Blue Five Notebook – (July 2013 / 13.13)
Karen Lewis, Ojai Arts Commissioner, writes of Marcus’ technique: “This deft brushwork, and ease and fluidity of painting, and pushing for color, is never more evident that in Marcus’ series of small female figures and portraits painted directly from life.” Marcus was awarded First Place: “Best of Show” at the Juried Group Show, Art in the Park, Ojai, California, 2004. Visit her work at Fine Art America.
To coax you to sleep he kisses your fingertips, fingers spent hours roaming his
skin, his hair, the hollow of his ass, between his toes, every part of him, does this
mean he is kissing himself back, coaxing himself to sleep, not you— not you—
You are the mirror of his discontent, he can look at you and you’re beautiful, he
can see his face and body and coax it all to sleep.
Susan Tepper is the author of four published books of fiction and a chapbook of poetry. Her new book The Merrill Diaries is a quirky novel in linked stories that follows a young woman over two continents in her quest for love, lust, and, ultimately, her identity (Pure Slush Books, July 2013). Tepper is a nine-time Pushcart nominee, and received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her novel What May Have Been (with Gary Percesepe, Cervena Barva Press 2010). www.susantepper.com
He looked around. He saw his newspaper. Newspapers provide bearings. He picked it up. He started reading. His arms descended. The newspaper hit the floor.
He woke. He picked up the newspaper. He started reading. His arms descended. His thumbs relaxed. The newspaper struck the floor.
He woke, head turning quickly, the newspaper handed back to him.
He started reading. Eyes closed. The newspaper clobbered the floor.
His eyes opened. He picked up his newspaper. His eyes closed. The newspaper smacked the floor.
He woke, looking left, right, then down, the newspaper splattered across the floor.
He started reading the sentence he’d already tried reading fifteen times, his arms wobbling, his head hanging onto consciousness.
His thumbs relaxed. The newspaper slapped the floor, the noise surprising the other readers.
He sat, head bowed. Oblivion lasted twenty seconds. He looked around. He had forgotten where he had been. He remembered where he was.
His eyes became erudite mica as he started reading his newspaper. He even looked alert. Then his forearms, after slow, unsteady falls, reached his legs, his hands opening as if they had died.
The newspaper belted the floor, its reader’s head titled down; his palms faced the ceiling.
His eyes opened. He picked up his newspaper. He started reading. The newspaper crashed onto the floor. He woke. He looked around. He found his newspaper. He started reading. His arms wobbled. His hands relaxed. His eyes closed. The newspaper crashed onto the floor.
He sat head bowed, chin on his chest. His eyes opened. He looked around. He saw his newspaper. He started reading.
He read the sentence he had already read nineteen times. The newspaper walloped the floor. Another “random” event had occurred.
The newspaper shook as his shaking arms fell. The newspaper’s collision with the carpet made a clattering wallop. The other readers continued reading.
The newspaper reader woke. He picked it up his newspaper. He sat upright, eyes alert. His chin and arms fell. So did the newspaper.
Thirty seconds elapsed with the newspaper on the floor; he picked it up and started reading, elbows on his legs. His arms descended. The newspaper smashed onto the floor.
He woke. He started reading. His trembling arms fell. His head fell as his arms fell. The newspaper fell, his chin reaching his tie.
His eyes opened. He saw the newspaper. He picked it up. He started reading.
Statistics were irrelevant.
His head fell. His arms shook. He sat still. His newspaper smacked the floor. His bowed head didn’t move. Another “independent” event had transpired.
His eyes opened. He looked around. He put the newspaper back together and started reading.
His trembling arms fell. The newspaper clobbered the carpet. His chin finished on his chest.
He woke. He looked around. He picked up the newspaper and started reading. The newspaper crashed onto the floor.
Events were mutually exclusive.
He clutched his newspaper. He focussed on the same article he had started reading twenty-six times.
His eyes closed. The newspaper thumped the floor. The other readers acted as if nothing had happened. No reaction means nothing has happened. So nothing had happened.
The newspaper’s presence on the floor was irrelevant. Statistics only record coincidences.
He sat upright, eyes alight with hope.
His eyes closed. A pleasant heaviness enveloped his body in a warm glow. His arms reached his legs. His thumbs relaxed. The newspaper flew towards the floor as if the carpet was a paper-attracting magnet. Newspapers make us believe. If it’s not in the newspaper, it doesn’t exist. And if it is, it must be true.
The newspaper crashed again, the reader’s head slumped. A mangled, newspaper corpse covered the floor. The other readers knew what was happening; but their silence implied that nothing had happened. So nothing had happened.
The newspaper reader glanced to see if anyone had noticed that he had fallen asleep – or even if anyone cared. If no one cares, nothing has happened. No one cared so nothing had happened.
He picked up his newspaper. Fresh starts create hopes that, from rational perspectives, seem unattainable, changing methods irrelevant if events are independent coincidences.
The newspaper reader’s falling arms shook as if some part of his brain was trying to inform him that his consciousness was disappearing. That part failed again to be successful.
The newspaper hit the floor.
The other readers didn’t look up.
The newspaper reader woke. No reaction was being shown by the other readers, changing behaviour unnecessary if no one reacts. The newspaper reader believed that he was awake enough to read. Therefore, he could read.
The newspaper crashed and crashed, statistics’ quiet voice eclipsed by irrational optimism.
Kim Farleigh has worked for aid agencies in three conflicts: Kosovo, Iraq and Palestine. He takes risks to get the experience required for writing. He likes fine wine, art, photography, and bullfighting, which probably explains why this Australian lives in Madrid. 68 of his stories have been accepted by 64 different magazines.
R Jay Slais
Before Global Warming
Her eyes are a painting by Monet
as she was telling her boy a story
about the great snowstorm in 1963,
late November, snow so deep
the men had to dig a tunnel
to the car before they could leave.
She said everyone has to traverse
the crossing, step into a bright glow
when transportation is needed.
She never drove away in that story;
in that story, that snowstorm,
the car was buried to its roof.
Since she left through the white tunnel,
there’s a boy waiting within the silver lining
still wishing her story didn’t have to end.
The books they shared have all been lost.
All she left him with was a love for daisies
and a note she placed in her Daddy’s bible.
Some of R Jay Slais’ publications include poems at Barnwood Poetry Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, MiPOesias, The Pedestal Magazine, Poets/Artists, and Rose & Thorn Journal. He’s the author of a chapbook, Mice Verses Man (Big Table Publishing). He writes from his home in Romeo, Michigan and makes a living as an engineer/inventor for a Metro Detroit automotive industry supplier.
Leap of Faith
I’m a dead frog and I don’t say this with any pity or understanding or shame, it’s just an observation that people seem to like us, like us a bit too much because they like to push hooks through our jaws and cast us out to sea, as well as amputate us for fine dining and draw us as a cartoon shuffling cigar smoking smart ass, and they like to blame us when they choke on the phlegm in their throats, and they swear that some of us give them hideous skin infections while the evil ones enjoy tossing us into their steamy potions as the younger ones imitate us with a game of leaps and crashes, perhaps because we abandon our young and we larger ones like to eat the smaller ones, and some of us are poisonous and have arrows dipped in our blood for killing others, and snakes like to slide along with our swallowed bulges straining inside their bellies, and we are stunned and frozen and sliced alive by school children with sharp tools, yet we still swim and splash and smile because the sun warms our cold blood and reflects our moist green that gives summer its most vibrant color, and the Chinese believe there is a toad in the moon not a man, and the Japanese consider us good luck, and that luck includes the growing of long legs to hop away from dinosaurs which is why we are the best leapers on earth and millions of years ago became the first animal with any backbone to live on land, and Shakespeare wrote that we wear a precious jewel in our head, and, best of all, beneath the summer stars, the sky is filled with our clucks and clicks and croaks of romance and camaraderie, sprinkled within a flying feast of buzzing wings and microscopic swimmers, and so this is what dead frogs will do just given the chance, a chance that will always destroy us.
Mark Blickley is a widely published author of fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry and a member of PEN American Center. His latest book of fiction is Sacred Misftis (Red Hen Press). His work has appeared in Fiction International, Cream City, Potomac Review, BlackWater Review, Rio Grande Review, and others.
Questioning the Body
When she told me that Feldenkrais was something like
the torah, questions answered by questions
except that they are asked of your body,
I asked if my body would tell the truth or not.
She said, “It doesn’t always know the answers.
You have to give your body to your mind
to see inside with what they call the mind’s
eye.” An architect, I’ve heard it called, something like
a handsome stranger who wittily supplies all the answers,
a fairy godmother with the gift of three questions
instead of wishes and you feel gypped. This is not
the story. In that story, my body
runs through the long singing grasses, my laughing body
tour jetés against the blue spring sky, and my mind
feels no need to wander inside, not
to probe nor to ponder, more something like
keeping your eye on the ball, your only questions
your teammates eyes, their winks in answer.
Why should you expect more of an answer?
In the end, there is just this: your body
and the same old tired questions.
It might not be a good diversion for the mind,
long strokes on your body, but they are something like
a movie of yourself in your mind, and not
an indy-edgey either. Why not
the feel good movie of the year? All the answers
tidied by the last big number, something like
tides or long strokes on your body.
(And you remember what you’ve read about “no mind”
but you can’t stop your mind from asking questions.)
For what is your mind for if not for questions?
And what is your body for if not
to be? Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind
and all that, well, that is part of every answer.
And suffering too, by the way, is the job of the body
who offers itself up something like
a beggar for change, just his presence forcing questions:
Could someday that be you? Though you’d like to believe not
you have very few if any answers and like him, just one body.