Artist, Christopher Woods: Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Houston and Chappell Hill, Texas. His photo essays have appeared in Public Republic, Glasgow Review, and Narrative Magazine. He shares a gallery with his wife Linda at MOONBIRD HILL ARTS – Moonbird Hill Photography.
We go bowling the night before I ask Brad for a divorce. It’s embarrassing how much better he is at bowling than I am. And I was on a league. In eighth grade. But still. I judge myself that way.
I twist the ring on my finger, eyeing Brad set himself up for a strike. He rests before the lane, both feet loose and limp, ball raised high. With a quick breath, he begins to move, drifting fast, crouching and dipping the ball behind him.
Urgently, he wheels his arm, his 14-pound ball flying down the lane, dismantling all ten pins with a mighty crack. He trots back to me, a stupid grin on his face. “Pfft! Nothing to it.”
I clap. “Great job, honey.”
Brad bends, resting a hand on my shoulder. He smacks my cool lips, leaving them burning. “Hmm,” he says. “You taste like rhubarb.”
I touch the flank of my mouth. Sticky gloss beneath my finger. “It’s called French Kiss.”
I turn away. His nose hits my throat. Fluidly, he plops on the bench across from me, legs spread wide like barn doors.
“Aw, is this because I’m winning?” He holds his hands up, still smiling, plastic-like. “Shit, if it’ll make you happy. I’ll let you beat me.”
I grit my teeth, looking over at the glossy bowling balls lining the racks like perfect, shiny wives with three holes ready for their husbands…waiting for their pretty colors to be rinses and waves…their weights to be minimized, chained, held in the hand of a man to decide what is and what is not – no roundness untouched. They, with their glistening sides, are the only balls I like.
“It’s late. Take my turn.”
Brad checks his watch. League Play begins at nine. “You’re right. Last game.”
He picks his ball up.
I take my ring off.
While being born and raised in the backwoods of Montana, Jules Archer developed a craving for the written word. Today, she writes random stories of great genius and heartbreaking torpor while keeping her day job in marketing. She has been published at Metazen, The Glass Coin, Negative Suck, and MonkeyBicycle. She writes to annoy you at Jules Just Write.
I have cut out the same pattern
on the same table
in the same small room
where no one can hear me
I have stitched the seams
with all the symmetry of a measured life
and assured the curtains are closed
I have counted each thread
and made sure the spool holds
the long silk of memory
I have made sure each color
is a word I dare not say
but even as I pull together
all the finishing touches
I still don’t recognize these portraits
of cloth and dark lace
I step back and realize
I have dropped too many pins
made too many loose patches
but I know I must leave this place
and everyone expects to see
So I will loosen the two scarves
from each neck
make sure I can hold my sewn selves
with two hands
knowing I am the only one
who will understand
why I made
One to keep
One to give away
Connie Post is the Poet Laureate Emerita of Livermore, California. She has been published in Calyx, Kalliope, Comstock Review, Dogwood, The Aurorean, Cold Mountain Review, Main Street Rag, Karamu, Riversedge, The Toronto Quarterly, The Pedestal Magazine, and DMQ Review. She was the 2009 winner of the Caesura Poetry Award and also won the Spring 2009 Cover Prize in the Dirty Napkin.and and and
How a Poet Puts on His Pants
The beautiful thing easily
entered his brains this morning just
like a live radio with a
timer on its otherwise smooth
forehead goes green and then bingo
you’re further awake somehow than
your dreams let on just as he was
about to exit the bathroom
of all places. Typical he
thought of these kinds of Faery gift-
givers. They like to catch you off-
balance, maybe a little more
relaxed than usual say, less
unencumbered with today’s suits
of armor than yesterday. Still
nothing in the universe is
free. The theft of this barter had
already been made to lower
the scales on one side. It was up
to him to figure out the price –
probably at the same time it
was to be extracted, be it
a fall or a shove, a nudge or
a wink, like a too loose tooth. Something
had already been given and
someone would most likely have to
give something back or else. Isn’t that
how these things usually get
the goat? Hey he wasn’t feeling
but taken by surprise. He knew
he could feel it, he could, right then
and there with a birdsong like that
stuck in his head, sing something quite
wonderful if he would only
choose the moment that chose him, but
also knew there would come a time
to let go of its wing and plunge
back down into a numb empty
nest inside the hollowed heart’s crook.
Darryl Price was born in Kentucky and educated at Thomas More College. A founding member of Jack Roth’s Yellow Pages Poets, he has published dozens of chapbooks, and his poems have appeared in many journals.
a swirling storm,
the Ukrainian church
the fish can’t
of the noise,
Howie Good is the author of the full-length poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011).
As a kid neatly wrapped in his father’s aphorisms or bruised by his mother’s stump of glucose intolerant love, I never believed in much except that chestnuts fell from trees and that people rode subways because they were too scared to walk in the dark. On the way back from exploring the lifelines of downtown, or the rooms of hookers who offered specials for malingerers and their brothers on the fringe, I saw him – Frank Zane of The Rugby Rats – the notoriously underrated axman, once trailing the British Invasion, but now reduced to small gigs, balding head, and a new coat of thick skin. His records only sold to the cult of the haunted and the few.
I sat behind him on the B Train, hummed the words to all his big hits. What else did a kid living his life groove for groove, spinning towards the center then back out, have to do? He turned and smiled, asked if I played an instrument, and I said I practiced on an old Fender and was damn reckless with the whammy. From then on, we become God and Lilliputian admiring soul. He invited me into the studio, offered me a stage, a chance to play rhythm when his guitarists were too strung out on women with stony eyes and bad teeth. During rehearsals, I watched as Frank closed his eyes and strummed a tune that couldn’t carry anyone but him. Within that studio space, he became my burnt-out father with that obsolete bent for the mystic truth of a lyric. I watched him spit up blood as if it were just yesterday’s gob of precious nothings. Whenever I asked if he was alright, he put on a wicked smile and say Well, I’m still standing, right?
Then the phone calls stopped. Frank died of too much of everything.
I did acid and paid off the needle collectors. I slept on the streets. I wound up in an institution and made love to a patient with deadened eyes and a quivering string of a tongue. She died every time they passed out the meds.
Years passed like so many faces on the streets. I still play my Frank Zane and The Rugby Rats Best Of. My wife doesn’t know who he was or who I once wanted to be. Whenever I spin the old LPs, I close the door, and make the old journey back to the center of me. I never quite get there and I never tell her about the acid flashbacks or the subways or how in this fucked up world not worth a torch song, it once felt good to believe in someone, structuring your life chord against a wall of noise, refusing the safety of one more overdub.