Bubble Gum Under the Table-David Lohrey

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How many canes can one observe without finally exploding?

He walks with a cane and smells like a mouse.

He has food caked on his sleeves.

There are stains on his cuffs. He smells of urine and old socks.

His wife attacks him; she berates him.

The old man will die of emphysema.

My mother promised to leave. “Why would you go to his funeral?”

She didn’t want a priest or a minister, she wanted show girls and fireworks.

She wanted to humiliate him. She ended up disgracing herself.

She’s glad he’s dead. Glad he’s gone. “Hallelujah.”

 

He begs not be resuscitated, but she forgets.

He wants to die in peace, why not?

She is asked but is silent. The paramedics smash out his teeth

and jam a pipe down his throat. He lives for days.

He keeps a lock on the door of the den. He runs in there to hide.

She’d slap him in the face. She’d kick him. She’s a drunk.

She gulps a few glasses of white wine and wants to tell her tale.

It’s a story of abandonment, an empty nest. “Get out!”

She refuses to get his meds. She tells him to get them himself.

He can’t walk. He can’t drive. She is too busy: “I have a life, too!”

 

He is deaf but she accuses him of faking.

It is true that when we talk about money, his hearing comes back.

Suddenly, his hearing is perfect. When I mention money,

he understands the figures.

He smiles when he gets a bargain. Money talks.

When she complains, the batteries stop.

He can’t make them work. He turns them off.

He’s grown tired of listening.

Sixty-one years. That voice. The rage. The badgering. The nagging.

She wants him to wipe the shit off the toilet: “You clean it!”

 

Unhappiness is intolerable.

When does it turn to hate?

Why does it turn to hate?

 

She drinks white wine from a tumbler.

She calls her cousin in Kingston

and says she hopes he’ll soon die.

He is 67 but looks 80.

She wants some love before she dies.

She wants some male attention.

“I thought we were going out for dinner. I’ve been waiting.”

“You’re drunk. I can’t go out with you now.”

She can barely stand and stinks. She’s been drinking all day.

Booze makes her hate. It brings out the rage, the loathing.

 

She is ready to die to make a statement.

Oh, it boils over, like a chemical reaction: quick lime and water.

She overflows with self–hatred. It is volcanic.

My arrival sets the fuse. The hatred can’t be contained.

She belongs to the IRA. She is ready to die for a cause.

He sits on the floor in front of the heater giving instructions,

making judgements.

The body goes. He is cold.

When she says she has a friend who has offered to go down on her,

I take my cue. It is time. Where is the exit?


David Lohrey was born on the Hudson River but grew up on the Mississippi in Memphis. He currently teaches in Tokyo. He has reviewed books for The Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register, has been a member of the Dramatists Guild in New York, and he is currently writing a memoir of his years living on the Persian Gulf. His latest book, The Other Is Oneself: Postcolonial Identity in a Century of War: 20th Century African and American Writers Respond to Survival and Genocide, is available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of Machiavelli’s Backyard from Sudden Denouement Publishing.

Excerpt from Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective- Say Yes/S.K. Nicholas

Nose on nose on a balcony that overlooks a disused garage that swims with rats and pornos and junk. Black eyeliner, black tights. Red lips and a ponytail that swings like a pendulum. The smell of your hair and the feel of you pushing yourself against my groin in those hours that escape us upon waking. We sleep outside to be closer to the stars and because when we make love and taste God you want him to see you as a soul and not just a body. Pyjamas not skirts. Flirtation not chitchat. Tigers, dragons. Sushi bars and wet lips. Dimples and your smile and the absence of you when you’re not around and you’re never around but I have my words and my words will become you and that’s just how it is. The evenings are beer and wine and the warmth of your breath against my neck in the back of a taxi and then your arm around my waist in some bar with paintings on the wall I could paint with my dick. Nearly falling off your chair, you snort with laughter and bite my ear. What’s the worst thing about getting old? My hair going curly. The second worst thing? The knowledge that my mind and body are two different things and that the older I get the more conflict there will be between the two. Arguments. Frustration. To sleep. Would you sleep with me? Would you let me take off your socks and massage your feet while we sit in silence too drunk to do anything other than picture ourselves as different people? I hope so. Tears that stain the pillow. The beginning, the end. A writer, a fool. A hand around your throat. A doorway that could be a vortex that could be a portal that could be an opening to something those we have known our entire lives have never come close to. Do you remember when we were strangers? Can you recall the time you caught me staring at your mouth in the canteen at work not long after you first started? You asked me if I was okay, but I was lost in the future that danced upon your lips and although I didn’t want to be crude, I knew already what was to follow and it caused me to become lightheaded. Two hearts. One mind. That night we were under the stars and I wrote GN-z11 on your arm with a pen and urged you to get it tattooed- you never knew what it meant and I never told you. Well this is the place we shall go after we die and there we shall be free. Free to love without the presence of prying eyes. Type it into Wikipedia, and tell me you’ll say yes.

Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective is available at Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, Amazon Canada, Book Depository, and other major book retailers


S.K. Nicholas  is the creator of Myredabyss.com, as well as author of two novels A Journal for Damned Lovers Vol 1 & 2. Both of these books are available Amazon.  Additionally, Nicholas is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective.

spaces tightly recede – samantha lucero

i’m unhurt here; deeply wrapped inside this ill-starred cell.

chaste of catching time in its seeping hoards
that worm, or unpolluted by the
lightless nature of breath in my
anemic boat

i can oar inside this fervid pulse where
i’m electrically prolonged
inside that silky wave
the wistful
scene i’ll dream
and dream again

where life unearths
or perhaps, i wince and the spaces
tightly recede

and though i sink into an oily red
womb of her fastenings
i won’t dream of an appalling life
when i hiccup or pirouette my shaping
limbs to arrive at this
eternal return

of what

none outside this narrow pool
can dream or know, i’ll dream;

put me back into that blood
that last drowsy warmth
of my eyes yawned shut
before the first scream.

to sleep and sleep and finally sleep!

 

 


Samantha Lucero writes at sixredseeds.

The Effortless Brass-Jimmi Campkin

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I’d known The Boy about six years before I realised he had feelings.  Until then, I’d assumed he was like a dead tree – enigmatic and interesting to look at but essentially hollow and lifeless.  The Boy only made sense on drugs – taken by himself and his audience – but in that narrow alleyway of lucidity there was a path to reaching him.  Like those on the fringes of death who witness the long path to the bright light, if you were willing to get as fucked up as he could and did, you’d find windows where he made sense.

I remember lying on the floor, smashing my teeth on a brick, convinced it was a stale piece of bread, and seeing him standing above me, upright, without the usual hunching of the shoulders.  His voice clear and concise, not broken and wavering.  I crawled in the general direction of his shoes, blood dribbling down my chin and spitting bits of tooth and gum out onto the concrete floor.  I grabbed a handful of dust and rubbed it into the smashed remains, feeling the first burning embers of pain even this far gone.  He looked down on me with an expression I didn’t think he was capable of; pity.

He said; She smells like a spring thunderstorm.  A spring thunderstorm.  That was exactly what she smelt like, what she sounded like, what she essentially was.  A storm in a fruitful season.  He crouched onto his haunches and I met his eyes, but they moved too fast for me.  Curling into a foetus, I began to violently spasm, kicking and dragging my body in a circle.  He told me later that the retching created petal splatters of blood around my head…. like a scarlet daisy. 

*

The Boy’s earliest memory was watching a fox with a broken leg trapped in an old oil drum, slowly starving to death over a period of two weeks.  Every day that summer he’d clamber through thistles and nettles taller than him to find the poor beast inside the metal coffin, rattling and whining.  Initially he would sit apart from it terrified and fascinated, as the animal crashed and groaned, trying to free itself from its prison.  But as it became weaker, the noises died down to a soft howl, gentle as the wind through a keyhole.  Towards the end, he would push a crate against the drum and peer inside, looking down at the fox as it looked back up at him….breathing heavily but with a look on its face of utter serenity.  No noise, no whining or struggling, just two damaged lifeforms staring at each other – one at the beginning of its life and one nearing the end.  He once told me; the fox went to sleep, and I kept going back to see if it would wake up.  But something ate its eyes, and it didn’t move no more. 

*

I still go to the old oil drum, now rank and loathsome, filled with black muck and vague glimpses of rib and snapped femur.  I throw my old cigarettes inside, hoping one day I’ll feel bad about it, but I never had the depth of feeling that The Boy did, with or without drugs.  I take enough blotter acid to wallpaper most family homes, but the sun still looks normal and the trees don’t sing anymore.  I push through the thistles and weeds, remembering the pain this little child went through to experience feeling.  How he’d return home covered in little white nettle bumps on his arms, legs and face.  How he’d never cry, even as he slept on a mattress damp from beneath the floor.  Born to indifference, raised in a slum; just a product of bad decisions and post-industrialisation, both parents dead in a public toilet cubicle.

I buried The Boy in a quiet corner of the wasteland.  I picked the spot especially; surrounded by nettles guarding what they could not harm, within sight of the drum and blasted by the rays of the noon sun.  He rests under his little barrow mount, like ancient kings, away from all the troubles of the world.  And that is what haunts me; leaves me so helpless and jealous – not that his troubles are now over, but that nothing ever troubled this simple, stupid Boy in the first place.


Born in November 1983, I have been writing in some form or another for most of my life, but I began to take it seriously as a career around 2003/2004.  Since then I have produced a novel, a novella and a series of short stories some of which are loosely linked into an overarching anthology.

Most of my stories come under the wide umbrella of ‘general fiction’, but I have experimented with genre pieces.  My short stories tend to be bittersweet, nostalgic, sometimes melancholic and (on occasion) examine the darker side of human nature and obsessions.

I welcome you to my site Jimmi Campkin, and I hope you find something here to please you.  If not, below you’ll find a big picture of me to scream obscenities at.

Liminal Space-Erich Michaels

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Free falling through the atmosphere

Eyes squinting against the rushing air

Tears trailing out behind

Drop Zone obscured by clouds

A dozen wallet size photos

Slip free and flutter out of existence

You only know what you left behind

Surely must be worse

Than where you are headed

In this you must have faith

You spent the last dozen years

Living with a stranger

Holding onto phantoms

You gave up years

Years of your life

For children who moved on

And never even glanced back

Nothing is certain

Except that there’s no going back

The in-between gives you no purchase

Nothing to grab hold of

Just the sound of wind in your ears

And the clouds streaking by

At one point you felt

Family man was the highest honor

Now you feel nothing

Just the loss of a lousy investment

You let go of what you were

Hoping what you become is greater

That those who’ve leapt before

Were rewarded

That this rite

Makes the right kind of impact

Redefining what it means to be you

You are no longer falling

It is the ground that rises

To meet you


Erich Michaels describes himself as  “just trying to share the human experience.”  He has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but find himself writing SOPs (lather, rinse, repeat) in order to make a living, which can be detrimental to the creative process.  You can find him on the road to recovery at Erich Michaels.  Every journey begins with a single step, right?

This is how I Think of you now- Georgia Park

The funeral procession that blocks my line of traffic
on a sunday morning is easy to dismiss
until i start thinking,
maybe it’s you they’re carrying

 
I live right by an Irish funeral home
I see people dressed in black
coming out of it on occasion
and I look to see
if they’re your friends
I look for any spark
of recognition

 
How long has it been
i wonder
since you were dead to me
i do the math
that part is easy

 
but then i get to wondering
how happy or sad
it would make me
and the line of traffic
might as well be on a weekday
for how much it disrupts me


Georgia Park is the creator of Private Bad Thoughts, curator of Whisper and the Roar a feminist literary collective, and a writer for Sudden Denouement. She is a wonderful poet with an enormous heart. We can’t imagine this journey without her. Please check out more of her wonderful work.

 

Widow’s Rock- Allie Nelson

The waters are like a widow’s hair, black and lustrous

with lost foam of tears salted to rime, the ocean weeps

for her husband sky, now blackened with the rot of

night, for it is only when his sun is a coin in the sky

that mourning waters light with warmth, each day

the seas cry for sky’s death, and hang the moon up

as a gravestone resplendent for his yellow eye.


Allie is a rather bubbly blonde that currently attends grad school for science communication, has a rather useless degree in biology, and works in the environmental field. She can usually be found hugging trees, eating green curry with tofu, or exploring the wilds of D.C.. Allie is an avid poet, aspiring author, meme queen, speculative fiction enthusiast, and alien centaur aficionado. She also has about 600 lipsticks.

You can find her at Dances With Tricksters

The Color of Beach Sand- Kindra M. Austin

We had you pushed into the furnace;

spoiling organs and

leaking skin were

burned away.

Your pulverized bones

resemble beach sand in

Tawas,

fittingly.  

 

Abandoned the wagon

again,

Cos I’m a goddamned tyrant,

missing you, Mother—

been consuming for two

twelve hours, and I

will continue to imbibe until my barbican

heart has been razed.

This early morning,

trust,

I’ll make it to market by noon—

I learned how to function from you.

 

Mother,

are you proud of me,

still?

I ask your ashes kept in

keepsake urns. Ashes—

granules, the color of

beach sand.

Tempus fugit-Erich Michaels

I imagined walking across the ocean floor
The immortal lobsters and jellyfish my friends
I said, “I wish I didn’t have to breathe.”
I thought of wasted time and dreams deferred
Of taking this split life and making it whole
I said, “I wish I didn’t need to sleep.”
I thought of money wasted, as hard to swallow
Of elevating myself above base needs
I said, “I wish I didn’t need to eat.”
I thought of myself as being set free
My life as a slave to the clock departed
She said, “Stop it! Why wish for death?”
Confused, I reflected on what I had said
Of what could be gained by being free of need
No need to breathe, sleep or eat
It was at that moment I realized
Just what I had really wished for


Erich Michaels describes himself as  “just trying to share the human experience.”  He has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but find himself writing SOPs (lather, rinse, repeat) in order to make a living, which can be detrimental to the creative process.  You can find him on the road to recovery at Erich Michaels.  Every journey begins with a single step, right?

Nathan McCool – Divine

It’s all been Russian roulette and the game 

was rigged from the start. So,

you dear and distant god, what am I to 

make of these small moments between 

the hammer and the head?

 

Allow me this thought:

The clouds that are expelled from me

into winter’s dusk no longer take the form

of myth or fancy as they are painted 

against a dying sun. They are cotton candy 

caricatures of a man in the act of

self immolation.

I believe perhaps all of this has been a walk

down Saigon Road, and I’m now coming to sit calmly

without movement or sound at this intersection 

 

The world I have seen is a nuclei, and 

I am an electron in sporadic oscillation all around it.

I may leave at any given moment to bring 

the clouds of another world to wholeness

or part from them to expose them to the 

ultra violence of ultraviolet light.

 

Because I no longer know what I’m really staying for.

To witness war or the loss of love?

To watch children absorbed into the earth

or for them to wander off from innocence 

into the people they will become?

 

At this point I no longer truly think of ends,

just the momentum of the moment. 

I’ll one day have a grave like a laceration 

upon the flesh of the earth,

and you’ll all pour me in like salt.

But that is a moment with no meaning for me.

 

But in existence,

where misery takes up residence in my bed

so often I’ve taken to calling her “baby”,

I am an entity and an element.

In existence, I have lost more than I have

ever received; and carry more demons 

than I do pores of my skin.

 

Nothing out there cares if I got my druthers,

but I’ll let you know:

If you were to force me to live this innumerable times,

I’d sink these jagged teeth into life 

all over again.


 

x-posted

[Nathan McCool is actually so cool, I can’t stand it. You can find the haint, dusk, and sizzling of his concrete snares on Instagram, or at his blog, Mist of Melancholia.]