March 18, 2013 Comments Off on Words Get Mixed Up by Timothy Tarkelly
“Never start a story with dialogue,” the critic said as he swallowed his own tongue and all of the lines it had drawn amongst his friends, his enemies, and along the backs of others.
The lines turned into seams and then ripped open, each one giving passage to an idea that had been said or heard before. They splashed at the bottom of his throat, begging to be said aloud.
“Never start a story with dialogue,” said the critic. “Never start a story at all.”
© 2012 Timothy Tarkelly
Timothy Tarkelly’s short story entitled, “Daughter of The Dead” was recently published in an anthology from Undead Press. He also has fiction featured at Microhorror.com and Dailylove.net.
March 14, 2013 Comments Off on Ceali By John Riley
Ceali picks up things and says, “This is an orange.”
“This is a pear.”
“This is the basket that holds them.”
Objects become little girl things in her hand.
When she sits on the wife’s lap, Ceali wiggles too much, and the wife swallows a grimace.
Ceali’s mother works part-time in a building that lets the heat out through a smokestack. The wrinkles on her knuckles become deep creases when they reach her palm. Her fingernails are the color of corn meal.
While her mother cleans our house, Ceali plays with our dog, Fritz, and his brother Ted, who lives with us, too. The dogs share a privacy pen built by the man who lived here before. It’s made of dark-stained boards and has a door that locks.
The man’s dog slipped away one night. He left soon after.
Our dogs bark and jump and snarl when a stranger approaches. They go quiet when Ceali whispers their names.
Only one of my children has a room now, and the wife uses the free one to start projects. She thinks and plans and worries, lies on the bed, stares at the ceiling, tries to remember what the room looked like before it became the room.
When she leaves, Ceali gives the wife one kiss. She says the rest are for her mother.
Tonight, after Ceali left, the wife went into the room, climbed into the bed, and covered her head with the sheets.
2012 John Riley
John Riley fitfully manages a small educational publishing company and tries to write when he gets time. He’s married with two children, and has two Jack Russell terriers named Ted and Fritz. He’s published some fiction and poetry at various venues and hopes to publish more. You can find him at http://temptedtostay.blogspot.com/
March 11, 2013 Comments Off on Clean Up by Robin Wyatt Dunn
And you who seek to die, what are you? Only symptoms, or messengers? The pained of the world, written for us to see and witness and remember?
Oh you thousand suicides of my latest Los Angeles month. I clean up the blood. Sometimes I dream of it. Sometimes I work to regulate its exposure, the camera of my mind, but my heart is beating for a waking world of wrought things, meanings we can understand, to work our weapons in, our words.
Today was Georgia Pannaque, 48 years old — electrocution. The cat seemed electrocuted too, had perhaps been that way for years, like it was ready to molt.
All flesh is grass for the great lawnmower of God, of course, I grant you that immediately, and we can quite properly statisticate her entry for our planning purposes: so many overweight bodies rendered into meat per capita as the effluents of air and water rise, as the decay accelerates, as our government threatens, as our minds are worried into some new shape we cannot see.
And you who choose to live, I amongst you, who are we? What fell world do we make now? If we are building a nightmare, we had best prepare our masks.
Politics, of course; I’m sorry but I speak of politics. Not social planning. I do not accept dioramas or plastic volcanoes.
Polis, Pole Star of the West Coast, our dream of Lem’s Solaris in California, our tight-winding dream of horror. Los Angeles: our duties are fast increasing. I call out to you: I count your flesh, and watch your words, hoping that tomorrow it will be revolution.
© 2012 Robin Wyatt Dunn
Robin Wyatt Dunn lives in The Town of the Queen of the Angels, El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, in Echo Park.
March 7, 2013 Comments Off on Creation by Faness Haygood
I made you, just as God made the sun and the moon.
Beautiful masterpiece, in your eyes the world will find joy. They will treasure your limbs, for as you embrace them, they will see reality and paradise. They will smile at your existence. Their hearts will stem from yours and blossom, forever nourished by metaphysical sunlight and water. And as you feed them, they will fill you — force you to breathe compassion, feel what love presses on your being — and the excess will fall on me.
How proud I am of you.
For I crafted you with my own hands, felt your heart beat between my nimble fingertips. Though you won’t speak, I was the first to hear your vocal chords resound without noise. Each part and appendage, every detail and limb, I watched betwixt the heart of my eye, damning nary a flaw or mistake.
You are wondrous.
Though your bones will never form, and you are plagued by malnutrition, just eat one thing, will you? You are happy. Forever smiling. And when I am weak — for even your creator falls beneath you — you who never cries and keeps me standing – my tears catch on the skin of your treasured limbs. You will not lick at them like some lowly animal, nor wipe them away like a coddling mother; your silence encourages me.
You are not immortal.
This is not a flaw. Excellence still reigns through you, but I needed you to relate to me. Though the world is to adore you, I made you for me. So as the years pass, I shall see our conquests written on your face. From the first day of school ‘til the last — we made it.
Even without your bones, we still played — or rather, I played and you watched. I would sing and you would listen. You always listened. But only to me. The harsh words of others fell on your deaf ears. Since you did not hear them, I was able to ignore them.
You were envied.
For some, cherishing you and not having you was too great a burden to bear. They coveted you, they threatened me, and for all your greatness, this you could not save me from. They pulled at your tethers. If they could not have you, they would destroy you.
Each crocheted stitch came unstiched; every thread snapped.
Your seams split, and they laughed.
I held the remnants of you between the same fingers that had felt your heart beat for the first time. No matter how many tears I coated you in, I couldn’t bring you back to me.
So here I lay, as crumpled as your remains. Too hurt to craft another, too lonely to manage without.
There will never be another like you.
© 2012 Faness Haygood
Faness Haygood is an undergraduate English: Creative Writing and Classical Humanities double major currently attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Though born in Columbus, Ohio she spent the majority of her childhood traveling across the country and claims Cathedral City, California as her second home. She draws inspiration from her travels and her family, and is grateful for her worldly experiences.
March 4, 2013 Comments Off on Escape by Warren Smith
Cells of memory and corridors of guards . . . I turned over on the cot worrying about my escape. Snores and mumbled dreams, boots on overhead grates . . . I went over the plan again, each step, fixing every tangible detail in mind. I began to sweat when, at last, a warm breath of summer night brushed over my chin and chest . . . and I lay exhausted under Caitlin’s gaze.
She spoke to me, yes, but if I gave reply, it had to be of the most perfunctory, heavily laden with the drift of sleep. Vibrating against my breast, she was telling me something — the sense of her words — but even now I have no true sense of them, the actual words she used. They all elude me, but I have to try. Words, her sounds . . . holding me in sway between two worlds, feeling my heart under her palm, refusing to let me go until she’s satisfied and done. Is it ten years? No, almost twelve. How memories awake!
She was young, a little girl, she told me, sometimes walking alone along the old railroad tracks, where one day between the rails and cross-ties, she found a monkey. It was a baby monkey but flat and dried up like a mummy. Most of the fur was still on it — a row of white teeth sticking up along its jaw.
I bent low to have a closer look. Its skin was dark brown, stretched, and a few tiny ants crawled here and there. He must have fallen off the train I thought. A circus train, passed through in the night when all the town was asleep. The tail seemed to be missing, but, in lifting up the stiff body, I saw the tail was only tucked underneath. I looked more at the tiny, white, sharp teeth and the curled up fingers on the one hand it held flatly forward as if to show it was holding something. A secret . . . yes . . . the secret: Escape.
© 2012 Warren Smith, First Appeared at Fictionaut
Warren Smith writes because he needs to, and he is glad for the opportunity to complete a thought now and then.
February 28, 2013 Comments Off on Apocrypha by Robin Wyatt Dunn
What world is it, asks Millicent idly.
I call her that. That or ho. The heroin is a dry patch but fruitful too; she makes the strangest faces. I haven’t yet found the right way to die: I want to be able to choose which world I go to next.
She is hungry. I feed her the applesauce, and she smiles. She is a beautiful woman, my daughter, beautiful beyond reckoning, beyond any hope of anything new — beyond this world. Her glow alone could fuse through quarks and open up the magic door I want to find, my exit.
What world is it, she asks again, a question I ask aloud, more lately, and what a question, one I want to know the answer to. How did we arrive? Why did her mother have to die? And why was it so easy to transgress?
The shape of her lips is also a door, a portal, with its porters and its histories. What histories are written that include my knowledge, and hers? Are we always and forever apocrypha? A fatal mistake, secreted in the desert to forget?
“Let’s go to sleep, Daddy,” she says, and we do.
I dream of her.
© 2012 Robin Wyatt Dunn
Robin Wyatt Dunn lives in The Town of the Queen of the Angels, El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, in Echo Park.
February 25, 2013 Comments Off on The Extra Room by E. A. Fow
There were two doors on the left side of the hallway: the front door to the apartment and the coat closet. On Thursday, however, there were three. After Daniella arrived home from another job interview, she closed the front door and put her coat away. As she walked down the hall to the kitchen to start dinner, she walked past the third door. It was plain and white, just like the others. She closed and reopened her eyes.
Her initial urge was to continue on to the kitchen to put the chicken on. She looked towards the kitchen, hesitating, but finally went back to the new door and opened it.
On the other side was a fully furnished sitting room, the light already on, and a book left open on the table. She looked around, but there was no sign of who had just been there, and disturbingly the only door out was the one through which she had entered. She wanted to retreat but made herself look around first. She noted the table was antique, the kind she had wanted for a long time, with wooden legs and a curved tin top. She ran her hand over the cold metal as she looked at the rest of the space. There was a lumpy couch, a wicker basket full of magazines, and a coffee table with water rings marring the wooden surface. On the wall was a framed print. She knew it was a deKooning, but she didn’t recognize the image.
On the far wall was a window looking out, which seemed highly improbable, as it should have been the kitchen in the Camilleri’s apartment across the way. Out the window, she could see down Classon Avenue through the naked, winter branches of the chestnut tree. The tree was huge, magnificent, and the entire street would be invisible during the summer. The sun would have to push through the voluptuous green, making the room glow, as if living inside a leaf itself.
Daniella wondered how she had never seen the room before, but it didn’t matter; she knew about it now and felt covetous. She wondered how she could hide it from her roommate, and if she couldn’t, how she could commandeer it somehow. It was then she felt her excitement drain away. She knew she would have to pay extra rent if she had an extra room, but there was no way she could afford to pay more. Liz would get the room, or insist they get another roommate, so she walked out of the room, pulling the door behind her, hoping that, somehow, it would just go away.
© 2012 E. A. Fow
E.A. Fow writes and paints in Brooklyn, NY.
February 21, 2013 Comments Off on Shadows by Richard Hartwell
Shadows are sneaky. They don’t always let you in on their secrets, and they don’t always cooperate. I know all of this because I have been teaching my grandson the Robert Louis Stevenson nursery rhyme I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me.
Te’Juan, the grandson, has caught on pretty well. He loves to walk with his, our, shadow in front of us in the late afternoon. It is so big then. He jumps and then comes down hard, much as to say, “Gotcha!” When we turn around to walk back to the house, he constantly checks behind himself to make certain his shadow is still there and has not wandered off and left him. So far, he hasn’t been disappointed, at least about shadows.
There is a downside to all this though. The other night, with no moon out and only a few stars visible, Te’Juan had no shadow. This was not of tremendous concern, but I did watch him spin around in a couple of circles looking at the ground. There was no companion there, but since grandpa was still nearby, he guessed things were all right still. It’s nice to be appreciated, even subtly. Perhaps Te’Juan was on to something when he turned around to find his shadow gone. He’s not too young to realize that we spend half our lives alone, without a shadow, without a connection to the reality that is us, alone.
© 2012 Richard Hartwell
Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California, with his wife of thirty-six years (poor soul, her, not him), their disabled daughter, one of their sons and his ex-wife along with their two children, and eleven cats. Yes, eleven! He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large, and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.
February 18, 2013 Comments Off on Isn’t It, Jim? by Bobbi Lurie
I gotta tell you, Jim, I’m so used to people leaving: I’m prepared for you to leave. I don’t care, Jim. Not in a personal sense. I’ve lost my sense of the personal. It’s the pain, Jim, and, in the end, after Jesus made sure someone would help his mother . . . well, he didn’t speak to people anymore. And neither will I, Jim. I’m speaking to God now, just like Jesus did. And when I ask, “Lord, do they know?” He tells me “yes,” and I feel it in my heart that I am dying, and they’re not helping me, and they want to be forgiven, but they’ll only say it after I’m dead because if it’s when I’m still alive, they may have to inconvenience themselves, face an emotion or a fear, Jim.
Isn’t it clear, Jim?
© Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie’s fourth poetry collection, “the morphine poems,” is forthcoming from Otoliths. She is the author of three other poetry collections: Grief Suite, The Book I Never Read, and Letter from the Lawn.
February 14, 2013 § 1 Comment
Harold’s hand on my thigh, cold and hard and insistent. I think of the Virgin Mary, who gave birth without the necessity of carnal relations, who so deftly avoided unwrapping her soul upon the altar of mortal love.
“The tree is beautiful,” Harold says. “You’ve done a wonderful job.”
My eyes lock onto the Nativity, the goat kneeling in prayer, baby Jesus, Mother Mary. I pray for her to save me. Show me your secret, I beg in my head. Show me the way to Christ without Harold . . . well not without Harold, whom I love so dearly, but without Harold’s hand creeping up my thigh.
A flash of light. The blinker strand activates. A capacitor reached its threshold of resistance and has discharged. I recall the unwavering glow of Mary’s head in the stained glass window at church. Was she once dark? Did God’s touch light her up?
Harold squeezing beneath my skirt. His hand is hot, not cold. His hand is hot.
© Stephen V. Ramey
Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in Microliterature, Literary Orphans, Pure Slush, and Connotation Press, among others. He edits the annual Triangulation anthology from Parsec Ink, and the twitterzine, trapeze. Find him at http://www.stephenvramey.com