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Archive for January, 2008

“The Whisper” by Ben Percy

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Fall 2007, Volume 31, Number 2

Jacob lay on the forest floor with something broken inside him. When he tried to sit up, his pelvis shifted and released a moist popping sound, filled with pain, so he kept still, listening to the wind whisper through the trees and scatter the last leaves from their branches.

At first he felt cold. Then a hot ache spread from his middle and leaked all the way to his fingertips. He imagined himself lying there, how he would look to whoever found him. With his white hair and rheumy eyes, with his soft belly, his bowed legs, with his liver-spotted skin and the veins beneath it looking like the burned-out filaments of a light bulb, he decided he would look exactly like a stupid old man who had fallen out of a tree.
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“Jubilee Writes to Ten-Cent Pearl on the Ambassador Motel’s Complimentary Stationary” by Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Fall 2007, Volume 31, Number 2

What a sad winter, my God! What a sad winter! An orange petticoat hangs a pink dust cloth and it’s raining.
- Miltos Sachtouris

Recalling how whole Cincinnatis slept while we wandered around in the so-late-it-was-early-again new snow smother of January. January, cold to the bone, January. I confided I know he’s left town because the city feels like a collapsed lung. I pointed to the tree in the row of trees needle-bare and paired off with streetlights as if they were waiting for a square dance to begin. I was there when I knew he’d be in the corner store. I was there, then I felt him before I saw him.

You talked about the novelist, the one you’d written a hundred poems or more for and on St. Valentine’s Day I’ll see you talking to him and your face will look like a young girl face-open and hopeful as your name, Pearl. But I grow ahead of myself now. Because it’s still January and the street is as stopped and serene as a snowglobe village and there’s no one wide awake as we are and we’re laughing like we might have laughed before Eve found a tree not dissimilar to this and before she or God or the whole world bit us and before we learned to bite back. I’m alone now, Pearl. Alone the way you are after you find what you love most in the world and then lose it. I’ve lost it, Pearl. Cities and scripts and they’re asking me to make them laugh, my Lord, isn’t that a riot, though?
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“Flashlights” by Zack Bean

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Fall 2007, Volume 31, Number 2

The year of my first kiss, ninety-nine people were murdered in Little Rock. Danger hovered over our lives like a cloud, and violence was in the air we breathed. I was playing shortstop in a 14-and-under coed fall softball league, and occasionally a spray of distant gunshots mingled with the infield chatter. We pounded our gloves and spat in the dirt and pulled our caps low to shield our eyes from the glare of the lights. Sometimes on the way home I’d see the big sedans gliding like sharks down city streets, their headlights sweeping across yards and alleys, flushing out small animals with glittering eyes. Weekends I ran with my brother Mac and his friends. After dark we’d hike to the quarry behind my house, where we’d sit around getting high and telling lies and tossing empty bottles down into the bauxite pits. Once we walked all the way out to the overpass and Mac dropped a rock onto a car passing below, just for the hell of it. The rock crashed through the windshield with a sick crunch, and the car skidded and fishtailed into the median. It was a good year to be bad; life seemed brutal and sexy and short, and we rushed to drink it down. When I got a chance to sneak under the bleachers with a big-hipped brunette eating a purple snow cone, life exploded into something else entirely.
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