Issue 82 — Lana Bella, Robin Wyatt Dunn, Jonathan Jones, Kevin Murphy
My migraine presents itself as an old woman, with heavily
wrinkled face, traveling in a taxi. Fever of a century and a
half old settles on her eyelids, jockeys over the haggard face.
Handkerchief white as the snowflakes peeking out from her
deep dress’ pocket, soaks in crusty flesh. With the wind snakes
through the half-rolled window and the sun a brilliant streams
of gold, prickly thoughts spill across the left temple. Leaving
scribbles in stark spool of light. When the wheels pull to a
stop at the curb, she lets the words trickle down the wet side-
walk. Drain away into a strung elegy of incoherence. Its supple
spine caresses the end of her linen on the way down, spilling
of pity and sulfur air. Wagging its autumn tail on the skirt of
her bent torso, a silenced nerve center of ghosts. Turning from
voices and echoes she rarely infers that are flecked with ill-mercy,
she scours with alarm the spewing clumsiness on spent legs.
Held on ambiguous sensations of conflicting senses and scenery.
Hunting down release. Hunting for vacancy. Suspends between
sky and dust. And she, a speck of grain dangling on the theft of
wit. Limbs numbed and dragging, cradling madness in her bone.
Copryright © 2015 by Lana Bella.
Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and flash fiction published and forthcoming with Anak Sastra, Atlas Poetica, Bareback Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination, Buck-Off Magazine, Calliope Magazine, Cecile's Writers' Magazine, Dead Snakes Poetry, Deltona Howl, Earl of Plaid Lit, Eunoia Review, Eye On Life Magazine, Family Travel Haiku, First Literary Review-East, Five Willows Literary Review,Foliate Oak Literary, Garbanzo Literary Journal, Global Poetry, Ken*Again, Kind Of A Hurricane Press, Literary Orphans, Marco Polo Arts Literary, Mothers Always Write, Nature Writing, New Plains Review, Poetry Pacific, Snapping Twigs, Spank The Carp, The Camel Saloon, The Bangalore Review, The Bleeding Lion, The Commonline Journal, The Criterion Journal, The Higgs Weldon, The Screech Owl, The Voices Project, Thought Notebook Undertow Tanka Review, Wordpool Press, Beyond The Sea Anthology, War Anthology: We Go On, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Featured Artist with Quail Bell Magazine.
She divides her time between the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a wife of a novelist, and a mom of two frolicsome imps.
Robin Wyatt Dunn
Owning My Own Hat
I don’t know anything any more! shouted MacKenzie, holding his drink.
You never did, said Jerry.
That’s a low blow.
A low blow . . . a low blow . . . agreed Jerry, and he ordered another round.
The moon had set early that night and it was dark. No one was going out; they were too afraid. The two men were almost alone in the bar.
I can’t stand this town! cried MacKenzie.
Me neither, said Jerry.
I can’t taste the whiskey any more.
Don’t get too drunk, said Jerry.
No, not too drunk, agreed MacKenzie.
But they did get very drunk. The sadness of that town came to occupy them, until the bar was shut, and they were on the street. Then the sadness was overwhelming, a living them, of corpses and ghosts, and they screamed and laughed in the cobblestone silence.
What are we going to do, what are we going to do, Jerry, said MacKenzie.
There once was a man from Boat Island
Who’d hooked himself good on the rye, and
He didn’t know which was better:
To shit in the street
Or to murder his brother.
Laughing, almost sobbing, they dropped their drawers and dropped turds in the street, but the silence covered that too, and it was cold now.
What now, MacKenzie? said Jerry.
What now . . . what now . . .
At the edge of the village, there was a field. In it the men could discern a cow. They walked over to it.
Bessie I’ve missed you, said MacKenzie.
He’s missed you Bessie, said Jerry.
The cow lowed.
Bessie, said MacKenzie, stroking her coat. The cow regarded him with shameful eyes.
Leave the cow alone, said Jerry, suddenly humbled. Let’s go home.
The men lived together.
They had for years now.
They’d even stopped talking about women. Sometimes MacKenzie would play the piano, and Jerry would sing.
Years before, Jerry had been a telemarketing consultant. He had inspected telephones, and looked at computer screens. Sometimes he dreamed, of that far-off office.
In one of the dreams the telephone was strangling him, and he had awoken in his bed, shouting, afraid, and MacKenzie had come in and said Stop all this racket and opened the window, and it had been snowing. The snowflakes had blown in to the room. It was cold. The telephone was gone.
This morning MacKenzie had seen a telephone man climbing a pole at the edge of the village. He had watched him carefully. The man installed a box on the wire, at the top of the phone pole, then climbed back down.
MacKenzie did not mention this to Jerry because he knew it would upset him.
He went to the piano instead, and began to play.
- * -
All the wastrels who come here
And all the sadness
I take it away in my breath
And murder its ashes with my teeth,
Owning my own hat,
Owning my own tea,
For years now,
I’ve owned my own hat.
Robin Wyatt Dunn writes and teaches in Los Angeles. He’s online at robindunn.com.
The Beauty of My Father Sleeping
I never see what’s in his mind, eyes
closed as sleep takes him early in
Nodding, unable to
fight the time of day.
Only a man I love
not so easy to watch
him, neither helpless,
And I wonder what that is, to know
the things that he would never
ask of me.
Flawed by lonely imagination,
my field of vision only knows
a greenwood forty years earlier.
A boy and a man with the winter-light
behind them, stroll through the sandy canyon.
Other places, both prepared and resolute.
This part of me already years
older still trying to tell myself.
He’s only sleeping.
Not a trace of where
I came in his slow un-helpless
Copyright © 2015 by Jonathan Jones.
Jonathan Jones currently teaches English at John Cabot University in Rome. He holds
a B.A. in English and American Studies from Keele University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University College. In 2002 he returned to Keele in the UK and qualified for M.Res in Humanities in 2005. He has had a number of poems and short stories published in such magazines as The New Writer, Dreamcatcher, and Iota.
Questions for the Ninth Planet
Will man inhabit Earth when you complete
your orbit? 2178:
the year when you return to where Tombaugh
first spotted you where Lowell said you’d be.
Will progress still progress the way it does
today? By then will we have stepped on Mars?
But none of this is your concern. You change
the rules. You rotate retrograde.
You work on the other side of time from man,
raising the sun where our light fades. For you
a day, for us nearly a week,
and I imagine time reverses too.
Where in your orbit might you be when now,
this hour, slows to your pace? Where seconds widen,
tick the wrong way, but still the darkness leads
to light. Would our lives be longer there?
Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Murphy.
Meanwhile, in a 1970
where there is no problem, Houston:
the oxygen tank was never dropped
two inches when removed from Apollo 10,
the thermostatic switches never overlooked
during voltage upgrade;
where Marilyn Lovell watches the sky
fill and drain with a wife’s worry
but has no problem, Houston, with opening
the front door because there is no risk
of going blind from flashbulbs, her lawn
pristine and grass blades stand tall;
where Jim Lovell navigates the lunar
module to the surface smoothly, no problem,
Houston, upstages Neil Armstrong’s step
and leap, brings us closer to God
as he places his footprint and says:
where rabbit ears pick up static
and Bewitched and Bonanza and
reruns run only once. And that
is the problem in having no
problem, Houston. Children in the street running
out of ideas, their soapbox
spaceships converted to taxis for routine
routes between earth and
moon, then junked in their asphalt yards.
Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Murphy.
Kevin Murphy’s work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Heron Tree, Gravel Magazine, Cactus Heart, Empty Sink Publishing, and other journals. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho and currently resides in Asheville, NC with his partner named Shannon.