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Archive for August, 2008

“Exposed Wires” by Matt Myers

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Spring 2008, Volume 32, Number 1

When Dale walked in Sue was passed out with plaster dust powdering her face, her left arm hanging off the couch, and her index finger stuck in an empty liter of vodka. The house had the distinct scent of sawdust and new paint, as loose trim boards lay like long blond crosses on the dining room floor. Several shades of green paint had dried on the wall just beside the window. Nine new bottles of top shelf vodka stood on the kitchen island like soldiers in a row, with a receipt for three hundred thirty dollars curled around the neck of one of the bottles. Dale’s stomach turned at the thought of another shot. Sue’s father had been dry for twenty years, and so maybe she had the right genes, but he couldn’t figure how she was able to take it.

He opened the cabinets, searching for something to soak up the alcohol. In college he used to think that bread would soak it up, if he could just get it into his stomach. He figured pasta would do the same and warmed a black pot for spaghetti. He pulled the coiled yellow receipt from the bottle and straightened it by rubbing it on the edge of the black counter. He remembered buying twice this much in Texas for one of their dinner parties, and even buying a stainless steel rolling cart for all the liquor and ice, so it could be out by the pool. It was a part of the job that he loved, entertaining all the oilmen and their wives, high heels and penny loafers clicking on the concrete as people mingled from table to table, not a care in the world when the money was good. Twenty couples were at that party, and there was liquor to spare. This was way too much booze.

The roiling water and fogged window above the sink signaled Dale to drop the spaghetti. He leaned his head into the hall to see if Sue was still passed out. He couldn’t see the mantel from this position, which had all their family pictures. He popped the jar of sauce and looked around, hoping all of upstate New York didn’t hear that he was making spaghetti from a jar. The whole family had once marched ten blocks in the snow, holding each other’s hands, to watch Syracuse play basketball on Kids Night against Seton Hall last year. Seton Hall’s best player was a lanky forward named Cappelletti. The heckler a few rows behind them kept yelling, “Your mama makes sauce from a can,” a joke not lost on the crowd, save the transplanted Texans a few rows down. Since then he had been conscious of the counterfeit Italian food he made in his own house.

“Walking Home After the Graveyard Shift” by Jennifer Perrine

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Spring 2008, Volume 32, Number 1

Even the fireflies here are lochetic,
waiting to scoot their lemony asses

right up to my skin, to expose their short
streetlight sparks when I least expect it. Mace

and cloves from the bakery still dusting
my fingers, I grow talons of housekeys

that slash the August air, that sad frotteur
pushing against my shirt. Its little huffs

of damp wood and mud pour a fluvial
soup between my breasts. Behind me the owl

whistles its come-on, and I snap my legs
open and shut, a switchblade in the dark.

Jennifer Perrine’s first collection of poetry, The Body Is No Machine, was published by New Issues in 2007. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Bellingham Review, Green Mountains Review, Nimrod, RATTLE, and Spoon River Poetry Review. Perrine lives in Des Moines, Iowa, where she teaches at Drake University.

“Head Just Above Water” by Andrew Mortazavi

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Spring 2008, Volume 32, Number 1

Alone on an aluminum fishing boat rocking on gentle waves, I can see the island just ahead, though the hand-built cabin at its center remains hidden from view. Its familiar presence tugs at something behind my chest, not the heart, but somewhere nearby. Easing off of the accelerator lever at my backside brings the lightweight, twenty-five horsepower motor clamped to the rear of the boat to a low rumble. I throw the motor into neutral and kill it. The boat comes in slightly off angle and I have to catch the dock with my hand to prevent a collision. The single plastic bumper tied to the side of the boat hits the water with a tight plop when tossed overboard. With only one bumper in the middle of the boat, instead of the logical pair with one tied at each end, it does little to keep the boat away from the dock. Instead, the lone bumper, unable to function outside of a pair, acts as a fulcrum around which the boat swivels back and forth. There are already two fair-sized dents in the side, one at the top and one at the bottom, where the aluminum siding has caved inward.

Stepping out on the dock, I loop the stern rope through and around the two mooring cleats at the corners of the dock. The boat secured, I scan the island, no larger than a football field. I caress my shaved head from the top of my scalp all the way down to the nape of my neck, admiring the way the prickly texture hugs the not-so-feminine curve. Someone would probably mistake me for a man, if there was anyone around to make such a mistake. I breathe in deep, hard. By mid-fall the weather will have already started to turn. The leaves will wither, peel away, and take flight. The first snowstorm will roll through and instill the air with a crisp, sterile scent like a hospital restroom. Another month and the entire lake will freeze over. If not disassembled and taken ashore, the permanent docks (as their fraudulent builders call them) will be forced out of place, distorted and destroyed as enormous shifting blocks of ice from below the surface of the lake are forced upwards by newer, deeper sheets of ice forming at even greater depths, lifting and grinding the docks up against the earth. After about two months, the two-lane road leading up to the marina will periodically be declared impassible, often for weeks at a time. By then the lake will be empty and alone, except for me.