Shoots and Vines Issue 3 July 2009
Editor: Crystal Folz Cover Photo: Justin Heifetz Shoots and Vines PO Box 489 Poseyville, IN 47633 www.shootsandvines.com Online and print submissions accepted. Coming soon! Shoots and Vines monthly mailings! Mini zines, newsletters…all done the old fashioned way. Send info requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or the above mailing address. Looking for other mini zines to include in the mailings. Support the underground press.
Editor’s Note The more time I spend working through snail mail the more I appreciate what it must have been like for underground writers years ago. Although we no longer have to hide what we write, we still have to seek out our audience instead of someone doing it for us. We spend late nights cutting and printing and gluing and asking our husbands to snap off the ends of the exacto knives because our fingers are stuck with glue or raw from folding paper. In so many ways, this zine is a push out of the local band scene I traveled in years ago and a plunge into my true passion… I want S&V to continue to be a weathered band flyer stapled to a telephone pole. I want it to be a constant reminder that there are people in the world who appreciate new writers, who don’t need to be screamed at to get the point, who want to feel your heartache because there’s just too much inspirational drivel flying off the shelves of big chain bookstores. Each generation has had a great literary voice which sang out above the crowd. I don’t want future generations to look back at mine and wonder why it was so quiet. Keep writing. Always, Crystal
My Mother’s Life, Abridged by Renee Emerson At age ten, she ran away with her friends to climb a maple tree. Her wrist, crooked still, never set right, but she wanted her own life--she left home, the Catholic brood of siblings. This, she says, was a mistake. She could eat as much pizza as father on a date. This meant he had ketchup packet soup for the rest of the week. Before him, lots of boyfriends, one kept a motorcycle in the den, but when father asked “Will you marry me?” She said “When?”
Theatre of Dreams by Justin Ehrlich I poured my heart out in the theatre Of dreams. Antique coagulative doubts Fall from the sleeves of infant conjurers. I poured my heart out. Sincere dispersions crawl toward gestalt Sensations, but the feelingâ€™s insular. Distended passions coiled inside devout Occlusion. I unscrewed the silencer And asked her what her gestures were about, Her eyes dropped to the floor in bashful candour. I poured my heart out.
Geotropism by Christie Isler The experiment works like this: Place a seed in a dish, coax it to grow. Squeeze it tight between transparent frames until captive then turn, turn, turn. Seeds use the tug of gravity as a guide, so regardless how they fall, roots grow down, shoots grow up. That poor seed secured fights to trace elusive gravityâ€™s string, recalibrating after every turn, until the roots, a convoluted shell become to our aspiring shoot. Pursuit twists them into spirals and still, they grow. This is true of other things, too. Tomato vines started upside down will twist their stems up, hang ripe fruit down. Women, prostrated by the story after the garden wedding will rise from soil to knees, knees to standing by pushing directly against gravity dragging them toward the ground.
Envying Harry by Vincent Johnson Like the last strand of soft down she is never coming back. every time it rains, youâ€™ll remember her running into the garden snatching clothes from the line, cursing the gods for their poor timing. Or how she gritted her teeth, and broke into sweat, when grating Cheese. The dog whimpers most nights belly up, beside the unlit fireplace unsure of where you have gone. Yet being a dog, it forgoes Misery and longing. Often I only have to brush by its bowl; and he forgets momentarily Only to return to bed Once fed to nuzzle his chin upon her pink slipper which is damp from canine love and the refusal to remove your fading rose petal scent.
BLOOD-BOUGHT SON by Walter Conley I. He said, “I ask, my darling, that you look through what you see, through this salt-silvered shell, what I’ve been and what I have, and peer as deep as down into my heart. It’s open here for you. It is yours for the taking.” II. Helen waitressed at a seafood stand in Mystic, CT. Billy Rydall stopped there with his sister, Jill. Every summer, since they were young, the pair had vacationed together. It was Jill’s turned to pick the destination and she’d chosen Mystic after seeing it in on TV. They went to the seaport, the village, the aquarium, they rode the ferry and shopped downtown. The day before they were scheduled to leave, Jill said she wanted fried clams. They went to a roadside grill on the bank of Davis Cove. Helen brought their order—clams, fries and chocolate shakes. Billy fell in love and introduced himself as William.
III. He said, “If you’d only let me, I would melt around your feet, a pedestal for your beauty.”
IV. She was wonderful, but tired—so damned tired. Trouble seemed to have worn her down. But he was silly and cute and acted like a gentleman and Helen didn’t have anyone else. She accompanied them back to his home in Florida. Two months later, they were wed. Billy gave her what he could and promised her the rest, but it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t her fault. She stopped talking altogether. Her days ran into nights. She disappeared with people that no one else had seen before. One night, she locked herself away, in the study. Billy wanted to see her and hold her and help. He went to the shed for an 8lb. sledge, ignoring the look his pool man gave, but when he returned, the door was open and Helen was gone without a word. V. She said, “Hello? Billy? Hi, it’s me. Your own true Helen. Yeah…Look, I’m sorry and I hate to call like this, but I’m afraid I’ve really gotten into it, this time…There’s a bad, awful man who wants me for himself. But not like you. In a bad, bad way…See, I have something of yours that I’ve kept for you. The only thing I thought I ever wanted. It’s a boy, sweet William . A handsome boy. And he’s so much like you it’s like having you here…I had him, once, but now I don’t. He’s gone from me. Forever, I think…See, the bad man came and took him away. He pulled that boy right out of my hands. ..God, he talks like you in that sweet, crazy way and he combs his hair with a part in the side and I’m scared to death and I want him back and I just don’t know what I will do without him….” VI. They found her in the street the very next morning. A detective from the Highway notified him. The policeman expressed his condolences and they set up a day for him to come to the house. Billy summoned two of his best ranch hands, gave them each a million dollars and a name. They did things to the kidnapper that caused one of them to lose his mind. The bad man had poisoned Helen’s Sangria. It had always been her favorite drink. They discovered what was left of him floating in a tub of it. He said things about her that he didn’t want to say, that he was taught never to say about a woman. Then he gave that up and went to their room and cried into a sweater she’d left behind.
VII. He said, “I know you don’t know me and have never met me, but, as luck would have it, I’m your father, son. Your mother had to go, but she asked me to keep you. Have a look around. What’s mine is yours. She didn’t love me like I loved her, but that just couldn’t be helped. Once, I believe, she needed me, and that will have to be enough.”
The Unchosen by Renee Emerson Sometimes it’s chicken at a banquet dinner, or birth order, your mother and father, eye color, next Sunday’s weather. Under your skin and it congregates, choirs, choruses, has babies, discretely, and becomes a fire hazard, because you were built a long time ago and only meant to hold so much. Get all this mulling up a tree, raccoons with red hounds pawing at the trunk. So, when the lady on TV says “Your gold jewelry is worth so much money,” you can send her your gram’s red eyed squirrel brooch, so scary, or your sister’s hand-me-down hairpin, or all that stuff you’ve kept, boxed in velvet or felt.
On the 1 by Matthew Longo Making small talk on our short subway ride, a fellow passenger mentioned to me, quite morbidly, that a man was killed recently, caught in the train doors between Columbus Circle and 50th street, trapped at the waist. The conductor didn’t stop when it first happened, and the person was dragged and pinned, with the lower half of his body remaining inside the subway car and his torso pressed against the dank, brick walls of the underground. Knowing that the man would die once the train began moving again, since the pressure was the only thing holding him together, the authorities sent a union worker to retrieve his cell phone from his pants pocket. He was instructed to make his last call. The gloomy passenger told me that the man chose his wife, adding that the ensuing conversation must have been horrific. At the next stop, as my fellow commuter got up to leave, giving me a grim, half-hearted smile, I thought about how awful that conversation must have been for the couple, how impossible it would be to sum up my feelings for a loved one, especially with life slowly getting squeezed from my body. But, lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe it didn’t happen like that. Maybe they didn’t break each other’s hearts with goodbyes, or try to roll everything they had ever felt into a single moment. After all, he might not have mentioned a thing. Maybe he struggled to hold a normal voice, telling her to make her favorite meal, to break open her favorite wine, and to start without him because he might be late.
The Dusk of Tomorrow by Brian Bahr I see them. They come. Every night a new car, a new face, a new shadow. Through the curtains in my living room I watch them. The glare from headlights cuts the room into blacks and whites. They park at the house next door and leave their engines running because they return to their cars faster than their shadows can dissolve. The man across the street takes notes. He files license plate numbers in a notebook. The notebook is almost full. This is how I die. My mother died here. My father died here. I watched them both. This hospital room looks exactly as theirs did apart from the empty chair next to my bed. The nurses move the same, bustling between monitors and IV drips. I am a very sick boy. He showed me his notebook on trash day. I had seen the garbage truck come down the street and bypass all the trash cans standing at the curb only to stop at the house across the street. I had run out to the end of my driveway waving my hands at the garbage truck when my neighbor called me over. It was the first time I had seen the inside of any of the houses on my cul-de-sac. The house my parents left me is at the end of the cul-de-sac, elbowed back in the corner. My neighborâ€™s is much bigger, banding my front yard with shade. He brought me inside the front door, but did not completely shut it. As he told me about the house across the street, he peeked through the door, watching for cars. And when one came, he peered through a sniper lens and noted the license number in his notebook. He used to be Special Forces. He used to be part of a team. The notebook was dizzy with numbers. Numbers cataloging time. Numbers cataloging licenses. Numbers cross-referencing by some cryptic means. But the garbage collection was not his work. He told me the police had been collecting the garbage from that house for weeks. Our own garbage would be collected later, by an actual garbage truck. There was much scrutiny behind drawn curtains. It is here that I sit. It is here that I stay. They hold the pan beneath my chin and delicately lift the back of my head as I vomit. They rub my back as I heave. Then a warm washcloth is dabbed around my mouth as sympathetic smiles travel in waves through my shaky vision. They know I will not live long enough for a kidney transplant even though I am first on the list. The room is white. The nurses wear white. The sunlight freezes in star-points on the curling lengths of plastic tubing braiding from the wall down to my bed. Everything gleams in smooth curves.
My neighbor said he had seen ambulances come to my house a few times the last couple years and wondered if I had a condition. I asked him if he had counted the number of times. He said he only noticed the ambulances because of the screaming sirens. His attentions aimed elsewhere. Mother always told me I was a very sick boy. She used to bring me to see the doctor. I would sit on the examination table: a cube centered in a cubic room. The doctor would extract instruments and cotton swabs from small drawers. The doctor would place cold metal against my skin. But the nurses would talk with me. They would make a record about me. They would take notes in pen. In between days, I walk through the house tidying decorations and oddments on tables: tables that never get jostled. I straighten pictures in ignored rooms; rooms I preserve in the manner Mother had left them. Time continues in the absence of clocks. They cradle my head as they change the bed sheets. They dress me in a new gown. I have soiled everything. Their garbage is collected. Their traffic is recorded. There is even a camera watching them, hidden in the streetlight. Part the curtains. Look to the vacant streets. Suddenly nothing. The cul-de-sac is bare. Corners of lost pet posters flick in vagrant winds. The lone basketball hoop stands undressed: the net long since rotted to abandon. There is no more traffic. Neither do I glimpse what the yesterdays have shadowed beneath watching eyes. An ambulance will come my way. They will put me on a list. Awkwardly, I insert the catheter and begin to pump egg whites up my urinary tract. Always before I had faked symptoms. Always before I had been sent home. Now there will be a diagnosis. Now there will be an operation.
But still I sit in the dusk of tomorrow. I am a very sick boy.
To the resident of Willow Way Apartment 117 by Brandi Wells To the resident of Willow Way Apartment 117: Fuck you. Seriously. I've worked here for seven years and fuck you. Fuck you, I'm not replacing your kitchen light bulbs. I won't come get the dead roach off your living room floor. I won't unclog the toilet that you clogged. And no, no one from the office stole your prescription for Xanax. I make more in a day than your off-brand prescription is worth. And yes, I know you have a dog because it takes horse-sized shits in front of our office. I've seen you. Yes, I saw you. No, it wasn't the other girl that works here. It was me. No, it doesn't matter if it's your mother's dog and you were dog-sitting for the weekend. And fuck your security deposit. There are head-sized holes in your wall and that giant horse-dog ate a large percentage of your carpet. You know what? Fuck you. Fuck your cashier's check that's ten dollars short of what you owe. And I don't goddamn care that it's only ten dollars short. And hey! Guess what else? I quit my job today. Yup. I know you'll be glad to deal with someone else. I wanted to leave you this note to explain why your apartment is empty. I took all your stuff. But I don't have any of it. I threw it all away. I wouldn't want any of that filthy shit. Well, I kept the Xanax and ate it all. I feel great. I hope you do to. Have a wonderful fucking day. Thank you, Brandi Wells
Food Chain by Grant Loveys The tyranny of the rubber glove and water nearly boiling this is what you do when you can do nothing else anyone can scrape plates and fill a steel trash can with globs and hunks of food unwanted tumbled down from luncheon mouths and listen for a hidden fork clang on the bottom among the thin bones soft salmon skeletons and the unbroken shanks proven too inelegant to suck scrape grab pile fling dinnerware keep the belt going feed the beast load the machine with a hurricane of soaped water roaring in its guts I sling and toss until I think I catch a rhythm only to be bumped out of the way by an African man who lays his oiled eyes on mine and rolls the dishes from his wrists sauced with the evening's au jus stuffing the mouth of the machine cramming a china diet down the barrel of its metal throat
all the while calling out like dis like dis straining to be heard through the steam and the lonesome sound of plates tumbling from unskilled hands
a preemptive strike by Steve Calamars before life could leave me i eloped with death in a las vegas hotel room instead of cans clanging from the back of a car there was only a body swinging silently from a beam in the ceilingâ€”
Endangered Species Act by Devin Drover She messages me all hours of the night and I answer her array of flashing orange pixels. I don't know why she messaged me – and I'm not quite sure she knows either. She then proceeds to tell me what’s on her mind without giving me a chance to ask her. She laughs at things I don't find funny and has a tendency to keep my up to date with all the latest teenage slang. She won't let me ignore her and showcases a series of cute little pictures from her “cam-whore” collection to make me stay. However, after a series of confusions and precautions, I come to realize that I'm the daily victim so I play just as she wants me to. I doll myself up for disappointment - prepare myself up for cold hearted rejection. I pop the question – I try to make some plans. But I was right - it fails. She slurs out drunken-like excuses and I close out my window in satisfaction. The conversation is over now and I'm rocking out to black flag – secretly crumbling in defeat. She does her job well. I'm left to sorrow when she is out crushing the heart of another endangered species. How can an expected rejection cause an instant of heartache?
Sinners Like Me by Jenn Brock timid smiles & silent dreams straight backed & poised in ladylike extremes just one more form of s&m bound myself w/ fear & gagged on sin my tongue was bitten for so long I thought it lost, but it's not gone a decade passed me while I hid beneath dirty laundry & God forbid I opened up & let you in would you even have seen me under all those men? I'm not the girl that spoke before I'm bolder now, but not the whore what's past is not gone, but far removed from who I've become & to all of you proved myself to be worthy of society's kiss but I've found that her lips do not come with bliss I don't want to be found sleeping outside her door I don't want to wear these restraints anymore I want to run free, feel the sun on my skin; throw wide my door & usher you in but will you judge what all you find? will you be cruel or will you keep in mind that you're all sinners just like me? we all deserve to clean our laundry & wake up in a new day w/ a new start excise yesterday's judgment from tomorrow's heart take my advice & don't bite your tongue if you're tied up in ropes, let them be undone hear my plea to all the sinners like me let your past not bind your eternity
Dawn Betrays the Burning by Brent Sunderland Go ahead measure measure the Same number of steps to Compassion as complaint to A finger brushing against A cheek or wagging in that face Under the nose frozen these Hesitant words the stones lead home As deadened as dusk and Revelation find the equal distance To calendar as to stopwatch To microfiche as to sundial The middle-aged man As near this minute to see-saw As black nights fade to shining Mornings to eyelids in the grave How hushed the tightrope Walker only the crowd gasps while Dawn betrays the burning That each day means the trail Of the black so black ants
Bye American by Lawrence Gladeview buy american my pop told me damn japs stealing all our american jobs in detroit he mutters hours later i pull up in my new ford we crack a beer and give it the once over pop puts his arm on my shoulder she’s a real beautson, i’m proud of you a few seconds pass before i tell him, gotta love american muscle assembled in mexico goddamn you he says and walks away as i finished the most refreshing budweiser i’ve ever tasted.
SAM by Mather Schneider I spent two years in Vietnam Sam says to me at the bar. My dad’s your age, I say, but his number never came up. He was worried but it never came up. I enlisted, Sam says. My brother enlisted before me and he was only there a month, just long enough to get his leg blown off and go blind. How could you enlist after that? I say. I don’t know, he says, I guess I wanted my revenge. Out of the corner of my eye I look at him: small frame, dark wrinkled face, white hair and white beard, a few missing teeth. Did you get it? I ask. What? he says. Your revenge. I killed fifty two men, he says with the slightest nod. My girlfriend got a DUI the other night, he says, it’s her fifth one. She’s in jail right now. Which one? I ask. He looks at his beer for a minute and says, The Indian I think.
The Other Side of the Pillow by Colin Gilbert I am dead. Again. And again people are singing the same damn music. Every time I die, by drowning, stab wound, or war, the living play another slow, depressing song – different words and melody – but always dull enough to hasten my slumber. Fifty-three deaths. Not one rewarded with a pyramid or giant tomb. Two received obituaries – neither memorable. The boat ride with candles was nice, and that one time with drums and dancing. But watching my body burn always makes me uneasy like the white Victorian House I haunted – with the porch swing and sex-addicted elderly couple.
My Neighborâ€™s Daughter by Renee Emerson The holly sticker tree is blooming greenly, and she sits beside it watching the hornets and bumblebees hanging like pendants without a chain; they hum heavily in the leaves, heavily past her ear. While she watches she thinks of her earring tree, posed on her chest of drawers with the mesh wire strung with fake topaz, copper, fake gold, like the holly tree is strung with bees. She snaps the branches that reach closest to her and not every branch breaks green.
Published on Aug 11, 2009
Renee Emerson, Justin Ehrlich, Brent Sunderland, Christie Isler, Mather Schneider, Vincent Johnson, Walt Conley, Brian Bahr, Brandi Wells, G...