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Archive for January, 2009

#78

Constance Stadler
Sulfur

Sensual glossolalia
Barstool mandrake

Turning bulbous tip stick
Into blazing aureola

Soft lemon brimstone
Daunting would-be suitors
With malodorous pungency

Existential requisite
Industrial necessity
Blinder of women
Vitriol.

A cadenza of images…

…as I casually note…

Your Daily
Cataract
Of
Fulminate
Blasphemy.

(more…)

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#77

Nikki Wertheim
Hallowed Be Thy Name

The smell started gradually, then began to permeate the room with such force I felt I had been slapped across the face. I didn’t dare mention it out loud for fear of embarrassing my grandmother. After a few minutes, my mother chuckled and said it was time to change her diaper. She went out into the hallway to fetch the first two employees she saw, young Black women in white shoes and scrubs who looked like they definitely didn’t want to deal with changing another geriatric. They entered and I politely left the room with my sister. The last thing I wanted to see was someone wipe my grandmother’s ass while she was on her death bed.
          Riss and I stood awkwardly in the hallway, glancing around at the other doors. Some had names on them and some didn’t. There were pictures of flowers in vases on the cream-colored walls. The carpet looked like vomited pea soup. From my grandmother’s room I could hear her speak coherently for the first time that night. She was screaming for help. My mother, a nurse, did not look up from her paperwork as she told her to calm down, that it would be over in a minute. She was used to this sort of thing–changing diapers, dying old people, Alzheimer’s, dementia, whatever—and it was almost as if she wasn’t aware of what was happening. I was, and I allowed myself to look in despite the stench.
          My mother had told me earlier that my grandmother’s system was shutting down. Her blood pressure was so high she couldn’t sit up without fainting. Her stomach had stopped working, which was why she burped frequently. And she was shitting blood.
          “Help!” she screamed. “Oh, God!”            “Frances!” scolded one of the nurses. “Calm down.”
          “Relax Mom,” my mother said without looking up. “It’ll be over in a minute.”
          As they changed her, the smell drifted out into the hallway. My sister was the first to mention it, rolling her eyes and muttering, “Jesus Christ.”
          I laughed to mask my horror. The smell would stay with me until the next time I saw my grandmother, wrapped up in a bargain-bin coffin. (more…)

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#76

Ainslee Meredith
Bureau of Meteorology

The blind man sold storms
from the back of a taxicab.
The taxicab was stolen,
the rain had swollen it yellow
like a grub belly.

Thunderclouds split his fingers
with bruises; little bones
poked through the skin.
Cold ash scorched
the frank blackness

of a dozen fog-heaps.
He was selling them
at a car-boot sale
in the school playground,
we fingered them

and counted the loose threads.
They were not a fashionable length,
and hung shapeless
on wire coat-hangers.
Our mothers might have worn them

to dinner parties. Almost new,
he said, they still hold their tears.
There’s no more like them.
Rub them on your mouth,
it’s like drinking the Adriatic.

(more…)

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#75

Aiko Harman
Frog Dream

In my dream, as you promised,
We are hunting frogspawn

I am surreptitious in a lake,
With one lip above,
And one below,
The horizon of the water

It’s very still,
And I know nothing about frogspawn
But imagine they do not breed in water
Deep enough for me to be half-lip in.

I imagine it is a swarm of eggs,
Murky like your sky
(Not orange like Japanese ikura
Which I think are delicious.)

In my dream, lip-deep,
I brave my face into the puddle of eggs,
Stare so closely into some of them
That we are eye to eye

I can see tails,
Little pod-bodies, all head.
My lips unveil,
Capturing one slick egg—

Mouthing over it
-No, it is not ikura at all-
Holding the thing on the tip of my tongue
Up to the sunlight

In my dream I watch it, and I shine through
Because in dreams you can be in two places at once.
I can see your puddock, on my tongue,
A real live frog.

(more…)

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#74

John Greiner
Plush

Curtains rise. Applause.
The show is about to start.
Please take your plush seats.

(more…)

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#73

Charles P. Ries
CIRCUS TOWN

The clown saints were led into Circus Town by Monstro, the mountainous two-headed, four- armed juggler, who sprayed the sky with orbs of glowing light. Making the earth shake with each of his steps – a sainted alien perhaps? “We love you Lord, O Jesus, praise thy clowns,” came the cry of those giving witness as a transparent mist began to fall. The Circus Town River gazed up as a lover beckoning a new embrace. A gentle breeze washed ashore as a silken sunrise appeared celebrating the arrival of the clowns. (more…)

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#72

William Soule
C-Word

Like so many before, he shoulders
out of the doctor’s office, his heart
heavy as a stool
sample in the gaping mouth
of its container, its lips
cool as the stethoscope
moments ago. He sinks his head
to the steering wheel of his car,
a restored AMC Gremlin
clicking its own steady heartbeat,
the door ajar. Last week
he routinely backed it out
of the garage, changed its oil,
degreased the engine bay,
vacuumed up stale french fries.
He tossed soda cups quarter-filled
with Diet Coke and balled up
hamburger wrappers into the trash,
scoured stains from burst mayo packets.
He washed off the white inkblots
of pigeon droppings, then polished
and waxed the new ebony paint job
as black as the feeling one gets
when the doctor shares the bad news:

He’s shitting blood, his colon
a beat-up automobile leaking fuel
the driver brushes off as trivial,
as something he can get fixed later
when he has the time. He tears
out of the hospital parking lot,
windows rolled down
so the wind could frisk through his hair
like the slim fingers of a prostitute—
so he could forget—
and into the nearest drive-thru,
cranks Born To Be Wild to 10
after he orders. Pulling to the window—
before they could hand him his #2,
no onions or tomato, extra salt
on the fries—his car sputters,
flatlines to a stop,
and dies.

 

(more…)

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