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Month: September 2011

Six Fictions

by Scott Garson

HOW MAY I HELP YOU?

He froze when the cockroach jumped from the crease of his wallet. Smoothly she put the insect to death, using a slip of deposit.

HOMECOMING QUEEN

Eveyone’s voting for Missy. I get it. Be honest, though. Whether or not it’s me, wouldn’t you like to have someone who didn’t tragically die?

VISITATION

He came to their classroom. The twins sat in back. Their teacher was going to just give them to him, Kate realized. Jen whispered, Shh.

RAY ANNE

She gave herself a different name and didn’t tell anyone. She liked when her mother screamed, “Katherine!” She liked that her mother was wrong.

STOPLIGHT

Oh shades and cell-phone girl in the mirror. Please kiss me. Please cover my rent.

HOURLY

They gave me a job at Halloween Town. Strip mall with vacancies. Sad. I was a wizard, vaguely swinging my wand. “Everything change,” I commanded.


Scott Garson is the author of American Gymnopédies. He edits Wigleaf. “Visitation” appeared in different form in a 2009 posting of Everyday Genius.

How do you approach differently the creation of individual compressed fictions when they are part of a series, such as “Six Fictions”? And what are some ways to make pieces feel inter-connected when creating such a series?

Probably you carry more of an awareness of form when writing pieces for a set. Even if the form you’re working within isn’t a known or established one, you try to stay conscious of what the form feels like to you. That’s to say, in addition to the needs of each piece on its own, there’s a need for likeness between them.

Interconnections: tough subject! I feel like to generalize here, even modestly, would be to stretch the truth. In the case of this set, the “Six Fictions,” I put them together pretty quickly, within a two-day period. Two were scavenged from earlier material (“Stoplight” had been a haiku, first written while doing a reverse commute from DC to Rockville, Maryland). I did four of them during my office hour, and one at the sink while rinsing some plates, and one on a place mat at a restaurant with my kids asking what I was doing, and the last—a replacement for one that didn’t work—late the following night. I liked the number six. Six seemed like a good call for these things. When it came time to order them, I was hoping that their having arisen at the same time would mean that there’d be interesting links and counterpoints, and there were; I sensed that. But I didn’t think about it too much (Ever since I realized that the iTunes randomizer could often school me in the mix-making department, I’ve tried to be more brainless in doing my segues).

DAEDAL DOODLE, G

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…)

Three Memos

by Michael Martone

On Administrative Leave, the Postal Inspector Waits in Line at the
Sunrise, Maine, Post Office to Ask If He Has Any Mail Held General Delivery

Even here, the end of the earth, wanted posters are posted. Have you tracked me down? What word’s been sent? What, what do you want?

A Camoufleur at the Natick Soldier Systems Center Digests
Reports Finding Failure of the UCP Digitalized Pixilated Pattern in Afghanistan

Mychildrenlookrightthroughme,throughthescreendoorwhereIstandstill,foregroundflattenedintobackground,twenty-fivewords hiddeninthisoneword.

 

A Chemist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Dips a Finger in a Freshly Opened Paint Can

To get that loud color, that safety yellow? Lead chromate. It’s the only way. Its aftertaste is sweet like sponge cake. It stains the teeth.


Michael Martone was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He has taught at several universities including Johns Hopkins, Iowa State, Harvard, Alabama, and Syracuse. He participated in the last major memo war fought with actual paper memoranda before the advent of electronic email. Staples were deployed. The paper generated in that war stacks several inches deep, thick enough to stop a bullet. Martone learned that the “cc:” is the most strategic field of the memo’s template, and he is sad to realize that fewer and fewer readers know what the “cc:” stands for let alone have ever held a piece of the delicate and duplicating artifact in their ink stained and smudge smudged fingers. It, like everything else, is history.

Tell us more, if you could, about your series about federal employees that these wonderful pieces are a part of.

I started writing these pieces in response to the current political anger directed toward the “public” sector and “faceless” bureaucrats. As the rhetoric of cutting the federal government became more pronounced, I wanted to meditate on all the things it actual does, benign or not, efficient or not. I will miss the post office, Amtrak, even the page program in Congress. I thought micro fictions were the perfect way to get at the “vast” complexities of that “Washington.”

Abundance, image 21

by Joseph Young

Editor’s Note: Each Monday we’ve been publishing individual pieces from Joseph Young’s Abundance. Abundance is 27 occurrences: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
(more…)

A Remarkable Ability

by Jennifer Pieroni

To her, the interior of a person’s car was a reflection; it helped her imagine the home, the peculiar history, if it was ordered. She knew all of this was true and yet her own car was littered with family mittens, squeezed tissues, sand and flattened leaves beneath her feet.

Her husband hurried across the parking lot to the pharmacy, leaving the car running. Sitting in the rear, she lifted the crying baby out of its car seat and propped it in her lap, even though it continued to pitch in every direction. She could hear the crying even alone, even when the baby was still. She now understood the mother’s mind, and it no longer seemed a remarkable ability.

She cradled the baby against her and lifted her shirt. She knew he’d forgotten to lock the doors, another habit she could not break him of, and would not try to because there seemed to be more important things to say. She rubbed the baby’s forehead, watching its pulse in the soft spot, a focus she could not avoid now that she had noticed it.

The parking lot was mostly empty, with the exception of a few cars. But still, she did not feel safe. In the dark, everything seemed black and white, the contrasts in every day life evident even in the lines that delineated the slots for parking.

A figure shifted in a sedan on the other side of the median. A cigarette in the figure’s hand glowed intermittently. She wished she still smoked. She knew the figure might be watching. The figure might see the white flash of her breast. The figure might approach her car, and enter on the driver’s side, and notice their personal effects. The figure, already knowing everything about her, might.


Jennifer Pieroni studied writing at Emerson College and her writing has appeared in numerous print and online journals, including Another Chicago Magazine, Hobart, Guernica, Mississippi Review and others. It has also been anthologized in Best of the Web 2010, Brevity and Echo and Mammoth Anthology of Miniscule Stories. She served as founding editor of the print journal Quick Fiction for nearly a decade and contributed to the Rose Metal Press Flash Fiction Field Guide.

What “remarkable ability” do you think writers of compressed fiction possess?

Maybe not what they all possess, but what they should all possess is a mastery of language. Not just a strong vocabulary, but also the instincts necessary to discern which words are right and in what combinations. That’s mastery, to me. And without it, I don’t see how a writer can ever deliver truly remarkable compressed fiction.

DAEDAL DOODLE, F

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…)

Misplaced Rug

by Hal Sirowitz

I knocked on the door
of our old house in Long Beach, (more…)

Abundance, image 20

by Joseph Young

Editor’s Note: Each Monday we’ve been publishing individual pieces from Joseph Young’s Abundance. Abundance is 27 occurrences: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.
(more…)

Creative Nonfiction: Jimmy Cee and the First Hickey

by Minter Krotzer

In eighth grade we had make-out parties. There was music and dancing while the parents watched TV upstairs. Whoever was dating at the time would go in the corners and make out to a song—something by Barry Manilow, Elton John, or Captain & Tennille. (more…)

DAEDAL DOODLE, E

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…)

Fairy Tale, Perhaps

by Shellie Zacharia

He took the night shift at the convenience store because he wasn’t sleeping. He was numb. Love. Loss. He needed money. He had a dog to feed. An apartment with two small windows and chipped terrazzo floors.

(more…)

Abundance, image 19

by Joseph Young

Editor’s Note: Each Monday we’ve been publishing individual pieces from Joseph Young’s Abundance. Abundance is 27 occurrences: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.

Joseph Young lives in Baltimore. His book of microfictions, Easter Rabbit, was released by Publishing Genius in December 2009; he is currently shopping out a second manuscript of microfiction. He also enjoys creating concrete representations of text, and this work has been included in a number of art shows in Baltimore. Some of this work can be found at TextShop.blogspot.com or www.verysmalldogs.blogspot.com.

Author’s Note. I was looking to do a project that would remind me of the abundance of my life, the many cool experiences I’ve had, people I’ve met, and I was looking to do something in text and image. I wanted to do something I’d not done before, material and process wise, so I came up with the idea of using a stencil and Letraset letters. The figure is a rough stencil I made from a photo of myself, spray painted on cardstock. Over about a week, I wrote the various pieces of text based on my memories and applied them to the cards with Letraset.

Altered Persona

by Thaddeus Rutkowski

Each night, I put on my costume—a long cloth neck, two stubby horns, a patchwork quilt, and stilts—and went out to forage for leaves. I needed a long neck to reach the topmost morsels. But my neck wasn’t going to get any longer from stretching it. No, I understood Darwinian theory. Creatures with long necks didn’t get those appendages by reaching higher. They got them through natural selection. If I were going to survive, I’d have to wait ages for a naturally long neck. But I didn’t have the time, so I pulled on my extensions and my patchwork quilt, and I went out at night. I roamed my neighborhood. It was no Serengeti, but it had some trees.

(more…)

DAEDAL DOODLE, D

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…)

Creative Nonfiction: Bump in the Road

by Jim Ruland

If we had known, we would have left the rancho earlier. We could have stayed in our beds, lingered over our coffee. We could have wiped away the breadcrumbs and washed the cups and set the chairs under the table. We wouldn’t have been in such a hurry. If we had known what was out there, we would have moved out to the porch for a cigarette and waited for the sun to warm our faces. We might have watched it seep into the valley, burning off the fog that made the grapes grow, until it was too hot to stay and we had no choice but to go. If only we’d listened to what they said about it not being safe to drive late at night or early in the morning, we never would have risked using the old road. We wouldn’t have tried to skirt the tolls. We would have paid our share and we would have been happy to do so. If only we had known. We wouldn’t have come to this valley where our brother was murdered and our daughter was married, so much happiness mixed with sadness. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Add this to the list of things we’ll never know. Like your name. Yours and those who left you there. What they did to turn your white shirt red and why, as if there could be answers that make the asking reasonable. How long you’d been lying there before we came along and ran over you with the truck. Whether it could have been avoided with a second cup of coffee or last minute trip to the bathroom to wet the comb and run the bristles through our bed-tangled hair. These things would be helpful to know. We came around the bend in the road and saw what little of the road the lights and the fog would allow. The wrongness of your being there an overwhelming fact we were going to have to get used to. The awful sound. The panicky jolt. The pieces of you we took with us. Flesh on the undercarriage, blood on the wheels, bright matter on shiny steel. A miracle we didn’t get stopped at the crossing. We didn’t stop for anything. Not for you. Not for the truck. Not even for a cigarette. We kept going until we were on the other side. And we wondered why it was so hard to get out of bed, so difficult to greet the darkness outside the window. How it felt like someone wanted us to stay. A premonition, we agreed over coffee, a warning. We shut the driveway gate and ran hot water in the buckets and sprayed the vehicle down. The sun refracted in the spray of the water, colors of the rainbow made visible in the air, and after everything was finished and put away, the rags arranged on the clothesline in dingy semaphore, we lit a candle and placed it on the altar as a reminder to keep silent, knowing you’d understand.


Jim Ruland is the author of the short story collection Big Lonesome and the curator of the reading series Vermin on the Mount, now in its eight year. He is the recipient of a literature fellowship from the NEA, a scholarship from Bread Loaf, and a PEN In the Community Residency. He works at an Indian casino in San Diego and teaches at San Diego Writers, Ink. He lives with his wife, the visual artist Nuvia Crisol Guerra. Check out www.vermin.blogs.com/bl and www.artecrisol.com.

Abundance, image 18

by Joseph Young

Editor’s Note: Each Monday we’ve been publishing individual pieces from Joseph Young’s Abundance. Abundance is 27 occurrences: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.

Joseph Young lives in Baltimore. His book of microfictions, Easter Rabbit, was released by Publishing Genius in December 2009; he is currently shopping out a second manuscript of microfiction. He also enjoys creating concrete representations of text, and this work has been included in a number of art shows in Baltimore. Some of this work can be found at TextShop.blogspot.com or www.verysmalldogs.blogspot.com.

Author’s Note. I was looking to do a project that would remind me of the abundance of my life, the many cool experiences I’ve had, people I’ve met, and I was looking to do something in text and image. I wanted to do something I’d not done before, material and process wise, so I came up with the idea of using a stencil and Letraset letters. The figure is a rough stencil I made from a photo of myself, spray painted on cardstock. Over about a week, I wrote the various pieces of text based on my memories and applied them to the cards with Letraset.

Creative Nonfiction: Diggers

by Emily Conner

There was the time my brother buried me inside a cardboard box in the closet. We were playing, and he said, “This will be a good place to hide,” and he cleared a space among stuffed dogs and puppet bears and the clown with a zipper, a shoelace, and buttonholes but no buttons. I climbed in, eager to make myself secret, and he covered me well, then closed the cardboard lid and dropped another cardboard box on top.

(more…)

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 reading period for standard submissions closes June 15, 2021. Topical Thursdays’ submissions are open year-round. Submit here.

Upcoming

07/26 • Jen Huang
07/29 • Lazar Trubman
07/30 • Jasmine Sawers
08/02 • Natalie Schriefer
08/05 • Daniel Felsenthal
08/06 • Kim.M.Munsamy
08/09 • Carla Sarett
08/12 • TBD
08/13 • Elizabeth Amon
08/16 • Shanti Chandrasekhar
08/19 • TBD
08/23 • Merrill Oliver Douglas
08/26 • TBD
08/27 • Shyla Shehan
08/30 • Andrew Warnke
09/02 • TBD
09/03 • David Hargreaves
09/06 • June Avignone
09/09 • TBD
09/10 • Laurence Musgrove
09/13 • Zoe Dickinson
09/16 • TBD
09/20 • Karoline Schaufler
09/23 • TBD
09/27 • TBD
09/30 • TBD
10/04 • TBD
10/11 • TBD
10/18 • TBD
10/25 • TBD