Prose Poetry / Flash Fiction

It’s Hard to Get Ahead

Brad Rose

Brainwashed the dishes. Now, I’m looking for money in large amounts and small denominations. Jesus says I’m a very legible person, but Raven says I don’t have enough string to fly a kite. OK, so maybe I am still working out the kinks. This week they called off the weekend, so I’ll just work right on through, at least until those Japanese Martians land. I’ll wear water skis if I have to. I’ve heard hollow chocolate Easter bunnies really can work up an appetite. After all, you are what you eat. Of course, you can’t trust everything they teach you in hairdressing school. To make up the deficit, I practiced my danceable moves in broad daylight. Before I knew what was happening, the cops asked me to leave. That nearly killed me. I love this country like the back of my hand. Can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to set it on fire.

The Main Reason I Didn’t Leave a Forwarding Address

Brad Rose

Since I got an ‘A’ on my Turing test, it doesn’t bother me that I can’t hear my hair growing at night. Of course, I enjoyed the helicopter ride and the dog sledding, but the problem with my dead relatives is that they are still alive. There’s something je ne sais quoi about their persistent yodeling, but, like a phantom limb, I can’t quite put my finger on it. My physician says as soon as I get better, it’ll be OK to pawn my invisibility cloak. He says I shouldn’t be bashful; everyone has a body beneath their clothes. I wanted to ask him, What use is a fire escape without a fire? but, I can tell you, naked or nude, he’s not the kind of person who likes to take turns missing the boat. Of course, like Pa always said, it’s not polite to scratch your itchy trigger finger in public. Don’t bother coming back till you’re dead.

Notes on a Modern Cinderella

Cassandra Farrin

This version will not be as ugly as poor Berlioz who slipped on sunflower oil at the turnstile, the one who fell under the train steered by a Komsomol girl. Let’s say worse than the Grimms’ toes but not so horrendous as heads. Trains do pull into stations, but no one dies under them. Although, in a serialized novel Sanshiro circa 1900 Tokyo, even then a woman might be heard crying from the track, oh oh it will all be over soon, and this edition shall have roughly the pathos of that.

[quantum]

Mark Cunningham

“Here are the test results. It contains only calcium.” “What percentage?” “Ninety percent.” Standing naked out in the middle of the woods, I couldn’t remember a poem, only the assurance that, “when everything else has been taken from you, a memorized poem remains.” His middle initial stood for no name.

[quantum]

Mark Cunningham

They told her she had a limited personality, and she said that’s the whole point of personality. We told him he shouldn’t feel too slighted: most kidnappers have ulterior motives. When I said I had two obsessions, she told me to get back in touch when I was ready for serious commitment. Turns out the billboard slogan Your life. Your style. Your way. was for a funeral home.

The Little Laser Girl

Lorraine Schein

Light: The wands she sold were brighter than the snow, a colder light.
Amplification:  She flipped one on—it flared open, a humming white door.
Stimulated by: Oscillation between energy levels and the subtle realms of matter.
Emission of: Coherent light waves, so she could see the dead and the almost existing.
Radiation: Electromagnetic—she saw her grandmother pulsing in the now-visible,
ultraviolet-infrared regions of the spectrum as she froze.

Impaction

Laton Carter

Some people state some people, but neither word is exactly what they mean. Some is a lie, because it expresses inexactitude, and people is a lie because it is a generality. The people that state some people know exactly what they are saying, but choose inexact generalities to express it.

The word impact, meaning the point of collision, no longer suffices as a noun. Engineers find themselves impacted by the living conditions they witness. They are impacted by the people in these conditions, and the people, because of their conditions, have no choice but to impact.

Dentists are not impacted like engineers. Dentists witness impaction. A wisdom tooth becomes impacted, and the dentist’s job is to extract it from impaction.

Influence is like wind — the thing itself is invisible, but its effect is free and available to the eye. Trees bend to it — people’s lives break from it.

Tonka

Salvatore Difalco

It grew increasingly clear over time, despite small victories along the way, that I was coming out a loser. This distressed me because I had always envisaged myself as a winner. If you’re resigned to being a loser, then it’s easier to digest. If you have somehow fooled yourself, or others have fooled you, into believing you’re a winner when the opposite is proving true, life can become a monstrous drag. And what makes it even more of a drag is that even though you’re always entering the fray with the best hand, with the technical or mathematical edge, the underdogs are coming out on top, arms raised, the crowd cheering them on, almost every single time. It leads to despair. But you have to push on. You can’t just hit a restart button. Even jumping from an eighth floor balcony requires some forethought. You have to consider the pain, shattered bones, horrified passing children or seniors, and the trauma to the apartment building itself. And what if by some miracle you survive such a fall. Surely you’d be a drooling vegetable, loathsome to look at, a burden on family and society. If things were fair, and the odds weren’t always being bucked, life may have been different. But you can only play with the toy truck of “what if” for so long before your maturity or sanity comes into question. Let’s go to the balcony and reach back our arm and hurl that toy truck across the street. Let’s also hope that no children or seniors coincide with its trajectory.

Soundtrack

Florence Lenaers

In the space between hearing and listening I’m stuck. Imperfect soundproofing hands me half an earful of narrative straight from another kitchen sink. I should listen away. Can’t. Sleety sound effects, trickles of dialogues seep out, soak in my low-quality socks. Downstairs as downstairs neighbors are supposed to be, they lift the lid of their domestic music box, lift it with the very tips of their voices. Humming thrumming drumming. I make out few of their words, high volume helps, & ■■■■ is an easy one. The others wade beyond recognition, end up moving like shadow puppets made with mittens on. Their mouths are not the only ones talking. Their TV set has a loud flush. Their chair legs sharpen their claws on the tiles. Their cigarettes hiss by the window. Huffing puffing. Their trained bed comments upon whatever love they are making. Their doors slam themselves to sleep. Their arguments run in red high heels. Babbling. Their baby girl must question the ceiling every time my pile of books tumbles to the floor.

Dutch Tilt

Jennifer Handley

Dreamed I was in the back seat of a car with Robert Downey, Jr., a big black Packard like in a James M. Cain story. We’re making a movie, we’re making out; we’re being filmed through the side window by two guys crouched behind an old-fashioned camera shaped like Mickey Mouse ears. Robert wears a white shirt. He bends over me as I fall back against the vast upholstery. There is a driver, black suit and skinny tie, half turned in his seat. He gestures, and we look behind us, and framed in the back window is the top half of a huge rising moon, craters visible on its surface, moonlight shining in so that Robert’s white shirt glows and glows, the light nearly shattering the blue glass of my eyes.

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