It’s a virtual reading and it’s happening now and everyone is going. Gary Hardaway reads “Against the Void” and Shauna Gilligan reads “Remains” and I read “Prelude” and Darryl Price reads “Cups for Saucers” and “In the Past” and Marcus Speh reads “Tinpot Love” and Bill Yarrow reads “Charlatan Art” and “The Basement of Desire” and good old Finnegan Flawnt resurfaces with his reading of one of my favorite Darryl Price poems, “Like a Pop Song This is the Head of a Sunflower.” So stop by when you have a chance (click here for the Olentangy Review’s Virtual Reading Room). Thank you to Melissa and Darryl Price!
In honor of International Flash Fiction Day – June 22nd – I’m joining Flash Mob 2013. Writers around the globe will be posting short and perhaps more experimental fiction to their websites and blogs in an effort to promote and celebrate the short form of flash fiction. My flash is below, a sort of meditation on adulthood and childhood and the spaces between them. Thirty-three crayons were named and, hopefully, not harmed in the making of this little thing.
Naming Crayons, or the Edges of Denim
Somewhere between outer space and the mountain meadow survives Canary Square, a place of little consequence save for the fact that it lies under the cerulean ceiling particular to our land and rests on that raw umber which shares space with the orchid, goldenrod, and cornflower and abuts the green blue sea where the manatee rolls under the shadow of clouds. Here the timber wolf and beaver perk their ears as a small boy rings a lavender bell, calling his family to an outdoor table spread with asparagus sandwiches and pitchers of almond milk and frosty cups of pink sherbet and baskets brimming with ambrosia of plums, apricots, and melon. The final spoon’s fall signals day’s close, and the sunglow, cerise and startling and bittersweet, lends light’s last blush so that the neon carrots and atomic tangerines and handles of antique brass seen through the windows of houses gleam and shimmer before turning to copper, and the inchworm makes its slow way past the wild strawberry plants, past the old wisteria leaning nearly to touch its back, through the ferns yellowing (even now!) at newly curled edges.
From this view in an otherwise sad world, a small part of you realizes you’ve been here before.
From this view in an otherwise sad world, a small part of you remembers being here.
From this view in an otherwise sad world, a small part of you remembers this place.
From this view in an otherwise sad world, a small part of you remembers.
And the inchworm – out of sight now. And us, well – we are already on our way to forgetting.
The Olentangy Review is the beautiful brainchild of Darryl and Melissa Price, and I have a new short work there called “Prelude.” I wrote this piece shortly before the violence in Newtown and well before the attacks on Boston. I read it back now, a glimpse of land and life imagined, and realize how close we always are to the fictitious, to the unimaginable, to our nightmares – and to the songs that will move us through. Many, many thanks to Darryl and Melissa for their support and inspiration. You can find “Prelude” and the wonderful work of the Olentangy Review here.
The Exquisite Quartet Anthology 2012 (edited by Meg Tuite) is out in paperback and available for purchase! I’m very happy that my collaborative story from Used Furniture Review’s “Exquisite Quartet” column is included. You can buy the book here, through Lulu.
This month I join Meg Tuite, Linda Simoni-Wastila, and Faye Rapoport DesPres as the featured writers in Meg’s “Exquisite Quartet” column at Used Furniture Review. We collaborated on a fun, racy tale called “The After-Life of a Defeated Politician.” Thanks so much to Meg and UFR for including me in this highly entertaining collaboration.
I have new work up at one of my favorite spots. If you’re not familiar with Blue Fifth Review and the Blue Five Notebook series, please have a look – the work is eclectic, inspiring, gorgeous, and consistently so. My little thing called “The Devil is an Art Critic” is now published as part of their September 2012 Flash Special. The issue is very cool, and you can read it by going here. Thank you to Michelle Elvy and Sam Rasnake for their continued support of my writing.
On Saturday mornings, by noon, the delivery car comes from Boston and unloads fresh bread and sandwiches, pork ribs and ground pork stuffed inside of breads and buns and banana leaves, bean shakes, and sticky rice desserts. I watch the man come in, unpacking boxes and arranging them on a table near the checkout counter. My husband clutches his basket, studying the delivery, and walks back and forth behind the table, then around to the other side of it, every now and then taking up an item and examining it at eye level. I stand back and watch him. He is lovely, on Saturday mornings, perusing the fare. I note his winter jacket, and remind myself to sew that button back on when I can. It’s the third one from the top, popped off two weeks ago.
He moves around the table, slowly filling his basket. Walking up to him, I put a hand on his shoulder and nod my head toward the candy aisle, and I leave him, planting a kiss on his face as I walk by. I don’t like to speak English here, though the two girls at the counter use it with customers. They are sisters, and they ring up the purchases, their hands flying over the old registers, entering prices they know by heart. High behind them is a shelf holding Buddha figurines of various sizes and colors, I don’t know if they’re for sale, and beneath the glass counter there are shelves filled with old, yellowing, dusty boxes of Asian creams and medicines that no one ever buys. I imagine them as magical elixirs, powerful potions, waiting to be discovered, like in a movie, some untold force unleashed upon their purchase and use.
Walking across the front of the store, I turn and head down one of the first aisles, the one with the bright packages of candy and cookies. This side of the store holds on to the overwhelming smell of fish, concentrated and heavy, from the tanks near the back, and I hold my breath. Down at the opposite end, near the tanks, I see an old woman coming around the corner. She is pushing an empty cart, and at first I think she’s stumbled, but then I see she is dancing. Dancing! And there’s no music, anywhere, but she’s shifting her hips, and there goes a twirl, she’s spinning, and there’s nothing in her cart. I watch as she slowly dances up the aisle, moving towards me, and I wonder if I should avert my eyes, but I don’t, I just watch as she twirls again, and now she’s close to me and I watch as she comes up, and she’s smiling, and I realize I’m not holding my breath anymore. She stops her cart beside me and reaches over, taking my hands in hers, and says something to me, words I can’t understand, the meaning of life or what happens after you die, something wise and important. Then she pats my arm, and moves off with her cart, walking now, as if she’s spent all of her youth, after all this time.
I hurry off after her, but she’s turned the corner, and I don’t see her, perhaps a trick of my eye. Instead I see my husband, walking towards me with a plastic bag in hand, and I ask him, trying to remember the words the old woman spoke to me, and he looks confused. I must have said it wrong. I don’t find her again that day, but I come back every Saturday, hoping.
First published by Like Birds Lit, 2010.
My contributor copy of The Binnacle’s Eighth Annual Ultra-Short Edition is here! This beautiful and tiny print collection arrived in the mail on Christmas Eve. My story “The Dispensary” is included, as well as many, many fine others. Ordering information is here.
In other news, “You Take All” is up now in Volume 6, Number 4 of the Wilderness House Literary Review. Special thanks to Susan Tepper for giving this one a good home! The issue is packed with wonderful, wonderful writers.
I’m very honored to learn that fwriction : review has nominated “Star Anise” for a Pushcart. Special thanks to Danny Goodman, and congrats to everyone who received nominations this year!