Flash Fiction / Prose Poetry

From the Porch of Madonna della Salute

Robin Wyatt Dunn

—for PD Mallamo

Abuement and abut; she’s mighty. Stretched right over a quarter light year the surface of the event horizon here in our center; shaking our mast.

I send the probes down into it and we watch them shimmer over its surface like small wings, cutting into its damp. Flickering.

“She’s a beauty,” she says, and I say, “Yes.”

Yes she is. For one thousand years we’ve been approaching her and performed all kinds of models, sent in scouts, listened to transmissions, even spoken to a species who has penetrated it, written of it in poetry, sketched in amber and basalt, sung and performed, made movies of it, written under its bough, but still nothing compares to the vision we have of it now, under its doorstep, watching it shake.

We live beneath fifteen miles of metal so it isn’t as though our naked eyes behold it, but this is the closest.

One quarter of one light year—maybe two trillion kilometers—under her cheek.

Suddenly she throws up a storm, and we’ve been seeing them for weeks, months, years, but now we’re right underneath it, facing as Turner the implacable face of Atlantic god, superhuman stunningly on met and sanded geodesics curling out of the starry rainbow mirror of it, cutting into our metal and through the phosphorescent cameras which die and are reborn giving us our visuals:

“Yes.”

She shivers like a woman, this window into galactic center, horizon Pacific, delimited delimitless ocean, our door . . .

White blanks the eye and we move under its ejection, iota spundicular in the gassy eruption; bacterium through geyser; I blink.

“Whee!” she says, and I kiss her.

I shouldn’t have done it, but I did it. Our city shouldn’t have come, but we did. More insanity is hard to mention; anything more absurd; anything.

The dimpled mat of a sea god; river god; naiad filled with a righteous anger, unreachable, erotic, and mighty:

She wavers and then I see a probe re-emerge from her, Orpheus out from Hades, and though it is destroyed we get a burst of data and our physicists cheer, weeping, looking over the parabolics for the right equation to mark our entry point.

Holding on to the lyre.

Mosquito Logic Three (We the Help)

Jake Edgar

Emerging from your chrysalis, you were welcomed by an ignition of light that caught you and held you there. The warmth of crossed hands, pudgy and sterile. Is this true? Can belief be found in a place full of failed attempts to coalesce?

Peter says that he really just misses his kids and thank GOD for those emergency workers for talking him off that roof. You think sort of less of him each time he says the word God.

You’re waiting for the coloring session to end, to show a blackness sans blackness and then he brings up his kids again, each time he says kids he blinks like a falcon.

Paper Revolution

Lita Kurth

Paper stays with us, black and smoky like the sky above the roofs but behind the trees and there, automatic, it wasn’t, that thing that made me turn the lights on, car alarms buzzing and shouting, a noisy night of mammalian thunder and siren’s arms spilling out of cars. When the bomb hits, it’s only one, and wow, what a brightness and forth of July to a dead revolution, but bombs still burst. Here’s me in my quiet bed imagining blood. If only those soft curls fell on wounds, if only the snow, but why even talk of snow in a San Jose drought? This will be forgotten; an impact arises and grows from ambition, is that right? I doubt it. There’s door-kings of glass to grab, but leave the door closed. All the belts behind the door hide their history and the sky is cracking. Where are the soft hamburgers of pointed pain, a mess, but popcorn helps. It has no edges, only a plaintive mew. The bombs scratch the sky. Did we really do it all on purpose? We bought it, the breaking of many branches.

Good Fellows

Mark Budman

They told me to leave town and take the Russian with me. She had a penchant for
pearl strings and ring tattoos on her fingers and toes.

It was suicidal not to comply. We barricaded the glass door of my house with chairs and mirrors, pulled the blinds down, ate caviar on buttered bread and drank champagne straight from the bottle while wearing nothing but gun holsters: in hers—the Desert Eagle, and in mine—Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum Revolver. I cocked my gun half a dozen times. In the morning, the stars faded, the neighbors ran away, three black limos arrived, and ten guys with AK-47s fanned out.

The Russian came out from the bathroom with a toothbrush in her hand.

“I hope they brought caviar,” she said. “We are running low.”

Five six-word stories

William Cullen, Jr.

Blinking First
  A doe stared down two barrels.

Postcards from the Edge
  The fisherman’s memorial overlooked beached driftwood.

Telling Her Doctor
  Divorce was rebirth by cell division.

It’s a Hard Life
  Night sirens kept the widower awake.

Nameless Perp
  The orphan only spared faceless pumpkins.

Monsters

Tammy Peacy

A pile of last season’s hot peppers, snow-bled and sun-blanched, sat in the field like a mouthless set of prehistoric teeth. It convinced me a minute I was seeing something that wasn’t. Once the crawling feeling between my shoulder blades passed, I put the bottom of my boot to the top of the pile and the husks came apart with the same startling satisfaction as the hollowed bones of a baby bird.

I pulled aside a few of the pepper shells left intact and placed them in a row. Choosing the biggest two for canines.

My brother appeared, head to neck to chest, over the ridge between this field and my shed. I nudged my toe at the mud and when I looked back to the ridge my brother’s whole self had arrived and his right hand showed that he’d took our daddy’s rifle from up over my wood stove.

“Looks like you got monsters in your field, brother,” I said.

He just never stopped looking at me.

The Downed

Becca Borawski Jenkins

The three of them stood in the field and stared at the cow lying in the grass. Her husband had told her not to look. The old man had concurred. But the old man had shot the cow, so he was not to be trusted.

“My wife is inside and she’s dying,” the old man said.

“That’s not the cow’s fault,” she said.

“It was either me or the cow,” the old man replied.

The cow’s head jerked with a snort. Blood sprayed from its nose onto her husband’s pants.

She waited for her husband to react, but he didn’t.

Nowheresville

Howie Good

1
An elderly man croons “It’s Raining Today,” a prophecy from a religion that never was. Nine out of 10 American children turn into geometric shapes. It became common after appliances misbehaved with deadly results. In a drab city, the sale and purchase of emotions are strictly regulated, but not everyone follows the rules. A gangster has himself gilded in gold. Flowers rise up against their oppressors. I make a fairly successful attempt to recreate a LSD trip, beginning with a blow to the face.

2
This is what I see when I get home, monstrous miserable flesh, a mumbling blue cow, the first sentence of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” I try to work on myself but am constantly interrupted by cigar-smoking angels who have had too much coffee. They argue over the necessity of burning the museums, shoot pink waves of light from their fingertips. It’s impossible to silence them. Self-doubt pokes through my normal façade. The small hours are the worst. I take the fact that the cow has run off to the woods surprisingly hard.

Indictments

Kierstin Bridger

You hang the candy cane on the lamp. Lick what melts. Now you’ve ruined the bulb, poisoned your room with burnt sugar smoke. You’ve blamed your brother for dumping all the easy-bake cake mix in cocoa heaps on the floor, for fingers squeezed between hinges on your wooden door, and for stolen cherry bombs under the bed. Three out of four fit a pattern. Years later you think of your dollhouse plates that went missing, don’t remember him smashing the Shaker dining table, or if the rugs were painted on the floor. You only recall having the house, the smell of splintered balsam and glue, that it was tornadoed somehow, blown-away.

Lily’s Room

nyoka

Lily’s head led her into a white room where the carpet lurched into a lotion so hot her nipples melted, cooled, then slid right off. Hours before, at the tanning salon, she sat in a gold-knobbed chair and coolly questioned other girls about the parts of her skin she will never control: tiny inexplicable bead-drops of brown dripping down onto her shoulders from outer space, little light bulb-gods hexing up a deep, itching pink. In the end, she tells them it all peels away. The white room, pregnant with steam and sweat, is curated by Lily’s very own mind but coroners of an older, more arcane stoma of science gave it life. No matter is safe, no atom guarantees it will stay. Once her nipples fell, she cupped two warm black eggs gently in her hands because what breaks ceases to mystify her. As fast as Lily’s mind can swim within itself, dimension yields and the walls are throbbing chests of cornered felines, maybe the mealy innards of a mantis-hued gourd. Once, it was her own body poured, uninspected, and then split four ways.

There was a time when the white room could not exist. There was a time when Lily had a green lion for a father but her mother would not marry him. From the last fragment of their alchemy, Lily ignited, cauterizing each channel of his heart until he became flesh and bone. Her mother’s molecules were curdling long before. Inside them, wet, dark Lily grew. Though it is said to be impossible, she remembers the first white room she ever entered. She cannot remember exactly where she was three afternoons ago but some sort of modern science occurred. If she held the thought long enough she might recall, in its place, the first time she set conditions to create life. Following that, she might revisit how it felt when the bloom finally unsealed itself. She caught sight of it on her way out, in the sun, one floret too bright to call coincidence. In her white room, it yellows gracefully.

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