#81

Nicolette Westfall
In the Night

Cheer up, only 83 days left!
Don’t need blow money anyway.
Drinking for the lonely not you, honey.

–Got husband back home?
Well, I’m all alone. Let’s hook up, ok?

Scrabble on Friday night
+ micro-waved popcorn!

–Cribbage Saturday night, if that’s alright?
+ expensive chocolate flown in.

A drop of caffeine makes it alright,
then early to bed every night,
because it’s wrong, thinking ‘bout
urban life.

–but we have
moose / deer / caribou / beaver.

 

Mark Cunningham
[specimen]

Neotony as transcendence: “Wes Jackson is fond of saying if your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough.” She said she liked to be pampered, and I said I was dependable. My dream is someday to understand the dream. I never change clothes and I wear a shirt I wouldn’t be caught dead in; therefore, I am immortal.

 

 

Michael Shannon
Interactions

Connie said she saw God last night. A little cat face, no whiskers. A crown of thorns slit her jugular. The cat, mewing, drank her blood.
           She ate cabbage at dinner, drank two glasses of Shiraz. She believes cabbage galvanized the reveries.
           “Cabbage is evil. Don’t mix it with wine. Not red wine, at least,” she admonished Kasy, her best friend.
           Kasy lit a cigarette, insouciantly looked away—at the ominous river adjacent to them.
           They both ordered another apple martini.
           The restaurant was dim. Candles glowing—bouncing off the walls, casting shadows. Voices distant. Conversations almost muted.
           Connie wanted to cry, to stand up and leave and go back home. She coveted, at that moment, her sanctum of covers and pillows—her ivory tower of books and paintings.
           Something felt wrong.
           Too wrong.
           The waiter, a tall, middle-aged man, came over to their table.
           “Shall I change your linen tablecloth?” he asked, perfidy lurid in his eyes.
           “No. Please, no,” Connie beseeched.
           He walked away, leered from behind a wall.
           “I hate it here,” Connie confided, “let’s go to a bar—one that’s bright and lively and fun.”
           Kasy nodded, and imbibed the rest of her martini.
           “Are we going to make love tonight?” she asked Connie.
           “Yes,” Connie responded. “I’ll do you first, then you can do me. No blindfolds though, I want to watch your eyes when you come.”
           Kasy leaned over the table, pushed Connie’s blonde hair away from her eyes, and kissed her lips—inserting her tongue inside her mouth.
           Connie moaned, caressed Kasy’s smooth leg under the table.
           They both lit cigarettes and stared into each other’s eyes. Kasy mouthed, “I want to feel you.”
           But Connie was now looking around the restaurant.
           “Maybe we should bring a guy into the action tonight,” Kasy stated, culling the male-patrons around her.
           “No,” Connie said emphatically. “I’ll get pregnant again. I don’t want to get pregnant again. You know how I am.”
           Connie snickered, and rolled her eyes.
           Kasy loved Connie’s eyes—said, on many occasions, that she wanted to eat them, lick them, play with them. They were so blue, like a cliché ocean, like a trite sky.
           “I want your eyes,” she promulgated.
           Connie closed her eyes. The image of God, the cat, struck her again. She quickly opened her eyes.
           “Deliver us from evil,” she muttered.
           They got up, joined hands, and walked out of the restaurant.
           Under a streetlight, which shone above their joined bodies, Connie kissed Kasy on her cheek.
           “I love you,” she confessed.
           But, Kasy, looking across the street at a group of guys, didn’t respond.

 

 

Chris Major

Chris Major

 

 

the poet Spiel
white smoke

more often deprived
of what you crave yet now hosted
by this gentle garden weed

so rises the profound excuse
to bright your monitor
with two taut bucks
in possession of each other’s faces

historied here
especially for you
by squalls like dying fauns

while a dark duo of more substantial
steamy feathered beasts
bark out harsh commands

their prides
each sheathed in latex skin
come to resemble white smoke
just as they begin to erupt as turgid geysers

and this looped scenario abruptly ceases
then returns to the pair of fauns
the submissive half of this enchanting quartet
their faces engaged

it’s only in this instant of an eyelash’ drop
that you afford yourself the moment
to light up once more

your hands otherwise occupied
in baby oil
and wrought like hotwire

 

 

Craig Podmore
I Am a Gun

I am no Warsaw hooker
With my milk teeth
Under my pillow.

I am no atom bomb
Made in America
With far right Christian
Smiles.

I am a gun,
Fully loaded for a war that
Means something.

To me.

 

 

David Manning
The Klausberger Syndrome

– What is that?
– According to this, Klausberger Syndrome is named after the doctor who originally diagnosed it.
– But what is it?
– I think it has something to do with fear, an irrational anxiety. Like the fear of being in a plane.
– That’s just good common sense, the way I see it, and anyway the term for that is pteromechanophobia.
– I thought it was aviophobia.
– That too. Besides, those kinds of things have ‘phobia’ in the title: agoraphobia, xenophobia, ichthyophobia, things like that.
– Ichthyophobia? What’s that?
– Don’t change the subject. Those things are all classed as disorders. A syndrome and disorder aren’t the same thing.
– Can be.
– No, they can’t.
– Look, I’m not trying to argue with you, but you filled out the questionnaire in the article and the results say you’ve got Klausberger’s in spades, big guy.
– And this magazine doesn’t even describe what the syndrome consists of? What it entails?
– Says here there will be a major treatise on it in the upcoming issue.
– And when is that?
– Well…this particular digest seems to be an annual publication.
– Perfect, just perfect. That’s wonderful. Here I am, walking around riddled with Klausberger’s, and I don’t have the first clue as to what it is; I don’t know the causes, the symptoms, possible treatment options—zilch. This is bad; I could be posing a major threat to others while in this state. Or worse, myself. I’m a sick man.
– Now don’t go to pieces on me. Panic will get us nowhere.
– Easy for you to say. Let me ask you this: did you do the questionnaire?
– Yeah. I’m clean. Sorry.
– I’ve never felt so alone.
– I’m sure there are others just like you in the world, leading productive, reasonably normal lives, as we speak. Repeat after me: I am not alone.
– Does the article at least give any information about this Klausberger guy? A bio maybe, list of accreditations, published works, anything like that.
– Let’s see. Oh, here we go: ‘Dr. Jonah Klausberger was an extremely private man—a virtual recluse—who rigorously guarded his autonomy and who remains an almost complete mystery to this day. He is, however, rumored to have suffered from Klausberger’s Syndrome. He died many, many years ago.’
– Holy shit, I’m drowning here.
Silence and more silence, followed by a long stretch of quiet.
– I wish I’d never seen that damn article or answered those damn questions—my ignorance was so blissful. I wish you’d never shown me that magazine in the first place.
– I’m sorry, I truly am. But you never should have done what you did. You never should have done that.

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