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  • Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

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Entries in poetry (15)

Friday
May042018

Horse Latitudes

For nearly three hours, Cait sits in the chair in the silent room.

Once, she was the tiniest girl and no one even noticed her. And this is now not then, and she's still small, still quiet, and she is still mostly overlooked. 

Traffic on the highway hums its deadpan melody. A yellow warbler sings counterpoint.

I no longer love the wineglass, just its stem, Cait thinks, while the brassy chime of an antique clock peals someplace behind her. Like sound will overcome her reticence. Like love won't ever apply to her.

Cait in a dirty white dress with a faded flower print. Cait with hair lank as ditch weed.

Aunt Trinity left a good four hours ago, let Cait know of ways to break right through, killed two mosquitos in her room and said, "That's two less bloodsucking bitches y'all need to mind." 

Cait wonders if she sat like this before, so still, so quiet, so decorous and factual. Wonders if anyone ever sat so true.

For now, it's hard to think of someone other than Mr. Kosiński, his kindly face all gathered in the doorway, his Polish husk so sweet across the room, like storied hazelnut. He thought today was his day, when he would teach Cait how to be French, but he got it wrong, and who knows now what so many crisscrossed schedules bode?

These are her doldrums. Something meteorological. Won't anyone come help?

No. Of course not. How we—stripped, abandoned, supplementary—extricate ourselves from smudged insipid traps determines all the rest of this.

Cait sits in the astonished eye of a teacup storm on a silent chair, past noon. Her lashes curl and drip. Her lips purse and pale. She tries to frown, a pint-sized girl under a crushed daisy crown. 

Will any of this coalesce? What is this ache? Squall or squib? Does she wait for something in the sky to break?

A knock on her door. She never wants to answer. Blam. Blam. A second and a third. Cait sighs, then sighs again.

"Okay," she whispers, like she's lamenting a version of her own name. "Coming, I guess."

Beyond the screen a haloed queen, some gypsy harlequin badass goddess. A Bolan lyric layered onto robust bones. 

"Time to be alive again, pretty lady," the apparition says in a voice soft with dark confectionary. "Come."

The antique clock chimes every quarter hour and does so now, and will chime unheard one million, four hundred and one thousand, six hundred times more while quiet, overlooked Cait rides rails and road righting the myriad wrongs done to her, accompanied by a grinning ghost.

Friday
Nov112016

Shore

In a growing fog, I traveled 

in a rowboat to an unknown shore. Unsure 

I'd even reach any shore.

 

When my arms grew weary, I 

lay back and let the boat 

drift, directionless,

a mote on a vast

unblinking cataract.

 

Sky perhaps a mere

grey shade lighter

than this great water.

 

At times so enraged I'd row

so hard my heart

felt the bloodlust of a stoat

eating through the hide

of a stricken deer.

At others, only

mourning, only

sorrow.

 

Land glimpsed through cloud

but fleeting, maddening,

while silence hushed the skies

and night wouldn't fall.

 

Days of this. Weeks. Birdless

and silent, except for the oar blades

cutting and dripping like

a killer's dark enterprise.

 

Enticements, dreams of

welcome and a beach

warm under endless blue. 

Imagination a whore.

A disordered mind will trap you

if you yearn for but never reach

a solitary shore.

 

Friday
Jul012016

Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy

We stepped out upon the frozen water, we walked upon the dirty snow. Me and my daughter, Rosa. We fell by the wayside, pitched into oily ditches, climbed again to the roadside. Clocked unlikely wrecks with steaming grills. Refugees passed us and we pushed against the flow, our sopping icy toques drawn low on our complex brows, our boots stirring rainbow swirls in the slush, each hour another day older as we left our dirty wakes by the highway shoulder, passing pitiless chains of mute and blameless busted chassis.

What is it we expect? The ultimate horror is the ultimate sorrow. This we know. We shot at and wrote on off-kilter roadsigns to those who followed, sometimes lying, sometimes truthing, sometimes somewheres inbetween, dreaming of red things, equally of blue things, anything other than dirt-stained ice and the drainage swirl of oil and so many ills, such aimless shills, such hushed and Christ-abandoned lies and septic leaks and senseless backroad bloodloss…

It won't ever scare us unless it scares the ape in us. Lifts the caul. Peers beneath the smooth veneer right into the queasy hollow.

Weesht, girl, hush your mouth. I will avenge your exemplary death. This I vow.

We are tricksters, all. Impossible. We once brandished tools and brought them swinging to bear on exposed skulls, winced as the blood and the bone and the hair flew in patterns, paintings and sculptures, a dark dripping collage of found things, foulness, moisture, and oil.

Rosa is with me still, named after a sea rose: Rosa Rugosa. My sweetest girl. Bella Rugosa's dead. She sleeps with her eyes open, a shoreline demon. She lets you trace your fingers over her kelp fronds, demands you pay upfront even for a haircut. She drifts like flags of mist, catching on cedars, losing her grip, crying while the future silently offloads the past.

Letters on a window finger-spelled in blood. Escapee emblems and refugee imprints. Displacement creoles and back alley squalls. Some bad things go forever unnoticed.

Recall. She can raise her south paw and—due to some arcane configuration of digits and lips—conjure the most lascivious whistle, a single brow arched, eyes blazing like Dachau ovens. More and more, she compels my love, a furtive, wolfish, delphic, entirely frowned-upon tryst. Rhymes with Christ.

Bad man helpless loving bad woman shamed, violently so. Wrapped in smoldering tarpaper shrieking pure hellacious profanities, a dreamworld headland Punchinello shitshow.

Photo booths, voters, my willing coy hostess, and sweet, loving Otis. Bad things sure seem to go oddly unnoticed.

Because I can never trust the cops, this is a true detective tale. Talk at length to anyone peripheral and gather the strands of truth. Arrange from sun-bleached driftwood a new kind of forest, fashioned from betrayals and ardor, from reckless surly bonds and rueful, shamefaced bloodlettings.

Swipe your touchscreen like a blind communion. Tinder by definition is dry.

Lately the orange tree started to flower, delicate starbursts all in a day or two, while tiny wizened oranges still dangle from its sticklike branches, minuscule jack'o'lanterns, and the aroma is pungent, not like the citrus-sweet of oranges, more like old sixties barbershop hair tonic, clean and human and cloying and quietly disreputable.

Whatever happened?

Inexplicably, the world erased Arvo Pärt. Who knew? Brothers, we are brothers. Sisters too. And we somehow forgot.

A young man strides with the youthful gait of a vigorous America along a fog-softened street—signs on the sidewalk looming and fading, the chalky dreamlike colors of the nineteen fifties, all solid yet perplexing—and looks up at a sky whose exact blue will never be seen again by anyone, hops into the driver's seat of a 1954 Corvette convertible and swings it through a procession of likeminded chariots to go pick up his girl and go dancing, at the very dawn of the age of cars.

While Midwestern rain drips like tears from the nose of a lonely child, guttering into a rain barrel.

Now, her wineglass is a lucid tulip, her redgloss mouth a trap.

A young bear embraces the bole of a tree. We send essential signals to the satellites, tap out rhythmic code to a maiden ship on a glassy northern sea, all our warnings, squawks, all our bleak entreaties. Could our cynicism drop a notch? Perhaps. Release our stale breath and watch the flocks stream in slow processional rows of multiple V's, these great suspicious beauties, exotics, these, our choice exemplars.

My Rosa flees from the black seeds, wraps her fingers around the railings of a caboose, hauls her urchin body on board, writhes within corridors of spittle and cigarette ash, feels filthy, stubby, furtive digits mining her seams, yet regales her fellow passengers with grave clandestine tales inscrutable with haunt.

(Better get used to it, pedants, haunt is now a noun.)

Imagine all our dimwit, heartfelt nations questing as ships in a proximate cluster, unblinking through the galaxy, trying to both dominate and keep up. China's vast, India too, and America's somewhat smaller, yet furious and bristling with turrets. Canada floats close by and feigns insouciance, knowing it all ends in heat-death silence while fervently wishing it didn't. France records the backdrop, smiles. Colombia awaits the onslaught. Chile decorates its space poets, while Malian koras unscramble sonnets. And England cuts its own ancient umbilical and tumbles behind all the unholy vessels of Europe, and I cry, because I lived a good half of my life on that star-crossed ship, and some of my friends are still on it.

All ghost ships now. Somehow still going, eyeballing, outward from the center forever.

Time to clue in the newcomers: 

This is not a finished thing, it's a project. If you squat in the forest and suck the water from the mosses you might live. But know your piss is fair game. It's cyclical, wide-eyed, recondite, droll. Go talk to your others about dragonflies. The bears sit neck-deep in the creek, patient as fuck. We endure the stark mockery of ravens. We can't even claim to have tried, but some of us have great vast kick-drum hearts regardless. A small boat crossing the sound, eagles drifting in thermals, worlds of indolence and wonderment, pure cryptic love, luck, and those alien erratic guitar tunings. 

New evidence hints at her killer. I reposition myself. It's true she kept running, hoping for a soft place to fall. Kept loving all the underdogs shifting beneath the ceiling fans and easily in earshot of the authorities, while scrawling protest signs.

Unheeded, unanticipated, some dark parochial thing looms peripheral. Like a parliament or research lab. Or a genocide.

Rosa says sorry. Solarplex it. Knowingly oversex it while looking for the exit. Oversells her dance on the oceanside porch and laments what can go so unspeakably wrong in a life. It ain't always a choice.

Asks again what happened to the ape in us. What an answer: silence.

Listen: when the bad dreams come, as with the terrible winds, there will be no shelter. Not sure you're ever prepared. Will the howling shoals and shores of murder make of anything a palpable tale? Does bloodlust ever resonate? Will the strangeness of our star fields render you indifferent? What are your names? Are we cold? Your own unearthly selves? Do we mourn? Love? Walk the flickering line of frigid northern light? Could, might, will you ever know us?

Friday
Mar182016

Slut Dreams

Slut Dreams


(for John Donne)

 

Punk cellist. Braced for banishment.

Your hectic face, your miscreant strut,

The fluctuate air hums your ruined frequency.

Your superheated breath in my superannuated back,

I turn slow and understand malnourishment

At last. I watch you break, and see you crack.

Whose skin did you inhabit today? This century?

You sucked so much from me and now you 

Don't even have enough left to borrow.

Still, I'm going to take it all, the full sum of your worth.

Can you love someone yet wish them only 

Sorrow?

 

Nights in Cassadaga, cool mornings in Seoul.

Give me your arms, donate your shaky armoury.

Before you I never even knew I wasn't whole,

Corrugated wharflike and rusted as a cannery.

My wary bordertown heart is like the lightning tree.

Black and crooked. Split and elementary.

Dubious as blind things writhing in a hole.

 

The sleek wolves smell you, the blind bears find

Your scent amid cordilleran folds 

And the tail fan of a talus

And immediately follow.

 

Eagles and buzzards wheel in the impossible sky.

 

I'm a man. I'm alive. Under the bright cold

Silver blue dome. Adamant

Draws us earthward, but

What next? To whom

Do we run? Is this where

Love goes to die or where

It might in fact begin again?

 

The cyclic world is giving birth

To its own addermouth end.

 

We will find each other in the blue-sky valley

After the carious rocks have crumbled, after

The parched trees have cracked open, everything

Once living laid bare to the world's scrutiny. And you

Will bear me from the charnel field, my brother,

My blessèd sister, deliver me to my home. You

Are of my iron heart always. You my

Mutinous pestilent love are 

Carved from my own ambivalent flesh. Did you

Dream of me or I you?

 

It matters not. Dream, dream, my love,

And never stop until sleep is done.

Friday
Feb282014

Unknowable

A brand new poem. For what it's worth.

 

Unknowable

 

Here's me with my basalt ruin, my

lost tundra neediness, cast amid

muttered notes fragmenting with love,

urgent with greed, fleeting

with want, curled fetal beneath

one solid theatre tower.

 

Where are you? Where?

 

Stopped off at the Sylvia? The Bellwether?

(Ladybugs, ivy, Errol, and heraldry?) 

 

I went and bought a small guitar,

a tiny Ibanez, 

to shore myself against the

grief tsunamis to come, 

while you, drunk only on the now, 

scoured concupiscent inventories 

for dildos, perfect condiments for soup, 

rodents, antlers, dripping cormorants.

 

Dark winglike music, malbec, sushi, tarot, love. 

Me prone and spent amid

the prunelike slime 

of sopping leaves pressed like

massed eons of sediment.

 

Got home, tuned it, strummed a lament,

got the Led out, caterwauled,

hummed an Appalachian dirge, a rant,

a moonshiner sonata and a desert screed,

squalled some secret boy and girl tune,

fireflies, calls, maple leaves, blues, 

ancora qui,

ancora tu.

 

It's work to watch hands build and furl

then come undone and go unfurl,

while roof hymns spatter bitumen eaves

and Jersey shores recede, zeal stutters, 

and all of it, everything, 

bleeds.

 

My idling car is northern Canada, 

immune and snowbanked, yearning south.

Get in and twist the dial

so radio broadcasts

hiss awhile, gaping

unbreakable as bridge cable,

conjuring rainforests,

stupefied like forecasts of something

unnamable, lowing scattered as prairie cattle, yet so

utterly, alarmingly unknowable.

***