The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

“The Movie Business,” a short story by Alan Swyer

Despite having moved up in the world from fledgling to promising and then to someone with actual screen credits, Cutler found himself stuck in one of what he called his Between Projects Blue Periods, funks that invariably started the moment he went from the precarious status of being Only the writer, Merely the writer, or Nothing but the writer to something far worse:  No longer the writer.  

He had been in Hollywood long enough to know that, with the exception of certain hyphenates — a handful of writer-directors, plus those fortunate writer-producers who happened to create a TV series — screenwriters were deemed at best a necessary evil, with the emphasis invariably on evil.  Their importance, to whatever degree such a term could be applied, ended the moment their final draft was turned in, which meant an instantaneous cessation of the phone calls and lunches designed to support a work-in-progress.

Though he detested Polish jokes, Cutler acknowledged that one was definitely on target:

Q:  How do you tell which actress in the cast is Polish?

A:  She’s the one fucking the writer.  

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“Things that make us furious: Sitting in bed, lying in bed, and sleeping” by Dan Tarnowski

I am not sitting in bed as I write this, and I am glad of it. Beds are terrible things, lousy with shoddy physics, crushed dreams, and sometimes, even lice.

A bed seems like a heavenly, therapeutic place. Ever since we upgraded from sleeping on splayed out hay (my uncle Shane still prefers this form of bed) the human bed has seemed like a lovely offering: four legs to elevate you, with a plushy surface on top to rest your corporeal frame, atop. The very invention of the bed seems like its creator got away with murder. Some shamelessly enterprising mind, at some point said, “Let’s not sleep on anything hard, anymore. Let’s put some marshmallowy stuff down, and go on top of that. In this way, we’ve made things better for ourselves!”

The unapologetic privilege of this maneuver suggests that beds were not invented by serfs.

O, the hypocrisy of a bed! A bed is manufactured for optimal niceness, but utilizing a bed is anything but nice.

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“Cast Out,” an essay by Marlena Fiol

Something was terribly wrong. My lower abdomen was swollen and sore. I had lost nearly ten pounds in the past two weeks. I could no longer keep my food down, and a screaming pain ripped through my vagina every time I peed. In order to keep this mysterious condition from my strict Mennonite missionary parents, I ran outside after almost every meal and vomited behind the hedge near the veranda of our house.

It was November of 1969. Just a few weeks earlier, I had graduated at the top of my high school class at the Liceo de San Carlos in Asunción, Paraguay. My life lay ahead of me like a shiny blank whiteboard, inviting me to imagine endless possibilities. Now, at home at my parents’ leprosy station for summer vacation, I felt only a dark cloud of pain and confusion.

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Book Review: Where Night Stops, by Douglas Light

Where Night Stops, a new novel by Douglas Light, is a gripping thriller written in deliciously literary prose. The protagonist ends up over his head in a money laundering scheme when a homeless man named Ray-Ray hands him a message in a bar of soap. That message leads him to the local library, which sets him off on a series of jobs that seem easy enough, and pay well. There’s just one problem: he has no idea what he’s doing, no idea why someone is paying him $300 to pick up checks from pre-arranged points and deposit them in library books. He calls these mysterious jobs “Kam Manning,” and inches in further and further, convincing himself that he’s not doing anything wrong.

The novel unravels slowly. It starts with our narrator in a bar with a woman who complains of being ugly. She sits next to our protagonist, trading a few lines of witty banter. She says that “My heart is a divided Vienna,” referencing Orson Welles’s The Third Man. Continue reading

“Shake a Leg,” an essay by Susan Richardson

It was early Spring in Los Angeles and the day was perfect; temperature in the high 60’s, an easy breeze drifting across the city. The conditions were ideal for sitting outside, listening to music and maybe even taking in a show.  I have lived in Los Angeles for decades and learned to appreciate the colorful absurdity that is L.A., and the bizarre streak that runs through many of its inhabitants.  As a purveyor of public transportation, I know that freaky things happen while riding the bus, but just as many occur while you wait.

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“The Dollar Bill,” a dark ten-minute comedy by Roy Proctor

based on “The Harbinger,”

a short story by O HENRY

© 2017 Roy Proctor
Inquiries regarding performance rights for “The Dollar Bill” should be addressed to the author at royproctor@aol.com.

PUBLIC DOMAIN:  “The Harbinger,” which was included in O Henry’s 1908 short story collection, “The Voice of the City,” is in the public domain.

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Book Review: Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst

Searching for Someday is like a lollipop. You unwrap it, excited. I shouldn’t be reading this, you think. It has no real sustenance. But then you do read it, and you think, ugh, this is too sweet. And the prose is horrible. Did I ever use to like these? But it goes down quick before you really have a chance to think about it.

As a bodice-ripper, this book sort of succeeds. I’m saying “sort of” because it was page-turning and somewhat engrossing, which is really the only thing one asks for in books like this. I finished it in about three days. But the cringe factor is very high. I’ll leave aside the ridiculous nature of the premise – Kate runs a matchmaking agency called Kinnections, where she uses a combination of her supernatural ability to detect compatibility and real world dating advice to create lasting connections for her clients. She is also cursed to find one true soul mate in life. No one else will do it for her. OK, that part is fine.

Where the book starts to fall apart is when Slade enters the picture. A no-nonsense, super hot divorce lawyer, he becomes Kate’s client as a way of keeping tabs on his sister, who’s recently signed up for Kinnections. No. No no no no. Kate and her friends frequently cite Slade’s “protectiveness about his family” as a plus, but really? His behavior toward his sister is controlling, obsessive, unhealthy. Continue reading

“After the Battle,” an essay by Robert Joe Stout

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Book Review: Dead Spider, by Victoria Houston

In Dead Spider, the 17th installment in Victoria Houston’s Loon Lake mystery series, Charles Pfeiffer, the wealthiest man in town is murdered. It’s up to police chief Lewellyn Ferris and her deputy coroner Paul Osborne to find his killer. Dead Spider is a standalone story, and Houston briefly tells you anything you need to know about the characters in the first few pages so you don’t need to read any of the other books in the series before picking this one up.

A fast moving story, Dead Spider is a good beach read. It’s a light, airy page turner with a well-crafted mystery. The book relies on some mystery tropes (the murdered man has a bitchy daughter-in-law and a gold-digging wife, for example), but colored with Houston’s charming cast of small town characters, and the active fly fishing economy, it feels fresh. Loon Lake is based on the small Wisconsin town where Houston grew up, and you can tell she has a deep love for the area. Continue reading

Poetry by Allison Grayhurst

 

Naked Side

 

I’ve seen the destruction

of visions, the penetration

of a good cause, seen souls

anesthetized by sadness.

 

The only constant is endurance,

is the thing that jumps out from

the void then reverses back

into its indifferent swallow.

 

One change, then the moment

slips into a new glimpse of understanding.

 

One small desire fulfilled and all pain

is humbled.

 

Dark Prophets

 

 

They hold the ghost feather.

They cry by cause of extreme imaginations.

Paranoia on pillows,

the stench of shoes and month-old towels

under fingernails.

Liberty in sleeping pills & mirrors

that have no shine.

 

This they have, spirits stabbed

with hunger, doubt & arrogance

raging equally by their bedsides.

Encyclopedias divulged in dead languages

& hoards of filthy critics teasing with

axe and indifference

their true-goal flower.

 

They crack their heads on insecurity.

They do not believe in this world.

 

From balconies, from strait-jackets,

from honeymoon apartments, they expose

the human guilt, delicate visions

that seduce the blind with wonder.

 

The Loyal Unknown

 

I would like to hide

from the mountains, sleep

as a thief

in the assaulted night.

How do I compare my

 

enemies? They all smell

of slain desires,

itching like mealworms

in a bird’s thin crop.

Among the widowed faces

there is

a gateway

into the unfathomable, happy

past: Wolves eyes, I see

confronting with unaware darkness.

The hypocrites play

their tune so beautifully stagnant, making me stumble

into oblivion.

One day when I was walking

on Arizona ground in a dry summer,

I caught a glimpse of

icy love: It came

convulsing

from the sun

to avenge my perfect day. It was an apparition,

reconciling

the whole world

to the paradoxical

cross.

 

Sometimes smiles

are as irretrievable

as murder.

Someone is watching me

from corridors.

Today, it is chaos.

Tomorrow – a child

will be born.

 

 

Mother Chimp

 

Gentle Flo of the

great apes,

does not sing

nor look for

comfort from the sky.

Mother of patience and playful

as moonlight upon a wave. Face

like a roadmap of a sad

primeval journey. Sad

like the first thoughts

of wasted love. Sad

like the night jungle in all its

apparent peace.

 

Cry for the terrible loss

in the midday rains. Cry for the African

trees, rotting from the weight of

a human-made world.

 

    Shaggy arms embrace

to receive your large-heart’s manna.

The lonely climate

surrounds you

with child, near a river that carries

the many deaths of those before

your wild and doubtless

existence.

 

Giving Roses And Bread

 

I turned.

I will not turn again

from her sad space & ruin.

 

No wand, no crocodile

tongue will shut

me out.

 

The hour is blood, is

boiling, is locked

in her iron skull. Her back is straight

for the first time in months, and

her fingers tap the table one by one.

 

I saw her climb

the ladder & crash.

I saw the marrow leak from her bones.

 

I turned.

I will not turn again.

My smile will be her shelter,

 

and with my chains & circle,

I will build for her a garden

where the crows will dance

 

to drown her madness,

helpless

then gone.

 


Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net”, she has over 1125 poems published in over 450 international journals. She has sixteen published books of poetry, seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay. www.allisongrayhurst.com
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