Below is an excerpt from the new book by John Colasacco, THE WAGNERS, out now from Trnsfr Books. Get yourself a copy here.
 


 

I don’t know why I am shaking this gift and listening to something small bump against the insides of the box. I can tell by the way everyone is looking at me that I will never understand the properties of what it is. Whatever is in there may in fact be getting smaller, and if I had to guess right now, I would say that inside the box is a single crystal of sugar, even though a moment ago it felt and sounded heavier than that. Now I am almost ready to open it up and I am worried that if it is sugar I will be expected to eat it right away in front of everyone. And if that’s the case, I wonder if, somehow, it’s been poisoned.

 

I am entering through the same door I have used every time I have come into a house. It doesn’t matter which house; it’s always the same door.
Once I am inside my body feels light and even though it is late I pace around the rooms looking for something to do.
I clear my throat, “Mhm.”
I switch the light on and off.
I wait until the last possible minute to find my bedroom.
When I get there I find the door to my room ajar and see that someone other than me is in there.
I get undressed, and when I slip into bed, I am not even sad.
I feel connected by invisible threads to the outside world.


I Have a Terrible Feeling
is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

 

Who or What inspired you to become a writer?

Writing was something that just came naturally to me at an early age. I remember writing poetry as early as the 4th grade. I remember telling my 7th grade English teacher that I wanted to be an Author. I continued writing throughout high school. Then in college, I took my first creative writing course.

Also, I think back on the literary influences that made their way into my childhood and I’m grateful to have had Hispanic females to read.
In school I was introduced to Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. I also found myself at a book reading of Michele Serros and actually recently found my signed copy of Chicana Falsa and Other Stories of Death. I must’ve been around 11 years old when I purchased it.

I am a wild woman
Greñuda woman
Shut your lips type of woman
Dance on table tops kind of woman
I am made from my grandmother’s stubborn rib
And my great grandmother’s had-too-much-to-drink liver
Made from the dirt on the faces of children at play
And from the sweat of my father
Working underneath a summer sun

Madcap by Jessie Janeshek

 

Often skating on the edge of stream of consciousness, Janeshek’s Madcap is alternately sexual and sulfurous, manic and slyly denunciatory. Recurring images of Hollywood’s Golden Age beauties, modern consumer culture, and desecrated nature yield a complex, compact poetry destined to appeal to the wise, the lonely, and the brave.

 

 

Memory House

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Forty

 

I got a call to come back to work. An outage at the oil refinery. Four weeks, maybe five weeks. I got my welding stuff together. I couldn’t find my work boots and then I remembered they were in the trunk of my car, buried under the beach chairs. 

This call was good. I was out of money. 

I’d been unemployed for three months. I scraped by doing any odd job I could beg. I worked one weekend razing a small bungalow to the ground, clumsily operating a rented bulldozer. And I helped my friend set off some dynamite near his farm, to collapse the entrance to a cavern he worried children would wander into. I recorded some voiceovers for a podcast on sleep in a studio on 9th Avenue. I sold all my old Levis to a woman in Belarus.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Juliet Escoria. Her debut novel, Juliet the Maniac, is available from Melville House. It was the official May pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

This is Juliet’s second time on the program. She first appeared in Episode 273 on April 30, 2014.

She also wrote the short story collection Black Cloud, which was originally published in 2014 by Civil Coping Mechanisms. In 2015, Emily Books published the ebook, Maro Verlag published a German translation, and Los Libros de la Mujer Rota published a Spanish translation. Witch Hunt, a collection of poems, was published by Lazy Fascist Press in 2016.

Escoria was born in Australia, raised in San Diego, and currently lives in West Virginia.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

QQ && AA

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Thirty-Nine

 

Death writes in, “Who is God?”

 

The Editor writes in, “Did that say Death? Death is in this book now? I don’t know about this, man. I’d cut Death if I were you.”  

 

Yeah, I’m not happy about it either. I guess, mentioning The Seventh Seal is what did that. Not sure how to fix it.

 

Jackson Frons writes in from Los Angeles, California, “What’s the world’s biggest dog?” 

 

Nah dude. I’m not letting the world’s biggest dog in this novel, we’re already dealing with Death, his scythe, his hourglass. Look it up yourself.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Sarah Rose Etter. Her debut novel, The Book of X, is available from Two Dollar Radio.

 

She is also the author of the chapbook Tongue Party, selected by Deb Olin Unferth as the winner of the Caketrain Press award.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cut, Electric Literature, Guernica, VICE, New York Tyrant, Juked, Night Block, The Black Warrior Review, Salt Hill Journal, The Collagist, and more.

She is the co-founder of the TireFire Reading Series, and a contributing editor at The Fanzine. She has also served as an arts columnist at Philadelphia Weekly.

Get the free Otherppl app.

Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

 

After a couple of incidents I got a reputation as someone who couldn’t look after kids properly. Bad things tended to happen. I had no explanation for it. 

I could have made more from the menial work the agencies offered, but that wasn’t the point. I liked to take the bus over to the other side of the lake, the parliament side, where my mother worked when she wasn’t sick. She was a night cleaner at the National Library and a day cleaner in people’s homes. I told people she worked in personnel. 

Here, the houses were nicer and the children were easier to handle. Their parents were embassy staff, museum board chairs, firm partners, acting-directors. During the summer, magistrates had heart attacks on the jogging paths. Now it was winter and the gardens were humble with frost. 

Finishing their homework was simple and graceless. I was allowed to declare which rules were unimportant. I told them whatever facts came to me, and they would listen,as long as I called them whatever nicknames they wanted. 

‘Drinking sea water is disgusting and will drive you insane,’ I told Julie. 

‘Ok,’ said Julie. 

Their parents left me money in glass jars along with invitations to eat whatever I found.These people would let anybody into their home. 

Depending on their spirit, I would have to keep them from hurling themselves down a flight of stairs or visiting their eyeball with the burning plane of a hair-straightener. There were three of them and all came to harm. 

Q & A

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Thirty-Eight

 

A living memory asks, “What is time?”

 

Webster’s Dictionary says it is, “A nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future.”

 

But they are wrong.

 

Time is when the lightbulb burns out and you’re down in somebody’s basement doing a job, no clue where the stairs are, and in that darkness I remember another darkness, missing you, before you died, when you were off gathering sticks to make our campfire, while the moon rose, and I was just a child, sitting cross legged on the dirt, and you came back and said, “Don’t cry, it’s okay, Buddy.” And soon after the trees danced with light and everything was glowing, sparks popping, you saying there’s nothing in the dark, which is true, after a time, my eyes have always adjusted to it, and I slowly make my way out, find the stairs, open the door back to the bright present.

 

Anonymous from Unknown asks, “What happens when we die?”

 

Great question. I am trying to find out myself. So far, jury seems out. But I’m hoping within the next few days to get an answer. Check back in the novel later. Thanks.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with J. Ryan Stradal. His new novel, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, is available from Viking / Pamela Dorman Books.

 

This is Stradal’s second time on the podcast. He first appeared in Episode 376 on August 19, 2015.

His first novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, reached the New York Times Hardcover Best Seller list at #19 on its third week of release. His shorter writing has appeared in Hobart, The Rumpus, The Wall Street Journal, Granta, The Guardian, Electric Literature, The Nervous Breakdown, and more.

He lives in Los Angeles.

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Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

 

It was the early morning in Kabukicho. The sun was only just up and everything was weird and tinted blue. The breeze pushed a piss smell from the gutters. There were cigarette butts in puddles along the curb. I was alone in front of a Family Mart. I didn’t know why I was alone. The morning light continued to open the corners.

A group of prostitutes talked and smoked near some drink machines. They wore long, padded puffer coats, mom jeans and white running shoes. They always dressed like that. Like Midwestern moms from the early nineties. I never figured out why, but it was consistent. We thought they were Chinese, but who’s to say.

Two of the girls looked at me and laughed.

I tried to smile back, but my smile was a failure.

What’s so funny, I thought.