Here

February 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

lightning

Here
Benjamin Bouvet-Boisclair

I’ve been slipped parking tickets under my bones like I wasn’t supposed to be where I was. I don’t drive around town too often. My parents think I’ll crash, think I haven’t had enough experience, think my hands don’t have enough bent corners, rough creases, wrinkles like the Vermont State maps stuffed into your glove compartment. Before we drove over the bridge, you asked me to read them for you, but I am useless when it comes to reading interstates or highways or badges with numbers; I am just stupid when it comes to my finger following the lines. If we stayed in this town, if we didn’t take a road trip, I could drive us places. I don’t need a map here— I know the short cuts, and the long way just in case you have a tank full of gas and it’s a Friday afternoon and Monday is a national holiday. Or, if you’re in a hurry, I know the one way streets you can get away driving a palindrome. I know the crooked spots over the hills, the spots where cops don’t bother looking, the spots where you can see stars putting their cigarettes out on the arms of clouds. And I know where we can park for a whole night, like a secret in the clutter of this city, underneath its own seat. We can be a couple of crumpled receipts, or a dirty penny and a movie stub, or a gum wrapper and a CD that will skip like our last conversation, wedged in my head: “The french-french-french toast was good. It was nice to see-see-see—” You, have always been a ‘been there’ disguised as a Lego magazine I receive monthly at my parent’s house; I haven’t read one since I was 12 years old, but the Lego company doesn’t fuck around with their subscriptions. And neither do you.

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Benjamin Bouvet-Boisclair is currently a SUNY Cortland undergrad student working towards a Professional Writing degree. When not writing he is playing board games with enemies, shooting hoops, or doing magic tricks for invisible crowds. This is his second submission to Slice of Life.

Image: Lighting, By Leigh-Anne Fraser

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Grandpa’s Ditties

October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Grandpa’s Ditties
Kevin Heaton

Grandpa was born in 1896, and could play
just about anything with strings attached.
What pulled most at his heart, was an old fiddle
that he kept on top of a china cabinet
in the corner near his rocking chair; where
he fell asleep every night listening to Kansas
City Athletic’s games on a Philco dial radio.

He worked part-time for the highway department;
setting out kerosene warning flares that looked
like bowling balls without holes.

During the 20’s, and throughout Depression Era
days, he set great store in playing that fiddle
at barn raisings, and harvest dances; where neighbors
could find brief but welcome respite from hardship
in simple food and fellowship. Civil war ditties
frequented the menu; passed down to him
by the same fingers that first plucked his fiddle.

When his lame shoulder wasn’t throbbing,
and I asked him just right, he’d take her down
off the china cabinet, rosin up the bow, and with
a work boot conducting: take us down dusty,
forgotten pikes lined with blue, and gray soldiers;
marking cadence on the road to their awakening:

Ride a Scotch horse
to Danbury cross,
see an old woman
upon a white horse.
Rings on her fingers,
and bells on her toes—
she shall have music
wherever she goes, and goes…..

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Grandpa’s Ditties was previously published in Tidal Basin Review

Pushcart Prize nominee Kevin Heaton writes in South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications including: Raleigh Review, Mason’s Road, Foundling Review, The Honey Land Review, and elimae. His fourth chapbook of poetry, Chronicles, has just been released by Finishing Line Press. He is a 2011 Best of the Net nominee.

Image: Halifax Harbour, By Leigh-Anne Fraser

Is Anyone Else Coming By

October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Is Anyone Else Coming By
Natalie Parker-Lawrence

the man asked into the phone in the milk-dudded hall of the theatre where I left Julia and our husbands with the violence on the screen, so graphic that I could not look up at someone hurting a baby on an ironing board over a drug deal begun by hoodlums and justified by the police in the underbelly of NYC (wherever that is) since most people do not know what is going on but just cry when their brother gets shot or their baby is sent to foster care or they put their cousin in the ground after he bleeds out from a bullet wound to the head for betraying a badge or a skewed dream in October when the color commentators of the World Series ask people to stand up during the seventh-inning stretch when fans sing loudly and breathe beerily then sit down again to scream at Blue for the number of outs, fouls, and strikes in crowded stadiums that have no other function on a Friday night than to fill up when little girls want to go to the pajama party after the movie in theatre number 2 but can’t because their dad is sober at this and only this point and not at another so he has to leave now to take them not straight, but homeward and not later as he slips his snockered hands around the clammy wheel, depending on which cop you asked and depending on the gin-tossed seconds of dusk or night, dawn or morning, tomorrow or eclipse.

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Natalie Parker-Lawrence, a writer since 1994, earned her MFA in Creative Writing (creative nonfiction and playwriting) at the University of New Orleans in 2010. Natalie Parker-Lawrence’s new full-length play, a collection of nine true-story monologues about insomnia, I Bet They’re Asleep All Over America, won a spot in the first Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis in August 2012, and is the season opener for Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe at Theatreworks, September/October 2012. The Just Passing By Theatre Company in association with The Morris Theatre Guild (outside Chicago) produced Bob War in 2011. Adelphi University (New York) produced Earlybirds in 2009. The Women’s Playwright’s Initiative staged a regional reading in Orlando, Florida of Upright Position in October 2008. Her other plays have been produced in Memphis theatres. Her essays have been published in The Barefoot Review, Wildflower Magazine, The Literary Bohemian, Stone Highway Review, Tata Nacho, Knee-Jerk Magazine, Edible Memphis, The Commercial Appeal, World History Bulletin, and The Pinch. She is the religion/spirituality columnist for Wildflower Magazine.


Image: Street Art, By Leigh-Anne Fraser

Pick-up-Charlie to Astronaut

September 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Pick-up-Charlie to Astronaut
Tom Sheehan

This star reconnaissance began on the fourth of July, quick morning soft as a fresh bun, as warm, air floating up stairs and coming across my bed in the smell of burnt cork or punk as smoky as a compost pile rising upwards from lawn debris night had collected, spent rockets askew in gutters throughout the town, clutter of half-burnt paper and tail sticks themselves once afire in the night sky, signals that gave darkness a new dimension of light and sound and the explosion of circular flares too bright to look at, as if the sun had delayed departure for the heart of our celebration, as if stars had loosed their final demise amid the spatial junk they might encounter in outer reaches, friction of them in the measure as silent as Indians in the past on these fields and paths at flint and rock, even as children younger than I was went secretly about the ways and quiet roads and padded lawns collecting expended shafts of excitement, rolling them into fisted quivers of their hands, tightly against their noses smelling the residue of them, dross and dregs of sky-reaching powder that short fires had implanted on their thin shanks as black as the night was, so that when amassed in one child’s hand a match was re-applied in secret and the gut blaze of the celebration began anew for those without money to buy their own pyrotechnics, the blue-red and orange-green flames loosed by this competition excelling much I might have seen on the holiday eve, these young scavengers, that young army of excitement seekers like a fresh wind adrift on the dawn, younger brother Charlie one of the aimless searchers of ignited celebration goods; marked all the way across a vast lawn, where the flag was left hanging out all night, by his red hair and fiery eyes, even before the false dawn flashes, nimble legs in drive gear and nimble fingers at the bundle sticks awaiting new flame; young Charlie, long ago appointed to the same bedroom as I, who would decorate the walls with Neil Armstrong’s little dance down the ladder of time and across tempest tide of skies and blur of our black and white television set, this younger brother of mine who dreamed and reached the stilted aerodynamics of lads, who exaggerated his heart and his mind for the unseen, the unknown, that far pit of darkness the skies offer to imaginations leaping for the wonder of endless contact, sweet abrasions of the universe and all its parts, the coming global wanderer, aeronaut and astronaut and star traveler now out of the tight innards of the small bedroom Neil Armstrong carried on his back, the fiery-eyed, dreamy, celestial kid brother now in endless orbit and sending me these late signals from a far turn of the once-dark universe whose reception began in simple ignition beneath fisted hand like a wondrous booster for his tell-tale heart, who now makes no sudden moves.

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Tom Sheehan served with the 31st Infantry Regiment, Korea, 1951. Books include Epic Cures: Brief, Cases,  Short Spans; A Collection of Friends; and From the Quickening. He has 18 Pushcart nominations, and included in Dzanc Best of the Web Anthology for 2009. He has 280 short stories on Rope and Wire, Magazine,  and print issues Rosebud (4) and Ocean Magazine (8) among others. Poetry collections, include This Rare Earth and Other Flights; Ah, Devon Unbowed; The Saugus Book; and Reflections from Vinegar Hill.


Image: Full Moon, By Leigh-Anne Fraser

Yazoo

August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yazoo
Kevin Heaton

Before daddy left, he gave mama
a brand-new feed sack dress, and planted
one last crop; I was her, ‘God’s Perfect
Number,’ the seventh heavenly stair step
to kick at her backbone, breeched, then
brought by a poor white trash midwife.
That year, our windmill huffed the horse
trough full of mule dust, and the persimmon
cheeks hollowed in early September.
A field of bluebells captured an awol rebel
sun shower, then flanked a hackberry column
on the north fence line, and drank the rest
of the water. The old southern gentry had long
since vanished, but only rich white folks could
book space on the ‘Glory Train.’ Martin wasn’t
born yet, so the saints weren’t marchin’ in.
Daddy left us south of the Mason-Dixon Line
in a cottonwood sharecropper shanty, squat
over the scratch dirt where an overseer’s
pointer pup itched his worms. He’d hung
a Rainbow Bread sign on our screen door
to set it apart from the trees. I grew up along
the Yazoo, where roly polys pushed each
other across farmed out river bottom flatland,
and ebony ivories still harped on ‘Delta Blues.’

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Yazoo was previously published in Tidal Basin Review

Pushcart Prize nominee Kevin Heaton writes in South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications including: Raleigh Review, Mason’s Road, Foundling Review, The Honey Land Review, and elimae. His fourth chapbook of poetry, Chronicles, has just been released by Finishing Line Press. He is a 2011 Best of the Net nominee.


Image: Mood of the Meadow, By Stephen Martin

Not By The Hair

July 7, 2012 § 2 Comments

Not By The Hair
Natalie Parker-Lawrence

adrenaline gets me through.  and showing up.  and instinct.  and serendipity.   and t-shirts and comfortable clothes.  i need sacred space for me and my book bag in the corner across from everyone else.  every mother of every boy i dated or married offered the same criticism about me: not warm, not sweet.  Their sons would agree except for under the sheets.

white medicine makes my temperature rise and burns off cancer and my youth.  the ob-gyn doctor says my body still wants to have a baby, but the oncologist says no, let’s jettison that body right into menopause.  the last time i weighed this much I had a baby the next day. take tamoxifen for five years.   then the cancer won’t come back.  maybe.  now the hair falls out in clumps in the bathtub. not growing back in furrowed flesh-rows unless the curls come in metal-gray and wolf-white and pubic-coarse.

my hair curled velcro-brown since birth, matted with sweat and mildew from riding my tricycle up and down memphis streets when i wasn’t talking to elvis, mr. green jeans, or mighty manfred, my best friend, the upside-down table in the playroom, its legs, his four hairy legs swimming in the air.

black before i went to mexico one summer, my hair covered my shoulders, made me vanish into its darkness. before that i vanished into the eight-inch scar that runs from under my right armpit to my wide nipple:  four surgeries and thirty-three rounds of radiation.  if you think of me as lopsided you might be right.  you might be looking too close.  you might be looking at, as my husband says, the cute one.

this month i vanish into the hair on my head that makes me look, as my mother says, haggard.  like the hooded gnarled, but not wiser, crone. i beg the stylist to put the blonde streaks back into my hair, to put the caramel back into my unflavored life.  the black hair provides a mask, the blond hair provides a frame to compete with the young writers, the ones with the natural blond, brown, and red hair who might understand a rapunzel allusion one day or see star wars for the first time this year. the ones who have never had a mammogram.  the ones who do not fear the machines which invite me to hold my breath for two hours every six months so that I can hold my breath for the next six months.

hurry up gets me through, gets work out on time and finished no matter when i start.  yeah, i can manufacture honesty about other people–their hair and their needy excuses about their writing every day all day.  able to look straight ahead naked in the mirror without flinching at the hoary changes, myriad over time?  any day.

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Natalie Parker-Lawrence, a writer since 1994, earned her MFA in Creative Writing (creative nonfiction and playwriting) at the University of New Orleans in 2010. Natalie Parker-Lawrence’s new full-length play, a collection of nine true-story monologues about insomnia, I Bet They’re Sleeping All Over America, won a spot in the first Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis in August 2012, and is the season opener for Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe at Theatreworks, September/October 2012. The Just Passing By Theatre Company in association with The Morris Theatre Guild (outside Chicago) produced Bob War in 2011. Adelphi University (New York) produced Earlybirds in 2009. The Women’s Playwright’s Initiative staged a regional reading in Orlando, Florida of Upright Position in October 2008. Her other plays have been produced in Memphis theatres. Her essays have been published in The Barefoot Review, Wildflower Magazine, The Literary Bohemian, Stone Highway Review, Tata Nacho, Knee-Jerk Magazine, Edible Memphis, The Commercial Appeal, World History Bulletin, and The Pinch. She is the religion/spirituality columnist for Wildflower Magazine.


Image: Dryad, By Stephen Martin

Suspicion

May 17, 2012 § 1 Comment

Suspicion
Howie Good

Plainclothesmen prowled the train station all night. Everyone arriving on the 8:10 exhibited the small, nervous gestures of a fugitive. An old junky who made his living stealing overcoats was followed by a parade of children chanting his name. The cops must have been watching for someone else. In those days, a suspect sat on a stool with a hot spotlight on him, and no matter how much I begged, my parents wouldn’t let me keep the motherless babies, slimy and blind, born in a dark corner of the garden.

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Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the new poetry collection, ‘Dreaming in Red’ from Right Hand Pointing. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to a crisis center, which you can read about here: https://sites.google.com/site/rhplanding/howie-good-dreaming-in-red. He is also the author of numerous chapbooks, including most recently ‘The Devil’s Fuzzy Slippers’ from Flutter Press and ‘Personal Myths’ from Writing Knights Press. He has two other chapbooks forthcoming, ‘Fog Area’ from Dog on a Chain Press and ‘The Death of Me’ from Pig Ear Press.


Image: Keeping An Eye On The Street, By Leigh-Anne Fraser

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