September 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
Pick-up-Charlie to Astronaut
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.
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
June 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
Her hands are much smaller with mine clasped around them. Our bodies are stiff, arms stretched out to full extension as we spin, fast, in a lopsided circle. Mom’s dresser tangled in jewelry swirls by then the patchwork comforter covering the bed, then the pink couch, and the doorway to the kitchen, back to the dresser. My eyes focus on her, she’s wearing a Winnie the Pooh nighty, it used to be mine. The pink fabric has almost faded to a white and the characters to a whisper of color, but it’s her favorite. Squished up into our combined fist and woven through our fingers is her blanket–yellow with tattered silk trim, dripping off the edge, Nunny; her blanket’s name is Nunny. We keep spinning. The new movie Titanic’s theme song, My Heart Will Go On, drones on in the background. It’s my new favorite song because our babysitter went to go see it with her friends but Mom told me I was too young for that– maybe when I’m older. As we spin, I let go of her grasp causing her to lose footing and fall to the ground. She stays down for a minute, but then smiles and get’s back up. She’s only four, I’m six. She pulls herself up and grabs on to my hands again, leaning to the right to start spinning. My eyes fill with water and tears begin to pour down my exhausted cheeks. What would I do if she went down and never got back up?
Jackie Carlson is a student at SUNY Cortland. She loves reading, eating, writing, and laughing.
Image: Rose, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
May 24, 2012 § 2 Comments
The painting contractor, Jake, is the kind of guy everyone in the coffee shop loves, and I hate. He’s loud in an overly friendly way. I’m a quiet, bookish woman and I like to sit in the corner where I can see everyone, but work by myself. Jake is in great shape with a tight ass in his clean painter whites. He wears these pristine whites to show off more than his tight ass. He no longer has to paint walls; he’s boss of a crew. His long white ponytail shows how hip he is. Jake has been sober for twenty years and he is absolutely joyous over his sobriety. He holds the coffee shop hostage with his joy. Jake is like an advertisement for a TV show you never watch, leaving you with details you never wanted to know. For instance, I know he takes Salsa lessons because he broadcast that news over the café. Still, I can imagine him on the dance floor. He’d be incredibly sexy to other women. He must be the darling of his salsa class, I realize from my table across the room.
One time he sat with me, uninvited. He sprawled his long legs out over the floor. He blew hard about his crew, how they’d better be working while he drank coffee; about his investment houses, how much money those “bitches” (his word) brought in for him; and about his Corvette.
I have no love for Corvettes. I have no hate for Corvettes. Then he showed me the cut on his finger.
“It’s just meat.” He said, curling the cut open for me to observe the fleshy red goo. “Look, all meat.”
I made the mistake of saying, “That’s disgusting! I’m trying to eat!”
He turned to me with a face that could kill. Quickly, I excused myself from my own table and left.
Weeks later, Jake sat with me, again, uninvited. He was beaming.
“You know,” he confided. “When you drink, you lose your brain cells. You can’t think. I was driving today and I saw this sign ‘20 miles to Braintree.’ I thought, ‘Wow! Brain. Tree.’ You know? A tree with brains! My brain was working!”
I couldn’t speak. I’d had that same conversation with my brother when I was seven and he was six. We’d laughed our heads off about Braintree and other funny names we’d heard on the news, like Furnace Brook Parkway and Breakheart. I knew if I told him only little kids were amazed by Braintree, his face would change and I would see his rage again. I hesitated.
“Ah, you don’t get it!” he dismissed me, and looked around for someone else to entertain.
In Patricia Goodwin is a writer and poet. Her novella ‘When Two Women Die: An Historical Novella of Marblehead, Telling of Two Murders Which Happened There, 301 Years Apart’ (Plum Press, 2012) is available now on amazon. Please visit patriciagoodwin.com to view other works.
Image: Street Heart, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
February 19, 2012 § 4 Comments
Pieces of Me
The printer whirrs and spits out the last of the photographs. I spread them out across the kitchen table. The overhead light creates a glare on the glossy paper. I turn the dimmer switch down and look at them again. Nine pictures of me: walking in the woods, driving home to Ottawa, sitting at the top of a Ferris wheel in Carp, walking along the Mississippi River. I pull out a chair and stand on it. I hit my head on the chandelier. It spins around on the brassy black chain the light hangs from. Two bulbs have burned out. For a moment I feel guilty for the dead bulbs and the layer of dust everywhere. It passes. I look down at the table. Faces stare back at me. My chest aches. I touch and press the soft fleshy place where they cut you if you stop breathing so they can stick a tube in to do a tracheal intubation. I gulp for air. The chair wobbles.
In two photos I am smiling. Brave smile, looking up at the camera at the moment I caught her looking at me through her lens. In the others I am not paying attention to her. I am focused on something else, camera dangling from one hand, distracted, bent over, drawn to examine it more closely. My daughter took them all, when I wasn’t looking. Except for one. I shift my feet. The seat belches and cracks. I left the chairs out in the rain one afternoon in the summer. The plastic veneer puckered and the chair dried brittle. I step down before I break it completely. The me in the photos watches. Even if I look at the photos sideways, I can’t avoid the eyes. Dark and sad even though the me is smiling; lines of worry parading on her face; pale shade of defeat, loss. My chest feels heavy again. The cat comes in and jumps on the table, sending the photos sliding across as he does. I rescue them before they fall. The few photographs I have of myself were taken by someone else and most of them stared up at me from the tabletop.
A thought trips through my brain, making me take a step back. I bump into the counter. These pictures are how she sees me. Not what I see. She told me this morning, when she found her camera in her bed room that her personal goal is to capture me any time we are out. I won’t know when. The me eyes stare back. I am not sure how I feel about it. I scratch at my neck.
Leigh-Anne grew up in the Ottawa Valley, and still considers Kinburn, Ontario to be home. When she isn’t writing or working at her day job as the Fundraising and Special Events Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club of London, Leigh-Anne can often be found stomping around in the woods around St. Thomas, ON with her daughters, camera in hand.
Image: Walking in the Morning, by Leigh-Anne Fraser
February 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
My mind spreads its spikes at dawn like a hedgehog preparing for a fox attack.
This morning’s hangover has nothing to do with alcohol. The poison is my mind wanting me to be something that I am not.
I stare at him and wonder what he is thinking. I want to melt right through his skin, invade every pore, and eat his thoughts for breakfast.
When I take off my glasses he says I look lost, vulnerable.
A world lies embedded between my computer keys made of bread crumbs, a micro world unaware of me.
The Arabic pizza baker raises his eyebrows and tells me I’m getting smaller.
The annoying fragility of this plastic life shows when the hungry ATM eats my credit card.
I sit on a fence at the top of the hill catching my breath. When a police officer asks me what my story is, I stare at him.
My ninety-seven year old neighbor is cleaning her house and running errands. She is moving to Thailand tomorrow to start a new life. I wish I were her.
Pirjo Zeylon is a writer and artist who lives and writes in southern Sweden. She is fluent in Swedish, Finnish and English. Pirjo is currently working on a novel that she hopes will be published before she reaches 50. When she is not writing Pirjo works in the field of logistics.
Image: Aimless Day, By Pirjo Zeylon