Send Her Fruit and Flowers
by Charles Haddox
“You won’t find pepper trees this size anywhere outside the tropics. They have to be kept above seventy degrees at all times.” The guide rattled on and on.
With thirteen-year old impatience, I was aching for the water lilies and bromeliads. I let Selene, an extremely forward girl from one of the upper grades who was supposed to be a “student mentor,” rub my arm because it was stinging. Arielle had tackled me, just for the hell of it, inside a greenhouse while the teachers weren’t looking. She had also given me a punch that clearly hurt her more than it did me. In front of the adults, Arielle put on her best Ellen Terry impression, soulfully imbibing the scents of flowers and gently parading a shiny Noble Chafer on her soft little palm. If the beetle had been one of her fellow classmates, she would have crushed it with glee.
This is the wall of his memory
A photo to his disappearance
Pale, washed out with years
Yet, still, there he must be found.
His laughter haunts the echoes;
Not too far, she too remains;
A moment so long ago, outside
Of the time they both knew.
There, I will stay, searching
The nooks, the crannies, the seams,
For a signature has been apposed
Perhaps only a sketch of a life.
Palimpsest, the scientist
Will uncover every layer
Of the story finished too soon;
Unshroud a death only in rumors.
His skin reddened by the attacker
Weather of all seasons,
A shirt wearing spots of inks
And many chapters untold.
He laughs into the thickness
Of an unfathomable fortress,
Only from time to time, to
Emerge and wink at finitude.
It is his wall, the cover he built
Upon which his portrait lasts
Author of his biography.
Outside the love hotel, cars inched like phantom limbs on wet concrete. The tattooed artist from last night had already left. Dora took a shower, careful not to scrub off his stippling flower drawings from her breasts, then snaked between clashing umbrellas on the way home.
Her name was short for Theodora, named after her mom’s best friend, who had regular bouts of paranoid schizophrenia and eventually overdosed on antipsychotic pills in a gas station toilet. She told herself it was fate that she ended up in Japan, for her name translated into just what she was: stray.
Strays rarely experienced the true meaning of hominess. Instead, they inhaled life’s multifaceted feels in transit and discarded old bruises, ready to be picked up by another orphan. Continue reading
The First Day We Met
She found words running loose in the Strand,
fit them for goofy hats
corralled them into a corner
and conducted them into photographs.
She knew how to assemble them.
You kiss like you are,
as I sat stumped on eight across,
Then you’re not.
If Love Felt Like the Water Cycle
Drift out the window
Land in a puddle of silk
Float skyward, unbound.
I wish that my jealousy
Would stagnate like a dammed river.
Jealousy rages on—swelling, overcoming.
While the only damned thing
Tiffany Firebaugh is a freelance writer and poet, but by day she works in the non-profit sector. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rogue Agent Journal and The Fem. If you like, you can follow her on twitter at @tifficaltiff
When I was in sixth grade, my family moved to a town composed of four stoplights and air perpetually tinged with the smell of chicken shit. With the subjective delicacy of a middle school worldview, I adjusted to my new surroundings like a Harvard Ph.D. candidate dining in a Waffle House at 3 a.m. That is, with mere anthropological interest trimmed in judgment. Burgeoning teenage angst coupled with a superiority complex along with being new to a cohort of kids together since kindergarten lead to the inevitable: I made only one friend.
Her name was Tyler, and she hated it because it sounded too masculine. She tried adding her middle name “Anne,” which to me made her sound more like television redneck heroine Roseanne and less like a delicate feminine flower, but it never caught on anyway.
The first time I went to Tyler’s house, we were dropping her off after she had dinner with my family. Tyler and I sat in the back seat with my little brother, a second grader high on ADD medications. Continue reading
You Are Nightmare
lapses, lingering at the corners
of my consciousness, a flower-
petalled dagger I cannot refrain
from touching. Poisoned,
your passion is a needle
that renders me numb. Brain-dead
zombie, I return automatically,
submerge myself in the familiarity
of your darkness.
Jack 30-40, male, tall, overweight artist with tattoos
Miranda (Jack’s ex-wife) 30-40, female, dark haired, pretty and strong
Jack’s mother (played by same actress cast as Miranda)
Magda 25-30, female, beautiful and voluptuous, Polish
Irv (Magda’s husband) 50-60, male, grey haired business man
Lupe 25-50, female, housekeeper, Hispanic
Nutella is a problem. Sure, it’s creamy and fucking delicious, but it is just way too accessible. It’s the lazy person’s dream come true when it comes to instant sugar gratification. Open jar. Insert spoon. Emerge minutes later in a sweet stupor – with a gross, waxy taste in your mouth.
Nutella, I can’t quit you. Although once I did. I put a ban on Nutella (got legitimately pissed at my husband when he thought I was kidding and brought home a family-sized jar), and after two weeks of Nutella abstinence, my cravings legitimately diminished. Apparently two weeks is the average amount of time needed to kick an addiction. Heroin, crystal meth, Nutella. All the same really.
When I was younger and less intelligent, I blissed out in my ignorance of sugar’s nasty conversion into fat, and regularly ate strawberries and Nutella for the sake of protein. Like, “I’m feeling a little low-energy – I need a protein boost. Grilled chicken? Tuna? Eggs? No. Let’s go with the jar of dessert disguised as a critical part of a healthy, well-balanced breakfast.” What are we talking here? 2 grams, 3 grams of protein? But yeah, I’m just forcing this glob of chocolate down because I need my daily allotment of protein. Uh-huh. Continue reading
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
A short play
By Adam Seidel
A bare stage. A man, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, stands in front of a microphone.
My fellow Americans. Tonight I would like to talk to you about the rumors which have been recently swirling around the media. These rumors concern an alleged comet, which according to television pundits, fringe scientists and conspiracy theorists alike, will strike the Western Hemisphere of our planet later this week resulting in as they put it, “complete and total destruction of the world as we know it.” (Beat.) I before you today, as your elected leader, to tell you that this is simply not true. (Pause.) There is no such comet and our world is certainly not in danger of extinction. My fellow Americans, in times such as these, we must think objectively and not fall victim to figments of the human imagination. Our ability to imagine is what makes us great. Imagination is the tool of progress, the beacon of hope in times of darkness. But imagination can also be our greatest foe, persuading us to give into fears predicated on the fictions of Hollywood. Tonight I ask that you refrain from giving into fear, but instead turn to sound logic. (Beat.) Again, I repeat, there is no comet and we are under no imminent… (Pause.) I’m sorry. I can’t do this.
PRESIDENT starts to walk away. He stops. He looks at the crowd. He returns to the microphone.