Issue Thirty-Six

Dec 12, 2023

When Did it Start?

When did it start my husband asks. The it to which Charlie refers, means the intense emotional rollercoaster I am presently on. Holding back tears and gripping the back of the kitchen chair as if I’m whooshing down the rails of a Great America ride, I answer that I don’t know.

Freckled Gal

“Drink the dark or else you’ll forget,” laughs the freckled gal. She flits here, there. The murk obscures her figure, but not her laugh, a raspy cackle like someone being garrotted.

A Very Nice Jar

A ladder leaned against the clinic’s wall, a ribbon strip stirring in the wind. Inside, people with sagging skin spotted the waiting room. A few wore masks; a few coughed.

Later. Before. After.

I am standing at the foot of the bed. According to the book, which I will read later, the Angel of Death is no longer there. Perhaps. There are many things in the book I don’t know yet.

Denver

I loved her name because it made me think of misty haloed mountains. It made me think of snow falling from the sky and turning the earth pure and white.

At the end of a story

I wrote a story of our friendship, but tequila and beer fucked it up in the end. I even reworked the ending to undo the parts about the car’s speed and the curve in the bend of the road, but I couldn’t delete the enormous bruised oak tree on Palmer or your twisted, bloodied body being pulled from the wreck.

Maybe, Maybe

I might find another dog. Maybe next year, after I’ve finished
with this year’s therapist, done with all that talking about the
unsuccessful talking I’ve done with other people, maybe I’ll be
stripped down to just walking or sitting and saying Good dog!

After the Death of Sons

In a museum dedicated to man-made landscapes,a virtual elevator lowers one couple through Earth’s calibrated crust, temperature rising from coal mine to gold mine to deepest bore hole, heats verifieduntil they are safely in hell.

Nobody Told Me Flowers Scream

A car drives past my bedroom window blasting ‘Return of the Mack’ and I just — feel so jealous. I’m in the dark with my newborn who has finally let sleep win, lives going by outside like carriages on a Ferris wheel, luminous and swinging with adrenaline.

Ball of Twine

Chaos theory describes the organizational nature of the universe. Benoit Mandelbront, a mathematician, described it as a ball of twine: “A ball of twine appears to be a point when viewed at a great distance, a ball when viewed nearby, and a curve when viewed extremely close.”

A Change of Tune

You hear the strings bend, the hammer downs and pull offs, but not in ways that impress your critical ear. Although such musicianship would have been cause for celebration when you played guitar, it’s now a “pedestrian display, dragging the album throughout a rock ‘n’ roll mire.”

Our Healing Scar

You stare at the gaping wound on their hip. My God!  

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” Your teenager cries. “I’m sorry, is it bad?” They are panting.

The bathroom walls are choking you.

The Streetlamp Under the Teaktree

Last April I was walking around my room, checking whether story ideas I’d planted had germinated, when I saw it. A young teaktree, shading the streetlamp loverlike with broad glossy leaves.

Possession

I don’t believe that my husband is dead. The dead cannot walk, but every night he shuffles into our bedroom and lies down next to me, swamping me with his exhale of stale corpse air, breathing with lungs that I know are as black and wrinkled as rotten plums.

Don’t Take Me to Lethe

An echo of footsteps drapes over me as I court midnight city—even warehouse / buildings loom, those lumbering from Milwaukee high-rises—inky shades iron- /
black slant across pavements

Oranges are a Sacred Fruit that Listens

Tara?a, Your name is on the receipt, “Served By,” but the fifth letter has rubbed off. I kept the receipt as a bookmark. The fifth letter is probably N. Tarana is a popular name in Hindu countries. It means Born During the Daytime. I brought 082 (Purple Nights) to...

Becoming Lightning

A heat storm lights the Colorado sky but leaves the ground dry. I can’t stop seeing it. Perhaps it is lightning’s infinite search for the inevitable ground.

The Sea is a Horse, Of Course

A man named Beaver had a baby with his wife, Bunny. In the weeks before the birth, Bunny bulged big, and Beaver walked proud. Yet, when the labor came due in the maternity ward, the baby was born not from Bunny but through Beaver’s mouth.

Club Kids

There’s an air of taut flesh wrapped around bone in the club tonight.
Youth is wasted on the young—death too.

Hardly Workin’

It was a company town. Nearly everybody worked at The Company warehouse. The Company owned almost all the property in town, including the motor lodge where I stayed.

The Dead Have Better Things To Do

How we love to imagine them lounging around, looking out for us,
distracted from the delights of the afterlife, waiting to swoop in
and snatch us by the collar as we’re about to step off some cliff.

At the Aeroplane Zoo Cafe

There were few safe public places left to meet, but we knew we’d be among strangers at the Aeroplane Zoo Cafe. My heartbeat was heartbeat, heartbeat, heartbeat as I entered our foreign town. You soon sat at my side, and told me about your new concert. A different...

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