My sister didn’t care about Madonna, and neither did I until reading that article. I kept talking to her about Madonna.
She shrugged and said ‘who cares about Madonna?’.
It was really windy. The hill that overlooks Madonna’s land is the highest hill for miles and miles. I think it’s the highest in Dorset. My sister and I stood against the wind. It was so strong that we could lean back and lie in it. They say that from the hill you can see the Isle of White, which is about fifty miles away. I thought I could see the white cliffs, but I wasn’t sure. We gazed into the smooth valley in which Madonna has a house. There are lots of pheasants there. I imitated them Kukaw! (then I flapped my arms to try and make the wing flap sound.) My sister laughed. I talked about Madonna a bit more, but my sister didn’t care. We decided to check to see if the footpath was open.
The article was lying.
J. Bell lives in the countryside writing novels, short stories & comics. She’s had stories published in Dogmatika, The Pygmy Giant, The Recusant, Just a KissAnthology and a couple of student art magazines. In 2008 she won a Curator’s Choice Award (Noise Festival) judged by Niven Govinden. Her website is at www.bellstories.co.uk. We had a nice editorial discussion about one of the lines in this story, and we sorted it out amicably and with good humour, which I think you would agree shows what an agreeable and lovely world we all live in, sometimes.
So both you and your husband get up
at 5 o’clock in the morning? he says.
And what do you do?
What do you write?
Stories, poems, fiction,
What does he write?
Stories, poems, fiction,
Both of you? Every morning?
Yes. But no, we try for four out of five.
So you are exactly the same, he says.
You both get up, you keep the same schedule,
you write the same shit.
No, I say. We aren’t.
Well, what’s the difference? he says.
And I think about it.
He drinks coffee, I say.
And you don’t?
No, I hate that shit.
I drink tea.
We toasted you the night you died,
but I couldn’t help thinking that you
didn’t seem like the kind that would die.
Which is a very stupid thing to think.
Salinger died. But he already checked out,
decades ago firing shotguns at curious trespassers.
Steinbrenner died the day after
they found your body in the bedroom.
But it didn’t make sense. You couldn’t be dead.
You are too real to die.
You are supposed to be in Cleveland
in the grocery store.
Behind the Jewish lady with all the coupons
arguing over canned soup.
You are supposed to be living through the same
shit as the rest of us.
and late bills.
Sick mornings and fights with the wife.
You are supposed to be nervously checking the phone book
for another Harvey Pekar.
Not dead and still and peaceful.
Ally Malinenko has been fortunate to have been published in numerous online and print journals. She's not sure how she got so lucky. Her first book of poems, entitled The Wanting Bone, was recently published by Six Gallery Press. Ally lives in the part of Brooklyn that the tour buses don't come to. I think we should all hire a tour bus and go and visit her and say, "Hello Ally Malinenko. We have hired a tour bus to come and visit you. We liked your poems."
came as black eyed susans
in the midst of kansas
my soul was as young
as pickens go
lord have mercy
read the signs
i was touring hospitals when
my cousin and i
found new light
in blue lips
how nightgowns nurtured
what seemed like an accident
by Matthew Roberts
Today I had a date with a
lady of the world. Like me
she had not really mastered
any language, only her mother's.
But over a meal in an
Itlaian restaurant, we had good
conversation conducted in broked
French, Korean and English.
I very much hope to see her again
for another pidgin coversation,
followed after dessert with a
complete understanding of the
male and female human body.
END OF THE YEAR - BUSINESS STYLE
by Matthew Roberts
There's smoke on my plate
of the salmon kind. There's
wine and whiskey to satisfy
our needs, and make high class
fools of ourselves. There's
important men with expensive
suits, blowing hot air into a
microphone to inflate our egos.
The year ended to high profits,
it's our right to act like animals.
THE BORING MEETING
by Matthew Roberts
I sipped on my strong red wine
during the amazingly boring meeting.
Folded my legs, lent back and
I took an unshelled prawn from
the many large plates on the table.
They'd been fried in olive oil,
garlic and fresh basil - alive.
Put the prawn in my mouth,
whole and listened to the crunching
inside my head. Tasted the flesh.
Lit up a cigarette as my
seniors and juniors around me
tried to put a dollar sign on
the price of human life. As a
big business, we were trying to make
the large sum as small as possible.
Picked pieces of shell from my teeth
and sipped on my strong red wine.
from this church
was telling him no,
that they didn’t have money
for obese people
to get help. That quote,
“These are tough times
to find money for them.”
Unquote. Irv laughed
at the lady over the phone.
Asked, “Guess the fatsoes
need less help cause they’re fat?
That maybe they’ll get thin
if they have no money?”
The lady quipped, “Well!”
And they both left it
They weren’t even hers.
Told Ohio Edison
they were wrong
on their meter reading.
Said her divorced hubby
had ringworm once.
Questioned her current
hubby, you don’t know
how to hug me, do you?
Cried a lot about famine.
Ate way too much
after supper. Said, I drink
a beer a day. When really,
she drank much more.
Her doctor told her
what to do. Shetold
her pastor that she was
going to hell. He winced,
said, I don’t know.
Daniel Gallik has had poetry and short stories published by Hawaii Review, Parabola, Nimrod, Limestone (Univ. of Kentucky), The Hiram Poetry Review, Aura (Unv of Alabama), and Whiskey Island (Cleveland State Univ). He has placed writings in hundreds of online journals. His first novel, A Story of Dumb Fate is available at amazon.com for a good price. Currently, he was just notified that one of his novels will be published next year.
I don’t want to see myself
in your reflection.
And I don’t want to see yourself
Close your eyes.
I’ll close your curtains.
in this new dark
we can let our hands
draw the lines.
A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has previously published her work in literary journals, in the U.K. as well as America, such as Avon Literary Intelligencer, Eastern Rainbow, Medicinal Purposes Literary Review, The Intercultural Writer's Review, Icon, Writer's Gazette, and The Penwood Review.
Subject: Submission: Fiction
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2010 07:40:53 -0400
From: (I have deleted this man's email address, for reasons of privacy).
Dear Bourbon Penn Editor,
It is my pleasure to bring forth, for your consideration, my short
story: "***************" (1050 words).
It is included as an attachment, because you're worth it.
May your Fall be merry.
From: Greg Phillips
To: (I have again deleted this man's email address, again for reasons of privacy)
Sent: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 7:48
Subject: RE: Submission: Fiction
Dear Whiskey Pencil Editor:
Who is this Bourbon Penn Editor? That's not my name. My name's Greg,
Greg Phillips, and I'm the editor of Cherrypicked Hands. Despite this
mix-up, I'm pleased to meet you. How are you?
You may have meant to sent this submission to me, and just forgotten to
change the salutation; in which case I forgive you. If, however, you
meant to send this submission to the Bourbon Penn Editor, I hereby inform you
of your mistake. If you did mean to send this to me, I apologise - but
the chance that I might end up reading and possibly accepting a
submission that was never meant for me makes me nervous. Plus, round these parts
we do not accept attachments, I'm afraid.
So there we are. What a confused situation we have found ourselves in!
I hope it clears itself up one way or the other, and I hope you enjoy
the rest of your day.
Greg Phillips, Cherrypicked Hands Editor.To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: Submission: Fiction
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 06:18:11 -0400
From: (I'm guessing you know what I have done here, and why I have done it)
Goodness me. What a horrible submission mix-up. I apologise dear Greg
for the slip and thank you for your hilarious response.
The piece I intended for you isn't up to much, so I'll do you the
pleasure of rejecting it myself:
Thank you for submitting to Cherrypicked Hands, you scruffy urchin, but
your story is the sort of tedious gibberish we use as toilet paper in
lean financial times. When I say "not for us" what I actually mean is
"not fit for human eyes anywhere in the world, even those of the blind
or deceased." So take your attachment and shove orf. Have a lovely week.
Nice to meet you Mr. Phillips, and best of luck on your Cherrypicking