Archive: Spring 2008
A Workhorse Of A Different Colour
Yang Chu's Poem 86
Millefiori by S.P. Flannery
They sit in a dish
like tiny round candies
we would eat at Christmas,
but they are taken
and melted with hot glass,
combined, merged with a vase
or a wine stopper shaped
like a fish. My daughter
steals one into her pocket,
it must be too tempting
for a child to resist curiosity,
we hold back, but it is a deadness
as we try to fit into the rigid
restrictions of society,
marching in line to the beat
of maturity. I pretend
not to see her, rejoice in
the look of triumph on her
face when she thinks no one
noticed her act of defiance,
her honesty to satiate
desire. As we walk out
the factory shop door,
I grab one of those slices
of blossomed glass, and hold it
in my hand as we board
the ferry back to St. Mark's Square.
Previously published in Merge
Offering by Maggie Garvey
The Stuff of Life
Fraternal Ties by Mary May Burrus
Jane was propped up on her elbows, eating a slice of pizza and trying not to get sauce on her friend's bed. Caroline, sitting at her computer with a slice in hand, complained yet again about submission guidelines.
"They all say the same thing. So boring. Twelve point type, no fancy fonts, word counts need not include the title, blah, blah, blah. Editors are all the same. I've discovered a brilliant font. I swear it's art in itself, but it's not one of their blessed regulars."
"Really? Did it come with that font software you bought? What's it called?"
"Yes, really. Yes, it did. And it's called 'Mondrian Whirl.' Totally cool. Here's my new poem printed in it."
'I Felt so Alone.'
"Hey, wasn't that the name of the last poem you wrote?"
"No-o. That was called, 'Loneliness is Misery."'
"Ah. My bad. But you do write about feeling lonely on Sundays in both, don't you?"
Offering by Maggie Garvey
It burned her skin as she opened the oven door. Kate reached in and scooped the pie into the big glove.
A wave of heat filled her face; the sharp sting of pain on her breast felt almost good.
Kate leaned over the pie, and cradled the dog tags in the big glove.
She breathed in the apple comfort for her torn heart.
Daffodils in a Blue Vase
Champ by Oonah Joslin
Red Roosters were good, or blues, or Maris Pipers. When you couldn't afford meat, you ate champ - not that designer-chef stuff you see on TV nowadays as an accompaniment to chops. No. The only dinner you were getting was champ - and champ was the best.
No soldier, on detail, ever peeled and quartered so many potatoes, to minimise cooking time.
This was a labour of love, tossing the scalped tubers into cold water in the double handled aluminium pot - testing for, 'mashability,' once boiled. When the magical moment was reached, they were drained and a shake of pepper and 'roughness of salt,' were added. 'Enough to do,' was the only measure of a 'roughness,' my mother ever gave. Then a good bunch of scallions, the only other main ingredient, was snipped in - not a spring onion in sight- we wouldn't have known a spring onion, if it had jumped up and bit us. Spring onions were English. The glorious green and white were mashed together with a, 'wee drap o' milk,' - and if that was straight from the cow, so much the better.
Assembly of this dish was every bit as important as its preparation. You had to even the top and divide the mixture fairly. There would be ructions if one got more than the other! That done, sticky mountains of champ, nearly as big as Slemish itself, and exactly the same shape, would be spooned into old fashioned, willow patterned soup bowls - the sort that had ample capacity and 'a lip'.
They needed to be deep to hold the juice.
The juice was the finishing touch that made champ special. A knob of butter was inserted into the mound from the top, and closed in, like the magma inside that extinct volcano. Hot milk was poured down the outside, to form a moat at the base. The whole was like a lactating breast - the best food a mother could provide.
You ate it with a spoon, nibbling round the outsides, until the golden butter oozed and spurted into the white milk and cascaded over the green scallions. Green, white and gold - it was a tricolor of a dish that catholic and protestant revered in equal measure. It was fodder for growth - truly the champ.
The Bat by Davide Trame
It got in. Your greatest fear.
We said it could happen once in a million times
but once happened I felt as if it just had to.
This flutter in life's tapestry.
Because you said you hadn't seen it
and it had been only a flutter what you had
or sensed rather, and had no doubt.
You left with only a tiny scream
asking for help and dashed into the bedroom
and locked yourself in.
Your scared voice trembling, thin and far,
an infinitesimal heart
pierced by an infinitesimal needle.
And we in the hall trying hard to chase it out,
the big balcony window open wide
to the swarming evening.
It seemed like life out of spite,
as we managed to push it to the window
it turned round towards us
brushing the ceiling, the library, our heads,
stopping with a squeak on the bedroom doorstep,
then on the doorframe, a dark brown patch
like a tiny stretched cloth that jumped then
among the books, part now
of a world of hidden breaths.
And we saw it again at last,
it was flattened and well camouflaged
with the very wood of the shelf,
a still wave mirroring our still
And your voice from the bedroom now
still too. Waiting.
Not even the needle of it.
A lurch and we trapped it in a bowl
and threw it into the night
from which he had come
falling into the heater's pipe,
rattling and scraping till dawn.
Now it's gone but you are gazing
at its flash, its whiff still
hovering in the hall, or a patch
stamped mute in an inside corner.
The flash of the fluttering kernel of the world
a routine day of hopes and worries,
an astonished and astonishing wave,
the force of the present storming in
with an unavoidable lurch.
Editing My Ex Lover's Digital Face in Photoshop
Daffodils in a Blue Vase by Beverly Joy Taylor
Whiskey goes down the drain, like rain down a gutter. Carl drinks only Crown Royale, in the purple velvet pouch with the gold tassel. As though that's more refined. Renata hurries to the trash can, shoves the bottle beneath the used paper towels. When will he miss it? Maybe not until tonight.
He'll be home soon. Supper's almost done.
She's fixed roast beef, his favorite. When she tries to eat meat it sticks in her throat like a plug, the same way she feels when Carl drinks too much. Like she can't breathe anymore.
She dashes to the bathroom and peers in the mirror. She pinches her cheeks hard, then slides Rose Red lipstick on her lips, presses them together. There. That's good. She smiles, twists her head from side to side. She looks fine. Carl likes her to be smooth and clean and perfect.
Once, she forgot to shave her legs before she got into bed with him. He'd been drinking all day and he punched her so hard she wound up in the hospital with broken ribs and a punctured lung. When he came to see her, he brought daffodils.
In her hospital room, he said softly "Hey Nattie-Girl." She greeted him with her back, looked at the flowers only after he'd gone. So pretty. In a blue vase with blue and white ribbons intertwined.
It reminded her of when they first met. Carl romanced her all the time then. Dinners out, gifts like that white rabbit fur coat, and daffodils. Even then, she loved daffodils. When she got out of the hospital, she went back to Carl. Where else would she go?
A car door slams outside the house and she jumps. One last glance in the mirror behind the dining room table, then Carl saunters in like a bull.
"Whatcha doing, Nattie?" he calls from the front hall.
He strolls into the kitchen, slaps her on the butt, and gets a cold drink of water, right from the spigot. The water trickles down his tattooed arms and splashes on the floor. What a mess, but she says nothing. After supper, maybe she'll slip off to get him another bottle of Crown Royale.
As Renata puts Carl's supper on the table, she thinks of daffodils. Then she looks at the mess he's made and her mouth twitches.
Another Taste by George Bishop
(visiting a shelter six years later)
It was time for dinner at the homeless shelter
I drank myself into years before, suspicion
wherever it wanted to be. The not-so-homeless
gathered near the exit trying to appear
familiar. Regulars stood quietly in line.
They knew what they needed.
I volunteered to serve the beets
because I knew how they could taste
the stage of hunger, sense the fear
of stains. All through the meal
the music of spoons
and the shuffle of lies
thickened in the ceiling
fan that slowly turned like the timer
of an empty stove.
Before leaving I stopped to sample
the pages of free paperbacks
turning like different sides
of a story, to sink in the pillows
of shoes. Here, you can walk
all night in one eye and never
hear your name.
2008 - Bishop
Editing My Ex Lover's Digital Face in Photoshop by Richard Fein
When all is virtual all can be changed,
even the face of my past.
Half smile, deep creases, wrinkles, even pimples,
I'm a prestidigitator of pixels.
Slider, pointer, and optical mouse are my magic wands.
I can manipulate every image of love and hate.
In reality she's far from me but I can retouch her face on screen.
Slide the pointer on the focus filter bar to the right
and her half-smile sharpens to a caustic hard edge.
It's how I see her today. Or I can recant and pull back
and her skin blurs to silky smoothness,
as it appeared when I first beheld her.
I can saturate her color back to that rainbow glory I saw
when we first said hello.
Or I can withdraw to the present,
to the grayness of our parting.
Tease her face- I can do that-
tease her out of the background crowd. Or I can slide the contrast
back to bland two dimensions, her face flat among the others.
Lurch to the right on the brightness bar and behold,
her tortured grin fades into blown-out whiteness.
Or I can retreat into darkness,
darken her cheeks, lips, and dead brown eyes.
Dead brown eyes.
Yet I can also lasso a speck of light and clone it
so cheery catchlights gleam from those dull eyes.
I can even fashion her forced half smile into a warm full one,
by gently nudging the stream of zeros and ones
deep within the heart of the computer.
Abracadabra, hocus pocus, presto chango, Shazam
for every reality, even her face,
when all is virtual all can be changed
2008 - Richard Fein
Publishing and Design:
Zoetrope Virtual Studio