Literary as hell.

Author: furiousgazelle (Page 1 of 12)

“A Brief History of the Marriage Vow” by Glen Armstrong

A Brief History of the Marriage Vow

The idea is to get the bride and groom to float toward each other, defying the layers of clothing they have rented. The idea is to obscure the idea with ritual, organ music and flowers, deifying the silence that, though brief, truly heralds their commitment. In this smallest of pauses before the ceremony, they have no idea. No lips. No history. No one breathes as a man trained in all things uncertain guides the trembling couple toward new uses for their mouths.


Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He also edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters.


The Wake-Up Call by Roy Proctor

Click here to read The Wake-Up Call, a ten-minute play by Roy Proctor.

© Roy Proctor 2014

Roy Proctor, a native of Thomasville, N.C.,  has completed three full-length plays and 36 short plays since he turned to playwriting 2 ½ years ago after a 30-year career as the staff theater and art critic on the two daily newspapers in Richmond, Va. His plays have been presented in Cambridge, England; Cardiff, Wales; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Richmond; New Orleans, La.; and points in between. Short plays from his 12-play cycle of adaptations of Chekhov short stories were presented this summer in Richmond, Raleigh, N.C., and Edinboro, Pa. He lives in Richmond and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

            Unlike Proctor’s other plays, “The Wake-Up Call” draws directly on his experience as a theater critic. “Phone calls to critics from irate, sometimes drunken, often verbally abusive actors in the wee hours are not uncommon,” Proctor says. “I usually put up with them to the extent that I respected the talent of the caller. I have a profound respect for actors as a group. They make financial and other sacrifices for the public good that I, as a journalist with a steady paycheck and other job security, would never have been willing to make.”

            Proctor can be reached at to discuss rights for production of “The Wake-Up Call.”  

Poetry by Caitlin Johnson

Elizabeth R.

A redhead. A queen. A woman.

Yes, she is me, and no:

no one’s woman, someone’s queen, sometime redhead.


Every day a society to conquer, a territory to annex.

Gold in my eyes, on my fingers, in my coffers.


Storm Season

Summer nights so hot even the rain

can’t cool us down, & steam radiates

from the asphalt, like the fog

we get in winter, yet more sinister

somehow, billowing the way it does.

All we want is bare feet, but we

can’t risk burning our toes. I don’t know

how the toads survive it, their tiny

bumpy bodies absorbing what the sun

left behind before the clouds rolled in.

Thunder keeps rumbling.


Susannah, I’m Sorry

I couldn’t be your mother.

The specter of you follows me

through unexpected doorways,

like when I look at the man I wanted

as your father & am tempted to say,

“Go ahead. Knock me up.”

But I promise it’s better for you

that you’ll never be born

or incubated

or even conceived.

You see, Susannah, I wouldn’t be able

to love you, because I would be too afraid

a mysterious impulse would float

into my brain, begging me to make a ghost

out of your tiny, breakable, pale-skinned body.

At best, I’d have to abandon you,

leaving you to be raised by anyone

other than me.

At worst–well, let’s just say

you and I would be buried together.

Susannah, it’s not your fault.

I want you & your sister Dominique.

I do. But what I don’t want

is the haunted look I’ll see in my own eyes

in the mirror, the face of a woman

who still feels like a girl & is just selfish

enough to contemplate disappearing

so I can go live the life I planned,

& then I’ll be an apparition of the mother

you deserve: wandering the roads at night,

asking to be spirited away

to escape your midnight howls.


Caitlin Johnson holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine, Clare Literary Journal, Eternal Haunted Summer, Fortunates, Momoware, Pembroke Magazine, Vagina: The Zine, and What the Fiction, among other outlets, and is forthcoming in Baseline Literary Arts Journal and Stoneboat Literary Journal. She can be found online at


STRUCK by Scott Tobin

© Scott Tobin 2014

Cast of Characters

SYLVIA                        40’s, a suburban mom

JESSICA                      20’s, a graphic designer


The middle of the road in Lower East Side, NY, early morning


(LIGHTS UP. JESSICA is lying in the middle of the road, unconscious and wearing her rollerblades. SYLVIA is standing above Jessica, frantic. The grill from her car is a few feet behind them.)


Oh my God, I’m sorry, I am so sorry. Please wake up, please. Please! HELP! HELP HERE! SOMEONE PLEASE! Oh Miss. Please Miss, don’t do this to me. I can’t believe this. Listen, this wasn’t entirely my fault. You were going way too fast. And where’s your helmet? That’s not my fault at all. I tried stopping short but my heel got caught on the gas pedal. But you’re just as responsible for getting hit by my car as I am. Miss, come on, don’t do this to me. I don’t want this on my conscience. I didn’t start the day off planning on manslaughter. Mike’s going to kill me. The cops are going to take my license away. Ha. I’m worried about my license? What about jail? And what about the guilt? Huh? What about that? Living with all the guilt. It took me four years to get over crushing that squirrel. And how is little Bradford going to handle this. His mommy is now a murderer. The other kids are going to make his life a living hell. They’ll taunt him. I can hear it now. “Bradford’s Mom’s a Murderer, Bradford’s Mom’s a Murderer!” He hates me enough as it is for that Barney backpack. Jesus, I’ll have to move. The suburbs is no place for a female murderer. I’ll have to move to the city. Don’t do this to me. Wake up, dammit. Wake–yourself—up!

Poetry by Matthew Konkel

So This is What I’ll Do


I’m gonna turn that switch off.
Turn that valve and make sure that’s off too.
Then I’ll unscrew this thing over here. (I don’t even know what that is.)
Then I can disassemble that.
Take that thing apart piece by piece.
Just completely dismantle everything that’s around me:

My TV.
My furniture (including the bed and dressers.)
That lamp.
The refrigerator.
Then the walls of my house too. Everything.

Get everything down to its barest pieces until there’s nothing left to take apart.
And once that’s done I can move on to my car and the neighbor’s car and his house and the house next door and the house and car after that and so on. However long that takes it takes.
And once that’s done I’ll start on my toes— take those off one by one.
And then I’ll take out each shin bone. (They’ll make good doorstops if nothing else.)
Remove my feet and disconnect my legs from my hips.
Detach the knees and throw them in a corner somewhere. (Or somewhere where there used to be a corner.)
Twist off my torso and chest and bend away every rib like plastic branches of plastic trees.
Remove every tooth and strand of hair and pluck out each eye and tear away each ear.
And then finally…
I’ll plant whatever is left in the ground.
Cover it up with dirt packed nice and tight and hope that maybe something grows there.
Something different.
Because sometimes it’s good just to start over.
Start again from absolute peaceful desolate scratch.

seminal incident #3

it was early 1981.
the change from the
previous year
had not fully
integrated into my eleven
year old consciousness and I
I still believed it was 1980. so much so
that when
I discovered that
newspaper in
art class underneath our
watercolor paintings
with the
current year I was
convinced with
indisputable certitude that
a genuine
document from the
had been delivered
to my hands.
I turned to my
classmate, “Jason, look at the date
on this newspaper. 1981.”
“So,” he responded derisively.
“It’s 1980,” I said in the voice of
a fraudulent scholar.
even before he could
contradict me with
words of simple fact, the
true date
finally became realized
in my
brain and
I shrunk up like plastic in a flame.

You Can’t Avoid That Swerve in the Road

The willow in the yard where I grew up is no longer there.
And I am no longer there.
My brothers are no longer there.
The willow was tired of us leaving and got out before anyone else did.

There’s an unopened package from a guy named Schrödinger.

That swerve in the road is there whether you continue to move or not.
It’s unavoidable— like the smell of new painted walls.

There’s a comic strip character walking the streets.
He doesn’t know he’s left his frames.

A child from China digs a hole in his yard trying to reach America.
He’s got one match in the rain.
One chance to get it right.

The devil lurks somewhere in the dark sharpening his pencils.
He’s composing a complaint letter to the cereal company that sold him a stale box.

The phone rings, caller: unknown.


Matthew is a teaching-artist, playwright and independent filmmaker from Milwaukee. His latest film is titled Neptune ( You can find his fiction and poetry at the Newer York, Paragraph Planet, Postcard Shorts, Linguistic Erosion, The Eunoia Review, Danse Macabre and Streetcake Magazine. His plays have been produced nationally and internationally by theater companies including Edmonds Driftwood Players, Pink Banana Theatre, Cupcake Lady Productions and Screaming Media Gi60. Pennster Media recently published his short play Walk, Don’t Walk.

“As Einstein Pedaled” … Excerpt from Love Poems

The Furious Gazelle is continuing to serialize Charles Bane’s new book of poetry, Love Poems. You can find more of his poetry here.

As Einstein Pedaled

As Einstein pedaled his
bicycle in wide and wider arcs
and laughed among the multitudes
of pi, did he sense what
you and I discovered too,
that there is a great unsaid
and you alone with me walk the wildness
of its storms? Its circumference is garlanded
around your head and granaries
of unborn stars are sifted through the
hands, and my love, I fall.
I fall.
I fall unbordered and
unwound as time
and surrounding like snow.

Charles Bane, Jr. is the American author of The Chapbook (Curbside Splendor, 2011) and Love Poems (Kelsay Books, 2014). His work was described by the Huffington Post as “not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them.” A writing contributor for The Gutenberg Project, he is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida.

“Monsters and Kings,” by Rebecca Kirschbaum

Monsters and Kings

Written by Rebecca Kirschbaum


The gentle town of Kingsburrow has a handful of stoplights, an unstimulated police force, and an elderly man who tiptoes out of his house every morning for a predictable stroll. On Main Street, there are a handful of unordinary buildings cloaked in unassuming shadows. The town is aged, overgrown with vines and shrubbery, filled with potholes and cracked cement. Grass and dandelions grow up through the cracks in the sidewalks. A few stone fences remain from the Civil War and they line the yards of the largest houses. Children often whack at the stones of the old fences with sticks they pull from old dogwood, oak, and maple trees.

Ironically, or maybe predictably, Kingsburrow is only known for its monsters.

A little after eight, the night descends into Kingsburrow and the lights of the stores begin to go out, one by one. Here, it might seem the most wretched of threats are the feral cats, who roam the broken sidewalks, seeking a miniature victim. Ask that old man on Maple Street, the one who sits on his porch, in his rocking chair. If you sit with him as he rocks, long into the night, you will notice he is at ease as he sips at the end of his pipe. He will tell you, “Lightning never strikes twice. This town’s as safe as it’s ever been.” Continue reading

“For Jane Kenyon” … Excerpt from Love Poems

The Furious Gazelle is continuing to serialize Charles Bane’s new book of poetry, Love Poems. You can find more of his poetry here.

For Jane Kenyon

The hollow is
filled with every
kind of traveling
bird that lowers its
wings to drink, and
I rage beside the flock
and remember I closed your eyes.
It is difficult to be snared
in warmth and cold
and pressed inside
a page. Unread times
are so far away; with
every taste that holds
me, my lips close
on yours.

Charles Bane, Jr. is the American author of The Chapbook ( Curbside Splendor, 2011) and Love Poems ( Kelsay Books, 2014). His work was described by the Huffington Post as “not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them.” A writing contributor for The Gutenberg Project, he is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida.

“How to Get a Jewish Divorce,” by Nina Bennett

How to Get a Jewish Divorce


Don’t live in the same house with your wife

after you’ve decided to divorce her. See your rabbi,

find a scribe. Observe the sun, divorce

proceedings must take place during daylight.

Do not let the scribe use a form, or any paper

that can be erased, it should be parchment.

Choose two righteous men as witnesses.


Your wife removes all rings, holds cupped hands

beside each other, palms up, fingers

somewhat raised. You hold the Get, tell her

This is your divorce. Accept this document

and you are divorced from me from here on.

Allow the paper to fall into her hands.

She closes her fingers around the document,

lifts it up, places it under her arm, walks away.

Have no further contact.


Delaware native Nina Bennett is the author of Sound Effects (2013, Broadkill Press Key Poetry Series chapbook #4). Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies such as Kansas City Voices, Big River Poetry Review, Houseboat, Bryant Literary Review, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Philadelphia Stories, and The Broadkill Review. Nina was a 2012 Best of the Net nominee.


“Sleeping There” by Charles Bane

The Furious Gazelle is continuing to serialize Charles Bane’s new book of poetry, Love Poems. You can find more of his poetry here.

Sleeping There

Sleeping there
enclosed and loving
even as you breathe
unaware of mockingbirds
talking in the dark and you
turn, eyes opening, to look
at me and each time you do
I fall. I am whole in you
and you in me are
daughter and wife, but I say
only, birds that were night
are breaking now as day.

What I Whisper

What I whisper
is not single celled,
but a colony and trees
bent in light leaving from
their stems wash the depths
of me. I am stunned when
morning comes; dew beads
every blade, and we who
loved the night shadows
are painted green.

Charles Bane, Jr. is the American author of The Chapbook (Curbside Splendor, 2011) and Love Poems (Kelsay Books, 2014). His work was described by the Huffington Post as “not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them.” A writing contributor for The Gutenberg Project, he is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida.

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