..:: CONTENTS ::..

..:: POETRY ::..
Adam Fieled
  Sarah Israel
Johannes Finke
  Documents etc. do not balance out
  Hardcore angel
  Recording, Melancholy
Dan Fisher
  from Fugue Report
Jenny Gillespie
  Personal Forest
Thomas Hibbard
Claudia Keelan
  Little Elegies (Vietnam) 
  Little Elegies (cummingsworth)
  Little Elegies (Self and Other)
David Krump
  The Nine Day Ricochet
  Backsling in the Hickories
Tom Leonard
  suite On the Page
Christopher Mulrooney
  Continental System
Rochelle Ratner
  Jealous Lover Program Creator Is Indicted
  California Inmate Seeks Release of Stuffed Dog
  Piggy Banks
Dennis Somera
  Earl Lee s. alvation jane=Paterson's curse s.v. Paterson;
  sweet ana lack to es
Stephanie Young

..:: PROSE ::..
Douglas Cole
Laura Davis
Mandy Kalish
  On the Fourth Pull
William Moor
  Four Robot Recognitions

..:: REVIEWS ::..
Jeremy James Thompson
  Joan Retallack, Memnoir
Sarah Trott
  Stephanie Young, Telling the Future Off
Sara Wintz
  Various, lunapark 0,10

..:: ETC ::..
  Contributor's Notes

..:: ARCHIVES ::..
  Volume I, Issue I
  Volume I, Issue II
  Volume II, Issue I


Douglas Cole


I drove down to the Blew Eagle cafe, knowing it was risky, wanting it to be. Traffic howled on the bridge overhead. There were freighter horns and train whistles, boxcars in abandoned yards, and transient camps tucked up under the viaducts all around. Rain was falling lightly, just a faint drift, cool, soft gray. I parked in the dirt lot among the pick-up trucks and Peterbilts, got out and walked over to the front of the cafe and pushed through the doors with their port-hole windows.
          Inside, nothing had changed. Nets hung along the walls and ceiling with green glass Chinese fishing floats. Deep, dark grotto booths were along one wall with red glass candle holders fluttering on the tables. The long mahogany bar glowed amber under recessed lights, and behind it gleamed a row of bottles and the evermirror casting back its ancient reflections of face upon face. And it seemed literally as though here no time had passed. Jimmy was still bartending, the jukebox was still a sad muted and muffled speaker background singer of time machine music, Patty Page, Merle Haggard, blues and soulful drinker's tunes I'd heard many times as though they were drifting down a long padded tunnel from the mouths of the ghost singers themselves. The eternal crucifixion on bar stools.
          I took my place. It happened to be open, as though an invisible hand had saved it for me all these years. But at first nobody noticed me, as though I wasn't even there. I looked around for familiar faces. Saw one. Eddie Ferris. Little con-man, thief. Nobody trusted him, but you could count on him to be dishonest, a strangely comforting thought. Always talking fast about some deal a guy's got who owns a florist shop as a front for a numbers drop and everything concluded with "gimme a little cash," which everybody knew was just charity to poor Eddie. That's what people started calling him. Poor Eddie. He'd sell you out for a dime. And he always smelled, always needed a shave. I once found him sleeping in my car. He was always just this side of being homeless. Sometimes he probably was, drifting in and out of lives, but as far as I knew, for all his petty crimes, he had somehow kept himself out of prison.
          I saw Craig. He was a gun-seller. I had known him since grade school. I went to his twelfth birthday party. We were in the same class at school, and one time when we went on a field trip to the museum of History and Industry, he ran straight to a display case they had full of old rifles and Lugers and colts, shouting, "Outta my way - guns!" He loved guns, always had them on him, could get you any kind you wanted. He was a gun historian, knowing everything about designs and designers, the uses, who had used them, who was killed by them, which were preferred in war and which were preferred by gangsters. Craig the gunman. Yet when I saw him, he was still a big kid who liked to play with guns. He never told me, but I heard from others that he had killed a man.
          Some other people I did not know were in the back playing pool. Every once in a while I heard the crack of a shot. And when at last Jimmy caught sight of me with his peripheral sensor, sliding down, his face lit into a devil's grin and he said, "Tom, you wily ghost, where the hell did you come from? What'd you do, break out? Hey! Slap 'er here," and he threw out his hand and we shook. Jimmy was a broad-chested, thick-armed man in his forties, maybe early fifties, with hair still pitch black. He was handsome with eagle features and sharp, watchful eyes.
          "I'm a free man," I said. "And clear."
          "Well just look at you. Hey, I think I saw Thane-"
          "Ah let it wait," I said. "I'll see those guys soon enough. Let me sit up here a moment and soak it in."
          "Sure. Of course. I gotcha. Say, what happened to your hand?"
          "Ah. A little on the job injury."
          "Well I've got the antidotes, here. Hey, what can I get you? Hey!" He snapped his fingers. "I know, I know." He spun around and swept up a bottle and poured me a shot of whiskey and then a tall pint of beer. "And you're not paying for anything, either, you hear me?"
          "Ah, thanks buddy."
          "Really," he said, his hands playing across the bar like it was a piano, flicking match books into ash trays, flipping stir sticks into his teeth, "You look great. You look the same, man. Time hasn't touched you."
          "Naw, man. It's good to see you. Man! I missed you. You're the only person I could ever really talk to." He sneered. "Most of these guys are just a bunch of fuckin' bozos. You're real. Man, and when I found out you were going in. Fuck, man. I was really depressed."
          He was conning me, so called, and I knew it and he knew I knew, which was always the basis of our friendship, if you could call it that, but I didn't care and we got along fine. I took a drink of the whiskey, sipped the beer. "All right," I said. "This is the first real drink I've had..." I didn't want to count. "And you. You look hyper as ever."
          He did an exaggerated Judo move with is arms. "I'm the lord of Hades, man. What can I say? I've got to keep them entertained."
          "You still rock climbing?"
          "Oh yeah. When I can."
          I shook my head. "I still think that's amazing. Those pitch climbs you used to tell me about."
          "Yeah. I don't do those that much any more. I had a little...incident." He held up his hand to brake. "Nothing traumatic. I was leading a little group, you know, the wise elder, and there's this pretty little girl just wide eyes with fear and, well, maybe a little lust? and I'm saying, 'why, here now, you need to use a fist jam, you know, where you just jam your whole fist back into the crack' as I'm attempting this problem, trying to insert this cam into a crack, and the next thing I know, whoof, I'm dangling three feet below them."
          "Naw. It was no big deal. Embarrassing, though. And I still climb. I love it! Rock is pure, you know, and when you get up into it, it's pure wind, too. Pure. Real. You've got a hold of something real, you know, like your life! It's flying. The closest thing to real freedom." He looked at me askance as though he might have said something that would bother me. I didn't mind. Then he grinned and said in mock Irish, "I kicked me heals in heaven."
          That's when Thane showed up, sliding up to my side, leering, his eyes two deep red ember jewels glittering. "Tom," he said, smiling and moving from side to side. He shook his head to clear his vision. "Hey. Is it really you? An apparition? Are you real? How are you?"
          "I'm good," I said.
          "I bet you are, my man."
          "Now, Thane Volpone, don't you start messing with him," said Jimmy.
          I laughed. Thane was probably the most dangerous person there, but he was careful, intelligent. He was playing it dumb, like he was some buffoon, but he was deep down clear minded and calculating all the time.
          "And you're out," he said like a baseball umpire.
          "I'm out."
          "Well, welcome back to Tophet, my thanage. Hey." He looked around like he was searching for spies then turned back drunkenly. He whispered like he was telling me a secret. "You're out. You're out. Out? You looking for work? A come back in?"
          "Nope. Got work."
          "Really?" He sat down next to me, nodding to Jimmy who evaporated from our proximity.
          "Not that kind of work," I said.
          He batted his eyes in a mawkish way and said in a funny falsetto voice, "What kinda work you doin'?"
          I drank, smiled, said, "Workin' work. Blue color stuff."
          "Workin down there, huh?" He narrowed his gaze.
          "Well, it's probably not so bad, huh?" Suddenly, he didn't seem drunk at all. "What, you probably got those family men there, high school drop-outs doin' forty to life, right? No, I'm just kidding with you. I've done labor jobs before." He was falsely sympathetic. "Sure. It's good for the soul, and all that. You know. Say, though. If you start getting bored, man, well-"
          "I bet you've got a million plans."
          He grinned. "Well, you know I'm always thinking."
          Then Chuckie appeared and he was lit up, swaying with a grin he couldn't quit. He was talking but barely moving his mouth, just perpetually stone faced, saying, "Man oh man oh man it's good to see you." Crazy Chuckie, and he reached out and gave me a light, insect embrace and just sort of drifted back and looked at me and said, "Man oh man oh man, you look good, you do, welcome home," and he started to reach out to me again, but Thane slid off of his stool and guided Chuckie into it and stood there with one arm around Chuckie's shoulder holding him up.
          "All your friends are here," said Thane as he swept his arm back to display the fat pool players with their John Deere hats, the old men with toothless grins and red rheumy eyes, the crones hunched down in their booths. And he had the most ironic smile, I could not help but laugh.
          "Yes they are."
          "Hey man, I gotta go," said Thane suddenly. "But I'm glad I caught you 'cause I'm having a little party tomorrow night and I want you to come. I think there's someone there you'll want to meet."
          "Intrigued," I said. "Where?"
          "Here," he said, and he took out a business card and flipped it over and wrote the address.
          "Business card?" I said.
          He smiled and handed it to me. I read the address, turned the card over and read the print:

Thane Volpone

          I laughed. "This is good," I said.
          "See you tomorrow, buddy. Good to have you back among the dead." He glanced around at the patrons once more, turned, and disappeared through the double doors.
          "Man oh man oh man," said Chuckie, and I turned around and he gripped me by the shoulder with his claw fingers and said, "Man, I swear that guy is scary."
          "Thane?" I pulled back and drew his hand away. "Thane's all right. I've known him since high school. He just likes to play the dark persona."
          "No. You know, people say, ah Chuckie, he's crazy, he's just a drunk crazy, say crazy stuff like oh I see radio waves man see 'em in the air swirlin' and spinnin' and rollin' and sendin' little streamers down to antennas on cars and houses and heads a whole sea of sound, but you believe me because what I tell you is true, that guy is evil."


          I was a little drunk by the time I got out of there trying to unlock my car door and I got in and shut the door and started the engine and pulled back and stopped and looked and then pulled back and rolled into the street and shifted up and lurched forward and headed through the dark under the gray stanchions and walls and street lights floating overhead across the windshield and the river on my right glittering and reflecting all the industry lights and the hills in perfect blurred forms and even my car there yes and I could even see myself in the river whoa stay on the road buddy yeah and I'm that place wow uphill and I'm that guy lurching up the hill and I'm those elm trees arching over and tunneling and coming out now we're getting some height and I see the city rise with me there across the river a whole constellation of lights rising in spires like flames and spotlights swirling geometric webs over some car lot or electronics store or theater and I think Chuckie's not so crazy maybe hell who knows maybe they are sound waves who knows or cares where the spotlight falls for now driving into the dark dark dark they all go into the dark I'm singing whooee think I'll have me a cigarette punch the lighter got me a cigarette and I'm singing bad bad bad whiskey made me lose my happy home pop and I got a golden ember light my cigarette in the night and I got a smoke ahhh wind comin in I'll just let my arm hang out and drift yeah I like that bad bad bad whiskey on the radio shmooth music and here we go along the dark cemetery darker than the darker sea and the reservoir tower like some alien ship going to take me away to the fifties and the homes homes lookit the homes burning with the people inside like little gnomes yeah I'm peeking through your curtains see if you see me I'm that home open your curtains wide see what you can see in the night your reflection in the night and me there that's me too and there's my little hovel yeah lookiteer I'll just oooh glide right in here yeah and off with the engine off with their heads and I'll just climb on outa oh back in I fall and then I try that again try my luck again pull myself up and outa here slam and across the street and step by step up the stairs need paintin but that's okay got that Etruscan look of the South of Italy and there's my door and that's my number here I come lock lock lock says open and my hand fumbling damn bandage looking like filth and I rip it off and throw it down into the street and turn and I open in and close the door and take off the jacket and go to the kitchen and turn on the water and drink from the faucet go to the bathroom and go to the bathroom then go to the couch and lie down room room room going round round round like a helicopter blade like a whirlpool like a vortex taking me down down down the dark ladder


//   Advance   //