Blue Five Notebook – (October 2012 / 12.21)
Artist, Ira Joel Haber: Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn New York. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe, and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Haber is the recipient of three National Endowments For The Arts Fellowship, two Pollock-Krasner grants and The Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn.
Under the near-full
moon, shadows fall long. A black
ribbon river &
unlit adobe homes sink
into the folds of the land.
High mountains are lost
in thick morning mist. Grazing
llamas, forests of
pine & eucalyptus are
ghostly. One beast looks up at
our umbral bus on
this winding white road bloodied
by soil. Far below
still that river, sinuous
& ebony, wraps the cliffs.
Beyond these mountains
sun sets early, their peaks black
grey clouds. The nearer-full moon
climbs behind filigree trees.
Lorraine Caputo’s poems and travel narratives appear in over 70 journals, eight chapbooks and five audio recordings in Canada, the US, and Latin America. She has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to Patagonia. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada chose her as poet of the month. Ms Caputo continues journeying south of the Equator.
In the Window
I wait every night until she appears in her fifth-story window. She is later than usual tonight, the warm yellow light of her front room glowing like a beacon against the purple winter sky. Crystals of frost begin to collect on the cardboard boxes I have pulled into the doorway of the vintage clothing store. I come and set myself up every night after they close at six. A young couple walks down the sidewalk talking loudly, laughing, their arms around each other’s waists. They see me but quickly turn their eyes away, go silent until they pass, then pick back up where they left off. I tug my hat down tighter over my ears and wait.
Finally she comes and sits the grey-haired dog on the sill and begins to feed him, something she scrapes out of a white plastic container. The dog leans his head forward and licks the spoon dry. The woman patiently reloads the spoon from the container and holds it out again.
She is tall, fair-skinned, her dark hair piled up in a clip on top of her head. She moves gracefully, her smile is soft and serene. She disappears for a minute then returns with a box of Kleenex. She pulls a tissue from the box and dabs at the dog’s mouth, takes another and carefully cleans one ear then the other. It is their nightly ritual. When she leans down to kiss the dog gently on the forehead, I can feel the softness of her lips, taste the sweetness of her breath, lose myself in the lavender scent of her bath soap. The dog watches her, his little body twitching gratefully.
The woman gets up and disappears. The dog jumps down from the sill and follows her. The room goes dark. I crawl under my sour pile of blankets and settle in for the night.
Ralph Uttaro lives and writes in Rochester, New York. His work has previously been published in Blue Fifth Review, Bartleby Snopes, Front Porch Review, and Everyday Fiction.
In the Space Between
There is nothing but empty space between us,
He says one night in the darkness
I marvel because I know it is true
I had read a Quantum Physics book, and from it
Understood that the ground, the walls are not solid
Nothing is solid at all
Diminutive solar systems: atoms
Orbiting sun-like nuclei mirror our vast galaxy
Bodies too, are mostly empty space
But where he sees nothingness,
I see symmetry, two universes coexisting
Both constructed out of dying stars
When he leaves, there is only the
Indentation of his body in the bed
In that space, I still feel reverence and love
Claire Ibarra’s fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous literary journals, including The MacGuffin, Natural Bridge, Boston Literary Magazine, Blink-Ink, Amoskeag, Foliate Oak, The Broken Plate, and BluePrint Review. I am also a contributor to the anthology An Honest Lie, Vol.2: Delusions of Insignificance by Open Heart Publishing and the upcoming anthology Dreams of Duality by Red Skies Press.
I Am Barbarella
The hair show is Russell’s idea, not mine. He says, “Honey that head is thick and shining like an auburn python. I could wrap up in it.”
Russell and I spend most nights on the stoop of our duplex, smoking bowls and caressing stray cats we feed. He pushes a paper bag my way. He’s trying to pretty some backbone into me.
Upstairs, I have a good buzz when I pull my costume out. Randy’s eyes gray, look pinched. “Should you be dressing like that, being a married woman and all?”
“Fuck, Randy, when will I ever get a chance to walk across a bar in vinyl boots and bloomers again?” I ask, putting my arms out and swinging my hips as I walk on my toes.
“I’m sure you could pole dance any time,” he says. “You might even make some money looking like Elly May trash.”
“Does that make you Jed Clampett?”
He sits on the corner of our rumpled bed, and unlaces his combat boots. I cross my arms in front of the mirror. I am a projectile tiara. Wonder Woman’s indestructible bracelets. I am Barbarella. I am Bettie Page. I am. Flat Chested, but my long legs make up for it. And the hair. It swings now, past my shoulder blades, tickling the backs of my arms. I build my armor with what I can. “You aren’t the girl I used to know,” he says.
We used to live off vending machine crackers. He favored Toast Chee and ate them stacked one on top of the other. I was the type to lick the filling off my Captain’s Wafers first.
Before I quit school, I fumbled in the dark with a can opener, popping tops off film canisters, winding thin sheets of film around reels. With my fingernails, I’d separate the film from itself. I loved the sound of its wrinkle. If I stayed late, Randy would come talk to me through the door.
He rubs his temples. “Didn’t someone call the past a foreign country?” I ask.
When he walks out, his laces tap the hardwoods. I stretch my arms out so wide my shoulders feel like they’ll pull apart. It’s as though I’m standing just beyond a storm of paper. I feel the fluttering but can’t grab anything tangible.
At the salon, I get turned on when Russell teases my hair out and backcombs it into two little pigtails, curling at the bottoms like scorpions. My hair looks a little like an ass in the back with such a severe part down the middle, but the other stylists hover, congratulating Russell. He pulls a bottle of Whiskey from his cabinet. Spacewomen and leather men toast with shots in paper cups as I unsnap my smock. We all pose in the shop before we pile in the van. Mr. full sleeve tattoos stands next to me in his wife beater and silver pants, stares down at my red bloomers. I don’t hide. I straddle a salon stool like it’s a horse, throw my arm in the air. Cameras click.
A hulking bald man leads us all to the bar. A girl in a white wig falls. She pulls her skirt up to her shoulders, cackles. I’m last. A finale of skin and hairspray.
Now I’m one heel in front of the other, moving from the bar to the catwalk to queasy house music. I kick up one heel. Burn in my belly and my breasts. Feel eyes. I don’t see Randy, but I worry he’s seeing what I’m feeling.
When it’s over, I stay in the clothes even as others change. I go out for a smoke. Russell hands me a shot of something caramel and sweet, says, “You did great, gal.” He kisses my forehead. “Thanks for being my dolly.”
“Any time,” I say, blowing liquor breath. I know I have to bury Barbarella.
Randy walks up, throws a cigarette down. A bouncing stub. I better get out of these clothes. Heat radiates to my face. His eyes. The eyes of the man I married – cast down. As I turn, I hear a drunk say, “That Elly May slut can wrestle me any day.”
When I return, Randy is gone. I catch a ride from Russell. “Fuck ’im,” he says. “You’re beautiful.”
I lean my cheek on the passenger window. During the intro to a Led Zeppelin song, I can feel Randy’s hand in my hair.
“Home?” Russell asks.
“Home,” I say.
Beth Gilstrap lives in Charlotte, NC, and holds a M.F.A. in Fiction from Chatham University. She has taught in the First Year Writing Program at UNC-Charlotte and is hard at work on her first novel.
He watched The Last American
Hero at the drive-in, scenes
Filmed at the speedway two miles
East on 70 and Jeff
Bridges in his white jumpsuit
Was nearly as tall as the
Whole screen, and Valerie P
Though not nearly so naked
As she would be for
Billy Pilgrim lit up the
Darkness with a yellow swim
Suit, country girl smile.
And he knew there was a world
Bigger somewhere beyond a
Half mile track, a black Mustang,
Beyond the Hickory 500
Junior Jackson running shine
Through a Carolina night.