Red Skies

By Bud Smith

Short Story

Good Luck: Episode Fifty

 

A day before the end, I forget. It’s warm and the sky is deep red and the clouds roll slowly by. My coworker climbs up on a flatbed truck and lies down and looks up at that red sky and those clouds rolling by. “Hey Bud, you know what my dream is? I forget.” 

 •

I don’t suppose I’m blessed. And I hear someone singing, “Red skies smilin’ at me. Nothin’ but red skies do I see. Redbirds singin’ a song. Nothin’ but red skies from now on.”

 •

I woke up hungover and put on the radio.  Someone was singing about red skies. Rae opened her eyes, said it was such a nice song. Could I play it again? I reached over and the radio was gone and so was the music. A year goes so fast.

 •

Here is a part I forgot.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Ashley Wurzbacher. A 5 Under 35 honoree, her debut story collection, Happy Like This, won the 2019 John Simmons Short Fiction Award. It is available from the University of Iowa Press.

 

Wurzbacher’s writing has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She earned her BA from Allegheny College, her MFA from Eastern Washington University, and her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston.

Originally from Titusville, Pennsylvania, she currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama and teaches creative writing at the University of Montevallo.

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

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Steph Cha. Her new novel, Your House Will Pay, is available from Ecco.

This is Steph’s second time on the program. She first appeared in Episode 319 on October 8, 2014.

Cha is also the author of the Juniper Song crime trilogy. She’s an editor and critic whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. A native of the San Fernando Valley, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two basset hounds.

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Sorry Party

By Bud Smith

Short Story

Good Luck: Episode Forty-Nine

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Jarett Kobek. His new novel, Only Americans Burn in Hell, is available from We Heard You Like Books.

 

This is Kobek’s third time on the program. He first appeared in Episode 399 on February 3, 2016, and in Episode 476 on August 2, 2017.

Kobek is an internationally bestselling Turkish-American writer who lives in California. His work has been translated into nine languages and published in twelve countries. His previous books include ATTA, I Hate the Internet, and Do Every Thing Wrong!: XXXTentacion Against the World.

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birthday poem

By Adam Soldofsky

Poem

 

with blasphemies

and great things in my head

i woke up

but you’d already gone to work 

 

anyway none of it was new 

 

why aren’t they fucking off

the ones who should be

with their insane appeals

to modesty 

 

i’m not about to leave the earth

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Madeline Stevens. Her debut novel, Devotion, is available from Ecco.

Stevens is from Boring, Oregon and is currently based in Los Angeles. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and her work has been published in a variety of literary magazines. She teaches creative writing to adults and children through Catapult and Writopia Lab.

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What’s your latest creative project?

My new book is titled, Letters to My City. It’s a mix of essays and poems about Los Angeles and beyond.

The UCLA PhD candidate in History, Peter Chesney offers this synopsis on the book: “A street poet and a tour guide, through L.A. places and L.A. letters, Mike Sonksen means it when he says he’s going to share authority with folks at the grassroots in this multicultural city. Mike delivers on his promise and more, amplifying voices I for one might never have heard without him. That and he taught me, a critic of car culture, that an ethical manner of reading space, even as you drive through it, is possible. Props to a man who does the hard work of listening to the sound of the city!”

The Riots were the week before my prom
A month & a half before my graduation
Southern California was a time bomb

Race relations warring like Vietnam
My crew more like the United Nations
The Riots were the week before my prom

So Cal needed mindfulness like Thich Nhat Hanh
Multicultural coalitions for communication
Southern California was a time bomb

Control

By Bud Smith

Short Story

Good Luck: Episode Forty-Eight

 

The postman nailed a note on my front door. The box out by the road was frozen shut.  He couldn’t deliver. I had to do something about it. I didn’t do nothing about it. 

I saw envelopes had been tossed on the ground outside where I’d thrown rock salt and a slush puddle had formed. Then it was the coldest night of the year, froze it all. Then what?

What I shouldn’t have done was what I did, chop the mailbox off its post, drag it into the kitchen, but that’s what I did. Thawed it out in the sink while I drank my drink in the same clothes as yesterday as yesterday as yesterday as yesterday.  

Inside the mailbox, I found a surprise. The Hawaiian shirt I’d given Sadie, returned to sender. Little glowing volcanos. The get well card was in the pocket, with a personal message, You’re good man, don’t ever doubt it. 

Of course I’m going to doubt it, Sadie. I was born to doubt it.

 

i wrote a book called Killing Donald Barthelme. i didn’t mean to. i didn’t really mean to write a book. what I wanted was to reveal my darkest secrets and in turn receive applause. i wanted to write about one thing while actually writing about something else. i thought writing about how donald barthelme was bad would somehow set me free. but it turns out that when i told publishers i had a book about donald barthelme, they actually wanted a book about donald barthelme. and in the editing process they got rid of my winks and nudges to the reader: they reduced the book to what it said it was. and it came out. it was advertised though not reviewed in the new york review of books. my mom called and said dad was sick. i said, “what kind of sick?” mom said, “i don’t know, sick. the doctor wants to see him for another test. it’s probably nothing…” i said, “should i call him?” she said, “no, no. he doesn’t know i’m calling you. i don’t think he wants you to know, he doesn’t want you to worry.” i said, “do you want me to worry, mom?” then she cried and said, “shit. lorenzo. no. i don’t want you to worry. what are you even trying to say? you think i like this? you think i’m happy?” i said sorry but was thinking, “none of this is supposed to happen.” i published a book. after you publish a book, you’re an author, not a person and you don’t have to handle people problems anymore. after i published my book my mom wasn’t supposed to call me at all. my dad was supposed to send me hand-written notes saying, “congratulations, son. i’m proud of you.”

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Zulema Renee Summerfield. Her debut novel, Every Other Weekend, is available in trade paperback from Back Bay Books.

 

Summerfield holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, and her work has appeared in a number of literary journals. She is also the author of a book of flash fiction, Everything Faces All Ways At Once (Fourteen Hills Press).

In addition to her writing, Summerfield is an educator and creative coach and is one half of Thoughts & Feelings. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is at work on a collection of short stories and a new novel.

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Dear Abigail and Other Stories and Writing, Written are, arguably, two separate books. That’s what Amazon would say. Ostensibly the late wife in the former is Abigail and the man’s name is Philip while the late wife in the latter is Eleanor and the man’s name is Charles. In truth, these two collections are twin contributions to the canon of late-stage Dixon who has for years deeply and productively lingered on the single theme of writing loss.

 

The stories in both books catalogue Dixon’s grief and yearning in the wake of widowerhood and age. He knows what Donald Barthelme meant when he wrote “Revolves the stage machinery away from me, away from me.” Melancholy and anxiety tint the day-to-day doings of his overlapping stand-ins. He goes to the Y. He takes the dust cover off his typewriter. He puts it back on. He eats sandwiches and drinks coffee at diners. He talks to his daughter (or daughters). He wonders about getting a new girlfriend. He tries to write. He tries to sleep. He dreams about his wife. He writes it down. He remembers when he wrote it down the other day. He writes down remembering writing it down. These aren’t stories in the traditional sense (beginning, middle, end) but sites of feeling which you can visit like monuments. His sentences are organized into obelisks.

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