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Month: February 2012

The Faithful

by Sue Ann Connaughton

Boston, 1959: smack, crack
the whip of education in corridors (more…)

The Happiness Engine, 1 of 7

by Nicholas Rombes

[Editor’s Note: The Happiness Engine consists of seven pieces, ranging in size from approximately 17”x9” to 7”x5”. The materials are acrylic, charcoal, ink, and typewritten text on old paper, consisting of vintage scavenged letterhead, stationery, and endpapers salvaged from damaged and discarded books. The compressed narrative&#8212 from 1 through 7&#8212sketches the story of a character named Ephraim in the labyrinth of underground USA tunnels as he searches for his disappeared sister. We will be publishing one piece per week, from Feb 15 – March 28. Please click on the file below to view it full-size.]

In 2010-11, Nicholas Rombes was Visiting Artist and Scholar at The University of Waterloo’s Critical Media lab, where he launched the DO NOT SCREEN project (which was featured at HiLobrow). He is the author of three books: Cinema in the Digital Age, A Cultural Dictionary of Punk: 1974-1982, and Ramones (part of the 33 1/3 series). He is also a contributor to The Believer, The Oxford American, WigLeaf, The Rumpus, Filmmaker Magazine (where he serves as a Contributing Editor), and other places. He teaches at the University of Detroit Mercy in Detroit, Michigan.

For this project, the distillation of text and images, both created and found, is key to the narrative momentum. The gaps—which allow viewers and readers to insert themselves into The Happiness Engine story—are absolutely essential. For it is in the gaps, the absences, that the imagination roams free, constructing the architecture of the story itself. Hints are thus more meaningful than exposition. Compression and constraint as a form of liberation.

Tiny Hand Man

by Greg Shemkovitz

The car lurched forward and, with one eye open, Everett held two fingers before him, a tiny man running along the landscape careening past his window. As the car sped up, his fingers hopped over shrubs, skittered along a stone wall, and leaped over approaching obstacles like some primitive video game.

“And the dishes,” his mother said from behind the steering wheel.

“They’re just dishes,” his father replied.

“Exactly,” his mother said. “And you’re too lazy to help clean them.”

“Lazy,” he said. “There you go. Again with my weight.”

“This isn’t about your weight.”

“No? Then what is it about?”

“You would have to ask.”

Everett’s fingers could hardly keep up, sprinting with long strides like a wide receiver in an open field as the car went faster. But there was no clear path for Everett’s tiny hand man, now vaulting over an old lady with a dog.

“I have to explain everything to you,” his mother said.

“Yes,” his father said. “You do. Go ahead. Tell me why I have to make excuses for your crabby attitude!”

“Just shut up!” his mother cried. “Shut up!”

The car came to a red light and Everett’s parents both glanced over their shoulders. He held his hand in place, the tiny hand man catching his breath. Neither of his parents said anything, just turned their sad faces forward again.

The light turned green and soon his fingers were trotting along the edge of a country road. Everett’s parents resorted to mumbling at each other and soon his fingers began to race again, trying desperately to keep up with the car, until suddenly the tiny hand man did not clear a mailbox at the edge of a long driveway. The metal box ripped from its wooden post and tumbled along the shoulder.

Everett looked back to see it disappear in the distance. What had he done? He looked to his parents who were starting to bicker again, unaware. Everett brought the tiny hand man back to the window, and he was off and running again, dirt kicking up from the ground where Everett’s fingers gained traction. The tiny hand man sprung over the next mailbox but then caught a low-hanging branch on his way down, snapping it from a tree.

Everett pulled his hand down and held it against his lap in terror. How was this possible? What else could his hand do? He looked around the car, his parents barking sharp accusations into the windshield. Outside, the sun was setting. He lifted his hand again and closed one eye. Instead of running, this time he simply dropped a finger down into a passing cornfield. His parents began to yell, the car moving quicker, stalks and leaves and ears of corn spitting into the dim sky. Everett slowly lifted his finger from the corn and brought it back into the car. He traced the window’s edge and the passenger seat headrest. Spying still with one eye, he brought his finger over to the rearview mirror, where he could see his mother’s frowning face. And he gently pushed up the corners of her mouth.


Greg Shemkovitz writes and teaches in North Carolina. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Echo Ink Review, Foundling Review, Gihon River Review, and Prime Mincer.

When did you realize the power of the tiny hand man? What other powers might yet to be discovered?

I was a bored little boy, sitting in the “way back” on yet another eight-hour drive to see very distant relatives. The roadside landscape begged for adventure. Or maybe I was doing all the begging. With nothing more than my hand, a soundtrack of Paul Simon or Marvin Gaye–depending on who between my mother and father had control of the radio–and a lot of miles still to go, I learned that the mind holds a great deal of power in changing the way we see the world around us. It took a few decades to discover that it matters more how you use that power, and I’m still trying to figure that out.

DAEDAL DOODLE, Z

by Victor Stabin

[Editor’s Note: We will be publishing all 26 letters of Victor Stabin’s Daedal Doodle series, one each Wednesday for 26 weeks. Be sure to click on the picture for the FULL VIEW! Victor Stabin’s alphabet book is available here.]

For almost three years, wherever he went, Victor Stabin brought a dictionary along. Combing through over 8,000 pages of a variety of dictionaries, he came up with the alliterations that inhabit this work. Inspired by reading “ABC” books to his three-year-old daughter Skyler, his love of words, and his incessant inability to to stop doodling, he unflinchingly created the improbable alliterative combinations and illustrations that inhabit this work. In his heart he knew he was creating a work that, while using unusually obtuse words, would have broad appeal and challenge the “ABC” status quo. The goal—to create platforms that bridge literate curiosity across multiple generations using mostly common (and sometimes extraordinarily uncommon) imagery in new and inventive ways. Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, presented for your literate and retinal delight… (more…)

Juncture

by Theresa Senato Edwards

Reach beyond the ribs, (more…)

Cadmus

by Mark Simpson

The seeds this spring
sprout heads
that will devour me. (more…)

DAEDAL DOODLE, Y

by Victor Stabin

[Editor’s Note: We will be publishing all 26 letters of Victor Stabin’s Daedal Doodle series, one each Wednesday for 26 weeks. Be sure to click on the picture for the FULL VIEW! Victor Stabin’s alphabet book is available here.]

For almost three years, wherever he went, Victor Stabin brought a dictionary along. Combing through over 8,000 pages of a variety of dictionaries, he came up with the alliterations that inhabit this work. Inspired by reading “ABC” books to his three-year-old daughter Skyler, his love of words, and his incessant inability to to stop doodling, he unflinchingly created the improbable alliterative combinations and illustrations that inhabit this work. In his heart he knew he was creating a work that, while using unusually obtuse words, would have broad appeal and challenge the “ABC” status quo. The goal—to create platforms that bridge literate curiosity across multiple generations using mostly common (and sometimes extraordinarily uncommon) imagery in new and inventive ways. Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, presented for your literate and retinal delight… (more…)

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Submissions

Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now open. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period closes December 15, 2108; submit here.

Upcoming

11/19 • Dan Crawley
11/26 • Bruce Robinson
11/28 • Madeleine McDonald
12/03 • Marina Carreira
12/10 • Edwin Litts
12/17 • Christopher James
12/24 • Bree Pie
12/31 • Sara Backer
01/07 • Kim Magowan
01/14 • Justin Herrmann
01/21 • Su-Yee Lin
01/28 • Nathan Long
02/04 • Paul Crenshaw
02/11 • Kevin McLellan
02/18 • Emanuele Pettener
02/25 • Jeff Friedman
03/04 • Dennis Mombauer
03/11 • Jacqueline Doyle
03/18 • Tamara Gane
03/25 • Sara Crowley