The flickering outdoor light cast a milky pattern across the garden pond Oonagh had dug on her forty-fifth birthday. Michael stared at the water and remembered the dirt piling up beside the wooden deck chair he had sat in while she worked.
Oonagh had the habit of making household rearrangements to mark milestones. On her fortieth birthday she had smashed through a partition wall to open up the dining and sitting rooms and on her fiftieth she had uprooted several conifer trees that had grown so tall they blocked out the sun for the majority of the day.
He’d objected to the pond, he’d objected to chopping the trees down. He’d become unforgivably objectionable after he stopped working at the RAF base at Cogley Wood, and he had dragged his feet mercilessly as she hacked away at the tree trunks.
“Why don’t you go a little easy,” Michael had shouted at her, “you’re fifty now, you’re not as young as you used to be.”
“If it wasn’t for me,” she said, breaking to breathe after each swing, “nothing would change around here.”
The fact that he could gaze out across the garden to the Robinson place, the fact that he could sit and watch people come and go from the Horse and Jockey pub, the fact that he could make note of the changing seasons, the maypole in the summer, the lighting of the tree in winter, this was her gift of openness to him. Chopping those trees down had kept him connected to the world when he most wanted to be out of it.
“To accept the immediacy of death is the only way to overcome anxiety,” she would say. And, “To grow nightingale roses on the eastern side of a garden is to open up your life to a host of secrets,” among other such maxims that were not so serviceable for reality, but certainly were worth bearing in mind for the next world.
Micheal still hated it when people sang ‘Jerusalem’ at weddings, everybody likes the tune but the words are hardly fitting and although they really belted it out on that summer’s day in 1952, he couldn’t help but cringe at the memory. Although her countenance was divine, the holy city paled in comparison to the passion Oonagh would bring forth every Sunday night, down by the beach, with the leaky roof and the jet planes from Cogley Wood roaring overhead.
Miraculous moments come and go, in the blink of an eye, and then, the miracle done, you are left to wonder if it was just a predetermined certainty you were made to wait a little longer for than you were entirely comfortable with.
Oonagh saw the world in Micheal and the generational back-and-forth continued until probability conspired that they chop down the trees together, and she looked back at him from amongst the fallen wood, the world opening up before him again, as time proved his heart faithful, and she told him about the changes.
by Mark Young
a culmination of battles decided by superior numbers
The River Thames allows
one to retain a favorite
flavor of instant noodle
but insists on sticking
solar panels to its bridges
to take advantage of
any anthemic song
that might happen by.
Good clinical dentistry
is no longer enough—
too many cranberries!
The tide pools are a
publicized piece of
toxic waste that can
improve the military's
ability to detect bio-
logical agents when the
concrete is too smooth,
the water too blue.
candy & nuts
Bulk dried fruit bins
filled with all kinds
of organs & tissue
may only be redeemed
for high pressure welders
after you are approved as
an industrial chemical
donor & registered in
accordance with the
Domestic Animals Act of 1994.
Mark Young is the editor of Otoliths, lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, &
has been publishing poetry for more than fifty-five years. His work has been widely
anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. He is the author
of over twenty-five books, primarily poetry but also including speculative fiction & art history.
A new collection of poems, Bandicoot habitat, is due out from gradient books of Finland later
by Julie Davis
the other night
when the shadow of the guitar
smeared on that fake pup’s face
made the real pup jealous
grass stains on my lips
whistlin up and down
tan, pink, purple, red, black
white and blue
mega color bubbles and
old biscuits and ½ beers
on our tongues
on the floor
slick, slip down the hill
step over chess and strangers
go, don’t stop
maybe turn around
we’ll all end up at home in the end
by Fahad Baseer
A boombox hangs from the ceiling
of a tunnel. Behind Rob’s house
I walked through it once on a run
I don’t remember his cat’s name
It was one of many found dead
We all knew, but kept out mouths
shut. Didn’t talk about cat related
nouns. Boombox. Painted using
stolen paint marker. It was gold
or silver. Through the static shined
emerged. Arrived Rob. Still.
Stiller than voices with bodies
could ever aim to achieve. Still
Still searching for that cat. He
emerged. Arrived with all knowledge
of what went on in his house without
him. The house in which someone
carved on the plaster. where 666
used to be. The rants are now
broken pieces of a house. Some
framed. Some kept and forgotten.
There were also drawings there.
The plaster could cover up the punch
but not the idea behind it
so I carved. Eat this house.
Not while I was there
and sometime before the emergence
The house ate itself
The golf course dried up
Hanging from the ceiling
before ranting/scratching/drawing on the wall
before having no self left to paint
you painted yourself on Casio Canvas
Hanging from the only thing left
from the youth of many
emitting slices of the idea of
a dead friend. There are perhaps
Bird feeders for even the most complicated
Crash and then change
Composer watches carefully
Changing as well
With each crash
The sonification of
A ghost of one perhaps
Men and women
Left in a room
Set in motion
Set to generate
Set to crash
Slingshot of Oldmanburg
Insert human brain
Aim towards the fence
The one in front
Of the experience tree
Release and repeat
With your mind
Every time it grows back
Visit the Slingshot of
This sentence is so pregnant with meaning
Inflate sentence until it pops
Pump reads "sperm"
Sperm reads random quote from Billy Madison
Hand-cranks turned by broken hands
by specific gestures
The same gesture applied
elsewhere could call a cab.
are in the city
Or far from any architecture whether it be
physical, musical, actual, or astral or. or. or.
There are no hands broken, by things better
done. consumed by. better spoken with things
So we find that hands can only be broken
by other hands and we need to better
equip ourselves with a better understanding
The signer signs my poems
To the new kid in the class.
An older lady actually.
A professional of some sort.
With owl eyes
8 amps encircling an audience
Preferably members of NASA
I orbit around them
I stop at each amp
Changing the loop
Adding a layer
Cheap looper made
Specifically for each amp
Made specifically for me
Members of the NASA
Inhabited by cellists
When you stand in
That specific spot
Between her house
And the fourth dot
You hear something
The sonification of
The end of houses
NASA designed a new type of
Places NASA Nachos in
Along with Noise Embryo
Along with a student
Along with red
Lights made specifically
Along with collaging materials
Release for bathroom break
Enter closet and wai
Attack student with
More NASA Nachos
Brought to you by NASA
Egg shaped room called
An installation designed
Carpet, wallpaper, candles
Check out more from Fahad here
by Michael Prihoda
A word from the author:
"Fences is a piece of microfiction told through individual blips of visual poetry, where each paint sample builds on the rest in the series to create an atmosphere above the words. The story and feel of the piece is generated from the colors and the original names of the paint samples, which ultimately operate as a foundation for layering the text to create a narrative."
Check out more from Michael here
by Harrison Parks
your face is like the author in Happiness:
only yours is rounder and prettier--
you are an improvement upon my favorite movies:
you are real and breathing and beating--
so i will scour for things:
things that you might want to devour
or perhaps imbibe--from tamales to dirty chai.
not just any tamales--
the kind of tamales one finds sold in coolers:
when drinking at just the right moment--
tamales that cost less than a dollar each:
tamales that are BBQ tamales, food of the gods--
and i run through the rain
of my imaginary world
where i deliver to you every
tamale you've ever wanted to eat.
plato's tamales. every ideal tamale
can be yours in my imaginary world:
the place where you and i exist
as more than a facade.
Read this poem and more in Harrison's ongoing project The Banter Ship
by Chris Bird
Find more from this artist here, and look for their art in the upcoming issue of Rasasvada
by Harrison Parks
she wears black tees emblazoned with slogans--
'lie down i think i love you,' and other
callings for our lips to tease and play--
coy expressions; one is a challenge to hurry up &
get in her past. bright minds like hers inevitably
burn through people to find truth in flame.
gladly, i am kindling for her fire's mise en place.
no regrets--save that we don't trick ourselves
as many can to prolong it. though i am no
stranger to cynics, somehow i cannot yet
relegate her and me to that quick inferno;
we burn through a city; through sister cities;
fuck, we consume nations.
all the tricks one needs to be led to
paradise are in her repertoire. it has been a day
or two and she already is a second sight.
unlike most, she masters every sense.
we both need little affirmation. obviously,
this time-frame speaks to foolishness but
instinct quickly knows where it ought,
needs to be led. forces of nature fall into place
without dawdling. the words marked here
i can postpone so she won't know of them
until marks of time or bruises she leaves ebb
away fear. we incubate. soon is soon enough.
soon is eternally far away; soon is the future
that has become our muse. we are consumed by soon
and burn sacrifices from her admirers; though i am
her chief admirer and i shall always burn brighter.
someday, men may topple her monuments.
these words remain eternal.
Read more from Harrison in his ongoing project The Banter Ship
by Hammie Fay
Is Nick Jonas the new Usher? All white everything the new black? Nigella the new chia? Is two the new one? The year is 2015 and the future is now. Mallwalking is the workout you need in your life.
Imagine hiking indoors without any incline or bugs and surrounded by the sweet scent of soft salted pretzels. I dare you to find something wrong with that sentence.
I contacted a mall walker I found on the world wide web for her take on the workout trend that is not quite sweeping the nation.
ME: So how did you get involved in the mall walk movement?
MALLWALKER: Well it was kind of on accident really. I went out to a shopping mall one day and slowly started to realize, I didn’t actually need anything. I don’t enjoy giving the appearance that I am doing something without purpose, so instead of turning around empty handed…I just…kept…walking.
ME: Wow, interesting. How often would you say you go mall walking?
MALLWALKER: I try to go at least every other day. On Fridays I reward myself with an Orange Julius.
ME: What’s your routine like?
MALLWALKER: Well, I never go mall walking without my skechers shapeups. I know I’ve heard some lies about them being ineffective but it is my goal in life to look like the coolest Demi Lovato fan in all of America.
ME: Do you mall walk alone or with a group?
MALLWALKER: Mostly alone. I have a great group of internet friends though and sometimes I chat with them online while I walk the mall.
ME: Are your internet friends also mall walkers?
MALLWALKER: OH HELL YA. I met them on a Facebook group called “mall walk america,” I even met my fiancé in the group!
After learning that mall walking was also a great way to meet a spouse I charged to my local mall and IMMEDIATELY got to walking.
I wore my freshest skechers and my most secure fanny pack so all the other mall walk buffs knew I meant business. The rest of the morning was a blur partly due to excitement but mostly due to xanax. However, I did leave with the phone number to the cutest employee at Auntie Anne’s and a newfound appreciation for the human body and all of its wonders.
Learn more about the art of Mallwalking from the folks with their finger on the pulse at Mallwalk America
No one believes my tale . . . what happened . . . no one, that is, but the two most mentally ill people in my mental health support group. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen! But maybe I should tell you about “the curse” I live under that led up to the incident before I tell you what happened.
I live under a curse! I don’t know when it started . . . yet over the last two years it has become obvious. I have had nothing go right for two years! I hear my beloved optimist reader: “Fishspit! You are just looking at the negative! You dismiss the positive!” I hear the cognitive behaviorist counselor say, “Fishspit, you have developed a negative cognitive schema. You need to change your cognitions.” Bullshit! I’m under a curse!
Does a person who gets in four wrecks in four months have a problem of mere cognition? Hell no! There’s someone out to get him! I can hear you! You blame me! Say I am cognitive deficient and caused the wrecks . . . but no! I admit to two of them . . . but the other two . . . well, I got rear ended. I was sitting at red lights.
Everything was going wrong! Had been for so long I can’t even remember what to regale you with as proof since it was a daily occurrence! While I try to cull some of the big miseries from my curse, I’ll go ahead and regale you with a strange tale.
I had me a girl. I loved her. She always had good luck! It irked me! But her karma was so good. It was just unbelievable! She didn’t lie, cheat, and steal like yours truly. No . . . she was a good person. I’ve often wondered if my curse is me paying for my decades of terrible actions. But in all reality, I believe it is some woman who has put a curse on me. Really! I was lousy to a lot of them when I was a drunk . . . a bad drunk . . . I must have hurt one so bad that she put the whammy on me . . . a voodoo curse.
Back to the girl though . . . damn! . . . I’m always taking you on long tangents reader. I don’t know how to avoid it. How do you avoid rambling off like this? It’s my poor bean. It’s so fried. But that girl! She didn’t do bad things! She really was good! A good woman?! I know it’s hard to believe. But she was one if there ever was one. As a matter of fact . . . as I ponder it here . . . every broad I went out with when I was so rotten was a good person. Hmm. Maybe those stories mama told me that all women were bad (except my mama) weren’t true. Maybe misogynist dudes like me have it all wrong about broads. Hmm?
But back to the girl . . . goddamned . . . she was a good soul! I ain’t lyin’ either! I ain’t stretching the truth! She was my girl and we loved each other a lot. I lost her though. I was too mentally ill for her . . . I liked to live too hard and fast. She wanted a smart, mellow fellow. I sure wasn’t either of those things. So she left me for a smart, mellow fellow.
Ugh! I’ve got to do it reader . . . I’m so sorry . . . but . . . well . . . I’ve got to take you on another circuitous route . . . but I’ll get back to “the tale” soon . . . . . I promise.
In my heartbreak over this girl, I spent a lot of time reading 18th century British poets. I do that when I’m low. Somehow I stumbled upon this poet from this period of literary genius whom I had never heard of before. His name is John Bampfylde. Nothin’, or hardly anything, is known about him. He wrote 16 sonnets . . . fell in love with the famous painter Joshua Reynolds’s niece (or daughter, or some other pretty she-devil related to Sir Joshua) . . . and went insane from unrequited love.
He then threw a lot of rocks through Joshua Reynolds’s windows . . . and mad as a hatter at age 25, he was carted off to the lunatic asylum. He spent 20 years there! They let him out at age 45 and he immediately got consumption and died. And I complain about my lot in life! Sheesh! Here was a fellow that had worse luck than me! Well . . . almost. I became intrigued.
His sonnets were published once in his lifetime. Sometime in this century, an eccentric sort fell in love with Bampfylde’s sonnets and published the 16 of them in an edition of 300. It cost me 50 bucks but I got ahold of a copy. These were the first sonnets I’d ever read (except for a handful of Shakespearian which bored me), and I dug them. I really did. I decided to learn the form and write 16 of my own. There are a number of rhyme schemes in the sonnet form. You’ve heard of the Shakespearian sonnet. It’s the most commonly used form. I think! I’m no fuckin’ scholar, so don’t quote me on that. . . but it’s the one they taught us in high school. Bampfylde deviated from this form and so I used his rhyme scheme.
But I needed a muse! I needed a fair dame to write the 16 sonnets to. I chose the girl who broke my heart. I wrote sad sonnets to what we had, and what we’d never have again. I had written 13 of the sonnets or so . . . worked goddamned hard on them! One night I was writing on one late into the dark hours, but had stalled out. I couldn’t finish a line. “Fuck it,” I concluded and put the journal containing all the sonnets so far writ onto the nightstand beside my bed. I took my anti-psychotic meds, turned off the lamp, and laid back.
The mind never shuts up of course. Mine kept working at the line I couldn’t finish. Whammo! Hot dog damn and diddly! The line that eluded me! I had it! I turned on the light excitedly and reached for the sonnet journal . . . it was gone!!! Reader! I am not a believer in weird shit! I’m a pragmatist! Obstinately sensible! Way too imbecilic to appreciate the fantastic! These things just don’t happen! Figuring it had to have fallen down behind the bed, I crawled under . . . nope. Must be in the bed . . . tore the bed apart . . . nope. I started feeling really weird . . . totally zizzled in the noggin! Already dizzled in the head enough, this sort of situation sends me to the other side of the rainbow. I freak out!
I tore my room apart. Nothing! I started searching in places it could not possibly be! I checked all the other rooms I go into . . . rooms I hadn’t even been in that day. Nothing! I was going mad. I knew I wouldn’t be doing any sleeping anymore. It was a Saturday night. I live in my parent’s basement as I’m going to school and can’t afford both tuition and rent at present. My folks were upstairs asleep. I did not want to wake them over this. They already think I’m bonkers! Hell . . . one night last December I got a push by God . . . up the stairs. . . at 3 a.m. . . . and God told me to go to my mama and tell her Jesus loved her. Really! I was standing there at the bottom of the stairs and something came along and swooshed me up the stairs! Right on into the bedroom . . . I didn’t even walk . . . I floated! I swear. I did it . . . which totally confused my shaken awake mother as I gave her the message. It was crazy! But . . . well . . . hell. . . that’s a different story. I want to talk about that fucking sonnet journal. . . not God. I just wanted to show you, dear reader, why they are wary of me. I chose not to give them the further opportunity to wonder about me . . . and I laid there in my bed staring at the ceiling.
When you are awake all night, the chattering mind comes up with some doozies! My mind decided that my lost love was dead! And her spirit had come by to take the sonnet journal. I wanted to call her and check on her . . . but like I said about my folks . . . she already thought I was batty . . . a regular doodlesump! I didn’t want to run her off anymore than I had. At that time, though she’d kicked me to the curb, we still were in communication and civil to each other. Deciding she was dead, I decided to think what I’d wear to her funeral.
Dressed up in my imagination in my suave black suit and slick Italian-made wingtips . . . for the funeral you know . . . man I was looking sharp . . . well . . . I laid in bed, eyes wide open . . . waiting for my folks to get up to go to church . . . so I could nab them before they left to come have a look-see into my abode. Surely they’d spot the journal. I was just missing it somehow. My parents were even more practical than I! Things didn’t disappear in their world. Hell no! Just didn’t happen. The laws of the universe that we all follow slavishly . . . they too followed unquestioningly. It’s a comfortable way to live.
I certainly wasn’t comfortable in my own mind. I waited. They were up. I waited. I could tell breakfast was going via my nozzle. I jumped up and nabbed them! My mom went at it; then my dad. Every nook and corner! Every cobweb! The cat’s behind! Places the damned thing would have to shrink up something awful to fit in to. My mother was getting flustered. This scared me. The woman’s a rock! She told me that they had to get on to church but when they got home we’d all do a full spring cleaning of my bedroom. It would certainly show up. But there was a twang of nervousness in her voice. She was a little flumdiddled. That had me feeling . . . well . . . spooked!
After they left I lay back down and stared at the ceiling. I wanted to call the girl and see if she was up yet, but I didn’t wanna wake her up with a frantic “Are you dead?!” Then if she was I’d be really spooked! Or if she wasn’t, how could I explain the sonnet disappearance? She was even more pragmatic than the rest of us put together! She’d think I was trying to pull a fast one! An attempt at getting her back involved with me . . . in some unfortunate manner. I got my pride goddamed it! I loved (think I still do too) that girl though she don’t love me no more . . . and besides my pride, I still have a modicum of concern for others left, and I didn’t want to disturb her sleep or her peace.
I'd call her later. If she was dead there weren’t no hurry. If she was alive there wasn’t any either. There commenced two hours of dreadful waiting. Thems two hours I’d like to have back . . . staring at the ceiling. And worse . . . thinking! Thinking that some evil spirit was cursing me. Damn! My ass hurt from the reaming I’d been getting by good old bad luck. Bad, bad luck! And let’s not forget hardship! Hell no!
Finally! The folks got home. We donned our gloves, grabbed 52 brands of cleaning supplies, and went to town. We cleaned every inch of that room! No notebook! My mother sent my dad to clean the rest of the basement. Places I didn’t even go to! She had a new theory that I’d been sleep walking. “I didn’t sleep walk mama! I turned the light off, thought of a verse, turned the light on, and it was gone!”
My mother, totally out of ideas, well reasonable ones suggested, “Maybe Pip took it.” Pip! My 3 and a half pound 15 year old cat! Was she joking? Her face didn’t imply she was. But every spot had been checked! Double checked! Quondrupledouble checked! The sonnet journal was gone.
Over the next week I lived in a surreal world. I tried to live the practical life. . . but that journal kept popping into my mind. Was I really cursed? Maybe it was that Jewish girl I used to tease so bad! She’d moved to New Orleans! Had she put the hoodoo on me?! I was getting paranoid! I spent hours going over the broads in my life and trying to figure out which one hated me the most and had a personality inclined toward witchcraft. I visited one of my local gurus. She had me keep something precious in my pocket (I chose a clipping of Pip’s belly fur), to immerse myself in salt water baths, and to say “return to sender” whenever I could . . . all this to send this curse back to the one that sent it. I did them.
Things seemed to get better . . . I started to slip into a normal routine. The girl was not dead. Life went on. I started a new set of sonnets called “Who stole my sonnets!?” All sonnets about broads that had good reason to put the hex on me!
Things settled. I concentrated on school. Then . . . about 2 months later . . . I woke up . . . sitting on the floor . . . three feet from the side of the bed I sleep on . . . yeah . . . you guessed it! The sonnet journal!
This piece is a part of Fishspit's ongoing project Wiseblood. Learn more about the author and the project at WeMakeZines.