Posts Tagged ‘Declaration Editing’


Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part eight, SECOND FIG, is below.

“Second Fig”

The great idea — the one single great idea Fig had ever had was that none of this was happening. Of course he couldn’t prove it, seeing as he and everyone else was stuck in the same illusion. Through stillness, maybe. Through transcendence. But how does one transcend?

He stopped writing and looked up at the clock – after three, yet noise still carried on outside and downstairs. Perhaps getting out of time was the way to do it, but how the hell did that happen? Or walking through glass – he wondered if he could walk through one of the tall windows that faced out to Pen Boulevard.

He went back to scribbling, tried to jot down as much as he could before the thought was gone. Things came and went like that, especially in a world that wasn’t happening, where nothing existed including himself, the paper, the pen with which he was writing.

“So why write at all?” he said out loud. He stopped and looked up again. Someone was knocking. He ignored it. Then there was another one, accompanied with a shout.

He walked around from his booth and saw Syl at the main doors. Her face was nondescript, a blurry mix of pain, chemical imbalance and anxiety.

“I just jacked my ankle,” she said. She limped in and put her arms around Fig to keep from falling.

“How? Where?”

“The curb. I need to piss.”

“Restrooms – ”

“I know where the toilets are at, jackass. I can’t make the stairs.”

Fig helped her through the restaurant and into the kitchen. There was a standalone shower back there where the cooks rinsed off. Mostly it was for ringing mops. Fig walked her over. She dug her nails into his forearm and squatted.

“Are you gonna stare or what?”

“Sorry.” He looked the other way until he heard the trickle stop. Then he helped her up and walked her back to his booth.

“Nice setup for the nighttime janitor,” she sneered. “Glass of beer, roach in the ashtray. It’s a regular party in here.”

“I get by.”

“And what if our boss came in?”

“He never has.”

“What if?”

“What’s the point? None of us are here anyway.”

She didn’t know what he was talking about.

“I’m quitting in a month,” he went on.

“For what?”

“Career I guess.”

Syl slapped the table.

“Doing what?”

Fig shrugged.

“I’ll find it when I find it.”

She rolled her eyes and took a cigarette from his pack. Then she opened his notebook. Fig’s hand jerked to grab it. Then he remembered nothing was real. So he stopped. She was too drunk to read anyway.

“I need something to calm me down,” she said. “You got any ideas?”

Fig glanced at the ashtray roach.

“I mean something that’ll really knock me out.”


Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part seven, BETWEEN THE ACTS, is below.

“Between the Acts”

Lil stood on a banana crate in the middle of her living room. Normally the crate was an end table. Now it was a stage. One of her friends held a half-gallon of cheap wine up to her. She didn’t need it, was already enjoying the glow of a warm somatic experience thanks to the ecstasy, but what the hell, it was poetry, and where there was poetry there should be a poet drinking bad wine straight from a bottle.

“Oh to be in one’s body again,” Lil said before she swallowed. Someone against the wall started to howl. Soon the entire room was howling. The noise moved around like a wave amongst the 30 or so bodies that had crammed in, taken turns reciting, orating, singing, quoting, misquoting. Everyone had a turn. Now Lil was up again.

The hostess. The emcee. Call her what you will. Right now she was a famous poet, on her way to fame at least. That’s what her mind kept saying, kept flashing a golden star labeled You Are Here.

The eyes of the room said so too, as did the gaping mouths, clapping hands, stomping feet. Someone banged a cane. The floor called up to her, sent a reverberating shock through the crate, into her feet and straight to the top of her head, where her soul, it seemed, kept coming in and out.

“To the body,” someone yelled. Lil took the toast and swallowed another slug of wine, then passed the bottle down to the person who was reading next.

She hushed everyone in a theatrical way, the sound off her lips louder than the noise she was silencing. She was about to start when she heard footsteps enter the room from the stairs. She looked and saw Angel in the doorway, a halo from the hallway light over her head.

“You’re late,” Lil shouted. Angel blushed.

“There is no late,” she said. Lil started to laugh. She knew as well as anyone time didn’t exist, at least not during a moment like this.

Angel slid in against the wall to watch her friend read. Lil asked if she brought her fire. Angel nodded. Then Lil began.

“This piece is called, To Virginia,” she said. Someone howled. Lil smiled.

“Let’s put on our overcoats,
pockets full of stones, walk to the river
near home. It’s cold for a swim.
No one minds no more than no one’s mind
finds these times ground for fertile soil.

When we concentrate on the greatest
happy gift, I wonder if we’ve been
what we can. I know a hundred ways
to live through your disease.
You figured one hundred and one.”


Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part six, STILL LIFE WITH ANGEL, is below.

“Still Life with Angel”

Syl was glad for the air. In fact she’d never been happier to be sitting on a bench by herself in the middle of the night. Except the girl kept dancing, even though they were away from the music and crowd.

“Can you please stop?” Syl barked.

“What if I die?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Angel sat down and inched toward her like a child.

“Have you ever had a night where you thought if you stopped doing something you might die?”

“It’s usually the other way around, sister. Stop doing something, or else you die.”

Angel chortled and put her hand on Syl’s back.

“Why do you insist on touching me.”

She shrugged, stood up and started swaying again. She looked in at the boy who was mopping floors in the restaurant. Boys everywhere, no men, just boys with men’s bodies but little boy brains. The boy in the restaurant was a boy for sure, a sad one at that.

“Do you know him?” she asked Syl.

“Sure. He’s the janitor.”

“Is he sad?”

“The world’s sad, sweetie. Except you I guess.” Syl gave her phone another try.

Angel watched her and started to laugh.

“I think once they’re broke they’re broke.”

“How does a cellphone fall in a toilet?”

“Usually when people are sleeping and peeing like you were.”

Syl leered at her.

“Let me use yours. I need to get home.”

Angel gave her a look that said she was out of luck.

“No phone. Don’t believe in them.”

“Of course you don’t. Could you PLEASE stop moving?”

“I am stopped,” Angel answered. “It’s the world that’s moving and your head that’s spinning. See the stars?”

Syl started to look up then stopped and told the girl to get lost. The last thing she needed was another whacked out conversation. She walked to the corner and stared at the line heading down to The Din. A two-way conveyor belt now, bodies going in and out. She considered pushing her way through, going back down to find Blo. What was the use? She walked back to the bench and asked Angel if she knew the time.

“I don’t,” Angel said. “Don’t believe in them either.” Then she twirled. “Why don’t you come to a party with me?”

“Are there more people like you there?”


“I’d rather eat fire.”

“Hey, I’m doing that later!”

“Of course you are.”



“Are you coming?”

“Get lost.”

“OK.” Angel lunged into Syl’s arms and wrapped her in a hug. Syl pushed her away.

“You’re warm,” Angel said.

“I’m freezing.” She shivered.

“I mean inside.”

Then Angel continued away from the downtown, back to the party where she’d been earlier in the night. People were expecting her.


Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part five, Balling, Din, pt. 2, is below.

“Balling, Din – pt. 2″

Syl wrenched her hand away from Blo, swayed from the table and moved like a boar through the crowd. She wanted out but got stuck at the stage, slammed two feet from the singer, whose spit hit her in the face as he cried into the mic. Syl waivered, nearly fell backwards – she was about to piss herself.

This was the problem with pills and booze. Every part of her forgot what the hell to do, went into some sort of social retardation.

All she could think to do was scream, but the bar itself was one loud scream – the noise that shot out of her throat was soon swallowed by something larger, which itself was swallowed by something larger. Russian dolls in reverse.

She pivoted to see if she could push through when someone grabbed her.

“Did that guy hurt you?” a voice yelled. Syl turned. It was the girl from the table, the S&M one with red and white hair.

“Stay away from that louse,” Syl growled. “You need to get me out of here.”

“Let me.”

The sounds got louder again, crossed into that place where they were no longer auditory sensations. A visceral, felt sense, like a pride of boulders landing on your chest. The way you imagine the world will end.

Syl’s vision blurred. The singer’s mask was a skull, his body a husk, his guitar a scythe.

She growled again for the girl to do something, leaned into her, almost sent them to the floor.

“Put your arm around me,” the girl said. “Pretend we’re lovers.”

“Wha?” Syl started, but didn’t get the word out before the girl pressed her lips to hers then led them away from the crowd. The girl pushed her way through double doors and dragged Syl down the hall into the woman’s room.

Syl was sitting when she came back to life, opened one eye half way, looked up and heard a trickle of piss smacking water. Somehow she’d made it to a toilet.

She saw that the girl was in the stall with her, just standing there watching.

“Why the hell did you kiss me?”

“Everyone wanted us to kiss. I gave them what they wanted. Then they stopped looking. I’m not a dike. But you kiss nice.”

Syl was too wasted to be flattered. She reached her hand out when she was done and the girl helped her up. They walked to the sinks. Syl splashed water on her face and glanced in the mirror. She was dying. At least she looked it. The girl stood a few feet behind her. Syl looked at her reflection.

“What’s your name?”


“Isn’t that sweet.”

“My mother thought so. My father too.”

“Well Angel, I need a cab.”

“To where?”

“I don’t know.”


Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part four, Balling, Din, pt. 1, is below.

“Balling, Din – pt. 1″

The Din had a carnal darkness to it tonight. Too much flesh and smoke and sweat in too little space. Syl tasted it, smelled it before she got inside. Felt the buzz and gush just above the naval, the shock that rode up the nape of her neck. No name for it, just a body sensation.

When she made it to the bar she leaned far over the top and ordered a double whisky, flashed eyes that matched the feel of the place.

“Nice to see all of you again,” the bartender said. He grinned, ran his glare from her eyes to nose, chin to breasts. Syl didn’t mind letting her favorites stare at whatever part of her they wanted.

“Hell of a night,” she mouthed.

“It’s always hell down here,” he said.

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

“I bet that’s the first time you’ve ever said that.” He winked, served the drink and told her it was him. Syl left a $5 on the bar anyway.

A band of four large, shirtless men in wrestler masks had wedged themselves and their gear onto a tiny stage toward the room’s back end. The Flying So and So’s, all speed surf rock and grit. Syl didn’t mind – noise was noise down here. She dug around her purse, came up with a vile and swallowed another half milligram of Alprazolam to top off what she’d taken earlier.

She darted her eyes around until they landed on Blo, sandwiched at a table amongst four co-eds half his age. Syl didn’t know why she kept going back to him. Another bad habit, worse than marriage by now.

“Where the hell have you been?” she yelled just loud enough to almost be heard.

“Sit down, baby – look, this one right here,” he pointed a finger with his drinking hand. A girl with white and red streaked hair flashed a toothy smile. “She’s into that M&M shit you like.”

“You’re an asshole,” Syl said. “And it’s S&M.”

“Same thing.” He looked at the girl and gestured with his lighter. She laughed.

“She likes the flame like you,” Blo said, then flicked his lighter near Syl’s breasts. “Those hot nipple tricks.”

Syl reached back and slapped him hard across the face. A sudden reaction without thought. A few people turned to look – the rest were too lost in the bar’s noise to hear. They watched the band’s masked faces bounce back and forth.

Blo grabbed Syl’s wrist.

“I told you last time I’d hit you back.”

“Go ahead, Taco, and I’ll send you back to Guadeloupe.”



Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part three, Doors of Perception, is below.

“Doors of Perception”

Fig lit his cigarette off of Syl’s. She rested her hand on his for a second and looked away.

“You must hate working alone,” she said. She nodded toward Shorty’s. Fig looked behind him. They were standing in front of the restaurant’s glass doors. He shifted his focus from inside the restaurant to their reflections and the reflections of everyone else in line to get into The Din. What if reflections weren’t just reflections? What if they were parallel lives that could move and breathe and decide on a new course without the body in this life acting? He almost said this out loud. He could have said it and it wouldn’t have mattered, probably would have been par for whatever course Syl had mapped out for him in her head. It was part of his specific archetype. Fig knew of at least three late-night janitor archetypes: the bloated loser – Ernie, who worked Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The blue-collar family guy – Ray, who worked Mondays and Thursdays. And the burnout English major with too many theories. Fig.

Fig didn’t know where the archetypes came from, only that they existed. Everyone fit into one or another. He stared at his archetype in the window. It nodded at another archetype – the pent-up late 30s woman. He thought about how her hand had lingered on his a minute ago. Had it really done so? Or was it just something her archetype would do? Either way, he figured she could use five-minutes of grudge sex in one of restaurant’s booths, which was something his archetype would think but never act on.

“It gets lonely, doesn’t it?” she asked. He half-waited for their reflections to disappear together, literally walk into another panel, reflect something else out into another world until that reflection went off and did something new. That way we are all in concert creating new realities.

He turned back to face Syl. She held a sad sort of tiredness under her eyes. She blew a stream of smoke into the moist air a second after her reflection did the same.

“It’s not bad,” Fig said. His reflection said something more clever than that. Fig couldn’t figure what it was. He just knew.

Syl checked her phone, then looked for Blo. He’d worked his way ahead in the line, was near the door talking with four or five younger women.

“Stop in later,” Fig said. He looked down as soon as he said it, swept a wet scrap of paper into his pan.


“Knock on the window on your way out.”

“For what?”

“Night cap?”

She looked over his shoulder into the glass.

“We’ll see.”

WORKS OF ART: Water, Lily’s Morning

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part two, Water, Lily’s Morning, is below.

“Water, Lily’s Morning”

The campus clock gonged midnight. Lily liked to think of getting off work as the start of a new day rather than the end of an old one, and so took a deep breath of what she called first morning.

She walked the side street that ran north of Pen. A number of vendors were still open, despite the drizzle, and people waited around for food. Two bodies staggered toward her – Syl, the evening hostess at Shorty’s, and Blo, a line cook. They were both married and didn’t do a good job of hiding their affair.

Blo said something in Spanish. Lily didn’t understand. He repeated in English.

“The days run into one another until they unravel.”


“I try.”

“You were close this time.”

Syl lit a cigarette under her coat, then smiled.

“Come to The Din with us,” she said. That was the bar beneath Shorty’s. The same people owned both places. “We’ll fix you up with a boy,” she continued.

“I have a reading,” Lily said. Syl sneered. At some point she’d wanted to be a writer. Now she was saddled with a mortgage and middle age.

“And then what?”

“Then first morning will become early morning,” Lily answered.

Syl rolled her eyes. She and Blo continued on. Lily walked to her place, a three-story house she shared with seven other people. A half-block away, she heard the familiar sounds of a party – loud, bass heavy music, high-pitched laughter, someone cursing. Her throat seized. She asked her roommates not to have a party, yet the place was lit from top to bottom. About 20 people huddled on the porch in the proximity of a keg.

She stood in the drizzle for a while – maybe it was a rain now. When did drizzle turn into rain? Lily figured she’d stand in it until she had an answer. The morning she wanted was gone. The first person to see her pondering the weather was one of her roommates, a tall blond named Tess. She ran down the porch steps with a cup of beer.

“What the hell is this?” Lily asked. She took the cup and gulped at it.

Tess belched. “It’s a poetry party.”


“OK, it’s a party. But it’s a reading too. People are waiting for you.”


“Up stairs. Come on. You’re covered in water.”

“I’m wet.”

“I can see that.”

“I don’t want people here.”

“Who would you read to if no one was here?”

“Just poets.”

“Maybe everyone’s a poet.”

Lily groaned.

“I have a surprise,” Tess said. She asked Lily to open her hand and close her eyes. When Lily looked down, there was a pill sitting between her heart and lifeline.

“Nice and clean,” Tess said.

“That’s what you always say.”

Lil put it in her mouth and swallowed.

WORKS OF ART: First, Fig

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

WORKS OF ART is an exercise in serial flash fiction, as part of Declaration Editing’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C). Part one, First Fig, is below.

“First, Fig”

Fig went to work the way he always went to work – freshly stoned, slightly drunk and in greater need for sleep than he cared to admit or talk about. It wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle, nor did he intend for it to be. A poem about burning the candle at both ends bounced around his head. A professor had recited it in a literature class back when Fig was still a student. He never knew the title. Just a short thing about a candle and a lovely light. A woman wrote it. He didn’t remember her name. The world was full of poets – he didn’t bother trying to remember them all, especially the female ones.

He wished Pen Boulevard could be empty for once. It never was. There were too many bars in the six blocks between his apartment and Shorty’s, the restaurant he cleaned. There were always people waiting to get inside one or the other. Or they sat outside under umbrellas with drinks in their hands, even on a night like this with a little rain coming down. It was Art Week, which meant the town was again filled with students and strangers who came looking to get drunk and forget themselves for a few days. He wanted to be out there too, wasting the little money he had chasing a shot with a beer and making eyes at a girl. Any girl. As it was, he’d partied up until 10 o’clock at Smith’s, left just as the party was getting good, walked back to his apartment to change, rolled two joints and headed to his late night cleaning shift.

Lily was the first person he saw when he walked into Shorty’s back entrance. Lily with the crystal blue eyes and mean furrow between them. Stark white skin Lily who used to sing in coffee shops before she decided poetry was a more serious art. Now she hosts various reading series that Fig never goes to.

“You look like hell,” she said.

“Thanks. Are you heading to Smith’s?”

“Should I?”


“We’re having a reading circle at my place. You should come.” She smirked. She knew he was working but said it anyway. It was all she could do to make Fig feel somehow lower than she was. They’d been friends, used to workshop each other’s poems until they started sleeping together. Then things went to hell.

Lily bent over and scribbled something on a slip of paper.

“This is for you,” she said.

He looked at it.

“Is it a haiku?”

“You’re an idiot.”

“What is it then? Who’s St. Vincent?”


“OK.” He still didn’t know.


“A woman saint?”

“You’re a jackass.”

She couldn’t tell if he was kidding. Neither could Fig.

Serial flashing

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Check out Declaration’s Super-Short Summer Serial Challenge (S4C), which will be rocking through the month of July. I’ll be posting my story here during the month. Keep and eye out and write one of your own.

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