Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hula-hoops, Boys, and Bottle Rockets

She didn’t write about what I had said to her, or what I had done to her.

She only wrote about who I would never be.

It was a summer day. Hotter than hell-fire, mom said before she sent me into town on my bicycle. That’s when I first seen her, the new girl. She was swinging her hips around the inside of a hula-hoop on the sidewalk in front of the local five and dime when I spotted her that first time. I thought she was a little flaky just standing there all alone swizzling that pink plastic around her tiny waste while the summer bees swarmed the bottle of soda she had left in the sun to get warm. I said “Hi,” and she said “Hi” back, cracked her gum, and kept on swizzling. I was with the brass band at a school practice earlier. Was still in my uniform. It was itchy and tight, and I remember how small her toes looked in the little plastic grocery store flip-flops she was wearing. I remember thinking that bare feet were romantic. My mom had got me new shoes for practice. They were shiny, but they were tight and made my feet feel hot and cramped. I had to get the laundry at the fluff and fold. Mom would be angry if I came back late, wasted her time and her money if the clothes were crinkled up, but I couldn’t stop staring at this girl. The hula-hoop had ball bearings or something inside of it, and it made this shucking sound as it swung in circles around her. With the laundry money, I thought, I could get us both some ice cream.

“Would you like some ice cream,” I asked her. She didn’t even look at me, just replied, “What kind?” and went on swinging, her tan summer toes gripping the concrete beneath her feet as if the hoop might spin her out into orbit.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Whatever kind you want, I suppose. We could go down to the marsh, sit in the shade for a bit.”

“I don’t go with boys,” she said all matter of fact like, scrunching up her nose at my boy stink, but I wasn’t a boy. Not in my uniform. Mom said I looked like a man in my uniform, so I told her that, pointed to all my shiny buttons and stuff. She smiled at me and said, “Ok.” The marsh was warm, quiet, still, and she didn’t scream that much when I hit her. It was really hot that day. I felt feverish. I don’t remember what she said to me, or much after she said it, except her ice cream, melting clotted milk into the mud.

That girl doesn’t hula-hoop outside of the five and dime anymore. I go there every day, and I wait, change for ice cream jingling in my pocket. I wait there alone; sometimes so long I forget what she looks like. I still see her sometimes, though, at the back of the schoolyard, in the shadows, writing in her little book. She has this look in her eyes as she scratches and tears at the pages, and I just know she isn’t writing about me.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

When she isn't writing, Cheryl Anne Gardner likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. She writes art-house novellas and abstract flash fiction, some published, some not.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Deaths I'm Losing Count Of

Last night I was a suicide
in the faded blue
of your eyes.

Everywhere I turned
I could see myself.
in walls of air.
And the blood
crying in desire
on the floor.

The cries filled me.
As I filled you.
And felt your relief
as you watched
me draw
that familiar dark smile
with your razor
across my throat.

A.J. Huffman

Acts of Attention

She stands
on a rusting throne
with her wrists opened.
Using the blood
like glue
to tack paper treasure
to the walls
of a cell.
Designed by an angel.
To allow her
to welcome death
with the levels of her eye.

A.J. Huffman

A Bride for the Gods

You cannot reach heaven
on your knees.
But you can on mine.
See the scars.
I can prove it.
I have proved it.
I have delivered many men.
On a carpet.
A red carpet.
with blood they never earned.
But claimed.
Again and again.
In the force of my will.

A.J. Huffman

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has previously published four collections of poetry: The Difference Between Shadows and Stars, Carrying Yesterday, Cognitive Distortion, and . . . And Other Such Nonsense.. She has also published her work in national and international literary journals such as Avon Literary Intelligencer, Writer's Gazette, and The Penwood Review.  Find more about A.J. Huffman, including additional information and links to her work at and!/poetess222

Mango Avocado

     “Monster, This is bob. Tim introduced us, “Bob’s a poet.”

     Monster’s hand was huge and greasy. I took it. We shook. “I don’t care if he is a Polock. Polocks are alright with me.” His enthusiasm sprayed a fine mist of chewed tobacco and beer. His face was broad. An untrimmed beard merged into the disheveled mass. Everything was black with Monster, black hair, black beard, black t-shirt. Even his blue jeans were black with motorcycle grease.

     “Not Polock-- Poet.” Tim corrected him. Monster looked confused.

     “Well. I don’t care if he is a poet. Poet-- Pollock what’s the difference?”

     Tim tried to explain it, but there was no explaining it, because I had just published a few poems in the local rag. Now, everybody knew that I did it. Poetry at the back of the Pocatello Rag, right there after a full page ad to enhance your life through chiropractic health, three poems, three bad poems; they were poems about dogs and motorcycles that should have remained buried in my ancient journals. Now, an unemployed roofer was reading poetry to the mechanic from Gerald’s Hog Shop:

wind filled vacant places
erased everything but smell

only molecular reason defines
the thrill. hill crested at a hundred
bottom dropped,
everything dropped
universe dropped into the dip of cool air
where the low pool pools
liquor on the blossoming wind.

     They didn’t really get it. But, who does? So it goes for the unwitting author. It wasn’t like I really wanted that poetry to get published. I had new poems. I had poems about war and love, unemployment and recession, ignorance and artifice. I had just given a poetry reading and really, I was kind of famous if you can be famous in a really small way. That’s where I met her. She said her name was Mary. She had dark hair, freckles and a Mona Lisa smile.

     “I put out a weekly newspaper.” she said proudly. She went on to tell me how tough it was being a single mom, working two jobs and still getting the rag out by deadline, “What I really want to do though is to change it, to run fewer ads and get some art in there.” She was enthusiastic about it. I was impressed. Where did she get all that energy? She must be running on Nitro, I figured.

     “Want to get a beer?” I offered. We wandered over to Jimmy D’s and talked about all the things we had in common. Of course I didn’t tell her about my fiancĂ©. She didn’t tell me about her boyfriend. I found out about him after the newspaper came out and he found out about me. There was a knock on my door and he wasn’t collecting for the paper. Anyhow, it was just a friendly beer, or so I told him.

     “What I am most interested in,” she told me, “is erotica.” the word hung in the air like a mythical landscape. I wanted to go there but I worried about the price of the ticket. Was this real or am I imagining it? Is she some crazy nymphomaniac? Does such a disease actually exist? Is Erotica a genre?

     “That’s a coincidence,” I told her. ”I’ve read everything by Henry Miller,” I bragged

     “Oh yeah.” she challenged, “ What’s his middle name?”


     “Of Course.” she agreed. “It was Val in Tropic of Cancer. Or was that Tropic of Capricorn? Which one came first?

     “Cancer was the erotic one,”

     “I thought they were all erotic.”

     “Only if you consider every one of your senses to be sexual. I mean, The Colossus of Maroussi, was a fricking travelogue.”

     “Yeah. Well. I only read the erotic ones,” she admitted.

     Jimmy D’s was packed as usual. We tried to find a quiet place but that’s impossible.

     “I’d really like to put your poetry in the Rag.” she started up again. We were wedged in between the pool table and a hallway leading down to the bathrooms. We were seated on two bar stools, no bar, no table, no place to lean or put your arms. I rested one arm on the back of her stool. One of her hands fit comfortably between my knees. We were close. She was talking about poetry. The most amazing scent was rising up from her. I leaned in as though to hear better but really, I was just trying to get closer to that smell. What was it? I lay my forehead into the soft skin below her ear. Small rivers, dark ripples, follicular currents swept under the dark cloud of her hair, moving down to the source. I wanted to follow it there, to smell that smell forever for it was truly the most naked thing I have ever experienced. The way my cock popped up in the middle of that crowded bar, I would have to say, it was primal. Had I been Henry Miller, I would have taken her right there, right then. Society be damned. I would have had my end in. Everything else is meaningless. There is only this moment, this life and this life exists only to our senses.

     I am not Henry Miller. Henry Miller was not a poet. Poetry is fueled by compassion and empathy. Contemplation, extrapolation, metaphor, these are tools of the poet. A certain lingering is required. It takes time to absorb every situation. Still more time to condense it, to strip away the unnecessary, to focus it, to sharpen it, to hone it into its most essential form. It just takes too long. The moment had passed. Manuel Alverado had arrived and she was no longer talking about poetry

     “That sounds great.” she was telling him. ”Your pen name could be, Mango Avocado.

     Mango this is Bob,” she introduced us, “Bob is a poet.” 

Mango Avocado

Los Angeles

I try to hold my breath
every time I drive through you:
the breath of your busy life
exhausts me, clubs me
with broken tail pipes, clouds
my vision like clouds rise
puppet strings over the refinery

I’m sleeping it off in the alley
behind Crazy Irene’s. Outa Gas.
Steve finally got a blow job
from that tall transvestite at the end
of the bar. And I thought she was a god.

Armondo Stiletto

Under Sunglasses

You say you’ll scrape and it will come to you again like that summer you always wished would be lost. The ghost was ready to pounce and chew.
“I don’t like it. I feel like it’s no longer about what I do, but how I look. That was one of the very things I first set out to rebel against.”
So she said, blinking tears from her ever-artistic, noble eyes. Or she could have just been tearing up from the flash.
How could I have known? That blue was blackened out by the tint that blocked out the sun.
Maybe she never had eyes to begin with.
There used to be glass pieces to walk on. They carpeted all of that down.
As soon as they stopped thinking the world went right again. Days aged with the skin. Expanding plot through otherwise plot-less scenarios. Making mountains move while no one was watching.
Every morning, normality would reign.
And everyone knows we don’t like it. Those fantasies we coddle and nurture with blood from our teats.
You say we heal and dreams come true all the time. There are always men waking up to pigs with butcher knives at their throats and women who wake up to dead husbands just like they’d always hoped. Reality is always making switches. Blurring edges. Stiffening girdles.
So you say.
Dots on my chest. The noun that verbed its way up to the adjective.
Pretentious eyebrows thick as your cock, darker than day.
Resolution. Charming epilogues. Feeling that for once, the mysteries of the world are known to you. Realizing that it’s all going to be alright.
Hoping it’s not all another dream.
“More than anything, I want to reach people, maybe even help them. That’s what makes all this shallow, masturbatory self-promotion worthwhile. ...Plus, I need the money.”
Cue laugh-track.

Caitlin Hoffman

Caitlin is a ball of neuroses morphed into human form. If you hunt around you might find her work in a few publications. You can follow her depravity @CHWrite on Twitter but are in no way obligated.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Sink photo albums–into
Sink silhouettes–into
Sink antique painting–into
Let solitude envelope/caress you
Until skin–your is enough musty
So musty
That age–your
Sees it–through me
That I it was
Who enveloped/crinkled/caressed
{Who} caress you {now}
Sink, sink 

Andrew J. Stone

Andrew J. Stone sleeps in the sunshine. Recent work has appeared in Danse Macabre, Blue & Yellow Dog, and Short, Fast & Deadly, Among other places. He recently finished a chapbook of poetry titled, "Teenage Angst & the Ekphrastic Exercise." He's now seeking publication. Find him where the graveyard is always full at:

Vanishing Point

It calls again... the road...
I want to take my car and just go.
Far as it will go...
I want to drive it till the engine falls out and the tires burn.

Then get out of the smoking wreckage and kiss it's white metal frame...
...and keep walking.

Hat... jacket... boots... old military shoulder bag full of secrets and faded old pictures and writing books.

Light a smoke... hand cupped in the breeze... light contrasting the last light of day against my face...
Boot heels on the road. Walking towards the setting sun.

Till I see desert sky and desert stars.
Till I am further than the horizon.
Further than the map.
Further than memory

Where my shadow and I will become one in the moonlight...


Myogen Muscular Organ

Myogen Muscular Organ. Piece of flesh pumping all that red through thousands of miles of circulatory. You keep me alive. You keep me full of breath as you carry that breath around in the deep dark rivers of blood. Repeated rhythmic contractions like orgasms of life. Made of muscle unique unto you. You hold a strength unlike any other. Four hidden chambers in which you flow through. Four dark and hidden rooms. If I were to tear open my chest would a name be written upon you? Would I see all of the memories and dreams come pouring out of you? Would you pump long enough for me to see? To see that I still love you…



Looking at the body was like staring at a still life. So beautiful in its everyday nature. So full of form and texture. The delicate curves. The haunting reminder of the passionate sex to which they had only so recently shared. It was an amazing thing. Something to be painted. And so it was. In oils. Before the body was even cold. The scent of the oils mixed with the scents of incense and candles and their recent lovemaking. No paints were spared for this art piece. Tubes of ivory white that were purchased at such a dear price… for they were over three hundred years old. Paints of period were preferred. To this was added spit and tears and blood and spent orgasm. Sweat and burnt umber and black as dark as the European night itself. The body under the sheets in it’s last pose of repose.
        The painting only took a short time. Yet it would catch a magnificent price for the study of light was one that would have shamed even Rembrandt. The curve of the now lifeless body. The skin a perfect tone. The muscle and bone in its rest was perfectly captured. The claw like scratches on the back sang out upon the hand stretched canvas in shades of red and pink and olive.
        The scent was miraculous and beautiful. The paints and the night. The love that had been shared for hours. Raw animal sex that one could smell in the room mingled with it and the scents of their bodies adorned with perfume and oil. The tang of sweat and orgasm and the night’s air. The deeper scent of the oils. All of this somehow went into the painting as easily as the soft light of the candles playing on the exposed skin under the sheets. It would be another masterpiece. And that body was so beautiful. When the painting was done at last and left to dry, the dead was rolled over. The eyes still vibrant and open. Lost in the final moments of pleasure. The mouth still a shade of pink. Those lips which had kissed and tasted and sucked and been so amazing to touch. The soft cheeks…
        The sheets were pulled back to reveal the final pose of delicate desire. The body rolled over now asprall with a seeming need for more play and joy. It was still warm. It was still vibrant. And pleasure could still be had from those hands as well as those lips and the rest of it. And so pleasure was taken. Again and again. Until the painting was at last dry and the body began to feel stiff and turn cold and dark.
        It was only then that she decided to dispose of him and get another to create more beautiful art with.