Monday, December 30, 2013

Hiatus: Happy New Year!

Redux will resume posting fabulous stories, essays, and poetry on January 13, 2014.  See you next year...!

Monday, December 23, 2013

#111: "Sevilla" by John Poch

~This poem was first published in Passages North (2010).


Sign your name on a hundred tangerines
and leave them around the city. Please, in orange
trees, hang a dozen to mess with children
and nature. Your perfume tastes like windchimes. 

Jam and turn the rusty knife of your flamenco
through a concrete block when you are getting on
in years. For now, in the shadow of the bridge to Triana,
where no one has ever pledged love, pledge love.

From libraries, men in suits come for you with tickets.
They are not joking. You have been invited to come
and read old maps while they watch for your hands
that can hold the ten sides of the tower of gold.

The clock on the artillery factory holds fast at 7:30
and its weather vane of a man with a rifle
is stuck. But your love moves, and before you sleep
and fall into your dreams of storm-chasing, know

the tobacco factory has been turned into a school
where we can learn what happens after love.
Still, these buildings anchor history to air. Look
across town. A bullfight escalates into white hankies.

The people want an ear and ears, if possible,
and then they want the weight of death in white
on a chalkboard. They want you to write it,
extending your slender arm and calf.

What are the names of the mysteries?
A ceramic bell. Water without shame.
Lucks, plural. Sword heaven. Candles
on a hat. A peacock in a brass scale.

People believe that judgment comes like a man
dancing behind a whip on the backs of two horses
while the president-of-the-bullfight can only think
of his handkerchief, but these men are as bland

as the palm in your hand. You hold a shield
over the entire city and your belly is full
of the surprising child of poetry. The tourists
and the street-wise circle below, some rising,

some falling like your very DNA, some children,
some old, some horses, some women beguiling
with rosemary, some lost in the ancient idea of a bit.
Myself, I like your hair up. I like an engine.

A car of fire. A car of earth. A car of water.
A car of common happiness. I would like
to drive you crazy. If you think I will not build
you a house around a box of antique nails,

think again. I will never grow accustomed
to the dance where you kick your own long black skirt.
Your torso demands the sudden striking of palms.
The wooden floor hates your brutal shoes.

From your bronze posture, smile down
at our ceilings edged with curves and lit crystals
as we might look at a good white frosting.
Saint of housewives subduing stoves and dragons,

they named a city after your frying pan. Your apron
is a pristine miracle, and your hair pulled back
says you are just about to get serious.
Will you be patient with your knife?

My spine is a sword hidden in your blankets.
Your spine presides over the ministry of air,
and I love your police. Build a museum
on millstones, and curate anchors and tile.

For art has become an advertisement for art
hung from a black cathedral, a scrim like a blusher
for the third largest church in the world
whose pillars weigh so much they are sinking

into the earth, like we all do. Name
some date you want to go horizontal.
History is the building in front of us.
History is a good word in the day of strangers.

History always happens somewhere else
we hope, except when your dress flutters.
For what is a man to a cloud or a mountain,
and when will your eyelash fall on me?

While others fold steel into steel for a month, 
sharpen it, and cut the throat of death, we prefer
the triumph of the dead preferring honey
to its nectar youth. We appreciate blood. Come down.

Boats of gold, cocoa, tropical birds, and the future
of smoke will come knots of miles and months fighting
upstream toward one stone tower, but remember
blood is the price and will be the price. Before love,

let’s drift like history, in a river like schools
of freshwater fish, like the blood of six bulls
through the old stone street and into a pipe
on the Guadalquivir all the way to SanlĂșcar.


Monday, December 16, 2013

#110: "In Black and White" by Terese Svoboda

~This story previously appeared in The Yale Review (2003).

            Henry does not want to sink heel nor toe into it. He unlaces and removes his shoes and then parts the cane and thorn and rubbish that the land here offers over itself but the laces snag even in Henry's uplifted hand while the thorns scrape deep into its white side. What I hear is what you might, words he learned from his mammy or so he says his father calls her when she curses, words I can hear even over the pump and the child, even over the gush of one and the howl of the other. As Henry fights his way through the briars barefoot, curses his way past the Cad and the boat and the Something Else vehicle you can't see from the street the thorns are so thick, the rat pink baby limbs get soap-rinsed and so slippery some tight gripping is involved, then some quick wrapping and baby soothing, some milk up front.
            He kisses us both, all lips buss air, and he pinches my cheek bottom to make the baby suck harder.
            He is putting in the horse stove, I say. Inside.          
         Henry says he has such a movie he is going to make, he is almost sure to make. Where is this stove?
            Before I can think how he will steer past the fallen wood and shingles to the stove place, the baby, nakedly post-pumpbath nursing, pees straight up at me, pees right into my ear as my head is turned toward Henry who now finds a smile you could shake up and find frothy.

Monday, December 9, 2013

#109: "Migration" by Laura Van Prooyen

~This poem originally appeared in Meridian (2008).


Listen, then.  Quiet as a dream.  As the moment
she held her breath to see the man who touched her

all night was not the one next to her sleeping.  If
that was a dream.  The man she met in the woods

with whom she stood knee-deep in mayapple
naming one hundred birds.  On the woodchip path

he took her heart outright and called it a ruby, a painted
rose-breast, a crest, a blood-red crown.  Even

without her heart, even within a dream, she knew
to put her plume in his hand was never to go back.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

#108: "Reprieve for the Minor Pain Ladies" by Sunil Freeman

~This essay previously appeared in WordWrights! (2001).

          Melodious, rhythmic, two words trip off the tongue with a dancer’s grace, four syllables each, each with a long vowel sound sandwiched between short vowels and a percussive shimmer of consonants: Ankylosing Spondylitis
            Ankylosis is a disease process in which joints become rigid. A spondee is a type of metrical foot in poetry – two heavy stressed downbeats. I’m taking some poetic license, since the: “spondyl” in the disease name refers to the spine, but it’s close enough for me.
            “Itis” is inflammation. About 25 years ago a friend maneuvering through the crush of people at a crowded party brushed against me, then nearly jumped back. He said heat was radiating from my neck. It was the “itis” in ankylosing spondylitis -- the flame in inflammation, the heat in the fire. A piece  of a word came to life.
            So: “Heavily stressed poetic units growing inflamed, becoming rigid.”  It almost sounds like some rare breed of erotic poetry.
            Much jazzier than the generic “arthritis,” as in “minor pain of arthritis.” That old phrase evokes a world of advertisements featuring bored actresses whose mildly troubled expressions barely hide the smiles that will shine when a couple of over-the-counter pills make everything all right.

            In in my early teens, walking in Sligo Creek Park, when a bee stings me on the hand. The year is 1967, or maybe ’68. A sudden inspiration accompanies the throb that follows the initial electrifying shock. It’s a thought so far outside my ordinary train of thinking that it nearly turns my mind inside out.
            Paraphrased, it goes like this: “Don’t label this experience as ‘painful’ or ‘bad.’ Just observe what you feel and see what happens.”
            I focus on a pulse, intensity increasing and decreasing in wave-like patterns. The rhythm of that throbbing becomes musical, like the drone of a tambura which sounds in the background of Indian classical music.
            The play of my thoughts is a melodic improvisation rising from that pulse; the bee sting grows into a gorgeous concert playing in my hand. Freed from the straitjacket of language, the experience becomes so enjoyable I almost miss the pain when it finally begins to subside. I don’t understand exactly what has happened, but know it’s important.
            We get clues in our lives, a sort of fragmented roadmap of what’s to come, if we can only read the signs. In the winter of 2001, recuperating from my fourth hip replacement, I recalled the bee sting, that fascination with pain. What is it? How do we deal with it?

Monday, November 25, 2013

#107: "Makeup" by Hadley Moore

~This piece was originally published in slightly different form in Midwestern Gothic (2012).

So this was what it was. Champagne gold read the label on the box. Anne Marie looked at the silver-colored pot in her hand, its contents like a dessert, a blondish mousse in a miniature ramekin. Against the lip of the pot’s smooth white insides the champagne gold seemed dark, but impossibly pale for its intent.
Was her face champagne gold? Champagne gold where it wasn’t port wine?
            Fifteen minutes ago her mother had returned from shopping in Traverse City. Among the bags she brought home was a tiny unmarked vellum one in which was nestled a tinier box (in which, Anne Marie knew now, had been nestled the still tinier pot of this mousse-like makeup).
"I found it at Macy’s," her mother told her.
Anne Marie had smiled and said thank you and asked if she should wait until tomorrow to open it.
"No. It’s not a birthday present. But listen, Anne Marie, don’t be mad."
And Anne Marie had wondered what she meant. The package looked like it could hold a pair of earrings, or a lip balm, maybe.
"Don’t be mad," her mother said again. "It’s just…I saw it, okay? I ran across it. And I thought of you. You’ll be thirty-nine tomorrow, honey. I mean, thirty-nine. That’s almost middle-aged."
Maybe not a lip balm, but earrings, perhaps, or a brooch.
"It’s not a birthday present. It’s just that it seemed…it seemed time. All right? Now I’m going out again for a bit."
When her mother gathered up her things to leave, Anne Marie had the sense she was being given privacy. She’d need the whole house to herself, apparently, to open the tiny package—and then she’d wondered, panic traveling up from the middle of her chest, what kind of sex thing could be so small. Was her mother giving her a filthy toy? Or birth control? Oh Lord, it made sense: "Don’t be mad," "You’ll be thirty-nine tomorrow," "It seemed time."
"No, Mom!" Anne Marie had shouted.
"Don’t be mad. I’ll be back in a couple of hours," her mother said, and shut the door behind her.

Monday, November 18, 2013

#106: "Chelsea Hotel, Room 101" by Allie Marini Batts

~This poem previously appeared in New CollAge Magazine (2001).

Chelsea Hotel, Room 101

is where they bring the gurney.
Between sodden lingerie, the knife’s rough part
grins like teeth in a tissueless tract where babies can’t grow.
Closed tight or half-open still, you think of your fingers
and count the times I didn’t call.
It’s like a hunger, this ache in my belly.

There’s a wet suck as it leaves my belly,
divesting me of Cupid’s arrow before raising the gurney.
If I had air left in my lungs, I’d call
for you, but I don’t. That’s the hard part.
I can feel your fingers,
even as the chills grow.

It is New York, cat-calls and traffic and sirens grow
loud too early in the day, and my belly
was full and tight now two hours ago, your fingers
did not trail behind the gurney
looking for one last touch through a cloth part.
You start to wonder if I did call.

Perhaps you slept through my call,
deaf to my voice in your opiate dreams; this can grow
tedious, the way television and smack is the part
of our day that never stops. You touch my belly
in your dream, and I turn into grey flesh on the gurney,
then straight back to ash, slipping through your bruised fingers.

Under the sink, my fingers
spread open wide from wanting. I grew sticky, my call
was too quiet for you to hear. I can see the gurney
for a split second, before the lights in the room grow
blurred. I have an echo in my belly,
spilling onto the tiles, my secret inside part.

In that desperate, strung-out part
of sliding away from you, at last I could feel. My fingers
found steel, mumbling inside my belly.
I am bleeding beneath the leaking sink. I don’t want to call
out to you, because you won’t let me grow
cold on the tiles, waiting for the gurney.

This is the part where I call goodbye to you.
I grow backwards, born again bloodless, a screaming baby again with closed fingers.
I can’t see you anymore from the gurney; I am curled up inside my own dead belly.


Monday, November 11, 2013

#105: "Calling Up Billie" by Susan Starr Richards

~This story first appeared in Brilliant Corners, A Journal of Jazz & Literature (2004).

            That carefully breathy voice speaking out of my phone in the middle of the night, conjuring up my whole lost world—the late-night city world I left behind.
            “Are you sitting down?” the voice asks me.
            I’m lying down, in the bed. It’s 3 a.m. I live in the country now.
            But I’m wide awake, suddenly. “Why? What’s happened, Jo?” I ask.
            A pause. “This isn’t Jo. This is her sister,” the voice says.
            But it’s still Jo’s voice I hear. A voice that knows just how to let itself drop at the end of a phrase—the end of a moment—the end of a set. That music has a dying fall. So does the voice.
            And now that same voice—it says it is her sister—is telling me Jo had a dying fall, herself. Out the window of her apartment, fourteen stories down. What’s wrong with this conversation? Everything. How can someone who killed herself be telling me so on the phone?
            “I thought you’d want to know,” the voice says, before it drops back into the dark. “Since you were such good friends.”

Monday, November 4, 2013

#104: "Bounty and Burden" by Kelly Martineau

~This essay originally appeared in Quiddity (2012).

Bounty and Burden

In those days, when my parents were still married and we lived in the white colonial on a tree-lined street, I began curling my shoulders forward, wrapping my body so that my chest sagged and became a hollow.  Once, when I was four, I wore a candy necklace—an elastic round punctuated by pastel beads that I could crack with my baby teeth.  My father’s best friend bought the necklace at the grocery when he and my father escaped from their wives long enough to buy more beer on a muggy Saturday afternoon.  Long after the candy was gone, the adults still emptied the cans.

            In yoga, much work is done to open the chest.  Note the breath as it enters the lungs.  Lift the chest to the sky during sun salutations, in standing poses.  I breathe space into my upper body and feel my breastbone rise as my shoulders ratchet open, tugging against the years of internal rotation.

Monday, October 28, 2013

# 103: Two Poems by Mary Zeppa

~This poem previous appeared in Another Chicago Magazine (1981).

Sweet Dreams


I speak to my sister
of orgasm
I speak to my father
of Proust
while Marlon Brando (as Stanley Kowalski)
is sitting beside me, his hand on my thigh.


These nights, I meet you
inside my dreams
dream lover of the long thighs.

Your wife doesn't notice
when you leave your body.
It still does the things that she likes.

All night, you bruise
the inside of my skull.

All night,
she fucks her blond doll.


Yellow begins.
My thighs are its flames.
Its light
fills those hollows,
my bones.  My skull
has been keeping
a secret:  this dark
is purple and warms.


Monday, October 21, 2013

# 102: "Slow Fire Pistol" by Sherrie Flick

This story was previously published in Puerto del Sol (2003).
            When I met Robert he was crazy, going five million directions at the same time. I followed him down each and every path, trudging right along behind him all the way, stomping all the way back.  The whole thing was super-fast—like one of those Matchbox car snap together loop-de-loop tracks.   
            By the end of the first month, he was moving in.  Into I don't know where because there sure as hell wasn't any space in my one-bedroom.  He seeped into nooks and crannies, into cracks, poured himself into the divots in the linoleum floor, reaching down and throwing some roots into the thin gaps between my floorboards.  He took hold.  And it worked, you know?
            It was saturation point, mind you, month one.  But I just keep taking and taking.  That's how I learn.  My friend Vivette tells me, she says, ‘Susan, you're like a motherfucking sponge.’  She says I'm one of those big ones you use to clean the tub with or the hood of your car.  I'm a sponge waiting to soak it in.  All of it.  Whatever it is.  Vivette says it's her job to come along and wring me out. 
            So there's Robert seeping into that, and reaching into this.  And there I am sitting on the couch with my legs wrapped up underneath me, watching him.  I'm sipping my coffee with two hands, holding the mug like I'm cold.  I'm watching him watch the football game he always has time for even though it always seems like he never has time for anything.
            I'm staring him down, watching him go five hundred million ways, and that's just sitting still.  He's eating pretzels and opening a beer.  He's shuffling some papers from work.  Robert sells life insurance.  He's good.  He says it's because he understands people.  He's alternately reaching out and squeezing the back of my neck.  I sip my coffee again.  I've been staring at him for five minutes straight and he hasn't once made eye contact with me.  He has the phone beside him.  He's trying to get through to his brother in California, but the line's busy which means that Danny's on the internet.  So Robert is going every which way, then he yells--jumping up--"Touchdown!  Yes."
            He flips to the Discovery Channel, because he's also watching this thing on frogs, then to MTV, the Food Network, then he looks right at me looking right at him like I'm the only person in the world.  There's some woman frying little chunks of ham in a skillet on TV.  The woman is smiling and saying, "Believe me.  It works," as she stirs the naked chunks with a big wooden spoon.
            Robert says, "Babe.  Let's talk.  Remember when we would sit up listening to the trains?  Remember that?  Let's talk like we did back then."  He looks at me for what seems like a long while but is probably just a second or so.  We don't say anything.  Just stare, smiling.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

# 101: Two Poems by Meredith Pond

~This poem previously appeared in Georgetown Review (2008).

Peeling Psyche Off the Wall

So we make the same mistakes and so does she: losing faith
in her lover, listening to jealous siblings, holding the candle

too close, spilling the wax. We can’t stop ourselves, neither
can she. But no ants come to sort our grains, no birds

to pluck the fleece from the thorns by the riverbank, no song
of Persephone’s to hum us home from the hell we’ve created

all on our own. Betrayal is a dusty toad, sitting in its lumpy truth.
Let her be, you say, setting her down in the gritty sand

to kiss the toad, to seal her fate. We knew this would happen.
We knew it all along. But now the ants are back, birds aloft,

the road to Hades darkening with Lethe’s sleep. Look,
she stands and loosens her garments against the heat

of his mother’s rage. Beauty suffers, but beauty lives. 
The soul reaches for the lost one, but where? For us

here in this empty room, we hold her threads,
we see her colors, we feel the weight of stones

moving where once our hearts lived, once we loved.
Over and over, we peel Psyche off the wall, help her

stand, begin again. We are the ants, the birds, the fleece,
the thorns. Our redemption is her immortality.


Monday, October 7, 2013

# 100: "Your Hand Is My Hand" by Catherine Chung


~This essay was previously published in The Journal (2007).

About a month ago I had a tumor excised from my left breast.  The tumor was 3.3 cm in diameter, roughly the size of a ping pong ball, and was located under my left nipple. When it first appeared a year and a half ago, I told it, “You can stay so long as you respect the balance.” But in its last months it had spurned the balance and grown, rising to the surface so that it was visible: an alien marking out its territory. It started to develop what felt like appendages. It began to pull my nipple back into my breast, so that the skin around it puckered and collapsed.           
I’d been told in the beginning by doctors that the tumor was not particularly worrisome. It appeared to be a fibroadenoma, a benign mass that often appears in women under thirty years old. When the tumor was discovered, measuring in at around 2 cm, I was told that surgery could end up doing more damage than leaving it—there would be damaged nerves, damaged milk ducts, scar tissue, and possibly a crater-like caving-in effect given the size and location. Surgery itself increased the risk of cancer later. I decided to leave it there, but remained always aware of it: sometimes it hurt, and sometimes it itched. Sometimes it shrank, but mostly it grew.
            By the beginning of the school year it had gotten so big you could see it from a distance. Not only when I was naked, studying it in the mirror, but through t-shirts. When I met the doctor who would later perform the surgery, he spent several minutes feeling around it. I lay there, left arm above my head, discreetly avoiding eye contact. Since he had to feel my other breast to assess symmetry, I offered to lie there bare down to my jeans, without the bother of the crinkly paper gown, but the surgeon insisted I keep it on.  It was strangely demeaning to be forced to pretend the paper gown meant something, that it was the gown that conferred his hands on my breasts with their disinterested professionalism. It reminded me vaguely of my first job interview after college, when I wore my first suit, with pumps and a necklace, and was overtaken by a wild sort of horror as I talked to the human resources manager: not because I thought she could see through my act, but because I suddenly realized that she too was playing a part. I wondered who was watching.
We were silent in the doctor’s office as he touched my breasts. The paper gown ripped when I sat up, but we both politely ignored the noise. When I was covered, he looked me in the eye and began to talk. He talked about the risks of surgery, which he felt were minimal. He talked about the scar, and the pain, and the chance that the tumor could have some cancer in it. He urged me to have it taken out. After he left the room, the nurse practitioner muttered, “I don’t know why he took so long, feeling you here and feeling you there: I could see that thing from all the way across the room!”

#99: Two Poems by Diann Blakely

~This poem previously appeared in Crab Orchard Review (2000)


   Enough of God.  Enough of witnesses.
         O turn your face to the room's wall
And sing, poor Bob.  O sing damnation past drawn shades
                 More cracked with light than mine.  Bowls fill
   With melting ice; fan blades shift, dangerous
     In the choked air.  A man's brought you to Texas,
                 Twice, to needle songs—I went
To the mountain, looked as far as my eyes could see
                 On waxy plates.  Brought you a pint,
    And let's drink to that first crowd's sweaty laughs, 
     Also your last girlfriend's.  O vengeful solo:
                 You didn't like the way she done
And swore she'd have no right to pray.  Tears prick my throat
                 As if you'd damned me too, as one
    Who makes her songs from scaredy-cat bravado 
     And flirts with others' dues.  Enough of love—
                 Aren't we both vagrants of the South,
You born from autumn trysts, black knees splayed in high cotton;
                 I from a history of shut mouths
     And families gone?  Lead me beyond the eaves 
    Of sleeping women's shacks, where you once stayed
                 Till dawn, your fingers muting still
The knife-edged chords that beckon toward a possessed heart . . .
                 Mine's followed you to Texan hell,
    Though walls melt down to echoes as you play 
    And curse God's vast shining back: don't throw me out.
                 Here's another pint.  Another hymn
From a white girl whose call craves your response, shades drawn
                 Against false stars . . .  Trouble gon' come:
    Lead me, like whiskey and wept judgments, down. 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

#98: "I Tell You Something" by Jessica McCaughey

~This essay was previously published in Adanna (2011).

            I misunderstand when Ming says, “This is difficult for me.” When I arrive each Monday at seven, she has been studying all weekend with only the help of her pocket-sized, electronic Chinese-English translator. By then, everything is difficult.
            I pull her Child Psychology and Development textbook toward me, noting the chapter heading: Abuse.
            “Yeah, this is sad stuff,” I say, tired from teaching all day, hoping our tutoring will end early as it sometimes does.
            “No. It’s more.” She sucks her lips into her mouth. “I tell you something. I had three children.”
            As I try to sort out the sentence in my head—I’ve met her kids, both of them, right?—she begins, so purposefully that it feels like a monologue. Practiced, although it couldn’t be. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

#97: from Bombyonder by Reb Livingston

~This piece previously appeared in Eleven Eleven (2012)

from Bombyonder

Naked, upset, nobody came for me, ever, myself naked, wept in a bathroom, naked commercial, characters like me are almost always naked, topless and mostly naked, didn’t seem to be much about a wolf, she must have been the wolf, completely naked, distracted and driving wrong, she didn’t look naked when driving, partially naked, naked with wet hair, naked with regret, naked with a hulu hoop balanced on a staircase, naked sunbath, hanging out, naked exchange, deleted pictures from my camera,

parts of this party I wouldn’t attend,

somebody dressed in dragon, the wolf sniffed the dragon, dragon confronted wolf, slapped my father because I want to slap her, intended to slap her, the trouble will start when her werewolf boyfriend shows up,

still hooked up to the machine,

playing a machine, machine spitting bills, searching for the ticket machine, a machine with more features, machine figuring enemies, machine of the impenetrable prison, downstairs with more machines, there was machine under the bed washing things, noisy, like a slot machine, we could have been trapped there, like pinball, like building a machine to wake the devil, the statue of the satanic attic, Mother murdered Rauan, he drank fruity, girly drinks and that was a good enough reason, the devil-baby was a powerful baby, wishing we killed that devil while he manifested in the fire hose, there was a dog in this house who worked for the devil and plotted against this meeting of faiths, one sneaky dog, married to the devil’s advocate, temptation, passion, frisson, we were served broiled Rauanelk and Rauan didn’t know he ate himself, the phone rang, it was the devil, the fate of rescue, the rest of the film proceeded as normal,

now you possess the information that our hero was once naked, slapping paternal figures,


Monday, September 9, 2013

#96: "Holland Breaks the Law" by Emily Jeanne Miller

~This story originally appeared in The Portland Review (2005).

John Holland isn’t sleeping well. Alone in the big white Victorian on Brooks Street, he lies awake in his wide bed, listening to the late crickets, the heat kicking on and off, the old house settling. Often, he’ll get up before sunrise and walk his dog, Zeus, up and down the tree-lined streets of the University neighborhood. In dawn’s quiet blue chill, he’ll pause as kitchen lights pop on, and catch glimpses of neighbors going about their morning routines, cooking eggs in skillets or drinking coffee by the TV.
He’s been asked to stay home from work. There’s a situation with a student at Our Lady of Victory, the girls’ school where he’s taught for over a decade. The student, a sixteen-year-old, is claiming Holland behaved inappropriately during a tutoring session in his office. And while everyone—Lyle McKnight, the principal, Howard Frackas, the Superintendent—says they’re behind Holland, one-hundred percent, they have told him he should keep his distance from the school. McKnight suggested a mile. 
It’s Friday, early. Holland is in the kitchen washing his hands and listening to the ch-ch-ch of the McNulty’s sprinklers next door, when the phone rings. He cuts off the water and reaches for a towel. It’ll be McKnight, he’s almost sure—probably wanting to go over the “facts” for what must be the fiftieth time. McKnight or maybe Holland’s wife, Carol. He pauses by the French doors: another gray day outside with storm clouds looming low in the East, over the Rattlesnake. He has nothing new to tell McKnight, and no idea where to even begin with Carol, so he lets the phone ring.
On an eggplant-colored rag rug by the stove, Zeus lies curled in a loose C. Holland squats and runs his palm over the dog’s warm belly, avoiding looking at his head. Zeus is sick—there’s a tumor the size of a gumball over his eye, and though you can’t see them, “trouble spots” on his skull and spine. This is according to Dr. Woo, the vet, who Holland knows through his weekend softball league. After games, some of the players stick around drinking beer, and one Sunday, Woo noticed Zeus’s eye didn’t look right and asked Holland to bring him in for a visit. That was two months ago. Now the tumor protrudes noticeably from the dog’s head, and his whole face, which used to cheer Holland beyond reason, has become misshapen, and frankly, scary.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Redux Open to Submissions September 10 -- October 15

Redux is accepting submissions of fiction/poetry/essays during its annual open reading period: September 10 to October 15.  We’re looking for literary work of high quality that has been previously published in a print journal but that is not available elsewhere on the internet.  Our mission is to bring deserving work to a new, online audience.  Preference will be given to older pieces (i.e. published before 2010).

No novel excerpts, poems that appear in chapbooks, or pieces published in anthologies…even if these books are presently out-of-print.

Please read our guidelines for important submission information.  If your work is accepted, you will also be asked to write a short “story behind the piece” essay a la the Best American series.

Authors we’ve published in our first two years include Margot Livesey, Sandra Beasley, Robin Black, R.T. Smith, Michelle Boisseau, Kelle Groom, Erica Dawson, Walter Cummins, and C.M. Mayo.

We look forward to seeing your work!

Questions: reduxlj AT gmail DOT com

Monday, August 19, 2013

#95: "The Three Weisses" by Michael Salcman


~ This poem was originally published in Aries  (2012).


Shades and graces come in threes: my cousins in Queens
were aunt and uncle to me,
the first I knew as elderly
rich with sandpapered faces
and thin-rimmed glasses they wore like monocles.

My first lesson in the upper classes—
a tinted portrait above the mantle,
Hettie and Syd and Uncle Carl posed as kids
in white smocks and puffy sleeves
as big as their heads, and a favorite spaniel for color.

Upstairs their sentient mother lived in solitary splendor,
my father’s Aunt Rose, a hundred
when I was five, whose backside routinely greeted me
freshly bathed and powdered
with a faint smell of garlic and uric acid in Queens.

Syd’s husband I never knew
or can’t remember, and soon after he died
she moved back in with the other two
and seemed as much a spinster as they ever did,
eternally wed to brother and sister.

Of the past not a word was spoken—
one could never know how Hettie’s young heart
had been broken or why Carl with a smile like Coolidge
never pursued a bride
or wore sweaters in summer until the day he died.


Monday, August 12, 2013

#94: "In the Empire of Cetaceans" by Pedro Ponce

~This story was originally published in Arroyo Literary Review (Spring 2011).

            The annual Pheasant Lake Psychic Fair draws upwards of 300 attendees. Most are curious if not entirely content with their fates divined via crystals, numbers, and totem animals. A great deal invest in products claiming to cure everything from insomnia and stomach upset to the human condition itself. A smaller number, believing that anxiety, aggression, and disappointment are terminal, peruse book bins containing startling revelations about the true meaning of Mayan ruins and presidential assassinations, or accounts of alien abductions by celebrities from decades past.
            Those in attendance during the first weekend of August, 2008, might have missed one of the fair’s most unusual offerings. On Saturday morning, a single placard, printed modestly in black letters on a white background, advertised


followed by a time that afternoon and a room number. The placard’s starkness caused a mild buzz over that morning’s continental breakfast, but it also led to some uncomfortable moments as the dozen in attendance crammed the listed venue, a hotel suite four floors above the designated meeting rooms. Roughly half the audience read the whales as threatened, humans the likeliest culprits after centuries of environmental neglect. The rest read equivalence in the intervening colon, relishing the prospect of a fair and balanced rejoinder to animal lovers. As the sides recognized each other over the murmur of respective platitudes, a young auburn-haired woman checked her watch and straightened several piles of literature for sale on a round table next to the minibar. Five minutes past the scheduled start time, she stood and knocked hesitantly at the door to the bedroom. Hearing no answer, she cracked the door and spoke through the narrow opening. Her smile as she walked away stiffened with resignation.

Friday, July 5, 2013

#93: "The Art of Killing the Birds" by Martin Cloutier


 ~This story was previously published in Natural Bridge (2011).

Jared needed to be fucked, fueled and reconfigured, but mostly, he needed to be inspired, which was why he invited Richard to his studio. While Richard wandered around his windowless loft, Jared stood by the radiator and listened to the floorboards creak. His canvases were propped against the wall, facing out, as if he was onstage and his paintings were watching him. What would they see? – these women, these figures culled together from paper and plastic, bodies jagged with industrial shapes, their natural curves forced into the right angles of credit cards and subway passes?
Collage was the best description of Jared’s work. He made large painted canvases onto which he glued scraps of paper. Any kind of paper so long as it was discarded: newspaper, paper cups, sugar packets, movie tickets. If someone threw it away, it could very well end up on one of Jared’s portraits. Women emerging from garbage: a feminist manifesto or a misogynist’s vindication. He let the viewer decide.  
            Right now his work was stalled. He hadn’t made a new piece in months. Every day he would comb the streets, picking up cigarette packs and sales receipts, examining fast food containers and wet magazines. He would bring these findings back to his studio, spread them on his work table and wait for inspiration.  
He tried to give Richard space, but eventually found himself walking a few steps behind, pretending to scrutinize. Richard put one hand on his face and scratched his stomach with the other. His belly separated the fabric of his button-down shirt; black hairs peaked out like fungus.
Richard put an arm around him. “Good stuff. Good stuff.” His wet armpit stuck to Jared’s shoulder.
Richard was a lawyer with an art history degree, not a full time dealer. He had sold a few things of Jared’s before, and even bought some of his earlier work. One of Richard’s clients was Catherine French of The French Gallery. He told himself if Richard sold a piece to French, it might jump start his creativity.

#92: Two Poems by Todd McCarty

~This poem was previously published in 580 Split: A Journal of Arts and Letters (2006).

Nancy Series, 1972

Nancy—so girl. So girl & more girl than most.
In color or black & white. Beyond charm,
Beyond ashtray or postage stamp.

Nancy—so Nancy you are. On paper,
A sexy blond. In an afro.
An afro you seem unsure of.
And not blond.

As an old Kleenex, you are Nancy.
Nancy Santo Nino de Praga.
As a ball or boy or Bright’s Disease,
Nancy of Nancy. The Nancy you are.

All of these you are, in yellow & green
Or Andre Breton at eighteen months.

Nancy—so girl.
Well hung & framed.


#91: Two Poems by Scott Wiggerman

~This poem was previously published in Southwestern American Literature (2011).

At the Paisano

            Marfa, 1955

James splashes across bathroom tiles,
steps past a pile of dusty clothes
reeking of too many takes,
and plops his damp body across the bed
that takes up most of room 223.
The bottoms of his feet cool
on the bed’s iron frame; his arms
splay as though resting on that rifle.

He glances at the radiators, the iron
desk—like a goddamn prison.
His balcony looks onto an alley.
Rock’s room looks onto the indoor pool,
where he can keep an eye on the boys.

James wishes he had one now.
A flotilla of teenage girls shrieks
every time he passes through the lobby,
inching their breasts forward in trade
for a smile or an autograph.
Not one of them can give him
what he needs.  Sal would like to,
but he didn’t even rate a room
at the Paisano—goddamn Hollywood
hierarchy, even in this shithole town.

He lights a cigarette, takes in a long drag,
laughs at how Liz calls them fags.
He thinks of the hired hand
who has been teaching him how to lasso—
real hat, real boots, no need for wardrobe.
Those calloused cowboy hands,
those sun-crinkled eyes.
His hips stiffen.  His star rises.
Ride, cowboy, ride.


#90: "After a Stroke, My Mother Examines a Picture of the Icon of Our Lady of Guadelupe" by Tom Daley

~This poem previously appeared in Rhino (2011).

After a Stroke, My Mother Examines a Picture of the Icon of Our Lady of Guadelupe

Lady, why is your countenance
the color of vole feet
draggling from the jaws of a cat?
What tribe of mud daubers
stung stars onto your mantle?
Who names the fumbles
that topple from your breasts?

Your counterspell blunts
the jagged crescent
of every campesino’s
charmed and smoldering scythe.

Your spooled mouth waits to unfurl
the ticker tape of your vow.
In torchlight, your eyebrows
fly to heaven on thin wings of soot.
Only the moon survives
the crush of your heel.

Virgin of Guadelupe, I pray for your handshake,
I pray for your ribs, I pray for your hips,
the ones tugged dry
while expelling that bountiful head
ordained to gnaw
all the hangnails of history.

Steer me, Lady, through the lightning
that browns the mountains.
Drown the infections
that flush my cough into a gargle.
Virgin, who never burned a supper,
strip me of strangles, grizzles,
knots, of scratched jazz
skipping the shadows
out of my sleep.

Princess of the Aztecs,
thread my poncho with roses this winter
that I might adorn that tomb slab
where even cayenne would cool,
where your son’s brain was looted
of its chemical salves,
and where his feet, which stretched the sea
smooth as a conga head,
refused to rest
at right angles to the ground.

Kiss me, mother of Mexico’s hope—
your little mouth
is still rusty with smoke.