Volume 4, Number 1

Excerpts

A PIGEON SEEKING YOUR PROTECTION

by Marlys West

Seriously, j’adore the French; their early automaton
built in 1738 by Jacques de Vaucanson, a duck able
to eat and digest grain, flap wings, excrete.  Jacques,
Jacques, I, too, have wished for company.  When
you wake up and the doves coo, you have yourself
to thank.  Her hair is three distinct colors and held
in place by wax.  She is asking her friend a question
about fashion; both too skinny, wearing all black.
These girls, L’Americains.  I love them, too.  We
are a little bit common,  it’s true; skinny and pale;
Long Island Ducks, Rock Doves.  Big triangular
head of the Belted Kingfisher vs. the fat ass of a
California Quail. Urban but really more suburban,
I don’t speak Pennsylvannia Dutch.  A rural people,
the Amish skill in farming is exemplary.  The rest
of us?  What the fuck?  Good at shopping?  Good
at yapping on the phone?  Good at people-watching
in the coffee shop and never going home?  If only
I could sew or cook.  If only I did something worth-
while.  At least birds do not submit; they fly off like
pretty, young girls who inherit money but haven’t
married yet.  They look at us and scoff.  You who
budget for your second cars.  The truth is cocaine
is fun.  Everyone knows it.  Press your hair between
the hot, metal plates of a flat iron.  I mean before
you go out.  I mean to look good.  Why feed birds?
Buy seed?  Because look!  It eats!  From my hand!
Now they will dig up Houdini; a dark day, my friends.
Was he not a bird?  Nimble and light?  El milk dove?
Crows fall from the sky looking like the working
end of small, black brooms.  Each penny its pocket,
they say.  Each minute its clock.  I’ve seen desperate
men drinking eau de cologne, aftershave.  Take them
under your wing, the criminals, fools.  Once in a hotel
they followed a trail of red petals to the tub and there
she was, resplendent in grayish feather, head bobbing
up and back, white breast bared and love call crackling
though the damp.  He sings it now; kack-kack-kack-kack.

LEMONS

by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

My mother believed in the transformative
power of lemons. In the produce section
of the Food Giant, she rolled them between
her fingers like rude jewels, ostentatious
with vitamins. Lemons cleaned. They shined.
They fought infections. How lemons came
to the New World, after they put down
pogroms: Warrior lemons swam across
the Atlantic, transplanted themselves
in favorable conditions. They were come-uppance
for Jew-haters and other bums.
No human ever truly possesses a lemon.
One merely borrows its force on occasion.
They are not beheld so much as balanced
between the palms, like a raft of light hurled down
by authorities of biblical proportions.
In our yard, our mother planted lemon trees
as if they were totems,  calendars, lost coats of arms.
Lemons would  preserve and protect us. In her dreams
she counted lemons as though they were gold
bars harvested from sacred mines in the Andes.
When the trees did not flower, we were told
lemons had no adolescence. They emerged
fully-formed, swollen and bracing like lips
preparing insults. Our great bombs of citrus
would blind pests, neuter enemies, dispatch
the neighbors with their armies of Mexican
workers to douse their cars, excavate their pools,
mind their gardens. When our trees remained bare
through summer our mother grafted their branches
with stuffed animals, tigers and lions.
We danced around our feckless lemon trees
as if they were May poles, took black and white
snapshots with an Instamatic. Our crop would never
suffer frost, turn mildewed, go rancid. For our mother
the stuffed animals were harvest enough,
like the rats living in neighbors’ palm trees,
disguising themselves as coconuts.



$6-

Shipping included in all prices.


Contributors

Amy Gerstler
Aram Saroyan
B.T. Shaw
Bob Mezey
C. Davidson
Cal Freeman
Caley O’Dwyer
Carol Muske-Dukes
Charles Harper Webb
Christopher Buckley
Colette LaBouff Atkinson
Dan Pinkerton
David Harris-Gershon
David St. John
Deborah Meadows
Dina Hardy
Elizabeth Horner
Gail Wronsky
Jane Rosenberg LaForge
Julia Y
Julie Gamberg
Larry Colker
Leslie Harrison
Lorene Delany-Ullman
Marlys West
Martha Ronk
Mary Armstrong
Paul Kavanagh
Paul Vangelisiti
Ralph Angel
Ron Koertge
Sarah Maclay
Stephen Yenser
Suzanne Lummis
Tony Barnstone
Wanda Coleman
William Archila