Next Stop

While you’re reading this people are doing things like buying eggs and painting away childhood sexual abuse. Someone somewhere just kissed a child they made, half of them, the other half beside because not all stories have to be sad just because we don’t know how ours will end.

There are gnats crawling up a poet’s pants: intrepid explorers who take denim for tree bark. He composes couplets of green, many-legged beings who will never read Shakespeare but who can fly. The gnats are crawling over the pages, looking for food, not finding it.

If you stopped thinking for a year, would you lose the ability?

This one isn’t part of the story: go and free yourself on a pier, in a fluid medium, with friends, alone, set a few in a row and make something before you have to go.

The woman screaming into her phone across from you on the bus couldn’t make a sound when it happened to her, no matter how hard she bit the man’s hand.

If you don’t want to wear clothes or wait in lines or touch cards to sensors or board the train that will be arriving in approximately four (4) minutes, you don’t have to.

You care more than you think.

One of the gnats was squished between the pages and became a man. The woman on the bus will bite every partner she has from now on, even if she doesn’t want to. There’s one who builds a lude pile on her son’s CCD homework. She’s covering up excommunication and Eucharist with bottles prescribed by another one, born with a cleft lip in a Soviet satellite; always asked to smile on the playground, never doing so. He’ll read the gnatted pages once they’re published, wonder if he’s done anything more than flatten pages on many-legged addicts. There’s a child who dreams of becoming a tree, reads of Yggdrasil, practices in the park when M & D are playing dogpile, sprouts branches from fingertips and roots from toes by will alone.

Life can be hands grasping in the dark, hundreds of them, only ever grazing.

There’s a grandmother who hasn’t eaten in a week, who feeds her grandchildren stories and laughter, steals canned foods when she can. Her eyes are milky, light haloing around the center. She can only really see when looking askew.

Sometimes people need to read lies to know the truth.

Moonlight hits flesh in places where lips meet and flies don’t fly and the water’s sweet and cool. A descendant of Genghis Khan is kissing a relation of Cleopatra. Phones buzzing in pockets: an invitation to a party and a drunk text from a parent. The woman on the bus is standing. She is removing her shoes, the laces from them. Setting socks on grip-ridged floor. Taking off her pants.

Look outside and see your environment: its color and variation.

Her shirt now, sliding off. The bus has stopped.

Flow will come to you if you allow it.

The boy’s leaves have withered, roots dried out. M & D are done playing dogpile. Time to go inside. The eggs have been bought. Paint too. P’an Ku’s waiting on canvas to give birth to the universe, in gamboge heat playing with cerulean hues, brush swipes so fast not even the memories can keep up. The woman is laughing, maybe crying. The doctor’s hiding a cleft lip that’s no longer there, behind teeth, a nervous tic. He picks up loose articles and hands them to her. She’s accusing him, grabbing his hand, searching for tooth-shaped scars, not finding them. Grabbing the hand of the man next to him, the woman in back, the driver. She’s pulling the book from the doctor’s hands, tearing pages from it as the poet sits in the back and watches his leaves fall. Back and forth, a teeter-totter, the child’s halves on either side, applying weight and removing it to bring kid skybound and back down. The bus across from the park is stopped. A woman’s coming out. Cover his eyes, it’s nothing, just hide and seek. The grandmother is collecting a check, blessing her eyes for failing, walking the curb one step after another, eyes closed, a tightrope walker. Her grandchildren follow. The bus has started to move.

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The Unspeakable Thing

Eunoia Review

There are things you can do to pass the time as you build up the courage to walk up to the Coward’s front stoop and ring the bell with the piece tucked neatly in the waistband behind your back as all the old movies suggest. You can sit quietly in your car and create a cigarette ashpile on your lap. You can listen to cicadas drone and record the cacophony on your phone, play it back real slow so they all sound like they’re yelling for the rest of their lives, which are usually short for insects. You can think some more about The Unspeakable Thing that he did to you that similar summer day all those years back and smell the mud that went up your nose as he pressed your face against same, as the feeling went out of your hands, then wrists, then the Other Place, and…

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Har-de-har-har

Eunoia Review

Pop’s belt was on a pendular swing like so many times before and almost lilting and dragging the air where JT could nearly see the beer breath coming out in wisps and drags the same as cigarette Os that Pop would make and laugh at and say oh Jay come here you know you wanna try and don’t look at me like that I’m your father and JT would fix himself up for fighting against the cry because to cry was to get hit and to watch the pendulum was much better so he kept his eyes just the same on the track back and forth this way and that as Pop gave him A Talking To and the topics blew out like the beer breath and smoke would and hung there on words left unsaid until tonight because tonight Pop would go too far and tonight JT would stay…

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An Aesthetic/Anesthetic

Eunoia Review

She came out of sewer grates, alleyways, locker rooms and bathrooms. Anywhere she could get equal footing. Had a stink about her. About was the best word because it was more descriptive than odorous: talcum powder sprinkled on week-old vomit. Feversweat collected under fat folds. Rank was kind. Rank was polite.

Followed behind, step for step. Would vanish when he’d turn around; fly into air ducts or toilet bowls or sticky corners. Stink would stay, though.

But she was A. listening B. watching C. smelling while he was 1. talking 2. walking 3. fucking. Hasty scribbles on pages where the answers go. Guess all of the above.

She’d put proofs in his head: “If God is omnipresent, then He/She/It is in the asshole of every diarrhea-addled creature.”

He wandered widely and sought answers in all the traditional places. Shared chifrijo at a greasy spoon down Avery with a Californian Zen…

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The Curer

Eunoia Review

Dirty fluorescence on eyes, mouths, ears. Pudgy hands stuck in mid-fiddle. The patient’s eyes come up for reassurance, and the curer grants it. The curer’s what she’s taken to calling herself on the nights when it all seems just a little too much to handle. Lowercase c, though.

The fingers explode from hands engorged to lamb chops, uncooked and sloppy. He has tits, pendulous ones, ones that threaten hers in size and heave whenever he cries, which is often during these Friday night visits. And he’ll Tell, and he’ll do his tit heave and his tit cry, and she’ll cross and uncross skirted hams and check watch and picture stockinged feet dampening midnight tracks and open her mouth very wide during these crying sessions when the patient’s eyes are shut tight against tears, open her mouth incredibly wide and swallow him whole, eat him up and explode stomach-first like some…

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God’s Honest

Come check out one of my stories that was just published by Eunoia Review!

Eunoia Review

I met a guy in September heat whose mouth wouldn’t quite close on the bicuspids he’d had rearranged in his lower jaw. Like an un-WD-40’d hinge, he’d say. I didn’t laugh with him. He put jewels on each cheek, said they’d glow when moonlight hit them. His father caught muskies and STDs and used to give a few to him. He’d ramble on about how his boss was only vaguely mammalian and do things like send postcards with nothing on them to addresses he’d dreamt of. He dreamt in addresses and vehemently corrected those who said dreamed. Said the one thing he wanted was a great big stein of O-Ke-Doke popcorn that he’d never share. Always had to share with his muskiedad as a kid.

Re: your latest inquiry into the longitudinal whereabouts of so-called lost skippers at sea and repeated insistence as to the feasibility of wharf/barge micronations off…

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As featured on Eunoia Review: “Sine Waves”

Eunoia Review just published one of my stories, and five more are on the way! I’ll be posting the other five as they come out in the next few days. The teaser:

You see me scraping off newspaper gunk and watching you through the holes I punched in the classifieds and you make that snort that’s meant to appease me and I say I could sit here right now and transfigure to something like eternity because we’re all made of stars and if someone thinks something hard enough they can make it happen…

Click here to read the rest of the story on Eunoia Review’s site! I’ve been reading and enjoying Eunoia Review for so long, so this feels like a dream come true. Thanks, as always, for your reads and shares!

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Big Old Bald-Headed Momma’s Circus

Big Old Bald-Headed Momma’s Circus was what it’d be called. Lula could change the name when she came of age, but then Lula could keep it the same too, was BOB-HM’s line of thinking. BOB-HM was first M, then BOM when her thyroid died and she put on pounds. A thyroid was a thingy in your throat, sweet pea. The cancer made her BOB-HM, and the acronyms would stop there.

Here:

They cut open the teddy bears not fit for the circus and excised some samples and BOB-HM dyed the stuffing orange and glued it to her head because that’s what the ringmaster’s supposed to do. Lula had a tutu, and that was fine, and blankets were stitched together: comforter, baby, quilt, then carpet, bath mat, shower curtain, old long johns, socks, every fabric they could find for the Big Top.

When BOB-HM’s Henry/Lula’s Dad left he left the ladders, and the scaffolding, and the funny thing that could change the lightbulbs that were so high up. Lula thought Henry/Dad might need these things, but BOB-HM propped the tent up with them anyway. BOB-HM could be so mean sometimes.

For the floor they tore off shingles and threw them to the trampoline that was meant for the monkeys. The monkeys would be trained squirrels, sweet pea. Beside their house was a grand esplanade and beside the esplanade was sea that went way out, to all lands known and unknown. That’s where their customers would come from, in great big ships, so numerous they could be stars in negative space. The ships would be oared to shore and all the men would have stovepipe hats and moustaches and the women would have dresses that glowed even in the night. They’d be led by horse and buggy to the Big Top, real fancy. The horses would be shelter dogs and the buggies would be radio flyers, sweet pea. The mayor would come and everything.

When BOB-HM coughed up blood she had to climb a ladder to the Big Top to wipe her mouth because they stitched their towels into the tent. BOB-HM would turn the blood into water that fountained from the flower on her shoulder and Lula would laugh till snot came out. Lula would have to climb a ladder for that, too.

When the nights stretched their legs and the willows dropped their fronds onto the esplanade, Lula would collect them in great big piles and BOB-HM would wheel over in her clown car (not a wheelchair, sweet pea). The fronds became confetti, streamers, tickets. Anything but fronds.

BOB-HM perfected an animal whisperer whistle, because that’s what the ringmaster’s supposed to do. I wish you could’ve seen it. Bunnies crashing in like waves on the esplanade. Squirrels as numerous as ants. An avalanche of doves, finches, geese. Bears ambling out of the woods on their hind legs, waving both paws the whole walk over. It was quite the whistle.

BOB-HM had to rest so much because that’s what cancer made you do, so Lula held rehearsals. The birds thought they were better than the squirrels. The squirrels demanded more nuts. The bears wanted to eat all the bunnies. Lula set them all straight. The bears learned to dance. The squirrels perfected a juggling routine. The birds sang gloriously.

The night of the show, Lula gave a ringmaster’s whistle. Real loud and clear. She listened to its echoes carry through the woods, out to sea, the willow fronds billowing all the time. BOB-HM would’ve been proud.

Monkeys came–real ones, and elephants, and tigers, and ships gathered on the shore like grains of sand. The moustachioed men escorted their glowing dates, filing out in the thousands to see the show, under the bright red-and-white Big Top, the finest equines to lead them by gilded carriage, past the rows of elephants harmonizing with their trunks, the monkeys atop them waving and smiling big, toothy monkey smiles, past the bears tossing real confetti from the tops of trees, the birds dragging a triumphant banner–the triumphant banner, slicing the bright blue sky with it, the words in big bold letters that everyone everywhere could read:

“Welcome to Big Old Bald-Headed Momma’s Circus!”

So come one, come all, and enjoy the magic that life has to offer here, under the Big Top, at the show to end all shows. You won’t want to miss this one.

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Never tell me the odds…

One of my stories was just accepted for publication in Thrice Fiction, a litmag with a 6% acceptance rate! And they sell physical editions too, so I’ll get to see my work in print for the first time this August! So thankful/happy right now, it’s not even funny. In case I don’t say it enough, to all of you reading this: thank you so much for all your support. You fantastic people are what make this whole storytelling thing fun. So thank you, thank you, thank you! And be sure to check out some of the great work they’ve already published!

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As featured on Oblong: “Fugue”

Oblong just published one of my stories! The teaser:

We are in here. Here is where I come to pull you out of the scattered debris of who you are. Who you are is a collection of tattered trades and 45s whose dust crackles can be pinpointed to mishandling thirty years ago: an old liebe whose needle-placing skills left something to be desired. Your beard houses vermin and you scratch at it, at them. I try to smile.

Click here to read the rest of the story on Oblong’s site! And thanks so much for all the reads, likes, and subscriptions. You guys are the best!

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