4/22/14

Moonlobe, Jungle, She
By Hannah E. Phinney


He is standing frontwise to the skylight in a room whose walls are flower-explosioned and whose ceiling slants are such that they can only be capping the space at the very top of that ancient house. He is gazing at the milky lobe of moon with eyeballs melancholy-wrappered, since he hears and cannot unhear her cries rising from below – piths of sound impaling his eartubes. Sobbing writes his name and loops endlessly. It is a deadly looping, a blackhole of wounded into which he falls each time her voice sirens up through the floorboards. He thinks: to moonwalk back through time and fork the inevitable path…to create another one, whatever one, any one that leads somewhere other than here. Warm brine fills his eye-wrappers especially at the corners smudging peripheral foliage the gamut of spinach to chartreuse the gamut of strangler fig to bromeliad which plasters the walls etc.

Minutes flex, expand. Still he’s staring at the moonlobe, a placard in the blackened sky, and it has inched upwards and been lightly razored to flout its waxing gibbous-ness. Her chained wails stream continually upwards to him likewise. But dragon lilies dip off of paper into the attic’s dimensionality; waxy boatbig leaves bow into the room; jeweled petals swoop into the space. The jungle is creeping in around him. Monkeys exit their insensate drawings to hop and scamper and birdcalls ring atop his lover’s upfloating grief. He seems unnoticing until a bloodorange bird-of-paradise falls poppingly into position by his noseorgan, and at this he’s closing his marinated lids and inhaling with vigor… There is the zzzztt of an internal zipper unzipping as he accidentally nostalgia-drenches for her bed hair at morningtime.

Skylight-facing he has been for some while now, feet planted and limp arms dangling samely. The alabaster moon tickles the top of his vision, first quartered now crescent waxing, and he moves not, although his slowly-drying swampy peepers have followed the sphere’s ascent through that starless coalbucket named Space. Infrequently do his ex-lady’s moans attain him. They sidle almost afterthought into his heartvalves. Moss is spreading underfoot; vines are curlicuing contentedly; the neon lights of maneating blooms are everywhere. Gone is bed, desk, dresser. He is sinking etherealwise into the caws of mad avian species, or perhaps into the numbing hum of prismed insecta. He is watching as the bleached moon dyes its last bits inky and becomes new. Her laments have fallen faraway. They are only whispers across an ocean of forest.


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Hannah E. Phinney recently received her M.A. in linguistics. She is currently slinging booze and writing semi-surrealistic flash fiction while deciding whether to spend another decade in school. Hannah lives in San Francisco with her fiancé and their developmentally-challenged ball python Zoko.

4/15/14

Tooth Art
By Eric Suhem


Ever since she was a young child, Beverly knew she was destined to be an artist of some sort. She wanted to be taken seriously as a painter or dancer, indenting brilliance upon the culture, at the highest level. She pictured herself in the New York art scene, wearing black, a fixture at galleries and performance spaces, reveling in the idea of high art.

Instead she was known as the ‘Teen Dream Beauty Queen’ of the snow-covered prairie, as she had been competing in beauty pageants since she was 4 years old, at her mother’s insistence. Over the years she had done well in the pageants, thanks largely to her award-winning teeth. Beverly’s teeth were simply superb, and they compensated for any blemishes and imperfections she may have otherwise had during the fine-toothed rigors of beauty pageant judging. On some occasions, her teeth shone a shimmering dagger of white light that temporarily blinded some in the audience, many viewers opting for special industrial-strength sunglasses. Based on Beverly’s tooth prowess alone, her mother wanted the beauty pageant career to extend indefinitely, as the teeth had garnered adoration and tiaras.

“I want to be a ballet dancer that touches people’s lives with an expression of my soul,” said Beverly, “Or a painter, pouring my emotions out onto the canvas.”

“But your teeth touch people’s lives, look at these letters,” said her mother, showing Beverly the scrapbook of testimonials sent in by those whose lives had been transformed by the experience of seeing Beverly’s oral enamel. In response to this, Beverly frowned, not displaying her riveting teeth at all.

“All right,” said Beverly’s mother, “I’ll sign you up for a painting class.”

Soon Beverly was attending a class in Abstract Expressionism, and enjoyed it, though her instructor encouraged her to depict teeth in her paintings, as this seemed to be what she painted best. No matter how abstract, her work always included images of molars, incisors, or canines. “The teeth are the art that rings true for you,” said her instructor.

During this time, Beverly was still competing in beauty contests, though becoming increasingly vexed by the continued emphasis on her teeth, both in the pageants and her paintings. One evening, after a particularly demanding session with her Tooth Coach, Beverly went home and fell asleep early, drifting into a dream:

She was in a field of bright yellow flowers. She picked one of the flowers and held it to her mouth. Nectar tasting like a tonic from the gods oozed onto her tongue. Suddenly a dental chair appeared in the field, and the scene transformed into a dental office. The dentist was a parent of one of Beverly’s beauty contest competitors. Under bright pageant lights, as his daughter practiced her baton twirling amidst the dental drills and spit sink, the dentist removed all of Beverly’s teeth. Though now unnecessary, he placed a complementary toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, and dental floss in Beverly’s hand.

When Beverly woke up from the dream, she discovered that all of her teeth were gone, though she did find a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss near her pillow. She looked in the mirror and smiled, sensing possibilities.

“Beverly, what happened to your teeth!?” screamed her mother, looking up in shock from the beauty pageant schedule, and then fainting. After writing a long note to her mother, Beverly packed a suitcase.
She walked to the bus station and bought a one-way ticket to New York City. On the bus seat, she found a dog-eared paperback copy of Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, describing his theory of dreams as wish fulfillment.

In Manhattan, using some of the beauty pageant cash winnings her mother had given to her as an allowance, Beverly bought a set of dentures, though she wore them infrequently, preferring instead to go toothless, enjoying making gumming noises. Soon Beverly started a new career as a performance artist, holding a microphone up to her rubbing gums, creating new sounds to entertain the avant-garde audiences in New York City clubs, becoming the artist she knew she’d be.


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Eric Suhem lives in California and enjoys the qualities of his vegetable juicer.

4/8/14

Nice Old Grandpa Likes to Yodel
By Donal Mahoney


Nice old Grandpa likes to yodel
whenever he recalls the boys who
beat him up in third grade.

After sixty years, Grandpa finds them
on the Internet and takes a plane
and visits them, wherever they may be.

The beatings he absorbed, walking
home from school, Grandpa can't forget.
He keeps a list of all the boys who

bludgeoned him because he wore
Coke-bottle glasses with wire frames.
When nice old Grandpa lands, he finds

some old classmates dying in hospice,
others drooling in nursing homes,
and a few like him still on their own.

He sees terror dancing in their eyes
when he announces, "Rudy's here!
Remember half-blind Rudy in third grade,

the kid you thrashed for wearing glasses?"
He lets them know he wears contacts now
and he's there to rectify their wrongs.

Then Grandpa begins to yodel long and loud
and a security guard curses and drags him away.
The aggrieved always press charges but

no judge has ever sent Grandpa away.
He pays a decent fine but otherwise
nice old Grandpa gets probation.


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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

4/1/14

Kerouac's Fingers
By David Hutt


Jack Kerouac’s fingers weren't his own; they kneeled and crippled with spontaneous prose like magpies fighting over cigarette butts. You see, he bought them on a hire purchase and agreed a repayment plan of two dollars a month and a new chapter of a novel every two-weeks. He worked those fingers. He worked them like Luddites believing in pickaxes over machines. They burnt too. When his fingernails caught fire in Mexico City some whore had to suck them cold again. But he never paid off his debt. He was always behind and the bailiffs were on to him. They followed him from coast to coast. Kerouac’s face changed as the repayments fell behind. He started to look like the man who sits drinking hot water for breakfast, waiting for bills and rejection slips to slip through the letterbox.

An American tramp I was sipping wine with down on the Seine, who took long glugs of the red wine into his foamy beard and licked his lips around it, took out a metal box from his inside pocket. We sat down on the velvet floor and he opened it. Inside were Kerouac’s fingers, still fidgeting, still spastically typing in the black. “I owned the company who sold them to him,” the tramp said. “It’s sad, by the end he was only one installment away from owning them outright.”

He grimaced like a hearse parked outside a cemetery. “They’re cursed. My company went bust. But I can’t bring myself to get rid of them.”

I said I understood. “Can I touch them,” I asked.

“I wouldn't suggest it,” he said.

“I just want to feel one finger.”

“No!”

He snapped the metal box shut, put it back inside his pocket and rubbed his belly like a disillusioned monk.


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David Hutt spent most of his childhood in London, UK. Every now and then he tries normal work and stability, but it never lasts long. He has traveled the whole of Latin America; built houses in Guatemala; worked as a journalist in Nicaragua and Cuba; and hitchhiked through most countries in Europe. He has published short-stories and poems in several international publications.


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