Monday, February 23, 2015

#159: "True Confessions of a Bread Baker" by Wendi Kaufman


This story was first published in the journal Literal Latté. It is included in Helen on 86th Street and Other Stories, published by Stillhouse Press (www.stillhousepress.org), copyright 2014, and reproduced here through permission of the publisher.


When I am nine years old I find the yellowed newspaper clippings. They are all of well publicized divorce trials featuring mob men and showgirls. The men—with nicknames like Leo the Leech or Benny the Bull—are pictured full-faced; the women, with their 48-hour figures spilling out of 24-hour undergarments, are shown to their best advantage, in profile. The divorce lawyer, always mentioned in the first paragraph, is my father. Some of the papers that chronicle these trials no longer exist: the New York Globe and Daily Mirror. The clippings are from before my birth.

These articles spark the idea of writing my own stories, tales of a nine-year-old girl with a lawyer father and scandalous clients. Nancy Drew, eat your heart out: This is no milquetoast lawyer dad like Carson Drew, but rather my lurid retelling of public scandal, sensationalist angles, and sex—or what passes for sex when you’re nine.

I proudly show these stories to my father, who, when he reads them, shakes his head and tells me: “You’re funny, kid, but don’t write what you know.” I realize this means he doesn’t want me to write about him.

Monday, February 9, 2015

#158: Three Poems by Rose Solari


~This poem was previously published in Gargoyle (2014).

Another Country

How you would swing me up onto
your shoulders, my big big brother,
making us two-in-one, sky-slung,
a four-armed creature singing
about the country we’d never seen,
except in pictures. Che bella cosa
è na giornata e sole. My knees the wings

of your shoulders, Mom at the piano,
her voice — the highest of high
sopranos — weaving over us. No one
can say we didn’t love each other
then, that we weren’t happy. Now,
you’re two years gone, and nobody
dances on anyone’s shoulders

in that earth-dark place where I think
what’s left of you must swim. Adio,
del passato. And that country? I went
at last last year — all the gold-wine light
of history, and songs cheap on the streets.
Your face was everywhere.

Monday, February 2, 2015

#157: "Minor Offenses" by Paula Whyman


~This story was previously published in The Delmarva Review (2008).

I heard them as if through cotton, the short nurse whose wide bottom was turned toward me and the black man who filled the doorway.  He was asking if I could talk now, saying it was important that he talk to me, and the nurse was nodding, the hairs on the back of her neck pulled so tightly into her cap that I thought if she nodded again I’d hear the twang of them all breaking loose, and maybe even a tiny dot of blood would appear on her white skin where a follicle was torn clean out.  I could turn my head, now that they’d taken that thing off, what did they call it?  A halo.  I didn’t need it after all.
They said I was lucky, because my head didn’t go into the steering wheel.  The air bag opened like it was supposed to, cracked a few of my ribs, chucked me on the chin, broke my nose somehow.  It was the angle of the seat that determined it, in relation to the height and tilt of the steering column.  I was positioned a little too low behind the wheel.  I’d finally get that nose job I always wanted.  The worst part, according to the doctor, was my leg; part of my left leg was crushed on impact.  They put pins in it, metal pins that stuck out the sides of my tibia.  Every few days, they said, they would tighten the screws.  I couldn’t wait for that.  I was a big voodoo doll.
Was he from the insurance company?  I’d already talked to them, hadn’t I?  Everything was dreamy.  They told me the morphine would do that.  I was completely out of it the first day.  The police couldn’t even get my statement.  Ah, that’s who the guy was, a policeman.  He showed me his badge, as if I’d know a fake one. 
Officer Towns, he said.  Call me Leonard. 
Plainclothes.  I liked that better.  The first guy they sent, the traffic cop with the shaved and waxed head and Mountie hat and glossy boots, he looked like something out of a movie.  Get down and give me twenty.  I could imagine him saying that. 
Officer Towns pulled up a chair and sat by my bed.  “Let’s talk about what happened.”  That was the same thing the woman from psych said to me a few hours earlier.  To her, I said, “Okay.  What happened?” 
After a few minutes of that, she’d smiled at me sympathetically and said, “I’ll come back tomorrow.”  Then she whispered to the doctor, “Maybe tomorrow she’ll feel like sharing.”  I really heard her use that word, “sharing.”  Didn’t they know there was nothing wrong with my ears?  Did they think I was catatonic?
Actually, Officer Towns said, “Can you tell me what happened on Monday?” 
The blonde nurse pursed her pudgy lips and checked my blood pressure.  She wasn’t about to leave and miss the good part.

Monday, January 26, 2015

#156: Two Poems by Jody Bolz

ALWAYS BEFORE, LIGHT GATHERED 

~This poem was published previously in Prairie Schooner (2013).



Always before, light gathered
where I stood
as if each thing mattered.

Now it won’t, the moment
a collapsed box
whose doll-like tenants

scatter on the ground,
thrown riders,
like the dead I found

ten years ago:
a mother and her son.
Nothing to be done.

No way to stop the film loop
my brain replays,
mastering each image

as it darkens from the center
like the wooden floor
they lay on.

Race from that house—
run into the summer street,
scream for help—

Run away a thousand times
and still
the scene follows.

I hardly knew her,
but this much I could tell:
she finished her book             
                                                                           
and her boy and herself.
People say
she took him with her

as if any mother would—
but where were they going
without their blood?



*****

Monday, January 19, 2015

#155: "Fancy Man" by Julie Wakeman-Linn


~This story was previously published in Rosebud (2010).

Jacaranda blossoms littered the steps of 36 Katima Mulilo. Tom Jensen knocked three times. He didn’t feel great about mooching a bed from his dad’s old pal, but he’d run out of options. When the door opened, he asked the Zambian houseman, “Is George Wilson in?”
“Now is not a good time. Can you come back after tomorrow? Maybe next week?” The man whispered, traces of Shona in his accent.
“George gave me a standing invite.” Tom started to explain, when the man muttered he would check with Bwana George, clicking the door shut.
Tom unslung his backpack, trying to figure out why this guy wouldn’t let him in. Maybe George’s house was too small to have a spare bed. Zambians lived in this neighborhood; the houses had wire fences, not like the rich diplomat compounds of Nairobi and Harare where he had been a house-sitter. Still -- Lusaka with its flowering jacarandas was as pretty as promised by the bedtime stories his dad had told him and his baby sister Lucy. 
The door opened and the houseman, still frowning, ushered Tom into a square living room. Maybe George would help him find a job or at least give him time to figure out where to go and what to do next. Being expelled from Zimbabwe had been scary, but he wasn’t ready to give up on Africa and go home to frozen Minnesota. George would also have news of his mother and Lucy.
On a wood table, George’s surveying tools, a transit and a light device, weighted down blueprints. Enormous splashy paintings covered the walls, a sort of Cubist Victoria Falls, an abstract orange sunset over the savannah, and a Cape Buffalo herd done in dots against a pink sunrise. All three paintings seemed like windows onto familiar landscapes, even though they were modern and blurry. 
 “Tom, welcome to Lusaka,” George’s booming voice preceded him. “College didn’t work out?”
“Wow, you’re dropped –what – 50 pounds? How are you, you old scoundrel?” Tom said.  George’s voice was the same but everything else had changed, his lanky six foot frame now stooped and his wavy brown hair mixed with gray.
George plopped in an easy chair and waved Tom into the other. “You look as scrawny as ever.”
“Nothing like travelling to keep a guy lean.” Tom laughed. He was a head shorter than George and Africa had kept him skinny with a couple of bouts of malaria. He hadn’t seen George since that night they’d prowled the State Street bars in Madison. George had been looking for some action but with his bulky beer gut, he hadn’t had any luck with the sleek young guys. Mid-evening, George gave up trying to score and they’d had fun as George showed Tom how to look gay when he needed to. Now he was washed up on George’s doorstep, out of work, nearly out of money, out of ideas. “I was doing just great until that ass Zimbabwean president shut down all the independent newspapers and my job disappeared.”
“Your mum told me in her last couple of Christmas cards to watch out for you in case you got into more trouble. Are you in trouble?” George asked.
“Not really,” Tom mumbled, thinking how little she cared. He’d run 10,000 miles away from one DWI charge and a crashed up car and she still nagged. She’d never help him, but he missed Lucy. Lucy had been fine in the backseat, even though his accident totaled his mom’s Camry. “Do her letters mention Lucy?”

Monday, January 12, 2015

#154: Three Poems by John Hoppenthaler



Poem

~This poem was previously published in New Letters (1985)

In this uncertain exile,
I heat canned ravioli in a saucepan,
stir, stare deeply
into bubbling tomato sauce
and see you.

We met again over Chinese food,
like the old days,
and discussed the subtle changes.
I expected you to order
shrimp with lobster sauce
like you used to, but you ordered
sweet and sour chicken,
and you never liked it before.
Tasting my drink I thought,
Jesus, God, Lord,
once this almost ruined my life.

I raise the spoon to my mouth,
scald my tongue, and know it’s done.


*****


Monday, December 29, 2014

Redux Is on Hiatus

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Not exactly the premise of Redux, where we bring previously published literary work back into the world for a new, online audience…but who can argue with Rilke?

Redux will be on hiatus until Monday, January 12, 2015  Please join us then for another year filled with wondrous and amazing poems, stories, and essays. 


Happy new year!