ALMOST by NICK RIPATRAZONE THE LEAST OF WHICH INVOLVES & BRIGHT ENOUGH by JOSHUA R. HELMS SOMEONE PLEASE STEAL MY IDENTITY & I BOUGHT A TEMPUR-PEDIC ONLINE FROM A MISSOURIAN FORECLOSEE by ADAM MOORAD THE WAY THE DARK TAKES OVER by xTx from PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME SCARLETT
JOHANSSON by THOMAS PATRICK LEVY SELF-PORTRAIT AT 21 by RYAN RADER MOTHER’S DAY by LEN KUNTZ
DRESSING, DECORATION & SIX by PARKER TETTLETON HOW TO ENJOY YOUR WEDDING AS A PREGNANT BRIDE by DANIELA OLSZEWSKA & CAROL GUESS
TWO SKY POEMS by NATE PRITTS IN THE NURSING HOME by CHRISTOPHER NEWGENT from SERMONS AND LECTURES BOTH BLANK
AND RELENTLESS by MATT HART
FARM TOWN: ABOUT TO DIE & FARM TOWN: NO DEPRESSION by ASHLEY FARMER
WHAT ARE YOU STOKED ABOUT? INTERVIEW WITH PETER MARKUS: J.A. TYLER STOKED ON SLINKY STORYTELLING: MIKE YOUNG
NICK RIPA Amy laughed when Randy said he was opening a snake shop. “Stuffed snakes?” “No. Real ones.” They’d just seen Snakes at the Snyder Duplex. One snake had its way with a woman. It all happened in shadow but it bothered Randy. But not enough for him to turn away. Amy thought Randy had gotten hooked on snakes from that movie. But he’d been cooking the idea for months, even leased a place in town. “Where’d you get the money for that?” He had no good answer. It was as much her money as his. She told him to stop the truck. “Here?” 84 curled through the desert. She opened the door, stood on the shoulder of the road, and crossed her arms. Randy idled for minute. Years later Randy learned that Amy had hitched a ride to the nearest Texaco and called Avery Haverstick; his best friend then, his best friend now. “She was distraught,” Avery told him at the Satin Saddle, a breakfast-all-day joint. Avery’s wife Rebecca was in the bathroom. He leaned close, chin on the table. “We did it. Amy and I. Just once at the Blue Bell Motel.” Randy crossed his hands. He wanted to break Avery’s neck. “Ancient history,” Avery said, and leaned back. Rebecca came out of the bathroom and kissed his cheek. She was pretty but always wore sweatpants. Randy could barely see her form beneath all that cotton.
ATRAZONE ~ After dinner Randy and Avery moved, stomachs full, through the Prescott desert. On the hunt for snakes. Ringneck. Brown. Rat. Mud. Scarlet. Pine. Rattle. Western Ribbon. Black Racer. Southeastern Crowned. Worm. Spotted a Northern Blacktail curled over rocks. A beautifully ribboned Arizona Coral. Three Desert Sidewinders. A Banded Rock the color of mint, teasing them from a thick shoot of grama. Avery worked the camera, snapping away at an even click. It was Avery’s idea to take photos for the walls of the shop. He was a bit too excited about the entire idea. Randy played along but he couldn’t stop thinking about Avery’s confession. How he could admit such a thing and then kiss his wife. ~ After the photos they collected atrox in a bucket and called it a day. Avery had a double trailer on national forest property and Rebecca had made some pulled pork sandwiches. Slow grilled over thick coals. They ate outside on couches. Randy finished his first sandwich in half a minute and Rebecca was staring at him. “You want another?” He did. Three more, actually. . Avery said that they should all go on a night ride in the truck but Rebecca leaned over and went to work on his thigh. He changed his tune. Randy left them alone and checked on the atrox. They sprawled along the wood chips. One pressed against the glass when he held his palm on the side. So far he had an empty shop and three
snakes. And a box full of photographs he might never use. ~ Avery rubbed his stomach. He said that he had to shit before they went back out for more atrox. Randy didn’t know that was an option but he was ready. Rebecca came back from the bedroom in shorts that hugged her thighs. She collected the plates and dropped the forks on top. Randy wondered what it’d be like to kiss her. He wondered if she knew about Amy. Ten years ago he was foolish enough to think that women could be traded like that. One for one: Rebecca for Amy. He stood next to her in the kitchen and turned off the faucet. She didn’t seem to mind the distance between them. She dried her hands. “Three snakes doesn’t sound like enough for a shop.” He could have kissed her smile. Instead he heard the toilet flush and walked out. On the way home he stopped on 84 and let the atrox loose. He had to nudge them forward off the road but they disappeared the second they reached grass.
JOSHUA R. HELMS
THE LEAST OF WHICH INVOLVES Iâ€™m terrified they could. Their arms out completely. This passageway. A single flinch. And theyâ€™re very wily. My reaction shots. Adjacent scenes. Constantly clouded. Doing it in front of the other. Revel in my own. The most obscure box. Reanimate so I can. My body being all comedy. Suddenly crawling across. Difficult little bit of the urge. Trust most of the time. Waiting constantly. Someone to come in. Recognition combined with. (erasure of Robert Pattinson interview in Entertainment Weekly, April 1, 2011)
BRIGHT ENOUGH Whether itâ€™s good or bad. People are expectations. Renting your projects to keep. My torso plays a second sensibility. You execute extremely well. Truth is a lot of chemistry. Update anything new. Contradict happened to be the job again. Not that exciting before now. A point you can keep. You can say you wait. Sight the shore until humbled. Surprise every single of him flying into. My body mouth-breathing the next years. (erasure of Jason Bateman interview in Entertainment Weekly, June 3/10, 2011)
NE PLEASE STEAL MY IDENTITY i feel like an illegal alien day-laborer trapped inside a small time capsule with a compaq laptop & a holy bible & old melissa joan hart photographs & several plastic dinosaur figurines the world is whatever things & outside the sky is a fossil & meteors shower the night in a cosmic pie eating contest the quart-sized planet shapes a mason jar brimming with fireflies crazy from the heat
I BOUGHT A TEMPUR-PEDIC ONLINE FROM A MISSOURIAN FORECLOSEE i cut the springs out with a jackknife & tied them to my feet & i gazelled down highway 35 like carl lewis the olympian & i inhaled three entire hardeeâ€™s bbq chicken sandwiches & i sat & i wondered how much of my soul is actually left
THE WAYTHE THE THE WAY DARK DARK TAKES TAKES OVER OVER On a curb, our feet in the gutter, my shirt on your face—both full of blood— ignoring stares from yard neighbors, dog walkers, kid skaters. This is where we are. Again. An unplanned place. We are done running. We are both caught up with our breaths. We are both still drunk. The sun is still on its way out of the day. You still don’t know how to handle things. I still don’t know what to say to you. The biggest change that’s come of this, I think, is that since it all haphappened, pened, I haven’t I haven’t heard heard you you laugh. laugh. It used It used to be to so beprominent, so prominent, youryour driving force. Yesterday, at work, I was deleting old voicemails and there you were, as usual, saying something stupid and laughing. I rereplayed played it seven it seven times. times.It It felt felt like like a song a song I hadn’t I hadn’t heard heard in in years years but but still still knew knew all the all words the words to. to. For aFor minute a minute I thought I thought of forwarding of forwarding it toityou, to you,hearing like like hearing yourself yourself wouldwould somehow somehow jog your jog your memory, memory, remind remind you of you thing this of thisyou thing used youtoused be able to be to able do, like to do, thelike onlythe reason only reason you weren’t you weren’t laughing laughing was because was because you simply youforgot simplyhow. forgot But how. I didn’t. But I Ididn’t. know it’s I know not that it’syou not forgot, that you it’sforgot, that you it’s just thatcan’t. you just That can’t. part That of you part extracted, of you extracted, with precision, with that precision, day you that backed day you outbacked of yourout driveway. of your driveway. We sit on the curb some more. I listen to the end of the day. Feel the sun leaving my skin. My head is on my arms, my arms on my knees. I I watchyou watch youpull pullthe theshirt shirtoffoffyour yourface, face,look lookatatit,it,put putit itback, back,pull pullit itoff. off. not I’m I’m bleeding not bleeding anymore, anymore, you say, you sounding say, sounding disappointed. disappointed. For aFor mina minute ute I think I think you you are are going going to ask to ask me me to hit to you hit you again again andand I close I close my my
eyes really fast and somehow hope you will think I am sleeping. My knuckles are already so bruised and sore; I don’t think I can make one more fist, swing one more board. Sorry about your shirt, you say. It’s okay, I say. Are you ready to go back now? There is a still moment my words wrap up into. I watch as you think through your hands; wringing and twisting my bloody shirt. I can’t go back, you answer with dead words and I want to say, I know, but I don’t. We already know this. That’s why we’re sitting here. Your face is completely fucked up and I know we need to get to a hospital for some butterfly stitches or at the least, back to the house for some ice if there’s any chance of you looking presentable for work come Monday. Even so, based on how your performance has changed since everything spiraled—the coming in late, the missed days, the lack of productivity—a blackened, broken face is not going to sit well with our boss. I can already hear him asking me why the hell I ever suggested he hire you in the first place and I can hear myself reminding him how you were fine, before… I suddenly feel sick wondering how much lower you might sink if you get fired and how I know I will be unable to help you anymore if you do. I am already worn too thin. This scares me because, if left to your own devices, I know you won’t pull punches or make glancing blows feel like they count the way I do. The sounds of how a suburban day ends peppers warm through open windows, screen doors, backyard fences as the outside slowly begins to make its way in. The cool of the fresh dusk paints my chest, my shoulders, my neck. We sit quiet in the transition. I’m sorry, you whisper. I try not to answer, knowing you won’t hear me. You didn’t hear it when the police told you, you didn’t hear it when the witnesses said it, you didn’t even hear it when the parents told you, arms around your shoulders as you wept—as they wept—but still, I say it again, hoping maybe this time will be different.
It wasn’t your fault, man. You don’t respond. My knees crack as I stand. The sidewalks are dark gray now. I am stepping on a chalk drawing; stick bodies, flowers, lines and curves trying to be letters. I think about how in another neighborhood on another sidewalk maybe there are similar drawings. I think about a mother and father calculating ways to pry the cement from the ground, intact, to bring it inside and keep it forever. I see the mother lying face down in a nightgown, over the drawings—in the night, in the rain— pleading for the wet to please don’t take my babies away again, please don’t take them and I step off of the chalk and move into the street. The neighbors are back in their houses, all of the dogs have been walked and the kids have taken off their skates and are sitting down to dinner. Their absence leaves behind a vacancy heavy with what it’s unable to say and I know it’s the only thing you are able to hear.
from PLEASE DON’T
LEAVE ME SCARLETT JOHANSSON THOMAS
O Scarlett I don’t know what mountains these are but when I see them I hear your voice coming like pockets of fog gathered between them and I don’t really know why but you sing Tom Waits and make me cry the grind of a truck downshifting through each turn and each note gathering into a puddle on my shirt and the freeway mourning each scorched tire yelling I’VE COME 500 MILES JUST TO SEE and my own tires still wishing across the pavement while your body moves just like a song that moves just like the shadow of a body aching
O Scarlett I couldn’t look you in the eyes at the diner because you were wearing your apron like a toosmall bath towel and I just knew you had a blue Chevy S-10 in the parking lot and my god you were certainly the sexiest person I’ve ever seen carrying a slice of pie to a booth in the back room and even then I knew that you were not real but I kept wiping these drops of coffee off my chin and kept looking around as if there were someone other than you to look at and finally when I left you came after me moving in a rush that smelled of purple candy and when I turned around you were already in your truck and the radio was already moaning MY HEART IS IN MY SHOES and your small fingers were holding a cigarette out the open window and you left me alone with the spatter of wetness your truck’s exhaust left on the cement and I swear the spatter was in the shape of Tom Waits’s face
And Scarlett never mind the run-down motels I’ll drive all night and you can hang your pretty toes out the window while the shadows swallow around us and the only light for miles is the candle my car holds out before us with one hand covering the flame and god you know how I love to hear you sing even when you’re singing THEY BROKE ALL THE WINDOWS so please sing yourself to sleep and let that cold wind come around you like a hush kept so frail and when you get too cold we’ll park in the shadow of an evergreen and you can rest your body against my car’s warm hood
And Scarlett once I watched a man on youtube photoshop your body in reverse and the dress he made you wear I swear was made of thin orange threads of my sweat and I swear to god I couldn't open my eyes but each frame touched me like the wet of your tongue which makes shapes that can't exist around my ear and I swear to god sometimes I sleep and dream you don't exist and when I wake up in your bed there is a veil draped down like an arc of wedding light burst through the ceiling and on the radio I hear your voice and on the radio I see the way you crawl around and I see your knees bare as yellow fields by the freeways and I see your knees crushed carrot-raw on wet hairs of carpet and still each frame is so dark I have to light a candle when we kiss
SELF-PORTRAIT AT 21 Today I pound the pavement like it owes me.
I own this sun-bleached concrete bridge . The river below is flooded and dirty. I pass a Laundromat full of annoyed people. Even the sidewalks have potholes. Someone asks me where to get drugs. I get all my drugs at the bank. I buy things with money, I trade things for things, I draw circles in the fogged bathroom mirror over my eyes and mouth. I saw a metaphor all twisted up on the side of the road like a deer, but not a deer, but like a deer, and I wanted to help but couldn’t. I drew circles on her eyes too. I saw children pelting each other with crabapples and keeping secrets from their friends. I’ll eat a birthday cake for every meal just to gag on the personalized icing. I want to wave my arms around and hope no one notices because I just like the way it feels. I’m a helicopter trapped inside a fat person. I’ve written my fair share of greeting cards, but they’re selling like hotcakes, and I’m selling hotcakes too. I think of Atlas, the world on his shoulders.
I think I alway but my A cons beneat I leave My hou but I li My frie They a I draw
k about doing more push-ups in the morning. ys wanted to be a painter y hand trembles when I hold the brush. struction worker submerges his hands th a river of sewage as the sun goes down. e before seeing what he brings up. use is divided through the middle ive in the better half. ends are in my living room. ask me how my day was. w circles over their eyes.
She drove them into the water, water waste debased such a huge pond of blackness madness, lake and sorrow equal in circumference, the sloppy wet waves like demon tongues splashing eruptions liquid bombs outside the locked car doors and dark windows. Metal as huge as this into a lake is not natural is indeed indecent absurd obscene, for people once swam here, some naked at night, skinny dipping and giggling, new lovers chattering in the beautiful backwash of an arrogant moon, yes, in this very water where she has just driven them her babies her girls her gooses goo goo dolls wearing night gowns, none of the three older than five, knotted up and screaming again so that even as they sink she pounds the steering wheel, demanding quiet.
Some mirro the fr hone
PARKER PARKER TETTLETON TETTLETON
e kisses grow indifference. I know you best in a or I’ve never seen. What’s mean isn’t on top of ridge, animal or stuffed. We’re raffling hearts, like esty but guessing. If you’d like a salad I’ll cigarette.
DECORATION I can’t touch a pillow without remembering yours. The lights are off & on Absolut. I will turn my smile inside. Tell me something. Anything but Wait to die.
SIX Fried chicken reminds me of nightmares. Louisiana. I’m not sorry I don’t give a fuck about the Saints. Whatever, paint me in gold & white. I’ll grow mixed drink muscles, look alive in the lack of light.
DANIELA OLSZEWSKA & CAROL GUESS
HOW TO ENJOY YOUR WEDDING AS A PREGANT BRIDE White means nothing but night sun in Alaska, where you hurry cold fish down a belt with a knife. This eye-lens is over-focused. Your dress should shimmer from cleavage to knee, but you’re covered in fish guts. Smear smelt across your thigh, then cover it with garter. A baby’s inside you. She/he/it is scraping at you with the piece of champagne glass you swallowed almost on accident. She/he/it isn’t you. Is the point she/he/it is trying to get across when it kicks your belly into the shape of borrowed blue balloon. Now say I do for two to too, whose name will be Spring Break or Facebook or Tweet. Let’s eat some marzipan birds and some marzipan bees. Saturday brunch, no shellfish or pork. Don’t go reaching for anything like a pet. Cats carry disease; you loan yours to your sister. She vies for the kid, but it kicks like a keeper.
NATE PRITTS SKY POEM rough dawn tangle of orange in cloud bodies this happenstance happening this perspective shifting blunt bunch of fluff over the water Another never-before-seen sky in early morning I miss you most when youâ€™re not here & glad for it baffled by what I want
SKY POEM canâ€™t blink this morning alive each of my muscles feeling lazy under skin it takes so much effort just to be myself to hold the shape maybe I remember an imprint crushed into grass thinking this was your summer forever
IN THE NURSING HOME
For my birthday, they have fashioned a piñata made of cancer-bones; the men in my family all die of cancer-bones; the forgetfulness takes care of the women. * Shortly after my Tom’s insides were replaced with candy, I found a frozen pizza in my pocket, my keys in the freezer. It wasn’t long before my children swaddled me in polyester and said I’d get the hang of shuffleboard. * Two men come in a big truck every month to shred cabinets-worth of old files. We once tried to chase the men away, Leave our friends alone! we bellowed and coughed, we shook our canes, our hips giving out in outrage. With bones as brittle as our own, we can no longer wage war. * We wither. We wail. We wait for what comes for us.
from SERMONS AND LECTURES BOTH BLANK AND RELENTLESS
MATT HART *****
Flame thrower throwing you a terrible party These sermons and lectures both drunk and selected If you want, you can help me with the chorus “Eighteen I just don’t know what I want” The break-up stomping all over your elephant In the room where I was waiting The number of the beast I must’ve read ten thousand books Felt strangely liberated when I cut off my Cheney No, not for crazy Nudes similar to a wreckage And the myth of Rudolph Schwarzkogler, right here makes an appearance Actually he died eating paint chips off his tenement Buried in the forest by seven singing dwarves, still waiting for a kiss from The Slits or Patti Smith But “When we die we go to recess” is the end, that’s it Which seems perfect/ terrific, and superlatives surround us Given the sky in your eyes and the wiggle in your kettle, how strangely compelling that we all end up a playground Alice Cooper The state of the union A new night beginning, when it’s only after breakfast Or a movie of the body, where the conflict’s of the body Here comes the sperm crashing into the egg, and the egg too tired to even roll across the floor Debacle Debacle,
some manuscript pages, a flood of champagne and a fucked-up horizon People, is your pelvis not lacy enough Are you looking to flip it, or is it more a house of worship I might be persuaded to make you an offer Maybe 500 words, but that’s all I can afford The other stuff’s taking up the bulk of my still life, and now that I’m covered in jelly writing’s messy Writing’s hard Or moreso than you’d think, but less than for most families America’s a puddle of marrow forever I raise my black flag to declare my dis-allegiance Always do the opposite of anything I tell you I’ll do it too Whatever you say ***** Gimme gimme gimme, I need it intensely Ode to unraveling, but the spirit falls off The horses keep going The driver so ridiculous Now I’ve got a sweater with a hole the size of Jupiter but no one’s even noticed, so I go to fetch the ball My suddenly tree stump, what used to be a rooftop I sit almost thinking what to do with all the clutter After all, I asked for it Arrival of dumptrucks Stars keep falling My heart and my retriever Mosquitoes and surrealists, all manner of pirate It’s a beautiful minute in spite of metaphysics Guitar solo blurring out the woman in the shower Too many angles to stop at hyena replaying my life on a loop without a title, only this time call it That for Which I’ve Never Had a Name That Seemed Proper It fits or it spasms Ancient Mariner Emily Dickinson I talk to you for hours I talk to you and listen without any expectation Without even one chorus of that damaged broken record, which so often in the past
I did follow as instructions How to stay alive and well, like nothing ever bothered Flame thrower throwing me a terrible haircut I paid my seven bucks, thatâ€™s true, so I deserve it But I never went a-maying in the meadow with Corinna I never really got it reading Kora in Hell Liberty bell O Liberty bell Three happy bears and a bed of many feathers All the grits and oatmeal you can eat
ASHL FARM TOWN: ABOUT TO DIE A second left to crash this transaction, then blackness as someone dynamites my vision. It’s dark here. I will miss the farm when I wake up, the green parameters as flat as heaven. Dr. Doomsday says tomorrow will rattle us and crack radioactive clouds above our heads. The west is ending, hasta la vista, and with it I suppose this Old McDonald song. All the jokes I’ve made about the American Dream aren’t so funny now--oh it’s a vulture in the stockyard, it’s someone warm with whom to roll in hay, it’s a day that stays midday and staves out any hint of night or change. Stranded on the freeway I will conjure the orchard, all its imprecise geometry. I’m a beginner, hardly Extraordinary--I can’t die in this game. I’m someone’s daughter, I’m necessary to this economy, and anyway the inhabitants of Farm Town don’t expire but rather disappear like members of some unendangered species. I’d hoped for hoping for more. In fourth gear I recall my mother’s face and Ben Franklin’s shape in plumes above the shore.
LEY FARMER FARM TOWN: NO DEPRESSION My home’s in heaven but my coins are here.
WHAT A STOKED
J.A. TYLER ASKS PETER MARKUS
We Make Mud, due out from Dzanc Books in summer 2011, is the third full-length title to center around brothers and fish and river and mud. Can you tell us a little about this new book and where it fits in with those previous titles? We Make Mud is more mud and more river and more of the brothers. It will likely be the last of these stories. I do think the stories and the brothers themselves have evolved into what and who the mud has made them to be. I do think that this installment of the brothers brings them to a place where the river is at its muddiest and the mud itself is thicker than it’s ever been before. We Make Mud does have that ring of finality to it, but I want to believe that the brothers will always be around in new iterations. Do you really see an end to them as such? The brothers lived with me for over a decade of my life and for that I’ll be forever grateful, but for now the brothers have walked out into the river and I don’t know if they’ll ever come walking back. If they do,
ARE YOU D ABOUT? I’ll be there on this side of the river to welcome them back. I haven’t seen them in a while now, not since they last made a sort of cameo appearance in Bob, or Man on Boat. I had thought I’d shut them out in the writing of that book but that book too had a river running through it and where a river is the brothers are bound to make an appearance. To make sure that they do not reappear I’ve resorted to some lingual restrictions in my newer fiction so that a river and the brothers have no way of breaking into these new stories. Can you tell us a little bit more about the linguistic restrictions? I limited by word palette to only monosyllabic words. So words like river and brother weren’t allowed to lay claim to their usual dominion over my mouth, my pen, my ears. The repetition in these brother stories (like the nailing of a brother to the fish-head pole) is not simply replication but more a mantra or recitation. Can you talk to us a little about how you structure these stories, and how you manage to recreate them freshly so many times over? Things recur upon themselves in these stories because the brothers are boys made of habit. Their mantra made of river and fish and moon and
mud and girl has become my own. If it wasn’t for them and their song I wouldn’t know what to say. How did the brothers springboard you into your newer / latest pieces of fiction? By closing the doors to the brothers, this forced new words to take root in my mouth, in my ears, my heart. I turned in from the river and found new places to locate these new fictions. I have found that a word like woods have as much of a resonance as a word such as river, a word, as you might imagine, that is very dear to me and to who I am as a writer. We are supposed to write what we know, which would mean that you have sons and you fish and there is a river that runs through your backyard. How much of We Make Mud has a connection with a part of your life or past experiences? I know very little and the little I do know doesn’t make it into my fiction. I do have a son but he is brotherless as I am. He is a brother in the purest sense of that word and I love him very much but he resembles the brothers in no way other than through a toughness of the spirit. I wouldn’t insult him by inserting him into something made up. He is much more to me than anything I might bring up out of the alphabet. He is brother made flesh. If he is anywhere near my page he is in the scenes in Bob, or Man on Boat where the narrator there has a young son and maybe a bit of my boy and myself makes it into some of those passages where the narrator and son do between them some talking. There is a river near where I live and it certainly is a source of mystery and beauty to me and I have spent some time out on it doing what I can do to bring up some fish up out of its darkness. But I could also point to hundred of other men in my town who know the river much better than I do and who can lay a close claim to it as a thing that is a part of their life experience. I suppose if I had fished the river
more often I wouldn’t have felt the need to fish it so often in the forms of my fiction.
You told me once that Bob, or Man on Boat was actually a finished manuscript sitting in a desk drawer until Dan Wickett at Dzanc Books wanted to take a look. How long has We Make Mud been in the works or sitting in that drawer of yours? All of my books sat in drawers until someone was good enough to ask me to see them. If it weren’t for good people like Derek White and Dan Wickett I’d be bookless. I don’t like the business of sending books out. I used to get a kick out of sending stories out to magazines, but even that I don’t do unless I am asked to do so. I’ve got a new manuscript that lives quietly in a drawer and it will likely remain there until someone like a Dan or a Derek asks me to see it. And to good people like those two fine men I will happily let them take a look. Speaking of your next projects, you recently had three novellalength pieces published respectively in Black Warrior Review, No Colony, and Unsaid – do you see these stories making their way into a collected print edition down the road? The three pieces that you mention are the new fictions that have risen up out of these monosyllabic word constraints. The latest manuscript in the drawer is made up of those three longish fictions punctuated by three shortish stories. I have taken to calling this six-piece manuscript The Fish and the Not Fish. So if you have read these three new longish pieces mentioned from the litmags above, then you have read (hopefully without realizing it) three fictions that make no use of any word made up of more than a single syllabic beat. Beating this particular minimal drum, or making music on this single-stringed guitar, of course, forced me to slow down and to pay even closer attention to
the shape of the sentences and the way each sentence was placed on the page. I am also right now working on a new book, a novel I hope, that might be the first of its kind, or at least I am not aware of another novel like it (a novel made up entirely of a monosyllabic vocabulary). Iâ€™ll go out on the edge of the branch here to say what I hope is obvious to my intentions here: that is, if Iâ€™m not doing something new with the form of the fiction that I am hoping to bring forth into this world, then I am really not interested in doing or making what has already been done or made.
Peter Markus is the author of The Singing Fish, Bob, or Man on Boat, and Good, Brother. His fourth book We Make Mud is forthcoming from Dzanc Books. J. A. Tyler is the author of A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed from Fugue State Press. For more, visit: chokeonthesewords.com.
STOKED ON SLINKY MIKE STORYTELLING: YOUNG Let me say about what I’ve been reading in the bathroom and about my girlfriend. These are two different things. Regarding my girlfriend, she will sometimes demand I tell a story to help her fall asleep. These stories are whimsical and freewheeling, in method and makeup, full of stuff I know she likes (talking animals, vegan pizza, galaxies) and, as she gets more and more asleep, full of stuff I know I like. I don’t worry about why we like what we what like. I guess you could call these stories “fairy tales” but the other thing is as soon as I realize the story is becoming “something” (like a “fairy tale”) I deliberately punch that something-ness out of the story with something like a member of The Beatles or benzyl peroxide. In this way the story is constantly reentering itself with the meddlesome enthusiasm of storymaking. (I’m reminded also of when I was 9 or 10, telling my father about an elaborate post-apocalyptic England story I was writing, and my father interrupting me to ask if there were mechanical footwarmers. In the story England, my England. This question didn’t have anything to do with my story, but I remember it being pretty earnest. Actually it’s something I often randomly remember and identify as being annoying/ confusing/irrelevant in a bad-Monty-Python-joke way, but now that I’m remembering it in this context, it seems very illustrative or something; or maybe it’s just something I always remember whether I want to or not, which might also be relevant.) Which takes us into the bathroom, where I’ve been reading the book Sayonara, Gangsters by Genichiro Takahashi. A gentleman named Brian told me about it in a Goodreads message. It’s full of lovers who name
STOKED ON SLINKY MIKE STORYTELLING YOUNG
themselves while making love, fathers who carry their daughters in backpacks to crematoriums, gangsters who interrupt a man who likes to watch television on a couch at the bank (the money bank, not the riverbank) and a building with things like a river on the sixth floor and a poetry school on the seventh floor. In the poetry school, the narrator Let mepeople say about beenwho’s reading in several the bathroom about my helps like:what 1) a I’ve woman had dying and husbands, all of girlfriend. These are two different things. Regarding my girlfriend, she will whom have wanted to know what the woman’s iguana looked like right sometimes I tell a story to help her fallitasleep. These2) stories before theydemand died, but she couldn’t quite put into words. A girlare who whimsical and freewheeling, in method full ofout stuff I know keeps getting phone calls from a manand whomakeup, can’t figure where he is. she likes (talking animals, vegan pizza, galaxies) and, as she gets more You get the idea. Loopy, wacko, zany sort of stuff, all told in a style that and moreme asleep, fullfamiliar of stuffease I know I like. I don’t worry who’s about why weat reminds of the with which someone funny like what we what though I do try tothey havelove fun while by pushing the story telling stories tellslike, stories to someone everybody in the like a slinky down into complications just to see if I can come up with world falls asleep. spur-of-the-moment ways to maintain its momentum. I guess you could call these stories “fairy tales” but the othertransgressive thing is as soon I realize There is of course something stridently andasmiraculously the is becoming “something” (like miraculous a “fairy tale”) deliberately sad story (I mean that; there is something inIthe way all punch that out Gangsters of the storycan withgosomething likehilarious a member of a something-ness sudden Sayonara, from being to of The Beatles or benzylabout peroxide. In this waysurrender the story istoconstantly re-entering heartbreaking) the wonderful imagination this book itself with the embodies. Butmeddlesome I can’t talk enthusiasm about that of shitstorymaking. in the proper spirit without
doing something like wearing a fake mustache. Sometimes I will put my (I’m reminded alsogirlfriend’s of when I mouth was 9 or 10,yell telling my father She about an finger above my and “Mustache!” tolerates elaborate post-apocalyptic England I was writing, andand my father this, which takes us to some pointstory about trust and love jokes, the interrupting me to ask if there were mechanical footwarmers. In the that story kind of jokes that aren’t for posting on Twitter, the kind of jokes England, England. haveit’sanything to adoreader with my make onemy person intoThis twoquestion people, didn’t whether lovers or and story, but I remember beingthat pretty earnest. Actually it’sare something I often a narrator, the kind ofitjokes aren’t jokes but that more like randomly and identify as beingthe annoying/confusing/irrelevant an active remember verb of “joking” that echoes way “joke” melts down to in bad-Monty-Python-joke way, but for nowconfession—some that I’m remembering in this us afrom an Old High German word pointit that it context, it seems very illustrative or something; or maybe it’s just something would be easier for you to make to yourself by just reading Sayonara, IGangsters always remember whether I want to or not, which might also be relevant.) by Genichiro Takahashi. Which takes us into the bathroom, where I’ve been reading the book Sayonara, Gangsters by Genichiro Takahashi. A gentleman named Brian told me about it in a Goodreads message. It’s full of lovers who name themselves while making love, fathers who carry their daughters in backpacks to crematoriums, gangsters who interrupt a man who likes
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