Blue Five Notebook – (July 2014 / 14.13)
Claire is a writer, poet and photographer residing in Miami, Florida. Her photographs have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Smokelong Quarterly, Roadside Fiction, Foliate Oak, and Lummox, and her work is forthcoming in Stone Path Review. She was a visual artist in residence for Counterexample Poetics in January 2014 and is currently art director for Gulf Stream Magazine.
in the abrupt slow tumbling
of the first seconds rolling
like dirty laundry in a foggy
window arms and legs
the tinkle of glass
the crunch and scrape
metal collapsing into
flesh safety abandoned
on a strip of red clay and stone
no flashing of life before
startled eyes only
wide black pupils and
Charlotte Hamrick lives in New Orleans where she often scribbles words and phrases in notebooks that later become poetry or flash or nothing at all. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has been published in several lit magazines including Metazen, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Olentangy Review, and Poets For Living Waters. She likes old school R&B, dogs and people who really listen. Her original poetry and other occasional writing can be found on her website, Zouxzoux.
James Lloyd Davis
The Laughing Prophet
Downtown Cleveland in 1969, just before Christmas and chilly, but the wind is gentle, snow lightly falling to no effect. You walk up Euclid Avenue, past the May Company, a trip you make every day on your way to the train station. A woman who shows up every Friday afternoon, a huge black woman, strides and laughs her merry way up the sidewalk against the crowd. She would always do this, shout, shake, sing and beat on an old tambourine, all dressed up to church in a long white dress, white stockings, white gloves, white hat, white shoes. She walks back and forth, shouts at passers-by, stares them down, stares them straight in the eye with the certain glee of prophecy in bedlam. Tells them, “You gonna’ die!”
She stops in front of you, hands on her hips, gives you this mad, bug-eyed look and shouts, almost sings the words, “You gonna’ die. Tha’s right. Haha, hahaha! Die an’ gone away ta hell!”
“Hay-yull,” she called it. You were halfway there and she seems quite happy about that. Throws her head back and laughs.
The Hare Krishna people are out in force, dancing rhythmically, their eyes transformed within the lotus of their chant, eyes that literally roll from their efforts to keep them heavenward as their heads bob from side to side. Men with shaved heads sit against a building, some bald and some with but a topknot beat on big vertical drums, while one plays a strange flute that is round on one end, made of what looks like a gourd.
Women with flowing dresses under heavy army field jackets, tambourines in one hand, ring cymbals on the wispy little fingers of the other, dressed in far Eastern veils, are dancing, some whirling. Their music turns the air into an unfamiliar, but heady, contagious rhythm.
About twenty yards away, a cop on a horse moves along in the street. While you watch, the horse suddenly begins to side-step in time to the music.
The ecstatics chant “Hare Krishna. Ha-re, Ha-a-re…”
And the horse answers … step-step … clop-clop-clop … step-step … long tail twitching to the rhythm as his hooves tap-dance on the asphalt. The cop just sits there high in the saddle, aloof and smiling, one hand on his hip and one on the reins loosely.
Decades later, you’re walking a path beside the river, working your legs for the snow, virgin, deep, cold and wet where it clings to your jeans above the tops of your boots. You remember that day in Cleveland, not so much for the season or the snow, but for the girl you loved, the one who waited at the end of the line every day for a year.
You wonder about the Lady in White, long dead perhaps.
You wonder if she was mad.
You know she was right and it makes you smile, but why?
And why was she so happy to say it?
To the wind and the snow you whisper, “You gonna die, boy.”
Then you laugh. You shake your head… and laugh again.
James Lloyd Davis lives in northeast Ohio with his wife, MaryAnne Kolton, who is also a writer. He’s returned to writing after a long absence, is working on two novels, and has published short fiction in various venues both online and in print..
Mark Anthony Herrera
dui aftermath part i of n: the grandmothers’ lamentation
two old women
“our son has died!”
“OUR SON HAS DIED!”
groping each other for support
their disintegrating forms
like words which don’t sound right together
Mark Anthony Herrera has a degree in mathematics and another degree in law. At one time he was a graduate student at Harvard but left under mysterious circumstances. He’s fortunate enough to teach for a living. In his free time he writes and makes sounds with his saxophones and flute.
Every little baby knows just what I mean
livin’ in division in a shiftin’ scene.
-The Stooges, Funhouse
Rose allowed herself a cigarette. One an hour. Cigarettes were her last comfort vice, the last bad thing she’d allow herself. Outside Larue Carter she smoked and waited for Ty. The day was warm and sunny and the tobacco, when it hit her throat, tasted better now than she remembered. She’d let it linger before blowing it out.
Ty is the son she knows. She’d be staying in his basement, in Gary. He may have landed some domestic stability. Rose knew he was mortgaging now instead of renting. He told her it was actually cheaper and, besides, he was sick of landlords. It was an adult thing Ty did, Rose knew, and it should serve as some example to her. She had a job waiting for her. It was just cashiering at Walgreens, but it might be enough. Maybe if she’d make enough she could get a place of her own, eventually.
Rose watched as ember ate away at her cigarette. She was smoking slowly, making a game out of it — trying to make a cigarette last as close to an hour as possible. She was getting better at it. In about a week, she went from two minutes to five. Then she got up to ten, then close to fifteen. She’d make it to at least fifteen with this one. Between cigarettes, things got into her head. She’d jones to find ways to soften, sand or snuff them out.
She’d studied drama at UIC when DNC week happened. She had to be there, she felt it. In all the madness she met the man who, due to a mutual freakish mood cocktails of lust, anger and paranoia, spirited her out of Chicago, pretty much the day after they met. She went willingly. Staged theater seemed like such bullshit after beatings and tear gas. All the experience eats big chunks out of you, and it may or may not replace them, but when there’s time you’re okay with it. The moments were fuzzy and chaotic when she was in them, but her memories were clear and vivid.
The staff at Larue Carter recommended Rose stay in a group home or a halfway house. Her counselor, Beth, said Maybe staying in your son’s basement isn’t the best idea. How is your son able to supervise you? Rose’s trust in Beth, like her trust in any other staff at any other hospital, was limited. She didn’t trust them any more than she had to. She knew Ty had his problems, but he was her son. He’d look out.
Rose thought about why she named her son after the man she’d called the devil, instead of after his real father. Maybe because she had to resolve herself with the devil, or with her own demons. Maybe because it wasn’t as simple as one man was good and another was evil. Ty’s dad was sweet — and more articulate than almost any guy she’d been with for a long time before — but the fact remained, she’d met him in facilities like the one she was leaving, and it wasn’t the first or last visit for either. He was crazy and she was crazy, and they had a complimentary crazy. At least most of the time. Though they were both restless and moved on whims, even after Ty was born. Maybe it was because she knew she had another son somewhere, with the other Ty.
Her first son may or may not be good or bad. She couldn’t make herself find out. When she left it wasn’t because she’d wanted her old life back, but she wanted some life back. And Ty — the devil — even without trying to force her into a thing forced her into a thing. Maybe he didn’t mean to, maybe she got it wrong. Either way, she ran back to her parents. They had her committed. It was her first time but it wouldn’t be her last.
Her memories were clear but they existed as clouds and fog. Sometimes they hung over her head, or they descended and became the haze she disappeared into. Like smoke.
A thing about cigarettes: it wasn’t just the tarry taste and smell; it was the sound of flame hitting and catching. She loved the sound of flame hitting anything. Things don’t catch fire, she thought, it’s the other way around. Fire is a living thing, predatory but benevolent. Things grow stronger where it eats through everything. But it’s still a thing you avoid, at least until you need it. She’d never told anybody about her love for fire, but some people felt it from her. They had to, as she’d burned through them. Or let them burn through her.
Ty pulled up and honked his horn. Rose took the cigarette out of her mouth, wet a finger and snuffed the flame. She still had half a cigarette left. That had to count for something.
Oliver Hunt has studied fiction and playwriting at Columbia College, Chicago. He’s published fiction and essays in HairTrigger, The Handshake, and on the2ndhand.com. He lives and works in Chicago.
David K. Wheeler
Turin Shroud of the Internet Age
There is a photo
to be James Dean
naked in a tree.
as it is I want to believe
his pale body
that jaw line
wide blue eyes
hung on tree limbs—
he is so hard
to make out.
Call me Thomas