Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nostalgia of the Cannibal by Neil Ellman

Nostalgia of the Cannibal

(after the painting by Salvador Dalí)

First the eyes:

filled with vitreous deceit

acidic witchery

no longer see the soul.

Next the tongue:

twisting words

consistency of lies

no longer curse our gods.

And then the spleen:

spewing venomous laughter

more potent than a bitter gourd

no longer spills contempt.

The heart was last:

sweet dessert

still quaking in the hand

as if it were alive.

Our victory of daily blood

fresh in our veins

when we were men

and conquered death.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Circus of the Damned Volume One: Mission Complete

We have successfully compiled the work that will be contained within the pages of Circus volume one. Submissions from this point onward, will be contained in volume two. My sincerest gratitude to all of my authors!


Another Night by Norma Jean DeMaggio

Another night
A lover's tryst is what she is after.
Another body is his desire
She puts on her makeup and dress
He goes through his plans again in his head
She wants sex and possible a chance at love
He wants pain, blood and fear in another's eyes
Tonight they will meet in a bar and her dream will die with a thrust of a knife, and he will calm the dreams for another night.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rug Burn by Martha Kinkade

Lover, I toast your balding scalp
with the beauty of cruelty.

Beads of sweat drizzle
down the length
of your neck.
Once, my love,
I saw a gypsy leading
his saddened beast.
Its metal nose-ring
a muzzled snout.
Like you and I,
this chained embrace
leaves an empty uncertainty.
And now, what’s left
from our turbulent blue –
wasted and chafed indifference.

Both of us, unbearably numb.

Each time, we die,
each time, we look
at this chewed bone,
dried from saliva
and marked
by rotten teeth.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Motel Tango Eclipse by Peter Marra

motel room black
pierced with
neon flash
illuminates her face
flicker news show television b&w
back to the wall
watching the figures
etched in plaster
they look at her then she hides
she tries to get
to the
and see what’s through the glass
the tiny men
dancing slowly to the
beat of a backwards
bossa nova
she looks at her hands
a slow smile as it
creeps slowly
towards her
left side
right side
she hummed francoise hardy
slightly warmed comfort

it tells her what she did wrong
sits on her shoulder
whispers in her ear
words drilling in
corseted mental things
pale face smile contortion
nervously she pulls
her long fingers
through her oily
black hair
- tous les garcons et les filles
tv faces frozen
that’s what it’s all about –
a stunning voice –
a gorgeous face –
a delectable ass”

why don’t you like me – I don’t know”
dancing while destroying
the tv channels
motel at the end of a highway
magnificent in its decay
the windows - black and blue
leather dreams
the cars don’t stop
they drive away”

she learned what
she knows
from the videos
hallway reeks.
fluorescent bulbs.
mosquitoes talk
silently behind the walls.
a filthy moist buzzz
between time saved.
we tentatively walk
clutching hands.
she steadies herself by
touching the
cracked plaster.

a silence
an enemy
a vixen
room 217
the smell and the tv
is old
the cable functions
all is well
knives sharpened we switch channels
sitting on the stained chairs
her - left side
me- right side
nothing to do
no words
just watch
pencil points broken
paper on fire
the sun’s rays
stop at the window
never enter
never sing
after awhile
she motions to the screen
gets up
and quietly
kicks the images
then sits back down

The Meaning of Machine Flesh by Peter Marra

They lay down supine
a group of people prone
enveloped by a lie

Staring at the sky.
The ocean water licked their feet
they were fully clothed
they sang without music
it was mechanisms and
it was friction and
it was a painful exercise

The Following Preview Has Been Approved For Appropriate Audiences
the beautiful soon compensated
by an absence of beauty
that they never owned.
up and out. the honorable heroine chatted.
They felt as if someone had been lost.
Something they parented.
They listened as the truth machine whirred.
the lower part. pain, they tried, they changed her life
it eased their pain. just her suffering.
Forced television.
there. Take her away.

She watched them slowly drifting
Slowly a force dwindling
Erased and drowned

skewered by her film that
she ripped from their eyes and ate with glee.
give me back!”
The Following Preview Has Been Approved For Appropriate Audiences

mathematical formulations an initial time, blood throughout
a burning baby fooled by the
Other research
assisted by Lovebumpers.
proven as body radiation
she convulsed in desire
but no one answered
According to patients it was a risk
She noticed that they were fastidious and
exhibited excellent table etiquette.
An equation
a door of sugar-bitter heart valves
It made her smile.

She held a face in
her lap and she was satisfied.

Tomorrow would be different,
She would participate

And eradicate her shyness

Coloring her mind grey
With laughter from ghost photography

with her thoughts a bitter fluid
while she swayed
naked in the nyc train yard
she shut them all down
cold rain serenaded her fever mind soothing

Lacuna Forests by Peter Marra

i wont go on.
who was son of sam’s 1st victim?
henry miller’s house breathes in spasms
as french women fondle the yellowed pages of old books
for a dogshead vagina.
Chatting as they smell their fingers before
slowly licking each fingertip
of the left hand swarm
of calm
of a collapse.

crawling to a beckoning bed
with red dust sheets
missing sounds truly expected.
take it away.
so long.

they scream they touch they fall.

moons crack in mirrors rotating
show us your face
they demanded reluctantly.
touch the face dying

they turned around reluctantly
from sunlight

a cast of thousands talk of
switchblades excising rotten memories

they are now machines talking slowly
then rapidly stuttering as she pulls a sky skin down

Through the Roof by Eleanor Bennett

Remains of the Fire by Eleanor Bennett

Lovely Rust by Eleanor Bennet

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dream Analysis by Jeffrey Park

It was in my mind that this prissy old man
must be some kind of head doctor –
analyst, psychiatrist, whatever –
because he kept on asking me about my dreams.

And so I told him
I dream colors, geometric shapes, strange textures
and particles and waves and swirling kaleidoscopic
lights that hover at the edge of my dream-time vision.

What does it mean? Naturally, I was already
formulating my response to the inevitable
“Well, what do you think it means?”
but it never came.

And when I dreamt that night
it was all lakes and locks and paint peeling
around electrical sockets and in a flash I knew as clearly
as if I had his business card in my hand:

that man was no kind of head doctor at all, not even
a therapist for God’s sake – just another salesman,
looking to unload an backed-up inventory
of shabby and sadly repressed clichés.

Parasites by Jeffrey Park

He was no criminal – certainly not
the type to molest an innocent person,
at least not that way.
It was only the ponytails. He watched them
moving, swinging, and knew them
for the independent life forms
that they so obviously were,
drawing sustenance from their oblivious hosts.
surgically removed
they found a home in his dresser drawer,
a comfy place
to snuggle between his socks and undershirts
(certainly not in the underpants drawer).
It was an act of kindness.
He never even asked them where they went
or what they did
during the hours when he slept.
We all need our little secrets.

If I Bite by Jeffrey Park

If I bite, it’s only
because I’m
and not because I want
to hurt you
or because you taste
good, not in that way,
or because I’m teething
or have rabies
or want to see how well aligned
my teeth are
and not because I love
simply adore
to hear you yelp in sudden
pain, I’m just
afraid of what I might do
if I suppress the urge
to bite.

Grand Opening by Matthew Byrne

I dropped my health club membership
and joined a yoga studio.  I started

with a level one class, where refugees

from lifting and running united

in the pursuit of increased flexibility.
We expected yoga to be of a more
meditative nature, but our sweat
spilled all over the mats.  I must confess
that I probably would have hung it up
were the teacher not a sinewy redhead
with a tendency to press her hips on me
during adjustments.  When I advanced
to level two, my classmates, mostly
female, achieved positions that would
make a pornographer blush.  I became
paranoid that my classmates could sense
my imaginings, so I made it my mission
to detach myself from the eroticism
of it all.  I practiced every day, often twice,
and tried to close my eyes as much
as possible.  I failed, I should be locked up,
but the studio I opened lacks not
in the membership department.

A Sworn Dog Man by Matthew Byrne

I relish my hatred of cats, those aliens that require
their own bathrooms, that stare through me

with eyes that seem to be recording data

for the mother ship in preparation for The Attack,

which will initiate with an infantry of spinsters,

long since spellbound, boarding buses with bombs
strapped under their raincoats, flanked by a hissing
brigade of those evil little bastards that I
will await in my basement crawlspace, rifle pointed
at the stairs, my chocolate lab Pip growling at my side.

Different Strokes by Matthew Byrne

I commissioned my artist friend to paint
a starlit evening on our nursery ceiling.

He struggled at first, pacing the room,

obsessively scaling his ladder.  The job

was beneath him, but he needed the money.
Something had to be done, so I burned
his obscure punk cds into my computer,
so he could listen to his music randomly
shuffling and without interruption. 
He finished the very next day, but instead
of the tranquil twilight I envisioned, I got
a maelstrom brewing around a moon more 
menacing than an axe-wielding lunatic. 
I paid up, made the nursery our bedroom,
and my wife and I have never slept better.

Say Your Prayers by Matthew Byrne

In the name of the father, and of the son,
and of the holy spirit on the rocks, slightly

dirty, a twist of virgin with a bun in the oven.

In the name of the father, and of the son,

and of the holy spirit in the sky, where I’m
gonna go when I die, provided I have done
enough contrite acting, having said one
more Hail Mary than my number of sins.
In the name of the father, and of the son,
and of the holy ghost, the kind of apparition
that won’t linger in the attic of your home
it once inhabited, mistaking you for some
Judas Iscariot from its past, having chosen
to spend its afterlife making mysterious
scraping sounds.  In the name of the father,
not the mother, but definitely the son,
not the daughter, nor Mary Magdalene,
who god forbid might’ve made the son come
to realize that taking a little break from
saving mankind does wonders for the skin,
skin which is curiously Anglo Saxon
in most depictions despite its Arab origin.
Let us not forget to end this crucifixion
tribute with the left-to-right shoulder tap
of the holy spirit, the crossbar, the horizon.

Worth Repeating by Matthew Byrne

As we speak two scientists kneel before
the cloned cerebral cortex of a dictator
who at birth demanded his umbilical cord
be preserved and encased for exhibit,
so that when his people became his people
they could see even he once needed someone,
which divines him power in a post-Darwinian,
semi-random selection sort-of-way, an elephant
squashing a dung beetle during an oblivious trot
toward the lion’s den: an unconvincing analogy
at best, but delivered with the eerie resolve
of a man who’d skin someone alive
for an answer certainly begotten otherwise
(a trait these scientists will chalk up
to historical climate, an itchy uniform,
and a haunting suspicion that life springs from
and returns to a vast, mechanical nothingness).

The World Laughs in Flowers by Ben Nardolilli

As usual, Nestor opened up his flower shop as soon as the streetlamps went off. The sun was beginning to poke through the roofs of distant suburbs and the city streets were slowly coming into light. Everything that would be white at noon was now lavender. Nestor rolled up the metal curtains that protected his windows and undid the chain around the door. He knew that none of it could protect him from the greater threats of the world, though it offered relief from its petty ones. The screeching sound of the metal hurt his ears yet it was a sign that he was ready for business.
            Nestor took out a key and opened the door. Everything appeared to be the way that he left it, including the money in the cash register. He checked the refrigerators and cooling units to make sure the flowers inside them were in good condition, setting aside whatever was starting to wilt. Nestor arranged the displays in his windows, and watered the plants that were thirsty. When everything was settled, he went to the cash register to count how much money they had left. After counting several times, he put the money back and went to the front of the shop. When Nestor had turned on the blue and red neon sign that announced he was open for customers, his assistant Dolon came in.
            “You’re late.”
            “Sorry. The trains were useless.”
            “Then you need to make yourself more useful.”
            “Get up earlier.”
            “Well, I’m here.”
            “After I set up everything. Again.”
            “Uncle, what can I do for you?”
            “Go back in time and come in earlier.”
            “Okay. But my time machine is at the bar.”
            “Go sweep up the back.”
            “All right.”
            Their first customer of the day came in to buy some lilies. Nestor showed her what they had and she bought a bundle of white ones. She told him they were her favorite. He rang up the price and as she paid him, the woman said the flowers would help decorate her living room for a party. Nestor enjoyed hearing the stories and plans his customers had for the flowers. It made him feel a part of their lives. Nestor thanked her and when she left, he wished that he had thought of something to say in order to keep her in the shop longer. He found that having a customer inside was a magnet to draw in others. After she left, it was just Nestor and Dolon in the store for an hour, neither of them attracting any attention from the traffic going by the windows. Occasionally someone would stop and look at the flowers arranged behind the glass. Nestor would gaze out at the spectators, but they could not see him. He could observe the same pattern on each face: first one of interest, then a temptation to buy, and finally the guilty realization that they had no one to give flowers to.
            Dolon told Nestor he was done sweeping and he told him to make sure everything was watered and all the containers holding the plants were solid and sturdy. It was a job that kept Dolon in the back and away from the crowds outside. Nestor had noticed that whenever his nephew was by the window he would end up perched in front of it, staring out into the public space. Nestor knew he looked bored when he did it, and when he looked bored it prevented other people from stopping to look at the floral displays. When it was colder, his breathing also fogged up the glass around his nostrils.
            An hour before lunch, Astyanax came into the florist shop. He was wearing a dark charcoal suit with a burgundy colored shirt opened two buttons down. As soon as Nestor saw him enter, he motioned for Dolon to stack boxes and crates in the back. Nestor then came around the main counter and shook Astyanax’s hand. The skin was dry and smooth like paper, except for where he had scars. Nestor tried to make small talk with him, but he was not interested.
            “Nestor, you know why I’m here.”
            He nodded.
            “Listen, if my son or daughter was getting married, it would all be so much easier. Or if there was a funeral. I would let you give me the arrangements and everything would be balanced. Unfortunately, weddings and funerals are in short supply for me.”
            “So I need cash, not flowers. Believe me,” Astyanax put his hand on Nestor’s shoulder, “If I could take them, I would. But I have to kick up ten percent too.” He motioned with his thumb up to the ceiling.
            “I’m sorry, but I don’t have much. What I have in the register is just change, really. If you stood outside the door you would see that no one comes in. Business is bad.”
            “Be that as it may, protection still has to be paid for. Now, Nestor, you know that we keep decent rates, same in good times and in bad. I’m not like the landlord, I’m reasonable, right?”
            “So, I want you to get me the money by the end of today. Do you think you can do that for me?”
            Nestor looked at the floor. “Yes.”
            “See, I trust you. I’m not going to even look into your cash register, look at your books to see if you’re lying. Just get me the money at the end of today.”
            “All right Astyanax.”
            The collector turned around and closed the door behind him. Nestor called Dolon out from the back. He came out and asked Nestor what was wrong.
            “Get the icon from the closet.” He told his nephew
            “Is that where you put it?”
            Dolon looked puzzled and Nestor explained.
            “I never put it back after the fumigation.”
            Dolon went into the closet and fished around for the icon of the Virgin. He fought brooms, mops, baskets, bottles of disinfectant, empty boxes, and pails. In the lower right-hand corner he found the picture, the surface still managed to glitter even though the only light was a single bulb dangling off the ceiling. Dolon picked up the icon and brought it out to the counter, setting it face down on the glass. Nestor yelled at him for leaving the picture that way. He took it and placed the icon where it had once been, on a shelf looking over the cashier. The Virgin, covered in a dark hood and a gold halo, looked down on them both. Nestor then told Dolon to come behind the counter with him. Then he commanded his nephew to kneel before the portrait.
            “I don’t remember the prayers.”
            “It’s okay. Pray silently. We’re not in church.”
            Both of them found the ground to be hard and cold. Their knees began to hurt almost the instant they made contact with the floor. Dolon observed Nestor fold his hands, make the signs of the cross, and lower his head. He copied each of these movements. When his uncle began to pray quietly with his lips moving, Dolon tried to imitate this too, but found it impossible to keep up. His uncle then made the sign of the cross once more and Dolon copied him in this. When Nestor was done, he stood up and brushed his pants. Dolon got up and asked what he had prayed for.
            “I asked the Virgin for her aid and intervention.”
            “Did you ask her for money?”
            “Not specifically.”
            “But that’s what Astyanax wants, right?”
            “I just need some more customers today. A couple hundred for the month, it’s not too much. I normally wouldn’t bother her, but we’ve just had such bad luck with the weather.”
            “She knows, I’m sure.”
            “She also knows what we need.”
            “That too.”
            “So why did we need to pray?”
            “So we know that she knows.”
            “And if maybe the message gets lost?”
            “It won’t. I ask very little from the Virgin. Some help now and then, a small amount of strength, and only then, to endure. I have faith a good thing will come through to us.”
            “If you think so.”
            “I believe it. Besides, it is a simple miracle to ask for, a little more business. As far as the saints are concerned, it’s just a card trick.”
            Nestor took up his position behind the cash register and Dolon swept the floor. When he was done, he cleaned the windows of the display cases. Noon came and went, Nestor counted what was in the register, and bored, played a game of rearranging the currency by amount, color, date of issue, and alphabetically by who was on front. Finally he spread the bills on the counter and then worked on putting them back in the right places inside the cash register. Dolon was done with cleaning and went outside and lit a cigarette.
            His uncle looked at the picture of the Virgin, wondering if she had heard his prayer and had begun working on his behalf. It would not take much. She only had to stir up a desire for flowers in a few people, and his trouble would be allayed. The Virgin could also kill Astyanax, but Nestor would not ask for this. He had to love his neighbor no matter what they asked of him. Meanwhile, the icon of the Virgin continued looking out at the rest of the store. Her eyes resembled spheres of dark glass, which reminded Nestor of surveillance cameras. Her pose was peaceful, the only tension in her body was found in her hand, which was raised up with two fingers lifted together. Nestor was happy that he not bought a weeping Virgin or a picture of her surrounded by other people.
            The door opened and instead of his nephew, Nestor looked up and saw that it was a customer. She asked for a dozen roses. Nestor got the attention of Dolon, who came in and got the flowers for her. Unlike most of the customers, she said little. Nestor gave her the price, hoping she would then tell him what the flowers were for, but she left without another word. The customer held the door open for two other people and they rushed in, asking if he had any flowers left. Nestor smiled at them and said his stock was more than full. Each of them got a dozen roses, paid, and then left.
            For the rest of the day there was no more dead time for Nestor and Dolon. People started to gather in front of the store and began to form a line to get in. Everyone was quiet and Nestor’s attempts to talk to them were met with frowns. Eventually he had no free moments to try and converse as the requests for flowers kept coming in. Dolon raced around the shop, to find what the customers requested. Once the rose were out, Nestor was afraid of telling everyone for fear of losing them, but the customers proved willing to take buy anything with a stem, leaves, and petals. As the display cases were emptied and even the flowers in the windows were bought up, Nestor took Dolon aside and told him to bring out the flowers that they had set aside to be thrown out. Dolon protested, who would want to buy flowers that were wilted and losing their color?
            It turned out, that the customers did not care. Even though they could see the condition that the flowers were in, they bought them anyways. Nestor felt guilty about profiting using such plants, but the look of relief on the customer’s faces made him feel better. No one looked like they were being cheated and abused, so how could he feel bad in return? As the afternoon went along, even the supply of damaged and wilted flowers dwindled. Dolon asked Nestor if there was anything that could be done, and Nestor said short of gluing picture of flowers to sticks, nothing. Once all the flowers were sold, they would have to close.
            Nestor was telling his nephew the truth. An hour before their normal closing time, they shut the shop down and turned off the open sign. The shop had been picked clean and customers still arrived to see if there were any roses, lilies, violets, tulips, or even orchids left. Each time Dolon turned them away. Once it was clear that business was closed, people began heading to other shops and left theirs alone. Nestor told Dolon that it was important for him to arrive on time tomorrow. They would have to restock the shelves and had to do it quickly in case they would be fortunate enough to have another rush of customers. Dolon promised he would make a better effort than he had in the past and asked his uncle to remind him what prayer it was he used with Virgin.
            Nestor told Dolon to count the money that was in the register. He wanted to take a rest and sit down. His feet were swelling against the sides of his shoes. Dolon counted the money and when he was done held as much of it as he could. He had never had so much cash in his hands. It was flower money and he imagined that somehow it would smell like roses even after it left his hands and the flower shop. Meanwhile Nestor got up and looked around the display cases to see if there was any trace of the flowers that had been sold out, a stem, a petal, even a thorn that had gotten loose and fallen. He found a rose that was stuck in the corner of the case and showed it to his nephew.
            “Look, a missed opportunity. Maybe we should sell it in the streets.”
            Dolon smiled as Astyanax entered the shop. He stopped in the middle of the store and looked at the pile of money near the register. “Looks like today was your lucky day.”
            “I guess lucky for me as well.”
            Nestor looked at the ground. “Yes.”
            Astyanax walked over to the counter and told Dolon to put the money in stacks. Dolon looked at Nestor and he nodded his head. When he was finished, Astyanax took the neat piles and put one each in the pockets of the jacket and pants.
            “We’re probably the only lucky people in the city today.”
            “Didn’t you hear Nestor? There was a bombing on the subway. They think fifty people were killed, maybe more.”
            “Oh no.”
            “Yeah. People are already building a memorial, lighting candles, placing,” he paused, “cards at the site of the attacks. Terrible stuff. The president is going to talk about it tonight.”
            “I guess I will have to watch it.”
            “He’ll say the same thing.” Astyanax noticed the icon. “She’s cute. I think she’s a keeper Nestor.”
            Astyanax laughed and left the shop, stuffed with paper money. Nestor sat down on his chair with the flower still in his hand and looked at the icon for a minute without saying anything. He felt he could see the Virgin looking at the blossom and stem rising up from his grip. Dolon watched his uncle and then decided to go to the back of the shop and turn the lights off in the storage area. When Dolon was gone, Nestor grabbed the top of the rose with his free hand and crushed the petals until they were a red pulp between his fingers.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Theme Suggestion

If someone would like to submit some darker takes or re-adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you'd have my most esteemed gratitude. And a very, very, good chance of getting published here.

Just a thought.

-Heinrich Willhelm von Metzgermeister