Currently showing posts tagged This Zine Will Change Your Life
I’d been watching the weather channel for a couple of hours when I got a phone call.
Hi, James. I . . . I was thinking of you. How are you?
Fine. And you? I was thinking of you too.
Really? Oh, I’m okay. You sound different.
Well, it’s been awhile.
Your voice. Is something wrong? Do you have a sore throat or something?
Maybe. No, I don’t think so. I feel fine. Hey, you want to get together? I moved. I’m over here in Ocean Park now, near Main and Pier.
I think I have the wrong James.
No, you have the right James.
Who am I?
You are you. Who else could you be?
What’s my name?
It’s right on the tip of my lip. If I saw your face, I’d remember. Or we could meet at your place. My place or yours, either one is fine with me. Or, if you like, we could meet at a neutral place. How about sushi? It’s a balmy night. What could be better than sushi and beer, Japanese beer? My treat. Or, if you like, we could split the bill. You know, some people like to do that.
I got the wrong number.
No, you don’t. You got the right number. By the way, how old are you?
You must be sick.
I told you. I feel fine. Listen, I don’t remember how old I was when we last saw each other, but I’m forty-one now. Does that put us in the correct ballpark? Anywhere from eighteen to about forty-four would work.
You’re one of those sick weirdos. I’m going to hang up.
Hey, wait a minute. You called me. You can’t hang up. I was sitting here, watching TV, and my cellphone buzzed. You said you had been thinking about me, and, as it was, I had been thinking about you. So what’s the problem? Let’s get together. It’s only seven-thirty.
I can’t believe it.
I’m a nice guy, and you’re a nice woman. I don’t mean to rush things, but just to reassure you, I firmly believe in safe sex. And, I’m not a racist or anything. I happen to be white, but I don’t have any sort of problems with brown or black or whatever.
How about with white?
Of course white’s fine. Are you white?
You mean, you don’t know if I’m brown or black or white? I thought you knew me.
I’m so nonracist that your race slipped my mind. I don’t pay attention to someone’s skin pigment or race or ethnic background. I don’t even care if they went to college or not. I hardly pay attention to someone’s name. After all, what’s in a name? I pay attention to who a person is.
Do you pay attention to sex, as in male or female?
Well, yes, I do. I’m male and I like females. I mean, I like males too, but not in a sexual way. And I’m glad you brought up the subject of sex. I’d like to get back to that real quick, but for now I want to say that I imagine you know that I’m male, and I can tell your female, right?
How about weight?
Weight? Well sure, if you want to get into dimensions. I’m six-one and weigh one-seventy. How about you?
Silence . . . I got an idea.
If you give me your number, although I kind of already have it, but anyway, if you give me your number, I’ll think things over and maybe I’ll call you back. Then it’ll be kind of like a real phone call.
I see. Okay, here’s my number . . . Do you got it? Repeat it back to me, just to make sure.
. . .
That’s right. Okay, I’ll be waiting for your phone call.
Right. But what’s your name?
We don’t need to go over that again, do we? How about you, what’s your name?
If I call you back, I’ll tell you my name. So . . . goodbye.
Goodbye. I’ll be waiting for your call. I really will. But just one more thing.
I love you.
I sit, and I look at the TV, which is on mute. I always keep the weather channel on mute because it allows me to think better.
Michael Onofrey grew up in Los Angeles, or so his age, regarding "grew up," would indicate. Currently he lives in Japan, as his surroundings attest to. A novel, "Bewilderment," was recently published by Tailwinds Press.
Street Artist unknown.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Swim Good Now is the music of Jon Jasper-Lawless and this is the first single from his forthcoming LP Daylight which will be released on Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs Label.
If you want to see
the commissioners for lost love,
better have her photo handy,
before and after if you have them.
don't mean a damn thing.
It's all in the voice, in the face.
are expert gleaners.
If you've written poetry,
so much the better.
Bring that too.
Your lies say so much.
Your wounds, your scars,
are tattletales from way back.
Now, keep in mind,
we're not gravediggers,
or forensic scientists,
or witches, wizards, casting spells.
We just make pronouncements,
some silly, others profound,
usually unrelated to your problems.
We're merely a sounding board
that's deaf to most of what you tell us,
pontificators with theories
untested and untried.
We were like you once, heartbroken,
came to see the commissioners.
We stayed on.
You should too.
We're always hiring.
if you've got this far,
you've paid already.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Front Range Review, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Abyss and Apex and Midwest Quarterly.
Mural in Queens, NY by multiple artists.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Michael Nau (Page France, Cotton Jones) released a solo LP earlier in 2017, but this month has dropped a new EP called The Load. “Diamond Away” is one of the standout tracks on this soulful EP.
It was the last day of the semester, the first time we said goodbye. I was helping him move out, an easy task given how little he owned. Transferring piles of his clothes to a hamper, I found a pair of girl’s underwear. Knowing him, they’d been sitting on his floor since before we started dating.
I tried to give him a chance to hide them but heard his voice echo against bare walls: “I found a pair of your underwear.” He handed me the lace panties. I put them in my back pocket. Touching a stranger’s underwear bothered me but seemed like the best option.
“Those are yours, right?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“That would have been bad,” he said.
Emily F. Butler is a high school librarian by day, stand-up comedian by night. She lives in western Massachusetts and her work is forthcoming in Bone Parade.
Street Artist unkown.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Chicago’s Pixel Grip is the electro-pop duo of Jon Freund and Rita Lukea, and “Golden Moses” is their latest single.
The three runners.
They were shorter then.
Those two boys.
The boy who looked like a French actor at birth.
The younger one.
Until he could greet the world with a joke.
The one who always ran.
Our American boy.
Running from the chaos.
Towards the world that awaited him.
Judy Tanzer worked as a Psychotherapist and now enjoys life.
Street Artist unknown.
Photos by Adam Lawrence.
Har-di-Har is the work of Minneapolis husband and wife duo Julie and Andrew Thoreen. This is the first single from their forthcoming LP, We WIll Will You, which is due out this September.
Post-Ap-Rom-Com: Two heroes grapple with the pressures of singlehood while trying to survive a nuclear wasteland. Brought together by the mass extinction of humanity, the protagonists develop a love connection with tongue-in-cheek banter and the constant threat of murder. Secondary conflict includes massive natural disasters, radiation poisoning, and a jealous ex-lover who feeds on human flesh. Stories end with a wedding and/or a fusion of the lovers at a molecule level. Popular works include Hazmat Sweet and The Wedding Sirens.
Stream of Conscientiousness: A 1st person narrator wavers between the pros and cons of a single, simple, decision. Inspired by maximalist novelists Thomas Pynchon, William Gaddis, and David Foster Wallace, Stream of Conscientiousness makes the ordinary, epic. Average book length ranges from 200,000 – 250,000 words. Popular titles include The Dinner Menu and Pants: One Man’s Fight For Comfort.
Morning Lament: With roots in Awkward Erotica (see also Joycean Love Letters), Morning Lament attempts to capture the reality of sexual encounters. Characters possess mental and physical flaws which may include obesity, heavy intoxication, uncleanliness, and impotence. Stories begin in the morning post coitus. Characters remain nameless due to the inability to recall the night before. Likewise details of the sexual encounter are not provided, however videos, pictures, and abused inanimate objects provide a general depiction. Motifs include regret and an aversion to gin. Martha Starts With ‘M’, Full Frontal Breakfast Burrito, and Dawn No More are popular titles.
[Word] + Punk: Ambitious novels that stop at 3,000 words. The plotline, should one exist, has little to no association with original punk counterculture. The protagonist has an edgy name so they sound defiant, yet sensitive and misunderstood. Examples include Strata, Gray, and Sleet. Foreshadow is weaponized to beat the audience over the head. The love interest, the best friend (who later dies), and the mentor who relies on tough love are all introduced in the first few pages. Gratuitous Nazi references solidify the antagonist. Examples of never complete works are found on writing forums with the title, Thoughts on novel - Space Opera, Pastoral Steampunk, Agripunk!
Bureaucraticity: A subgenre of action and adventure, Bureaucraticity focuses on the heroes behind the backline. Every war, shoot out, and car chase requires a report to be processed, signed by the appropriate manager, and filed in a timely manner. The protagonists are men and/or women who occupy the lowest rung in the organization. Paper jams and deleted files. The Goferboy of April 15th and Behind Every Frontline is a Backline.
Medically Induced Thriller: The 1st person narrator is comatose. Family members, friends, and doctors confess dark secrets while visiting the narrator. Secrets include murder plots and/or the threat of international terrorist plots. Eventually desperate to save the save the day, the narrator establishes a psychic connection with an unexpected hero. Examples include a small dog, an orphaned toddler, and most recently a messenger pigeon. Once the day is saved, the narrator comes out of the coma and adopts the unexpected hero used as a psychic vessel. Recently the novel entitled, ‘…’ won the distinguished Keller Prize for Fiction.
Tragic Farce: Politics packaged as both fiction and nonfiction. There is no protagonist only a less bad antagonist. Primary conflict includes everything. None of which is resolved. Happy endings are determined by the non-use of nuclear weapons. Popular titles include Moving Forwards, Backwards and It Can’t Get Any Worse.
Dan Roche teaches compostion and creative writing at the University of Colorado Denver in Beijing, China. His chapbook 'The Paperwork Rebuttal' (Philistine Press, 2013) includes narratives that were finalists for the Platypus Prize in Innovative Fiction and the Diagram Award for Innovative Fiction. He received his MA in English and MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State.
Street Art by Dirt Cobain and Butterflymush.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Katie Von Schleicher is a Brooklyn-based musician and member of the band Wilder Maker. She will be releasing her new solo LP, "Shitty Hits", on July 28th via Ba Da Bind Records.
Navigating the Volkswagen in the rain took all Vicky Lee’s concentration. Keeping both hands on the wheel, she closed her bad eye, and squinted the other. Phil had offered to drive, but he’d been sipping codeine cough medicine. They were in desperate need of hot and sour soup. White pepper and rice vinegar-spiked broth to soothe the hack and spit, calm the beast making them hate each other for being sick at the same time. Somebody was supposed to take care of them. Somebody was supposed to be in the kitchen banging around. Somebody was supposed to be running their fingers through somebody’s hair. Neither were naming names.
Vicky lit a cigarette in the car though she said she wouldn’t. Promises had been made.
“Jesus H., man bronchitis is no joke,” Phil said, rolling down the window. The fever only increased her tendency toward self-destruction, but despite the unspoken urge to drive fast and hard toward the other lane, she kept her foot ready over the brake, her gaze steady. There should be enough gas to get them to House of Chinese Gourmet and back to their apartment. Should be.
They had to park on the other side of the lot from the restaurant. It was close to Christmas and folks clamored at Dollar General. Phil slammed the door, went to get the soup, dumplings, and sesame chicken she wouldn’t eat. Vicky watched the green twinkle lights in the window below the electric red bowl of noodles with its burned-out chopsticks. Her legs sweat against the leather. Every part of her was sticky from the humidity and she wondered what it meant when Christmas was turbulent like May, wet like June. The smoke from her second cigarette wasn’t going anywhere; it just sank down on her skin, looping itself through the steering wheel. She put her hand on her chest to see if she could feel tightness in her lungs from outside her ribcage. Dying at twenty would just figure.
Phil tripped on the mat outside as he walked through the door. His hair was freshly washed and the blond wisps behind his ears caught the green light making him look horror or sci-fi or fantasy—an unreality genre of cool. He cursed, nearly dropping the bag. Vicky yelled as best she could, but it came out in squeaks. “Drop that soup and I’ll beat your ass.”
“Bring it, Punky.”
He called her Punky after the show she loved as a kid, said she still had the same fashion sense and looking down at her rain boots, Family Guy boxers, and lumpy pigtails, she couldn’t argue.
“You know you’ll never get well if you keep that up.”
“I’m trying, babe. You know they’re as addictive as heroin.”
“Fool who says that has never done heroin.”
“Hardest thing I’ve ever had to quit.”
“Better hope that truth keeps.”
Vicky walked around to the passenger side and opened the door for him, flicking the cigarette on the curb. “With a nickname like Punky, how could life get worse?” she said, winking as he tucked his long legs in her compact car.
Vicky saw the blue lights in the distance before they even backed out. Police lights always reminded her of her friend Cora who’d stretched herself out on the train tracks behind the mall. It was the late ’90s and half Vicky’s friends from high school had overdosed, done time, or pulled themselves apart in some other way by then, but there was still mystery surrounding Cora. She hadn’t seemed the type. There was talk of an older guy giving her bad shit and dragging her to the tracks to protect himself. Talk of her mama going to the apartment complex, banging on doors, crying to anyone who’d listen about her baby the track star. Talk. Talk. Talk. Mostly women answered. Mostly divorcees. Mostly recovered. But Cora’s mom couldn’t have known that.
All Vicky knew was sometimes even young people gotta destroy shit, themselves included. She told herself it was the cigarette. Now, she’d get healthy. She’d start running. For Cora. For the rest of her lost tribe.
“Did I ever tell you about the track star they found on the railroad tracks?” she asked, one hand over the seat, looking back toward the lights.
“I think I’d remember something that sick.”
“She laid herself down right in the curve so she knew the conductor wouldn’t see her until it was too late. At least that’s the story. Total disaster.”
“Every story you tell is a disaster.”
“That sort of thing seems to be all along my periphery, babe. Consider yourself warned.” “I’ll take it under advisement, he said, coughing into his shoulder.
“You sound like shit.”
“You don’t sound so good yourself.”
At the stoplight, a police car pulled up behind them. Vicky turned the volume down on the radio. Maybe Eminem wasn’t the best impression for the cops, particularly when you considered her pink hair and his Nine Inch Nails shirt, forearm tattoos, and waifish frame. Sure enough, when she hit the gas, the cruiser kept close. By the time they got to the pawn shop on 7th Street, the blue lights came on for them.
“Pull in the parking lot at the pawn shop.”
“Exactly. Probably cameras, too.”
“You know I only have a learner’s permit,” Vicky said.
“Nothing we can do about it now.”
“I’m stoned on cold medicine.”
“Shh. Do the best you can. Cry if you can.”
As the officer walked up, two more cars pulled in behind him. Vicky couldn’t believe it. She wondered if she was the bad juju for everyone in her life. A knock at the window, a demand, another demand and they were outside the car, hands on the hood, legs spread, the Chinese food between them. There is talk of trash and pushing dope and questions about Vin from House of Chinese Gourmet. All they knew of Vin was his bracing manner, how he’d throw you out of the restaurant if you acted up, the gross way he’d only sell black customers takeout, how pissed he got if you ordered dumplings, which took twenty minutes, how one time he gave them scallion pancakes because they seemed like good kids and he could tell they had only ordered soup because they couldn’t afford the sesame chicken that day. It never occurred to them that he might be “slinging dope from New York.” They guessed it was the New York part that pissed the officers off most.
“We need a female officer.”
“Sandra, come on. You pat her down.” Vicky could barely see Phil’s face anymore, but she tried to analyze his expression when the barrel-chested woman ran her hand all the way up her shorts and the men behind her slapped her shoulder, saying, “Get it, girl.” When she was finished, Vicky looked her in the eye, wondering why she looked haunted when her hand wasn’t.
“We only wanted soup.” In the span of five minutes, Vicky’s fever spiked and she’d sweat through her shirt.
They said they should arrest her for sassing, let alone the permit and being visibly high. Phil sniffled, but Vicky couldn’t tell if he was upset, or because he couldn’t wipe his nose.
“Consider yourselves lucky, kids,” the woman said. They warned Vicky and Phil to stay away from House of Chinese Gourmet. This meant giving up their favorite meal. Giving up the banter that comes with being regulars, letting go of the ease and comfort of rooster sauce and egg swirled into broth, the feel of seaweed between their teeth, losing the one place they wrapped their hands around ceramic cups of hot tea, their one place.
When they got home, Vicky walked out to the back deck, white cartons of cold food in hand. She spun hard in little girl circles until her stomach lurched, stopping only to launch each container off into the parking lot behind their building. Phil didn’t know what to do so he climbed up on the rail and stood there waiting for some kind of answer. He coughed into his shoulder, watching the chicken splatter on a red pickup.
“Let’s walk the tracks,” Vicky said. “I’ll show you where Cora died.”
“Can I tell you something?”
“Better not. Tonight’s bad enough. Let’s save the catastrophe of us for another day.”
“Tomorrow or the next.”
“Tomorrow or tomorrow.”
“It doesn’t even feel like Christmas.”
“It hasn’t felt like Christmas for years,” he said, pulling one of her pigtails. “You should go to bed, Punk. Your fever’s back.”
Under two blankets, Vicky tried to remember what she looked like the day of tryouts. Did she wear her mom’s Tarheel basketball shirt? White Keds? But all she could think about was Cora fifty yards ahead of her, limbs firing like mad, frizz curling at her temples, and the kind of woman she could have been.
Beth Gilstrap is the author of I Am Barbarella: Stories (2015) from Twelve Winters Press and No Man’s Wild Laura from Hyacinth Girl Press (2016). She thinks she’s crazy lucky to work as Fiction Editor over at Little Fiction | Big Truths. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bull, WhiskeyPaper, The Minnesota Review, Literary Orphans, and Little Patuxent Review, among others. She lives in Charlotte with her husband and enough rescue pets to make life interesting (or flat out insane).
Street Art by goochsoup.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Alyeska is dream pop duo from Los Angeles, and “Tilt-A-Whirl” comes from their debut EP, Crush which was self-released in March of 2017.
Kristen Williamson is currently a Graduate in English Literature and Creative Writing at Binghamton University In New York, where her fields of study include poetry,and fiction. She has been featured in: Slink Chunk Press, The Stray Branch, The Zine and others.
Street Art by SacSix.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Woodes is the work of 24 year-old Australian Elle Graham and "Bonfire" is her latest single.
I am a jet plane. I am a super-sonic sound breaker. I am a magic wand, a crystal ball, a black top hat where doves rise like hologram hallucinations to create a surprise, a start, a whatthehell. I am a magic rock, the kind with a secret space for a key to open the door. I am a skeleton key. I am a shoe horn to make me fit. I am a rainbow. I am a guitar song about trains and thunder with a three chord rhythm and hand claps and background singers. I am a blade of grass, torn from sod and held between two thumbs to create a trumpet sound. A blade of green to play an elegy. A blade of grass to play a funeral dirge. I am a movie star, no I am a cement star. The kind that gets photographed and stepped on. The kind that lies on the street like lox on molded cream cheese and a stale bagel. I don't know.
I am a long coat, a black duster, the kind that hangs stiff off your shoulders and brushes at the your palm. The kind that nicks the backs of your knees and parts open front and back to allow for movement. The kind of coat that makes you taller, kinder, ghost-like. I don't know.
I am a razor. The kind to shave just close enough to avoid a cut. I am your favorite song. I am the cracked glass that held the image. I am the ribbon. O! I am a Captain. I am the secret statue on the back of a penny. I am the missed belt loop. I am the magic seed to make the beanstalk grow. I am the rock we threw for hopscotch games. I am the yellow cover to the biography book. I am the tea kettle. I am the weather map. I am the swing in the park. I am blue sky. Yeah, I said blue sky. I am the door to your dressing room with a star. I am your director's chair with your name on the back. I am the hanger that held the shape of your coat, before you put it on your shoulders. I am the shape it took after you put it on. I don't know.
I am a wrinkle. I am a sunken cheek. I am an arched eyebrow. A hooked nose. A hair comb. A square tie. I am a stranger. I am simply a passerby. I am a doctor who heals. A misfit who breaks things. I am the history of mankind all rolled into one. Rolled into one handkerchief, stuffed in an inside jacket pocket. I am something to fold safe and secure next to your heart. Unfolded to dab the sweat on your brow. Unfolded to comfort the rebel widow when she cries.
Mary Hamilton is an optician living in Los Angeles, and her work has previously been published in SmokeLong, PANK, the Indiana Review, and Storyglossia.
Abraham Obama art by Ron English.
Not My President Street Artist unknown.
Photos by Adam Lawrence.
Gal Gun is a new power pop band from Chicago preparing to release their debut album in 2017.
This piece originally ran on November 3, 2008 and November 10th, 2012.
I never understood people failing to kill themselves. Rita said she knew a man who shot himself but the bullet wedged under his scalp, traveled around on the surface of his skull, and exited through his scalp. When I decided to commit suicide I knew I wouldn’t have the guts to go through with it, but I was determined enough to figure out a way around that kind of cowardice.
Roughly five minutes ago I crawled out on the balcony of my apartment and slipped myself down until hanging by my hands. I knew that unless I decided against dying within about the first minute or so then, realistically, the decision would become a permanent one.
Already my arms are too weak to be of much use. Pulling myself to safety is impossible. To even attempt it would mean cutting my short life even shorter. At this point my hand and arm strength must be nearly spent. I’ll slip soon and that will be the end of Calup Nelson.
Calup Nelson was one of those guys who held old-style New York artsy parties about once a month. So when his group of friends didn’t get a call from him by early Friday evening, they got in touch with each other and decided to drive to his apartment.
The three of them – Dexter, Town, and Crane – took turns ringing the doorbell and when no one answered, Town checked the door. It was unlocked and the three of them piled in, expecting to find their friend asleep on the couch or in the shower.
Splitting into different directions without finding Calup, they started calling his name. They weren’t panicked. The three of them called out, Hey buddy, where are you? Hey man. Everything was casual.
The guys’ll come out here soon. I think. They should be quick, though, because I’m close. My fingers feel like they’re splitting apart at the joints. Same for my shoulders.
“Hot damn, Calup.” It’s Town. He’s leaning over the balcony rail. “Did you fall?”
I shake my head. “I’m killing myself,” I tell Town, and then explain to him my plan.
He disappears and returns with Dexter and Crane. All three of them are leaning so I can see their serious faces. They have their elbows propped up on the rail. Town explains to Dexter and Crane the plan.
“It’s pretty much foolproof, if you think about it,” he says, and the others nod in agreement.
Sheldon Lee Compton is the author of three books and lives in Kentucky with his wife and two children.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
"Ghosts" comes from Irish ambient folk/pop singer Katie Kim's third studio album, Salt, which was self-released in November.
He grinned nervously and squeezed her hand as they stood together outside the smooth, white door. “I’ve never been inside a zero gravity chamber before,” he said, smiling his lopsided smile. “It’s safe?”
“Perfectly safe,” she reassured him, squeezing his hand back and returning his smile. He couldn’t help but notice how tired she looked. Beautiful—always so beautiful—but tired, too. More tired than usual. The skin beneath her eyes was dark, her cheeks drawn and pale, and the corners of her mouth twitched, as if the effort of holding a smile was a worthwhile strain. But of course she was tired; she’d been working night and day on the zero gravity chamber for quite some time now. She’d skipped more meals than he could count, and most mornings, he woke up to find that she’d never even come to bed, but had fallen asleep on the couch instead—or, on at least three separate occasions, on the floor right outside the entrance to the chamber.
But now it was complete, and she could finally rest. He tucked a stray wisp of her graying blonde hair behind her ear. “I can’t believe you made this.”
“I made it for you,” she said. She gave his hand another squeeze, then she pulled it away and placed it flat on the chamber door. “Are you ready?”
A dazzling beam of blue light blazed to life beneath the white surface of the door, a thin, horizontal bar that moved up, and then down, scanning her palm. Then, with a loudwhoosh, the door pulled itself back and slid to the side, granting them entry to the chamber.
“Incredible!” he gasped. That this monumental piece of science-fiction actually existed—and in his own basement, no less—was absolutely extraordinary.
“We’ll program your hand print too, so you can use it if I’m not here.”
“Thank you,” he said. He took a step toward the opening, then hesitated. “Should I go in?”
She nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, please! Everything is ready.”
“I don’t need any sort of suit or anything? An oxygen mask?”
“No, no, nothing like that. All you need is you.”
She gestured toward the door, and he gave her one last, nervous grin. “Okay,” he said. Then he held his breath and stepped into the chamber.
It was shaped like an egg on the inside, an egg big enough to hold a Volkswagen. He stepped gingerly onto the gleaming, sloping surface, afraid he’d accidentally crack the finish. As if reading his mind, she said, “Don’t worry. It’s very sturdy.” She had that way of knowing what he was thinking, sometimes before he knew it himself.
“Okay,” he said, his voice shaking a little with nervous excitement. He glanced around the sparkling room. It was truly beautiful. Elegant. It was her work, and wasn’t this way by mistake. “Do I just…?” He bounced a little on his heels, but he didn’t leave the floor. Gravity was still in full swing.
“Hold on,” she said, slipping into the chamber behind him. He could even hear the weariness in her voice. Every word was a poorly disguised sigh. “I have to close the door.”
She reached for it, but his hand instinctively shot out and grabbed her elbow. “Wait,” he said, suddenly feeling very claustrophobic. “How much air will we have?” He tried to sound nonchalant.
“There are air filters. Up there.” She pointed to the top of the egg. “They’re flush with the walls. Totally hidden. But as long as there’s air in the house, there’ll be air in here.” Then she pressed her hand to the inside of the door panel, and with another blue light scan, it slid back into place and locked itself up tight.
Once they were sealed in the chamber, she turned back around to face him. Her face was brighter now, and her cheeks had flushed pink around the rims. Her smile was easier, too, more solid. More real. She took both of his hands in hers. “What do you think?” Her voice was, at last, the old, cheery song he’d fallen in love with so many years ago.
“It’s incredible!” His nervousness had evaporated, just like that. “How do you initiate the zero gravity?”
“It’s already been initiated,” she said with a sly grin. “Don’t you feel it?”
He laughed. “No,” he admitted, smiling as he bounced on the balls of his feet. “See? Still on solid ground.”
She blushed a bit then, her eyelids becoming hooded. “It’s not that sort of zero gravity,” she said.
“What do you mean?” He didn’t feel confused, exactly, by his lack of understanding. Rather, he felt excited at the possibility of discovery. His curiosity was obvious in the wide smile that spread across his face.
“This room alleviates gravity completely…but not the gravity of physics. The gravity of life.”
“The gravity of life?” he asked, his voice tinged with wonder.
“Yes. All of our seriousness. All of our anxiety. All of that useless weight we carry in our words.” She was fairly beaming now. “It dissipates in this place. The chamber makes this a zero gravity zone.”
He laughed out loud, long and hard. “You can’t be serious!” he said, though there wasn’t a trace of malice in his voice.
“See for yourself! Talk about something that was weighing on you this morning.”
He thought for a few seconds, tapping his lips thoughtful with his finger. “Ah!” he said, lighting upon a topic. “My job!”
“What about it?” she asked.
“I think I’m wasting my time there,” he giggled. He automatically raised a hand to cover his mouth, turning a bit red from the embarrassment of such a mirthful little laugh. Then his eyes widened a bit, and he tried again. “I’m miserable there!” His voice came out as bubbly as soap. He shook his head in astonishment. “Why don’t I feel sad about that?”
“Zero gravity,” she said with a Cheshire grin. Her voice took on a game show host lilt. “The latest in relieving life’s little stresses!”
“Incredible!” he repeated. “It’s almost as if…almost as if…” She raised an eyebrow, a subtle encouragement for him to go on. “Well, it’s almost as if I actually like the fact that my job is destroying me a little more each day!” They shared a long laugh. He took her hands in his and squeezed them tenderly. “What a brilliant invention,” he said through tears of joy. “And what an extraordinary woman you are.”
She smiled and rested her head on his chest. “Thank you,” she said, closing her eyes and listening to the sound of his heart.
They stood like that for quite some time, enjoying the restored airiness between them, their collective lightness of being. “Whatever possessed you to manufacture such a miracle?” he finally asked.
Without lifting her head, she sighed happily and said, “I made it for you.”
He smiled, content. “So you said.” He stroked her hair thoughtfully. “Is it because I’m too serious? Does it weigh us down?”
She nuzzled her cheek in deeper into his chest and clutched her arms around his waist. “I didn’t make it for the gravity you have now; I made it for the gravity you’ll have soon.”
“And what does that little riddle mean?” he asked with a chuckle.
“I wanted to tell you, in here.”“Tell me what?”
“About the cancer,” she said, breathing in the scent of him.
“Cancer?” he asked.
She nodded. “It started in my uterus, but it spread…it’s in my liver now, and my bones.” She sighed again. “And my lungs.”
“What a startling bit of news!” he cried happily.
She pulled away and smiled up at him, taking his face in her hands. “Isn’t it?” she grinned.
“How long have you known?”
“Not so long, in the grand scheme of things,” she said with an easy little shrug.
“You bided your time before telling me,” he said, amused. “What do you know about that?”
“I didn’t want to weigh you down,” she said simply.
“I understand completely,” he said airily. “It’s serious, then?”
“Any help for it then?”
“What do you know about that?” he said again. “After all this time...”
“Yes,” she agreed, her eyes shining with tears of joy for the moment unfolding between them.
“There’s so much we’ll never do,” he said, thoughtfully, but not sadly. Nothing felt sad. Nothing hurt.
“You’ll have to do them for the both of us,” she suggested.
“A reasonable idea,” he admitted. He shook his head and grinned his lopsided grin. “Life is strange, isn’t it?”
“Stranger than fiction.”
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The air inside the egg felt crisp and freshly laundered. The filters were scented with lavender, the room filled with its subtle floral tones. He breathed it in, breathed her in. “What a wonder, to feel such peace about such tragedy.”
“That’s why I built you this chamber,” she smiled. She kissed him, and her lips were warm, and full. “To spare you the sadness of it.”
“How does one even know how to begin to make good on a blessing such as you?” he said.
“You like it, then?”
“I adore it.”
“I hoped you would.” She sat down on the floor of the egg and reached up for his hands. “Come here, sit with me.” He did, and his knees popped, a startling sound that sent them both into a fit of giggles. They sat cross-legged facing each other, their fingers intertwined, as the smooth and complex interior of the chamber quietly and perfectly dissipated their despair. “I suppose we’ll have to leave the egg eventually,” he remarked.
“Everyone has to leave everything eventually,” she retorted with a wink and a smirk. “But not yet. We don’t have to leave yet.”
He meant to ask her what it would be like when they left the levity of the egg and their gravity was fully restored, but he couldn’t quite make the words. His mouth had no taste for them. “Zero gravity,” she told him, shaking his hands in hers. “Like it or not.”
He nodded. There would be time for gravity—more than he might care to acknowledge. But this time, in this place, with this woman. It was a gift. Later would come the gravity. Later there would be the tears and the fear and the anger and the screaming and the fights about treatment and the denial of this punishment and the words that couldn’t be unsaid, not once they were lobbed like spiteful grenades, because those words would exist in the world, where they would carry a weight, a crushing, bruising press of sadness and blame and helplessness and regret.
But later. All of that, later.
Here, in the egg, there was him, and there was her, and there was a brightness of knowledge and acceptance and a shared familiarity centuries deeper and stronger than mutating cells. He kissed her fingers, and she kissed his fingers back. “I love you,” he said. “I love you,” she replied.
And they sat in the chamber for a little while longer.
Clayton Smith is a writer, publisher and teacher. He is the co-founder and Archduke of Dapper Press, and a lecturer in the Business & Entrepreneurship Department at Columbia College Chicago.
Panika M. C. Dillon hails from Fairbanks, AK and Austin, TX. She received her MFA in creative-writing poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in Oranges&Sardines, Copper Nickel, Borderlands, the Diagram and Breakwater Review. She works as a political organizer.
Photos by Adam Lawrence.
Swedish psych rockers Growth are preparing to release their new EP "Colour, Cut & Clarity" via Lazy Octopus Records on September 16th. "Wait" is the 2nd single off of the EP.
These days of silence
Lengthen as the grey expanse
Winter without end.
A poor thing is the first flower
The single bud of a wilted mind.
Alexandra Faye Carcich lives with husband and dog, in upstate NY. She dreams of having a published novel someday. Her work is featured in the Cupid&Psyche issue of Timeless Tale's Magazine.
Street Artists unknown.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Zula is a Brooklyn-based Psych-Pop band, and "Lucy Loops" comes from their sophomore album, Grasshopper, which is due out on August 26th.
Welcome to my room. Yesterday you would not feel so welcome. I was in the seclusion room on restraints. I did not even do a thing to warrant such treatment. Some skinny white girl lied on me. I never threatened her. It is not my fault that my voice is booming. I’m not some tiny thing with a little girl voice. I’m six feet tall going on two hundred and fifty pounds. I can’t help it that I have a grown woman’s voice. It is not against the law to speak loud. But today I am back in this room on a bed without restraints. I can walk around and go into the dayroom if I like. But to be honest with you I want to get the fuck out of California. I have never been treated fairly here. I can’t keep a job or stay out of hospitals or jails. I never did drugs or abused alcohol. It is not my fault that Schizophrenia took a hold of my mind. All I did what fall in love right out of a high school with a man who promised me the world. How was I to know he was married with children? I lost my mind. My father, a pillar of the community, shunned me. He could not look at me without calling me jezebel and other choice words. My mother could not defend me because she was afraid of him and loved him more than his own children. All I could do is to get as far away from Georgia so I took a Greyhound to California. I could type pretty well and did some waitressing here and there. With medicine the Schizophrenia was controlled some. But after thirty years it has kicked the shit of out of me more than the times my mind was normal. I am ready to go back now, to Georgia. Perhaps father has forgiven me. My mother has gone to heaven. I want to go back and find what I have been missing all these years. I need an emergency ticket at the Greyhound Bus Station. When I get to Georgia I will sign a paper promising that I will pay back the ticket with interest. I can still type. It used to be 60 words per minute. I am down to 30 something words because the medicine slows me down. I need a bus ticket. I will even take Amtrak. I will go at any time. I’ll even take the midnight train to Georgia.
Luis works in the mental health field in Los Angeles, CA. He was born in Mexico and has been published in online and print journals for the past two decades. His first book of poetry Raw Materials, was published by Pygmy Forest Press. His other chapbooks and poetry books have been published by Kendra Steiner Editions, Polish Beat Press, Propaganda Press/ Alternating Current Press, Poet's Democracy and Dead Beat Press.
This Zine Will Change Your Life previously published The Dice by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal. Check it out.
Tuskha is solo project of Phil Moore (Bowerbirds) and "No Pain" comes from his recently released self-titled debut album.
My parody of insomnia is this tub of ranch dressing, the flakes
of breading suspended in its thickness, which, with too much time, breaks,
separating into slick layers, sticky lacquered mill town tavern, everyone
in coats and hats, doors proper for the smokers, smoke blowing back in, crack
of cue. You say, Certain faux-fur collars scream for a rough fuck, staring
at the zippers and elastic on the short jacket of the little butter bodied brunette behind
the counter. She stands on a rubber mat made out of holes. Denote, you say
Command. A belt of cartridges, low-slung, and when an old man asked her
Sweetie, what’s your real name, Sweetie? She said Sweetie without a smile.
Denote, you say, Command. Her real name’s Amanda and she’s warned you never
to call or text again, and especially no pictures—I will post them. I will forward them
to your wife—but the bar’s not hers and she can’t excuse a way to keep you
out, buying shot after shot, pricey craft beers, tailoring a theory of triggers,
what necessarily and automatically leads to what. C-cups, you gesture
toward them. And What I mean is: reducible to components, key attributes.
That pout, you say, begging, comprehendible only in relation to force, to—She
throws down a rag, goes out for a smoke. The cook guards the bar. The room
is only men, most of them mean flirts and drunk, like you, even silent me, agreeing
that those hips need to be harnessed, gripped, handled, ridden.
Form and what we make of it. Fried cheese curds going
cold, nights even the idea of sleep, relentless expanse, with nothing
but these lumpy fantasies, some bottle-raven girl, in the image of punk,
some barb of ink visible above her waistline, along the sharp edge of bone.
The angle there, that diagonal. If only I was an artist, you say.
Chiaroscuro: her jawline. Clean like Piero della Francesca.
At the sports-themed bar in the mill town where the college crowd is only
Sometimes tolerated. Cutting you off, professor, says that little
masturbation fantasy in knee-high boots. And it is well-timed.
I have to carry you out into the night, reeling, ranting about the reeling stars:
Amanda and Amanda, such heavenly glory, to hear your muffled groans—
Form and our memories of it, imagining an image and then its heft,
the three-dimensionality of her, split open, held in each of my palms
eating her like a slice of melon, you say, your accent coming back
not that we aren’t pretending to try to pass as natives, not that you didn’t
fuck that up plenty with your talk of causation or the Renaissance
Is it the Renaissance, even? Piero della Francesca: perspective, tiles of light.
This is the bridge the kid climbed down from, to enter the water between pieces
of ice. These are the tatters of police line. And there, you say, is the moon. But
you have some trouble locking it in your sights. Out beyond the beyond.
You are drunk, and then you are back home, where your wife is waiting up,
everything like a tv mini-series of itself, except all the rough sex lines, and I am alone,
first with streetlamps, then the single pointless hallway of my place
There is no dreaming. Hold this, turn it over, for hours and
without end, the same phrases repeating, the same memories:
of a downcast glance, the texture of her mascara accumulated at the very edge.
A fracture of form: lines bleeding into lines, replaced by some dumb
sense, some thrusting need for, where your phrases add
flavor, resistance to the thrust. I think of her and of you watching
her, think of watching you take her, think of her along a spectrum of
states, open-mouthed with ecstasy (straddling, for instance, shirtless, armpits
exposed, hands tangling her hair) and also in fear (tears, but more than tears,
that hopelessness you spoke of when the only option is to endure,
bite something, wait, pace. A shadow life, night hissing lukewarm
from the radiators, the sky, the triggers fingered silently, alone.
Spencer Dew is the author of the novel "Here Is How It Happens," (Ampersand, 2013) the story collection "Songs of Insurgency," (Vagabond, 2008) and the chapbook "Monte Saint Michel and Chartres" (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), as well as the critical study "Learning for Revolution: the Work of Kathy Acker" (San Diego State University Press, 2011).
This Zine Will Change Your Life previously published First Things by Spencer Dew. Check it out.
Street Art by Marlene.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Stockholm's Magic Potion released their debut album, Pink Gum, on May 27th via PNK SLM Records.
Helen thumbs through my yearbook, asks where I am. I shrug, tell her how I didn’t want proof of my awkward fashion sense for future generations to stumble onto. Helen pats her belly, wonders how the child will learn from my mistakes if there isn’t any proof of them. He is proof, I say in the way that sounds like a joke.
J. Bradley is the author of the forthcoming story collection, The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016).
This Zine Will Change Your Life previously published Chicken Little by J. Bradley. Check it out.
Street art by Twazzo.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Pollyn is a Trip Hop trio based in LA and "Too Late to Change the Past" is the lead single from their third album Distress Signals, out May 13th.
42W349 Hunters Hill Dr
St. Charles, IL 60175
The yards are separate in this neighborhood, divided by shrubs, fences, trees, sloped drives, and flowered bushes. We sit on our deck. The deck is stained wood, not a concrete slab. My father stands and grills. My mother sits and sips a glass of wine.
She looks toward the woods. She says, come here. I sit down next to her. She runs her fingers through my hair. She looks away from me.
My little sister’s getting old enough to play with. We make paper dolls and paper airplanes that do not fly anywhere. We write in diaries that we pretend to hide from one another. We ride bikes in circles round the cul de sac.
My sister calls my name across the room at night.
She says, I saw a ghost.
It looked like you, if all your colors were sucked out.
She says, I didn’t feel afraid. You shouldn’t feel afraid.
There is no reason. We agree that ghosts are just a fact of life.
My mother stands behind me in the mirror.
She sprays a vapor cloud of hairspray on my hair, then on her own.
Before I go to sleep, I stand behind the footboard of my bed. I bend and press my stomach down into the edge. I feel like something’s getting sucked out from my body, something that was trapped. I breathe in little breaths, my fingers tracing round my hipbones.
I walk from room to room and lie down on the sunbeams. All the rooms are strange. They all seem larger than they need to be. My mother is complaining to my dad about the house, again. She wants to move into another house for sale in the neighborhood.
I hear the distant humming of our neighbor’s lawn mower. It creeps in closer, closer, as it moves across the lawn. I close my eyes as I imagine moving to another house, and then another, til we’ve lived in every house within this neighborhood.
4N258 Mark Twain St
Campton Hills, IL 60175
Every day, the babysitter picks me up from school. We drive through town to pick my sister up from daycare. Her car is brown. It smells like cigarettes and dogs, although she doesn’t have a dog and I have never seen her smoking.
We pick my sister up and we drive to the grocery store. The grocery store has three columns in front with concrete arches. My sister rides inside the cart. The babysitter lets me push the cart around while she goes through the aisles.
While she goes through the aisles, I wheel the cart up to the glass case in the wall. Inside the case, a monkey lives, alone. There is a little fake tree and a little rubber ball, a little plastic toy the monkey’s chewed to almost disappearance.
Behind the glass, the case is made of concrete, like a zoo, but it is smaller than the window of a pet store. I hold up my hand, then press it to the glass. The monkey inches close enough that I can see his sad black eyes.
Years later, I am driving past the babysitter’s house. My mother’s riding in the front seat and my sister’s in the back. I say, do you remember when we saw that monkey in the grocery store? The one who lived inside a glass case in the wall?
My sister says she did, she did! What was the monkey doing there?
I know, I say. I don’t know. What a bad place for a monkey!
My mother looks at us like we’re both crazy.
I have never seen a monkey in a grocery store.
5 N 5th St
Geneva, IL 60134
I hate ballet because I have to watch my movements in the mirror. I clench my teeth. I clench the bar and try to look away.
My teacher comes behind me. Her breath smells like tuna salad.
She says, focus, focus. She says, look at what you’re doing.
I look at the mirror and I think, demi plié, grand plié.
I look at the mirror and I look around me at the other girls.
I look at the mirror and I look at how my stomach sticks out.
I look at the mirror and I think, I’m fat.
Another girl looks at me in the mirror.
I look down.
The teacher comes behind me.
Focus, focus! Tuna breath.
The only part of class I like is when the teacher lets us choose a bunch of colored scarves out of a bin. She plays Swan Lake on her boom box. She says, feel the music. She tells us to channel what we feel through our dancing.
I always think of this, years later, whenever I watch that breaking down scene in A Woman Under The Influence. Gena Rowlands plays Swan Lake. She keeps announcing that it’s perfect. She tells her children to dance like they’re dying. Die, now!
I dance like I’m dying. That is what I feel from the music. I think, Die, now! and I lie down on my back. The other girls are still dancing around me. I watch, from below. I watch their flailing pink skirts and their scurried shuffled movements.
103 E Lincoln
Pesotum, IL 61863
On our way to the family reunion, the baked beans explode. They explode from the pot and they flow out all over the van. It’s August and the summer sun makes sticky pools of everything as we kneel, scooping, scrubbing, while my mom says, shit.
We file down a long line of our relatives, of picnic tables filled with food.
We fill our plates with things that we can eat.
My dad can’t have dessert because he’s diabetic.
My sister can’t have chips because she’s overweight.
I tell my mom, this year, I am not going to eat meat. I tell her, this year, I’m becoming vegetarian.
She tells me I can be a vegetarian when I turn 10. She watches to make sure I take a chicken leg.
I scrape the fried skin off the chicken’s leg.
I look beneath the twists of bluish veins.
I scrape my fork until the leg is just an empty bone.
I look around me and I think, we’re eating what’s inside of us.
42W068 Hunters Hill Dr
St. Charles, IL 60175
My mother makes me be friends with the daughter of her friend. I do not like the way this girl is always smelling her own hands. At least her house has interesting stuff. Her basement’s filled with boxes of old hats and gloves and jewelry and dresses.
I put on a blue dress.
She puts on yellow dress.
My dress smells like an old book.
Her dress smells like chicken soup.
I think that we should switch, she says. We switch. We look at ourselves in the full length mirror.
We take the dresses off. We stand inside their crumpled shells.
I look at her, then look down. I ask, so, what does it feel like?
What does what feel like?
Having…you know. I cover up my naked chest.
She says, like nothing. There’s just something there, one day.
You just get used to it.
I look back down. I see, I say.
I sneak a quick peak at her pointy nipples.
In the kitchen, her mother is cutting slices of fresh baked zucchini bread. She puts two slices on a plate for each of us.
I say, no thank you. I’m not hungry. I already had lunch.
It’s not lunch. She frowns. It’s just a snack, she says.
Beneath the table, I am rolling my thumbs round my wrist bone.
I am measuring the width that it should be.
77 Maple Court
Decatur, IL 62526
My grandmother’s house is filled with blonde wood paneling. The pale wood reflects the gauzy shadows from the curtains. Everything is shades of white, or yellow white. Checkered linoleum. Chenille coverlets. A mason jar of lemon drops.
Her house smells like old wood, sun crisped lace, and, emerging from the kitchen, endless streams of watery brewed coffee.
There is a wardrobe in the basement with a mirror in the door. When I was little, I would hide inside the wardrobe. Now, I open up the wardrobe, take my clothes off, and look in the mirror. I shift my body side to side. I move the mirror back and forth.
In her bedroom, there’s a crucifix. The cross is made of wood. Jesus is made of bone white, molded, chiseled plastic. The drops of perspiration, tears, and blood are also white, carved plastic outlines. He is naked. The nails in his hands and feet are real nails.
I sit next to my grandmother and page through her photo albums.
Is he dead? I ask.
She says, yes.
Is she dead? I ask.
She says, yes.
Are they dead? I ask.
She says, some are, some aren’t.
I nod. That dress is beautiful.
She says, I loved that dress.
There are two scales in the house, one in the upstairs bathroom, one inside the basement bathroom, tucked inside a cabinet.
On the scale upstairs, I weigh 87 pounds.
On the scale in the basement, I weigh 86.
I shift. 86.5.
I shift again. 86.
22655 W South St
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
The counselors call it outdoor ed. I’m staying in a room with two bunks and three other girls that I just met. We made friends on the bus when we discovered how much we all love The X-Files, though we aren’t allowed to watch.
We run through the snowing hills and we take pictures. I take pictures of a dead tree and a half collapsed old barn. The hills are white rounds tipped with shades of trees and blackish brown triangles. We climb to the highest triangle and sled all the way down.
That night, inside the room, one of the girls says, let’s pretend we’re ghosts. We wrap ourselves in sheets. She says, okay. Now all we need is make-up. She does not have make-up. I do not have make-up. None of us has any make-up. So, we put the sheets back on our beds.
My new best friend whispers, I’ve seen a real ghost, but I was not afraid.
I say, you shouldn’t be afraid.
The food here sucks. We all agree the food here sucks. I vow that for the whole two weeks we’re here, I’ll just eat cornflakes. My friends laugh. They say, me too, but after the first night, they all go back to eating what they’re given. I’m the only one who doesn’t eat the food.
One of the counselors notices that I’m not eating.
My best friend says, it’s okay. She really, really just likes cornflakes.
I feel sick. I can’t go out today. I’m tired. My best friend gives me her gameboy. She says, please get better soon. By the end of the trip, I don’t fit into any of my clothes. My mother picks me up and drives me through the winter dusk in silence.
We stop at the drug store. She takes in my camera. She buys me a gallon of water, sits, and makes me drink the whole thing in the car.
She hands me my photos. I open up the envelop.
The pictures are just black rectangles, blurs, white fields of nothing.
Meghan Lamb lives with her husband in St. Louis. Her novella, Sacramento, was recently released on Solar Luxuriance. Her book, Silk Flowers, is forthcoming in early 2016 from Birds of Lace. Her work can also be found in The Collagist, Necessary Fiction, Spork, wigleaf, and other places.
Street Art by stikman.
Photo by Adam Lawrence.
Post Animal is a psych-rock band from Chicago and "Goggles" comes from their new EP, Post Animal Perform The Most Curious Water Activities.