4/30/13

John Mortara


i am trying to tell you

            you can’t test the ocean
without warming it with your hand

that jupiter is a star that never happened

that reincarnation exists
            and when i grow up and die
i want to be a mountain

i am trying to tell you that black holes
hum B flat
57 octaves down

that          when a meteor strikes the moon
it rings like a bell

            i am trying to tell you sometimes
you can be too careful

that the average color
of the universe
is #FFF8E7

and they went and called it
‘cosmic latte’

i am trying to tell you this disappoints me

that sometimes i need to be left alone

i am trying to tell you
there is no mathematical possibility
for everybody to have a soulmate i’m sorry

some people fit together exactly
like they say they do

and it’s hard to explain how their atoms
will never really touch

i am trying

i am trying and this
disappoints me.


John Mortara lives and writes in North Carolina. He edits voicemailpoems.org and his poems have most recently been published in Fiddleback and Vinyl Poet.

4/29/13

Jared Schickling

HOW TO SPELL GRAMMAR

THE POO POO MAN

One Day there was a Man that always pooed every
were so this is what He Did to a Kid, a Mom, and a
Baby that talked. So a Man pased by a kid and the
Man needed to Go Poop But there was no rest room
so He Just Saw a kid and Hee needed to do number
4 He needed to takE a DUMP. So He Jumped and He
Pulled Down His Pants and He Put His Butt
on The Kids Face and He Pooped. and when He
saw a MOM he Pooped on Her too. and then
when He Realy needed to go Poop he Pooped
on a Baby and The Babst tasted The Poop
and The BaBy said YUM YUM GiMMy More
and The Baby could walk So the BaBy
chased Him and the Man Got a stick and
Hit Him in The Face and The BaBy Fell.

THE FART

One day me and my brother,
my cousin, and I went to the
park. We bought ice cream. After we
finished it we went to play. We played
tag then me and my cousin hid
from my brother. And he got scared
he started to cry and then he farted
and started Laughing. Then we came
out and mom called us to eat
pizza after we ate pizza my brother
took a shower. While he took a shower
he farted then me and my cousin
were Laughing hard when my brother
got out the shower he went to
bed. But then I woke up and it
was all a dream

The End

THE ZOO

One day my friend and I went to the zoo, and
I saw a women that was next to a lion. Then he
pooped on her face.

NO TITLE: FARTMAN

First I went to the fair. With
carlos. Next me and carlos were looking
for a Rollercoaster then we found a
Rollercoaster Then it was scary
and carlos farted in my face.
last I said did you eat a fart?
he said yes I did eat a fart. Then
I said are you a fart man.
after that he said no why? because
you fart a lot. and he said, no I
don’t. I said, yes you do. then he said
ok I am a fart man. After that, we went
home. to play my x-box with
carlos. We were playing killing. After
that carlos mom came to talk.
to my mom. about carlos. because
he farts alot. and carlos “said” I
will not do it again.

NO TITLE: MONSTER

I went to the shower. And I went to
the shower. I open it and the water
was on. I saw the toylet it had a
big peese of caca that was nasty. I
flushed it and it did not want to go.
I said” you are a monster He said” yes.

MOUTH

around. Next -> The monster was in the
Bathroom brushing his butt with a
stick and he looked at the stick
it was poop inside his butt. Then ->

EPILOG

Dear Mr. G
You are
the best teacher
I would miss you
over summer. You
are the nices

teacher I ever had.
Thank you for teaching
me things. I wish
3rd Grade never ends.

- I hope you be
relaxing in -
summer

THE CHONIE

One Day my sister was
in the room. I went over
there. and I made Her laugh
she said stop I gota poop. and
she Pooed on her self. I was
covering my nose Because it
stinked. She went to the Bathroom
and left it thire. my mom
was Picking up all te Clothes
and my mom put poop on
Her hand and said How put this
chonie Here. and She was pasing The
chonie to my sister. MY mom said
said to wash your Dirty PooPoo chonie.
Because I’m not going to was it.
My sister was Done. When she got
out her Hand stinked like pop. We were
laughing.

the
End



Jared Schickling’s most recent books of poetry are t&u& lash your nipples to a post history is gorgeous (BlazeVox, 2011) and The Pink (2012). A book of essays, “The Paranoid Reader: 2006-2012,” is forthcoming from Furniture Press (2013). His work has been published in journals and ephemera, online and in print. He is a founding editor of Delete Press, the proprietor of eccolinguistics, and he serves on the editorial board of Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics and Poetry / Literature and Culture. He lives in Lockport, NY.

4/26/13

Eugene Lim

OLD MAN YELLS AT CLOUD

I'd looked at Tyler's Peruke34 and was so swoon. She was: it's the greatest thing ever and I said, better than recreational drugs and she was: okay, granted, second best. She showed me how to update the castlist which I realized I could better coldsync through my Samsung Presidential Pardon app so we mostly just sat there and ate ding dongs while my glasses rebooted shooting the shit. It felt like old days. I told her the Mezepace could automatically index your feeds and create a nerdmeal for you (and she was like Mortsandwich and I giggled and said chomp chomp) and you don't even have to think what's the nearest lunkpool you just augment and go! And she said that's so neat so I got kinduv blushy but truthfully was happy I could impress her. Then I got exhausted by this story's premise because my attention span is now that of a poodle -- who's to blame? Yap yap. Berryman: Wag. Me: Cloud, suck it you assclown.

Eugene Lim is the author of the novels Fog & Car (Ellipsis Press) and the forthcoming The Strangers (Black Square Editions).

4/25/13

Lauren Wells

An Elbow to the Back

Fuck language, she says
which is kind of funny
considering the way
she says her R’s
reminds me of the time
I tried paragliding
with a man who didn’t speak
English. He communicated
through sharp nudges & grumbles
lost in the stitch-work
of my harness & at first
I tried to pretend I understood
but after our ascent, nothing
either of us said would have
meant safety.

From our spot in the sky
she was a mute dot
& I had the quiet I needed
to address my concerns:

Why the condolence cards
with cats are always the first to go,

Why the moon looks more like a
toenail clipping than a crescent.

Flying next to me
a little man
with a bowl shaped back
a broom in his hand
gestures toward all
the little dots & says
Want me to sweep those up for you?

I want to shrug with indifference,
tell him it’s really up to him
what he does with that broom
but another elbow to my back
means it’s time for the descent.


Originally from upstate New York but now living in Brooklyn, Lauren L. Wells has a B.A. in English from Hobart & William Smith Colleges and plans to enter an M.F.A. program for poetry. When she’s not listening to Duran Duran or sifting through the unhealthy amount of squirrel-related media sent by friends, she can be found counting her freckles.

4/24/13

Madison Langston

GIRLS GONE COMPLETELY MOTHERFUCKING WILD

I found my Lolita, she's a rapper
turned country
rockstar. We eat pudding

and listen to
Hank Williams in bed.

She is a little seaweed
sweetheart. She is
my milk princess.

She takes my bookshelf
on a booze cruise. She buys
my body dysmorphia a new
bikini.

When we play show and tell,
I tell her I look better on
night vision. I tell her I look
better from behind. I tell her

I want to be gothic
but I'm blonde and I look better
with a tan.

She doesn't console me but
she shows me her Daddy
Issues instead.

When we play hide and
seek I try to hide my feminism
in her body glitter but she
fucking catches me. She

hides her tramp stamp in a
backpack and we don't see
that thing for six months.

When we role-play I pretend
I'm a relapsing vegan and
she sits on the front porch pretending
to read Foucault. When we're

done she force-feeds me
her honey heart and repeatedly
reads me the tattoo above
her bellybutton that says, love
is blonde.

Madison Langston lives in Alabama.






4/23/13

Ashley Farmer

Sad Women

I never saw a sad woman
buying a Chanel bag.
Diamonds are my favorite
shape like little friends
from a different perspective.
But I know what it is
to be human:
bathtubs and the minimum
sunlight. Sad sad women.

YOU ARE READING THIS.


Stop Women

Sometimes one wonders
if our nation is
a public strip club.
A mother and daughter
who run a brothel for truckers fight
back when the Mafia
tries to take over their operation.
Men’s fragrances smell
like excuses for getting home late.
You will not stop women.


How Do Women

The body
sheds light
when it’s
turned
on.

Ashley Farmer is the author of the chapbook Farm Town (Rust Belt Bindery 2012) and her first collection is forthcoming from Tiny Hardcore Press in 2013. Please say hello at ashleymfarmer.com.

4/22/13

Jess Stoner


Roundoffs of Fate, a sequel to Cartwheels of Justice

From the Publisher’s Weekly starred review: “I love the fact that this is the author’s longest story.”

Listen to the story, read by the author:


In Calloused Parts Bay, water is scarce and passions run dry.  Hart Wolf, the town’s only burnt-our surgeon, may have thick wrists, but his only loyalty is to his hamster. No woman has ever filled the pothole of his private agony, and it seems like none will. 

It’s Tuesday, the day warm, the air filled with the sweet leavings of horses, and Hart's practicing turning horizontal speed into vertical, like he always does after 72-hour shift.

He's in the midst of his gymnastics when he sees it: a hot air balloon hurtling towards the shores of empty Areola Lake. Though he's trained for all kinds of rescues, he freezes like the way he’s always preferred to eat a Snickers.

Crumpled on the rocky beach, the former inhabitant of the balloon looks like a collapsed lung.  A sexy collapsed lung.  Even from so many yards away, Hart wonders if she might be an up-and-coming lingerie model. 

As he approaches, he realizes she could’ve been in a catalog, if only she wasn’t heavily pregnant.  He runs to her side and notices before he’s even at her side that her nipples look like the positive ends of AA batteries.  He feels their current shoot through his heart, like a defibrillator’s erotic electrodes.  His own nipples strain against his tight cotton scrubs like a pair of over-excited Rice Krispies: all this, and she hasn’t said a word.  Because she’s still unconscious.

When Hart finally awakens her, Mackenzie Daysail can’t remember her name, and she has no idea that she’s due to give birth in two weeks.  But she does know: the doctor who found her makes her feel her heart throbbing in her vagina.  She tries to ignore it.  This isn’t a screenplay, it’s her life after all.  But how long can she hold out?

With the help of his twin brother, Brock Chance, and his ripe wife, Purity Nightwind, Hart tries to jiggle Mackenzie’s memory.  The only personal possession on her person? A menacing, handwritten note: the eyes of Ganon are everywhere

Hart knows Mackenzie has ruptured her memory.  If he helps her suture it together, will she open her legs as wide as a horse’s mouth? It’s only been a few hours, but he knows he’s careening out of control: there’s no cure for everything in him that is swollen: his heart, his weeping sheath.

But there are more hidden horrors to unearth: a werepanther healer who hates children wants Mackenzie and her unborn son dead.  Hart realizes it’s clearly too late to pop her cherry.  But it isn’t too late to save her life.

Before they head out on the road to find Lavender Twunt, a unicorn breeder Mackenzie remembered in a dream, Hart packs his medical kit, just in case he needs to deliver; he doesn’t need to pack his bone extender though.  Whenever he was near her, well, he didn’t need it.  But he didn’t want to deliver a baby.  He wanted to deliver something a bit more personal: himself, into her love tunnel, which he hoped would clench him like pair of forceps.

In the small town of Honey Hole, Hart and Mackenzie find Lavender Twunt.  And she’s dead. Mackenzie is stunned, but she’s also starting to remember more: her affinity for Jacuzzis, her mother who was an aloof daycare employee. 

But Mackenzie remembers even more than she lets on. What will Hart think when he finds out Mackenzie unwittingly trained a dolphin to kill the Secretary of State?

She can’t tell him; she doesn’t want to push him away; she knows the truth will be the worst kind of prescription: it will cure his blistering sexuality.  She doesn’t want that. She wants his bold blade of passion sterilized and ready for her.

At a hotel at the edge of town, the not-yet-lovers stop for the night.  Hart tells Mackenzie he needs to take a blood culture, that it might provide clues to her identity.  He knows it’s a mistake, to be this close to her.  Her nipples look like the ends of discarded hot dog tips, the part nobody ever wants to eat, because they look like wrinkled anuses.  But Hart isn’t nobody.  And he wants to eat. Once he’s processed the vials, he tells Mackenzie he needs to do a full examination.  And then because he can’t keep it in, he says it aloud:  he wants to probe her womb with his probe. 

Hart’s unwanted control ignites her.  Mackenzie knows: Tonight, she wants them both to forget she’s pregnant.

 “Put it in my femininity,” she answers, in a voice hoarse with passion and third-trimester-bronchitis.  There’s no way Hart can refuse.

And it’s better than he had ever imagined.  She was so hot--she could reheat chili!
Hart could drown a toddler in her panties.  Luckily he had ace bandages to wipe up her wet.  If he wanted to. But he didn’t.  They banged for days. 

If Hart kept at this pace, she’d need a hip replacement.  Luckily he could do the surgery.

But though they can pretend she isn’t pregnant, they can’t pretend danger isn’t still lurking.  Hart decides: he will protect her with his life. He’s a doctor, goddammit.  But if he’s not careful, he’ll overdose on her.

Meanwhile, Mackenzie knows she can trust him with her baby.  But can she trust him with her heart?

Before she knows her answer, they’re off again, chasing the highest peaks of danger and pleasure, as Hart works to discover Mackenzie’s secrets, and reverse her pregnesia.  And though Mackenzie’s not pregnant with his baby, she will be his bride. Together they will raise another man’s child and hamsters; they’ll find the light arrows they need to bring down the demon, and they’ll explore the intensive care unit of their hearts.



Jess Stoner is the author of the novel I Have Blinded Myself Writing This from Hobart's Short Flight/Long Drive Books. When she's not doing her job, writing things for the government she can't talk about, she lovingly reads, like, six romance novels each week.

4/19/13

Becky Boncal

Goals

The Gainer Version

Every week, he takes a picture of his body framed from breasts to thighs and posts it on his blog.

In the comments, people write that he inspires them.
They want to look like him. They ask for his advice.
Set five pound goals, he writes.

Sometimes, he hits a plateau and he has to push through the pain for those five pounds.
But it feels good when people stare at him in public.

He has tried pills. His body aches but it’s worth it, he says.
Some afternoons, as soon as he sits down he starts to fall asleep.

He does get worried when his heart pounds, but his doctor says he’s healthy, overall.
He has not set a final goal weight; he will know when he gets there.


The Anna Version

Every week, she takes
a picture of her body
framed from breasts to
thighs and posts it
on her blog.

In the comments, people write
that she inspires them.
They want to look like her.
They ask for her advice.

Set five pound goals, she writes.

Sometimes, she hits a plateau
and she has to push through
the pain for those five pounds.
But it feels good
when people stare at her
in public.

She has tried pills.
Her body aches but
it’s worth it, she says.
Some afternoons,
as soon as she
sits down she
starts to fall asleep.

She does get worried
When her heart pounds,
but her doctor says
she’s healthy, overall.
She has not set
a final goal weight;
she will know when
she gets there.

Becky Boncal is a writer who currently teaches literature and writing at John Tyler Community College in Richmond, VA. She holds an MFA in creative writing, fiction, from George Mason University. Her work has appeared in HOOT and The Buried Letter Press.

4/18/13

Simon Jacobs

DAVID BOWIE TAKES A COMMERCIAL SPACE FLIGHT

It has taken over fifty years to reach this point. When David Bowie hears the countdown in his headset, each number hits him like a cold bullet and brings him a step closer to 1969, to his first hit, to the inside joke that made him a star. Later, as they’re unraveled into orbit—the sixty-minute spacewalk for which he’s paid almost everything—David Bowie turns slowly in the less than-gravity to face his wife, Somali supermodel Iman (for whom he has written songs, unlike this one), only to find that in her spacesuit and helmet she has lost virtually all form. A voice crackles through his headset, “I love you, Dave,” but it is a voice he doesn’t recognize. He reaches out and touches her shoulder through six layers of Gore-Tex, nylon, and Mylar. The sensation is like pressing into a fossil.

The line revisits him long after he could be expected to have a response: he sings, “Tell my wife I love her very much. She knows.” But beyond its obvious self-reference Iman knows the truth, just as she knows exactly when her husband was lost to the distant past, and as they unspool from each other David Bowie looks down at the glowing surface beneath them and realizes his mistake: Planet Earth is blue. And white. And green. And yellow. When he returns home he will begin painting again. Somewhere over Tucson, Arizona, a star falls from the sky.

Simon Jacobs is a writer from Ohio currently living in NYC. He curates the Safety Pin Review, a wearable medium for work of less then 30 words, and his writing has appeared in places like Paper DartsColumbia Poetry ReviewPANK, and Best Gay Stories 2013. He may be found at simonajacobs.blogspot.com or if you like on twitter.

4/17/13

Kevin Fitzgerald

poptronics electronics

doom stars the sky littered
she lifted her eyes
I believe in swordfish
once there once was
a few tenants
screaming in your ear
don’t let that change you
you hear disgruntled voices
you frack in hell
dear microwave
accept this ghost for my mate
a blowup doll in the front seat
for the daily commute
in the HOV lane

Fitz Fitzgerald once beat Oprah in a footrace. His work also appears in Boog City and Artichoke Haircut.

4/16/13

Emily Siegenthaler

Do You Understand How To Act Out

the new type of science-fiction?
There must be expensive lighting and
cheap, accessible humor.
Zero dancing. Here
I am a person in a spaceship
talking to another person
in a different spaceship.
What I'm trying to say is,
colossal screens.
The people are itching
for it. They crave
discomfort. They never had
braces, their childhood
pets lived forever.
Today a man drove his car
into a tunnel meant for
the trains. Smiling
a perfect grin
the entire time. He was breaking
a few laws.
Here is another law:
The flag should be hoisted
briskly, and lowered ceremoniously.

Emily Siegenthaler lives San Francisco, California. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in NOÖ Journal, HOUSEFIRE, and Be About It, among others.

4/15/13

Gabriel Kruis and David Hutcheson

Monet’s Garden aka Weekend at Giverney’s
Bronx, NY PM 9.8.12


There’s a John Wayne in nails
In a diner in Albuquerque. There’s
A Lincoln face made of pennies.

Somewhere in Wisconsin,
A portrait of The Gipper in Jelly
Bellies on a factory wall— Pina

Colada, Red Apple, & Berry
Blue furling behind his square head.
I’ve heard of particulate pseudo-

Paintings in macaroni, but I mis-
Understand it all. I look askance
at it, look in the mirror, splash

Water on my face, towel
It off with my sleeve, David,
I know you see everything

In New York, but you can’t see
what I see now. This big field
of cotton all in bloom. I know

you miss the South. I know
you miss your Momma.
Call me. As a child, Dali painted

Masterpieces across fields of river-
Stones. Shellacked them to the walls,
The ceiling. In time, they’d fall off.

Smooth stones of animal heads
Falling into gazpacho. Murals warped
Across curve, blistered land-

Scape— convex— as if under huge dew.
There’s a woman in the Golden
Crown Panaderia around the corner

Who tells of witnessing her dying
Mother in a cellphone photograph
Of her newly dyed hair. She told me

it looked awful, so I got it done.
When I saw her face in my hair, I knew
I had to say goodbye. She died

the next day. Whether he knows them
Or not I don’t know, but Mr. Morales,
Behind the counter, greets all

The customers the same: Where
have you been! I’ve been waiting for you
all morning. But to me, & my childhood

Friend, he says, All the kids get free
biscochitos & hand us cookies, wrapped
In wax paper. He tells the woman,

I have a philosophy about that. I say
all my goodbyes before my loved-
ones ever leave. When my father

passed on, my brothers were disgusted
I wouldn’t go home for the funeral.
I went to work that morning, like

any other. They couldn’t understand,
I said my goodbyes years ago.
San Antonio is 700 miles from here

but that distance, to me, is nothing.

David Hutcheson & Gabriel Kruis hail from Rocky Mount, North Carolina & Gallup, New Mexico, respectively. They are studying for their MFAs together at Hunter College. Once a month, Gabe runs The Shitluck Reading Series at the Tip Top Bar & Grill in Brooklyn, alongside the poet & total BAMF Caroline Gormley. Shitluck's season finale is May 4th. Check it out!

4/12/13

Matthew Savoca Reads IDKIS


It took Matthew 5 hours and 44 minutes to read I Don't Know I Said aloud, in its entirety. How long will it take you? Order a copy and find out.

4/11/13

An Interview with Matthew Savoca

One thing Publishing Genius authors are doing over the course of the year is interviewing each other in a chain. In this installment, Megan McShea talks to Matthew Savoca about his new book. [crossposted from PGP]
2nd Guess eARCG

MEGAN: To start in an obvious place, I love the title of your book. I loved it more when I was reading it. It seemed like a kind of home-base for the narrator. Somewhere in there he muses that it's his fallback position. Did you know the title from the start? Or did that come later?

MATTHEW: I don't know.

Hah. Just kidding. I say "I don't know" too much, but it's even worse with this narrator guy. Don't you want to just kick him sometimes? Yeah, I knew the title from very early on. It was just sitting there. Most of the time I start with a title. Like I start every day with the name Matthew. And then I go from there.

MEGAN: The only times I really wanted to strangle the guy were times when he was overly accommodating, like when Carolina's in the bank and he's waiting outside but he won't go get a soda because he's afraid she'll come out and wonder where he is. What kind of magical leash does she have him on?! But really, it only bothers me because it reminds me of myself at my most servile in relationships. I have to say, your novel had a real squirm-factor in terms of remembering some of the more pathetic moments of past relationships.

MATTHEW: He's just afraid of being a bad guy. He doesn't want to do anything that could put him in the wrong, and that's messed up. Because it's fake goodness. The kind thing to do for another person is let yourself be the fuck up half the time.

Jean Rhys always talked about wanting to "get things right" and that's what I had in mind with this book, which is maybe what that squirm-factor is all about. But I figure if I can make you squirm a little this time around, then I know you'll be back next time.

MEGAN: Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of art that makes me squirm. I figure it's doing something right if I'm a little uncomfortable. Your story manages to do that in this really quiet way, without resorting to the grotesque or melodrama. It just follows the thoughts of the narrator into all these places he hits his own walls. At which point he generally says, "I don't know." It's very honest.

Despite lack of melodrama, there's some vivid, memorable scenes in this book. Did you start with a collection of scenes and then map them out into a story?

MATTHEW: That's a great description of the book. I like that. Most of the stuff I wrote down in order, while it was fresh in my mind. Scott McClanahan talks about how when he sits down to write, it's game time. There's no exercises or practices. It's just sit down and go. I didn't start with a collection of scenes or even anything in my mind, really. I try not to think about it too much. I just start telling it and then fuss with it a little bit later, but not too much. I used to play ice hockey when I was in high school and most of the time when you're out there on the ice you're just going on your nerve. You grab the puck and race down and score and then you think to yourself, Who just did that? That's how I feel about writing things down. Frank O'Hara said the thing about going on your nerve. He said when someone's chasing you down the street with a knife, you just run. You don't turn around and yell, "Give it up, I was a track star for Mineola Prep!" (from “Personism: A Manifesto”)

MEGAN: I love that piece. My favorite line is the one about form: "if you're going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you."

I like this idea of Rhys, getting things right. I can see how it worked its way into this book. The way the interactions and thought processes of the characters are spelled out so plainly, nakedly. There were so many moments that felt true to me, with all your detail about those spaces in between the big things that happen or get said between two people. The body language and the talking about nothing. And there are flourishes in there, too, but they aren't grand. They're very small, but beautiful little payoffs the readers gets for following the nuances.

My favorite scene, though, is when he encounters the streetlamp in the rain. It sort of seems like a moment of enlightenment. Elsewhere you mention Zen. Am I imposing something on the book, or is there a path to enlightenment story in there that you meant to tell?

MATTHEW: For a while there, back around 2007-2008, I was pretty into Zen so I'm sure it made its way into the book, and I think Arthur probably views himself as some kind of Siddhartha, but I never meant it that way. I mean, I never meant to tell anything. I just sat down and wrote the things out that were in my head. I think most of the time I saw it as scenes in my head, like in a movie, and all I had to do was describe what I was seeing. It must have worked too because I don't have any of those things in my head anymore. But, yeah, the streetlamp is my favorite character in the whole book. I love the streetlamp deeply, like that lady who married the Berlin Wall.

MEGAN: Yes, the streetlamp is a great character! Especially when it returns later like some lost love.

I've been assuming this is at least partly memoir, although I'm never clear why that matters. Am I right? And if so, do you think it matters?

MATTHEW: You know what I think is funny? Adam never once asked me that. I heard this great joke the other day: Why'd the chicken cross the road? Because the road crossed the chicken. Never cross a chicken, man.

I don't even know what memoir is. I guess it's someone saying here's a true story about a thing that happened to me. I don't think I ever tell the truth. I'm always trying to make myself look better. But, here we go, here's a true story of something that happened to me the other day: I was on the New Jersey turnpike and I stopped off to get gas, which you're not allowed to pump yourself in Jersey, and this guy in front of me at the pump didn't want to wait for an attendant, so he just started pumping the gas himself and then an attendant yelled Sir you can't pump your own gas here, Sir! SIR! And the guy just ignored him and went right on pumping his gas and the attendant eventually came over but just stood there and told the guy he wasn't allowed to do what he was doing. Over and over again just telling him until the guy was finished and then drove off up the highway scott free. And I sat there the entire time just watching this scene and thinking about the guy and I went from hating him for being a total jerk to almost admiring him for seeing it all the way through, even though he was still a jerk. I mean, what crazy hurry was this guy in? And then just a few minutes later, I passed by him on the highway and he was parked on the shoulder, just laying on the hood of his car with his arms crossed behind his head staring up at the sky.

But, see, that's not even true. I just made that story up right now.

Actually, it is true. That really did happen. Didn't it?

MEGAN: I really want that to be a true story. In fact, I look forward to a time when I've sort of gotten dislodged from the source of that story by the passage of time and can adopt it as my own, telling someone who I think might appreciate it that it happened to me.

I think that dispenses with the whole memoir question very nicely.

The verse from Ecclesiastes at the end is pretty spot on. At what point did you come across it? Or did you just happen to know it?

MATTHEW: Yeah, I know a lot of Ecclesiastes by heart. It's such a great damn book. I have been reading it for a real long time, so it's always kind of been in my head, but it was a real late addition to this book. I think Adam and I added it in there like a month or two ago. I wrote him an email one day after listening to an audio recording of Ecclesiastes in my car, and I said what do you think about putting this at the end of the book. And he liked the idea. I love Adam.

MEGAN: Tell me more about what it was like to work on the book with Adam.

MATTHEW: Adam is so goddamn great. I feel like he made I Don't Know I Said ten times better. I really mean that. He must have read it through a dozen times from a dozen different perspectives and he continually offered his suggestions, 99% of which I took. All kinds of things from cutting unnecessary sections, to just clearing up parts that were unclear, to making sure grammatical and dialogue issues were consistent, to rewording parts. Adam is the one who came up with the idea to divide the book into three sort of sections to help make the book's timeline a bit more clear, since there are so many starts and stops and restarts to this story. Adam came up with the titles to the three sections as well: The United States. The Ski Lodge. I Don't Know. Just that little addition right there made the book instantly a lot better and have such a better flow to it. Adam is really thoughtful and also just damn good at putting out books the way he wants to. We had a lot of fun with it. That's one of the best things about Adam is that things are always really fun. At one point he was staying at my place and we sat at the kitchen table at two in the morning, drunk, and talked for a long time about whether or not we should change the book to have Arthur kill Carolina at the end by poisoning her drink, and what that would do to the story. I could go on and on. I can't say enough good things about Adam Robinson. I just love the guy all around.

Megan McShea wrote A Mountain City of Toad Splendor.

4/10/13

Matthew Savoca


View "I Don't Know," I Said in a larger map
Matthew Savoca's new novel, I Don't Know I Said, came out April 9, 2013. It's about Arthur and Carolina, who go on road trips together to figure out their main thing. This map shows one of their trips. Click the blue arrows to read excerpts from each location.

4/9/13

Matthew Savoca

Here's an excerpt from I Don't Know I Said.

The United States

Neither of us had jobs or hobbies. We didn’t have anywhere to be or anything to be doing. It had been that way for a while. It was August now. It was hot. We’d left town a few weeks before, planning to be gone for a long time. Whenever someone asked how long we’d be gone Carolina would say a year or more. But we’d returned already and in the meantime Carolina’s parents had cleaned and straightened up the apartment in preparation to sublet it. They did a really good job too because when we got back it didn’t feel like getting back to anywhere. It didn’t feel like going home. It was another new place. We’d been to a lot of them—everything foreign, everything indifferent. The apartment didn’t care. The front door, the toilet, the blinds on the windows, they didn’t seem like ours anymore and that felt nice in a way to me.

I think it upset Carolina a bit. She wanted the city to care. She wanted the world to care. She wanted us to care—me to care. She always accused me of being sleepy. One day I was watching something on the Internet and I guess I was laughing pretty hard because Carolina was surprised. She came into the living room from the kitchen and said, “You never laugh like that.” I shrugged my shoulders. She went back into the kitchen and after a few minutes I went in there and sat at one of the high chairs. “Hearing you laugh like that made me realize how sleepy you are most of the time. You are barely alive,” she said.

I didn’t know what to say. “I’m not sleepy,” I said. “Don’t call me sleepy.”

I had been the first one through the door after I turned the key hard and got it open. The deadbolt didn’t remember me. “Where did everything go?” I said walking down the hallway.

“What everything?” Carolina said.

“The stuff,” I said. “All the stuff we left.”

“It’s all here somewhere.” She said they said they just put everything away neatly.

“But where?” I said.

We stood at different ends of the hallway. Carolina had this look on her face. It was like we had accidentally walked into someone else’s apartment and she felt embarrassed. We didn’t talk about it, we only stared at each other and then discussed eating lunch. We agreed we would. Then we ate. Afterward we sat in the living room. It was almost empty. We were Indian-style on the floor. We talked about the future without knowing what we were talking about. I said, “I don’t know,” and stared at the floor. Carolina said, “Me neither.” I said, “I’ll do whatever,” and she said, “So will I.” We didn’t know what to do, so we went for a walk. We moved our legs for a long time in one direction and then turned around. At some point I said, “I feel a strong desire to choose a thing and call it bullshit.”

“Pick me,” she said.

Matthew Savoca's new novel, I Don't Know I Said, came out April 9, 2013. This is the first three pages.

4/8/13

Matthew Savoca

thursday afternoon in may

i spent all night playing a video game

where i was a virus trying to

constantly mutate myself

so as to infect and kill everyone

on the planet


i named myself “matthew's revenge”

but then changed it to “matthew's death”

it was fun


if you want the best pee of your life

drink fruit punch vitamin water

but not during a long drive

because there is nowhere to pee

unless you stop the car

which you won't want to do

because you spent all that time

earning your position on the road

life is dumb



poem for the metermaid

metermaid! i see you walking there
leave my car alone! it is raining
leave the street, leave me alone in it
i have things to do! i'm trying to do things
metermaid, your ticket pad is getting wet
and aren't you embarrassed to be seen
with that bright blue umbrella?
metermaid! where are you going?
there's nothing for you on that street

Matthew Savoca's new novel, I Don't Know I Said will be released tomorrow.

4/5/13

Joseph Young

Perchance to Dream Team

Borges at Point Guard. Small and fast, acutely, sometimes painfully, intelligent, he'll distribute the ideas of the game with as much skill as he does the ball. Some might consider his failing eyesight a disability at this key position, but his feel for the court is uncanny, rendering sight almost redundant.

Melville at Center. Heavy and sometimes plodding, always last to the far end, he'll nevertheless clear out space deep in the post like a force of nature. It doesn't hurt that at 500 pages, he's also a player with a sense of humor, storing up goodwill with the refs even after a particularly hard foul.

Evelyn Waugh at Shooting Guard. At first glance he appears overly refined for the game, a little pasty, even effete, but such is his ability to lull the defense to sleep, step out on the wing, and hit the 3-point shot with one of the purest strokes in the game. He is poise defined.

Richard Wright at Power Forward. Scrappy and intense, he rules the paint at both ends. A defensive specialist, he's willing to leave the limelight to his teammates, even leave the country if need be, but his presence is always felt by the opposing team.

Oscar Wilde at Small Forward. A controversial figure, often in the news, or in jail, his overawing talent can't be disputed. Too much of a show off for some, he'll leave a defense looking like a crowd of confused bureaucratic bullies. His lifestyle choices may bewilder, even frighten, his teammates, but none of that will matter when he leads them to a championship ring.

Joseph Young lives in Baltimore. He is the author of Easter Rabbit and, from Ink Press, a chapbook called 5 Drawings of the Maryland Sky.

4/4/13

Myriam Gurba


A Nigment Of
the racist imagination

Tensing My Acrostic
Acrostuc

Cannabis Sisyphus
                                    Always rolling
                     Always rolling
Always rolling

Recipe for Inexpensive Modern Art
Buy a bag of Cheetos.
Open it.
Find the Cheeto that looks most like a bust of Michael Jackson.
Treat it kindly.

Myriam Gurba is a middle-class American of Mexican and Polish descent. This ethnic shit storm has made her the butt of many jokes. She is the author of Dahlia Season (Manic D), Wish You Were Me (Future Tense), menudo & Herb (self-published), and A White Girl Named Shaquanda (self-published). She blogs at lesbrain.wordpress.com.

4/3/13

Susan Tepper


Little Peebles

On a hillside not far from a mountain I found a goat and a sheep living as man and wife in a small cave. I had gone there to pick berries for my grandmama who has a penchant for scullberry pie. I have a penchant for scullberry pie she said over the hum from the steam kettle.

Where does one find the scullberries I asked the old woman.

At the mouth of a cave at the base of the mountain.

But, I said, here there are two mountains. One to the east and one to the north.

Well dearest girl, use your common sense. Where do you think the scullberries would most likely grow? In the fair east or the cold north?

She made a good point.

The next day I set out traveling toward the east mountain with my basket and my hiking shoes. A cool day with high clouds. Just enough blue to make the sky radiant. I walked through short grass and tall grass. Along a creek and over another and skipping across the rocks to keep dry.

At lunchtime I opened the towel on my basket and ate the sandwich of pickle and eggs Grandmama packed for me. I crouched and drank from the stream with the flat rocks. Then rested a while with the sun on my face and my back against a half down wall.

After a bit I started to walk feeling brisk from the lunch and soon was upon a cave. And just as Grandmama said there were the scullberries. Flocks and flocks of them. All shades of purple. The ripest of a deep purple down to the baby scullberries that were rosy in hue. As I bent to fill my basket, I heard the sounds. First the baaah, then the bleat. They rang out harmonically in a way that was startling. The baaah tripping over the bleat, the bleat smoothing out the baaah. It made my own breath ache. It made me tired.

I straightened my spine and ventured into the cave. It was set up like a little rugged kitchen. The sheep in a frilled apron tied around its curly middle. The goat on a stump filling its pipe.

Who are you I said.

We are the Little Peebles said the goat. We are the Little Peebles said the sheep.

Are you happy I asked them.



Susan Tepper is the author of three published books of fiction and a poetry chapbook. Her current title "From the Umberplatzen" is a quirky love story set in Germany and told in linked-flash. Tepper has been nominated nine times for the Pushcart. Her novel "What May Have Been" (with Gary Percesepe) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2011.