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Month: April 2019

CNF: Suspended Animation

by M. McCune

 

[Editor’s Note: Click on the triptych below to view it at full size.]

 

M.P. McCune lives in New York City with her husband, kids and a bearded dragon. She writes flash in the scraps of time left over at the end of the day. You can see more of her work in Atlas and Alice, Former Cactus, and Gravel and find her on Twitter @MPMcCune2.

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

As a child, I ran and played tag among the graves in the Church cemetery after services. The contrast between the kid’s laughter and the stillness of the grave struck me. When my mother was buried, I found it hard to reconcile. Being at the bottom of the pool, in silence while everyone splashed above me helped me make sense of it.

Succulent Sunday: Not in Kansas

Photo by Meg Boscov

[Editor’s Note: This ongoing Sunday feature pairs photographs from Meg Boscov with a thought (or two) from the managing editor about focusing on tiny things to find something significant. Click on the picture itself to view at full size.]

 

 

Commenting on the photographer’s pictures, someone asked, “Where are you?” The photographer hadn’t left home, shooting the succulents in her own backyard. Through her unique viewpoint of the ‘everyday,’ she captured the remarkable.

 

Dorothy famously says to her little dog, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” How can you give that feeling to Kansas itself? How can you make the familiar setting feel like something otherworldly? That is the question from the succulents this Sunday morning.
 

 

Meg Boscov lives and works outside of Philadelphia where she continues to pursue her careers in animal-assisted education & dog training, along with her burgeoning interests in photography & gardening.

 

 

The Ellspermanns (2 of 4)

by C.R Resetarits

[Editor’s Note: Click on the image below to view it at full size.]


 

Author’s Note
The images used are part of my family tree—the Ellspermanns—who were a huge family (eight kids, scores of cousins). I’ve compressed the experience of them by just focusing on the women (all successful, outlandish and resolutely single). The last of these died two months ago at age 104, a final act of compression. I hope a bit of their energy and love of fun comes across. The  way the colors really made their smiles and eyes pop were the key and the surprise for me.

 

C. R. Resetarits is a writer and collagist. She has had work recently in Chattahoochee Review and Confrontation; out now in December and Saltfront, out soon in Southern Humanities Review and Modern Language Review. She lives in Faulkner-riddled Oxford, Mississippi.

Knock Knock Knocking On Godot’s Door

by Soren James

Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful!
Knock knock.
Wow, what a change of fortune!

#

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
The interminable wait.
The interminable wait who?
You’re not making this any easier.

#

Knock, Knock.
Who’s there?
The revealer of ignorance.
The revealer of ignorance who?
My work here is done.

#

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Godot.
You’re joking?
Yes.
(pause) Yes, you’re joking? Or yes, you’re Godot?
No. I’m joking about anyone being here.
What’s the joke?
Exactly.
Mr Beckett, if you continue this harassment I’m calling the police.

#

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
God.
(A silent resentment ensues forever)

#

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Infinity.
Infinity who?
Infinity beginning: Knock knock. . . .

#

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Time. I was just passing.
You would have passed in any case.
Yes, but less rapidly – my car broke down.

#

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Waiting For Godot.
Waiting For Godot who?
I didn’t catch the last name.
You’re waiting on someone and you don’t even know their full name? Did you get a phone number or email?
We were distracted – Didi’s got these bad feet, and I’m . . .

#

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Dramatic irony.
Oh, I didn’t realise it was you!

#

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
The desire to communicate.
The desire to communicate who?
That’s a good point. I’ll reflect further on that before I bother you again, Estrogen.

#

Knock.
What?
Forget it.

#

Knock knock knock.
Who’s there?
Knock knock knock knock!
Shit, it’s the police!

 

Soren James is a writer and visual artist who recreates himself on a daily basis from the materials at his disposal, continuing to do so in an upbeat manner until one day he will sumptuously throw his drained materials aside and resume stillness without asking why. More of his work can be seen here: https://sorenjames.wordpress.com

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Knock Knock Knocking On Godot’s Door ”?

Having waited some time, I saw God appear before me conveying a series of Knock Knock jokes—which I hastily wrote down and sent on to you.

Important Thoughts About Breakfast Cereal

For my family

Sartre said: Hell is
other people.

I say: Hell is
other people
chewing.

 

Stuart Gunter is working toward a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling and lives in Schuyler, Virginia. He likes to paddle the Rockfish River and play drums in obscure rock bands. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Madison Review, Gravel, Deep South, New Plains Review, and West Texas Literary Review, among others.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Important Thoughts About Breakfast Cereal”?

The origin of the poem dates back to my childhood, when I would eat cereal with my brother. His slurping and chewing drove me crazy. I once told my wife she chews funny. And often, I have to remove myself from the room when my son eats his cereal. No table is big enough. I was knocking the Sartre quotation around in my head one day and talking with a friend of mine who is similarly challenged by chewing. And I said the poem out loud, fully formed. The poem itself has gone through a few iterations, finally ending up in the final draft, with working titles such as Eating Breakfast with My Family to Eating Corn Flakes with Jean-Paul Sartre. But the sentiment remained intact during whatever form the poem took: hell is other people chewing. Which, to me, boils the general idea of “hell is other people” down to one small, specific aspect of humanity that makes it so: chewing. Finding the universal in the everyday is important to me. And this idea may sound simple, and possibly even stupid, but it’s also very real. And kind of funny.

Succulent Sunday: A Lesson of Humility

Photo by Meg Boscov

[Editor’s Note: This ongoing Sunday feature pairs photographs from Meg Boscov with a thought (or two) from the managing editor about focusing on tiny things to find something significant. Click on the picture itself to view at full size.]

 

 

It’s Passover, and there’s so many things we might pass over in our daily lives, tiny things that, when focused upon, reveal the largeness of life.

 

As Charles Glassman said, “Passover is the story of the liberation of body and spirit. In it comes a lesson of humility that belief in something larger than ourselves…can free us from the bondage of our primitive instincts and those of others.” Is it perhaps an attention to the “tiny” that shows our belief in something larger? That is this Sunday’s question from the succulents.

 

 

Meg Boscov lives and works outside of Philadelphia where she continues to pursue her careers in animal-assisted education & dog training, along with her burgeoning interests in photography & gardening.

 

 

The Ellspermanns (1 of 4)

by C.R Resetarits

[Editor’s Note: Click on the image below to view it at full size.]

 

Author’s Note
The images used are part of my family tree—the Ellspermanns—who were a huge family (eight kids, scores of cousins). I’ve compressed the experience of them by just focusing on the women (all successful, outlandish and resolutely single). The last of these died two months ago at age 104, a final act of compression. I hope a bit of their energy and love of fun comes across. The  way the colors really made their smiles and eyes pop were the key and the surprise for me.

 

C. R. Resetarits is a writer and collagist. She has had work recently in Chattahoochee Review and Confrontation; out now in December and Saltfront, out soon in Southern Humanities Review and Modern Language Review. She lives in Faulkner-riddled Oxford, Mississippi.

No Knees

by Michelle Ross

Worse things can happen than spotting your ex strolling through the park with a robot. Not a sleek automaton, mind you, but a creature so primitive it squeaks with every step.

“Can a robot be primitive?” the current says. “Isn’t synthetic sort of the opposite of primitive?”

We’re walking hand in hand and so is my ex and that robot that looks like a kitchen-sink salad of random parts. The robot’s head is, I’m pretty certain, the pot my ex and I used to make soup in. Its shoulders the fat, coily metal piping that connects the back of the washer and dryer to the wall. I don’t know the terms for these things. My ex used to tease me about my ignorance of all things mechanical. My current and I just call up her cousin Ned when water oversteps its boundaries or when the screw that holds everything together comes loose.

A few years ago I would have said, did say, that my ex can take everything, do what she wants with it. I didn’t care, I said. In fact, I said I’d be happier with nothing. That’s how much she drove me crazy. Didn’t get me at all.

My ex’s reply: she would, in fact, take everything and with it she’d make something better than she ever had with me.

Now the fiery pink of sunset is fading, and the gloom is settling in its place—squashing the fiery pink really, like the current’s cat does my hands when I’m trying to type.

“You mean the gloaming,” the current says.

The current knows what I’m thinking before I say it. There was a time when the newness of this was sparkly and exciting. Like my ex’s robot, I guess, before you see it try to take a step from the hip.

 

Michelle Ross is the author of There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, which won the 2016 Moon City Press Short Fiction Award. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Fanzine, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and other venues. She’s fiction editor of Atticus Review. www.michellenross.com

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “No Knees”?

I drafted this story during my first flashathon with Meg Pokrass and several other writers scattered around the world. For those who don’t know, a flashathon works like this: writers take turns providing prompts to the group, and individuals draft a new flash fiction story every hour for some number of hours. We wrote for fifteen hours that first time around. “No Knees” was the first story I drafted. It was to a photo prompt Meg provided—a black-and-white image, from the 50s I assume, of a woman holding the hand of a very clunky, primitive looking robot. They were outside in what appeared to be some kind of public park maybe. This is one of those rare stories that mostly came together immediately. I put it aside for some weeks, then made a few little tweaks, added the one line it was missing, and made what had been the story’s last two words the title.

Fantastic Flights

by Mason Binkley

“You will be fired from the cannon,” Cleo said. Then again, perhaps Clover said it.

“I am not afraid,” Dante said. “I mean, I am afraid not.”

“This is not open for discussion,” Cleo or Clover said. They stepped closer. Dante could hardly tell them apart under normal circumstances, being identical twins, but now they wore matching leotards and tutus, hats with feathers, chokers with bells.

“It’s not fair,” Dante said, looking up at them.

“Don’t lecture us about fairness,” one of the twins said. She – whoever said it – gently slid her fingernail down Dante’s cheek. “We adopted you after your parents abandoned you near the lion cages. You owe us your life.”

The door of the dressing room flung open and Marvin, the circus master, stepped inside. His gray beard was rumored to have captured the souls of dead elephants. The top hat on his egg-bald head concealed scars from animal bites. “So, who shall it be?” he asked, clutching a whip.

Cleo and Clover smiled and looked down at Dante. “Me,” he said.

***

“Without further ado,” Marvin yelled into his megaphone, “I give you Dante the Dwarf.”

Dante, a boy masquerading as a small man, ran towards the cannon dressed in a clown costume, his face painted white. The crowd erupted, clapping and whistling, screaming and laughing. The scent of booze and vomit hung in the air.

The cannon’s polished black mouth formed a perfect O. Along the barrel appeared the words, “The Widowmaker.” Cleo and Clover stood near the giant net in the distance, waving and blowing kisses.

“Behold,” Marvin yelled, “you will see this cannon fired for the first time.” The spectators roared, their mouths fixed open, eyes glowing yellow in the night.

At the top of the ladder, Dante stuffed beeswax and cotton inside of his ears. He glanced at the star-speckled sky, regretting the ladder did not extend into the heavens. He slid to the base of the barrel.

In the darkness, waiting for the blast to propel him through the air, Dante had this vision: The cannon fires and now he’s flying, watching the crowd shrink beneath him. He passes over the countryside, over cities and oceans, glides past stars and planets. Clouds of gas and dust glow in purple and blue. When he comes down, he’s somewhere similar to Earth, but everyone acts differently towards him. Children in the park smile and ask him to play games. Adults in the market wave. Some give him candy. Dante has a loving family in this other place. At night, near a gentle fire, he laughs with his parents and they read him stories. They promise to never abandon him.

Mason Binkley lives with his wife and identical twin boys in Tampa, Florida, and works as an attorney. His writing has appeared, or will have appeared, in Necessary Fiction, Jellyfish Review, Barely South Review, Pithead Chapel, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and other places. You can find him online @Mason_Binkley.

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

A writing prompt from Meg Pokrass in one of her online workshops inspired the first version of this story. The prompt involved an old photograph Meg had found of three members of a circus: a boy or small man dressed as a clown, his face painted white, and two women in matching costumes standing next to him. The first version was twice as long and had a rather macabre ending. I took the good advice of the workshop participants and pared the story down, discarding the ending and developing the aspects that had the greatest emotional significance. Then, over six months, I kept revisiting the story, trying to see it from a fresh perspective. I made minor adjustments throughout this process until I finally felt satisfied.

Succulent Sunday: The Little Things

Photo by Meg Boscov

[Editor’s Note: This ongoing Sunday feature pairs photographs from Meg Boscov with a thought (or two) from the managing editor about focusing on tiny things to find something significant. Click on the picture itself to view at full size.]

 

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Here, Meg Boscov be-holdin’ her camera to find such beauty in an early spring garden.

 

 

When I looked at that same garden, here is what I saw:

 

“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you,” Andy Warhol once said. That is Sunday’s message from the succulents.

 

 

Meg Boscov lives and works outside of Philadelphia where she continues to pursue her careers in animal-assisted education & dog training, along with her burgeoning interests in photography & gardening.

 

 

News

Congrats to the Best Small Fictions nominations from Matter Press for Compressed Creative Arts: Sara Backer’s “Oh, What a Night”; Dan Crawley’s “Powers”; Jill Talbot’s “Malahat Highway on Boxing Day”; Christopher Allen’s “Falling Man;” and Kathy Fish’s “Five Micros.” Congrats to Christopher Allen for being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

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

Submissions

Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions is now open. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period closes June 15, 2019; submit here.

Upcoming

05/20 • Clint Margrave
05/22 • Leah Griesmann
05/23 • Nance Van Winckel (1 of 8)
05/27 • Natasha Sajé
05/29 • Carolyn Oliver
05/30 • Nance Van Winckel (2 of 8)
06/03 • Ankita Banerjee
06/05 • Rachel Rodman
06/06 • Nance Van Winckel (3 of 8)
06/10 • Erica Soon Olsen
06/12 • Beverly Jackson
06/13 • Nance Van Winckel (4 of 8)
06/17 • Avra Margariti
06/19 • Tommy Dean
06/20 • Nance Van Winckel (5 of 8)
06/24 • Stephen Reaugh
06/26 • Hege Lepri
06/27 • Nance Van Winckel (6 of 8)
07/01 • Danielle Hark
07/03 • Shirley Harshenin
07/04 • Nance Van Winckel (7 of 8)
07/08 • Matthew Barrett
07/10 • Andrew Stevens
07/11 • Nance Van Winckel (8 of 8)
07/15 • Peter Cherches
07/17 • Christopher Ryan
07/22 • Jessica Kehinde Ngo
07/24 • TBA
07/29 • TBA
07/31 • TBA