NONFICTION: BEATLICK JOE SPEER – TREK 55

This story originally appeared in Backpack Trekker: A 60’s Flashback (Beatlick Press, 2011).

TREK 55

In 1969 four-hundred students at Harvard University seize buildings as part of a campus-wide strike.

I enjoy long flights while looking out the window at rivers and empty ball parks. When the clouds blocked the view at 30,000 feet I read “Uncle Tom’s Children” by Richard Wright. It is right to say he left a rich mark on literature. He introduced a new element into American fiction. He created a tension from the possibility of random violence. H.L. Mencken taught him how to use words as weapons.

In the story “Big Boy Leaves Home” three Negro men go skinny dipping in a lake. There are no signs of trouble until a white man appears with a rifle. He kills two of the men but Big Boy manages to kill the white man. Later, while trying to secure a hiding place, he beats a snake to death with a stick. From a hide-out he watches a friend get burned with hot tar and gas. He strangles a barking dog that sniffs him out and threatens to dis-close his presence. Big Boy is pursued by the vigilante commit-tee but he escapes to the north.

Richard Wright escaped to Paris in 1946. In 1953 with the publication of his novel “The Outsider”, he culminated the work of the Harlem Renaissance and joined forces with French existentialism. Wright died in Paris in 1960 and his ashes are interred at Père Lachaise. He shares the cemetery with other exiles such as Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.

The stewardess asked if I wanted a drink. Her skin was the color of a cooked pinto bean so I assumed she was a Latina. I replied in Spanish that I wanted a beer. She popped the cap on a Corona and we bantered back and forth in Spanish. She complimented me on my accent and asked where I learned to speak Español. I explained that I read Antonio Machado. My father served in Spain during their civil war. He accompanied Machado into southern France and was at his bedside when the poet died in exile in 1939.

She asked if I was familiar with Federico García Lorca. I told her my mother was a student at Columbia University in 1929. My mom provided the lonely poet with a conversation partner. He gave her a hand-written poem called “La Aurora” which he signed “Federico.” She kept it until 1936 when she showed it to a neighbor who inadvertently spilled a blotch of ketchup on it. Lorca’s name was smeared blood red.

We landed and like Dean Moriarity, I crossed the street into Mexico “on soft feet.”

 

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POETRY: KYLE FLAK – 3 HAIKU

Jealous Guy

slow night

i think of all the owls

who are busy enjoying their lives without me

 

Bright Blue Day

lost in my head for a very long time

and then, suddenly:  the mountains

 

In Nature

drunk as fuck

these silent mornings

are always so pretty

 

~

Buy Flak’s killer book here.

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POETRY: Antionette Nena Villamil – I’d Rather Stop Here

 

I’d Rather Stop Here

 

The mountain looms, a watermelon
hovering like a new mother. In Chinese astrology, you are
the tiger. Quiet as a cliff. Oh, if only you
could. White pillowcase dotted
with blue fuzz. My sleep is scanty,
fitful, dreamless. You don’t know what you’re doing
to me. I pass the night listening to your rumbled
breath, touching myself, turning songs into
prayers. Don’t make me beg. Don’t just tell me what I want
to hear. Don’t make molehills out of craters, mountains
out of the ocean that crashes in your sleep, startles
you awake, begs you to get up
and go for a swim when you know
you don’t know how. The open door invites
mice, dried leaves, a cold cold wind. Sleep on it, says
my confidante. But I want to pounce. I want
action. If not from you, from someone who can satisfy
my desire for the thing you’re afraid
to name. You know, I would love to give you
a kiss. If only you would open
your goddamned mouth.

 

From Antionette’s chapbook God Damned Mouth, is from Grandma Moses Press.

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POETRY: Philip Jackey – Apartment 1B

 

Apartment 1B

 

The flypaper hangs like ribbons,
catching clusters of what one might mistake for black pepper but
are actually dead flies and the ones that aren’t dead
are feasting in my tiny kitchen.

Trash covers the countertop. The sink is full
of stagnant dishwater—an oily film collects
like the one on my flaky scalp and for the sake of comic relief,
I chuck the closest object: a plastic ladle, confident it’d crack, rather
stunned when instead it shatters a couple of stale Coronas,
rotting limes fall on linoleum. And all the while is apathy,
lingering with the fruit flies.

The power was cut today, 3 months past due.
I’m not worried though, I don’t need much energy.
All I really need is to remember
that the carpet is not the ashtray
and at no time will my piss covered bathroom
ever feel the urge to clean itself.

And I refuse to squander the few urges I have left
on Pine-Sol and scrub pads and showering each day
(underarms the smell of barbecue chips).
I even refuse my very own mother,
who will never refuse me,
who falls asleep before the sun goes down and will never remarry
as she withers with pride but still withers nonetheless,
suffering in private just to spare me the guilt
of the selfish and ungrateful son.

 

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POETRY: Subhankar Das – Clock

 

Clock

I started feeling so bored this evening
that I started drinking.
How I hated this yellow pee
as I drank this whiskey.
My only hope is to get drunk fast enough
because nothing is moving right now.
Everything is at a standstill.

I don’t have a clock
or else I would have moved the steel hands
with my finger and
broken this dead silence.

 

For more of Subhankar’s work, check out his chapbook, Bukowski Smoked Bidis, available from Grandma Moses Press.

 

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POETRY: Sara Cooper – Elephant Giving Birth

 

Elephant giving birth
I click on the video called elephant giving
birth.
This search and click, search and click
a thing we do now, he and I,
to make the time
pass.

And there she is. As promised. Pacing. Her
mouth
a wide and soundless yawp. Opening and closing.
She shifts her weight from side to side,
agitated, waiting

for what will happen.

Other animals do not feel pain the way we do,
my husband says. As though he knows. And
the narrator

says something in a baritone voice about
standing back, allowing.
The music is tribal. Pounding drums.
All wrong.

We are zoomed in now. Balloon-like casing
oozing
from her. What is that?, my husband asks.
The sac, I say.

And I am back on the floor of our bathroom.
1 a.m.
10 weeks along, though the heart stopped at 6.
12 hours in and my body is dropping clots
the size of my fists. My doctor’s words, you
have to pass
the sac, my refrain. And my question back:
what will it look like? I mouth moans, not
wanting
to make this known. Not wanting this to be out
loud.
My husband asleep in the next room.
Like this?

The baby elephant drops with a gush of blood
like a river upended.
The mother turns to see. It is not moving. So

she begins to kick it. She kicks and kicks and
turns away and turns back and kicks.

She will kick the life into it.

And I’m stuck now in this narrative. Praying
for the impossible. 2:59 remaining. Kick,
I roar. Keep kicking.

The camera zooms in on the newly born. No
life.

In a final effort, she wraps her trunk around
the newborn. She
is gentle now, coaxing out the breath with
desperate squeezes.

And as if it has always done, all along,
the baby elephant
opens its mouth. And closes it. Opens. And
closes,

exaggerating what living looks like.

I watch the mother watch her  newborn.
Muscles slackening, focus fixed,
reckless kicking of moments ago not even
a memory.

I’m telling you, it ended this way.

 

This poem originally appeared in Sara’s book Mis–, published by Grandma Moses Press (2014). Reprinted with permission.

 

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