NAP 2.11 YEAR 2 ISSUE 11 FICTION: J. BRADLEY POETRY: DIANA SALIER CUSTODIAN: CHAD REDDEN NAP MAGAZINE & BOOKS INDIANAPOLIS, IN naplitmag.com
WE ARE THE GOOD CHILDREN OF LASERS LAZERS & LACERS.
WE GO ON & ON. WHEN WE MUST WE SAY PARDON & THANK YOU
EXPLODE. HOBIE ANTHONY JULIE BROOKS BARBOUR ROY COUGHLIN M.W. FOWLER TYLER GOBBLE DUNCAN JONES PHILLIP KOBYLARZ ROBERT KRUT REBEKAH MATTHEWS KEN POYNER STEPHEN ROSENSHEIN COREY ZELLER
REGRET IS AN EIGHT LIMBED CEPHALOPOD The television played a homemade science fiction movie. An octopus was attacking a city. A felt and wire monster superimposed onto buildings. The hero shot it down. It was a narrative I could understand with characters I believed in. You said an octopus attack was ludicrous. I said it took a suspension of disbelief and an immersion in the moment, like love. You said like love? I asked you what if I were an octopus but I only had two arms to hold you? Then you would be a duopus and I would have to send you back to your dimension with your records, your extra change of underwear, and all the arms you never used.
Hobie Anthony writes prose, poetry, and prose poetry in Portland, OR. A native of the South, prodigal son to Chicago, and new NorthWesterner, he seeks to understand this America. He can be found or is forthcoming in such journals as The Los Angeles Review, Crate, Prime Mincer, The Other Room, R.kv.r.y., Ampersand, [PANK], Birkensnake,Word Riot, Prime Number, and Palimpsest, among others. He is writing an experimental novel. â€ƒ
JULIE BROOKS BARBOUR
After window shopping for sandals, she walked home by a shortcut behind the shoe store. It began to rain. She zipped her coat then rounded the corner of the building where the paths were muddy and littered with puddles. Ahead, something slightly bulky rested on the path and something beside it on the wet grass. Nothing moved but the rain. As she approached, the bulky shapes revealed themselves as babies. The one on the grass wailed, bending his backbone toward the sky. Reaching around his body, she dislodged a squirrelâ€™s teeth from his spine. She scooped the babies into her arms. They resembled one another exactly, in face and form, each dressed in red. She waited for the parents to show, looking through the trees and down the path towards home. For nearly an hour, no one arrived. She bent her body over the babies to shield them from the rain. Her fingers dialed the emergency number on her cell phone. The emergency line rang and rang. No one answered. Her husband and daughter waited at home, probably wondering about her, but she returned to the shoe store to find the sales girl and show what sheâ€™d found, and ask her to keep watch for anyone suspicious. She waited. No one arrived. Individuals, couples, children, and families passed her. No one recognized the babies.
Two children ran around the shoe displays, throwing heels at one another. She asked if the babies belonged to them, but they didnâ€™t respond and ran away. It was up to her, the standin, to remember what babies needed: formula and diapers, a safe place to sleep. She walked toward the supermarket next door and thought of her daughter who would relish holding the babies. At the market, in the infant care section, the shelves were nearly empty. Everyone must be feeding babies. With an infant in each of her large coat pockets, she loaded her arms with what was left. The babies were still, neither struggling nor squirming. At the cash register, where a young girl waited, she unloaded her arms and checked on the babies. The pouches had gone limp. From a coat pocket she pulled two pieces of tattered red felt in the shape of dolls, sewn together and stuffed.
Julie Brooks Barbour is the author of Come To Me and Drink (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poems have recently appeared in Waccamaw, Kestrel, UCity Review, damselfly press, Diode, and Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems. She teaches at Lake Superior State University where she edits the journal Border Crossing.
Itâ€™s daytime so I try natural poses. Here I am in the coffee shop, here the bus. Here I am in the grocery store with a small basket seriously pretending to contemplate fish. Here walking on the street, repeated in the glass of slanted storefront windows like stuttering film: man walking with hands in pockets, man walking with hands in pockets, man walking with hands in pockets. Here in another coffee shop at the window looking out. Sip. In this way drain the day like a heavy pail of water, speed up as the load lightens. Here I am on a bridge, here sitting on the shore on a bench. I hold my skin quiet like a man steels his face so to reflect nothing of a loverâ€™s spurn. My life has left me, but I trail myself like a ghost through its scenes. Here are the things that make a day, must make a day. Here I am standing half in sun, thinking how it comes and goes, though I know clouds do most the work.
Roy Coughlin repairs washers and dryers for a living. In his spare time he lies about being a writer. His writing has appeared at Small Doggies Magazine and HOUSEFIRE. More at expatdepot.blogspot.com.
AT THE SCULPTURE GARDENS
We got the call: Atlas had passed out at Thorns, Olive Branch’s sculpture gardens, and fallen onto an elderly woman who had lingered too long at his thighs. The globe of celestial spheres had rolled over her husband, crushing his small bag of popcorn. The husband was OK, we learned, but Atlas was a pile of muscle when we got there, blocking the guided tour from proceeding through the hedges. We went right to work and gave him the ambrosia, as we like to call it. Near comatose, he mumbled how he saw the gods fighting over the stale bread held under the arm of the last pagan maiden in Rome. “He takes his job seriously,” I said to the manager. “No,” replied the manager, readying to call back to the main office with his walkie-talkie, “he takes his steroids seriously.” Atlas worked as a living statue at Thorns. Atlas was his stage name on the bodybuilding circuit. He was in between shifts, and the job was his way of supporting the hours of workouts and protein shakes he ingested daily. The steroids, coupled with a few hours in the sun and painted to a marbled white, resulted in a heat stroke. “I am a Titan, not a small g-god,” said Atlas.
We were by the Love Lies Bleeding and the lion with a thorn in his paw—I kissed James Rowe, my first kiss, here when I was fourteen. Atlas’ brethren were poised in bronze, marble, granite, and steel over various pools of lily pads. It was difficult to tell which of them were actors and which were real sculptures. Pan gave himself away, however, when he breathed into his flute and the opening note of a song escaped. The manager looked over his shoulder and pressed his lips together; I imagined there was a prepared speech about the definition of a sculpture. Atlas began speaking again. “It burns,” he said, “the end is near! Fields of olives blackening. The aqueducts crumble. And she stands there, the loaf tucked under her arms, begging us, us who starve, to hear her prayers.” “Can you move him?” the manager said, seeing the next guided tour approaching. After, when Atlas had recovered, we sat with him in TheHearth and ate sourdough bread dipped in wine. He ate savagely—a side-effect of the ambrosia. We asked if we could do anything for him. Give him a ride somewhere, a coat to put over his toga. “You really should go to the hospital,” I said. He shook his head no. “I can’t leave,” he said. “No more than you can your job. My future is here. I have a big competition next month. The hours are flexible, the pay is decent, and I get a lot of meditation time, something my coach wants me to improve
on.” He pointed to the windows of the gift shop. “You see those bookends, the frame of that glass table? Those bodies take real work. You can’t buy that; you have to earn it.” We walked with him back through the gardens to his spot. He stretched. We gave him some pain killers for his back, and he laughed them off. Despite being a Titan, he was a Roman. He spit-shined the celestial spheres, rubbing off the popcorn, and grunting like any veteran, heaved the chunk of metal again onto his back. Then, he was silent. Somehow the world seemed safer there, off the ground and on his shoulders, with our reflections looking back at us. We stood there in the setting sun, admiring the beauty, the endurance of all things, until the radio crackled with another call.
M.W. Fowler is the author of numerous short stories that have appeared or are forthcoming from numerous places, which is inconsequential when compared to his title, Ruler of Whatchawhenhow, a dimension of things whatchawhenhowian. He likes to do things, except that thing where you do that thing.
HOW MANY YEARS
You are the earth the dog displaced. You are the neat little pile. I’m sorry whatever came to haunt me ended up a silly ghost. Matt encouraged me to ask them to come. Another Matt says “The reason it’s good to have faith is the reason for everything good.” The tired shovel begs to differ. The dog begs for tomorrow but only briefly. Enough dead dogs and we’ll have a mountain. Enough faith and we’ll evaporate. Certain people are getting there their skin so soft. I ask HOW but maybe it’s WHY. They say Exfoliate! I ask HOW. They say Forget the thunderstorms! But the hole is filling up. The dog washes away. The earth is getting tired of being moved around. Like your toothbrush in your purse then on your counter then in your purse then on my counter. Like your dog in a cage in the car. Like sleeping at the top of a hill that can’t decide if it wants to be a mountain. Like your dog in the ground the barking gone. I holler IT’D BE NICE TO HEAR YOUR VOICE. The thunderstorm chirps. Weirdos in the backyard chirp. The phone is off the hook atop the kennel. (The dog is alive at this point.) A portal he thinks how lovely how white how double-ended. How terrible it’d be to make a discovery and die. How lovely if they never had the chance to say YOU’RE WRONG. How terrible to buy a dog the day before you die. How convenient to buy a shovel the day before your dog dies.
Tyler Gobble is a member of the Magic Helicopter Press team, lead editor of Stoked Journal, and a contributor with Vouched Books. He is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Goodness is a Fine Thing to Chase, part of The Fullness of Everything featuring Christopher Newgent and Brian Oliu (Tiny Hardcore Press, 2012). Find more at www.tylergobble.com.
SOMETHING FOR NOTHING
Teaching her English was difficult. I used the work of Stubbs as an illustrative aid. She’s pretty good on horses now. I don’t think there’s a place for you here anymore. We’ve both tried and I think we’ve tried hard. Emotions are getting in the way; this happens sometimes. We just both need to feel like we can be ourselves and maybe the only way that happens is if we’re apart. There were three images of me masturbating; tiny little things in black and white. He’d had them very nicely framed. Couldn’t you just try being kind, even if just for a moment? Isn’t it time you spoke to somebody about those pains you’ve been having? Why hit out at me when I’m trying to help? I don’t think you think I’m helping in any way. Do you think you could change? Stop pretending. You don’t want to change, that’s the problem. Can either of us make any kind of difference? Are we too old now? Does everything stick? Will it be the same day again and again for us now? I used to call him The Closet Heterosexual. I was so wrong there.
Duncan Jones lives and works in Birmingham in the United Kingdom. In the guise of a Wooden Boy, he does things with words and pictures.
He called Mexico and herein the mystery lies. It was his sister who first noticed it, the call to Mexico, on the phone bill, as incongruous as a profanity uttered in church, and who she herself racked her mind for a good five minutes trying to remember what it was she could have ordered: Spanish colonial furniture, a reservation for a seaside cabana, colorful artwork by an American expatriate- as God was her witness, she didnâ€™t know, which got her thinking about her husband who was once married to a sun-worshipping sexkitten, the kind of woman whoâ€™d show up at the airport to pick him up from a recent business meeting, wearing only high heels and a fake fur coat (a fact he would regret telling his wife for the rest of his natural life), who she knew to be living alone in a beachside resort, barely employed as a cocktail waitress, and probably still infatuated with him because he still kept pictures of her. Most things, as they say, are better left unsaid, but are worse off in the interest category. He, in turn, due to this strange telephone call to of all places Mexico, got to accusing her of mastercarding the two of them to certain bankruptcy, which she could do no other than take personally so much so as to procure for himself four relatively sleepless nights on a couch that was neither large enough for him nor especially made for sleeping, not to mention the innumerable awkward silences and estranged glances throughout the course of many days of dressing, showering, creating dinners, washing the car, and preparing the taxes while they both, over the course of at
least two months, completely forgot the one fated afternoon that they asked her brother and his one and only, as he liked to say â€œfavoriteâ€? brother-in-law, to stop by and feed the cata job, a want, or desire so forgettable, so unimportant, so boring that this singled out innocent bystander picked up the phone and for no other reason than to hear a womanâ€™s voice speaking Spanish, dialed Mexico.
Philp Kobylarzâ€™s recent work appears or will appear in Connecticut Review, Basalt, Santa Fe Literary Review, New American Writing, Poetry Salzburg Review and has appeared in Best American Poetry. His book, Rues, was recently published by Blue Light Press of San Francisco.
He knows he is dead because he is floating in the ocean. Because when a wave throws salt water in his mouth, he doesn’t cough it up. The shore is long gone, the water multiplies itself. Days ago, ten jellyfish started rising from the black water, miles beneath. Today, they reach him. Each of their clear cup bodies pulse around a different finger tip, pulling each through their gravitational center, their eye’s dimensional passageway. His fingerprints mark the universes inside, pull back. He knows he is dead because his body is here, and it isn’t. He’s not there to feel the relief of discovering— I am here floating in the water—
Robert Krut is the author of The Spider Sermons (BlazeVox, 2009). His poems have appeared online in Vinyl, Blackbird, Inter/rupture, Radioactive Moat, and more, and in print through journals like The Cimarron Review, Smartish Pace, and Barrow Street, among others. More information can be found at: www.robertkrut.com/homepage.
Jessica is staying with me because she says her boyfriend is going to have a heart attack soon, he eats a bag of potato chips every day and he has started to smell musty to her, like old people do. I suspect she thought since I’m a dyke she was going to be sleeping in my bed with me but I make her sleep in the living room instead. In the morning I get uneasy when I see her long awkward body sprawled out on a couch that is obviously too small for her. She has a figure almost like a man’s, broad shoulders and spindly arms, and she sweats so much she stains the pits of all her t-shirts a weird yellow color. Whenever Jessica gets drunk she chews on toothpicks and tries to talk dirty to me, or at least I think it’s supposed to be dirty talk: every time she always says the exact same phrases in the exact same intonation, like she’s reading from a script, and it usually ends in her calling me a slut and me getting mad at her; I tell her she’s just repeating the things her boyfriend has said to her and she shouldn’t shame a woman for her sexuality. I say, “You are going to get splinters in your tongue. I thought you were going to move out soon.” But when I remember my dreams she is in them. One night, after we go out dancing, we are waiting for the train to take us home, and at the station underground Jessica rips up a leftover sandwich she has been keeping inside her purse. She feeds the pieces to the pigeons. We see one missing a leg, hopping towards us. She says to me, “I feel like I took his leg.”
“You didn’t,” I say. She bends down, squatting in her iridescent rainbow heels. The pigeon jumps away but she calls for it, as gently as I’ve ever heard her talk. She throws another piece of bread. “I want to give him his leg back,” she says. Jessica ran away from home when she was 14 years old. She said she took cash from her dad’s wallet and rode a bus into the city; at a pizza place, after three slices she stared at an older fat man who smiled at her in a way she somehow knew she could ask him for anything. He took her to his studio apartment, where he had a bed, a fake potted plant, and an air conditioning window unit that dripped onto and stained the hardwood floor. They did something Jessica thought was probably sex. She felt like she had to shit, and it hurt, but that was okay, she still liked it. They lived together for a year before he admitted to her that he was doing it to her in her asshole and not in her vagina. So then they did it the other way, and after that Jessica liked sex even more. Jessica is 17 now and working at a gym as a receptionist. She hates that I don’t have air-conditioning in my apartment. The train rushes past us, blowing Jessica’s hair in her face, and I get goosebumps on my bare arms. “Jessica, why are you keeping a sandwich in your purse?” I ask. “If you’re hungry you can ask me for food.” “I know,” she says, straightening up. The doors open. “Has anyone told you how sweet you are? I want to take you to bed with me.” “You don’t have a bed,” I point out. We get on the train and sit down, a seat apart. At the gym, now, Jessica can bench 100 pounds. She says someday soon she’ll be able to pick me up and carry me short distances, and I believe her.
Rebekah Matthews lives in Boston and enjoys a good Yellow Tail merlot. Her stories have appeared in such publications as Storyglossia,Smokelong Quarterly, and decomP. In 2012 two of her stories were included in Wigleaf â€™s Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions, and her chapbook, Hymnal for Dirty Girls, was recently published with Big Rodent. More information about her writing can be found at rebekahmatthews.com.
THE WAREHOUSE SHELVING DANGER You know you are in danger. The last penguin that went by had a mean, ferocious look and was bounding at break neck speed bareback on his pogo stick. Obviously, he was looking for something and you are close enough to plastic to be potentially what he is looking for. You drop your face into the pelagic folds of your jacket, push your hands into the warming depths of your pockets, and try to double inward on yourself, leaving the least possible light colored surface. All about the dock fish lay in relative states of marching decay: from just realizing there is a lack of water, to being sun dried and well beyond care. You can sense that from many of the half closed warehouse doors, penguins of all stripes and matting are watching, each having his own prized fish picked out, and just wait for you to be out of the way before they rush out, like repentant virgins at a high school prom, to claim the perfectly ordinary, perfectly generic fish each thinks is the one fish for him. You were silly to think you could stop it. Ten minutes after climbing the fence and bribing the pelicans you knew you were in over your head. What were you, a life-long seafood stocker in a non-unionized grocery store, going to accomplish? Any penguin worth his salt would slice you to pieces, pass you off as fancy grade fish strips to the sycophant gulls. Every time with you it is that the further away anything you might achieve seems, the more you think
you can achieve it. It is when you are there: actually at the fragile point of action -- when the idea of striking or not, of thinking or not, of being erect or not, of grasping the bell in a four limbed smothering embrace before the clapper beats from the inside or not -- in squeals for ignition then you realize plans in the general are far easier than plans in the specific. It is now your fingers seem shorter. It is now that your breath is an octopus taking the five-thirty train. Your wheelbarrow is parked around the corner, and no one has discovered it yet. It seems immaterial now that it is likely the pelicans locked the gate behind you. You have not even thought of how to get the wheelbarrow out if that gate is locked. The ice you spread on the bottom of it is surely melted by now. Salt. You should have used grain salt instead. But you hate the taste of salt fish. Carefully you step around the white shrouded corner and into the shadow beyond a massive roll door. Your hands inch along the dark wall like horseshoe crabs seeking mates along the shallow ocean floor. Every minute that passes, fewer fish are animated along the slithery dock and you expect that in a flash of thumbstone the penguins will overcome their fear of each other and rush out from their hiding places: no more than one mass at first, each with the concerns simply of any full breasted penguin, each scoring only marginally which of them at the moment is getting the most fish; later, this platform will be an orgy of forgetfulness, each lopsided penguin gorging on the plenty that has been simply dumped before them. You want your share. So what if you are not a penguin. So what if you are not a sickly, hanger-on gull. So what if you are not a bloated security pelican. You are the resourceful seafood guy from two blocks over. One day, you might even be the seafood manager, a man with his own sticky white
apron, his own stoically red baseball cap. So what if you might not get the wheelbarrow out: you have pockets, arms you can fold into almighty bowls. You can climb the baffling fence, you can out run even penguins with pogo sticks, penguins with push scooters, penguins in the orgasm of fish everywhere: fish plentiful, fish satiation, fish hedonism, fish religion. To hell with the mesmerizing shadows. You step out, a gray house-cat of thunder, hands at your side, face jutting full forward like a pornography manual, fish at your feet for the taking. Fish like the sex of rainbows. Fish almighty. Fish like a religion of hedonism. The penguins accept it as the true sign that now they should ferociously rush.
Ken Poyner has been lurking about the small press scene, which apparently now is being fancifully absorbed by the web, for forty years. His wife, as a world class power lifter, has a much more well defined avocation. They raise abandoned cats and nervous fish in southeastern Virginia.
VOLVIENDO KING KONG
I stir when the sun rises over the Andes and floods the tiny window above my bed. I see my reflection clearly in the mirror. I am pitch black. My skin is covered in thick hair. I no longer burn in the sun. This is not a guerilla mask. The hair piercing my skin was excruciating. It didnâ€™t happen overnight. It took month after month of pointing, of making gestures. Now my feet have grown opposable digits. I can hang upside down from my shower rod. I can stand on the balcony and beat my chest and stare the savage fire of the sun in the eye. I can leap from the 27th story to street level, but prefer to take the stairs. I can walk the streets without anyone raising their eyes. I can order at a restaurant. I can ask for things from behind the counter. I can open my own checking account. I can climb a tall building with a natural blonde in my hand, if I can just manage to find a natural blonde.
Stephen is originally from Seattle and a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at San Francisco State University. He was a former editor of Fourteen Hills Literary Magazine and Small Desk Press. His translations and poems have appeared or are due to appear in The International Review, Sazmidat Literary Magazine, Emerge Literary Magazine and Cold Noon.
SHE WAS WATER I CUPPED MY HANDS Stratocumulus bodies, how we pointed at people in the mall and guessed what they looked like among the sky of store signs: that one’s a pony, that one’s a revolver, that one’s a person, a carton of milk, a raincoat. We were lying on the porcelain floor in the food court. We had pictures of each other in our pockets, our faces and hands scratched out with a quarter, cumulus heads. We had nothing of ourselves, of us. Everything was going to be fine.
Corey Zellerâ€™s work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Literary Review, Caketrain, Keyhole, PANK, Hobart, and others. He has pieces scheduled to appear in DIAGRAM, Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, Redivider, MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine, and an anthology Saul Williams in putting together for MTV Books. His book Man vs. Sky is forthcoming from YesYes Books in February 2013. He serves as an associate editor at Mud Luscious Press.