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Volume 1, Issue 1 I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit. P. G. Wodehouse
Cover Art Photography by Nina Pak ÂŠ 2012 Designer: April Peters of the House Gallery Boutique Make Up by Nightshade Beauty Models: Michelle Baker and Lucia Pecnikova
Art & Photography Gypsy Nina Pak
Poetry Book XIX Lea Marshall
PYRRHIC DANCERS AND OLYMPIANS: PINDARâ€™S KIDS in the spirit of Charles Olson David Lewitzky
Life lies, Life Lessons Melina Papadopoulos
GRIEF for Judy Nancy Carol Moody
HEART PROBLEMS Howie Good
The Smallest-the Fattest-Talking Horse Vincent William Brady
Prose The Disney World of Danforth Avenue James Valvis
Shoot Like Youâ€™re Awesome James David Patrick
Guy Stuff Bill Teitelbaum
Throwback Ah Sunflower William Blake
Call for Submissions
Gypsy by Nina Pak
Model: Anisa Salmi Designer: Temna Fialka Make Up: Aphrodite Make Up Arts
Book XIX Lea Marshall Old Euryclea carried a broad copper bowl sang a high song to herself. Her voice came whispering back from the corners, or perhaps she had left it in the passageway. Penelope’s tears (can a woman cry for twenty years?) rolled like mercury around the room fetched up against the huge man’s dusty feet where he sat taut against the chair, soft fleece beneath him, unfelt. Euryclea’s steps sure as fate. This firelit room crowded with years, with plans, with loss, and the flicker of lizards’ tails. The old woman grasped earthen pitchers poured cold water like a rattle of stones then hot water hissing into the bowl. Through the rope of her fingers she twisted lavender blossoms, dropped them into steam. Turned from the fire, the man’s fingers curled like an infant’s. He kept his face in shadow lifted his legs and slowly slid his torn feet into the bath. The room exhaled. His spine unfurled, briefly he closed his eyes against his own tears. Twenty years of murder still unfinished the salt sea dark as blood. Keening into Penelope’s breast, quicksilver beading in his hair… The fleece gave off the scent of sheep in rain. Euryclea’s hands softly cupped his arch, her eyes found the moon-bright scar above his knee— Time collapsed. Within her sharp gasp she feels him suckle at her breast, swaddles him in linen. She feeds him plums, then sees him hunting lithe as a javelin, binds his wound from the boar’s tusk, clasps her mistress’s hand as the sails snap, bearing him away to war. To herself, again, she sings how men cover the world in stone, then spend years of noise and dust with jackhammers, ears bleeding, unearthing what they cried to have forgotten. Odysseus. She drops his foot. The bowl crashes, trembles like a gong.
The goddess, unseen, held her breath.
Now on her feet, the goddess flings her cloak soft as a cobweb over Penelope’s eyes.
Cradling Penelope, Athena’s hands shake.
PYRRHIC DANCERS AND OLYMPIANS: PINDAR’S KIDS in the spirit of Charles Olson David Lewitzky 1 Dancers of the war dance / the saltatio Contestants in the war games / the agonei Cadets all, athletes all 14 and 15 yr. old teeny bopper soldiers They fought the wars of Epic Greece: Beautiful acne’d buddy-boys soaring dream boys: Dreaming victory: Olympic laurels Delphic dancing boys: Dreaming blessings, immortality They were culled from stony farms, Aegean Island homesteads by absent heroes unreachable zipped away from hardscrabble lives of elbow grease, duty, and monotony inspired, egged on by poets like Pindar and Simonides (songs of glory, songs of heroes) chosen for perfection by the Gods or so the poets, fathers, headmen, priests would have it called to fight for family, city, homeland all of which are polis or so the powers that be would have it dying for polis Kids promised out to bloodshed fiancés of death dying for glory Kids baked in clay. Kids painted on pots.
2 an essay on blood poet’s element: lodestone fantastical, arcane magnet, attractive and repellant and vehement and metallic belaboring the obvious, blood’s principally creative as a woman’s element, a matter of nurturance, the sustaining of self, something to do with process; something to do with mercy, pity, peace, and love, with natural love blood’s a courtier, sister-brother to desire and rage, an attendant witness to a nymph and satyr at their play, dancing, gnashing teeth and sharing spit; an arrow at a crossroads, an altar on the road blood lives as heat, as passion: a dancing, blazing sun, the lordly, callous stars; blood spilt is Onan and futility, cold sun, black stars blood suggests the colors of commitment and intensity, of overreach and struggle; of kinship tragic, kinship fatal, identity profound blood’s the bringer of event and memory, of permanence and change a blood Allegory: Satan wrapped in blood, he wears our blood; our blood’s his skin and blood’s our mark and our condition; and just like Job, poor Job, branded by blood, we weep blood blood’s the sacred secret beneath the skin: underworld, way down deep, like sinful thoughts; subterranean like the snake, blind to heavens map and landscape; driven like the snake in an unending circularity the sight of blood is staggering and dreadful; a nightmare in an alley, a garbage rose the company of blood is pain and crippling injury and death most dire blood’s a fearsome messenger: a Hermes, an Apollo scorned blood’s trivial and without magnitude as death is trivial and without magnitude in the disinterest of nature: a childhood blast of memory; a cold sweat the red of blood is spectacle and vividness and the red of blood is cherry bomb and all things damaging and the red of blood is the red of fire and the fever dreams of saints and mystics and blood red is the terrible scarlet rash, the taint and madness that we can’t acknowledge, that shadows us, grabs at us... beguiles us shun blood, run away from it: like much beauty, blood’s hateful
3 O Pindar, O my ghost, my ancient mirror, O high born man who I hold in reverence, who shames me I’ll counter you; I’ll strike you down Because you knew full well no family is entirely without taint no city is wholly golden no nation is complete in virtue How arrogant is beauty harvested in stone Children must no longer die for polis My djinn, my rabbi, my tutelary spirit said: “The earth is for the living OR the earth is the dead man’s land BOTH depending on the way you look at it” (and that’s a fitter, truer song to sing) Ah Pindar, lordly and elegant bard you chose the comforts of the mighty over mercy and from a remote, undisciplined, uncertain century I cry out to you: It is against truth, the sowing of dead seeds It is against virtue, the assertion of perfection In pursuit of glory It is against right, the presence of the golden couch in the city of the dead Our obligation’s to learn kindness however painful its realization to learn embrace whatever its discomforts 4 In my age and isolation this is what I have to say about old wars about proportion and the golden mean about a life of ease and moderation about Hellas that I worship my classical heritage
The Disney World of Danforth Avenue James Valvis I can’t think, I can’t think. The music is loud, the air is tight and dead. Can air die? Only in this house. My father moves his glass two inches. His head lolls like a marionette’s. It turns toward me. Little veins on his nose. What kind of eyes? Wood. Distilled. No water in them, bloodshot. He looks at his glass. His fingers wrap around it. His fingers are long, knuckles yellow. He lifts the glass. Vodka, smells like gasoline. He puts it down in one sip. “Your mother or me,” he slurs. “You’re a man now. Choose.” I can barely hear him. It’s late. The wallpaper has brown patterns. The table is oak, sturdy. He made it himself. He put the place together by hand. Nothing is anyone’s but his. Music is shaking one half-peeled paint chip. I can’t think. Where is my sister? My mother? They’re sitting right here. “We’ll go to Disney,” he says. Disney World. Mickey. Goofy. Dumbo. I’ve never been there. I don’t know much about it. Just the movies. Still, it’s someplace new. Travel. Sun on my face. Kids. Roller coaster. Happy. What’s that? One of the seven dwarves. He pours another drink, waits. My sister has chosen to go with Mom. Where? To my grandmother’s. That’s where we always go. Same old thing. Every time the same question and same answer. I’ll go with Mom. To hell with Disney World. My mother’s face is worried. I’ve taken too long. It’s supposed to be automatic. Child stays with mother. Unwritten rule. Maybe it’s written somewhere. How should I know? I’m twelve. I should know. I’m a man. I’ve taken too long. He’s got me. He almost smiles. Almost. It’s gone on too long. I can feel the bridge burning behind me. The answer is supposed to be obvious. Thinking. Nobody else around here thinks—why me? Bambi. The Fox and the Hound. 101 Dalmatians. Fantasia. All those dancing brooms. They made me cry. But I couldn’t stop watching. I move up in my seat. “I choose you, Dad.” Next day I get out of bed. The house is quiet. No sister, no mother. No breakfast. Where’s the cat? It’s Saturday. I go into the dining room. The bottle is empty, looks like a missile somebody forgot to shoot. Glass is still there. Wallpaper. Table. Chairs out of place. No sister, no mother. It happened. It really happened. I chose Dad. I go to my father’s door. I hear snoring. I stand a long time, my ear against the door. The wood is hollow and cool. I know wood. I am wood. I make a fist to knock. But I don’t. No. No. I make another fist to knock. I’ve heard you can get Cracker Jacks in Disney World. I love Cracker Jacks. Popcorn, peanuts, and prizes. Once I got a tattoo of a dolphin. Wet and press. It was on my arm all afternoon. Then I went swimming and it came off. I cried, and my sister said it swam away. Dolphins. They swim away.
I knock on the door. A loud grunt. I’m still against the door, listening. The door opens and I get shoved aside. A quick arm, hard as a baseball bat. I fall back, hit a stool. Stumble. I’m on the floor. My father rushes to the bathroom. I see this as I’m falling. I see him run, grab the knob. I’m down, arm, neck hurt. I bounce back up. Fix the stool. Grab my arm. I go to the bathroom. I hear vomiting. It has a sound like a toad’s final croak. I know about toads. I find them and toss them high in the air. At the summit they croak—always. Loud. Loud enough for me to hear. Before they come crashing down. Croak! Green Icaruses, I call them. I look in. His face on the toilet seat, eyes are closed like Sleeping Beauty. Hair in every direction, thin hair, tangled. One hand is holding him up. One is by his side, flabby. Another spew comes out of his mouth, hits the water, plops. “Dad?” He kicks the door shut. Later my father says, “Let’s go.” We get in his truck. He turns the car up Pearsal, then to Danforth Avenue. He doesn’t say a word. He parks in front of a liquor store. Gets out. Gives me a look that means stay here. I know the look. I hear his keys rattle, watch him walk. Blue jeans, low on the waist, belt. He goes in. Pluto. Donald Duck. I see him move from window to window, like one television screen to another. He grabs a bottle. Bambi’s mother is dead. Bite this apple. He pays. Comes back out. Gets in the truck and starts the car. Puts the bottle between us. Nose the meatball over to me. “Dad?” He looks at me like I’m a talking dream. “When are we going to Disney World?” His hands shake on the wheel. He cheek is blotched. Beard growing out. “We’re in Disney World,” he says. “Right now.” I go to the backyard and find a toad, the biggest ever. I pick it up and it squirms in my hand. I look up at the sky, cloudless, perfect. Disney World. It’s all Disney World, everywhere but here. I bend down, as far as I can go. Rock my arm, swinging, swinging. This one will make it. This one won’t fall back. I jump up and let it go. The toad travels up, up. Keep going. Touch the sun. It’s flying now. It’s high up. It’s going to make it. Of course it is. Of course. Where is my sister? She should see this, everyone should. My mother. My father. Then a loud croak. The loudest croak ever. And it starts. No. Please no. Down, down. Another green Icarus. Another. Toads can’t fly. What was I thinking? I cover my eyes. I know what comes next. I’ll never be a real boy.
Life lies, Life Lessons Melina Papadopoulos let's make today life story day, or rather life lie day. i'll start by telling you that i was once a sparrow and a crow and a bald eagle but flying never made up for the fact that i was afraid of paper people hanging in windows, strangers in the cornfields, pumpkins snarling in their own candlelight. i was once a neon light in a city that boasted diner to the highway but a spider spun a web across the mouth of my e and my d and r became the dark (and i was in, I suppose, in over my head when i learned i was never meant to soar or shine) now let's give each other life lessons, or rather life do-nots do not build birdhouses and place them in trembled pine trees and pray that mourning doves come to rest for a while. you'll only be getting your hopes up for hope. do not kill birds with stones, do not kill time by stopping the big hand of a clock or turning the hourglass over once all the shore is on the ocean floor. seconds don't die, they only wait to resume counting you down.
and so let's make today life story day, or rather life lie day. i'll teach you about the girl i once knew, who was a moth: when they wanted her to leave they turned the lights off but still she stayed because there is a difference between going away and getting lost.
GRIEF for Judy Nancy Carol Moody Someone took a straw, blew holes in all the clouds. Now this strew of cotton, a thing for birds to gather, take with them to the nest. Upside-down thimbles puff across the sky. Overhead, a pig floats on a skateboard. In the distance a mouth, tongue of vapor sticking out. A plane flies left to right. Disappears. Emerges. The blue sky yawns, dispatching its flock to the margins, a hole dead center, like an ocean. Sooner or later, something comes to fill it Fill it fill it fill it
Shoot Like You’re Awesome James David Patrick “I’m sorry, sir. We don’t have a bellboy,” the concierge said. Westinghouse demanded his bags be sent to his room. “My hands are my life,” he said. “They could cramp. The muscles could tear. I could be left with a claw! You’ve never seen a national champion with a distorted grotesquery like a claw, have you?” Westinghouse asked. The concierge, who was really just an Art History major with a pregnant girlfriend named Kimmie, shook his head. “No,” he said, “I’ve never seen a dude with a claw. Let alone a rock, paper, scissors champion with a claw.” But he couldn’t leave the desk, he said, being the only one on duty. “At a bar in Philly, I did see a guy with a club foot, however.” “First. The bag is heavy,” Westinghouse stressed. “It contains my clothes for the entire three days of the tournament and my best suit for when I’m the guest of honor at the Champion’s Dinner. And second. We prefer the term Rochambeau.” The Art History major looked at the bag. He pointed. “Use the shoulder strap there.” Westinghouse laughed at his oversight. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m just so focused. I’m just so focused I can’t function. You might wonder how I can focus so entirely.” The Art History major didn’t wonder but Westinghouse told him anyway. “Every day I tell myself to ‘shoot like you’re awesome’ until I believe it,” he said. The Art History major asked for a demonstration. Westinghouse placed his bag on the floor and closed his eyes. With his fist pressed into his palm he repeated “Shoot like you’re awesome” until he believed it. Once he believed it, he opened his eyes to find a white-haired woman with nearlytransparent skin now sitting behind the desk. She flipped through a Redbook Magazine and looked like a blue-hair Valerie Bertinelli. “Carl left,” she said. “Wow,” Westinghouse said, “I’m just so focused, I didn’t notice.” She flipped the page. “You might wonder how I can focus so entirely.” Blue-hair Valerie looked up from her Redbook. The corners of her mouth rose, but nobody could have called it a smile. “Honey,” she said, “I’ve been listening to that crap for nearly an hour. I think I got the picture. I even tried it myself for awhile.” “How’d that go?” “Well,” she said, “when I opened my eyes, I was still here, listening to you.” The accommodations for this year’s tournament were merely satisfactory. The room existed like a boy uncomfortable in his own skin who grows to be a man uncomfortable with his own innate and unavoidable talents, like Marlon Brando. Westinghouse knew such a man. He was that man, and Westinghouse knew himself to be capable of awesome things. Certainly, the burden of expectation weighed heavily on his shoulders. He was the beast of burden pulling the ten-thousand pound plow, cultivating success with each new row.
Unlike last year, the GNRA wouldn’t be shuttling the competitors from the hotel to another venue for the championships; this hotel with merely satisfactory rooms contained a Grand Ballroom where the event would be held tomorrow morning. Last year each room contained a complimentary can of cashew-heavy nut mix and raspberry-lime seltzer water. Decorated in splashes of green, red and brown that ran together like saturated fingerpaints, these merely satisfactory rooms offered two double beds, a 20” television atop a squat armoire and a round table next to the window that overlooked the parking lot shared with the adjacent Applebee’s. The parking lot was sequestered by trees to block the view of Interstate 80. A painting, framed in gold, of a solitary plow cart resting in a half-sewn acre of farmland hung between the beds. Westinghouse could buy a print, unframed, for $47.50 to support local artisans. For $80 he could even have the gold frame that matched the glint of the plow blade in the setting sun. Westinghouse quite liked the glint but forced himself to remove his eyes from the picture. Focus, he reminded himself. The painting; the lack of a quality nut mixture; the mothball and Windex smell of the green, red and brown comforter; the flickering lights of the cars on the highway as they passed behind the cluster of trees like fireflies—served only as distractions. Focus defines the champion. It raids their mind and steals away with secrets even they’d forgotten. Focus knows your opponent better than you know yourself. Westinghouse paced. He clenched his hands into fists then extended all five fingers, in synchronicity, one joint at a time. Then, still pacing, he clenched his fists and extended only his index finger, then both his index and middle finger, concentrating on the push and pull of the extensor digitorum and flexors digitorum profundus and superficialis. He’d studied the anatomy of the hand. While others took pills—the drug-testing program had proved sadly ineffective in deterring the use of performance enhancers—he chose to consume knowledge. Westinghouse ventured downstairs to find the Grand Ballroom. He counted the steps and timed his approach but discarded both figures once he realized he’d taken the elevator. An unpredictable variable, he thought, how careless! He rode the elevator back upstairs and walked down the hallway to the door of his room, where he turned around, proceeded past the elevator and descended through the stairwell to find, that ultimately, the door to the Grand Ballroom was locked. Westinghouse asked the concierge for the key. Old Valerie Bertinelli, now reading a romance novel called the Thrust of the Wind, said she couldn’t give that to him. “Fair enough,” Westinghouse said, “I wouldn’t want you to give it to anyone else either.” He told her to keep up the good work and lingered in the lobby waiting for his competition to arrive, flipping through magazines—not reading, but doing something like reading. He wanted to gauge their focus and discern their temperaments. Were they chatty and careless with their time? Were they on edge, nervous? These were the things he needed to know. He most wanted to see the Texan. He wanted to measure his stride and the progression of his receding hairline. He asked the concierge if she’d seen him. “How would I know the Texan?” she asked. “Does he wear a cowboy hat and spurs that go ching-ching, ching-ching?”
Westinghouse laughed. Everyone knows the Texan eschews ten-gallon hats and boots with spurs and turquoise jewelry and all of those populist trappings. The Texan looks like anybody else, maybe a little shorter. Everyone just knows the Texan. At the last competition the Texan claimed to have never seen a Western. “Not even a John Wayne picture?” Westinghouse had asked. “Or Lee Marvin?” someone else had asked. “I don’t watch movies made before 1980,” the Texan had said before going on to win the entire tournament, because nobody rattles the Texan. Westinghouse waited an hour, sitting in the big comfy chair, but only confirmed the arrival of tour rookies and Katie May, a twenty-something brunette Medusa that liked to wear tight V-neck t-shirts with no bra. If Westinghouse ever opposed her he planned to request that the air conditioning be turned off an hour before the match. Westinghouse raised his magazine when she pushed through the door. Another tour rookie entered shortly after Katie May and stood behind her in line. He wore a slightly skewed baseball cap and a t-shirt with three semaphore flags. He presumed the shirt to be ironic, though he didn’t get the joke. As Katie May turned with her room key in hand, she exchanged a smile with the kid. Westinghouse couldn’t believe what he’d just witnessed. Katie May had stolen his focus right through his grazing eyes and took it as her own, absorbing his power to be used against him at a later date. The poor kid didn’t stand a chance with this crowd, but Westinghouse didn’t have the heart to tell him that he was nothing but a lonely weed—his only purpose was to be mowed down by champions and vipers like Katie May. The kid then noticed Westinghouse sitting in the big comfy chair and asked if he was here for the tournament. Westinghouse nodded. The kid asked if Westinghouse followed the Bassmasters. Why would someone ask such a question? Westinghouse politely said he didn’t. With training to do and all that untapped raw focus, when would he find the time to follow such a mindless, soulless competition? Then the kid left, never knowing that Katie May had harvested his focus like Iowans collected thimbles. Westinghouse replaced the magazine, which he only now realized to be a fishing publication—the cover a flailing bass leaping from the water with a hook through its mouth and gills. Westinghouse showered, shaved and slid beneath the covers in his competition boxers, plain white, fresh from the shelf. He preferred these starched hotel sheets that pinned his body to the mattress like a vacuum-sealed deli product. The dark enhanced focus. “Shoot like you’re awesome,” Westinghouse said. “Shoot like you’re awesome.” He repeated this mantra, as he did the night before every tournament, until his speech slurred and he drifted into sleep. Waking early, he dressed and headed down to the lobby to partake of the continental breakfast. A glass of orange juice from concentrate and an apple danish kept him hungry, but not so hungry his stomach would grumble between matches. A woman collecting the plates asked if he’d like some coffee.
“No coffee,” he said. “Coffee gives me the jitters. No caffeine of any kind. I get amped and I can’t focus straight. It always goes off at an angle.” Westinghouse demonstrated the angle by slapping his hands and thrusting his arm out at a fortyfive degree angle. The woman nodded and left. On his way out the door, Westinghouse spotted a familiar face and recognized him as someone he’d beaten a time or two before. He didn’t know his name and didn’t know his origin because he’d never been a threat, maybe sometime in his youth when he was still naïve and full of hope—before Westinghouse’s time. Now his frown lines had just become badges of mediocrity. “Nice to see you again, Westinghouse,” he said. “Have you seen the Texan?” Westinghouse asked. The man he’d beaten a time or two before said he hadn’t and directed his eyes toward the floor. Westinghouse promptly excused himself, displeased with all this secrecy, to pace the hallway outside the Grand Ballroom and wait for the first-round pairings to be posted. Someone had seen the Texan. Someone had seen the Texan because the Texan was not a man to hide in the shadows. Table assignments were posted at 8:00 am. Westinghouse drew table 27. That number elicited no visceral objection. At least it wasn’t unlucky 15. His opponent: T.D. Cooper. This name also meant nothing. Another rookie, he thought. An easy passage to a second round pairing against… Bart Christian. The Texan. The Texan! What disrespect! Within seconds Westinghouse had composed a thoughtful letter to the commissioner detailing his record, including wins at the St. Paul Open and the Jackson, Mississippi Rib and River Fest and questioned the seeding process that set up a second round match-up between himself and the Texan. He couldn’t write the letter, though, because he couldn’t find a piece of paper large enough to detail the ways in which he disagreed with the seeding process, only a three-by-five hotel pad on a coffee table in the hallway. By now a crowd had gathered and the Commissioner stepped forward to open the doors. Westinghouse pushed through the queue of shooters. Angela from Vermont accused him of being rude. She was a ten-year vet with three kids that were probably off pumping quarters into the arcade unsupervised. Westinghouse smiled and apologized. “I’m sorry. I’m just so focused. By the way, how’s your husband?” he asked, knowing that she’d been divorced for years, even though she’d never actually admitted it to anyone on tour. Westinghouse found table 27. He found the opposite chair already occupied by the kid, still wearing his semaphore shirt, his meager talents locked away in Katie May’s chest of thimbles. The kid said he was glad to see a semi-familiar face across the table for his first match. He shook Westinghouse’s hand like a teenager crammed for the SAT. Westinghouse closed his eyes. Westinghouse breathed. “Didn’t see you at the bar,” the kid said after a moment then adjusted his baseball hat. “Met most everyone at the bar,” he continued. “Katie May invited me. Quint, Sinclair, Udo the Butcher, Saul…”
Westinghouse breathed. The names and vagaries glanced off his shield of focus like a midnight drizzle. Udo the Butcher told new opponents that he got his name because he’d knifed a man in Dublin, Ohio where he was actually a taxidermist and had never knifed anything that wasn’t already dead. Shoot like you’re awesome. Shoot like you’re— “And what’s up with a Texan that doesn’t drive a truck? That never played high school football?” Westinghouse opened his eyes, woken by a thunderclap. “You saw the Texan?” The kid nodded. “Sure. He was at the bar.” “Did he look steady? Did he look cocky or focused? How focused did he look? Was there deadness, just beyond his eyes? Like he’d take your lunch money, even though he already had a lunch?” The kid cocked an eyebrow. “We drank some microbrews and talked about how I preferred the original Police Academy, whereas he preferred Police Academy 3: Back in Training.” The Commissioner stepped up to the podium. “Welcome everyone to the 29th annual Grand National Rochambeau Association World Championships.” He went on to say that he hoped everyone had enjoyed the nice continental breakfast then made a joke about the hotel’s matching bedspreads and carpets. He said to wait for his mark before commencing with the first round contests and looked down at his watch that ticked so loud Westinghouse could hear it twenty feet away. Perhaps it was just near the microphone. Perhaps Westinghouse had finally learned to enhance his senses through focus. “Ready,” he said. “Set,” he said. “Shoot!” Westinghouse stared into the kid’s eyes and raised his fist, the muscles aching from preparation and expectancy, the opponens pollicis cocked. “One.” His thumb was a rigid clamp, his mind devoid of thought or emotion. “Two.” They pumped their fists, arms hinged at elbows. “Three.” Microbrews? “SHOOT.” Westinghouse whipped out his clippers. The kid bowled a rock. “One.” He’s a rookie. Rooks over think this. Keep it simple. “Two.” His eyes paint his weakness. “Three.” Who prefers Police Academy 3 to the original? “SHOOT.” This time Westinghouse went bowling. The kid slipped him some parchment. There was a moment of calm before the first cheers and exaltations spread through the tables. Westinghouse remained silent. He dropped his hand to his lap, relaxing even the abductor digiti quinti, and drifted away, repeating the match in his head. He replayed the position of the kid’s mouth, the way he dropped his shoulders before he rolled the rock, the way he reclined in his chair as he shaved the tree. Oh, what loathsome luck of the draw to have pulled an unpredictable amateur. He may not have known what he was doing, but like a drunkard tossing Velcro office darts, eventually one’s going to hit the bull. The kid probably thanked Westinghouse for his spirited competition. He would shake and say “Good game, friend” or maybe even address him by name. But Westinghouse wasn’t his friend, and he didn’t look up. The wounds were too
fresh and he wasn’t ready to exchange Christmas cards. Westinghouse stood, his eyes fixed on the red and green and brown carpet, and exited the room exactly twelve minutes after entering, a year of preparation and sweat and focus engulfed by a Grand Ballroom beneath a fifteen-foot chandelier in a hotel separated from Interstate 80 by a row of Poplar trees. A hotel that contained mini-bars featuring assortments of less-than-premium nuts for a more-than-nominal price. Westinghouse packed his bags. He stared at that painting between the beds, and now without the shield of focus to dull his judgment, he realized just how terrible the artwork really was. The painter had no sense of drama. The plow was abandoned mid-till, halfway between the start and the finish. The painter had no sense of detail. The plow was heavy enough to warrant the use of at least a mule, but nowhere in the picture could he find any trace of livestock. There weren’t even any hoof prints in the tilled soil suggesting the mule had just given up and walked away, tired of the daily grind. Westinghouse passed through the lobby, rolling his bag behind him on a baggage trolley he found in the hallway. “Oh there you are,” someone said. Westinghouse looked up to see the original concierge, the Art History major, manning his spot at the front desk. “Petunia mentioned that you’d asked her about the Texan.” Westinghouse’s eyes dulled. “Petunia, you know—the night clerk.” Westinghouse nodded. “I wanted to tell you that I ran into your friend the Texan last night as I was leaving through the back and you were here getting focused,” the concierge said. “He’s beatable. I mean, he looked rattled or something. I wouldn’t really know. I’m not a pro like you or anything, but I’m pretty sure he’s fodder this year.” The Art History major paused and regarded the trolley. “Are you taking a break after the first round?” Westinghouse shook his head and adjusted his grip on the trolley. “I’ve got to get back on the road so I can make the mid-major in Tucson next weekend,” he said. “I need to get there as soon as possible to prepare. I need to survey the territory, count my steps, pace my focus.” He spoke as if reading from a script he’d written and re-written years ago. Familiar but foreign, like they weren’t even his words at all. “Wow, you’re driving all the way to Tucson?” The concierge shook his head in disbelief. “Where is it that you’re from?” Westinghouse narrowed his eyes. “No,” he said. “It’s not.” Westinghouse pushed through the doors to the parking lot. He tossed his shoulder bag filled with clothes and a toothbrush into the backseat of his green 1985 Camaro before removing his atlas from the glove compartment. Pages had been repaired with electrical tape and staples. Westinghouse started the engine, letting it warm up, chunking and clunking before finally turning over. Meanwhile he traced his finger over the thick red lines on the
maps on pages 58, 57, 7, 87, 22 and 4, plotting the most direct route to Arizona. With his index finger near Kingfisher, Oklahoma, a knock on the window startled Westinghouse into New Mexico. The kid moved his hand in a circular pattern. Westinghouse paused. He looked down at the almanac to re-orient his finger along Interstate 40 before cranking the window. An Appalachian breeze swept into the car, blowing the adjacent page over his anchored hand. “I’ve got some time before the next round,” he said. “Can I buy you a cup of coffee or something?” Westinghouse looked out over T.D. Cooper’s shoulder, through the porous line of trees to the highway. He allowed his focus to slip. The trees blurred and the passing cars flickered like the frames in a silent movie. He looked down at the map of North Dakota. He relaxed his hand and felt the pain and tightness in the carpals, like a vice pressing down on all sides. The pain radiated outward until it became numbness in the tips of his fingers. He removed his hand from Oklahoma and closed the almanac. “Coffee?” “Sure, you drink coffee, right?” Westinghouse felt his pulse quicken. Vigor and focus coursed through his veins. A shot of adrenaline right to his heart. The pain in his hands dissipated. Clarity returned. “We could get coffee, sure,” he said. “But let me save us both the time. I wouldn’t order coffee. You’d order coffee. Cream, no sugar. And you’d probably drink it while I let some nice herbal tea cool in the ceramic mug because I wouldn’t risk the burns. I’d ask you about your life. How you function out there in the world, how you focus. I would get to know your weaknesses. And you’d say something about how you’d just finished some kind of pre-law degree and wanted to take a year off before starting graduate school.” T.D.’s lip flinched like he wanted to speak, but Westinghouse continued. “You wanted to do something fun so you signed up to be a shooter at one tournament because your uncle bowled for a spell in the 70s and got you an amateur invite. And by bowled, I mean dabbled in something he called a hobby.” Westinghouse paused, his eyes again drawn to the semaphore flags on the kid’s shirt. “And now you’ve got to prepare for your match with the Texan. Your appetite for competition whetted by the spoils of beginner’s luck. He’ll beat you but you’ll want more so you’ll enroll in the next tournament where I’ll already be waiting, practicing my focus and building my confidence, having hauled that burden of expectation all the way across this great country. So thanks for the coffee and the chat, Mr. T.D. Cooper,” Westinghouse said. “Next time I’ll buy you one.” He replayed the match in his head, the two brief rolls, studying the kid’s every facial tick and tell. Rock. The corner of his mouth flinched. Paper. It was there in his eyes. He began repeating “Shoot like you’re awesome” and pulled himself into an intense round of focus that lasted until he believed it, staring into the menu at the drive-thru window of a Kentucky Fried Chicken. “How long have I been here?” he asked. “Fifteen. Maybe twenty minutes,” the voice said at the other end of the box. “Oh,” he said. “I was just so focused. You might wonder how I can focus so entirely.”
HEART PROBLEMS Howie Good 1 I watch for the warning signs—bats and owls taking flight and the light of day wearing a dirty green raincoat. 2 Something knocks twice upon my heart without entering. If this were a movie, the police would ignore me when I told them what I knew or at least suspected. 3 A snow of petals falls from the trees. I wade in up to my waist. There isn’t always that great a difference between a funeral and a carnival. 4 In one instance, I hid the baby under all the debris. Not everybody could tell that I was being ironic. 5 Brown-and-white cows drift toward a red barn. You call it “Arrangement in Gray and Black, No. 1.” Sometimes what look like stars to the naked eye are really only planets. 6 In New York City, even lovers travel underground. Girl with acetylene green eyes, why wait? The going always seems so much longer than the coming back. 7 Night and day seldom start on time. I appear in other people’s dreams, regardless. 8 A dying rocket tumbles into the parking lot behind the diner. On another day, it might have been a poet committing suicide for attention. 9 The leaves are bordered in black. You fuck me so hard that tyrants and martyrs stand in the rain along the funeral route sobbing. 10 I myself enjoy the ungainly spectacle of machines on fire, and when I wake up on the floor, it’s officially summer and next to a big pile of sunglasses.
Guy Stuff Bill Teitelbaum Mr. and Mrs. Stinky were Punch and Judy finger puppets that Lefcourt would improvise from the baby’s socks. Each night, if Lefcourt got home early enough from the store, there would be a show for the child immediately after his bath. “Smell me! Smell me,” Mr. Stinky would cry in his shrill, squeaky, puppety voice. “No, no, Mr. Stinky! You’re too stinky, you’re too stinky,” Mrs. Stinky would protest even more stridently. Essentially that was the show but the baby thought it was fabulous. Shrieking “S'inky, S'inky,” auburn cowlicks in every direction, the smallest Lefcourt would seize himself by the toes and, laughing wildly, fall over backward. He was a healthy, affectionate child, obviously a splendid audience, and why his father brooded about him so balefully was the mystery of Eileen Lefcourt’s life. “And he's such a good little guy,” Warren Lefcourt would sigh. Was it hysteria, Eileen Lefcourt wondered. It was as if her husband felt unworthy of the child. Suddenly he wanted to simplify things, to quit the store and drive an ice cream truck, to manage a pitch-and-putt. “Warren, I can’t listen to this,” Eileen Lefcourt said. But he seemed to be missing something, Lefcourt told her, that grasp of things that other men had, and instead of moving him toward a more positive outlook, Lefcourt suspected that his therapy might be facilitating his decline. He wasn’t tough, he was just touchy, Lefcourt complained. Instead of acting he watched himself. First there had been the rage, weeks of it, a general ferocity, sullen and diffused but bitter and inconsolable. He was furious, Warren Lefcourt said. His parents hadn’t loved him. Or maybe they had loved him, Lefcourt conceded, but badly, discouragingly. Protective love? Cautionary love? That's why he was so angry, Lefcourt cried. All they had given him was their fear. But he didn’t sound angry, Eileen Lefcourt said. If anything he sounded wounded, he sounded hurt to her. That was the problem with feelings like that. The more he talked, the more substantial these moody conjectures would seem. He could talk himself into paralysis this way. “Maybe it was all they had,” Eileen Lefcourt said. “It’s not fatal. We get over these things. The main thing is you know it now.” Warren had subsided then, but the following Sunday, pushing the baby through arcs of laughter in the little playlot behind their apartment building, he wondered aloud if given the choice the child would have selected them deliberately. “You understand, I mean theoretically, if he could have made the pick.” It was not the sort of thing that inspired confidence, Eileen Lefcourt worried. Warren was an assistant merchandise manager at J. Kidde’s flagship store at the Longacre Mall and there had been talk recently of giving him a portfolio to manage, seasonal concepts—a prom boutique, a camp store, a cruise shop, an Alpine hut. But his progress seemed stitched to a juvenile irritability. He quarreled with himself and his wandering mind was prone to remarks that lingered in the ear. Was it nerve and commitment that had brought them this far? What had ever happened to them on
purpose? Why had they married? Why the baby? To give themselves shape, to order their terrors? Who did he think he was, Warren Lefcourt wanted to know. His appetite waned. In bed he was vigorous but he wasn't there with her as he had been before. He would brighten for the baby but his attentions felt strained, and resentments of Eileen's own began to root in these rueful soils. She understood his anxiety well enough—an imminent success could be more terrible than the prospect of failure—but she felt blind-sided. For the sake of getting their family established her own career had been put on hold, and though at the time she hadn't looked at things that way, at the brokerage she had lost ground, you didn’t recover those early years when mistakes were cheap, and as a parent she was not considered as promotable now as account execs perceived to be less divided in their loyalties. Would she have to settle for this, Eileen Lefcourt asked herself. She felt as if Warren had lost his faith in them, and though it might have been more generous to fear for him, after three or four months with no end in sight, she felt a creeping suspicion that he was growing comfortable with himself this way, as if there were something about the situation that justified him, and in that light she feared only for herself and the baby. She saw her life contracting to a sort of elaborate reaction to this needlessly complicated man. “Warren, I don’t know if I’m equal to this,” she said, which was certainly an honest thing to say but as it turned out not very helpful, and in bed at night the thumping at the base of her throat felt like a beachball plopping down a flight of stairs. An episode of morose yet oddly constructive quiet intervened then. Warren joked less but he seemed to smile more, and if his silences were self-absorbed, his ironies were gentler, as if he might be lurching as Eileen had hoped toward a viable disenchantment, but then suddenly, literally overnight, up he went like a spike of fever, a euphoria he attributed entirely, said Lefcourt, to the miraculous advent of Burton Pinz—“Best Dressed,” “Most Congenial,” a crony from high school he had run into at the store, a golden boy, an American prince, stuffing envelopes as a temp at a utility table in the billing department, and by the look on his face, frankly grateful for the opportunity. Burton Pinz, flat on his back? But light itself was partial to Pinz. He was the yearbook picture that people would point to years later and say, “Who’s that?” He wasn’t even smart, Lefcourt recalled, dilating on Pinz over supper that night. Neither insightful nor creative, perhaps earnest but not diligent, yet people would defer to his sunny disposition. His happiness seemed important to them. They respected his judgment, of all things to respect. Teachers would cut slack to Pinz. Shy girls felt capable of monkeyshines with him. His doting parents had probably kept his bedroom as a shrine to Pinz—the satiny desk, the shelves of immaculate, untouched books, the speedbag, the figure skates, the closets of clothes purchased fresh each autumn, the bed where their Burton actually slept. “It was brilliant,” Lefcourt marveled. “They convinced him he was Jimmy Hollywood. If he spelled cat with a k they praised his imagination. In the summers they sent him on those dare-to-be-wonderful expeditions.” How could success have eluded him, Lefcourt wondered. Yet there he was, Burton Pinz in the flesh, God's gift to Erasmus Hall. Pinz was happy to see Lefcourt, too, of course, but he was like that, Lefcourt reminded himself, and all at once he was struck by the way the long years seemed to
have made almost no difference in Pinz. Planted like a stump, without benefits, without standing, rented by the hour like a rug-shampooer, yet his blue eyes, as guileless as Lefcourt remembered, seemed open to the sky at the back of his head and an aura of pure sufficiency wrapped Pinz in its sheen, the glow of being touched by an unseen hand. His complacence in fact seemed his most arresting quality, as if wholly unaware of the disgrace he represented. “Burton Pinz,” Lefcourt sighed. “Burton Pinz?” It was a little embarrassing of course that Lefcourt saw himself deriving more satisfaction from Pinz's failure than he had ever taken in his own achievements, but he reasoned that probably this was because the latter had always seemed accidental and therefore unreal to him. Yet apparently there was motion in the world. Not everything was cast in cement. You could plug away, Lefcourt was realizing excitedly, waves of possibility seemed to surge in his heart, and in a rapture of gratitude for Pinz's downfall, Lefcourt invited him to supper. “Why couldn't you just take him to lunch?” Eileen Lefcourt asked. But they needed the baby to meet Pinz, Lefcourt insisted. They owed this to the child, it would comfort him. You see, Lefcourt would tell him, I told you there was hope. You could work for things, you could keep a good thought—work worked, too, he would encourage the child, man to man as it were, so that finally Eileen thought it best that they simply get this Pinz business over with. Yet ten minutes after bidding Pinz good night she could scarcely recall his impression. Tall and long-muscled, implacably genial, for her Pinz evoked one of those affable vacuities who somehow made lives out of operating the recreational concessions at Caribbean resort hotels, renting the mopeds, teaching the beginners’ windsurfing class. He had no mass, he left no absence. “Oh wow, a baby,” said Pinz. Hair bright as silk, like sugar floss spun from an aluminum tub, a jock’s physique, a swimmer, but a temperament without personality, a vagueness at the bone. His attention, though perfect, had been inert, as if the Lefcourts might have been a movie Pinz was watching. “You’re missing the point,” Warren told her afterward in bed. “I am?” she asked. Then perhaps she was the one who should have been in treatment. What did these men have to do with each other? He was unconscious, this Pinz. What had come of him, she asked. Would he ever inspire loyalty? Was it imaginable that someone might ever take a beating for this cipher? He had friends in La Jolla, Pinz had told them that night, in Largo, in Pinehurst, in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, on Padre Island, at Matagorda, at Kiawah, and everywhere was great, just great, that was his ubiquitous encomium for things—the weather, the water, the people, the women—the women, one gathered, as opposed to the people? In less than ten minutes Eileen Lefcourt had heard enough, but with Warren’s encouragement Pinz had stayed past midnight to tell them about the bait shop in Islamorada. It had gotten old pretty fast though, Pinz said, so he went for a share in a treasure hunt in the Florida Straits. Now that had been great. No shoes, no television, and every day a brand new challenge. The temp work was pocket change, Pinz explained. He would visit with the folks, touch base. There was a lady in Santa Fe who wanted Pinz to help her manage a bed-and-breakfast she owned there near the opera house, but Pinz, temporizing delicately, didn’t know about that. First of all, he
explained, he didn’t like being so far from the ocean, and also, although he didn’t like to say it, the last time there hadn’t been too great. “I don’t get it,” Eileen Lefcourt confessed. “You were in high school, Warren. You’re still in high school the way you talk about this cluck.” Yes, well, what did she think, that people became simpler? Maybe that’s why you had to watch yourself, Lefcourt told her. To pray? To wish? To work on your smile? Yet compared to Pinz’s arrested bliss, a dynamic banality no longer seemed such a bad thing to Warren Lefcourt. Didn’t he, too, live in a dream? His little family, his little home? As recently as the prior afternoon Lefcourt had seen no distinction in these trite credentials, but suddenly they seemed significant to him. They had a child, they paid their bills. All that, plus employee discounts? Life was good, Lefcourt assured his wife. Nor was he really so terribly unhappy. He was depressed of course, that went without saying, but he seemed to be feeling less stupid about it. “I guess then maybe I should be pleased,” Eileen Lefcourt said. “Suit yourself,” Lefcourt shrugged. Was he growing up? “Gee,” Warren Lefcourt said. He felt badly for Pinz though. Maybe he could help him, Lefcourt thought, and from these prickings of distress for the rudderless Pinz a tender compassion seemed to bloom in Lefcourt. He could get Pinz an interview in shipping, or maybe security, Lefcourt thought, show him around, introduce him to people. In time maybe Pinz, too, would seek out vicarious reliefs for neurotic longings. He could help Pinz with that as well, Lefcourt realized. Respectability suddenly figured in Pinz's future. Continents of anxiety could open to him. “Warren, how does your mind work?” Eileen Lefcourt asked. It was academic though, Lefcourt reported. Pinz had appreciated the thought, Lefcourt told her the following night, but it was just that at the moment he didn’t know what he would do. Eileen served spaghetti while Warren explained Pinz’s concept of planning. After all the traveling and whatnot, he wanted to avoid commitments for a while. Too hectic, too nervous. “It was like yelling ‘It’s great to be alive,’ and then repeating it,” Lefcourt laughed. “That fucking Buddhist. Whatever happens, it's all right with him.” But what did Burton Pinz have to worry about, Eileen Lefcourt asked. Did he have a family to love, a child to raise, a present with a future to come? What kind of character did it take to be nothing? How should he know, Lefcourt told her. That might have been his problem for all he knew. That’s what killed him, Lefcourt said. He—Pinz—the guy seemed to have no sense of the things that could happen to people. He didn’t question himself. He was immune to all that. But how would he question himself, Eileen Lefcourt asked. What would he do it with? Well, Lefcourt didn’t know, he couldn’t answer that. What he did know was that Pinz had nothing and didn’t worry about it, while Lefcourt had everything and worried all the time. “It’s funny, isn’t it,” Lefcourt sighed. “For a second there I thought I would be all right with this.”
“All right with what?” Eileen Lefcourt asked. “Warren, what are you telling me, that life is unfair? When did this occur to you?” Warren had to laugh. Unfair would have been an improvement. “Eileen, what are we going to tell the baby, that we did our best?” He held her hands gently enough, but his addled sincerity made it painful for her to look at him. “We’d better love the shit out of that kid, Mrs. Stinky. I’m not kidding with you. Children don’t forgive you for these things. They hold grudges. They would sue your ass off if the courts would let them.” “You’ve been playing with your medication again,” Eileen Lefcourt said. “What did they tell you about that?” Lefcourt did not respond to this but took his head in his hands as if wondering where he might dispose of it. Closing his eyes he saw his future unreel with a hideous inevitability. Nothing would be his fault but as a courtly gesture he would have to act as if it were. That would be his dignity, Lefcourt muttered. But what could ever come of Burton Pinz, Eileen Lefcourt asked. What difference would he make? What could he hope for? Who would he ever matter to? And to his credit, she thought, Lefcourt seemed to ponder these questions. How would Pinz age, for example, adrift in the Gulf Stream clinging to an oil drum? Sliding off a barstool, purple sun lesions striping his neck? Baiting downriggers on party-boats? Queuing for soup at a sailors’ mission? And then it came to him. As in a dream, Warren Lefcourt said. He fell out of sleep with it, laughing, shaking her awake, how could he have been so obtuse, Lefcourt asked. Love eternal would provide for Pinz. He probably had insurance trusts. Dividend accounts like wells of kisses would pump in perpetuity for Pinz. Hope was for the rest of us, Warren explained. “Warren, you have to stop this now. I can’t deal with this anymore.” “I know, I’m sorry. I know how annoying it is. I’ll be quiet,” he promised. “I won’t talk.” But each time he settled down and drew the blankets to his chin he would start laughing again. She could feel the mattress shaking.
The Smallest-the Fattest-Talking Horse Vincent William Brady The smallest-the fattest-talking horse. 1. we could not walk the lover's rope, that nerve tonight, for the sagging along its length, for the whipping in the breeze. far below, the bellowing sea. for truth, again this night i am borrowed by another potion, and elsewhere sparking strength. so talk, then and by the word, relatefor worry on jibe that latticed knees and fingertips are the only consummatebut i worry for nothing (if the joke was really said in jest). still i feel the shadow plays, their puppet clutch beat the porous walls in my chest. but light by skin and say itI love you, my girl, my breath and Prayi feel my soul is being coaxed to Other Side, on turbulent Sleighbut here, more's to the life that waning, still exalts on love and hopebut that I'm ever and truly able
to show my Love is best, in more than many thorough ways, Stricken though I layis a thing wont to fidget in its own curiosityits story needing all its meager clarityof all the queerest, unlikely circumstances that jut and juxtapose, that swell on doubt and then repose, confusedly againagain, in stolen clothesforgive me, everyonei'm asking the question in so many words. so, here and simply“How Does Either of Us Really Know? And how? And why? I with my blasted cellsand she, her hidden bedlam double ringing isolate from her nighted belfrytolls her broken knell. well, wellwe both, (we all) shout up from our own Hells. but if it's good enough for you, despite it all, God then, shut me up and stay, baby, stay. tell me to stay. “Vincent, stay with me.” Blast the bubbles in my body, i'll do my best and stay. so we let the snail, or snake (who by his primes, is snake, indeed)
sink to his repose, back below the rising tide, the water at our navals, then gushing up our nosethen it dried to a simpering puddle underneath our toes(oh, you knowall the interprative ways that an allegory goes. suffice it to say, we had tried for Lover's sweat, but were unable to make due, and deed. the small, fat broken horselaughing, in his seaside stable-making light of the Disease.) Cont. 2. would my lovely stray? would that hunger bottom out, and flex and lay about the crowd? i say, some people and their highest imports.
their cunning tastes their longs and shorts. as i've said i worried for nothing-my nascent comedienne reassured me with her kiss. and i said to her before she rowed out on gondola, on sandmanâ€™s dreamy drift'Maria, my miss, and in time, my Mrsthere was a sweeter star in the poisonous clusterthe cancerous shine that in its raying, raying down, diffused a purer, golden light.' see, in all the glowing nauseous, in all that constellated, sickening glow, in all the panicked-my-circuits that hurried my poppops voicestruck with confusion and anguish and worry over Minneapolis/Alaska telephones'Dad, I am a-strickenmy body's a-fucking slight of me-' 'Son. Son, a plane ticketwith love,
with love, see now that you see your way home-'
my b-vitamin piss-hued abodes front door.
the purer, warmer light, shown way the cold of home, brought me to a father's care, wantonly absent before (beyond his obligated food and roof and maybe little mores)-
i asked if you enjoyed my cave, my mountain lair at dusk; we lingered awkwardly there, and trust-just like that, the hand that stitches us Infatuate sewed its first seam, seemingly, and clean.
(but a father's love was alwaysthough awkward, and grumpily reticentthere-) that beam, among more noxious coruscating, warped me here, carried me to messages in Your Type, then to the sound of Your Voice on the wire, then finally, apprehensively, come you to my sightthe big green eyes (and blue) that burn their way out of your dye-straight, pulled back into a tail, and secret under capselsewise, the pitch tresses fall in lengths, and sweep along your spine. well here you are, short and fully fineto the busted ass or mouth(whichever structural orifice) is Castle Casa's-
so we decided on a drive by icy city roads, by which we'd meet and greet our sun-starved arctic sea. though frost ridden, the streets were hardly treacherous, and we reached the place, and from its vantage, the cold made warm, when was pressed between our hearts, the world, and its cities, each and all dreaming their monolith dream. and we hardly talked- we smoked, and breathed, and were Simply Being Be, warm of each other despite cold and dark and snowy, our thoughts, like our vapour breaths mingled in the arms of trees, hung crystalline bejeweled the clergy robes, the snow sleeves that wear themselves white on barkskinthe sparse woods that ran off down the bluffs, down the cliffside in patches, in woody winter throngs, their fingers pushing whispers from the edge of cliff and sea-no doubt gossip about her and me, in a language that's by summer lush,
verdant with the crush, the brush of leaves. “look, all inward human silence, but commotion, still. all distressed-all howling and stampede. crook in, past their breastbones, to hear the thing that beat with much ado. their heads in a tizzy, a tumult, out here among us, in the salt and dark, spun with rust and blue.” well, i can thank your mother for your presence. (and i certainly, certainly do). but, as for circumstance, there is One to whom i bend all credence toand by the ineffable presence, i have cursed and cried and spit and stamped and screamed and sobbedand then, have been given over to bouts of quietof seeming brain deathof seeming that my throat be throttledi have come aroundcome around again to anguish with my fingers sinking, striking deep
the scars, in the muddy upturned bogs that drip and drawlthat these corridor walls are have been and becomebut have come around to thank Him, yet again for Love's shoring up, and then again, even as i come undone. Follow Still? 3. if you follow still, listenhere's many times the thought“fuck this bullshit, i'm too fucking YOUNG, you indifferent clod, you fucking funny guy, you think you're a funny fucking guy? you must be! most of the human lives you've made, and terribly wrought-” but for all the shit, for all the terrible caprice sometimes you bust the box, sometimes you really
pull up your sleeves, and reign down in glittering gifts, and per the multitudes pleain your houses holy swarm the pews, the bent, the faithful kneesbut by and large the lot of us; we are roasted toy dogs skewered on short, sharp stickswe are bodies full of bubblesmalformed, like marshmallows Unturned, and turned in Hell. and in your Divinity, in your Creative Spreeyou burned your fat thumb! and recoiled by the heatand the flames licked and licked, and some folks say â€œAw, blame de Devil, please. after all, you must have done wrong by God's Ten Golden Shits, and done foul by his decrees.â€? ugly, ruddy spit. all glib, all fearful preach. all bilge and bile and puke and vomit, the evangelical's artful dribbling stupidly. the cracked teeth in fat, cracked mouths that break wide the lumpy frontspiece the wooly old menthe crinkled baby facesyour mouthpieces, your clerics and scholars, you on High by thesemust share
their more than often (as it seemingly, as seemingly I see) balding, red faced pedigreesyour fleshy megaphones, your conduits jowels, their flabby bows and knees. if you are The One, as they say in my Country, from podiums in Churches, babbling on streets and broadcasts on radio and TVThe One that I ought to revere, your great eye leering down upon your teeming mass in petri, your germ cultures writhing against the clear. then I have questions, I have doubts aplenty. do you feel remorse? when tease us young by a jig of string; at an end, a shiny, dancing gemwhen by the charm of life, and living, trick us chasing too soon over the precipice lip? but i am age. against your rights, i have been a liar a hypocrite, have scripted some treacherous linesbut kept the love of friends, for long, somehow, even when sucked small calcium, unawares, from vertebrate in their spinesand how? and how?
tonight i tallied up more frauds, and nowshe said â€œit doesn't matter, dear, you till the ground by your own plow-â€? and angrily, but she'll remain. i 'slang them tits,' and the money rains, the money rainsand by that tense, perhaps the only way that i bag her softening brains. she won't readand if she does, then hello! and, do you understand? he won't read it either, and if he does, the pitching earth on where i stand? but it's okstill i love you all. you grab me by my hand and nape and crowd me in your hall. and sing and sing and drown me out, crawling in your hall. so, oh Lord; i thank you, there, and thence-my revery, my scarefor you, oh Lord, my faith in you sits, resolved upon a fence, my apprehensive ghost lays at the foot of your stair. and you kill me with a glarethe clouds part by your baleful stare. still, mournfully i praise you and call the balance even,
by the blessed human love that now, i better know, though the trade is cursed and hardly fair.
The second section of this three part poem was originally published in Cirque: A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim, Vol. 2, No. 2: 9-11
Ah Sunflower William Blake Ah Sunflower, weary of time, Who countest the steps of the sun; Seeking after that sweet golden clime Where the traveller's journey is done; Where the Youth pined away with desire, And the pale virgin shrouded in snow, Arise from their graves, and aspire Where my Sunflower wishes to go!
This issue is dedicated to the late Vincent William Brady (13 December 1987 to 15 May 2010). A beloved friend, son, and brother, he was heavily involved in the arts, spending time sketching, painting, and making musicâ€”but his most significant dedication was to poetry. His first public reading was at Phyllis' Cafe in downtown Anchorage, Alaska in May 2008 after years of writing. Unpublished during his lifetime, his work has appeared in Cirque and P.Q. Leer. Howie Good is a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He is the author of poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011), as well as numerous print and digital poetry chapbooks, including Love Dagger from Right Hand Pointing, To Shadowy Blue from Gold Wake Press, and Love in a Time of Paranoia from Diamond Point Press. David Lewitzky is a retired social worker/family therapist living in Buffalo, New York. He has had recent work published in Nimrod, Red Wheelbarrow, River Oak Review, and Third Wednesday among others. Lea Marshall is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work is forthcoming in Menacing Hedge, and has been published in Hayden's Ferry Review, Miracle Monocle, Moon Milk Review, diode poetry journal, and Anderbo.com. She is Assistant Chair for the VCU Department of Dance and
Choreography, and also works as a freelance dance writer. She lives in Richmond, VA with her husband and daughter. Nancy Carol Moody spent many years with the postal service, resisting the urge to read the backs of postcards. Now she lives at her desk, moving things around in search of other things. She loves scissors and the smell of tire stores and is only mildly amused when strangers want to touch her hair. Nancy’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, The New York Quarterly, PANK and Salamander. She’s the author of Photograph With Girls (Traprock Books) and can be found online at www.nancycarolmoody.com. Nina Pak is prolific artist inspired by the Italian Renaissance. More about her and her work can be found at www.ninapak.com Melina Papadopoulos has six birds and one crazy dog, all of whom she loves dearly. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in The Adroit Journal, Bluestem Magazine, Chocorua Review, among others. She currently resides in the state of Ohio. James Patrick has placed his writing with Monkeybicycle, PANK Magazine, Bartleby Snopes and Specter Literary Magazine. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine and works as a copywriter in Pittsburgh, PA. He also blogs about (mostly) music and writing at www.thirtyhertzrumble.com. Bill Teitelbaum’s plays and short fiction have appeared in journals such as Bayou, Louisville Review, Montreal Review, Pacific Review and Rhino, and in anthologies such as Western Michigan University’s Art of The One-Act. He studies writing at the Kitchen Table College of Continuing Education in Lincolnwood, Illinois, a small Midwestern village adjacent to the larger Midwestern village of Chicago. James Valvis is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE (Aortic Books, 2011). His writing can be found in Anderbo, Arts & Letters, LA Review, Rattle, River Styx, Crab Creek Review, and many others. His poetry has been featured at Verse Daily and the Best American Poetry website. His fiction has twice been a Million Writers Notable Story. He lives near Seattle.
R. Joseph Capet is a poet, playwright, and essayist whose work in English and Esperanto has been published in a variety of magazines all over the world, including decomP, The Montreal Review, Taj Mahal Review, and ITCH. A former editorial assistant for the Alaska Quarterly Review, he is currently an editor for The 22 Magazine and a poetry editor for P.Q. Leer. He is excited to be starting work on his MFA in Poetry at the University of New Orleans this Fall. S. D. Capet is a poet and writer originally from Anchorage, Alaska whose poems have appeared in publications such as River Poets Journal and Midwest Literary Magazine. She began writing songs and poems in elementary school, and has never stopped since. She also has an awesomely useless degree in philosophy, enjoys debating feminist philosophy and metaphysics, and hates writing bios. Miranda Davie is a barista, writer, and freelance costume designer in Chicago, Illinois. When sheâ€™s not peddling coffee across the street from Wrigley Field she spends her time daydreaming about Honolulu, running, and looking for a wealthy benefactor to trick into marrying her. An avid procrastinator, she is very pleased to have finished writing this bio, and now plans to go back to talking about working on her novel. Skye Gombert is a writer and an artist who lives in Seattle with a madman and a cat. She made the mistake of letting her editor compose her bio. Ivan Kuletz: Combine equal parts naturalist soul, scientific mind, and excess body hair in a shaker. Agitate for 26 years, adding sense of humor once the shaker gets a dent or two. Pour over rocks (granite works best) in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a turn of phrase and serve with a grain of salt. Food pairing suggestions: sushi, lamb, ribs, pie, pizza, corn dogs, fruit, seafood, land food . . . really any sort of food. Elayne V. Kuletz is an artist, editor, and instructional designer from semi-rural Oregon. An avid reader and a self-professed technology addict, she hopes to see paper books and modern communication technology complement one another (rather than grudgingly coexist) to create a beautiful reading experience. She also teaches education and technology courses at her local university.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS We accept submissions year-round. The deadline for our next issue is August 15, 2012.
Submishmash! It may sound like a kitchen gadget designed for flattening potatoes, but itâ€™s actually our new submission management system. We are currently accepting work in all categories for our next issue. Please visit pqleer.submishmash.com/submit to review submission requirements, login, and upload your work. We welcome submissions (in English, Spanish, French, German, and Esperanto) from around the world. We DO accept dramatic works, musical compositions, and rhyming verse. We also accept simultaneous submissions at this time.
Color Images Artwork and Photography Submissions We are now accepting full color images (i.e. photography, collage, pen and ink drawings, computer generated graphics, and other two dimensional art forms) as standalone submissions. We do not accept pornographic images or images containing logos or trademarks unless you own the rights to the logo or trademark or the logo or trademark is included as a form of social or political commentary. Please refer to our submissions page for more information: pqleer.submishmash.com/submit
Summer 2012, Volume 1, Issue 2