Monday, December 3, 2012

Spidey Sense

Spidey-Dirge by Forrest

Spider-Man, leave me the hell alone. I don’t care that your Spidey-Sense is tingling. That any part of you is tingling. Because I bought all your action figures without the luxury of kung-fu grip. Because I lost my best friend in the third grade in an argument over not differentiating the Green Goblin from the Hobgoblin. Because I sang mercilessly that you were the “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” during the 1970’s while my parents were considering divorce in another room. Because I never knew who Peter Parker really was until I grew up. Not the inconspicuous weenie who cared more about Aunt May and Uncle Ben than his All-American girlfriend. Not the good guy posing as a good guy who secretly wanted to be a good guy. A better guy.

So what of your bettering? You’ve probably already died in a dozen different ways with special limited edition covers and holographic authenticators of Marvel Comic quality assurance at five bucks a pop—only to be reincarnated later for another five. You donned a black outfit for awhile because that had to be soooo bad-ass. And some douchey-acting prick without a haircut played you in the latest sequel. I won’t be surprised if your next nemesis is yourself battling the bottle and the side-effects from Xanax abuse. Anything can be dressed up in scary colors for our entertainment now. They robbed the bank. You let them get away with it.

You can mope under my old bunk bed all you want, unitard-fucker. No one’s going to give you a parking ticket. No one sleeps there anymore. No radioactive spider under the pillow, either. You’ll see what kind of a childhood you can save when you don’t arrive just in time: something that resembled yours.


Hero Sandwich by William

The costume smelled like a pantry, like potatoes in a sack on the floor and celery seasoning but the smell didn’t matter. We’d tried this grift once before, setting up a tent and billing the chance to meet superman but it was just a short guy in Supe’s PJs. You were wrong when you said everything’s going to be alright.

The difference now was people could come in and sit on the little bench-bed we had set there and they could just stare at our guy in the costume and he’d just stare back, but if you waited five minutes, if you sat and stared at him for five minutes he’d tell you to take a picture cause it lasted longer.

Did you ever think about it he got sick? We took the idea from that Marina Abramovic thing where she sat in the chair and called it The Hero is Present (our thing was the hero, her’s was the artist) but he didn’t do anything heroic which we thought was the best gag about it all because he was actually really hungover and hated sitting there and would hug himself and rock with the shakes in between us letting people into the tent with him.


After the Storm by Alan

the subway tunnels were flooded with brackish water that sent everything underground up to the surface. What was once beneath and accustomed to great moans of night had its first glimpse of light. And the mingling, the slow getting used to, the initial shock.

I noticed the two rats climbing the stairs of the entrance at Union Square, how they squinted in the sun for a moment and sought for some downtrodden corner of familiarity/universe. Next to the well, wrapped in damp comforters and worn clothes, a man pulling red spots of alarm off his skin did not even flinch as they slipped in between the folds. I stopped to let him know. Offer a warning about what the darkness can release into the world. I urged that he be mindful, but did not acknowledge me either.


Spiderman's Mid-life Crisis by Johanna

Let's be honest, spiders creep people out with all those legs, crawling over furniture, hiding inside shoes. Spiders are generally disliked and no one wants to live with them. Anytime they see one, they wash them down the bathtub drain or suck them up with a vacuum. I can't blame them. Spiders bite and when they do, they're either tiny itchy annoyances or swollen painful bruises. Even a spider in the wild is a nuisance, leaving their webs suspended between two trees so someone can walk through them, squealing and thrashing to free themselves of dead bugs. Worse, I am a giant human-sized spider with a fancy costume. Everyone knows that the larger and more ornate the spider, the scarier they are. Why couldn't I embody something sexier like fire? I could have been shooting flames from my wrists instead of sticky webbing or had blades coming out of my knuckles. But, no. I had to be a giant fucking spider of a man.


Not quite a Sound by Lyle

Yeah, my Spidey senses were tingling but they were always tingling, y'know? Buzz buzz buzz. Hard to sleep at night, really. I suppose it was the sleep deprivation, now that I think of it. I was dog tired, actually. My bones hurt. Just a little rest. Just close my eyes for a minute, maybe? But then that tingling -- vaguely sexual in nature -- not quite a noise, not quite a feeling, would wake me back up. No REM. So I started putting on a costume, you know, in a sort of delirium and hopping from roof to roof.

The days are the worst. All the people everywhere with their not-very-savory thoughts that light me up like a Christmas tree (not quite a light, either). I tell you it's a curse, for sure. I remember one day I found myself on a school bus first thing in the morning. Now these are little kids mind you, but I was abuzz even then. No such thing as innocence. That's why I do parties now. No less exhausting but most people are cheery, or at least not thinking about the things they normally think about. The kids wear me out, but that sensation (I can't think of a better word for it) at least crawls to a stop. I'll take the noise any day. The noise and the constant battering from all those children. I still can't sleep at night, but there are those several hours of respite. There will have been, anyway I hope, before they drag off my corpse. And sometimes, if I think about it just right, even a moment to myself.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


For some reason the embed link to this video is not working (linking to a different video). So here's the direct link.
Video © Mike Celona

Partial Impressions of a City in the Rain by Lyle

The residents of this city are uncomfortable with their guardrails. They're on edge; not to be found out in the streets. There is a metaphysical slippage happening around them and this makes them feel sideways (or at least slanted [the stronger of them]). They watch out the windows behind the trees -- those black markers on lawns. "The suppression of language will always create a rift," the man on the radio says. The congregation claps. "The suppression of language is the elephant in the room that cannot be talked about but must be talked upon." "Or from," someone says from the audience to stunned silence. "Or from," the man on the radio repeats to thunderous laughter. Or around or toward or of or before. The metaphysical slippage enlarges and the residents of the city crystallize. Granulate. There is a general consensus of evil -- that language is a wide open field studded with tongues.


Courier Times by Forrest

Union Avenue

About where snow can start looking unlikely. Sometimes difficult knowing when rain freezes into it. Or when snow isn’t cold enough. I knew his neighborhood, even through ice on the windshield. Enough ice.

Church Street

Customers. If there’s anything that separates you and me, he said, it’s this: (tapping my arm hard, harder, driving slow with left hand, hitting, shoving, grabbing my neck, grabbing grabbing driving yet). Pussy.

Longnam Drive

I’m good. For all of it. He counts. I hear a number. Houses showing. He counts. There. Her. He hands over. Still driving. Stop asshole. He’ll push me out. Even through the windshield. I’m good. I hear rain.


Anticipation by Alan

The mind experiences a certain kind of tremolo when anticipating something. My writer friend brought up a scene recently. It’s the eve before a very serious storm in a large city. The authorities have instructed us to stay home. But when he goes out in the middle of the night, he sees in the dead of quiet a woman searching for some take out. “There is nothing open right now,” my friend says. She mumbles something obscene and rushes away. Afterwards, he gets into his car and drives all night. It begins to rain. He ends up outside the city limits. It’s true. There is no one in the streets. It’s an eerie scene. My friend told me the story was and still is very real. He told me from the road. He’s still driving. Waiting for something, that storm maybe. Always in front of it. Or behind. And in his head, those voices telling him about the precautions and other voices telling him to never be afraid.


Good Deed by Johanna

You barely noticed the man waving his arms on the side of the road until you passed him. It was dark and rain drops collapsed on your window faster than your wipers could heave to erase them. You strained to train your eyes on the single white line that bordered your path.

“Go back,” your wife insisted. You considered the hour, your child asleep in the backseat. You considered how fast a man in wet clothes could become hypothermic and how many good deeds you had accomplished that day. You nearly hit a boulder on the opposite shoulder while turning the truck around.

Your wife called to the man now inside his car, “What's wrong? Do you need help?”

“I'm stuck,” he called back.

You had four-wheel drive and a tow rope. You could do it in less than five minutes. You took another look at your daughter, the way her mouth fell open when she slept, just like her mother. Outside, the rain quickly dampened your t-shirt. You called to the man as you hooked the tow rope to his car and then to your own, “When you feel the pull, gas it.”

Your truck wavered over the wet pavement sliding tenuously toward the muddy shoulder until you felt the final jerk that set his car free.

He was grateful, too grateful perhaps. He slurred his thanks. You refused his money and the remains of a six pack sitting beside him in the passenger seat. Waving him ahead, you watched his tail lights swerve across the yellow lines as he headed over the mountain pass.

Back inside the warmth of your truck, the windows steamed over, the wipers still beating their rhythmic trance, you turned to your wife. She had been watching you, waiting to ask you, “What have we done?”

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Meatball by Bill

One's on the inside and one's on the outside. One's making the case and the other's losing steam, feeling run down, tired of the complaints from the moment they wake up and hearing the excuses when the others stop coming home. Calling it a washing machine is a bit of a stretch, and joking about it worse, and the water doesn't even flow into the basin clear anymore. Lights out before anyone see's the flame, and the air's all gone out of the horn calling them home to dinner.

One's on the up and the others on the side, double-olly at the skate park for the kids. It wasn't quite a single step in the wrong direction, it was more of a marathon. Several in fact, all away, every mile ever more removed.

Coming of age only in a novel and getting to the end without realizing the third age was mostly missing, but vitamins and minerals made up for it, borrowing against neglect with supplements and a bit of coaching, wondering finally if better brothers make better fathers, or would have, and still might, the all-father's street laying parallel to his wife one block over so there is maybe, in the final consideration, at least the fidelity of civil planners to sustain us.


Pondlife by Forrest

The only mystery is falling in—why no one has done so (to the best knowledge of campus lore), how we wish ourselves out of doing so. As a student, I had talked myself out of dipping so much as a foot in the pond on one occasion; during another, I walked a date around the perimeter, hoping to say something intelligent about the natural design of cypress roots in the Louisiana swamps. Both occasions I was egged on, the former by drunken friends, the latter by the sense of falling in. Instead, I only laughed at the relatively meager size of the still-developing gators, reminding my company how they were removed from the pond at a certain age before they became problematic. Gators falling in a new home, replaced with new hatchlings. The on-going harvest. I forgot my friends. I forgot my date. But the latest gators train their eyes on me about the same as their predecessors. The cypresses keep going nowhere but further down.


If I Am Not What I Seem to Be by Alan

What if I say to you that I am not what I seem to be? What if, after all this time, I am somebody else, some other thing? What if, instead of the dove, I am the predator? What if this world is a body of water and the trees the sky and all that’s illuminated on the surface this terrible and irrevocable lie? What if, after all this time, everything that was once still starts to move?

Our story might start to look like one that takes place in some muted green forest or swamp. There may or may not be sound playing in the most telling scene in which I surface transformed. 45 pregnant seconds after we go down as two, I come up as one. There may or may not be silence in the theater. There may or may not be people in the seats, but the movie of our story will play anyway if I am not what I seem to be.


Anthropophagy by Johanna

I began like this: smooth, peach, two-legged. Only yesterday, it seems, it was this way, leaning over counters, walking through doors, sitting in chairs. I wore galoshes in the rain, cowered under eves. I faintly remember a kiss, pink, soft, wet, but not like this wet, not damp and murky, but moist and warm. How can I forget? I thought about that kiss every waking moment, wondering where I had lost her, how she had enchanted me.

The change was slow, so slow I almost didn't notice, until the scales on my back reached over my shoulders. I hid myself indoors, listening to outside noises, cars, chainsaws, barking, but as my limbs shrunk and the green skin enveloped me, the noises no longer made sense. I crawled from my bed one morning to the hallway mirror. The transformation was complete, my eyes hooded and dark, my teeth long and sharp, my tail. I was trapped inside for days until someone came looking for me. I didn't recognize her though she called my name, at least I think it was my name. I knocked her over as I ran past, her screams echoing the length of the corridor. She will assume the obvious; I was consumed.

On the street, pedestrians jumped from my way. My feet and my nose, my skin and my tongue, all lead me to this marsh where I dove in, mouth open, and swallowed everything in my path. Now, I covet the dark, the shallow mud, and cattail reeds. I am awaiting her return. She will know where to find me, but will I still remember?


Finally by Lyle

It was that smug look that set me off finally. I mean that I was set off primarily by that smug look. Or that that look, after everything else, set me off. Or started to set me off and then pushed me over the edge. It was a fluid motion, my being set off. Calm, calm, calm… you know. And then, but not like I didn’t have my dander up to begin with. Or at some specific point in time. There was a tipping point. Always I’m angry but boiling, blood angry? Something must have pushed me. There was a tipping point. I don’t remember exactly when or I wouldn’t be. Floating here. This floating world of rage. And nothingness. The calm waters of perfect reflection. So peaceful. So smiley. I was not set off by any looks. Such an inward calm.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Normandie Lounge

Conflagration of Matter by Lyle

It wasn't the darkness so much as the darkness of the mahogany, the rustic oriental rugs, their patterns mashed together in a glowering silence. It wasn't so much the shock of light from between the heavily pleated curtains than the texture of the heavily pleated curtains, warm and matted like the fur of a feral bear (such imposition on light). It wasn’t so much the how as it was the why and the when. When and where most importantly. That particular day in that particular place. The rug, the curtains, the imposing desk. The imposing desk. The imposition of it all. Who had been behind that desk just a moment before? What would they possibly have been doing there? Were they hunched over work, their own shadow suppurating, oozing over the flitting shimmer of a fountain pen? Mere flights of fancy, flickering opulence, compared to the weight of the desk, the curtains, the rug (if there had indeed been anyone and their ideas there).

It was not the clarity of the glass so much as it was the opacity of death, the child ablaze amidst such reflection. The wisp of smoke that cannot be held.


Normandie by Forrest

In a day and a night I drank myself into sleep, into a room without light. In this room was you, I hope. In you may have been the winter I look for. When it is winter I always find myself at this hotel, and I am always meeting someone at the lounge since I resemble a business. A winter is an enjoyable thing when one has a drink with it; but then I must be meeting someone, even if nobody is business as well. A winter drink is more enjoyable with you whom I know and not her, whom I know less. With her it is admiring the black marble bar with its strong latitude, and it finding her fingers away from the drink. With you I see your fingers are curling into the snow winter leaves for the last person remaining. The lack of sameness is not disturbing to any of us should we all happen to lounge here at once. We have not been formally acquainted with each other’s experiences, and this hotel is slowing. I know this drink. The vintage where never enough must be my winter.


Applicable and Dark by Alan

He lived in some poet’s home outside of Brookmere. It was a museum in fact. A national historic site. And he was looking for a roommate.

A curtain is a kind of collapse of the soul. Because exhaustion, unlike a season of Birch and precipitation, clings like a muted flame in encasement, he’d wait everyday by the window whispering the name. The tall stranger he’d met at the landing. He had told him about his library and left an address.

A world of lettres might never be the same if only…this type of thing through a window of the heart. The heart a pulsing but too often quiet room. Repose, another country.


Agnes Martin, 1994, Taos, NM by Johanna

One day the snow fell six inches deep and the world was blanketed in white. Dog crap and mud puddles disappeared beneath the soft crystal winter fleece. The dilapidated mobile home next door and the abandoned Chrysler at the end of the road glittered, disguised in a serene mound of white and light. Wilting flowers, crackling grasses, dried out weeds, now powder blossoms and fluffy cloud sprouts. The world let out a sigh, ugly had been banished.

Agnes answered a phone call from a friend telling her that she missed her and, as she watched the snow falling outside, everything appeared perfect, pure and clear.

After that, Agnes painted white, everything white, perfect lucid canvases of white stripes on white. She painted into the spring and when summer came, she rested, the flowers and their wild decadence making a mockery of her peace.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Metal Tree

Heavy Metal by Alan

The dude dug the stuff so hard that he lived it, man. He was totally and completely in it, like full on. Sucked into the vortex, bro. Heavy metal kid. That’s what they called him. He lived right over there. There’s his yard. That’s the Pacer his parents got him. First car. There’s where he first split his head open. There’s where he lit fireworks off of Esty’s ass. And there. That’s the tree. It’s rad, bro. Never seen nothing like it before. His parents flipped when they woke up to it one morning. Like Jack and the Beanstalk, dude, only totally metal. The story is he totally climbed it, and people haven’t seen him since. He had his headphones on, someone said, and this weird psyched look on his face. In the zone. Feelin’ it. Taking off, man. He just took off. He lived the dream, dude. That shit was like a dream, man. Shit, I’d go, if I didn’t have work and shit. You know. Whatever. Fucker is probably hard to climb anyway.


Colloidal Silver by Johanna
  1. The liquid silver came in like the tide, slow enough to go unnoticed except for the shifting boundary of shore line or, in this case, forest line. 
  2. The forest had been dying from the beetles and blue stain fungus long before the wave of silver splashed against its conifers. With no known cure, the people in the village below could only watch as each year more and more trees browned from beetles furrowing beneath the bark. 
  3. The Pine Beetle used to be an important part of the bio-system, killing off dying trees to make room for new growth. With warmer winters, they had become a nuisance, sticking around longer than necessary, feeding off healthy trees. 
  4. Even still, it was the instinct of the villagers to try to save the already dying forest from being completely coated in a film of silver. How would the plants and animals survive without nuts and berries, flowers and chlorophyll?
  5. But how do you clean trees of liquid silver? The elders suggested baking soda which was good at cleaning most anything, but no matter how much they scrubbed the silver trees, the liquid only mutated, shifting beneath their brushes so that when they were not touching it, it returned to the space it previously filled.
  6. The villagers, exasperated and hopeless, could not deny that there was something beautiful about the way the pink light reflected off mirrored bark at sunset and the swishing noise their boots made when they walked through it.
  7. What could they do? They decided to start marketing their town as a tourist attraction. Come see Silver Forest. Be enchanted by Silver Forest. See yourself in Silver Forest.
  8. But soon they noticed, just as fast as the silver came in, it began to ebb out until it had run down the mountainside, into the river and was gone before scientists even had a chance to speculate where it had come from.
  9. It must have come from the mountains like a spring welling up from deep within the earth. Silver ore must have heated up within the core or while suspended over an underground lava flow. All interesting theories.
  10. Weeks later, the villagers and scientists alike noticed something else. The blue stain fungus and the beetles had disappeared completely. The silver worked like an antiseptic and cured the trees. Even those dying recovered. 
  11. It was a miracle. 

Flash by Lyle

Such an ERECTION!                 Ahhh —
                                   skyward. Rise. Tear at the sky. Rend at the pornographic clouds until they are mere misty tatters that fall to the ground in sprinkles. Gouge at the moon like metal capillaries. Sparkle in the sky like...

Sparkle? Shine? Contract. Such a tumescence… petrified? putrified? Into... metal? And now has divided and split in multiplicity, the opposite vacuity of earthquakes. And I am buried in the ground. Now I see that the clouds are much, much higher than I supposed. The blood is all gone from my brain and I sink farther into the ground under the weight. Until there is nothing left of me. Nothing left of me. Me.


Walden Revisited by Forrest

Should one take Nature too hard on the surface of things signalled, the grotesque he wrote of while frightened of babies, would it reflect back in synapses, in the varnish of entrails or embryonic fluids? I think it would grow instead from the “I” I have desposited here, in you; and now seeing yourself extend back into empty skies, part and particle, you understand what I could not while settling into my notes, waiting to write something you will never see me in—a house, for instance.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Photo © & courtesy of Darren Bokor 

Sometime Doll by Forrest

Doll. A doll. A doll face. Not a doll face. Sometimes not a doll face. Sometimes not a doll face looking. Sometimes not a doll face looking around. Not a doll face looking around. Not a face looking around. Not a face around. Not a face. A face. Face. 


Her Best Ought to be Good Enough by Bill 

On the road the excuses are genuinely a terrible bother to crunch, the gravel kicking up around your arms, eyes squinting in the sun but it is mostly all the same brand of story, which some would call a lie, and others a framing of the reference. Blame both of them for where they come from or just let them be. There wasn’t anyone here immediately before us but there are bones around, so keep it and hold and press it to yourself like a child. 

Are one’s battles are best left waiting? Tell them to meet you in a diner while you go out to a bar across town? Is it better not to fight if it means you’ll never lose, or will it happen whether you’d wish it or not. Weave. Wove. Wow, wonders all over again stretched across your skin, tables out in the nighttime with all our sky overhead. 

Splinter post breakups, hard edges for the hardliners hardheaded holdouts for the dawn. Fait accompli. 

The old man with the dead star for an eye, and the old woman with a train that circled inside of her mouth across from you on the subway. Outside again in the rain letting it fall around and upon you watching a young girl wrapped in only a green sari spin in the middle of the sidewalk with arms outstretched into the storm as the silk clung to her body, alight in her dizzy trance feeling the world wind away, she the mainspring revolving away the tension of the planet, taking the tension off of gravity, baba yaga in the younger aspect atop the spinning dreidel of the forest spirit. Signs and wonders watching young parents stare wide eyed through an infant. 

Save the cat. Please. At the very least, save the cat. 


The Interview by Alan 

When something looks manipulated in that early 21st century way, he tends to suffer a simultaneous sense of disbelief mixed with terrific delight. “I think it’s the juxtaposition of things or, what did they use to call it, the ‘layer’ on top of ‘layers’?” he asked me when I interviewed him not long ago. There was an element of mischief in his voice. The ball had already been set in motion. He was all over the feeds. Not because of the fire. Not because of the dumpsters/junkyards/abandoned domiciles. Humans were interested because he actually worked with the physical: dolls, bottles, iron…grass even. Here was an artist not interested in the virtual but rather with actuality. Things over ideas. Or the ideas in things. “There used to be many of us,” he said. “I have outlived them all.” He was 27. This is only one of the things from our conversation that resonates when I look at the image of his work today. 


Airhead by Johanna

Puffs of stuffing fell out of holes in my seams before my cold skin hardened slowly like chocolate shell. My brain went all googly like my eyes when I had eyes to see – the slow lopsided shudder, the black speckled blue of my iris suspended in plastic glass. I prefer it this way, truly. Empty-headed can be so refreshing, except for the eerie sense that I am forgetting something. 

I remember certain things – lollipops, shade trees, spiders, writing with pencils, dog kisses, swinging until my toes touched the sky, the smell of blue nail polish and black markers, a photograph of the sea, the windows rolled down in the car, someone telling me I'm pretty. Pretty doll. Now, I am nobody's baby. I don't know what fault brought me to this wasted lot, strewn amongst the trash, translucent and perched on the neck of a milk jug #2, but I prefer it this way, truly. Empty-headed can be so refreshing. 


Baby Bottle, Baby Bottle --- Cracked My Head on a Rusty Can by Lyle 

And now I think I'm delirious. Crazy as all hell. I can feel that rust creeping into my blood. Oxidizing the iron in my blood. I feel strong for just a minute but I'm not so sure that it has anything to do with the oxidation process. Probably more to do with the wound in my head. Perhaps this is what the trepannated feel. Liberation and then emptiness.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Photo © & courtesy of Nicole Provencher

Road Dream by Nicole Provencher

I am driving through the desert. It is hot and the cotton fabric from my t-shirt is wet and wadded against the small of my back. In the seat next to me my husband rests his elbow on the ledge of the car window. He is grinding his teeth and refusing to look in my direction. We left all conversation somewhere between Nevada and this stretch of highway 50. The strangeness of our silence blends with the images blurring past my driver’s window. I see a fifteen foot tall wooden nickel half fallen into the sand, 1,000 shoes perched in the branches of a tree, a gnarled buzzard ripping the entrails from something once warm and covered with fur, and finally a trio of high school boys pissing on a curb.

The gas station looks passable. We need directions. I watch his face in the passenger side mirror. We sit in the car for a full minute before he acknowledges me in the reflection and fumbles with the door handle to exit the car. He walks toward the door of the gas station and stretch my legs, rolling my ankles back and forth as they pop. In my rearview I see trio of boys walking into the lot. One of the boys raises his chin in the direction of the store. The others quicken their pace.

They catch him as he is coming out. The first boy pushes him up into a wall. The drink in his hand appears to float before falling, creating liquid branches in the sand at his feet. The second boy shoves a palm into the back of his head, catching hair in a fist and snapping his head back. He rolls my husband chest first into the wall and presses his neck against the rough seams of the brick. I watch and cannot move. The backs of my legs itch against the vinyl of the seat. I hear only one sound when the third boy moves something into his side and moves the body to the ground. The boys run into the desert. They disappear into the sun.

Later I would dream of the same stretches of road. A fifteen-foot tall nickel, shoes rocking in the wind, the gnarled buzzard, three boys, and what could have been, but was not quite, a sound.


Republican America by Lyle

Mother ballooned up in the summer 1987. Reagan stepped up the war on drugs in 1986 making mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offences. I don’t mean ballooned figuratively. Father, a good ole boy to be sure, had “accidentally,” as the story goes from the rather one-sided perspective, jabbed her with a some kind of needle connected to a tank of helium. What were they doing with helium? The prisons were filling up with people arrested on drug-related charges. Many were non-violent offenders. That’s the story my father told to his sheriff buddy: “I tripped with the thing in my hand and... it just happened so fast.” Reagan was in office for eight years. My father never shed a tear and neither did I, always the obedient son: inculcated, indoctrinated, inseminated. My father still tells the story of his wife, the Democrat, and the canister of helium. Kaboom, he says.There’s never a dry eye in the house.


Preside by Forrest Roth

They kept the stockyard of American Presidents forever full, lined by barbed wire, under lock and key. From a distance you could still see Reagan first, then Kennedy, then Washington and FDR and others jostling for favorable position, then a hidden assortment of the better-knowns, the lesser-knowns, the mostly forgotten, the terminally mediocre, and the non-existent. Was McKinley despondent because everyone wept for Lincoln in a theater while he was merely killed on a promenade in Buffalo? Could Carter dream of toppling the Ayatollah in Tehran with a gung-ho squad of Navy SEALs? Did Nixon wish he had Teddy’s big stick during the lonely hours of evening? Would William Henry Harrison ever find himself? When we cared to write our papers about them, our teachers had told us, “Stand there. Be in their presence. The topics will come through the chain-link fence.” And so they did, but we felt the need to shower instead before returning to class empty-handed. We were academic failures and miscreants. Disrespectful. Unworthy. But the American Presidents were all out there, we protested without success, awaiting the casual visit of our flashlights. We could be students of the ceaseless yet.


Over It, With or Without by Bill

Isn’t that made to wonder, with awe set to scale growing as the proportions strain out, leaving a viscous paste on the bottom on the bowl. I won’t get inside of your head. I don’t want to take anything away from this, using the puddles at your feet to wash clean my short term memory so I never have to think about it because you are getting too good at this and I need to live, which i can’t do with that awareness taking up the floor of my brain’s living room. You’ve already set fire to one bookshelf in there and flipped over my desk. I’m pretty sure you’ve been reading my signed comics, since there are smudges on the bags and the tape is torn. Time meant never having enough furniture. No, it didn’t actually mean that, how could it? Where would time put a chaise lounge? How many crystal punch-bowls could you possibly hope to keep track of once you start storing them in extinction event limestone cave bunkers?

Madness is a brain full of hope, saturated by blindly impotent will and encased in a rose-colored case sitting atop an ivory pedestal in front of a waterfall. Upstream is a missile plant and the turtles are so full of PCBs they have to be declared toxic waste sites. That tingling you feel when you bath in the pool isn’t a mystical healing solution so much as hydrochloric acid. All of your turbines are coated in soot and all of your tears have more sodium dioxide in them than saline.

The future to you is essentially a sandwich. It’s lunch. It’s being caught up in the middle of the day and not wanting to make much of a fuss so you slap a couple pieces of bread around someone’s dreams, spread a little of their past around it, and dip in a soup you had made from their ambitions and the sweat of their brow. You leave half the sandwich uneaten and wait until it has grown stale before you throw it out. When the cleaning lady comes in to empty the trash you grope her, and slap her across the mouth because you thought she looked at your shoes, then you settle back down in the fine leather chair behind the desk and get back to work.


The Head and the Fence by Alan

The head rose above the fence in broad daylight, and it was (not only for this particular head but also for all the heads like it in its general vicinity) a kind of daylight that might make a person cry for, indeed, these heads had not seen daylight for quite a long while. No. These heads had not suffered capital punishment but rather punishment for the capital and of the capital, and for this reason, these heads were special heads. And for this reason, quite a long time is a relative statement understood only by a person (or a head) on a certain side of the fence.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Niccolo Athens :: Piano Trio

This month we decided to do something a little different. We used a short musical piece on which to base our stories. It's a piano trio by the talented, young Niccolo Athens.

Niccolo Athens :: Piano Trio

Reminisce by Johanna

She stepped onto the train and into the future, but her past refused to join her. She tried to coax her past forward with promises of success and spiritual growth, but the past refused, rooting herself in youth. She progressed with the future, establishing a stable marriage, two kids and a lucrative career. But in the past, she still worked as a barista at the coffee shop on Capitol Hill. Though her future self had broken up with that drunken tattoo artist years ago, her past gave him another chance, and when it looked unlikely to succeed, she wove him with fantastical merit. He became more handsome, intelligent, kind and adventurous until her future self began to wonder if she had made an awful mistake breaking up with him.

The past built a house of animal bones and peacock feathers and wove clothes of rainbow silk that she harvested from her worms. She made mulberry wine and sold it for gold. In the future, she could only reminisce, full of regret for the life she could have had.

One day, very much in the present, she called the past to a meeting, hoping to reconnect, but the past appeared more ragged than she remembered, more plain. The past was settling in around her. Their chairs hard and their coffee cold and bitter. She soon lost interest in this unlikely self, disappointed that she was no more than who she was.


Wisteria by Lyle

The wisteria vines outside my window on the second floor snarl and explode in the scent of purple. It is late spring and already hot but I have my window open because I can hear the buzz of bees that way. The sun warms my face, the beginnings of sweat beading on my forehead; I have pulled the chair up to the window, my knees against the wall, my hands on the window sill, rough, cracking paint against the softness of the palms of my hands, which tingle just so from only now having washed my coffee cup, my bowl, the hot water and abrasion of steel wool. My day is over. My day is just beginning. Light glow of orange, an umber perhaps, from the beams against my eyelids always closed. Suddenly the sharp chirp of a cardinal and everything goes stunningly silent. The heat is gone and I am divested of myself.


The Other by Forrest

Let’s give me a taste. Let’s give me in, he would say. There were other ways saying this he would not say, but it was too late. She had tasted him. She had given him in. And instead of something she would not say in return, there was another taste letting her give her a him he would say in the other ways.


Nickel Time by Bill

We live in a strange world made stranger by our memories. Time spits chance out of its memory, gravity dragged along and stretched too thin or compressed too high. Gravitational equations map to boring curves until you pull a dense magnetic field upon them. Music dropping you below the map inside of your mind, down into the caves hiding shiftships and an armory of weapons fashioned from the bones of gods while open windows on the world tell you more than you need to know about your neighbors and the earbuds you bought because they were cheap buzz buzz buzz letting you stay aware of your station.


Your Scene by Alan

There are curtains in this scene that fall extemporaneously over windows pulsing with light. Outside there’s a sidewalk, a patch of grass, and yards of street. There’s a child on a bicycle. When you get a closer look, you’re relieved to find that you don’t know him.

You decide to step outside into the weather and almost feel like you forgot something. But rather than turn around, you go forward without further hesitation. This decision might be informed by the fact that you feel the pressure of a time frame.

Some kind of desperate longing hums inside you. It’s the fear of conflict raising its ugly head again. You’ve been through this. You always do everything to avoid it, want everyone to like you to a certain extent because you like everyone. You really want to. But you know that may seem an artifice in a way to others and perhaps even to yourself.

The child is gone but there are lawns. You continue to not look back, but it’s difficult. In the middle of this thing now, you can only attempt to shape it. Make a statement. Something like, “I wish I could get over this,” or “How did I get here?” But again, nothing comes out. The morning or afternoon can be any morning or afternoon and your suffering any and all suffering.

Don’t look back. This is the beginning of adulthood. You can title it “Growing Up” or you can wish it never existed. Why is everything so stately and robust and so full of whispers? The whispers, you think, yes, that’s it. Go to the whispers. They will tell you that the others aren’t talking about you. They’re talking about justice and what’s right and what’s wrong and that when you take a stand some people may get hurt. And so, this is what hurt looks like. It makes other people hurt and writhe and twist and incessantly wander the outside.

This conversation you’re having in your head is not always good for you. Today, sure fine. But tomorrow. The next day. When will it end? When you step back inside yourself, a home? But what will be there if not emptiness and despair? Despair. Such a 19th century word.


Check out Et in Arcadia Ego, another wonderful musical piece by Niccolo Athens, and an article (including a short interview) from WNET New York Public Media about a composition. He also has a new website.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Super Frog by Alan

Super Frog ducks the angels. He doesn’t have time for that kind of stuff. Sure, they spy on him with their holy surveillance mechanisms, but Super Frog doesn’t pay them no mind. His missive is to fight crime. Evildoers beware. S is for Save. F is for freedom. In the dark alleys. In the moral ambiguities. In the in between. That’s where Super Frog lives. Wherever there is injustice, you will find him. Wherever there is suffering, he’ll be there. Wherever liberty is threatened, you will find…Super Frog.


Francisco by Johanna

The desert rains came hard and fast that spring, a sudden rush of precipitation that flooded cracked wash basins and resurrected arroyos in one day. The Salton Sea splashed over the lip of dykes and sent the salty farm chemical waters into the Borrego. With it, tiny tadpole spawns that knew nothing beyond murky puddles, dripped into the arid back-country where they settled in the shallow indentation of an old pack rat's hole. There amongst the shiny things – a sequin from a baby shoe, a chip of abalone, a vending machine ring – only one tadpole survived the evaporation of lengthening days. Not merely survived, but evolved as if the universe depended on such things. There is no way to know for sure if that frog realized it was different from any other. He had no parents, no mentors, no examples, only an urge. But the first day that frog spread his reptilian wings and took flight, it rescued a coyote from a rattlesnake advance and Francisco the Super Frog was born.


I Spy with My Little Eye Something that Is Gold by Lyle

A bell, he responded. Around that flying toad. Dumbass.


Tunnel by Forrest

My son and the milk carton viewfinder. These two were never meant to be separated. Because the kid won’t let go of it—that is, he won’t let me wash his head during bathtime out of fear of loosening the duct tape around his head. He sleeps with it on. He goes to school with it on. He eats meals with attempted precision of fork-to-mouth. But, of course, I’m more than welcome to navigate him through our home while his peripheral vision has been completely negaged.

I’ve reached the point where I want to confess to him, “We never talk anymore.”

I’ve reached the point where I want to call her and say, “Look, our son has given over his life to a milk carton viewfinder—what do I do here?” And probably she’ll only say, “Your problem.” And unlikely she’ll say, “Therapy.” Though most assuredly she’ll say, “Your problem, and you’re welcome to it.” She knows my feelings often succumb to the occasional validation.

“Your mother says you’ll go blind with that thing on,” is what I want to say to him instead. To instill a slight fear. Then again, he may already be blind. I can’t tell what’s going on in there. 

I put up some crazy-looking paper mache flying frog in the living room, an Indonesian clearance item from the World Market. I want to test a theory. The kid parks himself underneath and trains the viewfinder on it. Stays there for hours on end. I go to bed before him that night, and he’s still there in the morning, sitting cross-legged in perfect contemplation of the object.

“What do you think of the frog?” I ask him while looking up from my cereal. “I might get rid of it—looks too silly up there.”

He gets up awkwardly. A moment to stretch his legs. He swings the viewfinder at me with my spoon suspended in mid-air, and I, unable to take a bite with him watching, search for anything moving about all the way at the end that will let me move again.


AMP'D by Bill

The seas dark and reminding the mirrors of the great old ones slumbering. Back is forth, hands circle light inscribing fourth walls all falling down. It’s so relieving in the seattle scene, off and odd then off and on and off again working in a factory making coal-fired political pottery. The call for the ticket, dropped into the fish tank outside to hide from the sharks. The trains are lonely; three back of the line in a bad order - an incontinent old man leading off. The loss is in the heart and the mind seeks out the phrases and the hymns that cast down the eyes.

The street with the soundtrack of life in the ear, tiny little spheres of the future wedged into ears granting mood and atmosphere, but only ever reflecting what is and what was sacrificed, cut from the core, carved from the heart, leaving the scarred wings and the gnawed legs on the plate instead of taking them home for the dog.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Red Room

Orange & Yellow by Forrest

There was a room something like a room so very red she stayed in wanting to read in, and in there, somewhere, as what could be seen through the window, she read as if the something like a room had two windows overlapping the first and foremost, not seeing the person watching her reading as if she were reading, as if she were in a room otherwise so very orange, until the person not seeing any reading now saw the yellow cloud above her head, above something like a fine litter of pages from her wanting hand.


Deployed Upon that Plain by Bill

Rooms smell of the body in repose, in response, in rage and blithering delirium. Rooms smell like the tiniest portion of blood a cutter allows to spill. Smelling like cheap beer sweat, recovery sports drink, and greasy chinese food. Waste basket basketball played without a round-rimmed receptacle, just kind of tossing shit where for and letting it be two points. Eyes red from lack of sleep or herbal infusion camouflaged in a blood meridian wash across the glass. The creaking of bodies stiff jointed with blood clotting in the lower portions of their legs, bodies in heat and who puts a giant pane of glass up in a space clearly designed to allow for frustrated spontaneous carnality? Still, ghosts of gratuitous grunts and groans still linger have no doubt, joining dull head-to-desk thumps over consideration of early colonial American alcohol consumption and the quadrahedrial crystal lattice structure of silicates. The sound believes itself being spoken into existence, buffets the wall of dead air channeled soundproof construction and dies. Redrum of sound. Red room where sound goes to die. The Reading Room.


Reading Room (A Short Novella in 5 Acts) by Alan 

“The third person is inherently limited because…well, indeed, it is a small room.” Professor Lufowski paused as if to soak in the thought.

Randall shifted his way through the garden outside the library strategically overstepping the newly-planted begonias but not without the suggestion of mass extermination Godzilla-style.

Midnight on campus. Where else could they make out and anything that follows?

Nabokov dazzled Helena, and she in turned dazzled all that spied her, reading Lolita, alone (hardly), in the bookstore, across the street.

The questions grew larger (like a flock of birds or a plane getting closer) before they broke off (like the necklace around Si’s neck) and were lost to her (but not to someone else) for approximately 5 years until they circled back and were found and were, subsequently, lost again.


Red Room by Johanna

R stared at the door to the room. She could see the red light shining from behind the window shade. She was waiting for her husband. He had entered the room an hour ago to fill a prescription for anti-fungal cream. Her mother exited the room. She nodded at R. R watched her leave down the long hallway. Still no sign of her husband. Her brother exited the room. He stopped to ask her what she was doing there. “I'm waiting for J,” she answered. “Oh,” he responded and exited down the long hallway. Her sister walked out of the room. R asked her what she was doing there, “I went for a run,” she said, “I needed some exercise.” “Oh,” R said. Her sister left down the hall, sneakers squeaking against the vinyl tile. R checked her watch. Her son walked out of the room. “I didn't know you were here,” R said.

“I had to take an algebra test,” he answered.

“How did you do?”

“Okay, I guess.”


She watched him bob down the long hall, books under his arm. She began to feel hot. Sweat dripped down the back of her knees. She tapped her heel on the floor to calm herself but it only made her feel more anxious. She stood and stared at the door. “Where is he?” she asked the door. “How should I know?” it answered. “That's it,” she said, “I'm going in.” R opened the door to the red room and went in.


Dimensions (by Lyle)

Red reading room: 6’x5‘x10’.

300 cubic feet mostly of air but also including a desk, a very shallow shelf, two chairs, my orange juice, my papers laid out in order on the desk and me (this room is filled with my thoughts — it is the perfect size for that). There is also a plaque that reads


Red reading room: 6’x5‘x10’...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Bottle by Lyle

Had I considered that I was on an island (and you will rightly object that I must have known) I would have reconsidered it as the location for the dinner. I set up the table while my companion strung the lights from the palm trees. The boat was moored along the other side of the island but, despite being able to traverse the island in a matter of a couple of dozen steps, hidden by a small copse of palm trees (the very ones my companion decorated). Once I had set the table I took several photos and gave the camera to my companion who left me to wait for my girlfriend’s arrival. She never came though the high tide did. As the water rose, the palm leaves suddenly looked too seaweedy. This is a drawing of the photo I liked best. It is from memory:

It’s not very good. The shadows are all wrong.


Plurality by Forrest

That shade of her, coming to clear and only again. That setting down, sitting down, all around of her: the good sport. She would set the table and I made the meal. Once, long before that, I made the table from beams of wood and she set the meal elsewhere away, somewhere off to the immediate side of her side. If we ate that meal, it was while I worked and she ate with someone else inside her inside—hence the third person indeterminate. One uses the fork, one uses the knife, and one uses the reflection of utensils against each other, caught in time sparingly for the last evening light.


The Latter Days of the Golden Boy by Bill

I’ve got my train up to speed running through the Discworld. The whole series of books stacked next to my bed, which is a deflated air mattress thrown onto the floor of this ‘loft’ in a converted warehouse and there is a red light in the corner of the ceiling that I cannot reach which never goes off. There are times it looks like glowing watermelon, as if the summer’s in this moisture saturated concrete masoleum of manufacturing will not be vibrantly maleficent. The books at the bottom of the stack are leeching up the fluids, and when I think about how few of those fluids might be water the light turns into a dim, far-away sun, weak and dying just barely able to sustain itself and much of its solar system long long ago having plunged into the near absolute zero range as the void surrounding them sucks the heat like giant wasps raiding a beehive, crushing them into solid, unmoving death. I can’t bear to look at the light directly then, and only chance to glance askance lest it finally, fatally, goes out for good.


“MIAMI” + “SOUTH BEACH” + “UFO” by Alan

UFO delivers final hours of... 

BULIC - 2 hours ago

“I think, …makes it alright to believe in such things as UFOs because, ... famed Professor Reginald George of the University of Florida, …

Crew flee as boat smashes against…

EIGHTmsn - 13 hours ago 

... the northern wall of the Seed Bar on the New South Collins border, ... the breakwall at, … near Null Heads, … Eight News reported.

UFO sightings off the charts worldwide in wake of historic solar storm

BULIC - 5 days ago

Locals here at this popular UFO sighting location at Salient Point -- and down the state coast at nearby, … said they “breathed an, …

Gold Coast police find French man's body

EIGHTmsn - 18 hours ago

... at Fisherman's Cove at Main Beach about 8pm (EST) on Sunday, police say, ... it could be anything from an underwater Stonehenge to a crashed, ...

I Shall Be Released: A New Beginning

NewCityBeat - Oct 6, 2023

... Idlewild East in 1998 and the nearly inconceivable heights achieved by, .... of similarly inspired friends have turned their love of The Beach Boys, ...

Stay up to date on these results:
Create an email alert for “miami” + “south beach” + “UFO


Almost Outside by Johanna

Writers write about coffee shops because that is where they spend their time writing. Writers believe coffee shops make them more productive even after spending ten minutes discussing the differences  between espressos, cappuccinos and machiattos with the barista who went to coffee college. Writers believe they are more productive in coffee shops even after spending ten minutes pretending to type while they eavesdrop on a couple of tourists speaking in Spanish about how this town is overrated and they should head back to Santa Fe. Writers like the way Spanish people say Santa Fe, putting the accent on the first syllable instead of the second. Writers like to hide themselves inside of their characters, illuminating the things they would otherwise keep to themselves. Writers in coffee shops hate the way the sunlight through the window creates a glare on their laptop screen. Writers in coffee shops like the way the sunlight through the window makes them feel like they're almost outside. Writers are almost outside, like the reflection of street signs in their utensils. Writers prefer to write in coffee shops with wooden stir sticks instead of reflective utensils.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Texas 287

Christmas Light Larger This Year by Johanna

The light of Christmas was larger this year according to holiday researchers. As usual, women toiled through the menial but loving tasks – baking, wrapping, addressing envelopes – while men forged ahead with warrior stamina amongst the forthright commercialism of the dark side. Even with so large a light, Christmas remained dim as people everywhere borrowed from the light to feed the darkness.

Even Santa Claus was unable to resist the dark forces. Giving the elves the year off without pay and blaming it on the recession, he opened a factory in Chengdu where he didn't have to provide employee health care. “No one believes in me here anyway,” Santa Claus said about his move to China.

The Obama Administration called a state of emergency. “The little light that remains will have to be protected from the well-intentioned but prolific screenwriters of Hallmark Christmas movies, in order that future generations of Americans might still be able to enjoy it,” President Obama said during a press conference yesterday. When asked how he was going to do this, President Obama replied, “All I can say for now is that the light will be kept safe.”

Early this morning, Wikileaks resurfaced temporarily to bring us important news. According to emails sent between the Obama Administration and Santa Claus, Americans everywhere have been unknowingly hiding the Christmas light out in the open where no one could have suspected. Apparently, people have been stringing it from rooftops and tossing it over ornamental bushes in their very own backyards. The Obama Administration has yet to respond to these allegations, but Santa confirmed late this afternoon that the emails are true and apparently all of those Christmas lights were made in China. 


Untitled by Bill

The albinos have gotten whiter and the drunks have gotten drunker. Holidays in the Legion Post bar start seemingly as a tradition and turn into the chance to view people turning into their parents. The moms are bombed since they stood in their robes for their graduation pictures with a seven month bump and everyone, us included, have thickened just like the gravy we’ll have tomorrow at dinner. We’re rounded out in the face. This is not a puffiness. There is no botox here. There was no air pump hooked up to the sides of our heads. More a callous. A building up of the weary worries. Fresh-Scent spray polish smell of divorce court desks poisoning us; the tightrope walk of staying as close to zero in the bank without going over like our lives are game shows in reverse; staring across the table at in-laws you cannot stand to look at and you hope that one of these times they fall off the stool just a little bit harder, a little more dramatically, and do some real damage when they hit the floor. Eventually we’ll all drag ourselves off to mass around midnight.


Krikor’s Closet by Alan

In the room there were candles. And in the candles there was light. And in the light there was hope. A kind of trinity. A kind of memory.

He loved the number three. This I remember about Krikor. And he loved memory. He loved to get swept up by it during midnight shifts, revel at the dips and brace himself for the uphill climbs as if it were a ride at an amusement park. If life were to end in 2012, he’d think, there is nowhere else I’d like to be. He’d dance with his mop. He’d romance the air.

I know this because he used to confide in me. It was during the holidays, always during the holidays, when we’d gather in the basement of the church and Sonia would made boreg and someone would bring the right kind of lahmajoun from Jersey and all of our mouths would stink from the garlic and onions and feta, especially Krikor’s. I know this because he’d lean in real close and tell me about how this place, this place was his home, and I’d forget the ride in, upstairs, the world outside, my family, everything even, until he disappeared in the dark.


multiplicity by lyle

the audacity of hope is what i thought first
something i was pretty sure
a second opinion is for failures and there were 287 of them so many second opinion all second opinions so many candles so many failures so little control
but in all probability so much relief something i know nothing about
even after shitting there is not so much relief as exhaustion and shitting in a shrine bathroom?
it must be part of the shrine if it is called the shrine bathroom
about on par as far as exhaustion is concerned actually i thought it would be more — more something the way religion is always more

in the mirror i practice furrowing my brow just the slightest twist up — down concern pain anger happiness though i don’t recognize this one so well — over and over — i don’t actually feel any of those emotions as i do them but i imagine someone seeing me and think they might feel those things just watching as i do them

my own empathy with someone watching me do something that may mean something to someone empathetic but not the emotions

the brief concatenations of drunkenness though i cannot say that i was drunk for it may have been the inevitability of humanness and are they different? drunkeness/humanness: the state of being something? being something which is to say asking for something lighting a candle so to speak the flame eating at the wax until either it so slowly expires or the proprietor snuffs it out so that someone else can so quickly light it again — their own failure then flickering and licking itself

287 candles
so specific
so specific a number of failures in a little town in texas
but i’ll believe it if only for a moment.


Tithe by Forrest

I don’t like to recall you. This is when you are quite improper in your offertory singing behind me once you were done singing in front of me. Your mild despicableness. Knowing I am perfectly known by no one. I—if I’m allowed to talk in here—I have my ways about me, the same as keeping an uncharged fire extinguisher next to all those content, glowing votives. Where does my attention go, sent scattering over the floor at your heels, supposedly? Not anywhere today. Today I put a slip of special paper, a donation in your name, in the collection box. I just got a saint I haven’t seen who gave me something like hard-earned money.