Haunted Cell Phone

It was a dark and stormy mid-morning.

Caroline was at the corner of 14th and Broadway. And it was raining. It was raining so hard and Caroline had no umbrella. She didn’t want to buy another five dollar umbrella; she felt it could literally kill her! She had like seventeen of the same umbrellas at home! Life was an outrage!

That was when Caroline’s cell phone rang. It was a number she didn’t recognize–potentially terrifying. Normally she would have pressed ignore, except she just met this GUY. An out of town GUY! Who bought her drinks last weekend! Then came over to her place and some stuff happened! Maybe even in her pants! Which she could only sort of remember because she was drunk-o!

“Maybe it’s him!” said Caroline out loud to anyone. But it wasn’t the GUY from last weekend with the blurry features who may have been from Chicago or Chernobyl.

It was an old man.

“Hello, operator?” he croaked.

It was a dead old man.

“I think I’m dead,” he went on, sounding confused, dropping the phone.

Caroline got really freaked out–she was scared of dead old men because one time, her Grandpa bit her on the leg.

And this dead old man wanted to speak to Sylvia.

“Hello? I want to speak to Sylvia! Rah!” croaked the dead old man.

Caroline yelled back: “Wrong number!” and she ended the call and then told the audience: “This is the worst day of my life!”

Caroline stumbled bravely through the rain and went into an Earth-conscious coffee shop around the corner and ordered a gluten-free latte. The barista didn’t even blink.

She tried to calm down by tweeting about the whole incident, but there were not enough characters for the horror she truly felt.

THEN! she saw Steve Buscemi having a coffee. Steve Buscemi of film and teevee. He was like her third favorite actor! She wondered if this was her destiny. Yes, she was being victimized by a dead old man, but she could find herself in the arms of Steve Buscemi, who would protect her, soothe her. She stared at him, waiting for their eyes to meet, for the music to start.

But Steve Buscemi got up and left.

And Caroline’s cell phone rang again.

Caroline definitely pressed ignore but somehow the dead old man was on the phone, on speaker, yelling:

“I NEED TO SPEAK TO SYLVIA!” he screeched through her iphone. Caroline slapped the face of her iphone to make it stop but the dead old man went on and on about his deadly coal mining accident and that he was dead and he loves Sylvia and he meant to tell her!

Rah! Rah! Rah!

Caroline was beyond upset at this point and was going to make an appointment at the Apple store like tomorrow and get the geniuses there to fix her iphone so that dead old people would stop calling her and maybe just give her the new iphone instead–the one that can read your horoscope and find the nearest Parisian Macaroons, omg.

It was just a few hours later when Caroline was drinking two-for-one fruity margaritas in the East Village, that her cell phone rang yet again.

Dead old man, line one.

DRUNK Caroline answered the phone…

And she chatted with the dead old man for quite some time. She told him she WAS Sylvia and that she loved him too, and that he should get some rest.

He told her when you die you don’t need any rest and there is a loud buzzing sound when you’re dead. And also, some mail came when you’re dead. And that he was in the wars.

The dead old man got really boring and Caroline pretended to put him on hold but really she hung up on him and switched her iphone to silent. Then she drank more melon margaritas, and left her iphone on the pool table because she barfed green on the pool table. She went home with a chubby guy who smelled like burrito.

Then Caroline died. Yup. She pulled a weird muscle in Pilates class and died. Everyone says that Pilates is such a good workout. Well, not if you ask Caroline.

ON YOUR CELL PHONE! WHEN SHE CALLS YOU!! DEAD!!!

 

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Mary Crosbie is a comedy writer and performer. She studied at the University of Toronto. She now lives in Brooklyn and it’s so scary!

B Day

Beyoncé is so happy to see you. She remembers you from even before “Bootylicious.” You are so surprised that she remembers you, you don’t think to be concerned.

Beyoncé is also tired. You can see it fan from the corners of her eyes, in soft paths that roll to her temples. You sit with Beyoncé, and sympathy gathers around you like fog.

Beyoncé says words and sentences. She wrote them for herself, with minimal consultation. They are mostly shaped from vowels. In the balcony at the back of Beyoncé’s larynx, under the piano bench’s seat, you find the lisp she has hidden there for years. You smile. You gently put it back because you know she will need it again someday, sooner than she thinks.

Just before Beyoncé is no longer so happy to see you, you glance out the window. You notice a tree branch scraping against the twilight rubbed over the sun. When you get up, you do not remember to say goodbye because being the first to do things is what Beyoncé does. And no matter who you are, you are not Beyoncé.

You walk back down the street by yourself, you unlock the door by yourself. Even though twilight has been pressed into full dark, you close the curtains. You sit on your beige carpeted floor, and you open your wallet. You feel along its edges for the newsprint. You take out the picture of Diana Ross that is right behind the bills. You unfold the picture, and you flatten it against the beige carpeted floor. You run your fingers along the unfolded paths and you smell the ink and the dust and you dream. You don’t ever need to see Diana Ross. You just know.

 

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Erin Fitzgerald writes all day long. She lives in Connecticut, online at erinfitzgerald.net, and via Twitter as @gnomeloaf.

4 Poems

1.
I didn’t know casements flying open at random
was a thing  Or that this night had a hole in it
through which I might crawl to make myself
a sandwich in only my undies by the
little light above the sink  If fire be set
to my bleary feuilleton, so be it  This house is
seventeen shades of burned bridge, my
head a repository for tape hiss and ache and
what’s the word for not–knowing–where–
the–hell–you–are–while–standing–amid–the–
roosting–pigeons–and–rustling–trees–of–
Greenpoint?  That Because these days wherever
I step grass grows, but from now on I’m going to say
it like it’s a good thing I’m going to say it like
there’s a thumbnail for it I can post on my retina
Tell me I’m touching an otter when I’m really
touching a seagull  This is a sunset, you say
Naw, I’m pretty sure it’s an otter

 

2. This is a sunset it is all mixed up with grass and
street lights about to come on and little bits
of quietude  It is good when I close my eyes and there
are not three car lengths between me and my
imminent death I think probably it’s hard to tell
how much of this sentence is endorphins and how
much of it is feathers: Make it stop make it stop
make it stop make it stop  And if I try to
define it or something then I don’t need to believe it
What I need to believe is, beyond semantics I am
not the sort of person I am writing about
This person just opens a door and the afternoon
comes pouring out  Still, I do not understand why
I am armpits-deep in algorithms or what
the shape is that’s created by the space
between two people  At the edge of the park
the trees are flapping their limbs in panic
Somehow, it is the most perfect music

 

3. I feel like there is not even a hallway in this book
to stalk menacingly down in pursuit of someone
only footsteps and I feel like there is no such thing
as writing books only having feelings and being buried
under them  I come from a place where all the phones
were turned off a long long time ago and before
you were particles you were something only birds
could sing  I feel like we make good stones and like
it’s a curse to be tough and not exposed and
like it’s strange to be carried around in some idiot’s
pocket  But by the time you read this I’ll be
buried under my own life on a really clear day in August
This I know, I know too that my hand is all one piece
It is one piece that crumbles all over the floor it is
a dark, oval, cartoony thing where my heart fits,
my heart saying Are these curves the shingles
on the roof of a house or the waves at sea?
I don’t know, heart, either way we’re floating

 

4. Having feelings and being buried under them
is Stephen Dorff in Somewhere  But what if you’re
Ryan Gosling in Drive?  That’s having a heart murmur
on the moon, bro  If your current melancholy is an
actual lemon meringue pie it means you’ll die
shoeless in Canada  But what if, out walking one
night, you’re mysteriously pelted with a shower of
turquoise gems?  Aw shit, son, that’s parking
your sedan in the tow–away zone behind the flow of
time itSELF  This weather someone velcro’d
to an apple is seriously wonky  I want a new one
T says wanting a new weather is wanting a new
apple and I’m like That doesn’t even make sense, babe
Outside, everybody’s hands are tv commercials
in which cleaning products are enabling white ladies
to read more  Any minute now, the waters will
surround us, they’ll carry away all those clean white
ladies, they’ll want answers  We won’t have any

 

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Alban Fischer has designed books for over twenty-five independent presses. He lives in Grand Rapids.

Radio Cacophony #10, 30, 75

TEN — We give away four of the promotional festival tickets but keep the other four to split among the staff. We draw names from the hat but once we have four names someone suggests what if these are actually the four people who don’t get the promotional tickets. And since there’s more staff in the room (seven) whose names weren’t drawn from the hat, we outnumber the four people whose names were already drawn and vote that those four people are the first four not to get the tickets. We draw three more names of those who aren’t getting the tickets and the remaining four names get the tickets: Samsonite (Promotions Director), Gus (General Manager), Fun Pauly (Music Director) and Keely (Public Relations Manager). I don’t record the names of the four people getting the tickets in the minutes because I am in that moment told not to, since for all intents and purposes, and if the faculty advisor asks, we gave these promotional festival tickets to the third caller to Kevin-and-Kevin’s morning show.

 

THIRTY — The music on the AM frequency is more enjoyable today than the music on the FM frequency. But the dial in the station’s office is always tuned to the FM frequency, since the AM frequency is more for deejays to practice being deejays. To listen to the music on the AM frequency, we thus must turn off the stereo in the station office entirely, something which is practically unprecedented, and kindly ask the AM deejays if they wouldn’t mind turning their music up a bit. Of course the AM deejays smile as this, since they’re not even real deejays yet at all, only apprentices, and happily turn up the volume in the AM studio. But before too long the FM deejay is out in the hallway, rapping on the window to the AM studio, saying, Hey, turn that down in there! Can’t hear my own thoughts! And the AM deejays are shouting something back to the effect of, The staff asked us to turn it up, doofus! Ask them! And eventually the FM deejay ponders this long enough and comes into the office, all frantic-like, saying, What gives, guys! Did you tell those little tasteless morons to turn up the volume? But we pretend that we don’t hear the frantic nature in the FM deejay’s voice. We only turn up the volume on the stereo, which is now back on, playing the FM frequency, and say, Shhh, this is a great song, right? We just love this song. And the FM deejay stands there for a moment before realizing that it’s his show we’re listening to and says, Yeah? Me too!

 

SEVENTY-FIVE — Do you drink heavily? Tolerate smoked substances? Overcooked omelets? Roommate  obligations that may or may not include hair styling, vomit whitewashing, drilling new holes for screws unleashed during late night activity? Have you ever been victim to a chemical burn? Can your stomach tolerate expired foods such as moldy bread, sour milk, limp celery? Can you add to our sizable record collection or merely duplicate it? Do you own noise-cancellation headgear or know where to acquire such equipment at little to no cost? In four sentences or fewer, describe your quest to revitalize the post-punk movement. In three sentences or fewer, state your reasons for denouncing Bright Eyes, Ani Difranco, new metal, smooth jazz and Sunday school. In two sentences or fewer, bequeath your autographed and rare vinyl LPs to us upon your accidental death and the room is yours.

 

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Michelle Dove is the author of Radio Cacophony, forthcoming from Big Lucks Books. Recent writing appears or will appear in Chicago ReviewDIAGRAM, Alice Blue Review, ILK, and Sixth Finch. She lives in Washington, DC.

Stories from the Life of the Perfect Family

  • The sport of football is very important to them. The son is a quarterback, probably. The daughter is a cheerleader. She is popular, but never so popular that boys won’t back down when she’s stuck in the back seat at Lookout Point, hands up her inevitably pleated skirt. She is the respectable kind of popular, not the fast kind. Just enough to make life easy for her.

 

  • If you’re trying to picture the mother, picture brown calico, like her skirts. Always skirts – jeans only when she’s painting the house, or something – and always an apron on top, modest for day-to-day, lacy for dinnertime. She had long hair when she got married but cut it when she had the son, and now it waves out charmingly in nutty-brown curls. Or you can picture a happy elf. Her eyes crinkle at the edges. She has a gentle laugh. She is permanently in the process of baking cookies.

 

  • The family owns a golden retriever with lush glossy fur and a cute name, Binky or Rusty or something. He loves to play ball, he waits for the children by the mailbox, he rolls over on command. Even the holes he digs are fetching, and none too difficult to clean up. When he ages and the time has come for the brother and sister to learn their first lessons about death, Binky passes in a manner that is quick and non-traumatic, relatively. A car accident – nobody’s fault except Binky’s, of course. He just runs out into the road. It is his time. The driver cries and apologizes but the father says, “Nothing you could have done.” Despite the accident, Binky’s fur is glossy and un-marred, and even his open eyes have a look of patient resignation to them. The family swaddles him in one of the mother’s second-best tablecloths, then buries him in the back yard under an apple tree.  The daughter thinks how weird it is that Binky will remain forever directly underneath the grass on which he used to lie. She stifles this feeling in order to mourn properly.  They make him a little headstone, permanent marker on a rock. His grave never really grows over.

 

  • The children’s beds are decked in tidy hand-made quilts with little ornate triangles. Grandmothers have made these. Maybe not even their grandmothers. Maybe their friends’ grandmothers – surely these children are so beloved that all grandmothers wish to contribute in some small way to their lives. Above the quilt in the son’s room hang football posters, not glossy images of barely-clad women – he has seen these in his friends’ rooms, but he dislikes the way their mascaraed eyes would watch a person sleep. In the daughter’s room, a photo of Binky. Of course they both own plenty of high school pennants too. They are very big on school spirit.

 

  • Their father is an architect. He works from home some days, squinting over a drafting table on the sun-porch as the mother makes him tea and rubs his shoulders. He wears hand-knitted sweater-vests, green and wooly, over crisp white shirts. When he’s not working, he can be found reading the paper in his modest easy-chair, an unlit pipe clenched between his strong teeth, floppy worn carpet-slippers dangling off the end of his toes. (Before he died, Binky used to fetch them for the father, and now the slippers’ presence is vaguely disquieting – they are around, but Binky is not.)When the mother brings him a cup of coffee, she kisses the top of his head. His hair is even charming when it’s thinning.

 

  • More often than not, in their neighborhood, it is fall. Frequently it is sunset. A pep band is usually playing at a comfortable distance; often the family sits on their porch in rocking chairs and simply listens.

 

  • The father genuinely enjoys building fires. The son watches and learns. He fetches the glossy magazine ads out of the newspaper and stuffs them into the center of the tent: lingerie, lipstick, perfume are all subsumed into purplish smoke. His father ruffles his hair, and soon the fire smells only of pure crackling cedar.

 

  • Sure, the son has gone all the way. After junior prom he and Lucy Fitzgerald parked up on Lookout Point and she let him reach up under her stiff lavender skirt, past the organza ruffle, past the netting, into her modest underpants. But it’s expected of him, and he’s certain to let his sister know that the same is not true for her.

 

  • When the son tried grass at a party, it made him nervous. He’s not too vocal about his opposition to it, though – he just tries not to associate with the type of people who do anything to excess, particularly that which could harm either one’s strong mind or healthy body.

 

  • The mother has the strangest, most beautiful mole on her pert right breast, about two inches from the areola. When she calls it to the father’s attention one night, he kisses it gently. Together they keep watch on it, fascinated by the changing outlines of its lacy contours.

 

  • Parties, for the family, usually involve popcorn strings, hats and streamers. Sometimes, on Saturday night, they go all out. Aunt Betsy’s house is across town. They cut loose. Dad has two whiskeys and begins telling lovely funny stories. After dinner the uncles all stand in the garage and smoke cigars under the rafters. The father doesn’t like them too much. The uncles razz him, but he just smiles. Then he waits for everyone else to head inside first and hides the rest of his on a shelf.

 

  • When it is seasonally appropriate, the entire family wears flannel.

 

  • The mother is a more-than-competent knitter. She’s very into pies, because they take up a lot of time. Around noon a good soap comes on, which she has started to indulge herself by watching now that the children are getting home later and later. They are very active in after-school clubs. Inspired by one of the characters on the show, she once tried to really settle down by fixing herself a martini and settling back in the armchair, but about three-quarters of the way through, the light in the room began to take on an unsettling quality. The objects around her became too fixed in their places and hyper-real. She tossed the rest of the martini out in the garbage disposal and baked four blackberry pies instead. It didn’t taste much like a martini should, anyway.

 

  • She and her daughter might be the only two people who still wear hats to church. They manage to make it look natural, though.

 

  • They live in the hollow at the end of a snowy world. Golden light glows from their house’s shuttered windows. It smells of woodsmoke, then – cookies.

 

  • Happiness, to them, is about deciding to be happy and nothing else. And look at how well it’s worked out.

 

  • Midway through the son’s senior year of high school, Lucy Fitzgerald and two of her friends are killed in a head-on car crash. There are whispers that she was very high on dope at the time, and the son takes this as yet another sign that Lucy Fitzgerald was not meant for him. The daughter is more disquieted by this – while Lucy Fitzgerald and her brother were dating, she was certain that one day Lucy Fitzgerald would become her future sister-in-law. She had begun to make subtle suggestions about bridesmaid’s dresses – violet, lace. They were high school sweethearts, after all. She couldn’t possibly see how her brother could bring himself to take Lucy Fitzgerald out for ice cream and break up with her. While her brother did his best to explain to her that Lucy Fitzgerald had begun to run with a bad crowd, she cannot help but imagine the accident, over and over again, Lucy’s black curls smeared with blood, her head curled against the steering wheel. Her mother, of course, picks up on this and explains to her that everything happens for a reason. The daughter decides to be mollified. There is nothing to be done about Lucy Fitzgerald now.

 

  • The family continues to go on walks in the woods. As the autumn light streams through the trees, they fill their buckets with blackberries and strawberries. “The circle of life,” the mother says merrily when they are forced to sidestep a rotting and bloated raccoon. The daughter wants to look closer, but the father pulls her away.

 

  • Grandkids come straight after college. First the daughter, once she’s done with her three years in nursing, then the son, once he’s well into law school. Though both son and daughter have moved out of the sticks, closer to a city, they’re always able to pack their two blonde children into separate cars and drive no more than an hour to Grandma and Grandpa’s place. Grandma and Grandpa clutch each other on the porch as the car rolls up the drive. Certainly they have aged, they’re a little jowlier, but they smile and smile.

 

  • Slowly the lacy mole does its job, and the mother dies. The father follows her half a year later. He has some disease that progresses rapidly, is painless, and enables the sufferer to remain cheerful and lucid until the end. The mother was not so lucky, but she was always a hardier sort.

 

  • Left alone in the family bungalow, forced to tear their pennants off the walls, fold up the quilts, and toss most of the contents of the mother’s hope chest (moths have invaded the lace), the children begin to hate the way their empty house mocks them. “Everything happens for a reason,” the daughter says, her lips moving silently. “What?” says her brother, and she says, never mind.

 

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Jessie Hennen recently received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Prior to that, she worked in Munich, Germany, first as a semi-competent nanny and then as a mildly soulless marketing project manager. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Millions, rk.v.ry quarterly, Fiction365 and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She is currently at work on Flight, her first novel.

Swineherd Fernando

Brefberhaven is a few squares or collegiate park, founded in 1107 CE by a swineherd, Fernando, who’d sought free grazing for his brood of hogs. The rain falls ungrudgingly there. This is in direct proportion to both its pastorality and eventual prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The river Ödor, stool-colored from the peat bogs at its source, halves the strath of Brefberhaven. Swineherd Fernando would return there often for its beauty. The wind blew up under his papery pigskin robe and grasped him in cool fragility, like the grip of babies. He’d dumbly smile.

A virulent orator, Fernando harangued his brood for their selfishness and sin, as when for instance they’d leave a runt to die of starvation. He’d suckle the piteous beast from his own hermaphroditic mammary. Ages passed in frustrated reverence, he in his cell of walnut boughs, they migrating between the bog and their feeding trough. His final selfless act for the swine was his own demise. They dined of him for 40 days and nights. Ten full-grown heifers and another dozen piglets! When The See got word he was venerated.

Today Brefberhaven remembers Fernando with the Stigmata Regatta, a miniature sailing competition on the Ödor. Teams of children design and construct the boats themselves. The hulls are in the shape of human forearms and the bow is always a half-curled hand. Spurting arcs of beet juice are used to try to capsize opponents.

 

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Dan Souder is the editor of  The Brasilia Review

So the Alaskan Police Force is Hiring?

i feel like you’re much less likely to get shot in the face if the gangbangers you’re policing are wearing mukluks. i don’t know how you can really argue the contrary. their disputes will have something to do with ancient tribal rivalry and their colors will be worn in  intricately beaded patterns, put in place by loving grandmother hands along the shafts of their moose-hide boots. i heard a rumor that ikat patterns stand for West Side, and butterflies point to the thugs of the North. be careful, yo.

you never hear about anybody being brutally murdered in the back alleys of towns with names like Nome or Funny River or Sunrise. i might be on the lookout for some strange happenings, however, if you should be stationed in any of the following: Pleasant Valley, Fishhook, Pilot Station, Whale Pass, False Pass, Chicken. this is based on the research of my imagination. i am often correct in my projections.

you might freeze to death, but i heard a rumor that eskimos are super friendly and shit. someone will loan you a parka and let you sleep in their igloo.

why is that racist?

people will be offended if you do not know that the correct plural of walrus is in fact “walri.”

have you ever seen 30 Days of Night? that probably won’t happen. probably.

if you do get shot in the face, you’ll probably live. it will be with a harpoon or something, and you’ll have that awesome mysterious vibe behind your fox-fur hood. chicks dig it.

you might meet the only gay eskimo, or a penguin, or Mr. Narwhal, and i know zero people who would not be jealous of that.

i hear property is really cheap there. like two cents an acre or something. or at least it was. look into it. buy a house. get wifed up. i bet you’ll have bearskin rugs and that shit is pretty romantic. except for that they still have faces i guess. and you guys can eat lots of herring.

on the weekends when you are not working, you will be dog mushing. (that’s a real thing! i know, right?) you will have a team of beautiful sled dogs. Sarah Palin, the bitchy one at the head of the pack, will pick on the blind one a lot, whose name will be Mr. Peepers. they will make a Lifetime movie about how Mr. Peepers wins the Iditarod in a super-emotional twist of fate. the movie will not be well-written, but who the fuck cares, because THERE IS A LIFETIME MOVIE ABOUT YOU.

you can visit the Arctic Circle. it’s the final frontier. it’s only like 80 degrees below, Farenheit. and there will be oil, so much oil! you love oil!

i bet you’ll find some Wooly Mammoth bones, and lots of gold. that’s all they do there.

Fact: you will not get poison ivy. Fact: you will get charged by a moose. Fact: there will be SO many old people on cruise ships.

i bet you’ll get to go on some sort of crazy ass snow-mobile police chase around a volcano, and you might not even get eaten by a bear. at least, not a polar bear, because they’re all dead.

you should totally apply.

 

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Ashley Collier is a writer / jeweler / mermaid who lives in Chicago and hates winter. She co-edits Untoward and blogs at ladybirdluxe.blogspot.com.

Daniel Contracts Impetigo, Reconsiders His Life

1. Today, Daniel feels like an injured koi fish. Scratch that—Daniel feels like the pond that the koi fish are in. He feels like the scum that lines the sides of a man-made body of water. His body, something he’s handled like a used car for 27 years, is rejecting the treatments. It’s rejecting the antibiotics, the ointments & vitamins. His doctor says that the rash shouldn’t spread any more than it has. Non-factor, is what he calls it. Daniel looks in the mirror at the doctor’s office & sees porous craters. He imagines the face of the moon contracting impetigo & missing work for a week. The planet tilts off its axis & meteors shower the surface. Cities are destroyed. Thousands of workers are laid off or die. Daniel smiles & picks a scab near his upper lip.

 

2. Today, Daniel wears dirty sweatpants & watches a documentary on blue herons’ migration habits. Some British-sounding narrator claims the birds are “unpredictable.” He says they can choose to fly south, or simply stay put, that there’s no logic to their travel plans. It’s been years since Daniel’s visited any state outside of his own. He imagines golfing the back nine of a course with natural waterfalls & sand traps as deep as his stomach. He opens a bag of lime-flavored nachos & traces a golf ball in a bowl of salsa. It looks like a circle. Daniel eats the circle with a chip & sinks further into the stitching of his recliner.

 

3. Today, Daniel buys a new hat at a thrift shop. It droops over his forehead & he feels like an ancient emperor. He wears the hat to the grocers hoping people won’t see his face. An older man leaving the store with one crutch says Good day, & Daniel says Thank you. Inside, Daniel looks at different types of cheeses in the dairy section. He read somewhere online that whole milk can help with skin infections. He knows that cheese is not whole milk, but he figures it’s all the same. He sees a woman with a lazy eye stocking yogurt & asks which cheese she prefers. She looks at Daniel’s face & the cheeses at the same time. She says Asiago, & Daniel feels just a little bit better about his new hat.

 

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Dillon J. Welch is an MFA candidate in Poetry at NYU. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in CutBank, inter|rupture, Jellyfish, Phantom Limb, Pinwheel and other journals. He is currently Editor of AMRI and Poetry Editor of Swarm.

Every Child You See Has Been Kidnapped

We made up a game called Every child you see has been kidnapped.
It was amazing how easily parents became terrible, evil people. The grocery store was full of children trying to pull their legs free of shopping cart safety seats, of adults clinging desperately to toddlers’ sleeves. At the 
park we watched a girl run towards a wide tree, a bearded man walking purposefully after her. We grew nervous when she insisted that she wasn’t Amanda, even more so when he slung her tiny body over his shoulder. If she hadn’t laughed as he ran to the waiting car we might have said something. 

 

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Matthew Mahaney is the author of Your Attraction to Sharp Machines (BatCat Press, 2013) and The Storm that Bears Your Name (The Cupboard, forthcoming), which was chosen by Alissa Nutting as the winner of The Cupboard’s 2014 Contest. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.