Jan 3, 2009

Dumb Animals, G.Acuff

Dumb Animals
By Gale Acuff

I love my dog. I think about him when
I'm at school. Does he know what I'm doing,
how I have to be away though I don't
want to? I'm at school seven hours a day,
sometimes eight when I have to stay-after
(spitballs, wrong answers, cutting up, fighting).
If one year for me is seven or eight
for him, then how long lasts one school day? I
can't figure it--math isn't my subject.
But each day when I get off the bus, there
he is, at the top of the hill, our house
behind him as if the past's made of bricks.
His head's up and his tail's wagging and he
can't even see me yet. He's learned by rote,
I guess, that I always return, except
on weekends. And then we play like puppies,
and stay up late, Fridays and Saturdays,
lie on my bed, watch TV in the dark,
relax. So if one dog year is seven

then eight hours must be like weeks, even months.
That's a mighty long time to be faithful.
And he can't tell time so he must feel it.
That's pretty smart. I make it up to him
on weekends and holidays, and summer
vacations, or try. No one likes to be
lonely. At school I look out the window
and see the future, at least afternoon,
when we'll be together on the front porch,
having a snack, sharing milk and cookies.
Good boy, I say. You want some more cookie?
I drink half the milk, then hold up the glass
for him--he doesn't have real hands that work
--and he laps up the rest. Good boy, again.
He hasn't done anything to earn praise
but I like to think he knows I'm grateful
that he's been home when I'm away and that love,

if that's what that is, is worth waiting for.
I mean, I've heard somewhere that animals
don't really love but I think it's people
is what. Not all people, but most. Many.
Some, anyway. He may be just a mutt
but when I come home and he meets me halfway

down the driveway to welcome me back, well,
I get that feeling that there is a God
and he loves all dumb animals the same
and I don't mind being on his level,
my dog's, I mean, if it's okay with him.
I'm pretty sure it is, deep down below.
And Church is just one half-day more of school.

Candle, D.Gross

By Daniel Gross

every morning
she looks
always up
grey sky
mute questions
but on this day,
deliverance comes
4,000 tons
of fuse
and shrapnel

and the city
sleeping softly
is shaken roughly awake

It Only Feels...K.LaDew

It Only Feels Like Waking Up
By Kate LaDew

It is not for us to feel sympathy. Clean and cool in the villa. Lunch, superb. He is a prophet and they have been warned.

Light everywhere. Not difficult to see time passing slowly in a place like this. Where they have chosen to think, to discuss, not a room for living. For display, for discussion, for showing off. It
is a room to brag so the occupant need not.

It is final. It will solve any and all future problems. They look like a painting, he thinks.
All so still and solid, hair perfectly combed, boots shining, uniforms crisp, glints of silver sparking, aflame. We will sign. We have all agreed. It is right, what has happened here.
He is unsure. He has wondered, What if God sees? I will damn my soul to hell. Spoken and thought in the same moment. Objections will be met with torture. With death. Smiled, breathed in pretty words but he sees it in their eyes. What if the Führer sees? He will sign. He is as certain of this as he is of the devil Every man knows in his gut what waits when he
falls asleep the final time. Every man has written the story of his life
with the decisions he makes. Few sign their own death warrant. He
is in rare company.

Suddenly sick. Suddenly running. Staggering into the world outside, stomach expelling its contents on expensive German stone. This is real. This is vital. This has happened and he is gasping. The sun is shining. It is beautiful. It is beautiful and bright and there is a breeze and there is nothing more one could ask of a day. The remains of the superb lunch are running down his mouth, mixing with the grass. Green and now, raising his eyes, clear blue. It is
the color of heaven. He will not see it. He is certain.

Years. Everything that came from 5400 seconds. Over. Men, women, children seeping into the earth like water, and he is farther from home and closer to where he wants to be. Where he does not think of it, where he thinks only of working and gardening and the trust granted by those who do not know him and what he has done. He lives a very long time. He lives outside of those 5400 seconds and is happy. One day he stops living, alone in his warm bed in his
warm house and it is sudden because one loses sight of things when it is helpful to forget. One loses sight of things when seeing is painful.

It only feels like waking up and he is seated in a room, facing a young woman. It is very nice in this room, very clean and very cool and very bright. The young woman does not look up from the papers on her desk and he smiles. She is lovely. He sees a door behind her. The only door in
the room and it is puzzling to him. Where am I? And she looks up. She sees him as if she were waiting, waiting for him to speak, as if she knew what his voice would sound like. The young
woman asks, Mr. Metzer ? Hans Metzer?

It is surprising but he answers. Yes. And again,

Where am I?

Picking up a pen, such thin, graceful fingers, the young woman draws a slow line on the crisp white in front of her, then, standing, speaks softly, carefully forming each word, Wait here, Mr. Metzer. She opens the door, walks out, closes the door. It is a single motion and Hans Metzer waits.

It has been some time. It seems a long time. Pacingnow. He has not looked at the papers on the desk. He has waited but it is hard not to wonder. Walking to them now, he slides the white, angling it to his eyes. Recognition. He has seen this paper before. He has seen
this type. He has seen these signatures, lining the bottom in black ink. Some are marked through. Marked through with a slow line. The letters are familiar. They make up the names of people he knew. His own name flashes like sun through trees. It is split in half by a slow,
slow line.

He waits. He is waiting. He watches the door. No one comes. Striding to it, placing a firm hand, turning the knob. Nothing happens. It is locked. It must be locked. It means something, he knows. This is very vital, very real. It means something, and he looks, as if his eyes were pulled by a string up, up, up. It is blue. Clear blue. It is the color of heaven. He has nothing to reach it with. He is so heavy. He could never lift himself that high, that far. Clean and cool in the room. Light is everywhere. He is alone with names that were people and they feel no sympathy.

Be Careful...K.Strong

Be Careful What You Wish For
By Kevin Strong

When you're feeling sad and blue

The things you wish just might come true

Don't wish for things that you don't want

Your wishes might come back to haunt

Always mean the things you say

When things aren't going quite your way

Words said in haste never disappear

They only hurt the ones you hold dear

Anger will cloud your judgment every time

So, be very careful what you wish for

The consequences could be real this time

So, be very careful what you wish for

Developing, R.Standley

By Ryan Standley

As a junior in a small town high school, I worked at a photography studio. My boss kept himself busy shooting senior portraits in the backroom while I stayed in the smelly red-lit darkroom developing black-and-white passport photos and wide-angle football shots, hallways in passing, dances, and student club pics for the yearbook committee.

Our film developing process began with my boss, Tim, creating a negative by unrolling film in complete darkness, wetting it in chemicals, and hanging it to dry. Later I'd run the dried strip through a single frame projector, flashing light onto white photo paper, removing the paper from its frame, submerging it in starter bath till the image appeared, then stop bath, and wash. The photos were laid out to dry on a table, no clothespin line like the movies.

The job was monotonous till I developed a roll of my boss's naked wife. The pregnant, nipple-concealing pose, popularized in the nineties by Demi Moore and Vanity Fair, covered two rolls, 24 exposures each, including several obvious nipple and hair slips. The unappealing pregnant belly was cropped off. Black and white, shining wet, topless with a serious expression and slicked back hair. The copies I made for my personal files were openly drying on the table when my boss suddenly walked in the darkroom. Tim saw the pictures and froze. He slowly turned green, opened his mouth to speak, barely grunted, and quickly left the room.
After seeing his reaction I felt guilty and ripped up all the prints and went home. Tim and I never spoke of it again, and I found a new job a month later. I forgot all about the embarrassing situation until I saw old Tim at the grocery store the other day. He introduced me to his beautiful wife, and his son, who was twelve, and I suddenly felt very old.

Fridge 2008, L.Vader

Fridge 2008
By Lucy Vader

Fridge. Why are you so cold?

I hold the milk in the frosty morn,

standing in the kitchen, naked, at dawn.

You're cold, colder, frozen, thawed:
My toast, unbuttered on the chopping board.

Only Flashes... F.D.Marcél

Only Flashes, Never Entire Pictures
By F.D. Marcél

I talk about it in glass shards, crackling under the feet of children running through the alley behind the bodega. A round of thunder let off through the sky and a red tide. Wasn't like the movies. His mouth gurgled and he blinked over and over, touching his chest with limp fingers, smoke from the hole, I could see the wisps fade. Slightly. The lady who sold me strawberry soda after school was screaming. His eyes were cold suddenly. Rachel pulled my arm and it hurt me, her fingers dug into my skin. She was older and she was crying. We ran with glass breaking under our feet. Her mother washed my face. I sat on their porch, where Rachel would kiss me that summer, where I would hold her hand, not yet, not now. Mrs. Terry was explaining life and death to her daughter when I snuck away. I knew and didn't want to know. The Avenue was torn to pieces for construction. I weaved myself through rubble. His blinking eyes knew me because his hands had given me a Mike Schmidt baseball card, 1986. He wore white Nikes everywhere. I didn't want to remember his name. I lost the baseball card. Never drank strawberry soda after that. Couldn't taste it anymore, wasn't there. Nothing there.

If Only, C.Crowley

If Only
By Claire Crowley

Ripples in the pool

under the full moon sky, tonight.

Consumed with the thought

that I just might want to stay here forever,

and you,

you take my hand to

tell me the best things in life barely last a second, or less.

So I smile, a sad, tragic smile

and close my eyes.

Predictable, this will pass.

This feeling of being

alive and fragile

but bigger than the world

and free

but entangled in you.

The feeling of stomach churning, palms sweating, nervous fidgeting.

Laughter in memories

of late nights in dark places and smiles.

Smiles that let me forget the gaps between us, victims of bad timing.

Tragic, another place, another time. Why?

The glow of the dashboard witnesses

whispers shared with each other, never told

to those that were supposed to be closest to us.


This isn’t right, guilty conscience.

Somewhere someone waits for you to get home.

And we are in fact, complete strangers.

Complete strangers that complete each other

scary and unstable, but, what is a life of regrets.

You trace my depravation of happiness

down the small of my back

in my wine stained dress

I promise to miss you

when you slip the ring on her finger,

out of my life and

into the darkness

beneath the ripples

of what could have been.