Artist: Dorothee Lang: In the middle of Berlin: the past, turned into a field of stones. Walking through it, the stones turn into a labyrinth, change the view, draw you in. It’s the same city. It’s a different place. Dorothee Lang is a traveler, author, freelancer, and the editor of BluePrint Review. She lives in Germany. For more about her, visit her here.
The slow-moving river
Two of us by the arched bridge
The moment of departure
This is tails not heads
Open the bag of childish surprises
Don’t parse the verbs or cite
The proper noun
In lamplight shadow-puppet me
Tell me who I am to you
Under the arch like a scene
From an old French film
Draw a circle and an arrow
Say when instead of if
It’s too late for casual gestures
And when the bag opens
Pull out a bright pen
Remake the crosshatched
Patterns of our lives
A faint trickle of water
The stroke of night is heavy
Surprises have come too late
I juggle words
Ask why tails trump heads
But you are quiet
In this dark place
No refrain before we both
Susan Terris’ books include THE HOMELESSNESS OF SELF, CONTRARIWISE, NATURAL DEFENSES, FIRE IS FAVORABLE TO THE DREAMER, POETIC LICENSE, and EYE OF THE HOLOCAUST. Her work has appeared in many publications including The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird,The Southern Review, Denver Quarterly, and Ploughshares. For seven years, with CB Follett, she edited RUNES, A Review Of Poetry. She is now editor of Spillway and a poetry editor for Pedestal Magazine and In Posse Review. She had a poem from Field published in PUSHCART PRIZE XXXI.
Space between black lines
A boy, not even three, has become so taken with the picture of the
woman on the cover of his coloring book he cannot look at it anymore,
she is too beautiful, in whatever way it is that an image of a
beautiful woman can make such a young boy feel so shy. At first, when
the book was new, he would hold it and stare at the woman’s face, one
hand on either side of the cover rotating it back and forth like a
crazy driver behind a wheel. It made him feel dizzy and happy.
Once a tear opens up along the cover’s edge he gets upset with himself
and turns it back, creasing the book open and tucking the cover behind
the other pages, the way he’s seen his father do with the magazines
the lie next to him on his bed, folded and sometimes bent in two.
It is just a drawing, a bright colored sketch of a pretty woman on the
cover of a coloring book. The brightest color is purple, though it
isn’t that the color itself is bright, really. But it is rich. It’s a
deep, rich violet. Maybe, he thinks, she’s a queen or a princess,
who’s just not wearing her crown. The purple of the gown is so
prominent in his mind that he will long associate the word “luxurious”
with the details of the picture, and remember the way that word first
sounded coming from his mother, in the darkness of his room that last
night, slipping beside him with wet cheeks and warm hands as he busily
worked his crayon inside the border.
The woman on the cover has dark hair and so too are her eyes, the way
he’s used to, dark spots lying inside the white. Maybe it is the eyes.
They’re the kind that feel like they’re looking right at you, almost
as if smiling. There’s this way, even in drawings that eyes will look
like they are following you. He’s noticed this once or twice before.
And it scared him at first and then after the leaving (which is what
his father called it) he found it comforting, the way all the eyes in
pictures around his house never ever left him alone.
The boy will fill all the space between black lines. Fill in every
page. Fill it beautifully. With all the different colors. Every
person, plant and thing. But he won’t look at the cover. And he won’t
use the violet crayon, or the lavender one or orchid. Not once.
Doug Bond’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Used Furniture Review, Necessary Fiction, Mad Hatters’ Review, Metazen, and Wilderness House Literary Review. Additional written words of his and social media can be found here.
Kenneth P. Gurney
The crows drop off their business card
and let you know they have tools for measuring
the weight of a soul to determine
how much more to charge
if the spirit requires any extra flap
to get it up and beyond the stars.
The letter accompanying the card
has more to do with shadows and sunlight
and how long you will wear that queer feeling
of standing beside yourself in your alone moments,
which, if you have good friends, will be few,
but seem very long in duration—
or short if your mind forgets the concept of time.
As often as the doorbell rings with some neighbor
bringing by something to eat or just to convey sympathy,
you think of Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life
and wonder if all of the departed must earn their wings.
Or if there are any wings at all, because angels might possess
some ability to defy gravity, since the spirit defies the grave.
The capitalist inside you locates the ferryman
and learns his fee, which is to be paid in silver—
thirty coins after all these centuries of inflation—
but that particular amount causes a Judas feeling,
which does not fit your bereaved love.
So, you stay with the crows whose payment
requires you to hit a squirrel or rabbit with your car
and leave it at the side of the road—
for which, you find out, you have a credit in their accounts
from that rainy night on the rural highway,
when that thump you thought was an unseen pothole
turned out to be a full grown raccoon.
Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM. His latest collection of poems is AN ACCIDENT PRACTICED. He edits the NM poetry anthology ADOBE WALLS. You may learn more about Kenneth at his website.
I liked E first because she knew all the words to “Alice’s Restaurant.” Everybody knows “American Pie,” but “Alice’s,” that’s impressive. We used to cut class in high school and drive around listening to it, and I’d try to pretend I knew the words, but I never did, so I just waited for the refrain and then we’d sing it together, loudly, with the windows down, and people in the cars beside us would stare at us and frown, or curse, or smile, sometimes.
We spend most days now on E’s couch, getting stoned and watching the Disney Channel. You would not believe the shit that’s on there; girls with huge breasts and tight jeans jumping around, pretending to be virgins. We think it’s hilarious.
It’s not unlike high school, only in a different city, instead of E’s basement. It’s even the same food-Easy Mac, salt and vinegar potato chips, hummus, fudge ice cream. We have to be careful so we don’t shit our brains out, but when you’re high, it’s hard to keep track.
Tonight as E’s rolling the joint, it’s raining, crazily, like someone in the sky is shaking a snow globe, hard, like they don’t care if it breaks. It’s a big joint, fat, and E takes a huge hit off of it, closing her eyes and sucking in.
“I don’t think you should come over tomorrow night,” she says, her voice husky as she tries to hold in the smoke and talk. This is exactly what they said would happen tonight, the weather guys. I can’t remember the last time they were so correct.
“Why?” My fingers reach out, expectantly, groping for the joint. “Are you busy?” Sometimes she has a date, and he’ll spend the night, and the next day we’ll laugh about it.
“Well,” E hands the roach to me, her eyes still closed. “I’m running out of pot.”
“There’s a guy in my building who can hook us up.”
“I can’t,” she says, her voice and expression deadpan. “I’m saving for a baby hippo.”
Once in her backyard, E took the kiddie pool out of her garage, filled it up, and sat in it with Byron, her dog. There were clumps of dog hair floating around her, sticking to her feet and her legs, but she just laughed, it was like she didn’t notice.
On TV now, we watch a show about a family of aliens who look normal. The oldest daughter has flat, ironed hair and wears too much denim. She walks around shaking her ass and flirting with ugly guys and making adults laugh when she doesn’t get references to books.
“Fuck this,” says E, turning it off. She always thinks she’s talking too loudly when she’s stoned, but there’s no way she’s stoned yet. “Let’s do something else.” She puts on her shoes, bending over to lace them, her hair hanging around her face. “Something must be happening.”
Lately I’ve noticed that E says “happening,” the way you’re supposed to say it. I say “happuning,” like I’m from some crappy podunk town. I’ve been trying to change it, watching my mouth in the mirror, trying to pull the right inflection from deep within my throat. It’s not working.
“I’m okay with doing this,” I say, taking another hit, attempting to exhale slowly, but it comes out in a clumsy gust instead.
E looks up at me, her eyes red rimmed, watery. “Someday we’re going to be old,” she says. “Do you even know that?”
“Not today,” I tell her. I turn the tv back on. It’s one of those lawyer/cop shows. I’m never interested in them unless there’s a serial killer, and there rarely is. There’s a crack of lightening outside, and inside, the lights dim, then go back to normal. E rummages around on the table, comes up with a candle and a match.
There’s no blackout that night. We finish a bag of salt and vinegar chips, smoke another joint. I change the channel. Towards dawn, it stops raining. E sighs, moves around on the couch, the fake leather squeaking as she shifts. Staring at the TV, her eyes are vacant. Never mind, she’s probably thinking, I liked you better years ago, when I thought you could be someone else.
Chanel Dubofsky’s writing has been published in Atticus Review, Quick Fiction, Staccato, Dogzplot, and Glossolalia. She lives in New York City and blogs at Diverge.
Robert E. Wood
It’s all in black and white,
but she’s a redhead.
She gives you a look
and she deals you aces down.
She wants to get out of town.
The house is paying.
You figure a good piano man
can find a gig.
The road is slick and wet.
It will always rain.
You find a place to stop.
The clerk is dozing.
“A dark sedan,” he’ll say,
if the cops arrive.
“A dame in a trenchcoat
waiting in the car.”
The motel sign is flashing
The light in the room
is pulsing like a heart.