Texas Ballet Theater is ‘On Pointe’ with Classic Combination

Texas Ballet Theater is ‘On Pointe’ with Classic Combination

(The evening show on Saturday, February 27th)

by: Kelly Fitzharris Coody

 

 

The Texas Ballet Theater, accompanied by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Moricz, put on a brilliant show this weekend at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas. The show featured three short ballets, Allegro Brillante, The Concert (Or, the Perils of Everybody) and a stunning finale, Études.

Never have I had the experience that Texas Ballet Theater’s Classic Combination gave me on Saturday; while the dancing was impeccable and technically sound, it was so full of life and so spirited. The principal dancers and supporting dancers alike blew me away with their performances, keeping me on the edge of my seat.

“Allegro Brillante” started out the evening with principals Katelyn Clenaghan and Jiyan Dai exhibiting electric on-stage chemistry that resulted in a beautifully danced, short and oh-so-sweet 13-minute opener.

“The Concert” (choreographed by Jerome Robbins) was truly a treat. Impeccable timing and strict body control made this unique piece laugh-out-loud hilarious. Each dancer truly embodied their character while principal female Carolyn Judson nailed it over and over again with her fluidity, enthusiasm and technique.

“Études,” choreographed by Harald Lander, displayed the best dancing I’ve ever seen, hands down. Though the choreography was technically difficult, rigorous and complex, Texas Ballet Theater excelled; not once did I see a dancer physically struggle to land or to remain in fifth position while doing a grand plié in the background. In fact, the opposite happened. They danced it so beautifully that they ended up enhancing and enlivening the choreography, not the other way around. Male principals Jiyan Dai and Andre Silva danced in a way that I’ve not seen since Mikhail Baryshnikov. Like Baryshnikov before them, they made the choreography not only look effortless, but enjoyable.

Texas Ballet Theater has found a way to make classical ballet modern and relevant in a way that still maintains the integrity of the dance; which is exciting to watch. The only place I see this company going is up — and not just in their pointe shoes.

***

photo credit: Steven Visneau

 

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March is Women’s Month: Will you be apart of it?

Women’s Month, Women’s Writing Month, Women’s Week, what gives?

We deserve more than a month; we deserve years of appreciation and accolades for all the shit we have to put up with.

Let’s switch gears. 

Isn’t it amazing what you can do when you decide to fly instead of walk?

I say decide because it ultimately is a decision. Right, we can’t actually sprout wings and fly. Imagine if I’d stayed at my old job, as a banker, working 40 hours a week busting my ass only to bring home 300 dollars every two weeks of disposable income. After paying for daycare, the mortgage, meals out, gas, etc, etc, etc, that’s really all I brought to the table.

When I first ventured outside my comfort zone, putting myself out there as a writer, so many people liked my Facebook page merely based on my profile picture. (It was of my face. So shut up before you even say it.) How stupid and ridiculous is that? Not that stupid. Not that ridiculous. And, to my surprise, not that uncommon. When I first started Sick Lit Magazine, I was still just as shocked at how many people visited the page only to click on my “Gravatar” and then leave without reading any of the stellar work we’ve published.

What??

So, can women do serious journalism?

Yes. When we step out of the superimposed box. When we stop thinking of gender in terms of an indictment or definition of self. When we begin to work for ourselves and say what we really think.

We don’t exist just to serve as a face, body or walking caricature of what society thinks we are; nor do we simply exist to serve as baby vehicles and happy housewives, scrubbing that darn pan and selling Mary Kay!!

If you sell Mary Kay and are offended, you’ve missed my intent. When you begin a side project like Mary Kay, Avon, Eyelash Product (insert whatever here) Du Jour, Tupperware or colorful, microwave-safe, BPA-free dishes, you’re still working for the man, my love! You’re still getting a fraction of what you deserve! And look at what the hell you’re selling: cosmetics and kitchenware. All we do is put on makeup and cook and clean, right? (Oh and bleed. And have babies. And apparently, according to every stupid-ass movie I’ve seen, binge-eat ice cream when we break up with someone?!!! WTF? I used to cut my hair every time I had a break up. Fuck ice cream.)

I see so many women who think they’re only worth what’s on their surface;  they become a machination of what corporate America and misogynists alike think they’re worth. Because they can’t see beyond that superimposed box that surrounds them. If that’s all you focus on in life, solely your appearance, at the end of the day when you lie down with yourself at night, you feel that hole in your heart.

Since I happen to have a gender-ambiguous first name, I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of e-mails objectifying and shaming women. (Sorry that you hate your ex; welcome to life, my dear boys. It’s called everyone. Everyone hates an ex or two. Or three. Get over it and move on.)

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I’m in a Starbucks with my husband and kids on a shitty, humid, cloudy Sunday (also known as Valentine’s Day).

I started Sick Lit Magazine just a short five months ago–with no clue as to the direction we would end up going; I just woke up one day and I knew what I had to do. I knew what I wanted to do. And I knew that I wanted to go the opposite of the places I’d been. So, if snotty literary agents turned right, I was going left. If uppity editors owned the building, I was going to do doughnuts in their parking lot.

Inspiration isn’t the kind of thing that you just get–you can’t grab a pre-packaged version at the grocery store on the corner. It, like its close relative happiness, is an intangible. Damn intangibles. So elusive. Plus, when you add the variable relativity to the mix, intangibles can seem impossible.

Intangibles cause so much trouble, don’t they? People go to great lengths in the hopes of reaching one. But, most likely, what’s impeding them from getting there is themselves.

Here’s a hint: Life doesn’t have a guidebook, road map or instructions for a reason. We’re supposed to bump our heads a bit and try again. We’re supposed to learn.

Listen, I fight against my own chronic illnesses and pain daily–I don’t always win. Quite often, I fall down and mess up. I lose my shit and scream and say things I swore I’d never say as a parent, much less an adult. We’re human; each one of us is flawed. Flaws, adversity and loneliness have strengthened each one of us. I may have to remind myself daily to leave the cynicism at home, but it’s still progress. We’re all works in progress, much like our writing, our music and our art.

Please know that I’m one of those people who doesn’t follow her own advice.

I know what it is to pour your soul into a project and have it ripped to shreds in front of you. I know the feeling of getting that hundredth auto-rejection letter from yet another agent. They tell you that your writing is weak. Or diluted. Or whatever. They tell you that you’re not strong enough and neither is your writing. But it is. And you are. Sure, some of the writing may be sloppy, that’s a given. But it doesn’t make you incapable of fixing it and making it better.

Without us, people wouldn’t have art to hang on their walls, books to read or music to blast in their cars or headphones.

I’m more than okay with admitting I’m complicated, complex and flawed. Because at the end of the day, when I lie down to go to sleep at night, I have to be able to live with myself, right?

And I refuse to, as a woman, be taken at face value (“just another blonde”). I’m more than Michael Coody’s wife. I’m more than Nikki’s mom or Jackson’s mom.

I’m Kelly. I have a name. I also had a different last name before I got married. I have depth. I speak multiple languages. I don’t have an easy answer to the conversation starter, “So, where are you from?” That’s okay. It’s what makes me who I am.

I read a quote recently that said, “The person who broke you cannot be the one to fix you.” I hate this quote. No one can break me. No one. Ever. They can try; they can hurt me; but I will persist. I will exist. I will live. They may hate to see my name, my face, but that speaks volumes about them, not me. No one has the ability to break you, either. Take the reigns of your own life back and stop feeling like a slave to the system. Write. Paint. Love. Enjoy. Live your life the way you want to; not the way society tells you to live.

I’ve been through a lot in my 32 years on this planet and I know that I have much more in store for me. Hell, my kids are only 7 and 3 – they haven’t even hit double digits yet.

If you saw me walking down the street in my skinny jeans and Adidas trainers, you’d probably mistake me for some hipster kid (or maybe just a hipster wannabe. I’m not that cool.)

It just further proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to host Women’s Month/Women’s Writing Month. You ladies inspire me daily–you’re a wealth of unique, spirited talent; and proof that the pen is, in fact, mightier than the sword.

Please enjoy some spectacular writing and art this March. I’m keeping submissions open–continue to send in ideas, questions, writing, art, etc, for Women’s Writing Month and all the other remaining themes.

Oh, hell, let me just post the theme schedule again below:

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I’m one of those rare nerds who actually enjoys editing; and I’ve loved reading (almost) every single piece I’ve received for 2016 thus far. You guys are inspirational. So as much as it might be intangible, it is also contagious. An editor who loves her job is happy to have a full inbox. An editor who hates her job snarls at it.

Readers, writers, contributors and SLM enthusiasts, continue doing what you’re doing.

Because you’re damn good at it.

*Just to clarify, we’re staying open to unsolicited submissions until further notice–send everything to kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com*

Cheers,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

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*I may wear many hats, but I always wear the same sunglasses.*

My Name Is…Kate Jones – by KATE JONES

My Name Is…Kate Jones

If you ask the majority of nine year olds, (and often many adults), what superhero power they’d like to have, I’ll place a bet that a lot of them will say invisibility.

An invisibility cloak. It’s a fun idea, right?

I always wanted an invisibility cloak as a kid. I was a bit of a loner at times – I think a lot of writer’s are.  I would wish that I could disappear into my own imaginary world, unaffected by knocks at the door asking me to come and play.

As an adult, think of all the annoying people you could avoid if you could turn yourself invisible. The times you could edge out of a boring meeting or banal party and slip away into the night…

Anyway, when Kelly put out a call for themes for the magazine recently, I knew I wanted to write about invisibility.  I still disappear into my own imaginary world when I’m writing, but my reason for suggesting this theme was much more relevant and urgent than that.

You see, I have discovered, after 42 years on this planet, that I actually am becoming invisible.  More so as time passes, it seems.

I’d been stewing on this issue that has been bugging me for some time now, the past few years actually, and like many writers, the best way I could think of tackling it was by writing a story about it. That was where my idea for ‘My Name Is’ came from.  I ‘wrote’ that story in almost complete form in my head one night, seething in bed because I had been ignored one too many times.  It is totally fictional, of course, but the reasoning behind it is very much non-fiction, unfortunately.

You see, I could be forgiven for thinking I have actually got the invisibility cloak I dreamed of as a kid.

Many, many, (trust me MANY) times, I will be out with my family, and we will bump into somebody we know. They will stop to exchange pleasantries. They will ask my husband how his job is going. We will chat for a few minutes, during which time, they will not once think to ask how my work is going. How I’m doing. Nothing.

We used to run a successful business together, and, despite us having equal roles, I had countless incidents of customers insisting get your husband to call me and discuss it if I refused to agree to a demand. Friends and family always saw him as being the owner of the business, whilst I ‘worked’ there.  This, despite the fact that we had created the business together from scratch.  We were both involved in every aspect of the success of that business, yet I felt that I got no credit for the success of it.

When recently, at a party, I dared to climb out of the shell for a few minutes and join the conversation, mentioning my writing, somebody turned back to my husband and asked: And are you happy with her sitting at home and writing while you’re out working?

What the fuck?

Now, I know this might sound like I’m paranoid or bitter. I’m honestly neither. But the truth is, last year, I lost count of the amount of times this happened. Even more bizarrely, I have lost count of the amount of times I have attended events alone, and people have stopped me to ask how my husband’s career is going. After our eldest daughter did exceptionally well in her exams, I had one woman tell me you must be so proud of your daughter – she obviously gets her brains from her father.

WTF IS THIS ABOUT??

I’m positive this didn’t happen before I had children. I think that, once you take your husband’s name and become a mother, you often lose your own, individual identity. I bet most of the other mother’s at my daughters’ schools don’t know my first name – and to be honest, I don’t know their names either. We simply refer to one another as ‘so-and-so’s Mum’.

I find this so strange.  I love talking to other people about what they do, I find people fascinating. But I know it isn’t just me. I’ve spoken to other women and they have similar experiences, including the fabulous editor of Sick Lit herself, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to write for the magazine in the first place – in response to her rallying cry to women.

I have to add here that I am happily married to a man who is a total feminist.  I mean it.  He is nothing but supportive to any venture I undertake; he never made me feel anything less than an equal partner in the business, as we are in our family life.  Sometimes, I take care of the domestic and childcare more as he is working.  At other times, he has stepped in and been the one to attend doctor’s appointments and school events.  We are supportive of one another – and the benefit is that our two daughters’ thrive in an environment where their opinions and views are listened to, and where they know they can become anything they put their mind to.

The only response I can think of to combat this culture of invisibility is to stand up and stand out.  Say what you think and feel; make sure you get people’s attention (in a positive way), ask questions of other women and make the path clear for the next generation of feisty females to feel confident speaking out.

Oh, and when I asked MY nine year old what superpower she would choose, she said, without missing a beat, shapeshifter. So, there you go – invisibility is out, shape-shifting is the new power to have.

My Name is Kate Jones, and I am a Writer, a Woman, A Feminist, a Wife, a Mother, a Dreamer….and then some.

***

KATEJONES

***Kate is a freelance writer based in the UK who writes articles, including regular contributions to online women’s magazine Skirt Collective, as well as publishing life writing and poetry both in print and online.  She has a passion for flash fiction and short stories, and is usually found lurking around coffee shops, writing and listening to other people’s conversations. Jones has also become a regular contributor to Sick Lit Magazine, and is a 2016 nominee for the Pushcart Prize through Sick Lit Magazine.***

She blogs at www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com.

Find Kate on Twitter at:  https://twitter.com/katejonespp

 

They Wait – by JOANNE SPENCER

They Wait

 

In line, they wait. Their souls offered up for money that has touched the lining of too many unwashed trousers. Desperate, they trade favors with a god they don’t believe in and compose promises they never intend to keep. Biting filthy nails, picking at half-healed sores or chewing on their darkly painted lips, they wait, marking time with the song on the stage that provides their next meal.  Adjusting what little material covers their oiled skin, they shift from stiletto to stiletto making an effort to forget a family they no longer know.

The music stops, the microphone booms. Collectively they inhale and lift their chins. Unlike cattle headed for slaughter, they know their fate, their unexpected destiny. The next girl goes on as the other descends the rattled stairs, bare, belittled and destitute as the owner extends his grimy hand before allowing her to pass. Head bowed like a child she delivers the bills to him, wrinkled and damp.

He slaps her and the surprise sends her reeling against the metal stage.

She crumbles to the floor.

“Next time do better,” he says and steps over her naked body without pause.

The girls dissolve into themselves, blind to their reality for the sake of self-preservation, and they wait.

 ***

picture for sick lit

Joanne Spencer, who once had her life saved by a naked man, has had work published in Fresh! Magazine, Woman’s World  and will soon have a poem published in Mother’s Always Write. She is a published author of one novel, The Letter Keeper, and is currently working as a contributing journalist for her local publication, The Creekline,  as well as writing reviews for The Review Review. She resides in Northwest Florida where she pretends to cook, clean and do laundry all while secretly writing on a notepad she keeps in her back pocket or her bra, depending on her outfit that day.

AMERICA – LAND OF THE…PERPETUALLY SICK? We’ve given a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Poppin’ bottles” over in the USA.

Sick? American? Read This.

SICK LIT MAGAZINE

I Said Hey…What’s Going on? With our HEALTH?

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Yes, we’re obese, overweight, sedentary…and you can finish that sentence all on your own, I’m sure.

And yeah, so we eat the equivalent of preservatives in our food daily that are also found in dish detergent.

But there are some of us out there who exercise and eat right, right? There, indeed, are.

Disease, chronic illnesses and cancer pervade across all lines of race, wealth and socioeconomic status in our country. And according to a study published in 2013 by New Scientist, America is failing across the board.

So, where are we going wrong? Is it more of our extremist capitalism trumping health and humanity?

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s web site, in 2010 the US came in DEAD LAST among seven countries in “health system performance” based on these measures: QUALITY, EFFICIENCY, ACCESS, EQUITY, and….(ding! ding! ding!) HEALTHY LIVES. 

“So what?” you might…

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Local Band Frontman – by PREWITT SCOTT-JACKSON

Local Band Frontman

 

Lead singer

self-described “Chupacabra Screamo” band

collects abandoned Band-Aids at local playgrounds

 

Day-jobbing RV salesman,

meticulously catalogued desk drawer housing awaits

his morning return

 

/M. Mouse

/Sponge B.

/Pixar paladins

/Faded neon colors

 

Huffing Play-Doh only gets him high on nostalgia

so he

drinks alone at Chili’s in Bedford, TX after long days of frownin’ and dialin’

 

Handmade concert fliers forced upon co-worker after co-worker

in the break room

as microwaves spin the latest 2-minute meal

 

Crushed out on June, the Alpha unit pusher,

he stealthily deposits pink post-it stanzas dedicated to her beauty

in

and

around

her desk…

born a jester, trying to be a prince

 

On most days he surfs the Screamo forums,

drowning in the undertow

crashing against virtual jagged reefs

 

Still riding the pine for the company softball team,

his only upside?

A distant possibility of reincarnating as a trade show throwaway tchotchke

 

When his band “makes it”

everyone will “know it”

 

especially June

 

July never waits

 

***

PSJ Bio Pic

***Prewitt Scott-Jackson’s work is a mutation of sorts, a ménage à trois of poetry, prose and flash fiction. The University of California Santa Barbara alum grew up on Southern storytelling prior to achieving degrees in Native American Studies and Religious Studies. Find Scott-Jackson on Twitter, at: @allsalinitylost ***

*Photo courtesy of Something You Whisper – to find out about them or their music, check out Sick Lit Magazine’s Interview with them, “Scream Along with Something You Whisper.” *

Let’s Not Go Outside – by RUSS BICKERSTAFF

 

Let’s Not Go Outside

By Russ Bickerstaff

Let’s say that there IS a world out there.

Let’s say it’s actually resting out there beyond that door with everything we would expect out of a big, wide world outside. Let’s say that there’s a sun that sets and a moon that rises. Let’s say that there is an ocean, a beach and some tides and things. Let’s say that it’s pounding and breathing with life of every single kind imaginable. Let’s say that it’s all full of the restless everything we would expect in a world beyond the front doors.

What are we going to do about it?

Are we going to open the doors, look up at the sun and simply walk out into the world like we belong there or something?

Are we going to walk out there like we own the place simply because we have finally decided to walk out the front doors?

See–I don’t think that’s a good idea because the world out there isn’t going to move like it does in here. We understand that things are a certain way and we’re okay with it, but once we walk out those front doors, it all changes, doesn’t it?

I’m not saying that we’re not going to leave at some point, but let’s leave when we have a reason to do so. Make no mistake about it, the moment we leave here, the world outside is going to recognize us as refugees from somewhere else. We’ll be outsiders with no definite place out there. They’re going to take one look at us and know this before we even open our mouths to speak. We’re not from around there. We’re not from anywhere near there and it’s not a good idea to try to pretend like we are.

Naturally, the best among them will simply avoid us.

Those who don’t might condescendingly say hello.

If they do, they’re probably not going to be thinking in terms of actually trying to help us out. It’s the ones that will be trying to help us out that are likely to be the worst. They’ll be looking for some kind of angle to work to try to take advantage of us in some way. It may not become apparent at first.

Those who welcome us the most are most likely to be the ones that will be looking to cause us the greatest amount of harm because they will probably be the least concerned about us. They’ll be looking to use us to satisfy their own twisted desires. We are, after all, capable of great things. They will have decided that we could be of some sinister use to them and we’ll be enslaved.

Just like that.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking that if we really ARE better than them we’ll be able to avoid any kind of enslavement; but believe me when I say that enslavement isn’t always so obvious. There are sneaky ways of ensnaring someone through casual requests or worse–friendship. They’ll find some way to get us to bend to their will without us even realizing that we are working for them, but believe me–we will be. There’s no doubting that. It would be the most totally awful thing imaginable.

I know what I’m talking about because I’ve stood at the door. I have guarded that huge gate and watched day turn into night.

Yes, it IS beautiful but they chose me to guard because they knew that I wouldn’t lose my head over how beautiful it was out there. They knew that I wasn’t going to get all weird about it just because it was a million more times beautiful out there than it is in here. I know it’s dangerous out there. I know that without the gleaming, black battle armor that is sealed with its own oxygen source and without the huge semiautomatic rifle and a total respect for the danger out there the world outside will destroy us all without a second glance.

It’s not worth trying to persuade me otherwise.

I’ve already caved-in once this week and I won’t do it again. Actually I guess that was twice . . . see . . . one of those on the outside walked up to me (quite nicely I thought) and asked me for a cup of sugar. Strangest thing I could imagine asking a total stranger with a semiautomatic rifle  pointed at you and everything, but he asked me anyway.

I couldn’t see what harm it would do, so I went ahead and gave him a cup of sugar. There wasn’t any issue there. I had no problem with it or anything like that. I handed over the cup of sugar. A couple of days passed and there wasn’t anything that came of it. It was perfectly normal and everything. Then out of nowhere he came back and really casually asked me if I could open the door for him. This kind of took me off my guard. I mean . . . it really didn’t make any sense them wanting to come in.

I didn’t see any harm in letting the outside in, but see: that’s my whole point. Those on the outside want to come in. It can’t be that great a place out there if they’re trying to come in, can it? Why bother opening those doors again to go out? They clearly don’t even like being out there all that much otherwise, why come in here in the first place?

Where are they? They could be anywhere. They’re crawling around inside here somewhere. No…no…I’m afraid I can’t believe that you’re one of the ones we let in. No I don’t want half a cup of sugar. I’m sorry, I can’t let you out.

***

Bickerstaff headshot

 

Russ Bickerstaff is a professional theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. His short fictions have appeared in over 30 different publications including Hypertext Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Sein und Werden, and Beyond Imagination. His Internarrational Where Port can be found at: http://ru3935.wix.com/russ-bickerstaff.

*Photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito.*

Untitled – by Buffy the Writer

[Untitled]

by Buffy the Writer

 

“You don’t know me,

I can be anything.”

Unfortunately, you can’t see how brilliant I am.

The words I sling,

The taboos I kill,

The frailty of a poetess with the coy heart of a gei-.*

 

Man, you were always right about me.

You know way more than you let on.

Tracking my pattern, our flamboyant correlations

The odd sameness of the queer and the weird.

 

The wyrd* sisters who cursed your thane,

The wyrd mother who fathered Grendel,

Yet, still made in your image and stronger than us men.

You feared my magic, his future, my blood.

T’was thine own sins, not my ruby elixir, which made us sick.

 

When the unseen seeps into your world,

When you accept the truth in the unexplained,

I’ll stop crossing your stars.

Our world(s) will still turn,

Your terms will still push us (see above),

But my spells will start to work.

 

And, for a split second

You’ll see me in a mirror,

Not to brag, but I’ve always been right

There behind you.

 

*Geisha

*Anglo-Saxon spelling wyrd insinuating predestination.

***

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Buffy the Writer is an art history major and part-time writer extraordinaire. Well, she’s actually new to the writing scene but learning. When she’s not tackling medieval manuscripts or writing, Buffy enjoys painting, knitting, and sleeping in. It was her dream since the age of six to rule the world, but when confronted by the loneliness of absolute power she settled for creating her own. Her blog, buffythewriter.wordpress.com, is a collection of these colorful worlds. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @buffythewriter

Alistair’s Tears – by ANNE ELIZABETH WEISGERBER

Alistair’s Tears

By Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber

 

Three days before Thanksgiving, lumps of leaves, raked to the goat paddock yesterday, deflated under steady munching. I mahhhhhhed at Chaplin and Snapdragon, and they answered with mahhhhs of their own.

My wrists uncocked and rotated, yesterday’s gloveless palms still raw. A cheerful finger of smoke curled above my cottage, yon. I stopped myself from scratching that rash on my chin.

I had raked and cleared an acre square, and stood this morning afield at its center in plaid pajama-bottoms and rag-wool sweater. One-handed, I used a rusted short iron to chip whitetail pellets off the green. I saw my cobwebbed porch, a peregrine falcon, Liza’s sulky magnolia and the barn, our Daimler-Sparohawk Light Sport Aircraft inside.

Walking to Sparo, I rested club under windowsill, rolled the door wide and stepped in. I turned the key, punched the code.  The jetpack surged from rest. “Today’s the day, little Sparo.”

“A fine morning, Alistair Edgar,” Sparo said, blinking.  “Shall we fly?”

I had pre-ordered the Sparohawk when three sons and the wife were living. Isn’t that right, Sparo?  I put down the deposit and added to the layaway, paycheck by paycheck, wagered on a future that included all of us.  “T-minus 45, Sparo.”

I flipped the switch, then waited as—determined as dead lifters—rectangular fluorescents trembled and suddenly snapped on brightly. Leaning on a stepladder, I changed out my shoes for Timberlands. I traced Sparo’s bent empennage with a finger and pushed to test the stiffened rudder control. “I am sorry for that, little Sparo.”  I pushed into the boots.  “Won’t be long.”

“T-minus 43,” said the machine.

“Yes.” I finished knotting. “Start fueling.”

“Thank you, Alistair Edgar. Commencing.”

The robotic super-charge arm snaked from the wall and homed in. I paused to ensure Sparo’s coupling, then backed out the mower, went to trim the field.

I mowed straight lines east-west, and then again north-south. My wedding morning crisp as this, and Liza’s trembling smile; each of the boys in his turn swaddled and held, then, decades later, Robbie’s obituary, then Jamie’s. Those good fighting men. Liza’s and Arthur’s gravesites, where last visit a fresh crevice appeared in the disturbed earth, horrified me. The lawn was squared.

Satisfied the field was clear, I emptied the mulch into the paddock and maaaahh-ahhhhed with the goats. “Good for you, Chaps and Snaps.”  They agreed. They came over to see if there was anything more, and I gave each his own friendly knock on the noggin, sweet no. “Go. Eat.”

To the barn, I wiped down the mower, then parked it.  “Time, Sparo?”

“T-minus 12, Alistair Edgar.”

“Thank you.”  I noted the retracted charger. “Power?”

“Resting at 98 percent. Shall we file plans?”

“No. Up and down today. That’s all.”

“I am glad, Alistair Edgar.”

I like Sparo. There really aren’t many.  The free AI upgrade both caused the company’s stock tumble and the line’s inevitable obsolescence. Thinking caused accounting turbulence.

I went to the cottage, washed my tea cup and set it to dry, shaved and dressed. By the time I returned in thermal-resistant Carhartts, Sparo’s charge depleted to 91 percent.

“That’s alright, Sparo.”

“It is alright, Alistair Edgar. Locked to roll.”

With this, Sparo tipped back twenty degrees as I slid a dolly under the jetpack’s frame. I backed it through the door, and rolled Sparo to the center of the lawn, checking that all was on the level.

Clipped snug in Sparo’s climbing harness, military comfort, I stepped up, compressed the clutch with my left hand, thumbed the throttle lever with my right. The boost upward filled me with seconds of sodden heaviness followed by weightless lift. At 900 meters, I backed off the clutch, flicked one jet lever forward and one back, initiating a dream-slow spin of roofs, goats, autumn, streams, roads.

I checked gauges on the left armrest and flexed a muscle to steady the elevator controls post spin. My chin itched.

Sparo and I compressed and boosted, flexed and sighed; our altimeter will have marked 1500 meters. Our 225 horsepower motor will have made a hole, I’d bet.

We hovered at 1500, held steady.  “It was all going to be so beautiful, Sparo.”

The charge tailed: 54, 53, 52 percent. The altimeter hardly fluctuated. We hung there, content, our bones humming.

# # #

Weisgerber headshot

Look for Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber’s stories in New South, Tahoma Literary Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Vignette Review, Revolution John, and Jellyfish Review. She is a freelance fiction editor, and her chapbook reviews appear in Change Seven Magazine; she reads fiction for Pithead Chapel.  When not teaching, she’s working on a novel that spans five generations, or looking out the kitchen window at her fascinating goats, Snapdragon and Socrates. Follow her @AEWeisgerber, or visit anneweisgerber.com

*Photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito.*

Poetry from – PAUL TRISTRAM

Life Is Not Like A Box Of Chocolates At All

 


 

It’s like a record of nursery rhymes

being dragged backwards

revealing Satanic messages

mocking and goading you into

self sabotage and emotional annihilation.

Nothing in your starving cupboards

but that same old ‘big bag of dicks’.

Sexually transmitted diseases and diabetes

town-stalking you on Valentine’s Day.

A crack in your only beer glass, Jesus!

The constantly parroted, multi-voiced “No!”

Guilty until proven a little bit less guilty

(At which point nobody really cares anymore!)

False friendships without benefits.

The comfort of underachieving.

2 + 2 = complications and migraines.

‘The End Is Nigh’ is the future waving

and confused deathbed cries of

“What the fuck was that all about?”

 

© Paul Tristram 2016

 


 

 

Drawing On Desperation

 

Sometimes that is all that you have got left,

yet, there is an energy to this too,

if you can just focus and use it to your advantage

before it dissipates into apathy.

Desperation is not a nice feeling

but you can Drive that Bastard

before it Drives You,

off to those dark, negative places.

Grab that bitch of a wheel, take control,

learn to manoeuvre the stalking madness,

steer down those panicking rapids,

gear change and side-corner your way out of there.

Sometimes merely Surviving is enough

and not Losing Today

means that you are setting yourself up

to Winning one of your approaching Tomorrows.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

 

Your True Colours Are Making Me Vomit

 

So that’s what all the mask-wearing’s for!

I only just realized exactly what the word

‘Vile’ means, up until then I thought (Silly me!)

that it was to describe mediocre things

like ‘That Food Doesn’t Taste Very Nice’

or ‘The Dogshit That You’ve Just Stepped In’.

I’m actually cringing at my own naivety

and innocence in such diabolical matters.

Ah, that explains the lashing out

and picking holes in random people…Insecurity.

I mean, you are bound to be insecure

carrying that ‘Picture Of Dorian Grey’

around with you inside, all of the time, right.

I’m starting to understand, well, in a car crash

sort of way, where you want to have a peek

but your natural, decent impulse is to flee

as far away from the ugliness of it as possible.

It’s a shame they don’t do ‘Soul Transplants’

or  ‘Personality Cosmetic Surgery’ but they don’t.

Oooh, it’s frustrating just thinking about it

so I’m going to stop now, I’m just really relieved

that the repulsive problem isn’t mine in the slightest.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

 

Only My Fucking Soul

 

No, I absolutely disagree with you!

That is not the right way of doing it at all,

it’s simply your way.

Don’t you dare try to direct me,

I have a brain of my own, you know.

I’m not being an arsehole…you are!

Who’s up in who’s biscuit here?

You don’t know what’s best for me,

stop being so ridiculous.

I don’t need your help,

there wasn’t a problem until you appeared.

I don’t need you to explain,

you’re not clearing anything up,

your just making a mess all by yourself.

You just want to see me happy, really?

Ok then, see that door over there?

Trot on through it and go bother someone else.

There’s nothing here for you

but a big old bunch of Middle Fingers.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

 

The Phantom Sycophant (The Revenge Of!)

 

I’ll win your attention with fake admiration,

I’m a master at it and here’s some I prepared earlier.

Stroke your Ego’s dick just so J

until I’m the very favourite of your ‘Narcissistic Supply’

Butter you up with exaggerations,

smile widely…I mean frown deeply

and shake my condescending head caringly

when you are not getting your own way L

Aww, you are just like a pet puppy and a Superior

all rolled up into one temperamental bundle.

And when those crocodile tears don’t work

and give way to real ones, I get a cute little glimpse

of that shocking pain and vulnerability.

I see the frightened little, wounded child you really are,

all alone in that normally hidden corner of your soul

and I swear it makes me fucking drip,

I’m addicted to that pathetic, lushest bullseye, yummy!

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 

 


 

 

Is This Just Your ‘Lying Sack Of Shit’ Phase?

 

Right outside of Superdrug in the Shopping Centre,

Christmas shoppers manic, aggressive and obnoxious,

elbow to elbow in all directions.

She stopped a little ahead of me and screamed

like ‘happening roadkill’

“Is this just your ‘Lying Sack of Shit’ phase?

because, stick a fucking fork in me, I’m so done with it!”

Then she threw the phone to the ground with a loud crack

and preceded to stamp up and down upon it.

A Security Guard rushed on over,

she wasn’t dragged away like a shoplifter

but directed away firmly by the shaking arm, muttering

“I’m so sorry but the man is killing me slowly inside

with illogical, irrational, unnecessary mind games.

I’ve swapped the love inside my heart

for a torture chamber within my poor crestfallen soul!”

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


***

paul smoking

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet.
Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press)  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096
‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036

And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope
at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204

You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

*Photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito.*