I love Eddie so hard. There’s his boyish charm—the man’s still got it at age thirty–eight—his gigantic heart, and his big mustache with its ends pointing down like a devil’s pitchfork, but rising up when he gets big ideas—like after a bout of midnight loving when he charmed me into an all–night cruise on I–10 blasting rock, hip hop, mariachi, death metal to a truck stop near the Arizona border for “The world’s greatest shake!” And the shakes were fantastic: frosty, creamy and sweet, with luscious little pineapple bits. Worth missing work, almost.
I nicknamed him Fast Eddie 'cause he’s go–go–go, all day, all the time. Fast thinker, fast talker ... with a jackhammer leg always bouncing, a head always bobbing, and eyes always in motion, lighting on every cutie—which he says just means he’s got a healthy libido. I know that’s true 'cause he always wants more, which makes me feel sexy at age forty–one—and by “more” I don’t mean more often, only, but also more intense, with toys, drugs, and then newer drugs—always something to “Take us higher, baby!”
If you live fast, Eddie says, you live three lives in one.
And really, I’ve lived more than one life with Eddie. In our seven years I’ve moved three times to neighborhoods that Eddie found jazzier, and changed jobs twice to move to towns he thought hipper. I’ve colored my hair for him, and gotten a tat in the valley of my lower back that read “E & A forever” in beautiful script. A few months later Eddie appraised the tat in the morning light, and whisked me back to the parlor on Highland near Hollywood to add a border of flowering vines.
Then it was Gabe’s, our favorite dive for post–coital breakfasts. Eddie said, “Look—Beyoncé!” and I fell for the fake–out—and when I looked back, a beautiful emerald set in a gold ring sat on top of the yolk on my corned beef hash. “Wanna be my breakfast bud forevah?!” said Eddie, his eyes wet and happy. I was dumbstruck, and Eddie folded the ring into my hand. He flagged the waitress for “More hot sauce!” for his sausage scramble, which is really the best, with the perfect balance of pepper, salt, sage and thyme. Eddie watched the waitress sashay away, then looked around beaming like a lottery winner. When the waitress returned he poured seven big slurps of Triple–X Hot Sauce onto his scramble. “Mmm!” he shouted, and I half expected steam to come out of his ears like an old time cartoon character morphing into a steam whistle. “Try it, baby!” said Eddie, and jabbed the fork across the table. I touched Eddie’s hand and looked into eyes that were puppy–dog trusting and red from the sauce. I looked down at the forkful, red as an explosion and dripping in torrents, and closed Eddie’s fingers around the ring.
Drowning, Not Waving
Perplexed because it was spring
& my heart was only 37 percent charged,
I gazed out the window at the sparrow
shuttling back & forth, back & forth,
now with grass clippings, now a broken twig,
& thought for the first time in 15 years
of that girl treading water & waiting
for a hand to pull her upward by her hair.
I admit it, I woke up angry today. Last night alone 56 cars were fished out of the canal. Medicated or unmedicated, I visualize myself leaning on the railing of a small Italian cruise ship. Six million have been crammed aboard, all strangers, and too ashamed to ask each other what it means. It means auto factories have relocated to the realm of a Disney princess. It means we have nothing to read before bed, nothing, no predictive entrails or book of fireflies. Mostly it means somewhere in the background of every living person there’s the faint outline of a lonely cow weeping at dawn.
Take the Gilligan's Island Quiz
at the first formal event
since the killings.
Some of the women and birds
against the ballroom’s walls.
Planned a year in advance,
this ball is now unmasked.
Costumes can suggest
with makeup but each dancer
must be ID’d.
For the girl in green,
her first ball.
Her mask gray eye shadow
smudged into pigeon feathers,
a vixen and a doe
in a crowd of armed men.
The Masked Ball
The lead dancer does not die in her solo. Instead she has to live
to hear her ballet coach enumerate her flaws. A flaccid
arm not once but twice. Thunk on a landing. Her hat
behaving like a magnet. The audience applauds; waves
of genuine appreciation that sound to her like jeers
as she stands alone before the empty set.
The tulips girding her waist still have their backbones.
Hers has melted as she slips into her curtsy never looking
into the wings where there’s a list and someone to tick it off.
Before the Curtsy
Although the moon has been parked in the driveway with its high beams on for a week, you want a bonfire for atmosphere. You want a bone fire for heat. The kindling box is full of butter knives, so you snatch the little wooden house your son spent a week building. It’s lovely. Light it. Add a cup of wind. Build the fire with storm-fallen limbs, spruce fronds for smoke mirage. Plant the wicker rocker on top. Now sit in it. Are you warm yet?
I swerve across the rumble strip,
nearly sideswiping a Lumina,
to watch the murmuration
a scrap of second longer—
In a dream, through a window
above the urinal, I watch myself
come winding—snapping fingers,
bobbing shoulders. I’m mortified.
The second me you kiss.
I’m pretty good at pole dancing. It’s a wonderful creative outlet, great exercise, and a cash skill when
ya need it!
Something Interesting about Me
John M. Bellinger is the former Managing Editor (2006-2009) and a current staff editor of The Comstock Review. He has been published in The Comstock Review, Blue Unicorn, and Ekphrasis. He also has upcoming work in Cottonwood, America Magazine, and online for One Sentence Poems.
CL Bledsoe is the author of a dozen books, most recently the poetry collection Riceland and the novel Man of Clay. He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes barefoot in the Ozarks. She is the author of two books and three chapbooks, most recently Persephone on the Metro. See her work in Concis, Rat’s Ass Review, Mom Egg Review and upcoming in the Kentucky Review and others. Check her website at www.wendytaylorcarlisle.com.
Howie Good is a poet in New York State. This is his first publication.
Sara Hughes teaches literature and writing at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. She has poems forthcoming in Meniscus and Emrys, and she will spend this summer in Connecticut enjoying a writing fellowship from I-Park Foundation. In her free time, she puts Halloween costumes on her dogs.
Michael Jones has taught since 1990 in Oakland (CA) public schools. His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal and Right Hand Pointing and is forthcoming in DMQ Review.
Elizabeth Kerlikowske is in the new Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Fiction Sequence just published by White Pine Press. Her poem about the shootings in Kalamazoo were just featured on New Verse News. She is the president of Friends of Poetry, a 40-year-old organization dedicated to bringing people and poetry together.
Drawing inspiration from life in Brooklyn, NYC and Upstate New York, KOFF designs combines elements of nature, urban life, and the human body. The "X" seen in many pieces represents a humble approach to creation, universality and the unknown. Using techniques of wheatpasting, photography, and craft, while utilizing local, sustainable and reclaimed materials, bold and haunting images are crafted that have power in any room. Issues of indigenous life, inner-city poverty, the forest, and urban decay as well as hope, humanity and authenticity are all present in this current series. For prices and purchase contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Angela Lopez lives in Southern West Virginia. She’s a 25-year-old graphic designer working currently at a custom t-shirt shop in the mall. She has four dogs, a cat, a fish, and a tadpole; loves the outdoors; and is scheming up ways to marry art and business for the betterment of her Appalachian community. This is Angela’s first publication, but she plans to be rich and famous for her hit novel soon enough.
Dave Malone’s work has most recently appeared in Futures Trading. When he’s not drinking bourbon or hammering out poems on his purple-ribboned typewriter, he’s dabbling in cinepoetry. And let it be known that NASA encourages artists to use their cosmic footage.
Todd Mercer won the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015. His digital chapbook Life-wish Maintenance appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent poetry and fiction appear in: Bartleby Snopes, Cheap Pop, Dunes Review, Eunoia Review, Gravel, Kentucky Review, The Lake, Literary Orphans, Main Street Rag Anthologies and Misty Mountain Review.
Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013. He is a contributing writer at Verse-Virtual. In 2015 he was the featured poet at Atticus Review (April) and Contemporary American Voices (August) and at year's end received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Review and Blue Heron Review.
Jon Sindell wrote the flash–fiction collection The Roadkill Collection (Big Table Publishing, 2014) and the long–story collection Family Happiness (2016). He curates the San Francisco–based reading series Rolling Writers and is a fulltime personal humanities tutor. He used to practice law.
Josh Weston lives in Grand Rapids, MI, with his wife and two kids. Recent work has appeared in One Sentence Poems and Passages North (online).