Dan Pinkerton

Poetry, WINTER 2012

AVOIDANCE AS OLYMPIC SPORT

I’m landlocked, tethered, riveted by some
game I’ve never heard of, guys in Speedos
agitating a pool, trying to toss

a volleyball through a net. I always
thought this contest was cooked up by my eighth
grade gym coach, yet here it is on primetime,

starring a crew of husky undergrads
from Stanford, amid ads for Coke Zero
and restless leg remedies. The summer

Olympiad, and I’m avoiding my
mother. I’ve failed in my filial bonds
again, this time through inaction. After

I went AWOL, my father tried to mow
the yard himself, a non-sanctioned contest
that left him in spasms. I feel ugly

for being branded by guilt—and, I guess,
for being a bad seed. My suggestion
that my parents get a goat now seems gauche,

maybe even “got their goat.” So I turn
back to this synchronized water soccer
or whatever, soaking myself in it,

able to feel both reprehensible
on a private level while misty-eyed
with pride for my swim-suited countrymen.


CODE

My name became freighted, oblique, dumb,
the clattering on my teeth and tongue
a hammer drawing forth a sword-edge.

The handle was how people held fast,
and I could feel their grip loosening.
I lost weight, became veined and brittle,

was handed an album of photos
allegedly of me which I burned
that same day in the fire. I began

wiping my fingerprints from every
surface. Yet people kept sharing with
me the cruel ligatures of their lives,

the rip currents, the infirmities,
as though these were remarkable gifts.
By way of reply I read numbers

from a screen, a prosperity code
no one had solved. This did not salve
many wounds or win many fresh friends

but I was paid handsomely for it—
so handsomely, in fact, that I grew
contemptuous of the jeweled face

staring me down, spewing its numbers
as I held the blade to its jaw. It
was not my own, you must believe me.

____________________________________

Dan Pinkerton lives in Des Moines, Iowa. Poems of his have appeared in New Orleans Review, Boston Review, Indiana Review, Subtropics, Willow Springs, and Sonora Review, among others.

Peter DeMarco

Fiction, WINTER 2012

LITTLE LEAGUE

The barmaid puts a coaster down.  I tell her to make me something pretty.  Thirty secondslater a Tequila Sunrise appears.

Perfect, I smile.

The gray winter deadness had robbed everything of any spirit.  It was nice to see some
color.

Merry Christmas, she says.

You too, I reply.  It takes me a couple of minutes to realize that besides me and the
barmaid, there’s only one other person in here: the dancer, alone in a red spotlight.

____________________________________

The construction job lays me off for the month.  Typical winter plan for laborers.

At home, I rearrange the furniture.  The living room hadn’t been used in years.  It was
like a museum, old paintings, old furniture, old carpet.

I figure some of the rooms could use a facelift so I stop at the hardware store for paint.
On my way home I pull into Dunkin’ Donuts.  On line is a guy named Jimmy I haven’t seen in
years.  He grew up five houses away.  After high school, he got married, had a son, and moved in
with his parents, who still lived in the neighborhood.

He’s a quarter short so I put down two dimes and a nickel.  Henry, whatta you know, he
says, thanks.

How’s it going, Jimmy.

You know, same old shit. He grabs his bag and we walk outside, over to his pest control
truck.  Merry Christmas, he says, and then drives off.

I hadn’t stood that close to him since he beat me up in the boy’s bathroom for not helping
him on a science test.  He even put a Swiss army knife to my cheek.  The answer he wanted was
a guy’s name, where each letter stood for a color on the spectrum, or something like that.

RoyGBiv. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

I wondered if he even remembered that.

It was about the only thing I remembered from high school.

____________________________________

The weekend is cold, with thick snow clouds forming.  The smell of fresh paint in the
house is inspiring.  I get an idea and make another trip to the hardware store.  I buy seven cans of
paint.  At home, I retrieve the ladder from behind the house.

I start with a coat of red.

Six hours later, the job is complete.
______________________________________

The sound of the doorbell feels alien.  Aside from Halloween, it was moribund.

Jimmy and his son stand on my stoop.  His son, around 10, holds a hockey stick and
wears a goalie helmet, decorated with flames.

Have you flipped out, Jimmy asks.

What do you mean?

Your fucking house, man.

What about it.

It’s ugly, his son says.

Remember RoyGBiv, I say to Jimmy.

What?

Forget it.

We have to live on this block.

I thought we could use some color around here.

I’m serious, Henry, paint your fucking house something normal.

___________________________________

I put the garbage cans at the curb as Jimmy’s son walks by with a couple of friends.  It’s
been a week since they confronted me about the house.  He’s an amorphous boy, and from the
way he spoke that day on my stoop, I could tell he was going to be a hell of a bully.  He stares at
the house and tells me that his dad is going to be pissed.  That’s between me and your dad, I say.
He walks away and calls back that his dad is going to kick my ass.  His friends laugh.

______________________________

The topless dancer at the bar says she used to have purple hair during her punk rock
stage.  And she’s also Mensa.  I don’t know much about Mensa types other than they’re
supposed to be very smart.  Smart in what way I didn’t know.  Her fiancée is also Mensa, she
tells me.  It’s her third fiancée.  I’m thinking that maybe being smart didn’t stop making you a
fool for love.

We do a shot of Jack Daniels and talk about DeNiro movies.  I like the movie where he
played a priest, she says.  I tell her it was True Confessions.  Then I talk about the first DeNiro
movie I ever saw.  He played a baseball player who died of cancer, and my mother happened to
be in the hospital at the time with cancer, and after watching the movie I threw my baseball
glove into the garbage can.  My father wanted to have a catch with me one day, and I told him I
lost the glove, and he looked at me with such disappointment.

You’re sweet, she says and touches my cheek.

Can we have coffee sometime, I ask.

I’m getting married.  Didn’t I tell you.

I forgot.

You’re silly, she says.  Her words are slurred.

I watch her dance for a little while.  Her movements are minimal.  Guys slip dollar bills
into her G-string.

On the drive home, I think about my old glove.  The last time I used it was in the Little
League Championship game.  Jimmy was a teammate.  We lost in the final inning when I
dropped the ball in right field.  I needed glasses but didn’t know it at the time.  Everyone walked
away to their parents’ cars without saying anything.  Except Jimmy.

You suck, he yelled.

Whey I get home, my headlights expose something written on the driveway in giant
letters.  The word asshole, in orange chalk.  Probably Jimmy’s kid.  I park the car in the street
and get out my seven paint cans.  Two hours later the colorful driveway looks like something out
of The Wizard of Oz.

_________________________________

In the Spring, I get a job at Home Depot.  The smell reminds me of the plumbing story
my father owned.

I unload trucks and offer customers advice about patio furniture and lawn mowers.
One afternoon Jimmy confronts me in the parking lot of Home Depot.  It’s lunchtime and
he smells of beer.  The neighbors are talking about you Henry, he says.  They think you need
some help.

That’s none of their business.

Maybe you should think of moving.  Isn’t that house too big for one person.

I’m comfortable.

Think hard about it Henry.  He lights a cigarette and walks away.

_______________________________

Kids play baseball in the street.  I take a break from cleaning out the gardens and show
them how to line up their knuckles on the bat.  My father had a tryout once for a semi-pro team
and passed that tip onto us when we were kids.

They’re playing two against two, self-hitting a softball.  The white bases have faded over
the years.  Our neighbor’s oldest son painted them when he came home from Vietnam.  He’d sit
on the stoop and watch us for hours.

Maybe it was time to move on.  I didn’t use most of the rooms in the house.  I had a
cousin in California who worked as an extra in movies and invited me to live with him.  He said
you stand around until someone with a bullhorn called for background noise, which was the cue
for the extras to begin their fake talking.

It wasn’t much in the way of celebrity, he’d said, but at least it was the movies.

___________________________

One night, a crash wakes me up.  I look out the window and see pieces of glass sparkling
under my driveway floodlights.  There’s a hole in my windshield.

In the morning, I make coffee and walk outside.  A brick sits on my front seat.  There’s
some writing on the brick, in orange chalk.  I think about calling the police.  But then I figure
they wouldn’t understand RoyGBiv.
____________________________

Over the next month there’s the occasional bit of vandalism.  Turned over garbage cans, a
flat tire.  Jimmy’s kid plays down the street with his friends.  Street hockey, touch football.
Once, I drove by and saw orange chalk lines in the street, delineating sports boundaries.  The kid
gave me his middle finger.

At the topless bar I ask about the dancer who was getting married, the DeNiro fan.  The
barmaid tells me that they broke up.  I leave my phone number with a note about going to a
movie.  I’ll pass it along, she says.

The summer heats up and I take the pool cover off.  I get the property in shape, green
grass, weeded gardens, pruned bushes.  The RoyGBiv color scheme of the house appears to clash
with the natural colors of nature.  But before you knew it, winter would be back, and you could
never have too much color anyway.

The roar of a car engine wakes me up one night.

My lawn is torn up by tire tracks.

Motherfucker, I say to nobody.

___________________________

In the topless bar parking lot the Mensa dancer gets out of her car.  I walk across the
gravel and say, hey, DeNiro fan, remember me.  She smiles and says that she rented the movie I
told her about and it made her cry.

I wrote you a note, I say.

Yes, that was sweet, really, I’m sorry, I’m just not ready.

Is it because I’m a guy who goes to topless bars?

I met my last fiancee here.

If you find yourself engaged again, we’ve got some good stuff at Home Depot.

Any other movie recommendations?

Try Taxi Driver.
_____________________________

One night after work I’m talked into going to a bachelor party for one of the managers.
Since I don’t associate with many people I’m surprised to be included.

We eat at a steakhouse and then everyone decides to visit the topless bar.

When we arrive I see the Mensa woman dancing.

I stand by the droning Pac-Mac machine.  The groom says he’s the happiest he’s ever
been and that his friends have arranged for him to fuck the dancer when she’s finished.

I leave my drink on the bar and go out to my car.  A quiet August night.

The bachelor party group bounces out.  They high-five each other and scatter to separate
cars.  Twenty minutes later, the Mensa dancer walks out wearing a back pack.

She disappears behind the building.  A minute later her car appears.  I attempt to wave
her down but I’m too late.  She pulls away and I stand there while the exhaust fills my nose, and
I get a perverse pleasure from it, pretending it’s a special kind of perfume, meant only for me.
_____________________________

One afternoon, on my way home from work, a detour on a side road sends me down a
street where a Little League baseball game is being played on my old elementary school
diamond.  I decide to pull in and watch.  It’s been years since I watched any kind of ballgame.  I
take a seat on wooden bleachers.

Jimmy is coaching his son’s team.

He doesn’t notice me.  I make a move to leave but his son, the pitcher, screams at the
shortstop who has dropped a pop up.

Stay calm, Jimmy yells, three more outs and the championship is ours.

I sit back down.

The kid gets two quick outs with strikeouts.  Then the next two batters single.  We can tie
this up, the coach of the other team yells.

Jimmy smokes a cigarette.  His son winds up and delivers.  The sound that the bat makes
with the ball is a fatal one if you happen to be cheering for Jimmy’s team.  Catch it, his son
pleads to the sky, but the right fielder takes too many steps in and the ball is gone.  Three runners
cross the plate.

Game over.

In a span of about three seconds, the pitcher collides with his outfielder. Jimmy, cigarette
in mouth, does nothing to stop him.

I move down the bleachers and pick up a stray aluminum bat.

In the outfield, Jimmy’s kid is moving his chubby fist in piston-like precision up and
down on the boy’s nose.

You fucking suck, he yells over and over.
I line up my cold hands along the grip like my father once showed me and I swing it with
the kind of grace that would’ve made him proud.

_____________________________________________

Peter DeMarco teaches high school English and film in New York City.  He was first
published in The New York Times when he wrote about hanging out with his idol, writer
Mickey Spillane.  His short story “The Fireman” was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart
Prize.  He was a 4th place finalist in the Bartleby Snopes Dialogue contest.  Peter’s
stories have appeared online in Prime Number Magazine, decomP, Red Lightbulbs,  
Monkeybicycle, SmokeLong Quarterly, Flashquake, Verbsap, Pindeldyboz,  
Hippocampus, and Dogzplot.  Peter’s debut novella, “Background Noise,” was recently
published by Pangea Books.  Peter lives in New Jersey with his wife Charmaine, and
two boys.

Barry Seiler

Poetry, WINTER 2012

OUR STARS 

Our stars wear wooden shoes.
When they date it’s always Dutch.
If you hear them clap along,
Say these are almost human
Footfalls I hear. And as they fade,
Say I wasn’t far from right.

Too often they get in Dutch.
When they walk, it’s always away
From the scenes of accidents. Theirs
Are the grand embarrassments.
Say this makes them almost human,
Almost near enough to touch.

Touch them if you can, firmly,
As a Dutch uncle might
To impress some word of advice.
And if they walk away embarrassed
Into the almost human dark,
Clap along as their footsteps fade.

______________________________________

Barry Seiler is the author of four volumes of poetry. His most recent book, Frozen Falls, published in 2001 by the University of Akron Press, was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize. He lives in a very small town in the Catskills

Joel Peckham

Poetry, WINTER 2012

HUSKS

1.

A Chevy up on blocks is only an eyesore
to the faithless.

2.

—Keeper of exhaled breath, watcher
of what was, arc of stutter, shudder
and cough, chamber of wants, of
spent muscle in the thighs
and backs and jaws—When all

that’s left is shell and rust, what waits

to be reborn? This old
muscular husk churns—
rusted country roads and half-
abandoned parking lots.
I could spend a life pointing
at miracles of light that pass
though spiders-silk of shattered
windshields. Nothing aches so like
the broken spine of a drive-
shaft, nothing yearns like this engine
turning over in the pre-dawn light.

THIS SONG

Out of the yearning of cool moss, the long note
comes, quivers, spreads, brooding its way
with April mist along the stone shore, having reached
so far and sung beyond the lung’s capacity, beyond
what blistered vocal chords can bear: bird-boned, light
and dangerous with land and air and breath that lifts
sound like a shell in wind. Fish glisten in their nets,
pulled from deep shadow. Huge arms heavy
with bait and blood, fishermen stumble into dawn,
along the rocking docks where canneries whistle
and bang with a wind that stings of salt and cold
and all that looms in the distance, hovering

like tall tales and ghost ships. The coast
a memory of all that is crushed and sifted,
taken away and settled again in accordance with no
scripture but constant movement, force, and power:
the way life comes wave after wave, wearing us down,
breaking us apart again in new, unrecognizable shapes
—a dune, a cliff, a sand-bar. Now, the first engines
stutter and purr their way into this morning song. What waits
to dance like David, naked, singing praise and anger to take us
as we are or sweep each voice away like sand eroding
and building again miles from the harbor?

__________________________________________________

Joel Peckham is the author of three poetry collections, Movers and Shakers, The Heat of What Comes, and Nightwalking. Recently Academy Chicago Publishers released his memoir, Resisting Elegy. Poems have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review and others. He lives with his family in Huntington WV.

Amanda Cobb

Poetry, WINTER 2012

YOU OWE ME A COKE

I married before I knew I preferred cats to dogs.
Your ex became a #1 shaman
when she threw you away.
Since then, luck. We begin to anticipate
the start and stick of words. You win
and I believe in knocking on wood,
bread and butter, salt on the tail of a bird—
so we drink and mean it.

What got us here:
simultaneity of our absolutions
and love so that I win too sometimes.

Though we’ll be owing our whole lives,
we’ll be dressing the same before we know it.
The days get dark.
The flies move less.
I could stop speaking altogether.
But I make a divot for every time I sound like me,
hammer out my belly like a steel drum
and sing carnival, car ni val.

And though I may worry about cracks and fizz,
you can cheer me up on the up-swing of the clock:
Once by going away and twice
by coming back.

______________________________

Amanda Cobb’s work has appeared in Verse Magazine online, Arts & Letters, Pebble Lake Review, Controlled Burn, Georgetown Review, Tygerburning and others. She was selected as the AWP Intro Prize winner in 2007 and have been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. She teaches English Composition and Creative Writing at West Virginia, where shes live with her husband and four children.

Allie Marini Batts

Poetry, WINTER 2012

appetizers

we sit, a bitter wine between us, vinegar to share in mismatched glasses.
we have a candle burning in the bottle from another lost night, dripping down the sides,
trails of wax in its wake, casting light on a jar of olives that we share.
I let you suck the pimentos from the center because I don’t like them,
not because you do.

______________________________

Allie Marini Batts is an alumna of New College of Florida. Her chapbook, “With This Ring” was a 2012 finalist for the Casey Shay Press annual Mary Ballard award. She is a research writer and is pursuing her MFA degree in Creative Writing through Antioch University Los Angeles. Allie’s publications can be found on her author’s blog or to read her book reviews and literary blogging, visit Bookshelf Bombshells.

 

Jim Krosschell

NonFiction, WINTER 2012

GRACE IS EVERYWHERE

The United Methodist Church that I commute past every day sports a message board out front, one of those old-fashioned, do-it-yourself jobs that you usually see advertising bean suppers at the Odd Fellows. The words change every month or so, to no definite schedule that I can see. Since I started taking notice last fall, there have been half a dozen cycles of messages, enough to suspect a pattern, or at least that the pastor’s not writing them. There are two completely different styles. The work’s been delegated to a Sign Committee.

One of the authors is clearly a nice deacon with a safe job and multiple kids, who perhaps anticipates the monthly consistory meeting with some trepidation. Has anyone posted comments on the church website? Is the pastor just indulging me as usual? He has his list of possibilities close to hand in case a new message is demanded. But the night gets late and he sits back in his chair in relief when the Sign Committee report – almost always the last item on the agenda – is passed over for lack of time, meaning general approbation, no criticism from the sheep or shepherds this month, and he can continue to drive by the old message in satisfaction for another few weeks.

For the holidays, starting just before Thanksgiving, he submitted “Give Thanks to the Holy One,” thus acknowledging in one simple phrase secular Turkey and sacred Christmas. He’s also undoubtedly the author of the new message I saw a couple of weeks ago, written perhaps in anticipation of the summer driving season: “On the Road Again: A Faith Journey.” Good, easy, clear intentions – no message for exegesis or paranoia that I can make out.

The other guy is much more interesting.

Last September he gave us “God is Watching You.” Both religiously and grammatically trained, I nearly stood at attention in my car. You might have expected, in a liberal city such as mine, that proselytizers would take a gentle approach. The friendly deacon would have posted the usual anodyne variation “God Is Watching over You,” or slightly more daringly, “God Is Watching out for You.” But GIWY’s lack of prepositions seems like a throwback to a harsher time, the 50s, or Newt Gingrich’s 1994, or maybe to the Tea Party’s view of the world in which people keep score on immigration and neighbors track secret socialists and canvassers for Greenpeace in their midst. United Methodist is not a congregation of Calvinists on the prairie, where this kind of message wouldn’t get a second thought. I don’t think Methodist ministers condone hellfire and damnation anymore. What gives?

I’d like to think that our man picks the messages with no thought at all – just another example of the mindless maxims that so often come out of the mouths of religious people. This is undoubtedly not true, or perhaps true of the other scribe. Most people put some thought into what they publish, if not into what they say or do. No, I believe that our second man is an elder of the church, perhaps a small-business owner, and he has in mind (1) a general indictment of the back-sliding ways of the atheists, agnostics, Jews, and Buddhists of Newton, Massachusetts, (2) someone definite: a straying church member, an apostate neighbor, a son goofing off in college, the female owner – single, plainly gay – of “Cloisonné” two doors down from him in the strip mall, or (3, cleverly) both.

He cemented my case in January when the holidays were over. “Give Thanks” came down, and “Grace is Everywhere” appeared. No more simple messages from Squanto and Jesus: dark winter is here, let’s put away childish thoughts and think about our anxious souls.

Now, I could be the paranoid one, of course, and the writer could merely be saying that people will be continuously comforted in all walks of life if only they care. I think not. I think he meant – again – that I am being furtively and comprehensively watched. I think he wants to play Bad Cop with a secret hankering for the brutal laws of the Old Testament. I think he’s a puritan with an eye on the sex-education curriculum and the agenda of the Gay-Straight Alliance in the high school across the street. He’s the one that chomps at the bit during consistory, wanting change and punishment. In this guy’s mind, the essence of religion is paranoia.

“God is Watching You” had a relatively short run. Probably it didn’t play well with the liberal wing, with someone like me for example. If I were a member and if I were truly religious, I wouldn’t need to be zinged every morning. And if I’m not saved, what good do breast-beating and guilt do? We don’t need reminding of our sins out in public, that’s what church is for. Outreach should be uplifting. Just get ‘em inside where God’s got a fighting chance against pleasure and ambition and the general slide in morality.

Now it’s April, and “On the Road Again” has just been taken down. Hard messages promoting death and resurrection consume the space, pushing for the prime time of Easter Sunday morning when the elder will count bums in pews, expecting record attendance, for which he will take credit. He hopes to become a committee of one.

I’m girding up for his next assault on sinners, although I tell myself I don’t really care about all this, I’m not religious (especially in the bright and hopeful morning when I often miss the message entirely). I watch for God, he doesn’t watch for me.

__________________________________________________

Jim Krosschell‘s essays are published in Louisville Review, Waccamaw, Southeast Review, Contrary, Southern Indiana Review, The Common, and many others.

Diana M. Raab

Poetry, WINTER 2012

CHAOTIC FEET

My feet remind me
of the chaos in my life
bunions meeting in midline

and second toes arched toward
the heavens. Your shoes
are supposed to announce

your character, but no one
talk of what lies
beneath the leather
which embraces the appendages.

You ask me to remove my shoes
for the beach walk and I turn to you
and say I do not show my feet
to anyone until I know them

for a lifetime. It is a rule
I have adhered to—my shyness
extends to this floor,

a lack of confidence shattered
by the loss of a grandmother
at the hand of a pill bottle

found on a cracked side table
littered with deep-seated pain,
similar to the kind I feel

in my feet, gentle reminders
of the earths I have walked
and the wounds I have carried

but always to remember
the slice of life which brings me joy.

Your smile.

___________________________

Diana M. Raab is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, editor and author of eight books. She teaches journaling and writing for healing across the country. She is widely published in national trade and literary magazines. She has four poetry collections: Listening to Africa, Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You, winner of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Award and Reader Views Annual Award for Poetry, My Muse Undresses Me and The Guilt Gene.

Mellinda Hensley

Fiction, WINTER 2012

LITTLE DEBBIE

He can see Debbie’s sleeping body outlined through the satin blanket;
it clings to her waist like a small child and for a moment he wonders
what she feels. Does she feel the satin, her dreams, her own body? He
imagines what she is dreaming, and he imagines it is about food

She’s got a sweet tooth. Pastries, cakes, doughnuts, all slathered in
chocolate or fruit topping. Crispy, buttery, fried chicken drizzled
with honey. Mashed potatoes drenched with thick brown gravy.
Everything must be covered by something. Jam, chocolate, caramel,
fudge, all of it. She is in a garden of trans fats, whole pats of butter
stacked like boulders, streams of marshmallow cream, and she picks
Hostess snacks from trees and devours them all. Swiss Rolls, Devil Cakes.
She’ll destroy everything.

She is so tiny, her body nearly one-third the size of his, each bone pushing
against her white skin meticulously crafted, picked, sculpted. Her black hair
is cropped short at her neck, and it annoys him that she chopped off her long
hair. He can see her back, curved perfectly like the bell of a vase that dips into
her midsection and ends at her bottom that is covered by the white fabric. And
yet, in his appreciation, he feels the taste of regret in his mouth. She is so
small, he thinks again.

She had, at one time, weighed over 200 pounds. Not that he minded,
she was just larger, curvier. She had let him see the dress before the
wedding, a bad omen, he remembered hearing. Her wedding dress was
satin, stuffed and bunchy, too much skin and too little fabric. He was glad
to take it off at the end of the night. She bursted from the corset in the
back and spilled over the front, flaps of skin meeting like dolphin lips,
the criss-crosses of thread making imprints on her like grill marks on
flank steak. Weeks after the wedding, she had gotten the photo prints.
Pudgy, buttercream icing, a real dream. She threw the photos all over
the apartment, watching them scatter to the ground. She had cut herself
out of a few of them. When he got in the door, he saw the littered printer
paper, and her a savage shadow, casting herself over them.

I AM SO FAT, she screeched.

After that, everything was forbidden. No chicken, no pork, no beef, nothing
that smelled good and sure as Hell nothing that tasted good. He was allowed
grilled chicken, naked and sad, dressed in a pinch of salt and herbs he had
never heard of. Dark, leafy greens that looked like they had been plucked
from the lawn. Hell no, he had told himself, no way am I eating that.

She drank water, so much water. He thought she might be all water at one
point, thought he could poke her with something sharp and she would leak
until there was nothing left. He started drinking once that happened, lounging
outside in a lawn chair, dozing between sips of Jameson and listening to the
world; the scuttling of birds through the rattling tree branches, the crunching
of tire against pavement, dogs yapping in he distance, the shouting
of children, the ding of the ice cream truck

When they went out, people would say “Oh, you look so great! You don’t
even look like yourself.” This was what upset her the most, how people
looked at her and still saw the rolls of skin, the pudgy face, how astounded
they were that a real girl had lived inside her for so long, and now her
blubbery casing had melted away, but was still imprinted on her friends.
She was still that fat girl, she had never managed to lose that. Fatty, whale,
piggy, Debbie. He can’t believe it either sometimes. How little of the bed
she possesses, the early morning runs and early evening bedtimes, the lack
of snacks, the lack of sex. He wants to go outside and sit in the sun and nurse
his wounds and Jameson.

He is better than she is, he thinks, he can do what she cannot. He can swill
his drink and sit in the sun, unashamed and exposed. But for today they were
both still inside, her fragile and enveloped in white and him swallowed in guilt
for ever noticing the way the satin clung. He looks away as she stirs, and
in that brief moment he thinks she has found it, that place where her hunger
is satisfied. But, he thinks as he rises to pour another drink, it is only a dream.

_________________________________________

Mellinda Hensley is currently a senior writing and communication major at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind. She has previously been published in The Ohio River Review and was the 2012 recipient of the Cowgill Award. After graduating this coming May, she plans to move to California with her husband Jonathan and attend graduate school to further her writing education.

Patricia Caspers

Poetry, WINTER 2012

WINTERTIDE

it’s never too cold to snow

once a snowflake
dissolves to rain, it won’t
become neve again
in its lifetime

birch mushrooms
shelf more than their share
of schnee against
a moon-silver evening

yuki no hana falls
from a slightly
sun-struck sky,
and the tiniest flakes
create themselves
without the froth
of cloud cover

the geometry
of traffic lines
is obscured by apun:
drive where you like

the sharpest air
holds little water;
expect few crystals,
faux neige

unutsi is art
that never points
in fewer than six directions

imagine earth a single crust
blackberry pie,
your helping heavy
with whipped cream,
and nature a grandmother

mangia, mangia, she scolds
we must fatten you up
___________________________________

Patricia Caspers’ manuscript Life with Fever, has been finalist for several poetry prizes, including Many Mountains Moving and Tom and Stan Wick. edits poetry for Prick of the Spindle. Her work was published most recently in Ploughshares and Storyscape. She has work forthcoming from Quiddity, Generations, Valparaiso, and Main Street Rag. Her letterpressed chapbook Dead Letters is hot off the Meridian Press.