Artist, Bernard Heise: Heise is an internal emigrant who lives with his family on a sailboat, currently in New Zealand, who on occasion finds the time to write a few things down or snap a few pictures, like this one, which is a close-up of the hull (starboard side, forward) of a wrecked freighter tethered to the shore in Whangaparapara Harbour on Great Barrier Island.
Scott Owens and Pris Campbell
Norman and Sara
In quiet hours he calculates things,
weighs days worthwhile against those
worthless, ponders possibilities,
a sleep without dreams, wonders
how the self would feel expanded.
He thinks things might be different somewhere
else and stands before the door,
hand grasping the handle, clutching
the curtain, peering through cracks in the wall
always on the verge of desperation,
needing a drink, courted by darkness
and suicide. What he has
is barely enough to keep him here,
but always it remains barely enough.
Back in the Day
Before she became a mother,
Sara hung out on the square,
painting women with green breasts,
purple breasts, orange breasts,
men with indigo or violet eyes,
matching cock and balls.
She smoked weed with her subjects,
played coy with long-haired
boys, shirts open, stroked
their chests, rubbed their necks,
spun round in their arms
to the sound of Jimi and Janis.
Now she paints portraits
of little boys in ball caps,
sisters in lace, while mommies
talk on cell phones, plays
the safe, expected jazz,
James Taylor, John Mayer.
But sometimes after hours
or when business is slow
she pulls out her brightest oils,
turns on Jefferson Airplane,
lifts her shirt, paints sunlight
circling beneath her breasts.
Scott Owens and Pris Campbell are co-authors of THE NATURE OF ATTRACTION (Main Street Rag, 2010) as well as several books of poetry authored singly. Both have received numerous awards for their work including Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations. Owens edits Wild Goose Poetry Review and 234. Campbell blogs at Poetic Inspirations.
1. Because the birds returned suddenly, that evening the network of song made a transparent drift net that pulled them into itself and away from the bonfire on the beach.
The young boys ran headlong through a long thin band of trees without knowing why.
2. With the setting of the sun the drift net dissolves.
They have been here many times but have never before seen this open space framed by pines in which various Roman figures in marble are frozen in agonies of transformation.
Separate from the others, an anonymous nude stone boy, pensive and shy, looks away toward something beyond.
All are characters from unrelated stories that intersect as they would on a bookshelf.
3. In a widening pool of silence beneath an enormous blue-white moon the young boys move as if in a dream.
They distribute themselves in small groups amongst the statues.
By each the same sequence unfolds: one moves into an approximation of the position of the sculpture; two helps one with adjustments; three takes a photograph.
Each photograph documents an encounter shot through with unaccustomed desires.
But a photograph does not make anything real.
4. One is beside the anonymous stone boy, unfolding himself after seeing through the other’s eyes. He is flush with an inexplicable disappointment.
As he straightens up, he discovers that the statue is not affixed to its pedestal.
Soon they are again a single group running headlong through the woods. They carry the stone boy.
When they arrive at the bonfire, they pile on more wood.
Then they address the sculpture: We’ll spare you the fire. Just walk away.
The naked marble boy, pensive and shy, looks to an open space beyond.
They throw him in. For a long time afterward, they stand silent, watching.
Stephen Hastings-King lives by a salt marsh in Essex, Massachusetts where he makes constraints, works with prepared piano, and writes entertainments of various kinds. Some of his sound work is available at www.clairaudient.org. His short fictions have appeared in Sleepingfish, Black Warrior Review, elimae, Metazen, and elsewhere.
She’s a loaded gun fingers flexing on the trigger she’s the 3 am gritty-eyed one last line before oblivion turning and turning in the darkness knotting of sweat-sogged sheets she’s a winding shroud of whiskey that coats the breath she’s the paisley smoke that halos auburn hair she’s teeth that grind an empty room a burning fuse and sweeping slants of black tracks down pale skin she’s a desiccated womb a silhouette a sway before a broken mirror she’s bloodmist and milky bone she’s a fire sparked its flickering blue notes singing deep beneath the temples she’s a trajectory complete she’s the vulture winging overhead the string of broken pediments. Her aftermath, a ringing, meets the day
JP Reese has work published or forthcoming in many print and online journals. Reese is also Poetry Editor for THIS Literary Magazine and Associate Poetry Editor for Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. Her published work can be found at Entropy: A Measure of Uncertainty.
Laurel’s new bike is powder blue, with silver tassels on the handle bars. Jenny’s mouth actually waters at the sight of it, as though it were a fresh loaf of bread or a perfect, juicy orange.
“You can ride it if you want,” Laurel tells Jenny one day on their way home from school. She’s been thinking of the test the next day in math, but now she’s imagining those tassels between her fingers as she soars through the neighborhood, her boring straight hair stretching behind her like a road.
When they get to Laurel’s house, Jenny has to call her mother. This is the year she turns ten, and it seems like her mother worries more with every passing moment. She feels like a baby as she picks up the sleek receiver in Laurel’s kitchen and dials her house, but the alternative is worse- finding her mother in the living room curled up in the recliner, red eyed, pale, and shaking.
There’s no answer at her house, so Jenny leaves a message and hangs up. They walk out to the garage, where Laurel’s older brother’s car is parked. He got caught lighting a fire in his locker at school, Laurel reports, so he’s not allowed to drive for a month. Normally, Jenny is fascinated by stories of Laurel’s brother, but she cannot stop staring at the bike, shiny and graceful, leaning against one wall of the garage.
Laurel wheels the bike to the top of the driveway. Jenny’s heart beats crazily, like William, her guinea pig’s, the first time she held him. It seemed impossible to her that one small, furry body could contain such fierce joy.
She kicks off carefully, but then she is going faster, her feet pushing hard. From the corners of her eyes, she can see the blurry colors of houses and lawns and cars. Behind her, someone calls her name, lazily, like a breeze. She doesn’t turn around. Laurel has everything, she’ll never miss this bike. When it’s gone, she’ll get another one just like it. The only things that matter are the stretching of her legs, the rush of air across her face, the pure possibility of movement.
But now the voice is getting louder, and its’ familiar shrillness curls Jenny’s spine. She steers too hard to the right, and there is the quick, horrible feeling of falling, followed by the raw sting of skin against cement.
The bike lays beside her, the ripped tassels glaring in the sun. Her torn palms are glued to the ground with dirt and sweat. Then comes the flutter of arms around her and the wet pressure of her mother’s teary face against her dry one. “I was calling you,” she whispers, “Didn’t you hear me?” Jenny shakes her head, looking at her shredded, bleeding knees, but it doesn’t matter. In her head, she’s still flying down the road, to somewhere far away from here.
Chanel Dubofsky’s work has been published at Monkey Bicycle, Matchbook, Quick Fiction, Staccato, and Atticus Review. She blogs at Diverge and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
You Waited Years to Say This
The crow’s feet at the eyes and the notion that it wasn’t supposed to turn out like this require an equal sign and its corresponding X and Y.
The burned out light bulb and the voices coming from the street say the minus sign should slow down before it subtracts what’s inside the house into a zero passed out on the couch.
The screaming at the other end of the phone and its partner chaos at the end of the street can’t stop the girl from her exponential longing for something better.
The formula for a way to escape is hiding in the closet with the vodka.
No matter the math the night has decided to make a margin call and with no regard for the ruin it may bring wants its money.
No one arrives with the plus sign so the man can get some sleep and the coefficient of the woman who hisses you are worth more to me dead than alive does not stop the needy cars from parking in the garage.
Ruin wants to make another appearance and wishes to remind everyone that beauty and its ugly step sister are proud to serve.