4/30/10

Lindsay Hunter

That Baby


The baby was normal when it came out. Daddy snipped the cord like nothing, the baby screaming silently till the nurse sucked out whatever bloodsnot was stuck in his throat, then there was no turning back, it was there, his voice, his mouth wide and wider, that baby was all mouth, his cries like a nail being driven into rotten wood. Normal.

Daddy said, let’s name him Levis, we always liked Vs in names, and I’d heard the name Levis before but couldn’t place it, and besides, that baby was a Levis, it was obvious.

We took Levis home and he sucked me dry within an hour. Daddy went to the store for some formula and Levis ate that up too. I made a pot of mashed potatoes for me and Daddy and the baby did his best to stick his face into it, his neck nothing more than a taffy pull, his big head hanging so I could see the three curls he’d already grown at the base of his neck, sweaty, looking for all the world like pubes lathered with baby oil, and I shuddered looking at them and chalked that feeling up to postpartum.

Levis wouldn’t let Daddy sleep in bed with us, he was clever that way, soon as Daddy slid under the bedcovers Levis would start screaming, that nail torturing that rotted wood, that endless nail, then when Daddy would get up for a glass of something the baby would quiet down, and Daddy and I aren’t stupid so soon we figured Daddy could get familiar with the couch for a while if it ensured Levis acted peaceful, and I gave Daddy permission to tend to himself in that way as much as he needed to since I was busy with Levis and couldn’t do my wifelies.

Levis grew at night and plenty of mornings I’d wake up to see him laying there with his diaper busted open. Other ladies I’ve known who have given birth had always chittered on about their babies’ growth spurts, but here Levis was 40 pounds within a week and 60 midway through the next, hair on his knuckles and three block teeth scattered amongst his jaws, then when he was one month old he called me Honey, his first word, fisted my breast, his nails leaving little half-moons in my flesh when I pried his hand from me, his grinning mouth showing a fourth tooth, a molar like a wad of gum wedged way back.

Daddy and I had heard of ugly babies, of unnaturally big babies, we’d seen a show once where what looked like a 12-year old boy was in a giant diaper his mother had fashioned out of her front room curtain, sitting there with his legs straight out in front of him like he was pleased to meet them, his eyes pushed into his face like dull buttons, and the mother claiming he wasn’t yet a year. But Levis wasn’t on the TV, he was right there, his eyes following Daddy across the room, those eyes like gray milk ringed with spider’s legs, and at two months Levis had chewed through a wooden bar in his crib, splinters in his gums, him crying while I plucked them with a tweezer, me feeling that nail in my gut, me feeling something less than love.

We took the baby to the doctor, Daddy explaining that there was something off about Levis, he was big, he didn’t look like other babies, he had teeth like a man, and Levis quiet and studying Daddy like he understood, twirling his finger in his nostril, around and around, pulling it out tipped with blood. The doctor weighed Levis and he was up to 75 pounds and his third month still a week away, the doctor asking what on earth we were feeding him, warning us babies his age shouldn’t be eating table food, and me and Daddy scared to say that the night before Levis had lunged for a pork chop, screamed until we let him suck on the bone, Levis making slurping noises like he was a normal baby, like the bone was his momma’s nipple, his cheeks like two halves of a blush apple. The doctor sent us home, told us to watch what Levis ate, get him a jumpy chair for exercise. The doctor reaching out to pat Levis’ head, then thinking different when Levis grabbed his wrist, the doctor blanching at the thick hair on Levis’ arms, Levis giggling like a normal baby playing, just playing.

During bath time that night Levis’ baby penis stiffened and poked out of the water, Levis saying HoneyHoneyHoneyHoney in his husky baby voice. I called Daddy to finish the bath so I could lay down but Levis screamed until I came for him, wrapped him in a towel, him freeing an arm to reach up and stroke my cheek, for all the world like I was his, like he had me, and there was that stiffy again when I was fitting him with his diaper.

At six months Levis walked into the kitchen at breakfast and tried to open the fridge himself, Daddy stunned and dropping scrambled eggs from his mouth, and Levis speaking his next word, Pickles. Pickles, Honey, he said, pounding on the fridge door with his hairy chunk fists, and I sliced some bread and butter pickles up for him and that’s what he had for breakfast, a whole jar, me noticing that he was only a foot shorter than the fridge door, could almost reach the freezer where Daddy kept his vodka.

One night Daddy turned to me and we began our special time, I let Daddy do what he would since it had been so long, but soon enough I noticed Levis standing in the doorway watching, that finger in that nostril, and when I made Daddy stop Levis climbed into bed between us and began feeding, something he hadn’t done in months, falling asleep with my breast in his mouth, like any other sweet baby, I told myself, like any other sweet baby boy, Daddy going back to his couch for the night, his shoulders hanging heavy, like the pillow he carried was a stone.

At eight months Levis opened a drawer and found a paring knife, held it to Daddy’s gut and giggled, a sheen of drool on his chin, finally pulling the knife away when he got distracted by the ladybugs printed on his t-shirt. Then Daddy left, saying Levis wasn’t right, saying he needed to get away, saying he’d be back, driving away while Levis watched him from the window, his baby man hands flat to the window, like everything he saw could be touched that way, me watching Daddy’s headlights cut the dark and then the dark crowding right back in behind them, Levis saying Honey? to whatever he saw out that window, maybe even to himself.

Levis came to bed with me, molding his body to mine, rubbing his face on Daddy’s pillow sleepily, his breath like garlic, like garlic and meat, didn’t even open my eyes when he reached for my breast in the early hours and fed himself. In the morning he woke me, whispering Honey, Honey, smearing the sheets in elaborate patterns with fingerfuls of poop from his diaper, twining his fingers in my hair, Honey.

Normal. Later I bathed Levis and dressed him and we went to the park. For a while I pushed him on the swings, waited for him at the bottom of the slide, did the seesaw with him. When Levis was playing in the sandbox another mother came and sat beside me on the bench, said Your boy is quite large, me saying Yes, me saying Thank you. The woman’s son got into the sandbox with Levis and they started building something and the woman went on, said I’m a producer for the local news and we’d love to have your boy on if you’re interested, as kind of a feature on local unnaturals, and Levis looking up and showing his teeth, his eyes slitted at the woman, like he heard her, like he understood.

Maybe, I told the woman, when Levis is a little older, the woman saying Fine, fine, smoothing her jeans like she was peeved at the color of the wash, and her son getting up to bring his fat little shoe down on Levis’ sandpile, over and over, saying Unh Unh Unh, Levis letting him for a while before grinding a fist of sand into the boy’s face, the boy just blinking for a minute like his second hand had stopped, Levis taking the opportunity to grab the boy by his ankle and bring him down to where he could pound on his abdomen with his fists, like any baby with a toy drum, like any baby figuring out how hard to pound to get just the right sound, the boy going Unh Unh Unh.

The woman said, My Lord, do something, he’s flattened my Jared, her running over like her legs were breaking out of concrete molds, her boy saying Unh a little quieter now and me more proud of Levis than I’d ever been and so getting up and walking to the car, Levis saying Honey? Levis standing up to see better, saying Honey, stepping over the boy and out of the sandbox, me getting into the car and locking the doors, key in the ignition, Levis just standing there, the late afternoon sunlight giving him a glow, just standing there with his fists at his sides, looking like a fat little man more than anybody’s baby, a little fat man beating his chest now, me pulling out onto the road, Levis wailing Honey, wailing Pickles, getting smaller and smaller in the rearview until I took a turn and he was gone, my heart like a fist to a door and my breasts empty and my nipples like lit matchheads.



Lindsay Hunter is the co-founder and co-host of Quickies!, a Chicago flash fiction reading series. Her work has been published widely online, and her collection of slim fictions, Daddy's, will be out on featherproof books in September 2010.

4/29/10

[from] arc codex

Derek White

(Click image for larger version)


This piece is an excerpt from Derek White’s forthcoming ark codex. He blogs at 5cense.com.

4/28/10

Peter Berghoef

Five Writings



Harvest your licking motions from the same store. In times of need
apply a bit more. Draw circles inside the bigger circles. It's a farm.
It's a game for toddlers. Its three weeks with the same lighting. Look
at it like a bigger mouth you are always entering. There aren't dreams
or other photos taken. There are fields and fields of useless horses.







before there were brides
the stunted hands stayed up late
little jiggles of the keys
concrete in the mouth
the powder poured
into the bucket
the great night spread open
it was dark







In a display of October solidarity I left it on the table. Lots of
them were less forgiving. Forgiving the machines is easier than
cleaning gutters or arranging for the pies to be left in the oven.
Tasks like leaving orbit require even less skill. Within the first
year you will find a recipe for meatloaf your man will love.







The kittens that have passed inspection move forward down the hall. It
is safe to instruct them to continue following the arrows. Those
deemed unacceptable will undergo further treatment and training in the
appropriate facility. Please be mindful to remind those who passed
inspection that their service is greatly appreciated.








Do forget the time I ate you and made like you had eaten me. We
hoisted the gearless bike into bed with us and watched three movies
all the way through. We were sure we would eventually leave.




Peter Berhoef is the author of the chapbook News of the Haircut and a pamphlet called Hank Williams. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Michigan.

4/27/10

Noah Falck

Cellular Phone


Your sister died from the cancer. Change to vibrate. The sun gives royalties to all the pretty blue flowers. Dance beat ringtong, gunfire. A child has the face of a monster skimming the delicate pages of the phonebook. In his pocket, the anonymous organs of a cell phone, a field of dead sparrows go on singing. Speed dial in rainfall. Out shed the sentences of concentration and you think you finally understand the body and the lungs. She sits cross-legged in silk valleys of linen scrolling through her address book. You wear your trousers low and wait for the motion picture version.



Noah Falck is an elementary school teacher in Dayton, Ohio, and the author of three poetry chapbooks, most recently Life As A Crossword Puzzle (winner of the Ohio Open Thread Chapbook Award). His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appeared or will appear in Forklift, Ohio, Kenyon Review, diode, Copper Nickel, and The Pinch.

4/26/10

Lincoln Michel

Our Current Trajectory


      Puff the Magic Dragon was being sued for child endangerment. Johnny Paper's mother was crying on TV. Her son had returned home hours past his bedtime with burns on his arms. 

      On the stand, Johnny said he'd had an accident cooking marshmallows with his friends. But no one believed him because Puff was turning the courtroom into a ball of smoke. It was something with his nerves. I myself was treated for smoke inhalation twice during the proceeding.


      I was the court stenographer at the time. I had a black typewriter on a pedestal and tapped out everything I heard before it even registered in my brain. It got to me, documenting all those broken lives. I started to think the world was a mess of betrayal and began walking around angry myself. Still, the job paid for a little apartment with a garden I could think in.


      You lived there too, of course. You were working the night shift at a diner downtown. In the morning I'd pack my lunch and kiss you on the cheek. You'd shoo me away from the bed with drowsy hands.


      The trial was never going to end. It was the most famous case of the century and the TV cameras were everywhere. Dueling psychologists gave testimonies on either the fundamental importance of imagination and play or of order and responsibility. There were so many experts and witnesses that everyone was given crib notes to keep track. My fingers grew stiff from typing and I had to soak them in a bowl of warm milk during recess.


      The century was coming to an end and sometimes it felt like everything was changing. My walk home from court was filled with new shopkeepers and newspapermen who wouldn't look their customers in the eye. Both of our mothers had been laid in the ground. Old friends had blown away like paper bags. The trial ended one day but immediately went to appeals. Puff was found guilty and then innocent and then guilty again. The juries couldn't decide if he was a menace or merely had the appearance of menace, like squirt toys shaped like pistols. In the end they banned him and then banned everything else involved just to be safe. 


      Johnny Paper never forgave his mother. He flew away to another country and left her weeping on talk shows about those who'd turned her boy against her. This was the way of things. It was an era without forgiveness.


      You and I had known each other since we were little children. I remember the day I yanked off your barrettes and you chased me down and kissed me beneath the monkey bars. It was a different time now. The other day I asked you to help me clean the dishes and you blew a cloud of cigarette smoke right into my face.  



Lincoln Michel is a co-editor of Gigantic and the books editor of The Faster Times. His work appears in NOON, The Oxford American, The Believer, elimae, and elsewhere. He blogs at lincolnmichel.com. 

4/23/10

Émilie Notéris

Orchistra®


First, for the genus Orchis. The reader may find the following details rather difficult to understand; but I can assure him, if he will have patience to make out this first case, the succeeding cases will be easily intelligible.
-Charles Darwin, Fertilisation of Orchids, 1862

“There are such queer things about orchids," he said one day; "such possibilities of surprises”.
-H.G. Wells, The Flowering of the Strange Orchid, 1894




////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Orchistra®: Benefaction by flowering plants

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Warning

Telling a story like The Sleeper in the Valley is speaking about grass before evoking blood.

Let us proceed.

We are going to demonstrate you the whole range.

Nothing dealing with any cosmetic brand; but a tool of control.

The poisonous, the toxic.

Because criminals always cultivate orchids or bonsais to calm their nerves.

Well there are many examples, for sure, but there, I’m thinking about Linderman.

>Orchis in Greek means testicles< >Easy to check out< //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Ornamental testicular greenhouse culture as lethal incubation device. ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////



Botany for nerds



It breathes in infrared, underhand chlorophylling along aerial axis, ambitioning inner walls.



Lacunar stock inventory:



Shewerewolf® Orchid



The Lunar Prospector or Acampe papillosa, is crippled by cinetic craters & indented sharp Gillette labellum… She wore dark and sticky down. Her slobbery fullmooned ovoid blooming increases her subterranean framework tubers, encircling her nocturnal prey, catching it with her grapples again.



Poppyzbrite® Orchid She’s a saprophyte and nourishes herself essentially with decomposed organisms provided by the Shewerewollf® Orchid. Her extreme milky-white complexion is blackened with ebony ink.



Lombroso® Orchid



The Cattleya aurantiaca wears Betadine yellow scars, she’s unswervingly scanning and morphotyping every criminal she finally saves or blows the whistle on Mörderunteruns® Orchid —depending on her horoscope.



MachinegunKelly® Orchid



By product of an hybridation between a lady's slipper and a Charles Bronson cowboy boot, she chickens out while west-facing an encaged puma. She could fire off but she will rather sloppily surrender.



Mörderunteruns® Orchid Dracula lotax is goblet shaped, each of her petals and sepals are polishing into distinguished satanic stems. She systematically grabs everything coming too close to her lip.



Talmakademie® Orchid



Apostasia Blume has recourse to a doctoral dobermankind ton. She oversees full Orchid team. She’s the only one who could stop Mörderunteruns® Orchid while she’s at it. She can’t bear natural light and requires a personal screen composed of stained glass like Nasir-al-Mulk mosque (Shiraz-Iran).



Ghostsofmars® Orchid



Vanda lamellata, variety which die-cuts bits of anyone starring obscenely at her for more than 20 seconds. She’s nicely taking care of MachinegunKelly® Orchid survivors.



Chuckpalhaniuk® Orchid



Dactylorhiza maculata is particularly moody and unmanageable, her killing patterns are miscellaneous, and she has no proper modus operandi. She tried to commit suicide several times.



Poison exhales ultraviolet harnessing, adjusting solar entrapments between hyper transparent Crystal Palace dislocations.



It’s no longer a sloterdijkian metaphor.



It’s visually effective, it’s operating on the real, in direct live.



It’s not relay broadcasted.



It’s here.



No needs for communicational higher-bids.



No announcement effect.



No elections.



No vote.



The greenhouse is located in Antarctica, Guatemala, Ardèche, or Sudan (impossible to confirm).



It makes no odds; soon there will be no more sky, only a glass horizon.



Tropical diorama forest.



There are still some temporary autonomous zones in which atmosphere is not yet sterilized. (TAZ-WAINYS)



To be honest, we are still waiting for certain species extinction (Phœnicopterus ruber ruber as red as the shrimps it ingurgitates, marshmallow hibiscus: Daitoksawhalip cultivars, crossbreed lard truffle pigs, cherry-laurel: No! Daphne won’t come through this time, death’s-head moth sphinx…) before the environmental pasteurization phase. (EPP)



Pulsed electric field processing (PEFP) cold start nuclear irradiation (CSNI). //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Environment: a post- industrial challenge. ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////



A few years ago (impossible to precise) we were still refusing to plant our orchard with wind turbines, but now, rotors imperturbably dither in high-sea, constantly covered by albatrosses flight and other puffins detached in shadow puppets —those submarine plains helped us finance the project— money exudation.



(Side view of a monk puffin, sprats swarm disgorging from the beak)



When I’m talking about high-sea, sorry, it doesn’t mean anything right now.



I wanted to say: relatively taken away from national real estate complexes on territorial stilts (RTAFNREC-OTS).



An hour at the most by Hydrospace Racing Jet Ski, one hand on the back, blindfolded.



No Waterworld, no, more like Zaha Hadid.



You see?



Thus they are friendly aligned a la Leni Riefenstahl along the perfectly rectilinear paths covering Burberry New York, brooding in cooperation with herbaceous taken in this crystal trap.



Ventilators pales answer to more distant wind turbines.



And still this background noise, this ceaseless ryojiikeda humming at the very beginning of detached auricles. But you will become used to it very quickly. We are glad you noticed our advert upon the TAZ-WAINYS scattered tracts & that your oceanographic Calypso craft (former Ballard Marine Railway Company engine) has docked so easily.



We need an emeritus toxicologist. (editors note)



The previous one tried to escape (not so far) by swimming (butterfly), taking away the results of his research; Ghostsofmars® Orchid has been so fulfilled.



He stupidly exceeded the weekly tolerable provisional dose (WTPD).



You should be toxicovigilant.



You’ll be submitted to the Glasgow-Liege scale (GLS) every day.



Attention deploying itself spontaneously, as bat vampire wings approaching of a prey, is a good indication of motivation in most of the situations that you will have to dread.



Our boarders are not only there to feed the orchids or to take dust as Chippendales letting the dust settle, they are going to allow the elaboration of a chemical compound multiplying tenfold criminal drives.



Spreading —as Demeter— multicolored capsules as if they were confectionery in the TAZ-WAINYS to increase survivors killing.



This project you’re featuring in is called Killcandy® (under copyright).



We are now taking you to your living quarters and abandoning you to Ditavonteese® Orchid.



Ditavonteese® Orchid



You can freely pluck her petals from the anthers to the floral receptacle; she displays refined stratagems (visual, olfactory and sexual gulls). Her favorite beverage is Martini. She’s pale and carbonaceous, imperceptibly old fashioned she wriggles listening to Black metal.



Ditavonteese® Orchid is our best recruit (like Mystique for the X-Men), once she establishes contact with the pharmacologist, she’ll distil an irresistible psychotropic substance; we forgot to mention that she’s a hybrid (datura wrightii). Ditavonteese® Orchid will assist us maintaining our dear friend here enough time to elaborate the Candykilling® process.



Then we will deliver Ditavonteese® to Shewerewollf® & Chuckpalhaniuk®. Poppyzbrite® Orchid will do loam transformation phase.



Teamwork.



But he has to relax like a marmota monax until the Groundhog Day; we’ll be waiting for the rising of the dwarf star.




Émilie Notéris is a french writer born in 1978.
Her work already appeared in Sleepingfish 8.
She's the author of a novel 'Cosmic Trip' 2008 (IMHO) and directed a J.G. Ballard anthology with Jérôme Schmidt in 2008 'J.G. Ballard, Hautes Altitudes' (è®e).
She's currently writing a non-fiction 'Fétichisme Postmoderne' for La Musardine.

4/22/10

Mark Cunningham

Four Specimens


[specimen]

We drew the animal with big chunks missing from its body to show the waves were washing it. He learned to spell phonetically, so he couldn’t spell the word “phonetically.” All the subtitles said was “vocalizing continues.” Her dream house was a hundred yards off the interstate and with the white noise from the cars passing all the time she was never sure if she was awake or asleep. You may think you’re a nihilist, but try to kill yourself by holding your breath.

[specimen]

The last radio signals we received before the ship went under said, “No one foresaw this,” but since “this” wasn’t clarified, we were able to claim the message was too garbled to make out. The window is clear to show you the light; the light makes the window opaque. Despite the findings of science, many parts of the world seem not to find white noise relaxing. One meaning of _prevents_ is _to walk before someone, to lead the way_.

[specimen]

The rumor’s true: the lyrics make me happy, but when I try to sing them backwards, I get a headache. Thumbing his nose at the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the officer came into the room and said, “As you were.” For a moment, I couldn’t tell if it was my pulse in my ear against the pillow or someone walking down the hallway. He said, “Here I am,” but we disagreed.

[specimen]

The most amazing power of Dracula in Tod Browning’s film is his ability to pass through the huge spider web covering an entire staircase without getting any strands caught in his hair. When you know it’s the last time, the time before becomes the real “last time.”


Mark Cunningham is the author of three books: Body Language from Tarpaulin Sky Press, 80 Beetles from Otoliths, and 71 Leaves, an ebook from BlazeVOX. He is also the author of four chapbooks, all on-line: and Second Storynightlightnight (with photographs by Mel Nichols), both from Right Hand Pointing; 10 specimens from Gold Wake Press; and Nachträglichkeit from Beard of Bees.

4/21/10

Sandra Simonds

These days are Malthusian Footnotes


Like a Bildungsroman at the center of a pile

of Warsaw war snow

beating like uncle wound

or the coo coo clock’s beak’s

scheduled meeting with o’clock,

one wing of the bird was left for me. That the animal, eats, shits

and dies free.

Oh to be like Dutch painter X in the honeydew

light of March flanked by three golden retrievers,

rot iron pots and pans, or to be somewhat quartz / somewhat syrup

on florida’s one-hundred and one degrees

in cocktails and jazz.

She wades in a pool of serum and amoebas where the oil-slick

is a speech act that is duct taped over the ear syllable by sound.

And where is the snow, Warsaw?

The zero’s blank corpse sounds over crops erotic as gas

and the asbestos that tang the lungs into submission tumors, into blue trees—

(you’re a tame dog) but they are not ze-

ro, Romeo,

they are not know-

ing.



Sandra Simonds grew up in Los Angeles, California. She earned a B.A. in Psychology and Creative Writing at U.C.L.A and an M.F.A. from the University of Montana, where she received a poetry fellowship. She also holds a PhD in Literature from Florida State University where she teaches Creative Nonfiction and Poetry workshops and where she is working on a second full-length collection of poems called Talk of Revolution or Used White Wife or Perpetual Alps. She can't decide. She is the author of Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2008)( http://bloofbooks.com/), which was a finalist for numerous prizes including the National Poetry Series; she is also the author of several chapbooks including Used White Wife (Grey Book Press, 2009) and The Humble Travelogues of Mr. Ian Worthington, Written from Land & Sea (Cy Gist, 2006). Her poems are forthcoming in Poetry, the Believer and Copper Nickle and have been published previously in many literary journals including the Colorado Review, Fence, the Columbia Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Volt, the New Orleans Review and Lana Turner. Her Creative Nonfiction has been published in Post Road and other literary journals. She currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida with her husband and young son and two dogs.

4/20/10

Gene Morgan

THANKSGIVING

It's Thanksgiving.

Yesterday, I was wearing shorts and basketball shoes, and today I feel like I should only eat animals I kill.

The trash cans were left turned over in a pool of streetwater.

I'm not sure cellphone cancer is even real, and If my design business fails, I want to be a firefighter.

I often feel my body deteriorating. I picture terrible things happening.

It's Thanksgiving, and I take all of our DVDs out of their cases and put them into a DVD portfolio. I alphabetize all of our DVDs, and take all of the paper waste out of the DVD cases to be recycled. I pack all of the blank DVD boxes into a cardboard box.

Later, we walk to a party, and I dance to Jennifer Lopez with my son.

I separate my trash into piles. I nod at people walking by.

It's Thanksgiving and I'm riding my bike to the bar. It's lesbian night.

It's Thanksgiving and I ride a motorcycle off of the side of a building, onto the back of an eighteen-wheeler.

It's Thanksgiving and I'm driving a 1989 Buick Regal through Japan.

Foghat is playing.

I feel my body deteriorating. I picture terrible things happening.

Sitting in a room, I look at the room for a little while. The room has green carpet.

I have night terrors. I wake up and feel the last moment of living. It's late, and I sit down in front of an outdoor fire pit.

I'm standing by a DVD kiosk at Walgreens, watching people rent movies. The price of living is fear.

I tug at the base of a sago palm, and remove a smaller palm from its side.

Gene Morgan lives in Texas with his wife and two children. He runs a web design business, helps with htmlgiant, and recently started to blog again. His website is http://www.genemorgan.info.

4/19/10

Johannes Göransson

From Haute Surveillance

I learn how to use my knife to apply the proper dose of strychnine. I learn from the children. They learn with the television blaring bodiesbodies.

I have horses that are infected and girl singers who hyacinth me while I hurt stuffed animals. It’s a hallucination to have such a strokey relationship to one’s knife-girl.

Here I am staring at my ceiling for probably a half hour while the world all rabbles up and the museums are looted and looted and looted and all the urns and knives and razorblades are pulled out and in and out and the best part of The Shining is when Shelley Duvall is running down the stairs and she sees those two guys in furry outfits that’s when she may loose it may become an artist instead of a mother.

That hotel is built on bones.

This hotel is built on microphones.

The problem with microphones is that they are attached to the body and picks up all the sounds: the skin, scratches, pearls, kisses, hisses teeth, looking, gasoline, trilobites, ornations, Hiroshima, tape crackling, insect crawls, ashes. It’s an arrival we are looking for, not just another way out. It’s a deportation we deserve for our botched models.

*

Lets kill ourselves a son?

I only have daughters.

*

I have a lover who holds my hair with one hand while eating chicken with the other. It hurts when she pushes my head up to her pelvic bones. “Harder, lick harder,” she says while lllicking the grease off her fingers and grabbing another wing. The grease gets in my hair. Her hair gets in my mouth. “Lick harder,” she groans and bites into the chicken carcass.

In an allegory the sign is allowed to be a sign, finally, according to Father Voice-Over. But my lover is also grotesque, Father Voice-Over notes, And the grotesque is at odds with the shape of the allegory. Especially in a fashion shoot.

The tourists are allowed to take my photographs if they first offer me some food. I am famished. And I smell like chicken grease. And I have burns on my arms. My lover burns my arms with chicken grease.


She must be an allegory. But it might be that I am not.

Or my wife is not, and everything she touches is removed from the allegory. My penis for example is now meaningless.

The camera is on.

I make a spasmatic pose for the penal colony. It is meant to teach them family values. Although they are never to be let out of their mice cages. And they already know how to spasm and how to breathe underwater. They have pig strokes.

I have sunstrokes.

I wear a gas mask for the finale.

The finale: My father’s mansion has many exit wounds.

Our Lady of the Strangest Victim: Nothing was fake.

*

I’m so hungry it’s like I was throbbing oriental fluids. The effect is ornithological. The material is bodies. A thousand bogus bodies.



Johannes Göransson was born in Sweden, but has lived around the US for several years. This piece is an excerpt from his recently completed novel, Haute Surveillance. He is the translator of: Collobert Orbital by Johan Jonsson, Gingerbread Monuments by Victor Johansson & Klara Kallstrom, Remainland: Selected Poems by Aase Berg, With Deer by Aase Berg, and Ideals Clearance by Henry Parland. He is the author of: Dear Ra (Starcherone, 2008), Pilot (Fairy Tale Review Press, 2008) and A New Quarantine Will Take My Place (Apostrophe Books, 2007)—and the chapbook Majakovskij en tragedy (Dos Press, 2008). He is the co-editor of Action Books and the online journal Action, Yes.

4/16/10

Sean Kilpatrick

fistfucking rules

every rogue bowel moves daddy’s cabana

for the comb through bib tied high and dangling you

time for sanitarium gods to moisturize the day

time for darkling sputum jew to enter my scat

felch the gay chore water home for different sirs latex

the only thanks time to call the alphabet of dropping son and congeal

wandering epitomes tell babygirl to suck her own swastika tattoos

or I’ll memorize her period like a bible passage recite the blood

in a sideways baptism take a manly squat with undertones of

puberty yes atrophy milk she airs out her titties in the septic tank

uses a refrigerator to masturbate sucks the college out of walls

she is on a lobotomy picnic the public scoops her glint

sings gangbang lullaby knock the freckles off that dream

she remembers cum by phone menstruates her initials

shaved beef like small god arithmetic an extenuating trimester

she commits burlesque diarrheas under the guise of pregnancy

ms. america with aids stoned up her own yeast

eyelids by gonorrhea extravagant hysterectomies

a species ignored pagan odorless for rainbow

or breed fiasco like how an iron cross looks neat


Sean Kilpatrick is published or forthcoming in No Colony, New York Tyrant, 30 under 30 Anthology, Dzanc Best of the Web 2010, Spork, Columbia Poetry Review, Fence, LIT, La Petite Zine, Action Yes, Forklift Ohio, Jacket, and an e-book from Magic Helicopter Press.

4/15/10

Amy McDaniel

Occasion Time

We’ll have an onion taste-testing party night tonight! Somebody figure out how drunk we can get for $10. Figure 20 calories per dollar per liter per person per annum. It’s the season for forgiveness and free-stone peaches. If they don’t have the red plastic ones get the kind people always use in the movies. The children will show their sex organs to one another in the hall closet and when they’re bored of that they’ll come tug on our dress shirts and ask to do arts and crafts or bubbles.


AMY MCDANIEL contributes to HTMLGiant, and her work has been or will be in Tin House, The Agriculture Reader, and PANK. She is the author of a new chapbook, Selected Adult Lessons (Agnes Fox Press).

4/14/10

Kate Zambreno

From Monkey's Notebook
(excerpt from novel-in-progress Under the Shadow of My Roof)


i would love to have a drink with jean rhys. she’d have a fine. i don’t know what the fuck that is i think its whisky. i would love to have a drink with old drunken jean rhys, the one who was holed up in cornwall, screaming at her neighbors and picking fights, writing wide sargasso sea for like ever, and everyone thought she was dead. i really identify with this because everyone thinks i’m dead as well since im trapped in the cellar as my father’s whore.

all of a sudden there she is, in the cellar, dressed very properly, with gloves on and everything. she is trembling probably because she needs a drink. so i fix jean rhys a good stiff drink. thank you, my dear, she says. i sit and stare at her. she is such a pretty lady still, even if she’s old, such big childlike eyes, like a lemur. i decide to interview her. like we’re on terry-grossy.

monkey: do you think you’re a masochist?

jeanrhys: i’m not sure i know what you mean.

monkey: i mean all these men treated you like shit!

jeanrhys: a woman needed a man in those days. how else would one live? i never was very good at living.

monkey: wow. i’m glad I live in a really independent age now. women can do anything now! we’ve come a long way, baby.

jeanrhys: oh, I would hate to be an independent woman! (shivers)

monkey: why? you don’t want to be free?

jeanrhys: i like men. i’m not a Lesbian. although i met gertrude stein once.

monkey: but you just let all these men destroy you.

jeanrhys: i always loved so intensely.

monkey: yeah. i get that. so are you saying that the female condition is to be a masochist? cuz we’re all passive and fall in love and let it totally destroy us?

jeanrhys: i don’t know if that’s what i’m saying.

monkey: do you think simone de b is right, we allow ourselves to be completely passive, and are like doomed to immanence?

jeanrhys: you mean the one who fucked sartre?

monkey: yeah you bring up a good point. simone de b allowed herself to be dominated by men as well. so what was it like to fuck ford maddox ford?

jeanrhys: umm. sweaty.

monkey: yeah. that’s what i pictured. were you in love with him?

jeanrhys: i suppose…i suppose i was in love with all of them. i don’t know. what is love? i was always under the wing of some man or another. did i love them or did i convince myself i did because i had no choice?

monkey: everything. you’re. fucking. saying. it’s like an echo in my mind.

jeanrhys: you remind me of the girls i was in the chorus with.

monkey: like in voyage in the dark? (quoting): “i know it's about a tart. i think it's disgusting. i bet you a man writing a book about a tart tells a lot of lies one way and another.” fucking love that.

jeanrhys: thank you.

monkey: i like how all your women, well they’re you, aren’t they, i love how they’re all in exile, they’re like gregor samsas with old furs and clown make-up, it’s very, like, existential.

jeanrhys: i just wrote my own truth.

monkey: yeah, but you know what really saves your writing from being total victim-lit, is the absolutely ecstasy of the fucking language...

jeanrhys: i thank you.

monkey: i’m sensing you don’t want to talk about the books.

jeanrhys: they are not the entirety of my life. yes, i wrote them, and they were painful to write, and freeing to write, like an exorcism of a sort understand?

monkey (enthralled): totally.

jeanrhys: although of course i edited. i painstakingly edited. (she holds her glass out, gives it a little shake, monkey refills.)

monkey: i know.

jeanrhys: writing can’t just be excretion.

monkey: yeah. yeah. i know. i know. (defensively) so, um, i’m a writer. (jean rhys’ eyes start to glaze over) no, it’s boring, i don’t want to talk about it, but i want to write at least, and when I read good morning midnight i want to fucking stab myself in the chest over and over again it’s so fucking good.

jeanrhys: i thank you. (stiffly)

monkey: don’t you enjoy being an important writer?

jeanrhys: (shrugs) no one gave a shit about me for years. and then I’m old, and everyone wanted a piece of me to put me on the radio and give me prizes all for the fucking bronte book.

monkey: yeah, that sucks.

jeanrhys: but at the end i did get to go partying in london, with my blue wig and was able to afford the good booze.

monkey: wait are you dead now?

jeanrhys: yes, i suppose so.

monkey: so, like, you’re a zombie?

jeanrhys: I don’t know.

monkey: this is way meta. because the whole idea of the obeah in wide sargasso sea.

jeanrhys: i think i’m more of an apparition of your fantasy life than a zombie.

monkey: (quoting) si vous êtes pris dans le rêve de l'autre, vous êtes foutu.

jeanrhys: i like that.

monkey: so did you ever really hook?

jeanrhys: did I...what?

monkey: were you ever a prostitute? did you ever sell yourself, for realz? i mean i know you allude to it.

jeanrhys (stiffly): i did what i had to do to survive.

monkey: sorry don’t get touchy. hey, I’ll paint your nails. i got a pretty red. OPI ladies of the night. pressy for sticking my tongue in my father’s pie-hole.

jeanrhys (eyes brighten): okay.



Kate Zambreno's novel O Fallen Angel won Chiasmus Press' "Undoing the Novel" contest and was published this April. A collection of essays, inspired by her blog Frances Farmer Is My Sister (http://francesfarmerismysister.blogspot.com) will be published by Semiotext(e)'s Active Agents series in Fall 2011. She is the prose editor at Nightboat Books.

4/13/10

Cameron Pierce

The Snake People
an excerpt from The Bright Lights Are Killing Me


The black shingles, black stucco, and black, rundown porch struck a cold harmony with the green autumn lawn. In another three months, tucked inside the coats that now dawned around our shoulders, unattached to arms, we would be dead. After Halloween came a time when life picked up a Catholic thrum of melancholy, scorching and then dampening the firewood in our lungs. The pained jubilation of Jeptha spiced our blood, wrinkling us where we'd been smooth before. Our eyes swelled, but they remained weightless as Jupiter. We moved into the house of brambles that stood behind the black house, burying ourselves in the sludge of summer blackberries, blockaded on all sides by an endless tide of trees and thorns. And all the while, the green lawn burned. In another three months, we would be dead. We did not hate each other yet. That came later, after the light poured from the mouths of deer and giant birds made amputees of us. When we died and became snake people, that is when we hated each other. I don't care if you're headless. You must not scream in your sleep every night. I will tell you how the deer waltz with mustached rifles on the roof of the black house. I will tell you how the raccoons are scheming with the clouds. I will tell you the story of our love, if you've forgotten in your headless state. However, you must not scream. You must not sleep.


Cameron Pierce (b. 1988) lives in Portland, OR. He is the author of The Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island (forthcoming), The Ass Goblins of Auschwitz (Eraserhead Press, 2009), and Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden (Eraserhead Press, 2008). For bad advice, or if you're just lonely and want someone to read to you, call him at 661-477-6332.

4/12/10

Kevin O’Cuinn

Fistful of Poem

p.m.
dim-time, quiet,
everybody
drunk on books/
miscellaneous

a.m.
today’s disaster movie
in production
on the burner,

simmering brown
in tinfoil

The kids tire of Scrabble
They tease out three- and four-letter words till one of them, precocious little shit, lands ennui.

if you keep looking at me like that, sending memories my way
we’re heading
for trouble
and you
know
it

minimal pair
She tells him to sail his shit along.
Ship, he says, and casts off.



Kevin lives and plays in Frankfurt on The Main. He co-edits fiction at Word Riot. Links to his work are at http://www.kevsville.blogspot.com/.

4/9/10

Travis Nichols

From Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder
A novel by Travis Nichols, published by Coffee House Press

Dear Luddie,

I don’t remember much about the first thing I killed, but I remember I killed it with a knife. I cut it open with a knife and said, “I want the guts! I want the guts! I want the guts! I want the guts!” My older brother turned green beside me. It was a fish. The knife I killed it with had a white handle. The white handle had small, blue marks on it.

My brother and I had been fishing in a pond by the Bombardier’s house. Cows and dogs strolled by with their different tongues while we stood in the grass with our lines in the water. Neither of us had ever caught a fish before. We had fished and fished and caught nothing but water. But I caught that fish, and when I caught it, I didn’t look at it, hold it, or study it. I just cut it open.

There is nothing in my mind now about the fish—what it looked like, what it felt like, or what it smelled like—there is only the knife, and my brother turning green, and me saying, “I want the guts!” over and over again.

Since that fish, I’ve killed a few other fish, plenty of flies, moths, beetles, worms, hermit crabs, fireflies, and a mouse.

No people.

I haven’t killed any people, Luddie, but it’s true I have come close. I’ve come close by holding my step-dad’s gun to my brother’s temple and pulling the trigger.

I was just a kid then, curious and alone and with my brother who was curious and alone too.

I didn’t know if the chamber held a bullet and I didn’t know what it would mean if it did, but I pulled the trigger. “On or off?” I said to my brother and then I pulled the trigger before he could answer.

Nothing happened.

“On,” I said.

And then I put the barrel to my own temple, and I squeezed the little metal tongue to prove there was nothing. Nothing at all.

“On or off?” I said again, and again the hollow click sounded.

“On,” I said.

Would it have been better off? To light up my eyes from inside, to feel my little brains go black?

They didn’t.

My brother punched me in the head and called me a word I didn’t know, and my brains didn’t go black at all.

My brains didn’t go black at all, and my brother and I lived, and later that same year we killed other things with pleasure.

Ants, mice, spiders, fish. A swarm of horseflies had filled our room.

I remember the room was dark and heavy with flies and we swatted them out of the air with flyswatters. Giddy with killing, we swatted them so hard they splattered against the walls and the ceiling, and by the time the horseflies stopped flying around the room, black and red smudges covered the walls and the ceiling, and sweat poured off of my brother and me.

We turned all the flies off in wet splats and bursts.

Another time, my brother and I walked up and down the beach, taking turns hitting hermit crabs into the ocean with a piece of driftwood.

When it was my turn, my brother tossed a hermit crab into the air and I swung the driftwood stick, smashing the shell, sending its pieces one way and the little crab hurtling out over the ocean the other way.

I remember one of those crabs’ claws frantically scratching at the sky after I hit it with the stick. I’m sure I killed that one, Luddie, and I remember it didn’t seem to want to die.



From Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder by Travis Nichols. Copyright © 2010 by Travis Nichols. Published by Coffee House Press: http://www.coffeehousepress.org/.
Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

4/8/10

Donora Hillard

Economy

I’m going to quit my job and follow you across this great nation. I’ll live on Shirley Temples while inventing better creatures for you to talk to: walrus, fennec fox, star-nosed mole. I’ll buy us matching fuzzy moustaches and climb inside your leather bag. I’ll hide in the library with the government documents. You can dust all of us at once. Use your breath, please, if it isn’t too much trouble. If you refuse, I’ll cling to your shin until you kick at my pores. It’ll be good for the economy. You’ll see. The Dutch will love us.



Donora Hillard is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection Theology of the Body (Gold Wake Press, 2010) as well as Bone Cages: A Lyric Memoir (BlazeVox [books], 2007), Parapherna (dancing girl press, 2006), and others. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best of the Web 2010 (Dzanc Books, 2010), Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer (W.W. Norton & Company, 2010), Night Train, PANK, Spork, and elsewhere. She has taught writing at Penn State University and lives in Detroit, where she is a PhD candidate in English at Wayne State University.

4/7/10

Robert Kloss

An Articulation of Blades

The new king went hunting. In blaze orange and designer wolfskin hats. On flat bed trucks and ATVs. The new king went hunting and returned hefting canvas sacks brimmed with feathers and fur and legs and snouts. Cattle sheep geese small bear and fawns. Blood filled the canvass and overfilled the canvass and the cleaning staff mopped blood wherever the king last stood carefully articulating the nature of her prizes.

The new king hunted wolves through our city streets. Yellow eyes and backs arched. Wolf packs bounded down city streets chasing cars, and eating garbage and the new king followed high above amidst a whirr of chopper blades. Wolves cowered behind dumpsters and packing crates in back alleys and high above, the blaze orange king, and high above, forest of blades.

The new king cleaned and mounted her kills on cable television. Yellow and red viscera glittering like gems. “First of these devils I’ve bagged,” she grinned to the camera, hand carved ivory teeth.

The new king hunted often. We heard her whirring above, the terrible whirring a forest of—, and she drifted over our city half dangling from the chopper, rifle barrel glinting.

The king hunted often and when the wolves were gone she switched to teachers and when the teachers hid in their offices, behind walls of books, she switched to school children, for isn’t there an element of the teacher in the student, the new king mused, or we supposed she mused, and when the school children were hidden beneath boards in attics throughout the city she hunted their books and desks, their class turtles and microscopes. She gouged and shredded their text books on cable television.

The new king hunted often and we learned to stay indoors. We learned to not breathe heavily. We learned to hold close mother and wife. To muffle the mouths of mothers and children. We learned to pull the shades. We learned, the slightest flinch—we

The new king stalked the streets in blaze orange and designer boots, the heels— The new king stalked with red eyes or eyes we dreamed were red or eyes she wished were red. She stalked now the gristle or teeth or low frightened moans of wolves. She stalked our libraries and shot our books ‘til the fragments of pages flittered down like feathers—

—the heads lonesome and red eyes lost, as she grafted steaks from their flanks and ground their bones to sausages on cable television. The low moans of wolves, bodiless, articulated the whirring of blades. Red eyes, the blood of our hearts, as her spotlight shone past our windows—

The king hunted often. Her eyes were red or were those eyes the eyes of wolves, wolves on television. The king hunted often and we remained silent within.

Robert Kloss writes his stories stowed away on trains and scrunched up in adjunct offices throughout boston. He also gathers stuff here: http://rkbirdsofprey.blogspot.com/.

4/6/10

Kimberly King Parsons

TEAR DOWN THE DARK
What we do not have in our boots, what we have not found in our shoes, not ever, are the scorpions. Nights, Father torments their nest with matches launched lit from the front porch. He sets them to scatter and we get to stomping. The thing to know about our stingers is that only fire will do. Father says: These are fast but not impossible. Father sits watch while the rest of us fleetfoot. Our scorpions, they are fantastic, spinning out from some blistered center. Our heels come crunching and the crawlers bust open, flared and clacking, still smoking—a shade of orange only we in this family have seen. Father says: Hiding is two-sided. He makes even the littlest among us take a good look.



Kimberly King Parsons’s writing has appeared in Time Out New York, elimae, 360 Main Street, The Chapbook Review, The Faster Times, and Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. She lives in Queens and is working on a short story collection about liars.

4/5/10

Rav Grewal-Kök

Swineheart
I bought a pig’s heart at the butcher’s shop. I wanted the big hairy butcher red stains on his apron red rag plastic glasses to think I’m one of those Brooklyn yuppies serious about meat. I said I’m thinking about getting into offal. He said well try the beef heart or the pig heart. If you’re brave he said. I’m brave I said I’ll take the pig heart. He said good choice you cut out the valves black bits slice it marinate it soy sauce ginger garlic rice wine skewer it or maybe do it Italian if that’s more your style you look Italian. I said I’m not Italian.

I told a guy on my basketball team. He said cool you’re like that guy in was it Angel Heart with organs in his freezer. He’s got big organs himself he’s chubby hairy there’s so much hair in this borough but I think he meant it was cool in fact I should bring a pig’s heart to the season end barbecue if it turns out well he said. This guy is Jewish he married an Englishwoman he’s not kosher his children won’t be Jewish he can eat pig I think. He’s quick he can shoot you wouldn’t think a man that chubby would be good at basketball he’s much better than me I can jump but I’m not that good girls play in our league.

The problem is in the end you’re alone in your apartment your wife’s at work your nanny took the baby to the park you face that defrosted heart you slice off the gristle your fingers smell like blood you think pig blood smells like human blood after all pigs are intelligent mammals you think I have this blood on my fingers now my shirt my hands the kitchen whole damn apartment smells like blood we’re all soaked in it anyway blood was sweet when I was a kid I cut my finger so why don’t I taste it I am mighty I will not die and then you fucking eat the whole raw thing.



Rav Grewal-Kök's fiction has appeared in the Santa Monica Review, was shortlisted for the Best American Short Stories 2008, and is forthcoming in The Ledge. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and baby daughter.

4/2/10

Mark Leidner

Kite in the Sky of the Mind

      A single thought like a kite in the sky of the mind. 
      A single thought like a kite in the sky of the mind, bound to the ground of the mouth by the long string of language, stretched taut, and bound to the sound of the wind by the fabric of context.  
      If language is string, and fabric is context, and wind is sound, a single beautiful thought is like a kite in the sky of the mind. 
      A single truthful thought like a kite in the sky of the mind.  
      A single moral thought like a kite in the sky of the mind.  
      To have a single ethical thought is to plow a kite through the sky of the mind.  
      To have a completely poetic thought is to cut the taut, white string of a kite caught high in the sky of the mind. 
      A kite in the sky of the mind is like a tent of poetry.  
      To have a single lyrical thought is to watch a kite rise through the rain in the sky of the mind.  
      A brief, complicated thought is like a small, tight knot in the long, white string of a kite caught high in the sky of the mind. 
      A constellation of thought is like a starlit kite caught high in the star-knit dark night sky of the mind.  
      The other night a thought got caught like a kite of fire in the sky of this friend of mine’s mind. 
      An overwrought thought like a fiery kite on the ground. 
      A single thought like a kite in the sky of the mouth.  

Mark Leidner lives and tweets in Western Massachusetts.

4/1/10

Laura Carter

And Finally It Has Come to This. And Finally It Has Come to These Things.

We were sowing seeds in a huddle. The partridge was luminous, and I glanced at his toupee and laughed with the heart of a child. We were. We are. The story begins with a hint of light from the edge of the page, the narrative's mind wiped clean by the interior fire. And then, and then. How many years have we waited to say the words. She. He. Us. The people. How many times have we desired to know? All of us. The sources of much trauma and grief, going knock-kneed in the dark at night, playing with other colors and glories by day. I was wearing the beautiful shirt, you know the one. We were tired. We worked, we went to bed, we got up and worked again. The players, the hoods, the revelers. Someone said we must be violet to be so green. Someone said we must be eerie to be so care. I didn't know. Did you? Before we could decide on a common language, our brothers and sisters came upon us and wandered with us in the forest, without suspicion. And so. And then. We were afraid of speech (transformations). There was no word in the beginning to draw us to itself, to take us to the place where we could be alive with sight and sound. I cut a flower out. So did you. We drew in our stenciled hairpieces to wear to the market. The parrots. All of them. So loud! We were joyful, but without peace when the music stopped. The music continued for many long mornings. The president wrote us letters signed in blood and tears. We tore up the letters and then built bigger buildings to collapse inside of. Someone said we had been found. I cried. You smiled. We found ourselves in a long story but without the changes that we had anticipated. Each one was half and whole, half and whole. The marriage. The wedding of the fire and water happened higher up than the changes had. And then, and then. There was a crown. A man wore it every day and night. We tried to steal the crown. We wanted the crown. The neighbors played games around the crown when they could pretend they owned it. It was a fake crown. We bought paper crowns and kissed each other in the sun. We thought we were orange but not sherbet. Someone paid their father to win the crown in a raffle. The father won the crown, and then he gave it to the son. The children wore the crown. The children broke the crown into pieces and each wore a piece. The crown gradually disintegrated into soil. Red clay. The crown was dull, vanquished, broken. The crown rolled down the hill where the president sat watching the children pretend. The crown was afire! And then, and then. The next move was to steal the pieces of the crown and turn them to ribbons. What color were the ribbons. I could not see the ribbons in our hair, but I felt them. I glanced over the telephone wires and made a picture. The picture was un-painted. The ball was fresh. The crown. The ball was in our hands. The story was over. The ball was out of our hands again. The ball, the crown, the fire. The story. Tell me a story, again. The grass, the trees, the elemental, colliding at dusk in a light.

colliding into the sun

and then given

Laura Carter lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia, where she curates the Sun & Moon Reading Series in East Atlanta. She earned her M.F.A. from Georgia State University in 2007.