Issue thirteen | ⓒ 2019 | All Rights reserved
M _ 🅰 NNEQUIN H 🅰 U S 1 3 _
Thom Young is a writer from Texas. His work has been in PBS Newshour, The Wall Street Journal, The Oxford Review, and over a hundred literary journals. A 2008 Million Writers Award and 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.
The Sailboat Which Was Skinned Alive
On the shore the air is vibrating as landed shellfishes keep clapping in the net. Inside them small eyes watch every movement of the working fisher boys. Not far away on the dock the captain is skinning his sailboat with his old knife. Sharks swim into the harbour, following the metallic smell of blood.
Later, seagulls bruise the sky with their sharp beaks. As nightfall slowly spills out from these wounds, the open water lures the fisher boys. So they filch the tortured boat, while the captain is still cleaning the flayed skin. He's going to sew a brilliant wedding dress from it to his lover, who is always complaining about his boat. “You love that damn dinghy more than me, why don't you just marry it? ”
The skinned boat sails the sparkling waves: the salty water burns it's flesh, and hungry sharks nibble it's ramp. It hoots the pain among the stars, while the fisher boys roll wine butts on its rasping deck.
After an elated night, seagulls scratch out the sun from the clouds. The sailor boys line-up on the board, and their erect penises salute to the dawn. From time to time they yell at coral reefs: “Can you top this?” and they stick their hips out laughing wildly.
Drips of sperm falls into the water and turns into pearls. A mermaid collects and stitches them into her hair. After a few hours the boys fish out the mermaid and rope her to the prow. The fervent sun dries her body, and falling scales plop into the water where they turn into silver coins and gawping treasure-cases swallow them in the bottom of the sea. Now and then the mermaid sings sad chants about unrequited love, her voice hushes the sirens, and makes the jellyfishes hug themselves with their stinging tentacles. On the shipboards the leisured boys listen too, and take a long pull at their bottles, while they fantasize about distant islands, burried treasures and adventures, and turquoise lagoons where busty red crab-women snap their claws. The sailors ambush them behind the cliffs, then they whoop and dash forward with nets in their hands.
“No supper for you tonight my friend, if you don't screw one!” they tease eachother, while running in the sand. What a fight! The crab-women's pincers are deadly weapons, and several unfortunate boy's cut-off penises hop and draw a red line in the sky. (Squawking seagulls catch them in their flight.)
The singing of the mermaid stops, when finally the boat wrecks on a giant coral reef. The kiss of a loose girl glows in red on the drowned sailors foreheads, as they sink deeper and deeper. She slips a few silver scales into their pockets, so they can pay the underworld's ferryman later, or maybe they won't need them, maybe the little rascals will steal his raft too.
The mermaid watches as their young bodies lay in the gawping treasure-cases, and swims away.
Somewhere on the shore waterspay wreathes around the heated rocks. Here at the captain's wedding the bride, all dressed up in the skin of the boat, falls into the sand, just before she can say yes. She coughs salt water into her shaking hand, and a few blinking shells. Inside them the sad, remorseful eyes of the dead sailer boys stare right at the captain.
Zoltán Komor is 33 years old, from Hungary and writes surreal short stories. He started to translate some of his works to English, and published in Caliban Online, Thrice Fiction, The Phantom Drift, Bizarro Central, etc. He has three short story collections published by Burning Bulb Publishing, Morbid Books and StrangeHouse Books.
Fred C. Applebaum
Afternoon At the Salon
Remember when the police started eating people? The very first time, I mean, not just when they mess something up and folks are outraged for a little while, like when they accidentally eat the wrong person, or the Burlington Orgy when all those kids got roasted on spits—no, I mean the first time, like, when did it start? I couldn't remember either, so I looked it up, and guess what, they only started eating people nineteen years ago. I know, it seems like it's just always been that way, right? So strange, I mean, I try to imagine what is was like when my parents, God rest them, were children, and then multiply that by however many tens of thousands of years we've been walking around the Earth, it just boggles the mind.
I asked Maisy if she remembered, she's one of my regulars, comes in every Tuesday at 3 o'clock (Tuesdays cut-and-curl are half price from 2 'til 6) with the latest gossip about town (the new Deacon at the Gathering Hall has a tail; Hiram Kickafos, who owns the mortuary, was seen sleeping in one of the coffins after his wife threw him out), and she said no, she sure didn't, haven't the police force always been good eaters? --No, they only started that nineteen years ago, I can't believe I didn't remember.
--Oh that's silly, surely that's when they started eating the whole body,
instead of just the palms of the hands, or the fornicating parts.
--No, I tell you, I looked it up on the internet, they started eating people nineteen years ago, in Baltimore, Maryland, they caught some high up member of a Mexican drug cartel at the Fish Market and ate his hands and feet. First time.
--Well, I don't even remember that. What did they do before then, how did they absorb the power of their enemies?
--They just arrested them, like they do now for small things, but for everyone, even drug dealers and pedophiles and the like, they just put them in jail.
Maisy gave me a look that meant I was the third sort of fool, the kind that has a solid hold on the wrong end of the stick but does good work anyway, in my case, on making her her hair sit on her head like an ice cream sundae.
--I think you had best check again, Fred, you know you can't believe it just because it's on the internet.
Now, she is right about that, of course, you can't believe everything you find out from the internet, especially since they made it intravenous. My parents were very much against letting me get the shunt when I was a boy, they being high-falutin' Nazarenes, but as soon as I could make my own way, I saved enough and got one myself, and I don't know how I ever got along without it. I mean, I have a hundred cook books, but I never look in them for recipes anymore, I just look on the internet and there they are, every recipe ever written by anyone, well, almost. Even Ma got one after Pa passed, the Reverend at her church was trying to get as many souls online as possible, once Jesus gave him the Word that shunts were just fine and the intravenous-net was like living inside your own soul and the soul was just another name for the Holy Ghost so get on up in there, closer to Heaven, inch by inch. I visited her a few years back in one of those Holy Roller forums, I barely recognized her, she had an avatar like a furry pink Minotaur, but pretty and feminine, if you can imagine.
Anyway, one visit was plenty, got her to sign the rights to her body over to me and donated it straight off to the police benevolent society. She was scrawny and old but I thought they could make a nice broth with her, maybe, or some kind of chowder. I don't know what dishes the police like to eat, I mean I dated a police Lieutenant once—alright, twice—and he was about the most boring conversationalist I have ever encountered, he mostly grunted and spelled out acronyms, like "roger alpha delta" and such. His little mister tasted like apple slaw with mayonnaise, which was nice, and was why I went out with him a second time, but eventually, the meal is only as good as the company and the chat, and that man had no chat in him at all. Oh well. I mean, this is a small town, but not that small. I have choices. And a car. Just met a lovely man on the internet, in fact, younger than me, but aren't they all! He's a juggler, over at the courthouse in Goose Falls, does flaming chainsaws and everything, I watched a live feed the other day and let me tell you, he is a lovely mover. I might have to make him something special, like my Grandma's congealed salad, or some Braised Eel, I still raise a few in the tank Pa built in the basement, because I don't care what they say, that grocery store eel is just flavorless compared to one you grew yourself. I guess I'm a snob, but that's ok, if it weren't for the snobs, no one would know what eat or drink and we'd all be walking around dressed in mud, picking bugs out of our hair and eating them raw. It's just amazing, how far the human race has come.
Snows of Union Street
I am dead, awake, looking for my time
carrot-bright: somewhere on this street it lives a life
I did not give it. Probably as a man who cannot chose
between either of his voices, and whose yellow fragile
heart is sure of some amesia of me. Here on this corner
I zero, sift branches, I almost died twice:
once when Guardian Angel did not get on her horse in time
to take me to school, and once when I fell in love with someone with blue eyes.
The blue was deep enough for me, a winter, to lose all of my sounds
in it, all the lamentations and moonlight, and forget how to smooth
hemoglobin into one big tower of night. But my time:
last I heard from it it was scaling the roof of one of the bars
of Union Street in the snow I left behind, filming close stars,
never returning to the earth. Or so it said. I have a feeling it will return
to the earth because that is where the good flowers are, the good flesh,
the good smells, where light is afforded freely.
Like someone I still love who lived near summer water,
and the tadpoles handkerchiefed it in a dazzle of seeing, cloud tones above
dying deeper and deeper out. What fails passes
in a thin sky. Cars moving slowly through the snow from my hands
and the small child that is evening presses its face against
a window. But even it didn't hear all the magic words I uttered
just to recalibrate where the moon rises: opposite the street,
opposite the fortune I had laid out on the sidewalk.
The road a reflection of snow repeating itself.
A church rises to starlessness, and I do not know why I cannot yet
feel these darks that I asked for, or missed, now
that they have found me again.
My lung flaps open like a book
making its way across the moon
and the tree by the closed school
winks with a light whose source I cannot locate.
Someone's lullaby passes through me, I am almost all gone.
Except for the red hand in which I find this time,
its face a snowflake, remembering me.
Lindsey Warren is a graduate of Cornell University's MFA program. She has been published in Rabid Oak, Josephine Quarterly, American Literary Review and Hobart, among others, and her poetry manuscript Unfinished Child is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil in 2020. Lindsey has been a finalist for the Delaware Literary Connection Prize and the Joy Harjo Prize.
Jason N . Rodriquez
Bio: Jason N. Rodriguez is a queer artist and graduate of California Institute of the Arts. His work has been published in Vector Press and is forthcoming in Michael Aurelio's poetry collection, "The Smokers", where he has written the introduction to the work. His latest chapbook, "Bardo Mascots", is a mixed-media piece that includes instant photography, ink, and traditional print. He is currently a poetry reader for Anomaly. You may view some of his work at: www.jason-rodriguez.com
depressive hedonias; or, how to fuck a tree and like it
The paper tore and I had no other. This is how it begins. My sense of self: ready and willing. If it is going to be like this, it is going to be like this. The paper tore and I had no other, so I went to the store. There, a man showed me his paper. Said, I think you'll appreciate this one here, right in front. I felt it in my fingers and could not help but agree. I gave the man his money and he gave me his paper. Walking the paper home, I began to feel lighter. My heart burned less brightly and my terror began to take shape. As I sat down and uncapped my pen, it became what I can only describe as mine. The torn paper lay on the ground. No longer flat, it buckled at the tear and pushed itself off the ground, reaching up towards me. I ignored it and instead peered into the flat white of the freshly mine. The words, handed to me invisibly. "Art is Bought is Sold".
The paper tore and I had no other. This is how it must be. My sense of self: buried deep. If it is going to be like this, I am going to throw myself in front of it. The paper tore and I had no other, so I looked to my body. My breaths, deep and conscious. My eyes, unfocused and shivering. In the kitchen with a knife and the burn. The knife in my hands and I am frightened. The knife. To harden the steel, a phase shift. Watch the shadow move across the blade. And then. A plunge to quench the heat. My heart is hot and the blood comes fast. The pain faster. I am pushing and pulling in the skin. I am making my mark. My terror embodied. It takes too long. I begin to shake. In the end, words I will regret tomorrow. "Art is Sacrifice is Pain".
The paper tore and I had no other. This is how I make friends. My sense of self: shockingly suffuse. If it is going to be like this, I am going to laugh. The paper tore and I had no other, so I called Josephine. She arrived within the hour. We took pictures of my paper. We laughed at the tear and tore it some more. On the internet, we posted our mutilations. Typed, look at this fucked up paper and look at what we've done. Look at what we've done and sing. And the song comes so loud and so clear that my ears hurt when it is over. My terror, peer-to-peer. Proliferate ointments, an ocean of balms. Josephine and I have headaches so we take drugs and close our eyes. I send her home with a new story to share. Ten days after, I find the paper when cleaning up and I hold it in my hands. There is a distant buzzing in my ear and I wonder what was so funny. So, what is on my mind? Oh, don't worry. "Art is Freedom is Data".
The paper tore and I had no other. This is how I scream. My sense of self: help. If it is going to be like this, I am going to go mad. The paper tore and I had no other, so I was placed in an institution. The institution taught me not to think of the paper as paper as such. Instead, the paper became an extension of myself. I reckoned with a paper pathologized. It did not hold water, but terror is not a closed fist. Terror is a sieve. My mind, a cipher for my biology. My paper, the detritus. The tear, well now. But the burn remains inside, fueled by the prospect of more and more potential decisions, potential futures. More and more behavior through which I can make myself whole again. The man down the hall screamed at things that were not there, and I felt sorry for him. "Art is Acts are Neurons".
The paper tore and I had no other. This is how it has always been. My sense of self: satisfied. If it is going to be like this, I am going to be just fine. The paper tore and I had no other, so I held my head up high. I took it in my hands and smiled for I knew the truth. The truth being that the paper is the terror. I took the paper and got violent with it. Crumpled it and made it trash. I look around now and realize I am surrounded by crumpled paper. I take out my phone and take a picture of each one. Little trash globes. The absurd: the ironic: is not the tear the thing itself? The pictures remain on my phone. Here, can't you see? Let me show you. It is all refuse. Look here. The tear in the fabric of our lives. Yes. "Art is Anything is Life!".
The paper tore. There was no other. This is how it is. I bought and bled. I hooked in, hooked up, went nuts. I set myself on high. Ways around a truth with which I could not contend. The paper tore and I have no other, so I take it in my hands and bring it to my face. I walk from my desk to my bed and lay down on my back. The bed is soft. I look at the tear closely and, as gently as I can, make it a little bigger. Just big enough of a hole to stick my nose through. And so the paper is a mask. The paper is a mask and I breathe in its scent so deeply my head swims. I imagine its histories. Imagine the industrial forest from which it came. I let its rough, cheap slickness follow and find my own. Let my wetness soften it. I sit there for days with the paper and I forget to eat. I forget to eat and I lose my job and my landlord, he's a good guy, he evicts me. And so I begin to walk blindly, unable to use my hands for anything else but finding purchase in the world. The paper and I begin to become one thing. Perhaps, I begin to think, we were always one thing. We are deteriorating together. We are making our own worlds in the space between. The stories I can see. The people I meet. Everything between the paper and me. I walk and walk and eventually find myself off the asphalt and in a field. The sensible part of me knows I am somewhere far, that I have walked for too long to not be far. But a different part, a part closer to the paper, hopes I am simply right outside of my apartment in the city park. This part of me hopes that I look not ungrateful. That others see me as I get down on my knees and put my face in the ground. This part of me hopes that as I fall apart and the paper falls apart we are left alone long enough to nourish what is to come. This part knows that grass would be better than a tree. That grass fails to begin or end. That grass just is, a system of connections underneath it all. This part of me knows the rest of ,m is long gone. Somewhere else, doing something good and right. This part of me would like you to know that the far away part is doing just fine, that it bleeds every now and then. That it enjoys a good laugh. This part of me knows that this is how it could be. That there is something beyond the terror. That true desire can produce something beyond the lack. This part of me is ready. The paper is torn and I am burning. What is going to happen? I am the ash in the air.
DS Chapman is a queer poet whose work can be found in Posit, BARNHOUSE, Figure 1, Soft Cartel, and elsewhere. ig: @ds_chapman