“The Advocate for Exotic Reptiles” by Emmy Piercy

November 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

Art and Tom smoke cigarettes below the balcony. Art can’t afford to smoke, but Tom can, and Art is freezing, so he draws in a lungful and ignores his seething eyes as Tom regards him from over his coat collar.

“She’s nearly through with you,” Tom says, with ashes tumbling down the front of his coat. He brushes them off. “You’ll have me put in the nick if you keep on like this. She keeps summoning me to talk about you. And Milady never talks to kitchen staff.”

“It’s not as if I’m not trying.”

“Jesus, Art, what does it matter if she keeps the bleedin’ crocodile? S’not any of your business. How can I put in a good word for you if you keep running around like a bloody picketer?”

“You didn’t see him in there.”

“Well, I know she’s had it for years. It’s probably grown up in that room. It’s better off this way. S’not like it could go roaming off into the wild and survive.”

“Maybe it could.”

“Well, it’d be a bleedin’ idiot to try.”

Overhead, the sun trembles like a silver minnow behind the dead white overcast. Art squints at it, gauges it at about the center of the sky.

“Lunch’ll be ready, then.” He slips back indoors to put on his tailcoat and white gloves.

In the steamy recesses of the kitchen, Art joins the other footmen waiting in a herd by the cook, who tosses a word of approval over her shoulder as she inspects the quail in the oven. Then they all file out into the house like ants, and he helps them ease the cart of glassware out to the dining room before he realizes that they’re all staring at him.

He sighs. “So it’s my turn today, then?”

They nod scantly.

As they begin to lay the table, he departs for the servants’ passage that stretches like a splintery wharf behind the parlor. A staircase as narrow and peeled white as birch hangs from a doorway at the end of the passage. Art tromps up two stairs at a time and wobbles out over the cushy red carpeting of the eastern wing. As he comes to the door of Milady’s chamber, the scratch and lull of a sleepy waltz on the phonograph rolls out to his ears like a beast turning over in its sleep.

He raps neatly on the door.

A long moment passes. Her voice drifts out over the waltz: “Come in, darling.”

She’s perched, just then, like an oversize Pekingese on the pallid pink loveseat next to the phonograph, bound up in furs pinched tight beneath her broad, powdered face, like a Matryoshka doll.

His still smoke-smarting eyes are bombarded again by perfume, an ancient, putridly sweet attempt at gardenias.

“Milady,” he says. For a moment, he can’t remember what he came in for—not with the music, and the perfume, and her stare beating his eyes in. God, he can’t believe this place. “If you’re ready, luncheon will be served in the dining room.”

“A nice change of tone, Arthur,” she said. “Here I was, all prepared for another diatribe about Sobek. You’ve forgotten your lecture notes, I suppose?”

“You mean to say the crocodile, Milady? My apologies for the disappointment, but I have nothing more to say on the subject.”

“Ah. Well, I must give my thanks to Thomas. It appears that we’ve both trained our pets not to bite.”

Art’s mouth twitches as Milady’s pink-varnished bratwurst fingers close upon his. With his arm aloft, he escorts her away.

During those first hellish nights on the estate, he believed the sounds were the stuff of fitful dreaming. In a new bed, too warm, too soft, too smothering, he wasn’t sleeping well. But one night, when he had lain blinking blearily long enough to know that he was awake, Art thought robbers had come to break in.

God, he thought as he stared at the ceiling, watching sawdust shudder out from between the boards and sprinkle down on his bedspread, if it’s one of Angus’s people again, I’m right out. I’ll never find work again.

Angus’s crime rings had spread all over the city now, and if Milady’s estate had cropped up on one hitlist or another, his past with Angus would be thrown out into the light at once. But surely Tom had told them to stay away. Tom had done it before. And he’d do it again, as many times as he had to to keep Art fed and clothed and bedded.

Even so, Art could scare them off if he tried. So he crept out like a little black cat, up the rear stairs and into the corridor, then, and stationed himself against the side of the grandfather clock to wait for signs of movement. Its pendulum swung and beat in the silence.

Window lock still intact. No broken glass. Nothing smashed. This wasn’t Angus’s fashion at all.

And surely he would have seen something by now. Just as he resolved himself to bed and began to pad away to the stairs, he heard it again: a sluggish, dragging thump, from a disused bedroom door on the far right—perhaps not disused at all.

Through the keyhole, his eye adjusted to distinguish the blur within. First came the moonlight, through a high lightbox of a window pitched up near the ceiling, that fell as a silvery dust sheet over the bare floor of the room. The sheet was rent through with deep wrinkles, patches of shadow that covered the wallpaper and floor. No, not shadows—Art squinted—stains, all over everything, a brackish brown that bled through the moon’s soapy wash of light, and scratches that rent deep in the wood and pulled the wallpaper to hang in curly orange-peel ribbons from the walls. The room had no furniture, but debris littered the ground: sodden shreds of wallpaper, rusted buckets, an old fur coat with great patches torn from its back. The only structure Art could see was a great silver stake planted in the middle of the floor. A chain dangled loose from its tip, rolling in lazy coils over the floorboards.

Another thump. The chain tightened and strained.

The air that poured from the keyhole boiled the winter air, and Art caught a draught as rank as a butcher’s shop.

The chain scrabbled forward, and a fat, scaly claw scraped into view, then another, then a tail that swung and beat like the clock’s pendulum. Then the head swayed across the keyhole, and Art looked into the yellow dragon’s eye of the whole form that had dragged itself into view: a vast, swollen, torpid beast, sallow as the moonlight.

Afraid was the wrong word. Art fled to his bedroom, and he did not sleep again that night, but he was not afraid.

None of this occurrence came as any surprise to Tom the next morning, and that made Art angry.

“Look,” said Tom, pushing out through the kitchen door with his shoulder, “I’m not saying the whole ordeal’s proper. I’m only saying you don’t understand how the house works. I know it’s not what you’re used to, but this isn’t like it was with Angus. You can’t just go poking about where you don’t belong. Milady does as she pleases. If she sacks you, you’re sacked. If she wants an exotic bleedin’ reptile, she gets an exotic bleedin’ reptile.”

Art follows him out with the beverage tray. “And everyone just ignores that the exotic reptile’s been stuffed in a tiny room and left to wallow in its own shit?”

“I mean, I dunno—isn’t that what crocodiles do anyway?”

“I suppose that generally they do, Thomas.”

Tom and Art freeze. Milady’s lips draw up in a smile.

“Darling, I’m afraid you’ll find that the only advocates for the rights of exotic reptiles are exotic reptiles themselves. Perhaps you and Sobek should discuss forming a social justice coalition.”

Tom knew just as well as Art did that certain habits never left, even after Angus was through with them.

“Art?” His voice hitched, though he shouldn’t have been altogether surprised. “What are you doing out of bed?”

“Be quiet, Tom. Mrs. Morton wakes up early to do the washing and she’ll hear. Come here.”

Tom came into the narrow nook where Art sat in his nightclothes, his outdoor coat pulled over his shoulders so that he looked like a shaggy dog sitting on the carpet. The fires were all out in the house, and the chill huddled close upon them so that they drew their shoulders up tight.

When Tom settled down next to him, Art broke off a chunk of Gruyère from the block nestled on a cloth in his lap and offered it to him, who gawked at it as though the cat had just dragged in half of a bird.

“God, honestly? Are you trying to get me sacked? If the cook finds that missing, she’ll be on a bloody rampage.”

“I was hungry.”

“Art, they feed us here. It’s in our contract.”

“Not much.”

“It’s more than Angus ever gave us. Come on, now, Art. You’ve got to try to keep yourself in line if either of us are going to stay. You should be in bed. What are you even doing in here anyway?”

Art pointed in front of them, where there leaned a stack of peeling gold-leaf frames, wrapped in oil cloth. In the bleak light of the moon, the heady, textured ridges of oil paint cast soft, odd shadows on the portraits they formed. Art had unwrapped the painting at the forefront of the stack: a stout, heavy-lidded young woman in a bright headscarf, with what appeared to be a large lizard perched over her arm.

No, Tom realized. Not a lizard. A young crocodile.

“I told you that thing grew up here,” he said. “Now you know.”

“No,” said Art, “you said it grew up in that room.”

“What’s the difference?”

“The difference is that she used to like him. She used to treat him like he properly existed. I mean, the family had portraits made of her with him.” He puttered through the stack of portraits, running his fingertip over the ridges in the oil-work. “Look. She used to take him out on a leash, to fancy dinners and things. They had reporters come in. It was a local oddity.”

“Doesn’t surprise me or nothing,” said Tom. “She’s an odd woman.”

“But what changed?”

“I’ve already told you. That’s just her way. When she’s done, she’s done. The thing probably got too big for her to manage. Probably got scared it’d try to eat her, but wanted to keep it on hand in case the reporters got nosy again or she found something else to use it for.”

“And nobody has done anything to change it.”

“No, Art. We’ll be sacked. And I like my job a lot more than I like that thing. Though lately, I’m not so sure that goes the same for you. You bloody picketer.”

“I just don’t think it’s fair to adopt things and then leave them to rot.”

Art threw the oil cloth back over the portrait, where it landed cockeyed. Milady’s marshy eyes vanished from sight, but Sobek’s yellow dragon eye glittered still in the gap of the moon.

After those first weeks, Art did learn to sleep again eventually, but sleep did not come without dreams. They grew only more lurid the more he learned and remembered.

He always began in the water, humming with quiet, sacred blue, cut through with sunbeams. Then the water began to churn and foam, and the blue bled through with a rotted, intestinal green, and a thick-fingered hand snatched Art up by the scruff of the neck and shook him out. Shook the colors away, shook out the blue of the water and the gold of the sunlight, so that only the dead white overcast of the sky remained.

The hand bound a leash around his neck, then, and put him in a dim, pallid room and shoved his face in a bucket and made him eat. And he ate, because there was nothing else he could do in that room that seemed to shrink and shrink around him, until Art realized that it wasn’t the room. He was growing, sick and stagnant and massively fat, too fat to move or care. And whenever he looked over his shoulder, Milady stood over him with her smile pinched up on her face.

Then, her massive form shot up another foot; her furs festered into Angus’s muddy green coat. He spread out like a roll of thunder above Art, who tumbled to the floor fifteen and filthy, splinters in his knees and palms, his face burning and prickling from a slap.

You’re not walking out, the old voice shrilled. I fed you! I clothed you! I kept you alive for years! And now you think you can just up and leave?

You said would my life would get better, Art said. His voice echoed like a well in his throat. You said I would be like one of your own sons.

Angus caught up the leash in his hand, and it gagged tight on Art’s neck. He grasped at it with slippery fingers, but it would not come off. Angus dragged him in close, shaking the collar at the neck. His teeth moldered inches from Art’s face.

My sons all died in the gutter like cockroaches. That’s life, boy. And if you think life’s not gonna come and smash a boy like you under its heel the minute you try to make it on your own, go ahead. Leave. See what happens. So don’t you dare bite the hand that feeds you, boy. I bite right back.

Angus yanked on the leash with all his strength. The ground fled out from under him, and Art fell, fell, fell, through a massive, yawning, blood-red keyhole.

When he awoke, he had landed in his bed, swampy with sweat, covers thrown across the floor.

For a soft-eyed, unassuming footman twenty years of age, a spare room key isn’t hard to obtain.

The door cruises open. His head sinks in the muddy, animal scent of the room, of urine and chicken blood that festers proudly on the wallpaper no matter how many housemaids come to scrub it away. God, this thing could stalk a wildebeest on the riverbank, and here he lies, licking up greenish chicken innards out of a pail.

Perhaps he should be afraid. But the slits of Sobek’s rheumy yellow eyes pluck his gaze as taut as a bowstring, and Sobek’s hoarse, chest-deep wheezing quiets to a breath as soft as a baby’s, and Art’s mind has never been calmer.

He kneels down. He won’t talk to soothe Sobek, not like one would simper to a lap dog. He will say nothing. They have no need for words.

Together, Art and Sobek’s eyes follow his hand as it touches the scabbed rudder of flesh at his snout and traces the band of the leather muzzle, sunken into the flesh, down to the gap of his mouth.

Sobek opens his jaw slightly, and Art slides two fingers in under the muzzle, his flesh prickling against one long, slimy tooth. Sobek closes his mouth again, gentle as a mother, and Art pulls the muzzle away.

At the door, Art pauses only once, to regard Sobek’s heightened, steady gaze before he walks away. The door moans, an open mouth swinging loose on its hinges.

Below in his bedroom, scrambling for his trunk in the dark, the stuffy air bellows on Art’s back like swells from a furnace. Funny, he thinks, for he’s normally so cold. As he pokes the battered cuff of a shirtsleeve back into the trunk, sawdust sprinkles down on his head as a slithering thump drags past over the floorboards.

He tips his head to listen to the scratch and lull of its raspy melody.

When he’s alone on the midnight street, where he’ll go doesn’t matter. He’ll find a place to go. All that matters is that his breath is as hot as Nile mud on his face, and his trunk drags and thumps behind him over the pavement, and one thought burns clean in his head:

We’ll see, Milady, who’s taught their pets not to bite.

A junior from the Dallas Community College District, Allison “Emmy” Piercy is attending her first semester at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is an English major with a minor in Creative Writing and plans after graduation to pursue a master’s degree in Library Science. Her work has won local acclaim in the Inner Moonlight Student Literary competition hosted by the League for Innovation in the Community College.

“The Walk of the Wood-Watcher” by Emmy Piercy

November 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

The bird the watcher finds will never sing
A mass upon his forest floor, all red
A breach of broken branches for her wing
A drag of deadened foliage for her head

The watcher of the wood has seen Death stroll and mill
About his trees, to reap the watcher’s sown
A fox, a skink, a crow, a whip-poor-will
Death’s harvest of Life’s seed, toward the unknown

Death bows low and settles down to wait
To let the watcher make his verdant bliss
The watcher, too, has come to love Death’s gait
But Death’s hands and feet, he knows, move unlike this:

This haul-away, this hollowed-out excess
The soul torn out and dragged on through the brome
Carries not Death’s scent nor Death’s finesse
Not taken for Death’s right, but from Life’s home

Death’s soft hand did not guide away his bird
The watcher of the wood has come to know
Thinks now of legends whispered he has heard
Of devils from the writhing world below

A smell, rust-red, creeps in upon the breeze
A shadow-shift, like black tree-fingers blown
A dizzy thrum, like gnats between the trees—
The watcher, in his wood, is not alone.

They burst in toward the heartbeat sensed therein
Converge upon his form, like ragged flies
All is red, and red, and red again
The watcher of the wood is felled, and does not rise.

A junior from the Dallas Community College District, Allison “Emmy” Piercy is attending her first semester at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is an English major with a minor in Creative Writing and plans after graduation to pursue a master’s degree in Library Science. Her work has won local acclaim in the Inner Moonlight Student Literary competition hosted by the League for Innovation in the Community College.

“Freakbeat #1” by Kyle Hemmings

May 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Freakbeat #1

You have to escape through a snare-hollow of night. The daylight ruins all sense of fuzz on happiness. After our spouses have died from thump-heavy sex, or rolled over like forgetful children, we tap a Morse Code against the walls of our apartments, your bedroom against my thin ear. We flee to The Mercy Club where The Oblong Cyrcles are playing “Isn’t It a Blammy- Shame?” We dance until our heads fall off, until the dense human vapor rolls off the skin, until we admit our love-hate for kitchen sink and empty rooms. At last call, an angry compressed vocal through the speakers, we feel the grass grow beneath our wounds. But we are only wobbly guests and sheep-in-love are destined to be shorn. Dawn is a music sheet of bleeding pink. Back home, our spouses beat us up, until we are as broken as our secret stash of scratched LPs. Steadfast in corners, we remain deeply grooved.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Matchbook, and elsewhere. He loves cats, dogs, and garage bands of the 60s.

What Is Water? — Sonam Kshatriya

February 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

“What Is Water?”

Soft as lush green
Hard like the truth
Strong enough to knock down the city
Sweet enough to satisfy a desert thirst
My soul is thirsty
For living water
The current overpowers
Waves thrash upon rocks
Guide boats at sea
Sea of forgiveness
Ocean of love
River of living water
Well of peace
Streams of joy
Fill and leave my eyes
As I cry out to you
Immersed in water used to baptize
An outward sign of testimony
An inward sign of grace, from somewhere within
You are my living water
I shall never thirst again.

Sonam Kshatriya is a student of Brookhaven College who was encouraged to submit these poems by my creative writing instructor. Her only hope that this work inspires others to live their lives for God and it encourages positive change in our world. “All glory belongs to God,” Sonam says.

Housewife’s Fantasy – Valentina Cano

December 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Housewife’s Fantasy

She dreams of drowning
and wakes with a swallowed smile.
The day will be a tangle of sheets and towels,
people and pots to stir,
but the drowning will linger.
She’ll think of the air reeled out
of her body like a fishing line,
and her vision peeled down to a seed.
She’ll feel the rhythmic coolness at her heels
and have to keep from grinning.

Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time either writing or reading. Her works have appeared in Exercise Bowler, Blinking Cursor, Theory Train, Cartier Street Press, Berg Gasse 19, Precious Metals, A Handful of Dust, The Scarlet Sound, The Adroit Journal, Perceptions Literary Magazine, Welcome to Wherever, The Corner Club Press, Death Rattle, Danse Macabre, Subliminal Interiors, Generations Literary Journal, A Narrow Fellow, Super Poetry Highway, Stream Press, Stone Telling, Popshot, Golden Sparrow Literary Review, Rem Magazine, Structo, The 22 Magazine, The Black Fox Literary Magazine, Niteblade, Tuck Magazine, Ontologica, Congruent Spaces Magazine, Pipe Dream, Decades Review, Anatomy, Lowestof Chronicle, Muddy River Poetry Review, Lady Ink Magazine, Spark Anthology, Awaken Consciousness Magazine, Vine Leaves Literary Magazine, Avalon Literary Review, Caduceus,White Masquerade Anthology and Perhaps I’m Wrong About the World. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Web and the Pushcart Prize. Her debut novel, The Rose Master, will be published in 2014. You can find her here: http://carabosseslibrary.blogspot.com.

The Last Drops – Peycho Kanev

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment


Figment No. 6 flail by Russell Stephens

On both sides of the path to the graveyard

the trees are strangely still.

Each tree keeps its own secrets

within the shadows.

And even there

the tombstones hang with terrible force.


the bodies

wait for the first rain of the Spring.

just to breathe again,

just for a little while.

Adam’s Apple – Michael X. Green

August 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

Clearing Away the Detritus of Tragic Mistakes to Make Way for a Benign Future . . .
by N.C. Mallory

In the beginning, time stood still. Mass and anti-mass were one in the same. There was no distinction of life, yet no existence of death. A mere nothing surrounded a void filled with space before space came about. Light had no meaning, and darkness reigned over all. Then, a miracle happened. From the depths of words, matter formed in the midst of an explosion. The bang filled the void with materials of different natures. Light was the first to appear, spreading among the darkness with vigorous intensity. Water and land formed and separated into distinct places. Upon the land and water, organic life emerged. Last, from the rich soil which made up the crust of the Earth, man was born. Just a still-life mold of the image of God, it laid upon the grass. With His breath, God gave unto man mind and soul and called him Adam. The favorite of all His creations, Adam stood amongst His presence and relished in the divinity of his Creator.

God appointed Adam to name the creatures of newly-created Earth. Adam was shown the inheritance given to him. God made a garden of paradise which He called Eden, and filled it with food and animals. God gave Adam dominion and freedom over any and everything, but left Adam with a warning of a certain tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This particular tree was to give nothing but death, yet the choice would be up to Adam, or anything that should choose to eat of it. Peace and harmony fell thick within the sights of the world, and happiness was abundant for those who searched for it as well as those who knew not what it was. That is, until Adam realized how alone he was as far as the creation of alike beings. Animals multiplied and spread their kind upon the mass territory of land and water; however, Adam remained the only being of his kind which he knew. Until one day, God placed Adam into a deep, heavy sleep. Taking one of Adam’s ribs, God created for Adam a companion molded in his form.

As Adam slept, he felt a soft hand run gently across his face. His eyes slowly opened, and gazed upon the most beautiful thing he had ever witnessed. A smile stood in his sights that matched his own. Other features he saw stood in comparison to his; however, it also had other traits which he did not, yet he found the differences just as beautiful as he did the likenesses. As he gazed into her eyes, Adam spoke softly to himself in astonishment, “Bone made from my bone and flesh made from my flesh.” Speaking up so that she may hear him, Adam said, “You will be called Woman since you were once a part of man, but now a separation of him.” Woman smiled, took Adam’s hand, and while joining a gaze of admiration, she exclaimed, “Separate only by body, but joined at spirit for eternity.” They both stood upon the grass in pure form with no clothing about them. Yet they were comfortable and happy. No bit of shame came upon them. Since the apple was the sweetest of the fruit Adam had yet to taste in the garden, he deemed woman as his apple, and nothing sweeter above her.

The world before our world was quite different. As the form of its shape took place, there maintained an emptiness from the lack of life. Upon sometime within creation, God made beings from a higher dimension. At some point, within the midst of happiness surrounded by God, a disturbance came from the jealousy of an angel known as Lucifer the Morning Star. This jealousy was begat by sin which appeared somewhere around this time. As sin took control over Lucifer, it manifested upon him hatred and disillusionment. Soon, it became so great within Lucifer that he decided to rise up against God and take his throne. Teaming with other followers who agreed with him, Lucifer confronted God, and foolishly challenged the Almighty. This act not only led to his fall, but the fall of his followers as well. As God created the heavens and the earth, a downward dimensional crossing was also placed to maintain the ties of God and His creations. As Lucifer fell from Heaven, he gained access to the realm of the third dimension, which gave him passage to earth and all its inhabitants. Lucifer used this access to his advantage. In his eyes, angels should reign supreme, but instead were servants used to fulfill God’s wishes. When man came around, Lucifer saw how God favored them so much that he even placed them in his own image. If anything, man should serve the servers of God. They should be lower than the status where they sat. The new goal of Lucifer was to destroy the ties held between man and God, and rid man of the privileges given to him by his Lord.

SPIRIT WORKER Meditating in a Finite Stratum of Time
by N.C. Mallory

As the time before the tower of Babel, communication had been different upon the earth. The creations of God shared a language that they understood, and they had shown more humanistic qualities than what could be imagined. It was this reason that woman did not find suspicion in the serpent who came to her and spoke so she could understand him. The serpent knew that there would be no chance to talk with man since man was always in the presence of God, so he went the back way by waiting until woman was alone so that he may approach her and influence her to ruin mankind. As he approached her he asked, “Did God tell you that you could not eat of every tree in the garden?” fully knowing the answer to the question. “We may eat of every fruit except that one,” woman replied, while pointing to a tree found centered within the garden. “We cannot even touch it or else we will die,” she added. The serpent replied, “You won’t die. He just does not want you to be like Him. Once you eat of the tree, you shall become like gods and know good and evil. Of course He would not want you to be like Him. You are beneath Him.” Woman gazed at the tree and noticed the suppleness of its fruits. The serpent once again spoke. “Does it look like it will hurt you? Of course not. It will make you and your other wise and powerful. Don’t you want that for you? Don’t you want that for him?” As they walked near the tree, the serpent reached up, picked a piece of the fruit, and handed it to the woman. With slight hesitation, the woman took a bite of the fruit, and saw that it was delicious. A slight tingling came over her, and many things became clear. She knew she had to share this sensation with Adam who she loved. As Adam came back from talking with God, he took a look at the woman and noticed an immediate change. She appeared to him with such excitement. “The fruit is delicious. The serpent told me of what it can really do, so I tried it, and he was right.” Adam’s heart sank. The beautiful being he once knew had changed. Her radiance was replaced with a dark shadow stuck upon the earth as a symbol that she was now bounded to the world, body and soul. Her beautiful flawless smile now hid a hint of despair and regret. The once lustrous eyes which bore happiness and purity now reflected the outer visions and hid the inner beauty that used to show so brightly. Her skin did not appear as exuberant as he remembered. She was now dying, and he knew it. Panic set over him in a great horde. The being he loved and who genuinely loved him, too, was gone. In her place remained a thing with a time limit of expiration. He will now be alone once again as he was before. Even if God decided to create him another in his image, he will always be haunted by the vision of the first perfect being created just for him. The woman extended her arm with the fruit clutched in her dirty hands. “Eat,” she exclaimed, “and we can be together as gods.” Adam bowed his head and looked at the ground. Would he give up perfection given to him from God to be with her? Worst off, would he be willing to die for her so that no matter what, they could always be together? Taking the fruit from her hand, he put it up to his lips and took a bite. Immediately he felt the hands of death sitting upon his shoulder. As he dropped the fruit to the ground, a tear fell from his face. He knew this was the end of paradise.

Adam raised his head to the woman and noticed the beauty he once saw was gone. She too noticed something within Adam. They both scrounged around for clothing to hide their now realized naked bodies. Suddenly, they heard the voice of God within the garden. With panic-stricken hearts, they hid from God’s image. Adam heard God calling for him, and responded “I heard your voice and hid my naked body from you.” From this, God asked Adam if he had eaten of the tree which was forbidden to eat from. A large lump appeared in Adam’s throat. This sensation was unfamiliar to him as well as unpleasant. At first, he believed it to be remnants of the fruit he ate given to him by his apple the woman, but realizing that it had no mass, just volume, he dubbed it emotion from an action he should not have committed. An emotion we call guilt. Adam responded “the woman you gave me is the reason why I ate from the tree. She handed me the fruit.” God turned His attention towards the woman and asked her of the question to which she responded “I was coaxed by the serpent to eat from it.” From this, God cursed the serpent, the woman, the man, and the land.

Adam decided to call his wife Eve since she was the mother of all living things. God made clothes out of the skins of animals for them to wear. They were then kicked out of Eden and forced to walk the lands. Even though Adam had some time to be relieved from the situation, the lump in his throat remained. Since Eve was no longer the envisioned beauty he once remembered, Adam released her of the title of as his apple. The lump in his throat would always remind him of their fall from Eden. His apple was now a burden. It was the guilt stuck in his throat from eating the forbidden fruit. As of all, his apple was now the forgotten memory of his perfect beloved. Joined together body and soul, they walked the lands and survived upon what God allowed them to obtain. As time passed by, so did their youth. They witnessed the pleasures of the land God laid out for them, as well as the pleasures of their flesh. Eve had become pregnant, and suffered the annoyance of that which was womanhood. Birth was excruciatingly painful. The sins of their past were intensified at that particular moment. However, once it was over, a new emotion appeared between them. As they held their first offspring in their arms, and Adam once again gazed into the eyes of a being which resembled him, he knew that he had once again found something he would die for. Eve was no longer his apple, but neither was the forgotten lump in his throat. Instead, his new apple was his legacy. A legacy which was given to him in the form of his children.

This is Not a Love Story – Amy Price

August 9, 2012 § 6 Comments


Ivan de Monbrison
ink and acrylic on paper
Paris 2012

This is not a love story. Nor is it a story with a happy ending or a story to leave you with a nostalgic feeling of pleasantries and goodwill. I was born in the slums. Guatemala to be exact. It is a place that fills the gaps between the poor and the wretched.

Born into a family of nine, as Maria Santos Gavantuez, I was not needed. I was merely a burden placed on the shoulders of my matriarchal figure. I was sold into the world of sex and drugs. Dirty old men used me to fulfill their perverted sadistic fantasies. I wondered sometimes how much I had cost. How much money did my mother make, and was it worth it? How many meals did my worth put on the table for my exchange?

My earliest memories were of my beloved brothers watching over me. It almost seemed like they were my parents. My father was rarely around. I think he was a field worker on the cocoa plains. My oldest brother, Salvador, would lull Spanish hymns to me at night. He would sing, “My dearest Maria, don’t fret, don’t cry, God loves you, God loves you tonight, tonight.”

The day I left was a surprise. My mother, dressed in her finest rags, took me to the city. I had never been, so needless to say, I was really excited. Although my mother stayed sullen the entire drive, it wasn’t anything outside her normal disposition, so I didn’t question the intent of the visit. My face stayed glued to the window. I peered out, letting my hands grasp the half opened window pane. The wind blew against my face and I had never felt so free. It’s almost ironic — that moment would be my last glimpse of freedom for a long time.

We pulled into a stucco building and I remember seeing Dobermans around the property, including one on the roof. My mother yanked my hand and pulled me inside. There was no lighting, only the daylight breaking through the windows. I sat silently on this unstable wooden bench along with three other girls my age. The smell was putrid and dirty, like my grandmother’s house after a fresh livestock slaughter. My mother walked out of the room and said, “Stay, mija.”

From that moment my jubilant complexion was crushed by the reality of the situation. A tall masked man grabbed my innocent body and threw me into the back of his truck. The road was bumpy and uncomfortable, but nothing compared to the vexatious circumstances I was about to endure.

Flies and maggots take the form of a human shape. The stench of homemade hooch and petrified ruins of what was nothing. This place was a nothing. Nothing good comes in this hellhole and nothing good comes out this plagued city of the doomed and decrepit.

I didn’t want to be a part of the traffic, but here girls are born into it. Most of my childhood is now blocked. The images I can recall only consist of brutal beatings and women rolled in a batter of subservient chauvinistic dominance.

No sugar coating here. The things that happened to my juvenile body would make the most heavy-hearted man cringe and weep.

Ten years young and already working a full time job — this is not a childhood. Fernando Zavala Lopez bought me off. He was a political frontrunner in the city. Behind closed doors, however, he was a filthy, sexually deviant lowlife.

As I lay on the cold concrete slab, my only serenity is my tattered gown to which I cling. My brief salvation rests upon a dim glimpse of light struggling to break through the shattered, boarded-up pane. Too desolate and dry for tears, I mourn in a fetal position and grasp tightly to my frail knees and rock back and forth.

I am fed twice a day. This is considered a delicacy compared to the others. One slice of bread and a sandwich made with what seemed like the corner deli’s expired goods. I am allowed one glass of water and copious amounts of red wine, to keep me inebriated at all times.

He holds me tight and covers my mouth. The excess saliva drips out the corner of his chapped lips as he penetrates my vision with his foul, dilated eyes. I shall not cry this time. I am numb to the stress my body endures, and the pain is normal now. Night after night I am a salve in his circus. We were captive mongrels to his three-ring freak show.

Some of the girls scream and moan in distress, but not I. I surrender to my silence. One day we will get out, but not today. Today we huddle quietly, not saying a word, but we are all thinking the same thought. Whatever happens, he cannot take away our minds. We keep these sacred as our tender souls are violated and destroyed.

I wish I had a mirror. Just so I can see what I look like. It’s not for vanity, but to know I am still alive, and that the color of my skin is not red and blue.

I have no concept of time. Was I a teenager yet? How long had I endured the violence?

It was like a lucid dream, complete with cold sweats and frightful terrors. A dream so real that your heart beats faster than a crooked politician on redemption. So real, you can feel it all and cannot escape. That’s my life.

Fast forward the unrelenting molestation a few years or so. I must have been developing, because I began to bleed. My life cycle was blooming and not only became apparent to me, but Fernando as well. I had seen girls come and go, and it was no surprise what was next. The end of my existence.

My eyes burned from the sunlight and the warm breeze of the light wind felt so unfamiliar to me. I was uneasy, to say the least. Fernando said one thing to me. “Little nina, you were good to me.” He then laughed at me with the most senile snicker he could muster. He wanted to scare me, but after all that I had been through there was no way a cheap laugh was going to frighten me.

He took me to a barren field, but he had made a mistake. I don’t know if he was stressed with the upcoming election or if he was just getting soft, but he forgot to tie me up. I grabbed the sharpest shard of wood I could and I hawked it down my mouth. The shard left splinters down my throat, but it still wasn’t as painful as the torture I had endured.

We drove out to a remote location and he let me out of the shiny new BMW. He cocked back his rifle and pointed it my direction. I knelt down and asked, “May I give you one last service?” He smiled and nodded. I walked up to him and gave him a tight grasping hug. As his warm body embraced mine, I pulled the shard out from my throat and gave him a revenge stabbing.

I took it straight to the throat. All my anger and and resentment transferred into this projectile death weapon. He bent to his knees and finally teared up and begged for his life. The hot blood spilled out his face like a waterfall I had never seen. I felt no remorse my mind was as cold as the dying grip from his perverted fingers. I reached for the rifle and let out one novice shot to the head. Is it messed up that I took enjoyment in watching his head split open?

I was free at last and took the car keys, sat on his fine leather seats. Before I left I took a moment to reflect. I embraced my surroundings, took a swig of whiskey out of his silver-plated flask and closed my eyes and sighed.

I left that God forsaken city, and just drove. I was ready to get my revenge on those who had done me wrong, and save those who were innocent. Call me a crusader, or a serial killer, I don’t care. I am a self-educated vigilante, an overseer, and a guardian for girls like me. Those who violate the sacred righteousness of a young girl’s life will be doomed to face the vengeance of Maria the spectacular.

Pantomime — Laura Lam

August 5, 2012 § Leave a comment


Laura Lam

A Moulin Review poet featured in Volume 2, Laura Lam, has written a book called “Pantomime.” It will be released by Strange Chemistry in February 2013. The tale is set in a circus among ruins of an ancient, possibly magical, civilization. An aerialist and a nobleman’s daughter who, the book summary says, “is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls,” share a secret.  

This page has pre-ordering information and other details.

Click here to read her poem from Volume 2, “Baby Steps.”

Laura’s blog has an account of her road to publication – a great read for anyone working on a book or interested in the publication process.

Modern Articles of Faith — George Moore

July 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

BW Building: by Chuck Taylor

Inside cragged walls, a ruined church, boys are
kicking a ball where a king once crowned his son
and told him, mercy will not save you. By our time,

only the yard around the cathedral walls is left,
and we hump history through the broken arms of doors,
to stone breastplates of sarcophagi worn nameless,

though a flyer says another king was born, died, and then
the church followed. Spaces now open to the sky.
The ball rolls to a stop before our feet and dies,

as shouts go up through the hobbled choir, half-fallen
archways once hung with heavy tapestries,
and now the sounds of boys screaming decrees.

With evening, the ghosts arrive. The son beheaded
by his father, the king, when there was talk
of treason. I snap a shot of the ruptured cupola

as night creeps in. It’s too cool for this season,
but the grass has come to life, the ramparts fall to darkness,
as the boys pick up their ball and head for home.