Fall Quarterly – Space (November 2014 / 14.22)
Artist. Madeleine Slavick, has authored several books of photography, poetry, and non-fiction. Her most recent book is Fifty Stories Fifty Images of Hong Kong. She has exhibited her photography in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America, and from 13 February to 10 May 2015, she will show her photographic images of Hong Kong at the Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, in Masterton, New Zealand. Slavick lived in North America for 25 years and Hong Kong for another 25, and now lives on a country road near the Tararua Mountains in the Wairarapa, New Zealand.
Long past midnight
miles above the tree line
a plane moves toward Canada
— if sound is any indicator
causing the room to shiver as
migrating geese in flocks
though that’s the least of it
My sock snagging a floorboard,
peeling back a sliver of wood, lifted,
shaped like a feather darkly grained
point to point, north to south
this crater in ancient wood—
winds pick up
making the trees rustle
disrupting their quiet bed
Susan Tepper is the author of five published books of poetry and fiction. The Merrill Diaries (Pure Slush Books) is a novel in stories, published in July 2013. She has received nine Pushcart Nominations and one for the Pulitzer Prize for her novel What May Have Been (co-author Gary Percesepe). She is a contributing editor at Flash Fiction Chronicles where she interviews authors in “UNCOV/rd”. Find her website here.
Gary V. Powell
When I drove you home from the office that time your car wouldn’t start, stopping off at a park, swinging wild in the dark and starry night, pretending to be astronauts or at least a couple of crazy kids without marital, paternal, and financial commitments elsewhere.
When, for you birthday, I left chocolate cupcakes topped with personalized M&Ms on your desk and you invited me to watch while you licked the frosting and sucked the sugar coating off the candies, one by freaking one.
When we skipped work to walk the grounds of the Botanic Gardens and talk, really talk, for once, the morning cold and sunny, the first green shoots bursting forth, silver rivulets rushing from melting ice.
When the old man greeting visitors to the Art Institute said if he could live life over he’d have stayed in Paris after the war with that radio-operator school teacher instead of returning to nightmares in snowy Chicago.
When we kissed for the first time at the bookstore on State St., a favorite of yours, the prudish proprietor warning us to act our age.
When we read poetry aloud while waiting for the train—you choosing Eliot, me Bukowski—both of us tearing up because we hadn’t been so honest with ourselves or another for years.
When we agreed to not actually fuck until we broke things off with our other people.
When your sister came down with an antibiotic-resistant infection.
When, out of town on business, I drunk-dialed your apartment from the Marriott in Minneapolis, the two of us juicing the phone line for an hour, your sometimes-violent husband asleep in his bed down the hall.
When you called my house, pretending to be the goddamned IRS and my wife pretended to believe you.
When we eventually caved, the night of the Christmas party, the sex-urgency so great we favored the backseat of my stick-shift Honda Accord over a hotel room, throwing out my back and bruising your shoulder.
When we couldn’t find the used condom.
When, at the pancake house in Winnetka, I said I loved you and didn’t give a shit what happened next, this having been the best three months of my life.
When your husband bloodied my nose and busted my lip and my wife said joint custody was going to cost—a lot.
When you screamed at me bare-breasted from your balcony, the neighbors looking on, the iron skillet you winged my way narrowly missing my head.
When I called your therapist a Feminazi-ball-buster-bitch for trying to convince you I was serial womanizer who’d never recover from rejection by his mother.
When, while viewing the Big Boar at the Wisconsin State Fair, the ammonia stench rising, you finally admitted you loved me, too.
When we moved in together, no bed or furniture.
When my pre-teen daughters came to visit and we explained you sometimes slept over in your PJs because we were best friends forever.
When, trying to get away from it all, we skied the UP on New Year’s Eve, the temperature falling to ten below, Wisconsin playing in the Rose Bowl, and the locals drooling like you were fresh-made deer sausage.
When we lost our jobs for violating some stupid HR policy and I sued the bastards.
When, following our divorces, we married in your mom’s living room, the judge who performed the ceremony wishing us well, the parish priest who’d known you all your life declining to sanctify our union.
When, after settling the law suit, we took new jobs in a different state.
When my younger daughter visited for spring break, only to OD on prescription drugs, my ex-wife chirping what goes around comes around.
When your mom said we deserved each other and your dad suggested I leave the damn country if that was how I really felt about George Bush.
When our first dog, a runt-of-the-litter Springer Spaniel, died unexpectedly, causing us to acknowledge we didn’t know how much more loss and change we could handle.
When, with the aid of invitro fertilization, you got pregnant with our son.
When I wisecracked it was just as likely the sperm in that tube was the doctor’s as mine and you slapped me so hard it left a handprint for days.
When my older daughter called you a cunt at her college graduation.
When, the morning of my father’s funeral, you gave me a blowjob.
When I was disbarred and you were forced to return to work.
When our son leapt off the roof, a towel for a cape, and lay in a coma for two days.
When I suspected you of having an affair with your boss only to discover he was gay.
When I taught myself how to play Texas Hold ’Em and won a bundle online.
When we buried both of your parents within months of each other and your brother moved into our guest room.
When our next door neighbor and my then best friend hung himself, using the thick rope his wife had purchased for him earlier in the day at Lowe’s.
When our son totaled the Volvo.
When you became a Buddhist for a year.
When my younger daughter received her Genius Award.
When your ex-husband died in an auto crash and you confessed to feeling more relief than grief but woke up trembling in the middle of the night, anyway.
When the colors in our old photographs began to fade.
Gary V. Powell is a stay-at-home dad to a thirteen year-old son. His stories and flash fiction have appeared most recently at Bartleby Snopes, Carvezine, Thrice Fiction, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Camroc Press Review, and Best New Writing 2015. In addition to winning the 2015 Gover Prize for short-short fiction, his work has placed in other national contests including The Press 53 Prize (2012), Glimmer Train Short-Short Contest (2013), and the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize (2014). His first novel, Lucky Bastard, is available through Main Street Rag Press.
The Examined Life
The Coyote has to
that he’s standing on air.
Otherwise it’s merely another fall off a cliff.
The Coyote mugs, the Roadrunner observes.
the Roadrunner eats birdseed.
I am like the Coyote,
the age old
Insanity defined, my repeated run off the cliff.
I’d choose the Roadrunner for hero, admire aplomb,
but I love the Coyote.
He never learns.
Neither do I.
tied up in ribbon,
correctly in place,
end of story.
That’s too pat.
What buffoon turns to cartoons for guidance?
But why not make a run off the cliff?
I see no choice.
On some Tuesday in the dog days of summer,
the trap might work and I’ll sup on cold revenge.
Or the air
and I’ll saunter
to the ground.
Till that magic day, mass prevails.
It’s the run,
Sherry Chandler is the author of Weaving a New Eden. Her work has been widely published in magazines and anthologies, including The Cortland Review, The South Carolina Review, and Louisville Review.
Down the Shore
Fresh divorce and friendship have produced an overabundance of females in the idle summer.
Our mothers, cut loose, stand on the fire escape smoking Virginia Slims and drinking: sometimes coffee, sometimes gin. There are too many of us to keep track of. They plunk little Charlotte in front of the rabbit-eared television. She learns the refrain: Lucy, you got a lot of ‘splainin to do.
They fail to notice our older sisters who cease endless brushing of hair to spill out the windows into the waiting arms of boys. Boys who bicycle around our house in a constant orbit of dust and lust. Beckoned by rumors and pheromones and the bikinis draped from all the banisters like flags.
We bathe only in the ocean. We don’t wear sunscreen or shoes of any kind. We eat fudge and grilled cheese for supper every night. We play kick the can with the other neighborhood kids until Ruth slits her foot open with a scream that makes the dogs howl.
We sleep on the pullout couch in the living room, in sleeping bags on the kitchen floor, on the porch, on the roof, sometimes on the beach. We all wake up seared, peeling, cold.
Lily Brent has a D.C. address and New Jersey roots. She has worked in prisons and public schools, East Harlem and the Eastern Province of Rwanda. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia University. Her writing has previously appeared in 42Opus, Apeiron Review, Cleaver Magazine, and Fiction Now, and has been featured by FictionDaily.org.
In Search of Intelligent Life
Elephant mom kneels before its baby
carefully slides the curves of its
under the limp gray body.
Rises raising the lifeless burden,
lofts its trunk with a rattling bellow
shaking the earth with its
The motley mare drops her foal in a stink
to the steaming straw,
nuzzles it nestled stickily,
bites the cord with ancient infected teeth,
passing on the raw disease
that plagues its entire race.
Parting the tall grass
toward me a burly dog limps.
Sits, turns his head away,
lifts his paw showing me the burr
caught in the creases of the pads.
Carefully I pull the burr
in whimpering pieces.
He lowers his paw, turns, shambles away,
looks once back at me, Androcles to his lion,
disappears into the waving grass.
Will he remember me in my future pain?
or, remembering some past hurt,
fling his red-toothed jaw at my throat?
My eyes sing
of headstones in music,
the thin white line of grace
in the weave,
the suffering debt,
the reach of passion,
the glittering despair.
And empathy embracing it all.