TWO BY MICHAEL D. BROWN is up at issuu. This special contains the short stories “The Bust,” which appeared in disenthralled #4, “Dissidents,” an author bio and a cover photo by Robin Thom.
Read: TWO BY MICHAEL D. BROWN
TWO BY MICHAEL D. BROWN is up at issuu. This special contains the short stories “The Bust,” which appeared in disenthralled #4, “Dissidents,” an author bio and a cover photo by Robin Thom.
Read: TWO BY MICHAEL D. BROWN
In the summer of 2009, after a six year hiatus from writing, I found myself at the keyboard. A hometown friend by the name of Paul Dutra had posted a gallery of photographs–haunting black and white shots he’d taken while recovering from an injury. The moment I saw them, a plot formed in my head. I asked if he’d mind me using them as the framework for a story.
He said no.
The result was a short story entitled “Last Stop, Dullsville,” which was posted at A Twist of Noir. I was rusty, to be sure, but greatly inspired by Paul’s work. “Last Stop, Dullsville” was so much fun to write that I found myself at the keyboard again the next day. Just like that, I was back.
Since the story first went up at ATON, I’ve wanted to post it with the photographs. I finally did so this week at issuu.com. The booklet is called TICKET TO DULLSVILLE. It doesn’t contain the entire gallery. A few shots are missing, but enough are included to show why they had such an impact on me.
TICKET TO DULLSVILLE is tagged as an Adult publication (18+). Although the violence and profanity are minimal, the story is definitely not intended for children. You have to be a member of issuu to view it. Joining is free and easy, however, and they have a spectacular array of material to read.
The link below will take you to it.
There’s a link above to the official page for Flashdrive. Official, because, you know, there are thousands of unauthorized Flashdrive websites out there….
It’s going to be where I keep links to Flashdrive issues, news and announcements.
That’s all it is.
(“Solid Comfort,” by Sarah Bloom; cover photo from FLASHDRIVE)
At the urging of Carrie Clevenger, I recently posted the material I’d requested last year for a project called FLASHDRIVE. There were a few, well, speedbumps (sorry) that hindered its being published–none of which bear relating. The important thing is, Carrie pushed me to bring FLASHDRIVE to light, when I wasn’t sure I would do anything further with disenthralled.
The idea was simple: put together a small collection of flash stories and images about cars/driving/the road. I asked Sarah Bloom, at the last minute, to provide photos–as always, she came through. If you’re unfamiliar with Sarah’s work, go through the back issues of disenthralled here or check out her website, which is linked at the bottom of the page.
FLASHDRIVE was by invitation. This ezine was begun the same way: I asked people whose work I admired to email something, even if–especially if–they’d never been published before. The most rewarding aspect of editing disenthralled has been publishing first-timers. I remember what that was like. It’s exhilarating. Inspiring. As unfair as it may be, it also gets you published more (having a list of credits shouldn’t influence whether or not a piece is accepted, but it too often does).
Anyhow, I collected the material before I knew what I would do with it. To the dismay of everyone else involved, I usually edit like I’m kicking off a jam session in somebody’s gararge. “Hey. I like that. Put some drums behind it and let’s see what happens.” Over the past six months or so, I took a few chances with disenthralled and was left hanging. The entire zine went on hold. I was going to quit editing altogether–in favor of drawing, playing music and whipping swords around in my backyard–when Carrie asked me what was going on.
So here it is.
The writing is varied and top-notch, exactly what I’d been looking for. Sarah’s photos, as well. My brain damage, the result of a botched alien implant operation, is evident in the Foreward (sp), but the contents are what matter. (One of the things I love about early Van Halen records is how the band left the tape rolling when they fucked up, because they rocked so hard that nobody cared.)
More on what led to this project can be found in the beginning of FLASHDRIVE #1, which is linked below.
I think, for now, I’m going to do a series of these. FLASHDRIVE’s. At issuu, not here. It’s so much easier to lay out a publication and post it with a single click than wrestle with it at WP for hours or days at a stretch. Paul Dutra, who was my Left Brain when it came to editing disenthralled, can attest to that. I’ll post further links and keep you updated on this blog.
Go read it, already….
I’d like to add that Sarah Bloom has a Kickstarter campaign, “Totally Exposed,” you should check out. If you like the work she has contributed to disenthralled and my other projects, please consider supporting her:
Throughout the early years of our acquaintance, the late Bruce Brown and I would send each other work to critique. He was such a caring and meticulous writer that all I could usually offer him was a desire to see more. He emailed this story to me a while back. When I was preparing Issue #6, I asked if I could include it. He gave permission, but suggested that I look at a more recent tale, the blistering “Silver Winter,” which I ended up using as the lead story. I am honored to present “Unrequited Love,” editing only as I believe he would have wanted, because it continues to haunt me and deserves to be read.
Oct. 28, 2010
by Bruce Brown
The only light beside the rising half-moon was a bare sixty watt bulb dangling on a socket cord from the camper’s canopy. She could see the gray outline of trees, but the quarry below had become an engulfing black pit. Poe lit a match, cupping orange flame to his cigarette. He narrowed his eyes, taking a long drag and blowing smoke through his teeth. He snuffed the match with two fingers.
“Is there a crane out there?” She motioned with a wave.
He watched her.
She watched the thin orange line burning along the cigarette. She shifted her weight in his lap, the lawn chair creaking with the motion. She realized he was touching her left leg, a long curious caress with his fingertips.
“What’s this one made of?” He spoke slowly and thumped her leg.
“What?” She blinked. “Well, it’s plastic.”
“Not like the other? Not like wood?”
He reached for his boot and pulled the knife. He laid the knife against her left thigh. He looked directly into her eyes and then angled the blade, slipping the razor between the hose and her leg, making a vertical slit.
She straightened up. “You didn’t have to do that. I would’ve…”
Poe pressed his fingers to her lips. He made a silent sawing diagonal cut that he curved past her knee. He took both edges of the slit hose and ripped them apart, the sound like tugging a rusty zipper. The exposed leg fascinated him. It was a vague flesh color, the hinge joint a darker brown. She tried to take the torn flaps of the pantyhose to cover her leg. Her breaths came in rhythmic hitches and she made a clumsy attempt to wrest from his lap. He shushed her and drew the blade against the knee, a thin cut. A transparent corkscrew shaving wormed free. He stopped mid-thigh and brushed the excess. She touched his hand.
“Don’t. This one’s expensive,” she said.
He looked her in the eyes and made another cut.
Poe gripped her hard by the face to kiss her. She scrambled free, tumbling near the quarry’s edge. She crawled for the lightbulb and the camper. He stood up from the chair; his face disappeared into the shadows. Her pantyhose had torn further, snagging at the socket. Her hair hung in her face, matting to her cheeks. With sweat and tears her face had become an exaggeration of eyelash and smeared lipstick.
She tried to pull the dress past her knees and hugged her face into her shoulder. When Poe extended a hand, she slapped at it. She inched back, fingers grasping for traction in the giving sand. The leg dragged with her. She reached the aluminum steps of the camper and clasped to the bottom rail. He followed her, slow, kicking sand over the furrow the leg made.
He spoke to her in a soothing tone and curled an arm under her waist and around her right leg. She released her grip and he lifted her. She pressed her face to him. She refused to let him touch the leg, so he unfastened it and dropped it to the sand. He eyed the leg as he carried her into the camper.
At dawn, Poe climbed from the camper. He draped the leg over his shoulder and walked to the lawn chair. The sun had begun to creep over the lip of the fields past the quarry. Reds and yellows bleached into the morning light. A bird skimmed the length of the quarry and settled on the crane. Poe sat and leaned forward. He began to sculpt the leg. He heard her call his name once, then twice, then nothing. The leavings fluttered in a pile at his feet.
All rights to “Unrequited Love” retained by Bruce Brown’s executor.
KATASHI KATSU INTERVIEW
Editor’s Note: Last weekend, an acquaintance of mine by the name of Rizzy Rodham—who writes what she wants and does it all too infrequently for my tastes—sent me an email. The email had no subject. Contained within it was an interview by Rizzy of the elusive and mystifying Katashi Katsu. Although I bear no ill will toward the man, I hesitate to number Katsu among my friends; if you knew him you would understand. He is a mutual something of ours, Rizzy’s and mine. That will have to suffice. Katsu trusted her with the following information. She trusted me. I know entrust it to you, the readers of disenthralled, to make of it what you will.
October 18, 2010
* * *
STALL: An interview with Katashi Katsu, conducted independently by Rizzy Rodham.
Katashi Katsu recently agreed to sit with me for an interview concerning the alleged abduction of his parents by extraterrestrials in the spring of 1968. I knew little of the encounter beforehand. Tash had mentioned it in passing back in 2001, while we were both employed by the U.S.D.A. National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Citrus and Dates at UC Riverside. He shared certain details of the event, unprompted and for reasons known only to him, during our weekly trip to the department’s experimental Date Palm grove in the isolated desert community of Blythe. I will never forget that morning—as I will also never forget the afternoon of the following interview.
It came about easily; almost too easily, I later thought. Katsu owed me a favor. Perhaps he had set me up by obliging himself to me? At any rate, I requested an interview on the subject. I had been sleepwalking and regaining consciousness in the oddest of situations, with even odder traces of lingering dreams/memories that I don’t care to expound upon. I hoped that the experience of his parents might shed light upon my own predicament. Katsu, to my astonishment, agreed. (But should we ever NOT be surprised by Katashi Katsu?)
“Meet me this afternoon,” he said.
I scrambled for a pen, poised to write on the inside of my forearm. “Where?” I asked.
He named a small family-owned restaurant off the UCR campus—one we had frequented in 2001—then said, “Three O’clock. There and right there. Only there. I, Katashi Katsu, will be there.”
At precisely 3:00pm, I entered the restaurant to find Katsu waiting at a booth along the window. He was facing the door, as always. I sat across from him. Tash had a mug of coffee in his hands, black and piping hot. Another had been ordered for me. I thanked him and sipped; cream and two sugars, the way I had preferred their house blend, all those years ago.
“Please set your instruments on the table,” he said.
I place my microcassette recorder down between us, a notebook and pencil beside it. “How have you been, Tash?”
“This is my story,” he said.
I punched the Record button.
Interview Proper begins. The interviewer shall be noted henceforth as RR, with personal observations supplied in brackets.
KATSU: My mother was babysitting for her sister in March of 1968. Her sister Connie. We will refer to her as my mother’s sister. She was young, then. Nineteen. Maybe twenty. No, nineteen. Her sister’s family owned a house in Brookfield, Connecticut, deep in the woods near Lantern Hill. Are you familiar with the area?
KATSU: It is woody.
KATSU: My mother was watching her three nieces, while her sister and her sister’s husband visited friends nearby to play cards. They ate a dinner of elbow macaroni. Are you familiar with elbow macaroni?
RR: I’ve seen pictures.
KATSU: Be serious with me.
RR: Yes, I’ve had elbow macaroni before.
KATSU: That is all we have to be familiar with for this story.
[The door opened behind me. I heard a group of children laughing. Katsu eyed them warily over my shoulder.]
KATSU (con’t): My mother and father were dating when this happened. Engaged to be wed. It was around the time he implanted her with me, Katashi Katsu.
RR: You were born the following year, correct?
KATSU: That is correct, Rizzy Rodham. I spent the full term inside her and escaped in January of 1969.
RR: On what day? The date, I mean.
KATSU: My mother was alone that night with the children. The three little girls. She had put them to bed and was looking at the moon through the trees, out the big picture window in the living room. She didn’t just look at it, though. She was watching it. That is how she said it to me. Because it seemed to be moving very slowly through the trees. So slowly, that she couldn’t be sure it was moving at all. But she felt that it was…And she realized, as she was standing there, that the moon was, in fact, on the other side of the house. She had seen it through the window of the youngest girl’s bedroom as she was tucking her into bed.
RR: This light, Katashi…It looked like the moon?
KATSU: Like, she said, but not exactly. This was not the moon. It was too large. Too close for the moon to be. And the bluer spots seemed to be in the wrong places.
RR: The face?
KATSU: If you will.
[At this point, a waitress returned with a fresh pot of coffee to refill our mugs. Katashi informed her that it would be the last time they would be “adding coffee to the coffee” that day.]
RR: The face was wrong?
KATSU: Yes. It was a face, but not human.
RR: What is that supposed to mean, exactly?
KATSU: ‘Not human’ is all she said.
RR: Go on.
KATSU: I am going on. There’s no need to tell me to go on. I am already telling you the story.
KATSU: She went back to the youngest girl’s bedroom to make sure she’d seen the moon from that corner of the house. It was still there and it definitely was the real moon….In a panic, she broke one of her sister’s rules for babysitting and called the man who would be my father. He came over right away. That light was still in the trees and upset him even more than it upset her, for some reason.
RR: Had either of them experienced anything like that in the past?
KATSU: No….Or if they had, they didn’t tell me….He stayed with her until her sister got home and the two of them left right away. They didn’t say a word about what had happened to her sister, only that she wasn’t feeling well. The light was gone when they stepped outside….They were on their way home, then, when my father noticed that the light had reappeared and was now following them. It didn’t just appear to be following them, like the real moon seems to do, it was following them. It followed them all the way back to Wellesport, where my mother was living with her family. My father tried to outrun it, but could not, even though he wasn’t married yet and had a very fast car at the time. They turned into her driveway….She had a long, gravel driveway that went back into the trees. You couldn’t see the house from the road….And as they were turning, the car shut off.
KATU: Completely….Then the lights and radio came back on. He re-started the car and drove her to the house. Her mother, the woman who would be my grandmother, was waiting. She asked what they were doing out until 2:30 in the morning? They had left her sister’s house at a quarter to twelve and come straight home and they stared at each other, unable to make sense of it, until her mother pulled her inside and slammed the door. It should have been a fifteen minute drive….That is the story.
RR: That’s it?
KATSU: That is all. My mother told me about it once and only once. Aside from that, neither of them would ever speak about it again. They made it clear that they did not care to discuss it further. I asked, from time to time, but they would not even reply.
Interview Proper ends.
Katashi Katsu waved his hand to indicate that he was done.
I signed off and stopped recording. The interview proper was done, but felt incomplete; and also, strangely, like it would be completed.
“Excuse me,” Katsu said.
He went down the hall to the bathroom.
I finished my coffee and asked for the check. Approximately five minutes later, I replaced the recorder, pad and pencil in my bag. I watched the hallway. I waited. After five more minutes had elapsed, I hoisted the bag onto my shoulder and went to the bathroom door. There was no sound from inside. I knocked and called his name, aware that disturbing Katashi Katsu was almost always a mistake, whatever the circumstances, but disquieted by his failure to return. When I received no reply, I tried the doorknob. It turned freely.
“Tash?” I said loudly. “I’m opening the door.”
I pushed the door open until it hit the stop against the wall. The light was on. This was a small, single bathroom. There was a toilet, sink, garbage can, paper towel dispenser and vent.
There was no window.
Nor was there any sign of Katashi Katsu.
Interview by Juliette “Rizzy” Rodham, published here for the first time, unabridged and with her consent.
“That is not the Shadow of a House,” painted by Walter Conley.
All material copyright©2010 by respective creators.
WARSAW MOON: PART FOUR
by Paul D. Brazill
Dark dreams and worse memories lapped at the shore of Krystyna’s sleep until she awoke drowning in sweat and stained by sour memories. It took her a moment to adjust to the surroundings; her bedroom looked unfamiliar in the wan light.
Krystyna lay for a moment, each heartbeat like the tick of a clock, and edged off the bed; her joints ached after the day spent working out in the gym. Moving like Robocop, she went to the window and peeled back the blinds.
A constellation of streetlights and a galaxy of Christmas decorations faded into the distance towards the Old Town. The street was almost deserted. She strained to listen. Someone, somewhere nearby was whistling. Was it Rhapsody In Blue? Or maybe she was imagining it.
She was exhausted and her mind was starting to play tricks on her again. Winter had crept up and smothered the days with darkness; flushing her memories to the forefront of her mind. Night after sleepless night her anxiety brewed and bubbled to boiling point.
Her sleep was becoming increasingly fitful, her days spectral. Guilty conscience, her mother back in Komorow used to say when her father couldn’t sleep. It was always easy for her mother to sleep, but for Krystyna it was like wading through molasses. Especially these days.
She looked at Dragan, half dressed and slumped across the bed. He was holding a bottle of vodka like a baby holds a teddy bear. She had a flashback to their first meeting.
Before she’d come to Warsaw, from her small town out in the sticks, she’d heard stories about ‘The Night Drivers’; amphetamine pumped young men who, each midnight, tied fishing wire around their necks, and the cars’ brakes, and then raced from one end of the city to the next.
When she’d seen the cut marks on the taxi driver’s neck and his red, red eyes she’d ben a little wary but excited. The Serbian was handsome and charming with his hybrid of languages.
But that was then and this is now, she thought. Just like the song that Dragan used to play in his first BMW.
Krystyna shook her head, took a deep breath and counted to ten. She walked into the migraine bright bathroom and looked in the mirror. She ran her fingers across the coin shaped scar on her right shoulder and grimaced at the memory it brought back.
Krystyna tied back her long black hair and checked the ten inch barrel Desert Eagle XIX that she kept hidden in the washing basket. It was just a matter of time, she thought.
She ran the shower as hot as bearable before she got in. Maybe it would wash away the past.
Photo by Tariq Raheem.
Read the series WARSAW MOON in order HERE.
Produced by Walter Conley.
There are several new projects in the works.
Submissions are CLOSED at the present time. Questions/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rights to all material presented here are owned by the respective creators. Do not reproduce without express written permission.
it was too early
she and the child waited
in some odd place
between two worlds
which was the one
they should dwell in
they each chose one
life on earth
leaving the one
who picked that place
to always wonder
could have been
by Susannah Elisabeth Pabot
In the days before memory, when moonless skies were a blanket of darkness after each day’s dusk, a prairie-child was born into the first rays of the sun. Her newborn face reached up out of her mother’s womb and felt a dazzle of golden warmth and pure light, and from that moment onwards she sought nothing less. Her cries shook each blackened night, and no song nor tender rocking at the full breast would soothe her until dawn broke. Listening to her new daughter’s wild and desperate howls, her mother soon understood that this child was unlike others, and so she named her Longing.
When Longing learned to walk and talk, she did not play with ragged dolls nor skip with her sisters and brothers; no, crouched by herself, her eyes swam out over oceans of grass to grasp hold of the sun wandering over the vast skies above her. And when the light threatened to disappear at each day’s end and the sun slipped downwards into the land, Longing wailed:
“I love you! Why do you come and go instead of staying with me?”
Each night the sun would lay his arms around her for one last time and try to find an answer that might quell her pain.
“If I stayed forever, I would burn a hole into the sky and you would fall through,” he said.
Or: “If I never slept – nor you – my light would fade and the earth disappear into darkness forever.”
But whatever he came up with, Longing would always answer:
“I don’t believe you. If you loved me enough, you wouldn’t go.”
“I promise to come back,” the sun always whispered, just before leaving her.
But, stubborn, Longing would call into the darkness: “That is not enough.”
Longing’s brothers and sisters grew in the usual ways and wandered from their father’s land into their own, while Longing stayed where she was, haunting every day’s dusk, pleading. Unable to bear her child’s suffering, her mother wept through each night, placing wet cloths on her daughter’s burning forehead, until one evening, just before sunset, she glanced down onto her daughter’s writhing body and saw that, unnoticed, her breasts had become womanly and her hips ripe and filled with flames. In that moment Longing’s mother knew that she must set her child free.
She turned her child’s face into the setting sun and said: “Go and try to find what it is you so desire.” Longing rose and bid her mother farewell. She ran, not stopping to rest or eat or sleep for many weeks, and when she finally stood on that slice of land where the sun sets, Longing lay down into the grass, flung her arms open, closed her eyes and waited for him to descend.
“Look at me: I am not a child anymore,” she cried, “if you cannot stay with me, take me with you.”
Shaken by her ravenous love, the sun caressed Longing with his warmth, licking every sweating crevasse. Longing smiled and opened her eyes, at last capturing the sun with her gaze. He thrashed and flailed, but Longing’s eyes were fierce, and for one, endless second before of falling into the earth, he dipped through her and her thirst was quenched, aglow in his burning rays.
Blinded and hollow from then on, Longing wandered in darkness. But as her body faded away, her stomach grew round and full in the sun’s image. When her skin could not stretch any further, she broke apart, and out of her the moon rose – glorious – into our night sky.
Don’t Marry the Witch
I make my own warmth
where you cannot see.
My gums bleed,
we arc in conversation
– and the air drops.
Something massive approaches;
the doorway waives survival.
Shit like this happens
every day, and I know
you’ll sleep better
knowing I’m not.
your human is showing.
by Jelena Vencl Ohlrogge
Her skin gives off a faint scent of something familiar, but he cannot put a finger on what it is.
Vanilla sugar milk baby powder cocaine.
White. She smells of something white. And white she is, white as snow high up in the mountains, untouched by city smog, unspoiled by traces of urine.
She says that her heart and thoughts are black as coal, but he does not care. He feeds on the light coming from her skin.
Seven screams incendiary
to see her thoughts burnt on hot coals
she weaves her way through the fire
reds and oranges forge allies
to lick the very essence of her youth
tastes so full of lust and desire
tastes of party frocks
and at the threshold of her paradise
her arms melt
dancing with old flames
trying to rescue
another scar signs its name across
her sad doll limbs, now weightless
to the pain and ache of burst blisters
aches like a metaphor should, and weeps
a discharge; tears-hope-blood
any of the above
Seven believes it’s all to do with sin
her thoughts are so deliciously wicked
of flowers dying, of poisoned kisses,
and how she lets the blister pus drip
onto her lips until she goes numb
with all that tomorrow promises
Edited by Walter Conley.
Selection of photographs by Walter and Kelly Rae Daugherty.
Photography by Kelly Rae Daugherty. Visit her website at www.kellydaughertyphotography.com.
Thanks to Paul D. Brazill for his work behind the scenes.
Submissions are still closed. Arrangements made prior to the closing of open-call subs will be honored.
Rights to all material held by respective creators. Do not use without expression written permission.
UPDATED 5/31/10: Submissions are CLOSED as of today. Anything received from this point on will be deleted unread.
I have several projects in the works, so please check back to see what is published and when the submission status may change.
You can still write me with proposals/ideas/whatever’s on your mind at email@example.com. –Walter Conley
Art by IRA JOEL HABER/Words by PETRA WHITELEY
The dialogue of hardened hands
is spoken through the cracks in skin,
the body is the night of glass with horizons sharpening.
The dialogue of darkened eyes
is stillness of afternoons, the heavy sound of sun,
hanging from dried mouth – the nails of mind, weighing.
Time’s weighing down the drumming
heart’s monologue and its own answers of blood
in the fast, tight fist of light and its prolonged suffocating absence.
The rhythm between silence and sound
is the breath’s weakness through the loyalty of lungs, miracles
of twins blossoming electricity of pain and endorphin religion rushes.
The monologue of aging, the monologue of death,
the architectural bends in anatomy of the maps, the world,
unanswered and reactionary, the communion of perpetual suicide.
It’s so hard to understand the vacuum of colours, the void of flesh.
The charcoal post-mortem of mannequins sipping teas outside in the storm
is punctuated by directions of wind.
Flowers of Fire
This is the crest of a day without the silence of the sun.
I turn the face that burns itself through into the lighthouse mind of me inside and out. I touch its contours and stretch them out, neatly and tenderly; pull it all together with the pin of the seas and wind softened whispers, they are bouncing on my skin and sinking into me, silverly. There is a voice now, a voice like dark wood and red waterfall. The mahogany, pungent sighing of fire. It communicates moments of future, of risks we took in entering our palms and the legends imprinted deeply and blackly, alphabet of decades, centuries of thunders. Calligraphy of flowers and the grace of your piercing eyes, the blankets of darkness I found in them and kissed.
Can you feel their coming, can you feel the inevitable flame flow, Phoenixian length of our flesh combined and pulsing?
It has torn away from the root of words into rustling linen of victories, the sharp pang contrast of thoughts – the fusion of flowers and the knifing longing aching in the black furs of night.
It has a shiver and wildness in exploding fingers of the sun, they crush into me like tides and in there I see your feline face in new reality. We are changing the immense plains of snow and dusty rags of shadows splayed agony on white and like stones we bury them in the crevices of time and walk on through to the other side. Every word bursts forwards to solstice and every step burns the equinox. We are finally seasoned beyond hell.
The Gift of Cat’s Eyes
The start of summer.
The constant and closest explosive matter that pulls out all the chemicals into their symmetries of reactions, is pitched brazenly in the pale blue sky of the morning. Rays are coming from afar, there is a bite of coldness in them, but they are soft, they do not stick into the skin like needling kiss; they will be so later as day goes through the cogs of hours. My bones are trying to talk but I hear birdsongs instead. Maybe this is good. Maybe it’s good to know that I am not the sum of the parts, but some abstract word as consciousness, that word can give immortality to all and instead of death, in it we are all equal, or could be, but the ‘could be’ is only one small afterthought. Is…, is the best of illusions, we all know that…in our bones. But who listens to them?
I only hear my bones when there is pain, and see their pain that one time in future, when the bones of my foot will be exposed under the blood and torn flesh, it will look milky and translucent and I’ll walk with the exposed wound to the hospital, a liquid cross and pushchair in front of me, my child, speaking soothing murmurs. If Christ was Christ, that’s how the word to Lazarus would have sounded like.
The tracks and the stones smell of diesel and piss. The crowd of people, who are waiting for the tracks to be connected to the body of the train to board it, is only small and silent. Only few words pass around. The singy sounds linger on, crushing into the concrete and the green paint of the benches, empty words always fall down and begrudgingly dissolve back into the void, they will never pierce the flesh and stay lodged as corpses in the living grave, neither are they like words that resurrect those living graves into crimes of breathing art.
I sit on the bench, I look into the trees on the other side of the platform, although they cannot go anywhere, I wonder if they travel through their roots into the imagination of the planet and what would they become there? I suspect them of many things.
A frightened cat limps around, circling wide from the bodies on the pavement, she knows only the perfect elicit sympathy, whatever they say in those buildings, houses, open spaces, the only God of humanity is Atrophy. After all we have cyanide, Novichok 5, Substance P, Ricin, Anthrax, modified and tailored viruses and bacteria, not cure for HIV and cancer. We have very useful words: “law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes.”; “incapacitating agents and associated delivery systems”; “an acceptable addition to military arsenals”. Whilst words can have blood and bones and burst forth with electricity and life, even those we know how to maim, torture and kill.
The cat comes and sits right in front of me. As it comes close to me I notice its eyes. One of the eyes is an eye that was, it’s a gaping badly healed hole, and dirt hangs there. The other eye is swollen, twice the size it was at some point of the animal’s past, and a film swims over it, it has a cataract and it is blind, yet it sits there and stares at me. I feel that the exposed nerve there somewhere in the crater, is sending signals to both our brains. I see people looking at the spectacle and making polite steps away. The cat is an omen and they see me as a demon chosen child. Maybe they are praying for their Christ to come yet again and cure the lepers so they would be saved from the hell upon earth of such an irregularity, of such a sight. I want to be saved from them. If only so I could hear the cat through her eyes because in this noise of fear, the only thing I want to do is run. Take the cat with me, but I know it will not come. It moves when I move, it moves away, but it does not run, only mirrors the unspoken.
The train comes and everything becomes one fusion in the flash, now the cat does run and is gone, somehow managing to negotiate the bodies and the metallic beast that has arrived now, I step out too, about to be swallowed into it and be taken for my summer holidays away from home.
When I sit down I try to see if the cat is still out there, but I see nothing. As the train pulls out and I keep looking from the window at the moving landscape with its houses, the houses with the people folded neatly inside them flipping in the breezing draft of the windows open to the rising sun, it all soon melts into something…
I feel myself heavy in the bed, unmoving, only something rattling, rattling; and there above me a shape, darkly grey, bent over me. I hear thunder and earth from that contour hanging above me intently, my mouth waters and I try to see through my blunt eyes, the woman there staring at me. Although there are only stumps for her arms, she is reaching for me.
I feel no fear.
The light is twisted inward blue-black,
life will not touch the uneven surface,
there will be ( )
No exit. Whispers and Shadows. Spoken
possibilities Endless inescapable
windows to circular nowheres. Blood on the stairs
to coffins for no
beliefs and contrasts surviving in raisins of colours, their
secrecy and absent children,
inwardly. Always the way
in. UnOut is the Past. Enter to dis-
appear, unsailable ships from the shores, the flash
backs of burns and bruising. The cavernous eye
is the only lighthold to pull through deathly
air of objects.
Bisection of no(w)
Can you hear the life of walls
straight down to withered skin’s cut through?
When you cannot believe life
out(in)side within your own eyes?
It morphs into empty bullets
of stories inside the empty televised heart,
spins the void centrifugal onto the body nesting
spilling unknown territories, declining in round silences.
Dawning the new men one after the other,
facelessness – the sun sunk into red river.
Dust teeth of bones (in)visibly
bite into the liver
the lonely image follows one another
in perpetual struggle to itch blood from
hems of shadows sown into redness,
those knots of disasters defining state
of war and redemption intoxication
– can they take it all away? Force-
feed exile of spleen, lacking backbone –
– a gift to twins, tending
to exit into the debris of nerve tissues.
So tired of (un)living, swallow
death. Or sleep.
Presented by Walter Conley.
Petra Whiteley is an author of The Nomad’s Trail (Ettric Forest Press, 2008) and The Moulding of Seers (Shadow Archer Press, 2009), her poetry and prose appeared in Seven Circle Press, Apt, Eleutheria, Full of Crow, Unlikely Stories 2.0, Paraphilia, The Recusant, Clockwise Cat, The Plebian Rag, Counterexamplepoetics, Weirdyear, Disenthralled, Danse Macabre and has been featured in Outside Writers Collective. Whiteley’s articles/reviews on political/current issues, essays on history and methods of poetry and literature movements, current poets and lyricists had appeared & will appear in the Glasgow Review, Osprey, and Eleutheria. Her poetry is due to appear in an ‘Into The Valley Of Hinnom’ anthology published by Heliocentric Press.
* * *
Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn New York. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. His paintings, drawings and collages have been published in many on line and print magazines including Rock Heals, Otoliths, Winamop, Melancholia’s Tremulous Dreadlocks, Barfing Frog, The Raving Dove, Foliate Oak, Siren, Prose Toad, Triplopia, Thieves Jargon, Opium, Dirt, The Centrifugal Eye, the DMQ Review, Broadsided, Hotmetalpress, Double Dare Press, Events Quarterly,Unlikely Stories, Coupremine,Cerebration,Chick Flicks, Softblow Eclectica Magazine Backwards City Review,Right Hand Pointing, Ascent Aspirations Magazine, Brew City Magazine, Fiction Attic, Blue Print Review, Ellipsis,The Indelible Kitchen, Cricket, Entelechy, So To Speak, Taj Mahal Review, The Fifteen Project, The Externalist, Why Vandalism,Mungbeing Magazine, Lamination Colony, Paradigm, Lily, Literary Fever,Glassfire Magaine,The Houston Literary Review, Lilies and Cannonballs, Wheelhouse Magazine, Terra Incognita,Qarrtsiluni, The Tusculum Review, Multidementional, 34th Parallel, Wood Coin & Sacramento Poetry, Art & Music & Divine Dirt Quarterly. Over the years he has received three National Endowments For The Arts Fellowship, two Pollock-Krasner grants and most recently in 2004 received The Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant. Currently he teaches art at the United Federation of Teachers Retiree Program in Brooklyn.
You can view more of Ira Joel Haber’s work HERE.
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