John Greiner




Ethel on the grass beneath the oak tree talks about being born half-blind while her mother swayed to Louis Prima. She fries steaks until there’s no blood left. I suck on her earlobes while she draws pictures on the clouds that hang low. Ethel caresses the tattoos and broken noses of all the boys who fit her fantasy. She says that I’m a gentleman.

I am the medicine man’s lack of prescription paper, sweating. Ethel loves my stench and fumbles about for the future, knocks a vase of roses from the table and mumbles about how much fun it would be if we had a garden party and invited all of our friends. She scribbles greetings to them every Christmas, promising to swim in their ocean in the summer once she fully regains her sight.

My family took the train and left me here. We never have enough rain and there’s nothing more interesting to do than complain about thirst. I will trade Ethel for a cage of mercies, but to be fair, I will give her the key.


John Greinerís fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines. His collections of short stories include Shooting Side Glances (ISMs Press, Manchester, UK) and Relics From a Hellís Kitchen Pawn Shop (Ronin Press, London, UK). His plays have had successful productions in New York, Chicago and Gloucester, Massachusetts. His work with photographer Carrie Crow has been shown in galleries, museums and public spaces in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Berlin.


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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014