The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Exile City by Ana Prundaru

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

Poetry by Tiffany Firebaugh

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,

she whispered
as I sat stumped on eight across,

You’re vulnerable,

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’ll Be

I wish that my jealousy
Would stagnate like a dammed river.
Instead,
Jealousy rages on—swelling, overcoming.
While the only damned thing
is me.

 


 

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.

 

“A Redneck Romance,” by Samantha McCormick

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

Poetry by A.J. Huffman

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.

Continue reading

“Defending Eris: a play in one act,” by Kim Kolarich

Characters

 

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

 

  Continue reading

Things That Make Us Furious: “Nutella,” by Sara Petersen

nougat-272934_960_720Nutella 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 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.

PRESIDENT

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.

Continue reading

“My Boyfriend, Tom,” by Doug Patrick

Aidan bangs on my door, yelling at me to “get up already, faggot.” This is usual. What isn’t usual, though, is the fact he keeps saying he needs to show me something. Against my better judgment, I get up and unlock the door. Aidan barges in and I shriek, throwing my hands up out of instinct. Aidan is pointing at me with a handgun.

“I’m not gonna shoot you, Parker. I’m not an asshole.” Aidan laughs and lowers the weapon. “Pretty sweet, though, huh?”

I ask where the hell he got the thing. He says he found it in Dad’s gun cabinet in the basement – the combination is on a notecard in his nightstand. Then, he hands it to me and calls me a wimp. The thing is heavier than I thought it’d be. Continue reading

Pattie Boyd’s Greatest Hits by Matt Russell

Pattie Boyd’s Greatest Hits
by Matt Russell

He buys you a drink and says his name is Hutch and you think there are worse things to be named after than a song. Like a seventies TV character or piece of furniture.

“Layla,” you say, and shake his clammy hand.

“Layla, Layla,” he says, rolling your name around his mouth like a toothpick.  And he’s still squeezing your hand when he says, “Like the song, right?”

You roll your eyes and slide your hand from his grip.

“Right,” you say.  “Like the song.”

“Stones, right?”

“Clapton.”

“Right, right.  Clapton.  It’s about banging George Harrison’s wife or something, right?”

“It wasn’t about—”

“Or was it Lennon’s wife?”

His breath reeks of chili fries and Altoids.  Eyes dilated and bloodshot.  Every time he blinks you’re not sure they’ll open again.   He grins.

“So what was she, some kind of slut or something?”

“Pattie Boyd was not a slut.”

His glazed expression is a masterpiece of cognitive malfunction.

“Who the fuck is Pattie Boyd?”

#

All classification is simplification.   A guy telling his buddy to check out the girl across the bar is too general, so he breaks her down.  She’s not the girl. She’s the blonde with the tight ass and big tits.  Classified.  Simplified.  The guy playing pool with his friends doesn’t mean anything, so he’s the frat boy in the sleeveless tee.  The lady cutting loose on the dance floor is the dyke doing jumping-jacks.  The man sitting alone is the creepy old guy in the corner.

When you walked into the bar, everyone with a view gave you a good once over.  Now you’re not a woman.  You’re the skinny chick with the flat chest.  You’re the brunette with squinty eyes—you know, like that actress.  You’re long legs in high heels.  You’re the girl sitting at the bar all by herself.  Classified.  Simplified.

#

He says his name is Peter, but his friends call him Woody.  He says he doesn’t know why.  He’s a short, skinny kid—probably just turned twenty-one.  He has wavy brown hair and peach-fuzz sideburns.  Noodle arms and chapped lips.  He asks what your name is.

“Layla,” you say and his eyes grow wide.  “Yes, like the song.”

He stutters something unintelligible and says he’ll be right back.  He runs like a clumsy puppy across a crowded dance floor to a stage where a deejay is taking song requests.  You finish the drink Hutch bought you and order another one.  It’s not that you think it’s a bad song, or that you dislike Eric Clapton’s music in general.

Woody returns, breathing heavily.

“Hey, Layla.”

“Hey, Woody.”

The sound of his unfortunate nickname from your lips puts a crooked grin on his face, and he’s probably blushing, but his face is still red from his dash across the room.

“So what song did you request?”

“Guess.”

“Oh, I don’t know.”  You rest your chin on your fist and feign contemplation.  Just then an unmistakable guitar riff fills the room.  Now you’re blushing because you pegged him all wrong.

It’s “Something.”  Written by George Harrison for Pattie Boyd.

You smile and say, “You got me.”

He says, “Frank Sinatra once called this the greatest love song ever written.”

Everyone knows something about The Beatles.

He says, “Did you know that Pattie and George met on the set of A Hard Day’s Night?”

He says their names like they’re personal friends of his.  You imagine his bedroom as a shrine, the walls covered with posters, some with auto-penned signatures, others framed with gold-record reprints of Help! and All Things Must Pass.  His closet is filled with stacks of pop culture themed trivia games.  His iTunes catalogue borders on the obsessive.  He has his parents’ old Technics SL-120 record player and an original pressing of Rubber Soul.  He’s the founder and sole member of the Pattie and George fan club.

“Pattie used to receive hate mail and death threats from George’s fans.  Teenage girls threw shoes at her outside concert halls.”

“That’s awful,” you say.

And you know he’s just getting started, but “Something” is only a three minute song.  It trails off and is replaced by “Anarchy in the U.K.,” and Woody just stands there a moment, searching, deflating before your eyes.  It’s apparent he has nothing on Sex Pistols.  No roundabout relation to his beloved George and Pattie.

“Well,” he says.

And you can just smile at him.

“It was nice to meet you, Woody.”

#

The classification of first names is only useful if you’re writing a book called 1001 First Names for Your Child.  There are Biblical names like Michael and Paul, mythological names like Selene and Tristan.  There are gemstone names like Ruby and Jade, floral names like Violet and Rose.  Mood names like Joy, occupational names like Tailor and avian names like Robin.  Parents name their kids after television characters and cities and months and seasons and fruits.  Parents name their kids after their favorite songs.

#

He says his name is Indiana and he’s the house deejay.  You ask him if he was named after the state or the movie character, and he says he was named after his dad.  So he’s Indiana Jr. and his stage name is DJ Doom.  He, of course, asks you for your name.  Lying would be a waste of expensive therapy.  When you tell him, he nods his head real slow and says, “Cool.”

He’s wearing mirrored aviator sunglasses and you know he’s checking you out.  He’s wearing a black T-shirt that says Enter the Temple of DJ Doom in a large, Indiana Jones-style font.  He gets his drinks for free and offers to buy you one.  “Sweet Jane” by Velvet Underground is playing and he says he only has a few minutes before he needs to be back on stage.

“Don’t let me keep you,” you say, and either he didn’t hear you, or he didn’t hear you.

“George Harrison was a dick,” he says, and you swear to God you’re never coming back to this bar.  All you wanted was a drink.  Sometimes a girl just wants to go to a bar and have a drink by herself.  Just like that creepy old guy in the corner.

“No shit,” he says.  “Cheating on Pattie Boyd every chance he got.  She was no saint either, mind you.  Like, did you know she had an affair with Ronnie Wood?”

He means the guitarist from The Rolling Stones.  He and Harrison actually swapped wives one night.

And like someone flicking your earlobe, he says, “Did you know Clapton slept with Pattie’s sister, Jenny?”

And you know he wants to go on, that he’s a bottomless well of sordid trivia, but he stops because the song has ended.  He runs like a teenage girl, arms flapping, across the dance floor.  And just when you think you’re rid of him, he says into his microphone, “I’d like to send this next song out to my girl at the bar.”  He’s pointing at you.

Now everyone is looking and already you can’t wait for the song to be over.  It’s not that you think it’s a bad song, or that it was the song they played when you were elected Prom Queen in high school.

DJ Doom says, “Layla, this song is for you.”

And everyone is still looking at you when that unmistakable guitar riff leaks through the speakers, and DJ Doom is shooting finger bullets at you and he’s laughing because he thinks he got you so good.  Because the song isn’t “Layla.”  It’s “Wonderful Tonight,” written for Pattie Boyd by Eric Clapton.  This was after he wrote “Layla,” after her affair with Ron Wood and, depending on who you ask, before or after her split with George Harrison.

And now, of course, you’re fair game.

Some little twerp in factory-torn jeans comes over and tells you it was Pattie Boyd—not Yoko Ono—who’s to blame for the band’s breakup.

He says, “If she hadn’t introduced George to all that Eastern meditation bullshit, The Beatles never would’ve broken up and John Lennon would still be alive today.”

Another idiot wearing a fedora comes over and says, “Did you know that “Layla” was named after a Persian story called The Story of Layla and Majnum?”

Of course you did.  It’s basically about a man in love with an unavailable woman.

The bartender walks over and buys you another round and says, “Did you know that George Harrison had an affair with Ringo Starr’s wife?”

Maureen Starr.  It broke up their marriage after George proclaimed his love for her at a dinner party.  You swallow the drink and feel the cheap tequila burn its way down your throat.  You stand and waver for a moment.  With everyone still looking at you, it feels a little like that scene from Carrie and you look to the ceiling for a bucket of pig’s blood.

“Wonderful Tonight” ends and makes way for “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” by Billy Myles.  Clapton covered it on the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album.  It’s basically about a guy in love with his best friend’s wife.  DJ Doom shoots another finger bullet into your brain as you lurch toward the stage.

A greasy red-head says he has a Fender Stratocaster signed by Clapton. Some clueless dipshit with a hearing problem is singing the chorus of “Lola” by The Kinks. Another shouts, “Show us your boobs!”

DJ Doom cuts Billy Myles short and finally you hear it.  That unmistakable guitar riff.

It’s not that you think it’s a bad song, or that it’s the ringtone every one of your friends has assigned to your number.

The entire bar is singing along.  Half the people don’t even know the words—they’re just going, Da-da-da-da-da-da-da.

DJ Doom is playing air guitar with his microphone stand and you climb onto the stage and start pressing random buttons on his soundboard.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he says.

You’re hitting little white and red buttons and turning frequency knobs and sliding volume levels up and down.

“Hands off the gear, Pattie!”

You give his crotch the pointed toe of your high-heel.  He falls to his knees and his microphone hits the stage with an amplified thud.  The crowd on the dance floor cheers and starts chanting, Pattie, Pattie.  DJ Doom is groaning at your feet.

Pattie, Pattie.

You pick up the microphone and yell, “Shut up!”

And either they didn’t hear you, or they didn’t hear you.

You yank all the power cords from their sockets.

You yell into the microphone, “Shut up-shut up-shut up-shut up-shut up,” only you unplugged the PA system, so now you’re just yelling into a dead mic.

Pattie, Pattie.

You scream at the top of your lungs as a heavyset bouncer pushes his way through the crowd.

Someone moans, “Get off the stage,” and you realize it was DJ Doom, still lying on the floor holding his nuts.

At the far edge of the crowd, you see Woody walking toward the exit.  He pauses at the door and looks back at you.  You start to sway back and forth, nearly in rhythm with the chanting.  The colors of the room fade to sepia.  You close your eyes.  The voices turn to a rumbling drone.  Your ears start to ring.  Nausea and heaviness.

A booming voice cuts through the static: “Enough!”

You open your eyes and look down.  The bouncer is standing below the stage, one hand raised toward the crowd behind him.  His name tag says Winston and you wonder if he has any cigarettes.  He steps up and grips your arm to steady you.  You let DJ Doom’s microphone drop to the floor, this time without the amplified thud.  You look past everyone toward the door, looking for the only friendly face in the bar, but Woody is gone.

Winston helps you off the stage.

“This way, Pattie.”

“I am not Pattie Boyd.”

He puts a surprisingly gentle hand on your shoulder and guides you through the crowd.

“Of course you’re not.”

#

The looks people give you as you’re escorted from the bar say you’re not a woman anymore.  You’re the crazy bitch getting eighty-sixedThe psycho chick who flipped out onstageThe girl named after that song.  Classified.  Simplified.

#

Outside, Winston helps you into the backseat of a cab.  He stands there a moment with his hand on the door and peers down at you.

“What do you have against that song anyway?”

You close your eyes and lean back.

“I don’t remember.”

He closes the door and taps the roof.  The driver eyes you in the rearview.  His name badge hangs below it.

“Well?” he says.

“Another Day” by Paul McCartney is playing on the radio.

“Can you turn it up, please?”

Poetry by Rich Ives

Yesterday

 

The end of a century flipping like a calendar number,

and here I am kissing a short squat building where

everyone says hello, and no one recognizes me.

 

Upstairs there are families I once lived in, but

pawnshops have moved in like stray cats. In the garden,

 

rhizome dreams borrow the curiosity from a stare,

sending up tomorrow as a stalk and teaching it to listen.


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