This week’s artwork is “Altar” by Madeleine Barnes
by Alex Creece
Rigor mortis at reception desk. Groundhog Day in grindhouse fashion. Vulcanised flesh raises no unexpectdead questions. Demands are bleated above the sound of viscous, visceral humours bubbling in a guttural cauldron – toxicity within a casket of taxidermy. Hooks of obligation pull the corners of my mouth into a gruesome smile, pull my eyes open to groping, grappling, griping zombies. Shame oozes up my throat from somewhere I knew well but could not specifically pinpoint. It solidifies upon my epiglottis. I cannot breathe through it. I cannot swallow it. Something trickles down my neck, my spine. The undead just keep bleating.
by Jennifer L Freed
In the dream, it is your birthday, but there’s no cake. You are afraid. Your doctor has just told you something urgent, but you’ve forgotten what it is. You hide in a cave, feel safe there, warm. Shadows flicker, reminding you of candlelight. When you half-wake in the darkness, you remember nothing, yet think briefly of your doctor. You’ve found a tiny lump at the base of your skull. You slide deeper beneath your blankets, drift off again, dream of chocolate cake.
Change in my Pocket
by Kenny A. Chaffin
Sick of our constant fights I fled to Safeway for beer. The translucent red cube was there when I pulled change from my pocket to pay the cashier. I stopped, entranced by its billions of tiny blinking specks deep inside. An entire universe of swirling galaxies and stars full of possibility. “Seventeen ninety-five!” he said. Back home I held the cube out to her. “Look at it dammit! Look at it!” She rolled her eyes. I pushed it under her nose. “Look!” I said, touching it, tapping one, two, three times, and she was gone as if she’d never been.
by Michael Shattuck
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, thought as one. As an adult, I took that child out, past the woodshed, to the marketplace and ordered it to work for me. I spend its pay on what helps me forget the woodshed and the marketplace, which invents newer and more elaborate childish things. Now I speak into a prophecy mirror; no thought is unknowable, no time beyond understanding. That child says it wants its own child. It too will send me its pay or I will set a time to take us all out behind the woodshed.
by Laurie Stone
At camp we rode horses to a general store. That’s where I saw the yellow haired children on a splintery porch. Their clothes were ragged, their teeth blackened to little daggers from drinking Cokes, their elbows scabbed. They stared at the coins and bills we tossed lightly on the counter. Corkscrew rolls of flypaper hung from naked rafters, thickly coated with buzzing flies. The pale, blond children faded into the heat. Their orange kittens were too languid to squirm away. I did not speak to the children. The screen door banged each time we flew in or out.
by Ima Ocon
She told me to twine my hair around the chopsticks, praising its silky length, never looking closely enough to notice black blending into dark brown. Her glasses were gone. She had no need for them, even when she was stumbling over her clogs and we had to rush to her side because a hip surgery would kill her the moment they cut her skin open. Sometimes she sang, incomprehensible: I could not bear being taught its syllables, or her refusal at my refusal. I pick up rice in between the chopsticks, and my hair at full hardly grazes my shoulders.