“Repeat it,” Brian, the seventh-grade DM, says, holding a cigarette lighter directly under my fist.
“I can’t play until I’m 14.”
“So stop asking.” His grip releases and I shake the pinpricks from my fingertips. “Now hand it over.”
I pull a folder crammed with notebook paper from my backpack. Brian yanks out a character sheet—Xenon the Sorceror—and lights it. The ashes fall lightly on me. I try not to think of them as the remains of a friend.
I hear the satisfying plop of wet clay and then the wheel spins and spins. Each hand curves, pushes, and smooths, lifts new life from a formless muck. The past cakes underneath my fingernails; the future, slick with glaze, blazes in the kiln. I wait to greet the freshest phoenix.
He traced my name into my chest after he heard it, the e blazing across my ribs like a comet. On the dance floor, he grabbed my hips and kissed me.
“What’s that for?” I asked.
“For the stars in your eyes.”
a woman found an aniseed
among some withered recipes
inside: recumbent fantasies
Of gray days swelled with ecstasy
The War was over, but we didn’t know it yet. We threw bio-grenades into schools, blasted blindly into sick bays, screaming, panting, until word came through the ansible, but we are not posthuman. We return home with the rage still in our throats, our eyes searchlights.
I still feel that humid night on me. Back then our apartment perched above the sidewalk like a vulture; my head perched above my heart like a parrot. Just before you wedged that stupid laundry basket you use as a suitcase out the back door, you told me to stop messing with the frays of things, and I spent I don’t know how long on the rim of the bathtub. Early, early, I wandered outside. I found one of your button-downs wadded in the yard—still wet from its vagrancy. I took off my shirt, smoothed yours on my skin like lotion.
Alone in the cellar and without smokes, Mariusz builds sculptures from his collection of broken clocks. Soon a twitching army of snuffling pigs and pecking chickens surround him. The whirr of their oiled gears almost blocks out the blasts of bombs above.
(photo credit: Matt Katzenberger on flickr)
Leslie steals Jenny’s gum a millisecond before the pink bubble bursts onto glossed lips. Jenny sneers “that’s gross,” but later she tells her sister about the new girl in her class.
Leslie goes home happy that she caught the pretty girl’s attention.
The lit match arcs over the blighted carpet before landing gymnast-style on polyester. In the breath before the whole thing goes up, I somehow smell cedar, gasoline, my life before you. I jump on the motel bed to stomp out the flames.
Each page is a history of penmanship: the serifed letters made by phoenix quills, the alternate grace and blotch of fountain pens, the gaudiness of blue-inked BICs. My coven’s incantations whisper from the open book, learn more from us, oh cunning one.