(Photo courtesy & © Emily White)
Like Crazy by Barbara DeCesare
But if you stop taking your medicine you're gonna get sick. But if you take your medicine you don't know how to be happy. I guess it was selfish of me, but I loved having you around those months - you, no meds. And also, I just plain loved you like crazy.
On the fourth day of camping you told me you threw the bottle away. I was scared and proud. And I wanted to see what would happen. My favorite was the grocery store, when you'd sneak me grapes and beg me to buy you the sugary cereals in the bottom bins, the generic ones. "That's what Betty Big Butt used to get!" The babysitter. The one who didn't care when the water was too hot in the tub. Why would you want her dumb cereal? But I bought it. Because I love you.
All summer it was like this. I'd leave the shoe store at five on the button so we could go for a hike or put the dog in the canoe (hilarious) or lie outside and feed each other gummy bears until it got chilly. All summer you were wide open and new, you were like a brilliant falling star taking over the whole long night. You were all I wanted.
The police found you crying outside the post office. Everything went bad after that. Your mother came back to town and now I don't even know where to send my letters. I knew it would happen, but I thought I could wish it off. Every day when I ran out of the shoe store, I prayed so hard the whole way home that I'd find you the way I left you. That the dark clouds hadn't welled up in you yet and ruined your view of me. Of us.
Fair and Square by Beth
Sometimes I miss getting punched in the face. Or in the arm, or having my hair pulled out, or bashing my head against someone else’s. Getting my toe stomped through canvas sneaker. Having someone squeeze me as hard as he could into the hard plastic of our mother’s two-door Corolla, bracing his feet against the other side of the backseat to get more leverage. Being held down on the ground, with sticks in my hair. Kicking and flailing like a fish on a dock, karate chopping, hitting back. The way a skinned knee stings. Saying sorry, sorry, sorry while I laugh and back away, arms outstretched, knowing that if I turn to run he’ll push me down. Knowing I went too far, when he’s so mad he’s crying and snotting and hitting without even looking at me. Being that mad.
Hearing the screen door open, our mother yell dinner, rolling off each other, dusting the leaves off, going inside to the smell of the Old El Paso dinner kit, the grudge already fading, almost gone.
How These Things Go by Alan
The last song on the mix tape was “Sugar’s Got Nothing on You,” and it was intended to be a set closer by the band who had penned it, Super Owl. The band’s lead singer Jettison Lee Waze was, of course, a poet with a penchant for online drama/scandals. He was said to have thrown a high-definition TV straight out of a fan chat room window one night because “hoothoot99 was just taking it too far.”
Most of the kids in the know in the neighborhood knew the power of a good last song, and how it could make a summer night last forever. These two knew too. One had made the tape for the other, but you know how these things go; they sort of made it together. And they were listening together that fateful evening when it all went down.
Though the first track was mashed up with The Den Intruder Song on Vimayo, the rest of the playlist ran as juice through a straw. By the flip, they were entranced with eyelashes, and midway through the second side the music itself became some dim and muted white noise emitting from the city they’d created. Until they reached the last song, of course. Then they came out of it – for a second – like a whale taking the breath before the sink, the majestic primal urge to sink. And then they dove back in.
Filtered Light by Johanna
She opened her mouth and ashes came out. She formed words in her head but they stayed there. It wasn't like laryngitis, her voice did not curdle out of a scratchy throat; it was just the complete absence of sound, like air. Then, ash, soft gray flakes that turned to dust between her fingers and left her mouth dry. She consulted various doctors, but no one could diagnosis her. A lab technician noted that each flake of ash was perfectly formed into a distinct rhombus.
In a bucket, she began to save the ash, opening her mouth to speak and letting the flakes float tenuously toward the metal rim. After a while, she no longer had anything on her mind to say and she could not conjure the mysterious particles. She swept the surfaces of all her belongings to gather up every last bit of minute remnant of ash that had coated her whereabouts for weeks and added it to the bucket. She put a lid on it and waited, until she forgot what she was waiting for and left the bucket alone.
Many mute months later, she was clearing out her apartment and found the bucket again. Heat emanated from the metal vessel's walls as she approached. She drew back. Kicking off the lid, she looked into the bucket, singeing her eyebrows. She gasped and the flames entered her mouth, licking her tongue and spiraling down her esophagus.
Yum, she said to the empty room.
The Theory of Circles posits that everything is circular. It’s absurd mostly but has a growing number of proponents. When I was ten I ate a rat to see what it would taste like. I never did that again. My mind would come back to what I learned. My experience. Circular.
But now I am in a state of confusion, tight little circles. Or a spiral.
I am afraid that I will eat a rat again. Absurd. Why am I not afraid of eating my son when he comes to bring food? I remember him — my son. I am so sorry I brought you into this. Perhaps it is best if I eat you too; the way life has consumed me and shat me back out at the end to stink. Life is not circular. It is a long, unbending line. Know that. That is the Theory of Circles.
Siameses by Forrest
Our I escapes the movers. Sad, sad movers with that moving look while making moves. They carry the two-bit dirge away, ding it against the banister. They forget their Chang and Eng. Bubblewrapped, the parlor now gave off a frontier transparency but far less suck-face. The latter once included the I happily including us. All occasions had not suitably embarrassed, however. There were still wantings of a criminal insertion. There were incidentals.
Untitled by Bill
Save your mind. Save the spaces along the lip. Be aware of your teeth. Be clean, and breathe deeply aware of the voluminous oysters sitting in the bay of your dimininuation. And sitting by the dock of the quay. And outside of space, falling station to station.
The mystery passed muster, lip on the slide-rule. All the other kids turned around in the surf until they fell into the ocean and we dipped them in butter. We made glass, breathing fire on the sand, and corralling coral polyps in a run-off drain sluice-bath.
Algorhythmic breathing method, we don the capes we made out of our pillow-cases, crying all the way home once the vine broke and we fell too far into the pile of leaves. Hungry and not so scared of the life, arepas for lunch, a sense of being and being stuck to the inside of the heads here like toffee. Did you suggest arepas for lunch?