Categories
Poetry

love is a cancer

Cough up your locule

You were standing over me casting a glowing shadow

Within ravens crows & magpies.

You spoke softly & I couldn’t make out the words

I saw your lips move.

The birds swooned casting tenebrous blankets

Bromidic is the integument comes from peregrination

Spit hymeneal chyle.

Piss scrofula erysipelas the gout the pox & love

Shit chthonic kisses

The coagulated the aceldama fructifies fecundity in the womb

When tomorrow we weep tears that are crystal are but otiose

Concupiscence is the trajectory wails the hydra dressed in coruscating silk.

Fulo Devhanque

Categories
Poetry

Paris 1990 3 AM

She was beautiful & alone

I sat

Said

You are intoxicating.

She smiled a supercilious smile with her eyes

I asked if I offended her

She said no

So

I asked her if she were afraid of sex & she laughed

So

I said, repeat this

She said what.

I said

I want to fuck you

No.

See you are afraid.

Betrayed,

Those supercilious eyes feared defeat

She laughed a soft false laugh

Well

I want to fuck you

No thank you.

Richard Wainborough

Categories
Poetry

A Night of Serious Drinking with Cervantes

A night of serious drinking with Cervantes always ends in tears. We drink until sunlight makes the electric light unemployed. In the morning a profound melancholy is experienced, so profound is this melancholy that we start to drink again.

          Stop with the morning talk.

Drink!  

It happens every time, just like clockwork, like the bells tolling on the hour, after a heavy night of drinking there is always a fight. A ball composing of fingers and a thumb will collide with a mouth and teeth will be expectorated in a shower of spit and blood.

The only cure for this kind violence is to

Drink.

And so, after the fight,

                                      We drink.

Cervantes has never been the same since he lost his left arm. It held the hand that he wrote with.  

To this we drink.

Larry Kevinour

Categories
Poetry

3/13/22

black vultures from hell 

circle my empty home—

have they figured me out?

figured out i’m a phony,

a fraud, that i hide behind 

these lines, these poems?

i play the game and wait 

in line just like the rest. 

Tohm Bakelas

Categories
Short stories

SUBSTANCE

     They said I had substance. Had it on my person. Claimed substance on my breath.

     Yes, I admitted, I had substance – what of it?

     They said, because of the substance, I was a danger to myself, and/or others. They had to take me off the street.

     Before I could object, they snapped on cuffs. Pushed me down into the backseat. Drove me off to the building. Herded me into a cell.

     Because this is a free country, I got a lawyer, no charge. He was fresh out of school, didn’t appear to have any substance at all. Urged me to plead guilty. So the trial would end quick and he could get back to pounding pavement for a real job.

     I told him, sure, I was guilty. We all are. Bible got that right. The whole species is fallen, fucked from the outset. But I was damned if I’d plead. No call to beg – I had substance.

     Substantially, the kid admitted, I was right. But in matters of the law, ritual matters. If I’d just sign the confession he had prepared…

     I begged him go. So I could think.

     The verb threw him; think not legal language. He advised me, as my lawyer, not to for godsake do that. Then, shaking his head, trembling noticeably, even whiter than when he first came, he split.

     I looked around – toilet, bunk, bars, wall. My future home, future office, vacation spot of the future. I was now at last a real asshole, stuck in a space with just about that much room.

     Pulled out my substance. Wasn’t much. Bitty little dingleberry. But it got me off. And that was all I needed – to get off.

     When the kid came back, he was grinning ear to ear. He said, “Hey, old man – you got off! You can walk – you’re free to go!”

     I stood. Walked to the toilet. Went.

     “If it’s all the same to you,” urine arced into the bowl, “I’ll just stay put.”

     His face – like a civilization – collapsed. He saw with horror the years of food I would consume; say nothing of free rent, free medical, free dental – Christ, the city would wind up footing the burial!

     Worst of all, the judge would kick the kid’s butt personally for not getting my butt back out on the street, where – after the song and dance of arrest – said butt arguably belonged.

     Above the riot of urine impacting water, I chuckled, “Please close the door on the way out. And would you inform the authorities I detest apple pie? I eat only mom.”

     Then I died happy. Because, sensitive about the mom crack (or maybe the pie got his goat), the kid stabbed me in the back.

     “You got it!” I gasped, echoing in the bowl, chin-down on the rim. “That’s all I ask – pass it on. Now you got substance… maybe you too can kick shit…” and I rattled into the porcelain – born again glad and anxious in the baby between the kid’s ears.       

Willie Smith

Categories
Poetry

New York 1989 2 AM

I saw a Street Kid shot thru the head

On Amsterdam.

I never saw the collapse for the taxicab that had

Dropped me off got in the way.

Moments before the taxi driver had offered me

His wife & daughters.

He said that I could do anything

I wanted with them so long as he could use his new

Digital camera.

It was an ephemeral moment,

Timeless

The sound of the gun echoing thru the

Streets

Of New York City & the City swallowed the

Bang

As it swallows its children.  

Sirens, screams, shouts. I refused

My hotel room.

What a show New York puts

On for its tourists & free as well.

I bathed in

The electric flashing lights & drowned in the

Cops’ orders.

In a huge black bag, they

Scooped the trash up like I do at home. In the

Morning, I went to where the Street Kid was

Shot & there was a dry clot on the tarmac & concrete.

There was no white line depicting a murdered

Street Youth

Like in the movies.

I was disappointed for I had bought a cheap

Disposable camera.

Richard Wainborough

Categories
Poetry

the kiss of kings and queens

Against everything they had fought and now they stood victorious upon heaps of obstacles. They had each other. With hallucinating alacrity the world the very world of earth water and sky flew past them in blurs and traces. The cacophony was a whisper carried upon soft brushstrokes of zephyrs. Day slipped into night and night into day. The moon morphed into the sun and the sun morphed into the moon. Both were indefinable only generic orbs characterless in the sheet that covered the kiss.

Kitty Kevinour

Categories
Short stories

Myth

He was a myth but not a very good myth but still a myth.

He did not kill twenty thousand men with his bare hands, which were small and hirsute, and he didn’t change into a pig and have sex with a princess or change into a horse and mount a queen, and he didn’t change the weather, and he didn’t change his underwear before being run over by a truck, which never happened.

          Myths are he said leg ends.

This was quite funny I thought. My bells have been pulled many times. He was a terrible myth to be told. He tied his wife to their bed. He got the idea from some Greek Myth. Saw himself as the God that sleeps around, changes shape, fathers many bastards, hears that his wife has had a lover, ties her to a rock, allows all the Gods to see her beauty. She was so so, not bad for a Sunday morning, his wife, but the knots were gordian knots that perplexed the police.  

Paul Kavanagh

Categories
Uncategorized

Review of HUMAN WISHES/ENEMY COMBATANT

                     EDMOND CALDWELL

SAY IT WITH STONES sayitwithstones.com                         ISBN 9780615577951

Say It With Stones/Interbirth Books are a small, Dallas-based press publishing mainly poetry; Human Wishes/Enemy Combatant is their first venture into the novel. They are to be commended on their enterprise and audacity no less than Caldwell himself. This is a witty addition to the ranks of the Postmodernist anti-novel.

But “anti-novel” is an over-used and imprecise term. Let’s use the term “novel-in-negative” – less snap but more precision.

Human Wishes proceeds by systematically breaking the rules, confounding the expectations of the novel – plot, character, background setting – so that what we are left with is a novel in reverse.

    The rationale for this is given within the text: “If you were to write a truly ‘realistic’ novel it would have to include these histories of lives in labor and labor in lives, each novel would have to be an endless roman fleuve of these loops and strata, each novel a failure because it could not possibly encompass it all, each novel necessarily a fragment and a failure…” (p. 129). And to create “rounded” characters depends entirely on such infinitely regressing loops of back-story; on the appearance of psychological depth and temporal depth together causing the effect of realism, because “people just don’t go around doing shit for no reason that’s not realistic, but if they don’t do anything at all it won’t be dramatic, if for example they just wander round in circles trapped inside various non-places such as airport baggage-claim terminals and highway rest stops it wouldn’t be dramatic, you’ve got to be realistic yet dramatic….” (p. 159).

    So here, in place of plot we have structure, and as reinforcement of the structure, a series of (very funny) running gags. The book is in three parts, each of three chapters. They all function discretely, and are all set in just those “non-places”, “In-Between Places” Caldwell warns against: airport terminal, Parisian hotel complex for “bumped” passengers, the tourist sites of St. Petersburg, rest-stop, shopping mall, art gallery…

    This last also functions as a brilliant mise en abyme – the gallery is showing an exhibition of Joseph Cornell boxes, those still-lifescapes conjuring a universe in a peep-box. The chapters of Human Wishes work the same way, with a cumulative effect.

    It also introduces one of the funniest running gags, featuring a constantly metamorphosing James Wood, the literary critic who is, to my amusement, taken very seriously in America (as he is not in Britain). In fact, the principle of Kafkaesque metamorphosis is at the heart of the book, as themes and settings darken.

    For instance, the sixth chapter, Time And Motion, is set in a shopping mall bookshop, a B. Dalton bookshop in fact, an extended meditation on Taylorism, the “scientific” basis of industrial (and literary?) production, written in the style of Thomas Bernhard, and every bit as funny and acidulous. It plays with the  possibility of Taylor’s book The Principles of Scientific Management turning out to be a parody, an anti-novel in the form of a spoof scientific study. But in passing, it relates Taylorism  to the efficiency of the Nazi Holocaust. This is not gratuitous. It links subliminally with a later chapter, a backstory of sorts, although not the realist type Caldwell has dismissed, set in Lydda during the Israeli “cleansing” of 1948.

    This in turn, by means of a searing image of a mutely screaming shell-shocked woman, morphs into an elaborate playscript involving Dr. Johnson, his cat, the ubiquitous James Wood, and an early, lost play by Samuel Beckett – Human Wishes. Thus is explained the first part of the title.

    The second, Enemy Combatant, is prepared by another running gag – the (anti-)hero’s “facial dismorphia”, his obsessive worry over his appearance. Although of Portuguese-American descent, he is convinced he looks Semitic, either Jewish or, more worryingly, Arabic, equally convinced he will end up being arrested as not just a literary terrorist, intent on “blowing up the novel from within”, but a real, honest-to-goodness, Al Qaeda-type terrorist, an enemy combatant.

    This “facial dismorphia” is, then, more than a trope for fluidity of character in place of Realism’s “rounded” character. It is the last and crucial metamorphosis of the book. The final chapter, Enemy Combatant, starts fittingly with a parodic reference to Kafka’s Metamorphosis. And as Kafka’s parables turned to chilling literalism under the Nazis – a whole people turned overnight into “vermin” – so the antihero’s dismorphic worries become real, or apparently so, when he is indeed arrested and interrogated as possible enemy combatant, during which the past scenes of his life/the book return and coalesce into Kafkaesque nightmare; a haunting tour de force to close the book.

    It is not, though, despite that nightmare ending, a sombre book; on the contrary, it is bracingly literay in its references, and above all very funny in its wit and linguistic invention. No synopsis could adequately describe it, and this review doesn’t attempt to do so. It attempts only to encourage you to read it, slowly, enjoy the ride, and congratulate yourselves on being among the first to recognize the authority of a writer we will all be hearing much more about in the future.

David Rose is a British writer whose short stories have also appeared in Canada – in Front&Centre (Ottawa) and The Loose Canon (Montreal) – and the U.S.A. in the online Bicycle Review. His first novel, Vault, was published last year by the British press, Salt.

Categories
Poetry

AMNESIA BABE

Whenever I lose who I am,

I always ask love.

We arrange over the phone

to meet at the library.

She loans me her card.

We check out the KAMA SUTRA.

Take it home; try it out.

She nearly, getting into this one

position, breaks her neck;

while I conserve junk

to give later to Jesus.

She blushes; shakes her head;

admits most men suck in bed;

and that’s statistically that.

But before you hand me my

hat, show me the door –

did you check the shredder?

Maybe you got so horny, you

thumbed it through the slot.

Actually, I hear shredding identity

can prove orgasmic.

Gone and done in a nano, of course;

but this is a different neurosis of a horse.

Takes no time to know overamped

lust shorts consciousness out.

My ego, you see, ate my ID. But

no sweat, I’ll just scare love up.

Gotta be in here somewhere.

Here, this thread goes maybe

with the address? Can you help, love, glue back together the shreds?     

Willie Smith