NAP 2.5 YEAR 2 ISSUE 5 EDITOR: CHAD REDDEN NAP MAGAZINE & BOOKS INDIANAPOLIS, IN naplitmag.com
THESE PEOPLE ARE
C E RT I F I E D STOP, DROP AND ROLL INSTRUCTORS d SHANE JESSE CHRISTMASS
TOBI COGSWELL DANA GREEN JOSHUA KLEINBERG ANDREA KNEELAND AMANDA LAUGHTLAND SEAN LYNCH M. JAMES MARTIN ANDREW MORRIS STEVE SUBRIZI ROBERT VAUGHAN RUSS WOODS
SHANE JESSE CHRISTMASS
EEG. We were wearing rat costumes, Samantha and I. It was Christmas. The road was a stretch. At first I heard her moaning, Samantha that is. My arse was being aided with toilet roll. Water dripped from the latrines. Nobody wanted to work with me. Eventually the driver came back. I left some message on the answering machine. What business was it of mine? Itâ€™s shit anytime, I wanted to see the city, an everlasting rest. In the robust mound of living. The curtains, a kicking light rushed in, the tiny windowpane, nor me nothing bugged me more than blood bleeding all over the floor. Loose footing, police cars of the Imperialists. The war car becomes oncoming from shine to us. Talking about a giant slug, it becomes violent. Scientist to be, two advice secretaries continue while the new guard pulls spine and waves. Tridents swinging above my skull and in cafes truth seekers shit about their business. Vaginas in pencil skirts. DMT during lunchtime, piping it into the lung during the prayer room. I reached the barricaded door and lashed the bodies, to acknowledge an encyclopaedia of knots; heart is body, the circulation of Vermouth. Samantha wants to get under the packed bus. Used to my drunk, time travel over towering creatures whose minds bubble under the Crystallomancy. I scavenged more than the creature, the Sun.
Samantha patting each leg on the landing. Me swaddled within the systems, the blood with a length of cord becoming unbalanced. I pull striped suit, jeans, crematorium, fervour, smoke. Moments later, Samantha’s body, a second care smile, all sniff and drunken, from her mouth, always there are many something. Toby walks on, holding a pot plant found at the tip, put here, burning upon a dubious wick, living inside a carriage, a 19th Century buggy, a wooden mallet over the corner off the failure lingering about. Scorched horse intestines, close shot of Samantha, looters have her throat and tongue in a pinch, all lift or psychosis. Limbs doused in mercurochrome, swollen leaves, dog muzzles on strippers all hand drawn and undulating against humankind. Getting my balls out in the swimming pool, exhaling talc powder, some carcinogenic powder puff, stealing bags of onions from the side of a truck in the early morning. A public fitting, they wired the cattle into cages in the city square. They smashed coals against big tin plates of scrambled eggs. Cucumbers flew through the air. I decided that I still have her cash and wasn’t going to give it back. What gall, beside a dining fork still stuck in her ruined happiness, her buried hopes, to give closer last words, cigarettes, attached to love, to promote harmony. Samantha mentions my stance to the television cameras again. Samantha’s banging on about the currency required to purchase the town’s newspaper. “What the fuck are you looking at? Go get yourself your own mirror m’man!”
The temperature wasn’t high. They turned the huge ovens off. I crossed the river by bridge, eating a bread roll with cheese and ham inside. The side of the buildings were all wooded combs and coppices, real dreary rods of white ants eating them to the ground. The drag queens neither blossomed nor turned, and looked like desire, but their thighs were large enough to fit through the various seasons. There was no money exchange in the airport. I had to go to the top of the sleep, an air-conditioned sleep, interrupted by roast, the warmth, the high temperature. I strolled across the tarmac, this majestic beauty, somewhat haughty, perhaps, in the groaning. That was clear. A common formulation of army tanks on the tarmac. I showed my boarding pass to the stewardess. Her face was disjointed. The corresponding earthquake cycles were all sunk cordially underground. Our pilot agreed. I asked for a free washcloth. A stewardess to serve me … the washcloth proved impossible. I was injected with more. I didn’t react for the entire 6-hour term. They dropped me into solitary confinement. In the twilight I strolled, suicidal symptoms. J-Pop was on the radio. My skin started to peel off, most of the muscles fell onto the attached floor, looking like a water cardboard pancake. Great cities, my eyelids shut and I stand up. Samantha grabbed the fry pan. There’s a horrible yelling. I shriek. It’s all feverish. A life people put together, the jigsaw, shucking and bargaining, forehead, reflect to belly weed. Car park outside the parasitic shudder, the rituals have been observed. Entering an existing parallel, a Van Halen tune by post-apocalyptic, future shock band, the rich Saxons eat well. Samantha flinches her arm back under the newspaper. In the Royal Hotel, Samantha
watches television. She’s everything like it is now. Calm things down. Useful. Back and off line. The Detectives stand looking at me. My throat. The change room door. Psychiatric Ward – Hospital. The cleaner wipes the window. Cigarette smoke goes lithely up a lung. The great danger is not very up to it. I don’t have a clue at the battle. Getting started in scrying, blade, a wire string into the receptionist Septic it is as well, death row inmates, blood. Samantha is silent. The carousel that holds is now clear that this is where I flounder. A regular fringed valance all round the regular stifling street. Is the Earth in order? “Where are the killing fields?” “Where? Everywhere, there’s hundred’s of ‘em.” “Why did they do it?” No answer was forthcoming. A Khmer woman came to change the money. The captives reacted in hives to the stimulant gas. My stomach filled with booze. Soldiers, Russian special operatives, started whipping the animals with 4-inch leather straps. The word of tobacco-box with bruised thumbs. No one slept, the taxi driver saw inside at a subject that looked like a surgeon skolling aperitifs. The plane ascended, the students ran out of the school, exhausted with excitement. I walked back immediately, drawing the gun, shooting a bullet into the drain, into the centre of the embers. The stewardess put a hand towel across my nose and mouth. It was seeped in Vodka. On my knees, flesh ripped off, blood consumption in the steel chamber, the adjoining drive-thru hamburger joint, whispering my muscles exerted upon the
x-ray. The traffic was excruciating. For instance, ships will leave and have been dialled. Scrub brush, woodlands, the street outside the supermarket. Gore, slow injections, an oxygen tent. Samantha stands outside the supermarket. Banal comments hollering, rusty water, it gives life to all, a fog bank, close shot. Samantha adapts business enterprises of animals and objects. Samantha is bought to her knees. Sucking cocks is over, itâ€™s a general dispersion. I can hear the guy from before, all gravitational nervousness, hospital for the crippled, the bottom over, people dying. Insults, knives, a car lingers about downtown. Samantha goes to have a lie down. She fires, all answers and clearly air, glass shatters, all the spectators roll out the door. The radar operator reaches for a wine glass. Samantha spins back to record notes. This guyâ€™s camping does hide sycophants. Samantha sleeps foetal with educated men. Porterâ€™s Desk/Corridor/ Main Building. A woman working sits, bleeding ears, this method a temporal paradox, glasses of Brandy. I take a seat on the bus. I turn slowly, stare at a sign, a bubble-gummed seat, subconscious suicide orders. On the movie screen, a nasty, sardonic man. Where are his shoes? He walks, the method employed hangs outside a dance studio with tongue unskilled in pleasure. Samantha is facing the plastic doors, many cyborgs rushing about. The politicians are feeding on it. I stand up, sudden moments. I run, look. I have to get to the gun. A dog is screaming. Samantha suppresses the minutes, ruins of fainting looks at the roses, what this message is. Simplicity, but I am mumbling. I grab a newspaper, pulling my shirt, withdraw further, noise, a sports bag and far between, humorous enough for a murderess. Samantha treads on the ground heavily. She signals other physicists to enter the
shallow fountain. There’s tepid, mucky water in the fountain. Out of control, up on the table, hot smouldering eyes. A campsite closed for cleaning and proprietor’s rest. Balcony, something hanging full of bangles, rings, a watering can. A wastebasket, beheading minister designed as a forward-only time, dirty looks, whoever owns the permissible question, the long prosecution. Tooth and bone, a crystal ball has been braised, no blood though, all whooping, the sunbeam-greeted ground, smoke lithely hangs, shoelaces are undone, medicine in the supply room, a drink dispenser. “Doesn’t matter!” Samantha yells out with patience. Houses repel my conical crowned hat and now I’m all alone. A madder person stands in the street. He’s not winning, up from the countryside, the farm, vouched for by someone from the counting house. A knock on the door. Titty fucks, many heads of visible suffering, humiliating kinky delirious sex, single-filled, obliged to know. One poor man, his slim waist, he looks breathlessly. Steadily we’re within the street. A voice ascends, to change in the air, their hands are up, while I breathe in. Samantha imbibes, trying in the bathroom, remaining to pack it in. I endeavour to lie above her, all allowed, over her person. “These was the here. Thanks.” Samantha mentions. The stewardess continued to whisper into the microphones…
Shane Jesse Christmass is a Perth-born, Melbourne-based writer. He edits the journal Queen Vic Knives. Heâ€™s also a member of the musical outfit Mattress Grave. He firmly belives that the future of the word, the novel, will be in synthetic telepathy. Most of his writing is archived at www.luparapublishing.blogspot.com - He currently hosts the Lupara Sound System at www.radiovalerie.orgâ€?
Vertical is always the way to start. True desire is standing against a wall, against a door, against anything where not one more second can be spared before you touch. Tell her she is lovely fifty times, lean her up against an upright, flat surface once, but only if the flirting allows. There must be an undercurrent.
STATISTICS By the time I die I will have brushed my teeth 61,320 times Assuming I live until at least 87 and I did not brush for the First three years or so At 1 Â˝ minutes average, that is 91,980 minutes or 1,533 hours Doing nothing Standing in front of a mirror looking at myself
Tobi Cogswell is not fun. She is a tired, 53-year-old mom of a teenager who sometimes wakes up as nice as pie and sometimes not. She lives with a wonderful poet who will do anything for cake. Consequently, she never has to do dishes and gets to write a lot!
SHEEP TANGO They started bombs at Dougway before, after I got married but before Peter was born. They didn’t really tell us. “Sky dance fire. Tango,” they said. “Why?” we said. “Sometimes you need to focus the moment. One moment.,” they said. “Stop?” we said. Mr. Nibbs thinks the army talks like a bunch of girly poets. “In my day,” he said. Paul said, “Those lights are love, honey. They will keep us.” I liked to believe him. “Peter seems to like them, makes him giggle and cough,” I said. The bombs became neighbors. They exploded as soon as we thought they would not. Sometimes ten in a week, sometimes empty skies for a month. We got used to them, forgot them, we knew them. One day it was too much for them to keep to themselves—exploded during a wind storm. The air carried the dust and light like they were sisters. The wind coughed onto our fields, our water, and windshields. The town became strange under cover. Mr. Nibbs started reciting Gertrude Stein, or he said he was reciting Stein. There was no way for Paul or me to know. Everything was mud. The sheep turned the colors that fell into the fields. Red like Geryon. Green oceans. Lightening purple. We gathered around them, watched them herded, making watercolor. We stopped going to work and watched the sheep paint. The sheep even took requests. Our favorite was the sea side,
something from Marthaâ€™s Vineyard. Something we could never know to be accurate. Something like salt breeze and fiddler crabs. Eventually the sheep became dull, balding. Their fur, patchy, lay in clumps at their sheep feet. The sheep cried. Peter cried. We decided to pull out our hair, had to pull it out. We gave it to the sheep auburn and grey and blond. The sheep did not notice. Their crying became too much for the town to handle. Last night someone lit the field on fire, the cries became arias.
SMOKED HERRINGS I learned how to smoke herrings hung limp in the shed. I hitched my ankles in the rafters to sway. The shed is a smoke house, I breath cedar. I hang with the herrings for minutes or days. Our skins become puckered scales, our eyes rosined holes; teeth protruding, sighing heavy. We watch the floor with slit split eyelids; it is damp with blood, floorboards growing. â€œIt is time,â€? mother says. I drop and crackle to the down and mop up the moisture from within the wooden floor. My skin plumps again and sags.
HIS FIRE TRUCK He did not like the term flood, or flooded. “The water is more than us. It covers land,” he said to people who asked. People rarely asked. Contrary to what most may think, flooding and talk of flooding is more rare than steak. It is logical, then, that he preferred his steak absent. Chicken and fish on plates. “Food to keep moist,” he said to people who asked. Also infrequent, but more so than flooding. To him flooding has water reclaiming its rightful place. The proportions are off, more wet than dry. More weight on the Earth. When there was a flood, he would call it “a normal.” Dry land the disaster. There is constant dry in the world and he is upset no one notices. He decided to steal a fire truck. He stole a fire truck. The fire truck is painted like oceans and trout streams. He says, “this is a landing truck.” The truck puts out dust and dead grass. People do not take kindly to the landing truck and its effects. It occasionally causes people to ask him “Why?” He replies, “the water is more than us. It covers land.”
Dana Green is a person with frozen feet. She lives in an apartment in a smaller state then the one she grew up in. She has a cat with big eyes. She will attend Denver University in the Fall for a PhD in Fiction.
NOTHING IS LIKE FIRE The plastic shades are drawn. A space heater, a cup of diced pears, cigarette dust ringing in my head. Would it be alright, this once, if I didn’t actually build you the garbage compactor the world feels like right now? I just want to make crunching sounds and have you believe me. I have missed my classes again. I called my mom to tell her I don’t think I can do it. But then that was said, and I didn’t have anything else. I kind of just sat there in my car for a while, holding the phone like a shell. I have missed my classes again for no reason, and I slump around like space junk, wadded and dense, watching hairless men on the internet say things that make me uncomfortable, putting their fingers in nervous girls’ mouths. My mom on the phone said I could do anything, and I thought of a verse in Philippians. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I used to kind of chant it before pee-wee football games, though I knew the other team was chanting it too. I am older now, and I don’t read the Bible, but I like it on TV, when players score touchdowns and look at the sky.
I know about math, and rhetorical conventions, but there’s a beast in my heart that just wants to scream something dumb and incomplete like “BILLS SUCK!” And have you agree. But not “BILLS SUCK!” because that isn’t all. Maybe something like “BILLS ARE THE HOLOCAUST!” and you’d fold me up in your sweaty arms, and pet me on the bed for a whole entire day, until we passed into aching blank dreams. I want to lie around forever. And not even do anything pretty, not feel like I have to be doing something pretty, like know you or care about courage. I’d just run out the clock, watching Rescue Me on Netflix, and never compare fire to anything. And you’d pet me on the bed for all of my days not like a small dog, afraid of the vacuum, but like a noble German shepherd. With long soft scratches up my side, and my breath coming useless and slow. Though you’re not a real person. Though you’re only a rhetorical trope, I would wrap around you forever like smog, like some sort of invasive, ground-creeping plant. I would live forever, your grimy flower girl, drowsy and plump as the music winds down, just sitting there, breathing, with unfocused eyes, regarding the splash of the fiery screen like a candle, like a microscope slide.
SHITHEAD SONG Do I give a damn about a dog? I think I don’t. Not that I’d kill one but I just don’t want to hear it (Call of the Wild, of course, being the only important exception), and so quit telling me stories, Margaret! I am sick and tired of your coffee shop etiquette, of not being sick or tired enough to grant myself the motor of harmony, of not being properly hurt to charge these systems right. I am learning to like J + B but my poems are not getting a lick fucking better. Someone called me a whore the other day. Well, I’ll just address you, Maggie. You called me a whore and I felt flattered(?!) and how wrong is that, how bankrupt and vile? How fatly I grinned as I wondered. And my heart, like a wing, just opened and closed You called me it because you wanted me to kiss your boney face, but I was kissing someone else’s face that night.
I was kissing the black face of Christ, which is to say my dark likeness, in the pond. And the next day I gave your friend a hickey, and my brother’s boyfriend a hickey, but you wouldn’t let me give you one (though you did let me fuck you in view of your landlord —and who the hell are pantsless we to critique a slip in logic?) Maybe I understand and maybe I don’t, but what am I supposed to do with a kiss if it’s not leave a mark? I am very sad, and I howl at the sky, and my dick is a manic depressive, on the verge always of hara-kiri. Soon you will come here and soften around me, and I will forget just how boring to watch as you paint, deeming only, and rightly I know how settled, how flawless it ends. Like how God is erected, all over, from drab little rocks. How song’s just a shake in the air.
Joshua kleinberg lives in Columbus, oh. A full list of his publications can be found at http://joshuakleinberg.com
ENUMERATION Thick and heavy with sleep you turn to me, you are sweaty, your hair is sticking to your pinkened face in clumps: this is important this is something pay attention- the lines slow and measured, a picture of your neighbor flush against the sky the dawning grouse the possibility the flint of your hair. And instead, substitute: a list of everyone gone, your achievements do not matter, the bulletlike splay of a hawk, I know Iâ€™ve made the wrong decision. The smallest piece a rabbit sweated to the bone, the meat separates. This is something this is important pay attention- each list I make continues even before your father even before the neighbor phones his wife the foggy ambulance all of those poems about birds slow and measured. The flint of your hair not a possibility, but a consequence; are you ever you are ever you are ever. Instead, substitute: your achievements, the slow measured lines of Latinate, everyone has gone, the reflection of our bright days this is a list is a signpost is my gift to you. The fire cracks inches out of your hands the downy underside of a split rock rounded like a knee, our legs separate. Thick and heavy in sleep your sweated body your hair your pinkened face your soundless whisper a list: Calidris albe, Calidris minutilla, Calidris mauri.
Andrea Kneelandâ€™s first collection, the Birds & the Beasts, is forthcoming from The Lit Pub. Her poetry has most recently appeared in alice blue, Wonderfort, Vinyl Poetry, mud luscious & FRiGG.
LEAVE YOUR GUIDEBOOKS AT HOME Photocopy the few relevant pieces from fancy books. Simply tear cheaper books apart. Keep pages in a plastic bag. If you don’t need to save them for reminiscence or reuse pages you’re done with can serve as fire-starters. Use caution when trimming maps down. If you get lost or need a shortcut out, you’ll want to know more than your own narrow trail.
SHARING YOUR GEAR You plan to walk together at the same pace, but what if you get separated? Carry gear you can use by yourself just in caseâ€”the person with the tent has poles and all; the person with soup has a pot. Before you marry your skillet to your partnerâ€™s stove commit to staying together the length of the trip.
FOR YOUR SAFETY Share your itinerary with friends and local rangers. Don’t share with strangers, people you meet on the trail or in trail towns— they don’t need to know where you’ll sleep. Set up camp well out of sight of the trail and anyone who happens along.
Amanda Laughtland is the author of the first NAP chap, Vital to Victory, as well as Postcards to Box 464 (Bootstrap Press), Take It (Ungovernable Press), Kitchen Tidbits (Sacrifice Press), and I Meant to Say (overhere Press). She teaches at Edmonds Community College just north of Seattle.
NO ONE TOLD ME No one told me a dick is a birdclaw that spills your heat from the inside. No one told me I had to find out on my own. I had to pet a few, and touch them and twist them like a screwdriver loosening a screw from a rusted door hinge until he said, “can you not do it like that?” No one told me community bean suppers were not places to meet boys. Once I had to lie there and think that it was me when it wasn’t happening. And swallow my voice when he told me that it was just he couldn’t get my father’s moustache off his mind, that’s all. No one said one time it would happen on the sad old couch in the basement of the rec center with friends peeking through high-up windows like monkeys strung on trees. I wasn’t told what to say, or how he would breathe rehearsed lines “you gonna come—you want me—you wanta get filled” into my ear as he held our hands above my head. I didn’t hear a word about the hair, the young hairs on his face as he drove up and in and down and out, rupturing the pores on my cheeks with fucksweat. No one told me about the things I would say: “sex doesn’t mean shit when you’re not in love”. And him: “you’re right”. I wish I had heard that once he called out, pulled out, I would dry, and mud up and cake together. No one told me to listen to low voices instead of the loud ones roaring over truck engines. No one told me how to care about something else. No one really told me much of anything, so now I’m telling you.
Sean is a young writer and English language teacher in Boston, MA. Whenever he can he gets out of the house, and sometimes the country, to explore new things, but enjoys the feeling of home as much as the next.
M. JAMES MARTIN
from THE SOFT DESTRUCTION OF A SINGLE ENTITY OVER A PERIOD OF TIME ONE MIGHT CALL AGING Lets get married said the stun gun to Nancy Kerrigan Lets buy the air in Brad Pitt’s living room, then maybe that’ll satisfy something Doubtful But the evergreen is beautiful Maybe that means olive branches to the mostly dead & thriving maybe that means Do The Metroid on extended reel Brain freaked screwed‘ n’chopped Eating the super porkchop of fate
Yojimbo will go to your house And pay you to kick your ass. Yojimbo has no patience for disrespect. Yojimbo does not play around. Your mother and Yojimbo had an illegitimate child who is better than you in everyway. Yojimbo brushes his teeth with ashtrays. Yojimbo speaks hypertext over old Jay-Z beats.
Very And misery loves company. To lament. 92 people have killed themselves to this song, the remix, and the drunken cover in one small compromise or another, communicated a shiver right down. Calling me a pennycounter is not a negative. I count dollars. Enough to make you so jealous. And our misery loves Champagne. Reheated stovetop rice. The microwave sparks mouthward. Stricken, that estimateâ€™s probably at 93 now , 93 and a third. He meant well, You canâ€™t die to NPR. Which is totally incorrect.
from THE SOFT DESTRUCTION OF A SINGLE ENTITY OVER A PERIOD OF TIME ONE MIGHT CALL AGING I can see the lights in their eyes fading. No matter how much bleach I use my clothes keep gaining stains like stripes in a war where the losers are winners and the winners get their teeth chopped out then screwed back in after being borrowed by babies too lazy to brush. I’m still reading the war pamphlet scanning for the section which details who’s side I’m on. Unless this conflict is a parallelogram — a gram like that can be a square or a rectangle. A rectangle could be anything proportionately uneven. My head is a rectangle. A quadrilateral is my heart reforming according to the nature of society. Kiss a bird and it’ll peck you in the mouth. The peck is a bird kiss. To you it’s just a pain in the mouth.
M. James Martin fashioned zipline out of a bubble gum wrapper, once. Major suspects include: His father Dâ€™artagnan Martin former Saints CB, Popeye, Master Splinter (among others).
TRAINING Brayden Ellis’s commitment to prose wavered a while back when a pack of wild poesy cornered him in the dark stacks. He expected cracked bones and a heap of ill-humor, but their wise and noiseless expressions embedded themselves in his brain’s architecture. Days later, his father found him, flask in hand, taking forty winks with Ferlinghetti. Clamor befell the room: the flask thumped against the hardwood floor, Ferlinghetti flew through the open window, and a few missed blows landed on the closet doors. From that barb on, all was forbidden (booze, bards, and libraries), but Brayden knew his father’s confinement measures would prove ineffective. Every other day, Arion, the gelding with a retained testicle, was nowhere to be found, having mouthed the latch on the gate or simply jumped the low fence. Arion would be in the feed room, in the adjacent pasture, or down the road with Sullivan’s horses. Brayden knew that his father’s parenting skills had been shot to pieces long ago. Despite his father’s steering, Brayden remained stricken, daydreaming through chores. Like any bored horse, he became a habitual escapee. His father tried to batten down the hatches, but failed miserably. They met head on a few more times until Brayden’s father realized that the factors
goading his son away from the ranch could not be corralled. Helpless, he would watch his son steal away after mucking the stalls. It was no longer an emerging problem. He had no means of poet-proofing his property. It shamed him to think of his son as just another one of his horses that he needed to contain and properly care for, but he could easily justify this notion, and he did, repeatedly. Even after his long capitulation, he would sit looking out the bay window still troubling over how to prevent the boy from breaching his confinement. Every time the boy jumped the fence, the back of him shook with the image of his older brother – everything was similar down to their roached manes and the matching scars on their foreheads just above their left eyebrows. His father would wince at the memory of the older boy he also couldn’t contain – the one who simply disappeared. Every time Brayden hopped the fence, his father couldn’t look out that window anymore; he would woefully disappear into the emptiness of the ranch house or hobble off into the expanse beyond the front porch. When he did steal away, Brayden hefted his odd shape over the flatness to a spot wiped off the map where he could stick to his business, watch lightning split the sky, and linger long with his favorite lines. While his friends dreamt of eight-foot-tall-blondes, he sat still and sharpened his studies, sidestepped eventual humilities. He leaned his ear into the muttering, east of the ranch where he kept company with his five favorite poets: Three behaved like mist, like rain. Two marched along in flames.
He felt silly at first, roughcast like some object needing subsequent processing, but he dared and he dared, bent over that weather-beaten desk which he hauled, unbeknownst to his father, by fits and starts to the wearisome edge where he wended his way around the wellhead, waiting with his scribbled-out notepaper for a whomp or even a whimper. His father kept an eye on his comings and goings and soon realized that Brayden’s breakouts were harmless, but odd nonetheless, and something he would have to suffer silently or support half-heartedly. Many asked about Brayden’s whereabouts or possible affliction. His father told them all rather flippantly, “That boy has put himself out to pasture.” It’s true that Brayden drank from ponds sometimes. It’s also true that his father visited the library on a number of occasions to inquire about some poetry to give to his son. The librarian would place a pile of books in front of him. He started leafing through them focusing on the shorter poems. He ended up going to the bookshop and ordering James Wright’s collection The Branch Will Not Break and gave it to Brayden on his seventeenth birthday. All he knew of James Wright was that poem titled, “A Blessing,” which he couldn’t stop thinking about, especially that line referring to the ponies, “There is no loneliness like theirs.” He must have read that poem a hundred times before leaving the library. It seemed that life on the ranch was less inhospitable after this brief gesture.
Unfenced, Brayden’s coltish thoughts led him on – light covered him closely, joy jacketed him, and under the wide horizon of his hat brim, his eyes went vigilant. In the unbuttoned twilight, it wasn’t long before he couldn’t see straight anymore. He couldn’t even feel the pressure of that golden hackamore.
Andrew Morris lives in the Catskill Mountains of New York where he teaches high school English and history. Recently, two of his short fiction pieces were selected as finalists in NPRâ€™s Three-Minute Fiction Contest. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review, Eclectica, Otis Nebula, and EarthSpeak Magazine. Heâ€™s also a member of the Advanced Poetry Workshop at Bright Hill Press in Treadwell, NY.
NEW MOUTHS Come November, everything got pregnant. My mother’s van got pregnant. My best friend’s couch got pregnant. My own bike was pregnant with twins. So many new mouths were already hungry, mouths of metal and vinyl, agape with fresh glass. And just that summer, our wine cellar had died in childbirth. Deep red stains covered our property. By autumn’s end, we were all eroded and twisted up in the middle parts, hopeless for repair, hopeless for even passing inspection. I spent a year in the pharmacy. I asked for a job application, but they’re still not hiring. I slept on the cloth-upholstered chair. We’re married now and we just don’t know what to do. Neither of us can imagine how the ends will ever meet.
THE WORLD’S STRONGEST GOAT As the folk saying goes, “A goat’s whole life is a push-up,” and they told the public that this goat would live forever. Theodore’s handlers call him The World’s Strongest Goat. They hung a bright red banner over the barn door and they sell tickets to see him do push-ups. They put a house on his back so the people can watch him stand. I sat down with Theodore on a dim winter evening in the corner of his pen. His teeth could melt wire. He stood still. His gray coat shone with the quiet scorn of a cold March sun. I asked him, “How many loads can you carry to town?” “Everything that I have ever seen is my load,” the goat said, his eyes in two time zones. “Everywhere is the same town and the town is infinitely far.” He ate a dinner of cans. The handlers had raised him on these cans, which all had golden labels with print too small to read. They served him the cans on an old tin plate and he ate them with a fork and knife. This was an average night’s meal for the goat, but I was amazed. I told him so. At that, the world’s strongest goat laughed, did a million push-ups, and then toppled over, dead as he had always been.
Steve Subrizi is a New Englander. He has performed his poetry at lecture halls and dive bars across America, and his work has appeared in such places as The Scrambler, Muzzle, NOĂ– Journal, and Monday Night. His e-chapbook, Newly Wild Hedgehog, is available from NAP. He plays in a band called The Crazy Exes from Hell. â€ƒ
BALLOONS She eats raisins with a fork, brings her face to the food, not the food to her mouth while her mother pops grapes off the vine, one immediately following another, talking while chewing, spits through mastication, punctuates periods grape juice flying so sheâ€™s always erasing and then starting over. She tucks her balloon pants into dusty red boots she bought at the Salvation Army store during the Desert Storm. Sheâ€™s sure its Sunday, skipping a couple other days, but who can really say for sure? She says mommy, mommy, mommy. Elephants are always pregnant. I have not thought about being pregnant for over two years but I have thought about what it might mean if you came back.
CHERRY PIE I memorize my life so it’s still there when I arrive again in the morning. But when I try to write, something’s missing. A person. A remark. A donut. My friend Angela does it when she lays in bed, just before sleeping. Her therapist suggested going through the entire day from the last things she did until the crack of dawn, instead of start to finish more like those films that go backwards like the one with Brad Pitt. But then when I think of someone like him as I’m going through the day’s events, like today’s, I can’t get beyond him. Or that movie which had monkeys. Or the closeness of apes to humans. And then I just lay there staring at the ceiling thinking well I sure did fuck yet another exercise up. And why did I have two pieces of cherry pie?
Robert Vaughanâ€™s plays have been produced in N.Y.C., L.A., S.F., and Milwaukee where he resides. He leads two writing roundtables for Redbird- Redoak Studio. His prose and poetry is published in over 200 literary journals such as Elimae, Metazen, Necessary Fiction and BlazeVOX. He has short stories anthologized in Nouns of Assemblage from Housefire, and Stripped from P.S. Books. He is a fiction editor at JMWW magazine, and Thunderclap! Press. His book Flash Fiction Fridays is available now. He co-hosts Flash Fiction Fridays for WUWMâ€™s Lake Effect. His blog: http://rgv7735.wordpress.com.
REAL COOL BAND One time Sara had an idea for a real cool band she could be in. She would have a guitarist who looked like a gaping head wound and Jim could play the polar bear. Jim could play the polar bear until it ate him and they would sound like that time her mom hit her in the kitchen. They would be blog darlings and in interviews they would say yeah a lot and no even more. They would stay home and like dogs and develop poor impulse control and feel like soviet spies that got left at Wendyâ€™s with no ride home.
HAIR DREAM Sara nightmared that her childhood bedroom was entirely made of hair four walls of human hair and her mom was mad and kept telling her to cut the hair cut the hair Sara cut the hair. When she woke up it felt like everything was exploding and there was no one there had someone been there had someone?
Saraâ€™s dog was there but dogs donâ€™t count and she stared at him and gave him this face like D:< until everything didnâ€™t feel like exploding then.
AIRPLANES Sara lived under airplanes always buzzing up above her place. Each morning she woke up and said hi airplanes and they didnâ€™t say hi back.
COCKROACH Sara found a cockroach on the floor in her bathroom. She scooped it up in her hands and held it to her ear. Lo siento it whispered.
VOLCANOES Sara ate lunch usually at a place down the street because the waitress there would see her and smile and say same thing? and Sara would nod and say same thing. Sara never touched the fortune cookies anymore because one time she opened one and inside it said we are always eating volcanoes.
Russ Woods lives in Chicago. He is the poetry editor and web designer for Red Lightbulbs and has been or will be published in Pank, TRNSFR, and Spork. He has a print chapbook, Tiny People, and an echap collaboration with Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, Love Stories & Hate Stories, both are available from NAP.