Linden Avenue Literary Journal
Issue Thirty-November 2014
“Who Was He Supposed to Be?”
—Christopher Moore, Coyote Blue
I walk dizzy boulevards leaving footprints
haloed & shaped like faces
or the same face smiling through its snarl—
great glowing monuments to me
erased come the first gentle rain.
What human means: to extend a trail of dust
in a society of dust, through glimmering dusty cities
of dust on the existential mirror.
Smell that burning in the distance?
Dust, & dust the bakery’s fresh-
bread scent at 2 a.m. come less than
six degrees of transmutations.
Oh I wanted to be an astronaut playing rock’
n’roll in the vacuum of space,
but cosmos silences every string.
I wanted to wear a colorful suit,
be all prick & flourish
to the charmed—a grand sighing
in my cotton clothes.
Even the shackles I have worn
like so much dust on a basement shelf
unlock themselves, free me to do
what I can, if I can—Go on,
the jailer says with a wink,
We know where to find you.
Not like you ever really get away.
“Luck Is a Thing That Comes in Many
Forms and Who Can Recognize Her?”
—Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
like the man who said going to jail saved his life—
cinder walls instead of a gravel ceiling
like the woman who mourns her child forever—
where did shadows of airplanes vanish from the room?
like the woman who folds her hand
divorcing herself from the king-
high straight—it won’t do it won’t
there is misery on the river & she knows
like the man who plays blues in a club every night
his hands gnarled bruised & stinking
of sweat & coppery corrosion off old strings—
what will be his outlet when the song ends?
like that other man who gave up too soon
before the words would come
or the other woman
who does not know she is the other woman
will be the other woman always
like this man who changed his route
because the light was red &
never saw the semi jackknife on the hill up ahead
like all of them with gamble in their hearts
sometimes losing wins & something
tethers fullest darkness
in the corners of the room
like the man who encounters a lion
with its beastly belly full of fresh gazelle—
the miracles hide in minutiae
the little bits of luck it takes to make
amino acids in primordial ooze
on an Earth that wobbles
like a wine-drunk deity
climbing a three-legged chair &
reaching eternally for the chandelier
how often I conjure them in the empty air
two olives in a clear martini glass
how they twitch staring into me
from nothing & nowhere
unripe crabapples dangling
on a rain-jade afternoon
all this imagining
all this redrafting
so I can know I possess a part of you
a photograph on memory paper
computer animations of hurricanes
moving left across the screen
how I reach for them &
how they slip my grasp
of so many worlds of mine
Dear Melmac Dish,
I hope this doesn't come across in the wrong way. You are a beautiful dish in your own right and I admire your sturdiness. It is clear that you're a very accommodating plate and will always hold as much as you can. However, I've been talking it over with the group and we're not sure if you would make the right impression for our annual family dinner.
Your resume is quite impressive and it's not that we don't appreciate your thrift store past, it's just that we find you might have a difficult time relating to the others. This place setting is reserved for someone with more experience in the fine dining atmosphere.
Your hard edge must have served a good purpose for you in previous jobs, but we feel that the chip on your side can not easily be mended. I understand your last dinner party overlooked this aspect, but unfortunately this is a more formal setting.
In addition to the manners in which our table uphold, you also seem unfit in the looks department. While you were once, I'm sure, a beautiful, bright blue, you appear to have faded throughout the years. The decorative design that tattoos your whole body is a bit much for our usual look and to be quite frank, your complexion is not what should necessarily be showcased for this particular event.
For this years dinner we would really prefer all of our table to be matching. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, but we will not be needing your services at this time. If you are still looking for a place come June, perhaps a summer picnic outside would better fit your needs.
Best of wishes,
- The Silver Spoon.
All of your work, each fullness you have
wrung from the slimmest glimmer
of a notion—the comfort you found in
a head shaped like an apple like an old friend’s,
the longing you heard in the merest whisper
of your hand’s sliding across a sheet
of unlined paper, the miracle of joy you wrought
with only that hand and hers
and the space between them—
this is the body. The one you can
give to her to read that needs neither
light nor voice. The one she can touch,
folding it back at the edges as you would
curl into your desire and quiver
unsprung if she touched the other. This
is the body in which you would live
if you could, the one you
were not given, but made
Cherry Cecilia Chan
Memory is such a tricky thing, it is intangible but it burns in your head.
She tried to give each piece of memory a shape. Like the first time they met was a square, the first time they kissed was an X, the first time they said goodnight next to each other was a circle… She put them on her diary, one day at a time. After being with him, every day was memorable, every day had a shape that was unique and special. She drew a table for each month and put different symbols inside each square. She deliberately avoided writing on the paper, words were too cheap to describe the two of them. Sometimes, if a smiley face was not sufficient for the happiness she felt for that day, she would draw.
He once made each and every day of her life full of surprises and colors. She could not wait to spend time with him just to be inspired. It seemed, the closer they were, the more beautiful the table was. There was this week she tried to cram everything together, drawing the scene of what they did, what they ate, how they talked to each other…a series of affectionate events.
He set off to the end of the world and they were forever apart. He left, without saying the reason. For a long time, she did not how to react. People told her it was only a relationship, and relationships nowadays were casual, as long as the lovers both had enjoyed the time, it was more than enough. Some even added that modern people had no reason to stay together, well, she should consider herself lucky that somebody was kind to stay for a little while but being single should the ultimate goal of life; we all came to this world alone anyway.
There were times that she was so afraid to flip that journal -- The Grimoire of symbols and drawings. The unique language that only she could understand flooded on the pages. The reminder of what had happened and how happy she was and the most unbearable sensation was the comparison of conjugated ecstasy and complete solitude. Day by day, she traced the shape of the symbols with her fingers trying to figure out the feelings behind when she put the history down.
Every curve whipped her hard, every straight line gave her pain, every color sank her heart. She sealed that book with heavy rolls of tapes, covering every inch of it with sticky papers, until it was mummified and ready for the judgment before Sokar. She secretly wished that its bad deeds were evil enough to be swallowed by the guard of the Netherworld but how could genuine fondness be heavier than a feather?
The worst part was, these ancient runes had become a part of her permanently the moment she created them, not in their solid written form on fancy papers, but in a movie that quietly played in her head, played and rewind whenever she had time to sit and think.
These memories in shapes are probably the most damaging kind.
Some Bad Dreams
Oh, there is plenty
I could tell you, heartfelt rumors
We all worry stories in our hearts, tales unfit for general circulation. I mean narratives of shame and terror, for the most part.
waking in the night
to cold sweats, suffocating howls
It’s wonderful how most of us dress up our inner turbulence, put on a silk hat and walk around looking perfectly calm.
wake up searching for a weapon
night dissolves to someday
green shaded shapes of the darkness cool
to reality and pain
they’re the invisible
loci of tiny points connected
in all directions
What’s in-between wakefulness and sleeping we cross through.
but it’s only in our heads
same pajamas in both places
what’s more usual
wake up not remembering at all
Waking in the dark it’s harder to tell, but wake up and the room’s full of sunlight....
even bad dreams
and a deeply sunken guilt, are fast
forgotten, sensed only in the distance
What a Worker Knows
After thirty years on the assembly line,
never missing a day at work,
numb fingers and swollen hands
keep twitching in his sleep,
and the fumes and vapors
of thermoplastics leave his nose
running like a river streaming
out to the open sea.
Without speaking a word of English,
he trudged up toward the North Star
from Guatemala searching for a place
After cranking out zillions of widgets
and thingamabobs in a factory,
he was suddenly let go.
The company went under
and his promised pension disappeared.
The sounds of marimba ring in his ears,
singing De Mi Corazon,
but how do you dance when the floor
is pulled out from under you?
What a worker knows
is only the BIG GUYS win
in the land of the free and the brave.
He stares at a plate of spam and eggs,
his nightly fare in the days ahead.
Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Atlanta Review, RATTLE, River Styx, Southern Humanities Review and many other journals. He currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia.
Rebecca Lee has been writing since she could pick up a pen. She currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Lucas Jacob’s workhas appeared in various journals, including Southwest Review, Barrow Street, and Evansville Review, and is currently forthcoming in several others. He teaches writing to high school students in Fort Worth, Texas, where also runs readings and workshop events for young writers.
Cherry Cecilia Chan was born and raised in Hong Kong. After studying in France and Italy, she returned home and locked herself up, writing day and night. This is her first time submission.
Charles Tarlton retired from teaching in 2006 and turned to writing poetry and short form prose. He’s published a number of poems in such e-magazines as Shampoo, Review Americana, Tipton, Barnwood, Haibun Today, Ink, Sweat, and Tears, Atlas Poetica, Lynx, Blue and Yellow Dog, Shot Glass, Six Minute Magazine, Cricket Online Review, Skylark; an e-chapbook in the 2River series, entitled, “La Vida de Piedra y de Palabra,” an extended historical poem, “Five Episodes in the Navajo Degradation,” in Lacuna, and “The Turn of Art,” a poetical dramatic scene, in Fiction International. More recently, he has published several short-short stories in Fifty-Word Stories, Out of the Gutter, Postcard Shorts, American Atheneum, Word Shack, Thick Jam, Free Flash Fiction, Ink, Sweat, and Tears, Spinoza Blue, Bewildering Stories, Short Story ME, Haunted Waters Press, apocrypha and abstractions, Mad Swirl, Linden Avenue, Randomly Accessed Poetics, and Elbow Pads. I have published several prose pieces — theory and criticism— in the Tanka Prose journals, Haibun Today and Altas Poetica. Muse-Pie Press nominated several poems from Shot Glass for the Pushcart Prize.
Milton P. Ehrlich is an 80 year old psychologist who has published numerous poems in periodicals such as the "Wisconsin Review," "Toronto Quarterly Review," "Antigonish Review," "Shofar Literary Journal," "Dream Fantasy International," "Pegasus," "Blue Collar Review," "Chiron Review," "Parnassus Literary Journal," "Xanadu," "Mobius," "Christian Science Montor," and the "New York Times."