The wooden dock’s planks groaned beneath the blazing Florida sun. Neal adjusted his sunglasses. He watched as a snowy egret took a step with one of its long twig-thin black legs. It paused, then stretched its swan-like neck and body with the precision of a ballet dancer. Neal tucked a pinch of tobacco between his lower lip and gum. As he folded his sun-freckled arms, the bird took a few quick steps, then lumbered skyward. Continue reading
1. February 3rd. The first time I was introduced to the sniveling, drooling, troglodyte that is my sister’s boyfriend Rob. Really, Ashley? You couldn’t do better than a middle-aged branch manager who loves ranch dressing and thinks that Justin Timberlake is an underrated artist? I went into the bathroom to reapply my neck blush, and that’s when I saw it. Rob had used the bathroom, and when he was done he hadn’t put the toilet seat down!
2. July 15th. In the spirit of good will, I tried to forget about the incident on February 3rd. I gave Rob the benefit of the doubt and assumed that his behavior had been an unfortunate blip. Boy was I wrong. On July 15th, after my entire family came back from the Michael Jackson Memorial 5K, I was horrified to discover that Rob left the toilet seat up again. It is truly unfortunate to see my sister paired up with such a primitive companion. Continue reading
Freezing in the gray light, the wind
at our backs like an anchor,
our boat steadies itself against the moon
and the captain’s hand. We tack across the sound
where the scallops are hidden.
We’ve prepared the nets again, patched
and mended our traps,
coiled the thick, sea—green ropes.
Our tongues are still raw from coffee.
We watch the wolf moon, still red, Continue reading
It’s that time once again – ‘twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house, everyone was all like, “Crap, what last-minute gifts can I get on Amazon Prime?” Have no fear – our annual book review round up collects some of our favorite titles from 2019, as well as other standouts we’ve read this year.
Our lists focus on books that your recipient isn’t likely to already have, either because they’re obscure and lesser-known or because they just came out that recently. You can also check out our 2017 and 2018 book lists.
We’d drink until the stars went out, then scrounge
an hour or two of sleep before our shifts
hopping the subway in from Brooklyn, Queens,
jacked up on NoDoz, Yoohoo, vitamins
eyelids sagging like chintz drapery.
The day kept trying to dawn
and finally gave up, as if to say
today has been cancelled
due to lack of photons.
Nothing but wind and cold all
afternoon in the deepening gray
lashing us poor souls below.
At the hour of not quite twilight
the first flakes come down
slantwise like drunken
a spiral staircase to
the bargain basement.
They giggle and collapse on
each other, beginning to pile up.
It may be months before we can
scrape away their costume jewelry.
Kurt Luchs has poems published or forthcoming in Into the Void, Antiphon, The American Journal of Poetry and The Sun Magazine. He placed second for the 2019 Fischer Poetry Prize, and won the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. He has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as writing comedy for television and radio. His books include a humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) (2017 Sagging Meniscus Press), and a poetry chapbook, One of These Things Is Not Like the Other (2019 Finishing Line Press). More of his work, both poetry and humor, is at kurtluchs.com.
This poem was first published in Crosswinds Poetry Journal.
In Goldie Goldbloom’s new novel, On Division, a middle-aged Chassidic woman grapples with her faith when a new pregnancy keeps reminding her of the way her gay son was mistreated by the community.
The novel starts at a crucial point in Surie’s life: already an outsider in the community for having a gay son, she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. It isn’t acceptable for a woman of her age to have marital relations, and she knows that news of the pregnancy will bring shame on her family. For a number of reasons, she chooses not to tell anyone, not even her husband. The bulk of the novel deals with the moral quandary behind her choice.
Goldbloom has a knack for description. The novel offers a glimpse into one of the tightly closed Chassidic communities in Williamsburg. It is so richly detailed in its description of Williamsburg, I was surprised to learn the author was Australian; from reading the book, I thought she could have grown up in Brooklyn. The book takes us through almost a year, covering the way each holiday is prepared for. “In mid-March, the young men began to return home from their faraway yeshivos and mesivtas and kollels for Passover. School was let out from the beginning of Nissan and the streets filled with children pushing other children in strollers or carrying home dripping paper packages of fish for their mothers. Older girls who would soon be engaged walked hand in hand, their heads close together, their thick braids down their backs, swaying. The smells of bleach and polish wafted from the open windows.” Continue reading
Archeologists found a fossil that captured
ancient insects having sex. It reveals
the mating position customary among froghoppers
about two hundred million years ago. In fact,
the particular sub-species, whose emissaries
had been caught in action, went extinct
but descendants of their close relatives
are still around diligently doing the same thing
in the same way. It’s exciting to learn
how persistent the insectual orientation is!
While its efficacy ought to be respected,
such a strict commitment to a single arrangement
betrays a lack of inventiveness and initiative.