Paula told me she was housesitting when a boy appeared. She walked into the house and through a long hallway and at the end stood a child who looked chalky, and then dissolved. This kept happening again and again.Continue reading “from dream states, by Anne K. Yoder”
. . . something about a man and his dog (in the grand, non-linear scheme of reincarnation) as being one in the same. Soul, that is. Ethereal transient dweller, is another. Here now, there they are: Situated between two distinct, bloody meat husks, between two separate states of existent being — at once, under one roof, simultaneously — with one foot in man, the other, a dachshund-terrier mix.
. . . is comprised of both end and endless, singular and infinite, of omniscient oblivion, bright-dark heavy-light, of both shape and void, each with their own distinct name. As a man: Brandon. In dog form, she is Mocha, among countless others (i.e., Mochi, Mookie, Monkey, Chunky, Chubbers, Chunkmonster. . . ). As mutual entity, root identity, as timeless core incarnate, a loose translation: Daielaareux.
. . . will spend seven months at the shelter, gone unadopted longer than any other dog, before rejoining herself again. Meanwhile, she cries her jaw off. Starves herself down to a coffee-boned silhouette. Even draws blood from the hand of a guileless child, to make clear the message: I will never be yours. She waits patiently for what she already knows will eventually be.
. . . remembers what, on pure impulse, will drive him to the shelter in this manic grasping for purpose, going on six days without medication. He will come upon himself, caged separate. His ovaries scooped clean. Groggy with shots to keep him quiet, stagnant, alive. Not even finding himself to be particularly cute, or unique, or enthralling, yet feeling instantly connected, just the same. Might he’ve recognized then, in those muted eyes, himself? She knows the next years ahead of them together will be nothing so glorious — that they are in no way ready or responsible enough to take adequate care of themselves. They will ingest things that will make them violently ill. They will be too poor, too careless, to seek medical help. Will endure vast chunks of boredom, chewing holes through themselves, incapable to leave the house. Will watch themselves from the foot of the bed sulk and rot away for days on end, treading the grey wash of their skull, directionless, besides down. Will be the only life force to keep them afloat, strong enough to pull themselves upwards, and eventually, out.
. . . yanks on their leash in unruly directions, and, out of sheer spite, he tugs them back the opposite way. Each will struggle to tell themselves what to do. He instructs her to obey: Sit. Heel. Eat. Fetch. Up on the couch. Now, off. But she refuses to listen. Years later, their heart crushed by a lasting love, lost — the one who used to (she now learns) smack them in private, but still loves her, despite the abuse — two months out, having still not washed the pillows or sheets, incubated with the tortuous scent of their ex’s shampoo, she has no other choice than to piss on the bed. She instructs him to: Be calm. Go for a walk. Know your self-worth. Move on. But he refuses to listen. He tells himself: No. He calls herself: Bad girl. They scream as themselves: Shut up shut up shut up.
. . . Daielaareux, in countless other forms: A bridge in New Zealand. A strip mall in Detroit. An unbuttered croissant. A great big pile of leaves. A spanned lineage of prehistoric, neon-colored crabs. A comfortable silence. An impossible dream. The 37th Annual Miss America pageant. A one-hit wonder. An impotent king. A fortuitous accident, recognized only in hindsight. The Divine Mouth taking the earth like a vitamin. A newborn horse’s first step. Another one biting the dust.
. . . forever amounts to, returns back to, self-love.
. . . just seconds before the New Year, 2018. Time hibernates. Thoughts shuffle like a deck of cards. Head loud. Skull turned inside out on psychedelics. A blubbery, sunken, self-contained mess of fleshy slop packed inside a transient shell. A dark stain on the carpet, on a mother’s pelvic floor. He rushes to the bathroom, convinced an empty bladder will cure him. It does, then doesn’t. Grime sits in every wrinkle. Gravity’s tandem held hand lets go. The universe’s veil pulled down like a shower curtain, their many forms spilling out over the linoleum floor. On their knees, hands, back, she perches on his chest and he catches it — a quick glimpse, the uncanny resemblance, atoms stacked like dodged shoved in a cage. He holds herself behind the ears, kisses himself on their wet, hot stinking teeth. Noticing it fully, this tethering between them — an ethereal cord, conjoined. He she they them are all was once will have had we become continuous as one day slips seamlessly into the next without a clock, as the crackling bursts of fireworks resound from outside, at last. They have made it, for now.
. . . in the same windowed timeline, will cease just as abruptly as its start: The man, at the tender age of fifty-six, from an untreated pulmonary obstruction; as a dog, age nine, a pack of stale Oreos left accessible at the top of the trash. And yet, both still remain incapable of saving each other, themselves, from what must be in order to happen again.
Stephen Wack is an Atlanta-based writer. He earned an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from the University of Georgia, where he briefly interned at the college’s literary magazine, The Georgia Review. His work has previously appeared in Five:2:One, Rougarou, and Cleaver Magazine, and is forthcoming in The Hunger and New Flash Fiction Review.
My mouth is a bowl full of pitted cherries. My stomach the bucket for all the swallowed bloody pits. Every word tastes sweet and dark and tart on my tongue, rolling against my blushing cheeks. And when I smile, red love dribbles down my chin.
When I speak, I am tempted to sing like the way the bright pink blossoms burst into bloom in the springtime. The air is fragrant with love and sweetness and honeybees. But at the lightest breeze, fragrant with daffodils and shadows, my flowers fall
in clusters trembling, and I remember the splinters in the black bark of the cherry tree, the amber sap dripping down the exposed inner rings. The long weeping, the unfurling of flowers. And while the axe is out of sight I fear for other trees, and my branches still shake hearing lightning Continue reading “Two Poems by Kate Dlugosz”
out of the gray afternoon it might begin—the creation of the world. in the sound of a snow shovel scraping on ice and in the slush that remains a kind of ex nihilo is generated. from nothing. certainly from nothing. in the birthing of worlds there are no principles only the appearance of that which did not exist before and that now is. that now irrefutably is. where once the cosmos was simply gray expanse and the waters then below, or even the gathering of all things in one small, great magnitude, there is now the gray afternoon. no diving for worlds in the great sea. no trickster. nothing. a flock of dying geese crosses the new sky in a v that tapers to oblivion. a dog howls to no answer in the distance. his leg is broken and he is looking for a culvert to hide in. surely, they have come. in this world the names are stripped one by one and a first and last lonesome forked creature with twelve fingers and no face ticks off the forgotten. ah, yes. this swirling mass of creation, this pool of dim color that rises in the deep of the gray and seems to nod to the cracked moon above—this is genesis. the names fall off each and each wanders to their glory in a desert of rock and gray sun. a world. a new world.
I am setting out on this water not to drift but to row, since this not loving you has drawn from me almost as much as loving you once did, and nothing is as full as a boat by itself in a sea that does not end.
II. Barn Ruin
We found it at the edge of the woods that August you wouldn’t touch me, just a skeleton of walls and poison ivy climbing all the way to the caved-in roof, triple leaves bigger than hands and glossed to the point of dripping, and it was almost pretty, all those edges hooked against each other, baring back a tessellated light, just as long as we didn’t come close.
I was not afraid you would hurt me, but that you never would, that you would never even peer between these ribs I’ve hinged apart for you, until the wind will do to me what it does to all soft creatures left behind by the tide, and the only sound my throat can make will be the sound of robin nests unraveled in a storm.
I fall in love with every girl I float by next to on the street. I was born to die, and, though everyone is, God must hate me. My skin is made of the thinnest material. It resembles bubble-wrap. I’m bumpy: a translucent boy opaque, cloudy, with lust. I’ve been punctured before. All my hot air, all my inner workings, pour out like confessions. I’m absurd and yet I want what everyone else wants. I had a date the other night with a girl with eyes like needles. She probed my life and found nothing but wrinkles. She hasn’t called. If I ever feel the pressure of a pair of lips, the fingers dangerous along my malleable spine, the soft, rose quiet of pleasure and the death at its end, I think I might die anyway. I can’t hold scissors and run. I can’t hold anything too beautiful for too long because I know, if I trace its edges, I can die; then again, I feel this should be a common thing. People might consider the way it changes us, if more people were murdered by the sharpness of beauty.
Within James Knight’s cornucopia of texts, [Wonderland] road signs may come in handy—here we go:
Dirge of the Dying Year
My first thought was, “Run!” Others chose suicide. Soon I was stumbling around like the bad kids who huff glue. Mothers dumped raw meat out into the street in protest. Sirens began to woo-who, woo-who. I was in a headspace that was pricked with stars I couldn’t identify, 50 by last count and all of them always promising to return to their wandering orbits. Now what do we do? There’s just too much in the workings of the world that’s hidden and unknowable, even by a person with an education. And that person was standing where the bullets began to rain into the limousine. We’re living in a boisterous age. Velocity is advancing everywhere, the walls covered in flames and the flames behaving in ways no one thought possible. I’m afraid of human beings. We run things in the forest while the wolf isn’t around. Eyes that don’t want to close at all times ruin everything, pretty much every word. The sadness will last forever. I can’t remember now why I ever thought it wouldn’t. Continue reading “3 Prose Poems by Howie Good”