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Whatnots by
James Beach

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Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra
by Suchoon Mo
Art by Gene Tanta
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Mindy’s Ork

 

Art by Gene TantaA girl, named here: Mindy, who had an Ork as big as the moon. Her Ork began to grow when she was wee, sitting near the TV. The program, set in Boulder, with Robin Williams as Mork, Pam Dawber as herself, worked its way into her genes so ferociously that by puberty she was less Mindy than her Ork appeared to be. She imagined a mystery Mork, holding on, climbing up, hanging out, on the Ork as it ballooned into (her) inner space. “Mork can get lost in my Ork,” she thought, at 23; “is that where my Ork has got to, is my Mork lost in the Ork that’s become me?” By 33 her quest became not one of mothering or career but of entering Ork’s fathoms to see what had become of the mystery Mork. Inside, she found a dummy Mindy: a doll, a toy of who she could never be. It was a bizarre pathology, brought on by her parents allowing her to view too much TV.

 

“The Abominable Cyclops”

 

WHEN the teen removed his mittens to clean snowflakes from his specs, the thin nylon string supporting the bottom of the left lens snapped; the plastic disc slipped out of its frame and fell and sunk in the powdery bank. By the time he retrieved the lens—it kept sinking further into the fluffy mound beside the street—his fingers stung and were wet and feeling chapped. “Why does this always happen in winter?” he said to himself. He put the metal frames—his wet thumb and index finger stuck for a moment to the frigid bow—back on his face and slid the runaway lens deep into a pocket. Now like a Cyclops, or how he imagined one probably felt, the teen got back on the street, one eye screwed shut against the driving flakes, one eye shielded and seeing.

 

“Was Backward”

 

IT started right up. She’d said, “Go on, I know what you intend to do.” By then he’d returned from the shed with the chainsaw, wiping off wet dust with a rag. While his wife arranged the roses she’d hummed a dirge, her aesthetics simple, alternating a rose with a stem so six of each adorned each end of the oblong box. At that, he’d walked out into the blizzard, found his key to open the shed. “The bin? They’re going to be excellent mulch!” she’d said, and retrieved them from the trash bin. Theatrically, he’d tossed the florist roses in the kitchen trash. A moment before, she had said, “Makes no difference to me,” her eyes an opaque indicator. Which had been in response to his: “What if I threw them out, then?” Because she’d said, “Watch out; they have thorns.” Because he’d said: “What if I tore them apart with my bare hands?” Looking at them in their box he’d wanted to take a chainsaw to them, the flower buds scattering like confetti. He considered dredging up the implement from the backyard shed. Because she’d said, “Nothing, love.” “What is going on with you?” he’d demanded before that. Most days she acted like she wanted to cleave their life, or lives, or lie—whatever—in two. “I don’t want to fight anymore. I don’t care anymore. I give in.” “Would you quit with the jokes?” “I bought them for myself, to get you interested in me again.” “Would you quit with the clichés?” “I have no secrets from you!” “Why won’t you tell me?” he’d asked, irritated yet in control of his rage. And she’d mocked him with a condescending sniggle. “Now you’re lying in it,” he’d said, but only because she’d kept brushing off his question about who the dozen roses in the satin box. “What’s that supposed to mean?” she’d retorted, face a blank. To begin, he’d said: “You’ve made your bed.”

 

“Self-conscious Origins”

 

I am two, supine, agape at the bright room taking shape round me. The fists at my sides kneading my spread as I focus on my mother. She wears a pink vee-shirt wiped with translucent goo turning white and flaky, tight jeans and a kerchief tied over her thick hair. Her left palm is out, as if she wants something. My father, about as messy, in his faded fraternity shirt and jeans hands her the stiff brush, which she puts to the wrinkled strip of wallpaper with vigor. Airpockets, creases vanish under her skillful swipes. Meanwhile he adjusts the clamp-on light attached to the stepladder, dousing her in purity. He measures drywall, shakes loose blue chalk from the plum line. As they toil, the wallpaper imprints itself on the smooth surface of my mind — a thick, grey-orange grid, shadow-brown lines overlapping in intervals; crêpe paper party streamers — a birthday plaid.

 

Fish in Hot Water

 

A young college graduate, with an actual bachelor’s degree (not an online one), had an interview for a job in a far off state; he got the job and moved there. Being tall, bohemian, well- and soft- spoken, the kid was instantly detested by the short plebian natives. Behind his back they conspired to dose him with intestinal parasites until he bloated and died from the things perforating his organs. Another faction was determined to give the kid herpes, and set him up with decoy-dates with complexes I & II. A third group fed him female hormones, with a smile, in cakes on coffee breaks. The hormonal blasts, not being administered by a doctor, upset the kid in an intangible way, flushed his face on occasion with a feminine glow or patch of acne, rather than giving him the intended “comically” useless blobs of fat under his nipples. Group two knew not that herpes is hereditary and is usually either triggered or not while still a child; the kid had good genes, and so this lineage kept his face and genitals clean. As for the job, he excelled—so much so that he was dismissed (as too threatening of an outsider). This occurred after he began using the company’s health insurance to stop his guts from hatching larvae into his system. He died within a few years, leaving behind his broken dreams of finding a wife and raising a family. But he left a handsome corpse when embalmed and painted. Sperm he’d donated, during his college years, was lively and pure when thawed; he had three children, with a mate he never met, in his hometown.

 

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James BeachJames Beach lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His byline has appeared in numerous local, regional, national and international publications, including Whistling Shade, Jivin' Ladybug and Wood Coin. As managing editor of AWAREing Press, his most recent project is the forthcoming anthology Light Years. He also publishes and edits Wood Coin: an online magazine of literature & liberal arts. Website.

 

Gene Tanta, Art DirectorGene Tanta, Art Director. Gene Tanta was born in Timisoara, Romania and lived there until 1984, when his family immigrated to the United States. Since then, he has lived in DeKalb, Iowa City, New York, Oaxaca City, Iasi, Milwaukee, and Chicago. He is a poet, visual artist, and translator of contemporary Romanian poetry. His two poetry books are Unusual Woods and Pastoral Emergency. Tanta earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa's Writers' Workshop in 2000 and his PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009 with literary specialization in twentieth-century American poetry and the European avant-garde. His journal publications include: EPOCH, Ploughshares, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, Columbia Poetry Review, and The Laurel Review. Tanta has had two collaborative poems with Reginald Shepherd anthologized in Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry. Most recently, he has chaired a panel at the 2010 AWP titled, “Immigrant Poetry: Aesthetics of Displacement”. Currently, he is working on two anthologies while teaching post-graduate creative writing online for UC Berkeley Extension.

 

Suchoon MoSuchoon Mo is a Korean War veteran and a retired academic living in the semiarid part of Colorado. He writes music and poetry and other useless things, regardless of weather, climate, or stock market changes.

 

 

 

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