Slush Update

Hello my few and far between readers!  We will return to a more… regular schedule this week and as evidence of my good intentions, I’ve cleared out the slush.  Sorry for the wait, there were some pieces that I loved but just didn’t fit the tone of the blog, and pieces which fit the tone of the blog, that I couldn’t quite bring myself to love.  Anyway, if you haven’t received a response but you did submit please query.

Things You Cannot Bring With You Aboard the Spacecraft

No pens, no pencils, or writing instruments of any kind.
Paper will not be provided for your use; we transcribe thoughts
through the latest technologies.  We have all sciences here:
the medicines we give make obsolete your aspirins and motrins,
please leave them in the buckets with cigarettes, smokeless and non,
your lap belts and shake weights.  Welcome to zero gravity.

Abandon your electronic devices in your luggage
to be sent later.  We have hyper-screens and holodecks,
playing cards and antique monopoly boards.  Get to know
your fellow passengers or merely watch them through lowered
lids and remember what it was like to speak through moist lips.
No pockets of any kind, lest you sneak the flora and fauna
of your home, the revived dogs of your childhood, snakes,
iguanas, Blue Morpho butterflies.  The captain is allergic.

We have timepieces for your own personal use. We insist:
no watches, sundials, or white stones from an abacus
which you slide intermittently while you sleep.  No children
surreptitiously stowed in fabric containers.  You may not leave,
talk, whisper or aid another once you pass security.
You may not make loud or persistent noises.  Do not run,
walk, or skip.  You may have no rights except those we grant you.
You may always turn back, even after we have left.  We have doors
for your disposal, the heat of our exhaust melting your skin
as you breathe once, twice the space you dreamed of filling.

Seven Standpoints From Which to Defend Your Sandwich From a Hungry Alien

Editor’s Note: Ms. Friedman does not usually write poetry, but she showed me this a while ago and I told her to send it off immediately.  When I heard she hadn’t placed it anywhere, I begged and pleaded and offered her my first born time traveling neutrino if she would let me publish it. You’re welcome.

Seven Standpoints From Which to Defend Your Sandwich From a Hungry Alien

By D. T. Friedman

Physiological

In your strange stomach,
This delicious pastrami
May well be poison.

Cultural

If I share with you,
You must then share in return.
I don’t want any.

Judgmental

Thousands of lightyears
And you didn’t pack a lunch?
Plan your trips better.

Psychological

Like feeding a duck,
The dangers of imprinting
Concern me deeply.

Anatomical

How do you propose
To partake of my small lunch
When you have no mouth?

Physical

This would stay in you;
Leaving with it would alter
The mass of my world.

Juvenile

You must have been told
Human spit is full of germs.
I licked my sandwich.

Fastened to a Dying Animal

Editor’s Note: This is the first unsolicited poem I’ve accepted for After Ever After.  It is precisely the type of thing I love to read: dark, unsettling and strangely humorous. 

Fastened to a Dying Animal

by Gary F. Leising

Someone tied a weasel to my chest,
but it’s okay, it’s not the flesh-ripping
claws and toothy kind of weasel,
but one that’s sick, a brain tumor,
I think.  He’s so lethargic,
his eyes don’t focus on me,
not even when I say his name.
Lisa, I say (I named him when I thought,
erroneously, he was a girl),
and he doesn’t look up, or move.
He eats dry dog food soaked in water
to make it soft, and my dog
watches me prepare it.  His ears
are perked up, head cocked,
but when I give him none of the mush,
he’s not disappointed.  But Lisa,
the only time he perks up is when he smells food.
Sometimes he makes a sound.
He’ll get better, I think.  Other times,
that sound is a cough, and my shirt
gets covered with a yellowish goo
trickling out his mouth.  Then I find out
he’s not a weasel, but a small,
sick otter, so we get in the bathtub.
He perks up, tries to swim,
but can’t move with coordination.
When I sleep, I lie on my back
or side, half-afraid of rolling onto him,
half-thinking that if I did,
I’d end his suffering.
But his downward curving whiskers
look like the unintentional mustache
of an old man who struggles
with the simple task of shaving,
and never cuts away those few,
long hairs.

Gary Leising’s poems have appeared in Blackbird, Connecticut Review, The Cincinnati Review, River Styx, Margie,  and elsewhere.  He has reviews and essays in The James Dickey Newsletter, Black Warrior Review, Pleiades and The Way We Read James Dickey, a collection of new critical approaches to Dickey’s work.  Leising’s prose poem “Toenails Diary” was chosen by Russell Edson for the 2008 1/2K Prize from Indiana Review.  He is associate professor of English at Utica College.

Recommended Poetry Fridays: 8/25

So I think I’ve just about given up on the full length reviews–they’re mentally exhausting and not very conducive to a procrastinator’s schedule.

Noise by C. John Graham: A pontoon! Pontoum?  Pantaloon?  Ah.  Pantoum.  It appears that WordPress is not up on the spelling of the lesser known poetic forms.  Thank you, Google Overlords.

Trees Are Only X-Rays of Bone by Arlene Ang: You had me at the title.

Recommended Physical Poetic Object of the Day: The Best New Poets series.  How did I not know this was a thing?  Oh, because bookstores typically don’t have a decent poetry selection and the only chain that did is now completely and utterly defunct?  Right.

The Reproduction of Mothering

My grandmother’s hands set in the west,
her fingers like cursive trees.  Each night
she stands at the kitchen sink, fearful
she will be unable to wash her own dishes.
On her birthday I sell beans to a peddler
for a bar of soap, unscented and white,
wrapped in silk.

The first evening my grandmother scrubs
her nails and her hands rescind the alphabet.
She watches horror films and the slivers
of monsters through the venetian blinds
of her fingers. The second: her knuckles thin
and thin, letting slip bands of gold and diamond
to the sewer.  She does not mind, and this
is my first warning.

The third: she straightens to her full height
and steals all my good dresses.  The fourth,
I lose her in a mall.  She has become too fast
for me, on feet for dancing till midnight.
The skin at her elbow plumps, tight and worn
as a well loved drum, dimples where fingers
may press and hold her through a crowd.
By the time the soap is utterly used, a cracked
landscape of desire, my grandmother’s skin
is as soft as goose down.  She sits at the center
of my bed swaddled in a crochet blanket
of her own making.

Years later, when my mother’s hands bend
irrevocably, I tell my daughter how I found her:
eyes dark through chinks of yellow yarn, watching
for all the years yet to come, and I press three beans
into her palm.

A Face Like an Imperfectly Shaven Tennis Ball

Sometimes I wish I had detachable body parts.
My mouth I would leave locked in a box, wedged

between two bricks. Then, when my grandmother
asked what to give her cousin, a nun, I could not have said,

“Early edition of the bible. Signed by Jesus.” My ears I’d tag,
then send on their own way. Perhaps ironed and slipped

between pages of library books. What has your own mouth
betrayed in the presence of Hemingway or October’s

Popular Mechanic? My eyes I’ll leave with my grandmother
as she is old and likely to stumble when no one is looking.

She can have my hands too. To open jars, diet coke cans,
and to smack her demon-spawn cat into next Tuesday.

“Love nips” my ass (Donated to charity, there’s more
than enough to go around. Twice.). Toes to my cousin Bubba,

who has none on his left foot. May he grow accustomed
to cherry red nail polish. Other parts I’ll pitch, or burn,

as lately I have read many stories of nefarious teeth.
And my nose I’ll keep, for purely selfish reasons.

Elementary School Students Explore the Universe

In honor of water on Mars, thought I’d repost this poem.  First appeared in Strange Horizons.

Beware the quip that youth is wasted
on the young. Exasperated,
those youths will offer a switch.
Infants through middle-schoolers
will pick up our projects
while scientists and politicians,
retirees and social workers
enjoy long days on slip-n-slides.

In their quest to disprove
their time squandering stigma,
these kids will in one week
discover the unifying theory of physics.
While Mrs. Canady sips apple juice,
her fifth grade class builds rocket ships.
To seek out those Nordic aliens
from Star Trek marathons.

Failing, they’ll remember
not to waste time or resources
on fruitless endeavors,
and turn to go home before supper.

Their artists will paint only what they’ve seen
with as few crayons as possible.
And their five-year-old geologists
will not dilly dally.

They’ll breeze through their surveys,
keep their pockets empty,
and not once tug a pant leg,
critter filled hand upturned, to ask
Can I take this one home?