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Spittoon 2.4


Spittoon

Volume Three Issue Four The Riven House Winter 2013

www.spittoonmag.com

ISSN: 2166-0840


Spittoon 3.4

Fiction Editor Matt VanderMeulen

Poetry Editor Kristin Abraham

Front cover art by Leah Givens: Takedown. Digital photograph. Back cover art by Leah Givens: Stacks. Digital photograph. Title “The Riven House” from Alice B. Fogel’s poem of the same name, published in this issue.


Spittoon 3.4

Table of Contents K. A. McGowan

Iguana Enigma

fiction

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Camille Martin

Three from “R Is the Artichoke of Rose” poetry

2

Gregory Kiewiet

On the Banks of the Oise

fiction

3

Patrick Kelling

How to Teach Disgorgement

fiction

5

James Grabill

Genetic Push

poetry

25

Unscrolled Historical Volts

poetry

26

Jamey Gallagher

Immovable

fiction

27

Alice B. Fogel

The Closet

poetry

29

The Playhouse

poetry

31

The Riven House

poetry

32

Contributors

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Spittoon 3.4

Iguana Enigma K. A. McGowan

--for Bill At Paul’s memorial service, Boyle gives the eulogy and calls Paul an iguana. Everyone close to the family knows Boyle is a slow yet kind friend and that he means enigma. Even Paul’s widow Julie manages a smile through her grief, perhaps thinking of the small white scales on Paul’s left elbow. Boyle has a habit of saying everything twice, but this time he says iguana only once and apologizes twice. Enigma, enigma. Paul’s body is being burned in the building next door. Paul smiles in a photo of his high school self.

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Spittoon 3.4

Three From “R Is the Artichoke of Rose” Camille Martin

twig’s mercurial tap, grey area fidgety

tongueless town of beheaded lamps

silent bees play at light waltzing to honey

after haze a rose it glows akimbo

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Spittoon 3.4

The Banks of the Oise* Gregory Kiewiet

—after Henri Rousseau On the banks of the Oise, in 1908, it is believed two ships sailed: one red, the other blue; one headed North the other coming from the South. In another telling: one is coming from the North and the other heads towards the South. In one version of the story - one ship passes the other. Another version claims the opposite. In one telling of the dream one ship has a boatload of passengers while on the other ship no one is seen. An interpretation of the dream has it both ships are jammed to the rafters with passengers, including family, some friends, a few acquaintances, and one or two lovers. Yet another belief is one or two family members, some acquaintances and many lovers jam both vessels up to their rafters. The possibility does exist, too, that both ships contained two lovers; one each. In a painting that attempts to duplicate the scene, a vast mountainous landscape of grey and white clouds plays havoc with the otherwise tranquil mood. In a scene that attempts to duplicate the painting, it is the tranquility of the mood that plays havoc with the grey and white mountainous cloudy landscape. In a semi-popular song based on different variations of the scene, possibly, too, an altogether different attempt at story-telling, a patch of haystacks crop-up like mushrooms as one ship nearly or never quite passes the other: both going their different ways – like a pair of different colored lovers with one thing in common. Barely anyone remembers all the words to the song – although its melody can sometimes makes itself felt to certain lips, like a ghost kiss: crisp, moist, cool, and hauntingly cruel. If one was to guess at some lines of this long forgotten song – one might offer something like this: “On the banks of the Oise In 1908 Two ships came and went Or possible never did. Haystacks like mushrooms

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Spittoon 3.4 Kiewiet, On the Banks of the Oise

Were seen to crop-up In this scene that may never ever had Possibly been seen.”

*from the collection “The Lion, the Gypsy, and Rousseau,” prose pieces based on the paintings of Henri Rousseau.

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Spittoon 3.4

How to Teach Disgorgement Patrick Kelling

& the battle of Troy it wasn’t, but his classroom was full of sweat & fragmented goals: the two basketball players who tried vainly to rule the back corner through double-entendres & the girl who wore a tail pinned to the seat of her skirt & the older student who devoured the board with eyes that might have been pretty three children earlier & the portly kid who every day wore a fedora complete with a large feather sticking from its band & the pod of long-legged volleyball players who were routinely the targets of the basketball players’ affections, though those sprouting men would be loathe to admit such things & these young women were the intellectual backbone of the class, calling out the right answers more often than he requested a response & like the well-groomed athletes that their shortest of shorts revealed them to be, they handed in work with exceptional accuracy & virility &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& when he came across one student, a redhead, perusing the grocery store’s already-browning beef, he asked how old her sister was, gesturing at the toddler in her cart while the child, in turn, reached towards an end cap of yellow-packaged tortillas & his student shook her head, said “this one’s mine” & he nodded his mistake away, but for the rest of the day analyzed the moment when the kid turned to her mother, who couldn’t have been more than eighteen & with no ambiguity said, “mama givet ‘ere” &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& he was lecturing about the inverted triangle, a subject in which he never found enough interest to study, much less speak, when Roe announced herself with a devious use of spurs & lilac eyes, both of which she chimed every time he looked at her side of the room until he was looking only at her to see if the pattern held & when he looked for a fourth time in as many minutes & she clanged one spur on another in response, he had to reevaluate how she had escaped his awareness because, as was too obvious, it wasn’t his love of journalism that had distracted him & upon further reflection he realized that he hadn’t discovered her earlier because she hadn’t wanted to be discovered & this clanking that belonged on the soundstage of a Western announced her intentions to start a game that he thought she thought he didn’t know how to play, which of course, was a rookie mistake in itself &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& he wandered the hallways, red-tinted from the setting sun, because he always felt content walking a campus at dusk, but this feeling was shaken when he saw light coming from the double doorway of the campus’ art gallery & inside he discovered the Art Professor amid a tangle of wire & oil paintings, a bearded man with multicolored fingertips, a man who the Humanities Professor claimed held ideologies that were far to the left despite coming from the right side of the country, which made him as much an outsider as anyone else in the town, mostly because of his passion for drink & debate, a hobby that he often played out at any bar that was frequented by ranchers & farmers, essentially, any bar along Main & upon seeing his colleague he said as warmly as possible, “ἀγεωμέτρητος μηδεὶς εἰσίτω” & the Art Professor answered something about keeping the heathens out of the educational system, which he punctuated by dropping a painting of a bull & declaring it was time for a beverage &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& Hank Williams played in the background as the Art Professor wiped foam from his mouth & asked if he had imported “one of the fairer gender” with him & he shook his head while the other stated that single women were as “rare as sharks in ponds” & he’d discovered “that most local vixens” aspired for a two-year degree at the most before wanting to “explore the more domestic side of American life,” which they often did as early as nineteen & if they didn’t have kids or a rock by the time they were twenty-four they were branded “untamable,” with few exceptions, but when this woman who abided by “the small town mentality” found herself divorced & left without livelihood, essentially, left to drown with her offspring, she circled around “like a goose in spring” & re-enrolled at the same school which she previously attended so many years before & it was this “late-born rebelliousness” that lent him hope that these young girls who had “hips like fertile pastures among dangerous mountain peaks” would eventually “loosen, if not break, this backwards cycle” &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& “tell me of your exodus from the barren, yet fertile beaches of California, how you wandered the Nevadan desert for what was perhaps forty days and forty nights but was most likely only twelve hours driving plus one customary night in Vegas, the simplest city in the world, to pay Charon the worth of a surf ‘n turf dinner. That night, I imagine, you watched absurdly attractive women wearing, if that verb is the correct one, the most illogical, for lack of a better term, garments. You wanted them because of their obliviousness and because of what lies underneath, the softness of youth and the hardness of a tit job. Only after such purification, exhausted and dusty you expedited your way here looking like some castaway from a more fashionably forgiving region than the one in which we, and everyone for a good four hundred miles around, reside in. A designation, I’m delighted to add, of which you haven’t yet let go, despite hearsay that you’re on your way to owning a pair of cowboy boots, financed through both monetary means and individual identity” the Art Professor asked, creeping across the table for each breath that he eluded &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& if the sun was falling below the horizon it was doing so without an audience from the town as the clouds seemed to hang just above the tallest trees, draping everything in twilight since mid-morning & while the light hadn’t changed, the temperature certainly had because as he trekked across campus he could see his breath in the air & this seemed to have affected the freshmen because the dorms, which usually spilled students onto the lawn at all hours, now only showed lights through closed blinds & a shadow passed across one, too quickly to illicit the thoughts of young skin that he felt building in his consciousness the way magma creeps through the smallest of cracks, searching for release &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& they developed a game: Roe dropped her books when he asked the class a question or sat her chest, which wasn’t extravagant by any means, but enough to be effectively distracting, on the corner of her desk so that her breasts threatened to fall out of her shirt, causing him to mentally declare that side of the room off-limits & he gave no outward acknowledgement of any such tirades when really he critiqued every clumsy yet creative & maturing gesture & even though she had him at her mercy on horseback, a fact she had flaunted several times by corralling both he & Guido with her horse’s flank & flick of her wrist & her piercing eyes, he was in command in the classroom & as a sign of strength, after a particularly flirtatious day during which she had dared him to look at the gestures she made under her desk, he let the class out early & made a point to appear as though he was devoting his attention to the students who came to speak to him about benign issues, so she would know that he was either unphased or unimpressed by her strategy & only after the clang of her spurs faded did he count to thirty before leaving the room, but not so quickly as to catch up or, more importantly, to let her think that he was trying to catch her, which, of course, was perhaps just the thing &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& it was only a matter of time until he saw Roe between the lanky frames of cowboys: her black hair, now pulled into twin braids, her importune ass, the scar that creased her chin when she laughed, the proportions of her eyebrows & cheekbones, the supple strength of her ribs & he realized, too late, that he was studying her & although not wearing her spurs, she still had the fortitude to answer his look with a knowingly cocked hip as she took a long drag from her bottle that testified to the strength of her lungs & all this happened before she crossed the bar without looking away & he settled for stuffing his hands in his pockets & to his discomfort he found that her movements discombobulated his thoughts, which had been, up until that point, wide & strong, so to regain the upper hand he opened with, “didn’t turn in your paper today” & she responded in a huskier voice than her frame let on that her horse had a colic scare & that if this horse went down it was her “ass and scholarship” & why hadn’t she seen him at any of the rodeos when he had enough free time to “drink laps around the entire town” &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& as she discussed how if she could just get her horse to hitch his hips a bit more around the third barrel she’d have the regional lead “without doubt,” he felt a pressure growing & in frantic search of a valve, he asked about her horse’s name & how long she’d been riding, but avoided the tipping point by choking down the most pertinent question: whether she had discovered that the rhythm of the saddle had translated into any other aspects of her life & the more he watched her lips the more he felt his crisis bloom & he fought against it by remarking that her boots didn’t seem to be crusted with shit the way they had been the other day, but he knew that these frantic maneuvers were a momentary tangent, that the pressure would return as a tidal force as soon she finished speaking because silence called for action & the Art Professor, whom he hadn’t noticed at the other end of the bar, winked at him before kindly keeping the horde of less experienced men pinned against the shuffleboard table with continual sweeps of his hand which announced that the town wasn’t small enough that one of them might be so suicidal as to interrupt Roe’s flirtations without the proper offerings of intellectual banter & alcoholic beverages, neither of which they were equipped to properly supply & as Roe pretended to lose her balance, clutching his arm, he imagined their anguish at losing such a fine companion, but he understood that in this country, women were as rare a commodity as clean water & that a deep enough thirst did wonderful things to one’s creative drive &

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& a train rolled so close to Henry’s front window that he could smell cow shit & when he asked Roe where the cars were headed she winked before stating that if he bought her a drink she “might be persuaded to tell him,” but that he should know that business dealings with “young ladies” were “expensive” & he found her take-noprisoners attitude exotic enough to add another drink to his tab & after she wiped some of the sweat from her bottle & flicked it at him she leaned close & whispered, just loud enough to clear the jukebox music & rumble of the train, that the third time she’d gotten laid was against the side of a freight car & to counter the implications of her statement he asked if it had been stopped or not, which didn’t stop her & only later in the alley did the Art Professor announce with none too stern a voice that “that girl is out for human blood” & how, if he were smart, he would strip naked & place himself upon her altar, going so far as to hold the knife to his own heart, lest she lose interest in the entire matter & he countered that it was just a “drink and a game,” so the Art Professor responded that a “purchased drink is a contract for at least a smile but that games could leave bite marks too” & the Art Professor paused long enough to show hesitation about his forthcoming remark but “what the hell” & revealed that he considered himself “something of an expert on the interactions of the sexes,” which he claimed amounted to “ships playing with icebergs” & having been witness to the scene in the bar, which, he acknowledged with a pointed finger, “lasted long enough for her to set the hook,” but didn’t distract from the fact that he’d handled himself so exceptionally well that the Art Professor had no choice but to conclude that he’d “played along that cliff before” & “perhaps even fallen over it” & this would explain his employment at a small, rural college & the Art Professor aimed his finger at his own chest while saying that he could feel free to “correct any misgivings immediately with words or fist or both alike” &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& the Art Professor led him across the snow-lined alley to a building that looked abandoned like so many others & through a locked door he found himself in a warehouse which may have been charming: dust & rotting floorboards & paint splatters & flower-headed nails & tarred windows, but the florescent lights seemed to be beaten back by the evening’s murk & this effect squeezed the space & as the Art Professor busied himself by peeling paint’s dried skin, he wandered around the room, smelling chalk & looking at the art that rested on a half dozen easels: a rhino charging into a vaguely vaginal abstraction, a nude woman perched on a large mushroom, the seven headed giraffe, clouds & clouds & clouds & he remarked that he thought that the Art Professor used the studio on campus to which the Art Professor flicked red paint while asking if he had ever “tried to create in a space filled with so much badly-crafted livestock” that he saw “female buttholes everywhere,” so he wandered deeper into the dimness, where he recognized the gaping mouth of a cannon & the more his eyes adjusted the larger the cannon became until it was longer than he was tall, a Civil War phallus & without prompt the Art Professor stated that it was meant for “something far more destructive than war,” a purpose he went on to describe as “enlightenment without impunity” &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& as they downed their Rocky Mountain oysters with piss water he asked the Art Professor to tell him about the cannon & the Art Professor, after plucking a hair from his nose, a gesture that lasted long enough for him to find a foothold, answered, “it is the tubing for that which blows down a wall” but, he disclosed, he had no intension of using a wall as a palette & when prodded the Professor closed the subject by stating that the target wouldn’t be so pedestrian that he might aim it at a mere “something,” but rather he had every intention of turning it on the most cultured thing in the town & no it wasn’t “those fucking multi-faceted giraffes” or the “girls’ rodeo team,” which the Professor noted his companion had become something of a sporting fan & what he spoke of was, “in fact,” “in the simplest terms,” “indeed,” himself &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& he knew the clasps on Guido’s blanket were fastened tight, but he stopped at the stables anyway & Roe must have guessed he would & she corralled him against the side of a stall that stood naked to the wind & she pressed her lips hard against his & he tasted her gum on her tongue & he thought that Guido would understand that in a place as barren as the Eastern Plains in winter, one had to do whatever was necessary to keep from freezing in less than obvious ways & later she leaned aggressively at his Habib Tohidi with a scotch in hand, a drink he’d discovered she’d never had before but welcomed down her throat without hint of aversion & she said that she saw a praying mantis among the green & blue oils, which pleased him because, while he’d first been attracted to the texture of the brush strokes, lately he’d been struck by the spaces of bare canvas & at first he had thought they were breath marks for the eye, but now he realized that such thinking was mistaken: this emptiness wasn’t covered by the paints, it unrelentingly surrounded them & then Roe moved across the couch with an agility that signaled she’d grown restless with the half-eyed looks & the continual feints & counter-feints & he felt himself playing the role of Butes, a companion of Jason, who heard the sirens’ calls through Orpheus’ lyre & answered them by plunging into the Tyrrhenian Sea where the waves would have dashed him against the rocks if it hadn’t been for Aphrodite’s unexpected intervention & as he bit her lip or allowed her to run a strong finger along his ribs, he felt, in a place her eyes hadn’t yet seduced, that the riptide had him again &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& they could have driven the back roads, but they chose to escort one another home through the cold air & although the spring snow hadn’t been kind to neither the ink nor the paper, a banner over Main street still announced the approach of Sugar Beet Days & even though the canning factory had closed thirty years before, the festival was to be held on the courthouse lawn & was headlined by the Junebug Band, a raffle & the Art Professor, who would be painting live with a technique the sign claimed he’d coined as “disgorgement” &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& the Art Professor announced that he was shifting his diet to an all liquid one until after the festival because he didn’t want “burrito muddying up his colors” & to encourage such dedication he bought the Art Professor a drink, which he repaid by leaning close to ask if he feared losing his job over “giving that rodeo girl the business” & he felt he had little recourse but to shrug that his pursuit of perfection left him no choice but to follow in his own backwater-logged footsteps as often as possible &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& he found the Art Professor leaning against his cannon, dipping a paint ball in olive oil before choking it down with a look of delectable artistry: “these things taste like rubberized shit” he claimed as he prepared another & when asked if it was healthy to swallow so much pigment the Art Professor responded that it “couldn’t be any more damaging than painting antique tractors and cows,” admitting that after the first few he didn’t feel as empty as he had & that he’d loaded the cannon with just enough powder to “lob the ball lazily through the air” until it encountered his “ample paunch” causing the paint balls in his gut to rupture out his mouth, which he would aim at a canvas as best he could & he said that this performance art was so awesome, awesome with a pause between the “awe” & the “some,” that even the “uncultured hedonists” would have to stop long enough to remark at the cadmium red & aquamarine streaks & as the Jitterbug band played Swing on the Moon, the Art Professor lit the fuse to the Civil War antique in front of a crowd of excited spectators, a step he was adamant he did himself because “any fuck could shoot themselves with a pistol” but it took a special “blend of class and dexterity” to shoot oneself with a cannon & he patted his belly twice, as though he were preparing to catch the cannon ball with his paunch, before splattering the canvas & the courthouse wall in wide, arching & spectacularly colored goblets &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& after the almost holy hush dissolved to wails & animal sobs he walked past the growing crowd, past the gouge taken out of a courthouse pillar, past the parked car with a mangled fender, the exploded trunk of an aspen, the shattered hole in a slat fence, the six-inch deep gouge in a flowerbed until he found the ball, resting still as a held breath, on the lawn of a church a half-mile from the festival & only after he bounced it once or twice in his hands did he realize that they were both coated by the same pattern of red so deep it was brown, as if they were scraps of the same painting &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& he took his frustration out on the Chair for not including the Art Professor’s final work in his memorial show, an argument that ended when the Chair claimed the reason to be a lack of “sterility” & so he retreated to his car rather than explain to all in attendance that they were surrounded by the very suicide note that some argued had to be tucked in the corner of a sock drawer, while others maintained that the Art Professor wasn’t an artillery officer, that he’d simply mismeasured the powder, but if the crowd paused their debate long enough to look at the work, they would see the stark contrast between the Art Professor’s grizzled abstractions & the antique tractors of his students, would trace the rebellion in the nippled clouds & a series titled This is Not a Penis & if they looked at the paint itself, they could read the frenzied brushstrokes of a drowning man & when no one was looking he snuck in a side door & placed the flecked cannonball on the food table &

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Spittoon 3.4 Kelling, How to Teach Disgorgement

& he’d lost count of how many times he’d sat on the corner of his bed smelling the earthen sent of Roe’s body after she’d left, smelling what was no longer there for far longer than he liked & he realized that the very gestures that defined each of their encounters were beginning to blur, the tender hands growing firm, the way her eyes formed half-crescents when he took one of her breasts in his mouth, so that the most recent could have easily been the first, just as the second could have been the last & as he tried to place their encounters in a temporal order or to derive a trajectory from them, he discovered he could not find a reason to or at the very least, would not & the more he pondered the more everything knotted together until he rose, tipped-toed across the living room & quietly shut his own door & only after he had started his car & driven past the derelict canning factory did he unclench his jaw, as though leaving this marked space an answer in itself &

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Spittoon 3.4

Genetic Push James Grabill

Fresh water falls in the look a crow gives a shining sedan before they both take off. Afternoon thickens with future tense in the present, as the place no longer belongs to endlessness. The red root of grasshopper eye and neighborhood scarlet sockets may come with medieval releases of burden, given the sudden half-lives fashioned over millennia. Out of the quick, where we thought we were going within infinitesimal folds is never in one place alone, until falling snow alters what never was. Doesn’t the body assume meaning will occur to it in the present, even what we might be doing to the future? The oceans haven’t stopped giving up heavy Indonesian rains that have little option but to cash in on unaccommodated man, where Roman-numeral imperative and solar rain in nearby stands reveal an amount of artistry. Honeybees fly into summer yards each day over black-and-white TVs. The apple appears before a person as it will to other exponential families in space, while amino acids under the daytime stars unfold within galaxies.

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Spittoon 3.4

Unscrolled Historical Volts James Grabill

In 2007 the actuarial worth of a human being was set at $6.9 million by experts with much experience in that area. Valuable in insurance circles, the brain may be a nervous system that reconstructs dusk or dawn rather than taking them in head-on from a partially known, partially unknown world.

Divided by zero and the overpopulation, hundreds of thousands may be swimming in sea rain where every wheat plant and gnat sits on a vast foundation, as back-country apple-lit hills have gone buoyant in melts of reason while a tearless muskellunge is guided in by the remarkable unseen bees. If you’ve lost, say, the hoarse call of the great blue heron from along the Willamette after ten more years, what will you have in ten more? Certain coves have waves that will break anything they might have caught behind the mausoleum of infected species with recent sedations from constant airport alarm, engine blurs, tube blurts, and dried hair a few years after we’ve gone into flood-downs at the naked outskirts of unpaved ‘50s rummagings. To be sure, the cure and the wound in the brain for which it was designed can hammer people into a corner, with penciled-in cheekbone petrifications taken to rustling unplugged then membranous as Bible pages ripped out. Volts across the expanse leave a few years floating in shafts. So would individual death prove to be more expensive than joint death, or perhaps a group of people losing their lives together? Climate disruption could have us hungry and suffering, able to deny pounds of regret, and lit by questionings, crusted from summer and mule nails off fireside spits of a mole mud stomped to pieces in chambers of split-second burns of an eyeball walking down drier needlesponged trails with parts of the conscious mind under construction.

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Spittoon 3.4

Immovable Jamey Gallagher

we sang sometimes in an angel’s choir when i was coming up, my brother hector and me. we never did nothing wrong because if we did something wrong we’d hear it from our moms, who was not a lady you ever wanted to come on the wrong side of. me and hector would sing and you wouldn’t believe how sweet it sounded. sweet’s not a word i use often but that’s what it was before our voices turned into the voices of men. we were children, little boys, but we sounded like angels, not all that different than girls, which pops couldn’t stand. pops was a man’s man with tattoos on his arms always under the hood of the car, and we’d go out into the woods so he couldn’t hear us. woods around where we were, in southern jersey but not near the shore, were dense with all these vines as big as our ankles that were pulling down any trees that tried to grow up past ten feet tall. we’d have to lift our feet way up every step of the way and it was difficult, but out in the woods sometimes we would find cleared out spaces where me and hector would sing songs we learned at church or that we made up ourselves. it was easy to believe in god then because we had the minds of kids and the minds of kids are big and empty and even in the shittiest of circumstances hopeful. hector was almost exactly a year older than me but by the time we were six we were the same size and we could have been twins except he was always stronger, could always pin me down with his knees on my arms. though sometimes i think i let him. the songs we would make up would be dumb and if i even remembered them anymore i wouldn’t write them down here. if you’d heard us you would have stopped what you were doing and just listened. you would have got goosebumps. we had the same voice, me and hector, with minor differences, like his was a little rougher around the vowels and mine was maybe in some instances more pure. and i swear to you even though i know you won’t believe me that sometimes there were angels that sang with us when we were out in the pine barrens. i imagine this bird’s eye view of us in some clearing and you can’t see the angels but you can hear them, they’re all around and they’re harmonizing with us, and it’s powerful but not in a real big kind of way. it’s just normal. it doesn’t really surprise either of us. after we sang sometimes we would wrestle. through the trees the sun would wink on and off, on and off. hector would pin my arms to the ground and look down at me, his eyes and hair the same dark brown, his skin brown, his t-shirt muddy from

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wrestling. i would try to buck him off by throwing my chest up, and he would grin down. it’s impossible to move me, man, he would say. i am an immoveable object. and he was.

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The Closet Alice B. Fogel

What else do you think you can hide in there with your shapeless uniforms your decades old clothes with overgrown shoulder pads your ties wide as tanks sputtering out of oil fooling only fools because when the language goes marching so does knowing the birds native names left unuttered in their dusting feathers drop like deformed leaves greasy on the closet floor hosting microscopic mites breed more mines in the walk in territory of the raging mold you prowl like monster boars at Chernobyl barely recognizable strange and scary and changed your skeleton keys hang around your neck clacking against a barrier of ribs barring hearts whose importance in relation to what kind of atmosphere permeates all the rest can hardly be exaggerated but instead you think you can be unreactive closed up like one cramped musty unbreatheable space can’t cover up the nuclear meltdowns radiate through the entire house the couch expanding to crush lamps and hassocks pushing away everyone starving under the dining table overgrown into another glass ceiling the bureaus stained shut leaving no room for others belongings while you go on claiming you can store torn shirts on spent rods and stuffing your boots scuffed with contaminated dust the farmlands with toxic chemical dependence upon industrial strength avoidance of annoying bugs means you get no more free flights of doves but three legged frogs raining like a plague of hangers

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Spittoon 3.4 Fogel, The Closet

on toddlers with tumors in their cell phoned brains and so called adults held hostage to microchips with missing vocabulary for emoticons if you want to know the truth of who you are then open up the door to that closet

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Spittoon 3.4

The Playhouse Alice B. Fogel

The house opens to a series of ruminations off a corridor toward an idea shot in the dark tavern to drink on the house a juxtaposition of yours and mine the afterhours the house thinking maybe it is a playhouse where actors and sideliners assemble to take stock of tragedy comedy dramady and romance feels like a tall order high as the rooftops of heaven might be to script this thing so circled divided and ruled by what hemisphere and what horizon a line onstage delivered in the voice of the ascendant every morning the descendants at dusk the lineage the house harbors your aisled pacing in the shadows cast by houselights stars lodged by the hearth so come to bed lay your heads here and here for house’s sake tomorrow you can graze through the sets between partitions curtains and exits play out your days splitting hairs nights tearing up ticket stubs

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Spittoon 3.4

The Riven House Alice B. Fogel

Even the floor boards so dry draw back from each other for that ironic view so long now they shrink into themselves leaving gaps like slow digs to China surrounded by gradual cliffs tipped like the great and natural geographic forms splinter first with a single blade of fake hay from a storebought broom you flick grains of sand and toast to the surface vacuum distilled matter till the soil of geologic splits breeds a need for a spoon to lift evolutionary flint the dust of domestic realms gone environmentally unstable upheavals raise mountains out of molehills chasms part for water falls down precipitous stone into arroyos where coyotes bay at fluorescent moons where you could pose to take another shot of this grand canyon landscape and send a postcard home with uncharacteristic interest you reach scraping against scree your hand down fissures past the inner laval place of quaking the board just to feel in the cooled stream of things the golden carp nudge what you can’t catch voices lilting upward from the buried silt down there the scent of brewed herbs ceremonial fires leaves an aftertaste a faint glow from below at night tints the house as if from far cities lights obscure the stars

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Contributors


Born and raised in Scranton when The Office wasn't cool, K. A. McGowan currently teaches in Lafayette, LA. His two poetry chapbooks are Rubric and No Passengers, and his novella Beyond the Chicken Factory was published in February by TheWriteDeal. Camille Martin is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Looms (2012) and Sonnets (2010), both from Shearsman Books http://www.shearsman.com/pages/books/authors/martinA.html. She lives in Toronto. Blog: Rogue Embryo http://rogueembryo.com Website: http://www.camillemartin.ca.

Gregory Kiewiet is the author of the book of poems In the Company of Words (Past Tents Press 2007). Work has appeared in Palimpsest, The Columbia Poetry Review, etc.

Patrick Kelling is a doctoral student in the Creative Writing program at the University of Denver and is the fiction editor for the literature magazine Gambling the Aisle (www.gamblingtheaisle.com).

His work has been nominated for a

Pushcart Prize and to Best New American Voices.

James Grabill’s books include An Indigo Scent after the Rain (Lynx House, 2003). Currently he teaches "systems thinking" relative to sustainability.

Leah Givens’ photographs have appeared on covers of The Colored Lens, Existere and Penduline Press. She received an M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. Her website is www.leahgivens.com.

Jamey Gallagher lives in Baltimore. His chapbook Crumblehead recently won Gambling the Aisle’s chapbook contest.

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Alice B. Fogel’s books include Be That Empty, a national poetry bestseller, and Strange Terrain—on how to appreciate poetry without “getting” it. She is also an award-winning designer and creator of custom and refashioned clothing. Visit www.lyriccouture.com and www.alicebfogel.com. She is currently the NH state poet laureate.

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Spittoon 3.4: The Riven House  
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