This week’s artwork is “Piety and Supplication, With Fishes, Sharks and Letting Agents” by Julian Cloran.
Katie Anne Dour’s, Tiny Family Snow Globe
by Dan A. Cardoza
She’s conflicted. If she insists the lights off, will that be seen as a compromise? Katie won’t be punished for sleeping in layers of sweat-soaked bedclothes and blankets. Mother is aware she’s not a sweet Vidalia onion. Sure she’s upset about school grades and fighting. They call her Sour Lemon Dour. But, that’s not the reason. Katie will be punished for making it snow all night. Mother says, “How dare you expect a perfect summer with all that white noise?” There’s not a vengeful bone in her body. There are none. Katie Dour is a delicate, porcelain dolly.
by Calvin Yorick
The gray beast is gnarled all over like dead bark. It sits in the sky over moonlit ruins and the tattered masts of shipwrecks. It sings. Branchlike limbs swings concentrically in a silent dance, and a great, tangled head quivers in a gentle orbit away from the rising moon, humming softly. Electrically. We fall to fatigue; this ghastly birdsong bids us to sleep. And in dreams overgrown with sunflowers we wake to the firelit shores of an empty city, waiting eternally for morning and the inevitable nightmare which follows.
by David Henson
A tattoo battleship plowed the gray on his chest. He hoisted an anchor on each arm. An eagle stretched from wing to wing of his shoulders.
One day we found a blacksnake. He grabbed a hoe, and we chose between watching the body flop in the grass or his cat eating the head in his lap.
After his wife died, he spent every evening in an old caned chair, told us he let the stars fly out of his eyes to their places.
That last night he surprised us when he laid back his head and flew out with them.
by Abigail Skinner
I stood there, feeling the crisp breeze prick against my open and exposed heart. And she laughed.
“Right,” I said. I snapped my ribs back into place and tugged at the muscle. Slipped back into my skin. “Heh, you’re right.” Covered now, but not enough. The wind still cut through. I threw on a shirt.
She chuckled. I kept adding layer after layer. A sweater. A flannel. A hoodie. A coat. Finally, a windbreaker. Too late. The wind was already inside me, the chill deep to my bones.
She sobered. “Wait, were you serious?”
Gone for a Song
by Simon Barron
From his lofty banyan perch, a honey-creeper struck up in joy and expectation, for the time was ripe. Notes fell like diamonds sprinkled on the air. Swelling, he pushed the gallant question further.
The island, bounded by sullen seas, gave no like return. Yet there was life enough, with furtive cats and sportive rats and braying goats in pens.
Another interloper – a solitary ecologist – sat on a log-pile near the banyan and wept to hear the exquisite song fall about her. She knew what the honey-creeper couldn’t.
He sang all day, and never so well.
by Roger Haydon
From the other side of the ornate doorway, I thought I saw a house with open shutters, lights on and smoke curling from chimneys. I heard voices, saw figures talking and laughing, saw a manicured garden, neat lawns and bright flowers and children playing. And then, eagerly, I stepped through.
Now, standing in a shell of scarred walls pierced by empty windows and vacant corridors, the fine rain turns the rubble to mud and tears sting my cheeks. I can see sunlight on the other side but don’t know if I can go back or if I should even try.
by TL Holmes
Doctor Kline says it is chronic not fatal, that it is possible to live a full life with bent stems and wilting leaves, that there is a rose bush he cares for that’s been living with it for sixteen years. She is bald and thornless but still beautiful, he says. I’m not a rose bush, I want to scream, I cannot live without my leaves. My husband tells me he will love me no matter what but late in the night when he thinks I am asleep, I hear him in the garden with the daisies, just bloomed.
by Nathaniel Darbonne
I swallowed a needle while trying to make something beautiful. While holding it between my teeth I realized I would never be happy, a revelation that made me gasp and suck it in. With the needle in the back of my throat, I raced to the hospital and ran around, trying to convince the doctors there was something wrong with me, unable to speak. The needle traveled further down whenever I swallowed, scraping the soft tissue, gathering more flesh, creating scars, unseen.
An Arrival to Aimlessness
by Calvin Yorick
White walls glow cool with rainbow circuitry; razor lines thin like spider’s silk, threaded, tangled unbroken for what could be forever, pulsing methodically, all healthy-like. Fun to look at. Strange to contemplate—like most of the phenomena in this odd, underground vista. She wants to be perplexed, to be genuinely curious before this mystery, but the anxiety gnaws her open. The stretching pit in her stomach swallows any interest, atomizes whatever wonder. She’s not here to daydream theories about the labyrinth’s origins or nature. She’s here to stay lost, and she knows this, but she carries on regardless. Aimlessly.
by Calvin Yorick
The foul flesh of the white beast ripples like milk. It groans, ill with lacerations, thousands of newborn wounds. And then it deflates. Dies gasping. En masse the tortured souls of its victims pull themselves up through its shredded hide, and they’re all mottled and ugly and wretched with the weight of a timeless imprisonment. They do not linger. Or show gratitude. The ruined warrior, a premonition of offal, watches with weary pleasure the senseless dead rising like plumes of smoke into the sky, off to rediscover their options.
The Great Pretender
by Alessia Pietraroia
I’m allergic to cotton candy. Rides make me nauseous. I’m afraid of clowns. Yet every weekend in July, I go to the fair. I hop into my prettiest shorts, the ones that mask bruises and salted wounds, and drive. I smile for pictures I don’t want to take, eat a candy apple, despite its poisonous center, play mundane games that bore me to exhaustion, ride the ferris wheel, in contempt of its rusted seats and loose screws. I ignore the stomach-churning scent of laughter and euphoria. And when I get home, I tell my family how much fun I had.
Family Road Trip
by Jody Perejda
“I spy, with my little eye, something starting with the letter ‘H.’” I feel like we’ve been in the car for six months. My brother smells like rancid roadkill.
“Whore!” I shout out. We’re on a highway in Kansas. No hookers in sight.
“That doesn’t start with an ‘H,’” is my dad’s reply. My flesh melts against the crap upholstery.
“I spy, with my little eye, something starting with the letter ‘D.’” I announce, snatching my victory despite flaunting all the rules of the game. My mom looks around pitifully.
“Diner?” Always optimistic.
“Dirt,” I tell them. Nothing but.