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Kevin Mosby   kmose614@ucla.edu   THE  VACUUM     We  were  buying  canned  pumpkin  pie  filling  at  the  Piggly  Wiggly  when  she  asked  me  how   come  I  did  not  talk  like  a  Californian   And  how  does  a  Californian  talk  I  asked  her  and  she  said  it’s  a  talk  got  no  home  and   don’t  know  where  it  come  from  like  a  great  big  vacuum  went  cross  the  states  east  to  west   grabbed  the  loose  parts  of  talk  not  tied  down—say  to  Boston  or  the  Carolinas  where  the   talk’s  in  the  soil—and  upon  discovering  no  more  land  to  clean  before  the  sea  it  dumped   there  and  there  it  stayed   And  I  said  so  my  talk’s  got  a  place  huh?  and  she  said  sure  does—deep  in  the  gravel   or  the  sand  or  the  desert  or  the  snow  or  I-­‐don’t-­‐know-­‐wheres,  buried  like  the  roots  of  the   longest  living  tree  still  living  or  the  bones  of  a  good  man  died  from  his  own  pistol  and  his   widow  to  save  his  name  puts  em  down  deep  so  no  one  will  know  and  they  never  did  and  by   this  time  the  clerk  asked  paper  or  plastic  and  she  whispered  which  saves  the  earth  more   and  I  eyed  the  paper  and  she  said  paper  please   And  she  bought  the  pie  with  my  money  and  stood  at  the  exit  until  I  realized  she  was   waiting  for  me  to  open  the  door  and  once  at  her  daddy’s  trailer  she  let  loose  the  pie  from  its   cylinder  onto  a  pre-­‐baked  crust  and  dropped  it  in  the  oven  and  we  made  love  until  the  ding  

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Kevin Mosby   kmose614@ucla.edu   BAD  PARKERS     The   girl   wasn’t   fixing   to   mother   in   that   car   that   night   when   it   was   too   late   and   the   lord   had   already  damned  her.  She  drove  her  daddy’s  Fiero  like  out  of  hell  and  she  never  knew  when   to   stop   it   but   when   I’d   say   pull   over   you   want   some   fun   and   her   foot   got   heavy   as   hell   quicker  than  I  could  unbelt  and  she  shimmied  into  a  spot—two,  really:  jaggedlike,  one  tire   on   the   weeds   the   others   on   cracked   asphalt—in   the   park   by   the   river   and   I   thanked   god   he   hadn’t   given   me   a   sissy   of   a   driver   who   waits   to   park   till   the   wheels   are   aligned   and   I   unbelted  and  unbuckled  and  she  howled  and  it  was  a  good  night.  

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Kevin Mosby   kmose614@ucla.edu   ANEURYSM       Make   it   your   youth.   Your   youth   might   be   sucking   on   your   mother   too   late   so   that   your   father  worries  you  will  be  queer  or  you  will  be  a  breast  man  and  he  hopes  the  latter’s  true   because  he  is  and  he  would  not  blame  you  for  that.  Maybe  your  youth  is  the  day  your  tiny   body  for  once  does  not  light  up  the  airbag  sign  in  your  father's  pickup  and  he  gives  you  a   man's  handshake  that  afternoon  after  he  drops  you  off  from  school.  And  say  you  ask  your   teacher   what   the   word   dingbat   means   because   your   father   called   your   mother   one   and   the   teacher   says   not   to   say   it   again.   And   say   your   mother   forgets   to   make   the   potatoes   that   night  and  you  think,  daddy  was  right  when  he  called  you  a  dingbat.  And  at  this  moment  you   do  not  care  that  she  makes  the  crispest  fries  and  the  sweetest  pies  and  that  you  love  her   more  than  anyone  because  she  kisses  you  too  much  and  father  chastises  her  for  making  you   soft.  And  say  that  you  snub  your  mother’s  goodnight  kiss  and  she  cries  a  little  and  does  not   sleep  in  the  bed  with  your  father  that  night  because  they  got  into  a  tiff  and  say  that  night   her   brain   goes   berserk   and   this   goes   on   for   sometime   and   no   one   was   there   to   hear   her.   Maybe   she   survives   but   just   barely   and   the   next   day   you   hear   your   father   sobbing   and   moaning   about   how   pulling   the   plug   is   the   only   option   as   the   alternative   would   leave   her   a   vegetable.  And  say  all  you  can  think  about  is  snapping  green  beans  with  your  mother  in  the   kitchen  and  hearing  your  daddy's  hum  of  the  buzz  saw  in  the  garage  as  he  piddles  around   doing  man's  work.   Say  all  this  happens.  You  know  you  killed  her.  

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Kevin Mosby   kmose614@ucla.edu   IN  THE  KITCHEN  MY  MOTHER  LET  SIT  A  FISH     In   the   kitchen   my   mother   let   sit   a   fish   for   two   days   too   long.   It   rotted   and   turned   green.   Long   before,   mid-­‐July,   she   bought   it   and   stashed   it   in   the   deep   freeze   where   father   kept   his   emergency   preparedness   kit   of   water   and   food   and   other   non-­‐perishables.   Father   feared   we’d  perish  in  the  winter.  Every  winter.  He  readied  the  basement  each  September  for  fear   the  Midwest  snow  would  trap  us  in  and  force  us  to  eat  my  baby  sister—my  baby  sister  who   was  the  last  of  my  siblings  born  in  my  parents’  native  Southwest,  where  the  winter  winds   and   rains   fed   the   brittle   summer   clay.   Clay   so   thick   and   hard   as   my   mother   was   pretty.   Pretty   as   the   rain,   father   said.   The   day   my   mother   bought   the   fish   she   and   I   went   to   our   special   place   in   the   river   where   a   bigness   allowed   diving   from   a   high   cliff   above.   I   cannonballed.   Cannonballed   always.   My   mother   swandived.   Swandove.   Dove   like   a   swan   and  as  prettily.  The  boys  in  the  river  who  didn’t  have  wives  or  mothers  jiggled  their  nether   parts  and  hooted  at  my  mother.  She  never  blushed.  Gave  them  stares.  Bad  stares.  When  the   hooting   got   too   loud   we   went   home.   That   day   she   said   we   would   buy   a   fish   to   store   for   winter  when  there  were  no  good  fish  at  the  grocer’s.  She  bought  the  fish  and,  for  our  dinner   that  evening,  a  head  of  iceberg  lettuce  and  a  few  pounds  of  beef  she  would  allow  me  to  help   her   grind   at   home.   At   home   my   sisters   and   I   read   and   waited   for   father   to   come.   And   when   he   did,   he   tussled   our   hair,   kissed   his   pretty   wife.   Then   it   was   winter.   The   snow   came.   Snowed   most   days.   Most   days   my   mother   cried   during   her   evening   bath   and   my   father   turned   up   Cronkite   loud   so   as   not   to   hear.   One   day   my   mother   removed   a   fish   in   the   afternoon.   It   sat   thawing   on   tinfoil   atop   the   stove.   My   mother   left   for   eggs   and   asked   me   to   stay   home   with   baby   sister.   The   next   day   they   found   her   car   parked.   Parked   on   the   high  

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Kevin Mosby   kmose614@ucla.edu   cliff.  A  boy  and  a  girl  making  love  in  a  nearby  parked  car  said  they  saw  her.  Saw  her  look   down   at   the   bigness   in   the   river.   The   froze   over   river.   They   said   she   swandove   down.   Penetrated   the   ice   so   hard   that   father   said   we   could   not   have   an   open   casket.   Father   entered   the   kitchen   without   there   being   a   meal   prepared.   Threw   the   rotten   fish   in   the   wastebasket,   grabbed   baby   sister   and   asked   her   to   grind   the   beef   while   he   smoked   and   I   read  the  funnies.  

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Kevin Mosby   kmose614@ucla.edu   DADDIES     Electrified  Roy  Acuff  plays  in  the  Hopscotch  bar  five  miles  east  of  the  Dallas  County  line  and   I  ask  myself  what  are  we  to  do—you  slim  boys  and  we  fat  daddies—when  our  only  buffer  is   christ   the   redeemer?   Grind   and   palpitate   at   the   hips   to   country   grooves?   Play   pretend—call   one   the   man   and   one   the   woman?   That   we   do,   we   two,   and   I   am   never   the   woman.   And   the   hard  part,  I  say  to  the  boy,  is  women  aren’t  so  bad—‘cept  when  a  road  becomes  two,  a  man   can  take  either  path,  but  not  both,  never.  And  so  it’s  for  adventure  and  liberating  I  restrict   my   journey   to   the   one   on   which   George   Michael   plays.   But   he,   the   boy,   says   it’s   the   protrusion   of   a   girl’s   nipple   through   her   kmart   sweater   makes   him   flutter   nervous-­‐like   and   only  the  tightness  in  the  butt  of  a  boy’s  cords  gets  him.  So  then  on  his  Chevy  hood  beside   the   bar   he   and   I   in   fellowship   with   the   lord   got   saved—struck   down   by   salvation   or   damnation   and   we   did   not   care   which   one—and   it   was   sweet   and   we   went   back   in   for   rum   and   Cokes   where   he   recited   the   prayer   he   told   to   his   lord   that   day   in   his   youth   when   he   trembled  to  his  knees  and  proclaimed  never  ever  will  I,  Lord,  lie  with  him  as  with  a  woman.   And   when   I   asked   how   he   knew   he   got   saved   he   said,   ‘cause   mother   told   me   so.   And   when   I   said,   how   come   then   you   do   so   much   lying   with   hims   and   not   hers   he   said   well   ‘cause   mother   died  and  I  never  had  a  daddy  and  now  he’s  got  one.  

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Kevin Mosby   kmose614@ucla.edu   MY  BOONIE  RAT  BUDDY  HAS  A  HOLE     My  boonie  rat  buddy  has  a  hole  in  his  head.  Got  in  the  war.  Got  at  battle—battled  the  big   man  and  lost.  Got  in  the  war  of  the  second  world.  Was  in  the  second  world  two  years.  Got  a   head   dent   color   of   blood   ‘cause   it   was—was   blood   and   never   went   away.   Called   it   oxblood,   color  of  oxblood,  that  is.  Shade  of  bordeaux  ,  much  becoming  color  on  a  blouse  or  a  settee   but  not  there,  so  bald  as  it  was.  Raised  cain  with  them  desert  queens  then  went  down  one   day.  Down  in  a  desert  more  fit  for  a  camel.  A  lady  saved  his  life.  the  surgeon,  a  lady.  Went   home.  Home  to  his  wife.  Wife  had  a  young  baby  as  mud-­‐colored  as  was  his  pretty  best  man.   Or  was  charcoal,  darker  than  his  wife’s  baby.  And  he  got  a  call.  Call  from  the  army  said  he’d   had   a   son   and   the   lady   surgeon   wants   money   but   not   him.   Paid   her   off   the   day   his   wife   shacked  up  with  her  child’s  daddy  and  he  said  don’t  ya  love  me  and  she  said,  yeah  I  love   you  much  but  like  hell  will  I  eye  that  redbrown  gape  ‘cross  your  brow.  

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Kevin Mosby   kmose614@ucla.edu   MILQUETOASTY     In  the  mirror  he  told  himself  he  shat  like  a  man.  He  told  his  reflection  that  when  he  ran  he   didn’t  flail.  Wrists  were  crisp,  sharp  but  didn’t  snap  like  a  woman’s.  He  got  off  by  himself  in   the   shower   on   his   wedding   night.   Got   off   like   a   man.   A   good   man   gets   off,   he   thought.   Smaller   men,   littler   men   need   a   woman.   He   needs   a   crisp   wrist.   Only   hand.   His   wife   took   her  shower  that  night  after  him  so  he  sat  naked,  below  the  fan.  Let  the  air  streams  brush   him  till  he  tingled.  Then  he  walked  bareassed  to  the  bathroom.  Watched  his  new  wife  dry   her   pale   whiteness.   Watched   through   the   doorcrack.   Her   pleasant   milk   white   breasts,   their   early   limpness.   Did   not   mind   their   wilting.   Was   pleased   he   had   a   wife   with   breasts   large   enough   to   wilt.   Looked   down.   Soon   he’d   wilt   too.   Too   soon.   His   wife   came   out,   covered   her   breasts.   Swelling   and   wilted.   Dried   her   hair,   watched   herself   in   the   mirror.   He   imagined   cupping   the   half-­‐moons   of   her   ass   in   his   hands.   He   thought,   would   this   arouse   either   of   them  and  he  decided  he’d  better  not  find  out.  Not  yet.  Was  glad  he  got  a  feeling  down  there   at  this  moment.  Then  he  shat.  Shat  good.  Like  a  man.  Felt  manly.  The  manly  man  saw  her   wedding  band  near  the  sink.  Gave  it  to  her,  just  as  he  did  earlier  that  evening.  Earlier  at  the   ceremony.   Milk   instead   of   whiskey.   Parents   and   inlaws.   That   evening.   She   kissed   him.   He   put  it  on  her  right  hand.    

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Marie alexander submissions mosby  
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