10/31/13

Alissa Nutting

Untitled


            In life she’d been editor of the world’s most prominent fashion magazine for over six decades—the majority of its lifespan, and hers. The long and thin cigarettes, the ones she got from France and claimed to only smoke at parties, finally did her in. “I will never leave this publication,” she swore. Even at the end, when the hull of her throat and jaw began to give way and sprouted its final sinking leaks. A hospital bed and ICU equipment was moved into the magazine’s office building, alongside a commercial-grade fragrance machine that spouted puffs of coconut-scented air. “The odor of death is so sour,” she’d often exclaim. The machine helped a bit. In the final days, there were co-worker whispers that the place smelled part-morgue, part-casino.
            After death her skin seemed less in agreement of continuation than the rest of her. As the weeks passed it continued to shrivel fast to her bones. Occasionally small pieces would tear and hang like spent wallpaper. Remedies were elusive; Band-Aids and gauze looked too depressing. “Collage!” she screamed one afternoon. Death had added an alarming vocal shrillness. “Decoupage!” Using fabric glue, she began to patch up weary areas using petals from the orchids in the lobby. The weeks went by and her hands and forehead began to take on a masked paper-mache quality.
            Before she’d died, several of her co-workers had verbally wished for her immortality. This had only been polite banter. They soon wearied of her extended governance; though at first it had seemed invigorating, adding a divine element to their cause, increasingly it was just macabre. Rumors started. “The actual end is near, right?” they’d press one another. Most held fast to this hope, treating her like a child up past her bedtime. She sensed this and panicked. Her glue-orchid exoskeleton was spreading. She tried to counteract this visually with accessories. By the time production on her first posthumous issue began, she’d taken to wearing an antiquated cavalry sabre around her waist. It dangled from a heavy chain; its blade scraped across the floor as she walked. Interns found this intimidating in a way she did not intend.
            Holing up in her office, she began to build a secretive fort wall in front of her desk using cases of her favorite French cigarettes as bricks. “Maybe she’s building a tomb, or like a mausoleum-thing,” some guessed. They were hoping she’d retreat behind the wall one evening and then in the morning would not reappear.
            Instead it was more like a makeshift bank teller’s window. There was a 12x12 inch slot that cigarette smoke emerged from all day and all night, perfect for passing documents back and forth. She instructed us to pass her a new carton each week, to have an intern bring a hot cup of coffee each morning, for the smell, and pick up the cold cup of coffee each evening at five o’clock. The opening is large enough that any of us who want to could look inside, but we do not. She works all day and all night except for copier breaks, which we know she takes with relative frequency in the dark hours because sometimes she forgets to take the copies with her, leaves them in the tray by accident. She makes copies of her skull, of her skeleton limbs, teeth facedown and staring straight into the light. A new intern who didn’t know better once found them and took them to her, handing them through the slot. “I like the warmth,” she explained to the intern; “it does my bones good.”
            “How does she see to read?” the intern asked us. “How can she edit without eyes?”
            “Well she smokes,” we explained. “She does smoke.” We thought that particular intern might not come back the next day, seemed not to have the disposition to last, but he was back bright and early, in fact all of the staff seems to have risen to an unspoken occasion and increased performance.

 
Alissa Nutting is the author of the award-winning collection of stories Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls (Starcherone Books, 2010) and the novel Tampa (HarperCollins, 2013). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Tin House, Fence, and Bomb, among other venues. She lives in Ohio.

10/30/13

CJ Waterman

Cookie Tent

My outside pyramids are small relative to the others. At cookie time we go to the cookie tent get another new ipso facto another. Address of the proprietor. Without winking wink wink. I said I would built it & it matters to you.

Onboard. Standard. One problem solved is the wedding of a vile sweetness. How dare you. A macing.




CJ Waterman studied for an MFA in poetry at the University of Notre Dame, scribbling away under the watchful eyes of Touchdown Jesus. Recent work appears/ is forthcoming in Gobbet, Metazen, Deluge, and Whole Beast Rag.

10/29/13

Brian Foley

Refuse

I spoke up
come by wind &
lectured the orchards:
what’s needed is
no longer not so much.

they nodded,
called off new
salience, turned
out messy bloom’s
disorder, tore up
its own woods it is. I hid
between
a resonance

of grief and departures,
                    on
the night sky’s
cored spine width
& so stripped, lived:
one golden apple enough
to keep an eye
left on.


Brian Foley is the author of The Constitution (Black Ocean, 2014).

10/28/13

Emily Rosko

Test

There was a case study I was
later informed. Designed as a system
of checks. Mice hooked by tubes
and a monkey that upraised
a wreck. Plottings by coordinates

on graph paper, sodium level
intake, the raw-rubbed head
of a teddy. And there were strangers
who called from afar. Mostly they
were kind. They brought with them

a memory-set. It was a project,
I was responsible. Each rabbit
deskinned, lucky leg a child
carries. A piece I’ve mislaid, a flash-card

carousel I don’t want to spin on.
(I’m tiger when designated, other
times I clam and shell out
what’s given). My insides turned
wishy. This syringe innocent. Then,

a return to the original
routine genetic detasseling. Long
stretch of know-nothing concrete
and blank-faced buildings and
here we go around the mulberry

bush. It’s a forever Monday.
The chloroform’s burning sweet.




[I play the torturer by small and small]

I’ll have what it takes
if taking rooks the larger
placeholding. Rounded by
centered logic. The mountain
disabled, turned hole and sore
spot opened in the crust. Water-filled.
Sludged for the small substance:
mineral mined by hands
which will never touch
the worth. We’re to get
to the bottom, told to hate the world
a plenty. I’d count the instrument’s
finer calculations, tension pointed
sharp-toothed blade.
Meager as goats the bodies
on the trash heaps. Beggared
for a past lost, handed out. The rocks
shard my eyes. How to unlearn
this self I’ve wanted to be? Scrape it
low, pick each bone clean.



Emily Rosko’s two poetry collections are Prop Rockery, awarded the 2011 Akron Poetry Prize, and Raw Goods Inventory, an Iowa Poetry Prize winner in 2005. She is editor of A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (University of Iowa Press, 2011). Her poems appeared most recently in Another Chicago MagazineAntioch Review, New Orleans Review and has work forthcoming in Anti-. She is assistant professor at the College of Charleston and poetry editor for Crazyhorse.

10/25/13

Matt Anserello

Skull Cathedral

Stumbling through another dull-knife day. The forever want
to turn off the haunt. And a prayer—hey, thanks—for calm

among all the wrong. Three vitrines heaped
with bones, a mosaic of beasts. Spandrels pierced

for light and air. I’m not asking merely such
and such, not for the sake. I’m grateful and ashamed

even as this trophy loneliness fades. No more bargain-bin
hallelujahs; no more feigned shapes. Simply, an awake.

And in this now, okay. A breath after underwater,
the heft of some good care.




Matt Anserello lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

10/24/13

Serena Chopra

A
Sea-Sick
Man


In the tornado, the sky is green as a sea-sick man, the birds

cannot keep formation like I am lonely left

to my own disasters.


In a moment, my immense speed defies the liquidity

of water, offers of concrete against custom.

Offers to break my bones

instead of floating them, densely.


In a car in front of your house,

I pull the blades and watch the windshield fill

again. When the rain stopped.

When I don’t numbly know the future,

a moment, made irritable.


In a dank place, I have been naked.

I have seen important things

and I have not seen.


In my own disasters I have been lonely left

to my own devices.

When brutal.

When succulent.

In miles of rain-same.


When there are so many things

I think to think beautifully

of the world.


In architecture, a house,

when I think to think of cleaning.

When I have our home, I will think

of a moment: Let it be, let it die.

When that is a moment.


In the end, when I remember to pray

for the universe

not to destroy, meticulously,

each of our joys.


Serena Chopra is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Denver, a 2009 graduate of University of Colorado at Boulder’s MFA program, and a 2011-2013 Writer-In-Residence at RedLine Gallery in Denver. She has been published in Bombay Gin, Denver Quarterly, The Laurel Review, VOLT, Versal, Vinyl, Hot Metal Bridge, and No Tell Motel. Her chapbook, Penumbra, was released 2012 from Flying Guillotine Press, and a version of her book, Livid Season, was released in chapbook form from Free Poetry in 2012. In February 2013, Coconut Books Press published her first full-length collection, This Human: A Poem in Seven Parts. She was a finalist for the 2011 Dorset prize and a 2010 Kundiman fellow. Serena is also a dancer with Evolving Doors Dance Company and a visual artist, participating in recent gallery shows, Material Engagements, Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art, and Notes on Feeling at RedLine Gallery in Denver. She lives and works in Denver.


10/23/13

Matthew Rohrer

GREATER FORCES

I have come
to your city
to lie in the grass
and watch the clouds
bounce uselessly off
the snow covered mountains.
Your city softly beneath
cherry blossoms.
Homeless punks along
the avenue who never
cease. They are deported
from Canada. Their faces
move between the tourists
set hard and falling-in
looking for the other world.
I fall asleep until
the shadows tuck themselves
around me. I must to certain
greater forces present myself
at the end of the day.


NIGHT BLOOMING

Night-blooming mushrooms
that look too good
the little girl says
they look too scary
horrific shelves of fungus
on a log
and scratched in the dirt
an arrow and “trolls”
which we note and avoid
the fog confuses us
and construction sounds
from the trees
it’s morning
a puddle so big
the girl feeds her bagel
there to ducks


Matthew Rohrer is the author of 7 books of poems, most recently DESTROYER AND PRESERVER, from Wave Books. He lives in Brooklyn.