Literary as hell.

Tag: furious gazelle (Page 1 of 8)

Poetry by Simon Perchik

You limp the way a stream

will soothe a single rock

and along the bottom

remembers this path

as darkness and dry leaves

though you don’t look down

–you hear it’s raining :the hush

not right now but at night

these cinders float to the surface

keep one foot swollen, the other

has so little and for a long time now

the listening in secret.

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Poetry by Holly Day

The Next Day


The alarm went off and we found that the world

hadn’t ended, that all the ramblings of the church elders

weren’t true. My husband sighed and rolled out of bed

found there were only dirty clothes left for him to wear

sighed again, dressed, went to work. 


I could hear birds chirping in the yard

a squirrel on the roof, cars

passing on the road out front. 

I held onto my dreams of apocalypse

for a few moments longer, savoring visions

of the angels, the devastation

that could still be waiting just outside the door. 


Butterfly Cage


when I was pregnant, all of my dreams

were about snakes. as much as I tried

to dream only about baby kittens, baby puppies

human babies, my nights would be filled

with twisting pythons gathered in knots

inside me, their slick skin undulating

in the dark, pushing and bumping as if

trying to find a way out.


friends without children would ask me 

what it was like to be pregnant and I’d

have to lie. I was so worried that

imagining the baby inside me was a coiled serpent

in my stomach

meant that I was already a bad mother

meant something was wrong with my baby.


“It’s like being a butterfly house, ” I’d say instead.

“I’m all full of fluttering butterflies.” I’d put his or her hand

on my straining stomach as I spoke, whispering

“Can you feel them move? Can you feel it?


Isn’t it wonderful?”


The Light


We wait for the bombs to feel us out

pass the potatoes, say grace over the odd angels

that have watched over us for years

through the stained-glass windows of old churches

through the eyes of Orthodox iconography. This is a moment of peace

that will never come again.


Through the windows, the strength of distant concussions

fold trees in half, take grain silos and snap power lines. 

We turn up the gas, clear the dinner table

I put a knife in your hand, just in case.


The sky grows as dark as if seen through closed eyes

windows shake and fly apart. Hands

over their eyes, I stretch out next to the children

tell them it’s just the sound of His voice, there’s nothing 

to be afraid of,  it’ll all work out in the end. 


Dirty American Poem #3


the soldiers didn’t seem to care

that the hotel we were staying in

was haunted. they didn’t seem even a little interested

when we told them chairs were moving all by themselves

that we could hear voices whispering in the bathroom pipes

that the clocks had all stopped exactly at midnight.


the people in the streets outside

didn’t seem to care either, seemed more concerned with

pushing back against the soldiers, standing ground

in front of their own crumbling, possibly haunted hovels

seemed more annoyed than anything when we

said we needed to find another place to stay. 


Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).

Flash fiction by Michael Prihoda

Excerpts from “The Years,” a collection of interrelated flash fictions

by Michael Prihoda


The Year of Problems

Our parents have problems.

The man bagging groceries at the local Meijer has problems.
Steven has problems.
Gary has problems.
I think one time you mentioned how the dental hygienist attending the initial cleaning of your front molars referenced her recent, razor-edged divorce, which, I have to say, makes me think she has a host of nearly illimitable problems.
Joanna has problems.
The last barista I ordered a drink from (please, not Starbucks; whatever I am I am not that) didn’t pull the ristretto correctly and I tasted the off-ness in every sip, probably would have enjoyed the drink otherwise, but just knowing the mess-up, the goof, was enough to put me off from the whole coffee drinking enterprise but then again I didn’t go up and complain, realizing somewhere subconsciously that I should have ordered a Gibraltar or even a café miel because at least the honey would take the edge from whatever mistake could have been made (excepting, of course, an over-eager dusting of cinnamon, which definitely happened once, though I let it slide because the barista that time was cute and yeah, standing, waiting for my drink, I thought about how exactly I might tip her head just so to meet my lips and how much tongue I would use and if she wore chapstick/lip gloss what kind it might be and if that would somehow be a turn-on or else perversely anti-arousing because it magically reverberated with the same natural flavors in my body wash, purchased from the health store down the road from the coffee bar where they faulted my ristretto). All of this meaning the barista who served me my ristretto has, at least, a singular problem.
Vincent has problems.
You have problems.
I have problems. Lots of them. Since the year of my birth.

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Dadaism Revisited by Tina Garvin

Dadaism Revisited

Gobs of various colors have burned themselves into my retinas. So that red blinks white and white blinks black. I stood so long and stared the way children stare at light bulbs. Bespeckled everything I saw for hours afterward. Jackson Pollock, an egoist with an unnatural ability to paint feeling. The way colors feel. Like taking a beautiful natural rainbow, unraveling, mangling, cutting it into bits and throwing it into a blender. It’s the art that we are sure we had created in some fit of rage in kindergarten. When all you needed was a grey crayon for your elephant.

Angry at the injustice of it all, you scribbled frantically in every other color, especially red. Maybe you even went over to the other tables and scribbled on the other classmates drawings, no one could stop you. Or when you were painting the walls around the ceiling and the phone rang; a startled splatter of paint that made it beyond the masking tape barrier, you stared at it for a split second, you contemplated signing just under it: “Jackson Pollock was here” and the date but instead go out to buy a gallon of ceiling white. Continue reading

An Afternoon in Brooklyn by Joseph Giordano

An Afternoon in Brooklyn

by Joseph Giordano

There was a knock on the door, and I froze like the flash of a strobe. My Glock was on the metal-top kitchen table, and the apartment entrance faced me. I clicked off the whirr of the portable fan. Sweat clung the shirt to my back. I wiped my palms on jeans. I dropped behind a wooden chair and steadied my aim with the seat. My temples throbbed. The wall clock ticked like a metronome. I glanced at the fire escape outside the window. A car honked, tires screeched, and a woman screamed for her kid to get out of the street.
The knock came again. Louder.
Should I shoot through the door? Maybe I had time to shimmy down the fire escape?
The muffled voice of my landlady, Mrs. Scaramucci, came through. “Mr. Tomasina, I’ve come for the rent.”
Was it a trap? Her voice was calm. I stepped silently to the door and looked through the peephole. The lens stretched her face like a float balloon. She was alone. I slid the Glock into the small of my back and cracked the door.
Mrs. Scaramucci’s flower-patterned housecoat hung down to her calves where elastic hose bunched up around blue-snake veins and tassel-toed slippers. She smelled like damp mold.
“Mrs. Scaramucci, rent isn’t due until the fifteenth of the month.”
She gave me a sly look. “Two men showed up at my door, grande e brutto. The ugly one had a glass eye. They asked for you.” She wallowed in the news.
My gut went queasy, but I kept my face impassive. Beppe Lerma’s nickname was mal occhio after he lost an eye in a bar fight. He baseball batted his opponent into a paraplegic.
I focused on my breathing to slow my heart rate.
Mrs. Scaramucci tilted her head. “I told them nothing; maybe they were tax collectors. If you’re leaving, I want the rent.”
Scaramucci collected rent in cash. Paranoia about an IRS audit kept her from fingering me.
“Mrs. Scaramucci, I’ll pay when it’s due. I’m busy.”
She peered past me. I closed the door and turned the dead bolt.
I went to the front room of the railroad apartment and peeked at the street through the screen. Meat hung in the window of the butcher across the street. A few patrons entered the sawdust-covered floor. The owner of the corner bicycle shop replaced a flat tire. He had greasy hands. A red city bus rumbled down the street. The window glass vibrated, and I smelled diesel fumes. Alternate Side Parking was in effect. Cars had been shifted from the day before. A gray puff of exhaust belched from a black Lincoln I hadn’t seen. Its tinted windows were rolled up, but there were a number of spent cigarette butts on the sidewalk near the driver’s side. My stomach churned acid. Probably Lerma got a hit on my description at the D’Agostino’s where I shopped. Now he and his crew waited to pop me when I came onto the street. Continue reading

“Sylvia’s Birthday Party,” by Irving A. Greenfield

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.

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“Sparklers and Snakes,” by Jack Helbig

Sparklers and Snakes

by Jack Helbig


“There’s one. And there’s one. And there’s one. There’s one.” This is my sister, Gretchen snorting and counting bad perms.
“There’s another one!” laughs Bonnie. She sits behind me by the window.
“Bad perm.”
“Oh god, look at that one!”
Trish doesn’t say a thing; I notice she’s been very quiet this trip.
It’s the summer of 1975 and I just got my license last April. This is my first summer driving, and since my sister has a much busier social life than I do (this was the summer I discovered I had no friends) I have become her de facto chauffeur. The three of them squish together in the back seat of our second car, a 1964 VW bug.
We pull over onto the grass by the side of the road and I jump out, planning to open the door and bow theatrically as they emerge. I have done this before. I think it makes me seem kind of European and elegant, but it drives my sister crazy.  “Cameron, we can do it.” she says, pushing the seat forward the moment we stop, reaching for the door handle from the back seat.
By the time I got around the car, Bonnie is scooching out of the seat, butt first. I don’t want to look like I want to watch this, so I turn around and look at the fireworks stands.
There were three of them. Set up under tents  at the Shell Station, at the Clark Station, and next to the Hager Farms farm stand. This is the year before the bicentennial, so things are not over the top patriotic yet. But there is a large American flag flapping at the Shell Station. Under it on the pole is a Missouri state flag and a black P.O.W./M.I.A “You are not forgotten.” flag.   The flag at the Hager Farms farm stand is smaller, but there are four of them, stuck in the ground at each corner of the tent. In front of the Clark station, there is a huge fiberglass man, originally Paul Bunyan, with a beard, stocking cap, and overalls, but his overalls and cap had been given red and white stripes and his beard was painted white.  Uncle Sam as lumberjack.

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Poetry by Allison Grayhurst

The fault of sages

Love was there

spreading hope like jam over my taste buds.

Then the first skipping rope broke,

got snared on a fence and frayed.

I stole away on a subway train where

hundreds have gone walking into a warzone.

Amen to the end and the predator’s

happy-go-lucky disposition. One claw,

one tentacle, in flowing precise motion.

Another lifetime and it may be different,

tender as lovers beneath their first full moon,

or worse, like cartilage deteriorating.

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“Sister Holly,” by Alex Haber

Sister Holly

by Alex Haber


At the far end of our street there is a cul-de-sac, a dead end of houses removed from our proper neighborhood. We gather in the woods behind the cul-de-sac in a clubhouse built at the top of a tree, titled with an old bar sign one of us stole from the rubble of a nearby fire: The Rusty Nail.
From our clubhouse we can see into the houses of the cul-de-sac. Two of the properties are owned by old hags, the ancient Agmon sisters, whose rundown houses face each other across the street. Other than to investigate the strange whirring noises that come from their bedrooms at night, we’ve had no reasons to study them.
The third house, painted pale yellow so that it stands out from the plain white others, and with large, uncurtained windows, belongs to Sister Holly. Sister Holly is the youngest nun we’ve ever seen – all of us students at the Catholic boys’ high school. She must be just a few years older than us, and she doesn’t teach, as far as we know. Each day she leaves her house in full uniform, heading to an unknown place: a convent in the city, we imagine, or some other queer religious institute. Our parents call her Sister Holly – the italics a tone in their voices – when referencing her.
“Poor Mary Miller,” says my mother to my aunt one evening at the kitchen table. Across the room my father sits in his usual chair, whittling a piece of wood into some sort of knick-knack. “That daughter of hers is going to end up in the family way.”
“A disciple of Sister Holly,” says my aunt.
Our street is full of these sayings, these innuendos, though we’ve never seen anyone at the pale yellow house but its owner. In the clubhouse we share our findings, trying to understand the young nun.
“Ms. Hamel said she’s had an abortion.”
“Who’s Ms. Hamel?”
“She works at the clinic.”
“You’ve never been to any clinic.”
“She got expelled from the convent. That’s why she can’t teach in town.”
“I’d confess my sins to Sister Holly any day.”

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