#63

Becky Hunt
Hunting, Gathering, Slathering, Bothering

     Oh, so it’s not inside. That’s a surprise. My hand slaps against my forehead and stays there. I’m amused, thinking: What a charming dolt! I also think: Check outside, it’s probably there.
     I do, opening the front door and peering at the step. Nothing. A young dog walks past and I inspect it. It turns its head to me, friendly, then resumes walking. The owner is not far behind, swinging the dog’s lead. I smile and close the door, seriously considering getting a dog.
     Inside again I take my coat off, take my jumper off, put my bag down somewhere. It’s been a consuming day at work and I have been in demand. I head to the kitchen to put the kettle on; perhaps I left the thing there. I smile again, a nostalgic smile, thinking of our telephone conversation.
     You were anxious, talking nervously: ‘You know that thing of mine, do you still have it?’
     I had laughed at your lovably suspicious mind: ‘Yes, God! Of course!’
     You were relieved, exhaling: ‘You’re sure? Phe-e-ew, I was worried then. Great, I’ll come and pick it up tonight.’
I didn’t mention that I think my haircut looks better than yours. I also didn’t mention that I think you’re a slight fool with your constant nerves. You’re so nervous about the stupid thing, even though you know it’s in my house where, I might add, you left it…so why would it be lost?
     I shake my head, picturing your tense face not believing me when I say I have it. A feeling of affection suns me: Ah, your tense face!
     But it isn’t in the kitchen. Checking again, I throw some stuff around on the table: yesterday’s newspapers, other things. The kettle boils. I make a cup of coffee, scanning the counters over the rim of the cup as I drink. Nope. It’s probably in the lounge. I head over there, hating my trousers, which I feel are an unflattering cut.
     Forgetting why I’m in the lounge I sit on the sofa. The sofa is expensive and I appreciate its subtle colour. I congratulate myself on my sophisticated taste. Then I remember that you’re coming over later to collect your thing and I roll my head at the ceiling, annoyed because I can’t relax with that hanging over me. I decide to find it simply so I can head you off at the door; if you come in then you’ll be here for hours, and then I will be forced to make you dinner too because it will be more agonising not to.
     I make an inventory of the room with my eyes, searching. Nothing. Fine! I get up and work across it manually, lifting cushions, stooping to look under the table. The room is full of suspect locations. I dutifully hunt through them all. Still nothing. I picture your reaction when I tell you I can’t find it: a patronising display of stoicism. But I will see the bruise of disappointment. Listen, why do you have to have it tonight, anyway? Can’t it wait until tomorrow? Yes, naturally it can. I know it. But can it? No, not according to you – you insist on having it tonight. Resentment touches against me with its thick fronds of seaweed.
     I begin a violent campaign in the hallway, throwing aside coats and bags – a pointless exercise, as I wouldn’t have left it here. I repeat this to myself, blinded by a flash of instant deduction: Yes, exactly! Why would I have left it here in the hall? I wouldn’t have!
     So then you must have, idiot – the blame lies with you. Could I tell you this? Tricky; you would probably argue against it. This argumentative streak of yours is ugly, I should inform you. And have you considered how demanding you are? Some might translate it as coldly exploitative… consider that.
     At this a memory starts to itch, itches vigorously, then smashes to the surface. The memory shouts, its fists full of hair, ‘Rounds of drinks!’ It is accompanied by a theoretical pie chart: green symbolises the drinks I have bought you. Purple, your contribution of drinks, is fractional. I nod: yes, yes, I knew as much, I knew about the perverted imbalance. Disgusting abuse, made worse because you are boring when drunk.
     Now I am at the backdoor. I have a hunch you must have thrown your hateful thing into the garden. This spontaneity of yours is negligent, you understand. Have you thought about the possibility slugs will be crawling on it? Well, it’s been lying in the garden all night. And how do you think I feel about slugs? If it’s out here covered in slugs, I say to myself, then I’m perfectly within my rights to insist that you buy me a present. I search about, an apprehensive shin lifting shrubs; a timid ankle parts the flowers. No sign of it.
     I head back inside like a firework, slamming the door. My elbow catches the frame and this inspires a salty monologue from me. I am, I realise, oppressed. I can visualise your oppressive face, goggling with blame as I am driven to bootlick, patiently repeating that I can’t find it; that it can’t be found; that I looked everywhere.
     And then, eyes to a spot near the breadbin, suddenly it appears! There it is! It’s on a counter, sitting there brashly, gloating. Oh, look! My head makes an unusual gesture, knowing a practical joke when I see it. Yes, yes, I know a practical joke, you old sow: you hid it there. Ha-yes, this is symptomatic of your odious sense of humour. Scorching with passionate malice, I grab the thing with gorilla hands, raising it high.
     Whoops. Then something happens. It’s all over in seconds. The thing is propelled, falling to the floor, landing badly. Hmmm. It looks like recovery will be difficult. Then recovery becomes impossible, my foot making the situation dramatically worse. The foot finds the target accurately, the power of the thigh and hip behind it. Har.

 

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
HAPPY MEAL

Shoeless and hungry,
he talked to himself
about business in
the parking lot of
McDonald’s. He
followed a lady
inside and asked if
she could buy him
something to eat.
He said he owned his
own bank, but he lost
all the money due to
the recession. The lady
said she could get him
a dollar hamburger.
The man groaned, but
I want a soda too, he
said. The manager at
McDonald’s scolded
the man and told him
not to bother the
customers. The lady
told the man, I could
get you a Happy Meal.
The shoeless man sat
down with a disappointed
look on his face. He
glumly waited for his food.
When the lady brought
the man his Happy Meal,
he asked her if he could
have a dollar for the bus.
The lady rolled her eyes
and shook her head.
She handed the man a
dollar. The man never
thanked the lady and not
once did he smile. He
finished up his meal and
went outside disappearing
in the streets.

 

 

Sarah Reynolds
There might be stars lying about my floorboards

There might be stars lying about my floorboards
I mean, who’s to say there’s not
They could be there socializing with my careless hairpins
Or perhaps just becoming better acquainted with the discarded tea wrappers
But then again I should probably ask my paintings, they know what goes on
Seeing as they are here more than I

 

 

Mark Reep
Saturday Morning

Saturday morning, and I’m pushing the old truck a little, chasing retreating bands of cloud shadows along a winding hilltop road. Wide fields rolling away on either side, big clumps of raw earth not yet dragged, lush green hay already nearly ready for first cutting. They’ve worked the road again, smoothed out most of the ravages of the semis hauling the gas wells’ rigging, but the new gravel’s not packed down yet–Easy to get loose in this stuff, probably should back off a little. But it’s been a week since I’ve seen you, and it’s the first hot day of the summer, chance of storms later but none come to darken the dusty rearview mirror yet, just sunshine and blue skies and windblown cotton-candy clouds I can’t catch or even keep up with, and all this afternoon, this weekend still in front of us, if I hurry.

 

 

Lyn Lifshin
ON A DAY MACHINES KEEP BREAKING

I need a good room
to just listen, a flat still
where a woman
sits on the edge of a
bed in a Hopper
painting. It’s as if I
am that woman,
displaced, as unsure
how she got there
as how racing pigeons
straying off course
ended up in South
Africa

 

 

Chris Lindores
Why It Looks Like I Have Herpes

I had a disagreement
with my electric razor.
I wanted to shave
while it wanted to eat my face.

 

 

Simon Friel
from upon Montjuic

Arambol days
Kingfisher
soft stringy black
duelling beast slipping in the sand
packs of wild dogs the only community
mythology and overly cooked eggs
Russian prophets
like Him in visage
foul mouthed in foreign tongue
3000 faces
unable to communicate with 1
freedom came at the cost of his arse
I don’t judge, but nor can I follow

a city constructed entirely by men’s minds.
a concrete dream
cold stone and metal sleeping
a million miles from its foundations
broken chords of dancing queens played on a sold out instrument of ancient integrity.
valueless.
uncoordinated.
dumb.
tourist coaches pull out for the next stop on the itinerary

stop
get down from your carriage
forsake all your personal jesus.
open your eyes to see a dusty vacuum in the site where sat the monolith you mistook for your soul.
touch the empty sky
breathe in the lack of self
recite 3 times there is no place like home
wrest yourself from the nightmare
sleep walk across dead earth

a light
a star
you don’t know the word in english.
a different place.
desire to live and wonder
traded off against the acceptance of beauty
death.
fight without thought of victory
struggle
scream liguidless tears
defy the flies
act

we

keep walking
searching
together

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