Meg Pokrass: “Housesitter”

Housesitter

When I talk about this housesitting gig, which I don’t often, people smile and stare at their shoelaces. They wrap things up, label me “once spunky, now sad”. His cats are throwing up everywhere. It is raining. The problem is that I am standing in his kitchen; in an apartment on a sinister street on a landfill-ridden plot covered in drab apartment complexes. The town is called Baggageport. Not worse than Intercourse, Pennsylvania or Hell, Michigan. Sighing and smoking and huddling there next to the cats… peeking out at the neat world.

About the Author: Meg Pokrass is the author of 8 collections of flash fiction.

Image Credit: Harris & Ewing “Cats” (1923) Public domain photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Caleb Bouchard: “Slippage”

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Slippage

A love letter tacked on a refrigerator slips from the grip of the magnet and lands inside the fridge, among the leftovers, uncooked meat, and vegetables. It grows cold over time, soaks in all the pungent smells of the tupperware food kept for too long. Grimy spinach. Sour soup. Chili caked in a layer of discolored fat. The letter’s edges curdle and the penned words blanch in solidarity with the forsaken dishes, until the words have completely faded and the page is empty, and somewhat crepey.

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About the Author: Caleb Bouchard’s writing has recently appeared in or is forthcoming from The Atlanta Review, MORIA, Saw Palm, and Thimble Literary Magazine. His translations of the French poet Jacques Prevel will soon appear in Black Sun Lit and Poet Lore.

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Image Credit: Russel Lee “Houses at Mineral King cooperative farm. Tulare County, California. They are equipped with electric refrigerators” (1940) The Library of Congress

Mike James: “Consequences of Elections”

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Consequences of Elections

It was about the time I added plastic house plants to my apartment. Fake foliage works for every season. I was still getting postcards from an ex-lover with a return address of Undisclosed Location. I’d given up Frisbee in favor of sitting very quietly in a favorite, stuffed chair. Much of my thought given to the new parliament. The old majority tossed out in favor of a coterie of meteorologists, nail technicians, and film noir enthusiasts. People were optimistic. I was agnostic. I never expected the wind to take on a new color which shimmered at the spectrum’s edge. And the wind blew the same as always. Though the moon, that old coin, seemed closer, brighter. It could just be I spent more time looking up. I no longer foraged with neighbors for cigarette butts and lost dreams.

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About the Author: Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines, large and small, throughout the country. His poetry collections include: Leftover Distances (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), and Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog.)  In April, Red Hawk will publish his 20th collection, Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021.

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More By Mike James:

Paul Lynde

Grace

Saint Jayne Mansfield

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Descanso Calla Lily” (2022)

Howie Good: “People Get Ready”

 

 

 

People Get Ready

Any one of us is every one of us, if you get what I mean. I want to tap this guy and that guy and that woman on the shoulder and tell them, “You can’t be lost in your own world all the time.” But, of course, I won’t. The train is approaching the station, and the degree of courage required to board keeps multiplying. I look at the gray faces of the other travelers skulking about the platform. If they only knew that the same gene that gives birds the ability to sing gives us the ability to speak!

 

 

 

About the Author: Howie Good is the author of THE DEATH ROW SHUFFLE, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

 

More By Howie Good:

The Third Reich of Dreams

Two Prose Poems

 

Image Credit: Jack Delano “Freight train operations on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad between Chicago and Clinton, Iowa. Every time a train is passed, the rear brakeman of each train steps out on the caboose platform, and if all is well, as in this case, gives the other brakeman the high sign” (1943) The Library of Congress.

Two Prose Poems by Howie Good

 

Spy Culture

Just before dawn, the train barreled across the border. My carryall bag on the overhead rack contained an entire set of ant-dreams preserved in amber. Spies lurked everywhere, but, after the train pulled in, I eluded them by frequently changing my facial expressions. Later that day, I traveled by sampan and pedicab to meet my contact, an experienced agent posing as an English nanny. We met in a neighborhood playground beside a tree whose round fruit the children pretended were bombs. At one point I forgot the word “cremated” and had to ask her, “What’s it called – incinerating the body?”

 

The Anxiety of Influence

A banner stretching across the building’s exterior said, What’s Shakin’. You entered through a glass door, walked down a long, dim hallway and up a set of stairs into an area with large windows. The view was constantly changing, and you weren’t always sure what you were looking at or how it was happening. Jack Kerouac berated you for your perceived lack of cool. William Burroughs wouldn’t remove his hat. If you were going to be somewhere, this maybe wasn’t the best place. Many years would pass before anyone would realize that among the 20 most common passwords is “trustno1.”

 

About the Author: Howie Good is the author of three recent collections, I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books, A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel from Analog Submission Press, and The Titanic Sails at Dawn from Alien Buddha Press.

 

More by Howie Good:

“Maiden Voyage”

 

Image Credit: Alfred Stieglitz “Rebecca Strand” (1922)  Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Two Prose Poems By Mike James

 

Moving Again

Not everything fits on the back of my motorcycle. For instance, neither my pet cactus nor my roommate cat travel well. Both claw me considerably in different ways. And my bike is not large. It’s the small engine type I never grew out of.

Thomas De Quincey knew it was time to move when no more books would fit on shelves and when bill collectors came more often than meals. I know it’s time when someone tells me. My jokes worn thinner than the cheapest tissue paper, which won’t absorb more than a shot glass of tears.

 

Gutter Angels

Identify not by wings, which mostly stay jacket-hidden, but by sadness which serves as eyeliner. Also, by any buffalo penny worn as a pendant. If wings are seen, feathers are frequently oily. Often a few lost on alley bets and during sidewalk waltzes. Be warned: when they crack their knuckles dreams escape. Mice can hear it. And dogs who so often come and happily lick their hands.

 

About the Author: Mike James is the author of eleven poetry collections. His most recent books include: First-Hand Accounts From Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule Press) Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He has previously served as associate editor for both The Kentucky Review and Autumn House Press. After years spent in South Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, he now makes his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his large family and a large assortment of cats.

 

More By Mike James

“Grace”

“Two Ghazals”

“Two Prose Poems”

 

Image Credit: “Barrel Cactus” C.R. Savage. (1870s) Digital Image Courtesy of the Getty Digital Collection