Saturday, 7 August 2010

Issue seven// Sarah Ahmad


© Sarah Ahmad 2010
Sarah Ahmad lives in Pakistan. Her poetry has appeared in Mad Swirl, Full of Crow, Otoliths, Stone's Throw Magazine and elsewhere. Her chapbook 'Unfulfilled Doubts' has recently been released by Artistically Declined Press.

Issue seven// Echezona Udeze

the love song of echezona o udeze

let us go then you and (i)
-----when the evening is spread out against the sky
like the moon goddess-----pirouetting about my brain
flinging her ideas and arrows at my pride.
and i,
----------(i) am muttering consciousness
-----lost in the---------------living abyss
a dull cast of cartoons in afternoons
to lead us to an overwhelming question
that i do not truly comprehend
oh do not ask what is it
let us go and make our visit.

in the room women love the big dick,-----an ass,

i am just plain crass.

the worn away teddy----------that lies
unanimated in the----------corner
maybe awakes at night
stares---------------at me with cute button eyes
-----falls on the bed-----it was marked on
lingered on the floor for a seeming lifetime
----------danced in the eye fire, extinguished by night
---------------kicked across the room from spite
sat near a motionless wall and never cared).

(i) never had the time with the teddy--------------------but
there will be time
to sit near a motionless wall

engulf in---------------complacency
for anarchy----------and order
day tripping and letting your hair fall down that
-----------------------------------beautiful back
time for scratching the cat’s-----back)
long hours allotted to myself
----------to be obsessive

----------“you should pick that one, no listen first, no this,”
day gone, no complaints.
to see you and know you’re not there.)

in the room women love the big dick, an ass,
i am just plain crass.

there will be time
(barbaric yawp), 8 am
-----not so barbaric-----.---------------do i dare to eat all moms cookies,
to have a little nooky), they will say---------------he shines
-----and his glow will ----------emanate through----------all time.
but i am
gone crazy.
i will rock new balance
velcro----------pulled tight
army hat i never earned
finally be
----------modest …
but still

wondering which pleasure is my next.

i do not know them all
quiet mirror-----i stare in,
unnoticed----------markings we all erase
scared---------------at the drop of a pin
i know next to nothing.

i believe i know) them all
short----------of character not tall forcer of
penis in my mouth
self confidence chiseled by …
the shit that lingers huh

shall i say i have sped down wide green fields
not knowing greatness before me
and watched the smoke that rises from pipes
baked out of my mind

(i could’ve been a painter.)

chaos chaos everywhere---------------and not a drop to drink
i sit---------------in room and think of there
-----fly off to shades of pink)
it malingers, the darkness
i have been unafraid of the coat man
, mentally insane
afraid-------------------------of invisible hauntings
(it) wouldn’t have been worth it
after the
--------------------silly afternoons
-----------------------------------the bad sex
with talk of quiet corners and who your daddy is
-------------------------not worthwhile to see her smile
plugged conversations-----on madonna
cosmo quizzes

it wouldn’t
-----have been worth it
to laugh at ignorance not recognizing my own
“he never washes”
“why are you not in the shower right now”
to give responses
---------------that mean little
-----------------------------------tiny pecks from birds)
an offer that never dances on
would it have been worthwhile
after the busy work,
---------------the boredom of it all
---------------at ---------------all ...

-----am-----the famed prince of denmark
to some)-----, sometimes myself in a way
irrational,-----brave , silly contemplating, vengeance
driven man,
i would rather be a dog -----and love my sister,)
but (i) do if her face has met mine.

really-----i am the second great debater,
sometimes---------------there for comedic release
--------------------dead-----now but not forever
the other one, at times wise.
i grow old ----- … i grow old ---------- … and this world -----is still so cold.

will she ever come?
do i dare try to remove the sword-----in the stone?

i shall sing songs on love
and know that myself is what i searched for
i have heard their monotonous chatter
and she is laughing at me.

i have seen them in dark purple lights
doing the latest dance craze
i myself their (fool

i have lingered-----in my cage a pacing tiger’s
search for prey
til human voices wake us and we drown.

© Echezona Udeze 2010
Echezona Udeze is a lump on a big toe, a stump where no trees grow, boring and obtuse, bad old news, a jumble of uncooth, a really abcessed tooth ... the main event no, no ... he is just a player in this show ...

Issue seven// Kevin Heaton

© Kevin Heaton 2010
Kevin Heaton currently lives in South Carolina but is formerly from Oklahoma, where he published 'Country Music'. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Foliate Oak, Elimae, WestWard Quarterly, Counterexample Poetics and Calliope Nerve, amongst others.

Issue seven// Nathanael Green


-----It’s been six years of my voice echoing back to me, echoing the words I’m told to repeat again and again: "Everybody’s special."
-----The cell, my world, is small, and there’s only so much room for the same thing over and over. For the most part, my only company’s my own words, and I speak sparingly. Though, the psychiatrist visits once every seven days and adds some variety to the sounds in solitary confinement. The psychiatrist says I’m here because I don’t care for everyone else like I should.
-----Perhaps that’s literally true. But I cared for Jamie. We cared for each other. More than we cared for other students, and the teachers saw that. That’s why they tried to keep us apart. Said it wasn’t right to ignore the other students, to make them feel separate and less. Said that it was wrong to pretend we were better, when we all knew that everyone was special, not just me and Jamie.
-----They tried to separate us in school, but we wouldn’t let them. I remember what we did, how Jamie’s mouth tasted and how the spaces between our legs were so different.
-----But they found out and took Jamie away. And put me here.
-----We talk about that when the psychiatrist comes once every seven days. That and what they call my "precipitating event." They say it started with a hair when I was fifteen. And I can picture it, though the psychiatrist says I shouldn’t: Everything’s white, my whole vision is white as the snow at the holidays. The white, even pattern of a jersey shirt we all wore. And that single black hair stabbed through my shirt and just stood there, like a tree growing from a field of frost.
-----Honestly, I reveled in it. That one hair stood out because no one else had one. So I was reprimanded for my egotism and demeaning disdain for everyone else. But I endured with my studies. Went to college with everyone else.
-----And it was at college where I finally learned what Jamie’s anatomy meant, though only indirectly. I learned that English once, and not too long ago, had prejudice built right into it! Our language, the very basis of human communication and reflection of life, had at one time purposefully alienated people. It had had three separate pronouns that specifically showed differences based on anatomy!
-----That’s when I learned that I’m a he.
-----This I do tell to the psychiatrist, in my hope for understanding. They don’t understand. Or they don’t show that they understand. Once, when I asked baldly what type of anatomy they had, they calmly told me that "Everyone is special, and anatomy has no bearing on that" and rose to leave.
-----Just before they passed through the doorway and beyond my sight, they looked at me and repeated: "Everybody’s special. The whole world is special."
-----I asked once what that means, to really explain it to me. They blinked twice and cleared their throat before going on about me with phrases like "malignant narcissism" and a lot of other words they might have learned at my trial. Words like "hate crimes."
-----Sometimes, I ponder the words that condemned me here and I say them out loud now and again. I absorb their words and roll them around my tongue. Each has its own flavor and texture, is unique in meaning, in shades of emotion, in usage. But now I’ve heard them so often that they’ve lost their sharpness. Like spending too much time scrubbing with cleaning solvents until you simply don’t notice the abrasive reek.
-----"Hate crimes."
-----I enjoy the way my jaw drops with the A, the M’s humming sensation through my teeth.
-----"Hate crimes."
-----The term itself is nebulous enough, and only now do I really ponder the semantics. Truth be told, I don’t believe I’m guilty of either hate or crimes. How could I harbor that type of malevolence? Haven’t we all been taught that everyone is special, the whole world is special?
-----On the day of my arraignment I tried to explain this. I stood in a gray suit in a chilly, equally gray room. I cleared my throat and held my hands behind my back and told them how a crime affects victims, and I had offended no specific person. And hate implies a malice that I certainly didn’t feel.
-----But they didn’t listen.
-----When I told this to the judge, they cited society as a whole as the victim. I remember standing, facing a glass dais awaiting the decision while my facial hair scraped at my neck. A voice amplified by a pair of disembodied speakers hidden somewhere inside the walls boomed:
-----“Our culture is based on peace, parity and equality for every human. Everybody’s special and we cannot allow someone with malignant narcissism among this society. You are sentenced to confinement for demeaning fellow humans by subversive, unapologetic expression of individual superiority and anti-social separation. Our culture is based on peace, parity and equality for every human and everybody’s special. The whole world is special.”
-----Now, six years later, I’m here and the gray of these walls is a wet, porous one where microscopic shadows dance in the valleys of cinderblocks. I had been reprimanded because I didn’t care for everyone. And now that Jamie’s gone, I don’t care for anyone. I wonder whether that’s what they really meant all along.
-----I’m still convinced that I’m innocent of any crimes, though I think now I may have grown into the hate. But it wasn’t true back then. Back then all I wanted was to be different.
I don’t say that out loud. Not to my cinderblock walls. Not to the psychiatrist who appears in a gray jacket and matching gray pants. Short brown hair, like mine, but no hair on their face. They try to get rid of my facial hair, but it keeps coming back. I like it that way; they don’t.
-----I know what they’d say if I told them I wanted to be different: "Everybody’s special. The whole world is special."
-----Occasionally, they talk to me like I’m a child. "You wouldn’t like to be hurt like that, would you? To have someone make you think that they’re better than you? That you’re separate from them? That’s not very nice."
-----The next time they come in, they appeal to my rationality: "Your actions invalidate others’ specialness. And everybody’s special. The whole world is special."
-----I look at the gray suit and brown hair and wonder. I wonder where Jamie is today. I wonder about the person with yellow hair who used to be across the hallway. I wonder what the world would be like if we could use words like "he" and "she" like we did a hundred years ago. I wonder if there were other words, now lost, that we used to separate humans from one another. I wonder at the loss of the specificity and variety to language. To life.
-----Perhaps that is the price of "peace, parity and equality" – another phrase that I say frequently, savoring each flick of the tongue.
-----Have you ever said the same thing over and over again? Say the same word a few hundred times and see what happens. Without an association, without different words to set it apart, even the most beautiful word repeated by itself becomes robbed of any meaning. A dead sound that echoes forever in a single tone with all its discarded, identical fellows.
-----When the psychiatrist says so, I repeat what they say I should say.
-----"Everybody’s special. The whole world is special."

© Nathanael Green 2010
Nathanael Green holds an MFA in Creative Writing (though he does so gingerly because it's fragile). His work has featured in New Myths and Lost Innocence: A Niteblade Anthology, and he is currently working on a novel inspired by pre-colonial Native American traditions and mythology. You can find his blog - about all the strange things in the English language your teachers never told you - here.

Issue seven// John Lambremont, Sr.

Don't Go There

---------------guy you,
------------to pass it
---------off as pure truth.
--------I have lived in the
------shadow of the Big River
-----all of my days, and I know
-----the scent of the sea. I know
---rivers, lakes, bayous, creeks,
---marshes and swamps and canals,
--oxbows, borrow pits, and oceans.
---I have hiked the levees of the
----muddy Mississippi, peed into
----its currents, and crapped on
----its banks. I have been and
------am still a fisherman in
-------paradise. I have been
--------through hurricanes,
----------Now I don't know
---------if I should vent
----------or just go mad,
---------as once again we
---------are in the way,
---------and told it is
---------our own damned
--------fault for being
---------such dumb fools.

---------I remember the day
---------our Paulie, then age
----------four, fell into the
-----------Mississippi River in
------------a final, nearly fatal
-------------attempt to skip a rock
--------------more than three times.
---------------We'd finished our throws
----------------and I said "Let's go now,"
-----------------and we turned our backs,
------------------heard a loud splash, and
-------------------found Paulie in the water
-------------------clinging grimly to a small
---------------------patch of rocky ground his
---------------------feet swaying in the eddies.
---------------------We pulled him out okay and
---------------------made a conscious decision not
---------------------to tell his mom about it, no
---------------------need to scare her with a thing
--------------------that did not happen. We kept
-------------------this secret for fifteen years.

------------------Many years later, I found a
-----------------brass bust of Shiva, a god
----------------of rivers, in a curio shop
---------------in the French Quarter. His
--------------hair was all snakes, and I
-------------found his stern glare was
------------interesting. The price was
-----------right, so I bought him and
----------took him home, and hung
---------him on our living room
--------wall. Everything then
-------turned immediately to
------crap. No money would
-----come in, and no new
----work could be found,
---so quarrels ensued.

-Then one night over
--Sunday dinner, the
--tale about Paulie's
---dip in the big river
----was revealed, and his
-----mom, who was born in a
-----Snake year, was angry.
------She said we should have
-------told her about it right
--------away; she would have, as
---------would any wise Buddhist,

----------have set up an altar at
-----------the point of his entry,
------------burned joss sticks and
-------------offered flowers to the
--------------kind river god for not
---------------taking away her child.
----------------No wonder, she told us,
-----------------that Paulie had been so
------------------beset with psoriasis and
-------------------adolescent obesity; the
--------------------god of the river wrought
---------------------his revenge on Paul for
----------------------our rude lack of thanks.

----------------------I thought about this for
---------------------many days, and I was well-
--------------------determined to make amends.
-------------------I took the Shiva with me
------------------downtown to the same spot
-----------------where Paul had taken his
----------------plunge. I clasped Shiva
---------------between my palms, and
--------------I bowed and kow-towed
-------------ten times, giving the
------------god of the river our
-----------thanks for sparing my
---------son, adding my true
--------apologies as I asked
-------for his blessings.
-------Then I hurled the
-------Shiva into the big
-------river as far as it
--------would go, and watched
---------it splash into the deep
----------water beyond the eddies.
-----------Everything then took an
------------sudden turn for the better,
-------------but my wife said I was silly.

---------------I worked the tugs and crew boats
----------------as a youth, through the canals and
-----------------in and out to the massive oil rigs
------------------we supported. I have seen injury
------------------and death come from mankind's
------------------pursuit of the almighty crude.
------------------The man-made canals were a
-----------------large part of the intrusion
---------------of sea water that caused the
-------------------levees to fail after Katrina

-------------barely touched New Orleans;
------------but, through the greed and
-----------short-sightedness of our
----------so-called leaders, most
---------of The City That Care
--------Forgot went under ten
-------feet of water, and we
-------wonder still if anyone
------cares, as much of Haiti
------is being re-built faster
------than is New Orleans East.

--------So now we have an "oil leak"
---------in the Gulf below the mouth
----------of the river due to the cheap
-----------Charlies that run Blimey Petrol
------------and the rig-wrasslin' cowboys of
-------------Holy Burton. This "leak" made an
--------------oil slick bigger than Rhode Island,
---------------but where is the hue and cry like
---------------we heard for the Exxon Valdez? Of
--------------course, that was pristine Alaska
-------------shore-line invaded, not a grubby,
------------trashy, Louisiana waste pit that
-----------has nothing to offer but gators,
----------swamp rats, and mosquitoes
--------"as big as birds," according to
--------one Alabama ass-clown's Net
--------missive. Oh, wait. The winds
--------are shifting. Mobile Bay and
---------the Emerald Coast are next.

----------You may have to cancel
-----------your trip. That is a
-----------real catastrophe, so
------------eff the shrimpers,
------------fishers, crabbers,
-------------processors, and
-------------vendors at the
--------------butt of the
---------------food chain.
----------------Your fish
------------------you want

© John Lambremont, Sr. 2010
John Lambremont, Sr. is a poet living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His poems have appeared most recently in A Hudson View (2010 Pushcart Prize nomination), Notes from the Gean, Boston Literary Magazine, Foundling Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Fib Review, Shot Glass Journal, and Raleigh Review. He enjoys modern jazz, adult baseball, and writing country songs.

Issue seven// Alana I. Capria

False Bridges

There is a bridge that we come to in our travels. Its facade is polished steel. We see our own faces. They are our faces. They are not our faces. They are our dopplegangers, our naughty doubles loosening bolts and tension wires. We eat their smiles with mustard and oil-based lubricants, a sprinkle of sea salt and then a dash of burned brown sugar. Our faces warn us walking across false bridges, how the bottoms will give out as we move and the cables snap without the slightest ping ping sound. In those moments, we feel very much like children. We push against one another. The bridges rise out of the ground, growing like ivy, metal leaves budding off a single fertile line. They are blossoms of iron edged mouths. They collapse instead of fall.

A man wakes at night convinced he has been surrounded by many snapping bridges. They bite at his groin and throat. They devour ears with a single swipe of their reptilian tongues. The man cannot stop screaming although his shouts make no sound. The bridges have cloven feet and tails that wind around their bases. Are you angels, he asks the bridges. They stand over him and drip molten metal onto his face. You are branded, they say and he sighs in relief.

Dorothy and her friends do not know what to make of the bridge that the golden road culminates in. The bridge growls when they approach. It is painted green, like tarnished copper. I demand a sacrifice, the bridge says and the girl pushes the Scarecrow forward. The bridge eats hay. I have had a starch. Now I desire meat, the bridge says and so Dorothy stabs her lion friend until he is cut into several slabs of raw meat. The bridge groans. Where are my utensils, the bridge asks and the girl grinds the tinman into a fork and knife, makes herself a cleaver and rolling pin for later in her travels.

Monsters live below the bridge. Trolls and goblins. They eat children that belong to families and torture the ones that don't. Add insult to injury. These fangs are cruel. And the claws. Those vulture beaks, pecking at stone even with everyone watching. Oh, creature men and vampire fools. Burn the bridges. Knock them down. Snap their lines.

False bridges spring up in our closets for barren women and hunchbacked men to cross. They eat entire ladders in one swallow and shit out metal balls without hunching down. An iceman walks forward, wearing only underwear. His jaw falls to his feet. He snorts lines of cockroaches. He shimmies up chimney stacks and gobbles masquerade bridges.

A man tells us to burn all the bridges that we pass and come to. Pour the gasoline and light a match. He says that skeletons are caught in the concrete work and it is our job to jackhammer them free. They cannot writhe as the dead should. We are meant to pity them. But we don't. Only the bridges. Everything is about the bridges.

Sometimes we throw bridges. We do not look to see where they land but simply measure how high they reach. Whoever penetrates the horizon is the winner. The bridges do not know any better. They lift up and fly when we say the word. They are needy, dependent on our bodies for travel. We give them severed feet and they roll onto their bellies.

Little girls wear false bridges as Mardi Gras masks. They are heavy with sequins and feathers. The girls paint the steel arches bright purple and green. They do not wait for the paint to dry before putting these bridge masks on. Men crawl through the eye holes to see what places they can reach by simply extending their spines beyond their pubic reaches.

We find bridges that are pixilated beyond recognition. We can only tell the white and black squares apart. When they merge into gray circles, we pull the bridges apart. We stretch them so that they hover over deserts. Cacti sprout from the grating. The needles deflate many tires. Soon, the bridge is simply an elevated expanse of road covered with car carcasses and spare tires. Black and white. A bit of color that fades into gray. The in-between moments we ignore.

We ask the false bridges where they came from. They ponder this question for hours but eventually shake with ignorance. We try to cross them but are not able to get past the first mile. The bridges stretch on forever. They carry us from horizon to horizon without giving us a chance to stop. Over time, the bridges resemble a face, bruised and swollen by constant beating. We ask the bridges if they would like us to stop but they squint their features. Walk on, they say. Bury your heel.

© Alana I. Capria 2010
25-year-old Alana I. Capria is a candidate in the MFA in Creative Writing programme at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She resides in Northern New Jersey with her fiance and rabbits, and her works are available here.