volume one september 2009
adam donnelly daniel skinner hugh pendexter jonathan a jaffe luke edmonson olivia taft stephen hawks connie c spasser jared hegwood f simon grant ella m peigh marcus plumlee abby spasser john reddick melissa konomos monica holmes cameron bentley haley grant gloria greenbaum brenda ledford alex mccain
number 944 ella m. peigh
We buried the ideas our parents held to our infant mouths. We do not look at the hands which feed us, the lives which shape the skin from bone. Instead of kneading the fruit between our gums we swallow wholeness. And
footsteps crawl beneath us.
blindly, blindly, our
We do not grow into the heads that hold us as
children. We have hands which grope meaninglessly, searching for something to hold to. Instead of taking our hands to our mouths as to cover the juice which seeps from our throat, we allow the blood to fall to our ancestors, to our creators. We allow our blood to
beg for forgiveness.
Sonnet: To Peter of Verona, called Peter Martyr
BRENDA KAY LEDFORD
JOHN C. REDDICK
A gnome shriveled in her recliner, face like leather breeches, she graces a century and defies
Strong Saint, you would not give the kiss of peace To masks, whose sterile hearts and sterile wombs Made of their sainted bodies painted tombs Desiring that all birth, all life, should cease,
the disease, outliving her doctor. Cells of her brain firing, Shakespeare and newspapers heaped
For which, they hated you and made you bleed— No cold consolamentum was your death, But crying, “I believe!” with your last breath, You did entrench the earth with that rich seed
at her feet, twig fingers plan the mayor’s race, an angel and demon on her shoulder. Velma came from Roxboroin 1941, a trailblazer for women. Moving farm families, planting
Of which life, life, and life eternal spring, The which their crooked falchion could not reap, The blood of martyrs, which into the land did seep And raised up harvests to the Creator-King,
legumes on the bleeding hillsides, she helped the TVA bring light to the mountains.
To Whom you singing bear His living good: Pray He create us new, by your and His own blood.
Now at 95, leading the Bible study, spider webs hanging like clothes line across the living room. Outside her window, Cherokees ride rafters down the Tusquittee Mountain. Kudzu leaps across the fence and spreads over woods, kudzu intertwines with rusty plow becoming one flesh. Green smothers naked banks, gallops up buildings, covers the shanty’s tin roof, makes love, buries loved ones, returns to dust. Evening falls. Empty chair draped with a black shawl.
volume one september 2009
the inkling was created to celebrate the art of the written word and
provide a focused literary forum for local authors. Named in honor of the informal Oxford literary club of the 30s and 40s, which included two of our favorite authors - J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the inkling encourages the pursuit of the written word, both in its creation and consumption.
the inkling accepts unsolicited submissions of art, prose and poetry. All submission are jundged anonymously and selected by an editorial team.
the inkling is a special section within verge. The views expressed in the
inkling are not necessarily those of the editors or the verge staff. The individual contributors hold copyrights to artwork, texts, and poems in this issue. No material may be reprinted without the permission of the magazine or its contributors.
Blackville HALEY GRANT
copyright 2009, verge
monkey see STEPHEN HAWKS
BRENDA KAY LEDFORD received the Paul Green Award for her poetry chapbooks. JOHN C REDDICK was born in Augsburg, Germany (Augusta Vindelicorum in Latin), and has lived in Augusta, GA since he was one year old, being thus an Augustan twice over. HALEY GRANT lives in Aiken. pursuing a graduate degree in historic preservation. STEPHEN HAWKS is a visual artist, specializing in ceramics and hand building pottery.
JOHN C REDDICK
an Imitation of “DerWerwolf ” by Christian Morgenstern A Werewolf one time burned for knowledge, And driven by that sacred flame, (Himself, he had not been to college.) Left wife and child one night, and came Into the local churchyard, seeking The tomb of that most noble creature, A Public High School English teacher, To learn a graver style of speaking. He shyly begged for education — The Corpse assented heartily (He had, he said, once taught AP) — And straightway launched his conjugation: “The Werewolf, in a former sense, Implies the Arewolf (present tense), The Havebeenwolf (long past, you see), And Willbewolf, (futurity).” This learning pleased the Werewolf well, But he continued: “Can you tell Me, what is my subjunctive, please?” The question caused distinct unease. The teacher therefore gulped, and hissed: “Werewolves, my good sir, don’t exist,” Bade him, “Good evening,” somewhat stuffily, And slammed his coffin cover, huffily.
This stern decree of Nature’s Laws Gave (so to speak) the Werewolf pause. He had a wife and child, you know. He shook his head, and turned to go.
He went like one that Fate did slam With Love betrayed, or “Rent Due” letter, But stopped in at “The Slaughtered Lamb”, Ate a tourist, and felt better.
Mexican Standoﬃshness Sonnet to a Sculler GLORIA R. GREENBAUM
At first light, I open the bedroom blinds Onto the gray Savannah River Art spreads out below A Thomas Eakins - “Max Schmitt in a Single Scull.” In his sleek, yellow shell, Muscles pulling with steadfast rhythm Against the willful current The rower masters the taskmaster waters. I envy you out there in the freshness, The rivery tang skimming your senses. I savor the strenghth of your sturdy back and limbs, Youthful energy carrying the scull upriver. You may think birds your only watchers But I too share this pure moment.
Whenever I go to nice Mexican restaurants these days, I feel like I am betraying Taco Bell. It’s like Taco Bell and I used to be really good friends, probably best friends, in high school. But then we both went to the same college, and I met some different, more sophisticated friends that I hang out with all the time. And Taco Bell doesn’t say anything, but when I invite Taco Bell to come with us, Taco Bell just says “no, thanks. I’m just going to stay here and study.” And I know it hurts Taco Bell’s feelings, but my new friends think that Taco Bell is weird and low class and can’t believe that I would want to hang out with Taco Bell in the first place. And now Taco Bell and I have this rift between us, and I don’t think that we’ll ever have the same relationship that we used to. And now when I go to Taco Bell it’s weird, and Taco Bell is all like “Oh, I see you’re just driving through.” And I say “yeah, sorry. I can’t sit down and eat, I have somewhere to be. But we should totally hang out this weekend.” And Taco Bell agrees that we should totally hang out this weekend, but both of us know that we won’t.
JOHN C REDDICK studied the Classics at University of Georgia, with a taste for translating mediæval poetry. A military brat by birth, ADAM DONNELLY traveled the world and, now, studies medicine at the Medical College of Georgia. GLORIA GREENBAUM finds inspiration from the window of her Savannah River home. LUKE EDMONDSON studies medicine at the Medical College of Georgia.
I can’t help but be reminded Of the staging of a house As he sits there, Clutching the remote, A soap opera in Spanish blaring. “Picture what your belongings would look like here! Imagine what should be there!” What should be there. He sits there, impassive, And I get the sudden urge To take my eyeliner and draw A thick ring of charcoal around His eyes, I get an urge to dress him up In a feather boa, a tiara. All done up like a china doll That has no other purpose but To sit, to be watched. That has no other way that should be. His wife rushes around, A flurry of importance, of burdens, Because everyone’s coming for dinner, And Pat can’t sit next to Sadie, And Phil has that terrible back problem. “Well, at least I have my chair,” he says suddenly, as if A joke, And maybe it was. But I look at his face, Scrutinize his lineless eyes, And can’t find a trace of humor, And I should be able to see it, if it’s there. I should be able to see it. Everyone is over again, this time in the daylight, Visiting to fulfill their good deed, to make Themselves feel better; He could not care less.
Tana He has his remote, he has his chair, And his wife has placed him In a ‘Life is Good’ t-shirt. I wonder if the poor bastard can still appreciate irony. We missed the mark, he and I. As I evolved, he devolved, Never quite matching up. I don’t know his favorite color, Or the way he takes his eggs, And he sure as hell knows nothing About me. I owe him nothing, and He owes me even less, And those things don’t matter, they don’t, But it seems like they should, doesn’t it? It seems like they should. When he dies, it doesn’t feel Like loss, Because really, missing our “bond” Is like missing an apartment in Manhattan For the ten-foot high ceilings. And it doesn’t feel like relief, either, Doesn’t feel like release. It feels like a door finally shutting, A lock finally clicking. Like a remote finally changing the channel. Now, I might never fully understand My father’s parenting techniques, My aunt’s eating disorder, My grandma’s drinking. I will never understand his jokes, Or what color his favorite shirt was. I will never be able to share reality with him, That door started closing long ago, It’s shut now. He and I missed the mark, Never made any memories, nothing tangible. So instead I have whimsy, A flimsy replacement. I have eyeliner, tiaras, and feather boas, And this is not the way it should be. This is not the way it should be.
Georgia Clay OLIVIA TAFT
There’s weathered barns of yesteryears, And fields of dozens upon dozens here. Unbroken trails of white-tailed doe, And brimful ponds of bass you’ll always know, But you won’t know ‘twas surely Georgia ‘til You’ve seen the red clay of her hills. There’s cotton fields row upon row; Peach and pecan orchards that bloom and grow, And by the blooms of magnolias You’ll sing out, “King of the South, it’s Georgia!” So fry your chickens and sweeten your tea For red clay hills you’re bound to see.
What does Tana remember? Pears. She remembers pears. A spotted, white pear tree leaned over, twisted into a small, brokedown shed. She remembers the sweet smell of overripe pears gone black and blistered, smashed into the grass. She remembers sitting, watching for hours as they would break from their limbs and fall to earth, each in a wet thwack against another fallen pear. Brown and orange butterflies would hop from pear to pear, dodging wasps and bees, careful for ants digging into the soft meat of the pear. Her parents. Being fourteen. She remembers being in the garden, the sun beating down. A floppy hat. Sitting on a gallon bucket, another next to her and her gloved hands in the okra plant, breaking the fruit from the stalk. Gertie, her mother, asking, “What does he want? What can I do for him that I am now not? I come home from work and he’s either asleep or in the kitchen or watching TV in the kitchen. He doesn’t want to do anything with me anymore. I say, we can go see a movie or there’s some music in Hattiesburg, but…” Tana remembers pushing peas through the automatic sheller. She’s thankful for it, but wishes butterbeans could be done so easily. She’ll sit around her grandmother’s table, her hands in a mixing bowl of rinsed butterbeans, look out over the back yard. She remembers how hand-shelling destroyed her nails. She remembers pushing peas through the automatic sheller outside Aunt Bea’s, her mother on the chair swing, riding back and forth, letting her foot draw in the dry dirt. The acrid smell. Her mother would idly talk as Tana pushed peas. “Once, Leonard, you know, he drove past the house on his bush-hog, stopped me when I was mowing the yard. I say hi and he says hi and I ask him if he’d like some water. He tells me he’d rather have some company, that Ilene’s so busy and he’s so lonely. Could I give him some company? And I tell him I’m flattered, but I’m a married woman and he wipes his forehead with his handkerchief, waves and drives on. I didn’t because of your father. But I can’t tell him something like that. How can I tell him something like that? I just wish he would…” Tana remembers how quickly and quietly the sheller took her finger. There is a flurry, her mother shrieking at the sight of Tana holding up her four-fingered hand in amazement. The next is grandfather in truck on road trees cow crossing sign bridge heft a man made of crying glass little boy outside staring through hospital doors swing and swap nurse crossing sign sheller peas sleep sleep. Then sleep. When she’s married fifteen years from now to Jerry, a poet turned car dealer, her wedding band dangles from her neck. She tells the story to her own daughter even further into the future. She forgets many things after that, but she never forgets pears.
Davidson Fine Arts sophomore ABBY SPASSER’S “Should Be” won the ninth grade Georgia Young Authors award. College sophomore OLIVIA
TAFT studies journalism, working on her new children’s novel in between classes. Published author JARED HEGWOOD has garnered two Pushcart nominations for his work and teaches at Augusta State University.
It was her default, her go-to. It recalled to her feelings of purpose and adventure, of vitality. She remembered how it covered her, how it protected her, how it allowed her to become anyone. She remembered every time she had worn the red velvet dress. Kate stared blankly out of the bridge’s main window. She was leaning back in the captain’s chair, feet on the dash. With one eye closed, she began to trace constellations with her left pointer finger. Her ship was floating idly through space. In what direction? Kate couldn’t begin to fathom. She had turned off all navigation systems. For how long? She could have been sitting there two hours or two days, there was no way of telling. She hated these breaks between trips. She got up from her chair, too fast and her head rushed. She proceeded to crack her back, neck, and any other body part that would consent. Why she rose, she didn’t know. If she didn’t find a reason soon she’d be pacing, and that was worse than sitting. She moved to the storage room, intent on cleaning it up before something started breeding again.
HUGH PENDEXTER, III (See Genesis 34) But no one talked to me.Yes, Mother tried To quiet my wild cries. Her gentle hugs Calmed me to tell my story – she whose body Never shivered for the pleading eyes Of one whose bowels churned desiring her. Father’s eyes followed Rachel, and Mother Lived on scraps of dutiful begetting. Half, I think, she envied Shechem’s lust That seized with blighting force what should be won By patient wooing. Even a dog struts And poses, paws the ground, and nuzzles the bitch To win consent before he mounts and thrusts. Stained with my blood, he begged forgiveness, knelt, And wept remorse and pleaded for my love. I screamed and ran – invaded, agonized, Robbed of my inmost self, I roused the camp. My brothers raged at violated honor; Father weighed his options – war or gain. Hamor begged to patch the broken egg With marriage: by husband’s right his son, Possessing me, might stand excused. I was a pebble in a game, a sheep Stolen at first, but bought at higher price. My brothers’ claim of blood for blood usurped My father’s bargain, erased the rape in death, And flung us into exile. My honor saved, I shiver in my mother’s tent alone.
Inside was a cluttered museum dedicated to her travels, a junk room full of odd and beautiful things found on strange far-off worlds. Here were countless gifts and souvenirs, as well as a vast emergency wardrobe suited for any situation. Along one wall, a terrarium populated by obnoxiously noisy plants was slowly becoming obscured from view by stacks of never-opened books. For half an hour, Kate attempted to rearrange the mess into something resembling organization, but was only able to clear a walking path before giving up. As she stood up, her eyes caught sight of the dress. It looked out of place; special. And when she saw it, she remembered. She remembered the Kreblon recitals on Star-Complex Five, the raucous celebrations on V-E Day. She remembered walking past the Hoovervilles after a show on Broadway. She had attended the first inter-planetary mixer and the last few good parties of the waning Roman Empire. There had been coronations, graduations, long vacations, and, at some point in time, the Polk County High School Senior Prom. The good memories made her smile. The depressing ones led her out of the room, eager to forget the dress and what had happened to the girl who wore it. She walked briskly to her living quarters, only to arrive and immediately plop down onto her bed. She stared at the ceiling for a while, and then rolled over. On the bedside table, a picture of a smiling Kate in a different dress looked past her. She was with her father after graduation. The smile was one of the few she gave after her mom died, before she and her dad set out all those years ago. She remembered her father chuckling and asking, “What are you bringing that for?” when she first brought it on board. She had otherwise packed very logically and economically: comfortable clothes, boots, a raincoat, earmuffs, a life jacket, et cetera. Her father had told her they were leaving their old lives behind for a new one exploring the starts. So why she felt the need to bring her prom dress, she wasn’t quite sure. “I, well, you never know when we might have to crash a party…” she defended herself weakly. [She later turned out to be right about the party crashing bit, when she and her father had to mediate a hostage situation at the first Galactic President’s Inaugural Ball, and again when they had to perform at Woodstock.] Her father didn’t object, but just smiled sadly to himself. Besides, he had his keepsakes, too. He brought along his father’s pocket watch, passed on to him. Kate’s mother had given her that dress for her seventeenth birthday. Kate got up from her bed and walked to her desk. She pulled out a pair of goggles from a drawer, put them on, and began to flip through her virtual photo albums. These were pictures of her and her dad. These were the pictures of their adventures, the fastest times in Kate’s life. They had gone everywhere and everywhen, witnessed every great event in history and all of the galaxy’s natural wonders. She saw the diamond canyons of Prong, the everpurple forests of An-won, the Chicago World’s Fair, and then of course, Slouthe, a small moon covered in dense forests.
CAMERON BENTLEY lives behind the lens, while calling Auugsta home. An accomplished poet and novelist, HUGH PENDEXTER, III is Professor Emeritus at Armstrong State College. As a senior at Davidson Fine Arts, MARCUS PLUMLEE plans out his stories during math class.
Heart Walking Around It had been seven years (in her own personal timeline) since her father had decided to stay behind on Slouthe. The two of them had rescued a people called the Frəmjkn from their planet as their sun was dying, and during the search for a new home, grown close to them. Her father wanted to settle down with the Frəmjkn and help them start anew. But Kate couldn’t stay; she wasn’t done exploring the universe yet. She explained this to her father. Her father understood. And after Slouthe, she traveled alone, enjoying it no less, only missing the company of her father. But after all, she was a grown girl now. She could make her own way. She had her own ship, her own red dress and—there was a sharp intake of breath. She stumbled across a photo and was forcefully reminded of why she no longer wore that dress. It had served its purpose. It had made two become one. She saw herself standing in front of the Seven Waterfalls of Andromeda, her arm around the waist of a tall man with blue skin, two antennae, and a wide smile on his face. He was wearing his orange military uniform (he always did), and his two left arms were hugging her close, his right waving at the camera. She was wearing the red dress. Quop loved the red dress, gave one of his rare smiles when she wore it. The picture was of an anniversary. It had been six moon cycles since they had met (around two Earth years), and Quop was about to tell her he was leaving. He had to fight in his planet’s war. He asked her to wait for him. She asked him not to go
CONNIE CORZILIUS SPASSER
I cannot hear the birds, the rain For pipes, the sound of human waters Rushing to fill and drain, to fill And drain. Outside the door, my daughter, Tear-streaked and screaming, pounds the wood Between our two bruised solitudes. On Hart Island, the twenty-two convicts stack The diminutive coffins twelve-deep: Baby Girl Rasalikis, Baby Boy Franklin Beaten, starved, drugged to keep Them quiet. The men say it’s a good detail: Peaceful, though it gets to you after awhile. It’s always the same: The baby wouldn’t stop Crying, so he hit it and it wouldn’t stop—not With his fists, or a bat, or the telephone receiver— Until, of course, it did. How dare she cry like that, How dare he add his shovelful to the trench, Her noise to the din, his shit to the stench?
Kate immediately took off the goggles and stood up. She needed to…go somewhere, not be here, not be here on this ship with that red dress beating in its hiding place. She couldn’t stay in one place. She couldn’t settle down. That’s what everyone else does, she thought to herself. She paced around her room for a moment, then strode up to the front of the ship, sat once again in her chair, and began the launch sequence. She was still not sure where she was going, but she was sure of one thing.
Too new to know how to meet pain with silence. That comes later, after years of no hands, holding Life like a string between the teeth, In a country where so often our deepest longings End in sirens, in circus lights, in alarms, In the blue and gray skins of uniforms.
Maybe her father had stopped traveling, gotten lonely and settled down. Maybe others believed they had found causes more important, but not Kate. She knew the truth: the universe was lonely and bored. It was tired of its people staying in their little villages and cubicles, content to never see the stars, content to love and fight amongst themselves, never caring about other worlds, other life. It yearned to be seen and explored, to be known.
At the entrance to the unmarked graves Is a single, stone-faced paean to oblivion. How but bitterly could any mind conceive: He must have loved them, he made so many Of them? The sickly acid of belief Untested—of generic, hothouse grief—
With all systems go, Kate set a course for uncharted space at near light speed.
Cut those letters loud and sweet so we can’t Hear their cries. But the men who load and unload The boats say there’s nothing but birds and rain And the sound of water and earth on wood To hear, anyway. The babies must have learned That lesson: They are very quiet in the ground.
my friend hector MONICA HOLMES
There is only one place to go for a hot dog at two in the morning on a Thursday – Circle K. It is not the best place to be, but it is the only place to get a hot dog. A man walks in, his clothes are paint splattered and I instantly pin him as a Hector. Hector asks if he can get a ride to Rite-Aid and back, to buy a hammer. There is no questioning if this guy is serious or not. He is clearly very serious. He needs a hammer, he needs it now, and he needs it from Rite-Aid, goddammit. Hector can tell from my hesitation that I might say no, Rite-Aid is closed, so he launches into the story. “I just need a hammer, I need to check something out, I gotta go get a hammer, because this guy was going to get sued and go to jail for a long long time, and if he killed the grandfather
of my child, I gotta check it out, committed suicide because he couldn’t see me, you goddamn bet I gotta checkitoutcheckitoutcheckitout.” This man has definitely been awake for several days. The man behind the counter inches to his right, we look at each other. He is going to get a gun. I get caught up in the excitement, already imagining news vans in the parking lot. I forget my safety. I say no, I cannot give Hector a ride. He tries to convince me again, “I know I sound crazy, I hope I’m not really crazy.” I say no, again. I want a scene, I want to be interviewed. I want Hector to show me how crazy he really is. But Hector disappoints. He spits, and storms out the door. The Circle K guy and I just look at each other, and then I buy my hot dog, which is cold.
I’d like to say I know, through my own child’s voice, Their voices; through her lively flesh, their pure intent. Instead, I wonder every day how I’ll keep Her clear of the survivors, the ones who grow, the kid Who’s been beaten into a despair so without affect, He could blandly wring her fragrant neck. I am sick of apologists and explanations. I know that human beings are threatened By those bright, ignorant eyes, that unscarred potential, By our own helplessness and failure resurrected. Some, jealous, kill. Some tremble to unlatch The breast. We tear our hearts from our chests And send them out to walk the world, that precipice Of bones, multiplying our lives and deaths. With what meager provisions we approach Our children: A memory of huddling, without hope Or words (in fact, the same) against A closed door. The memory of how it will be.
An aspiring editor, MONICA HOLMES is a 19 year old California native now living in Evans. The works of CONNIE CORZILIUS SPASSER have been widely published in literary journals. She loves the written word, having also been a bookseller and editor.
Globules :or: The Unidentiﬁed f. SIMON GRANT
At first I thought the stars were multiplying. Edit said it was me being unconquerably sentimental – like one of those corny little things I’d say about a month or two into our relationship. But I told her it wasn’t sentimental: the stars had slowly doubled over the last month or however long – it was weird, like life multiplying, like the stars were alive and breeding like rabbits. And she laughed at me and said I was a corny romantic. But that’s Edit; it’s how she is. I mean she don’t even go by her Christian name, Edith; she leaves out the last letter like it weakens her or something. And she’s smarter than me anyway, so I take her word for most things. There was a time she’d say that stuff with a different tone. And she smiled, and I knew what those lips felt like. Now she only ever smiled with one half of her mouth when she stopped believing in life or anything. And very suddenly, drastically, without any other sort of build up, we saw them over the lake, about forty of them floating there, bobbing a little. Not stars or nothing big like that; something a lot more humble. I stood there staring at them – the lake I can see from my window – big, weird, wordless: those things, those weird things. Honestly, unlike most folks, my first impression wasn’t flying saucer. I could only think of one word: life. Hell, I don’t know much about that philosophical stuff Edit’s always talking about, all that mind stuff; I just got this feeling life’s a whole lot more unconquerable than any crackpot scientist or philosopher ever speculated. But the TV immediately started screaming: UFO attack! UFO attack! And Edit said, “This is retarded, this is like some damn idiot Saturday morning sci-fi movie.” I’m guessing Edit agreed with me somehow: I mean they weren’t saucers or cigar-shaped light-blinkin’ space-roamin’ vehicles; they weren’t silver, metallic, mechanical, lifeless – What’s it called? – automatons. They were bodily, organic like something out of Biology class, but not necessarily scientific. Semi-pastel, sunset color, mostly blues and fleshy pinks, and maybe a deep orange. Life colors. But the television kept screaming apocalypse, the final war is here! Well, we waited and waited for that apocalypse; we waited and waited for that final war, waited and waited for anything at all. Nothing happened. They floated there and Edit said, “This is pointless, like they expect something not to disappoint us nowadays.” And so they were floating in the city, and that’s all they ever did: just floated and floated harmlessly, these weird pink and blue globules in random shapes with what might’ve been veins or arteries if you saw it on an animal. Some of them big as a bus or bigger; a lot of them big as a dog or smaller. And one of them looked like intestines and I heard myself say out loud, “I got part of my intestines taken out back when I almost died; that’s nightmarish.” And Edit said, “Oh don’t be solipsistic,” whatever that means. I remember saying to the doctor weeks or so before I went into the hospital: “I got blood globules in my piss.” So we debated for a bit about what exactly a globule was. I didn’t really know. And now every body was using that word: Globule, a nonsense word. And I started hearing stories and speculation: this fella by the name of Stanley – he worked with me down at the sign factory – he said he woke up one day and saw one floating above his bed, bobbing there, oblong, about the size of a child. He said he screamed and jumped out of bed and started beating it with a kayak oar. But it would just bang against the wall and float back to him gently. So he kept beating it a good five or ten times until he gave up and ignored it. Edit said, “I’d’ve kept beating it til it was dead.” And Stanley said, “So you think they’re alive?” And Edit said, “No, of course not!” One day about two weeks in, the three of us were sitting with some people at Ezekiel’s (All-Nite) Shrimp and Waffle Queen and my friend Artemis said, “I think they’re dead souls, you know, like dead and forgotten souls come up from the underworld, because, I mean, how’re we spose to know what dead souls look like?” And this guy named Noel, he said, “I looked at one of them and I think I saw my dead sister.” And this girl Appaloosa said, “I saw my dead brother.” And then she and Noel started making out. Edit pointed a finger to the back of her throat and made a gag like she does. Then later she said, “If I saw my dead husband’s face in one of those damn globules I’d beat it till it exploded.” Anyway, back then this girl Joy started saying the globules were only outcroppings of our inferior psychology, whatever that means. She said she was going to start a lecture tour. I expected Edit to agree, but she said, “Boy, that Joy thinks a lot
religion and the lonely DANIEL SKINNER
of herself, doesn’t she.” Then this girl Hope started saying we’d all shrunk down to microscopic size: “I mean size is all relative after all.” Then she said something weird about perspective and fractal geometry. I mean fractal? What the hell is that? And Edit scoffed and said, “These idiots want to see patterns don’t they.” So I was talking to this guy Conti and I told him how I didn’t think they were space aliens. And Conti said, “Of course not; you’d be silly to still think that anymore.” But then I told him about the stars multiplying before they showed up – “I mean one plus one don’t equal two in this case; if they’re not space aliens, what was the deal with the stars doubling all of a sudden?” I expected him to say the two were unconnected, just complete random happenstance and all that babble. But he said, “It kind of casts doubt on the existence of outer space, doesn’t it?” But Conti was always a weird kid. Of course weird wasn’t quite as weird as it used to be, I mean considering the – What’s it called? – the context? I was tempted to think maybe he was right, maybe there was no outer space up there. And they printed a survey in Huddled Masses the next week under the title, “What Are They?” – nobody needed to elaborate that title – twelve percent said, “Dead souls”; fourteen percent said, “Nothing,” Joy’s followers I assumed; two percent said, “God’s messengers”; two percent said, “Harbingers of the Apocalypse/fulfillment of Biblical prophesy”; one percent said, “Space aliens”; seventy two percent declined to speculate. I was surprised the space alien speculating was so low. I mean I stopped believing they were space aliens early, but I thought my opinion was in the minority. I mean the knowledge is so under the surface in the – What’s it called? – the subconscious, I was afraid nobody could get to it. It made me feel good about people. I mean it’s weird that these bullshit floating nonsense animals could make me feel good about people, but they did. Then there was this girl Ashley-Ellen – Mark’s babysitter – I heard all these stories about how she started a cult: The Believers in Globules as Dead Souls cult. She was this real charismatic blonde and Edit said she only got a following because most of those people wanted to sleep with her. Then it turned out to be a suicide cult, but she was the only one who jumped in the lake and drowned herself. And her sister Eliza-June who lived across the lake in a little town called Syrn, I started hearing stories about how she started a cult: The Believers in Globules as Space Aliens cult – small town folk jump to the space alien conclusion more quickly I think – and she jumped in the lake and drowned. But I think she started alone and drowned alone, no cult following her. There at the bottom of the lake: two sisters who hadn’t talked in years. And Edit said, “Please, that totally lacks verisimilitude,” whatever that means, “Next you’ll tell me their mother jumped in.” And I quit my job at the sign factory. I started reading Genesis more: not because I believe in that stuff or nothin’; just, you know, looking for something bigger. And Edit would snatch it out of my hand and toss it against the wall and say, “If you start talking about order and purpose, I’m leaving.” And I said to her one day, “We should have a kid.” And she said, “Why?” with that gaggy shock, you know the
f. SIMON GRANT teaches English at Augusta State University and is currently working on his M.F.A. in creative writing. With dreams of being a rock star, DANIEL SKINNER writes screenplays for feature ﬁlms.
way Edit gets. And I said, “Cuz I been thinkin’ a lot about life lately, how life, you know, fills the world and keeps filling it.” And she said, “I’ve had enough life with that little bastard in there and I don’t need another one.” I forgot to tell you about Mark. He was with us the whole time, most of the time behind the door in his little back room, tagging along with us wherever we went, fast as he could on his little legs: squinting when Noel and Appaloosa started making out; squinting when the weird floating globules arrived; squinting when his mother brought up his dead father and described how she’d beat him back to the grave. He was quiet; in fact I don’t remember him ever talking. When I was in the hospital back when I almost died – strapped into those machines, feeling white, listening to endless beeping and Edit going on and on about how she could feel herself getting sick just being around so many sick people – I felt Mark’s fingers around my finger; I couldn’t quite see so good, but I felt his fingers; I hardly knew the kid back then, but I felt his fingers around mine. And when the globules showed up he was fascinated. One day he and I spent a good twenty minutes never speaking staring at one – big as a blimp – floating in front of the second floor window. I made a game of pointing out shapes – like clouds, you know, when you’re a kid – and Mark would smile, but he wouldn’t join in. I don’t know why he never talked. Anyway, this blimp-sized globule, I swear, had arms and legs like a man floating along on his back, like a dead body in a river or something – except, no head and his guts floating upward toward heaven – and it floated down into traffic and we heard honking and screaming and squealing and rattling and bang like it crashed into cars. Edit was screaming for attention the whole time. We didn’t notice. And then they started leaving us. They didn’t exactly leave. It was more of a dying; vanishing like in a magic act is more accurate; no, disintegrating is more accurate, like sugar coating with water poured all over it. Or glass. Or a rotting dead animal. Or smoke. Or you know how a downed power line, the blue sparks’ll jump from puddle to puddle. A few of them exploded, some of the big ones – It kind of made sense to me, something to do with gravity and black holes: beats me; I don’t know science too well. But it made perfect sense to me that explosive energy would be part of their – What’s it called? – repertoire. And I saw a report: The last one exploded down at Pappisville Train Station. Only one casualty. And I said out loud, “Edit was at the train station.” All I could think of was the smirk Edit must’ve had: “Oh, of course. How convenient. Show me the God machine.” Then the face disappears in fire, never losing the smirk until the final second. And those smirking lips, I remember what they felt like. One time, a long time ago. And then it was nothing – a long weird nothingness. I don’t know. I don’t know how to describe it. Empty, wordless, nothing. Just a bunch of unexplainable blank. It wasn’t till about a year later he – Mark I mean – said anything about any of it. I mean, I didn’t mind taking him in or nothing. He’s a lot like me: we don’t need much. His mother had enough money stashed. He made a balloon and painted it blue and pink and deep orange. And I heard him say in his little voice, “I miss them.” What did he mean? I miss them? I thought for a while and said something Edit might’ve called unconquerably sentimental: “Yeah ... Yeah ... I miss them too.”
Apr. 16 2005 02:44 pm LUKE EDMONDSON
My membranes are Always above threshold potential But it’s okay; The potassium channels are always open In my post-synaptic neuron My myelin is unsheathed I have a cat Named mcat
Man said, “Let there be asphalt where there are grasses.” and so there were Streets. as far as the eye could see. Man said, “Let there be buildings where there are trees.” and so there were Skyscrapers and Cities. enough to fill the earth. Man said, “Let there be breasts so there were Implants. to transform the worth of a girl.
where there were none before.”
our skin and bones and hopes have become ever so hark the herald industrial— and this woman said, i have pitched my fork far too deeply: there is a hair of me in every stroke of asphalt, an eye of me in every panel of skyscraper, a tongue and nostril of me in every gasp of city. i did not intend to belong here, a slave to convenience and clean bathrooms,
where i can squat and muse: why they must write on the walls: we are still so primitive still lonely still hungry still frantic
i understand now,
as we try so diligently not to be:
that we are forgotten, so frantic that we consign our thoughts our psyche our vision our possibility. to anything instant and nothing true. desperation. that finds no satiation finds apathy and lays her staunch and curdled neck into the hands of—
we are the courtesan of our inadequacies— yet find our name: our birth, and the taste of love could un-pave and feed: the World.
Much of MELISSA KONOMOS’ life has been formed by her nomadic and eclectic family as well as her unique experiences as an international adoptee. Melissa is married to her best friend, Michael Konomos.
“I dare you.”
Edgar turned away from the delicate temptation of so much glass. He brushed his unkempt blond hair from his eyes as he looked over at Evie. The harsh yellow glow of the streetlights made him look paler than usual. Evie looked up at him with a wicked grin.
“Train wreck bad.”
“I dare you to touch it,” Evie reiterated. Edgar slouched over to Evie and sat down beside her in the liquor store parking lot. Breaking stuff could wait. He looked across the street at the “haunted” pillar, than looked back at her. “Touched it before,” he smirked, “nothin’ happened.” Evie brushed back the straight black hair from her pallid face, giving Edgar a brief glimpse of her near black colored eyes. “Before was before,” she stated, “I dare you to touch it now.” “You still believe in that ‘haunted pillar’ crap?” he laughed. “I just want to see if anything happens.”
“Scared now?” she asked. “No,” he grinned nervously, “just grossed out.” “Then touch it again,” she challenged, “but keep your hand on it.” “You crazy?” “What’s the worst that could happen?” They both busted out laughing. Maniacal laughing. Edgar recovered, “Okay, here goes nothing!” He braced himself for the shock that would come, and pressed his entire hand upon it.The initial shock gave way to tingling pins and needles all over him. Pain welled up in his chest. He looked down at the gaping wound that now appeared there. Evie stood transfixed by the hole in his chest. He pulled away before the pain got too real. He shook himself with a brief, full-body shiver. “Ugh!”
“Okay,” he challenged, “but if I touch it, you touch it.”
Evie danced about in the throes of teenage revelation. “I know what it does! I know what it does!” she shouted.
“What’s it do?” he asked.
Edgar acquiesced with a wry smile. Ever since he met Evie, things were never dull. There was always something going on: sneaking into houses and breaking plates, banging on doors and windows, messing with the family pets. It was the most fun he’d ever had with his clothes on. He got up, with Evie in tow, straightened his Smile Gas work shirt, and walked across 5th street to the pillar. The pillar itself sat quite mundanely near the corner, shaded from the harshest light of the streetlights, its grey exterior daring to be messed with. Edgar recounted every urban myth about the pillar that he had heard. Inwardly, he laughed at all of them.
“Shows how you die.”
“Do it,” Evie giggled. Edgar stood next to it, looking back at her, one hand on his hip, the other pointing at the pillar. He poked at it with his finger. A sudden, shocking jolt ran though him, and he instinctively pulled away. Evie yelped out in shock. Edgar stepped back, shaking out the pain in his hand. “Shocked the hell outta me!” Evie stood silent, gripping her mouth in her hands as if to stifle her rising panic. “What?!” he snapped. “You were bleeding,” she said in a small voice. He looked down at his shirt. “Not bleeding now,” he spat out dismissively, “It’s your turn.” “But-” “But what? You said you would touch it if I touched it.” With fearful eyes and trembling fingers, Evie reached out to the pillar. Her hesitant hands brushed delicately across the rough, grey stone. The shock propelled her back two steps, her hand tingling with pins and needles. Edgar’s jaw dropped. “I think I’m gonna be sick,” he said in an indeterminate tone.
Edgar paused, and then: “How’d I die?” “Botched robbery,” she guessed, “Big, bloody hole in your chest!” She asserted each word with a poke to his imaginary wound. “Your turn,” he responded dryly. Evie gritted her teeth and pressed her hand upon the rough stone once more. Edgar watched, fascinated with horror as her body transformed into a mangled wreck. Her face ripped away, exposing gore, blood and bone. Her arms and legs broken and scraped, broken bone poking through skin. She trembled in pain, still holding the pillar. “How bad is it?” she asked. “Car crash bad,” he said thoughtfully. “Guess it’s kinda obvious,” she and her skull grinned. Their ghastly musings were interrupted by a low moan of terror. The pair turned to look at the young, stubble-headed man who was transfixed by the horror that was Evie. The moan rescinded into an unmanly shriek and he turned tail and fled up the street.
Haunted Pillar ALEX McCAIN III
“H-he saw me-” she stammered, “looking like this!” “I don’t think you get it Evie,” Edgar grinned, “He saw you!” She pulled her hand away, returning to her normal ghostly self. “We should follow him,” Edgar started. “And haunt him!” Evie finished. The two ghosts ran after the fearful man, invisible hands breaking windows and setting off car alarms in their wake. end.
JONATHAN JAFFE hails from San Francisco, currently resides in North Augusta, and served in the United States Army for eight years. ALEX McCAIN III is studying medical illustration at the Medical College of GA.