Friday, December 30, 2011

The Cost of Remembrance


The slap of leather against flesh;
a pronouncement,
a judgment.
We breathe hard through our tears,
the layers of malice stripped away
by the black hand of grief.
I walk away
for the next five years,
never able to look you in the eye
without hearing
the hollow sound of your anger
reverberate in my memory.

Marie Lecrivain 
copyright 2011 marie lecrivain

Room 418


to jerry Cornelius

In a hotel room far from home,
the dream within a dream
came to the fore.
The bodies
silently materialized
through windows & walls,
each one surrounded
the space near my bed.
My eyes searched through
a sea of blank faces
& placid hands
for a sign,
a sound of life,
but found none
while the room filled
with an unending succession
of absinthe colored waves.
I watched the bodies
disappear through
the windows & walls,
until I alone remained.
I awakened to a bright
unapologetic morning,
& realized, days later,
that my means of escape
had been visible all along....
If only I'd opened the door.

Marie Lecrivain 
copyright 2011 marie lecrivain

The Ring


Pray you now, forget and forgive. - William Shakespeare, King Lear

How badly do you want it?
The question echoes through my head. Why am I hesitant to take it? He can't slap me. He can't hurt me.
Daddy was not well-loved. In the chapel, I strain to hear the usual sounds of grief; tears, snivels, sighs. There are none.
I glance down at the frayed hem of my best dress, the worn heels of my shoes. The expectant, hungry gaze of my children bores into my shoulder blades; my father's grandchildren, whose existence he never acknowledged.
My two sisters stand on the other side of Daddy's coffin, their contempt clearly visible. In their hands are the coveted objects of their desires. Neither one needs more money. They both married for wealth, comfort and status. I married for love and, in retrospect, for freedom. From the first day we met, my husband made me happy, and my happiness remained, even after Daddy disowned me for marrying a bartender.
Two years ago, my husband, the father of my beautiful children, died in an auto accident. He wouldn't want me to be here, faced with this choice.
I am desperate.
The diamond-and-ruby ring sparkles on my father's pale, rigid hand with the promise of a return to prosperity: hot meals, new shoes and clothes for my kids, a down payment on a new apartment in a neighborhood where my children and I can feel safe. Perhaps there would be enough left over for a small nest egg, so my kids can to go to college.
I stare at his hand... the hand attached to the object I need. The hand that used to stroke my head when I was little. The hand that covered my mouth to stifle my cries when he came into my room at night to rape me. The hand that struck me down the day after my wedding in front of my husband and my new in-laws.
The terms of the will are clear. If I don't go through with this last task, then I fail... again. Even in death, my father determines my choices.
I lift his hand to my lips. It’s stiff, square, and cold. I try not to shudder. I wonder how I can summon the bestial indifference that my sisters were able to use to finish the challenge, to win.
I stare at the greedy bloodstained smiles of my sisters. I move his hand to my lips, open my mouth and enclose the finger with the ring inside, just past my teeth. I try not to gag. Two bloody, ragged stumps brush against my cheek. I close my lips and begin to bite down as the taste of embalmed flesh and metal fill my senses.

copyright 2011 marie lecrivain
Marie Lecrivain 

Marie Lecrivain is a writer, editor, and photographer who resides in Los Angeles. She is the editor/publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in various online/print journals, including Haibun Today, Heavy Hands Ink, Illumen, The Los Angeles Review, and Poetry Salzburg Review. Her short story collection, Bitchess (copyright 2011 Sybaritic Press), is available through Amazon.com and smashwords.com.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Silver Belle Girl


Long arm dress. Jitterbug heart. Door to door. Lock teeth white clench fist stand her.  Open eye Fox Trot now. Swish. Fiddle dee dee. Dos se do allmande right left. Her. Dress flounce knee wet carpet, face. Oh. Stand still hope.


Neila Mezynski


Neila Mezynski is author of Glimpses from Scrambler Books , a pamphlet from Greying Ghost Press, echapbooks from Patasola Press and Radioactive Moat Press (Jan 2012)  and chapbooks from Folded Word Press (Jan 2012), Mud Luscious Press and Deadly Chaps Press.

The Longing Of Meaning


These daughters become white bitches and old hags
take travel for learning, most of life for granted
and love for refuge

The brothers will become old men and dirty old men
work for sanctuary from white bitches and old hags
and love making for broken promises

And the children born to these tides
will watch the slow low suffocation
pretending to know
what only death can follow


David Groulx

Sometimes To Bow Is To Disappoint


I wait here in the garden
to watch the flowers wilt
away

with the light

The hummingbirds to eat
lick the last of the nectar

Slugs make their way in
follow the flowers
frogs follow them

Beetles tumble up the earth
digging its way to its desires

The light lifts everything here
and I waited to be lifted


David Groulx

A True Fact Of Love


No ever falls in love

We fall through it

We endure it

Sometimes we even survive

Tattered 

Torn

Lovers die alone




David Groulx


David Groulx was raised in the Northern Ontario mining community of Elliot Lake. He is proud of his Aboriginal roots – his mother is Ojibwe Indian and his father French Canadian.

After receiving his BA from Lakehead University where he won the Munro Poetry Prize. David studied creative writing at the En’owkin Centre in Penticton, B.C. where he won the Simon J Lucas Jr. Memorial Award for poetry. He has also studied at The University of Victoria Creative Writing Program.

He has published six poetry books – Night in the Exude (Tyro Publications: Sault Ste Marie, 1997); and The Long Dance (Kegedonce Press, 2000). Under God’s Pale Bones (Kegedonce Press, 2010), A Difficult Beauty (Wolsak & Wynn: Hamilton, 2011), Rising With A Distant Dawn (BookLand Press:Toronto, 2011) as well as Our Life Is Ceremony (Lummox Press: California) due out in spring 2012.

David is a member of the League of Canadian Poets, as well as a member of The Ontario Poetry Society.

David recently won the 3rd annual PoetryNOW Battle of the Bards.

David recently read at the IFOA in Toronto & Barrie.

David’s poetry has appeared in over a 120 publications in England, Australia, Germany, Austria, Turkey, India, New Zealand, Scotland and the USA. He lives in a log home near Ottawa, Canada.                    

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Sickness and In Health


     I am holding the hand of my husband’s mistress after her insides have been scraped away. It is a curiously intimate moment. Though she is calmed by local anesthetic, it still feels like she is being ripped inside out, her womb dismembered, as if it were a body on its own, with limbs to sever. I cannot conceive, there have been too many tumors; I am kinder than I should be, given the situation. We are strangers, we are the darkness and shadow on one another's lives.  

     Give me something to think about, something to distract me from what it feels like down there

     I tell her to imagine what childbirth would be like. 
     She shuts up.
   
     She sleeps. Later, I give her Tylenol, an ice pack for her headache and hot water bottle for the cramps that will besiege her for days. These are contradictory cures for one common poison that we’ve both now tasted. My husband, who only uses that word when it suits his interests, is in the other room. He is nervous that we might be sharing secrets. 

     I told him: There are no secrets anymore, just one big wreck that I’m cleaning up. 

     It is when he’s been caught acting least like a husband that he chooses to behave most like one, creeping up like a prowling cat, seduction on his mind. I will not be able to pay the light bill this week, I think, counting the starbust patterns on the plaster ceiling of the living room. I hope I get paid again before it’s disconnected. I have spent the day cleaning up after him, from the sink of dishes and mountain of rotting garbage in the kitchen to the sheets that stink of sleep and sweat in the bedroom and the stray hairs and shaving scum in the bathroom. Right down to the raven-haired girl sleeping in my bed, bleeding and toxic, while he busies himself trying to lift my skirt. 


     Quit it, I’m making dinner. 
                                                  Christ, and you wonder why. 

     This is not what I had imagined it to be like, I did not think that the ring on my hand would feel like an ax or an anchor, halving me on its blade or drowning me into the black depths of the forgotten cracks in the ocean’s floor. I pretend my dinner is the meat of his bones, eat seconds, gorge myself to make myself so sick I’ll never want to taste him again. I will sleep on the couch for weeks, the smell of her clings to the sheets even after I’ve washed them. I turn in the night, finding cracks in the sofa cushions like the crevices in my marital bed. 

     I leave the light on, hoping that he will come home. 



Allie Marini


Allie Marini first started kicking ass in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She is a 2001 alumna of New College of Florida, which means she can explain deconstructionism, but cannot perform simple math. Her work has appeared in a number of literary magazines that her family hasn't heard of. She has lived all over Florida and Washington State but has called Tallahassee home for that past decade. She is a research writer and part-time hairdresser when she’s not playing with her make-believe friends. Allie is pursuing her MFA degree in Creative Writing through Antioch University Los Angeles and oh no! it's getting away!

Abstract Painting, Worm Wars, Attack #2




Jim Fuess



Jim Fuess works with liquid acrylic paint on canvas.  Most of his paintings are abstract, but there are recognizable forms and faces in a number of the abstract paintings.  He is striving for grace and fluidity, movement and balance.  He likes color and believes that beauty can be an artistic goal. There is whimsy, fear, energy, movement, fun and dread in his abstract paintings.  A lot of his abstract paintings are anthropomorphic. The shapes seem familiar. The faces are real. The gestures and movements are recognizable. More of his abstract paintings, both in color and black and white, may be seen at www.jimfuessart.com

Black Dog


They found it tethered by the wall,

Its eyes bleeding impotent fury,

Its thunderous growl just audible,

In the bitter cud of consciousness.

A red eyed devil looming over you,

In a stench of blind indifference.



They found you, all tangled up in knots,

A mess of broken wings, tattered feathers,

Whispering some song of anguish,

Tearing at slipped down slithers of soul,

Slowly, slowly, breaking down;

Until nothing remained

Save for a serene absence of will.



John Stocks

Spring Clean


On a day of April light, scalpel sharp
I cleared my draw of receipts, tickets
Of fragments, tiny teardrops of poetry,
Contorted collage of narrative and dreams
Half stifled screams, image and resonance.

It leaked reminiscence, revived
Odd moments from my own mythology,
Dissipated love and death together
Torn, fading scraps, burnished with regret,
Pages shivering with souls deceived.

I weeded it in stages, discarding,
Deep piles, all except the most assured,
Marginalia, the rest just tossed,
Falling easily, like loves confetti,
Into the shredder of oblivion.


John Stocks


John is a widely published and anthologised writer from the UK. Recent credits include an appearance in, ‘Soul Feathers’ a poetry anthology, alongside Maya Angelou, the English poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, Bob Dylan , Len Cohen, Rimbaud and Verlaine. This anthology was the second best selling poetry anthology in the UK in January, is raising money for cancer care, and can be ordered online from Waterstones UK. He also features in ‘This island City’, the first ever poetry anthology of poetry about Portsmouth, also available from Waterstones. In 2012 John will be launching a collaborative novel, ‘Beer, Balls and the Belgian Mafia’, inspired by three of his primary interests.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rain Over Oil Fronttyy




Eleanor Leonne Bennett



Eleanor Leonne Bennett

CCTV Memory





Eleanor Leonne Bennett


Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 15 year old photographer and artist who has won contests with National Geographic,The Woodland Trust, The World Photography Organisation, Winstons Wish, Papworth Trust, Mencap, Big Issue, Wrexham science , Fennel and Fern and Nature's Best Photography.She has had her photographs published in exhibitions and magazines across the world including the Guardian, RSPB Birds , RSPB Bird Life, Dot Dot Dash ,Alabama Coast , Alabama Seaport and NG Kids Magazine (the most popular kids magazine in the world). She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.Only visual artist published in the Taj Mahal Review June 2011. Youngest artist to be displayed in Charnwood Art's Vision 09 Exhibition and New Mill's Artlounge Dark Colours Exhibition



The Newness of Being


A long night
it was
the beginning
or the end
not knowing
one darkness
from the other
dark
my body
from yours
as one
two
sometimes three
we spoke
in open mouths
and tongues
languages
I never knew
feelings
never known
a sense of
being never felt
I came
with morning
at your side
the sun and I.



Neil Ellman

The Colors of Desire



The color of desire:
       green, sometimes,
or the suddenness of red
       when flesh
catches fire and spills
       onto sheets
of crumpled white
       orgasmic nights
becoming blue
       in the after-glow
of spent desire.

Neil Ellman

Neil Ellman lives and writes in New Jersey.  He has published hundreds of poems in print and online journals, anthologies, broadsides and chapbooks throughout the world.


Easy Heat


 With the wind howling in his face, Ike Rehn ran as hard as he could toward the edge of the cliff.  His strides were almost as long as his arms.  He felt like a kid again running on the beach with a kite.  Just as then, he ran as if he were being chased, his heart pounding so hard he could barely hear the wind.  In another moment, he was soaring through the air, the red-and-gold sail of his hang glider swelling in the brisk east wind.  Like a giant moth he circled above the meadow beneath the cliff, a chiclet-bright smile spreading across his face.  Tightly he gripped the control bar as he maneuvered to find a rising current of air known as a thermal.  As usual, the straps of the harness dug sharply into his shoulder blades but he didn’t mind because there was nothing he enjoyed doing more than piloting his glider.  Up in the air he was relaxed, in control, completely confident of his skills as a pilot.
     Cackling with excitement, he swooped low over a cedar tree, nearly clipping one of the limbs, and soared back toward the sun, cackling even louder.
*
     Rehn held the shot glass up to the overhead light to make sure it was clean then, satisfied that it was, placed it on a shelf behind the counter and began to clean another one.  A bartender, he had worked at the Wichita Bar and Grill almost five months but it seemed longer so he figured it was about time to move on and find work elsewhere.  He didn’t intend to leave the area, though, because the wind conditions were nearly always ideal for hang gliding.
     “Slow night,” Cassie, a new server, complained as she watched him clean another glass.
     “Wednesdays are always slow.”
     She frowned.  “Tonight seems slower than usual, though.”
     “It’ll pick up.”
     “God, I hope so,” she sighed.  “I need the tips.”
     “Don’t we all.”
     The bar was owned by a widower, Abe Calhoun, who lived around the corner but seldom came into his establishment when it was open for business because, as a recovering alcoholic, he didn’t want to be tempted by others to have a drink.  About the only time Rehn saw him was when he picked up his check every other week before he started work.  He was a pretty gruff character, still mourning the unexpected death of his wife a few months ago, so the less contact Rehn had with him the better he reckoned.  He was always worried he would say the wrong thing then have to listen to one of his harangues for four or five minutes as if he were still a schoolboy.
     Around a quarter to ten several people came into the bar after viewing the first showing of North by Northwest at the revival theater down the street.  Rehn recognized them all because they were pretty regular patrons and, for the moist part, was able to make their drinks before they ordered them.
     “I understand you had some trouble the other night,” Quinney, a mail carrier, remarked after Rehn served him an Irish coffee.
     He shrugged.  “Nothing that got out of hand, really.  Some guy I’ve never seen in here before complained that I watered down his drink and refused to pay for it.”
     Quinney glanced at the young woman he was with tonight.  “I heard you brought out the old Louisville Slugger.”
     “Yeah, I let him have a peek.”
     “That was enough, was it?”
     He nodded.  “He paid, reluctantly, still convinced his drink was diluted.”
     “Some of the other folks who’ve tended bar here would not hesitate to whack a troublemaker across the arm or shoulders with the bat that Calhoun keeps behind the counter but not Ike,” he told his date.  “More than likely, he’ll try to dazzle them with one of his tricks.  Isn’t that so, son?”
     Rehn grinned.  “If I can avoid violence, I will every time.”
     “Ike, see, is a ball player not a fighter,” he continued, nudging a little closer to the young woman.  “He was almost signed by the Pirates right out of high school.”
     “Well, I had a try-out with them,” he explained to the woman, “along with a dozen other prospects.”
     “That’s impressive enough for me, son.  I couldn’t hit a thing the one year I played Little League.  Not a blessed thing.”
     “It’s a hard game.  No question about it.”
     “But the things you can do with a bat I bet are as good as anything anyone in the big leagues can do.”
     “Oh, I don’t know about that.”
     “Why don’t you show Patsy here something and let her be the judge?”
      “Please do,” she said at once, sounding as if she meant it.
     “Maybe later,” he replied as Cassie passed him another order slip, “when it’s not so busy.”
     Quinney smiled at his date.  “Believe me, it’ll be worth the wait.  Ike is a goddamn magician.”
*
     Rehn’s father, unlike him, was a professional baseball player who spent two and a half seasons in Triple A ball before a severely torn kneecap forced him to leave the game and abandon his dream of one day playing in the Major Leagues.  A pitcher, who threw what one coach called “easy heat” because his fastball was delivered with such a relaxed wind-up, he was also a very good hitter.  Indeed, he was the real artist with a bat who taught him many of the tricks he learned first to amuse teammates during rain delays.  One of the earliest he remembered his father doing involved a fungo bat.  Occasionally, while hitting fly balls to him, he would hit a ball so high above his own head he had time to drop the bat and slip on a glove and catch the ball before it touched the ground.  Rarely did he miss, and when he did he invariably blamed it on the sun getting in his eyes even when the sky was gray as a battleship.
*
     About midnight, at Quinney’s insistence, Rehn got out the chipped bat and performed a few tricks for him and his date and the three other patrons still in the bar.  Carefully he balanced the 34 ounce Slugger on his elbow then his forehead and the tip of his nose.  Then he planted the head of the bat on the floor and balanced himself on it for a good minute.  He finished with the swinging bat trick which, by far, was the most difficult stunt in his repertoire.  With an empty pretzel basket serving as home plate, he assumed his stance above it then swung the bat until the head was directly in front of his body, spun the handle back, and let the bat spin free for one complete revolution then caught the handle again and completed his swing.
     Quinney immediately burst into applause, as did the others, and Rehn smiled in appreciation.
     “Didn’t I tell you he was a magician?” Quinney said to his date while he continued to applaud.
     Rehn smiled even more, always enjoying the enthusiastic reaction he received after performing some of his tricks.  Over the years more than a few people had urged him to look into making some money as a performer.  He appreciated the suggestion but knew that was impossible because he could not risk the publicity.  He had to remain anonymous otherwise he was afraid he would be arrested.
*
     “I told my boyfriend about those tricks you did last night and he said he’d like to see them,” Cassie told Rehn shortly after she reported to work.
     “Well, I can’t do them every night because I’d get bored but let me know the next time he’s going to come in and I’ll show him a couple.”
     “I’ll do that.”
     Nodding, he split a pretzel in half and offered her one of the halves.
     “You know that guy last night might be right when he said you could earn a nice chunk of change by performing your tricks right out here on the corner.”
     He shrugged.  “Oh, I don’t know about that.”
     “You should think about it, Ike.  Everybody can always use some extra money in their pockets.”
     Ever since he was a small boy, swinging at pitches thrown by his father in the backyard, he always figured he would earn some money swinging a baseball bat but never imagined it might be as a street entertainer.  He was bitterly disappointed when he wasn’t signed by the Pirates, especially after the strong slugging percentage he posted in the playoffs his senior year.  His father, as always, was full of encouragement but probably for the first time he considered that he might not be as good a player as his father was and began to wonder if he ever would receive a contract to play baseball.  Still, he enrolled in a small community college downstate and played on its ball club but didn’t hit much above his weight and suspected he was only kept on the roster because his tricks amused the coaches and his teammates.
     After he completed his eligibility at the college, he never played an organized game of baseball again, only pick-up games in the park and the occasional game of stick ball.  Instead, becoming involved with some former students who still hung around the college, he started experimenting with drugs.  And before long he was snorting lines of cocaine through milk straws and doing whatever he could to get money to buy more of the hideous powder.  Though he had a part-time job as a cashier in a convenience store, he also cut lawns and washed cars, sold pints of blood at the Red Cross Center, even occasionally shoplifted watches and rings and necklaces that he swapped for cash at pawnshops.  But he never seemed to have enough money until Bergman, one of the former students he snorted cocaine with, enlisted his help in torching a cement factory so the owner, who was Bergman’s uncle, could collect the insurance money.  He was offered $3,500, and though he knew it was as wrong as wrong could be, he couldn’t resist and made the worst mistake of his young life.  The day after the blaze he left town, telling his parents he was going to Las Vegas to visit an old teammate who played for the ball club there, and never returned because of his fear of being arrested.
     That was close to two years ago, though it seemed twice as long.
*
     Breathing hard, Rehn limped out of the lake and collapsed on the striped bath towel he left on the beach.  He had swum nearly half an hour in the bracing water and his arms and shoulders felt as heavy as fence posts.  He stared at the sun for a moment then at the silvery white waterfall beneath it.  Above the waterfall were several young boys waiting their turn to leap off it some twenty feet into the lake.  Each time one of them did the others cheered excitedly.  He smiled, tempted to join them, but figured he was a little too old and would not be welcomed.  So he just watched until his eyes grew heavy and he nodded off to sleep.
     A few minutes later, he was startled awake by a fierce scream and immediately looked up at the waterfall but no one was above it then he heard another scream and turned to his right and saw a pudgy woman in a purple muumuu pointing toward the water.  He assumed someone must be in trouble and got up to help then thought better of it and waited to see if anyone else was going in and saw two wiry guys charge across the sand and plunge into the water.  Not budging from his towel, he watched them approach a struggling boy from behind and seize his shoulders and haul him back to shore.  Relieved, he sat down on his towel, bitterly reprimanding himself for not helping the boy.  If those two guys hadn’t responded, he wondered if he would have helped then.  He hoped so but he wasn’t really sure because of the publicity that might ensue if he rescued someone.  The last thing in the world he wanted to happen was get his picture in the newspaper.
     He was so ashamed, so embarrassed, to think that he could have let a young boy drown in order to protect his identity.  It was pathetic, utterly pathetic.  He was paralyzed by the constant fear that the slightest attention that came his way might result in his immediate arrest.  Others involved in the burning of the abandoned cement factory had been arrested and he would not be surprised if they had implicated him in an effort to strike a deal with the prosecutor’s office.  Lord, he hated what he had become, he thought, as he stared at the waterfall in the twilight.  He had changed his name so often he couldn’t always remember which one he was using and sometimes didn’t respond when others addressed him.
*
     The next afternoon, walking through a park on his way to work, Rehn paused to watch half a dozen boys play “Over the Line” on one of the scabby softball diamonds.  They were about the age of the youngster who almost drowned yesterday in the lake, he thought, standing against the backstop.  He and his father and two or three boys in the neighborhood often played the informal game when they didn’t have enough players to play an actual game.
     “You mind if I take a couple of cuts?” he asked after he watched for a while.
     The boy at the plate turned around and looked at him, not sure what to say, looked out at the pitcher then looked back at him.  “All right, if you want to.”
     “Thanks.”
     Quickly he stepped around the rusted screen and took the bat from the still puzzled boy.  It was so light it felt like a wand in his massive hands.  Smiling, he flicked it back and forth a moment then took his place in the batter’s box and nodded at the pitcher to throw the ball.  He swung hard but barely managed to make contact and hit a bleeder back toward the mound and the pitcher smiled in amusement.  He crushed the next pitch, though, dissolving the smirk from the pitcher’s round face, and was so pleased he burst into a huge grin.  He lined the next pitch past the shortstop then another one past him then crushed one over the head of the outfielder.
     He felt good about his effort, as good as he had in quite a while, but he always felt better whenever he had a chance to play ball.  Somehow he wished he could always feel as comfortable and sure of himself.
*
     “You sure you want to go through with this, Ike?” Craven, another paraglider, asked as he stood behind Rehn on the narrow balcony on top of the Heritage Column---the tallest structure in town.
     “I couldn’t be more sure.”
     “You’ve got a gusting east wind that should be just about perfect for gliding today.”
     He nodded, making sure the straps of his harness were secure.
     “You know you’re taking a hell of a risk doing this,” Craven reminded him, “and I’m not just talking about flying your glider, either.”
     “I know that.”
     “You’re absolutely sure now?”
     “I am.”
     “All right, then, whenever you’re ready.”
     He knew it was dangerous to launch his glider from the Column, knew as well that it was against the law.  He didn’t care, though, as he edged farther out on the balcony.  He deserved to be arrested for his refusal to help the boy at the lake, and if he was, he hoped his picture was put on the front page of the morning paper.
     A moment passed, then another, then he was off, rising higher and higher in the core of a strong thermal, the sun burning in his eyes.

T.R. Healy


T.R. Healy was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, his stories have appeared in such publications as Camel Saloon, Ozone Park Journal, and Steel Toe

Higher Power


Houghton County Jail, Michigan
October, 2006





That afternoon the trustee brings the local newspaper, The Daily Mining Gazette, to our cell and drops it off. The jail provides one paper for the whole jail and it is passed from cell to cell by the trustee. On the top of this paper is a handwritten note from this nut over in the cell across the hall. Before I came to the jail he had threatened an inmate in his cell so they put him in solitary. When the guy he threatened was released they put him back in the cell with the other inmates. There were already six guys in the cell, so he had to sleep on the floor, but said he would rather do that then go back to solitary. Then he found God, which happens to a lot of the people in here.
   I've always wondered why it's easier to find God when you're miserable than it is when you’re feeling good. The note on the top of the paper is questioning our morality over in this cell. I guess he must have forgotten he’s in jail just like the rest of us, and this place isn't a reward for being good citizens. It’s about punishment, which is what it's supposed to be about. I might be an idiot, an alcoholic, you can even question my sanity, but I do know why I'm here and I don't question them putting me here. 
And there’s plenty of misery to go around in here: six bunks to a cell with a steel table bolted to the floor in the center of the room, and nothing else, no electricity, no radios, no clocks, no pictures on the wall, nothing. You can’t wear a ring, a bracelet, or a wristwatch, not even time is allowed to exist in here.  Through the bars you can watch a TV out in the hallway, but otherwise, there are no activities.  There’s no place to go, unless you consider an isolation cell someplace to go.  You’re never allowed outdoors, or out of your cell.  The exercise program is a half-hour walk down the hallways once a week. 
This evening the guard comes by and asks if any of us want to attend an AA meeting here in the jail.  A local chapter stops by the jail every Tuesday and holds a meeting for anyone wishing to attend. In space the expansion of the universe exceeds the speed of light. In a jail cell the speed of light slows, time ages, deteriorates slowly to a crawl, the expansion ceases to exist within the confines of this steel and cement manifold. I would do anything: I would scrub toilets to get out of this cell for a while and see someone other than my five cellmates and the guards.
   At eight o'clock a guard called Doug comes and I go to the meeting. Doug walks me down the hallway lined with the cells to this small conference room that is just outside the visitation area. There are only four of us attending the meeting out of around five hundred inmates who are almost exclusively here because of getting stoned: me, my cellmate Deaton, who is tall, imposing with his long narrow oriental looking beard, the pill popper with no teeth from the cell across the hallway, and this chubby, pimply faced gay kid around twenty years old who has already tried to kill himself once. There are two guys from the AA group, a long angular man with light brown hair and a younger man, portly, dark and wearing Woody Allen glasses, who looks like he was gassed last night. Both of them are wearing dark suits with black narrow ties. They could pass for the Blues Brothers.
We all sit around in a circle.  AA meetings always begin with the Serenity Prayer and the reading of the preamble: How it Works, which has the famous Twelve Steps in it. After the readings everyone gets a chance to speak. You go around the table one at a time, introduce yourself by first name only, and you’re free to talk, about anything; yourself, a question, a belief. Kangas goes first. “I’m Tony and I’m an alcoholic” he says.  He then relates to us how he was at the hospital yesterday for a bunch of tests. The doctors found a growth in his brain, and are going to schedule him to go to Marquette to have further tests done, they are going to open up his head and see what’s in it. It was funny when he said it, but he isn’t trying to make us laugh. His voice is quivering, he is frightened; no wonder he’s at the meeting. He will be next to join the violent nut in his cell in finding God.
But the strangest thing at the whole meeting is when Deaton talks. The subject out of How it Works this evening is the second of the Twelve Steps: Came to believe that a power greater than our selves could restore us to sanity. Most people accept this to mean God. I took a good look at Deaton, into his eyes, when he said his dead brother was his "Higher Power."
   His brother had died of cancer at twenty-one, but Deaton said he was the happiest person he had ever met. He had a good attitude right up until the end and never stopped smiling in spite of his pain and facing a young death. And to AA's credit, though they maintain you have to have a higher power to succeed in their program, the higher power does not have to be God, it can be anyone, or any concept you may have of God. It can be Deaton’s dead brother.


DJ Swykert

DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator living in Northern Kentucky. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in magazines as diverse as the weekend edition of the Detroit News; 360 Degrees, the Alpha Beat Press, Barbaric Yawp and Bull: Men’s Fiction. He is currently signed with LifeTime Media in NYC for two novels.

Nails

                                                                         
On January 8, 2011, a gunman fired one shot into Congresswoman Gabrielle

Giffords’ left hemisphere, from back to front, giving me confidence that I could kill Dil

Hickendooper, Mayor of Arkada, my brother, with a portable, compressed air, roofing

nail gun. I had a record: assault and battery, drunk and disorderly, sentenced to hit and

run, plus jail time for non-payment of alimony checks to my ex-wife. I could not buy a

gun. I would wait for the upcoming election, duplicating in my way what the shooter

wanted to do, kill her, only I would succeed in murdering my brother.

    Dil lived with his wife, Blodge, and their seventeen-year old son, Slaterly, in a seven

room house, built by Dil and myself. Dil owned Hickendooper Construction, I, a Jack of

all trades carpenter and sometime roofer, worked for him fourteen years. My house,

where Kirby, my fifteen-year old son, a child having had tense relations with my ex-

wife, Cataline, lived in six rooms and a basement.

    In the basement, I had thick four-foot by eight-foot pieces of plywood, a poor

substitute for Dil, snuck in while Cat held a part-time night job, took the nail gun holding

120 black nails, and systematically squeezed off hundreds of one and three-quarter inch

nails, a poor substitute for Dil. I worked compulsively, feverishly, my muscles aching,
                                                                                      
my heart pumping faster and faster, sometimes passing out, laying on top of Dil’s

“corpse.” The entire board looked like something out of dystopian movies, production

designers and art directors snapping up my boards, not only for the intense labor I put

into them, but for countless blood spots dripping on the boards from my sore fingers.

Either an idiot or genius could do what I did. If I played in a death metal band, I would

not mind having my studded boards serve as a stage set at our concerts.

    I bet I could make ten boards, each totally covered on both sides with black nails, and

take them to an art museum, having the curator accept them for exhibition. Titled “Black

Nail Death,” I bet buyers would pay good bucks to put one or more in their posh living

rooms. Even Dil might buy one standing on a plinth in front of Hickendooper

Construction, but utilitarian motives were stronger than artistic impulses.  

    “Well, well, come in, Addle. It’s been too long since your last visit,” Blodge said,

gesturing me into the living room. Slaterly played a video game, with lots of electronic

music and shooter’s noise. Blodge had been watching a Dexter rerun on a large TV

screen.

    “Dil’s on a conference call with a councilor. The election is getting closer,” Blodge

said, half looking toward me, the other half zoned in to the serial killer.

    “I don’t vote. I’m strictly independent,” I said, my eyes averted, watching the screen.

    “You mean you won’t vote for Dil,” she said, drinking a Heineken from the bottle.

“Want one to go along with your meth?”

    “I gave that up. I looked like shit, old, wasted, and ugly behind it. Anyway, I can’t

afford another parole violation,” I said. “They criminalized me, just because Cat ran
                                                                                     
away. How could I make monthly payments with all my bills? I couldn’t comply with the

court order.”

    Dil came back from his office, sipping red wine from a glass, and then buried his eyes

in a printout. “Addle? What are you doing here? I’ve told you never come over, we’re

strictly on an employer-employee basis.”

    “Just a friendly chat with Blodge and Slaterly, what’s wrong with that?”

    “We’ve heard strange things about you, Addle. Has Blodge told you we know why

Cat ran away from you in fright. The basement business,” Dil said.

     “She never walked down those steps, even before I renovated the basement, saying

she was afraid of rats, the damp making her asthma worse, and she’d read an article

describing radon gas leakage from the concrete in basements.” I was pleased with that

explanation, fluent and factual. “Kirby feared for his life. Cat whipped him with a riding

crop. Must’ve enjoyed reading about Iranians, seeing them lash kids on YouTube.” I

frowned as I spoke.

     “Cat informed me about the basement, noises sounding like bullets from a pistol,

sometimes for hours, you telling her to ‘Stay out down there if you know what’s good for

you,’” Blodge said, downing another beer.

    “It was early winter when Blodge told me about it, that Cat wanted to check what went

on ‘beneath the house’, as she put it, but by then you installed an electronic lock,

requiring swiping a card with a code, and you never gave her the code,” Dil said.

    “Since when had Cat been that sensitive? Radon?” Blodge’s face reddened.  

    “The truth was I’d been staying out drinking, sleeping with my biological mother’s
                                                                                       
adopted daughter. That’s why she packed suitcases and a large duffel bag full of clothes.”    

    “Aren’t some Greek plays about incest,” Blodge said, getting up, bringing back two

Heinekens. “Cat had good years with you till you spent ungodly time in the basement. Dil

and Skaterly heard Cat describe your ‘hobby’. Your affair she could accept, as I accept

Dil’s.”

    “Why does everything come down to blood? People are too damn close to one another,

that six degrees of separation means we’re all related as far as I’m concerned.”

    “That’s not true, you’re absolving yourself of guilt. Dil hasn’t any. That’s why he’s

successful. I like men with gump.” Blodge guzzled beers, green Heineken bottles at her

feet. “You fear people, don’t you, Addle.”

    Slaterly, in faded jeans, sat on the couch, eating a slice of pizza. I saw his strong right

hand and arm.

    “I’m a social animal, aren’t we all. Maybe Slaterly isn’t ‘cause he doesn’t feel guilty

about Bengalese sandblasting his jeans, workers getting silicosis.”
   
    “But I don’t have any guilt about working at construction sites, getting paid in cash,”

Slaterly said. “Dad wants to shit-can you, but you might do something else that harms our

family.”

    “Dil will get his books examined by the IRS. Can’t always get away with murder.”

Words like murder made my brain explode in anticipation.

    “Speak to me, not the floor when you say that,” Dil responded.

    “I stood next to an underage guy named Slaterly, putting in a hardwood floor,

accidentally nail-gunning his hand, crippling his left hand, causing painful nerve
                                                                                     
damage,” I said.

    “Dil should’ve canned your butt. Instead, he only hates you more.” Slaterly waved his

damaged hand at me, the only finger working was his middle one, wiggling it at me as if

invisible nails shot my heart.

    “I tried to have you arrested for injuring my son’s hand. He sticks to his statement, that

you aimed the gun at his hand, and for that you should be legally punished.”

    “Punished?  Why flog me? Cat and I were nice-and-cozy-like living together. Later,

my only problem was failing to pay alimony.”

    “You’re not drunk, are you? What about all those other times in prison? You’re a

pathological liar. Either that or you have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease,” Blodge said.

    I wanted to rebuke her, saying before I paid them a call, I razor-cut in half a ten-

milligram Oxycontin tablet, then took a few bennies before driving over there. A small

dose of Oxy and speed for work: roof or wall framing, finding the rise and run of

each step, nailing the bottom board to the floor and the studs against the exterior wall,

hammering, pounding, and I always came home with stabs of pain. 

    “I’m a insomniac, didn’t I tell you. Hard to keep things straight without at least four

hours of sleep.”

    “I’ve seen you sleep nine hours on your days off,” Kirby said. “Your right eye

twitches right now.” Cat’s beating left scars on his back, chest, and legs, showing no

mercy to a child born by a girlfriend before I settled in with Cat.”

    Dusk, and the house was dark except the TV, its sound off, lights bubbling in a large

fish tank, occasional headlights on the quieter street, deep barking of a big dog, Kirby
                                                                                  
making noises with his mouth, popping his lips together, lips not touching teeth,

mimicking the sound of bubbles from the fish tank. He does that when Uncle Dil got

overbearing. I should not have brought him with me. Poor judgment got me in shitloads

of trouble. Dil’s iPhone rang, he answering immediately.

    “Ok. I’ll speak to people in the councilwoman’s district. When, where and what time?”

    A real trouper, Dil. Where had he gotten that energy, that force, that commitment? I

guess from the same place as mine, all those nailed boards, a force of nature.

    “Fine, the community center, this coming Monday at seven o’clock. See you then.”

    “How in hell can you hold two jobs? The Mayor’s salary is nothing compared to what

you rake in from your business.” Bating him, I knew some secrets.   

    “My knowledge of real estate and housing are in play here, and they’re always

kickbacks, perks, you might say.”

    “I know that, Dil. Brother Addle knows that. Giant sinkholes will choose the houses,

developments, and office buildings you constructed, plunging everything you’ve done

into oblivion,” Blodge said, drinking brandy from a snifter.

    At six a.m., Election Day, Dil and Slaterly came to my door. I was up, drinking my

third cup of cola nut tea, getting high. Each carried a canvas bag. I brushed away suspect

thoughts, having just swallowed a Dexamyl Spansule. Slaterly pulled a knife with his

good hand, Dil pushing me back, then shutting and triple-locking my front door.

    “Get that damn card and open the basement door,” said Dil, his voice gruffer than ever.

    “I lost it,” I said, knowing how false that sounded. “I could contact the firm that I

bought it from, though.” I felt sad. If an earthquake would now shake this house into
                                                                               
shards, the three of us miraculously unharmed, I would start again on those boards. 

    “Get it now or we’ll take turns slitting your throat,” said Slaterly.

     I obeyed, pulled the card from my wallet, Dil snatching it out of my hand. We walked

downstairs, and Dil switched on the lights. Two-dozen boards, stacked in six different

piles, a 25th one set aside. I heard Dil grunt, the big-bladed knife still held at my throat.

    One board had not been consummated with nails, only one side solidly packed with my

unfinished handiwork. Dil drew a .22 revolver good for certain types of hit-man killings.

My heart knocked fiercely; the drugs could not account for it. I sweated, perspiration

slithering down my face, getting into my eyes. My legs trembled, fearing Dil would pull

the trigger. Elected or not for a second term this would not save him from prosecution.

    Dil handed the gun to Slaterly, he pointing it at my heart. Dil flipped the board over,

finding a clean side of plywood. He slid down the board leaning against a workbench,

placing its uncreated surface right-side up on the basement floor.

    “Turn around,” barked Dil. His son jammed the barrel into my ear. I would rather take

my chances with the board.

    Dil opened the bag, pulling out duct tape, then reached behind me, wrapping the tape

around my eyes, nose, and hard around my mouth. He hit me on the head with something

blunt, and I conked out a while, then opened my eyes. He bashed me again, a sliver of

consciousness remained, but a dark kind.

    He kicked my arms so each laid on either sides of the board. Weak and motionless, I

heard the nail gun as he triggered large nails into my forearms, allowing me to feel the

awful pain, how it inflicted more pain than bullets would. The speed intensified the
                                                                                          
pain; it never solved anything. After three nails entered my forehead, the next rounds into

all parts of my face, then the crucial three nails into the back of my head killed me.


George Sparling

George Sparling has been published in many literary magazines including Underground Voices, Thieves Jargon, Unlikely Stories, nthposition, Rattle, Word Riot, Slow Trains, and Zygote in my Coffee. He has a story in the current issue of Crack the Spine magazine and one due out in the next issue of Ascent Aspirations.

"Best job: Times Square bookstore. I could be as psychotic as possible and it blending in perfectly with New York City at that time. Worst job: Payless. I sat atop a huge pile of heavy boxes and could have toppled them down upon the head of that damn shipping boss; he was that vile."

VIOLIN INSPIRED


the flowers—tiny white snowflakes piled on top of each other.  soft petals oversaturated with warm, burning opium.  four seeds star the middle and cackle.  it’s all so gentle.  so light.  like a fairy’s dream.  I am glowing.  The wind pulls me along in my flying hammock.  every once in a while, I hit a cloud, and it swallows me into its wet shadow.  the drops attach to my skin like leeches, and I pull them off to find my bleeding scars.  But no one can hear a scream from inside a rain cloud, so I have to save myself this time.  This time it’s finally possible.  This time I can use your power to turn my neuroses into witchcraft and your body into a toad.  I won’t hurt anyone else.  Just you.  because your foot taps too lightly and I just wanted to waltz.  But what just happened?  Something went wrong.  Negative energy still managed to sneak in the back door but I’ll turn it into steps and walk right through my gloriously holy light at the end of your wretchedly mind-numbing tunnel.

a moon drenched walk through a 1920s flashback.  the whole damn thing is conducted by the circus ringleader.  it’ll be a wonder if they make it out alive.

rapid musical fairies pour their glitter across the farmland.  bubbles and diamonds drench the cows and pigs, and they all grow wings.  some try to fly and fall.  others never turn around to notice them so they remain land-bound.  but the rest, the smart ones, move in with the birds and start taking notes.

you hold your beauty in your hand and nuzzle it with your cheek.  I’ve never seen you so gentle, so slow, so patient.  A young boy who refused to wait settles down and takes his time with the beautiful sadness.  a merman.  the magical weatherman.  whatever it is, it’s magic, and I doubt your spells are only for me, but they’ve definitely found their way into my energy field, and I have no weapon.  What is your power?  Distraction?  Independent provision?  It’s love for sadness...beautiful sadness.  like warm water when ice would burn your throat.  sometimes almost too low, but perfectly refreshing, given the moderate climate.  but right now, it’s way too hot, so I just feel too stuffed.  I’ve had my fill, thanks.

Close your eyes and reach with the faith that your fingertips will grasp whatever it is you immediately need.  Trust your own manifestation power combined with the knowledge of the multi-verse.  When you open your eyes and look for something, you lose everything waiting at your fingertips.  Acknowledge the fact that the system knows what I need better than I do, so reach out and grab what is being offered.  Trust everyone else’s magic, but most of all, trust your own.  As soon as you need something out of desire, it will not be found.  You cannot possess anything or anyone.  You have to meet in the middle.  Bend two points to exceed the speed of light.  Stop looking because it’s all happening way faster than that.  I met Peter Pan, and he wants you to know you have the power to create your own world and live in it.  Be mindful of the system, if only to use it for your own power.  The world is your wonderland...so open wide and eat what’s given to you.  Define your own witchcraft...your own magic, and wait for others to show you theirs.  It can’t be taught.  It’s intuitive.  It’s individual.  It’s between you and the multi-verse.  Brew your own potions and watch them turn your world into a magical playground.  Alice in Wonderland.  The indomitable will.  Meditate on the world, and you can control the energy.  The control is deep inside of you.  Can you find it?

Emily Calvin

NAUSEA


She presses her palm to the left side of her abdomen, and my flesh dissolves into her hand.  Her left hip sinks beneath the pressure into the empty space behind her, and the string between her body and mine yanks my stomach out of my skin.  No one notices.  I quickly grab the pounding organ and shove it into its proper hiding place.  As a child, I would hide my feelings underneath my blankets.  Sometimes my feelings would lock sleep out of my bedroom, so I would drag my sleeping bag into my parents’ bedroom.  I would place it on the floor, tuck myself inside, and hide.  My parents would awaken to a bedroom full of 6-year-old emotions, but before they had a chance to decode them, I would snatch them all, stuff them into my mouth, swallow them, and sneak back into my sleeping bag.  Out of sight, out of mind; what you don’t know can’t hurt you; and other such clichés.  Unfortunately, too many secrets before bedtime can cause indigestion, and they don’t make Tums strong enough for that kind of acid reflux.
Her body twists in and out of the absolute potential surrounding her, and I watch as she deconstructs the 4th, 5th, and 6th dimensions until I have melted into her and the floor and the mirrors and the music and her movement and myself.  I am the river, and she is the current.  I am the rock, and she is the water.  I am the möbius strip, and she is the enigmatic boundary connecting me to the universe.  But I think it’s time to get back into that sleeping bag and consume consume consume until my stomach rejects everything and my flesh becomes slave to the porcelain altar once again.
I watch her watch herself in the mirror behind me as I sit with my legs crossed.  Her eyes lift up and down, scanning the fluid motion of her ethereal body in a futile attempt to burn a carbon copy into her retina.  But she forgets her movements a second after her body performs them.  A millisecond.  A nanosecond.  A fraction of a second smaller than the human eye can see, hear, or taste.  So I devour her insipid body, and it dances down my throat, down my esophagus, and into my stomach, where the butterfly wings flap back and forth around her flailing arms and legs and torso.  I look down and lift my shirt.  My stomach has turned red, bright red, blood red.  No one notices.  She keeps dancing, but I can no longer see anything but my bleeding torso.  I have finally internalized her entire body, and my own red flesh stretches and pulls as her legs kick every which way from within.  My stomach continues to stretch and grow until it feels larger than a woman pregnant with quintuplets, and I can finally see where the red is coming from.  The stretch marks on my abdomen have opened, and I can see inside myself.  No, not the metaphorical self; blood, intestines, tarred lungs, and my last pay check (I swallowed it for a bet one time, long story).  I see myself looking up at me, and I fall into the stretch mark, down my skeleton, past my organs, and onto the grass, looking up at myself.
I watch through a fisheye lens, terrifyingly aware of the curvature of my surroundings.  I look up from the bottom of my chemical snow globe and watch tiny white pills float around my spherical existence and disintegrate into blurry lines and invisible energy transfers.  My neuron sensors wail and gnash their teeth as I fail to dispel any feeling floating through thick air.  There is nothing I do not feel.  I close my eyes and kick off.  I reach my arms in front of me and press my palms against the oversaturated space, absolutely melting away as I spread my arms and push through time like a frog through the pond.
I rest my head on Mother Nature’s mattress and dream I am a freak.  I paint friendships on my walls and speak to their paint chips about reconciliation.  I carve ice cubes into tongues and swallow them whole.  I confuse Martha Stewart with Sylvia Plath and decorate my entire apartment according to her poetry—stuffed wolves, rabbits, and fathers, accessorized with jade stones.  I stand in my kitchen and laugh at the top of my lungs, wearing nothing but a ripped t-shirt she gave me years ago.  I awaken in her bedroom and immediately vomit on her hardwood floor.  At least it wasn’t carpet.
Please don’t tell me that was—
Yup!  That was my first time with a girl!
Fuck; now you’ll never leave me alone.
She giggles and flirts while I put my on my pants.  She only stops when I close the door to her apartment.  I know because then I press my ear to the door, and her tears give me swimmer’s ear.  My bike sneers at my ridiculous predicament, accidentally letting slip a tiny snigger as I draw closer.  Fuck you, Beatrix, I tell her in an attempt to silence the laughter swallowing my eardrums, but she has no ears.  She stands in silence and waits for me to tell her where to take me.  I mount her sleek, shiny body, sexier than any woman I’ve woken up next to in the last year.  Take me home.
Where?  The house in which I spent 16 years enduring misdirected fists and foodless refrigerators?  My first girlfriend’s flat full of hypodermic needles and queer fantasies?  Or the apartment I built with my own hands out of sacrificial cigarettes, New Year’s resolutions, and my mother’s bruises?
My bike stops short of the last option, and I dismount into a world of overly sweetened tea, pounds of makeup, and thick drawls.  I thought I left this hell years ago, but it followed me, as expected.  I walk down the street and force myself to respond to glimmering greetings and uncomfortable eye contact.  I drown myself in fake friendships and asinine acquaintances until the whiskey pours from my eyes like tears from my father’s cracked fingers.  I retrace the events of last night, last week, last year, and try to recall how I got here.  I can’t seem to remember anything anymore.  How long ago did I live in Ohio?   How did I get to South Carolina?  What happened to California?
Are you going out with friends for your birthday?
I don’t really know if they’re my friends, but they’re people I know.
Enough with the negativity.  You have lived in four different states since you left home.  Will you ever be satisfied and just settle down already?
I fucking hope not; that sounds terrifying.
You’re an adult now.  It’s time to start thinking responsibly.  If you continue this behavior and this attitude, you’ll never amount to anything.  What happened to the 8-year-old who used to want to be the first female president?  Now you’re a nobody.
I’d rather be a nobody than an everybody. I slam my phone shut and throw it in the trashcan.  I look past the trashcan and see a bus stop.  Maybe it will take me home.  I cross the street and see a southern gentleman sitting on the bench, pretending to be ignorant of my presence so he doesn’t have to stand.  I lean against the bus stop sign and stare at the back of his shirt.  “RUSH ΣAE.”  He has on a backwards cap, with the Red Sox “B” staring at me and my lack of conviction.  I walk up to him and knock his cap off.  He looks up and pulls the cigarette from between his grinning lips.  Hey sexy lady, he laughs as I grab the lit cigarette hanging limply between his two fingers and place it in my mouth.  He fantasizes about throwing me against the pavement and boarding the bus, leaving me lying stunned, motionless, and freshly exhausted, and I realize I am in love with the girl I just left.  I envision her still lying in bed, thinking of me, wondering when I’ll call and crying when I don’t.  I see her two years from now.  I see her gaunt complexion and sallow face from too many years of neglect and drugs.  I want to tell her I am in love with her.  I inhale and hold in the cigarette smoke long enough to eliminate my need to breathe.  I think about flicking the cigarette onto his face and ripping his stupid cargo shorts off so he never makes the mistake of wearing them in front of me again.  I turn my head and exhale.  The bus pulls up; I flick the cigarette into the street; we board the bus, and the doors close behind us.

Emily Calvin

Sexistentialism


He bites her neck, and she sighs because someone wants her, or her body, but, does it even matter? she wonders.  She can’t be too loud because her roommates might hear her.  None of them are even around, but they might come home while she’s, you know, in the middle of it.  It.  It?  She doesn’t even know what it is.  It is whatever everyone says it is.  That’s all that matters, right?  Wait, no, that “right” is supposed to be in a sentence alone.  That’s all that matters.  Right?  That implies a sense of security in the first statement that doesn’t belong there, though.  The whole thing should have a question mark attached to it, not just the “right.”  But grammar never aided passion.  Ani DiFranco’s playing.  He doesn’t even like Ani DiFranco.  Most men back away in fear of women like Ani DiFranco.  Oh well, it’s not like she can push him off and go change the music now.  She’s committed.  To what?  To this, so she might as well be in it.  What’s he doing now?  Taking off his shirt, so does he expect her to take hers off?  Probably.  He pauses at her small breasts, on his way down her tall, slender body.  Well, maybe it’s not so slender.  Everyone else seems to think so, but she can’t agree.  I mean, look at those hips.  Just one touch, and she can feel the fat on those love handles.  But she loves her small breasts the breasts she used to jokingly call anthills in middle school, hoping they’d grow even though she knew they never would.  When she puts on a tight tank top and stands in front of the mirror, when she steals away from everyone she knows and hides in her room, she feels more like a teenage boy than a girl, a feeling she guiltily enjoys.  Just the other day she was telling her friend how she might be a lesbian, but now she’s in bed with this boy.  This boy.  This boy.  This boy.  If it were a girl, would it make a difference?  She wouldn’t be able to do what she’s planning on doing tonight, but maybe that’s better.  His hands.  They slide lower, lower, lower.  They find wetness, and she tries to identify with what she feels.  She moans because that’s what she’s supposed to do, right?  Why did she put her iTunes on shuffle.  This could be embarrassing.  The Spice Girls could come on.  Aren’t they back together?  Her friend was trying to get her to see their comeback concert.  At least she had enough sense to refuse then.  What about now?  It’s different.  She moans and something moves near her thigh.  Is that what she’s planning on allowing inside?  It felt so…weak.  Shit.  Why didn’t her best friend talk her out of this when she called her yesterday?  “It’s your choice, ultimately,” she said.  That’s the problem.  That’s always been the problem.  She doesn’t want to make the decision.  Her best friend was molested when she was little, and now she fucks every guy she can.  What’s the difference between that, being molested, and this, having sex?  Consent.  Somewhere in her, she decided to give consent, and now he’s devouring her as if she is his last meal on earth, and who’s to say she isn’t?  She’s the bread and the wine.  She’s the vinegar and the sponge.  She’s the wood and the…but that’s enough of that.  She made this decision days, months, years, lifetimes ago.  There’s nothing she can do about it now.  Her hands move to mirror his; she forgot to hang her favorite blue skirt up this morning, she remembers.  As soon as this is over, she’ll walk over there and hang it up.  Her closet door is open.  That’s what’s been bothering her.  Her skirt lies crumpled on the floor, and her closet door hangs open.  She will clean her room as soon as this is over.  If she’s lucky, he’ll go outside and smoke a cigarette.  A Marlboro, just like her father used to smoke when she was 8 years old.  Even then, she knew there was something wrong with his smoking.  She used to kick and scream in her room, refusing to talk to anyone when he went outside to smoke.  She would sneak in his closet and smell his shirts to see if he’d been smoking that day.  Of course, he always had been.  Eventually he replaced cigarettes with chewing tobacco.  No smoke to make his shirts smell, but that circle the outline of the can made in his back pocket.  That was the culprit.  She always knew what to look for.  She found it in his glove compartment when they were on the way to the mall one day; she dumped it out the window; his face twisted with anger, and he turned around in the Citgo station.  She tries to remember when she stopped crying that night.  Did he stop chewing after that?  Probably not.  He stopped eventually though, and nothing happened.  No cancer.  No nothing.  Not that she wanted anything to happen to him.  It’s just funny how some people can never smoke a cigarette in their life and die of lung cancer, while other chain smokers can live until they’re 90 years old and sound like a dying frog.  Life is just.  She bought detergent today and took the nice sheets off her bed.  Such calculation for such an irrational decision.  She could be sitting in her bed by herself on her good sheets reading Sylvia Plath, but one can’t live by reading Plath all day.  That would be too easy.  Life would make a lot more sense if she were a literary character of someone’s imagination.  She wouldn’t be making her own decisions then; a narrator would be; an author would be; anyone but her would be.  If someone else were writing her story, would she be lying in bed naked right now?  But someone else is writing her story, and she is lying in bed naked right now.  If someone else were writing her story, would she stop him before he entered, finally taking power of her situation and life, refusing to allow anyone else to tell her who she is or should be; or would she lie docile and let him do what he came here to do, freeing herself from all the limitations of conviction and morality she placed on herself at age 5, allowing herself to live without fear of anyone or anything?  But someone else is writing her story, and I know just as much about what choice she’ll make as you do.


Sexistentialism
Emily Calvin


My name is Emily Calvin, a.k.a. Kairos Rae, or simply MLE.  I am a 24-year-old cat lady, a wannabe mother, and an aspiring rapper, working on my masters in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.  I currently brood and write in a hermit crab's hole in Portland, Oregon with one foot on the East coast and another in California.  My writing's been called experimental, fantastical, fabulistic, disjointed, inaccessible, and "interesting...".  I am just grateful I have fingers to write, a brain to think, and people to read and reject or accept my submissions.

Monday, December 26, 2011

standard anatomical position



i developed autopsy photos, acting as death’s hyperoptic 
eye. on my screen, a woman with an amputated right 
leg, cleaved just superior to the knee. her torso yielded a 
Y incision that began under each second rib, met mid 
sternum, and ended near the pubic synthesis.

her dulling husk was held together by taut thread which 
made the adipose erupt from the fissure, and push out like 
jaundice fingers from within her torso; the way a cicada 
emerges from its shell. her trimmed pubic hair showed 
that she had better plans than laying on surgical steel, naked, 
photographed, measured, and taken apart like an old puzzle.


i sat back, indenting my computer chair as my
breathing slowed and gravity doubled on me,  

jealous of all the attention 
she was receiving. 

Kyle Apgar