Cul-de-sac

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Forty-Two

 

I was unemployed for three months. I came back to work at the oil refinery for one day and told them I was going on vacation for ten days starting Friday, and they said, “Holy shit.”

But this is also the story of three roommates. Stacey. Lindsey. And Rae.

 

Friday morning, 6 a.m., I got on an airplane with Rae. We flew out of Newark, bound for Los Angeles. As we boarded, one of the flight attendants let Rae go, but stopped me at the door, and served all of first class its orange juice and coffee. I didn’t care, I thought it was pretty funny. But the people behind me began to murmur. And then yell. And then scream. The flight attendant with the coffee went back into the kitchen and got more. She came back and filled more cups. A riot was about to break out. But then we were all let go, and we filled up the rest of coach. Rae said, “What the hell happened to you?”

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Chris L. Terry. His new novel, Black Card, is available from Catapult Press.

This is Terry’s second time on the podcast. He first appeared in Episode 217 on October 16, 2013.

Terry was born in 1979 to an African American father and an Irish American mother. He has an BA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and a creative writing MFA from Columbia College Chicago. His debut novel, Zero Fade, was named a Best Book of the Year by Slate and Kirkus Reviews. He lives in Los Angeles with his family.

Get the free Otherppl app.

Support the show at Patreon or via PayPal.

Back in the late Sixties, in fact in what came to be known, ironically in restrospect, as the Summer of Love, when I was living in Greenwich Village, I fell in with a guy who called himself a revolutionary. Nicknamed—everyone had a moniker one back then— “Boots,” Pepe was Mexican, and with his stringy scrawny beard resembled Ho Chi Minh. He was short and wiry, not much taller than I was, and magically nimble on his feet—he’d learned foot-fighting when living in California, and tried in vain to pass it on to me, something he’d make me practice on Avenue A at three in the morning. With him it looked like dancing; with me it looked like hell.


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

Good Luck: Episode Forty-One

 

Attn: All living memories currently living in the house of memory, the Good Luck novel is now open for submissions.

We are seeking short fiction to be published within the novel. Word limit: 8000 words.

One winner will be selected, receiving a prize of $10,000 plus publication within this novel (attributed). Good Luck is expected to win top prizes, possibly National Book Award, maybe Pulitzer, could win the Nobel, hard to say right now.

We are looking for writing that will make our skeletons jump out of our bodies and scream Death in the face till Death jumps out of its skeleton’s skeleton or whatever. Send stories about clouds that want to be rivers. Birds that swim deep. True love that is wrong. Fantasy day jobs, reality moonlight occupations. Memories of memories. Music that can knock over a brick wall. Rainbows that disintegrate dreams. Dust and gold nuggets and no animal fear. Sentences that will make our souls explode, bridges combust in flames or flowers, spaceships say fuck it and fly into a black sun. Stories full of uncomfortable joy, monkeypaw wishes, jackasses. Please, no semicolons, metaphors, or exclamation points!

This is a great opportunity to launch your own writing career, on the coattails of Bud Smith.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Shane Jones. His latest novel, Vincent and Alice and Alice, is available from Tyrant Books. It is the official August pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

This is Shane’s second time on the program. He first appeared in Episode 301 on August 6, 2014.

Jones’ other books include the novels Light Boxes, Daniel Fights a Hurricane, and Crystal Eaters.

He lives in Albany, New York.

Get the free Otherppl app.

Support the show at Patreonor via PayPal.

 

Your newest collection is titled something sweet & filled with blood, that’s a little creepy. How did you select this as the title?

It’s a line from the last poem in the book, the star painter & a sleeping nude. The poem is about watching someone sleeping just after glorious sex. There’s something haunting about the wee-hours before sunrise…especially when you’re sleeping in someone else’s bed…

Thomas Fucaloro, cofounding editor of great weather for MEDIA, suggested it. The editors and I thought it encapsulated the collection nicely. There are some very saccharine moments in the book: first kisses, something asking someone to dance, a ballerina en pointe, and the last moonlight before sunrise. On the other hand, there are also some terrifying moments that make your heart race, or cause the adrenaline to start pumping…like when “red hives mount/under an amorphous head” in the lollipop presents as a young girl.

she radiates
billowing acumen
in the velvet mouth
of monochrome paint

she holds her shoulder
up to an albino
thought

‘here I have no purple,
no red rhythm,
only this slow,
grey,
shrill, thinking
thing within’

 

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.

 

 

Available from OR Books

Sign up now to receive your copy! (Sign-up deadline for this title: August 15, 2019.)

Subscription Options

 

“A searing critique of U.S. imperialism that couldn’t be more perfectly timed in its release.” ―Dahr Jamail, author of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption

At 21, Belén left the U.S. and didn’t look back. Alone, far off the beaten path in places like Syria and Tajikistan, she confronts violence, lechery, and places where it’s hard to find a good glass of wine, and reflects on what it means to be an American in a largely American-made mess of a world.

After growing up in Washington, D.C. and Texas, and then attending Columbia University in New York, Belén Fernández ended up in a state of self-imposed exile from the United States. From trekking―through Europe, the Middle East, Morocco, and Latin America―to packing avocados in southern Spain, to marrying a Palestinian-Lebanese man, to witnessing the violent aftermath of the 2009 coup in Honduras, the international travel allowed her by an American passport has, ironically, given her a direct view of the devastating consequences of U.S. machinations worldwide. For some years Fernández survived thanks to the generosity of strangers who picked her up hitchhiking, fed her, and offered accommodations; then she discovered people would pay her for her powerful, unfiltered journalism, enabling―as of the present moment―continued survival.

In just a few short years of publishing her observations on world politics and writing from places as varied as Lebanon, Italy, Uzbekistan, Syria, Mexico, Turkey, Honduras, and Iran, Belén Fernández has earned a place alongside Martha Gellhorn and Susan Sontag as one of the most trenchant observers of American actions abroad.

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.