“SOMETHING ON A HILL” by WAYLAND TRACY

The sun was too bright that day and it was upsetting my goats. Some of them took to charging the children playing in the outskirts of the crowd. Kids just rolling in the dirt, not really seeing the parade or knowing what it was. I don’t know if they called it a parade. Anyway, my goats were knocking kids over, making them cry. I had to whistle a certain note and they rammed each other’s heads instead. Sometimes you have to do that with goats. We had traveled many miles and we had many more to go, to a new home, perhaps, with more water. One of them, I called him Blek, he wandered away and walked right up to the man carrying the cross. Before I could do anything, little black Blek, who I liked particularly for his joyful bleating, he licked the dirty and bloody knees of the man walking up the hill. The man yelled at Blek to beat it but Blek doesn’t listen all the time. The man then took his hand away from the cross to swat at Blek but the weight of all that wood was too much and the man collapsed, cross shoving his face into the dirt. I laughed. I don’t care for any man who raises his hand against my goats. I thought it was justice, like a universal justice that just takes care of things. I don’t know. Some people heard my laughing and glared at me like I’d pushed him down. I shrugged. A Roman soldier approached the man and my goat. He kicked the man’s ribs, told him to get up. Then he kicked my goat, who had moved on to licking the man’s feet. I had a dagger on my hip and I gripped it. Of course, I didn’t use it. I know what happened to men who raise goats when they try to take on the Romans. I’m not stupid. And as the river of my thoughts has grown longer and wider as I’ve grow more tired, I believe that life, all life, is sacred, no matter my opinions. I knew Blek would understand. He ran through the crowd and joined his goat brothers and sisters. Continue reading

FROM “GRAFFITI ON A BURNING HOUSE” by MIGGY ANGEL

It is the most beautiful day of your childhood. Your family, both the living and the beyond, stand around you in a circle wearing white gowns and every one of them are holding a red balloon. The air smells of citrus peel, or a field with the spectres alert, or a school bus travelling beyond the concrete. Every member of your family gives you a red balloon and you hold a million ancestral strings tied to a million balls of heaven. You begin to unmoor and rise upwards into the clouds and the sky, the tide of blood floods your face and oh the eternal black, oh the stars, oh the phantoms of light and the vapours of love. This is the most beautiful day of your childhood and today nobody has to die.

 

* * * * *

 

Flames rose up from the source of the red path and course the house had taken. We children descended the spiral ancestral staircase. Undressed by an act of arson. Naked as a flame and just as garrulous. Nitrogen winged. Booming bonfire arias. Tonight, father was so root-hot with shame he burned the house down. Continue reading

“IF YOU’RE NOT DRUNK YET THEN THE SUN FUCKED UP AND SET EARLY” by STEVE ANWYLL

The first thing I ask when I answer the phone is if she’s drunk. Then if she’s going to bail on me. I hear a slur in her voice giving away all of her motives. For Christ’s sake. I’ve been telling myself she was going to do just this since I got home. So now I expect it from her. But before she can even answer I tell her I’ve had enough. And to cut all her bullshit.

The response I get is wild laughter. I guess she has a differing opinion. So I stand here in the bathroom. Waiting for her to finish her hysterics. Thinking about what the hell we’re doing to each other. She finally quiets herself. She takes the time to tell me I should try climbing down off my high horse. And try taking a fucking look in the mirror for once.

So I rest the phone on the back of the toilet. Press the speaker function. I’ll accept her goddamned challenge. Like a fucking man. Earlier. When I walked in the door I’d stripped all my damp greasy work clothes off. So now here I am. Standing in front of the mirror. Covered in nothing more than a pair of stained sweaty briefs. I can see my body reflected from my zit-covered kneecaps. Up to the top of my head. Continue reading

“MY BROTHER AND I OWN THE BP STATION ON CERMAK AND DAMEN” by XIM XOM

My brother and I own the BP station on Cermak and Damen.

He runs the convenient store and I run the Subway.

We are in love with the same woman – Dame Judi Dench.

I have a poster of her above the oven.

He keeps one behind the cash register.

Every night we go all out kissing our posters and professing our love for her to the point where we cannot hear each other over the excessive smooching.

Then one evening, the store got robbed.

A masked assailant barged through the door waving a gun around, demanding we empty our cash registers.

Fearing he meant business, we did as we were told.

As he was dumping our earnings into his backpack, my brother’s poster caught his eye. Continue reading

THREE FICTIONS by BRANDON FREELS

THE HAMBURGER

 

I was asleep when Allison began pounding my face with her fists. She kept pounding, and I faded in and out of blackness. I only came to after she left. Looking in the mirror, I noticed my face had changed. It was a mess of craters. My mouth, nose, and eyes were hardly visible underneath the shifted skin.

She left a note on the mirror that read: “I’m very vulnerable and sad right now, and you’re ugly and fat. I could never live my life with someone as gross as you.” I tried putting my face back together. Using my fingers, I shifted the crushed parts of my face to where they belonged, but the skin always snapped back. My face was impossible to mend.

I left and wandered down Fort Hamilton Parkway. Somewhere passed the Burger King I found a hamburger on the ground. It was larger than a normal hamburger, about the size of a medium pizza. I lifted the top bun and looked at the patty inside. The meat didn’t look like regular hamburger meat. There were small golden, metallic squares cooked in with it, the same way someone would mix in onions. The meat glowed. Continue reading

“BOWING AT THE OPHIOLATRINE” by SEAN KILPATRICK

Bowing at the Ophiolatrine: Being commandments for an obsolete “religion”.

(Intending the millennial grievous harm.)

 

1. KNEEL ALONE AT THE MOUTH OF THE OUROBOROS.

2. ENGRAVE YOUR EVERY CURSE.

3. ARCHIVE THE WORK OF YOUR BETTERS.

4. DROOL SALT IN THE WOMB.

5. PROVOKE NO ONE, SHOOT ONCE PROVOKED.

6. WEAR EACH GENITAL IN A SLING.

7. BREAK YOUR HAND TO THE FIRE’S RHYTHM.

8. BEAR WITNESS NOWHERE, SAVE HELL.

9. COVET YOUR GRAVE THROUGH A STRAW.

10. PROSELYTIZE REVENGE (THE KNIFE IS AN ALTAR).

 

 

Spoken on high by a snake circling my urinal (life’s sole embalm) toward the embrace of its own rattle and concerning the generally arrogant wireless state of affairs unobtainable for rebuke, the smitten milieu from which I withdraw, never far enough, toward a holier resentment and here make space within the iron maiden for others to join pell-mell. Further disavowment embodied below. Continue reading

“THE DOG SAINT” by PHIL ESTES

They call her Dowager because she won’t take lip even from the ones of The Holy District, who have learned to not try to give her any. She slit them off once, this short fellow she called The Little Shit, and she took his tongue too, arrayed them via nails to the post outside of her house; made a sign, too, to go under it, something about how The Little Shit’s tongue and lips wanted old wine in a new skin. Went over everybody’s head. Went into the Galaxy when she said, “We ain’t the fasting type.” The Cyclops told all us about The Little Shit trying to find the dog saint’s shrine and that, as maintainer, she wasn’t going to let them take another thing from us, you know, and from her. Can’t yammer now. No one has seen The Little Shit since, though you hear some of them from behind the wall cry to us, call for civility before they send more of their brigade out. This is why we side with her.

The dog saint shrine isn’t nothing; we just like to go there and pay our respects and maybe smoke and make our offerings, which can be to rub the wooden head for good luck or put a bit of pilot bread in the mouth. This is ceremonial and brief. We kind of need the bread and we know the dog saint always had weak teeth. That’s why you must break your offering up into crumbs and stick them in the back near the good molars.

The old story: the dog saint played with the little kids around. He liked the smallest ones, as they were low to the ground and either fed him bits of their pilot bread or, given their lowness, he could steal the whole biscuit from their hands and run off. Kids didn’t seem to mind, he couldn’t get far since the bread square was bigger than his whole head. When He’d run a little way from them, as if in lead, he’d stop to break the tack up with those back teeth. It would then fall to the ground in pieces, which made it easier for the smallest and lowest to bite through there’s too. You’d see it sometimes and you didn’t really care to do anything about it. The dog would eat his commission, the kid wouldn’t starve. Continue reading

“CONVICTIONS” by NATE LIPPENS

Arlo was out of jail. He had been in and out of trouble and custody most of his teens and twenties, and then in his thirties he went from the kind of trouble that involved drinking and motor vehicles to the kind of trouble that involved forced entry and weapons, crossing over from criminally stupid to stupidly criminal.

I told him that if he went back to prison I wasn’t visiting him. I would write him but I didn’t want phone calls. I didn’t want to enter all my personal information online again and set up an account with Telmate so the crooks profiting off of the crooks could exorbitantly overcharge me. He said he understood. He said he was going to meetings. He was only seeing his probation officer every six weeks for a home visit during which she showed up early or late and stood in the sparsely furnished living room of his mother’s apartment and asked him rapid-fire questions about work and recovery. He said he was randomly drug-tested without fear of the results. He was doing well, thanks.

 

 

The letters arrived stamped in red: This is from a Correctional Institution. They arrived like a séance, but filled with boredom, hokery, and meandering philosophical rantings in scrawled handwriting. “I’m writing large. I’m in the dark to some degree. You’re the easiest person to write to yet I put it off. I get to a point where I don’t write any more. Sometimes it’s easier not to think of the outside world. Try to focus and get shit done here. It’s been foggy for two days now. No movement due to visibility. If the guards can’t see us, they can’t shoot us.” Continue reading

“GAGG” by GRANT MAIERHOFER

You lose an absurd weight, you become and, frankly, I worry. Today we can give the venous injection to you. But do not forget the fact that important thing eats despite your feelings here and now. I listen to the few things and… I must not eat do not want to pass over what kind of line although… just. Becomes. You the body scoop out sit afternoon all through with the needle. To spill the arm, and when bends the body and the people sound to be removed is audible, to be cursed with the behavior. Really, to that place. No, no. I think that the interest goes. Through the necessity which is unconscious will hold you from you from the memories which still sit before your mind drifts making a dream. When the dream started improving after their first stuporweeks, your mind your dream to believe firmly, your dream measures a perspective to, any more as the place which is an enemy. It is not real, not the fact that reached, is very. I must think as the existence attention person. Completely me, appears to be being normal.

 

The room shifts with pleasantry.

 

We giving to each other about task and aim of the family do to be very simple, and does not reach with that more than. I most respected their house and when although, I moved to that place, I almost had sold everything immediately. I can buy the articles which got in year sufficiently made the space: Several hundred books (almost like exactly there are these, I reading and loving, and I will like) with I am being divided. Continue reading

“AS I KILL HERE IN THE NOTHING-HEART” by TROY JAMES WEAVER

I wake up and it is dark. The waves sound like flesh-smacks and bottle-cracks. Sometimes the sea is like a hook in the mouth of an orphan. I do not know what that means, but that fact alone should not lesson its meaning. It mainly has a pull, that’s its triumph. The nights here are generally beautiful, cool, almost tangible, like webs of spiders multicolored as if from other worlds, but in this moment, the beauty of this very night here eludes me. I feel as though it is a vacuum, sucking at the sky that birthed it, and I find myself coughing often, as though my wind is being sucked, though I don’t think this illness has a name, nor is it my illness alone.

A fine mist of stank comes over me, bile and curdled milk, the horizon at this hour a smudge of coal, but there is a seed of a light out there, I see it now, coming for me, coming for somebody, moving inward. It glows dim, and is aureoled by the fog. I watch and watch. I watch it bobble and move closer, until, the minutes killing the hour, it comes on suddenly bright, breaks through the weather, and settles itself as a rising sun.

Swollen thick with urine, I go over between the cargo containers to relieve the pressure. I remember precisely how it felt that first time. His mouth was quite soft and moist, but there was a roughness on the roof. He would have fared better were he to not let it touch that spot.

As I empty, I go to a time of a few weeks before he was dead, to a place where we skirted the mist about the dockyards and two miles away from all of it found some clear air to breathe in a pocket of beach. We sprawled out together in such a way that our heads were cradled in the other’s thigh. Continue reading