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Month: May 2020

Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene (9 of 10)

by Sarah Sousa

 

 

 

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections See the Wolf, named a 2019 ‘Must Read’ book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Split the Crow and Church of Needles, as well as the chapbooks Yell, which won the Summer Tide Pool Prize at C&R Press, and Hex which won the 2019 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, North American Review, the Southern Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Her honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. She is a member of the board of directors of Perugia Press.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene”?

Around 13 vintage source texts went into the creation of these tarot cards, as well as original watercolor and gouache art and some ink prints for backgrounds. My favorite source texts are old Boy Scout and Cub Scout manuals from the 40s to 60s. They’re loaded with interesting drawings, illustrations and text. The found poem on the three of swords card: “How well do you know America- how much does it mean to you?” was from a chapter on citizenship in one of these manuals. The guns in that collage are from ads in the backs of the books. I’m also drawn to images in vintage magazines, botanic and wildlife guides.

Dowsed

by Michael Credico

 

My father dug a well in the backyard. There was nowhere else the water was going to come from. We let buckets down, length by length of rope. The buckets clanged against the stone walls, came up empty every time. I complained about the smell emanating from the well. It was like dead fish. My father said it must be that we are close to the water. But suppose the fish were dead because they were out of water too. I looked into the well. Its insides were fuzzy black and filled with dust. I started to cough. My father gave me his handkerchief, stiff from dried sweat. I wiped my mouth. It scratched my lips. I tasted dead fish. When my father was not looking, I wadded up the handkerchief, dropped it down the well. I listened for it to hit bottom. Nothing.

“Dust,” my father grunted. He couldn’t understand it. “A well is a well is a well.”

My mother called us in for dinner. She set five glasses on the dining room table, each filled with vodka. She told us to pretend it was water.

We said grace, our hands around the glasses. I asked for something to tuck into my shirt collar. My father patted all his pockets looking for his handkerchief. He swallowed his vodka. My mother swallowed hers, then mine. She sighed. Her breath made my nose tingle. She told us about the neighbors. They had lost their boy.

We were lukewarm on the neighbors. We each went, “Oh.”

My mother was upset there was no word for parents who had lost a child, no equivalent to widow, widower, and orphan. “Bereaved,” she said. “Imagine living the rest of your life modified like that.”

My father reached for one of the two remaining glasses.

My mother slapped his hand away. “I invited them to dinner.”

“Who?”

“The bereaved neighbors,” my mother mocked.

By time the neighbors knocked at the door, the vodka was gone, and my parents were passed out beneath the dining room table. I answered the door. I asked them if they were thirsty. They examined the empty glasses on the dining room table, the stains my parents’ lips left on the rims.

“I am sorry for your loss,” I said.

“The bottomlessness,” they cried, knocking the empty glasses off the dining room table.

When suddenly we heard crying coming from the backyard. The well.

The neighbors stuffed me in a bucket, let me down. There was a bottom to the well, but here things get fuzzier and fuzzier. I told the boy the bucket couldn’t carry us both. Looking up at the pinprick of light that was the opening of the well, I told him to go first. He felt through the black for my hand, gave me the handkerchief.

Later, my father called down and asked if I was wet.

“No,” I said. “I need the bucket.”

“Are you sick?”

I told my mother the boy wasn’t dead, the neighbors weren’t bereaved, and the well really was a well was a well was a well. She wasn’t listening. She was picking pieces of glass off the floor, tasting them. My father held up the empty vodka bottle. He called this his divining rod. He told me he would teach me to dowse. He pointed the bottle at my mother. The bottle shook. My mother cut her tongue on a piece of glass. I gave her the handkerchief. She tied it around her tongue. When she talked, we couldn’t understand it. But when she talked, I think it was: find me.

 

Michael Credico is the author of *Heartland Calamitous* (Autumn House Press, 2020). His fiction has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, New Ohio Review, Puerto del Sol, and others. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Dowsed”?

I remember in the early 1990s it seemed like every day a child was getting lost inside a well. I was a child, too. I knew of dowsing at an early age, probably from a gag in Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry. Whenever I saw a Y-shaped twig, I’d pick it up and pretend it was vibrating. There were no wells where I grew up. Sometimes we’d drive to the country and I’d look for them the way others might look for cows, sheep, or pigs. There are more fracking well pads than anything else. In the Ohio Valley, folks rightly believe they’re being poisoned. Elsewhere in Ohio, you might as well be drinking from a lead straw. Despite how often vodka appears in my writing, I don’t really drink, and when I do, it’s gin.

Framed Papers

by Foster Trecost

 

He fished a tissue from a hidden pocket and dabbed his forehead, then called the cops. Red dots spotted the otherwise white cloth and when police arrived, he displayed his blood like a court-ordered indictment. He demanded her arrest and she, in turn, demanded his. The police looked at each other, then at the therapist, who looked like he needed a therapist. They opted against arresting anyone, but feeling compelled to take official action, wrote her a warning: Don’t throw binoculars at people.

And they weren’t pocket-sized binoculars, bearing little resemblance to those used for spying on birds in the backyard. These were military-grade and seemed better suited for a battlefield. They struck him just above the eye. Gashed him good. A scar-leaving laceration.

Before that he’d drug her to a hypnotist who may as well have been a palm reader. She didn’t throw anything but when they went to an intimacy clinic, she threw slurs and slights one after the other, but nothing that wasn’t true. If he was going to call the cops, that’s when he should’ve done it. Instead they went to a therapist who, in the name of clinical remedy, put a weapon in her hands.

She said it wasn’t working, that she couldn’t see anything and the shrink, always quick with comment, said it’s because she was looking at the wall. He had gone to the University of Michigan, was certified in just about everything. Framed papers told the story. But that’s not where she was supposed to look. She was supposed to look at the man sitting across the room, the binoculars pulling her close, but still a safe distance away. So she looked at him. Then she looked for him. All she found was someone who needed to pluck his eyebrows. Then she saw something else:

A woman crouched in a corner, tears smeared across her cheeks. A hand offered itself. She hesitated but took it and was helped to her feet. Seconds later the same hand struck again, and she fell back to the floor.

That’s what she saw.

When the binoculars left her fingers, she knew they were on a good path. They tracked across the room with baffling precision. He watched from behind a disbelieving smirk, like there’s no way she’d flung a pair of military-grade binoculars at his head. She could barely believe it herself.

Deciding she wasn’t a detriment to society, the police let her leave. She meandered through the city, mostly aimless but with a hint of intent she couldn’t place, but could tell was there. She passed a café that called to her, but not loudly enough. A tavern beckoned with a different voice, but she kept walking. Shoe stores and bookshops offered not the slightest temptation.

When she came upon it, she knew without knowing it had been her destination all along. She walked in with restored self-assurance and made her way to the counter. She smoothed a sheet of paper onto the worktop and asked, “Can you frame this?”

He looked at the paper, then at her. “That’s what we do. Choose a frame.”

“You choose it. The frame doesn’t matter.”

He complied with a slim black border, one unlikely to detract from what it outlined. She waited while he worked and smiled when he was done.

Framed papers really do tell the story. The warning, an important part of hers, has graced the living room wall ever since.

 

Foster Trecost writes stories that are mostly made up. They tend to follow his attention span: sometimes short, sometimes very short. Recent work has appeared in Spelk, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and New World Writing. He lives near New Orleans with his wife and dog.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Framed Papers”?

I originally wrote the story in first person, but from a female point of view. I liked the story, the triumphant nature to the ending, but felt it was unfair to women who’ve been through situations such as this. I couldn’t possibly know what it’s like, and therefore had no business writing as if I had. So I changed it around to third person and felt much better about it.

Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene (8 of 10)

by Sarah Sousa

 

 

 

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections See the Wolf, named a 2019 ‘Must Read’ book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Split the Crow and Church of Needles, as well as the chapbooks Yell, which won the Summer Tide Pool Prize at C&R Press, and Hex which won the 2019 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, North American Review, the Southern Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Her honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. She is a member of the board of directors of Perugia Press.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene”?

Around 13 vintage source texts went into the creation of these tarot cards, as well as original watercolor and gouache art and some ink prints for backgrounds. My favorite source texts are old Boy Scout and Cub Scout manuals from the 40s to 60s. They’re loaded with interesting drawings, illustrations and text. The found poem on the three of swords card: “How well do you know America- how much does it mean to you?” was from a chapter on citizenship in one of these manuals. The guns in that collage are from ads in the backs of the books. I’m also drawn to images in vintage magazines, botanic and wildlife guides.

Girls

by Mary Lou Buschi

 

In Catholic uniforms,
plaid pleated skirts,
white blouses dangerously
unbuttoned to the edge
of our bras, we chase
her through the planted
tomatoes and Marigolds.

When we punch her –
a Thrush from an unlocked
palm waves out of her ribcage.
There is no sound,
only an imaginary ocean
that raps inside my ears,
as my friend starts to run.

A blue car driving slowly past—
the width of sky torn
from a girl’s tablet.

 

Mary Lou Buschi’s poems have appeared in Lily Poetry Review, Thimble, Thrush, Radar, Cloudbank among others. Mary Lou’s full-length collection, Awful Baby, was published through Red Paint Hill (2015). Tight Wire, her third chapbook, was published by Dancing Girl Press (2016).

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Girls”?

“Girls” is a poem I’ve been tinkering with for years. I’ve been carving away at it trying to see how much I can lose while still maintaining the tension.

This scenario did, in fact, happen. I’m not sure what provoked us to chase and punch a stranger. I think that’s why I needed to explore it. One of those strange moments that you scarcely remember or can explain.

Sundown Town

by Adrian Potter

 

Everything begins to feel like a sacrifice. Finding vague threats at the property lines – wilted Black-eyed Susans, dead blackbirds, empty shotgun shells. The wind becomes a caveat, a sign. Caution lodged under weary tongues, haunting the intention of every explanation. On the kitchen table, we trace highways on a roadmap, outline each stop before departing. The out-of-the-way detours that unravel our patience one by one. Mind the stream that traces its way back to its origin. The identities we must lose to get there. The women that go missing every spring. The strangers following us to the city limits from the farmer’s market. Their rage fills creek bottoms. Beware of truck stops, hanging trees, the ditches thick with fear and bluestem. Don’t be brown and around when the sun comes down. Places where the moon pulls darkness over us like a blanket until we escape or suffocate.

 

Adrian S. Potter writes poetry and prose in Minnesota. He is the author of the poetry collection Everything Wrong Feels Right and the prose chapbook The Alter Ego Handbook. Some publication credits include North American Review, Obsidian, Jet Fuel Review, and Kansas City Voices. Visit him online at http://adrianspotter.com/.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Sundown Town”?

“Sundown Town” developed while I wrote a series of Midwestern-based prose poems. The Midwest has a passive-aggressive practice of glossing over elements of its racist past. One part of this unmentioned history is sundown towns – towns where black Americans knew they weren’t welcome once the sun went down. Between research on sundown towns and accounts from older African Americans who experienced this scenario, I attempted to quilt together a mosaic of the angst and ache this form of hatred caused. I know the version of bigotry that I faced in my life doesn’t compare to what my forbearers persevered through, but I attempted to approximate their pain in this piece.

Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene (7 of 10)

by Sarah Sousa

 

 

 

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections See the Wolf, named a 2019 ‘Must Read’ book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Split the Crow and Church of Needles, as well as the chapbooks Yell, which won the Summer Tide Pool Prize at C&R Press, and Hex which won the 2019 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, North American Review, the Southern Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Her honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. She is a member of the board of directors of Perugia Press.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene”?

Around 13 vintage source texts went into the creation of these tarot cards, as well as original watercolor and gouache art and some ink prints for backgrounds. My favorite source texts are old Boy Scout and Cub Scout manuals from the 40s to 60s. They’re loaded with interesting drawings, illustrations and text. The found poem on the three of swords card: “How well do you know America- how much does it mean to you?” was from a chapter on citizenship in one of these manuals. The guns in that collage are from ads in the backs of the books. I’m also drawn to images in vintage magazines, botanic and wildlife guides.

Penance

by Jeanie Greensfelder

 

I’m at the post office,
mistake in hand:
wrong magnesium,
carelessly ordered.
In Mexico, a woman
crawled up
cathedral steps
for her misdeeds.
In Pismo, a man
with a sign Sinner
on his back, traversed
the beach on all fours.
They sought mercy.
I seek to quiet a brain
that won’t shut up.
I add a little prayer.

 

Jeanie Greenfelder’s poems have been published at American Life in Poetry, and Writers’ Almanac; in anthologies: Paris, Etc., Pushing the Envelope: Epistolary Poems; and in journals: Miramar, Thema, Askew, Persimmon Tree, and others. The San Luis Obispo County poet laureate, 2017,18, Jeanie’s books are: Biting the Apple, Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith and I Got What I Came For.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Penance”?

On the post office steps, I felt like the woman in Mexico, the man on the beach. My mind insisted I atone for this mistake even though postage to return the item was more than its cost!! We are such interesting creatures.

Four Little Stories

by Townsend Walker

 

A Day in the Life

It was not a day like any other day, not for Annie Richie, not for Ralph Simmons. She landed the lead in Wicked, a fresh face up from the chorus. He was let go by the Knicks, too short to play inside, couldn’t nail a three. They wandered the streets, she in radiant glee, he in lonely gloom and, as fate would ordain, found their ways to Rose’s Bar where Annie drowned his sorrow in song. Ralph never felt so tall.

*

Looking out the Window

I died today. Didn’t want to. Wasn’t supposed to. Girl I’ve been spending time with, saw her down on the sidewalk. Even from here, on the 10th floor, can’t mistake that hair, those curves, that swivel. Leaned out, “Hey Melissa, lookin’ fine.” Must not of heard, she kept on walking, about to turn the corner. Really wanted to catch her eye, leaned out further “Hey, Melissa.” Too far. Hope she didn’t see me. She thought I was cool.

*

Her Smile

Sometimes I will be in a place I was before and doing things I did before, but that was yesterday. Today I am in the hospital looking at the nurse I looked at yesterday when I was carted in on a gurney. She has the same smile today as she probably will have tomorrow. A smile that is kind and says: I-will-help-you-but-don’t-get-any-ideas-or-you-will-find-I’m-not-the-person-you-think-I-am. Too out of it to be tempted yesterday; tomorrow may be too late.

*

Hospital Time

5:21 p.m. The nurse left the room.
5:30 p.m. The nurse and doctor entered the room.
6:00 p.m. The doctor called the patient’s wife. She did not answer. The doctor did not leave a message.
6:15 p.m. The doctor called the patient’s wife. She did not answer. The doctor did not leave a message.
6:30 p.m. The patient’s wife called the hospital. She asked to be connected to her husband’s room. He did not answer.

Townsend Walker draws inspiration from cemeteries, foreign places, violence and strong women. A collection of short stories, 3 Women, 4 Towns, 5 Bodies & other stories was published by Deeds Publishing in 2018. Winner of a Book Excellence Award, an Eyelands Award, a Silver Feathered Quill Award and a Pinnacle Award. A novella, La Ronde was published by Truth Serum Press in 2015. Some ninety short stories have been published in literary journals and included in twelve anthologies. Short Story Awards: two nominations for the PEN/O.Henry Award, first place in the SLO NightWriters contest. Four stories were performed at the New Short Fiction Series in Hollywood. During a career in banking, he lived in New York, Paris, London, Rome, and San Francisco and wrote three books on finance: A Guide for Using the Foreign Exchange Market, Managing Risk with Derivatives, and Managing Lease Portfolios. His website is www.townsendwalker.com.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Four Little Stories”?

I get an idea. How far will it run? What can I make of it? Will it make a story? My God, 75 words and I’ve got a tale. Forsooth, I’d belabor it. And then, the last three tell the tales of people who wouldn’t be telling them.

Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene (6 of 10)

by Sarah Sousa

 

 

 

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections See the Wolf, named a 2019 ‘Must Read’ book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Split the Crow and Church of Needles, as well as the chapbooks Yell, which won the Summer Tide Pool Prize at C&R Press, and Hex which won the 2019 Cow Creek Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, North American Review, the Southern Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Her honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. She is a member of the board of directors of Perugia Press.

 

See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Fractured Tarot for the Anthropocene”?

Around 13 vintage source texts went into the creation of these tarot cards, as well as original watercolor and gouache art and some ink prints for backgrounds. My favorite source texts are old Boy Scout and Cub Scout manuals from the 40s to 60s. They’re loaded with interesting drawings, illustrations and text. The found poem on the three of swords card: “How well do you know America- how much does it mean to you?” was from a chapter on citizenship in one of these manuals. The guns in that collage are from ads in the backs of the books. I’m also drawn to images in vintage magazines, botanic and wildlife guides.

News

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.

Submissions

Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now OPEN. The submission period closes June 15, 2020; submit here.

Upcoming

05/27 • Michael Credico
05/28 • Sarah Sousa (9 of 10)
06/01 • Carol Guess
06/03 • Tuka Loomma
06/04 • Sarah Sousa (10 of 10)
06/08 • T.L. Sherwood
06/10 • Kathleen McGookey
06/11 • Serge Lecomte (1 of 8)
06/15 • Brianna Neumann
06/17 • Kate Carmody
06/18 • Serge Lecomte (2 of 8)
06/22 • Wilson Koewing
06/24 • Mason Binkley
06/25 • Serge Lecomte (3 of 8)
06/29 • Yanna Regina Mondoñedo
07/01 • Peter Krumbach
07/02 • Serge Lecomte (4 of 8)
07/06 • Vanessa Gebbie
07/08 • Paul Hostovsky
07/09 • Serge Lecomte (5 of 8)
07/13 • Clio Velentza
07/15 • Jolene McIlwain
07/16 • Serge Lecomte (6 of 8)
07/20 • Julie Benesh
07/22 • Beverly Jackson
07/23 • Serge Lecomte (7 of 8)
07/27 • Lynn Wagner
07/29 • Delaney Burk
07/30 • Serge Lecomte (8 of 8)
08/03 • TBD
08/06 • Amy Bobeda (1 of 6)
08/10 • TBD
08/13 • Amy Bobeda (2 of 6)
08/17 • TBD
08/20 • Amy Bobeda (3 of 6)
08/24 • TBD
08/27 • Amy Bobeda (4 of 6)
08/31 • TBD
09/03 • Amy Bobeda (5 of 6)
09/07 • TBD
09/10 • Amy Bobeda (6 of 6)
09/14 • TBD
09/17 • Erika Kanda (1 of 3)
09/21 • TBD
09/24 • Erika Kanda (2 of 3)
09/28 • TBD
10/01 • Erika Kanda (3 of 3)