Fiction

Karl Wallenda’s Watch

by Bill Meissner

 

 

Each step should be precise and tight and complete, he thinks,

the sides of the foot cupped around the wire as you walk the toward

the middle. Each step should be graceful and exact, and so

silent that you can hear the gasps of the crowd below, a sound

like fluttering wings.

 

The dream fades from Chance’s mind. He finds himself in a

circus museum, staring through a glass display case. Inside it is

the wrist watch Karl Wallenda wore when he fell to his death.

“Look,” he says to the woman he loves, who tours the museum with

him on their weekend getaway, “It’s Wallenda’s watch.” But

when he turns toward her, he sees that she has walked further down

the display and doesn’t hear him above the off-key circus music

piped through the overhead speakers. “Look,” he says again, but

she’s already turned the corner and entered another room of the

display. It bothers him lately that, he never seems to speak to

her at the right time, and that she never seems to hear him.

 

For the past couple of years, Chance has had the recurring

dream of walking a tightrope, a silver wire strung over a dark

canyon. In the dream, he’s standing on the brightly painted red and

yellow plywood platform, concentrating on the wire that’s perfectly motionless,

like a silver crack in the sky. He places his first shivering

bare foot on it and leans his weight forward. He knows the crowd

is down there, their upturned faces like pebbles at the bottom of a

clear stream, but he doesn’t look at them. He follows with his

left foot, and he lets go of the support ropes on the platform as

drops of sweat burn his eyes. Before he knows it, he’s halfway

across, staring straight ahead as he knows he must, the soles of

his feet finding the wire ahead of him. In the dream, he always

thinks how it’s easier than he thought it would be—this being

halfway. He’s an artist now, and it’s a slow, graceful float over

the canyon below, as if he were a bird, gliding. Before he

realizes it, he’s almost to the gray platform on the other side.

That’s when the wire begins to waver, as if there’s an earthquake,

as if the whole earth is shifting its weight left, then right, then

left.

 

At that moment the wire suddenly widens and flattens and

Chance wakes in a bed next to the woman he loves, and he feels the

sweat on his face, the adrenalin making his heart squeeze hard like

a fist grasping to hold on to something.

 

He always wakes at that moment when the wire wavers.

 

He never knows if he falls, or if he makes those final

steps onto the other platform, never has the chance to hear

the applause from the tense audience, gathered below at the edges

of the canyon. He sits up in a bed that’s still and solid and

unmoving. And when he leans over and kisses her, it finally brings

him back to pure, sweet consciousness.

 

* * *

 

One night, when he woke from his dream, his kiss woke her.

 

“Why did you kiss me?” Grace whispered.

 

“So I know I’m not falling,” he said.

 

“Falling?” she said, her sleepy voice becoming more practical.

 

“Why would you be falling?”

 

He never answered her question, didn’t really how to respond.

 

After all, he’s never told her about this recurring dream; he just

keeps the falling inside himself, where it belongs.

 

* * *

 

Today, in the museum, Chance stares through the glass case at the

pictures of The Flying Wallendas, sees them on bicycles on the wire, sees

the famous seven-person chair pyramid, a tight-rope act which they performed

without a net. The pyramid collapsed one day, dropping several

of the family members to their deaths. He cringes when he reads

the placard which describes the accident. Chance wonders a lot lately

about life’s straight lines that seem to lead you forward, and the

way you have to balance to stay on. He tries not to think about

falling off. He is always honest with himself except when it comes

to the falling.

 

The placard describes how Karl Wallenda—known as The

Great Wallenda—was injured in the incident and,

and, after recuperating, got back on the high wire again.

All the survivors stepped back on the wire again to perform

more circus shows. What must have been going through their minds

when they climbed back onto that wooden platform and touched their

toe to the wire again? Chance wonders. They couldn’t have allowed

their minds any image of that deadly fall. All they could possibly

think was toe to wire, next step, next step. That’s the only way

to approach it, he thought: one step after the other, shoulders

arched back proudly. Never a thought of the darkness below.

Confidence was their only net.

 

At the front of the display case is the watch worn by The

Great Wallenda at the time of his death. Chance can hardly get

himself to study it, but he forces himself: It’s a simple watch,

with a plain black leather wristband and a small, delicate silver

watchface. Chance is amazed that the crystal of the watch is not

cracked or broken. The placard tells that Karl, at age 73, walked between

two ten-story buildings in Puerto Rico when a sudden gust of wind

caused the wire to sway. He was holding his balance pole, but that

didn’t help—the pole suddenly tilted to one side, pulling him, and he fell.

Chance pictures the moment: Karl’s outstretched fingertips

reaching for a wire which might as well have been a thousand miles

away.

 

He wonders: What went through Karl’s mind as he fell to the

pavement 121 feet below? Did he close his eyes? Did he

concentrate with all his powers, trying to transform solid concrete

into a layer of sponge? Did he hear someone in the audience call out to him,

a soft voice, as if to break his fall? Or did he simply accept

that this was his fate: to be destroyed by what he loved most, and

to know that if he had the chance to live his life again, he would

climb back on that wire. He would climb back on it again and

again. He would do what he loved, no matter if his fragile bones

shattered a thousand times.

 

The hands of Wallenda’s watch read ten after twelve. As he stares

at it, Chance wonders: did the watch stop at ten after twelve, exactly

at the moment when the pavement rushed up to meet Karl? Or did it

keep running for a while, pulling Karl’s spirit into the future for

a few minutes or hours before it finally wound down?

 

Chance’s mind races—he wants to ask Grace these questions,

he wants to tell her his dream, but she’s already walked further

along the circus displays and has turned the corner into the next

room. As he walks down the narrow, picture-lined hallway to look

for her, he finds himself placing one foot in front of the other,

delicately, along a seam in the concrete floor.

 

When he turns the corner, she’s there, standing in front of a

brightly painted red and yellow circus wagon. She looks up at him,

her eyes large, blue, two pools of sky.

 

“What’s wrong, Chance?” she asks, her voice melodic. “You

look pale, like something terrible happened.”

 

“It did,” he says. “The Great Wallenda died. He fell from

the wire and was killed.”

 

A puzzled look washes across her face. She puts her hand on

his shoulder. “I know that,” she says. “But that was a long time

ago. You say it like it just happened.”

 

He looks down at his feet and sighs. “I feel like it just

did. ”

 

He looks into her eyes and he wants to say more. She’s always

so certain about her career in business, confident about her life, her

direction, thinks Chance. He wishes he could explain everything

to her, but just like the Great Wallenda couldn’t find the wire as

he fell, he can’t find the right words.

 

* * *

 

Back at the motel, he tosses in the bed for a long time,

unable to sleep. He looks at his wrist, notices that he forgot to

take his watch off before bed. He stares at the face of the watch,

its faintly glowing hands already past two a.m..

 

He knows he might have the dream again when he falls asleep,

knows he might be taking those steps across the middle of the tightrope,

that, even though it’s only a few yards long, will seem to stretch into

infinity. One foot in front of the other with exact gracefulness,

and, when he approaches the far platform, everything will begin to

waver. Knows that he’ll suddenly look clumsy up there, not an

artist at all—his whole body wobbling like a top that’s lost its

spin, knows that the darkness might rise up from the canyon to

swallow him and that he’ll feel no balance, no balance at all.

But right now that doesn’t matter. Right now what matters is

that he’s close to the woman he loves. He slides his arms around

her, and kisses her cheek. She jolts slightly, as if waking.

 

“I was dreaming…” she whispers, her voice sounding suddenly

frail.

 

“Dreaming what?”

 

“I dreamt I was in the middle of a tightrope wire. It must

have been the museum. And what you said about Wallenda.” She

pulls back from him a moment and he sees, for the first time, a

fear, a doubt behind the beautiful, unbreakable bones of her face.

He hates to see that look on her face, but he loves her for it, too.

She clicks on the lamp, sits up in bed and seems to shiver.

He notices, for the first time, a slight tint of gray on the side

of her hair.

 

“Don’t worry,” he tries to assure her. “It was just a dream.”

 

He thinks maybe this is the time to tell her about his dream, about

the strange coincidence of common dreams, but then he decides that

maybe it would upset her more. So he keeps quiet about it. Maybe

he’ll tell her first thing in the morning, or on their long drive

home. The words will rush out, and he’ll tell her about Karl

Wallenda’s watch, and how far he fell, and how the crystal wasn’t

even shattered. And maybe she’ll tell him her worries, too, her

wavering. Maybe she’ll admit that her life, which always seemed

to stretch so far out in front of her when she was young, doesn’t

seem so endless any more. Maybe they’ll tell each other that

there’s no holding still, there’s no guarantee that, once they

reach the great middle, they won’t lose their balance and fall.

He clicks off the light, touches her hand and they embrace

across the canyon of the bed. He feels her breath on his sweating

neck, feels her thoughts intertwine with his like a strong, tight

cord, feels the tingle of static electricity in her skin.

He hears his voice, her voice calling out from a distance, as

if they were watching someone falling, or as if they themselves

were falling.

 

She sits up suddenly and says, “Talk to me.”

 

“About what?” he asks.

 

“Anything,” she sighs. “Just talk to me.”

 

For a few seconds, he doesn’t say a word, just closes his

eyes. It occurs to him that now, right now, is the time to talk

about everything. He pulls her tightly to him and feels her hands,

like nets, pulling him at the same moment. They balance there together,

as if it will always be this way between them: catching each other,

then falling, then catching each other again.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Bill Meissner’s first novel, SPIRITS IN THE GRASS, about a small town ballplayer who finds the remains of an ancient Native American burial ground on a baseball field, was published in 2008 by the University of Notre Dame Press and won the Midwest Book Award. The book is available as an ebook from the UND Press. Meissner’s two books of short stories are THE ROAD TO COSMOS, [University of Notre Dame Press, 2006] and HITTING INTO THE WIND [Random House/SMU Press, Dzanc Books ebook].

Meissner has also published four books of poems: AMERICAN COMPASS, [U. of Notre Dame Press], LEARNING TO BREATHE UNDERWATER and THE SLEEPWALKER’S SON [both from Ohio U. Press], and TWIN SONS OF DIFFERENT MIRRORS [Milkweed Editions].

“Karl Wallenda’s Watch” is included in Meissner’s newly-released chapbook of stories and poems, THE GLASS CARNIVAL, published by Paper Soul Press,  Pittsburgh, Pa.  [papersoulpress@gmail.com].

He is director of creative writing at St. CloudStateUniversity in Minnesota. His web page is: http://web.stcloudstate.edu/wjmeissner/

His Facebook author page is:
http://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/pages/Bill-Meissner/174769532541232?sk=info

Three of Meissner’s poems and a trailer for SPIRITS IN THE GRASS are on youtube, accompanied by images and music.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Samuel46detail from  Merida Daytime by Samuel Barrera

 

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Fiction

Jehrico Finds a Mistress

by Tom Sheehan
Jehrico knew what he was, and right from his first pick-up, a token-type horseshoe: He was a collector of things tossed aside, and Jehrico assumed that the Indian woman he was looking upon had been thrown aside, like so many of the tossed parts he had retrieved and made something of in his foraging about the old west, which was, indeed, his land of discovery and recovery. In fact, the token-type horseshoe, at his insistence, was made into a Bowie knife by a Mexican blacksmith whose father had fought at the Alamo and came away with stories of Jim Bowie.
Unwittingly he had started his small business with that token-type horseshoe.
As for the Indian maiden, Jehrico made his pronouncement early. “She is the most beautiful maiden I have ever seen, ever been around.” It was Jehrico’s voice coming along a windswept passage in the Randolph Mountain Range. He was not talking about Lupalazo, his wife, or his oldest daughter, Kerradina, a beauty in her own right, and he was not talking to anybody but himself and a piece of the wind that would keep his secret locked in the clouds and the high mass of rock lifting his eyes to the blue sky … at least for the time being.
“I will not buy her if she is possessed now because she must be free in my mind as well as her own mind, but I will trade for her. That is my custom.” The junkman and salvager of the west had not let go of the talismans, the many of them, that brought him luck or the goodness borne in what God designed and what man made and then discarded.
And at the moment his eyes were studying another ghost town he had come across, the dust of the years blowing into the wind, to be grasped, run through the sieve of his mind for what he now called “salvagations.” He had coined his own word for what he accomplished over the years. His friend Collie Sizemore probably had some influence on the coining.
This maiden was part of the old building, for the knotted rope binding her to a beam was thick as her wrist, solidly in place, not eaten by time or vermin of the ghost town, a prisoner of the “knotter” whoever that might be. He had seen no other person and heard no other sound but her moaning.
Surely, though, someone was about, someone who would not let go of this beautiful creature, who had her hog-tied to a beam she could not break down or carry on her back.
In the rear of this decrepit building partially blowing in the wind, part of its dust making the last journey through creation, he’d found her. There was a moan riding an edge of the wind, a human in distress, and Jehrico made his way into and through the shanty-like building on its way to history. Rubble was everywhere, a mess of furniture and various implements, artifacts of a once-livable site, sitting in the last place they had been used, wrecked by time, twist or toss. But every article he spotted worthy of description and identification was slowly sifting through his mind.
He was at work, and at rescue.
Jehrico, once called by Collie Sizemore as the “razor appraiser,” carried only his sharp eyes and a rugged cudgel, a hand-fashioned weapon to ward off the first wild animal to set upon him. He had never used the cudgel for a weapon, but rather to thrust found things aside, into better view, to see what they were made of, what they had left in them, what they might become.
The stories of things he had “turned over” had assumed a legendary status, consisting of so many invaluable finds that truth built upon itself, for many believed what he had not yet found would come to his hand, without doubt, before it blew away into dust. Collie also said, “Jehrico is a savior of all things found and leave no life left on the ground.”
There were folks in Bola City who swore Sizemore worked out of some book that Jehrico had found along the way, in a deserted Conestoga or a fallen schoolhouse, who preached what he read.
Collie, one of his first friends, had become proficient in spreading his status in the west, the way his words seemed fashioned solely for Jehrico Taxico, Collector. “Don’t leave it, he’ll retrieve it.” Don’t toss your tool, you’ll look the fool.” “Don’t fling-off old gimmicks, he’ll make ‘em do tricks.”
Jehrico, it was also known, had never carried a firearm to protect himself. Excelling in bartering, in trading up or down for some target piece he noted still locked into original form, into its first intent, he followed the moaning that issued from the nearly-collapsed building in the sixth ghost town he’d come upon. Each sound, each sigh, each throaty call for help, drew him through the wrecked building, which he assumed even animals stayed clear of.
When he caught sight of her, standing in a shaft of sunlight dancing around her, his breath came to a halt, balled up in his chest, collected itself for a gasp noting pleasure without touching. She was absolutely beautiful in her horrible state. Her clothes, what was left of them, were shredded, tattered, but in such a haphazard manner they had left her as a most desirable woman, beautiful, wanton, dressed for company, undressed for company, exhibiting the shapeliest torso from hips to shoulders and slung with an obviously prominent bust, the finest and firmest of legs and arms, the perfect face of a woman of the west, her moans ascending the loveliest of throats, coming past a perfection of pale lips, sitting on his ears like a psalm of sorts, a prayer of thanksgiving before Jehrico could contemplate or conduct her rescue.
“What will I do now?” he asked aloud in the midst of dust, danger and derring-do. He had to release her from bonds, cover her, see who had imprisoned her in this dangerous site, and engineer a trade. He beheld a vision of Lupalazo when he had first seen her with the Indian he eventually traded with, and now envisioned Lupalazo looking over his shoulder, and fully noting how he viewed this new beauteous maiden of the west, this prisoner. Of all people, Lupalazo would know the unsaid that was being said, the feelings that were conjured, the minute joy being thrust into play.
This new woman of the west was easily the most handsome and beautiful he had ever seen. She was not an artifact, not something to improve, alter, absorb into some new element. She was perfection, unalterable, inalterable. He dared not close his eyes; he was concerned, afraid, disturbed by what he might do, hope for, end up with.
Then he realized she had not spoken a word, uttered only the moans of imprisonment, the pain of roped limbs, but she raised her eyes and stared off to her left; she was alerting him to something, someone. Her eyes squinted tightly and her jaw dropped slack. Fright broke out on her face, her mouth atwitter, her eyes begging salvation.
Jehrico grasped his cudgel tighter, swung around and saw two Sioux Indians standing at the door behind him, one with a lance, one with an arrow in his bow. Neither one carried a stone ax or a long knife.
Jehrico screamed the name “Wakan-Tanka,” one of the gods of the Sioux he was familiar with, then he swung the cudgel and hit above his head a cross-piece running across the room. The walls of the old decrepit building shook dust from secret places, echoed along other sections of joists and beams, shaking the whole building. The two Sioux dropped their weapons and stood entranced in place as Jehrico held out one hand in a sign of peace, even as the shaking of the old structure slowed down, and ceased. He showed no scowl on his face or any part of a smile, neutral for the moment.
But the next move was Jehrico’s and he knew it. Withdrawing his Bowie knife, he cut the bonds off the woman, knelt down in front of her, took her hand and held it on his head for a second, stood up and said again, in his most solemn voice, “Wakan-Tanka. Wakan-Tanka.” He wondered what the pair of them looked like, her in her tattered clothes that showed most of her body, him with a mighty cudgel in hand and saying the name of one of the Sioux gods.
Then Jehrico, not through any bartering as yet, made another strange move; he flipped the cudgel in the air, caught it coming down at its thickest end and held the handle toward the Sioux. Both Indians stepped back, refused to grasp the cudgel, and fled the building without their weapons, the god’s name leaping from their throats, “Wakan-Tanka! Wakan-Tanka!” From the dusty, barren road for more than a half mile he could hear their cries as they carried off fear and surprise in departure.
It was not his old pal Collie Sizemore who first saw the strange pair coming into Bola City, Jehrico leading his mule and a lovely Indian maiden, blanket-wrapped, sitting on the mule as though she owned it, her eyes looking straight ahead into the center of town. But it was Lupalazo from the porch of their home who saw them. The maiden did not see any of the men eventually staring at her, but saw Lupalazo and three children clutching at her knees while staring at the man with a strange woman on his mule, a sight they had never seen.
But it was Collie Sizemore, ever alert, who saw them next, who yelled it out, “See what Jehrico brought home now. She’s a beauty, a bubble of trouble does appear the way it looks from way off here.”
The saloon emptied into the street to see the sight. There was noise galore, roaring guffaws and aws and ahs, as the crowd looked upon the Indian maiden when the blanket fell away from her loveliness.
“Did you dig her up from one of those holy places, Jehrico?” Collie yelled out. “She looks godilly and quite bodily. And your wife is bound by strife.”
There was laughter and wonder and daydreaming galore as Jehrico threw the blanket back onto the maiden still sitting on the mule. Lupalazo smiled, knowing her man, throwing Collie Sizemore a quick look of condemnation for his remarks, but allowing a smile as punctuation, knowing what and who Collie was from near the beginning.
One of the older patrons of the saloon, who had heard or seen Jehrico at bartering before, asked, “What’d you give up for her, Jehrico? You still got all your arms and your legs.”
Collie Sizemore had to laugh at that one, and snapped his fingers in joy, and then Jehrico said, “I only had to use the bait of one of their gods for a couple of Indians.” He threw his head back, his mouth open, as if to show shock of some kind.
“Which one was that?” asked the old man, as though he was plumb familiar with the whole tribe of gods that ran the heavens above.
Jehrico said, “Why, Wakan-Tanka, of course,”
The old patron of the saloon simply said, as he turned and looked out over the congregation of drinkers, his eyes finally settling on Jehrico, “Oh, that one. Serves him right getting used up like that. You’re still ahead of the game, Jehrico. Gotta hand it to you.” He slapped his thighs with both hands.
All of them, including Collie and Jehrico gave the old man credit with heavy laughter; it was loud and lush and long. But it was Lupalazo, the Collector’s wife, the mother of his six children, who threw her arms around the still-frightened Indian maiden and said, as she ushered her away from the crowd, “Come along with me, dear, and we’ll get you cleaned up and into a proper outfit. Something special for what you’ve been through, something right out of my own collection, something a little more attractive for you.”
Looking back over her shoulder, she added, to one and all, “You will be welcome as mistress of our household and then we’ll see who wants to venture close to an Indian maiden.”
She was sure Jehrico understood every word but, just in case, she said it in her own tongue, with no twist in the meaning, “Le dará la bienvenida como maestra de nuestro hogar y, a continuación, vamos a ver quién quiere aventurarse cerca de una doncella India.”
The Master Collector of Junk understood every word, in both languages and, for sure, the full intent.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tom Sheehan served in the 31st Infantry, Korea 1951-52, and graduated Boston College in 1956. His books are Epic Cures; Brief Cases, Short Spans; Collection of Friends; From the Quickening; The Saugus Book; Ah, Devon Unbowed; Reflections from Vinegar Hill; This Rare Earth & Other Flights, and Vigilantes East.  eBooks include Korean Echoes (nominated for a Distinguished Military Award), The Westering, (nominated for National Book Award); from Danse Macabre are Murder at the Forum (NHL mystery), Death of a Lottery Foe, Death by Punishment, and An Accountable Death. Co-editor of A Gathering of Memories, and Of Time and the River, two collections about our home town of Saugus, Massachusetts, both 400+ pages, 4500 copies sold, all proceeds from $40.00 each cost destined for a memorial scholarship for my co-editor, John Burns, in the Saugus School system as director of the English Department at the High School for 45 years. After conception of the idea for the books, and John putting out the word for material to be included by former students, and with a proposal of actions and schedules I prepared for a local bank, ten of his former students signed a loan from the bank for $60,000 to print two books not yet written!!!!

And paid it off!!!!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

Samuel4

painting by Samuel Barrera

Standard
Poetry

Public Relations and other poems

by Christopher Prewitt

 
Public Relations

 
It has been raining
but only on that side of town.

 
I go in my quiet way
nursing a fire ball,

 
wanting to be held in the air
that is screaming at me,

 
signing in at the front desk
of an old building

 
stained with streaks of milk
on the windows.

 
A young woman in a black dress
comes from the back to take my coat

 
and my teeth.
I try to ask her

 
why do daughters inflict violence on one another,
but she’s already at work

 
on my tongue.
It’s a device

 
that was once bright
as the silver coins

 
Judas will feel sad about forever.
There’s no time

 
to think about the rust.
I have to go.

 
I have to sit at my desk.
I have to write something brief

 
and apologetic
on behalf of my top floor shadow,

 
spinning with gold in his lap
and blood on his cheeks,

 
the company president.

 

Moonlight over Meat-eating Plants

Here’s how I write poems.
I live in a town.
I open my mouth.
The first person to kiss me
I come to resent.
The first gentle rain
to sleep at my feet
I hand over to the authorities.
Anyone who dines with me
at a Waffle House or a Golden Corral
has a friend for life.
Anyone who writes poems and hates poems
containing more than one language
and/or positive feelings
toward chain family restaurants
might as well kiss me
con lengua y uñas.
At the end of a long day being no one,
I make a simple dinner
for my wife,
and then I rub her back
until she falls asleep.
Just as I’m about to fall asleep,
I take my 3 subject notebook
and mechanical pencil
from the floor.
Every night I write
these same 2 lines over and over:

Christopher Prewitt,
You are a liar.

I can’t keep my eyes open.
I never get the title right.

 

Poema with Roses and Snowstorm

 

My son, you are better off
than a nightmare, any nightmare,

 
all the nightmares you’ve ever had
where the roses sprouting from your head

 
have teeth and they’re all falling out.
The person you love more than anything

 
has a ruby between their eyes—I won’t pretend
to know whom you love—and they’re angry

 
at you, so angry, they are snowstorm
as far as explanations go, as far as

 
explaining how they came to bury you
like Satan in the ice and the cold—

 
this is only a dream but your heart
is the heart of the cat

 
who sought warmth in the car engine
to put it bluntly. You are not

 
pure fear that is self saying to self
something. You are paper boat we are trying

 
with breaths gentle and constant to blow
through a wall of flame. We love you

 
precisely because you are fragility hiding nothing.
Drink this the mountain dew of our love. You are shaking

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Christopher Prewitt is a writer from southern Appalachia. His poems, fiction, and reviews have appeared in The Four Way Review, the NewerYork, The Cafe Ireal, Ghost Ocean Magazine, Vinyl, The Iowa Review, among others. His awards include nominations for the Best of the Net anthology and the Pushcart Prize, as well as the Billie & Curtis Owens Creative Writing Award. He is a former poetry editor at Inscape and Minnesota Review. He is at work on a novel, a full-length collection of poetry, and he has a chapbook ms. under review by editorial staffs.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Samuel11

painting by Samuel Barrera

Standard
Poetry

Los Dichos and A Day at the Beach

by Fernando Izaguirre

.
Los Dichos

.
My grandmother used
To say:
Lavate los calzones,”
But I keep
Taking shits
On mountain tops
Waiting
For the snow
To flush it down the valley.

.
My grandmother used
To say:
Viene el cucuy,”
So I roll under the cold
Sheets thinking I’m invisible
Like the air,
But I’m not.

.
My grandmother used
To say: “mijo ven aquí,”
And I come close,
Realizing la chancla
Was scarier than the
Boogey man.

.

A Day On The Beach

.
─For my future children

.
I dipped my feet into
The hot sand, grasping
A portion of small
Sediments that butter
Spread around the rim
Of my toes.

.
I felt the weightless air
Circulate through my pores
Like smoke in a wet mouth;
The air turned away
And pushed the waves
Towards the shore,
Catching the laughter
Of children building
Sand castles.

.
Their complexion resembled
Mine: muddy and wet as dirt.
His name was Santiago
And her name was Marisol.

.
Their happiness dazzled me
Like a shooting star running
Across the night sky.

.
“I love my children,” I said.
And I could feel my wife’s
Face nudge against my shoulder,
where the sun burns forever.

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Fernando Rafael Izaguirre, Jr., was born in 1993. Fernando holds two associate degrees in the areas of English and Mexican-American studies. He is currently a poetry editor for Red Fez Publications. His poetry have appeared in various online and print magazines such as the Rio Grande Review, The Merida Review, Red Fez, and Weber State Metaphor. Eloquence is his first collection of poetry, has been released in September of 2014 by Editorial Trance. He is currently working on his second poetry collection.

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painting by Samuel Barrera

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Art

paintings by Samuel Barrera

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SAMUEL ENRIQUE BARRERA CEBALLOS
Visual artist specialized in painting, a law degree, was born in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico on December 28, 1967. Self-taught, Mexican, Yucatecan and living in Merida, with 5 solo exhibitions and more than 20 collective, was member for five years of “Blue Spiral 1” Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina, EU With a 15-year career in the visual arts in the United States parallel between collective and individual exhibitions. Participation in international art festivals and former member of AC Garden Art in Mexico City for three years. Founder and honor member of Corredor Internacional del Arte in the Paseo Montejo of Merida, Yucatan.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT:
Nietzche saw art as man’s struggle against negative social forces by use of the imagination, which he considered a product of pure ego. Art for him was the highest form of clear lucid thought, a tool for the good.
Schopenhauer envisioned art as a device of pleasure. Tolstoi viewed art as a propaganda and Oscar Wilde held to a doctrine of “art makes life”, meaning art is sometimes more real than reality.
I think the purest form of art is to give way to simple visual interest. To look at what you find yourself driven to see. Higher notions of art tend to confine art with lofty moral restrictions.
When art is passed off as a quasi-religion which can only be administered and interpreted by a special-order of priestly elites, the system invariably stifles imagination – even when the art is as liberal as blobs, slashes and splatters.
Art that has to serve as the instrument of artistic revolution is limited by having to react to a greater force in a continual hope of some overthrow, hence becoming the tool of reaction. Even the great revolt is enslaving.
But when all predetermined prejudices are momentarily set aside and you are one of the many at the scene of a horrible accident, your libido will do the looking. Something dead in the street commands more measure units of visual investigation than 100 Mona Lisas. It isn’t what you like; it’s what you really want to see! Art is not the slave of decoration. Hail the voyeur, the only honest connoisseur!
-Samuel Barrera

 

website: http://samuelbarrera.com/

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Poetry

A Cafe in Sandymount Green Dublin on a Tuesday Morning in September

by John Saunders

A Café in Sandymount Green Dublin on a Tuesday Morning in September

The au pairs play with the children
around a table of bottles and beakers.
Jenny from Asia speaks in broken English
to her colleague Consuela from Spain.
George upends his glass of Orangeade
over his tee shirt and pants.
He is whisked away to the bathroom
under a verbiage of Spanish expletives.

Oisin unacquainted with the stickiness
of his ice-cream covered fingers tangled
in blonde plays with his minders’ hair.
The infants roll on the mat generously
provided by the café owner thoughtful
of customer satisfaction and improved profits.
One of them slides onto the corridor space
where the old lady with bottle end glasses stands.

The twins, Minnie and Mellissa have discovered
the washable paint walls do take crayon.
The American girl is talking to whomever
wants to listen about what her boyfriend likes
to do with his hands. The customer opposite
momentarily lifts his head from his newspaper.
The young student type from an East European
country pleads with the boy pouring sugar

into his cup of milk. She shouts what sounds
like – Stop you little brat. He doesn’t.
The news headlines announce themselves.
The older ones rise, pack satchels and bags,
open buggies and prams, install their small charges.
The café is silent and abandoned except for the man
with the newspaper and the spectacled lady.
The waiter arrives with a refuse sack, mop and bucket.

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A Second Hand Book Shop

Musty, dust cornered wooden shelves, twisted
from the weight of so many brown paged, scuffed
and scotched copies of Yeats, O’Casey, Wilde, O’Brien,
Dunleavy, Behan or any name you care to mention.
They are all present in a quaintly ordered disorder
waiting for the skunk nosed collectors, elderly poor,
in for the heat, the post grads searching for arcane
references. This is the place to sit on a wood frame,
squeaky wicker chair, absorb the smell of dead poets,
congregate with the canon of antiquated playwrights.
The same old lady who is always here stacks volumes,
unpacks, handles that metal pricing gun like a weapon.
Every book is €2.99, but in the desired hands – precious.
If she’s in the mood she’ll spin you dog-eared stories
of how all the greats – Kavanagh, John B, O’Connor
and even Heaney dropped in. He smiled, chatted to her,
sat in that same chair, looked out the window
as if waiting for something to happen, his face aglow.

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John Saunder’s first collection ‘After the Accident’ was published in 2010 by Lapwing Press, Belfast. His poems have appeared in numerous Irish, United Kingdom and American poetry journals and on many online sites.

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John is one of three featured poets in Measuring, Dedalus New Writers published by Dedalus Press in May 2012. His second full collection Chance was published in April 2013 by New Binary Press.

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He has also had poems included in anthologies such as The New Binary Press Anthology of Poetry, Stony Thursday, The Scaldy Detail 2013, Conversations with a Christmas Bulb,2013 ( a Kind of Hurricane Press), The Poetry of Sex, (Penguin), 2014, Fatherhood Anthology 2014 (Emma Press UK). He was shortlisted in the 2012 inaugural Desmond O’Grady Poetry Competition and is a 2014 Pushcart Nominee.

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art by Samuel Barrera

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Poetry

The Daisy Chain & Color

 by Lily Boone

The Daisy Chain

You can’t catch me today,
I’ve more power than ever before.
I can swallow you up
and change you into a chrysalis.

There is a singing in my head
that makes it hard to concentrate on
my typing.
Perhaps it is Sappho calling,
she and I are friends,
we sing together sometimes.

You didn’t know that, did you?

I will find my way through
this metal-plastic-
silver-yellow world.
It’s a maze and I have
new zest for the game.

Look for me between the piano keys,
they are yellow and need dusting.

Color

I can still remember the
color of your love when it burned
white hot for me, so that I was
afraid to stand too close, afraid
of being consumed by its
passion, afraid of losing
myself in its intensity.
Having once loved that deeply
I am scarred and can only
remember and dream and
wonder. There can be no other
love like this for me.
You are what I measure all
others against. You have
given this to me, the color
of the strength that holds
me up, the color of the
memory, the color of the dream.

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Lily Boone is a poet living in a small town in northwest Ohio. She leads a very dull life.

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painting by Samuel Barrera
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