. Rachel received her BA in Literature in 2005 and is excited to begin her MA in Writing and Literature in July 2010. She has made peace with the fact she is terrible at math. Between fevered bouts of writing, Rachel can be found working as a world music festival coordinator, jazz roadie, glorified secretary, manuscript editor, and ghostwriter. Her work is forthcoming in the July 2010 issue of Right Hand Pointing, and the short story collection, The Coffee Shop Chronicles. She has outrun two firestorms. Rachel contributed her poem “Eastbound 8” to the June Issue and the currently quarterly features “To Answer Your Question.”

Virginia, although his heart shall always remain in his native New England.

His influences have been P. D. Eastman, S. E. Hinton, and R. S. Thomas.

Poetry and fiction has appeared in Caketrain, Sleepingfish, The Broken Plate, Slab, and the Blue Earth Review, as well as other print and online journals. Given time to spend, he spends it with his wife and daughters. Given time to waste, he creates space-age folk art.

This past June, our second issue, Thomas’ story “Balloon” was published and he has returned to offer us “Dreams I Hope Don’t Come True, Number 73.”


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DILLON MULLENIX

There is an anarchist living in a fortified compound in the high desert where the wind blows, carrying the strange smells of a haggard people hundreds of miles across rotten stewing images of corpses left like molted skin; and trees to timid to grow,wave scantly in that acrid atmosphere, calling out nameless hopes to the sick man who lives there, like a hermit, writing epitaphs for the lost. His name is Dillon Mullenix. He was born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1985, in Echo Park, which is a small ghetto of a place, violent, and at night the calls of the maimed could be heard, like the screech of a big cat. This was no place to live, and in 2003 Dillon moved to San Diego to attend college at SDSU. Shortly after graduating, he published his first short story in Common Ties. Shortly after this he moved to Warner Springs, CA, which is a small high desert town north of San Diego on the border of Riverside County. Its a place like the wild west and has served in fueling his growing passion for the arts, especially literature. “There aren’t many places in the world where a man can jump of a roof with a loaded gun to kill a coyote running at full speed in the dark without a flashlight,” he said once, “It’s one of those imaginary realms, almost like a fairy tale, but there is a gloom here, an omnipresent darkness that encapsulates the world. It isn’t much, but its a freedom I never knew before.” Since then he has been published in two anthologies, Relationships and Other Stuff and Vwa: Poems for Haiti, as well as some other other magazines and blogs like Forth Magazine, Boho Coco, Glass Cases, and Vivid.

Thomas Sullivan Thomas Sullivan lives in Seattle and became long-term unemployed well before it was widely popular. His writing has appeared in Word Riot and 3AM Magazine, among others. He is the author of Life In The Slow Lane, a comic memoir about teaching drivers education. For info on this title, and to view more of Thomas’ writing, please visit his author website at http://thomassullivanhumor.com. Those companies you see on the evening news, the ones where students and faculty show up one day to find a hand-written note on the door, just above the padlocks? Thomas has been there and done that and lived to tell the tale one last time in Life In The Slow Lane. Life In The Slow Lane is also currently in production as an audiobook and is due in early 2011.


A couple of months ago after a long journey to forbidden places abroad, I visited an acquaintance for a week. They gave me full reign to do as I pleased, so I did; I spent the days dancing on the porch to downloaded European house music, taking pictures of random rainbows and following butterflies with my eyes. You know, imbibing poet food.

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Said acquaintance came home one day to find me snacking on cheese and crackers, drinking moderately priced Cabernet, while watching Japanese cartoons. This prompted them into a line of thinking that destroyed their preconceived notions of me as a serious scholar and sometime essayist. Then they blurted it out. They called me immature. I took it philosophically. For you see, immaturity isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. The word means “something that isn’t completely developed. I’ll take continuing growth over rigor mortis any day. Especially when it comes to creating written works.

KT MITCHELL

Twenty years is a long time to write. Sometimes I hear creakiness squeaking in my mind. That sound heralds the bone rattling of preconceived notions, stereotyped ideas about what characteristics make up a scholar, a writer, an adventurer, an artists, an African, a woman, a New Orleanian and a barefoot dancing yogi.

Right now I like to sink into the depths of stereotypes and the tired dichotomies they are predicated on like good/evil, harlot/mother, working stiff/artist. When I write I like to grab those two magnetic opposites in each hand, stick my foot in the middle of the pole to bend it, fuse the ends together then let the positive and negative energies spin the circle I’ve created. Then I sit back to Fritz Kessler is an open book in Portland, OR. Were one to ask him about artistic-y stuff, he’d probably bring up the following quote from Freeman Dyson:

“Great scientists come in two varieties, which Isaiah Berlin, quoting the seventh-century-BC poet Archilochus, called foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes know many tricks, hedgehogs only one. Foxes are interested in everything, and move easily from one problem to another. Hedgehogs are interested only in a few problems which they consider fundamental, and stick with the same problems for years or decades. Most of the great discoveries are made by hedgehogs, most of the little discoveries by foxes. Science needs both hedgehogs and foxes for its healthy growth, hedgehogs to dig deep into the nature of things, foxes to explore the complicated details of our marvelous universe.” Applying this sentiment to writing and art, Fritz is aiming for a life as a proud fox. He contributed his story “The Upseller” to the June issue of the Review. Reach him at fritz11637@hotmail.com.

FritzKessler


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The Verbose

(The scene: Fancy restaurant, in the fancy part of town, things ooze with (?) fanciness. Dionisio and Edward sit drinking. Dionisio bites into a piece of bread (thick with butter). “This bread. Oooh. What rapture. What I will do with this bread… This bread and I are going to run away together. I mean right now. Right now we will stand up and walk away from all family and friends and schedules and escalators and lawn maintenance equipment and expectations and responsibilities and leave town. “Cell phones will be thrown out the window as we drive, along with passports and identifications, promises, bridges will be burned upon passing. “We will quit our jobs by simply not returning and we will leave our residences to become ghost towns, ghost houses. Our homes will eventually be walked through, our possessions gazed upon, by men and women in soap smelling clothes with rigid corners on their clipboards, they will think us dead, and to them, we will be… “We will drive in a fast black car with heavily tinted windows and no license plates, our headlights blazing tunnels before us in the rain, but we will be safe, we will have each other, we will huddle behind the wheel damning convention and rules, scoffing at structure and readily accepted versions of normality, smoking huge blunts and joyously toasting while drinking wantonly from large sloshing wine goblets as we drive...

Daniel Eli “We will take thin windy leaf-strewn back roads, gazing upon vistas almost indigenous in their grandeur, dodging the cougars, raccoons, and bobcats that pop out like phantasms from the illuminated edge and just as quickly disappear back into the darkness, their darkness,… “The back seat will be laden with overflowing cornucopias of picnic baskets and flowers, olfactory and culinary delights, hibiscus, frangipani, jasmine, creamy and pungent cheeses and fine voluptuous breads, psycilocybe honeys and esoteric chutneys, salted meats and many shades of murky chocolate, exotic star shaped fruits and strange vegetables pickled with yage and ayahuasca…


Gourmands through the clouds…

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“We will know many nights and long cornyellow afternoons of dirty curious lovemaking in quaint, nameless, musty, main street, middle American hotel rooms that have high hay barn ceilings and smell like grandmas house, biscuits, and a slower way of living… “We will reach the desert and zoom through what seems a permanent sunset, we will cross the border without passports and then blast through the frontera, heading south to where things turn green again…

Dronsfield “We will drive fast and wear large unnecessary sunglasses, we will frighten gas station attendants, giggling like young lovers and enjoying spilling the blood red drink on the black leather seats, letting the rain paint momentary window masterpieces in the flash of other cars lights as they pass, roaring with leonine laughter, turning up the music, turning up the heat, rolling down the windows, sticking our heads out, driving with our eyes closed, singing, screaming, kissing, hot dangerous sex acts exchanged at breakneck speed on hairpin curves, driving slow and alone on vast empty country roads with music booming the raindrops off the windows beneath a cathedral of old world hardwoods, slowing beneath an old train bridge as the moon gapes

“Leaving the spent car behind at the first river and taking with us only the clothes on our backs, symbolically burning our shoes and wading into the undergrowth at the side of the road that precedes the jungle… “We will forget our native tongues, communicating, cephalopod-like, with changes in skin color and body heat… “We will own nothing but machetes and scraps of timber from the beach, I will fish and hunt while this, this glorious bread, pounds tortillas and shucks oysters on the sand in front of our crooked beachfront treehouse…” “You should try the wine.”

At the wine Dionisio quaffs. The only reply is a decidedly noncommittal snort. “You don’t like it? How strange the way human tastes vary... How different one monkeys experience is from the one in the next tree, the one


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in the next cage… Because for me, this wine is to die for. No. This wine, this wine is to kill for. This is the kind of wine that you meet blearyeyed late at night under questionable circumstances. It is a night where you probably are in a strange rainy dark part of town, a night where you needed to go someplace where no one is going to know your name, you know how you need that sometimes, to look at the lights reflections in the rains puddles, to run away from the reality you have created. “In this case, the bar you are in is lit solely with blood red neon, the seats have reminisces of flowers on them from years before, you simply sit and somehow she comes to you, this wine, she comes and sits on your lap unprovoked as you sit alone in the corner drinking iceless bourbon and wishing for this time not to be, then blam! “There she is, on your lap and smiling, whispering cigarette breath in your ear, asking your name, and this type of wine is the type of wine that when she asks, you give a fake name in response, you don’t know why, but for some reason, you don’t want her knowing the truth, your truth. “Somehow, when speaking to her, the lies come easy, you paint a picture that is more grand than the reality, you tell her your dream as if it is your waking life, and even if she doesn’t really, she convincingly acts like she believes. Her wide eyes believe it all and make you feel good about yourself for doing these things that you have not done, for being this person that you are not. She sits on your lap and believes your lies, and you, you swell with power and cheap drink, while the eyes of all the cutthroats in the bar scan you, search you, they look at you and you can tell they don’t believe, don’t approve, they are ready to smash you and your lies, but still this wine sits on your lap and makes you a man while the rain outside causes the manholes to steam just so in the red red light from the bar.

“She asks you something then, something simple, at first it sounds like the most reasonable of small favors, the kind of favor you would do for any stranger. “It doesn’t seem strange, this pelvis pressed against yours, asking you to do things. There is leather and smoke. The angry eyes press closer. “She just wants you to come with her, she doesn’t think anything will really go bad, but just the same, it would be nice to have someone there, a big strong man perhaps? You surely fit that description. “She smokes with abandon and offers you powdered drugs that you have long since ceased to involve yourself with, but tonight it somehow seems reasonable, with her, it somehow seems right. “This is the kind of wine that you do blow in the bathroom with and shag hurriedly while the owner of the establishment pounds on the door and shouts blandishments and threats. This is the kind of wine that drives drunk with the lights off running red lights going the wrong way down one-way streets. This is the kind of wine that always needs some help, always needs to borrow a little money and sleep on your couch. “Compelling she is though, you always want to believe those well told tales of woe that she gives you, so this night you listen, this night you leave with her and walk into the rain with chins upraised and hands unfettered by the weak decadence of umbrellas. You walk into the wind and The Wine is happy, The Wine is giddy that you are with her, she clutches your arm as you walk, excitedly thanking you, for what exactly, remains momentarily undefined. When you ask where you are going and what you are doing, she is oblique, it is always: ‘Just up here, couple of blocks, oh I just need to talk to this guy, we were business partners, what


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“The fuck is this?” He grumbles in greeting, looking at you. The Wine moves towards him tittering more platitudes, trying to explain…

‘You don’t have to come, I can do this on my own, I can take care of myself, it’s not like I need some man to protect me, Eddie, sometimes you are such a cavemen, I am capable, I am powerful, hear me roar, sometimes you know though, it’s nice to have a friend, some one to share an experience with. I like having you around. Don’t go. Come with me. It will be fine. What, are you scared?’

‘Tito! So good to see you, yeah sorry it has been so long, been busy, got a job, was trying to go straight, man you look good, you look tall, look like you been eating healthier too, a robust glow to your cheeks, well since I lost my job things have been a little tough around my way so I was wondering if I could talk to you about a little something, you know maybe, we could talk about a new arrangement, you see the thing is I got a jay walking ticket, unbelievable right? So-‘

“She stops under a streetlight, rummaging in her purse. She presses a small pistol into your palm. It seems so natural.” ‘You know how to use one of these right? Of course you do, a man like you.... We probably won’t need it…’ “When you get there it is up two flights of unlit stairs. At the top there is a large metal door that has a face-sized rectangular slot in it. The type of door you see in films about drug dealers in the extremes of America’s inner cities. The door in the door is at eye level and sh-clungs open to reveal angry African eyes. The wine titters platitudes, asking to talk to Tito. The eyes look at you, and they scoff, the eyes themselves scoff at you, and the door opens. Upon entering you feel an icy shock of fear at your spine, and she ceases to look you in the eye. The way the light hits in here, you can see that she is older than you thought and her face has a hardness, a hardness that she wields effectively while dealing with these dangerous men. Many of the room’s occupants are shirtless and scarred, most sport tattoos that display unimpressive workmanship. Tito is a short black/Latino man with his shirtsleeves rolled up to expose sizable forearms. He looks at you with unbridled disgust and malice.

“She doesn’t have the money… Tito looks at you and says, ‘This bitch has always got a story.’

“And he backhands her savagely across the face. You go to catch her as she falls and in the same motion pull the pistol from your pocket. It seems to raise itself in your hand and you simply squeeze. Once. Twice.

You see the bullets enter Tito’s torso. You swing the gun to the doorman’s face and he opens the door. As The Wine’s heels clatter on the pavement you can still smell the cordite from the bullets flash. Hailing a cab, you flee, tires whisper on wet nighttime pavement. You go back to her place, and you get away with murder.” DIONISIO sniffs his wine. “I think it’s gone bad.”


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Lost aninexcerpt Americana from American Bastards

Everybody here says I say fuck too much for just being thirteen. I say when you live with a bunch of lowdowns, ham hocks, smack bingers, booze hounds, chasers, trippers, failures and whores it’s no wonder. We all live in this big old hotel, The California, right on the dusty side of Highway Zero. There’s this guy that hangs out in the lobby, Leroy Brown, a real bruiser, he sits there all day guarding the door. His job is to stand there and look mean all day like a fucking Nazi or something and tell everyone they ain’t allowed to leave. It pains me to try and conjure exactly how long I’ve been here. Reckon it’s been more than a few days though. That’s a safe wager. The room they stuck me in is way in back on the third floor. There’s this long, narrow hallway like a snake’s grave if you pulled him straight out like a woody. And there’s doors on all sides. At the end of

Trevor Richards

that hall is me. There’s no room numbers. You just gotta know where to go. That room, when you go in it’s long and skinny too, but facing the other way like a big letter T or something. I don’t know, but that’s where I live and have been for some time now. Inside I just have a rusty cot, a boarded up fireplace with the chimney bricked off and just stacks and stacks of old newspapers that I just use for mostly furniture and all.


As for the hotel itself, it looks like that shabby old fucker from that Hitchcock flick Psycho. What’s it called? Barts? Boats? I can’t remember the name of that ugly old building. Bats, that’s it, the Bats Motel. Suitable moniker too, that old boy was batty as a mailman on a deserted island. Useless to himself, God and everybody. At any rate, that’s where I live, walls are oozing sweat from the desert heat outside. Dry rot is my wallpaper and mildew stains the ceiling. Everything looks green or gray or a vomit binge mix of both. Down the hall is the Lone Ranger polishing his pistol and talking to his horse, Silver, stuffed and mounted beside his television set. Across the hall from him is Blind Willie McTell playing his twelve-stringer and talking to the wall mice. There’s Dizzy Miss Lizzy strolling and strutting up and down her room, but never going outside, she’s a total shut-in ever since she learned of her curse. Wherever she walks and stretches those pretty legs men fall in love, without fail and without hope. So Dizzy Miss Lizzy never opens her door. And down from there every door in the hallway belongs to Miss Molly, the Lady Trader, in her fine mink and stolen pearls. She lives on a shared bill with her sweet silk daughters that she trades out like Chinese cart runners. There’s Layla, Maggie Mae, Roxanne, Jolene, Sweet Adeline, Rosalita, and the dark and strange Ophelia. The rest of the place is just as jammed packed and I never can seem to find every room, it seems like new people are always showing up and no one’s ever leaving. There’s too many people here to keep track of really. Down on the second floor I’ve seen a lot of different faces. I’ve seen Billy the Kid target practicing on door knobs with his six guns, the Sultans of Swing took over the whole top floor for their dance parties and drug frenzies, I’ve even bumped into Sam Spade drinking in the lobby and there are tons more.

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To put a button on the whole rant, this place is pretty weird and downright full. Every room is different, every floor too. It’s like days in a month and seasons in a year. Everything has its own flavor. One floor might have a Victorian bent with fine moldings and fancy goddamn rugs or something. The next looks like the decadent toilet brush memory of what used to be a swanky New York jazz club. It’s all here though. Every main era. Georgian, Gothic, Minimalist, Mughal, Art Deco…you learn a lot just walking these halls. There’s even a whole wing that looks like King Tut’s Tomb or some shit. Right now I’m wandering halls and listening at doorways for something to keep me entertained. It must be almost dawn and I still can’t sleep. In the lobby there’s this sort of Jazz Age ritzy club feel, like a hundred years ago a bunch of fat cats in suits should have smoked cigars on plush leather sofas in there. Marble pillars, the grand red carpeted staircase leading up to the other floors and a big stone archway with oak double doors paint the scene. In one corner there’s this mahogany desk where people get their keys and their rooms and sign a big book. Most of the time there’s this chick there named Becky and she’s answering phones and looking busy. It’s actually supposed to be this old fat guy whose name I forget, but he’s never around. Anyway, I got this cigarette off old Sam in the lobby, looking sad under the shadow brim of his fedora. On my way up the gang plank stairwell I said hello to Marilyn Monroe as she made eyes across the landing at Charlie Chaplin in his tramp pants. Everyone is silent tonight, it feels like a wake. Like there’s some kind of electric threat in the air that’s eulogizing our memories long before they’re gone. I don’t know. I tend to get sort of whimsical and melodramatic at night. Forget about me. I make my way up to the third floor where a door stands open to greet me. You can never be sure who will be in this room waiting for you.


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They never let this one out to guests, it belongs to Miss Molly and her daughters, only full when in use or just after. Whatever tickles your pickle, I always say. But I can tell by the smell of cigarettes that something just finished up and is pooling around the edges. Like I said, it can sometimes be a surprise, but tonight it’s an old friend. It’s Jim sitting with a half empty bottle of Jack in his right hand, balancing on his knee, and a smoldering cigarette in his left. He’s half naked, shirtless and sweaty down to a pair of jeans. As always, he looks pale, a ghostly, bloated gray with dirty hair. Jim barely looks up at me when I walk in with a grin. “Tom,” he groans, “what the hell are you doing here? You know how I am after a turn with Ophelia. She’s a killer, man, but like so many bad habits, I keep showing up for more.” “It’s good seeing you too, Jim. It’s been what? Three weeks?” “Two weeks and four days,” he replies, “I kept track of how long I could deprive myself. Which reminds me, I need to get going soon, I have to start the count all over again.” “Where do you go all the time, Jim? It ain’t like you can get out of here or something.” “I go to work. My associates and I convene in the conference room next to the lobby.” I ask, “The Lucille Ballroom?” “No, dummy, that’s the Ballroom,” Jim snaps, “I said the conference room.” “Oh, right, right…so you in the Greek Room or the Hans Christian Anderson Room?” “Those are presentation rooms, I said I was…” Jim sighs, “Forget it. Why, after all this time, are you just now asking me this?”

“Reckon I just never thought of it before, I don’t know. What do you do?” “Sorry, kid, I can’t really talk about it. Suffice to say, we find stray threads and we tug at them all day and see what unravels.” I sit down across from him, right on the plank wood floor and look around the room in Jim’s weird silence. I rarely see Ophelia’s digs. I’m not wild about them. There’s a four-poster bed, black satin curtains, dust and trinkets everywhere like the whole place was decorated by Miss Havisham’s or some goddamn thing. Jim grunts, “Tom, old man, have a snort you’re making me nervous.”


He hands me the bottle and I toss back as much as I can handle. When I hand it back his eyes twinkle, but his face remains unchanged. “You know, for a kid you really can handle your booze. I always liked that about you. Jesus, Lord, listen to me, I get a few in me after a few in her and I start sounding downright sentimental. How is it that you always do that to me, huh, kid? You always get me talking like I have secrets to share.” “I don’t know,” I reply awkwardly, “I mean, everybody’s got secrets, maybe you know I can keep ‘em, or maybe you just fuckin’ wanna get it off yer chest and I’m the one’s around all the time. You know I don’t sleep much.” “There is something to be said for late nights, you got me there. Everything goes quiet as a church and we all feel the need to confess. Without sleep, without dreams, it’s like we all need to feel saved somehow by the time morning rolls around.” I snatch the bottle of Jack without a word, throw back, return it to his limp hand and light one of Jim’s cigarettes. The whole time his eyes are just blank, canceled. Bored. Pulling at my cigarette I ask, “Besides, Jim, what are you so afraid of ? I mean, we’re old pals, right? What’s

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wrong with old pals gettin’ a lil’ mushy every now and then? It ain’t like I’m gonna jump yer bones if you get too soft on me.” Jim’s face hides behind long, greasy hair and a dark demeanor. Something eats at him and he replies, “Everybody is afraid. They’re afraid of themselves, afraid of getting hurt, afraid of losing love, afraid of finding it -- just afraid. People talk about how great love is, but it’s all bullshit. Love is a pain. It makes me weak. Love is the worst habit I’ve ever hooked into.” “What’s love got to do with Ophelia?” Jim sighs, ready to say something, then just shrugs, “Not much, I guess. I just feel like I’m missing something. Or someone maybe. I don’t know. I just know that a girl like Ophelia makes me think about how everyone’s afraid to feel bad. And how can you love if you’re afraid to feel something? How can you if you’re only willing to feel one spectrum of emotion? Pain is a part of the deal, man. It’s what shows us reality. Without pain we don’t have reality. It’s like a radio transmitting to the parts of ourselves we don’t know how to talk to. You know?” “Not really, but go on,” I reply stupidly, as usual. “I guess I’m just saying that if you hide from any part of yourself, even the parts that don’t feel so good, then you’re limiting your identity. You’re slamming doors closed in your mind. I guess that’s why I just keep coming back to this shitty room. Hoping, somehow to save her or, perhaps selfishly, save myself along the way.” “Save Ophelia? Whoa, listen, Jim, that broad’s a black rose. Wilting or not, you can water her all day and she’ll still be dark and covered in thorns. Don’t fool yourself.” “Was that your attempt at poetry, Tom?” “I reckon so, old timer, I just gotta keep up with your electricity.”


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Jim’s face twists wild and he almost spews, “My electricity? You keep saying shit like that and I’ll run you outta here on a rail, kid. I’m not electric, I’m a clown trapped in a poet’s body. Dammit, I gotta get outta here before we start sucking each other off or something. This is getting weird. I’ll see you later, little man, keep blowing your sarcasm around. It’s the only thing keeping this place honest.” Jim walks out. No shoes, no shirt and no concern. Lucky for me Jim left the bottle when he beat it for the halls and I sit quietly, enjoying slow burning whiskey in the peace of Ophelia’s empty sex frayed love loft. I sit silently, listening to the sounds of the Hotel California, the music of surrounding rooms, stomping feet, the day waking up its guests, The California breathing itself out…sighing a dream of freedom. I grab the bottle by the neck, and head out the door. Like Jim, I hit the red carpet of the outer hall with no shoes and feel each fiber squish between my toes like moss. Following

the carpet to the stairs I head down to the second floor and immediately step in a lukewarm puddle of vomit. “Fuckin’ Christ,” I blurt out abruptly, and a face rises up out of a nearby houseplant, vomit drool all over his chin. It’s Poe, letting his guts loose in the base of a ceramic pot. “My apologies, Thomas,” he says, “but that is no need to unleash your venom on me.” “Venom? What the hell are you talking about? I


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just stepped in your fucking puke!” Edgar Allen Poe, losing another load in the pot, replies, “Just that, my friend, there is no need for the obscenities, especially for a gentleman your age.” “I don’t fucking use obscenities,” I shrug, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Has it been another long night?” he asks. “Yeah, you know, no sleep, musing with Jim…still love struck.” “Ah, yes,” Poe replies with a slight smile under his well-groomed, if not slightly stomach soiled moustache, “young love and all its desperate measures. Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.” “Yeah, yeah, Ed, I’ve heard all that before, you could use some new material, man.” “I only meant,” Poe adds, “that life is harder on those who feel deeply, but for those like us it also promises greater reward…if we can dare to keep dreaming.” “You sound like you’re half asleep right now, if not still half-baked.” “Ah, but all we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” I snort a laugh and turn to leave, “I gotta go, I’m gonna hit the bricks before you start quoting Row, Row, Row Your Boat at me like it’s a proverb.” “But, ah, maybe life is but a dream… alas, dear friend,” Poe muses, “go merrily despite your ill fate and forbidden love.” “Bite me, Poe. You’re too weird to talk to


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when you’re drunk.” I hang a quick left down the hall and hear him hollering something fierce, “But, my boy, I am always drunk! My word, it is true, I am always drunk…what do you know?” I move to the East Asia wing and sit with this bottle of Jack in front of these big bay windows overlooking the desert sunrise. There’s gotta be a way. If anyone can do it, I can do it. How can I break out of the Hotel California? In the yellow overture of a fresh sunrise I see ‘em, town folk and the edges of cities and villages I have never known. And this morning, knowing the way a love could happen out there on some new prairie, I feel it more than ever. I am a prisoner at my window, watching new dawns and tallying days till I can break these bars. A train whistles in the distance. Alone, I start to thinking. I figure if it wasn’t for the sideshow court appeal of this place I might have lost my mind a long time ago. There’s not really a lot to do. I mean, there’s booze, smoking and sex. That’s about it. Except for one thing. Talking. You can talk for hours to all the weirdos around here. It’s sort of my hobby. I figure I ought to do something like that and it’s about time I head up and dig the fourth floor. I toss on a pair of jeans, an old V-neck tee and my bowler cap, but don’t bother with shoes. Hitting the stairs I head right for the tip of the hotel up close to the attic. There’s doors all painted different colors. Davy Crockett lives here and Daniel Boone. They like to stage faux wars in the halls and see who can fake kill the other one the fastest. As I hit the fourth floor landing I hear the sounds of cheers and war cries and swearing. There’s this explosion of gun powder and splintering wood. Behind a battlement of book shelves, shower curtains and family portraits sits

Davy Crockett with a musket shooting blanks. He screams, “Well, good golly damn, Danny Boy, you slippin’ or what?” Backed into the commode and firing from a full bathtub full of some kind of fucking pink foam rabies pond or something sits Boone himself, floating in fronds of his own bead frill overcoat. Boone shouts, “Only on the mud from your grave, Davy Boy!” “Pardon me, boys,” I say, stepping through their battlefield and saluting with a tip of the ol’ bowl cap, “Don’t mind me, just passing through.” Moving on down the hall I see we got Pocahontas, John Paul Jones, the drunken Indian Ira Hayes, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and Ben Franklin. This is one of the best floors here. I pop into the room behind the blue door, Ziggy’s room with its light up umbrellas and polyphonic synth phones, neon lights and glow in the dark graffiti -- no telling who or what you’ll find when you drop by here. Old Ziggy, fiery bouffant mullet and pale skin, is chatting away with Ben Franklin over tea. Cybernetic crystalline spiders dance on the walls and ceiling and make geometric art designs out of glass webbing. Ben Franklin sits sprawled in a wooden rocking chair appearing to be quite bored. Ziggy starts to say hello, but takes, instead, to screaming obedience training commands at his spiders. Ben Franklin stands quietly and says, “Follow me, my boy. This could go on for hours.” He leads me out into the hall, past the multi-colored doors lined up like henhouse chickens and through the barrage of smoke and splintered wood and water balloons as Davy and Boone fight out their never-ending war. Behind Davy Crockett’s barricade there’s this door that I ain’t never seen opened, but old Ben opens it right up and says, “This goes to the attic, you can go ahead in, lad.”


I follow his gesture up the stairs and hit the typical gold-grey dust lamplight of every old attic you’ve ever seen. Sheets cover oblong shapes and stacks of boxes, books, phonograph records, pinwheels, chests, drawers and show posters form maze walls in intersecting rows around the landing. “This way,” Ben says, guiding me through the maze like an old pro. At the center of the maze we hit this ladder and Ben just points up. I climb up to a splintery old fucking trapdoor or whatever and give it a hard push. Wind and dust immediately push the door back on me and Ben Franklin smiles behind his bifocals. “You’ll have to try harder than that,” he says, “that’s roof access.” I give it one more good hard push and practically fall up onto the roof when the door finally gives. The roof of The California is just a plateau of old wood and shingles, but all around us there’s this mean sandstorm blowing. I’ve never noticed it before, not even when I looked out the window. Franklin says, “It is my hypothesis that it only blows when residents of the hotel try to check out early. The storm rages to push you back in whenever you so much as peak your head out a window. However, this is somewhat of a tree falling in the woods scenario. You know, tree falls in the woods. If no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Since I am always present at the time of my exit I can never be absolutely certain if the storm is not merely blowing all the time.” “I’ve never seen it this dusty before,” I reply, “On an average day I can look out the window and see clear to Subterranea.” “Precisely my point, dear boy,” Ben replies,

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“Which leaves us with a rather alarming cosmic phenomena, either this place is enchanted, cursed, or simply has a mind of its own.” “What can we do about it?” “Very little I am afraid, but I have been attempting to work up enough courage to brave the storm.” Strapped like a raging bull to the abandoned chimney there’s this twelve foot canopy of multicolored cloth intersected by rods of wood and steel. I ask him what the fuck it is and he smiles with a reed in the wind sort of hesitancy. “Well, that’s a personal project of mine, my boy,” he begins, “Call it an affinity for kites, but I figure if a small kite could carry my house key into a thunderstorm then maybe one this size might carry me on the winds that stir up this sand. And maybe, just maybe…” “You’ll bust outta here.” “Precisely.” “It could work,” I say with a sand-gritted smile and wincing eyes, “but then, you do carry quite the fat tire around your midriff there, old man.” I laugh, poking at him with the heel of my boot and he seems downcast at the thought. “Hence my lack of courage, Tom, I fear I might just plummet like Icarus into that sea of brewing sand. And then where would I be?” “Just drop a few pounds and hit the skies,” I grunt, “At least it’d be something new.” Turning his back on me to ponder his man kite, Ben sighs something awful and I take that brief conversational hiatus as a good breaking point. Can’t say why. It just sort of came over me. You just get in the mood for this kind of thing and stuff falls into place. Still, even as it’s


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happening I feel rotten for the old fuck. I whip out my pen knife and start cutting away at all the cords that kept the damn thing attached to the chimney. The wind rips at its cloth like a sailboat in a squall. I hear Ben’s voice hollerin’ at me, shouting paranoid and he knows what I’m up to. I find the shoulder harnesses and get it figured out pretty quick. Fastened in just in time to see old Ben stick his bald head under the bright-colored cloth, letting the roaring sands in with him, and shouting for me to stop. I cut the last cord and the kite pulls away from the chimney like a baby leaving its momma. My feet barely touch the roof as I run full stride for the edge and take one last shrieking leap of faith. Behind me I hear Ben screaming his own hallelujah, says, “Son of a bitch, it flies!” I try tucking my feet in like a bird and do my best to steer in this weird storm, but there’s not much you can do flying a sand hurricane but go with it and hope for the best. Wind currents carry me over Pentecost Park and downtown. The sand starts to thin out and I’m still coasting along a steady glide. Down beneath me I can spy all the weirdness of Subterranea on my way out over Highway Zero. The wind carries me along over the intersection of Thunder Road and Dirty Boulevard. And there’s Pleasure Street. Down there I can see sagging brick bordellos and the marble steps of the Library of Lies. I see the bricklayers assembling walls for war and immediately disassembling them just to start all over again. There’s the gypsy punk circus juggling flaming arrows and Molotov cocktails in a semi-circle around the Snake-Spined Contortionist. Pleasure Street is full of the moans of balcony window sex and the laughter of fucking Pinocchio mules cranking up their mutation with meth, smack, speed, coke, Zippos, chocolate strawberries, Purple Cush, Peter Pan and fairy dust. A naked Arabian climbs a rope tied to the air and spits antique

buttons at the Pinstripe Suited Tightrope Walker suspended midline between the movie theater and an abandoned apartment complex. There’s a hill at the center of Pentecost Park. Footpaths scatter around and meet in the middle like rickety spokes on a wagon wheel. Motormouth Mitch, the Groundskeeper, tells stories while planting dead flowers along walkways and wastes time watering gravel. At odd intervals throughout the week you’ll hear tell of Fountain Pen Drake, the Flower Thief, who’d come by night and snatch away the flower tops. He thinks himself an artful cat burglar, but it’s really just that he’s part of everyone’s rhythms and nobody really cares about Motormouth Mitch or his dried up landscaping. And there at the top of the hill is the Irony-GoRound, the People Carousel. Human figures made out of cracked porcelain and brass bend over on all fours, and they have twisted copper poles right through the middle of ‘em. Clydesdales and Shetlands and Mustang studs come from all around to sit side-saddle on the backs of weak air-brushed statues of men in fine suits groaning into cellular phones, or cowboys in tassel coats with shiny revolvers, or riot police grimacing angrily behind stony sun shades to the sounds of carousel waltzes, the wheel spinning, and the fact that the music never ends, but the ride never takes you anywhere. Then there’s the audience, gathered around, taking all the wobbly, scampering footpaths to watch the Irony-GoRound, to think about role reversals, country wisdom, and share brutish epiphanies. I see it all from up here. I see it as the glide carries me on out of town to the booze hound industrial dump side of Subterranea, long past the wrong side of the tracks and into the truck stop centrifuge of the desert. My feet drag through some trash cans before I finally come crashing and a-tumbling to a brutal stop. A crowd’s gathered, but not for me. Nobody notices me takin’ my tumble.


An impromptu stage is set up on the back of a flatbed farm truck while jugglers and ticket barkers beckon the crowd toward the red, yellow and green tent. On the truck stage, a man dressed in cowboy mortician digs waves an American flag. Every time he shakes it the thing turns into some other flag from some other country, England, Germany, Ireland, Russia, Japan, Canada... whatever. It just keeps changing. Then the flag turns solid white and he waves it in the air over the back of the truck, down close to the sand. A pine box coffin launches right up out of the earth, taking the white flag with it and explodes overhead in the sky like fireworks, cremation, scattered life, death, colors, gunpowder and music. The man on the truck stage disappears. He never said a fucking word. A bluegrass, psychobilly stomp band appears as the truck magician hightails it. They’re playing mouth harps, wash boards, banjos, kazoos, kick drums and four different guitars. Words spike the air, words about getting stoned, riding trains, fighting the man, beating the devil and freeing your mind. The drummer lets out a high swirling yelp, a hollering blues joyful yawp at the top of his lungs and everyone smiles. But I don’t. I watch his head flop down on his chest and run red. The sting of gun powder bites my nostrils and smarts the air something fierce. The drummer is dead, but his hands keep moving. He keeps playing. He never stops. A cymbal crashes and shrapnel splinters out of the center of the washboard. It rings a different sound as the man swipes his spoons over the cracked ribs of his instrument, but even with a hole in his heart he keeps plugging away. Every crash of cymbal or kick of the drum and another one goes. The band drops off one by one like lemmings on a catapult bridge. Someone in the

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crowd is picking them off one at a time to the beat of their sounds and no one seems to notice but me. I watch their skin run blue, their instruments run red. I watch parts of them break off from shotgun blasts, but they just keep jamming to their riffs and yelping their blues. As long as the music plays they don’t even know they’re dead. It’s like they can’t die. Rhythms dull to a slow crawl, the band moans their blues to a deep earth shattering toe tap and I can feel it. It’s almost the end. Guitars strum slow and the vocalist sings through a warped, ripped tracheotomy throat that he knows the game, the game always ends the same way. He sings, bellows, growls that the house always wins. And on one low throbbing note the song ends like a truck load of radios smacking flat into a brick wall. With that final note, like heaven’s trumpet, the walking dead and their music fall to the ground all together in a heap of blood, mesh, wood, bone, limp arms, gaping mouths, blank eyes, microphones, amplifiers, guitar strings broken and the shrill smell of air expelled with the thrust of a bullet. The music stops and they just fall into each other in a human bundle right there on that corkscrew stage. No one seems to notice or care. They just turn away, disappointed that their entertainment is over. Dissatisfied and craving more. It’s like this everywhere, down the road, or in the hotel, or in bed…it’s like this. I turn down the yellow, tattered shoulder of the road. A mosquito bite sentiment nags at the back of my head, itching furious trying to tell me something -- like, maybe I’m still not really out. I kick dried weeds and gravel, stirring dust something fierce as I meander.


EAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW AUGUST 2010


Dear Mom and Dad, How are you guys? It’s been so long since we last talked. Over a year, I believe. I’ve tried calling you a whole bunch of times but no one ever seems to answer. Then, about a month ago, this prerecorded message came on saying that my number had been blocked. You should get in touch with the phone company. There’s obviously something wrong with your service. I know you guys were kind of upset when Gretchen and I started dating, but I feel compelled to say, I think you judged her a little too quickly. She’s a kind and decent person, and life with Gretchen over the past year has been nothing but wonderful. She’s my soulmate. My better half. She’s The One. I know if you would’ve just given her a chance, she would have grown on you. Just like she grew on me. In case you were wondering, Gretchen and I finally got hitched. That’s right, I took “the plunge”. Your baby boy is now a married man! I wish you could’ve been there at the wedding; you guys, Nana and Pop-Pop, Aunt Mary and the kids, but Gretchen insisted we have a satanic priest perform the ceremony - at midnight, of course - and I’m afraid Nana might have fallen asleep after Wheel of Fortune and not made it to the sacrificial drinking of the lamb’s blood. If you’ve ever been to a black mass before, you’d know, the drinking of the lamb’s blood is the most important part. It makes it official in the eyes of the Dark Lord. The ceremony itself was pretty typical. We read our vows, exchanged kidneys, carved pentagrams into each other’s backs, etc. Afterwards, we had a small reception at the Hilton, which was nice, until Gretchen got drunk and decided to set the bathroom on fire. You may have heard about it on the news. It was a pretty big deal. 40-something people died. But not to worry [I know how you guys like to worry] the

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cops couldn’t find any evidence linking Gretchen to the scene. She’s a very skilled arsonist. She’s always starting fires almost everywhere we go. I should’ve included that in our vows - something like, “You’ve lit a blaze in the most tender parts of my heart, a conflagration I hope you keep fanning, forever and ever...” That would’ve been sweet.

At any rate, the wedding was a smashing success and our honeymoon continued unabated. I wanted to go somewhere tropical. Aruba or Cabo or someplace warm, but Gretchen insisted that we go to Las Vegas instead. Apparently she owed some casino mogul something like $45000. I can’t recall the exact amount, but to my credit, I as on Quaaludes at the time so most of the trip was a blur. So after getting thrown out of the Bellagio for assaulting a blackjack dealer with a broken beer bottle, Gretchen and I began panhandling on The Strip for spare change. We managed to raise about $12 before some ornery homeless guy came over and ripped up our little paper cup. He claimed we were on his turf. I didn’t know the homeless had “turfs”, but apparently there is some kind of unwritten street etiquette when it comes to begging. The cardinal rule? Don’t grovel on someone else’s block! Not wanting to come across as uncouth, I suggested we call it a night, but Gretchen was tweaking on amphetamines and thought it would be a better idea if we stole a car and rode it into the desert instead. Why, you ask? Just for kicks, she replied. She’s very impetuous. A free-spirit, as they say. I’d like to go into more detail about everything that happened next: the dead hooker, the Russian mafia, our run-in with Billy Idol, the amputation, the wet T-shirt contest, the shootout at the airport, the midget rodeo, that fantastic buffet luncheon just outside of town, our brief but memorable stint posing as federal agents, the orgy at the Hoover Dam, the ballroom dancing lessons, our induction into the Southern Paiute Indian tribe, the critically-acclaimed album of standards and ballads we released, or how we


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managed to pay off Gretchen’s casino debt just in time to make it back to The Mirage for the Siegfried and Roy show, but as the saying goes, What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas! Maybe in the next letter. So the honeymoon ended [too soon, I say] and we moved into our brand-new apartment. It’s a small studio - one bedroom, no bath - in New York’s Lower East Side. That’s right, I’m a New Yorker! Imagine me, your baby boy, living in the big city! It’s very exciting. Gretchen got a job as a psychic/prostitute. There aren’t very many psychic/prostitutes in our neighborhood so she very quickly cornered the market. She charges $10 for a palm reading and $5 for a hand-job. It’s a pretty good gig, considering most of her clients opt for both. She works really long hours and sometimes doesn’t come home for days. She’s very career driven, that girl. A real go-getter. You’d be proud. I got a job too. I’m a table at Jean Georges. If you didn’t know, that’s a restaurant. It’s a real ritzy place. Very expensive. My responsibilities are to get on all fours and hold very still. Patrons then eat their dinners off my back. It’s not too bad, unless they order the fajitas or a flambe or some other hot dish. But you get used to the pain, and once it blisters and scabs over, the rest of the night is a breeze. The tips are kind of lousy, but I’ve been able to meet a few very important people and do some networking, so things are looking up. In fact, just last week Diddy came in [he’s a famous rapper] and we got to talking and he wants me to be the urinal at his annual Grammy Awards post-party. All of the music industries most influential players will be there and I plan on getting pissed on by every last one of them! As you can tell, I’m thrilled. I already bought myself a tuxedo. With our employment steady, there has been talk of having children. What do you think of that? You guys as grandparents? Gretchen’s already gotten pregnant a couple of times but it hasn’t worked out yet because she keeps hav-

ing abortions. Like, one a week. It’s getting expensive. I tell her that we’re living beyond our means, but it doesn’t seem to bother her too much. She suggested that I take on a second job robbing liquor stores to pay for all of her abortions but on my first day this dumb clerk at The Bottle Factory shot me in the arm and I decided to quit, right then and there. I wouldn’t be a very good father to all my unborn babies if I were dead, now would I? I told her a needed a safer job and she said she could introduce me to her pimp. But I’m not sure that prostitution is really for me. Being a guy, I could only charge $2.50 for a hand-job and that would barely cover Gretchen’s herpes medication. It doesn’t really seem worth it. But we’ll figure something out. Gretchen’s very resourceful. In the meantime, we’ve got ourselves a pet. It is a werewolf. I was reticent at first. I mean, it’s a small apartment and having to care for a supernatural blood-thirsty megabeast is a big responsibility. But Gretchen was undeterred by my skepticism. She told me that she too had the Curse of the Lycan. And here I was thinking she just didn’t like to shave! She said she needed the creature to help her find a cure. She would extract tissue samples from the monster and stay up long hours, running diagnostics. I thought it was kind of strange that all her experiments had to take place at nightclubs and that I was forbidden to come along, but she assured me that it was for my own safety. Her and the werewolf would go dancing all night. I was beginning to think that it was all just a ruse and that there was no such thing as werewolves and that our new “pet” was really just a hairy dude, but then one night I accidentally walked in on her and our werewolf feasting on the flesh of an innocent, young nubile and I knew I was just being paranoid. She was suffering form a very serious medical condition, and I must support her as best I can through these dark days because I am a good husband and an excellent provider. Of course, like any other couple, we have


our occasional spats. Lover’s quarrels, I believe they’re called. Nothing big. Like the other day I accidentally forgot to give her the quarter she charges me before I’m allowed to kiss her. This must be a pet peeve of hers because she yelled at me and then stormed out and came back 20 minutes later with this really skeevy-looking dude and preceded to go down on him, right in front of me. She even swallowed it. I was like, gross and I swore to her that I would commit genocide on everyone of her national lineage, which is Irish, I think, but I got lazy and killed a Chinese guy instead. She said she wasn’t angry but then, later that night, I woke up to find her crouched at the foot of the bed, sawing off my toes with an electric carving knife. I was like, what the heck?! Can’t we just talk it out? But what can you do? Women are complicated. In other news, we’re planning our first vacation. Gretchen is demanding that we visit Cambodia. She says she wants to find her long-lost father. Apparently he’s some sort of kingpin in the white-slave trade. She vows to me that she’ll kill him for everything he did to her. Of course I am a bit curious as to the exact circumstances behind her ire, but I don’t ask. The last time I tried to bring up her past, she stabbed me in the eyeball with a fondue fork. I’ll admit, the patch looks pretty bad-ass, like I’m a pirate or something, but I’m not about to risk total blindness. Sometimes it takes loosing an eye to realize just how precious your sight truly is. Hopefully this vacation will turn out better than the last vacation we were planning, which we didn’t even get to go on because right before we were supposed to leave, Gretchen came down with a bad case of stigmata and started bleeding from her hands and feet. I went to hire an exorcist, but their rates were unbelievable, so I called a plumber instead. He said there wasn’t much he could do for her besides bashing her in the head with a lead pipe a few times, so I had

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him fix the toilet instead. I had been clogged for a week, since the last time Gretchen took one of her legendary “monster dumps.” She says it’s my cooking that does it to her, but my shit looks like hamster pellets, so I have no idea what she’s talking about. If she doesn’t like what I make her, then maybe she should let me take off the wig and the make-up and try doing it herself for once. I mean, it’s difficult to feel like the man of the house when you’re forced to prance around all day in full drag. All in all, things are good and I couldn’t be happier.

I know you think I made a mistake in marrying Gretchen, but you were the one’s that always told me to follow my heart. And I know it sounds trite, but she completes me. She really does. I only wish you could understand, just for a second, how I feel inside. Mom, Dad, I respect you both, but when I’m lying there on the cold, kitchen floor in a half-conscious haze as Gretchen stomps down on my testicles with those 4-inch stiletto heels she wears; when I’m paralyzed from the neck down, weeping feebly in a puddle comprised of my own blood and watery diarrhea and I look up towards the ceiling at my beautiful bride - her big, brown eyes the center of which my universe unequivocally orbits - when I’m on the precipice of death and my veins surge with ecstasy and my heart in my chest is boiling over with passion and desire, I know, I just KNOW, that this is true love. And how could you possibly argue with that?

Anyway, it would be nice to hear back from you guys. Perhaps this letter will be the first step in mending the broken bridge of our relationship. Through it all, I still think about you guys often and I just want you to know that I miss you both very, very much. I hope all is well.

Your son, Danger


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Daniel Eli Dronsfield is an author, filmmaker, photographer, investigative journalist, adventurer, explorer, and artist. He has traveled the world, by river, land, and sea, swash buckling and quixotically attempting to make art and fight injustice, from the bullfights and circus’ of Mexico to rural Cambodian ice factories, and from these escapades have come a body of films and collected folklore, some of which is placed before you today, in the form of “The Ballad of LongTom Garroutte”. His films, poetry, and stories have been screened and published internationally.

Daniel Eli Dronsfield

For more please visit www.dedunlimited.com or contact the artist at salshakes@gmail.com

Trevor Richardson: Writer, Editor, Slaughterer of Many Darlings Trevor Richardson was planted in the farm hills of middle California, transplanted and harvested in East Texas, blew like pollen on the wind for a few years, stopped off in New York for a spell and has put down roots in Portland, OR. Having finally taken root, Trevor is now the Editor of the Seahorse Rodeo Folk Review and a founding member of the Revival in all its glory, pursuits and assorted vending machine trinkets. When asked for a comment, Trevor said, “I have the same hopes, dreams, aspirations and fingernails as any other satirist novelist wannabe.”

Trevor

If novels were babies, Trevor would have a pile of dead ones in his closet. “Yeah,” he stated cavalierly, “I just give birth to them and smash them to pieces if they aren’t perfect.” After a lot of false starts, Trevor has completed a novel that he has yet to smash to pieces. Due to be published by Inkwater Press this winter, his novel, American Bastards, depicts a vision of America gone wrong. Set in an alternate reality where the fictions and ideas of this world are alive and well and addicted, American Bastards spins yarns and weaves them into throw rugs for muddy boots. Imagine Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein talking wormhole physics, the astral plane and the nature of God over tea in the Hotel California. Picture Rod Stewart’s Maggie Mae working as a prostitute or Tom Sawyer sipping whiskey and plotting his next scheme. The world is Americana, where everything exists and everything is decaying. And that’s just the first twenty pages.

Richardson


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Erin Deale comes from a place where the air smells like salt and soy beans. Watermen name their boats after daughters and curses. No one really has to lock their doors at night though most still do. On the eastern shore of Maryland, with its conservative seaside towns and its summer tourist draw, it’s easy to stand out. And stand out she did.

Danger SLATER Danger lives in the United Cesspools of Unmerica where he enjoys bananas, long walks on the highway, and candlelit babies. He is currently digging a moat around his home to prevent the encroaching strip-malls from building an Old Navy in his girlfriend’s head. She acts like too cool too be seen shopping there, but we’re both singing a different tune on $1 flip-flop day. He is a contributing writer to the July Issue of the Seahorse Rodeo Folk Review. When he’s not writing short biographies about himself in the third-person, he is writing other things: He is currently working on several thousand short stories and should have his first novel completed shortly after the next Armageddon. Follow him at www.dangerslater.blogspot.com or send him love and/or money at danger_slater@yahoo.com

Erin delights in the shapes formed between telephone lines and the negative space between tree limbs and leaves. The plastic tassels on the ends of mini-blind pull strings. Sticks, cones, tape and flags marking new road construction. Abandoned mini golf courses. Skeletal remains of produce stands. She is prone to capturing random, odd bits from nature and American culture or things that seem unnatural in their setting. They beg to be plucked and painted, photographed, or used as inspiration for weird fairy tales or jewelry collections along with Tom Robbins novels and bonfire barn parties drenched with moonshine. Erin participated in various fairs, festivals, and exhibitions before moving to Portland, Oregon to further her abilities as an artist. She is a Gemini, hates wearing shoes, and belongs to the 0.1% of people who really, really like Circus Peanuts. See and read more at www.erindeale.com.

Erin Deale


Recipe for a Danger_Slater 2 sticks of dynamite 1 sheet of paper 3 pounds of raw ground beef 1/2 cup butter 1 tbsp of nihilism 1 tbsp paprika A dash of humor Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Light the dynamite and put it in the stove. Let your house explode. In the flaming rubble, hold the raw beef over the gas fire with your bare hands. When it turns brown, call over your significant other. Smash the mass of meat into their face. Tell them you want a divorce. Add the butter, humor and paprika. Let it simmer in its own juices for 27 years. Pour gently onto the sheet of paper making sure not to let any of the broth touch your skin, as it is extremely toxic. Serve medium-well. Feeds 2 - 4 adult hamsters.


Contact Seahorse with questions or for more information on how to get involved. General: contact@seahorserodeofolkrevival.com The Seahorse Rodeo Folk Review: tdrichardson@seahorserodeoreview.com Upcoming events: edeale@seahorserodeofolkrevival.com


Seahorse Rodeo Folk Review  

May-August Returning Contributors Issue

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