Blue House

 

Once we lived together in a little blue house

Then we moved together into a big blue house

And you said

Look, baby, I built this for you

And I said

Look, baby, I built this for you

I pointed to my chest

I said

If you ever get tired of living in a blue house

You can live in here

And so you did

Elegy

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Three

My friend died laughing on the telephone. He laughed so hard his heart stopped.

It doesn’t sound real. It sounds like something a person puts in a short story and it bothers the reader because it’s so unbelievable. But this was real life. My friend died laughing on the telephone.

It was late in the evening. He was clicking around the internet. A lot of his friends lived in his computer. He was always saying hello.

A direct message came in to his Facebook from a person saying they were the dean of Harvard. Harvard needed money. Help Harvard. Go over to the Western Union right away and wire money to help save Harvard.

And every other word was misspelled. And the person pretending to be the dean of Harvard had no grasp of grammar. So my friend started playing around with the scammer and the messages from the scammer got threatening, and god, could anything be funnier?

He thinks I’m about to give him a blowjob but I’m just bending down to tie my shoe. “Can we go for a walk in the cemetery?” But he won’t go anywhere with me unless I promise we can stop at a bakery or pizza place first. On the internet I read ‘when you consume a carbohydrate that has been cooked it has the same effect on your body as white sugar’ and my heart rate increases a little and I start sweating. I’m waiting for him to finish a computer game so we can go out. He doesn’t need to play the computer game right now. My symptoms of depersonalization disorder are very strong right now. “My symptoms of depersonalization disorder are really strong right now,” I say to him.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Christopher Zeischegg. A former adult film performer under the name Danny Wylde, his new memoir, Body to Job, is available from Rare Bird Books.

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The Otherppl with Brad Listi podcast is pleased to announce that it is entering a partnership with Lit Hub.  The podcast and its (free!) archive of more than 500 author interviews will be featured in Lit Hub’s new podcast section, social media channels, and email newsletters.

Otherppl listeners should note that nothing changes in terms of the show’s schedule (a new episode every Wednesday), official website, Twitter feed, app, et al.  It all remains the same.  This is simply an opportunity for the podcast to join forces with Lit Hub and reach a new audience.

Two Poems

By Shy Watson

Poetry

 

CONDOMS APPLES TOMATO TOMATO

inconclusive like

im dreaming again

kitsch art on the walls

of an imagined, shored-up room

in manzanita

on adderall

under a ceiling

why bother

at weezer

karaoke

you are noticing things

like when paradise kneels

to her knees

the screensaver reminds me

of hawaii

which in turn now

reminds me

of you

Turkey Baby

By Bud Smith

Essay

 

Good Luck: Episode Two

I’m a turkey baby. That’s what mom says. I’m her turkey baby. I was her turkey baby and I am still her turkey baby.

It was snowing. We stopped welding on the million pound bomb. I left work. The turnpike was all jammed up. I battled my way to the spur, and past the tollbooth, onto Christopher Columbus Blvd.

Now I was almost home, but dead stopped in snowy gridlock traffic and saw no end in sight, so I parked on the side of the road and walked half a mile to a bar with a fireplace raging and the lights otherwise off.

I had a happy hour whiskey. And then another. The fire felt really good. The car was illegally parked. Every minute was illegal. Every sip was illegal. I texted a friend in Ireland, he messaged that my night sounded like a John Cheever story. I knew one John Cheever story, a drunken man stops and swims in every neighborhood pool on his way home. I agreed, Yes, I was swimming home too.

Two Stories

By Willis Plummer

Fiction


Bus Ride

We were driving on the bus. I had stolen a curtain rod from Target and was feeling proud despite having still payed twenty some dollars for a curtain and another rod. I texted Henry. He was concerned that there were cameras at the self-checkout machines. And then my phone died. I was taking out my earbuds when I heard the gunshots. I wanted to say the unmistakable sound of etc. but there are a lot of things you could mistake for gunshots and vice-versa. It was a lot of shots. Like two clips. Pop pop pop pop pop.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Daniel Gumbiner. He is the managing editor of The Believer magazine, and his debut novel The Boatbuilder (McSweeney’s) was nominated for the National Book Award.

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Two Poems

By Connor Ong

Poetry

 

April 19, 1994

Apparently when I was born

I asked the OB-GYN

if the lighting in the room could be changed

I wanted it less direct,

preferred it to be a little more developed

and civil to all things inside the room

especially the elements unfocused

Why poetry?

In my early 20s, I started writing poetry as a way to cope with melancholy, challenge what wasn’t working out in love, work, life in general. I submitted to a mix of college literary journals and cultural magazines and received some acceptances. They gave me the drive to carry on, although some jobs and lifestyle changes got in the way of continuity. About fifteen years later, I started to write short stories and hoped to write a novel one day. Then my late mother suffered a massive stroke in 2006 and I found myself running back and forth between New York and Pennsylvania to help with caregiving. Time constraints led me to resume writing poetry and that’s where I’ve stayed. I consider my poems short short stories. I find it challenging in a positive way to tell a story in as few words as possible. Since 2013, I’ve belonged to an online poetry community called brevitas where 50+ poets share short poems (13 lines maximum) twice a month. I haven’t missed a submission since I started. Many brevitas poems appear in my latest poetry collections.

Since we mostly communicate through social media, texts and e-mails, I think the brevity of poetry makes it an optimal medium for reaching readers with a story, inspiration, some thought-provoking ideas. It doesn’t require a considerable investment in time.

I learned the art of detachment
from a destructive pest
romanticized by poets
whose origins go back millions of years.

Celestial nomads that feast on
leather, wool, silk, felt
and thrive on night
taught me to let go of longing—

Popsicle

By Bud Smith

Essay

 

Good Luck: Episode One

I stood and watched a man in a blue suit stare into the window of a shop that only sold popsicles. He stared for a long time. He kept staring and I said, “Do it, man. Get yourself a popsicle.” But he couldn’t hear me. I was all the way over here leaning against the brick wall on the other side of Bleecker Street and the wind ripped and sent a newspaper slapping into me. I laughed, kicked it away.

The man in the blue suit changed his stance and peered closer. His breath fogging the window. It was such a cold day. I was shivering. Part of my problem with shivering was that I didn’t own a coat anymore. I’d gotten too fat for my coat three years before, maybe four years before and I refused to buy another coat. That coat was supposed to last the rest of my life. That had been the deal.

Maybe I’d change my life or something.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Lydia Kiesling. She is the editor of The Millions, a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, and her debut novel The Golden State is available from MCD Books.

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America today is more polarized than it’s been at any point in my lifetime. Socially, politically, racially, economically, religiously…in many ways, this division is born of willful ignorance, the result of small minds glorying in hackneyed thoughts and ideas discredited decades, sometimes centuries, before. There is perhaps no one more guilty of this sort of reductive thinking—and of infecting others with itthan Donald Trump, or as Gabino Iglesias refers to him in his dynamic new novel, Coyote Songs, President Pendejo.

Constructed as a sort of literary mosaic, Coyote Songs takes place on either side of the US-Mexico border, the frontera in Spanish. Madness, magic, murder, sadness, loss, and love all dwell within the pages of Coyote Songs, forces struggling to reconcile the ugliness and beauty of life. In the opening chapter, a young boy witnesses a murder while on a fishing trip with his father. Later, witches and saints, goddesses and monsters, heroic criminals and villainous victims all play their parts in a story that owes as much to magical realism as noir.