The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: writing (page 1 of 35)

“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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“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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“Eyes and Teeth,” a poem by John Tustin

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“The Body Remembers” by C. Christine Fair

To you, I was always “Bob’s bastard,”
A reminder that someone touched her before you.

 

My body remembers your grease-stained, gnarled fists
smashing my pink flesh to bone.

 

My body remembers your steel-toed shoes
ploughing into my belly and back.
Sometimes mom begged you to stop.
Sometimes she sobbed, immobile.
Sometimes she looked away.

 

Though you’ve been dead for years,
You live here now.

 

Imprisoned in the body of the girl you despised.

 

 

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“Chasing the Light” by Will Maguire

Years agoit was many lives agoI worked nights in Manhattan. Some people call that grave shifting or paying dues. Others call it chasing the light.

To stay awake I used to buy coffee at Smilers, the deli on 7th Ave in the Village. Usually around 3 am.

Every night on a crate in front of Smilers sat an old black man. White hair, blind. I think he was mildly autistic. He rocked back and forth endlessly. Like Ray Charles caught in the groove. Next to the crate was a boom box, and a simple handwritten sign: Please.   Continue reading

“I long to enter the unholy…” by Kurt Luchs

Artwork by Sarah Walko

Art by Sarah Walko

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“The Storms” by John Grey

Often at night,

when the sky seems as close as it does now,

and the trees tense up

as if knowing the clouds will soon break,

and the light’s an eerie shade of gray,

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“Targets,” an essay by Kay Smith-Blum

Who breaks their arm planting bulbs? Well, technically, I was retrieving bulbs, from a box on the other side of the low-rise-industrial-wire fence they put up around small urban gardens at street level to keep out the dogs that don’t keep out the dogs. Why build a fence just high enough for me to trip over? This question begets an annoying answer. The kind of answer that targets you, relentless as the sunrise. Most wouldn’t trip over it. The fact that I did is a visceral confirmation of aging, a steady and sure march to death, bringing with it the accidents of youth.

The virus is also on the march and the Governor has closed my pool eliminating the aquatic option to recovering my range of motion. So, here I am—albeit four staggeringly painful and miraculous-in-the-fact-my-bone-healed-at-my-age months later—in physical therapy, a risk of a different kind. 

Kim, my physical therapist, announced on Tuesday I should have worn a mask. They had sent an email. One I deleted before reading as I do most irritatingly-perky missives that fill up my inbox with random products, services or advice on healthy choices I thought I wanted to make. In the wake of the virus, I’ve decided I’m healthy enough for someone who may die soon and has long planned on dying at year seventy-five. Which is the perfect age to do so, and I could tell you why but I won’t digress.

On Thursday, I arrive orange bandana-bound. I insert my disinfected credit card for the co-pay. I Purell my hands and look right. A talkative young man, without a mask, seated on the banquette adjoining the front counter, his body twisted toward the receptionist, is chattering non-stop. His way-too-low pant waist is way-too-revealing. He twists again, his white fleshy cheeks pressing against the rust vinyl cushion in cringe worthy fashion. This can’t be the hygienic standard to which they aim.

The machine buzzes. I extract my card and whisper. “He needs to pull up his pants.”   Continue reading

“Pabst Blue Ribbon with Cat on Lap and November Rain” by James Croal Jackson

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