Your Body Is Gone but You Never Left Me
You’re the bird that comes to see me. The bird that perches on the power line above my letterbox and looks in. Your arrogant tweet pierces the air at random. You just watch me, stick your nosy beak into my private affairs as if I don’t know it’s you. I confront you, tell you I know who you are. You deny it. But I can see through your feathered cloak.
Who would’ve thought you’d be reincarnated into a starling? That you’d make your nest in the neighbors unmaintained spouting. Make your new life at the bottom of the sky.
Season of Lights
by Jeremy Nathan Marks
It is the season of lights.
In my window is a nine-fingered lamp. It is powered not by coal, hydro, oil, or gas. It is a lamp of feathers.
Blue jay. Cardinal. Junco. Chickadee.
Some feathers in my lamp repeat.
Finch. Finch. Tweet-tweet.
My neighbors prefer electric lights. They say Jesus was swaddled in a dream coat of electric colors. They cover their home with so many bulbs no bird can sleep. The lights wink like beaks.
Our street has become a mosaic of tails which, when stood upright, could be mistaken for candles.
by Sarah Dabous
I used to crave an adventure that I never got to embark on, for there was nothing to seek out to begin with.
The mysteries faded like a fine layer of mist abating under the unforgiving heat of the sun. Rather than being surprised by a rewarding revelation, I was met with disappointment. There was nothing waiting there to begin with.
There is no mystery, there is no grand adventure waiting to begin. There is only nothingness under a scorching sun.
The Almost Invisible Man
by Tom Baldwin
He was short, with untidy hair and nondescript clothes. Few people noticed him, and women ignored him. He didn’t mind.
He found it hard to catch the eye of waiters and barmen, who usually served him last, if they noticed him at all. He didn’t mind.
When he spoke to people they soon forgot him, or at best would be hard-pushed to describe him. That pleased him.
Only he, and a shadowy government department, knew he had infiltrated and foiled the worst terrorist plot the country had ever faced. Now he was looking forward to his next assignment.
by Louise McStravick
Her hands would move quickly, without thought as she watched television. The hook pulling the wool through. I would watch it grow, widening.
I wrap myself in the colours of it. Fall asleep to a programme I’m not watching.
I dream I am wearing the blanket, in the woods. Somewhere we’d visited before. I cannot find her, so I walk deeper, unspooling until it is nothing. I am naked, cold, alone. I am running, following the thread back home to where she is sitting. Hands gathering wool.
I wake up. Alone. Held by the blanket.
Larry attended a knitting circle with his cellmate. He learned to hand-knit scarves and blankets, weave supple yarn with stocky hands. He looped soft thread around calloused fingers, was lulled into daydreams. Knitters smiling and chattering about neighbors or children. Knitters boasting of spouses and jobs, houses and cars. Knitters not shoveling gravel or swinging sledgehammers, not scrounging to survive. Knitters not getting blackout drunk and burning things, not beating a man and getting scared of who they’d become. Knitters not swearing they would change or be better, not breaking promises and knuckles as warm wool comforted their unstained hands.
She was down to a single Rome Beauty. The last apple for her last day. Later, she’d run naked through the frigid forest to finish what she came to the cabin to do. Go out as she came in. Bare ass moonlit naked. She counted down her time an apple a day for thirty days. Time to live. To think. Laugh. To remember. Or not. To howl with wolves. Dance the hot potato. Burn camp chairs in the fireplace. Hang pots and pans from blue trees. Sugar rush deer hardcore. Practice run to the cliff where winter skies wait.
by Yash Seyedbagheri
They bid me howdy in their white trucks with their easy smiles, scents of Camels and tar. The Eagles play from radios. They welcome me. Ask if there’s anything I need.
I smile. Wave. I even tip that cheap cowboy hat I bought.
It’s been months since I’ve heard that word. Fuck off has been my constant companion.
Every time I try to reciprocate, my words seem flat, like months-old Diet Pepsi. They nod in understanding. They must think me shy. Or weird.
But when they say goodbye, I reciprocate with desperate ease, word echoing like a hundred goodbyes before.
by Jeremy Nathan Marks
I bought a broom that lets me sweep up spiders without breaking their legs. I can deposit them gently into my garden. My garden is like a coliseum of displaced insects. Some have all of their limbs, while others are missing one or more for mysterious reasons. How is it that insects are threatened with extinction? I find them wobbling around, waiting to grow new limbs. They prove the point that life is more than fight versus flight: it is autosarcophagy. A fox will chew off its leg to escape a trap. There is a future for the maimed.
by G.J. Williams
The man who gave you a helping hand has had his fingers broken, and the woman who gave you shelter is homeless. Is how it stands at the moment.
And those kindly fruitsellers at the park? Picking stones, somewhere north. As for your ornithologist friend, she’s finding the dusty basements hard going, old dental records not being her bag. And your neighbours? They keep to themselves, and are happy enough to do so, aware as they are of the various alternatives.
Is how things stand at the moment.
by Iain Rowan
Even though he doesn’t get letters anymore, because who does these days, he still looks forward to the post arriving.
He picks each envelope up from the doormat and holds them tight in his hands for a few moments before putting them into the recycle bin. Even though it’s only ever junk mail, to reach him it has passed from one human hand to another, and in that there is something.
This week’s artwork is by G.J. Mintz
by R.C. Weissenberg
The piece of bark attached itself to the wall and, no matter how hard anyone pulled, it wouldn’t come off. The next day it doubled in size, and by week’s end its diameter had increased tenfold. Bright green leaves sprouted from the wooden growth.
Nobody wanted a forest in the building, so they removed that piece of the wall and tossed it in the park. There, it blended perfectly, rapidly re-greening the barren landscape.
They tried to get an environmental tax break for doing this, but their request was denied. Their wall repair was costly.
If These Symptoms Persist, or Are Bothersome…
by C.G. Thompson
The morning after he started painkillers for his knee, he whinnied while brushing his teeth. He thought he’d stepped on a squeak toy. Then he saw hooves.
He navigated downstairs, a tail growing. Cartilage, then hair.
In the kitchen, he crunched carrots, read the prescription warnings.
Possible side effects: dizziness, nausea…
Pointed ears swelled behind his temples. Did he hear electricity flowing through the house?
A hard material began to encase his fingers.
Three hours later, police responded to a Palomino roaming a front lawn.
The horse ambled toward the patch of greenest grass. It favored its right front leg.
Elephants and Dolphins
by Jeremy Nathan Marks
I suspect that the language of elephants and dolphins is not in need of metaphors. To wit, when I barter for a candy bar I truck telescopic photos of the most distant stars. The brown clerk says he knows all astrologers. Put a man on the moon (again) and I will say -I’ve been there already. The moon itself is little more than that face my daughter makes when she sees life’s unfairness and says, dad, you didn’t teach me any of this. Le mot juste, unfairness this. Time to stoke the flames of our furnace.
Death and Taxes
by Lauren Punales
My sister’s corpse reanimated on a Wednesday. Unwashed and grey, dressed in an amalgamation of clothing different relatives insisted she’d be buried in. I quickly assimilated her into her previous life; reacquired her Taurus, moved her into my spare room, and bought her pungent drugstore lotion to mask her overripe stench. I argued with the IRS about tax evasion in death as my sister’s corpse moaned, hobbling sock-footed around my living room.
“I guess we’ll fill out your W-4,” I told her slack jawed face.
She grunted, her stiff fingers scrabbling against each other, staring at her grave plot outside.