Literary as hell.

Author: The Furious Gazelle Editors (Page 1 of 53)

Poetry by Abigail Dembo

It

I saw it on my way to work and it looked like a number. It was thin. It had smooth skin. It had a sharp nose and chin. It was a one or a zero. Static. It came in the mist. It left rings on the table and a black and white photograph. It sang, “So long Marianne, it’s time we began . . .” and cried to the seagulls, glowing like amber. It smelled like magnolia. It was some masquerade, but it opened its mouth and a voice embossed in silver rose out, “Do you want to go dancing? Or do you want to come home?”

 

Self-Portrait as Venus with Adonis in San Francisco

Into musty hotels

up back alley fire

escapes through windows.

The Emperor. The Lyric. 

A single bulb hanging. To be with him,

 

I am drawn 

down by his habits

in plumes of gray doves. 

Fixing the puddles of gutters 

I see I am thinned.

 

“No, I am waiting for someone,”

for hours, like a dog, 

down the street from the hustlers’ bar

with whistles

and slow-rolling cars

 

for him. A vision of fatality

leaking like a cracked 

cell-phone screen.

A man being led 

down a dark alleyway

 

returning, needful, 

black tar in hand.

The fumes 

of vinegar, the concrete, 

the syringe–

 

“No, you go first. You need to get off.” 

Oh, and so what? I say,

I am pained, lover, but I give it to you. 

Confederate, I would not 

have you be other.

 

Let’s get away. Let’s sleep 

near Mission Dolores 

tonight. Gold foil cherubs 

sit still

their form ending in curls.

 

Nothing has those classical adornments, no

muses anymore. 

 

______________

Abigail Dembo lives in Berkeley, California, and is currently a poetry editor for Southland Alibi. Her poetry has appeared in the Berkeley Daily Planet, Ursa Minor, SlipStream Magazine, and other places.

“Word Slice” by Tamara Adelman

Letters are the details of words. They are the smallest unit that cannot be broken down further, but when combined together, make something larger than themselves. Bricks put together in just the right way make a building. Numbers work together to help us figure out important stuff, like how much of what ingredients makes a cake, or how many bananas can I buy with my dollar. Letters are like that to words. Letters build words and words build sentences and sentences express meaning. Life would be hard without words.
When you are able to say or write a word, you should thank the alphabet.

Some letters are curvy like S, and some have tails like Q and Z in cursive. M’s tend to know a lot because they have double mountaintops from which to see.

O’s generally round things out. Some are rotund, like D.

You can make a letter prettier if you have good handwriting.

* * *

Each letter has its own personality.

Z can tickle your tongue and tries to fit in with his buddies, the other letters, because by himself he is always sleeping: zzzzzz. But even then he’s not alone; he’s with his family.

* * *
Letters make different sounds, depending on how they are feeling. Sometimes they are loud and sometimes they are quiet.

C can be soft, like in “celebrate,” and hard, like in “candy.”

S’s are everywhere, always trying to fit in by keeping quiet.

Some letters get along better than others. Q is usually with U, like in “quick” and “quiet.”

I and C have an alliance: I before E except after C.

When a letter repeats itself in a word, it is really trying to tell you something: shhhh! You really ought to listen.

A’s are often self-starters, since they are the firstborn of the alphabet.

I is often successful alone as a capital, and we all know anything with a capital is important. Like you. You are your own I.

Think about states: they each have a capital, and they are very big and important.

* * *
The way the letters look can tell you something too. Small letters like j and i are seven-year-old basketball players, who want to be tall one day, always practicing their jump shots and hitting above where they stand. Their dots leave a fingerprint.

You can swing in the bottom of a y, j, or g.

Small e can look like a snail sideways.

Small r is like a hook: it has a flexible neck. R has peeked around the corner.

U’s and V’s: you could fall into. W’s are upside-down M’s.

* * *
In reading and writing, the page is the larger landscape. Words are the landmarks: the individual plants, the trees. Letters are the bees. They work hard to produce something larger than themselves, and when bunches of letters get together they form a colony, which is also known as a book.

__________________

Tamara Adelman is a former massage therapist, ironman triathlete, and now writer and golfer living in Rancho Mirage, CA, the playground of Presidents and the Adelmans. She have a certificate in Creative Nonfiction from UCLA.

Poems by Zebulon Huset

Transmogrifying Honey Battered

Muddily the morning crept.

Though rain often causes fowl lungs 

to top off with droplets, drowning so many 

of the raised-head dummies—

Chucky the chicken, rooster to some,

cocked his head, juked or jived

at a too-inopportune time

and startled a sting from the resting 

transmogrifying bee.

 

This was how Janet skipped 

into the scene upon waking:

the broken syringe, dangling

microscopic bits of bee belly-flesh, 

plugging the swell of purple—the sundered 

venom sac pulsing in toxins like an IV—

which caused Chucky’s clunky heart

too much issue with tissue constriction.

 

Janet wept for her perished pet,

mourned the morning, played 

devastated Dr. Frankenstein with two 9-volts

through lunchtime. Her cries even survived

as eggs and flour and honey and paprika

were whisked together for a batter

that could staunch any tears.

That would stop her tears.

 

No crying at dinner, Janet. Enough already.

Continue reading

Poetry by David M. Harris

Rep. William J. Pascrell

 

Dear Mr. Pascrell:

 

Before you were the Honorable (D, NJ),

back when you taught history and psychology

at Paramus High, you were one of the foundrymen 

who melted down our formless minds and gave them

rough shape. Detail and polish were up to us.

You told a story, about leaving for the prom,

your father said, “Be careful.” Eventually,

I think, I got the point. Did any of us

understand? Later I decided we were not

meant to understand, not then, but to

ponder and find our own meanings. 

It was a rare peek into the personal.

one that other teachers never granted us.

And what was a social studies teacher doing

as one of the advisors to the high school

literary magazine? Something else to mull.

 

Changing the world, one student at a time,

must have seemed too slow. We needed

a good example, so you made yourself one.

But how different, really, is governing

from running a classroom? So much 

patient explanation, filing down rough edges

for the easier acceptance of complex machineries,

so much talking to people who won’t listen.

And the greatest failure is surrendering the effort.

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Book Review: How to Catch a Mole by Marc Hamer

Review by E. Kirshe 

At the risk of sounding cliche, How to Catch a Mole is a quiet gem of a book. The slim illustrated novel is perfect for anyone who loves nature or is seeking an almost meditative reading experience. 

Though it at times reminded me of other nature works, it very much stood on its own. Part memoir, poetry collection, and nature diary, the amalgamation makes it unlike other books in the genre. 

Hamer weaves together his personal history with his thoughts on his current profession: mole catching. No, this is not a how-to book. Rather, Hamer delves into his everyday observations about working in tune with and being one with nature. Mole catching, according to Hamer, requires one to be a bit wild. Moles may not be big game but he is a hunter and needs to know how their world works.  

Mole reads as very honest. Hamer’s quiet and stark observations about ordinary life and nature are beautifully communicated. Even when Hamer is making profound statements about how he views his role on the planet, it feels like reading a diary. Like he’s writing his thoughts for himself instead of cleaning them up for an audience. 

There are times when I felt there was a bit too much romanticism in his work. His profession is mole extermination, after all. This also comes up when he looks back on his time being homeless. He’ll talk about freedom and the running theme of living life in nature. But anytime I started to feel this, he’ll turn on a hefty dose of reality to balance it out. 

“Even lying under a pier once, starving and feeling that I was dying, I felt sad, but I also reasoned that it was perfectly acceptable to feel sad in that situation…I have in my time deliberately tried to die, but I am still here…I began allowing life to happen.”

Mole manages to toe the line between extremely poetic and pointedly matter-of-fact. His poetry regards the everyday turns of the earth, life, death, and the way a certain slant of light makes him feel. His observations on the habits and lives of moles, as well as other creatures, switch between affinity and scientific study. 

He knows their mating and eating habits in detail. He knows the tunnel systems of a mole because he needs to know how to find them. But then he’ll turn around and describe their lives as deeply entwined with his own. 

This contemplative book is, as the subtitle says, wisdom from a life lived in nature. It’s a lovely account of the life one man managed to build along with his deep understanding of the natural world. At the end of the day, Hamer will make you think about the interconnectedness of every living thing on this planet- in the most intimate and clarifying way. 

 

 How To Catch A Mole was published in 2019 by Greystone Books

Have you ever found a hidden treasure in a bookstore, a book published a while ago that you’ve never heard of, that you wished could receive more attention? Us, too. That’s why we started doing Throwback Reviews. Do you have a book published at least three years ago that you would like to see a current review for? Then send us an email with the subject: throwback book review request. 

The Furious Gazelle received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Across The Street,” a short story by Katharine Grubb

I watched the house from the time the sour old owners, the ones with the massive credit card debt, had moved out. For a couple of weeks, through the dappled shadows of the maple tree growing between the sidewalk and the street, I monitored the side-stair colonial as realtors and their client toured it, wondering if the inspector caught the foundation trouble in that one corner. 

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“A Mind Like a Steel Trap” By E.O. Connors

A few days ago, I scrubbed the sink clean and lifted the steel trap out. As I knocked the trap against the trash bin to dislodge the sopping wet food particles that had collected there, it occurred to me that I made an egregious error in judgment in August of 1995.

I’m quick like that sometimes.

It was three weeks after our wedding. My husband, Tim, was mercilessly scrubbing the kitchen sink of our new apartment. It was clear he was angry about something. He didn’t do anything vigorously. Except, perhaps, drink Diet Coke and program his computer. Anything that might cause him to break a sweat was anathema. Cleaning the kitchen fell into that category. 

It wasn’t laziness, exactly. He was generally tidy, avoiding the making of a mess so as not to have to clean one. But he was also raised by a lovely June Cleaver type. She kept house and said things like, “Oh, Timmy, leave those dishes for the women,” when, one year, he rinsed some mashed potatoes off his Thanksgiving plate and tried to put it in the dishwasher. 

Tim and I had already had the very first domestic squabble of our marriage that same sink-scrubbing morning. Standing in the galley kitchen in the light of the refrigerator, I plucked the orange juice carton from the door to accompany his breakfast cereal. Overnight, it would surely have settled. I didn’t want him to drink juice from the top that was too thin, nor from the bottom that was too thick. Only Goldilocks orange juice for my husband. 

So I shook it. Hard. Up and down for a solid five seconds to mix it perfectly. 

Tim’s face pinched with anger. “What did you do that for?” 

“What?”

“You just ruined it.” I looked at the carton trying to figure out what he meant. He let out a huff of disgust. “Now it’s all full of pulp and the junk that settled to the bottom. Why would you do that?” He said it with the same bewilderment and grief as though I had hit the gas pedal to commit vehicular rodent homicide on an innocent squirrel in the road.

So just before lunch when I saw him come dangerously close to breaking a sweat at the kitchen sink, I wondered, Now what?

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Poems by Kika Dorsey

Horizon

They say the closer you come to something, the further away it can seem. As if it’s all a horizon. As if the horizon could ever be your lasso, your tightrope spanning past and future, your thread to sew closed what tore. 

I’ve been so near to my father’s death that my eyes blurred with more than tears. I’ve been so far away from my children’s birth that they disappeared like March fog when the sun buckles down and does its work of rising from a line I called my life, a line I could never trace. I’ve traveled so far that nothing has looked familiar—not the white marble statues of gods, the banyan trees, the dancing Lipizzaner, the cobblestoned streets, the cock fights in jungles, the foreign seas. 

Now I am home and what is close to me presses against my legs, wraps its arms around my waist. I’ve learned that you can never know what lies behind its mystery—a day lost in the woods, a dream of galloping horses, a fire built with twigs, a funeral, a birth—everything so near it has become their flesh, their journey toward a horizon forever receding. 

 

Petroleum

1

When he was zooplankton, buried beneath sedimentary rock in Texas and Iraq, he slept like the poor merchant under threadbare sheets next to algae, on bales of straw. He awoke and woke up the bees while he took their honey. He pulled out his own rotten teeth. 

 

2

Rock has a way of condensing poverty, of solidifying the earth so that it is harder to dig our graves. Rock can press our sight with mountains against the sun, can flatten and skip on water, can crumble when the sea catches it with salt, can sail from the bully’s slingshot, can teach us to be still. 

 

3

We have always been restless. We’ve burned whale oil, then promised the whales as they sang that we’d take from stone instead. We’ve created drills that bob their heads to a ground where we have kneeled, always begging our gods for a second chance. We’ve knocked down flasks of oil from a shelf when we dreamed of wealth and cursed the son we have yet to have. We’ve awoken to spills that coated the wings of seagulls. 

 

4

When he was living with us, he promised us planes and cars and oil for our dry faces. He fueled the ships in the seas. The whales were confused about the sound of the motor. They didn’t know how to make it a percussion of their song. You see, here is the paradox of music: to write a symphony you need silence. 

 

5

There is a little girl. She has a nightlight. It’s a purple fairy with blue wings. Without it she opens her eyes to the dark and feels scared. She needs to see that the shirt draped over the chair is not a killer. She needs to see that the dark is not dark. Outside the motors of cars rumble. She wonders where they are going, why they, too, are not sleeping. She falls asleep and dreams of squirrels. She dreams of lakes. She dreams of ladders reaching so high into the sky even the birds cannot nest there. They are too busy singing.

__________

Kika Dorsey is a poet and fiction writer in Boulder, Colorado, and lives with her two children, husband, and pets.  Her books include the chapbook Beside Herself  (Flutter Press, 2010) and three full-length collections: Rust, Coming Up for Air (Word Tech Editions, 2016, 2018), and Occupied: Vienna is a Broken Man and Daughter of Hunger (Pinyon Publishing, 2020), which won the Colorado Authors’ League Award for best poetry collection. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times. Currently, she is an instructor of English at Front Range Community College and works as a writing coach and ghostwriter. In her free time she swims miles in pools and runs and hikes in the open space of Colorado’s mountains and plains.

Poetry by Colin Webb

Refractory
spastic filter of branches

catching dusk clouds 

 

side-swiping indiscriminate thru 

a line of others more distinct in their 

 

trajectory—

then the obstructed lengths 

 

unpossessing downhill too, or the 

bristly blind of snow up to Here

 

that’ll curb your cigarette break bound 

by slush overlooked too, and the dirty 

 

distillation of static that’ll obscure all 

the breakup songs to come 

 

straining from car’s radio 

for you to love thru

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“Dreams Come True” by P.C. Scheponik

It was an old three-story brick house

in one of America’s dying towns,

but we could afford the apartment

on the second floor.

And though it was a disaster:

the plastic Woolworth’s dish drain

melted onto one of the electric stove’s

burners, the bed’s one foot propped up

on the Bible, the fish tank with its three

inches of green water and window drapery

lying inside, drowned in algae and neglect,

and though we had to scrape and toss the

water-stained wallpaper, refresh and repaint

the entire place, to me it was the best—

with the stained-glass window that turned the

living room gold in the afternoon with its sliding

wooden doors that divided the living space into

two separate rooms.

And though the roaches finally forced us to move,

I still remember those nights, in the living room,

sitting together

on the sofa of the first living room set

we bought as young bride and groom,

so happy to be together, on our own,

living proof that dreams really do come true.

_________

P.C. Scheponik is a lifelong poet who lives by the sea with his wife, Shirley, and their shizon, Bella. His writing celebrates nature, the human condition, and the metaphysical mysteries of life. He has published six collections of poems: Psalms to Padre Pio (National Centre for Padre Pio, INC), A Storm by Any Other Name and Songs the Sea has Sung in Me (PS Books, a division of Philadelphia Stories), and And the Sun Still Dared to Shine (Mazo Publishers), Stained-Glass Faith (Alien Buddha Press) and Seeing, Believing, and Other Things (Adelaide Books). His work has also appeared in numerous literary journals. He is a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee. 

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