Brain rocked dry spell,
this green fist
plush flesh and hair
with supposed despair
followed by shakes, caught
sitting through night
until red daybreak
catches itself up
and yellows to work.
misting silent live oaks,
leaves dropping on trucks
She started at the departure gate—blacked out, the blank space amplified by the endless line of mirrored hallways, the aluminum-edged escalator, its teeth the oily mouth of the silent room. Her body a ridged skeleton in a coffin too big, she tried to find comfort in the touch of stuffing herself to sleep between the arm rails of a vinyl bench, but it was submerged in the giant bank of windows, each pane curled like fingers into the rafters, the coldness of the city at her back. She wanted to be a shadow, an animal playing dead, until the sun broke open the breathing world.
“You been mistaking the forest for the trees since the day you struck your momma down,” her grandmother rasped into the phone, when Emily said she was returning to Montgomery, returning to the drag of her grandmother’s slack-knee house, its tabby cats and French hens.
She remembered being eight years old, one of many Campfire Girls, walking to the bathroom two-by-two, like animals headed for the ark, both born of the night, only the light of the moon to move them. Emily sighed. There were still thirteen hours to the end, and she couldn’t while them away pretending to be a stone in a cave. So she walked the escalator downstairs, her boots and suitcase barreling the teeth blunt, and found a bench at the arrival gate, racked by fluorescent lights, posters of Mardi Gras masks, of people in the narrow streets, outlined in beads, the churning metal of the baggage belt, strangers dressed mostly in flannel and jeans, waiting for taxis within the airport’s warm belly. Continue reading
Revising the Day
Vicky revisits her fondest day
in the center of repose,
the afternoon she wanders through
her luscious and her best.
A lover in flannel trousers
sinks teeth into a peach, reciting
lines of a coward but a courageous
man himself. Lapping foam
dissolves sand beneath her feet
and the girl they shepherd between them
no longer embodies her disgrace
or their defeat.
And Clouds Made of Bones
A play in one act
AND CLOUDS MADE OF BONES was originally produced by Firehouse Theatre, at Boston Theater Marathon XII, with Jeney Richards and Dan Krstyen.
Click here to read Clouds Made of Bones by William Orem.
William Orem's first collection of stories, Zombi, You My Love, won the GLCA New Writers Award, formerly given to Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, Richard Ford and Alice Munro. His second collection, Across the River, won the Texas Review Novella Prize. His first novel, Killer of Crying Deer, won the Eric Hoffer Award. Poems and short stories of his have appeared in over 100 literary journals, and he has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in both genres. His short plays have been performed around the country.
Currently he is a Senior Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College. Details at williamorem.com.
Sylvia’s Birthday Party
By Irving A. Greenfield
She would soon be sixty and decided weeks before the event to make a birthday party for herself. Sure, or afraid, that there wouldn’t be too many birthdays in her future she planned this one with meticulous care. The guest list – if it could be called that – wasn’t long. She always had a problem with friends. Being a gregarious person, she could make friends easily, but she never had learned how to keep them. So, the list was necessarily narrowed down to members of her immediate family: her mother, her brother Robert and his wife Anne; their two children, Larry and Donald; and her husband, Martin. There was another sister, Rose, a year younger than herself. But they hadn’t spoken to each other for close to eight maybe ten years. She wasn’t good with numbers unless they were related to the cost of item whether it was for clothing or something for the house – an apartment in Astoria, Queens.
Karen Corinne Herceg
My parents rest in drawers of steel,
within shiny, cushioned boxes
behind walls of stone.
Slid in like bakers’ trays,
but they will not rise,
will not resurrect, Continue reading