Literature's Next Frontier


Flamingo

POETRY:

No More

by Charlotte Storm Quill-blue

I can faintly remember

How I'd burst in your room

Young, whining, pleading

For my best sister to

Tuck

Me 

In.

 

Groaning, you'd trudge in;

I'd toussle my sheets as much as I could

So you'd have to

Give

Me 

More

Attention.

 

To mess with me,

You'd throw the blanket entirely over me,

Squalling, I'd throw it off,

And you'd swoop

To

Give

Me

A

Kiss

Goodnight. 

 

Where are you now,

I don't think I'll ever know.

Or

Even

Care.

 

Because it all aches,

Like my heart

Is being squeezed, pressed;

Dry

Like

A

Sponge.

 

Do your barefeet touch the street,

Do you like the new ink on your skin?

Through the dope smoke that clouds your encephalon

Do you remember me,

Deep

Down

Within?

 

It's like a flashing montage,

The day you left,

You were gone so fast,

Then, it's the day I spent

Sobbing

In

Spanish

Class.

 

Glass world

Shattered in a breath,

Obliterated by a step,

The close of a door

When you acted like you loved me,

No

More,

No

More.

 


Posted on: April 27 2012

2 Comments

5.0 / 5

FICTION:

38

by Thomas Dargan Quill-green

It was a miserable New York three-day rain, repetitious and relentless weather flicked off by some no-name junior hurricane pinwheeling 400 miles at sea. The wet air had an unfamiliar sweet scent, peaches-jasmine-ganja--was it Georgia air, or Jamaica air, clocking up the coast? He was slip-steering his old BMW up the rainy Hutchinson parkway to Connecticut, steering more with the rear wheels than the front.

Loose ball joints supplied the oscillation, a predictable waggle he could work with. Two fingers on the wheel at six o'clock.  Pop the gas, drift right. Tap the brake, drift left. Cool. The rain was pelting, foggy, drizzling, driving, round and round again, a tedium of grim variety, like the Variety Kel-Bowl-Paks of a jailhouse breakfast. The car came to rest at the yacht club, but Adam continued in the controlled skid of the sailor he was, in his deck shoes, from parking lot to ramp to puddled dock to rainy boat deck.

He waggled his boat-gift as he climbed down into the yacht's salon, a pound of fair-trade, organic Columbian coffee, smelling like chocolate but with a dark little dig. His yellow Helly jacket, short curly brown hair, and sunny smile all said, You, Captain, supply the three-hundred-thousand-dollar racing sailboat, but I, Crew, bring twenty-dollar coffee.  

Actually what Adam brought to the boat was speed.  The young reflexes that a racing captain counts on to win. But the captain had never mentioned that.

The teak-and-holly, brass-accented, navy-blue-cushioned cabin was perfectly squared away, but dank, with the sharp-sweet warm-lettuce smell that was algae advancing from the bilge, and of mold crossly wafting off the rubber and canvas of soaked foul weather gear and deck shoes. Captain Dennis, fifty--twenty-five years older than Adam--was damp and cross too, but never disheveled. Now, like a knight flipping down his visor, he flipped on a silver-hair, blue-eyed smile of welcome-and-almost-kindness. That barbed twinkle.

Grrr-rattle, zing, went the little Braun grinder. Dennis's visor slipped up unawares, to reveal him glaring horribly through the clear top, at the amber waves of grinds.

--Watch the decanter, it's Baccarat.

--Got it, Cap.

Dennis was never called Captain, only Dennis. Or Cap, in mild rebuke, as when warning that his irritability was threatening to de-tune the crew, when it could cost a race.

Mostly Adam ignored the captain's sarcasm and insults, because in a sport where six miles an hour is fast, folks get tense, and where a fifteen-ton machine must be assisted in a pretty pirouette, folks get busy.  But Dennis was tense and they had't even gotten under way.

Adam had spotted the decanter on the table, and it irritated him.  Extra weight above the water line, especially unsecured glass, on a racing boat!  A racer should be stripped down to fighting weight. Serious captains jettisoned the cushions and toilets. But Dennis used his boat for other tasks between races, "entertaining" clients, as he put it, aboard. Or their administrative assistants.  The Baccarat decanter was a prop. A power prop. Adam thought of his dad's 400-horsepower Sea-Ray. A power boat, a stinkpot. Ouch.
    
As Dennis turned to make the coffee Adam reached down to lift the hatch on the boat's wine locker, to stow the rum. This rum was a beautiful liquid, not brown, not gold, a color much better than the ones God had made, dropped in your first Crayola box.  Probably it was Goslings, or an even more expensive brand he had never heard of.  The 38-foot Beneteau had the wine locker in the deck, between the table and the engine, at the exact center of gravity of the boat, to minimize the pitch and roll that causes wine bruising.  Where most nations put sick bay, the French put the wine.

Down in the locker, occupying the teak cutout where the decanter belonged, was a heavy, clear plastic bag, oil-streaked from the inside, sitting on a machinist's rag, Bridgeport blue with a red hemstitch, and in the bag was a black .38. Not the neglected stainless steel anti-pirate cannon you might find in the bottom of a locker on any cruiser, but a street weapon, prepped for immediate use.

More crew arrived, and their thumping on deck--you should never hear a step on deck, because a deck is a living thing--rattled Adam, but it also covered the clack of the wine locker closing empty, and the bump as he replaced the decanter back on the table. Dennis set out coffee cups and swept the decanter behind a galley rail. He may have sensed the warmth of Adam's hand on the heavy crystal neck, but he gave no sign.

Win tumble-danced down the steps into the cabin in Breton red shorts and red  SOSpenders, those wearable airbags of the sea.

--Touch the spinnaker, and I am going to shoot you, said Dennis. Dale's on foredeck.

--Yup, grinned Win.

Last race, Win had been too slow in dowsing the new spinnaker, that big pink triangle of downwind lingerie, and ended up under it, instead of on top of it. That had cost precious time turning round the mark, a buoy, one apex of that day's triangular race course. Win would abide in the doghouse, and master the new rig in time.

Win had a big brown-red birthmark on this left thigh, which he considered port-wine-colored, and he slapped it whenever he said "port." When he said "starboard," he didn't, he just smiled. He was a patrician electrician, a rare working man from the upper class, and a good sailor, because when his brain came up empty he just switched to another part of his body.  Born to social mastery, of parents degenerated from true wealth into the professions, themselves born of prodigal grandparents who idled in wealthy circles invisible to Adam, no mastery he sought was beyond him, given time, his legacy. Win could stand on deck in a cold rain and remain pleasant for hours.

Win clearly felt superior to everyone aboard, but calling him a snob would be like calling a fish wet. He would have no idea what you were talking about, and he might feel hurt. Besides, he was a working electrician, which was pretty democratic, and he was nice, or at least very polite. He seemed always to put the other person's feelings first.  Dennis was fascinated with him, fawned on him a bit, but got nowhere. Adam knew Win could watch any one of them die without getting ruffled. He admired that, himself being no vegetarian. He admired the philosophical consistency of it. But Adam looked to Dennis, the senior man, for direction, as a young man will.

Dale descended the ladder. Perfect shoes, with the fine boat tread called razor-sipes, brass eyelets, clean, buttery waterproofed leather, delicate ankles, long slim tan legs. Who said the shape of a leg carries a promise of more wonderful curves aloft?  But then down dropped a curtain of sturdy white cotton: loose preppy shorts, thick navy blue sweater, then long brown neck, Hepburn chin and cheekbones, gray eyes, eyes that smiled, and blond hair in a knot behind a Mount Gay baseball hat, her sole concession to frivolity.  She was, of course, Connecticut-born.

Adam didn't know her age, but she felt senior to him, without it being uncomfortable. He could sense a connection between her and Dennis, but a long slack one, like an invisible fishing line that had sunk the hook but not reeled in the catch. He couldn't tell which end the hook was in. At first he had thought in her, but maybe not. Relationships could be like that. The two of them sometimes let him see these delicate things openly, and then dazzled him back to blind.

Next came Frank, a once pretty beach boy with cuddly muscles now drooping toward fat slabs, big curly red hair, and a very winning smile--with a flickering micro-expression of a snarl. Adam's reaction to Frank was to be very friendly, and a little afraid, until he got tired of it, and then switched to just plain wary.  Frank was a motor boater, who loved to go fast, fish, fix his engine, dig clams, drink beer and bake in the sun with half-naked women. Some said he used to be a cop. Adam grasped that he was crewing on the sailboat for political reasons.

Frank was a provisional member of the yacht club, up for election to Full Member. The club was half power, and half sail, a little world like the Morlocks and Eloi of Orwell.  Dennis was the only board member who could blackball Frank for full membership. Frank had political skills. All the powerboat board members owed Frank either tools or alcohol. The remaining, sail members had taken the cowardly view that friendship with Frank would be less trouble than enmity. He had everybody lined up where he wanted them, except Dennis.

Once he became a Full Member, Frank could be as crazy as he liked, with impunity for the rest of his life. There were no expulsions: the only ways out of the club were death, or sixty days arrears. Matter of fact, lunacy was appreciated in a fresh member, even prized, because it gave cover to everyone else.  There was not a dull personality in the club. Adam had heard on Connecticut Public Radio that any ordinary group has fifteen percent strong personalities, whether PTA, Marine Corps, or rain-forest hunter-gatherers. But In the yacht club it was 100%.  So everybody needed cover, and recruitment was cordial. Initially.

Naturally they were prudent about he kinds of lunacy they selected.  There were the police to think about, and the safety of children, the Coast Guard, and New York liability lawyers, always cruising inshore. Hence the two-year provisional period before full membership, to "avoid future damage below the waterline," as the Commodore put it.

Frank had volunteered to crew because he had sniffed out Dennis's antipathy, and surmised the secret Blackball Rule. He had it right. Any board member could quietly veto full membership of a provisional member, for any reason, or no reason. Maybe because of the way the provisional looked at a spouse.  Or the way the spouse looked back. Or because his political views weakened the insecure cohesion of the majority. Anything, cut of one’s jib. But Frank needed the club badly, because he had just been divorced and lost his house, and needed to live aboard, to be in town and near his business, to stay on top of it during rough economic times.

Dennis set out the coffee, and the instructions.

--This is not a race. It is a drill, a practice run, on a triangular course we will lay in the Sound. We will put our nose out to see the weather and lay our first course to windward, to some mark. We will then make a broad reach, with the wind over whichever side. By we, I mean I. I will call it. Then we will lay a course to head home, to finish the triangle, before the wind, with a spinnaker set, if the wind holds.

--Dale will be foredeck, tend the jib, and set the spinnaker. I will drive. Adam will trim, and Win is rail meat. Frank will be utility, and follow Win. We will make every move tight and clean, best we can, better, since we don't have the pressure of a real race. When we drop the sails and motor in, we will have lunch and debrief in the cockpit.  We will be honest about our mistakes, and we will not defend an error.

He then glanced at Adam.

--The boat is tuned, now we tune the crew.

--Cap, will there be keelhauling? said Dale, brightly.

--No time, says Dennis. We will just shoot, and over they go.

They motored on a vector calculated for maximum distance from Interstate 95, south out of Indian Harbor, and set the sails at Tweed Island, and the clouds parted, and the sun came out, and they confronted the vast blue-and-sparkle of Long Island Sound, a wilderness smack in the center of a watershed of forty million people. Dale  muttered the conventional invocation.

--I wonder what the poor people are doing now?

They dug in at Great Captain Island, turning the wheel hard over to fill the sail, southwest toward Execution Rock, where the Brits chained down the Patriots to die on the next tide, because they didn't dare hang them on crowded Broadway. They hardened up their direction to windward to bear on Matinecock Point, but had to fall off a bit and settle for a bearing on Sands Point. Where Perry Como, who mastered show business with an immigrant name, stood smiling in his famous sweater, and, where, calling it East Egg, Scott Fitzgerald mastered the novel of wealth and sex. Half a degree west was Kings Point, where peers of Dennis Connor played hooky from Bronx high schools, racing in sailboats they'd swiped instead of cars.  

Just beyond was Elm Point, where Albert Einstein--before the serenity of Princeton airbrushed away his youthful lust--swiped North Shore sailboats too, and usually during storms, from his terrified society hostesses, and thought about the relativity of true wind versus apparent wind on a boat underway. Here too young Walt Whitman, fired yet again from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, sailed with his father, and coaxed him to build row houses together in Brooklyn, to get them both some cash. And on leafy Hunter Island, a nautical mile east, Chief Wampage of the Siwanoy, in 1643, had a prophetic vision of the White Castle on the Bruckner Expressway, and whetted his ax for Anne Hutchinson's neck. The Sound made them all one, those present and those gone before, with its vast, inviting blue glitter.

Dennis "drove," that is, steered by watching the sails only, and by feeling the resistance of the water beneath through his butt.  Adam handled the lines, trimming the sails precisely to Dennis's specifications, which were telegraphed by silent gestures of index finger, chin and eyebrows, Dennis being inarticulate when under stress. But Dennis knew how the whole world was turning round the mast of the boat, and Adam felt like Stephen Hawking's best grad student, an interpreter of cerebral delight. Dennis was slip sliding the vectors of wind and water, allowing the boat to slip sideways just enough to amplify the wind ahead and trick it into drawing the boat into it. Like steering down a wet parkway, thought Adam.  They fell off three degrees, to leeward, and gathered a knot of speed out of thin air.

Dennis looked up at the sails, only, at their shape, and the angle of the telltale pieces of yarn on them.  He would smell something on the wind, and slowly turn the wheel two degrees.  He never looked down, not even at the compass, never looked at where he was going, and if they were headed for a rock or another boat, that was your lookout, as crew.  Hazards were called out crisply by crew, and always acknowledged, always politely, by the wheel. Not like driving with the family.  Jet ski crossing, ten o'clock. Got the jet ski, thank you.

--Puff, three boat lengths, called Win, from his punishment seat on the port rail.

--Got the puff, thank you.

Dennis dipped under the wind shift, moving off course but gaining speed, and turned back on course with fresh impetus packed neatly into the five-ton keel. Very nice, thought Adam, it's like a skateboarder pumping in a dip for speed. They reached the mark Dennis had called, a channel buoy.

--Coming about!  called Dennis, and the heavy boom swept across the deck and the concave jib popped to convex on the foredeck.  Dale slipped round the mast, finessing the boom, and Win and Frank slipped under it. What seconds ago was downhill on deck, became uphill, and the two men scrambled up to the starboard rail.  But the jib sheet snagged on the rigging, trapping Dale behind it on the foredeck. Frank was closest.

--Take that line off and put it back over here! No, not that line, stupid, that line, near the thing!  No, no, that thing! There, dammit, that one! blustered Dennis. Inarticulate in action. Way he was made. Frank was stymied. Win clambered over him.


--Lazy shackle back aft to the starboard car, glossed Win blithely, and made it so. Frank went purple with rage.

Now the freed jib slammed Dale against the lifelines, pinning her in a torrent of bow wave. Frank, unawares of her peril, glared at Dennis, who rushed forward. A strong puff, that nobody saw and nobody called, tilted the boat hard over, and water swept the deck and drowned the port winch. Adam had moved to the wheel, the way a shortstop automatically covers second, and now Win slipped into the cockpit to backfill Adam on trim. The heavy rudder emerged angrily and pivoted uselessly in the air to port. The port jib sheet whipped into the wheel hub, and jammed. Meanwhile Dale was enduring forces of wind and water that can make a fifteen-ton boat into a moth flicked away by Mother Nature.

Dennis rushed the bow with a knife, where Frank was crouched over the anchor.  Dennis stepped into a coil of anchor line, which Frank then tugged to lasso Dennis's leg. That line led through a section of the lifelines that fence the deck, and around to the anchor. The life lines had been unclipped. He had rigged a horizontal gallows, on a hair trigger. Dennis's way lay open to the sea. Frank's hand lay on the anchor quick release, a thick finger in the pull ring. Dennis  registered condescending admiration. Frank had him over a barrel. With one tug he could put Frank overboard, the anchor making speed for the bottom.

Adam, in the cockpit, missed the setup, distracted by a heavy thud-and-shatter below. Baccarat. But he caught the flash of Frank's murderous grin at Dennis, then spotted the lethal trap. He dove below into the cabin, emerging at the forward hatch with the oily gun in its blue rag, and pointed it at Frank. Dennis with his knife turned and slashed open the belly of the jib. Dale spilled out, born again, this time by Cesarian, and madder than a wet cat.

Dennis tossed the knife, back handle, to Win, and sneered at Frank. Win cut the sheets, and the boat stood up, and stalled, the elegant swan becoming a fluttering goose. Adam waved the pistol nervously, and Frank raised his right hand from the untagged quick-release, slowly, like he was taking an oath. With his left hand he deftly whipped a snake wave down the anchor line, releasing Dennis. Dennis followed Dale aft to the cockpit.

Adam handed the gun to Dennis, glad to be rid of it. From the cockpit Dennis used it to point the prisoner back to rail meat position on the starboard rail, midships. Frank rose from his crouch and obeyed, walking aft of the mast, eye on the gun.  A powerful wind shift then jibed the mainsail, swung it over the deck, and the boom clanged against Frank's head, just above the ear, and swept him overboard, through the slack lifelines.

As Frank bobbed along the waterline, Dennis threw the gun in after him. Win, facing aft to start the engine, missed both splashes, big and little, Frank and gun, but got the engine started and in gear. Frank slipped under the hull and was turned to chum by the bronze, bottom-sand-sharpened, crustacean-serrated prop.  

With the shortened sheets cleated down and the sails unmaneuverable, Adam motor sailed home, alternately tapping the throttle and braking with the rudder, right and left, slip sliding along, while Dennis distributed sandwiches and debriefed.

--Nobody called the puff. Nobody called the wind shift.  Lookouts were distracted by deck action that was beyond their help. I went forward without a safety harness and tether. I failed to spot and replace frayed wire rigging, which caught the jib sail.

--I must also report a fatality to the Commodore. It is a Club rule when a power boater is lost on a sailboat, and vice-versa, of course, when a sailor dies on a powerboat.  The rule preserves the balance of sail and power in the Club. It is a good rule. There was no gun, and there was no trap rigged on the deck by Frank.

--Nobody spotted the unfastened life lines in proper time. Adam was observant, often.  Very good. Dale was tethered in her harness on the foredeck, Good. I was not.  Bad.  As you plainly saw. Frank had fabulous line handling, but inattention and emotion caused him to slip overboard.  He was unsuitable for full membership. Win, admiring the pink track of our dear chum back there in the sunset, is a fucking upper-class ghoul.


Posted on: April 22 2012

13 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

Can you think of a title 'cause I can't.

by Charlotte Storm Quill-blue

Clutching my own hand

Born, alone, I learn to stand

Patting my own back

I celebrate myself

Packing my own sack

And I long forget my health

Because he doesn't exist

And trust isn't real

Add it to my list

And get rid of what I feel

Blank like paper

Falling like rain

I'll run first

And cry later

Can't look at myself

Or those broken eyes

Make myself stop dreaming

Before I get hurt by lies

Because soul mates are illusional

And we're just delusional

On my faith forsaken soul

Life has taken its toll

But enough is never enough

So let me run

Break me from these cuffs


Posted on: April 09 2012

15 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

The Bamboo

by Charlotte Storm Quill-blue

I watched the bamboo dying

                Sadly, silently, sighing  

It belonged to a girl; fiery phoenix bird  

                Greenless, lifeless, leafless

It cannot utter a word

 

I watched her parents give it to her

                Sapling, tender and gentle

It was nourished everyday

                Promising, vulnerable, sentimental

 

It stood tall under the artificial sun

                Its world a sugar-sweet grapefruit-

Flying trees, talking knolls seemingly begun

                But a phoenix is a phoenix

 

Resting precariously in the marbles 

                It depended on her everyday

For a drink of life, a glimpse of light

                But hope began to fade.

 

It called out to me; me a simple wren

                Its only company gray bunnies    

A life of sweet sugar

                Turned bitter honey

 

We watched the scintillating phoenix

                A storm cloud always in haste

Under our roof it rained everyday

                But the plant never got a taste

 

The lightning struck

                And our world shook

Then suddenly the sky changed hue

                Shambles, emotions, detriment, came slowly into view

 

Her parents took up the bamboo

                Thunder echoing perpetually in their chests

Green to yellow, forever anew

                There was almost nothing left.

 

 


Posted on: April 07 2012

8 Comments

5.0 / 5

FICTION:

Beginnings:)

by B-ELLA Books Quill-purple

These are some different intense ways we thought and awesome could start with! Feel free to use these for you works!

 

It was dark outside and i could see the reflection of red eyes out my window. I quickly snap my head past the curtain and realize with relief, it's only bats hunting. That was my last thought, before I died. Hello my name is Sierra Stanstrom and I am leader of the living dead.

Walking.. jogging...walking...skipping...walking...jumping...walking...RUN! I can feel their breathe on the back of my neck coming closer and closer to its target. I keep running knowing my life is on the line, they found me at last... when suddenly instead of running.. im falling.

1  6  3  9  2  4  1  0  0  2.  The combination of the lock i'm opening at the moment, same old boring school day. Or at least thats what I thought back then. That was actually the day when something happened that changed my life forever.

TADA! just for fun enjoy,

 


Posted on: March 23 2012

7 Comments

5.0 / 5

FICTION:

The Unwanted: A Novel, Chapter 5 and 6

by B-ELLA Books Quill-purple

 

Chapter 5: A Detour

"It's the death warriors, they've been following me, they're trying to find the tree.", she explained. "But only blood-souls can find the tree! We need to get away from here immediately, but first we need to get something to drink. Let's go, I smell prey about a mile from here." So we leave the underground and proceed through a sorrow forest. The shadows of the willow trees deliver a gloomy environment. It was nearly 3AM and the sky was as dark as my raven black hair. "Stop.", Laila says, "A moose is near." And then she disappeared. A second later I heard a loud groan in the distance. "Come over here!", Laila yelled " He's so delectable." We gathered around the moose slurping ferociously in enjoyment. Lots of energy was needed for the long journey ahead of us. Laila pulled off the moose's antler and sharpened it on her dagger. "Here take this", she told me. "Gory beasts lie ahead, always be armed." We start to slickly glide through the forest with the blood-soul 's silent but speedy pace. My enhanced senses told me Laila could be keeping something from me. When we reach the slimy saloon, she comes to a halt. "What's the matter?", I ask. "We're supposed to meet someone here, he's delivering me something special to help with the journey.”, she replies without hesitation. "Why didn't you tell me before?", I asked suspiciously. "Well, we had to take a 2 hour detour to get here, now were even later getting to the tree. I figured you wouldn't come if I told you." "You got that right, I thought I could trust you!", I exclaimed. " Well he's bringing us the persipan blade, necessary to beat the trolls on the way", she proclaims, "You should be thanking me. Without this blade we would've died getting there." "Don't be so sure..", I said under my breath. Suddenly footsteps behind us. "He's here.", Laila says. Except it wasn't him. A giant boar with bloody drool escaping from the corners of his mouth, lunges out from the bushes behind us. We both dash backwards, stunned and hopeless against this gigantic beast. Before we could think farther, an arrow stabbed through the back of the troll. "I just saved your guts", a deep voice says from behind the falling beast. "Who are you?", I find myself asking. "My name is Alazar", a cloaked figure says, "I have brought you the persipian blade."

Chapter 6: Alazar's Deal


"Thanks", I said, "Can we have it???", I reply sarcastically. "Well, where's my payment?!", he asked in a snarl of a voice. "Oh, of course, what would you like?", said Laila in a slightly too cheery voice. "I demand to transfer powers with your friend.", he said in an expressionless voice. WHAT?! I'm thinking inside.. but I use my control to keep calm. "Uhm, well let us discuss it for a minute.", I said pulling Laila aside. "So I'm hoping you can tell me what this freak is talking about?!", I say in shock. "He wants to suck your blood. When he does this, he takes your powers", Laila replies. Okay.. No way I'm doing that, but suddenly a plan comes to mind. Laila stares at me in worry, but I have confidence in my plan. I slowly approached Alazar. I was taking deep breaths to prepare for what I was about to do. He approaches me with a greedy smile on his face, what a creep! I can feel his breath on my neck now, about to sink his teeth into my neck. When suddenly I stab him in the stomach with my antler.

 


Posted on: March 01 2012

3 Comments

5.0 / 5

FICTION:

Through the Eyes of a Serial Rapist

by Joshua Design Quill-yellow

She's laying here under me crying.  But she loves me.  I pleasured her more than any man ever has.  She will thank me one day for showing her what a real man is.  She said she hated me and begged me to stop, but I know she just felt bad because we were taking things too fast.  But it's over now.  I'm done- finished with her.  Maybe when she realizes that she loves me we can do this again.  But I know she won't...  She has seen me.  That's too bad.  I really loved this girl.  And she loves me.  Why must the women I love always die?


Posted on: January 30 2012

8 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

inanimate irresolution

by Moon Puppy Quill-yellow

a brown leaf: draped over the lip of the infinity pool; wavering 

in the gentle persistence of its overflow; wetly plastered 

against its granite brink; undulating unremittingly --

as if on the verge of a momentous decision. 


Posted on: December 17 2011

9 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

Walking in the Night

by Frederick Bridger Quill-yellow

She demands nothing of you in a place that demands

Everything of you, a place of maddening humility

Where tall evergreens somehow look naked in waning

Light.  Everyone is disappearing and it doesn’t

Matter anymore.  It’s either too early

Or a decade too late.  Sometimes the worst for you

Is the best.  I climb a slope carpeted in thigh-high

Talking grass, taste mysterious forbidden

Scents on a rusty wind that drags useless

Words in violent crescendos from deep inside me. 

This is not like those days when I saw

Evergreen boughs as our sky.  Now, angry

Clouds menace my thoughtscapes, draw

Unwilling memory from a place long-locked. 

 

I once lived inside files, folders

Piled in the corner by the lopsided bookcase, lost

Pieces of me crumpled like old newspaper

That didn’t take long to package up and throw out. 

Perhaps the Aurora is out there, at the end of a long

Walk, radiant emissions of light streaming

Across a northern sky, and in that time

Between dark and light, when everything is silent

And filled with shadow, I could call her darlin’. 

I so want this to be a time of celebration,

A time of quiet joy for the senses,

But nighttime skies often grow cloudy.


Posted on: December 17 2011

4 Comments

5.0 / 5

FICTION:

Remember Me

by RAZ Quill-orange

   Mighty Mac Burns played third base for the Getsville Wolves, the Triple-A team we had here in the city in the sixties.  His lifetime batting average for the seven seasons he played here was .243, and he hit a meager nine homeruns. He was a decent fielder, though. Put simply, he was a journeyman minor league ballplayer of little distinction.

   I was five years old when my father began taking me to see the Wolves. We always sat behind their dugout. I'd eat two or three hot dogs and cotton candy and loads of peanuts, and sometimes come home with the world's worst upset stomach, while my father would down two or three Ballantines. We'd have a great time, especially when the Wolves won.

   I was ten years old when the team packed up and left in 1959. Of course, it saddened me.

   And here I am twenty years later and I still remember what Mighty Mac did during the championship game that final season. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, the Wolves trailing, 5-4, he swung at the first pitch and popped out to the third baseman, ending the game and Wolves' best season. He was booed. But as he trotted toward the dugout, we made eye contact and he winked at me. Yes, he did. He winked.

   As I said, that was the team's last season in Getsville. I have no idea what became of him.

   In a few weeks we're having an Old Timers' Night at Getsville Stadium for members of the Getsville Wolves baseball team, and my job was to contact as many of them as possible. Here was my chance to re-connect with Mighty Mac. I learned he was living in Oklahoma. I found his telephone number. I telephoned him. It rang three times. He answered. I told him who I was and why I was calling.

   "You're kidding," he said. "You remembered me?" His voice was shaky.

   "Of course," I said.

   "I didn't think anyone...." There was a pause. "I wish I could come. But I'm old, you know. Gnarled. I'm not very well. I can't come. I thank you." I heard a cough. Maybe a sob, too.

  

 

 


Posted on: September 23 2011

6 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

Fifty-Fifty

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

A man of fifty is to be admired

while a woman of fifty is usually fired.

He's considered suave and debinair

while she's in a panic about her gray hair.

And how is it fair

that his love handles are cute

but her bulges and sagging

negate her pursuit.

The fifty year old man is experienced and wise

while the half-century woman

is nothing short of despised.

So, if you are a man

who is fifty years old,

relish the year

because, after I'm told-

It's downhill from there -

you'll ache everywhere

and you'll yearn for the days

when you had a full head of hair.


Posted on: September 20 2011

5 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

If I Could See Through Your Eyes

by R. W. Scott Quill-green

 If I could see through your eyes, even for a moment, what would I see?

If I could be inside your mind, if I could hear your thoughts, how would my world be changed?

If your ears could be mine, and I could hear my “accent” through yours, how would I sound?

If I could taste food the way you do, know your preferences, what you crave, what you abhor, would I understand you better?

What if I really understood your sense of humor?  Knew what you find truly beautiful, and what you fear in the back of your secret mind?

Is what I call red the same color you see when you name it red?  Can you identify all the greens in a forest by name?

I have had this wish, this burning need to see, to experience, to know, for such a long time, but the best I can do is “put myself in your place”, and only in my mind. 

I can only guess.

Still, I know of no better way to understand you, or that person from another land I met today, or even my brother.  Imagination must be the stand-in for true knowledge, because even if I sit with you and ask, you will respond to your version of my questions, with your version of the answers, and, not being able to share my eyes, my ears, my mind, you will answer as best you can, but your answer will be in a tongue I will never truly understand.

 

[Reprinted from Uphill Writing: November 29, 2010]


Posted on: August 31 2011

6 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

Keys

by Lebo Quill-red

The keys are everywhere

Strewn about like leaves after a storm

Lying, waiting to be found

But hoping to not, as a lover forlorn

 

Half buried beneath the surface

Digging themselves still deeper down

Away from the hand trying to grab them back

Slipping as frustrations abound

 

While in a back pocket oft forgotten

Recalling in a moment its power

To open a box once dormant

Brings always a tempestuous shower

 

Though this cloud hovers over just one

It can be escaped with some guile

As anguish lines the exit route

Patience is required for the last mile

 

Finally a brutal sun beats down

Eroding the shield that insulates the pain

Jagged metal edges melting with time

Wishing for calm on this abyssal plain


Posted on: August 30 2011

3 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

The Song of Lilith

by Rhiannon Firehorse Quill-red

I am Lilith WillowDragon of the Tribe of the Dark Witch…

I am Priestess of Ishtar-Aphrodite…

I am Priestess of Dummuzi-Adonis…

I am devotee of my Divine Companion, Ereshkigal-Hekate…

Tiamat and Epona are my Spirit Sisters…

This is my life…

This is my song…

 

I am the Midwife who welcomes the Sun

I am the Sacred Whore who revels beneath the Moon

I am the Sorceress of Deep Yearning

I am the Dark Enchantress of the Carnal Gateway

I am the Muse of Self-Revelation…

I am the Acolyte of the Twilight Crossroads

I am the Mistress of Lost Souls

I am Priestess of the Yoni and the Lingham

I am Qadishtu of the Goddess, She who washes away sorrow

And opens new gateways to ecstasy…

Heed my call!

 

I am the erotic cry of wilderness…

I am the perpetually shifting sands in morning’s first light…

I am the rains that shimmer in the wastelands…

I am the whispering of warm desert breezes on the twilight dunes

I am the stars whirling overhead

I am the witching hour’s silhouette before the horizon

I am the rushing flow of the rivers

I am the darkening indigo of the moody autumn heavens

I am the solitude of the oasis…

I stand between the river and the desert and lift my arms in honor to Mother Earth’s diversity…

Enter my Lady’s temple…

 

I am the Singer of Songs of the Compassionate Heart

I am the Sentinel of Mysteries

I am the Web-weaver of Poetry and I am the Scribe of Spirit Stories

I tell the tales of the Ancient Mother and Her Daughters

I soar with the spirits of the Blessed Ancestors

I glow with the eternal fire of the Qadishtu

I immerse myself in the Nectar of the Gods

I purify myself in the lightning fire of the Queen of Heaven

I balance all aspects of my life, light and shadow, and weave them together

to create the web that is my being.

Know thyself and prepare…

 

I am the Lover of Unwavering Heart and I am the Untamable One

I am Beloved of my Chosen and I am Pandemos to All

I am the sensual one of luscious thighs and I am the savage lust of Kunti,

succulent and hot

I am the hedonistic softness of feminine essence       and I am the hard fury of feminine rage…

I am the yielding flesh of Creation and I am the rigid coldness of Death…

I am the Unearthly Beauty and I am the Dangerous Sorceress…

I am the passion in a lover’s kiss and I am the terror in a lover’s parting…

I am the pulse of ancient rhythms…

I am the ecstasy of the primal dance…

I am the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone.

Bury your existence within my depths…

 

I am Destiny’s Mystic and I am Justice’s Fierce Huntress…

I am Child of the Ancient Ones, the Horse Clan and I am Mother of She Who Knows No Equal…

I am the farsighted night vision of Owl…

I am the healing venom and sensuality of Serpent…

I am the playful joy of Dolphin…

I am the strength and fierceness of Lioness…

I am the grace and beauty of Swan…

My taste is that of sweet cakes dipped in honey and cream…

My scent is a shadowy perfume, the spicy fragrance of late Autumn Harvests…

My will is my own, my Lady’s and my Lord’s and no other.

Surrender to this moment in time…

 

I am Daughter of the Golden-Crimson-Ebony Goddess and I am the consort of the Horned Lord of Nature…

I am Priestess of Ishtar-Aphrodite…

I am Priestess of Dummuzi-Adonis…

I am devotee of my Divine Companion, Ereshkigal-Hekate…

Tiamat and Epona are my Spirit Sisters…

I am Lilith WillowDragon of the Tribe of the Dark Witch…

This is my song…

This is my life.

We are One!


Posted on: August 29 2011

10 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

North of Quebec: Presence Without Metaphor

by the other guy Quill-orange

North of Quebec low hills roll and roll on:

Not like prowling arctic animals,

Not like a snowfall’s undulating plain,

Not like hills:

But worn of movement’s immense imprint

Expanding across the time-wrenched shield.

 

A car motors around the hills, past towns,

Similar devoutly-christened relics

Of close impassioned times:

Not like unnamed roads,

Not like the pretense of a forgotten science,

Not like prayer:

But unraveled remnants of distant history,

Recalling the driver’s primeval doubt.

 

The driver, reluctant, turns the car,

And returns by the same impassive road,

Around similar hills, whose swift changes mimic

The car’s sudden motions, the turn, the stutter,

And then roll on:

Not like the startle of a distant animal,

Not like a car’s measured progress,

Not like presence:

But form of a silence that is

And yet is itself no more.


Posted on: August 28 2011

6 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

A Commute as a Sexual Incident

by the other guy Quill-orange

We are but remnants of what we recall; no more

Than that can we be sure of.  So thinking, I hop

Onto a bus that has lumbered to the stop,

And drag my feet across its brutish floor.

Consoled by this truth, I can restore

Purpose to casual events that form, as they drop

About me, into a gritty film atop

Those disordered memories.

 

                                                At the bus's door

I taste nights sweating in your estranged arms,

And hear once more your sure tears by telephone.

How can I live this unfashioned process at all,

But by bridling the blood and dreams a bus ride warms,

Conjuring fragile passion and nights all but alone?

As I get off I brush by you; you are not what I recall.


Posted on: August 22 2011

6 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

“. . . I knew him, Horatio. . .”

by the other guy Quill-orange

That you are dying is sure.

As the blood that warms the hands lying before you,

As the light that slants across the cloud-scarred sky.

You are hollow as the stick of wood

That crackles into embers dying with the fire,

Lying in the hot grate, gray amid the fire.

 

Nothing can quench the desire.

But you know already that no one will care

When it comes time to forget to pay

That last bill, or water those forgotten flowers

Dying in the warm bed, already dead

To your desire.  Or if something isn’t said

When you fall dizzy in the shower,

Or when the doctor enters the cramped room

Where you sit scared, and frowns and shakes her head. 

 

No one will share, when you confront the empty sky.

All else will live or die that day, other people

Will clean the cold grate, watch rain fill the flowers,

Cancel the bill.  The doctor will spend those hours

With others, not recalling where you once sat,

Bearing in warm hands the warmth of a slanted fire,

Crackling with the hope of unshared desire.


Posted on: August 21 2011

7 Comments

5.0 / 5

FICTION:

The Taskmaster

by R. W. Scott Quill-green

"I don't want to do this."

"I don't care. Get into the chair."

"But you don't understand, I can't take it any more. The pain..."

"You volunteered. You said you were willing to do this. You can't back out now."

"But... but it hurts."

"Lots of things hurt."

"You don't understand."

"Give me your arm."

"I... I...."

"There. Now the other one."

"It isn't fair."

"I'm all broken up."

"I shouldn't have to do this any more."

"Do we need to go over the volunteer thing again?"

"I uh... what are you doing?"

"Just pushing up your sleeve. Come on, you know about this."

"But it hurts!"

"Shut up and take one for the team."

"Why? Why the drugs?"

"You telling me you think you can do this without them?"

"I uh..."

"Yeah. Didn't think so. OK, I'm sliding the pads under your hands. Fingers down."

"But I..."

"Fingers down, dammit. Don't make me get nasty."

"I want to quit."

"You should have thought of that before. Power on in three, two, one."

"NO! Damn you, no!"

"Give it a second. You know it's worse at first."

"But I... but I..."

"There. There you are. Now get to it."

"You are evil. You are just plain evil."

"Yeah, don't I know it. You gonna get started? ...or do I have to..."

"NO! I mean Yes. I'm going to... I .... dammit. Where was I?"

"That's better. Rewrite, chapter three, page 2."


Posted on: August 21 2011

4 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

Why Am I Here

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

Why am I here

year after year

I ask myself in between each tear

that falls into the bathroom sink.

I should be somewhere else.

I should be sitting on your lap

and laughing at your jokes.

I should be telling you 

to please take care of yourself.

I should be trying to blow life

into your body.

But, I'm one hundred feet away

watching strangers surround you -

not knowing what to do -

waiting for the ambulance

to whisk you away 

to a place that you never even knew

you went to.

I am here

seeing you appear before me

encased in swirls of smoke.

I awoke

remembering that you used to have a body

made of flesh and blood.

If I could dig you up

I'd see your bones

and still wonder where you were.

If I could know for sure

that you were able to be summoned 

from a universe

as yet unknown to me,

I would be completely at peace.

But, until I can know for sure,

I will continue to wonder,

why am I here?

 


Posted on: August 15 2011

3 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

Imagine

by Delicate Flower Quill-blue

Imagine a universe

of only one voice

of only one world

of only one choice.

A cosmic compiling

of unified nations

of similar states

of binding relations.

A galactic explosion

of integration of race

of connection to faith

of one entity in space.

Imagine a place

of harmony

of bliss

of equity

of integrity

imagine something such as this.


Posted on: August 07 2011

7 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

Uninterrupted Reading

by Shik923 Quill-green

There once was a pretty girl
Who always left her hair to curl
While others focused solely on their looks
She focused solely on her books
All she wished for was for uninterrupted reading
And to be left to the happy life she was leading
But the years passed, their beauty lost
Whereas her gift came with no cost
Years later, she spied their lost beauty and she understood
That it is not beauty, rather knowledge that will do you good.
Looks fade, people get older
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Yet knowledge will serve you well, indeed
For those who learn are the ones who succeed


Posted on: July 21 2011

3 Comments

5.0 / 5

POETRY:

The Entirety of the Sky

by R. W. Scott Quill-green

It was moving day, and one of the last things to load onto the borrowed truck was the full length mirror that had lived upon a door for so many years.

We pried it from its ancient perch, and two of us carried it through the house, stepping with light feet over boxes and the odd item waiting to be loaded.

Once outside, and for a reason I cannot remember, we turned it parallel to the ground so it faced the sky above.

To look into the depths of that glassy, glossy surface was to astound the mind, as the sky above was now captured, in its entirety, and held in our hands.

I wondered then, what would happen if I released the old mirror and allowed myself to fall into it. Would I fall down into the sky?

The question took me, and I found myself letting go and watching as that sky-filled surface fell toward the ground with impossible slowness.

There was a crash of light, a shattering of the sky, and less important, the sound of a mirror as it went to pieces.

It was a thing of beauty, the breaking of the mirror, no author of ill fortune, I was sure.

And when I looked at what had happened. When I knelt down and peered into the ragged, jagged pieces of leftover mirror...

I saw that each remaining bit, no matter how large or small, yes, each one, held in it, the entirety of the sky.


Posted on: August 15 2011

16 Comments

4.86 / 5

POETRY:

The Coffin

by Venus in Furs Quill-purple

There is a coffin in my living room.

 

Literally.

 

It is blue and shiny and

covered in flowers.

 

I can’t tell if

anyone can see it

but it’s kind of hard

to miss, I think,

being that it is blue

and shiny

and covered in flowers.

 

People walk by it and I wonder

if they even notice it

or if they’re too shy to ask

or if they think it may be rude to inquire

if someone is in it,

especially over coffee,

so instead

we’ll talk about china patterns

or what it is that makes

my lawn so green.

 

“We all let go of our love

to survive,” he said,

and I knew I could never

lie naked beside him again –

even with the lights shut,

even just to say goodbye,

even though he kissed like clouds

or angels with feather-lips.

So I brained him with his eight-iron.

 

And there he is, in this               coffin

in the middle of my living room

and there I am and there

they are and I wonder:

Does it even matter,

the coffin 

in the middle

of my living room?

 

“Over-seeding with perennial rye,”

I admit.


Posted on: August 08 2011

10 Comments

4.75 / 5

FICTION:

Fatso

by leelila Quill-red

I don't think there's much in the world that should surprise anyone, really. Not the murder of that six-year-old in Palisades Park, not the huge inheritance that nurse in Sayreville got from some rich-as-a-pharaoh patient of hers, certainly not me doing what I did with Jay Wiederman. Beneath this cute white tee from Malice in Wonderland and these butt-loving Diesels, I’m a girl who believes in possibilities. A girl who believes anything can happen. This is what I told Nikki Rhodes in the dressing room at Macy’s when she asked me how could I have.

"With Fatso, of all people," she said. "He must be the grossest guy in Jersey." Bra off, she was pulling a light blue Arden B. tank over her head. With the shirt covering her eyes, I could tell she’d been tanning topless in her backyard while slow-reading the books Mrs. Wacker had assigned us over the summer: Moby Dick, This Side of ParadiseThe Turn of the Screw. She worked the blue tank over her belly button and gave herself a frown in the mirror. 

      "Sometimes things just happen," I said. I was taking off the Diesels, about to try on a pair of faded Blue Tattoos. I told her you just never know. That one day she might get run over by her very own mother, the life knocked out of her by that massive Land Rover as it runs a red light at Terrill and Cooper. That Mrs. Wacker might show up to class one Monday with swollen eyes and tell us she’s cancelled our comprehension test because her husband just up and left her. That she didn’t have it in her to write up all those questions. She might even tell us all about the other woman too. Not some pretty blond thing, but a midget who sat beside Mr. Wacker on a flight to LA. A midget off to audition for a remake of The Wizard of Oz. A midget who hated books and had a cute smile. It’s all possible, I said.

***

The way things happened with Jay Wiederman is pretty simple if you look at the big picture. People don’t like to admit it, but things that happen to you today or tomorrow have as much to do with the here and now as things that happened long ago, to you or even to somebody else, things you might not even remember, things you might know nothing about. This is what most people will never admit. This is what Nikki Rhodes will never admit. That she twirls that baton of hers the way she does because of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade four years ago, when her older brother said he thought the left-most baton-twirler in the front line was the finest specimen of our species he’d ever seen. Nikki claims he never said this, not according to her ears, but I know he did, because I was there. I also know I saw Nikki looking hard at that girl, taking it all in: the tiny green skirt, the white cap with a chinstrap, the baton whirling high above her head as if it were light as a pencil. But like most people, Nikki likes to think the past can’t explain a thing about her. She likes to think she was struck one fine morning with a sudden talent, a gift having to do with a metal stick with two rubber ends. And who am I to tell her otherwise? 
      But the issue at hand is Jay Wiederman. And me. How I allowed it. How I allowed it even though he could wrestle a whale. Even though his hair sticks to his head like it’s been painted on and he wears corduroy and wool when it’s eighty degrees out. 
      It all started with my Uncle Walter dropping dead. He was in the hospital getting his ticker worked on. Something minor, supposedly. Maybe not minor, but definitely no emergency. A scheduled thing. Something he was supposed to be able to walk into and out of, no problem. But when it came time to give him a blood transfusion, which they knew he’d be needing ahead of time, they accidentally gave him the wrong kind of blood. The wrong blood type. One his body didn’t recognize and didn’t much want to get to know either. And after everything began shutting down – his liver, his kidneys, his lungs, even the ticker he came in to have serviced in the first place – those doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. They just kept pumping that blood into him, until all of him shut down for good. And then one of them finally figured out that the blood was supposed to have gone to the guy in the room next door. That was a Tuesday. I got to skip school the rest of the week on account of the mayhem. The funeral happened on Friday.
      I knew the funeral was wacky because practically all of the women there were wearing red. Some wore red dresses, some red skirts. Some had little red scarves tied around their necks and one had on red shoes and a matching red bag. Almost every one of them had at least something red on, which definitely seemed very unfuneral-like to me. Meanwhile, my uncle was lying in his casket looking more serious than ever, wearing a white shirt and a little red bow tie, an outfit my aunt had picked out for him like she’d done on all their special occasions. 
      Anyway, in the middle of all this, I recognized Mrs. Wiederman, Jay Wiederman’s mom. She was by herself, the only woman I could spot without a stitch of red. She had on a black dress, pointy black high heels, and a black hat with one of those mesh things covering her face, which I have to admit I don’t really get the purpose of, and she was dabbing at her eyes under the net with this small off-white handkerchief. She was a lot more dressed up than I had ever seen her at any school function including the talent show. But, recognizing her as I did, I walked up to her and said hi and asked her how Jay was, figuring I’d be polite. She got all uncomfortable, though, glancing over her shoulder, eyes peeled for something, sticking her handkerchief in her purse, telling me Jay was fine and that she’d read about my uncle in the newspaper and thought she’d stop by and pay her respects. 
      Then she bolted. I didn’t think much of it except that she was just weird, which at the time made perfect sense to me since I knew she was Jay’s mom and Jay was at least as weird as he was fat, with the little shivers he always let out in class and the way he sat alone at lunch reading comic books no one ever heard of. Then I even thought about the whole nature-nurture thing we talked about in Bio, wondering if Jay was weird because he had his mother’s weird genes or if being raised by a weirdo mom was enough to make even someone with regular genes a weirdo. 
      I finally got the low-down about all that red from my dad. My mom had gone off with my aunt in her car to console her since they’re sisters, so it was just my dad and me together in the car, and he’s the kind who’s pretty good about answering my questions without telling me everything interesting is none of my business, like my mom usually does. 
      Bottom line: my aunt pulled a Sherlock Holmes on my dead Uncle Walter. She’d suspected for a long time that he’d had someone on the side –a lover, my dad called it – but she never knew for sure and was determined to find out once and for all. So she told everyone she invited to the funeral that the women should come wearing something red. She said it was my uncle’s favorite color and that he would have wanted it that way, would have wanted his funeral not to be a somber occasion, but a celebration of his life. Then she put an obituary in the paper giving the details about my uncle dying and the location of the funeral. She figured she’d be able to trap my uncle’s lover that way, assuming if my uncle really did have one, the woman would be distraught enough to come dressed in black. 
      "So did it work?" I asked my dad.
      "Seems like it did," he said, sounding tired and sad.
      "Way to go, Aunt Netty," I said, but my dad gave me his look that said this was no time to be kidding around.
      "Sorry," I said, and I was. "So it was Jay Wiederman’s mom?"
      "Yeah," my dad said. "Mrs. Wiederman." 
      "For sure?"
      "Walter had been calling Coldwell Banker a lot. That’s where Mrs. Wiederman works."
      "Oh," I said. "I guess Aunt Netty must be pretty upset." 
      My dad let a silence gather, and for a while I thought he was done wanting to explain things. Then, at a red light, he pulled the car lighter out of its socket, looked at the burning hot rings of it, and put it back.
      "Courts award millions of dollars for the sort of mistake that happened in that hospital," he finally said. "Your Aunt Netty’s going to be a very wealthy woman. So I think she’s feeling a lot of things all at once right now, you know?"
      "Yeah," I said. But I wasn’t sure if I knew or not. I was just imagining my Aunt Netty wearing a mink coat and flying a private jet to some mansion in Aspen while my Uncle Walter decomposed underground. I tried to think of everything in the world I ever wanted and then multiplied that by two and imagined Aunt Netty having it all.

***

Saturday, the day after the funeral, at around five o’clock, I got a call from Jay Wiederman. Totally out of the blue considering we hadn’t said more than five words to each other all year. He told me he noticed I’d been out of school the whole week and offered to come over to my house to bring me all the notes and homework assignments I’d missed. Even though we only live three blocks away, I’d never been to his house and he’d never been to mine and the whole idea of him coming over felt too strange. Then I figured his wanting to come over probably had something to do with his mom getting caught being my Uncle Walter’s lover and all, and it’s not my way to make people uncomfortable, so I said okay, that it would be nice if he’d stop by with the notes. Jay’s at least as smart as he is weird, I thought, so his notes had to be at least three times as good as Nikki’s, and I couldn’t be that bad off having him over.
      I took out the trash and washed the two dishes in the sink and wiped the dust off the TV screen in the living room even though I didn’t know why. I remembered a story Jay wrote in English class the year before that our teacher had made him read aloud. It was about a boy on the football team with lots of friends who spent his whole life certain he was his father’s favorite kid until the old man was about to die. In the hospital, his father could only muster enough energy to pay attention to the boy’s older sister, though, a girl who didn’t talk much and had a boyfriend named "Bad John," and who refused to use the word love because she said the word meant nothing to her. The boy kept cleaning out his father’s mouth with Q-tips and getting him tissues, but the father still focused completely on his older sister, saying goodbye only to her, telling her he’d miss her. The teacher had thought it was a great story and I remembered thinking it was too, even though I hadn’t said so in class.
      "Hey," I said, after I opened the door to let Jay in. His jeans looked big and stiff and too blue and his sneakers were cheap, like something his mother had picked up on sale. 
      "Hey," he said back, his shoulders kind of hunched over, and I showed him up to my room.
      Jay was real quiet, busy taking all the stuff out of his backpack, all his different-colored notebooks, placing them on my bed and explaining all of the different assignments while I was copying as much as I could down. Every time I asked a question about his handwriting or the handouts, I looked at his face, saw how freckles covered it almost completely and how his big nose had these wide, long nostrils, and then I began thinking about my Uncle Walter, who had been a plastic surgeon, and what he would have done with nostrils like that. How he would have turned them into something smaller and more oval and nice. Then I imagined a whole bunch of Jays and female equivalents of Jay walking into my uncle’s office the following week only to learn that he was dead. I imagined them holding on to these pictures of models and actors they’d torn out of magazines, people they’d hoped to look like one day, and then I began to feel sorry for everyone involved, the male Jays and the female Jays and my dead uncle and the models and actors whose pictures were no longer in those magazines and this Jay who was sitting on the chair next to my bed, still as a houseplant.
      "Sorry about what happened to your uncle," Jay finally said, breaking the school-only talk we’d been having. "I know what happened with the blood and all."
      "Yeah," I said. "I’m still trying to sort it all out."
      "Kind of a hard thing to make sense of," Jay said. "A mistake like that, I mean."
      "No," I said. "I mean for real trying to figure it out." 
      "I’m not sure I understand," Jay said. His voice was quiet and polite, as if I were explaining myself perfectly and he was the stupid one even though his IQ is probably twice that of my whole family’s combined.
      "I don’t get why the other guy in the hospital isn’t dead also," I said. "He got the blood that was supposed to go to my uncle and his surgery went fine. He’s walking around in house slippers right now while my uncle’s underground wearing that stupid red tie." I felt this pain between my throat and stomach just thinking about it. I’d liked my Uncle Walter. He’d brought over stacks of movies for me to watch whenever I’d been home pretending to be sick with a virus or the flu. Whenever my parents had gotten upset about my report cards, he’d list off names of famous people who’d flunked out of school.
      "Walter must’ve had type O blood," Jay said, and we both kind of froze that he’d said my uncle’s name even though I hadn’t mentioned it once during our conversation. 
      "What do you mean?" I said after a mini-pause, after I’d regained my calm.
      "O is the universal donor," he said softly, probably embarrassed about having let my uncle’s name slip. "Type O blood can go to anybody, even to someone with type A or type B, but people with type O can only get blood from their own kind." 
      "Oh," I said. "How do you know that?"
      He shrugged. "I just do."
      I went back to looking at Jay’s math notebook and asked him some questions about the problems we had due. If there was any extra credit for Monday. If the test on Friday included the stuff in Thursday’s homework. He said no and no.
      "So how long did you know my Uncle Walter?" I finally asked. Jay’s parents were divorced. That much I knew. 
      "About two years," he said. "But I didn’t know he was married or related to you until just yesterday." He ran his hand over the feathery collar of a sweater I’d left on my desk.
      "Did you get along? You and my uncle?" I was trying to imagine my uncle and Jay together. I wondered what they’d talked about, if they ever hung out together. I wondered what my uncle had liked about Mrs. Wiederman that he didn’t like about my aunt.
      "Yeah," Jay said. "I liked him a lot. I think he liked me, too." He picked up the sweater and looked closely into the collar before putting it down.
      "These look like little white tarantulas," he said quietly, as if he were talking to a ghost. Then he stood up, took the latest school yearbook from my bookshelf, and flipped through it at my desk.
      When I was done copying all his notes, I asked him if he wanted anything to eat or drink. I ran a finger under each of my eyes to make sure none of my eyeliner had smeared.
      "Sure," he said. "What do you have?"
      "Lots of stuff," I said. "Pretzels and potato chips and chocolate chip cookies and Coke and Sprite and lemonade. Come down with me to the kitchen. Have a look for yourself." 
      When we got downstairs, I opened the fridge and then the cupboards one by one to show him everything. 
      "Where are your parents?" he asked. We weren’t facing each other. We were looking into the cupboard with the cereal and Pop-tarts and these sick-delish three-layer lemon bars my mom buys from some bakery in Fanwood.
      "At my Aunt Netty’s," I said. 
      "I was wondering if I could ask you a favor," he said, his voice a little shaky.
      "Yeah?" 
      I didn’t look at him. I looked inside the Pop-tart box instead, pretending to check how many were left.
      "I wanted to ask you to please not say anything to anyone at school about my mom. About my mom and Walter."
      "No problem," I said.
      "Thanks," he said, and then he pointed to a green apple sitting on the countertop and asked if it were okay if he had it. I wondered if he really wanted it or if he were just embarrassed to let me see him eating real food on account of his weight. 
      "Sure," I said, and I took the apple from the counter and handed it to him.
      "Can I borrow a knife?" he said. "I like to remove the skin." By then he was looking at me and I was looking at him. His eyes were the same color green as my uncle’s, and his lips were cracked, like someone with a fever. 
      I got him a knife and a paper towel, and we both sat at the kitchen table while I thought about my Uncle Walter. How just two weekends earlier he and my aunt and me and my mom and dad had smushed into my uncle’s red Saab convertible and gone to New York for dinner. How my uncle didn’t seem all that happy with my aunt; how she kept pestering him about the timing of his turn signals.
      I looked at Jay knife-peeling the apple. How a perfect single coil curled off and slid onto the paper towel. And I don’t really know what it was about that coil; maybe it was the perfectness of it, but watching it made me remember something that had happened a long time ago. Something my parents had told me about, had joked about for years, but that I hadn’t remembered myself until just then. How at my seventh birthday party, my father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and how I said, without any drama, that I wanted to be God. As if that were a choice, like being an architect or a dentist or a librarian. Of course everyone laughed and laughed. My father and my mother and my aunt and uncle and my grandparents. And I remembered laughing too even though I hadn’t known what was so funny. And in the middle of all the laughter, my Uncle Walter waved a finger at me, telling me that if I did grow up and become God, that I’d better be kind to all my fellow creatures; that I’d better find beauty in every one of them.
      "Jay?" I said then, and he just looked at me as if he knew something was different. As if he knew I was thinking of something important.
      "Yes?" he said, and he put the apple on his plate and wiped his hands on his jeans.
      "Do you think I’m nice? I mean, in school, would you consider me a nice person?" 
      Eyes on the apple, he inhaled and sighed. "I think you’re nice enough for a pretty girl," he said. "I think you’re nicer than Nikki Rhodes."
      And that’s when it started. I put my hand over his, and after a few seconds, he laced his fingers through mine. Then he leaned into me and we kissed, first with him in his chair and me in mine, then with me pressing up against him on the fridge, then up in my room where he took off my clothes as if his hands were so light you could barely feel them. As if water were taking everything off me – my shirt, my bra, my white miniskirt, my purple cotton panties. 
      "You’re gorgeous," Jay said to me when we were finally both naked on my bed, after we’d pushed all our notebooks onto the floor, and he sounded as if he were about to cry. 
      And for a second we both stopped to catch our breaths, lying on our sides and looking at each other’s bodies. At my white breasts and my tan stomach and the small mound of hair I’d shaved into the shape of a Dorito. At his ruddy arms and his pudgy chest that had a strip of hair across it, and at the doughnut of flesh around his waist. I ran my hand down the center of his chest, then over his belly button, a large gaping thing that reminded me of a swimming pool, and then I moved it lower until he closed his eyes. 
      "I just can’t believe how gorgeous you are," he whispered.
      And then I climbed on top of him and took him inside of me, and I felt a wave come over me, of wonder and craving, something extraordinary and unforgettable. A feeling that told me if a ten-car collision happened right outside my window, that it wouldn’t have distracted me even one bit.
      "You’re gorgeous too, Jay Wiederman," I said. "You’re gorgeous too."

 

This story originally appeared in The Barcelona Review.


Posted on: July 18 2011

7 Comments

4.75 / 5

POETRY:

Air

by Michele Todd Quill-yellow

It isn't because of your beauty I love you
I'm not drawn to you because of your charm
Your intellect doesn't drive me mad
Laughter floating doesn't make me love you

Write all the poetry you want, I don't care
Caress the winds with your viola's vibrato 
Read all the classics and then once again
Smile that impish grin with its dimples plain

Press sticky hands on my clothes
Crying "Look at me, Mama, look at me!"
Curl your chubby fingers around my thumb
I don't love you for all of that

Swing at the park crying higher, more
Big girl holding back tears when it stopped
Smile down at me from atop the slide-impish grin
Screaming all the way down right into my arms

Scream your poetry in front of your classmates
Stand up for your beliefs, pride in your honor
I don't love you more for that sense of nobility
Tell the world that what you have to say means something

I don't love you because of quiet nights
Spent with you curled up by my side, talking about boys
Or, those nights when you make me laugh so hard 
It hurts my stomach just to breathe

I love you like air


Posted on: May 30 2012

7 Comments

4.75 / 5

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