8/31/10

Rachel B. Glaser

Classic Rock

This flower is tough and dusty. Nonchalant as grass and so's its friend. And its friend's friend. They die during snow, then revive in warm weather. They are incurious, though years ago they were bright and nervous. One of them should've been famous. It is tall, faded red. They know a lot of history, that the world is not naturally cool. No one has the balls to cut them and press them in a dictionary or a bad diary about boys. There are three main flowers, and one exotic weed. In the seventies, they had a band. They made music in their spots. They understood something people understand, to make a whine wiggle through air. A bit of marijuana would burn and talk nonsense. They condescended to any drunk beer, but this comes with all music.

When the band was active, the flowers were the center of a scene. A song was mumbled and loved, and took its time. Dogs walked by and the flowers made fun of them. People made noise in the apartment building and threw bits of cigarette off the balcony. The flowers stayed up all night. Classic rock makes people realize things they already know. My grandma has an album. The art is out-dated. I can't find a thing to play it on.

They tremble in the wind. The flowers have felt everything before. They are a faded red with dark age spots. Spider webs use their stems. Bees do not sniff these. The band broke up vaguely. A song hung in the air awhile, before anyone bothered taking it down. Song structure can get so automatic, a song finishes itself with no heart, with no surprise, and is leaked and made real, even though it lacks artistic integrity.

A sound can mutate hi-tech. A sentiment can weigh down the honey. Drugs are always a problem. A band becomes a hobby after things lose their sheen and stall. Band members see mirages of solo endeavors, and lean into these blindly, like a smell.

In this band there was a lead talent. Inspiration funneled from nowhere into this talent. Talent can be overwhelming, and the lead shared it with its friends. The other two grew confident with the extra talent. One grew charismatic, the other grew morose.

I heard their hit song once on a Classics Special. Only a guitar can soul-twinge like that. The bulls-eye center, the pupil, the good small details, a toothbrush on the asphalt, the exceptions. The other day, I went to the butterfly conservatory sweaty, and the butterflies swarmed me, very unlike usual. “It’s stabbing me,” I yelled, and they tickled in a painful, yearning way. Such is the exhaustion of all fans. The flowers are no longer so talented. They can only watch what happens around.



Rachel B. Glaser has a book out from Publishing Genius, if you are curious check it out here. She is soon to be an aunt! She used to watch Luke Goebel make out with his dog during class. Now she does the recumbent bike.

8/30/10

Ashley Farmer

SUMMER ACCIDENT

Then the June road vanished a girl I knew. Down our street, a black truck held the dent in its hood. Nights, I worried through a medical book. Studied the names of fractures—oblique, greenstick, buckle. I learned how to knot a tourniquet.

My friends aspired to see the circus. To watch sequined women fling their bodies toward breathless men who’d catch them. From the driveway, I glimpsed a semi dragging a segment of funhouse off. Saw empty animal cages hauled away.

From the porch, I memorized the older neighbor boy on his skateboard ramp. His flushed face thrust above our fence then disappeared, only to reemerge a few feet over. For days, I counted him to one hundred and back down again.

The front yard oak tree rotted with sudden disease. We gutted its trunk in the dark and packed the wound with wet cement. A scourge of thin, yellow worms writhed in the branches. If you stood back, the leaves moved. If you stepped across the road, the whole thing looked alive.


Ashley Farmer writes and teaches in Southern CA. Recent work can be found in Gigantic, Abjective, elimae, Juked, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere.

8/27/10

Eugene Marten

from Firework

What was it? What was it about them? Over the arms and backs of chairs, over the footboard, hanging long and fluted from doorknobs, even layered now over the covers they slept under. Jelonnek often wondered what it was. Scattered on the floor like casualties in the bedroom, bathroom, every room. There seemed to be more of them every day, and when he was drinking Jelonnek could lose himself in them just looking at them. Cuffs, collars, legs and sleeves in the shape of what’s lost or hoped for. Turmoil, sur­render. If he drew, Jelonnek would think then, they would be his sole subject. He would draw you the truth of them. But he wasn’t drinking now and he couldn’t draw anything but stick figures.

He could hear it. Bouncing, rattling, rolling.

He got out of bed and took a pair of sweatpants from the back of a chair, the pair they both wore and had been wearing for so long neither could remember to whom they’d originally belonged. He put on the jersey that bore the number nineteen, he put it on inside out. A pair of slippers. She didn’t wake up.

Down in the no parking zone someone had once replaced the A with an O. Jelonnek stood at the edge for a while, watched it make noisy ragged circles in the same hot wind that had blown all day and most of the week. Dust too, and leaves and wrappers and a dirty flattened cup. Once, twice, it lapped near the yellow border and Jelonnek lunged halfheartedly, self-conscious, as if practicing, but it was even quicker and less predictable than it sounded. Then the wind picked it up and put it down so hard you had to wonder where anyone else was.

“I’m not God,” the manager would say, and more power to him. He said he picked up the grounds as well as could be expected eve­ry day. Must have blown in off the street, he said, and walked away whistling and he was the best whistler Jelonnek had ever heard, more power.

Jelonnek moved to the middle of the zone. It circled him now like a satellite. When it slowed he stooped, reached, moved his feet. Felt watched. Someone up there in a window, invisible, root­ing neither for one nor the other, seeing him bent over his small shuffling steps, hands close to the ground like it was them he was chasing, or some stray pet that cost a two hundred-dollar deposit to keep.

He lost the glint of its skin in the shadows.

It cartwheeled, end over end.

It stopped.

Jelonnek recognized the label. He reached through the silence around it and it was snatched away like a prank at the end of a string. He half-expected to hear laughter then and looked up at the windows. The wind pulled his clothes tighter. He saw nothing and looked up the rest of the way. Where were the Dippers? He’d had a book once. It showed you all the shapes the stars made if you knew how to look. Her winking eye, her head, the hero who gripped it by the hair. The triangle, the bearded king, the Tinted Hand.

Jelonnek had never learned how to look. He’d gotten it for Christmas and lost it. It said there was another kind of wind up there, pushing across the abyss. It moved worlds but was made of nothing, the book said, because nothing was not what you thought it was, and emptiness isn’t empty. It is the womb.

He heard it. Something blew in his eye. He almost fell.

It lay and spun with its battered label like a compass needle in the middle of the world. Stood and turned like a top, pirouetted on its rim.

Jelonnek slowed, caught his breath. Tried to look a little less in­terested, even casual. Like he was out there for night air. Or meet­ing someone.

It rolled. He didn’t stop.


Firework was recently published by Tyrant Books. Eugene Marten is also the author of In the Blind and Waste. He lives in New York City.

8/26/10

Ryan Ridge

Fuck Shop

"Welcome to the Fuck Shop," said the old man, in the red smock, at the lip of entrance.

I said: "I thought this was WalMart."

"That's funny," he said, "I thought this was America."


Ryan Ridge lives in Long Beach, CA. Recent work has appeared of is forthcoming in Lamination Colony, elimae, Fractured West, The Los Angeles Review, Fact-Simile, Abjective and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of California, Irvine.

8/25/10

Bill Keys

METEOR SHOWER

Big Meteor Shower

better bring an umbrella

those fuckers el' screw up yer hair

make ya look rediculous

a mess of awe.

Each one of those lights

skating across infinity

is actually about as big

as a grain of wedding rice.

That's what happens when I see you

my heart shoots across heaven

sparks shower

and im as messy as a well loved bed

falling like light


I sit on street corners with a too small stool, in front of a too small typewriter and write big poems for people of all shapes and sizes. After three years busting balls in the Bay, I'm moving to Portland cause I heard there's no work. I love children. Sincerity is at the root of everything beautifully human.

8/24/10

Seth Landman

What of the water, what of the trouts.


You fear change. You change.
You pity the red and side with the service.
You prison the city and stand for seed.
You heard a proclamation
your house would come down.
You change your eyes; I’ll be on
your side. I would speak
a hundred. You wonder what is that.
Our fast is not looked after.
The river turns to restraint.
The river is the father of the city
so looked after. Our natures go away
not so. One word is a word you look to.
Is it pulled down? Is it peculiar?


Seth Landman lives in Denver, CO. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Glitterpony, Skein, Boston Review, Jubilat, VOLT, Sir!, Forklift, Ohio, and other places. He is a member of the Agnes Fox Press collective, and edits the small magazine Invisible Ear.

8/23/10

Anna DeForest

Things Will Kill You

He tells her the birds are dying. "All of them," he says. He says they're dying out. He wants her crying so he can console her. Now she is crying, but he can't console her. Later he finds her bleeding through a dishtowel. She has slit her wrist crossways with a kitchen knife.

He comes to the hospital at specified hours to watch her crying or watch her not crying. With cold coffee in paper cups and with magazines: fashion, culture, special interest. She finds the advertisements calming. She points to one. "In these shoes," she says, "I could go anywhere." She is wearing socks with rubber-tread bottoms and a smock and another smock just like the first one over the first one but backwards.

"You could go anywhere without shoes," he says.

He can't say why she cries at that, but the birds are doing fine.
The birds are doing better than anyone.


Anna DeForest is living in Brooklyn.

8/20/10

Navid Sinaki

Bukkake

My twin died a week ago. I went to clean his apartment, to empty out the waste baskets but ended up leaving it all there. My twin, who showed the promise of a novelist in youth. I open his laptop and see several drafts of a suicide letter – four blank documents with different titles. And also, a Craigslist ad he didn’t post.

CUMSLUT SEEKS CUMBATH

I publish the ad, after reviewing a few spelling errors and adding his address.

The neighbors call me by his name:

“Hey Charley,” one says nonchalantly. Two more nod hello without saying anything else.

I arrange a cheese platter but forget to take it out the fridge, collect empty water bottles, and defrost several frozen beef pies. There’s anarchy in living alone, I think.

The doorbell rings. Alfred Gillespe, a neighbor, holds a bouquet of yellowed carnations. I thank him.

“You look just like him,” Gillespe says.

“That happens sometimes.”

He leaves.

Saint Sebastian arrives first. A massive tattoo on his back. He strips to his pink briefs, asks for a beer. “Sure.”

“You Egyptian?” He asks.

“No.”

“Arabian?” He goes down his checklist of fetishes. “Nope.”

“Whatever.”

I try to envision his fantasies. A flying carpet. A dog collar. Fucking me like we were in Abu Ghraib.

“You aren’t a prude, are you?” I’ve been asked this before. A veteran from Iraq tied my arms back like an amputee he’d maimed overseas.

“Are you a prude?” he asked.

“No.”

“I’m gonna fuck the turban off your head,” he said.

“I’m not wearing a turban,” I replied before he shoved his dick so far that my eyes began to tear.

Saint Sebastian points to the tattoo of his namesake: an arrow for each of his abs, none as long as his hung dick.

The doorbell rings again and 39/Daddytype comes in, has a cockring on already. I leave the door ajar. Saint Sebastian spits on his dick.

“Your asshole hairy, boy?” Daddytype asks.

“On a full moon,” I say.

A man rings from downstairs. “Charley, buzz me up. I’m locked out.”

Others arrive, single file. They circulate through the apartment and come in with less and less clothes.

“You like Rimbaud?” One man asks perusing the bookshelf.

“Sure.”

Amberlynn, a neighbor, knocks in tears. I’m already on all fours.

“I’ll miss him,” she says dropping off his favorite casserole, though we’re both lactose intolerant.

“I love this record,” says a neighbor.

“Take it.”

“You sure, Charley?”

“Positive.”

He leaves with it under his arm.

The landlord comes over.

“You’re rent is late, Charles.” I apologize and assure him I’ll pay tomorrow, while trying to suppress my gag reflex.

Three twinks arrive with matching flipflops and camera phones. Saint Sebastian is about to cum.

“Can I do it in your ear?” He asks. “I’ve always had a thing for earlobes.”
says.

“Sure.”

“I don’t want to make a mess.” 66 y.o. Sugar Daddy says.

“Flush it down the toilet.” I suggest.

“Hey, do you have any contact solution?” A man with poppers asks.

His friend starts eating the casserole. One of the twinks uses a toothbrush – maybe his own – and kicks a plastic bottle at the door.

People leave and return with new people. The door wide open. A dad and son walk by.

“My boy-slut wants to watch,” He says. “No problem.” “Can I cum down your neck?”

“Absolutely.”

“Is this meat halal?” The landlord asks from the kitchen.

“Probably.”

“I don’t like halal meat.”

27/Total Top starts to cum on my left nipple. 45 Father of Two asks if he can cum down my epiglottis.

“If you want,” I say and he does.

“On your skillet?” “Sure.”

“Can I take this laptop?”

Two people take the mattress without asking. I throw them the comforter from the fire escape.

“Sure,” I say to a neighbor. “Print out the documents first.”

“They’re blank.”

“Still.”

After, people start disappearing. Saint Sebastian has Amberlynn upside-down spread eagle.

“Under your eyelid?”

“I guess.”

“In your bellybutton?”

“Shoot.”

One of the men opens the closet and pulls out some ties, uses them to jack-off. A cub cums in the garbage disposal, then in my blender. He pours the remains in my nostrils which find a way to my throat.

“On your hair brush?” Cholo, 66 asks.

He dumps half a load there, half on my hair before he combs it through.

On a photobooth picture of Charley. One spurt for each of the four faces.
58/Daddytype comes a second time on the carpet next to me then gives me a dollar bill to snort it. After that people stop coming.

I leave the door open and fall asleep facedown glued to some of the stains.

I wake up to write a note on a post-it. Pay rent tomorrow. I fall asleep in the bathtub but forget to turn the water on.


Navid Sinaki was born in Tehran and currently resides in Los Angeles. He graduated from Berkeley with a B.A. in Art History and Film Studies, and is completing an M.F.A. in Film Directing at UCLA. His constantly daydreams about having a dinner party with Linda Williams, Joan Didion, and Agnes Varda.

8/19/10

Scott Garson

Say My Name


The sex had been artless and rushed, like drinking down water. But she didn’t seem to hold it against him.

Her hair was a little redder than he’d thought and wild in the morning humidity. She searched the ground floor of the time share for her purse. The purse might have been left, she thought, in a room whose door was now closed—one of the rooms where people lay sleeping.

Everyone was sleeping.

Is there anything in the kitchen? she asked.

She was going through a pile of sweaters and coats on a chair. It was strange to him, and enjoyable enough—her idea that they were in this together.

She said, Fucking A.

He asked, What do you need out of it?

My smokes.

Get you a pack in town.

My shades.

Get some of those too.

He listened to himself as he said this.

She found the small purse on top of a bunch of shoes on the floor in the pantry. The walked to a diner. The waitress didn’t look at them but left a glass ashtray as she passed. It spun and made a singing sound as it wobbled to rest on the counter.

Sharilyn, his companion said to him.

This was her name. He said it, but wrong.

She opened her mouth. Inside it, smoke nearly held still. Sharilyn, she pronounced.

Sharilyn, he repeated.

He wasn’t hungry but ordered a roll.

When they returned, the people he’d come with—his friends—were awake and looking at the woman and him. He hadn’t removed his shades.

Morning, they told him.

Hey, he responded.

He didn’t know what they were thinking about him. He was thinking they were thinking something about him, and he was pleased. It was as if he was still drunk.




Scott Garson has stories coming out in NY Tyrant, Unsaid, Redivider, New Ohio Review, and others.

8/18/10

Rich Baiocco

The Dropbeatles 5

Adelle Malabou hanged herself from the basketball hoop in her parent’s driveway wearing a homemade dress no one had ever seen before, and barefoot. She was high up in those cross beams behind the backboard that attach to the wall above the garage door. We thought no one was around; the Malabous were out of town, that’s why we came to use the hoop. I couldn’t get her down. I couldn’t even get rim back then. When I saw her face I dropped the basketball and it echoed a thousand times and a thousand centuries away, my little brother dropped his plum, just made a thud. He said to me “you could see her panties.” He was at that age. But it was true: the back of her dress had got caught up in something behind the backboard and we could see her black underwear and a little chubb of the bottom of her butt. I’d never seen panties in that way either, even though I was a few years older. Not on a real live girl. Couldn’t even get rim.

The dress hung up like that made the whole thing look botched and inappropriate. I put my brother on my shoulders and we tried to straighten it out. I felt his little bone on the back of my head through his shorts as he stretched his fingertips past her thighs and I remember thinking ‘we’ll have to talk about this one day, but not now’, then he clipped the hem of her delicate dress between his middle and forefinger and released the cinched-up dress where it fell naturally below her knees. The motion caused the body to swing a little, creak some, which looked weird because there was simply no wind this summer.

I said to my brother “you want me to let you down?”

He said, “I’ve never been this close to the rim. It’s really big. I don’t know how we miss so much.”


Rich Baiocco is the author of the short story collection Julie In Mittens. Almost drowned in the Pacific ocean the night he finished writing it. Working on new things now. Atlantic oceans.

8/17/10

Anonymous

Shadows

Were shadows over his head. The boy did not raise his chin nor cant his eyes or search with the eyes overhead. Her foot was in his hands. One leg fell to one side and he shouldn’t have. He had heard of this before. The boy had heard before and he had touched a girl before, and this one’s neck hung to the side and he could not see the face from her hair. A khaki patch ran between her thighs. And there were lines between her toes. There were cunts in the gaps between her toes, he saw. He spread a toe from a toe and pushed his finger in there. He branched a toe from a toe and slipped his finger in. It was moist in there where the powdery skin had collected. Her neck hugged to the side and he slipped his finger from there. He smelled his finger and slid his finger back in there. He put a finger between two of his toes. It did not count, he said. He left it between his toes and put another between hers, and he felt them together and he felt. She exhaled a slow caught breath and he breathed this breath along with her. There was a catch in her breath when she exhaled. He had already touched a girl before. He had imagined boys’ toes as being drier than girls’. He had thought boys’ toes would be dry in the hot days of summer. He remembered friends he had had. He wanted this one to like how he liked when he touched her. No. That was not it. He wanted her to like that she liked when he touched her. This was it. He wanted her to feel how he softly he touched in her sleep. See how softly she sleeped? See how softly, he whispered. See how soft, he whimpered. Even to sleep; he felt a feeling like he felt in his pants as a boy. He remembered feeling it when he stood and when he sat and when he kneeled. He remembered when to kneel and how to sit and when he stood. He remembered a statue up front he prayed to when he kneeled. He remembered its cracked and putty skin. He wanted to know what it was like for a girl like her. He wanted to touch and press and put his thumb inside. But there was no place for him to put his thumb into. There was only skin and it was flesh and there were bones. He thought how to sit and when to stand and when to kneel. He stared at the khaki crotch and did not want to even put his thumb up there. He did want to want to touch this girl up here. What kind of boy was he who did not want to fully touch up there? Who only wanted to what? He was a sweet boy and that was it, he thought? Everyone liked him? He remembered how he had rubbed Mother’s feet when he was young. He thought how he had sat and how he stood and when he kneeled. There were shadows that moved when he pressed his thumb. He watched her closely and her neck stayed to the side. Her neck tightened and then it hugged and then stayed to the side. He did not know what it was like for a girl like this. He breathed when she breathed and he liked it here. Maybe she liked this about him, too, he thought. How softly, how softly. Even in sleep, he thought. Even to sleep. He had prayed, that was all. He had prayed. And he stood.

8/16/10

Lincoln Michel

On and On

Driving out west in a rusted sedan, our thoughts slowed with each passing state. My Indian wife wore her wrist-watch with the broken strap. She was dialing up the radio.

“This used to be cowboy country,” she said, “a long time ago.”

There wasn’t much in the way of hazards for miles until we picked up a clean-shaven man by a dusty cliff. He was squatting with his head in his hands.

“Need a lift?”

“I lost the tour bus behind a chimney rock,” he said.

Dusk was seeping into the sky and I said we’d take him as far as town. He lay across the back seats.

“All by your lonesome?” My wife said.

She flashed the man a smile and then he sat up and blurted out the whole story: how his three hissing kids, full of important solitude, had dropped themselves into the dark crack of the cliff.

“They did it to spite me,” he said. “Their own father!”

“Am I supposed to turn around now?” I asked.

I was still driving on. The father frowned and sadly clicked his camera at passing objects.

“We’ll wait until daylight,” my wife said. “Missing boys always return in daylight.”

But just then another unpleasant surprise: a pack of dogs running past our car with the swishing limbs of children in their jaws.

I didn’t know what to do except keep driving.

There was a growing darkness in the clouds. My wife turned the radio down then back up again. The father didn’t pay anything any mind. He just growled and snapped all the way until all our mouths were struck with thunder.


Lincoln Michel is a co-editor of Gigantic and the Books Editor of The Faster Times. His work appears in NOON, The Believer, Unsaid, The Oxford American and elsewhere.

8/13/10

Joseph Riippi

Something About Swimming With Sea Turtles
from The Orange Suitcase

1
My grandfather swims out ahead with a bag of frozen peas in hand. I struggle to keep up, sputtering in the too-big snorkel we’ve rented from the resort. The reef turns kaleidoscopic below, pinks and greens in the turquoise water. Yellow and orange fish flit about like birds and squirrels in blackberry bushes. My grandfather treads water up ahead and waves at me to catch up. He looks strange in his blue mask, like a kid version of himself or my father. I taste salty plastic and listen to the wheeze of my breathing in the tube. I am a just a few feet away when he rips the bag of peas in two. A cloud of fish surround us at once, like the petals of a great tropical flower rising up from the sea floor. I feel them slither against me, on my legs and arms and cheeks. I reach out towards my grandfather and watch a yellow fish suck my finger.

2
I wake in the middle of the night to the phone ringing. I hear coughing, my father saying, —my dad, my mother saying, At least—. I wait all night for them to tell me.

3
I am swimming out alone with a bag of frozen peas in my hand. I watch the reef beneath me, wonder how many generations separate these fish from those before. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn; my grandfather is there, suddenly, unmasked, grinning, reaching out to where a giant turtle appears as if by magic, slow and graceful as an elephant, until we are all carried apart by the current.


Joseph Riippi is the author of Do Something! Do Something! Do Something! (Ampersand Books, 2009). More recent writing appears or is forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail, PANK, elimae, Emprise Review, Salamander, The Bitter Oleander, and Ep;phany. A new book, The Orange Suitcase, will appear from Ampersand in March 2011. He lives in New York.

8/12/10

Gabe Durham

One About Circles

First, know: it didn’t get me off in the slightest. Saw a program on public television where a man jacked off these fish, one by one, while children watched. “Let me try,” one of the kids said. I mention this only to make a point about circles: Persons kissing onscreen is taboo in certain parts of the world. Person jacking person off onscreen is taboo in most parts. Person jacking off person onscreen while children watch is illegal and rightly so. Person jacking off person in a fish suit while children watch is fever-dream fucked and warrants arrest. And yet—and yet—man jacking off actual fish while children watch? We’ve emerged from the tunnel in a new time zone. It helped, maybe, that the program called it milking and they were out by the river instead of in a motel room and that the guy looked bored as hell—he just wanted there to be fish to catch next season and I was not turned on. We all chalked it up to the unfortunate bestiality of continuation.


Gabe Durham lives in Nashville, TN. His writings have appeared in Mid-American Review, Fourteen Hills, Daytrotter, Hobart, The Lifted Brow, The Rumpus, Quick Fiction, and elsewhere. He's a recent grad of the MFA program at UMass, Amherst. He edits Keyhole Magazine.

8/11/10

Bridger Redmond

HOGS

One went for two and became one again. Meaning a boy beside his mother, and the mother sleeping. There was just two or one confusing itself. A person could get sick like this.

There was a little house in the yard behind their house.

There was corn out one window and over the other window was a sheet. Here was summer to wake up wild. Here, a summer to chase chickens. And the hot hogs that squealed in the stalls next door. His mother lay sleeping.

Her hand held long bones and the ropes rolled and popped under her skin. She let him work the ropes back and forth across her bones, but one could get bored with it. It was her loose skin that he liked. And what lay underneath there was harder.

And what lay underneath her hardness?

Light came cauliflower across the sheets, then mushroom, then cauliflower again. The light almost touched one’s hair. It was the kind of light you wanted more and more of. It would not reach. He touched her hair. Morning doves cooed wooden sounds in corn. The sheets were hung. You could get sick. A person.

There was a closet with old things inside—baby clothes, chests of things.

Up close her face looked made in light. The closet smelled like wood and dust. A small bird and its shadow flew over the sheet across the window. Strings over her bones popped in and out of place. The shadow was gone. The bird was gone. It was late now in summer.

The closet held old trophies she won.

She had run so fast.

Scraps of paper cut from papers said so.

She was tired, tired.

With her face near, he felt air come out. Slipping lower, he ran his leg down one of her legs. He felt her smoothness and then her sharp hairs tugged.

Sleep, she said.

Her mouth was shut. He heard a tractor. He imagined little bits of husk floating. She breathed through her nose.

There was the little house behind the house where he could go.

The tractor hummed. Birds. There were the hogs. He placed his head on his fist, his elbow sunk into the mattress and he looked at her good. Her mouth was dead closed and she breathed in her throat like little pigs talking in the air. He touched her hair.



Bridger Redmond is a professor who lives off the coast of Santa Maria, Texas with his German Shepherd and his two children Sylvia, age 3, and Annabelle, 5.

8/10/10

Dawn Raffel

Yosemite and the Range of Light

Where the poster came from I don’t know. It’s a framed Ansel Adams print, an image you might find in any dorm room. Because we moved into our house the same week our son was born (our closing was delayed by a month and the baby came early), the household was haphazard. Boxes sat unopened, rooms went unpainted, and items of uncertain origin appeared on walls and shelves. The poster hung in the sitting room outside our bedroom where I used to nurse the baby in a second-hand chair in the middle of the night. I was unwilling to use the popular Ferber method, in which you let the baby cry for set increments of time until he learns to sleep through the night. Self-comfort was the concept. I couldn’t wait it out, couldn’t comfort myself while the baby was crying. And so I was up at two and four and six a.m. and off to work in the morning, bleary-eyed, hormonal, night and day. Sometimes I sat with the lights off but more often they were on, set dim, and I was looking at that picture, made impressionistic by myopia and extreme astigmatism. With every waking and would-be sleeping moment spoken for, and with my body, though no longer harboring a fetal secret sharer, not my own, that poster opened up a cold bright world of possibility. I sang in the night to my son in that chair. I dreamed while awake, began a novel in my head. That was a world--a universe, not just a room--of my own, where, as my son took what he needed from my body--his weight in my arms, his heat on my chest--I made all the rules.

Now I sleep through the night. The novel, committed to paper, then printed and bound, stitched up, became a fact, never again to have the potency it had when it resided in my head. It is finite now, its possibilities contained. My son is bigger than I am. But I can still feel in me that great range of light -- the call of the world, the child’s insistent suckle.

Dawn Raffel's second short story collection, Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, was published in March by Dzanc Books. This piece is from a newly completed book titled The Secret Life of Objects.

8/9/10

Michele Bajona

 15x12”. Watercolor and ink on paper. Michele Bajona.


 15x12”. Watercolor on paper. Michele Bajona.

 15x12”. Watercolor and ink on paper. Michele Bajona.


Michele Bajona (Vicenza, Italy, 1971)

Michele Bajona graduated with a degree in architecture in Venice in 1997. He lives in Barcelona where he paints, and in New York where he practices architecture. In 1988 he became a member of the artistic circle “La Soffitta" where he discovered the magic of watercolors thanks to maestro Otello de Maria. In 2001 he met watercolorist Frederic Wong and started his studies of models. He’s a member of The Art Student League of New York, and in Barcelona he’s a member of Cercle Artistic S. Lluc.

The artist has shown his work in a number of collective and solo exhibitions in Italy, and the United States. Simultaneously to his recent solo exhibition in Barcelona, a group of selected watercolors was shown at the Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery in New York.

Michele Bajona at Issuu and on Youtube.

8/6/10

Christy Crutchfield

Flood Plain

It wasn't heat lightning. The creek was twice its size, and fast, like they were supposed to take it seriously. Daniel’s father had explained the flood plain three Sundays ago.

“We’re in a dip,” he’d said. “The creek swells.”

Daniel had begged to end guitar lessons with his father, so dinner was demanded, every Sunday, and the new smell of his house was never going to go away.

By the time Daniel had done the dishes, because this was now his job, by the time he left a crust of ketchup on one plate on purpose, the creek had taken over the square of backyard, pale muddy water rushing under the neighbors’ big brown fence.
They stood at the window until it got dark and Daniel could see both their faces in the glass. His father had that beard, but they looked alike, especially when the light took away their skin but left their features.

The phone rang, and it was Mom worrying. Daniel had school tomorrow. Middle school was different and he actually had homework on the weekends. He obviously couldn’t walk home in this. Was his father going to give him a ride or was she going to have to?

His father turned on the outside light, and he was really genuinely smiling. He ruffled Arrow’s ears, and the dog nipped at the air where he had been.

“She’s coming,” he said. “Now we have more time to watch the storm.”

A small laundry basket—a laundry basket for babies, Daniel thought—floated into the yard from the neighbors on the left. Inside it was a stuffed bear, blue, a claw machine win, black thread smile and plastic eyes staring straight ahead, so it was enjoying the ride but not taking it all in. It kept on its path until it bumped against the other neighbors’ fence. It pushed back and bumped again and again, until it found its way to the larger space where the creek originally existed. It passed under.

Arrow didn’t tremble at thunder like other dogs.


Christy Crutchfield writes and teaches in Western Massachusetts. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Mississippi Review, elimae, Necessary Fiction, PANK, and others. She is an Associate Editor for Keyhole Magazine. "Flood Plain" is part of a collection of connected stories called "How to Catch a Coyote."

8/5/10

Annie DeWitt

Congregation

“A man like that’ll take you straight to the junction,” my brother, Mathew, said the first time he met Tommy.

Tonight, Tommy calls me from a phone booth somewhere outside of Taos. He says he’s been hitching the Enchanted Circle for the last several days. He camped with a couple in Red River who gave him a tent and a canteen of water in exchange for his last bottle of Beam.

“Last time, Vision,” he says. “Can you drive out overnight?”

I borrow my mother’s old Pacer and drive straight through from Dallas. On the radio there is a man who says he knows Jesus. Jesus is going to descend on Dallas, in a float, overnight. Each time the man says float, people cheer. He calls these people his congregation. Sometimes I cheer with them, just to see what it is like to talk back to a man who knows Jesus’ vehicle.

At a gas station near Santa Fe, I pull over for coffee and put a five worth of gas into the tank.

“Float me a fiver,” I yell to the man inside the station and wave my bill so that he starts the pump.

After I pay the man, he lends me a pack of matches. We go outside to have a smoke by the Air. Behind us, the mountains are dappled and heavy.

“Speak easy,” the man says nodding to the noises coming from the bar two doors down. Inside a band is playing something loud and electric.

“A rescuing,” I say.

In the car, I find a cassette tape in the glove compartment next to a bottle of my mother’s White Musk. I prop open the door of the car and start the engine. Before going back to the air pump, I lift the neck of my shirt, spray two squirts under the collar and pop in the tape.

Together, the man and I listen to the tape, both sides, twice over, until I figure out how to put “Operator” on repeat–-a Jim Croce mix my father had made for my mother. By the time the tape ejects, I should be halfway to Tommy. Really, I’m asleep in my car at the garage and the sun’s coming in through the windows.

“They’re just heating up,” the man next to me says when I turn on the radio to wake him.

That afternoon, I pull into the spot farthest from the station where Tommy said he’d be waiting. He’s standing alone in the parking lot, leaning up against a red phone booth that looks like it was made in the 50’s. A sign in the gas station window says there’s a special on liter bottles of Tab.

He is wearing the old Aerosmith sweatshirt that he lifted from Mathew that summer when we crashed at Mathew’s place in South Padre. “Time suck,” Mathew said that first night on the porch when I’d introduced him to Tommy. That night Tommy and I made love in the plastic float by the ocean until Mathew’s dog started barking and we had to go in.

“Last time, Vision,” Tommy calls to me now from across the lot. He calls me this each time we come to the junction, which, as the years go by, is more often than not. The closer Tommy comes to the bottle, the more spectacular looking I become.

“You here for me?” he jokes as I roll down the window and pull up next to him.

“Nah,” I say. “I’m here for Mary.”

He throws the pamphlets in the back of the car and slides into the worn, blue fabric seat.

“Any takers?” he asks as we pull out of the station.

When Tommy left two moths ago, I said, “Bring me back something.” (When I was little, my father had business in Chicago. Each time he came back, he brought us all presents. Once, he brought me back a plastic pepper mill.)

“Bring me back something, Tom,” I said as he walked out the door. I wanted Tommy to know that I understood business. I understood what it is to be gone and come back.
Once, he brought me back a Mary.

“I wanted a Marta,” I said to the girl as she carried Tommy into the house, both of them too drunk to walk.

Now, I drive to a place I know in Chimayo. We order Chiles Rellenos and drink a pitcher of Margaritas before we get into it heavy. When we get into it, we say things that make it hard to come back.

In the end, Tommy says, “We’ve been cheated.”

“Cheated, Vision. You and Me. Can you believe?”
Too tired to drive, we get a room in a hotel. The sign out front says, The Big Sleep.

I call my brother that night from a payphone. He says cheated doesn’t hold water. We get into it and I tell my brother he works for the man.

The business we are in, Tommy and I, is part of a system. It was as simple as signing our names and getting several of our closest friends to sign up. Each time someone joined, we’d receive a check in the mail. So the man said.

When the salesman came to the door with the pamphlet, he said to Tommy and me, “When was the last time you heard of a pyramid falling?” Tommy and I thought back. We couldn’t remember.

With the system, we could work from the home.

Two months later I called about our first bill.

“Remember the first principle of the pyramid,” said the same salesman. “One loose cannon and you’re standing in a pile of bricks.”

On our way back to Dallas the next morning, Tommy and I drive by an old casino. In the parking lot, there’s a faded blue ferris wheel and some venders sitting in front of their stands.

“Reservation,” Tommy says.

From above, the town below looks small and quiet, not much more than a couple of houses and highways with a few roads in between them.

At the end of the street sits a small adobe cathedral, the walls are blanched a bone colored white. In front of the cathedral, a man sells dried chilies, bags of ground cumin and roasted pistachios.

As we pull into the parking lot, the congregation is just letting out.

Annie DeWitt is a writer and text based creator interested in
the implications and applications of visual language. She has been a
guest writer for BOMB Magazine’s BOMBLog. She is also a Founding
Editor of Gigantic, a new magazine of short prose and art. Her short
story “Influence” was featured in Esquire Magazine’s Napkin Fiction
Project. Her work has appeared on Esquire.com, art+culture.com,
BOMB.com. and elimae. Ann is currently at work on her first novel.

8/4/10

Melissa Broder

The Mail

I am disgusted by the U.S. mail
its endless soul-crush pulp of catalogues,
Con Edison, mammogram notices
stinking with aggravation.

Just once I would like to reach in the slot
and come upon a stony hollow
or perhaps a tiny garden,
a plot filled with pint-sized animals:

token birds, a little hairless cat
and a mountain range behind it
miniaturized, a small wall of shadow
to gaze at as I loaf the evening

on a petite porch, a bit of loaf,
cubed cheese, an apple from my mini tree
nothing major just a light supper
on chippy, earthenware dishes.

This will be the depth of my story,
the stunning extent of my smile:
a scattered few pin-prick dung drops,
some night weather, no envelopes.


Melissa Broder is the author of WHEN YOU SAY ONE THING BUT MEAN YOUR MOTHER (Ampersand Books; 2010). She is the chief editor of La Petite Zine and curates the Polestar Poetry Series at CakeShop. Her poems appear in many journals, including: Opium, Shampoo, Swink, Five Dials and PANK. By day she works as a literary publicist. Find her online at www.melissabroder.com.

8/3/10

Scott McClanahan

The Football Bastards

So I started playing football because I thought I was gay. I showed up at football practice all 5’6” 105 pounds of me. There were other guys there too—seniors who were really like grown men compared to all of us boys. I mean they had bushy beards and mustaches, and girlfriends they had sex with. And they talked about things like having sex with their girlfriends, or how they had sex with some girl who wasn’t even their girlfriend. And this is what they talked about as we walked up to the football field in the foggy morning mist.

Since we were younger, we got all the crappy equipment the older guys didn’t want. And since the coaches weren’t up to the field yet all the older guys lined up all of the younger guys in a row to play smear the queer.

O my god, I thought, they know about me. They know I’m not tough. They had us sit on our knees and put our hands behind us. Then one of the older guys, Eddie Harris, took off as fast as he could, screamed “OLD GLORY” and then launched himself into the air and smashed into the guy next to me, Randy Doogan, smearing the queer.

Then Harris whispered over crying Randy, “Quit crying faggot. Coach is coming.”

Coach was coming alright. Everybody just called him Coach. So I waited and imagined a giant man with an iron jaw or a guy who was built like a coal truck. All of the sudden here comes trotting up the path—the giant man, the bad ass, the drill sergeant.

THE COACH.

What?

It was this little sawed off five foot two guy, who had a baseball hat on and a whistle around his neck. He whistled from his whistle tweet tweet, which made his face turn red like a devil face, and we all gathered around him with the tweet still ringing in our ears.

“I’m as tall as he is,” I thought.

Tweet tweet.

This was the sound men made?

Then he said: “Alright now. I know a lot of you boys want to be tough. But if you ask me you’ve been sucking on hind tit too long.”

I didn’t know what this meant, but I didn’t say anything because this was the guy who was going to teach me how to be tough. This was the guy who was going to teach me how to be a man.

He kept telling us we’d been around our mommies for too long. Then he told us we were a bunch of pussy’s.

Then he kicked a bag of footballs. His hat fell off and the veins busted out of the top of his skull.

Then he said, “I meant to call you pussy cats, so don’t dare tell your mommies I called you pussies. Don’t need a whole locker room full of mommies ready to jump my ass tomorrow.”

Then he asked us if we wanted to be men.

I wanted to be a man more than anything now. So we practiced all that summer, knocking each other down and puking.

We ran plays and got knocked on our ass and puked.

We ran gassers and did leg lifts and puked.

Then the coach yelled some more and shouted, “It’s the fundamentals boys. You gotta get your ass down like you’re taking a shit. You can’t be little boys all the time.”

Then we puked.

I mean I was younger than all the rest of the guys, but I ended up the quarterback on the varsity team. But the whole time I thought they could smell it on me. I thought they could tell what I’d done—gay stuff.

So the first game rolled around. I stood in the middle of the huddle, but I was so little I disappeared inside it. As I leaned over to call the play I heard laughter coming from the stands because I looked so small compared to all the other guys.
Look at him. He looks so small. Look at him.

I bent over and tried to call the play but there so many people watching, and I was so nervous my voice quivered and shook, all high pitched, as I called 29 crossbuck pass on two.

I heard groans from the older guys saying: “Shut up. Let’s run the ball. Let’s run 29 counter. You can’t fucking throw the ball, McClanahan.”

I told them: “But it’s what coach told me to call.”

I mean I didn’t even want to be quarterback anyway. I just repeated 29 crossbuck pass hoping that’s what they’d run.

“What the fuck did you say?” Eddie Harris said just being an asshole.

“29 crossbuck pass on two. Ready? Break.”

So I walked up to the line hoping the guys would do what I said. I was so small my pants didn’t fit me. My knee pads were down around my ankles but I pulled them up and kept going. I licked my fingers like I always did to make sure I could grip the ball.

I wiped the towel on my belt and then licked my fingers again standing across from the defense who were already shouting at me. “Hey you little pussy.”

The offensive line got down in their three point stance.

The defense kept going: “I’m going to make you suck my dick. I’m going to kick your ass you little faggot.”

I thought, “O god. Maybe they know what I’ve done.” The referee told them to shut up.

But they just said, “No you shut the fuck up ref.”

So I shook all nervous, squatted down behind center with my hands cupped beneath the center’s balls.

I said: “Seeeeeeuuuuuuttt.” in my long call. “Seeeeeuuuuttt. Hut.”

The ball was snapped. The lines crushed together full of pads smashing, voices shouting, curse words, motherfucker, motherfucker, motherfucker. I dropped back, faked the hand off to the 2 back going through the 9 hole, and then I looked down the field. I couldn’t really see anything because I wasn’t wearing my glasses. I knew tough guys didn’t wear glasses. But then I saw this red streak zipping down the field. It was Eddie Harris.

I couldn’t see it was Eddie Harris but I imagined that’s who it was, so I just heaved the ball down the field hoping he was one of ours and watched it go.

Then a linebacker on the other team came crashing through the line and knocked me on my ass.

I just sat on my back in the wet dewey grass and listened to him shout over top of me. “Stay down on the ground, you little faggot.”

So that’s just what I did, listening to the crowd like they were in slow motion grow quiet—-shhhh.

And then it was even more quiet.

But then.

But then there was a cheer---a cheer so fucking big I felt it bounce against the ground and then go jumping up my arms before gurgling around in my guts.
So I hopped up and heard an even bigger cheer---ahhh, a cheer so much bigger that even now if you’re quiet enough you can hear it echo. Ahhhh.

Do you hear it?

So I just ran down the field, tapped the big stupid linebacker on top of his helmet and giggled, watching Eddie Harris run the length of the field 25-20- 15-10-5-touchdown. I ran over to the sideline and everybody smacked my ass.

It felt good when people smacked my ass.

Coach D grabbed hold of my face mask and I knew I was on my way to being tough.

But then it changed the next week.

It was at halftime of the game with Alderson when the score was 0-0. Coach was spitting and cussing and telling us at halftime: “You gotta suck it up boys. You gotta suck it up even when you don’t think you can anymore, because a man puts up his fists and he fights.”

Then he screamed at Jason Hudson who was smiling now, who was just the kind of guy who was always smiling. “Wipe that smile off your face J.J. Wipe that fucking smile off your face.”

J.J. stopped smiling too.

Then Coach D punched a locker. “We’re all just too goddamn nice. We gotta toughen up. You gotta suck it up and ask yourself whether you wanna be one of them candy asses.”

“Now are you ready?”

We said: “We’re ready.”

He said: “What?”

We said: “We’re ready.”

He said: “What?”

I was confused by all this.

So we ran out onto the field after halftime screaming and punching each other and I didn’t think about anything else. I just played football and called the plays because I was the quarterback.

I called the play 40 sweep. And we picked up 8 yards. I called them back to the huddle and called 31 dive. We picked up 10 yards. I called them back to the huddle and giggled. A couple of the older guys were talking in the middle of the huddle. So I told them to shut the fuck up-—guys who could kick my ass. And you know what?

They shut the fuck up.

They listened to me.

I called another play and we gathered at the line.

The Alderson linebacker screamed at me, “Go ahead and throw it you little fuck.”
But I didn’t listen to them.

I just giggled and said, “Seeeuuut hutt.”

The ball snapped. I faked the sweep, threw the flare pass out into the flat and watched Chris Simmons go zipping up the sideline.

But then something happened. I guess the little Alderson nose guard must have been blocked to the ground, and as he rolled over, our legs became tangled together. I felt myself losing my balance. I felt myself falling. I felt myself flat on my stomach. So I pushed myself up a little on my stomach with my right arm and looked beneath me.

O SHIT.

My arm was broken. My forearm looked like somebody had broken it into a letter L. It was like someone wanted to spell the word love with broken bones and my broken bone was the first letter. So that if you were to look at it—it would have looked something like an L. The bones were pushing out like the tips of broken toothpicks. The bones had jagged teeth cutting and grinding the arm meat.

“O fuck.”

“O fuck.”

The referee leaned over and gagged. Then he gagged again and vomit came out of his nose. Then Coach D ran out onto the field. Coach bent over on his knees and pointed at a piece of skin that was hanging off the bone like a piece of used dental floss.

“Hey Coach I think I broke my arm.” I said.

Then coach gagged too. He gagged and puked at the 48 yard line.

The crowd went “OOOOOOO.” I didn’t even say a word. I felt the paramedic cutting my jersey off of me. I guess the smell of the vomit was getting to him. So he puked too. Then they put me up on the stretcher and another paramedic gagged but didn’t puke. He kept looking away from so he wouldn’t have to look at my arm. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” Coach told me.

I though to myself, what a pussy. But I just grinned a grin beneath the groans of the crowd and held my arm up, hoping they would all puke. “Puke you bastards,” I shouted and held it higher. The lights of the ambulance started flashing. The crowd thought I was trying to tell them I was okay. So they started cheering.

They started cheering so loud I could feel it inside me. I wanted them all to puke and cheer. Puke and cheer you bastards. And then I heard them cheering loud. I heard them cheering so loud because at long last I was tough. At long last I was the toughest faggot alive.


Scott McClanahan is the author of Stories (published by Six Gallery Press). His other works include Stories II, Hillbilly, Stories 5!, The Nightmares and Crapalachia (all forthcoming). He is co-partner of the company Holler Presents (www.hollerpresents.com), which has produced such films as Preacher Man, Spring, 1386, The Education of Bertie Mae McClanahan, and Lil Audrey's Last Day at School.

8/2/10

Japhy Chinacat Ryder



(Click image for larger view.)
Japhy Chinacat Ryder is an artist . . . singer-songwriter . . . and lives in Oregon.