Monday, April 25, 2016

#200: Two Hundred Posts! Let's Celebrate!!

Today we reach a milestone of two hundred posts! That’s two hundred excellent stories, essays, and poems that have been published in print journals but that have not been made available to the wider world of an online audience…until Redux printed them!

Among these 200 posts are examples of a very first publication, pieces that suffered in the print publication process, pieces that didn’t fit into story collections, poems that are now in books, and, of course, pieces that will make you laugh and that will make you cry. It is a joy and an honor to have founded this space with its simple mission of seeking out previously published work that deserves online exposure. Along the way, I’ve “met” (on social media) and met (in real life) so many new writers, watching my own world widen and grow.

Thanks to those who have helped Redux along the way, generously donating their advice and time: Deborah Ager, Marlin Barton, Sandra Beasley, Steve Ello, Kenneth A. Fleming, Rachel Hall, Anna Leahy, Joseph M. Schuster, Bill Skillern, and Susan Tekulve.

And thank you to all the writers who have contributed their work. Your words have enriched my life.

For your reading pleasure:

The 10 most popular pieces in Redux’s first 200 posts, presented in alphabetical order:

12 additional pieces, selected by me from the 50 most popular posts, presented in alphabetical order (oh, but it was SO hard to choose!!):

On to the next 200! 

~~Leslie Pietrzyk, Editor & Founder of Redux

Monday, April 18, 2016

#199: Two Poems by Derek Mong

~This poem previously appeared in from American Literary Review (2012).

Midnight at the School of Cosmetology

     and the mannequins, vacant
as Caesars in their hall of mirrors,

enthrall a night watchman.
His fingers trace their root holes’

perfect rows. This Styrofoam,
bald as the gibbous moon, outlives

the follicles of a thousand women
thinking. Last week the imported hair

shone fulgent as polygraph ink
and delicate as relics.

He still recalls its boxed arrival—
bangs, pigtails, wigs—whirlpools

of third world beauty
cut to train beauticians of tomorrow.

And though he doesn’t fetishize
its climate or cuisine—pelmeni

in mayonnaise, rain sieved
from a tin roof’s runoff—he’s breathed

that hair before the students
kerosened it scentless.  

There is a world pressed between
a harvest and its dreaming. 

There is a hallway he taps his night-
stick back through, luminous

as the one he entered. All night
hairdos never to travel back overseas

dissolve in the field behind
the building. When his shift ends

he walks home and clicks the TV on.
He turns to stone till morning.



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#198: "Preserved" by Douglas W. Milliken

~This essay was previously published as “Preservation with Clapboard Gaps” in Salt (2007).
~Selected by Assistant Editor Kenneth A. Fleming

The company truck’s bumper has a pink and black sticker that reads Happiness is Being in the Barn, but right now there is very little barn left within which to be happy. Like an anxious patient on a papered bed, the barn in Hollis Center, Maine, waits on frosted mud with its broadside open and exposed, its old timber frame bathed in pale October light.
            “This was a beautiful barn,” Scott Hatch says from the yard, admiring the building’s uncovered network of right triangles and hemlock. “A classic English barn, immune to gravity, probably outlived a dozen or more owners. Beautiful.” Scott squints against the sun. “Then somebody built an addition to it and opened up a can of worms.”
            Stitched to the barn’s side like an awkward new appendage, the shabby annex gradually sank in its foundation, wrenching the conjoined barn backward as it rotted, skewing it into a parallelogram. Scott turns away, settles stoutly into his excavator’s cockpit, ignites the engine roaring. The addition has long since collapsed and been trucked away to the burn pile. But the original barn still stands a chance.
            Guiding his excavator over rocks and mud to the rear gable-end of the barn, Scott, self-proclaimed barn wright and owner of the Barn Wright Inc., extends the hydraulic arm and nudges the bucket against the exterior wall. Near the machine’s nest of levers, a red retractable leash hangs from the cockpit cage: Spencer, the crew dog, stayed home today. His lips curled as if to break into sudden laughter, Scott yells over the engine’s drone, “Alright, let’s put the pressure to ‘er.”
            Spanning from where the barn’s rear corner post meets the roof plate, two metal cables stretch diagonally like tendons across the open broadside, winding into the spooled bellies of two comealongs, or hand-winches: one is bound to the base of the front corner post; the other is strapped to a tree. Hunching forward, Scott’s apprentice barn wrights, Dave Rose and Joe Marshall, grab the comealong handles and crank.
            The excavator bucket prods the leaning barn; the comealongs gather the slack. Inch by creaking inch, the parallelogram becomes a square.
            Calling for a halt, Scott shuts down the machine, hops to the ground, and checks with a speed-square the angle between corner post and floor. “Ninety-one degrees,” he laughs. “A little overzealous in our approach, I think.”
            Joe chuckles and runs a hand across his premature bald spot, his blonde goatee. A smile hidden within his coarse black beard, Dave adjusts his comealong, barely slackening the cable’s tension.
            Checking again: “Ninety. Perfect.”
            In less than one minute, Scott, Dave, and Joe pushed and pulled a two-hundred-year old barn and returned it square and plumb.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#197: The Remedy by Tim Mayo

 ~ This poem was first published in River Styx (2011).

You were fat in those days: neglect

had slipped like a towel from your waist
showing the whole world the soft rolls of yourself.

How it all glowed under your skin
like a radium dial,

becoming in the end:
a thick envelope for a thin heart.

And on summer nights, when the heat
dripped off the leaves like fat caterpillars,

you’d hang out sniffing cognac, putting on airs
in the only class restaurant around.

Those were the days when haute cuisine
were still foreign words
meaning something more than meatloaf.

How it moved you purposely along
up an invisible ladder
toward some new decorum.

Still, you dared to ask the slim dishwasher,
her first night ever on a job,

to go for a swim after work.

She was a young slip of a blonde with corkscrew hair,
whose father had wired your house and whose lightning wrath
you had never known,

but always feared
like a biblical child fears his Maker.

Nonetheless, somewhere in that part of your brain,
where things dwelled under the surface,
as quiet as crocodiles,                                    

you both knew the pitter-patter
and thump of your intent.                      


There is a safety in numbers
when a handful of strangers all begin to disrobe at once,
side by side,
in the sweltering privacy of their own dark space.

Everyone concentrates so hard
to liberate their right foot
from the left leg of their lonely lives,

they see nothing else, and nakedness goes unnoticed.

(But let’s forget about the others.
They are irrelevant.)

The two of you slip into the water
as pat as opposable thumbs.

You swim out to the raft
where a host of faceless bodies
loll about like Romans.

The idea of numbers is still in play.

Then, one by one, the faceless bathers
roll off the raft and swim away,

taking with them the peeled grapes
and nibbling minnows of their hands,

and only the two of you are left to count the stars.


You know how it is about the dark,

how even in a moonless sky
the night stars can seem strong enough
to show you things as if it were day.                        

That’s when you noticed                    
the statuary-beauty of her body,

(as if your art had suddenly found art)      

but what you remember most about that night,
and knew you would,

as you stood watching

her leggy presence
cross and uncross itself,

before she reached up to, finally,
clasp her hands behind the bustle of curls
bedding her head

––so unabashedly at ease––so unafraid––willing to show you––

every delicate portion and pocket
of her being,

that it was hard to believe she was that young,
and that you did not touch her––not out of fear––
nor youth––nor even any unwritten law of decency––

but out of an inkling that, one day, this memory
of her fearless poise would be more precious
to you than what you sought.