The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: creative writing (page 1 of 2)

“End Times in the Produce Aisle” By Gene Twaronite

As I reached for the organic cucumber, a woman wearing 

a polka dot dress over pajama bottoms and bunny slippers 

grabbed for the same one. 

With our hands clutching opposite ends of the vegetable

as if it meant the difference between survival

and a slow wasting death, 

we locked eyes in a grim battle 

of foraging supremacy. 

 

“Go ahead, take it,” she said, shaking her head. 

“What does it matter? Who needs a cucumber? 

Haven’t you heard? It’s the end times.”

 

Now normally I try not to get into discussions

while shopping, where I find desolation

and abomination aplenty, not to mention 

tribulations in the checkout line.

But the woman looked so distraught even the bunnies 

on her slippers had little screamy faces.

 

“Oh, it’s not as bad as that, is it? Look at this

tomato? Have you ever seen such a masterpiece? 

Almost a shame to eat it. I’d put it on my mantel if I could.”

I paused and smiled at the woman, but she wasn’t

buying it. 

 

“You poor stupid schmuck,” she said. “Yes, go 

buy your beautiful tomato and don’t forget your cucumber. 

Make yourself a divine salad and enjoy your last meal

while you look out your window and watch the world end.”

 

Her comment returned me to the salad I planned 

to toss that night, and I grabbed a head of romaine

and some radishes. “What makes you think the world

is coming to an end?” I asked as non-judgmentally

as I could, deciding while I was at it to grab some 

carrots, mushrooms, and a red cabbage.

 

  

“Open your eyes,” she said. “Downtown’s underwater

and the hills are on fire. They’re rioting in the streets 

and the locusts are eating everything. 

Arabs and Jews still at each other’s throats. 

Forty countries now at war while nuclear weapons are being 

baked liked cookies. And just look at that wilted lettuce. 

What is the world coming to?”

 

Tears streamed down her face and she began to wail

and gnash her teeth, which for some strange reason

I have always found irresistibly appealing,

though the streaks and gobs of mascara

around her eyes made her look like a crazed panda.

 

“There, there,” I said, which seemed at the time

a pretty dumb thing to say but was all I could think of,

having recently heard it in a Turner Classic movie 

starring Jimmy Stewart. 

 

Tenderly I dabbed her eyes with my handkerchief, 

which fortunately was still unused that morning.

I put my arm around her and we walked together

out the store, stopping only briefly in 

the checkout line to pay for my produce.

 

And that night, we made a salad that couldn’t be beat,

then gripped each other tightly and watched in wonder 

as the sun got redder and redder in the west, swelling to 

twice its size before bursting apart into those magic colors 

you see only at times like these. 

_____

Gene Twaronite is a Tucson poet, essayist, and children’s fiction writer. He is the author of ten books, including two juvenile fantasy novels as well as collections of essays, short stories, and poems. His first poetry book Trash Picker on Mars was the winner of the 2017 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Arizona poetry. Other poetry collections include The Museum of Unwearable Shoes and What the Gargoyle Sees, published by Kelsay Books. Follow more of Gene’s writing at his website: thetwaronitezone.com.

“Still Dancing (behind the glass)” a memoir excerpt by Katherine Davis

At the time of my bone marrow transplant for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, without retrospect’s safety net, morning came. I remember the scent of bagels from a biscuit shop across the street from the hospital. Sprinklers doused flower beds of marigolds, daffodils, daisies. I walked with my mother and sister to Swedish Hospital on Pill Hill in Seattle, entered, heard the elevator doors closing, sealing me off from the world of people worried about getting to work, kids scrambling for buses, sunlight amid trees. I did feel lucky that the official Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center inpatient facility didn’t have room for me. Devoted only to transplant patients, it seemed a dark forbidding place. Death, a gentleman in top hat and overcoat, held the door for families who walked in and didn’t leave. Instead, I would be committed to Eleven South West, a wing of the huge Swedish Hospital which the Hutch used for overflowing cancer cases. I much preferred being in a place called “Swedish” which conjured images of vigorous blond women, meatballs, and massages. Also, I liked it because it seemed more normal—white and sterile, instead of sinister and shadowy—and teeming with diversity. I may have been preparing for a torturous exit, but in the same facility, there were babies being born, tonsillectomies, broken arms, concussions, heart attacks. I didn’t want to be surrounded only by people like me. In Swedish, there were different dramas taking place, more like living than death. 

Despite having visions of nineteenth-century asylums, I entered my laminar airflow room on 11 SW in April 1986 with relief and terror. It certainly was not the torture pit of my nightmares. But it was horrifying in its anonymity. Welcome to the institution, baby! There was one hospital bed in front of a wall chock full of mysterious equipment—suction tubes, pumps, monitors, gauges, plugs. There were two chairs covered in blue vinyl, a television, stationary bicycle, clothes cupboard, and tray on wheels. From the hospital corridor, you entered a small room, a vestibule where you anointed yourself before seeing me. Okay, you actually scrubbed your hands with antiseptic soap and put on a surgical mask to protect me from germs. During my pre-transplant chemotherapy, you also had to don shoe covers, gown, and paper cap. It was actually fun after a while to watch the doctors go through all this just to see me, made me feel like royalty instead of a usual denizen of purgatory. Once dressed and cleansed, you could pass through a second very solid door, making sure the door to the general corridor was closed first, letting no germs in. The bathroom and wall with television were to your left, the bed to your right. Opposite the door, a huge window with triple-paned glass looked down on a magnificent view of St. James Cathedral. In the distance, there was Puget Sound. If this had been a hotel, I would have been very impressed. The triple-paned glass on the window was to ensure no breeze permeated my atmosphere; I was to live on rarified air pumped in through special vents. At the time, I also thought the extra panes discouraged despairing patients from jumping—momentary flight, then nothingness. 

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“eBay Violin” by Yongsoo Park

Because even his mid-life crisis takes only frugal turns and it would never occur to him to pay extra for shipping, the violin arrives just when he forgets about it. The mailman doesn’t even bother to bring it to the door but leaves it instead with a perfunctory wave just inside the periphery of his front yard.

He has to dig it out from among the ferns and brings it inside while his children and a boy from next door are playing under the canopy of a giant pine tree, which some of his neighbors have been passive-aggressively nudging him to do something about lest it keel over and cause god-knows-what damage. But such are concerns of grown-ups with too much time on their hands. The children are engrossed in their game and don’t even ask him about his strange-shaped parcel.

The last time he touched a violin was when TVs still came with adjustable antennas and telephones had rotary dials. He doesn’t remember what that violin, with which he took lessons with a self-proclaimed maestro named Mr. Kreutzer for five years, cost, but his eBay violin cost just 38 dollars, including shipping. It’s a frightening sum considering that it traveled to his home all the way from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

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“Natural History” by Kurt Luchs

I.

Today we studied the ruins.

Your eyelashes were already a legend among the Byzantines.

Once, I believed you could read the stars,

perhaps even read your own mind.

Yet you can’t feel your own grave

rushing at you with its mouth open,

the branches of that place soaked in a green light,

the clenched teeth of the moon.

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“Stuck in Detroit: A Memoir of Christmas Past” by Janet I. Buck

Spending the holidays in the Detroit airport is an overrated experience, no matter how many faces of happy customers they have pasted in the corridors. Mark and I hadn’t seen his parents and siblings for three long years and we were looking forward to some great big hugs and long-awaited homemade pecan pie, only to be found in the confines of Dayton, Ohio. To make a long story short, we never made it there. The rest of the saga made a Chevy Chase Christmas look like a free honeymoon in Hawaii.

Now, Dad did warn us that they were having a little snow back there — courtesy of some lovely photo attachments sporting him toying with his neat little snow blower on the driveway. Since we get about two snowflakes every three years here in Southern Oregon, I thought the whole thing looked like a precious Rockwell painting. “Just a little snow,” as it turned out, stretched from their doorstep right up to New York City. Unaware of the rapidly deteriorating weather, we put a few magazines and a book in a carry-on and headed to the Medford airport.   Continue reading

Poetry by David L. Paxton

Amalgamation 

 

Brain rocked dry spell,

this green fist

recovering, finger

joints swelled

 

plush flesh and hair

overly

mortared

 

with supposed despair

negative words

followed by shakes, caught

 

sitting through night

until red daybreak

catches itself up

and yellows to work.

 

Rain hangs

misting silent live oaks,

leaves dropping on trucks

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Poetry by KG Newman

Outside The Metro

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“Error: User_Interface,” a short story by Rose Kinney

This isn’t the call Joan is waiting for. The call she’s waiting for, as she stares into the guts of the vintage purple GameCube she doesn’t have the skill to fix, is from Miku. Miku, who wears half of her hair in a ponytail and uses too much garlic when she cooks, who knows exactly which of Joan’s shit to call her out on and which shit can’t be helped, who understood Joan better after one year than Joan’s family had after twenty-eight. She can’t help but pick it over, the moment she noticed the blot of dissatisfaction in Miku three nights ago.

Joan had been slumped on the couch in her apartment, giggling as Miku finished her impromptu performance of “It’s Your Move” by Diana Ross. Miku took a bow, perched across Joan’s lap, and placed her hands on either side of Joan’s face. The ceiling fan clicked rhythmically. An upstairs neighbor slammed a door. Miku smiled lopsidedly, bringing her face closer to Joan’s. A flush burned Joan’s cheeks and she looked away. After a moment, Miku sighed. She detached herself from Joan and stared at the ceiling. “I guess you’d like for me to go, then,” she said, her eyebrows raised.

“No, no,” Joan had replied, too quickly, “You don’t have to.” 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.

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