July 11, 2016 Comments Off on Marcel Unchained By Ray Nessly
Street mime in white face and white gloves, trapped in invisible box. Tip jar empty. Marcel’s solo-dancing the tango now, teeth clenching ephemeral rose. Passersby pass him by.
He shackles his arms and legs. Imaginary handcuffs, intangible chains. The padlock’s but a ghost. The blindfold? Real.
Master of silence, in bundle on sidewalk, struggling like Houdini.
Tap-tap down the sidewalk goes a cane, tap-tap against the tip jar, tap-tap against Marcel’s noggin.
“Sorry ’bout that!” the blind man says, reaching into his pocket. He fingers his coins, finds just the right one, and plunks it into Marcel’s jar.
© 2014, Ray Nessly; First Appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Winter, 2014
Ray Nessly hails from Seattle and lives near San Diego with his wife and their two cats. He is forever at work on a novel: If A Machine Lands In The Forest. He hopes its publication precedes that of his obituary. He has been published in Literary Orphans, Thrice Fiction, Boston Literary Magazine, Apocrypha & Abstractions, MadHat Lit, Yellow Mama, Do Some Damage, and places nobody’s ever heard of.
July 4, 2016 Comments Off on Incentered By Lorin Drexler
It began with blood layers, a virgin cry. The neon war vehicle sent trolloping through earthlike labyrinth in helmet, prophesying the wintry embryonic layer of the vessel. If one could portray caravan-adding needles to hay, one should never breach the pulpit and gallantly call to the universe.
The gesturing derby albino waves the flag in dart play, “Dig you unforgivable wretches, dig!” — green torrid gas hyperventilating the beast’s anus, and this is how procreation procures? — “Now swim, you fools!”
As each of the jelly inhabitants trudge like racing glue, unapparently in larvae state, the sheer rivet of their surviving will flushes their insipid bowels in dash to gain haste from god’s butterfly opponent. They snigger at their creator and live entire spans equivalent to human earth lives in a period of grumbling thump — the slosh of low-frequency moan. The incumbent doom crops up in jest as they nudge in race: fall in love, have babes, become friends, enemies, entreat, entrench, build monoliths, name prophetics, persecute, damnate, have gods and be gods, and ultimately, watch their god wipe snot of their distant cousin.
They once came to understand relatives of the bang …
More than a sound of ripple incandescent, sent traveling through monuments of noble merit and that forsaken. And upon forsaken — forsakable withstood — born was one, beyond the star, bled into a steaming liquefaction, versing through the atomic galaxy, invising and relentless, insatiating that which once halfling becomes full zygote.
It wasn’t riches that became of him, the straddling babe flinging tears into secular blackness. He grew up, grew strong, and grew old: fell in love, had babes, became friends, enemies, entreated, entrenched, built monoliths, named prophetics, persecuted, damnated, had gods, and been god. A sewn emblem left dangling from his rag.
Upon knowing life and being life, his destination trudged forward, returning to its original cocoon: a zippered white undone in capsulated catacomb. His hand reached for the rectangle fastener, wrenching as he dragged the thick metal incisors. And just then peering out, like the rife of countless infinites before, the old man realized he had made it to the sea. He let out a wondrous moan that even in further eye settled the mountain’s query.
Shimmering from blankets trap, his wings burst the seams — the lustrous bird stammering his chest to the sky. His heart bleeding as it once did upon previous sleeve. The old man made it to the sea. His wings spread and beams set flicker to pews of orange and violet arrays. Traveling deeper and deeper into the gust, pulled into the orphan planet, he flew. He flew into the sun.
© 2016 Lorin Drexler
Lorin Drexler is an American writer, music producer, singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Currently residing in Phoenix, Arizona, and rooted from the windy city of Chicago, he graduated Columbia College with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Art truly is the writing and the ritual of his practice. His work has appeared in tNY Press, LitroNY, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. http://lorindrexler.com
June 27, 2016 Comments Off on The Window on the Top Floor By B.C. Witmer
The dog abandons me to another room, and I’m alone with the sky, but it doesn’t look blue or even yellow like it’s supposed to. It’s a white wall of Nothing. It is resplendent and terrible, as if Nothing was trying to fill up my room like a rising tide, gradually pushing me into a corner, where I’ll hold my last breath — as one always does before drowning — and savor it like the last spoonful of dessert; and when my lungs finally burst, I’ll heave Nothing in and out of my chest, and it will fill my body and replace my organs with its radiant self. There’s a humming in my ears like the sound numbness makes, and I’m not sure that I’ve been swallowed whole save for the faint glow of Nothing under my skin.
A cloud drags across the window and somehow it’s whiter than the white Nothing beyond it. A thumb over a camera lens, it ruins the Nothing, and I’m myself again with my organs returned and skin that doesn’t glow. I rub my eyes, and like flashes of lightning, I see the neon white square of Nothing framed in dark windowpanes dancing across the walls and floor, a temporary tattoo of light on my retinas that fades with time and shadow and the lick of a tongue on my cheek, the thud of a tail against my knee.
How easily there is Something to keep me here.
© 2016 B.C. Witmer
B.C. Witmer is co-editor of the 99 Pine Street literary journal (99PineStreet.com). She has been previously published in The Golden Key, Whole Beast Rag, Xenith, and elsewhere. Her work was also featured in the 2015 No You Tell It! reading series in NYC.
June 20, 2016 Comments Off on Cliff Diving By Kate Tooley
Beneath the thin dead layer and the one that bleeds — beneath the insulation and the muscle — my bones that should be hard are throbbing. What is solid threatens suddenly to break, or bend, or blow holes in my skin, all because I am afraid to jump. Under my feet, a hundred textures shift: rough bits of granite, a gauzy layer of dirt-colored dirt worn fine by the wind that has been blowing since we came, half-digested pieces of pine straw and leaf. I can feel all of it through thick calluses.
Because I am terrified.
I am a great reader of statistics and trivia. I know about surface tension and the fact that most people who jump from the golden gate bridge have all their organs ripped loose; acquire their own open circulatory system. Except it doesn’t work as well in people as in grasshoppers, but that’s not really what I’m thinking right now; it’s an afterthought: what I think I should be thinking. What I think, is that the world is so beautiful from up here, so foreign. How the snarled pine trees looking like angels; how very clean the air is at this height; and how pale the sun looks; how it seems to have been smudged a little, from the center out. Not like the sun underwater. Water shatters, pulls the blaze to pieces. The light becomes absorbed and part of something else – part of us, one of us, born in water and slowed by it.
Down in the water I will be diffused and absorbed — myself again – but now my skin is burning. I can see that glaze of red across my arms already, and I am drying out. My mouth hurts, and all the things I want to say, sing, laugh out of myself are pressed down. They seem unimportant when stacked against the pain of shaping my lips or moving my tongue now swollen with this heat.
You are behind me. You have, it seems, found shade up here, and can still speak. You, I cannot look at, cannot touch. If I did, my insides would tear away long before I hit the water. You, whose loss will wound me irreparably; you, the reason I haven’t pulled my feet off of this granite ledge. You, like the wind and the clearness of the sun, were born, like me, out of the water, and like me have become terrestrial, lost your gills — sacrificing one thing for another, like some medieval drudge bargaining at market. “I give you this good watch dog for two bolts of cloth.” Do you think sometimes at night she misses that old dog at her feet? Or does a new shawl cancel out the loss? I think her shoulders are warm but her feet cold.
The wind has dropped. I cannot breathe at all in this dry heat. At the very edge, the brink, the foothold is simpler. The jump seems shorter viewed through grainy rock.
© 2016 Kate Tooley
Kate Tooley is a writer, director, and actor living in Brooklyn, New York. She loves good scotch and long walks on the beach, but can afford neither, generally substituting cheap beer and a good long wander down Eastern Parkway. She has lived up and down the east coast, and acquired a degree in Drama and a taste for literary debate from the University of Virginia. She has been writing compulsively since she was seven; however, most of her early work has been lost due to appalling penmanship. She occasionally dabbles in scarf juggling.
June 13, 2016 § 1 Comment
Built on the flood plain of a poisoned river that slides across google maps like snot, Goldings Estate is the kind of place you end up when hell shakes its head. No one wants to be there, least of all Danny. He moves past houses mean as cracked knuckles and pulls up opposite number 42.
As he waits, he picks up a laminated folder from the passenger seat and reads aloud, “The Zylex 4000 combines powerful systems to offer a whole new dimension in deep cleaning. The Zylex 4000 features our patented vertical, revolving brush technology. . .”
He sees a car turn into the driveway, so he pulls the Zylex of the rear seat and gets out.
Danny greets the homeowner on the doorstep and follows him inside. He’s already rung ahead, flung the guy a deal he can’t throw back.
Danny sets up in the lounge, fitting the bag, unwinding the cord.
“You from round here?” asks the man.
“Used to be,” says Danny, “Used to play here, before the estate was built, when it was all marshland.”
Danny peddles the Zylex and it roars into life. He moves from room to room, covering every inch of floor. The man follows behind, intrigued and impressed by his diligence.
“They blow in from the river banks,” shouts the man above the noise, pointing toward the dandelion seeds that dust the carpet like light snow.
Danny ignores him. He forces the Zylex hard into the pile. He remembers how the bolt had sprung from the homemade bow; how it had passed through him as if he was already a ghost. The treetops shook as he stumbled through tears, gathering up armfuls of dandelions. He’d blown til he was nothing but knots, but the wind rose and the air turned to fog anyway. He’d returned later with a shovel and dug til the sun tapped his back.
Danny stops, breathing hard. The man is beaming. “I’m sold,” he says, “I’ll get the money.”
“I’ll get the paperwork,” says Danny. He packs up, hurries from the house, throws the Zylex in the boot, and accelerates away.
He stops at a park on the outskirts of the airport and walks beneath the trees. Once out of sight, he lays the hoover bag down, bends over it, and guts it with a car key. He sifts slowly through the soft, white filth, smelling it, touching it to his tongue. When he’s done, he pounds the bag into earth and smashes the Zylex with the heel of his shoe.
© 2016 GJ Hart
GJ Hart currently lives and works in Brixton, London and has been published or soon will be in The Harpoon Review, Jersey Devil Press, 99 Pine Street, The Jellyfish Review, Foliate Oak, The Legendary, The Eunoia Review and others. http://gjhart.com
June 6, 2016 Comments Off on Cut Here By Meredith Drake
So I walked into my house and there was a box on the table from my girlfriend. It had drawings on it. Which is fine. She always draws on the boxes she sends, but so far, it’s been flowers or scribbles or whatever. This time it was dessert. A cookie the size of a head on the bottom of the box, a cake on one side, a pie on another, and then there was a bowl of ice cream that had a banana sticking out of it, and it wrapped around the corner of the box. Looked like a — you know. The brownies she drew on top were huge too. The brownies made sense, actually. I told her I wanted brownies, the good kind, the ones with chocolate chips and mint frosting. So that’s what I was expecting. Brownies. Plus I said I wanted three shirts, size medium, in sage green, dark blue but not navy, and light orange but not pink, not even if they call it salmon. With a collar, not a tee. She knows the shirts I like.
My housemates were in the kitchen passing around take-out. They said, hurry up; we can smell the brownies through the cardboard. There were arrows showing where to cut the tape, so that’s where I cut, and then I dug through the peanuts. There was her face. Well, a picture of her face. Her face put in a copy machine. Her eyes were closed. Her lips were puckered and smashed into a kiss. The paper was cut out around her head, and yellow yarn was glued on as hair. The whole thing was pinned into the neck of one of my old t-shirts. I pulled the shirt out by its paper head and looked at the peanuts underneath. That was it. Nothing else. Where are the brownies, someone said, and I grabbed the box and dumped out the peanuts. No brownies. Nothing. There’s something up the sleeves, someone else said, so I shook her head and paper arms covered with yellow yarn fell out, which is kind of interesting, actually, because last week I said how she’s the first girlfriend I’ve had with a lot of hair on her arms and that she should wax them. There was a smudge on her top lip, so I looked closer. OUT OF SUGAR, it said in tiny writing, but that’s ridiculous. She can just buy some.
© 2016 Meredith Drake
In a previous life, Meredith Drake worked as a newspaper journalist and as a writer for several universities. Now she works at her local library in a rural village in western New York and has the pleasure of daily conversations with actual readers.
May 30, 2016 Comments Off on Signals By Lou Gaglia
Bicyclist, wracked with guilt over WW II, can’t bring himself to make a right turn signal. Girlfriend begs him to try, just once, and tells him that the Nazi salute was made with the right arm. No use. Bicyclist carries on, tears at his hair. Lots of pathos, lots of angst. Then he gets run over by a vegetable truck turning right into the parking lot of his favorite bakery.
Girlfriend goes on a campaign to get the signal laws changed. Protests and is jailed. Appears on 60 Minutes. Later marries a train conductor, who feels no pangs of guilt over his own hand signals, on or off the job. But he beats her, and so does their infant son. She and the son go to NYC where she tries to become a model, but she’s told they’ll only model her wearing army boots, so she travels to Portland, Maine, to work for LL Bean. On the way she meets another cyclist, a free spirit who doesn’t know who Hitler was and has the weed to prove it. He only signals left when he bikes. Can’t signal right because of rotator cuff issues. He dies fifty years later of natural causes, and she gets put into an old ladies’ home by her son, who is later run over by a train when he crosses against the signal then stops to pick up a shoelace.
At the old ladies’ home, Girlfriend wins a rousing campaign to have the wheelchair pushers signal for right turns by twisting their arms behind their backs and pointing right. The Wheel Chair Pushers Union doesn’t like it and puts pressure on the home Director. He doesn’t like the waves she’s making, or the way she picks at her food, so he decides to poison her, but she dies peacefully in her sleep moments before he brings her his special homemade pudding.
The slightly chagrined Director goes home to his wife and daughter, happy, after all, that he hadn’t killed an old lady who was ready to croak anyway.
At breakfast the next morning, Director accidentally pokes his wife in the eye when signaling for his daughter to “get out and catch the goddamn school bus.” The wife has to wear an eye patch for a week, and the Director considers this to be his just punishment from God for trying to kill an old lady. Later he tells his daughter that he’s sorry for yelling at her to catch the goddamn school bus. Then God Himself appears, and hastily forgives him.
© 2010 Lou Gaglia, Previously Appeared @ Indigo Rising Magazine, 2011
Lou Gaglia’s short story collection, Poor Advice, received the 2015 New Apple Literary Award for Short Story Fiction. His stories have appeared or will soon appear in Menda City Review, Serving House Journal, Halfway Down the Stairs, Thrice Fiction, and elsewhere. Lou is a long-time teacher and T’ai Chi Ch’uan practitioner who still feels like a beginner.
May 26, 2016 Comments Off on Across the Sea By Anton Rose
Our first colours were blue and yellow. The blue of the sea, buckling with waves, and the yellow of the sun, warmer than ever before. My brother and I sat in the back of the boat, watching the greys and blacks of our homeland recede. I leaned over the side and reached out, wondering what it would feel like to touch the water, but one of the men grabbed hold of my shoulder.
“If you fall in, we won’t be able to save you,” he said.
We didn’t know what to expect, but at the camp on the other side, it was mostly the same as back home, different shades between white and black. One day my brother found an apple, unguarded. It was red and green and yellow, so he took it when no one was looking. It was the first piece of the collection we’d put together, adding more whenever we could: gold pins from notice boards, blue bottles filled with water, red packets of rice.
We kept our collection secret, only bringing it out at night to hold its various pieces up to the light of the stars and the moon. We tried to remember, fixing them all in our minds, so that at night, we could dream in all the colours we had seen.
After a few weeks, a lady came to ask us where our parents were. We said we didn’t know. A few days later she came back again, and this time she wore a gleaming broach. When she saw me staring at it, she took it off and let me hold it. It was deep purple, with flecks of white.
The lady said she would take us away, both of us, to a new home, but I didn’t know what we would do with our collection, all the different colours we had gathered. I looked at my brother, but he didn’t seem scared, didn’t seem worried. “We’ll make a new collection,” he said, like he had read my mind, and then he smiled. For the first time ever I looked at his eyes, really looked at them, and they were a colour I’d never seen.
© 2016 Anton Rose
Anton Rose lives in Durham, U.K., with his wife and their very fluffy dog. He writes fiction and poetry, and his work has appeared in a number of print and online journals. Find him at antonrose.com or @antonjrose
May 23, 2016 Comments Off on Drive By Mary Casey
I know what will happen if I keep on driving…
Past the six lane ribbon of crumbling asphalt and onto the exit ramp snaking through the almost blue smog that ends when the six become four, then two, then one.
Onto that one-lane road, tires humming a different song of concrete instead of tar, of roadside shrines with plastic dolls and rows of nodding daffodils, waiting to greet the rear view mirror.
The smell of grass will lead me to turn, fast, through a white fence meant to keep the cows in and me out, but onward I will cruise, over and through fields of hay, rolling along a bed of soft, red mud and sleeping bovines, until I reach the place where I have stopped before but maybe not this time.
That place where the fields end and the scrub begins…
That place where the flat dips down to meet the dunes and eventually the evening blue of the cold Atlantic.
If I keep on driving.
© 2016 Mary Casey
Mary Casey lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and misses the ocean. Her poetry can be found at Pidgeonholes and Everyday Poetry magazines and prose at Everyday Fiction.
May 19, 2016 Comments Off on The Doctors By Rupprecht Mayer
I found a doctor today. Doctor, dear doctor, your friendly door opened automatically upon my buzz. As if I were awaited; as if you fully trusted me. Whether I’ll be tickled. Whether I’ll be clamped in your best machine. Whether as partial payment you’ll accept a blood sample. Such practices are usually one-doctor, but how can one doctor keep so many alive? Other practices are two-doctor — a few number even five. I once wound up in a two-doctor practice with a very crowded waiting room. Then it turned out that the doctors were dancing cheek to cheek in one of the examination rooms. How can someone dance when so many are dying? Doctors are normally in such a hurry — only death is patient. Doctor, dear doctor, do doctors die too? Before me, maybe you? Who can take over your one-doctor practice and keep me alive? Doctor, dear doctor, I clutch your white lab coat; I grasp your gray hair.
© 2016 Rupprecht Mayer
Rupprecht Mayer was born near Salzburg. After some twenty years living and working in Taiwan, Beijing, and Shanghai, he resettled in SE Bavaria. He translates Chinese literature and writes short prose.
Translated by Eldon (Craig) Reishus
Eldon (Craig) Reishus lives beneath the Alps outside Munich (Landkreis Bad Tölz – Wolfratshausen). A writer in his own right, he has translated into English a broad score of German films and books, plus a growing selection of flash fiction by Rupprecht Mayer. Come visit: http://www.reishus.de