Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Virgin

Alone by Lyle

The Virgin slept. Wept. Crept throughout the vacant house. Her vacuous mind. The Virgin was no longer a virgin, abstinence and emptiness being not-quite the same thing. She had no thoughts. Her head filled itself constantly with tears. Then it became heavy with sleep and when she woke in the night on the floor she woke in puddles. The Virgin was alone. Immaculate conception. The Virgin did not dream. Her knees scraped on the floor and were scabbed. The Virgin did not dream.


Vows by Forrest

In leaving too soon, getting up and searching down the road for what he thinks is her, he forgets the other woman by his side. It is close to evening when he returns empty-handed, the same as his companion in plaster. The day keeps its promise.


The Best Lack All Conviction by Bill

There is no time out the other side. There is only this stuff condensed here in the middle, sometimes rich and sweet like angelcream and other times the milk's gone bad. Looking on, she sings the song, we’re on our way back home. Nothing worth knowing isn’t already written on our skin, the pluripotent stems talking to the world in the language of disease and demons, microbes and bacteria. Nothing worth the time it takes getting to the outside of the world, coursing a track on the rim of the atmosphere. The life we have in place is calling out cues on the falling action of our lives, afraid the climax is just pastiche in the end, a summation in detournemental existence taking life one groundhog day at a time.


The Poet by Alan

She was looking for the vehicle, a way to encapsulate the notion that whet the embers of her mind’s heart. Long afternoons in New England summers, uncut grass, the promise of new light. There are things that fray the maps of our inner architecture, transform mood, lift the veil so we can see again. And there are things that darken in this world.

In the front yard was a well, and on the walls of that well sat a little blackbird. She would sing to it, and it would sing back. There conversation would echo below for what seemed like miles. Miles of space always seem longer in blackness. The road is always longest when you can’t see an end.

Purity is one thing, but dedication is another. Purity the anchor. Dedication the boat. The yard shifted beneath her as she wrote. The tenor. The tenor. The tenor. The thing we all long for. The thing is singing. It perches and sings. “Hope,” she began to write (in little fences), “is the thing with feathers” and then dashed indoors.


Old Adirondak by Johanna

The red Adirondak chair my grandpa built has been painted three times. I know this because I like to curl into a ball in the chair's lap and lay my cheek on its back to look real close at the cracks where sun and hail have chipped away to the green below. And in well-worn spots like the arm rests you can see all the way to white. In the morning, I sit here like this and listen to my mother humming in the garden, her big hat shading her shoulders as she leans into the rake or shovel or seeds. The early sun feels good on my legs and glistens on the blonde fuzz of my thighs. I want to sleep here or stay here all day in anticipation of growing up.

In the afternoon, the arm rest is hanging from the chair where a nail came loose but I don't have any tools to fix it with. This patch of dirt my roommates call a yard is fenced in so completely that I could be anywhere except for the sounds of the neighborhood – barking dogs, yelling mothers, a gunshot or car backfire. I lean deeply into the chair and try not to think of the diner I have to go back to in the morning to wait tables for measly tips or my ex-boyfriend who keeps texting me threatening to kill my cat. I wish for my mother.

In the evening, I am taking a few moments to myself while the baby sleeps. I have painted the chair royal blue to match the front door of the house but it will not fit on my porch so I keep it down here by the steps. I have had three glasses of wine so far, maybe four, and I want another. I imagine my body lifting off from this blue wooden frame. I am finally feeling relief from the day's routine of laundry, cooking, washing, watching and the baby begins to cry. I ignore him. He continues to cry.

It is nearly dark now, but this is my favorite time to garden. It is cool enough for my loose skin that likes to hide from sunshine and heat. I am sitting on a plastic stool my son bought for me to help me better reach the vegetable beds. It wobbles when I lean in. I look up and see that old Adirondak. Broken in three places it still survives, kind of like myself. I can't sit in it anymore, can't get out of it, but I like to see it there, looking back at me. I pull at the weeds, pull and tug, resisting like the muscles in my back. Each one I pull away at clears the memories that seep in when I relax and begin dreaming. The weeds release their roots, the soil crumbles around them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


The True Story of Our Christmas Tree and Our Trailer Park by Marisela Chavez

Listen up, Son. This is why we hang our “Christmas Tree” in the sky from the crane every year:
Many many many years ago there lived a Man, right here on this land, the only person who could cut down the pine trees that filled this valley. He was very strong. See, this used to be a magical place before the Man pissed off a God.  Let me tell you how.

This man--we don’t know his name--was a good man, a nice man, if a little cocky, but who wouldn’t be? He had a power no one else did. He was the only person strong enough cut down these trees, as I said. Some say the power was God-given, which makes sense that it was likewise God-taken. This man cut down the trees and the others hauled them off and sold the wood all across the country. It was even shipped overseas! This land prospered from the wood because it was the strongest wood on Earth. It was a kind of magical wood.

One day, for apparently no reason, the God dropped in on the Man and asked him to find the loveliest tree, to chop it down and to leave the logs atop a little hill for the God to take. The Man said he would but he didn’t. He was distracted. You see he was in love and feeling like a God himself. So, the Man decided he wanted to build a new house made of the best wood to impress his lover, and instead of supplying the God with the wood from the loveliest tree, he left the God wood from the second loveliest tree, which, if you remember, was still nice-looking wood because all the wood of the forest was the best wood on Earth. But he wasn’t thinking straight when he picked the prettiest wood for himself.

Well you can’t trick a God for long. He soon discovered the Man’s betrayal when he saw the Man’s new house. That God who was once jolly became angry and set the entire forest on fire. Worse, he took the life force out of all the village men’s woodies, the ones in their pants, Son (this part of the story is reserved for listeners of at least 15yrs of age). The people cried and cried. They were out of work and poor and sexually frustrated ( ditto, listeners). They felt like they had nothing to live for. Someone suggested a mass suicide but first they decided to give it a shot and begged the God for mercy. To everyone’s surprise, the God was in a great mood and felt for the people. He granted them mercy under two conditions:

1. they never, ever for the rest of their lives and their children’s lives---and their children’s children’s lives, and on and on---build a house on that land. This is why we all live in trailers.
2. and, at the end of every year, each family must sacrifice to the God the most beautiful pine tree they can find. The God swoops in at night and takes the spirit from all the sacrificial the trees before they dry up and die.

The people all agreed to the God’s conditions and the curse was lifted. The forest grew back, but the wood from the trees was no longer the strongest wood in the world. It was mediocre wood. They didn’t care. They had their wood back. They celebrated--hard. The Man, however, never regained all of his strength. He never married and he died alone in his fancy house. Some believe the God only partially lifted his curse.

So this is why we light and hang our “Christmas Tree” in the sky--so the God can’t miss it.  It’s become a tradition other’s have adopted, but we do it for a more serious reason: We don’t want to piss the wood-giving God off ever again.


Steal by Forrest

I drive better angry.Mostly I’m done scraping tips together for bail—for that leer of her years ago as we tried pulling in. They almost took up the whole driveway. They were giving away our light above our roof at seventy-two feet.

Last late Christmas, thanks to Lindsay.

I recognized the crane operator by the height of the tree: big show-off. Before mom called the cops on him, Lindsay palmed his tiny things, mostly condoms. She’d put them on her bedstand. Then dice, shotglasses. Handful of white tree lights. For him on his left. And finally Mister Connected noticed all the other stuff.

Lindsay stuck up her hand like she could reach our door. Municipal notice. I slapped her down. I
slapped her. Got loud around there. There was nothing to sit on.

But it was mom already out by then. She had made a promise. It sounded worthless. I can’t even think of why she said it now.

There’d always be the neighbor’s guard dog keeping my sister at bay with a long smile in the steal of thinning dusk. How I’d helped make her think that was enough for her.


Hypersigil by Bill

I fell asleep in the middle of the dream raiding Tammany Hall, or maybe I woke up into a world where it had melted away rather than crashing like a freight train through history. There was the part of me that woke up and the part of me that awoke, and in the dream those two of me could meet for a time and confer and began building this place on the borders in the moonlight, falling out, struggling over it. It was six-sided and smelled terrific, and the two of us were joined by others, six in all.

A squirrel stared at me through the window. Beyond the squirrel for a moment there was a woman outside on the nice little park my apartment sits over wandering through the grass with one bare foot and one walking cast. I only saw her for a moment before she’d fallen out of sight but she hadn’t seemed in the best of shape. A light went up in the sky. Could have been anything, could have been nothing, and it might even have been both, revolving far out on the other side of the moon, ready to open up the moment we make contact and dose the world with anti-bodies.

Remade. From here on out birthers are taking a shot to the nuts, soccer-style stopper kick clearing it back to mid-field. This is your friendly neighborhood liberal warlord dealing out humanist progressive ideology with a battle-axe in each hand. Or download the bodhisattva construct onto one of the mind-sides, and on each side a universe boiling over with suns. I can’t say it the way it feels, as if I had to slip sideways in the light. As if I were tripping over shadows, learning to dodge out of the way of clouds passing across the dreaming sun.


Spirit by Alan

Spirit was quick as rifle when it came to sniffin’ out thieves. He could smell the desperation in their eyes, and before they knew, he was on top of them snarlin’ and growlin’ and making them wish they were four again and scared of loud noises beneath their windows. He was better than any alarm system because he would creep up on ‘em all quiet and ghostly. Silence is the best secret weapon. Ninjas know this. So do haiku poets. I swear if Spirit could write, he would pen something about a frog and the sound of water and splash splash splash. Shit. He’d win the poolitzer for it. All in one draft. One afternoon. Write the whole damn book. And you know what? He’d get bored of writing all day and come back home to protect Jesus’s trees. That’s a holy dog right there. He’s like the guardian angel. What’s his name? You know, the real silent one? Spirit loved his trees, especially when they were all decked out in lights. That dog would stare into the dazzle as if it were the Lord himself in them bulbs. Just for kicks we raised one in full glory high above the yard to see what he would do. We even asked Billy Bob to bring his camera to document the whole thing. Wouldn’t you know it – as if he felt we were playing some sort of experiment joke on him (or messing with the holy world) – Spirit turned and shot a look so pernicious, so sinister, that old Billy Bob clicked once, set his camera down on the fence post, and made a run for it like he had just seen the holy ghost.


2892C -- Log: 12/11/11 by Lyle

This one was strange. I know you don’t want the details but I’m recording them anyway. I won’t be back anyway. I arrived just after sundown, the light still scarring the horizon. The feet on the truck had been planted. Firmly planted as always -- make no mistakes there. Then I got to work. (Note: See work order in which the Processor wrote: “Purchaser requests nighttime extraction, silence and above all else discretion.”) You know I’ve done this all before. That I’m no novice. How many do you think I’ve done? And never a mistake that had to be fixed. I’m still shaken up. Excuse me. Probably didn’t have to go down this way. It was sprinkling but the extraction moved smoothly. Despite, I have to fucking say, despite the fact that it was lit. This was not in the work order. I would not have signed off on “discretion above all else” and “lit extraction material.” But you know that, I suspect. You know that. In the middle of it all -- a dog. Not that I don’t like dogs. I like dogs. It wasn’t the dog, per se. When it’s eyes lit up like the extraction material though I knew something was wrong. Someone had found me -- caught me. I know the procedure. You drilled it into me. As per Protocol 927 I took care of the situation. Everything is in the truck bed including my keys and security clearance. I know what this means. But you won’t see me again.

Status: Extraction complete.

Transmission terminated...