Flash in Winter: See you at AWP!

Where to read, hear, and meet your favorite Flash Flash Click contributors:

Catch Flash contributors at the 2017 AWP Conference & Bookfair in Washington DC! Contributor Wendy C. Ortiz will be on the panel “But That’s Not How It Was: Memoir Writers on Pushing Back Against Expected Narratives” on Feb. 9.

Contributor Michelle Ross’s story collection, There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You (Moon City Press), is available for pre-order and will be debuting at AWP. Hear Michelle read offsite at AWP at Fast, Fresh, & Weird on Feb. 9.

Also at AWP, editor Siel Ju will debut her novel-in-stories Cake Time (Red Hen Press). Hear her read at the Red Hen Press Omnibus Reading Feb. 9 and sing at Literaoke II Feb. 10.

Pick up contributor Carol V. Davis’s new book of poems, Because I Cannot Leave This Body (Truman State UP)!

The next Roar Shack happens Feb. 12 in Los Angeles. Contributor David Rocklin hosts!

Enjoy two new poems by contributor Lisa Locascio — “Your Fear Of My Power” and “There Is A Lie In My Heart” — at El Balazo Press.

Contributors Kathleen McGookey and Erin Lyndal Martin both have poems in decomp! Read them here and here!

Enjoy Monica Nawrocki’s latest piece in Chaos!

Don’t miss Yasmina Madden’s “fake nonfiction” piece in Defenestration Magazine.

Contributor Wendy C. Ortiz is judging creative nonfiction for the International Literary Awards! Submit by Feb. 15!

Read Carol V. Davis’ new poem in Miramar.

Enjoy contributor Marley Simmons’s brief essay in Sweet Tree Review, and her flash story in the 2017 print issue of Steel Toe Review.

Contributor Michelle Ross’s story “When the Cottonmouths Come to Feed” is in the new issue of Cream City Review.

Contributor Melissa Goode’s story “On a planet other than ours” was published by Litro in January.

Contributor Mary Milstead has three pieces in Shirley Magazine: “The Lion and the Lioness,” “The Rabbit,” and “Never.”

Contributor D. A. Hosek’s story, “Our Lady of the Freeway” was awarded the 2016 Headland Prize.

Contributor Marley Simmons’s story “Good Neighbors” was nominated for a 2016 Pushcart by Menacing Hedge.

Trading Places — by Mercedes Lawry

The singular fellow, oh, what does he know about the cursed, lulling down the street like a piece of fresh bread smeared with butter? He’s tip top and lucky in love and never in need of courage. Dash of the sea in his honey-blue eyes, bones carved by angels, slick tongue with a way of the words, like pry bars they are, to the flattery. I’d like to lean my whiskers against his creamy black hair. I’d like his stylish jacket and his cock o’ the walk fedora. I’d like to suck out all his air and take it into myself, full fat with the measure of what he has, leave the shell of him here in a puddle of piss with my woebegone story and the black heart of me. I’m a dreamer in the glove of despair, waving my fingers. You might read those signs as a wry hello or the jolly embrace of the puke and the shit. I am one of a thousand and only myself as is he, the fellow who strides past with nary a blink or a count of the cold. I’d like his bed and his mother and his dry socks. I’d like his stink of posh soap and his glamorous whiskey and his memories of summer. Now, he’s away and I’m here and there’s just the skim of a hope of oblivion. You clabbered souls with a fix and a full bottle, you’re welcome along to the ruin and maybe a song about long ago that’ll rip at the dim sorrows you thought were deep and buried with your old dogs. Life in the muck isn’t all bad, just the breadth of it, the width, the seams, the chinks, the fractures and the marrow. Just that.

____

Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Harpur Palate, Natural Bridge, and others.  Thrice-nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she’s published two chapbooks, most recently “Happy Darkness.” She’s also published short fiction, essays and stories and poems for children and lives in Seattle.

Kinohi and the Sixth Extinction — by Jean P. Moore

I am called Kinohi. My forebears were gods, worshiped once. In exchange, they kept our kind free from harm. I am of them and thus also a god.

Once we had dominion over all the islands, as far as the eye could see, from the heavens to the trees to the palm-frond covered ground. We had our enemies, yes, but we could make the sun go dark from our great numbers when our wings covered the sky. They could not conquer us then, before the illness. We were too many.

What is there to say now? I am weary of it. Here the sun shines, there is food, and my captors, out of respect for our well-known greatness, bring me women to amuse me, but I am not amused. I am old and tired. I want only to be alone with my visions.

I was in love once. She would come to me adorned with many brightly hued feathers and with a look, a beauty, you could not ignore. I swooned in her presence, it is true, but we broke too many ancient taboos, our being together, and so I ended it, as I always do, with a cold stare and a turning away. Her cries haunted me thereafter, until lagging memory dulled the thrill of her.

How many years has it been now? I have lost count. The one woman I will see, for whom, I must admit, I do have some affection, tries her best to amuse me, to do more, if I am forthright in my account of it. She wishes only to please me, to arouse some passion in me. I want to indulge her, but to no avail. Sometimes when she strokes me with her soft and true touch, I do feel the beginning of some stirring deep within, but mostly these feelings are borne of the visions she starts in me, of the proud gods we once were and of the world we once inhabited.

Our glistening wings, shining in the sun, we dive among the trees and to the ground in search of food, the bounty, the nectar that Mother Earth provided.

Such plenty I see when I close my eyes. I fly high above the tree line and over the flowered fields. I look down on the verdant earth and see many animals—small and wily, large and majestic. The seas roil with silver skin. Beneath the surface, fans wave, the color of emeralds and rubies. Mounds of once molten rock hold creatures of all descriptions, some long and slithering, others large and small, but all lighting up the sea with the colors of sparkling gems. In the air around me, all manner of winged creatures—in the meadows the smallest ones, vying with the bees, dart from flower to flower, while in the darkening sky, the largest with beaks strong enough to break a spine, prowl for prey.

She thinks it is my lust that causes me to shudder, but as the visions fade, it is loss that overcomes me.

Where are those skies, those seas, that earth of my blood memory? Am I to be the last of my kind, all of us turned to dust? What have they done, these captors, to the Mother who sustained us?

And who will escape our fate?

 

*According to a 2014 article in The New York Times, Kinohi, an “alala” or Hawaiian crow, born at a captive breeding facility over two decades ago, now resides at the San Diego Zoo. “An odd, solitary bird,” he has refused to mate, further limiting chances of survival for his species. Native Hawaiians consider the alala to be an “Aumakua,” a family god in Hawaii. It is considered extremely bad luck to harm one.

_____

Jean P. Moore’s work has appeared in up street, SN Review, Adanna, The Timberline Review, Distillery, Skirt, Slow Trains, Persimmon Tree, Long Island Woman, the Hartford Courant, Greenwich Time, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her novel, Water on the Moon, won the Independent Publishers Book Award for Contemporary Fiction, 2015.

Bird, thief — by Melissa Goode

We enter the national park and the blacktop ends. Tom puts both hands on the steering wheel. The trees become a century taller, older, thicker. His gaze stays on the road. Through the open window the air smells of undergrowth and the earth getting cold with evening.

I dare myself to keep watching the side of his face. “The perfect place to murder someone, isn’t it?” I say.

He looks over at me and smiles. “If I said that to you, Beth, you’d be shitting yourself.”

“No, I wouldn’t. I know you.”

“After three weeks?”

“It’s enough to know you’re not a psychopath.”

His hand goes to the back of my neck, warm, moving slowly across my skin.

“Sweetheart,” he says. He whispers.

Before Tom, there was another man—I do not say his name, not ever. I call him asshole which is kind. Tom doesn’t call him anything. He wants me to go to the police and he only knows half of it. If he knew the other half, he’d be at the station house himself.

*

Tom parks the car near the ridge. We sit on the hood because it’s his brother’s car and we want to smoke. We share his cigarettes, big man Marlboro Red. They strip my throat.

“These are so not you,” I say.

Tom pulls a face, but he is wounded, a boy. He is eighteen, we both are, and he changes before me over and over—boy, man, boy, man. He is a man when, in his bed, he holds me to his chest and calls me little bird, as if he knows my heart beats double-speed, as if he feels it.

I draw a silver hipflask from my jacket.

He laughs and says, “I’ve never seen a girl do that before.”

The hipflask belonged to asshole and now it is mine. His initials Z.N. are inscribed on the base. Z.N. is here, howling, screaming right into my ear until I cannot hear him anymore.

Tom takes a sip of the bourbon with his cigarette hand. “Actually,” he murmurs and has another longer drink.

I smile. It is a new era. It is dancing down the street after the enemy has been annihilated and finally surrenders, waving his hopeless white flag.

*

I pull the hood of my sweatshirt up onto my head, the cigarette between my teeth. Tom takes it for himself and elbows me in the ribs.

“You cold?” he says.

“Yes.”

“It makes you look like a thief.” He draws the hood back and pulls me against him. He holds my thigh which jitters up and down. “You are—”

“What?”

“So tightly curled. Wound up.”

I laugh. Not beautiful. Not pretty. Not sexy. Not smart. Not the-best-fucking-girl-I-have-ever-met. So tightly curled. Wound up. It could have been worse—you are a lunatic.

“I might explode,” I say.

He stares at me.

“If you want some girl who—”

“Beth, baby. Stop. You know I don’t,” he says, and crushes the cigarette into the dust.

He steps into the V of my legs. His fingers walk up the inside of my thighs, closer and closer. Come on. Come on.

*

I drink from the hipflask and, even before the alcohol fills my mouth, it is delicious—the coldness of the metal against my lips, my teeth, the roundness of it, the O. There is a Celtic pattern engraved into the flask. I push my fingers over the braille. Z.N said the hipflask had been his great-grandfather’s, was taken to the Somme in the First World War. Not that I’d believe a fucking word he said.

*

Tom is smiling at me, like I am the love of his life. It throws me. We met in Walmart, me serving, him buying.

“You should be in school,” he said then, like he was a parent.

“I’m past all that,” I said, like some bitter barmaid.

I laughed because school felt like it was years ago, less than irrelevant.

Now, he says, “I almost didn’t meet you,” as if that would have been the world’s biggest tragedy.

In this minute, I kind of think it would have been, at least for me. His tongue pushes into my mouth. We both drink the bourbon and it courses through us, eighty proof, moving to our brains first, and then every organ until it comes to rest in our livers.

He pulls me down to the ground and lays me on my back. I smile. Here. Now. Let’s go.  Not yet—he shows me the sky.

*

Tom is not Z.N. No one else is. Not even Z.N is Z.N.

I clutch the hipflask to my sternum and we kiss. He holds the back of my neck, calming my amygdala. It is dark and the sky wheels above us with its stars. It doesn’t stop. He is inside me now and I try to climb inside him. He kisses my throat and I want him to sink his teeth into my skin, tear me to pieces, come on, but he won’t, I know.

I hold his face. This here is love, only love.

____

 

Melissa Goode’s work has appeared in Best Australian Short Stories, New World Writing, Cleaver Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, Pithead Chapel, Gravel, and Jellyfish Review among others. One of her short stories has been made into a film by the production company, Jungle. She lives in Australia.

Adrenaline — by Leah Browning

In the middle of the night, Jeff had a heart attack and Shayla rode in the ambulance next to him, holding his gray hand, adrenaline surging through her body so she almost couldn’t breathe and the siren screaming above them as they raced through the dark toward the doctor who would press hard with his gloved hands on the body that she no longer recognized while Shayla sat in this bright fluorescent waiting room with its plastic chairs and piles of magazines with those vacuous celebrity faces smiling or looking down their noses even though they were the ones choosing to stand in a room full of strangers with their clothes off, and Shayla knew that this was the worst thing that had ever happened to her; she thought with dread of calling Jeff’s mother and sister and telling them what had happened and hearing them cry, but there was also a tiny thought in the back of her mind that when this was all over maybe she could find another man who didn’t drink as much and didn’t get into trouble at work and didn’t want to wait another year to have a baby even though Shayla had been waiting six years already and maybe then she could finally be happy, but then the doctor came out and smiled and smiled and shook her hand and said what a relief this must be.
____
leah-browning-flash-flash-click-3558487
Leah Browning is the author of three short nonfiction books and four chapbooks.  Her fiction and poetry have recently appeared in Chagrin River Review, Fiction Southeast, Mud Season Review, Glassworks Magazine, and with audio and video recordings in The Poetry Storehouse.

Flash in December: And indeed there will be time

Where to read, hear, and meet your favorite Flash Flash Click contributors:

Read contributor Wendy Fontaine’s personal essay “The Most Wonderful Time,” at Windmill, the literary magazine at Hofstra University.

Editor Siel Ju’s novel-in-stories, Cake Time, is now available for pre-order.

Read contributor Anna Scotti’s poem “Esposito & Son” in The New Yorker.

Enjoy reading contributor Mary Rechner’s excerpt of her novel in progress at Harvard Review Online.

Contributor Elizabeth Ellen has a new poem up about the election at Hobart.

Contributor D. A. Hosek has poems in the November issues of two Australian Journals; “Snowman Tracks” is in Meniscus and “Chicago Sonnet #5” is in Westerly.

Enjoy contributor Michelle Ross’s stories — “What We Expect to See” at Paper Darts and “Accomplice or Hostage” in Jellyfish Review. Michelle received three Pushcart Prize nominations this year from Jellyfish Review, Arroyo Literary Review, and Moon City Review

Look for Yennie Cheung’s flash piece “The Unruly Mob” in The Rattling Wall/PEN Center’s post-election anthology, Only Light Can Do That.

Don’t miss the next Roar Shack reading 12/11 in Los Angeles. Contributor David Rocklin hosts.

Contributor Wendy C. Ortiz’s book tour for her third book, Bruja, continues! Catch her on her book tour; many dates and locations are below.

ortiz

 

Prison Area — by Melanie Dunbar

The lake is the color of the bottle of cheap white I slept with last night. I have someone else’s flannel on, buttoned up. I thought you’d be here, where white feathers litter the beach. Maybe I’ll thumb a ride and head east, away from the lake. Work in an orchard packing apples with a fake name like Kitty or Cat, where you can’t find me. When the wind untucks my shirt, I’ll hear you sing Sinatra. The water is clear and as it rises up it shimmers, until the waves crash on the pier.

____

Melanie DunbarMelanie Dunbar tends flowers for a living. She writes her best poetry while weeding someone else’s garden. Her poems can be found in Sweet: A Literary Confection, Gargoyle and elsewhere. She lives in Southwest Michigan with her family and their rooster, Mr. Beautiful.

The Challenger Disaster — by Hope Jordan

I kissed you at a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre party. Years later I watched a documentary about the actual massacre and it seemed like a gruesome inspiration for a party theme. Back in 1929 Al Capone’s gangsters murdered seven others in Chicago; historians said that never before had Americans seen photos with so much blood, in the newspaper.

The party was in a frat house basement. Girls wore flapper dresses and red lipstick; brothers carried toy machine guns and wore sunglasses and dark suits. We were crowded into a room with a bar and pool table. A few steps led into the next room. I was in that doorway going up and you were coming down. Because of the steps your mouth was eye level so I kissed you, not hard, no tongue, just a warm friendly kiss for no reason I’ve ever known.

Maybe because you were tall and thin and had Jim Morrison late-60s hair. Maybe because you stood leaning slightly back, hips thrust forward, so that my roommate nicknamed you “DF” for “dick first.” Years later I came across a New York Times interview with a model who described that exact stance, used by the men who pose for the covers of romance novels. It flattens the stomach and sends a viewer’s eyes to the crotch.

I was drunk enough to kiss you but sober enough to wonder what I’d done. When it happened neither of us said anything. I kept going up the stairs. Later, waiting your turn to play pool, you swaggered over and said, you kissed me. It was true but I didn’t know what else to say. I was afraid you would tell me I ruined your chances with some other girl. Instead you asked me to help out behind the bar.

Weeks before this the space shuttle Challenger had exploded. Then, too, seven people had died, but they were astronauts, not gangsters, and they weren’t executed; nobody saw their blood. Over and over we had seen television images of the smiling teacher astronaut, of her small students crying as they scanned the zigzag sky.

At the Massacre party people walked around aiming plastic guns and telling Challenger jokes. What did Christa McAuliffe tell her husband? You feed the dog, I’ll feed the fish. It bothered me that nobody seemed able to pronounce her last name.

Beside you I poured beers from the tap and handed them to the crowd. It felt like digging a ditch or dancing, a conjoined intensity of rhythm. A bottle broke and you cut your hand picking it up. I helped you wrap it in a filthy rag I found beneath a shelf.

Later in your apartment I took off my clothes. You laughed; it hadn’t occurred to me that waffleweave long johns are not what a woman wears to seduce a man. Years later I saw Marla Maples guest star in a sitcom scene, après-ski, wearing thermals and looking stunning. I wondered then if maybe you hadn’t been mocking me after all.

You wore cologne, some alien scent monstrously more delicious than the English Leather of my father or the Brut of my high school boyfriends. Your body was pale and muscled and smooth as an ancient statue. You put on a condom before we fucked. You put your finger up my ass. This was the first time someone had done this. I did it back, assuming you expected it. Years later I wondered if that surprised you even more than my kiss.

When I woke up in your bed my legs were covered in streaks of blood. I was hungover and afraid. Then I realized the blood was yours, from the cut on your hand. It was a map of where we’d touched in the night, contrails left behind by your travels on my skin.
____

hjheadshot15Hope Jordan’s short story, “I Can Shoot Razors From My Eyes,” appeared in the anthology Scream When You Burn. Her poetry chapbook, The Day She Decided to Feed Crows, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. She was the first official poetry slam master in New Hampshire.