The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Page 2 of 32

Poetry by Donna Dallas

Apparitions

I’ve seen them

in a breeze or a rain drop

A slow shadow or stunning beam

of light through the trees landing

on my child’s eyelash creating God

in a prism Continue reading

“What’s in a Name?” by Tim Eberle

It has been said that art represents humanity’s collective attempt to reconcile its own existence against an otherwise cold and uncaring universe. To strip away artifice, to obliterate pretense — to provide a context through which we may hope to define, at its core, exactly what it means to be a person. Which explains why art is so often heartbreakingly, unyieldingly, sad. Because, loath as we may be to admit it (and despite all of our attempts to the contrary), ours is a conclusively lonely existence — one fraught with sorrow, doubt, and, ultimately, disillusionment. That’s the torment heard in Juliet’s deathbed soliloquy, the longing behind the chords of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” the anguished panic pulsating through Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” And that’s the reason why, every Spring, I make sure to stock up on extra-soft, triple-ply, Kleenex-brand tissues in anticipation of the season’s most gut-wrenchingly devastating artistic offering: the premier episode of the ABC network’s hit reality television series “The Bachelorette.”

Continue reading

Book Review: Out from Calaboose by Karen Herceg

calaboose. noun. A jail or prison; cell

Karen Herceg spent three decades working on her collection of poetry, Out from Calaboose. The poems reflect that; they feel slow, deliberate, not a single word more than what is necessary.

The individual poems are deftly woven together- this collection in five parts takes you on journey through the seasons, scattered snapshots of thoughts, literal and spiritual travels, and through the concrete highs and lows of Herceg’s life. “Part 1: In the Wake of Frogs,” covers what separates us: walls, continents, desires. Ownership in a relationship is introduced here and remains a driving force throughout her personal work in this collection.

Herceg shows the full range of her talent, at some points the prose stark and pointed, “I am a woman too, / have herded children, objects and desires.” And at others sinister yet lyrical- “Rather you strip me down / and yoke me stark / pare and parse the lace / the sugar that hides the taste / of me / honesty in your need / to own my love”

In part two we move through physical time while Herceg reveals her internal mechanics. Herceg has a talent for describing nature, and connecting her creativity to the physical environment. Summer holds her down- the one summer poem finds heat stagnant, oppressive. Fresh, frigid winds, breathe life into her observations. “I see the puzzle of a sky / between skeletal fingers / and its stark patches / bore into me / like a hopeless romance.”

In The Silence of Snow there is Peace, reflection, and stillness, in the heat of summer there is motionlessness. Heat brings us to concrete reality. Smog covered streets, the smell of blacktop, to the story of Toulon 1971 “In the white glare of an afternoon / I watched you stroll up the dirt road / while, straw hat in hand, I fanned the heavy air,”

Herceg’s thoughts never seem cliched, though the volume covers well-worn tropes: love, the environment, family. She takes tiny moments and magnifies them, spinning entire imagined worlds from small glances, such as in “Shadow Dance” (p. 27), when she describes a couple’s embrace: “you cover me / like a crucifix”

In “Part 3: A thin Season,” Herceg offers snapshots of the everyday and answers what it means to her, what she views as the truth. The ways we think of the world, and don’t think of it. People’s relationship to the world and each other. This is one of the more concrete sections and at times Herceg turns toward a political bent. “Corporate Menu” takes a swipe at the devastation to the planet caused by our industrial farming: “petroleum plastic packaged / for the convenience of our impatient lives.” In “A Thin Season,” Herceg’s elegy for “a young man beheaded for listening to Western pop tunes in his father’s grocery store,” is hauntingly beautiful. Her beautiful words are in harsh contrast to the gritty reality: “Isis goddess of love, the moon, / magic and fertility, / a healing sister of deities / daughter of earth and sky”

Like Part 3, “Part 4: Loving Hands” offers a section of more concretely worded poems- pointedly weighting down the reader into the heart of the collection. In “Maternal Elegy” she is literally bound to her mother. “cutting the cord / where you dragged me /through the mire / of your own sins / a maternal bloodbath.”

Her words, as always, are beautiful, cold, and describe unrelenting life. “the inscription of their names, / the chiseled dates / making impressions on my flesh.”

Though accepting of what is, rarely at peace with it “I awake to the immeasurable sadness
of loss, / not for whatever was / but what was not, / the dream of possibilities and lost connections, / the incurable pain of memories / that never existed.”

And again, we are never free from other people- especially those who made us. “spines straight as rulers / with impressions from loving hands, / my sister and I learned early / about a queen who must be obeyed,” These loving hands leave a permanent mark that holds true across her life. Herceg sums it up best herself as, “the unendurable obligation / of love,”

Even in the final part of the book, where Herceg quotes Carl Sagan “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love,” love is a necessity and a burden. Her works are scattered again and still melancholy. Because even here at the end she doesn’t let go of what could have been. “If I could thrust my hands outward / ripping through embryonic clay / I would sculpt the lives / we did not have”

In Out From Calaboose Herceg explores every prison you could encounter- being bogged down in the material world, bound to another person, your past, the reality of what is while miring yourself in thoughts of what could have been. Herceg’s imagination stretches the mundane, escapes the confines of the physical and beautifully describes ugliness at every turn.

Out from Calaboose is available from Nirala Press.

“Snap,” a Dramatic Monologue by Robin Fusco

CHARACTERS
Melody, a teenage girl, age 13

 

NOTE: The Snap Game is a game where different colored jelly bracelets represent sexual favors. If a boy successfully breaks a jelly bracelet off a girl’s wrist, he gets a sexual coupon for the associated act. A black jelly bracelet signifies intercourse.

 

MELODY plays with a black bracelet on her wrist, struggles to explain its significance to her older cousin.

 

It’s just a bracelet. It’s like, cool, okay, and I like black. ‘Cause it’s goth. Not goth like I’m gonna kill myself, that would be totally sad, but it’s a color or a shade or whatever. It like, goes with everything or something, right? Whatever. I can wear a black bracelet if I want to.

 
Continue reading

2017 February Writing Contest Winner: William Henry Harrison by Franklin Temple

Thank you for this opportunity. If you look at my resume, you’ll see I have the experience to manage the Burger World Cash Register, in a way you have never seen. I will massacre errors, just as William Henry Harrison massacred Tecumseh in the Battle of the Thames in 1813.

You’re unfamiliar with Tecumseh, well, if you have time…

Let’s just say I know how to use a cash register and defend myself in a massacre.

What is your time off policy? I know you haven’t offered me the job yet, but if you look at page six of my resume, you’ll see that I am a Presidential impersonator – oh, I have a thought. I could man the cashier in my full Presidential costume. “Would you like some information about America’s history with those fries,” I’d say. No?

What about on President’s Day?

Anyway, unplanned time off is critical because I never know when the call will come to appear as William Henry Harrison — an Ocean Liner launch, a children’s birthday party, a lung transplant operation. You’d be surprised at the last minute calls I get because party planners have forgotten to book the William Henry Harrison impersonator.

Well, I have performed at a children’s birthday party.

It went well, except for the accident.

What if I distribute notecards like this one, “William Henry Harrison was responsible for the massacre of the Shawnee tribe at the battle of the Thames in 1813.” If you have repeat business I can write a second card.

What do you mean, who’s William Henry Harrison? He’s the ninth president of the United states you ignorant Jackanape!

Oh, no, we’re not done! I’ll tell you when we’re done!

That wasn’t me talking. That was me channeling William Henry Harrison. I am certain you would love my show. Unless you’re related to any Native Americans, in which case it might not go so well.

Do I start now?

Well, when will you let me know? Time is short. William Harrison died 31 days into his Presidential term.

Really. I had no idea that Burger Land was that interested in American history. But aren’t they a competitor to you? Well, you are most generous sir. Your loss will be Burger Land’s gain.

Good day.

2017 February Contest Finalist: “The Deep Fat Fryer Incident of February 2012”

Working in advertising was supposed to be my escape from the fast food industry. As a teenager in Silver Lake, I’d taken orders through a headset and dunked frozen potatoes in a fryer, the grease baking into the webbing of my hairnet. Surrounded by movie studios and wannabe actors—well, mostly comedians who ordered double patties at four in the morning—I felt humiliated. I was an invisible, penniless, Cal State Northridge student, living at home with my mom. Life after I completed a bachelor’s degree in political science didn’t seem so incredible. My salary would be the same as I made at the Drive-Thru, if I could find a paying position at all. I remember burying my chin in the collar of my acrylic uniform, barely glancing at the passing BMWs. My sister, Rocío, had told me that the ad execs she worked with made six figures, sometimes seven. I made eight fifty an hour.

So the first week of my sophomore year, I took an extended break behind a dumpster to call Rocío in New York City. I told her, “I’m following in your footsteps!”

“Wha-? Chica, it’s after midnight here…”   Continue reading

2017 February Contest Finalist: “Him Next Door” by Ste McCabe

 

Its 6.03 am when Im woken up by him next door, moaning for help through the wall in a deep disturbing slur: Jes-sie, ca-ca-call am-bu-la-lance. Feelwrong…’

The wall pounces with an earthquake-like thud. My framed Courtney Love picture flies onto the bare floorboards, shattering into glass knives. My heart drums in my ears like never before bu-bumbu-bumbu-bu-bumlike someone else’s heartbeat through an old stethoscope. Oh my god. Did Frank just collapse against the wall? I hear relaxed vomiting that sounds almost satisfying; I think of cake mix oozing out of a pipe tube.

I lie still in bed. I recall walking through the narrow brick corridor that leads to our tenement flat balconies on the day that I moved here. His enormous body blocked my way; stained tracksuit trousers stretched with desperate elastic. His little rodent tongue suggestively licked his scabby upper lip. Moving in, Blondie?he wheezed with a husky perverts voice. I ignored him and trotted quickly through to my ground floor flat.

The next day, our paths crossed there again as I tried to squeeze passed him with Mr Scruffs cat carry-box. His exposed stomach layers pressed against my bare arm, but it was impossible to free myself without dropping Mr Scruff. The intimacy of the moment sickened me: warm, skin-to-skin contact that left a rash of man-sweat itching my forearm. I had to scrub to get rid of the smell: nasty, cheesy sweat, like a hairy armpit that hasnt been washed in weeks. Continue reading

2017 February Contest Finalist: “Instead of a Valentine” by Pamela Sinicrope

If a couple gets married

and one commits suicide on February 11th,

is it anyone’s fault?

Feminists can blame all they want.

Husbands can lament and take lashes

while they rewrite poetry.

 

Like a blinking eye that opens then closes-

what is-is.  Unless it isn’t.

Depression was a black lung hung off

a rat’s tail on the tree by her window or-

asbestos pilled on plumbing pipes-unwrapped

and falling like snow-long before they said, ‘I DO.’

Long before, Sylvia swallowed 48 pills, slept

beneath her house, woke to try again.

 

Marriage is hard, poets complex,

Poetry is hard, marriage complex.

Like pulled threads in a sweater, they unraveled.

Depression created a triangle.  

Factor in children and the figure converted

to a love pentagon-where two people wanted winged

poems sailing space and three sides were left hanging.

Pentagon then add a lover? That’s a hexagon.

The shape shifted, lost all sides, became thread-a heart,

became a pneumatic noose around a head roast.

 

Sylvia gasped air and faltered, fell asleep.  

She wrote every day in the dark before a baby

banged pots on the floor, uttered, ‘ma-ma,’

while Ted left to write, wrangle crows.

Rejection lassoes perfection.

 

How romantic-two poets in the same house-

unparalleled love letters, mirrored muses:

in truth, for them, it was murder-

no, it was a contest-

no, it was academia-

publish, perish, publish, Pulitzer-no

 

noose was wide enough to capture

the universe of words that broke them-

no-broke her.

Instead of a valentine,

the noose became a knot.

“My Husband’s Parkinson’s Disease” By Linda Miller

Two things.

   One, my husband’s Parkinson’s disease. It’s a tough break for such a splendid man and in spite of all the stiffness and fatigue and slow-motion, he’s Mr. Positive. But then you’ve got to be with this stuff, or you’d never get out of bed in the morning. You’d surrender to your cement-filled joints and then allow yourself to sit around recovering from a hellish morning of rising but not shining. Television would soon rule your life and there’d be hell to pay for anyone who nudges you to do more. You’d sit there, stone-faced and barely moving. You’d be the rusty tin man without oil-can relief.

  When Steve was first diagnosed back in 2003, both of us were cool, calm and accepting. We were sad but not yet mad, and I remember my sunny husband saying, “If I had to get something neurological, I think this is a good one to get.” Really?

    I had just lost two parents to cancer, and as I sat across from him in the diner I almost thought he made a good point. Parkinson’s wasn’t going to steal him too soon, just make his everyday movements torturous and sometimes dangerous. Like hopping in and out of a car, eating a salad, pulling on underwear or threading a belt through the loops of his pants. It made me mad to witness the downshift in his life’s power and pace, but I had to put a sock in it. Tamp it down. Squash it. Steve wasn’t to blame. No one was to blame. His brain wasn’t making enough dopamine. Should I be upset with his nerve cells? OK. Works for me. It’s their fault.

Continue reading

Riding The Red-White Caterpillar by Penelope Hawtrey

Park and Ride and I. January 26th. Ottawa. This is how we meet.

I park my car and then grab my overstuffed knapsack that rests on the seat beside me that holds various snacks and workout clothes. I turn and reach behind me, and blindly grapple to locate my brown leather purse that I flung on the floor of the backseat. My second bag weighs more than any Army Cadet has ever had to carry during a march.

“Ah! There you are!” I say to no one in particular. Locating both bags, I push my car door open as white snow whips against my face feeling like hundreds of pin pricks against my cheeks. The snow enters my Honda civic and dances around inside. With that, I stick my foot out. And that’s where we meet.

Snowbank and I; SNOWBANK 1, ME 0.

Snow worms wiggle between my hiking boot and ankle and then, smoothly shimmy their way down to my heel. When my feet hit the pavement, the cold ice crunches against my sock and bottom of my boot until it is pulverized into a puddle. And now, I have a puddle at the bottom of my boot. Continue reading

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 The Furious Gazelle

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑