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Literature / $10.00 #10

MONkey puzzle

MONkey puzzle


9 780982 664650

monkey puzzle press

ISBN 978-0-9826646-5-0

monkey puzzle


monkey puzzle Issue #11 – THE EXIT ISSUE EDITOR, DESIGNER, PUBLISHER Nate Jordon POETRY EDITOR Jordan Antonucci PUBLISHING ASSISTANT Moon Pants Jordon COVER PHOTO Troy Golden

Copyright © 2012 Monkey Puzzle Press All rights revert to individual authors upon publication.

ISBN-10: 0-9851705-0-6 ISBN-13: 978-0-9851705-0-9

Monkey Puzzle is currently published two times a . . . wait, this is THE EXIT ISSUE (aka The Last Issue).

MONKEY PUZZLE PRESS PO Box 20804 Boulder, Colorado 80308 w w w. m o n ke y p u z z l e p r e s s . c o m


Editor’s Note


Pathogen of Social Misery Dr. Ernest Williamson III


Poetry Editor’s Note


Letter from a Birmingham Jail Timmy Trabon


Deathsong for Dr. Aaron David Scher Scott Alexander Jones



The Threesome Girl David McLain


Sigmund Freud Visits a Johannesburg Ghetto B. Olivia Nishkian

Stop Play-Doh-ing with My Heart Get in the car, Helen


The Sun Baking the Mayonnaise Matthew Cortina



in our disintegration(s) Daniel Dissinger


Hopper Woman Gladys Justin Carr Avoiding the Mirror Dr. Ernest Williamson III


The Mona Lisa Sandwich Justin Gershwin

The Day I Became a Bad Buddhist Sean Scott Elliot



Ella Harper Nicelle Davis

Basho & Frog Pat Nolan



The Camel Girl Cheryl Gross

I Want to Wax You Raki



Party Time! Excrement! Chloe Taipale

Dancing in the Shadows of Greatness Dr. Ernest Williamson III



Deathsong for Crispin Hellion Glover Scott Alexander Jones

Turnabout Is Fairplay Susan Knox



Soon Your Eyes Adjust Kirby Wright

A Short Attention Span Barbara Kussow



Before the Flood Brandon Arthur


Flash Fiction Contest Judge’s Note Nicholas B. Morris


Opposites Nicelle Davis


Defender of the Faith Charles West


Lesson in Wishing Cheryl Gross


Family Resemblance Cathy Eaton


Barnum’s America Jan Priddy


City of Diseases Craig O’Hara


One Month’s Deferral Ian Gronau


Poker Face Jenny Forrester





85 86

Your Civic Rights and Responsibilities as Dictated to Young Executives James O’Brien


the door and how Juliana M. Sartor


Hurleyville Drew Hetzel


To a Chicken Recently Killed Alice Pettaway


Books from MPP


Get Back Better At Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Crow’s Nest M. Irby

Sweet Sparrow Sarah Elizabeth Taz Schantz



Chloe Taipale

Party Time! Excrement!

When I tell people I work at a pet store, I am usually met with joy and envy. The title of pet store employee holds the same fantastical appeal as ice cream maker, pimp, or mattress tester. They picture me, shining and jubilant, running through a sunny meadow full of chubby puppies, sunflowers, and adequate financial compensation. In reality, I am a cleaning grunt. I get six bucks an hour. My job is noisy, hot, and coated with poop. Today is Friday, and the evening shift is usually pretty slow, considering everyone else in the Twin Cities area is out dancing and socializing. I park next to the rickety Dairy Queen, noted for being the oldest Dairy Queen in the state of Minnesota, and make my way inside. I immediately recognize the shapeless butts of the two figures leaning into the front playpen. The woman, Googly Eyes, is in here the most often. She stays for hours, telling me when there’s poop to clean up and bothering the birds. As her name implies, she is in possession of not one, but two googly eyes, her pupils swooping wildly behind a thick pair of (apparently ineffective) glasses. I was never sure where to look when talking to her, usually darting nervously from eye to eye, hoping one of them was the right one; I voiced my concerns to my friend and co-worker Katie, who replied resolutely, “Forehead.” Googly Eyes carries a large backpack, and at first I thought perhaps she was homeless, or liked to visit the store in between hiking trips. It wasn’t until very recently that she told us it’s for her medication. We ask no more questions. Her partner, Creepy Dude, also visits frequently. He has an awkward, lumbering gate and a face that’s just uneven enough to remove him from the realm of normal humans and place him in undead-podunk-mutant territory. Whenever he’s around, I like to pretend that I am an actress in a gritty 2012 remake of The Hills Have Eyes, hiding behind the kennels in order to avoid being beaten and consumed. His warbling, molasses-slow voice reminds me of when I was younger, when my friends and I would go swimming and try yelling things at 17

each other underwater. He laughs at everything I say, even when it isn’t that funny. He and Googly Eyes have an on-again-off-again relationship, and when he’s not with her, he focuses on me. He likes to watch as I clean the kennel windows, particularly when I do the ones on the bottom, which requires me to be on all fours. I can’t help but notice that all the men I attract are moderately impaired. I walk to the back, avoiding Creepy Dude’s wobbling gaze, and prepare for my workday. My job is as follows: remove puppy from kennel. Place in playpen. Remove soiled newspaper from kennel floor. Clean kennel floor, walls, doors, and window with bleach solution. Clean window with Windex. Lay fresh newspaper. Place pile of shredded paper in kennel. Refill water bottle. Repeat forever. I carry my bucket of bleachy water to the kennel area, which erupts in a cacophony of barks and whines. It’s easy to evaluate a puppy’s demeanor by way of a quick evaluation of their kennel. For example: The Chihuahua’s paper is still in place, largely unmarred save for a pee stain or two and a solid, untouched pile of poop. The window has only a few small nose marks. He is resting cutely on top of his favorite monkey toy. He is a good dog. The Pug-a-Poo’s kennel, on the other hand, is barely visible through the streaky window. The newspaper floor has been completely shredded, and she has stepped in her runny shit. The closer I get to her, the more excited she gets; she bounds from one end of her kennel to the other, padding the walls with thick brown smears. She barks maniacally, eyes unfocused. When she is cautiously picked up, she flails her poop-covered paws, and they connect, in rapid succession, with arms, clean shirts, and faces. She is a bad dog. Immediately, I feel the twinge of a headache in my right temple. My first cages of the day are said Pug-a-Poo and the Yorkie. They, along with the Papanese, are my least favorite dogs. The Yorkie used to be kennelmates with the Mal-Shi, but they fought too much. The Yorkie is annoying because he is hell-bent on jumping out of his kennel. Now, we employees are used to such things. Puppies in top kennels don’t know they’re five feet off the floor, and think they can calmly step out and run off into the sunset. They fall all the time, but the idea is to catch them and return them to their homes unscathed. I should note that the Mal-Shi is the only dog I’ve dropped, and that was, in fact, the Yorkie’s fault. When they shared a kennel, we all dreaded having to open the door. Both of them desperately wanted out, and trying 18

to hold back both of their wriggling, jumping bodies while inserting a food dish or removing poop was virtually impossible. On that particular day, my left hand was in front of the Mal-Shi, blocking his escape route, until the Yorkie launched himself at the door. I moved my hand to block him, and the Mal-Shi, suddenly unrestrained, tumbled forward. I slammed the kennel door shut with one hand and frantically reached for him with the other. My fingers lightly grazed his tail, but it was too late. He hit the floor and released a deafening shriek that lasted for several seconds. Oh my God, I killed him, I thought. I killed a puppy. He broke all his legs. What kind of person am I? I bent down to pick him up, expecting a flaccid, shattered puppy body. When I stood, a customer was watching me through the kennel window, shock plastered across her face. I forgot how thin the walls were. Ultimately, the Mal-Shi was fine, shrieking out of fear rather than the snapping of his dry pasta legs. I apologized profusely, and offered him a rawhide. When I returned him to the clean kennel, he wagged his tail at me, eyes bright, and pooped. I suppose I deserved it. The Yorkie, however, has not learned his lesson. He is another crazy-shredded-paper-poop-everywhere kind of dog, though he looks calm enough at first. I slowly open his kennel and reach for him. He darts around for a few moments, then jumps between my arms, hitting me in the face. As I carry him to the playpen, he wriggles excitedly, slipping ever further out of my grip. Apparently, he wants to fall on the floor more than anything else. Every day, including today, I hope to find a sheet or two of salvageable newspaper in their kennels (which would cut down on time spent laying clean newspaper), and every day I’m disappointed. I look inside the Pugapoo’s kennel, evaluating the damage. My face falls. It’s not that I’m grossed out by poop—I got over that after working here for a week. I don’t even wear gloves anymore. She, along with all of the other destructive puppies, has become my delinquent child. I’m just disappointed. There’s something soothing about the mindless practice of cleaning the kennels. The fuzzy radio mixes with the dogs’ endless barking, and my mind is transported far away, to a place where googly-eyed people stay home, dogs never poop, and my salary is above minimum wage. The bottom kennels are my least favorite, though they do allow me 19

to engage, undetected, in one of my favorite hobbies: looking at butts. This is how I’ve memorized Googly Eyes and Creepy Dude’s bodies so well. Though I remain pretty much invisible to adults, little kids like to stand at the window and watch me. It happens all the time—they’re lightly prancing down the line of kennels, until they spot me, wiping the walls or laying newspaper. They continue for a moment, before they realize what they’ve seen. I can see the wheels in their tiny little brains shuddering to a halt: But that’s not a dog! Some wave and smile before skipping away, but others place their sticky hands on the window and leer at me, unblinking. We have another set of kennels towards the back of the store. It’s mostly kittens back here, but it also houses the Havi-Poo, the Papanese, and the Italian Greyhound. The Havi-Poo used to be among my most detested, but I’ve warmed up to him in the past few weeks. When we first got him, he barked so much he lost his voice. Whenever we walked past him, he’d jump at us and release a raspy deflated-basketball noise, stopping occasionally to cough. After he got his voice back, he started scratching at his face. Before we knew it, he had large, bloody sores beneath both of his eyes. We assumed it was allergies, but he received a clean bill of health from the vet. He actually is that crazy. His kennel is the dirtiest of them all, but he’s wormed his way into my heart. When he’s out playing with the Havi-Poo and the Greyhound, he’ll occasionally stop and look back at me, thumping his tail before padding over and putting his paws on my leg. The Papanese, however, remains on my shit list. He never stops barking. Ever. It’s not even a normal bark, rather, an ear-splitting onslaught of hot needles that stab right through my brain and instantly take my headache from nagging to debilitating. The Greyhound sits in her kennel and trembles. She, as well as Havi-Poo, has grown tired of the Papanese. I let them all play together on the floor, and as he’s barking in their faces and chewing their ears, you see their tiny shoulders slump, eyes falling, like a mother who discovers her child smearing lipstick on the walls and clogging the toilet with Hot Wheels. I offer them a butt scratch as consolation, telling them, “I know how you feel.” The Greyhound, despite her frail appearance, becomes a frothing maniac when released from her kennel. She has a disproportionately loud and fearsome growl, and playtime gets increasingly violent. As I’m laying newspaper in her kennel, the whirling tornado of blurred puppy bodies suddenly erupts in terrified cries. People have asked how 20

we know when a fight has gone from being playful to for-real, and we tell them that it’s all in the sounds. Growling: normal. Screaming: not normal. I look over, and the Greyhound has the Papanese’s lower jaw in her mouth, shaking it violently. Though some dark crevice of my mind is pleased to see the Papanese finally get what he deserves, I leap down to stop them. They break apart and look up at me innocently, the Greyhound resuming her timid trembling. What a monster. My final task of the day is to take the trash out. I, taking my feeble princess-arms into account, keep my trash bags light, but other employees pack them as full as possible, as seen today in the back kennels’ trash can. I crush the trash down, sending a wave of foul air and kitty litter dust into my face. I try to heave the bag out of the can, and the bag rips. Nuggets of poop and bird food begin to leak out. I pry the bag from the can, sweating profusely, and slide it through the office and to the dumpster outside. I know this won’t end well. The idea is to quickly heave the bag into the dumpster, hole-side up, and walk away triumphant. After a determined knuckle-crack and brief motivational speech, I grip the bag and lift. It hovers unsteadily a few inches above the ground and tears some more. I reposition my hands and try again, managing to lift the bag high enough to rest on the lip of the dumpster. More poop and litter rain onto my head. The bag tumbles in, and I walk sheepishly back inside, hoping nobody saw. My day is done. I enter the bathroom to evaluate my injuries. There are numerous marks on my face from newspaper ink, where I used my dirty hands to wipe my face. My chest has long, pink scratch marks from convulsing puppies. There is poop on my shirt, between my boobs, on my knees, and on the hem of both pant legs. I forgot my allergy medication today, so my eyes are swollen and pink from sharing air space with the cats. I blow my nose, and my boogers are a dark grey—full of hair. Not too bad, I say to myself. I shake the poop flakes from my hair and make my way to the door. An elderly customer, eyeing the front kennels, smiles at me. “It must be so much fun to work here.” “Oh,” I say, my bleary eyes widening. “You have no idea.”


Scott Alexander Jones

Deathsong for Crispin Hellion Glover

Like collies w/ OCD or fire-ants crawling into my infant crib I/m listening to that song from Young Machetes where The Blood Brothers scream: Death/s just death no matter how you dress it up— & memorizing Toko/s haiku from 1795: Death poems are mere delusion— death is death while on the Jesus channel a lemur-eyed clown blows a kazoo & honks his nose & goes: Wah Wah—


Kirby Wright

Soon Your Eyes Adjust

I stroll a field of lavender and wandering cows. I reach a fence of rectangular black boxes joined by wire. A priest hurdles the fence—he’s swinging chains attached to a smoking gold thurible. The aroma of frankincense makes me think of Church. I pat a white cow’s forehead. I realize the black boxes in the fence aren’t boxes at all but upright coffins. I knock on one. The lid opens—my father pops out in a tuxedo. His hair’s slicked back and he’s got a good tan. “You look great, Dad,” I say. “It’s dark at first,” he goes, “but soon your eyes adjust.” “How’s Mom doing?” “She over here already?” he asks. “Since last May,” I tell him. “Any words of wisdom?” He nods. “Whatever you do, son, don’t hop this fence.” My father cartwheels through the lavender. The cows watch. Bees leave the blossoms and buzz the wisps of frankincense. The priest plops down his thurible. He saunters over and whispers in my father’s ear. My father frowns. He kicks the thurible like a football and it sails over the fence. He marches back into his coffin. The priest slams the lid shut.



Nicelle Davis

Opposites or

A Lesson in Wishing

He was a giant. She was born without legs. They adopted children. Ran a vacation camp. Their daughter recalls, It was what everybody wishes theirs was: no talk of divorce, no big fights, no drinking, no smoking. Just a family.



Daniel Dissinger

in our disintegration(s)

…must we


write stories where the city gets destroyed

fire ripping through these streets attention to how bones break


where people only pay close

and coffee tastes with the morning … …

I try to wake up take my pulse as a ritual


always forget where

to touch myself

the neck the wrist (?)(?) so I grab my throat and hope for the best… … …as I start to lose my hearing remembering textures and how to eat pomegranates avocados and figs… …with careful curiosity and precise sexual attraction…


Sean Scott Elliot

The Day I Became a Bad Buddhist

Enlightenment is probably a pretty good idea. So being Buddhist is probably a pretty smart way to hedge your bets. And besides, it gives you cachet, something vaguely exotic and countercultural. After all, Buddhism. Honestly—how deliciously low tech can you get? Buddhists are supposed to be short dumpy little men with orange robes and shaved heads. This image is false, wholly false. I don’t even own an orange robe. But stereotypes persist out of avidya, or ignorance. Ignorance is a form of clinging to the world, stemming from a desire to create a feeling of permanence where there really is none. And all that anatman stuff. Anatman means there is no soul, nothing permanent which endures over time, just a collection of alluring objects we pick up along the psychic way as we do our best to keep our karmic ducks in a row. Like all good Buddhists, I did my best to follow the Eightfold Path toward liberation, but the Eightfold Path had been taking some major hits of late. Truth to be told, those bad boys had been toppling like dominoes. Right Concentration went down quite a long time ago, without a struggle, probably within five seconds after I met Allie Vandergriff. Allie was a lovely girl, a cheerleader, slender, petite, barely five foot tall, with soft brown hair and a lovely smile. And dimples. I think it was the dimples that did me in. True, cheerleaders have a reputation all their own, but like most avidya, this is only a product of stereotyping, and stereotyping is a sign of mental duality. And anatman. Don’t forget anatman. Besides, she gave me her shy little smile at all my jokes and looked great in a skirt, and I was hooked. Before long, Right Speech sank with a long slow gurgling sound. I have never had a problem bantering with the students, and it was easy enough to find a way to talk with Allie. Women love good listeners. To be a good listener, all you need to do is make eye contact, don’t interrupt, and repeat back the last three words spoken. Works every time. 52

And finally, one afternoon, after class, Right Actions self-destructed with an eruption that could no doubt be heard for miles around. I realize that suffering is caused by attachment, and that the path toward liberation involves detaching yourself from the world. But right then I didn’t want to detach myself from the world. Heck, I didn’t even want to detach myself from Allie Vandergriff. Our ensnarement in samsaric avidya was short and intense. We attached to each other standing up, her one arm wrapped around my shoulders, the other digging into the wall to steady herself. There was no cheerleader about her now as she clenched her eyes and whimpered, Oh, God! Oh, God! It’s odd how in the most intense periods of human striving, our minds naturally turn toward the Divine. I filed that mental impression away to be contemplated more fully later on. Within minutes we achieved nirvana. She threw her back against the wall, her free hand knocking down my framed college diploma, the one which read “Summa cum Laude.” The frame tumbled across the bookshelves, landing against my Zen garden, knocking it to the floor in a little explosion of sand, stones, broken glass, and those little wooden rake things. When we finally came down from our moment of karmic liberation, sheepishly avoiding each others’ eyes, she awkwardly smoothed out her skirt and touched up her makeup in my mirror, her face blushing a bashful pink. These shared moments of enlightenment do tend to make one feel self-conscious afterward. She asked me if I wanted her to help me pick things up, but I told her I would take care of it. In the parking lot, I called my wife on the cell phone and asked if there was anything she needed me to pick up at the grocery. She asked me to get some peanut butter, the crunchy type, and a container of cat litter, a big one, the kind with the odor lock crystals, designed for multiple cats. We only have one cat, but I said I would.



books from monkey puzzle press Tapeworm by Nicholas B. Morris Nick Morris’s disturbingly strange and luminous stories move from backwoods Arkansas to concrete jungles, churches to prison cells, from delusions to truth.

The Aftermath, etc. by Get in the car, Helen A rare look at the broken man in his natural environment: a wasteland of pizza, shark flicks, porn, and beer. GITCH’s only escape is through the pen, and if it were not so, the fine art of handmade explosives.

expired Rx by Brandon Arthur expired Rx is a cure for poetic disorders, a remedy for prescribed notions of viewing the quotidian. Arthur’s poems investigate how the ‘street rain became horizontal’ and how ‘an iris cranes to the sun.’

Disparate Pathos by Meg Tuite With tooth and nail, Tuite scrapes not under the skin, but under the bone to find the marrow of purpose in the lives of her characters. Her unique voice and style redefines what it means to be a woman, and to be a writer.

bruisers by Brad McLelland McLelland has written a wild, dark and humorous road novel that ignites the senses, burning like Oklahoma wildfire. Hop in the truck with Leo and Jeremy and take the ride of your life.

Interior Life by Katharyn Grant Filled with moments of intense transformation, Katharyn Grant’s poems explore that part of life which exists between words, exposing a lush and sometimes contradictory world.

Literature / $10.00 #11

D i f f e r e n t Vo i c e s for a

different species

MONkey puzzle

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“So, you publish puzzles?” - Postal Clerk, Boulder, Colorado

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- Monkey Puzzle Winery, Chile

“Get back to your cubicle, Cornelius.”

MONkey puzzle

- Nate’s Best Friend, Fresno, California

“Welcome to Alaska!”

- Nate’s New Best Friend, Yet to Be Found



780985 170509

monkey puzzle press

ISBN-10 0-9851705-0-6 ISBN-13 978-0-9851705-0-9

Monkey Puzzle #11  

Sample of Monkey Puzzle #11 - The Exit Issue