LIFE OF PINKY: Pinky Does Not Want To Trot

One evening, I returned home to find the preschooler looking slightly despondent.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Where’s Pinky?” he said.

I remembered an exchange that had taken place earlier in the day. “I think she’s gone out, remember?” I replied gently. “You told her this morning that you don’t like her anymore and asked her to go away?”

“Where’s Pinky? Pinkyyy!” he called anyway. But our imaginary tiny pink horse didn’t come galloping the way she usually did.

“She’s not here, darling. She’s gone shopping for apples. Maybe she will come back tonight, when she’s tired.”

“Why did she go away?” the preschooler repeated.

“Because you told her to,” I said.

“No, I didn’t,” he now denied. “Is she coming back?”

“She probably will, any time now,” I replied. “She loves you very much, you know. I think she felt hurt.”

“What a bummer,” the preschooler said loudly, mimicking a phrase I use often.

“Indeed,” I said. “How about learning some horsey words to impress Pinky when she’s back?”

“Horsey words?”

“Yeah,” I said, reaching out and putting him on my lap. “See, when you are riding a horse, she will not listen to you if you don’t know how to ride her, and you’ll just go bounce-bounce-bounce uncomfortably when she moves along, and then fall off the horseback.”

The preschooler pulled my arms around him and waited.

“So what people learn to do when they learn horse riding is first to move in rhythm to the horse,” I explained. “So see, this is a trot, you ride up and down with the horse.” I moved my lap up and down gently.

The preschooler giggled. “Just like that song, Mummy,” he said. “Giddy-up, horsey, go-go-go!”

We continued in this manner for a while, until he said “w-h-o-a-a-a”.

“Now when the horse moves more quickly, we have the fast trot, like this,” I continued. “Giddy-up, horsey!” he went again, enjoying the moment and forgetting that he missed Pinky. Soon, my legs started to feel strained, and I paused to rest.

“Go, horsey, go!” he commanded, just getting warmed up. He had forgotten he had been looking for his playmate. I obliged for several more minutes until I really had to stop.

Fortunately for me, my feeble protests were at this time drowned by an almost inaudible but familiar clip-clop of hooves on the marble flooring. Pinky was home, and the preschooler’s attention shifted immediately. “Pinky! Come here!”

As I went into the kitchen to prepare dinner, I heard the preschooler say “Giddy-up, Pinky! Trot!” Amid his amused excitement came higher-pitched shrills of “I’m not a riding horse!”

Jocelyn Lau is a Singapore-based editor and writer. LIFE OF PINKY is an ongoing series of short fiction about her family’s imaginary pet horse. Visit https://www.kucintabooks.com.

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ritual

and how to do the swamps
exploding the sea. our bed and bared
a semaphore turns and flame,
cracking the half-oily thumbs. the lid

for velvetal purpose
with a hole through the arms,
its news to say:
her breath parts the circles,

songs at the comfortable aching of smoke:
never a division of rain.
the wind tried to hang kicking fur of clouds
tattered into the names from the bath.

take the dates, and forever
the wet lightning’s belly of heavy talons.
it’s been found, she said.
her tongue is this crying like a tomb.

B.J. Best is the author of three books and four chapbooks of poetry, most recently But Our Princess Is in Another Castle (Rose Metal Press, 2013) and Yes (Parallel Press, 2014). I got off the train at Ash Lake, a verse novella, is forthcoming from sunnyoutside. He lives in Wisconsin.

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Complexities of heroism in art and the ways many have tried to go against it

They say in rabbits a digestive system can save someone from falling in love too quickly.

They sat on the living room floor hoping that their father would get up this time.

He’s sick, been lying in bed for a while.

He urged readers to detach themselves from feelings that may lead to any sort of emotional involvement.

The composer John Cage also rejected the celebration of the artist as an existential hero and the artwork as a masterpiece.

The artist attempting to fit his dick in any hole he can find.

Riley Hanson is an artist working out of Ann Arbor, MI, as well as a recent graduate of the University of Michigan. His work spans painting, poetry, sculpture, film, and performance. His most recent solo exhibition, titled when you care too much your guts slip out, was with Gallery Bypass in Detroit, MI. His upcoming exhibition it’s burning up in here baby will be with Kamihira Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, in September 2017.

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Glass House

Small heartbeats
bruise like plums
in the darkness of a closet
where a child hides
from the eyes
of a god-fearing woman.

Momma says she’s about blind.
She can’t notice one plate.
One broken plate.
Does she count her plates?
Stop. I’m fine. She can’t notice.
She won’t notice.

In the smallness of the closet,
under the arm
of a pure, dry-cleaned dress,
he can feel the padding of cat paws
and the steam of a tea kettle
breathing through the floorboards.

She sits in the parlor all day,
by the fireplace mantle
in that rocking chair
under the cross of…

The floor dropped from under him.
The cross above the mantle.
Oh God. My God. He saw me.
He sees everything.
Every time I groaned.
Every time I argued.
Every time I cursed
under my breath.
Every time I wish
Grandma Angela were dead.
He can see me
and my little blackened heart,
that’s what she says,
and he knows about a broken plate.
She says keeping secrets
is hellfire
and lying
is hellfire
and I’m so deep in it
I may as well be burning.

He opens the door
to an empty room.
His legs won’t move,
but they need to move.

Should I tell her?
I can’t tell her.
No.
I need to tell her.
I need to tell her now.
It’ll be hard and it’ll scare me
worse than anything
but I need to tell her,
because another bruise,
another red tear,
is better than hellfire.
He bled for hours.
He died for me.
I’d bleed from my cheek
again and again
to be free.

Dusk settles in rain
on a yellowed window.
He can see rows of corn
and soybeans –
the smooth head of a silo.
A long hallway of paintings –
women with simple dresses
and flat mouths.
Elegant men he didn’t recognize,
their eyes fully alive,
great wooden ships
carrying sworded men
and the word of the Lord
to dark corners of the world –
past a sitting room
of high-shouldered furniture
sheathed in plastic
to the parlor where the cross
hangs above the fireplace
like a white flame.

She sits in an arched chair,
her hands folded over her lap.
Her brown eyes meet him.
As if a window opened
to the weeping summer,
she speaks.
“Is there something you need?”

It comes out of him like water
drawn violently from a well.
“I’m really, really sorry ma’am…
I’ve hurt her.
I tried to fix it…
I can barely hear myself.
it was an accident…
She’s going to kill me.
I’ve never felt more ashamed.”
You’re nothing but a liar.
You’re disgusting.

She follows his wet eyes
to the cross on the mantle.
“I want you to pray.”

Is my head nodding?
Can she notice?

“Kneel before the cross
Of our risen lord and savior
and ask forgiveness.
Only then can this be mended.
Only then can you be free.”
His throat is welted.
The floor is wax.
The fire breathes
and he thinks he can hear,
faintly,
the choir of lost children
who forgot their Lord.

“If I ask him, he’ll forgive me?”
Will she forgive me?
“Will you forgive me?”

“All you need to do is ask.
My child,
you will not burn.
You will not drown in guilt.
Your heart will sing.
I forgive you,
and he will too.
Just kneel.”

He feels something wrap
across his heart
like a blanket.
He feels as though everything
he had ever done
and ever will do
were written in a book,
already forgiven.
He almost can’t stand
how good it feels,
and kneels before
an ivory cross,
hanging between
the whispering fire
and the sky
like a bridge.

Sweet Lord Jesus
I’m sorry for the wrong
I’ve done to you
and my grandmother.
I’m so sorry for hiding from you
and lying to you
and being a sinner.
If you’ll find me in your mercy
I’ll live for you,
I’ll die for you,
I’ll sing your songs
forever and ever,
amen, amen,
amen.

A warm, bony hand
holds his shoulder,
but he doesn’t fear it any longer.
He fears nothing.

The paintings nod in recognition.

Andrew Lance is a senior at Purdue University, studying English Literature. He is the President of the Purdue Student English Association and the Editor-in-Chief of the undergraduate literary magazine, The Bell Tower. His work has appeared in Tributaries: A Journal of Creative Arts from Indiana University East.

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Old Prozac

Behind your kitchen window,
the familiar sparrow visits
            a dried flowerbed,
finding you again
under a gnarled cardigan
and the lust of another
            small anesthesia.

He fidgets, head bobbing,
looking mournfully
at the window and you,
clawing the shell
            of a gray stasis
while he needs nothing –
            perfectly himself,
            perfectly sparrow.

You want to take him
in the house of your hands
and feel the fragile heat,
            like holding half
of another, smaller fire –
or at least an ember,
settle for an ember.

Open the window,
and he would present himself
with warm, wet feathers
like the showered hair of a lover.
He would flutter to your shoulder
            with the old bird-smell
and damp, black eyes,
as if to say

            how dearly he has missed you.

Andrew Lance is a senior at Purdue University, studying English Literature. He is the President of the Purdue Student English Association and the Editor-in-Chief of the undergraduate literary magazine, The Bell Tower. His work has appeared in Tributaries: A Journal of Creative Arts from Indiana University East.

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dead wind

sustain agency.
become numerous.
leave dismantled.

from a labyrinth
of elsewhere
weave time,

abandon the ruins,
without bones,
of dead wind.

*This poem is an erasure of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (English translation by William Weaver).

Michael Prihoda is an editor, writer, and teacher living in Indianapolis, IN. He edits the journal After the Pause and is the author of two chapbooks and five poetry collections.

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digging the foundations*

your nose will know the street,
ill-humor encrusted cobblestones.

the reverse is more rare, walking
with eyes digging the foundations.

*This poem is an erasure of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (English translation by William Weaver).

Michael Prihoda is an editor, writer, and teacher living in Indianapolis, IN. He edits the journal After the Pause and is the author of two chapbooks and five poetry collections.

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