Blue Five Notebook – (October 2015 / 15.20)
Artist, Robin Grotke, is an artist and photographer living on the southern coast of North Carolina. Her inspiration is drawn from nature, people and cultures, emotions and humor, new life and decay, present moments and distant memories. Grotke’s work focuses on the sensation of “being there,” of taking the viewer to the location of the photograph and to feel like she did when the image was taken. More at her website.
First day of fall,
the Milkweed pod
splits open, offers
of next summer,
snagged in fine white hair.
Once ripe with
she was a roadside
daughter of moonlight,
and morning dew.
Hairs so fine
until the wind lifts
and carries her dreams away.
Stacy Post is a Midwestern writer in multiple forms: poetry, fiction and plays. Her poetry chapbook, Sudden Departures, debuted in 2013 (Finishing Line Press). Her poems and short stories have appeared in numerous journals. She also placed first in Bellarmine University’s Annual Ten-Minute Play Festival in 2014. She resides in the Indiana heartland with her adorable family. Visit her website here.
Eighteen Dispatches from the Lobby of the Chateau
- The Russians have neither sunshine nor water, and so they decorate with the ultimate choice: mouthwash. I remember sitting down hard on my way back from the bathroom and asking myself, what is that scent, can it possibly be damask incense?
- I’m sitting down a lot. I get my Oxycontin from a Greek. A rumor circulates about a bad batch made from horse wax, horses put down because of stress, unrealistic expectations. Perhaps just supermarket doctor talk.
- Amy, my best friend among the Russians, is taken away unceremoniously from our table, and no one gasps, no one rattles their shackles, no one bleeds into the two colors of their makeshift wedding dresses, no one lifts a thumbnail.
- The Greeks are intensely convincing motherfuckers—they’ve convinced me that I’m a tiny scruffy speck. I’m just passing through their neighborhood while they gesture obscenely, or perhaps affectionately. Valuable life experiences march on and I do my best not to choose sides.
- I neglect my spreadsheets—but I keep them dry—while I watch the mermaids draped across the brickwork, rising every so often to speak with their Russian choreographers and absentmindedly rehearse dance steps, complicated variations in their bare feet.
- My Greek friend, Drew, has gambled all his money away and is pondering the unique implications of depopulation. I take solace in the fact that I’ve always been poor, way more poor than Drew is now, though I’m gaining on him each time I notch another ping-pong 21.
- Yesterday’s discomforts are just rookie assistants to the discomforts of today. The deadbolt is famous in my mind for its reliable answers: when I want a reliable answer, I slam it shut. For three months I’ve been watching dopey Russian television at a gallop, and oh yeah, interrogating the deadbolt.
- I take two Oxycontin and concoct a totally viable scenario involving vandalism, but I’m stymied by a wave of inertia so intense I’m certain that I’ll never nap again in a sea of immaculate registration numbers; say what you will about the Greeks, they do know registration numbers.
- I’m in my old haunts, stained and a little blind. A bearded dude named Paul affixes roses underwater to the zinc-blue walls. He’s misplaced scraps destined for a Russian bouncer and is splashing noisily. No doubt he’s still sore and the sad truth is that he is not legendary for healing fast.
- The first rays of the Greek sun light up the sailor—I could swear the motherfucker is keeping me awake with his snoring—and I’m still a little drunk on cedar gin, entangled in the blond sheets, their neutral fumes.
- Wraithlike, my favorite words in Russian entwine themselves around the choreographers. I’m on the second floor eluding the entwining. I drop a pebble and it bounces back, thoroughly healed.
- One night I come in at 3 a.m. and feel eyes upon me from the painting of the sailor across the room, but no, it’s just that there’s so much at stake; if not for the benevolence of the Greeks, I would be sleeping soundly beneath four layers of the Southern Alps.
- I’m sitting again, in my pajamas, slurring my words. I want to open a restaurant and name it Incredible Hulk. Not Incredible Hulk, actually, that’s just how it sounds when I slur my words. Russians will be wedded there; not actually wedded, that’s the Oxycontin speaking.
- My own laid-back pace suits the Greeks, who can’t be bothered ever to look surprised, or even tilt their pineapple-shaped heads quizzically, for example when confronted with the impressive figures regarding attrition, which I massage for them.
- Wherever I stand, I feel like an inflexible stuffed animal. One that’s been through the wash too many times. I want to hibernate in a new box in a mountain forest, preferably a forest where no stuffed animal is spoken. Sometimes I feel like I’m wrapped in Russian bubble wrap.
- My friends are always liking the painting in their efforts to repair the damage, the inconsolable feelings, the holes in front so big you can see the Greek sky, its parade of pig bones—but they’re ornamental—but the friends are real friends and probably not as bad as all that.
- Several Russians take to parading around their balconies while gorging on rum-infused éclairs, and soon they become known as the rum-éclair posse, though obviously never to their roomy faces, those never-satisfied miens which belie a deep, hard-earned contentment.
- A friendship ends when a Greek fucks the unhappy wife of a bodyguard. She knocked on the door. She was in her pajamas. She had bare feet. His words got sticky and would not come out.
Other Dispatches by Fortunato Salazar appear at Juked and elsewhere.
A Hero Addresses Hera
I can’t explain why I cry when I do
or why I get erect when I do.
How will I ever account for this life?
It was a release like I always wanted—
something like crying and something like sex,
swaying together in the kitchen.
And I can’t leave you alone,
though it rains between us every day.
The deluge comes in again,
wearing mommy and daddy masks.
I was a trespasser from the beginning.
I meet a woman and she gives birth to my replacement.
That’s how it’s always been—begrudged.
I’ve seen the last generation.
The women accept death better than the men.
The men see their replacements
in every face and every incident.
There is something that makes me fly
like a bullet down the sidewalks,
keeps me busy and unkind.
You catch me, cling
through my sprinting and kicking.
You kiss my legs,
though it would take a million kisses to make them relax.
Everyone needs interference.
A tyrant needs it more than most, more than I can admit,
needs something like crying and sex at the same time,
when the burden of being alive overflows
and reveals itself as love.
Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. His poetry has appeared in more than a hundred fifty publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Dodds is also the author of several novels, including WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” His screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. Find more of his work here.
Another Soulless City
By the fire in the hotel room she rubbed the soles of his feet with quartered lemons, balling her fist and running the knuckles from toes to heel and back again. When he relaxed against the sofa she ran her tongue along the bitter trail of the lemons, twisting it into each crack and crevice, bringing forth loud cries. He wrapped the bills earlier in a blue muslin cloth and tied it with gold cord, attaching an oblong card beneath the knot. The package he stowed in the drawer next to the Good News Bible, for later. The wine was on ice and the cake on order from room service, and as he watched her small bust rise and fall with each breath she took, he reconciled himself to another loveless birthday in another soulless city.
James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA. He is fiction editor at Literary Orphans, and the author of the short fiction collection, Blood a Cold Blue. His work appears in the W.W. Norton Anthology, Flash Fiction International and the Queen’s Ferry Press’s anthology, Best Small Fictions 2015. More here.
Nothing is entirely lost, she said.
She still held the coffee and dates
that would have been her gift.
Not the grounds after the coffee has been boiled,
not the pits from the dates.
Not even the milk that dribbled down the cheek
of the boy who, sixteen years later,
would be burned to death.
That moment still exists,
when his mother wiped the stickiness from his chin,
and that other moment, when it was still possible
the two women might sit together—
one who brought gifts and one who remembered milk.
Might sip together the bitterness of coffee, eat the dates
and lick the sweet residue from their fingers.