(courtesy & © Haik Kocharian)
Unpopular by Lyle
Once again I have failed. Not, I believe, in the way your would think primarily.
I waited the storm out up on the bluff. In fact, I watched it roll in, my legs dangling down the. I could dip the tip of my sneakered foot into the odd calm of the milky substance, which had risen and then stopped. Already the bones began to surface, grim bubbles. The bluff, by then, underwater but for the slightly sloped steeple of grass under my exposed buttocks. The sun, on a string, hissed and stopped as it dipped slowly into the water then rose up out again to steam the air with the broth-y brine of bones.
So you see how I have failed and there is no one to see the drop of water fall from the rubber toe of my shoe — I have failed to populate the world — or hear it splash.
Mangled by Alan
Franklin’s leaving was quite the scene. The entire department was there when it happened, of course, busy at work on the new designs and intermingling gossip transcribed by the surreptitious glance and notion towards. We believed in bandanas for the week. Someone hashtagged that stripes were in. There was another storm coming, Felix squeaked from the mail room.
If the last four weeks were any indication of his dissatisfaction, I never knew. If his gentle retractions should have given him away, I didn’t look up from the page. The shape of his mouth, his jeans, the way he handled my jaunts into indifference. My stoic repose. My statuesque ingratitude. These are images I’m left with in his wake.
We come into this world shaken by love and we will leave it the same way someday.
Untitled by Bill
I swear it was a man in leather kit - full pants, and sleeveless coat with no shirt. But cheap, poorly made, and coated in plastics to preserve it like the couch in the living room of his father's apartment years back. He walked in on dad and dad's girlfriend naked and sweating crumpled together on that couch once. Now its the end of summer and grasping at the fall his hunter's garb lined foolishly with felt he sweats, a strip mall Safarian stalking a decent gelato in an urban jungle where fifty thousand tourists a day traipse un-eaten through well tended paths. His never sharpened machete only used on the hedges around his mother's house.
This is the middle, where it has to grind out. He simply looks as foolish as we all feel. The middle where nothing happens, where there has to be only the pounding pounding pounding of movement. The same movement, over and over again, again and again and again, like his father's hips moving up and down between that woman's legs with the skirt around her ankle.
Mom had asked him if he's seen the skirt, the black and white striped one, a couple days earlier. This was a few years before she shacked up with Byron just to cut through some of the loneliness of an abandoned cuckqueen, and then it was there dangling over the floor. There it was on the mannikin before he threw it or close enough, the same colors, dad's key that he still had turning in the lock until the act itself is meaningless and the heart, the love, is just pouring out of all of them.
The faces that you meet become featureless patients awaiting triage, their faces wrapped in wet linen clinging to their features and destroying any individuality, the human removed from the being except for the relentless communal eventuality. Sawdust soaking up the blood where he fell out of the window and cut himself.
Business by Forrest
When the monsoon rains come, the market street proprietors must bring in their mannequins quickly, or risk losing them forever in the flood. I have lost a few this way myself and, other than they are not cheap to come by, I have learned to rue the disappearance of each one more than those in this coastal province who mind their own business: a grandmother here, a six-year old there, what does it matter. They tell us during the funeral that it does. By that time, I've already spent most of the week, once the clouds have passed, searching for my lost mannequin and finding instead distant relations who I had thought been swept away during the previous flood, or another hapless bystander who went out photographing the downpour. It is sad and inevitable, yet very few things can be dressed up as mannequins suitable for a drowned town. I've tried broomsticks potted in pails of hard cement. Once even a distant relation, until someone reported me. It is sad and inevitable. There are some perfectly good mannequins around, waiting to help out. If only it didn't rain so much; then everyone in this forsaken tourist trap would mind their own business.
Untitled by Nicole
Today they are dragging the lake. You know, out behind that old house with the orange shutters that are falling off at the sides? The ones with the sun and moon painted on them? The police are out there now. I can see them from my window.
I am watching but I won’t look for too long. I don’t want to see when they pull it out. It’s more than old condoms and beer cans and lawn mowers thrown over the sides.
Today they are dragging the lake. Someone that looks like James’ brother is wearing diving gear. They have maps spread out on the hood of one of the cars. I can’t see the map, but I see where they are pointing.
I am watching from my window. Don’t worry. I don’t move the curtains and am only looking through the place where the fabric folds apart. Don’t worry. I won’t look for too long.
Today they are dragging the lake. There is a yellow crane and they are dropping something into the water that makes ripples. Like the bathroom wallpaper - big circles that move in and out when you stare and don’t close your eyes.
I’m watching and they pull it up. The water falls out of the sides and drains back into the lake. Your box looks different. The paint has peeled up. But I can still see the flowers I painted. The dark circle in the middle and each loop of petal as big as your hands.
Today they are dragging the lake. I can’t keep you anymore. I’m sorry, you know. I am. I’m watching but I’ll stop looking soon.