Absurdity in the Grocery Store Aisles
I have just read a book called Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris. I finished all 514 pages in four days, and am eagerly awaiting the second volume. The entries begin when the author is 21 years old and, intentionally or not, the quarter century covered in the first volume presents a quintessentially American rags-to-riches narrative arc – from wayward youth to successful international author. Diaries often read like a series of confessions and delve deep into a writer’s raw emotions; this is not the case with Sedaris’ book.
The author usually focuses away from the main action and instead on life’s compelling absurdities. He is more interested in observing human nature, catching bits of conversation, and jotting down tiny vignettes of weirdness in his amusing and unsparing style. As someone familiar with his work, I found it fascinating how he later drew from these observations to compose his longer pieces.
The problem with immersing myself in his diaries for four days is that I began to see humanity in a similar way as Sedaris does. I began to see people as characters – poor players that strut and fret upon the stage – and I realized that we are all slightly ridiculous, especially when going about our day-to-day business. I started to observe people and listen to bits of conversation, and nowhere is it more evident that we are such an odd species than when we are at the grocery store. Usually I focus on getting in and out as quickly as possible, with a shopping list and a detailed plan, but this past weekend I lingered a little for the sake of research.
I found a scruffy looking man in his 50s staring at the wall of toothbrushes in one grocery store. He seemed lost and confused. He picked one up, inspected it, and then put it back. I stood next to him and he suddenly turned to me and asked, “Is it really necessary to have forty different toothbrushes to choose from? Can we not just have four or five? At what point does this become over-kill? And is it too much to ask for one kind of toothpaste that offers plaque protection, whitening, and long-lasting freshness all in one?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer so I just said, “I don’t know.”
He looked at me in disgust, as if I should have given him a more thoughtful answer, and then he walked away without either a new toothbrush or a tube of toothpaste.
I then wandered amongst the produce and bulk bins on the far side of the store and noticed a woman sampling the grapes. She looked around to see if anyone noticed her and then proceeded to pop another three into her mouth. I kept her in the corner of my eye as she moved towards the bulk bins. She slowly weighed her options before sampling some white chocolate chips. I had never thought to pair grapes with white chocolate, but maybe she was onto something.
A few minutes later I walked down the aisle of breakfast cereals. A mother with sensible shoes had a box of Cheerios in one hand and a box of Rice Krispies in the other hand. She seemed to be comparing the nutritional facts of each, before placing both in her shopping cart. “Cheerios on school days and Rice Krispies for the weekend,” she said to herself. Meanwhile her young son was gazing longingly up at the colourful boxes of Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops. I wondered if there was ever a moment in the woman’s life when she ignored the nutritional facts and threw caution to the wind. Her son didn’t ask and neither did I.
With the increase of child obesity and all the talk of making healthier choices, I had to wonder who was still purchasing these items. I answered this question while I was shopping in the next grocery store. I found a lanky teenager with nothing in his basket except a box of Oreos and a bottle of Coca-Cola. After I paid for my purchases, I found him sitting outside on a bench. He was alone and working his way through the cookies while guzzling the soda. I had made similar decisions when I was his age and I can confirm that there is a good reason why one should not do such things.
The next day, I went in again and found a man slowly flipping through magazines on fishing, hunting and outdoor survival. I think he was mentally photographing every page so he wouldn’t have to pay for any of them. His basket was full of Hungry Man frozen dinners. I wondered if survival magazines and frozen dinners contradicted each other, but I didn’t comment.
When I was waiting at the till, two women were discussing their new exercise routines. “I’ve been going to the gym before work three days a week and I feel so energized,” said one with bleach blonde hair. “And I’ve started juicing.”
“I’ve cut out all refined sugar and flour,” said the woman in yoga clothes. “That stuff will cut years from your life.”
“I know… I know. I’ve been trying to get Paul to come with me but he just wants to stay in bed. The other day he turned over and didn’t even acknowledge me. I was so mad.”
“That is a tough battle, but keep fighting. Fight every day.”
“I will,” said the blonde woman. “And that reminds me: I need more kale. I’ve been going through that stuff like nobody’s business. Can you watch my stuff? I’ll be right back.”
“Of course,” said the woman in yoga clothes. When her friend was halfway across the store, she reached for a Skor chocolate bar, had the cashier ring it in, and then quickly tucked it into her bag.
Bio: Chris Brauer is a Canadian writer and teacher, based in southeastern British Columbia. He has recently completed a travel memoir about living and teaching in the Sultanate of Oman, and is currently working on a book about his travels in Ireland. He is also working on his first collection of poetry. His writing has appeared in several websites and magazines including Celtic Life International, Ireland of the Welcomes, Our Canada and A New Ulster. Visit www.ChrisBrauerWriter.com for more information.
Comedian, singer and actress Scout Durwood has been making audiences laugh since she first appeared on MTV’s Mary + Jane and Oxygen’s Funny Girls, now she releases her unique, hybrid comedy-pop album Take One Thing Off, on Blue Élan Records. Documenting her time spent in NYC's burlesque circuit to her move and current home in L.A., Scout's album is ultimately a celebration of being a little different, “I think I’m still that girl in a tiara who doesn’t know it’s weird,” Durwood says. AHC talked with Scout about the new album, embracing the weird and quirky and what drives the heart of her comedy.
AHC: Your comedic repertoire has covered a whole range of different approaches through out the years, feminist story-performance pieces, spoken word, burlesque, stand-up, acting and music, which angle do you favor the most as a performer and artist and is there anything you haven't incorporated into your work yet that you would like to try in the future?
Scout: I have made a commitment to myself to do more legitimate choreography. I love dancing, I’m just not very good at it—yet! I love all of the things I do and am really interested right now in trying to find the places where those things intersect. I’d love to do a scripted series that incorporates original music. Media is so plastic right now, there really is no limit to what you can do with it. That said, my happy place is still on a stage with a mic.
AHC: Tell us about your new album Take One Thing Off, where the impetus for this work came from and what it took for you to create and bring all of the right elements together?
Scout: Take One Thing Off started when Dave Darling saw me in a musical about blues musician Janiva Magness. He asked me if I might be interested in collaborating on an album, and then Blue Élan came on board to make the whole thing possible. The album loosely tracks my time in New York City working in burlesque, and weaves in some of my core life philosophies, like sometimes you just need to get naked and dance.
AHC: Who are some of your go-to comedic and musical inspirations?
Scout: Steve Martin is major for me. As a comedian, it can be really easy to tear things down. He does such an incredible job of building things up, and he isn’t afraid of going to a silly place. Plus, he’s an extremely disciplined banjo player and has has had a career in dramatic writing and filmmaking, which very much resonates with me. Maria Bamford saved my life when I moved to LA because I missed burlesque so much and ended up being really, really sad for a year. She is everything when it comes to comedy within sadness. Musically, I love American Jazz Standards, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and the Original Broadway Cast recording of RENT. I don’t think a better musical has ever been made.
AHC: What catches your creative eye the most, where do you draw from as a performer/writer/actor and how do you channel those inspirations into the work? Do you prefer spontaneity and stream of consciousness over more rehearsed and written material, or a little bit of both?
Scout: I go see as many shows as I can. My general formula is to go out and live my life and see as much as there is to see then once I have an idea, I go home and work on it until it’s where I want it to be. I like a balance of chaos and control onstage. I love finding my way out of mistakes. I used to very much just get out there and wing it, which is still a major part of my live performance, but I’d say at this point ninety percent of my show is written and rehearsed—unless I feel like doing something different.
AHC: The music videos that were shot for this album really capture the humor and quirkiness of these songs brilliantly, can you tell us a little bit about the creative process behind the scenes of the video shoot?
Scout: Of course! The videos we have out now are a combination of teams. TAKE ONE THING OFF was Sammi Cohen and Sarah King, who are two of my favorite homos. The laundry mat was their idea, and from there we got a bunch of our favorite people together and made it a party. We shot it in Echo Park, and all the shops around us had no idea what we were doing. Especially when we brought the motorcycle inside. Neal Bryant who was a camera operator on MARY + JANE shot a bunch of steady came shots for us, which was amazing.
ALL THE PRETTY BOTTLES and THE WEDDING SONG were Matt Mazany and Ian Skalski of Cascade Up, and they nailed it. We shot them at the same time, so the studio where we filmed THE WEDDING SONG is the same room that the shot the ballet dancer in for ATPB.
AHC: At the heart of your work is the embrace of difference, the quirk, the weird, the unique, and telling it all in your own way, in an industry where the pressure might be to do the opposite, do you think it's important that one resists that temptation and just aim for what is most real and authentic?
Scout: I don’t know. I didn’t really think about that at all until I moved to Los Angeles, and now I think about it a lot. In New York, especially in burlesque, everything was just for the joy of it, but you could only reach as many people as were willing to come and watch you sing in a dive bar. My transition to LA was incredibly difficult, and there were times I wished I either had never come here at all or had a more mainstream sensibility. It’s exciting to produce something that so many people get to see and enjoy. I think I tried to be more in the middle for my first couple of years here, but it wasn’t genuine, and it didn’t work. I’d love to say get out there and be true to yourself no matter what, but the reality is that in this business, success follows a pattern more often than not. Fortunately, at this point, I’m too old to be a pop princess so the pressure is off, and I can relax into being a full blown weirdo.
Visit Scout Durwood for more.
Take One Thing Off is available now from Blue Élan Records.
Listen / Buy from: Spotify | Website | Amazon | iTunes | Apple Music
He had an affinity for matches.
It wasn’t of particular concern, however, as he only ever held them lightly between his pristine teeth, the brick red ends hovering just short of his painted cherry lips. Painted was a good word for him. His skin had that blended watercolor look of rose and apricot strokes. He had so many shades of cinnamon brown, caramel-a box of the most delectable chocolates-flittered through his hair that one could get lost in the strands. He could generally be described as beautiful, but the word seemed to lack the depth that swallowed you up in his brandy-wine eyes. Which also seemed appropriate because if you sat too close to his gravitational pull, you’d get drunk. But more than anything, you noticed the matches.
Maybe because the depth in his eyes and the searching expression that clung to his features made him appear to belong in one of the cold, high ceiling halls of paintings portraying Jesus on the cross or dilapidated churches. Maybe because I feared that pulling him from his search of thoughts would make him too real. All I really knew was that every morning, at seven sharp, he took a seat in the middle row of the wooden pews, bundled in the same threadbare pullover, a match hovering between his painted, cherry lips.
That was where I came to worship.
I couldn’t say when the historical significance of the Crusades on non-Christian countries lost its significance and the exact shade of his eyes or the way he gripped a pen became the subject of my studies. All I knew was suddenly he existed and within a single moment, I knew everything were was to know about a two-inch stick of wood, and that an interested party could buy a book for 1.39 at the convenient store down the street. I couldn’t tell when the exact night was when I stopped closing my notebook at 8:00 pm sharp and instead slipped like a mouse through the dormitory halls, down to where my cumulative GPA dropped, but my heart beat accelerated.
I’m not particularly sure why I thought wedging said box of matches between the scratchy wood of the door and lock twenty down and one across from where my plane of existence started was how I wanted to lose my position as valedictorian. All I was really sure of was that if those matches struck the cedar wrong and lite up that room in a blaze of mistakes, the boy with the cherry painted lips would step out unfazed.
“Not that the difference between any of this is of any particular importance to the ongoing of adolescent, but my bright students, I would at least appreciate that you might entertain the notion of seemingly paying attention,” the teacher rapped his metal yardstick on the hard oak of his desk. The yardstick sliced through the thick haze hovering in the air among the students. The resonating thwack brought Adam back to earth, a blush rising on his cheeks as his eyes connected with the teacher’s. A mix of disappointment reflected down at Adam, so he pretended to busy himself with his notebook, allowing his bangs to brush his face, offering him a haven from a meaningless apology.
As if with the intention of rescuing him, the metal bell on the wall broke the silence, and a hustle of teenage boys stormed the stone floors and marched like a herd of buffalo into the halls of the school. With the ruckus to further shield him, he snuck a glance back over to the other side of the room. The only other boy yet to thunder out into the hallway took up any empty space the room offered. His gaze lingered on the match held loosely between the boy’s lips, but quickly returned to his notebook as his classmate finally stood to leave. Before he could follow, however, the teacher stopped him.
“I was disappointed that your paper for my literature class was not up to par with your usual work…your history one was fine, but it isn’t this period I’m worried about…is everything okay?,” the teacher’s voice fazed into that annoying parental concern teachers at a boarding school would often adopt.
“Yeah…” Adam responded generically, “I mean, I’ve just been tired. Busy, you know, Professor Morgan? I actually have class-"
Professor Morgan interrupted, his graying eyebrows scrunching, “-no distraction is worth your future.”
Adam was struck by surprise at this comment, the color returning to his face, “I-yeah-“
“-Ten pages. Pick your own topic. I want it by Monday, and we’ll see what we can do as far as keeping your marks.”
“Thank you, sir. I’ll get on that.”
There was the same gravitational pull that I couldn’t claim to be resisting. Even across the cold cafeteria with its fluorescent lights ad haze of sizzling dishes, my eyes sought out his boozy stare, offering more of a buzz than communion wine ever could. His eyes that I longed to drink in gave me no mind, stuck on his page of handwritten notes as his fork flicked through a heap of greens. He never ate any of it, though, because that would be entirely too human. He just sat and read and bit the end of his match, the wood sliding against his teeth and setting my insides on fire.
“Since when?” James asked with an unnecessary amount of outrage.
“Since I decided I was done ingesting a vat of grease with every meal,” Adam responded with little enthusiasm.
“Whatever, man, but if you eat fruit and salad for every meal, people are going to assume you’re a fruit salad.” James erupted into his trademark laughter, assumed by his own cleverness.
“The human body is the only machine for which there are no spare parts,” Adam recited, shifting to the next stage of the line of lunch bars, disregarding the greasy pizza and mounds of hamburgers. James grabbed one of each, shaking his head in disbelief.
“Tell that to modern science. Geez, one day you’ll come to this age with the rest of us. Or you can go and discuss fruit salad and literature with Roman.”
James’s comment hit him in a way he didn’t quite expect. He felt the very sudden urge to knock the pizza out of his hands, or some other laymen display of irritation. Adam disregarded the notion, though, following James to sit at their usual table.
“What’s the deal with that kid, anyway?” Adam asked as discreetly as he could, sitting his tray upon the plastic table. James pulled a chair from the neighboring table, turning it so he could rest his chin on the back and hopefully feel much cooler than he looked.
“Don’t know, he’s in the Lit class before my history lesson, and the teacher always brags on hi-“
“-He has Lit at 10:00, he can’t be in that class-,” Adam interrupted, but stopped himself once he realized what he had said. James didn’t seem to think much of his comment.
“Whatever. Look man, I know you did that huge bullying awareness thing for senior project, but dude, I wasn’t serious. Roman’s cool,” James managed to reply in between bites of pizza. Adam shook himself, realizing it would be weird to discuss Roman any more, and launched into a discussion on what he should write for his bonus essay.
The night air clung to my skin like a blanket of frost on the flowers when autumn encased the campus. It didn’t bother me, though, because the sweat that blanketed me when I woke that night set me on fire, and that fire like the chaos it created filled me with a purpose more insane. Did he know what that purpose was? Could he sense me in the way that I sensed him, a trail of my very being leading back to where he laid asleep in his bed? Would he awake in the morning to follow my thread and know within a moment that I existed?
There wasn’t any particular kind of security on the campus, but Adam had his guard up nevertheless. There was something nerve-wracking about the possibility of being caught on campus in the middle of the night in his pajamas. There was something even more nerve-wracking about the cold metal door handle he now clutched. His heartbeat thumped in his ears as he pulled, but with some stroke of luck, the lock clicked and the door opened. With a quick glance around, he opened the door and threw himself in with haste, closing the door behind him. He sat for a moment, the sweat glistening on his face, his eyes locked on the stack of paper in his hand.
“It’s not finished...but he needs to know. It’s not like he’s in your class, so if you want to remain anonymous, he’ll never find out it’s you,” Adam pep-talked himself, taking a moment to just sit back and breathe in the interior of the car. He ran one hand along the steering wheel, picking at the worn leather. With one last sigh, he stuck the stack of paper in the passenger’s seat then pushed himself out of the car, carefully closing the door. He took a moment to admire the leather nametag hanging around the rearview mirror that spelled out “Roman” in elaborate lettering. He peeked back into the passenger’s side window and looked resolutely at the stack of paper, one corner poking out to reveal a line of text. With that last look, he made his way silently back up to the school.
I might never have lost my sanity had that cathedral not been so damn cold-
The bell rang through the classroom, bringing all of the attention back to where Adam’s eyes had never left. Roman stood leaning against the chalkboard, completely out of place in the senior literature class. He chewed on his match with his teeth, his eyes flickering around the room. Professor Morgan cleared his throat to bring the rest of the class in.
“Good morning, my bright students! I have a special treat for you today. One of my more promises students has agreed to share a piece of his work with us to kick off your choosing of topics for our finals! As you all know, we are focusing on creative writing this term, so I want you all to really explore your minds and dig deep for something that will impress me. So, without further lecture…Roman, if you will.”
When Roman spoke, it was without any of the shyness or seclusion he usually lived in. His voice flowed like honey, even without a paper for reference.
“Did anyone else notice how much I registered her existence? Did anyone see the way she consumed my every thought; the way I drank in her very presence? Did she feel herself empty with every moment I stole from her? If there was a difference between consumption and love, I didn’t know what it was because no one had ever struck me in the way she did. A passing glance never exchanged between the two of us, but she didn’t have to acknowledge me to feel the way I slipped like water and evaporated in the glow of her aura.”
Adam stopped paying attention somewhere around that point, feeling his stomach turning. He didn’t bother raising his hand before dashing out of the room, never stopping to hear the protests of Pro. Morgan. He bee-lined straight to the bathroom and stopped running only to slide against the door, pressing his head to the cold stone of the wall. When he finally allowed himself to breathe, he felt a smile inch its way across his face. He sat in the cold silence for several minutes, focusing on the way his heart beat, threatening to erupt from his chest.
In that moment, he felt alive.
How do you approach eternity? At what point do we forgive social graces and act upon the passion that consumes us? If he was a fire, then I must have been a crumbling paper. I couldn’t add to his blaze, only watch as it consumed me.
His eyes scanned the page one last time, pausing on the first line. He picked up his pen to scratch out the more obvious phrases, but fell short as a thunder of footsteps echoed down the hall. He laid his pen aside and crossed the few steps to the door, pilling the faded bronze know open into chaos.
He was immediately greeted by James's half-excited, half-scared face. Before he could speak, his friend pulled at his arm, yanking him into the herd of students.
"Adam, we're evacuating! The cathedral, a fire-"
"-what," Adam yelled over the noise, joining the mass of students making their hurried, excited way down to the front lawn. As they excited the front hall of the dorms, a shriek of sirens joined the chime of the church bells. The clutter and yells in all direction of students frantically trying to get to the cause of the mayhem drowned out still by the roar of the scene in front of them. All eyes locked on the cathedral, where an inferno raged inside.
Any ominous mystery the church once held in its high, stone walls spiraled away in the cloud of black smoke, the blaze of red lighting the stained glass windows, several of which had already burst, sending shards sprawling onto the scorched lawn. There was grand in the destruction, though.
Walking into that building at 7 am every morning used to be dull, an uninviting, cold tomb where any hope I had to be happy died with every thou shalt not and confession of the darkest parts of my mind. Until he wavered in like a candle and set fire to the wood, enveloping my world in an inferno of lights like a stain glass window. If hell was made of fire and brimstone, then maybe it'd be warmer than those cold, stone walls. That church might have been a house of worship, but my idol was never the crucifixion.
"-what the hell happened?" James's voice pierced through the sirens and yelling, right by Adam's ear. Adam didn't take his eyes off the fire, which had grown so large that the trucks and their water hoses were shadowed in defeat.
"Old church!" Adam yelled back.
"-Do you think someone did it?!"
Adam's stomach dropped as ice pierced him to push out any warm feeling the fire gave him. His eyes traveled over to where he could feel someone watching him. Roman stood in stoic admiration of the destruction like most of the students. In that moment, he appeared increasingly human, another student with no idea what would happen in the morning. Adam was struck once more with the first line of his paper.
He had an affinity for matches.
As he stood, his brandy-wine eyes drinking in the golden, smoky flames, his painted cherry lips were looked in a tight line. His head turned slightly, seeming to notice his admirer. His eyes searched Adam out, and a smile cracked over his stoic mask. Without breaking his gaze, he slipped a battered matchbox out of his pocket, removed a single stick of wood, and perched it between his lips. His gaze finally dropped as he turned his attention back to the cathedral, and Adam's mind slipped back into his drunken gravity.
Bio: Christa McDaniel is a Creative Writing major in a very uneventful town in Arkansas, so she must invent her own little curiosities. She does so with her writing.
Fading Childhood I
Fading Childhood II
Bird on a Wire
Where Time Flies
Out To Dry
Bio: The art of photography is a relatively new venture for Stefynie, stemming from years in the documentary film and music fields. This led to work as a video journalist for online newspapers which expanded into photo journalistic work for local and regional print newspapers. Soon after she began creating photographs for herself as a means of self expression, delving into a much more personal art form. She first turned the camera on herself, learning many of the nuances of photography in the process. She then focused on portrait, abstract and nature work and began exhibiting in local and online venues.
Her most recent endeavor is in photographic composite imagery. Using visual metaphors and symbolism, these images are re-creations of unexpressed moments in her life and are rooted in self-discovery and the interconnectedness with others.
Recent exhibitions include the A Smith Gallery, the Saginaw Art Museum, Photo Place Gallery, and the River Winds Gallery
Digging up Faith in a Graveyard
I’m a smooth-talking strategist, keen on
breaking down the framework of
your heart. The tickle spots, the bruises,
the stitches you’ve sewn and ripped out
all your own. A scar means you’ve been
spotless and said not good enough so
cake me in your thoughts, the ones black
and blue, the ones oozing lovey dovey
pink, I want to be standing in the debris
of all your walls.
Bio: Alex Marchesi started writing as a combatant to his insomnia during college. He was an avid musician, playing guitar and declaring a music major while attending SUNY Oswego. Soon though, he learned to love lyric writing a lot more than plugging into an amp, graduating with a creative writing degree in 2015.
He’s been featured in online publications Phree Write and Fourth & Sycamore, also having an upcoming poetry e-book coming out in December from Underground Voices. In his senior year, he won the campus wide haiku contest of over 200 entrants. While he’s not dressing up the skeletons in his closet to be a little more presentable, he’s querying his novels around looking for his shot to break the industry. Other than wanting to reinvent the Brat Pack, he’s a tic tac junkie and a sucker for girls with a quick wit. He loves his cat Tiger more than anything, even when her three AM meows nearly shatter glass.
Awe for my Sleeping Child
You sleep on my chest
More soundly than I do in bed
The entire time we grocery shop
I’m just now awakening
Life is just beginning
Just as I am shedding the skin of who I used to be
My purpose is anew in you
I’ll defend your honor as did Poe’s Hop-Frog
In his orangutan suit
Against the king and his attacks against you
Setting aflame each hemline
He stood eye to eye with
Escaping as he admired his destruction
You’re my Tripetta
We may feel dwarfed by this world
But at two months you’re already
Stronger than I’ve ever been
And strengthening me with each of your
He Said/She Said
In case I forget, he said, I love you.
I love you, she said, as if there was no one else in the world to love.
That’s how it should be, he said, and he kissed her pink mouth with his thick, brown lips.
I stayed for you, he said, I saw how upset you were, and I couldn’t leave.
But you fought so hard to win, she said.
I only fought to win you, he said, because I knew you were worth it.
And I will fight the rest of my life to prove you right, she said.
And she placed her ear atop his heartbeat and ran her fingers through his thick, black chest hair.
You’re doing too much, he said, as he stared at her pretty black dress.
You don’t like it? She said, twirling slowly in a circle.
I love it, he said, and she said, then it’s not too much.
You are, she said, my favorite.
I know that I am your favorite, he said, and you are my everything.
You love me as if I have never known what it was like to be loved before, she said.
Now I’m showing you, he said, with his fingers in her long black hair and his chocolate eyes on
her sea foam emeralds.
I pray you never stop, she said.
Well, in case I forget, he said, I love you.
And she said, just don’t ever forget.
Bio: CLS Ferguson, PhD is a communication professor who has published many academic articles and two academic books. Her performance in Silence, which she co-wrote and produced earned best actress and best film awards. Her music video Secrets & Lies also earned accolades. CLS has published poetry in Dirty Chai, Sheepshead Review, Drunk Monkeys, etc. Poetry collection God Bless Paul is out on Rosedog Books, chapbook, The Way We Were is out on Writing Knights Press, and collection Soup Stories is coming soon from Portage Press. She and husband Rich are raising their daughter and Bernese Mountain Border Collie Mutt. http://clsferguson.wix.com/clsferguson
On the Rocks
I pour myself into you, slip over the same rocks
I will dash myself against later, when I can no longer
fight your stormy seas, and your siren's song calls
to my sinking soul, and I crawl to you, dripping wet
and cold with tears, and you mix me up, shake up
all the pain and passion with the ice of your soul
which freezes your handprint on my skin,
and I drown in a tumultuous ocean of desire for you.
I drag myself out of the prison I was stuffed inside,
distressed and disoriented, a splintered ship that wonders
how it ended up in a dusty bottle, forgotten and discarded
along with hearts and memories, and I see everything
through a fish-eye lens that reveals how ugly you are,
how ugly I am, with mascara and self-loathing smeared
all over my face, and I beg to be stuffed back into the bottle
and thrown out to sea to be found by someone else,
knowing I’ll only be smashed against the rocks again,
waves of desire and disgust pushing and pulling me apart.
Bio: Lisa L. Weber has a degree in Interior Design which is currently being unused. Instead, she decorates blank pages with words, and spends time remodeling her thoughts and feelings. Besides reading and writing, she likes to spend her time boxing, hiking, drinking beer, eating carbs, watching movies, and singing off-key. She loves her husband and son, and the dog she is allergic to. You can follow her blog, www.brainonwheels.blogspot.com
Father's Day Plans
You're jaded when it's Father's Day, and what
it means to you is finding time to fuck
a stranger who's compelled to call you slut
but lets you call him daddy. Then you're stuck
explaining legal elements about
divorce to your young niece who doesn't get
to see her dad. He works forever out
of town, pretends for months to forget
a daughter he wishes he never had.
And, inbetween, delivering a new
electric ice cream maker to your dad,
purchased yesterday at Target in lieu
of giving nothing to the smiling man
who raped you; he'd never understand.
OUR EYES TOO BROWN
Our eyes too brown, we laugh the same and cry
a tear for girlish love, for daddy. She
sits petrified behind locked doors while I
must lie to please a man who lets us be
unloved (and I am not the pretty one).
At night, awaiting lovers like a fix
for holes unfilled by sex all done,
the hollow me, it claws and whimpers, kicks.
And secret still, she blinks away a frown.
So hand in hand, no care for where we tread,
we walk off cliffs with eyes shut tight and sing.
We wake more maimed but share that same old sting.
Image - olavXO
Bio: Kristin Garth is a poet/novelist from Pensacola, Florida. In addition to Anti-Heroin Chic, she has published poetry in Quail Bell Magazine and No Other Tribute, an anthology. She's currently writing a novel entitled The Meadow.
the night you accepted that you will be raped again
you were on a fire escape with an old friend from college:
a philosopher, who told you that in all the years he knew you
he had been in love.
then he raped you
because you didn’t love him back.
then you watched him crawl through the window,
and when he was gone, you pulled off the dress he’d hitched up,
placed it beside the panties he’d pulled off you,
and felt the cold encase your skin.
there was rust
on the fire escape; iron poles and imprinted hands
nibbled by rain and cold.
when you cried, it wasn’t for you
it was for the girl you used to be,
who was raped by the friend of your mother,
when you were four
he opened you, mixed iron
with air and cold and the water between your legs
until your insides corroded.
when you were done crying, you crawled back
through the window
into the shower, and burned away the skin that the air that couldn’t freeze.
A father’s Gaze
Opi, my mother said. she said i looked like my opi,
darker skin, darker eyes. But the same nose
and jawline, she said i laughed like him.
Is that what you saw? Or did you see the hips
of the syrianwomen you used to watch
down by Atlantic when you were ten and in Brooklyn. i was ten
and in brooklyn when you pressed your lips
close to my ear and said, she thinks she gets it from your mother.
We were walking behind a syrianwoman,
with hips holding tight the black cloth
of her burka. You were talking about my sister
who thought her hips were german,
given by our mother. But she’s Syrian,
you said. i guess it made her like you.
When you said that, she was thirteen,
And then i was thirteen.
Then i was sixteen. Were my bras
just cloth? The sort syrianwomen
wore; women with the jawline and nose
of your father-in-law?
i never knew your hands. But your hands
knew the cloth of the bras that knew my breasts,
that knew the touch of your gaze.
i was twenty when you saw the shape of my jaw
and the width of my hips.
And then remembered i was your daughter.
Your dress is beautiful, you told me,
tight around my hips
i haven’t worn it since.
empty bellies don’t cry
they whimper, hide hunger
under skin stretched over rib
and hip. then they’re quiet.
i imagine this is what miscarriage
E: Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), as
Exaggerated startle response, defined by broken wine glass
in crowded living room after her lover made the mistake
of letting his fingers press against blades
of her back because that is how [normal]
people say hello.
was what you called yourself long past the age of daughters sitting on a father’s lap.
i think of you and want to think of windex
thrown into my brothers eyes, or of the bookshelf i hid behind
the night you came into his room with a bat.
that night i learned to cry without sound,
silentbreaths taken through tinyfingers pressed against lips.
instead, i think of king-sized twizzlers lining marble coffee tables
beside the faux leather couch we knew to be yours. at night,
when your eyes were heavy with gin, you gave me the matching
chair, let me pull apart red candied strings bit by bit because at night,
you didn’t mind me playing with my food.
in high school, you called me pet.
spun stories of time spent filling missiles
in ships sent to the country whose name you didn’t like to say.
the war, you’d say. or sometimes just the seventies.
you never read the books i offered about soldiers who tread
the same grounds you sometimes saw in your head.
death was a being you said you knew well enough without
fiction. you never told my sister these stories. only me.
i was seventeen the night you told me to leave. i stuffed
two garbage bags with clothes and left
behind the electric piano you bought me a year earlier.
your death will be the order you never gave. you never gave orders.
you thought them.
i used to think you were psychic. around you,
beer bottles and knives could fly.
Bio: Amanda Ameen is a twenty-something-year-old college student from Brooklyn, New York who thought majoring in creative writing would make her super employable. She also studies psychology, and hopes to one day become a trauma therapist which, incidentally, is the focus of much of her poetry. Hobbies of her include closing her eyes at night and wishing she could be Kurt Cobain, Raymond Carver, or Franz Kafka, waking up, remembering these are unrealistic goals, and melting into a puddle of Netflix, old gangster movies, charcoal drawings, and books by dead Russian guys.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.