Kaleidoscope – by PHILLIP WENTURINE

Kaleidoscope

By: Phillip Wenturine

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”  – Abraham Lincoln

 

Envision blackness.

Stagnant, trapped, immobile.

Imagine clawing your way out of your body.

A spirit cemented inside a physical habitat—helpless to the mercy of bodily transportation.

Escape yourself.

Channel your natural energies. Crawl all the way out. Don’t lose focus on yourself, your earthly skeleton. Mind over body.

Now, you’re free. From yourself.

Imagine backing away from your being. A stereotypical figure. Picture yourself from afar, from above, watching your spirit. A shiny mist, floating over you, like an exhale.

You are watching you watching yourself, with your eyes closed. Imaging all of this.

        Imagine a camera.

Now, be the camera. See yourself from the lens from high and away. You are still watching yourself, squinting through the fisheye glass. Tunnel vision.

Fixate on something specific. The recess of your earlobe. The skin, made up of a million particles smaller than the smallest particle known to man.

Zoom out.

Zoom further out. Further. You’re distancing from your body and receding upward, and away.

You see your roof, the weathered shingles covered in grit.

You see the city, the Xeroxed neighborhoods with the matching yard plans, the model citizens, the stepford children.

Continents pan into focus: One, two…seven.

The Galapagos and the Strait of Gibraltar; the Black sea, impenetrable to skin; the country shaped like a boot; the Garden of Eden.

You defy gravity. Soar backwards, higher.

        A chill ripples through you as you traverse the ozone. Transparent. Like you.

        You spot the tip of Orion’s belt.

        Continue zooming out. Past Saturn’s rings. Micrometers of rocks, of ice. Perfectly balanced disks orbiting the sun, floating on the absence of anything. More.

You see blackness. Rather, you are blackness.

You see nothing.      

Can nothing be seen?

For a moment, time stands still.

Far, in the back of your head. A memory—or, a dream? It’s hard to get to. Like trudging against thick molasses. But you find it.

And then, your spirit exhales, and a droplet of moisture plummets.

Through the gap of Saturn’s rings, it passes Orion, and parachutes downward. Through the ozone, toward the oceans. Life’s layers reflect; her light shimmers. It shines back upward, like a kaleidoscope. And plop, on the weathered roof.

Right above yourself.

And everything that goes up, must come down.

Darkness fades to technicolor as you descend.

Throw away the camera.

        Imagine a golden, plastic cylinder. Inside, filled with tiny shards of neon glass that point inside your mind. Go through it. Cock your head. Adjust the focus. The colors are everywhere, and there’s no sense to them, and it doesn’t matter. Zoom in. The lens, a guide.

        Twist the narrow tube. Shift perspectives. Subject the subjective.

You see a surface like the moon. Craters. A floor of compressed, solidified lava stone.  The speed of light refracts on fragments of mirrored glass. Zoom in. Past the absence of gravity. Back the way you came.

You recede though the ozone, transparent no more. The cotton candy of the sky, the sunrise’s decadent decorations.

Striations, swirls, swivels.  

You pass between Mother Nature’s ice crystals. Cirrus, cumulus, then stratus.

        You see the aqueous areas covering three-fourths of the Earth. The glossy turquoise; the briny solution. A dark spot—a sea turtle taking a break.

        Inhale, life

        Exhale…

Spy what’s beneath. The low rumbled song of Beluga birthing. A new starfish limb’s pointed rise with the tiny beat of suckers on a painted desert of coral. The yearning trumpet of a bottlenose searching the deep for its lover.

Zoom out. Pan left.

A boy in Namibia dying from AIDS. His parents, skin and bones, sit idly by watching him deteriorate. Helpless.

Pan left. Zoom in.

A reflection in the water. Your face, but not yourself.

Pan left once more. Zoom in. Further.

A patch of green. A scarlet critter caresses the top of the blade—good luck.  

Zoom out.

A flock of birds frolics around you.

Violet tufts splotch their underbellies; their tails elongated. Sunflower seeds pop and crack under their beaks.

Their ululations and whistles move through you, while you watch yourself with your eyes closed. Imagining all of this.

The sun gleams on the back of your neck.

***  

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Phillip Wenturine is a middle school English teacher, where his job description is to change the world, but the reality is fighting the endless struggle to end comma splices. He has published other essays in Aurora magazine, The Talon Review, Intrinsick Magazine, and Potluck Magazine. He completed his MFA from Eastern Kentucky University where he attended residencies in Lisbon, Portugal, and he just received a Fulbright Scholarship to go back and teach. Phillip enjoys traveling to foreign countries, consuming a large goblet of sangria on the weekends, and the color orange makes him smile. Read more on PhillipWrites.com.

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Your Pajamas – by ANGELA KUBINEC

Your Pajamas

 

Your pajamas are subtle, implying the curve of your frame without demonstration,

their soothing fabric smooth on your skin.  Within them, your rhythm

of bend, stretch, reach, and embrace bears ripe fruit.  I gain

furtive happiness and relaxation, studying your outline

when you look away.

 

I sense your love of being touched as your pajamas float above the gentle surface of your skin. With the pressure of my hands, magnificent little wrinkles form,

making you whisper something wordless, profound. I feel I can

hear gold and the air turns garnet

when you moan.

 

Your pajamas are demure, their weave natural and basic, with color pure and low.  They reveal nothing and everything with the tender urge of your breasts dawning

at the scoop of their neckline.  My mind can mirror your shape at will,

unconfined, elemental.  It sleeps in my heart, timeless, captured,

its demanding beckon eased, leaving me less a beggar

but a beggar still.

 

Sometimes, your pajamas are merciful to me.  They allow me to press my face

into the fabric that covers your belly.  They call my hands to your waist.

They yield to the weight of my body.  They have a small lacy trim

that holds a strange, welcome dryness for my lips, and I want

to wet it with my mouth.  They do not ridicule me when

I cry into them, childish, my face in your lap as you

stoke my hair with off-handed warmth.

 

Your pajamas are kind to you.  They witness your playful pleas.  Unwrapping themselves from you with complete awareness, they accommodate my urgent care and craving. While they rest on the floor, they are obediently still.  After neglecting them, they

always welcome you back.  No questions, much like me.  They remind you

to accept the comfort and surety you can only find here.  The gifts I leave

for them in our sheets make you smile sadly, and provide

no grace or peace in my soul.

 

Your pajamas torture us, and are unruly at critical moments.  We love and hate them

for their willful resistance.  Binding us when we least intend, they uncomfortably

cling when damp.  Evil buttons make me clumsy, and I am the only one they

cause to stumble in the dark.

 

Your pajamas

are cruel vestments in the church of humiliation.

 

Your pajamas make me grieve, languishing in the hamper, empty like my arms.  They mock me from the drawer when you are away.  The soft beating noise they make

in the dryer reminds me that one day I will no longer be smooth, and

their worn spots haunt me.

 

Your pajamas know that one day I will be even less to you

than I am now, folding and unfolding simple things that

I smell and put away.

***

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Angela holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from the College of Charleston (SC).  She taught Mathematics in grades four through ten for nearly twenty years. Recently she was named Senior Editor at the online literary journal EasyStreet.  She enjoys social writing on sites like Fictionaut and House of Writers.

Screened in Darkness – by AMANDA EIFERT

                                                           Screened In Darkness

                                                    

Behind the screen I keep myself veiled, a Japanese screen with paper too thin and I keep on wondering if he’ll look, wishing Luke wouldn’t because I know I’ll be doing the walk of shame back home. And I don’t know why but I’m so ashamed, the wine went to my head last night; I knew better. Luke was attractive, he was kind; for a moment I thought he cared more about me than a few statistics and few words; but this morning, Luke left his house empty but for his cleaning lady and cook who made me crepes and said, “You need to get ready to go home. Mr. Luke doesn’t like his lady friends to be at his home if he decides to drop by at lunch to take the dog out for a run especially.” I didn’t understand why Luke was screening me, why I awoke from euphoria to a cold empty bed; the hand stroking my cheek in the night wanted only one thing, and didn’t want it from me again though Luke and I had been friends before. There was no text message, no note, and I wondered if I would see Luke again. No doubt, he’d try to avoid my favourite hangouts from now on, he knew most of them. But I didn’t get why I felt so exposed that morning getting dressed. We’d been naked all night but when I woke up and Luke saw me; I felt judged. Judged by the bite marks, the bruising, my careful movements. Luke gazed at me grinning, when I hid behind that Japanese screen to dress after my shower. “It’s no use to hide behind the screen Katie. I can see right through it in the morning light. Come back to bed . . .” So back to Luke I went though sorely overused, and when I fell asleep he was gone and I was alone; Luke’s pillow was cold. I wish I’d screened him better, I wish it was him who was exposed and not me. He hides all his secrets in the dark, he thrives in its opaqueness. The darkness lets him treat women how he does, another notch in a metaphorical bedpost. Walking home, I felt empty, caught in Luke’s darkness, as if I had wasted so much time and conversation, in the end only to be screened, told I wasn’t right for the position.

 


***

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Amanda Eifert is a writer, blogger, and student from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She enjoys yoga, walking, drawing, the Edmonton sports scene, and spending time with her friends and family. Her blog is www.mandibelle16.wordpress.com and includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction writing. She has her BA in English Literature from Concordia University of Edmonton.

Ligeia / Cancriformis – by TERENCE HANNUM

 

Ligeia

 

 

I.

 

Refraction sold 1.5 million copies and was on countless covers of magazines and newspapers.

 

Then her band began leaving. Silenced by her management’s lawyers. Concerts became infrequent.

 

Removing herself from the public after her divorce, tours were cancelled. Her producer wouldn’t let her in his studio. Rumors started and the scars appeared.

 

Culminating at the Grammys where her first public performance became her last. A group of feminist artists reconstructed her performance using cell phone videos and various feeds released on YouTube. I watch the silent clip. She emerges beneath a glimmering chandelier like a queen. Slowed down she opens her mouth and then generates a strata of glitches edited from many angles. The chandelier bursts.  Black.

 

Every screen shattered.

 

It has over one billion views.

 

Pitchfork called her duet with Annie Lennox: prescient.

 

Countless tell all books. Diva. Freak. Pariah.

 

Lost Confessions, an album of unreleased and live tracks was released mostly to recoup legal fees.

 

 

II.

 

Lifting a thick earmuff off of the side of my head I let the Peltors rest on my neck. I sweep up the shards of glass, each fragment gathered into a pile on the cardboard lid. This was a glass sculpture of an exotic bird sent from a fan in Luxembourg. Annihilated. I will ship it tomorrow.

 

From behind my protective eyewear I watch her cower, head bowed in her gray shawl and her long black hair adds to the veil. A gentle hand rubs her throat over her larynx. Her other hand is held in an open palm to stop. Scars criss-cross a complex trajectory of chiromancy.

 

This will be all for today.

 

We can finish the rest tomorrow.

 

I say and she nods at me then looks up at the glassless oculus casting the cool November dusk into the room. Her wide alabaster face mummified in fibrosis is captured in the fading light. She turns her back to me and ascends to her ascetic quarters. Up there it is wood and concrete. Her large bed a monochromatic composition of white linens. There’s a shelf with cassettes; Kate Bush, Aaliyah, Judee Sill and some headphones. I got the job, partly because I had Hounds of Love on my phone.

 

I place a cardboard covering over the jagged mass and adhere our certificate of authenticity.

 

A candle is lit atop her stairs, its flame fades as she enters her room.

 

I place my clear protective eyewear and Peltors inside the cubby then open the heavy door to the garage.  In here it is close to anechoic. I look over the table of glasswares sent by fans from all over the world for her to break; wine glasses, colored globes, sculptures of birds, mementos and  trophies.

 

On the drive through the woods I listen to her sophomore album Talking Birds. On this album I am most interested in how she phrases things to the soft ambient thrum of drum machines. How human she sounds on top of the glitches and electronics in an encounter between language and her voice. Even though she was so young, she held so much power.

 

I stop the Volvo before her large gate and I roll down my window to listen to the silent wind.

 

 

 

III.

 

Most mornings she writes lyrics, I file them away when she tells me they’re complete and wonder about the life of a lyric with no song. Is it a song?

 

I find her in the storage space. Running her hands over old costumes disturbing dust into the morning sunlight. This warm ochre light reflects off of sequins, luminescent plastics, seashells, iridescent fabrics and small robotic armatures.

 

I see her Walkman on the bench and inside a cassette of The Carpenter’s A Song for You. Her notepad is underneath the Walkman.

 

Do you know the album?

 

Her whisper makes my ears ring. She is behind me, her black linen robe flowing to the cement floor. I shake my head.

 

I would sing “Crystal Lullaby” for you—

 

Her murmur hangs there frozen. I hold the box lid with a tall faceted blue composition and follow her.

 

Each side of the sculpture cracks as she purses her lips and hovers. I can still feel the air vibrate as she hums – even with headphones. Pieces fall as she opens her mouth finding the frequency to resonate the now destroyed form. It even makes me shake.

 

She sips warm water and lemon from a wooden cup when she is done.

 

Good job.

 

I say boxing up the splinters of glass.

 

Where will this go?

 

She inquires in a faint sigh. I check the label.

 

Japan.

 

At this she nods. After the Grammy’s everyone wondered if she could choose to control her frequencies. Did she have control, was her voice a weapon? Once, we were visited by a defense contractor. He trembled the entire time.

 

My whole life I fought to be heard.

 

I apply our certificate.

 

I know.

 

My voice was me.

 

Lifting up a hand to me she signals she wants to stop.

 

Let’s take a break.

 

I say and she agrees.

 

Wandering through the building I look over long gray cement walkways at the acres of forest in the afternoon. I straighten her kitchen. Clean the old wineskins.

 

In the oculus I see if she is ready. It is empty. At the top of the stairs she appears holding a candle in the shadows.

 

Do you want to do some more?

 

I ask.

 

I need to write.

 

She says, shakes her hood and then turns toward her room. I take the packages and deposit my eyewear and headphones in my cubby.

 

At the edge of the property I stop the Volvo before her large gate and roll down my window. On the early evening breeze I hear her voice faintly on the wind. Ethereal as it fades. While on the windshield a slight exquisite crack opens, spreads and then stops.


 

 

Cancriformis

 

 

I can’t delete the messages on the machine.

 

I visit the house and do the same things. Clean the pool. Swiffer the floor. Easy. Wait for the lawyer.

 

I listen to the inside of the empty house. The toilet filling. The fridge turns on, circulating the refrigerant, buzzing across the tile.

 

Lonely. There’s not much left that was from my mother’s former life. No furniture. No food. Nothing. My sisters divided it all and, unlike our mother’s cancer, removed everything.

 

After work I open the doors to the lanai and go out to the pool. I’ll strip down and swim. I’ll rest my arms on the damp sides of the pool and watch the sun go behind the palm trees and mangroves. There’s not much rebellion to skinny dipping in your dead mother’s pool.

 

In the yard I’m naked or in my panties and checking to see if the lawn company had come. They always do. Or I can’t tell if they didn’t. The grass is short, the trees trimmed, fruit missing from the branches but always enough for me to take something home.

 

I always listen to the six messages on the machine before I leave. Half of them are mine, the others broken down as silence, maybe 5 minutes of silence. I listen to all of it. Then there’s the robotic voice about her prescription being ready at Walgreens. The one she wouldn’t get. And then a wrong number. That’s it. I leave. I get to my car and I think maybe I won’t go back tomorrow. But I do.

 

The next day after swimming I walked through the backyard. I noticed a mass on the side of the house. An enlarged cocoon embedded into the sun-weathered stucco at eye level. I looked at it from all sides, it didn’t move. I couldn’t see inside of its hardened sides. I touched it gently with my fingertips. Warm. Like an insect’s carapace it didn’t give. I could feel it pulsing beneath my touch.

 

I forgot to call the lawn service the next day. I stood in the pool. Looking at the patches of blue sky emerging from beneath gray clouds through the lanai screen. Orbs of webs span the support beams, being busily built by spiny orbweavers. Orbs waving in the light evening breeze like transparent ovoids guarded by primordial creatures.

 

Wet and naked I wandered back out into the yard. I picked off an armload of mangoes. A few were ravaged open displaying their orange flesh to the air. Raccoons. Ants had found these and crawled through the fruit. When I turned the corner I saw the cocoon, larger and paler now. Metastasized. Before it was maybe the size of my hand now it was a shoulder’s width. The brown shell had softened and turned paler. I leaned in and saw breaks in the cuticle, white flesh exposed. I dropped the fruit. Through my two hands I absorbed its warmth and felt it pulse.

 

Inside I stood in the bare living room. Put my clothes back on and searched my phone for large cocoons, but nothing in Florida looked like this. I pressed the play messages button on the house phone and heard my own voice echo through the kitchen and over the tiles into every room.

 

The next day I brought a shovel from work. I didn’t swim. I stalked through the house afraid to open the door to the lanai. But I did. I watched the sun turn the pool bright resort blue. I didn’t remove my clothes for a swim but walked out the screen door into the backyard. I stepped over the rotting half-eaten fruits.

 

It had grown, it was my size now. Its shell mottled blood brown and yellow chicken skin, gnawed on by something – raccoon, possum, something. I grabbed it on the bottom with both hands and it was warm and sticky. The surface heaved malignant. It breathed as I placed my face near it. I made out a body inside. I picked up the shovel from the ground and shook off the fire ants. I tried to jimmy the shovel between the enlarged cocoon and the stucco wall. I couldn’t get it in there.

 

Back in the house I drank cold water from the spigot and washed my face as I listened to the old message from Walgreens.

 

Your prescription is ready.

 

Echoing off the bare orange walls. We would never get it, maybe it is still there waiting to be picked up.

 

Outside the pool undulated fragments of the sunset, pink, gray and blue. I waited until the darkness came.

 

The next evening the lawyer had some paperwork for me to sign.

 

Can I show you something?

 

He follows me outside. His loafers in the grass as he looks around the backyard with his dumb tan face in his bright red golf shirt – not even a suit. Idiot.

 

It’s gone. He looks at me like I’m crazy. I run my hand over the pitted crater of brown crust. I see a trail in the grass into the heavy trees. Whatever it was hatched and escaped.

 

Pressure-wash the house before we put it on the market.

 

And he’s gone. I stand in the house and watch the red lights of his Audi pull out of the driveway.

 

Naked I wield the shovel chipping away at the remnants of the cocoon. I let the fire ants bite my calves before jumping in the pool to escape the pain. Holding my breath I sink to the bottom. I miss whatever it was that grew on the house.

 

With the press of one button I delete all six messages then close and lock the door.

 

From inside my car, the windows fog up in the humid Florida night.  Outside, the house I grew up in shifts to a blur in my headlights. I turn to my passenger seat and see a blank face bulbous and wide peering through me.

***

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Author Terence Hannum is a Baltimore based writer, visual artist and musician who performs solo, with the avant-metal band Locrian (Relapse Records) and the dark synthpop duo The Holy Circle. Hannum is an Assistant Professor of Art at Stevenson University. He has had exhibitions at Guest Spot (Baltimore), Western Exhibitions (Chicago, IL), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, TSA (Brooklyn, NY), Allegra La Viola (NYC). His writing has appeared at BmoreArt.com, the Baltimore City Paper, Noisey (Vice) and his first novella Beneath the Remains will be published by Anathemata Editions.

#feministasfuck: #15, #thisbody, #comfort by Ani King

 

#feministasfuck: #15, #thisbody, #comfort

by Ani King

 

#15

 

Do not go gentle into that fucking boardroom

In your good-girl skirt

And your yes-sir shoes

And your I’m-sorry shirt

 

            as if you’ve done something wrong

            in being right.

 

Ingenuity is not accident

There is no shame in your bright, sharp mind

Let others cut themselves on the edge of your ideas

While they clamor to steal them

hide them in their pockets

 

as if you’ve done something wrong

in being right.

 

 


 

#thisbody

Others might describe her as pale and freckled

I say she is the night sky in reverse

She is a holy map of secret constellations

            I follow them from limb to limb

                        to mouth

 

Others might say that she has red hair

I say she is a woman burning

She is a fire in the dark

            I follow her light to tangled

                        sheets

 

She sees herself as fat and plain

I say she is an abundant feast

My mouth and hands are always full

            My eyes brim and spill her out

                        so that her beauty sloshes everywhere


 

#comfort

 

i say

i have been held down

by

my hair

by

my arms

legs

spirit

i say please

until

tile

until

concrete

dirt

water

cools my flesh

and still

you say

my suffering

is women’s suffering

my suffering

is an open mouth

a red gash

a bloody heart

like most women’s things

you say

***

File Jan 12, 11 06 03 AM

Ani King is a Michigan author, as well as Editor in Chief of Syntax & Salt: Stories. She can also be found at http://thebittenlip.com/?page_id=61

*Cover art courtesy of Toby Penney*

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.” *