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RED SKY


RED SKY

Editor ZoĂŤ Etkin Designer Amanda Gartman

Red Sky seeks to showcase new work from established and up-and-coming writers and artists. $5.00


Table of Contents

redsky volume 1 issue 2


4

My Losing

Corey Mesler

5

Faith

Corey Mesler

6

Bread

Melody Dobbins

7

Water

Tawnysha Greene

8

Morning Dove

14

For a Talking Horse

15

Bird

16

Looking Up, Looking Over #2

18

I Was the Vapor Trail not the Plane

27

Rivers

28

4:57

29

Desert Desert Desert Grit Poem

30

One isolated super cell

32

Dogs, and Other Stupid Shit

38

Cult of Memory, #5

40

In the Video of Your Heart

41

Cult of Memory, #6

42

Untitled

Emily Kiernan Jay Etkin Sarah Cote Ronald Metellus Jeremy Hight Jay Etkin Jeremy Hight Ronald Metellus Jeremy Hight Tom Knauer Jamora Crawford Lyn Lifshin Jamora Crawford Eleanor Leonne Bennett


corey mesler

My Losing

And the club’s ceiling was made of cake icing and the band kept time with a kangaroo court and the dancers went round and round, they went the next round, and I looked at you through the darkness and could only see the line where your eyes speak in whispers and I still thought about loving you, I still thought about loving you, you were just that far away, my losing.


Faith

corey mesler I made a list of things without names. I mailed it to you from my desert island. The sun is so high here it looks like night. The footprints lead to me. I am that man, list-maker, fabulist, wraith.


melody dobbins

Bread

I have always prided myself On my bricks and mortar This motte and bailey life, Knives carried, Battles won, And a bad night’s sleep At the end of an erstwhile day. But standing very still tonight, I baked you bread Dough warm and sticky Between my own two hands. Silent while it rose, And rose again, Then spread Too much butter Melty, warm Beside ice cold milk. You smiled down at me A long, slow smile Licked your lips I blushed And understood Neruda With all his talk of bread.


tawnysha greene

Water

After ten days in Jeddah, I start to miss the rain back home in Tennessee. Storms rage here, wind teeming of stones, sand, red plumes that stretch to the sky, roll over rooftops, settle into clothes, eyes, mouths, sun burning skin. On the day the sun is so hot the Saudis cancel school, my driver takes me to the rain of King Fahd’s Fountain where water spews a thousand feet into the air. Ma’a, he points, Arabic for water and I close my eyes, feel it mist my face, salt sticking to hair, and taste Saudi Arabia, salt, sand, ma’a, me.


Morning Dove

emily kiernan


Miriam awoke shortly after dawn, sure for a sleepy half-second that her mother was about to walk in the door and discover her there, naked and deflowered. She felt giddy at the thought. The man was still asleep beside her, lying flat on his stomach with his face thrust into the pillow as if he was hoping to asphyxiate. Miriam watched him for a moment, incapable of falling back to sleep, impatient for him to get up. From the next room came the clattering of wings against wire mesh and she remembered the stacks of birdcages in the living room, the many little eyes taking in her presence—she realized now that it had been the one true surprise of the evening. He’d just bought them on a whim, he’d said. He liked their voices. He rustled a little in the bed, aware of their noises, and she considered poking him, but thought that this might be a rude and girlish gesture, given the circumstances. Instead she undertook to make him more subtly uncomfortable, yanking gently at the covers, sitting up to check the clock, jostling his elbows in the course of rolling over—all to little effect. When she tried to wake him, he slept like a log, or a dead-man or any other number of things that, Miriam reminded herself, were not in fact sleeping, but inanimate. She imagined herself chirping like a bird to fool him, but she could feel the sticky web of sleep still in her throat, and stayed quiet. During the night he had let the covers slip down to his hipbones, and Miriam could see the long line of his spine. She reached out a finger and dragged it down the length of his back, wondering how it could be so much longer than her own if it contained the same number of bones. He made a soft harrumphing noise at her touch, but didn’t move. Miriam could feel the contours of every one of the vertebrae that pushed up through his skin, sallow in the yellow morning light, and dangerously thin. She’d never seen anyone so thin before and she didn’t think this could be normal. Every breath, every smallest movement, set off a series of visible twitchings and adjustments from the Rube Goldberg machine of muscles just beneath his skin. Miriam watched raptly for a few minutes, and when she lifted up the sheets to rearrange them around herself, her own body appeared suddenly like a great placid sea of ivory flab. She was still staring at this in horror, the sheet held above her head with one


hand, when he woke up. “Hey,” he said, propping himself up on one elbow, and looking at her with an expression that may have been sleepiness, and may have been surprise. “Hey,” she said, with only a little squeak, dropping the sheet as casually as she could manage. He looked as if he were about to say something, but kept reconsidering before the words came out. Miriam opened her mouth, then shut it again, and tried to smile awkwardly, but failed even at this. She suddenly remembered her mother explaining to her why they couldn’t get a puppy: because puppies grow up and stop being so cute, and then you just have a big smelly dog that needs food and walks and attention for the rest of its life. What the fuck was she supposed to do with him now? She knew how to do some things. She’d once watched three hours of porn at her cousin’s house, but none of those films had extended this far into the relationship. Should she kiss him? She hadn’t brushed her teeth, and figured this would be an amateur mistake. She thought for a moment about getting up, but she was naked now. She hadn’t been naked when she’d gotten into the bed. The lights had been off, and they’d been under the blankets; he hadn’t actually seen her. Her dress was within reach, crumpled on the floor beneath the bed, but she didn’t know what she’d do with it once she had it. She couldn’t possibly get dressed under the covers—he’d think there was something wrong with her, or maybe even guess at her inexperience. Hoping to appear knowing, she lay back down, rolled over and pretended to go back to sleep. She felt him sitting over her for some time, looking at her, and the air between them felt heavy and sad. She’d had a good time and she wanted to go home now. At last he reached out and fondled her hair with a small, familiar sigh, but she did not open her eyes until he was out of bed and retreating into the bathroom, his shoulders hunched and facing away from her. *** He stood staring into the mirror for a long while, watching the vein in


his temple pulse—the rhythm a perfect half-second behind the uncomfortable, wobbly beating in his chest. He felt dizzy. He felt ridiculous. Hangovers were number three on the long list of things he had decided he was too old for, football and suicide being the first two. The girl in his bed (Miriam, he thought, forcing himself to think of her by her name) had looked almost painfully sweet, lying there in a puddle of mid-morning sun, wrapped up in a white sheet which almost matched her hair, pretending to be asleep, but breathing fast and shallow like an about-to-be victim in a trashy horror movie. She’d been rolling around all morning, trying to wake him up, exuberant and on edge. There was a warm, organic scent coming off of her skin, sunburn, or turned soil—something alive and sweet. It was not perfume or shampoo, but it smelled good, and he had wanted for her to remain there, to contain the youthful, naïve energy that she was needling him with, to be still and let him sleep near her. He wondered, again, how old she was. He had asked in a fit of conscience the night before, and she had said twenty-two. This seemed not entirely like a lie, and he had chosen to trust her, though they hadn’t been carded at the bar as he had secretly hoped they would. Perhaps, he decided, it didn’t really matter; he would feel a creeping sense of disgust at his own motives no matter what the real answer was. Yet, undeniably, he found himself feeling pleased—he’d more or less given up on new experiences when he’d turned forty *** As Miriam walked out of the bedroom a half hour later, her nerves steeled, she saw him standing in front of a large cage by the window, shirtless and shoeless, his trousers hanging loosely around his narrow hips. The dark hair on his arms and chest stood out sharply in the morning light, as he stared with a heavy, baffled look at the small something cupped in his hands. He looked up at Miriam as she entered, but his face didn’t quite seem to register her presence. As Miriam came to stand beside him, he turned to show her what he was holding, though he did not look at her: it was the body of a bird, its feathers standing out perfectly white against its


tiny pink beak and orange feet. It was small and deflated looking, with its neck extended and laid against He’s palm in a soft curve, an oddly inviting angle, like a beautiful virgin in an old movie. “One of my doves,” he said, turning to Miriam but looking somewhere just above her head. “She was sick, but I thought she was getting better.” He grasped the tip of one wing between his thumb and forefinger, extending it out gently until Miriam could see the pink, featherless spot below, the elbow, or armpit, or whatever else it might have been, had birds possessed such parts. “She was young still,” he said, letting the wing fold back into place, and looking back to Miriam. “She’s such a pure color—very docile. She really didn’t seem that sick.” “I’m sorry,” Miriam said, taking a step towards him, then stopping, feeling that she was an intruder, that he did not want her to see this. “Yeah,” he said. “I’m not sure what to do with her. You can’t just put them in the incinerator, can you?” He looked up, and Miriam realized that he was asking her for help, asking her to find a better answer. “I guess not,” she said. “That seems disrespectful.” The words sounded childish even as she spoke them, and he didn’t respond. “You could bury her,” she tried again, though her mind was immediately flooded with images of the solemn prayers she had spoken over the flower-strewn shoebox-caskets of a long procession of childhood hamsters. She tried to imagine this grown man and herself performing such a precious little funeral for his dead bird, and she realized how ridiculous it would be, how impractical and whimsical she must seem to him. He was staring towards the door disconsolately, and Miriam felt she was losing him a little more with every silly, inadequate word. He looked miserable, slouched and shivering in the cold morning sunlight, dead bird, dirty apartment, embarrassed by the presence of this strange little girl. And suddenly, though she wasn’t sure why, Miriam wanted him to look at her, to look right at her and see nothing else, for one moment at least but preferably longer, until the end of their natural lives, perhaps. The only thing in the way was a dumb lump of dead feathers. Setting her jaw into her most serious expression, Miriam walked the last few steps


to him, placed one hand in the center of his back, and leaned forward to kiss his bare shoulder. She felt him tense at the touch, but she did not draw away. With her other hand, she scooped up the dove, and carefully, but without any allowance for protest, walked to the window, pushed it open, and dropped the bird out. She watched as it tumbled to the street, falling more heavily than she thought a bird could, even a dead one. The wind rifled through the feathers, but caught onto nothing and leant no grace to the descent. Miriam stood watching for a few moments after the bird had landed, feeling bewildered at herself. She was aware that she had just done something very odd, but could not think of anything to say to excuse herself. She turned back to him slowly, expecting to find him angry or aghast, but he was neither. He was standing with his arms crossed, regarding her with an expression that was both shocked and thankful. Somehow, miraculously, she had done the exactly right thing. She stepped back towards him with a half-smile, pleased with herself, waiting for him to kiss her with his arms draped over her shoulders, careful not to touch her with his dirty hands.


jay etkin

For a Talking Horse

Enter a talking horse, seal the newcomers who walk and eat, whose gaits are sanctioned. A lip is hard, to scorn is useless, laughing across lakes and treed Buddha condo listings- passion stops in pay stations and spots with blue signs with tender strollers. Yellow tights and wind so bright, each day cancels the next.


i lower my bear head instinctively, burrow into moist soil with claws, i follow you on all fours breathe with you move in my lumbering way

Bird

you will not reach out, dreamy arms to be chest to chest you bow your head from your pedestal

sarah cote


Looking Up, Looking Over #2 ronald metellus Caught Looking Self-preservation has always favored the watchful horizontal eye. This is why, as children, we are instructed to look both ways, before crossing the street. Looking up and down is negligible. The kids on my street with their bikes scrawled and the pavement— the cars, too—


teaching them lessons.. Today’s lessons is not to leave your bike on the curb. Tomorrow’s? Not to leave your life. * Many lives would’ve been spared if the Trojan Horse was not so vertically deceiving. Look both ways, Trojans. I don’t even open mail with vertical rubber bands. I place them, in a pile that just gets bigger. This letter is embossed with orange font: Look! Quickly! You qualify for our credit card says, the mail, looking deceptive.


I Was the Vapor Trail not the Plane jeremy hight


He had this crazy paper he somehow snuck in. I listened intently as he started out with a long intro that frankly made a lot of sense. It was scientific, it had lots of references and was a lot of overview about the history of the field leading into his area of study. He wore the nicest suit I had ever seen. It was yellow/orange and perfectly pressed, not a wrinkle and had a really interesting cut to it. His hair however was a bit greasy and looked like he cut it with scissors. It was when he got to his thesis that it got strange. He was proposing something that basically was so out of any field of study in the field that it seemed to a few of us to not even be from science fiction, a dream any of us recalled or a comic book; the thing about it though, the cruel wicked anchoring thing about it was by the end it made sense. Let me give you a little background about me. I am a scientist. I have a PhD and all the shiny credentials (dormant as they may be at this point). I have written many articles and a few books. I was chair of that panel that that man snuck his weirdness into. At one point I was the most famous person in my field. My field, mind you, had about a thousand people in it so to me that is like being king of the playground in 1st grade or the best at cow chip flipping (no offense to the purveyors of that fine sport as well as the warriors of lawnmower drag racing). I am a tall man, 6-9 in bare, bunioned smelly feet. I am now a man in his 80‘s. I am also, to some, a phantom. I will explain this later. The conference was in Chicago. It was many decades ago. The hotel I was staying at was nice enough but I was used to the warmer weather of the south. The snow showers were stinging as I walked from my hotel out to the University and conference hall. I remember that well even now as it hinges on some weird corner of what came later, like a tile, a nail. The campus was huge and full of tiny snow drifts amongst students bundled to nearly appearing to be giant worms walking upright to the occasional frat boy in shorts and tennis shoes surely trying to prove his manhood to someone. It was, to them, just another Tuesday. I asked one of those bundled creatures “where are you from?” and heard “mmmphhhhh”. Then she took off her muffler revealing a pretty face with tired eyes and quickly spat out, “San Francisco” and rushed off, fading away into white.


The large entry room was warm, marble tiled, oddly ornate and full of students dressed in suits with crooked little badges. I picked up my name badge from a boy who looked 12 but was a first year graduate student. He knew my work and pointed me to the room down the huge hall where I was to chair the panel. I looked out the front windows and saw it was snowing hard. So far from Florida. Ok, enough of an old man rambling. You don’t want a blow-by-blow account of every step I took that day. I could describe every bite of my sandwich I had that day though, every crunch of the lettuce in the side salad, many more bits of detritus; that is how much of an impression he made on me. The panel was called “Data Analysis Tabulation Processes and Methodologies”. A dry title to anyone not into weather I am sure, but to us a hot topic then. There were 4 people presenting. He was last. His presentation had a title that gave no indication of what was to come; “Statistical Analysis of apparent inconsistencies in Convective Cells and related phenomena”. He stood up to reveal that amazing suit on a giant of a man; he towered over the podium like he was to at any moment crush it with a pinkie finger. He began his 30-minute slot (which I later memorized from a tape an acquaintance made of the talks) with: When updrafts rise they are known to pick up solar heat bouncing back, they are known to lift moisture high into the upper atmosphere above the freezing level in stronger thunderstorms, which brings hail. We also know that clouds are not water magically defying gravity or up there on buoyancy and air currents alone; tiny bits of grass, leaves, insect wings and legs and soil float in those air currents and the water condenses like dew in the morning when you grab your paper. The thing I am reporting to you today is something else. These reports provide evidence of an exceedingly rare phenomenon. This phenomenon will be diagramed later in my slides and mathematical data at length. The cumulonimbus being the tallest of clouds, born of the strongest rising motion, can release destructive downburst winds curling out from the rain shaft, it can also with dry air below bring virga only, that tail of lines drawn as though of pencil with instead wind hitting below, fanning


fires, making dust storms. We also in it can debunk the fairy tale myths of hundreds of years of lore. The rains wine colored in many tales are not magical, not fantastic. Nor are the rains of frogs or fish or a million living crabs scurrying amidst outdoor weddings miles from shore. The colored rain is simply airborne silts and soils mixing with the other airborne particulates in water droplets that eventually fall as simple old rain. The Sahara a few times a year brings this to south Florida as well as Spain and Portugal. Nothing more to it. The frogs and other creatures have been the subject of not only countless moments in magical stories but of woodblock prints, paintings and legends. This too is nothing more than simple science. A waterspout picks up creatures from the water and as it comes ashore and dissipates, they fall. The creatures are actually sometimes cooked after the fall by happy hungry observers. There is no mystery to any of these things. My latest research, however, is a bit different. At this point it all seemed interesting, a nice take on language within a Meteorology paper, a concise debunking of frivolities pinned to hard statistical data. But then he continued, hair flopping more excitedly on his head as he paced back and forth and continued with. Case studies. One is a student in high school with a scholarship for college in that fall, one is a reporter with 20 years experience, the other is a Mathematician and trained sea captain. They have one thing in common. Let’s return to updrafts for a second. So, they lift up vapor and can mix with ash, smoke, pollution and particulates. Check. Rain drops form on floating bits of material. Check. There is much to this field of science that is yet to be understood, Check. Ok, here it is. They each heard bits of audio fall from a storm. Snippets, muffled among the thunder, but falling, undulating, one case repeating as it moved eastward at different volume levels. They heard conversations dropped from the downdraft amongst the rain and wind. This was the point when we all were thinking that this was a train sliding off the proverbial rails. This was madness. A break from reality. A delusion born of sleep deprivation and isolation. To use his words “nothing more�. His greasy hair flopped around like a drunken jellyfish on his


head as he spoke, thick clumps of shiny black hair doing slow serpent dances as he began moving around the area behind the podium as he spoke. This would only intensify. His amazing suit may as well have been a wad of old grey gum to all of us in the room as we were both fascinated and horrified by this bizarre work we were hearing amongst papers about rainfall rates near cities, cloud enhancement debunking data and statistical analysis methods for better tabulation drizzle data. The reporter’s article published Aug. 4, 1952 included this section (shown on the slide behind me) “I was staying on the farm first built in this town out of the kindness of Farmer Joneston as my car was having trouble and it was late. I awoke to rolling plains thunder and spits of rain. It was a dry high-based storm, I could tell by the lightning lighting the high-based clouds above the farm and by the little batches of big fat rain drops. I went out to watch as he had given me a key if I needed to go before morning for some reason and as I headed out the back door of the farmhouse the wind was warm and the drops cracked like eggs on my head. I looked up waiting for the next lightning to light the night sky when I heard something else. It seemed to grow in volume from a muffled vague ruffling to what grew into some sort of clarity. I must say here that I am not crazy, was wide awake, was not drinking and have thought long and hard about even writing about this. Ok, here goes. It was voices. Yes. Two different voices that as they grew louder were of an older and a younger man, both with a firm almost grave tone of voice, one was saying something of a warning to the other but I only could make out a few words amongst the wind and my disbelief. The words were these: hill, wound, you can’t and something that sounded like bandage. Then it seemed to move east away fading into quiet and then nothing. The sailors on the boat were a crew of 10. They all heard these words: gold, hurricane, fire, down, armada, Aruba. This fell during a dry thunderstorm of the coast of Texas. They were all on deck together in a dead calm as it also was a very high-based storm. Here you see slides of their stories in 4 different newspapers and here are the drawings and notes of the captain who also was a mathematician of some note before he tired of it and returned to merchant work in the gulf.


The teen awoke just last year in Orange, California. Here are photos of him from the newspaper articles on his story with a corroborating account by a local meteorologist who could not give his name but was noted to be a well-known local figure. The boy’s name is Jeff Ellings and he was up late studying when a warm rain with occasional thunder seemed to ease but then he heard what he thought were kids playing outside at 2 am. He ran out to see if they were ok and what in the world the parents were thinking allowing this. He walked for blocks and the sound never got closer or farther‌.he then realized it was undulating, rolling like thunder but of a young boy and girl. He heard sentences fairly clearly at one point in the loop of audio. Here is a tape of what her heard ‘I could make out certain words but they were in Japanese, the words translate to the wooden house is in flames we must run and the horses are running in circles , scared. He had read a few books on Japanese out of an extra credit project and a wish to teach English overseas while in college. There are a dozen others. Here is the hard part. The thesis of it all. The first voices were soldiers. The second set were sailors in a galleon sinking on fire. The last were Japanese children. The pattern shown behind me in my data analysis shows that each case was a dry or semi dry higher based thunderstorm with a long reach downdraft. Each was a storm that had peaked and was in dissipation stage. He produced photos, graphs, diagrams, math equations and a growing overview of how this was just science, data analysis, nothing more. This was in the early fifties so much of the later weirdness we now call weather was not even on our radar yet. He was a lone odd voice amongst the early days of radar and pre satellite images, really prehistoric times in comparison. This made him all the more odd and surreal in that suit with this wild thesis of his. The weirdest was the way he was actually convincing. He also seemed to have no tone of excitement or even interest beyond cotton dry research and data findings about the whole thing. He was suggesting that at times it can rain human voices somehow carried aloft. This was by far the wildest thing I had ever heard. This broke so many rules of physics and weather and yet he droned it all out in that flat tone like it was just simple facts; he had evidence and a an overview that


actually by the end of his 30 min slot was really making sense to not just me. Sailors for years were scared to speak of “St Elmo’s Fire” as to not seem insane; it is simply a heightened electrical field near impending lightning channels and is now basic knowledge in high school meteorology classes. Fighter pilots also never dared speak of seeing huge balls of plasma shooting high into the outer atmosphere like gooey bombs of fire above some storms. These sprites and jets are now studied in most Meteorology departments. Ball lightning has been noted to ooze out of televisions like crackling jellyfish during thunderstorms sometimes to pop like a soap bubble and other times such as the well documented incident back in 1638 in a church, to explode like a bomb killing 5 people. It was sci fi till that one plane flight where it crept along the floor in the plane on the one scientist’s trip to a conference, true story. Now it too is moved from crazy to cooled science. One noted physicist in the 1980’s published a paper arguing they are mini black holes, talk about weirdness right? A hurricane in 2005 formed in waters too cold and too far north and hit Portugal. No one has explained that one and it was on the news worldwide. Even I knew of it way out here. Lightning actually partially rises up from the ground, the leader charge, few know this outside of weather folks but it is basic to us. A famous photo in many books on weather sold in stores in the 70’s had a man posing smiling by his truck in Texas; he had a tiny bolt of electricity about 4 feet high rising from his head …another much thicker rose from his truck ...others from two small trees behind him; meanwhile a bolt “struck a tree behind him. He was simply lucky. Rock paper scissors. He got lucky and his leader was not met in the channel to complete a circuit. Weather is weird. Science is weird. This man was weird in what he was saying but how were we to know he was not onto some breakthrough like these other odd things? I wrote no notes. I was fascinated. This began a journey for me. The man made a lot of sense. His last 10 minutes were not the usual summing up, ending too early or running out of time like the rest of us;


it actually built like a story, an arc to it full instead with numbers, stats, charts and his narration of their interconnections. He finished to me with almost a crescendo and my foolish almost platonically smitten self had no questions for the 10 minute discussion and only one note. The note read “wait, could this be possible?” That was it. To my dismay there were only two general questions, one dismissive and mean, the other about dull details of his last graph. After the panel was done, most people left to lunch with a look of bored annoyance or the blankness of total dismissal. I have come to know these looks well, but that is another story, well for no other time, as I will never tell it. A few of us gathered around him and asked lots of questions, each getting a calm, articulate, logical answer. I went with the tiny group with him to lunch and we learned more of his background. He had been a meteorologist for many years doing research on electrical conductivity and ionic charges in thunderstorms (lightning is a combination of positive and negative charge) and had a PhD in electrical engineering and 2 master’s degrees in Meteorology. I left that afternoon before giving my talk. Who cares, I told the kid at the door as I left…his confused face shrinking behind in that huge entry hall. I chaired a panel. Did my part. This guy risked his career today. He just did the same as that reporter he quoted. I realized as he spoke that I had frankly never done such a thing. I had never considered it nor had any wilder ideas like that. I walked out improperly dressed into what had become a ferocious snowstorm. I did not care. The stinging needles were almost pleasing in that moment. I welcomed any icicles to form on my nostril hairs hard like antennae on a crab in a shell. I welcomed ice fields on my eyelashes. I had room and board ready for each bit of snow that that clung to my foolishly worn khaki pants. I reached my hotel honestly disappointed that none of this came to pass. I went to a heated room and mini bar and it was like being punched in the face. Comfort. Familiarity. A womb of it. How familiar. The snow was framed by a thick paned window away to a feeble like moving painting of a far off concept as I changed into dry clothes and watched the room’s TV. Statistics are cold. Graphs are over-simplifications of massive varied


data just to place information. Numbers are ice. He had been lost in these things as though he never spoke. At least he wasn’t raked over the clichÊd coals for it, but I began to wonder if that at least would have shown that people reacted, cared, made the effort it takes to roast a carcass, to destroy something. He just went on with no ripple at all. Ignored shown in some string of errant words. They even once did this was while we were at the urinals and I was babbling about obvious aspects of cloud formations. I was really just so much ballast and inertia. This gnawed at me more and more over the next 3 years (the man spoke in 55). I basically filled my clothes with an efficient, smart man who likely was past his peak in a life of work that was lucky as a lottery winner in its timing and money. A talk on one panel I went to around that time that I went to see a physicist speak spoke of how it may be possible to run gliders on the air streams behind jets as they break the sound barrier and how it also might be possible to use this for space travel behind rockets. I did not enjoy it at all. I realized I was forever to be the vapor trail behind a jet, not the plane, not that cloud that briefly forms as a barrier is broken.


In these rivers, faint with word, a training session where bannerless poles share no story. Like symmetrical prayer stations, also lonely and without script- waiting for a flood and recycled rocks.

Rivers

jay etkin


4:57

jeremy hight It is never the big things The big markers of so many books and movies No great architecture No form or construct holds those tiny triggers and hidden rooms Of the living memory as another death takes the world and folds it that one bit closer in shape as a whole and that eventual cold horizon


All the flying things in the desert are dead. Nary a mosquito, no impetus for this constant swatting. Flies? Dead. Gnats? Nope. And vice-versa, too: all the dead flying.

Oh, look the evening’s got a touch of late Aunt Edna! This, the theory

I posit for each sunset’s singularity. What goes up must sundown. I miss my uncle, poem. He ok? Death can inflame then retract like mosquito bites. And can’t you tell I miss smacking myself to quell irritation?

ronald metellus

Desert Desert Desert Grit Poem


Vapor It was a clear afternoon A few clouds and a warm wind The car slowly started The trip would be short Some clouds thickening Foot to pedal Gravel hiss and off to Henryville Radio crackles Black to west Need to get a few things that are running low his body is now like all these things and them Errands to be run Green to the west now some clouds are like pencil drawn udders above the window glass The little storm had brought only showers over the folks in California the news said Gas pedal is worthlessly lacking suddenly in these seconds Radio crackles The sky has an appendage to the west that hangs sickly and thin Maybe this is not that moment this may just be that thing grazing or even dying above Wall of white passing north thicker now hail


One isolated super cell jeremy hight

Pulling car off the road ditch thin a slight gash in the greenery Rope has not died away an ugly elephant trunk The sky is breathing now... inward‌sucking grass and dirt from here toward that hanging black The car near me is having a near seizure in a gust a small house lifts back into the planks of wood it was born from... then bursts like some ugly bloom a red tractor is flashing in and out of view first up‌then a spiral then piercing ground (odd things happen in these storms....straws blown into trees like nails....pianos carried to another town and dropped intact where a street once was...this is none of that odd poetry ..just dull opaque ends) It is upon the ditch now in a black fury This is drowning soil and cloud and wind as water


Dogs, and Other Stupid Shit tom knauer


People sure love dogs. Why is that exactly?

[Because that kind of introduction always begs an explanation, here’s mine: Dogs are much less problematic to care for than kids, yet offer nearly all of the benefits. Specifically: 1) You get to refer to a dog as “it”, in addition to “him” or “her”, and no one1 cares. Particularly useful in those all-too-common times when you’re

feeling lazy with pronouns. Like when you’re high. 2) You get to name dogs whatever you want, and no one cares. As with

kids, people who obtain a dog get to give it a formal title, something to give the owner2 a unique way to address his/her new charge. With dogs, however, you get to name them awful and demeaning epithets — “Mistress”, “Fudgepacker”, “Sir Crapsalot” — you would never bestow on a child, a being who quite certainly will have both awareness and feelings, as well as judging peers.3 3) You get to embarrass and abuse dogs both privately and in public, and no one cares. Unlike with kids,4 you get to attach around the necks of

dogs a strip of leather or nylon, which then must be worn at all times. You

Meaning “another person”, as, truly, isn’t it beyond human comprehension whether dogs are capable of “caring”? Unfortunately, this does not stop people from making the arguments one way or another, and asserting some arbitrary credibility therefrom.

1

2 The title of “owner” being, for the record, arguably a unique perk of dog ownership. I say “arguable”, because, technically (arguably), you could go around saying you “own” your kid, and to an extent you would be right. People spend a lot of money on their kids, and thereby, in my opinion, forge a contract of sorts. Your buying of the diapers, the food, your provision of affection: all comprises consideration for this contract, and the kid(’s)(s’) continued existence — with the intermittent, attendant, oscillating crying, smiling, and excreting — forms at least an implied consent. In my opinion. But to actually explain this to someone else — to justify these views — just makes you sound like an asshole. So people generally avoid using the term “owner” as such, possibly for these reasons. 3 See footnote 1, supra, re: whether we can understand or say for certain whether (and, if so, how) dogs “judge” one another. 4

Most kids.


also get to periodically attach said strip to a long rope that you may freely wrap around your fist. You get to show off this arrangement in public, and no one5 takes a second glance. You can even choke dogs for blocks on end; the consequent, persistent coughing blends in like crickets on a warm spring night. Recast as “parenting”, any of these behaviors would absolutely earn one a place on “Maury” or “America’s Most Wanted.” 4) You get to spend a lot less money, and no one cares (except for you).

Considering the poor state of the American economy, this reason can’t be underestimated. From the savings on hospital bills, food, and seasonal clothing, it’s indisputably cheaper to own a dog than to raise a child over the first 18 or so years. And if you starve or beat a dog, which is OK up to a certain point, you may be able to reduce your monthly payments by half or more, depending on the breed. That’s money in your pocket and money back into the pockets of the American people.6 5) You (likely) never will become as attached to a dog, and no one cares (perhaps least of all you). Losing a kid, typically regardless of the circumstances, really sucks. Exceedingly rarely as much so with a dog. When the dog dies, you (likely) never will announce to your neighbors and/ or close friends, A parent should never outlive (his/her) child. When the dog dies — indeed, perhaps by your own hand, handgun, or automobile bearing a blue “handicap” card — you (likely) will be much less inclined to bury or pay similarly taxing respects to the deceased beast. But even if you did, and you’ve indicated that the beast was “special”, an “unforgettable member of our family”, and/or generally irreplaceable, you can easily head down to Petco and buy a replacement. And, once you do, it’s like the former beast never existed, the way your kids, giggling like anime sluts, hand-ravage the new one’s gorgeous, tick-free fur, and wrap both arms around its neck so tight the beast begins to cough, just a little.7]

5

Except for other dogs, certainly.

6

Except for the poor and the middle class.

7

This is “training,” arguably.


Whatever the case, as much as people love dogs, sooner or later, dogowners notice something peculiar about their beasts. No matter how old dogs get, how one-would-expect-privy-to-human-reality, they remain just as prone to do stupid shit. I’m not being coarse here — this is a term of art. Sometimes, this “stupid shit” is literally actual shit, which has exited the dog and made camp on the carpet, in the bed (yours/his/hers/its), etc. But especially distressing to dog owners is when dogs do things that result in their deaths — getting their heads stuck between water pipes or in gutter drains, running into the street on a perfect perpendicular path with some automobile weighing more than a Smart Car. These behaviors are actually quite like those of a young child — an entity that, too,8 “doesn’t know any better”. But, generally, we excuse the latter group (while perhaps feeling that unique, unfathomable sorrow one feels when one’s lost a kid), yet curse the beast for being so stupid as to do something so obviously against its interest in survival.9 We aren’t too hard on them, of course, because we believe dogs lack the cognitive capacity (or whatever) to even realize they have said interest, much less “decide” or “strategize” how to act toward its furtherance. But, all the same, we give dogs a harder time. My question is, why? I’m not suggesting people suddenly get all emotionally abusive on their recently dead kids. In that scenario, all parties, past and present, have it bad enough. What I’m saying is that these practices seem to indicate a rough, pretty-much-generally-acknowledged belief system re: the differences between dogs and humans. Both animals, I will assume, have some vague motive to “stay around” — to survive and procreate and compete for limited resources. We10 will generally agree on that much, which is what makes it all the more bizarre that humans engage in their own special permutations of “stupid shit”, actions and mindsets that go against our interest in survival. I won’t pretend to assert that I know what you would include on your list; I have a hard enough

8

Arguably.

9

Assuming we subscribe to Darwinism.

10

Humans, I mean. Because we don’t let dogs have a say.


time keeping track of all of mine. The important thing is that these habits exist, and arise, and pretty much everyone succumbs to them on a daily basis, often on purpose.11 But why? Humans have been so lucky12 as to possess the most superior intellectual capabilities of all living creatures. By our measure, at least. Shouldn’t, then, we have figured out by now some way to avoid the same fate as our stupid beasts, who stupidly shit on our carpets, stupidly wander into post-elementary-school-bell traffic, and thereupon become, literally — and perhaps appropriately, via an ironic twist on the principle “you are what you eat” — stupid shit upon the concrete? This should have been an easy accomplishment for us homos, achieved long ago. Humans today purport to have the whole world figured out. We have developed roughly eleventy billion languages,13 themselves comprised of “words” comprised of “letters”, which are themselves comprised of hand-strokes via writing instruments of our creation. We have developed innumerable forms of “media” whereby we interpret (and, more to the point, can interpret, and, in any event, seek to do this incessantly) every human being, action, and creation we interpret as deserving interpretation. We have devised vast tales14 that have inspired probably the bulk of human suffering and decay since humans began recording (via the aforementioned writing instruments and media forms) what we now call “history”. That’s some serious, serious shit. And we still haven’t figured out — or, perhaps more appropriately, “committed to” — even one universal way by which we can cease harming living things, including ourselves. This all begs an explanation. And, at the risk of coming across preachy, arrogant, or otherwise unappealing to the same or opposite

11

And don’t deny it.

Some people might say “designed” or “blessed” or something else similarly bullshitty.

12

Including ones we design as being spoken by other species, which said species we in turn dress up as and otherwise portray in television shows and movies, and, subsequently, based on their popularity (that of both the language and its “native” species), write whole dictionaries so people can speak “correctly” or be “fluent.”

13

14

We call them “religions.”


sex, I believe I have one, and it’s simple. Fear. Humanity has collectively woven this scenario — where we achieve so much, yet constantly strive to destroy ourselves — because we’re afraid of ourselves or someone we care about someday being on the FMATEL15 end of the Cadillac façade heading toward our grillz at relative warp-speed. Or being wrapped in the damp, tomato-glazed wrapper of a Subway Meatball Marinara and stuffed (above the used maxi-pads but beneath the eighth-eaten tray of Oreos) in the trash can in the bathroom of the dorm room of a freshman sorostitute-to-be. As human beings, we witness tragedy of all sorts every day. We read about it in Shakespeare class. We see it on television on 24-hour cable news shows whose producers receive big money to influence how we define and perceive tragedy. We miss it as we and the kids watch Saturday morning cartoons and chug Lucky Charms, while the Zephyr the Welsh Corgi drags himself on chronically arthritic knees and hips to curl under the kitchen table and close his eyes. And we feel it, perhaps most of all but also maybe not at all (tragically enough), when we hear over and over about the millions of children dying in Africa. They do exist. Each of them (likely) could survive another year or more on the price of whatever computer you use to read this. Virtually everywhere we turn, we encounter stupid, tragic shit like this. It doesn’t feel good. It reminds us that our time in this world, even if we hate the surroundings, is limited. That each of us must perish. And, so, why not finally quit your job — which pays the rent and may constitute the ceiling of your “conventional” earning potential — to become a professional writer? Why not train to walk a slackline across the two tallest buildings in your town of population 2,516? Why not jet down to the local Petco with freshly minted collar tags, drive-by-shoot an abortion-doctorkiller, and/or convince your girlfriend to stop making you wear a condom, so you both can have an excuse to start an actual life somewhere new, somewhere alive? Even if everyone else just calls you “selfish.”

15

“Fuck My About-To-Expire Life”

* Please note that neither Red Sky, nor its affiliates, endorse any of the above sentiments about dogs.


Cult of Memory, #5 jamora crawford

The war bride next door complains that my apartment lacks the godly knick-knacks that could help me get through the hell of living. I’ve got a bad air. Last week, she invited me to her apartment-blessing. A fat catholic priest hummed prayers at her kitchen counter and for $300, he spread incense smoke over her bed.


The priest offered to bless me for the same price. I decided to air out my apartment instead. The war bride had worked as a dancer near an American navy base in the Philippines. A man eventually carried her away to this apartment complex in Los Angeles. He gambled away their romance on horse races and heavy drinking. For years, she waited for him to die and finally he did. On her dresser, there are no pictures of her husband, only figurines of saints clustered together like dull fruit. She had to get rid of the bad air. Today, the war bride comes over and talks of celebrating Ash Wednesday. She shows me how to make crosses out of blessed dollar bills.


In the Video lyn of Your lifshin Heart the oranges and blues swirl, waves under an ocean, a gush of water, a flash of blood. It’s a tape to sleep by if I didn’t know it was the clicks and murmurs that have to be fixed. Like a sluice pump, or the water going over Otter Falls, loud enough to sweep trees up in its rushing water the roots tangling in the air like arms of someone drowning or the pale wrists of a woman burned alive, beckoning or waving goodbye


Sleeping with men who are not you reminds me of when I broke the sanctuary lamp at church. Ten years old, I had learned in school that day the essence of God was to forever be held there in the form of a flame. After being bullied by boys in class, I snuck into the empty church and threw a rock as hard as I could— the lamp burst, spilling the waxy entrails of the Lord onto the floor.

Cult of Memory, #6 No remorse. I had broken Adam’s maker.

jamora crawford


eleanor leonne bennett


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Red Sky Issue 2  

Red Sky seeks to showcase new work from established and up-and-coming writers and artists.

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