Missives from Southeast Asia

“Car crash.”
the lie
dismissed
the breadth and depth
                      of injuries
                      incurred

                     *

collective craning upwards
—the typhoon sky. aspirations
chastened

                     *

Inbox (empty)
nothing to report, today—
dawn breaks on the plains

***

Jae Woods is a writer, editor, educator, polyglot, and gadabout. She cultivates minds and pens in Taipei, Taiwan.

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Meeting Her

She opens the door and is nothing like what I expect. She’s so…old. Well, not old, but older than the famous her, the her that was all over the news and is popping up in history books just four years later.

Her blonde hair is more golden, not the single shade of platinum from before. Her eyes look tired but her skin is radiant and if she would only smile she would be beautiful.

My mouth opens and silence pours out. I stumble over what to say in my mind. I thought about
her, about what she did, about how it changed my life and stole my sister from me. I thought
about how I would feel and what I would do, but never what I would say.

But this moment means nothing to her, so she can speak freely.

***

H.E. Saunders is a writer, editor, reviewer, and general book lover. Saunders is a freelance editor specializing in fiction manuscripts and STM projects. In her free time, Saunders runs a book review/author interview blog, The Dying Book Affair.

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Release

It went fast, actually. Excelled heart rate,
the jury, the grungy cage, all until now.
I signed the papers, received a small bag
of my belongings and I scuffed out
of the front doors into a world I once knew
so well. It was cleaner thirty years ago.

It wasn’t fifty steps before garbage cracked
under my feet; and not too long after,
I was kicking cigarette butts down the avenue.
If it weren’t for the same hazy air
and the smell of overpopulation, I’d need someone
to convince me that this was still my city.

Even the skyline looks different.
Window reflections remind me how old
I’ve become, how alone I am in this new future.
My only comfort is the familiar air pollution,
the same I inhaled before I was shoved
into the police car, the same air you are breathing,

the same air that traveled through security
undetected, into my six-by-eight home,
onto my novels and my letters, and then back out
into the unknown with me. We’re holding hands,
pollution with its fingers laced in mine,
tightening as I inhale, a soft release breathing out.

***

Adam Gianforcaro is a freelance writer working professionally for non-profit associations. He has had several works published in print and online magazines and recently published a poetry collection titled Morning Time in the Household, Looking Out.

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Here’s This Thing

Here’s this thing I keep remembering:
We’ve just crossed Washington Road walking
toward Nassau Hall, alongside the chapel,
and it’s very early in our affair and I still think,
and let’s face it I’m right, that you are a bit of a square.
You’ve wearing your conservative yet fashionable
soon-to-be-assistant-dean suit, and I’m wearing
my editor’s jacket and tie, and we’re in a hurry
having spent lunch hour devouring each other.
If only I could remember how the subject came up, what
small worry might have prompted the comment I made
that I can no longer remember, and if it was timid
or more likely my street bravado dirty, or, as you would
say, bawdy, yes, you might well say bawdy
to describe the comment that I can’t bring back, you in your
19th-century English Lit. advanced degree argot.
I know exactly where we were and I recall the squirrels
stopped their incessant incessing and the birds shut up too
and you, in your impeccably cadenced and musical speech,
offered, “Don’t get me wrong, I love it from behind,”
pleased, chirpy, as if you were telling a conference room
full of deans, “I think the Power Point is working now!”
and Jesus God, when they say fall in love, I thought it
was just an expression, but I tipped over and over
and fell like all the other forces had abandoned us
and the only one left was gravity.

Air’s free

In a warm, buzzing, half-rural, half-junkyard field, grassy and clumpy, crisscrossed by thin, stony paths spotted with candy wrappers and broken glass, with scorch marks from an aborted sociopathic little fire at one edge and the weedy hunched back of an abandoned supermarket at the other, we looked under the cover of a tangle of volunteer honeysuckle at a Playboy, the damp pages making sucking sounds as we turned them. Dazzled in the sunny field, serenaded by the thin, rebounding stringlike song of crickets, we crouched over the twin sisters who swoon for Fabian and fight for the telephone, one of them leaning forward playfully to kiss a full-length mirror (“It’s like kissing your sister,” says the caption). Our penises like shoots, hard, small, and insistent against our corduroys.
Crowded by the heat and the honeysuckle and the twins, Jimmy suddenly straightened, rolling up the magazine and holding it against his front. I grabbed for it and as he dodged me, I saw a dark, blossoming dampness near the top of his zipper. He turned away and said, “Why do Jews have big noses?” “Why?” “Air’s free.” Then he ran off through the stickyburrs and blue chicory and hot pile of broken bricks, leaving me hard as a rock, my big nose tingling, dazed and desolate in the bright light, the heavy heat, the long call of crickets.

When Your Wife’s Going Mad

I.

When your wife’s going mad,
no one knows what to say.
They ask how she is and then add,
“She looked good the other day.”

You don’t want to know how she is,
and their eyes say, You’re right,
don’t say it, please,
out of mind out of sight.

And what does that tell you?
That friends can feel sorry
but they won’t follow you to hell.
They’ll drop by purgatory,

a lost job, a dead parent
who probably hung on too long
anyway. Even a dead spouse, but
the demented spouse, well, as Larkin said,
She’s there all day. So?
So. No one knows what to say.

II.

When your wife’s going mad,
no one knows what to say.
Their eyes slip around
like they want to run away.

But they can’t, so they linger
for a moment and commiserate,
looking sicker and sicker
as if they glimpse some fate.

You absolve and release
them and then watch their backs
as they break out of the gate,
at the pistol’s crack.

III.

When your wife’s going mad,
you start counting her money.
And it’s not fucking funny.
And it’s not fucking bad.
It’s sadder than sad,
when your wife’s going mad
and you start counting her money.

IV.

When your wife’s going mad,
at first, for a while, you don’t
experience desire.

Depression’s depressing
and grief is tiring, besides,
you’re busy

and don’t feel much at all.
You almost forget what
symmetry is.

But after a while, you notice, say,
how ubiquitous décolleté
has become in your absence.

how women of all races
ride on their summer legs
in their summer dresses.

***

Alec Solomita is a writer and editor. He’s published fiction and poetry in Eclectica, The Mississippi Review, Southwest Review (shortlisted short story), The Adirondack Review, Ireland’s Southword Journal (also shortlisted), and many other publications. Most recently, a couple of his pieces have appeared in theNewerYork. He lives in Somerville, Mass.

Aunt Jane Permuted

 

for Alden Nowlan

 

(Worship at my body,
every in.
Take its dreamed corpse—
prayers of night,
wake it.)
A decade,
ninety,
a hundred:
we ate porridge,
kept to nights.
Upstairs, said
“Pray, lord,
where should I die?”
(They
hid before
the dead lord

and before me.)

If I slept,
I went with the buried.
Jane was dead,
and I, the aunt
at whom Christ thundered,
I took her
(it)
to bed.

 

 

***

 

Meagan Black is the youngest of six children. She is currently pursuing an English honours degree with a concentration in creative writing and is Editorial Assistant for Arc Poetry Magazine. Black won the 2012 Lillian I. Found Award for lyric poetry.

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Chalk Level

 

Once the penguin appears from his foiled teepee
Navigating the pervious rocks
Of dried tributaries, you stop burning
With emphasis to wake up

From this elderly world of disparate parts
Made up of the harder building blocks
And submerged theories
That carry those battery acid
Kind of numbers; and so on

It was the best of times, the worst of times
Through the poisonous shrubberies
Towards the clearest chapter of the nightmare
That should have been a dream, but turned to be

The near and dreary future in which mystery
Would stream in motor pools
Some of which can be found here
Where your voice is pitchy
From kissing frogs week after week.
It must have felt like Armageddon and the Apocalypse
All rolled into one!

Now that would be horrifying, suffering the consequences
Of the kiss
Without any upswing or outburst
Knowing that

In the least likely places, gypsy store fronts
After a rain storm,
It’s the glow of old photography that counts

And drives you across the rickety bridge
While beneath you, a celestial being
Is popping balloons.
 

 

Katabasis

 

So you bought a headlamp, begged
for detachment then slipped into the subversive.
        Don’t be such a dud. I, too, pined for the helical tusk
of the narwhal. However, my theme song got old, I couldn’t quit clicking my tongue.

Upon reentering the world, I dove into an emptiness that shattered

my green age. For days, former things glistened and passed without feeling.
        To recover I discussed antimatter with abuse-counselors, admitted my sole
ambition was to mount the highest pile
of sawdust while wearing the cover of a yeti. This was expected and frowned upon.

But if you do (by chance) break from the maw of that cave, I’ll offer

only a towel, a pack of cigarettes along with the best course
        of action, which is to cram your mouth with cotton and nod
with conviction for some time. If speak you must confess you are confused,
incapable of being honest with yourself, but have found worth in your wounds.

 

 

Sharp Angles

 

I spend a lot of time in icy puddles,
brawling with an angel, a foul-mouthed

tobacco-dripping scrapper who takes life
by the sawed-off barrel. You can almost

hear the click before he pumps me full of lead.
It is almost beautiful, like stirring upon a ledge,

the horizon between fried and scrambled.
It is almost beautiful—like walking in April

but with broken legs, to what might be
my last measure of rest.

 

* * *

 

Eric Helms holds degrees from Furman University and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. He works at Columbia University and is an editor for Redheaded Stepchild. His latest work can be found in American Athenaeum, Death Hums, Souvenir and Blunderbuss.

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The Bear

 

 

      When I got home from work, the black bear was in my living room, sitting on my green couch, one of those modern types with three metal legs and two rounded cushions for the arms. The bear’s 350 pounds of weight was bending the frame down in the middle. The apartment smelled like a cross between pine trees and a dumpster in the sun.
      I’ve been waiting for you, the bear said. Its voice was deeper than I remembered.  Its snout was red and patches of its thick black hair were matted.
      Have you been drinking my milk? I asked. The gallon carton lay on the floor in a puddle of white, punctured by three claw marks.
      Sorry, it said. I got thirsty.
      How’d you get in?
      The key under the mat, it said. Easier than busting in.
      But I moved it from the last time.
      Well, duh, the bear replied. I looked around.
      I glanced at my hands and arms. The bruises from the last time were just healing, now a faint yellow, and no longer the harsh purple of a bruised plum.
      Why’ve you come back again?
      I have to come back, the bear said. You know why.
      You didn’t do so well the last time, I replied.
      I got tired. Even bears get tired. That hibernation thing doesn’t fix everything.
      I have a date tonight, I said. I can’t spend all evening trying to fend you off again.
      Is she nice?
      Yeah, she’s really nice.
      What does she do for a living?
      She owns a vintage furniture store.
      Sounds pleasant, the bear said. Wish I could do something like that but I’m the bear.
      You can’t be on my mind while I’m on the date, I said. It’ll be distracting.
      I’ve already come back a couple times, the bear said.
      I know. I picked up my Louisville slugger baseball bat that was leaning in the corner of the room. I had just put it there a couple mornings ago just in case.
      Really? the bear said, unimpressed.
      I’m not going down without a fight, I said. Her name is Polly. I like her. I’ll do anything I can to stick around.
      She know about me? the bear asked.
      I’ve mentioned you. She’s concerned but still interested.
      The bear sucked on its teeth, the color of rust and blood, and suddenly lunged at me, its body gracefully rippling as it silently soared at me, grazing my left arm as it skidded to the wall and turned. I raise the bat.
      We stood there, a face-off.
      Sorry, it said, sounding embarrassed. Sometimes I just can’t stop myself.
      It towered above me, its body the size of a car turned on its rear bumper.
      I’m ready for the fight, I replied.
      Hmmph, it said. Okay then. I’ll let myself out then.
      It dropped to all fours and went out the already-opened back door. As it vanished into the darkness, I heard it knock a planter over. The sounds eventually dissipated, leaving me with the quiet, knowing that the bear would, eventually, return.

 

* * *

 

Ron Burch’s fiction has been published in numerous literary journals including Mississippi Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, Eleven Eleven, Pank, and been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Bliss Inc., his debut novel, was published by BlazeVOX Books; Aqueous Books is publishing his flash collection, Menagerie, later this year. He lives in Los Angeles. Please visit: www.ronburch.net.

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In the Woods

 

The oak snooker table, the actual wood
outdoors, the sky is blue
dad’s last book stuck there to prevent sparrows
long silences
among the sounds, I miss most
you could tell the time of day

I know it’s boring if everything is day
Euclidean geometries bending toward the wood
our games on the edge of a hill most
glorious blue
morning enduring scooping silences
at my typewriter, sparrows

smashing into the glass, sparrows
look a little ominously at the day
run from the silences
water lapping at wood
boxing the lake, glorious blue
writing of being and most

failed brickmaking a canopy for most
but in the end other gifts, tiny bones, sparrows
dimensions, a stone chisel, everything blue
a brass spittoon, night and day
and wood
a painting made of silences

sink all the colours and you’ll find silences
in the room he loved most
teetering, like his mind was half wood
a garish machine dreaming of sparrows
bent over day
there, cobwebbed, explaining blue

a measure of blue
salvaged from silences
the cottage understands night requires day
and why in those years I carried you the most
in the songs of sparrows
all the way down to the wood.

 

 

Tragic Dressmaker

 

My mother had five sisters
in badly damaged garment factories
the dexterity of war
discussed in Morse code
by a farmer
a horrifying legacy

early one morning clothes
arrived
subtract five years
privilege
we miss her
better
when she died.

 

* * *

 

Lillian Necakov is the author of a bunch of books of poetry, including The Bone Broker (Mansfield Press), Hooligans (Mansfield Press), Hat Trick (Exile Editions) and Polaroids (Coach House Books). She runs the Boneshaker Reading Series in Toronto, where she lives with her family. In the 1980s she used to sell her book on the streets of Toronto.

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The Solitary Skater

 

He knows she’s watching him this morning as he skates all by himself in Delaware. He figures she had to first hand-warm a bedroom window pane to get the outside frost to vanish, and he knows she’s looking at him now and having coffee from a tumbler someone else brought back from St. Thomas over a thousand days ago. The ice skater keeps holding on to his sharp image of her, at the cost of missing the screams of cranes killing one another a mere mile to his west, and the redness of this year’s marsh grass, grown high and well in all directions. He questions out loud just how long she’ll keep watching him, and when might the coffee or something else make her have to leave and go potty. He questions whether or not in all that’s out here going past him as he skates with speed and flourish, whether or not in all of this, there isn’t someone kind of like her in-waiting, and wouldn’t she too find herself introspectively imprisoned if the day ever came when, having all the world to choose from, she drew near faraway places with faraway names, like Chicoutimi or Segbwema.

 

* * *

 

William C. Blome is a writer of short fiction and poetry. He lives in-between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in Amarillo Bay, Prism International, Laurel Review, The Oyez Review, Orion headless, Salted Feathers, and The California Quarterly.

Epilogue: The Improbables

 

Opals, not apples, grow in the orchard.
A tooth appears in the mouth of an orchid.
Ocean salt becomes sugar and sweetens
the fish. The rivers return to the mountains.

Dollars flop out of change machines—
the change, too painful, the slots, too narrow.
Arrows cling to their taut bowstrings.
Ammo remains in snug magazines.

A ram shaves his wool and tattooes
the name of a ewe on his skin. A duck
uses one of her plumes as a pen.

I swore I’d forget you when all
these things came to pass. And none has.

Your memory greens in me like the grass.

 

 

Letter from Philadelphia, Winter, 1765

 

It seems a sort of holow day…

She signs it yr divoted wyf.
She can’t spell.
Few people can.
She writes faithfully and well
to her husband in England
who enjoys the gossip and endearments,
local apples and hand-
made stockings she sends
from the town he’s seen just once
in fifteen years.

When the packet boat arrives,
Philadelphia occurs to him
but not for long.
Home is London now.

She’s alone.
An ox is a-rosting on the River
and Peple take their plesure
on this winter afternoon.
Light fades from the seasons
and she will not see Benjamin again.
That’s what she doesn’t say.

Rather, she writes:
It seems a sort of holow day.

 

* * *

 

Sarah White lives, writes and paints in Manhattan. She is the author of Alice Ages and Ages (BlazeVox, 2010), a book of variations; Cleopatra Haunts the Hudson (Spuyten Duyvil, 2007), a poetry collection; “Mrs. Bliss and the Paper Spouses,” (Pudding House, 2007), a chapbook; and the book-length lyric essay, The Poem Has Reasons: a Story of Far Love online at www. proempress.com. She taught for 23 years in the French Dept. of Franklin and Marshall College.