Category Archives: March 2010

I Ate the World by Josephine Williams

I Ate the World

 

I ate the moon and spread it on a cracker

I began to swoon

And finished eating

 

I scooped up the mountains

Into my cold cup

And drank from a fountain

As I rejoiced in my luck

 

I sipped from my straw in the ocean

As I peered into the sky

I had to set in notion

To catch the fast moving fly

 

I sat to slurp the melting glaciers

Getting a brain freeze as I inhaled

Believing it was cold

Was only partly my fault?

 

Nibbling on the plains of the Sahara

I wondered what drink might compliment this feast

Finally I decided

The world is there for you to eat

It’s great, sometimes sour, but mostly sweet

Lobster Heels by Josephine Williams

Lobster Heels

Trying to describe the college process, I try to use what I know best: fashion and food. High school for me was like sitting in a crowded cafeteria, with faceless servers, demanded to sit down, shut up, and eat. Eat this lump of overcooked polenta. The sticky kind. The unseasoned kind. You are required to eat this polenta strictly and according to their schedule. No stuffing your face to get it over with. Sometimes during the meal you get lucky with a great teacher, extra seasoning. The rest of the time, try not to gag.

Then college process comes, and it’s like the chefs have come out to offer you delicatessen treats, main courses for your next chapter. You see all of them, lined up; almost too many to choose from! But eventually it’s narrowed down, essays are written, and you describe to the chef exactly what it is about their duck that you would most like to eat. The chefs deliberate and eventually arrive at your table with your choices. You didn’t get that filet mignon you wanted, but maybe scallops or lasagna. Decision time.

I received a lobster, a turkey, an eggplant, and a grapefruit. My lobster resides on the east coast with a spiny exterior, not a welcoming atmosphere but a highly driven, highly intelligent one. It’s hard to get into but the taste is the most rewarding (and the most expensive). The turkey is familiar, everything you’d expect. You can do so much with a turkey, but in the end, there’s no surprise as to what it is. The eggplant can be described as indescribable but distinctive. As long as everyone likes vegetables, they’ll like eggplant. It caters to those who like a variety but not too strong a taste. The final grape fruit is fresh, clean, and very California. With a rind that matches the surrounding town (necessary for the fruit but enjoyable to eat) the grapefruit is delicious to all those who want a fresh, new outlook on the humdrum of wherever they’re coming from.

For shoes, in the same order, climbing shoes (or heels), sneakers, Jimmy Choo flats, and sandles. Climbing shoes are much too uncomfortable and tight to be worn for any other purpose than climbing, but boy is the pinch worth it. It’s the same with heels. All those potential blisters and strained calves result in sex kitten legs and an ass to match. Sneakers, as we all know, are familiar, comfy, yet not what you wear to a gala. I’d choose it though it seems I’d been wearing orthopedics for years. Now to see those luscious Jimmy Choo flats. The gold emblem shining in front, for those who like a bit of sparkle, but not so much to draw attention away from anything but the front.  A classy, generic type of conformity with just a touch of sex appeal. And finally, that Cali sandal we all know and love so well, they’ll take you anywhere from the beach to your car but beyond there… tough luck.

These are the flavors and comforts of my life. They are the desires and realities that ultimately came to decision. Hopefully my lobster heels fit. What would you choose?

 

 

15 by Brooke Wenig

15

Empty beer bottles and McDonald’s hamburger wrappers cover the floor of the baby blue Mustang

An unsuspecting girl enters the car,

Forgetting to strap a seatbelt across her waist

Riding shotgun

For the ride of her life

 

Cruising down the winding street

Twisting and Turning

Back and Forth

Back and Forth

Another car rapidly approaches

The baby blue Mustang swerves out of the way

The car topples over

Off the road

Over the guardrail

Passenger door swings open

For the ride of her life

 

Out of the car flies the unsuspecting girl

The baby blue Mustang continues to roll down the hill

Every rotation of the car crushes the girl one more time

Thud, Crumple, Smack

A body cannot resist this impact

At the bottom,

There is no longer any proof of a body

Just horror stricken faces.

 

It’s Never Too Late by Kitty Thompson

It’s Never Too Late

Frank always went on a long run before work, and this morning was no different. He laced up his beloved and trusty Brooks, pulling each string as if it were his own life he was securing. Once out the door, Frank felt loose and free, darting across the pavement like a bullet leaving a gun. With his eyes looking straight, he observed the dew-glittered foliage he soon would pass.

Back at home, Judy was sound asleep from a night of customary drinking. Frank managed to take a shower and get dressed without so much as a twitch of an eye coming from her. It wasn’t until he slammed the front door shut on his way out, that she stirred. Judy got out of bed and went over to the window to wave Frank goodbye as he sped off to his job.

At the office, Frank was always drowned with work because he was always helping other people; coworkers were constantly knocking down his door with questions. Frank had a hard time saying no; he was the token Good Samaritan of the office. Some people seemed to be taking advantage of his virtuous self by not giving him time for his work. While some coworkers were quick to go to Frank for help, others were equally in support of him taking more time for himself. One guy in the office, Tireese, who wears think glasses, said to Frank one day :

 

“Boy do you look tired, you ever think of taking time off?”

***

Later that night, Frank returned home, tired and stressed.

“What’s wrong honey?” asked Judy, her eyes narrowing to a stare as she tugged at her holey sweater.

“Just work stuff,” said Frank, “too much of it.” He took off his tattered coat and set down his brief case on the broken bench beside the door.

“You said you’d fix that last Christmas,” said Judy, viciously tapping an impatient toe.

“I know, I guess I’ve just been very busy lately”, said Frank as he wandered around the first floor of his house, observing other neglected items, some which he didn’t even know were there. He saw a crack in the mirror’s frame he and Judy were standing in front of, but he did not appear to see her reflection staring back at him. Frank took off his glasses, and rubbed his eyes. When he opened them his vision was blurred, like he was seeing streetlights reflecting on a black river, flowing through the night.

“Let’s have dinner now,” said Judy, as she padded into the kitchen, her dark blue slippers shuffling along as if they were resisting her movement.

Frank sat his khaki-clad self down across from Judy and started loading up his plate. Dinner consisted of overcooked chicken, peas, and mashed potatoes; Judy’s favorite part about making them was the mashing. Not only did it get her anger out, but it took a while, and time was weighing her down. Judy didn’t get out much, though she probably should. She’d like to go out with Frank more, but he was always busy. So, Judy was alone for most of the day, with nothing but time to kill.

After dinner, Frank went on his computer, of course. Meanwhile, Judy moped around, until her eyes latched onto the latest issue of Travel + Leisure magazine. She couldn’t help but dream of being anywhere she was not. Judy plopped down on the yellow floral patterned couch next to Frank’s desk. Frank glanced at the cover, then went back to reading his e-mails, his eyes glued to the screen. When Judy was done dreaming, she set the magazine on Frank’s desk, and then went over to the window to look up at the black sky with its fiery stars.

“I’m going to sleep Frank, see you… whenever,” said Judy as she walked towards the stairs.

Frank was so engrossed in his e-mails that he didn’t even notice Judy’s hollow eyes staring back at him as she ascended the steps backwards, bottle in hand.

Since Frank was always helping out everyone else in the office, his time at home was used for his work. Judy thought it was great that Frank was so passionate about his work, but she wished a little of that passion could be put towards her. She always felt lonely, sometimes even more so when Frank was home, because it was like he was deliberately trying to block her out. Work seemed to be on the forefront for Frank, working all day and all night as if the devil were his boss.

The following morning Frank went on his run and quickly got ready for work, not even looking at Judy to make sure he wasn’t waking her. After hurrying out of the house and slamming the front door shut, he looked up at the window for his usual wave. When it didn’t come, Frank waited for a second, then got in his car and though to himself, “She must be sound asleep.”

At the office, another stressful day ensued. “Hey Frank, how are you?” asked one coworker.

“Uh, keepin” busy,” he replied.

“Busy is good. And Judy?”

“She’s good,” said Frank automatically, not consciously giving thought to the answer before it left his mouth. As the coworker walked away, Frank’s response repeated itself in his head like it was an unsolvable mystery. “Is she good?” Frank whispered to himself, his gray-blue eyes widening as if the more he opened them the closer he’d get to finding an answer. This thought ate away at Frank’s mind for what seemed like hours until he finally concluded to call Judy and find out for himself. He punched Judy’s number into his phone, and, to Frank’s surprise, Judy’s sister answered, a look of wondering suspicion coming across his face.

“Mary? where’s Judy? Is she okay?”

“We’re at the hospital Frank, you should really come down here,” said Mary urgently into the phone.

As Frank opened his mouth to respond, his boss walked into his office, casting a large shadow over the desk and Frank behind it. He slapped a paper-filled folder down on the desk with a note saying “DUE BY THE END OF THE DAY” in thick red pen.

“Frank? You there?”

“Uh… can it wait Mary? I just got a big assignment I really need to work on.

“ No Frank, this is serious, this is your wife we’re talking about, not some silly project for work.”

“Okay, Mary, I’ll leave soon,” said Frank as the veins on his forehead enlarged .

When Frank hung up the phone, he realized that he didn’t even know why Judy was in the hospital, and for some strange reason, he didn’t feel very worried. Frank decided that since Mary didn’t say what was wrong, it probably wasn’t anything too serious, so he started working on his assignment. An hour had gone by, and Mary had called again. Frank looked at his phone, and upon seeing her name on the caller ID, put it back down. “I just need a little more time to finish this thing,” Frank growled to himself. Six more missed calls later, and he was done. Frank ran the folder over to his boss’ desk, and left the office with a huge smile spreading across his face, until he remembered where he was going.

Arriving at the hospital, Frank felt his stomach turn at the thought of the disappointing looks he would receive from both Mary and Judy’s eyes. He parked and walked to the entrance, locking his car repeatedly as he went. Inside, his eyes scanned the building for the front desk.

“ I’m looking for Judy Malone, ” he said to the receptionist.

“Right this way sir. We’ve been expecting you.”

Frank took long strides down the hall, leaving as much space between each step as his khakis would allow. Frank slowly opened the door to Judy’s room, squinting his eyes halfway so they were just as much open as they were closed. Opening the door all the way, Frank had to squint his eyes further because of the bright lights inside. After a few seconds of adjusting, his eyes made out a large machine with a tube going into Judy’s body. He followed the tube with his eyes until he saw her face, motionless, with closed eyes.

“They’re pumping her stomach Frank, she’s been falling in and out of consciousness for the past few hours. She just went out again before you came in,” said Mary in an accusing tone.

All the color drained from Frank’s face until it became a sickly white. “Is, is she gonna come back?” he stuttered, and Frank never stutters; he prides himself on his speech.

“They’re trying hard, but she’s gotta regain consciousness to really know, why don’t you go over and sit by her. It’s never too late you know”, said Mary as if she were responding to the thoughts spinning around in the depths of Frank’s subconscious.

Frank went over to Judy and perched himself on the edge of her bed. He stared at her angelic face, waiting for her to show a sign a waking. After a minute or two-long eternity, Judy’s eyes opened wide to the stranger beside her. When she realized it was Frank, her eyes went to a squint, and her face grew red with anger. Frank wasn’t sure, but he could’ve sworn that there was even steam coming from her ears.

January by Claire Siegel

January

Passionate at moments and calm at others, the wind kisses her victims. Cold fingertips grope at exposed flesh—no preventative measure could have protected you from her chilling grip or hasty and desperate maneuverings. As she spins disorganized pirouettes across the valley, her victims sit in small rivers of nose-runnings—frozen, yet fatally attracted to her poison touch—paralysis.

While dainty blades of grass succumb to her will, her powers cannot phase the stoic gravel or worn brick wall, and yet she plays a dirty seductress with the trim of a hiker’s hat. She runs her sultry fingers along his spine, wickedly tousles his Cherubic curls.

Her icy skirt taunts the indifferent trees with the prospect of a flash dance—her nimble legs do not quiver under the passionate choreography of her mid-afternoon exercise. Temptress that she is, she still can’t push the wayward fog away from its vigil in the valley. Nor can she arouse the solid yellow-pan window or the ancient flagpole (though she coyly plays along with the ropes’ fancies, tugging here and there, saucy minx).

But all throughout her erotic dance of groping gusts and graceful, sedated breezes, the Oak stands still, uninterested in her playful advances, and after a while, a defeated Carmen, she retreats to her rehearsal stage across the crashing, malleable waves of the Pacific ocean.

Undercover by Claire Siegel

Undercover

I want to feel
the steadfast sensation
itchy grass stuck to my
grizzly legs. Whole body
a little sticky
the toothpaste colored
garden hose.

Hair curly
hanging in
independent strands, tangled.

Maybe I’ll find a cut on my toe
in an hour, but for now
all that matters is getting drenched
Gap jean shorts, thick
pink cotton tank top.

Scrawny arms absorbed
jangleable fat that
will be there forever,
but right now
mostly muscle.

Retired popsicle juice dried to my chin, a reminder
for later. Hopping in the cold shower,
and watching the grass collect by the drain,
bullied by the stream
of water. We’re in a drought, but

I don’t know it.

Lunchboxes by Lisa Jenkins

Lunchboxes

Simon made me confused. He made the lunchbox debacle infinitely more troubling. Somehow, no matter how close an eye I kept, he managed to keep his lunchbox out of sight. In those years, Simon was a guide for all my decisions. As the love of my elementary school life, he unknowingly gave me heavy input. However, in this matter, he gave me no help. I held my nylon purple lunchbox with a queer mixture of trepidation and pride. I couldn’t decide whether to embrace the rather juvenile purple accessory, or to use it as discreetly as possible.

My best friend gave me no help; not only was she of the uninhibited, confident breed of child, she also used an undeniably socially acceptable lunchbox with Hawaiian flowers. And so, I turned (as I so often did in those days) to Simon, the peer whose opinion I cherished most. He had to carry a lunchbox, I was sure, at least a paper bag. However, even this he seemed determined to hide. While I sat with the girls on the paint-chipped bench, casting Simon surreptitious glances at every opportunity, he occupied the area under the trees, standing and sitting and bickering and laughing in fits of boyish energy (those were the days when the genders maintained a certain segregation during mealtimes). But nowhere, even upon close examination, did I find evidence of Simon’s lunchbox.

One particularly rainy week in January, we were confined to our classrooms for lunch. Here, I thought, here was my opportunity. Monday came and went, and I caught him consuming chow mein, compliments of our school’s hot lunch program. Tuesday, pizza. Wednesday, bagel. Thursday, more pizza. Friday, a burrito. By the end of the week I came to the horrific conclusion that there was simply no lunchbox to find. Simon ate hot lunches every day of the week, a fact that utterly infuriated me. He would never, could never, give me the guidance I had come to expect with regard to my lunchbox.

This revelation caused a fair amount of distress on my end, though I’m sure Simon had no idea. He went on wearing his hot lunch every day of the week. I, for one, went on dreading lunchtime and its inevitable anxiety. Perhaps Simon made the conscious decision to avoid lunchboxes altogether, I thought. And so, in a futile attempt to win his affections, I kept mine hidden.

This is What I Remember by Billy Butler

This is What I Remember

I remember walking into the wrong class on the first day of kindergarten

I remember thinking kindergarten was actually a garden, and kids were planted in soil.

I remember being told how lucky I was to live where I did.

I remember writing in my diary with my glowing rocket pen. The batteries ran out.

I remember launching rockets in Cub Scouts and wondering if they went into space.

I remember how annoying tanbark was if it got into your shoes and stuck to your socks.

I remember climbing over dinosaurs of rock, and hippopotamuses too. I don’t know why I miss them now, but I do.

I remember popsicles on Friday for 50 cents. I remember that I liked Astro-Pops the best.

I remember reading Joe Brainard, and getting smacked with a wave of nostalgia.

I remember that Sears air-conditioning commercial that aired on every channel in the 90’s. It made me want to get air-conditioning, but I didn’t know what it would do.

I remember watching Nickelodeon and eating Cheetos. My fingers were covered with orange Cheeto dust, and it got on just about everything in the living room.

I remember the sound the sprinklers made when they were just staring up, and how you could run through them without getting wet if you timed it just right. I usually never did.

I remember that old book smell, which smelled like nothing else except old books.

Unending? by Billy Butler

Unending?

My friends thought it was funny, after all.

The ramblings and meanderings of old men long gone on tangents

If something like that even exists, I still have my doubts

Replaced with warm memories of childhood filled with

Hot chocolate

And soup in bed

It’s over.

It’s just begun.

Is it implied to be the end?

Or is it quite actually?

Whistles and drums echo and reverberate down the empty street

with verdant meadows and grassy green overgrowth

spilling through the cracked windows like angel hair pasta

Fading, but always present.

Churning and choppy like a rough sea at night

Until the refuge of an island rises from the water

We give our money.

For the aftertaste of cocoa.

Time by Billy Butler

Time

I eat pickles to be different, even if it tastes better without them

I’ll go to the police station downtown thinking how it was probably a mistake

I give a bone to my imaginary dog that sleeps in my closet

and ate the clothes on my hangers.

Astrology only gets me confused with astronomy

Time, I have learned, is fleeting

Warm lasagna fresh out of an afternoon oven

Bad dreams have come and gone

Replaced by distant good ones

That gives you that tiny jolt when you wake up from them

Or trick you into thinking you’ve already made your awful, terrible commute in the fog

I’m probably an optimistic realist

Cats are for cool kids

Sleeping with socks makes me feel guilty

I couldn’t imagine myself any other way.