Tag Archives: Kathy Fish

HOW TO MAKE A CANOE/KAYAK TRAILER

Physical.

Artist.

Hemingway strolls into wars and rides water buffalo. Not to mention marriage (s), a very taxing activity. Very. Agatha Christie takes long, long constitutionals, for weeks. Where is she? Books sell. Murder. Rolf Jacobsen sculpts pillowcases, and sometimes, well, he was wrong. I once preferred two pillows, now one is OK. I hate the short pour and also when politicians breathe out their eyeballs. Twain shoots small pistols at large, water rats (Coypu?), rats scurrying in canals like the shadows of a seesaw. But why? Elvis knows three types of karate, as does Elizabeth Bishop,

elvis 1who often forgot it was Sunday, liquor stores closed, so more than once drank cologne.

bishop 2William Stafford practices slight-of-hand magic, daily (we saw him working K’s wedding), as does Jimmy Chen and we all know Murakami likes to run and run and run, slowly. Sort of a shuffle. OK, a jog. He jogs, his mind swirling with tunnels and shopping cats.

In fact, this is a town of cats. When the sun starts to go down, many cats come trooping across the bridge—cats of all different kinds and colors. They are much larger than ordinary cats, but they are still cats. The young man is shocked by this sight. He rushes into the bell tower in the center of town and climbs to the top to hide. The cats go about their business, raising the shop shutters or seating themselves at their desks to start their day’s work. Soon, more cats come, crossing the bridge into town like the others. They enter the shops to buy things or go to the town hall to handle administrative matters or eat a meal at the hotel restaurant or drink beer at the tavern and sing lively cat songs. Because cats can see in the dark, they need almost no lights, but that particular night the glow of the full moon floods the town, enabling the young man to see every detail from his perch in the bell tower. When dawn approaches, the cats finish their work, close up the shops, and swarm back across the bridge.

I don’t like when people call runners joggers. Though running does jog the brain.

Curtis Smith with a running flash here.

Tennis star Andy Murray, on literature: “I don’t read, I haven’t read a book since the second Harry Potter.”

Thanks, Andy.

twain

Robert Frost likes to shake sadness from the fingers of ferns on the forest floor. Galway Kinnell sings, badly. Blake Butler walks on treadmills as he reads his yearly 120 + books. Jan Follain stuffs dead animal eye sockets with marbles. Tomas Transtromer has a cooler name than you and argues in one poem that writing stimulates a bunch of cells at the base of the brain (the reticular activating system [RAS]) and so on/so on and there are a lot of tiny frogs climbing up the outside of my house, a lot of tiny, green frogs, not really sure why, but if I was Gary Snyder I’d insert the frogs into one of those Robin poems. The frog is a device of nostalgia, etc. Also the shack. I keep seeing Gary Snyder building a deck or walking on top my roof, not sure why, all back-lit by the moon. Tu Fu competitively eats cheeseburgers and TN Williams likes to swim. A few weeks ago, I perchanced a boat trailer:

IMG_5136

A TAXIDERMIST
—Jean Follain

A taxidermist is sitting
before the russet breasts
green and purple wings
of his song-birds
dreaming about his lover
with a body so different
yet so close sometimes
to the body of the birds
that it seemed to him
very strange
in its curves and its volumes
in its colors and its finery
and its shades…

16 foot, purchased off Craig’s List. Dude’s name was Larry. He was out front, installing a homemade outhouse on a pontoon boat. Welding. Clever.

Me: How fixed are you on your price? You take 400?

Larry: Well, I can’t give it away. I could do 425.

Larry shows me how to hook it up to car. Explains pins, chains, lights. Later:

Larry: You don’t have a plate. Take the back roads home. (Inferring to avoid police)

Larry: You can pinch your fingers off (this about hitch).

Larry: You know to take wide turns, right?

Larry: I can give you a way home you’ll see no one.

Larry: You ever driven a trailer?

Me: No.

Larry: Well, some people drive a trailer and they forget the trailer is back there. Don’t do that.

So I hit a curb or something but get home and start making the boat trailer into a canoe/kayak trailer.

HOW TO MAKE A CANOE/KAYAK TRAILER

1. Align the bumpers. Use a hammer or a minimum wage banana. Measure once, cut twice.

2. Give the bow tops solitude. Herd the sheep. Don’t feel bad: sheep enjoy being herded. Cup holders?

3. Feed the winch coffee. (No more than 12)

4. Buy some swim noodles from the lower 48 and smoke them. Punch them full of cloves and feel like you’re back in college.

5. Axles, springs, and U-bolts optional. A U bolt is a bolt in the shape of U. Wish life was more often that way.

6. Get two buckets and make it look like Alabama. Make it a Hank song.

7. Lick the extended tongue.

8. Add a beer cooler. Two? OK.

You are dung. I mean dun. I mean done.

IMG_5163[1]

Well, afterwards go fishing:

IMG_5227[1]

A glow interview with Kathy Fish about flash fiction.

She discusses why she writes flash.

3 Flash I admire today!

The Washingtaco became a lunch staple: a crisp one-dollar bill folded longwise and stuffed with quarters.

A.R. LaRoche discusses money here. I like the rising action, the turn, the conceptual nature, the logic, the cleverness, the way money is our bodies and our bodies money.

There is the voice of God in the bass reverb and the lyrics’ rising incantation.

Claire Rudy Foster and PUNK. I like the voice, the address–persona to auditor–the energy is glow, the energy, control of time, lots of waving and jumping and hands up like you just don’t care. It captures something.

Interview.

Below the hills a white egret will spin across the green marsh flats, bursting in my vision like a firework in the night; and I will be sure that the blue has never been so bright and low, the whole weight of the sky hanging just over our heads as if we are children beneath a parachute. My son tells me, “There is no present, Daddy.

Steven Church with what lyricism can do…such control, and an exquisite mix of image and reflection. The controlling fog metaphor feels very authentic. Life, the gray area between of what we know and do not know at all, what we have and wish for, what we understand and all the rest. Fog.

Church interview.

Pro tennis player, Stan Wawrinka: “I don’t like to read books.”

Thanks, Stan.

No glow to you.

And so on.

scan0001

5 great texts (that could have been greater with a tiny edit) and 9 thunks I glow.


1. The Dead By James Joyce.

Poor Gabriel. Dude’s all up in his party galoshes and doesn’t even realize he’s not the Master of Ceremonies–he’s the clown. Poor little corn syrup of a man. And holy fucking rising action! Longest rising action in the megaverse. Dude’s heart goes to the guillotine in SLOOOWWWWWW motion. It rises, rises…then chop! But there’s a missed opportunity. Here we have the mondo holiday feast:

A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a great ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on which lay a solid rectangle of Smyrna figs…

Blah, blah, blah. When the piece should have read:

A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a big-ass pile of nachos, striped with a Wisconsin pepper jack/sharp cheddar blend, and garnished with refried black beans, Renfroe’s Salsa, and slivers of pickled Yatsafusa pepper, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes…

Waaa, waaa, but nachos were invented in 1943, as we all know. So WTF? Joyce can go from forced realist epiphany to stream-of consciousness flow to Finnegans Wake, a book that is either full of shit or multi-level madness/brilliant punnage and word lollygag. Hello. A man who can write Ulysses can easily introduce nachos 25 years before they are invented. It’s called creative writing.

[Solemnly he came forward and mounted the Formica. He faced about and blessed gravely thrice the tower, the surrounding country and the awaking mountains. Then, catching sight of Stephen Velveeta, he bent towards him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his throat and shaking his head. Stephen Velveeta, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of the staircase and looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair, grained and hued like corn tortilla. Oh, fuck, it’s snowing again outside! Are you kidding? Blar me.]

2. On “Patience” by Tyler Gobble (over at decomP)

An interesting meditation, this poem. We certainly all know patience. How many of us wish our ovens would pre-heat more quickly? That our lettuce would grow up through the snow? That a statue of a yellow beam of iron (modern art?) at the university would sink into the ground and then into dust (as it must eventually)? And that young lady over there, the one with cheekbones like a crop-duster, what day will she hand me a five dollar bill or at least ask me for two beers on the roof of her basement? But this line:

The dog sits waiting with the treat on its nose while its owner stuffs himself with Ding-Dongs and Cheetos.

There is really no reason to mention Cheetos here, Tyler. A cheese-flavored cornmeal snack, here, in this poem? No, no, no. And question: why does Cheetos suddenly replace the interpunct? For decades, it was Chee-tos. Then now Cheetos? Who does that? Imagine if we all went around replacing our interpuncts? It’s chaos.

What the fuck? Sara screamed. Where is your interpunct?

I threw it away, Tom said. Mother said she could smell it in my room, so I…I threw it away.

Sara gave him a look like maybe he was chicken broth. Well, she said. Then we’re done.


Etc, etc. Fuck Cheetos, uh, Cheet-os, uh Fake-os with milk. Dog biscuits with neon below deck orange stains. Blar me. Or:

The dog sits waiting with the treat on its nose while its owner stuffs himself with Ding-Dongs and Nachos.

Same syllabic glow. Better food.

[I just saw Tyler last week at a restaurant. Did he eat nachos? He did not. Did I eat nachos. Yes, I did.]

3. Mary Jones, “One of us Wanted it More.” (elimae)

Kids going all wild, all clutch and grippy. Then:

“What can I give you that would make you be good?”

“It would have to be big.”

I didn’t have money for big.

Might I suggest something BIG for not very big money? Like:

[Kids, this little gnome has been all around the world! And now he’s here! Can you kids name the capital of Djibouti? It’s Djibouti! Ha, ha, don’t you know the world is diabolical and we’re all headed down the same swirling drain? So eat nachos–they are true to you.]

or

[Kids, your dad’s friend and I are going to take a “nap.” Here’s a silver dollar. Here is a copy of printed instructions on how to make nachos. Follow each step, carefully. Now go down to the gas station and get some chips and cheese and a can of salsa and maybe a Fosters Oil Can for mom. ]

or

[Oh, you’re one of those kids? Need hand-crafted toys, huh? Your dad drives a Subaru, right? Here, here’s your damn hand-crafted nachos. No owls were killed for their blubber in the making of this shampoo, etc etc. Go play. Hurry up! The earth is catching on fire!!]

4. This next text could not be better. It’s what we call an outlier.

Would you like to be a best selling author? Huh? I mean what are you doing? Would you like to be Brett Easton Ellis? Make some paper? Do some blow off the ass of a parrot? Have your books protested? Wear those wool-collar coats that sort of look cool and affected and maybe then cool again, if the air is right, like if your breath is roiling. Drive a big house? Get all meta and use your name in your own books? (Now that is clever!) Meet Charlie Sheen in a bathroom? Hunt down any poet who uses the word corn silk? Get laid, though you are neither gay or straight? The answer is yes here, the answer is yes. So how do you do it? Really? You’re asking me this, really.

Me yawning me flipping slowly though a copy of Lunar Park [or any other Easton Ellis book] me slightly annoyed…I give you a look, I say, “Here, read this, page 41:”

The three of us, out in the hallway, were suddenly approached by a very tall and sexy cat holding a tray of nachos.

or later:

“Terby’s mad,” Sarah whined again.

“Well, calm him down,” I said, glancing around. “Bring him up some nachos.”

5. For many backyards I’ve read the poetry of Trey Jordan Harris. It calms me. Often my stomach will think of fullness or richness, or both. He has a poet’s touch for image, for float, he can make the world drift and often it does drift and so I feel OK.

Example here (elimae)

Trey writes poems about marriage. I pretty much dislike literature about marriage, but his poems are often an exception.

Three here:

But this Diagram piece is too much. He’s keeps his idyll, his reflection he glows so well, that captured moment. But might I make one small edit? I feel it will charge the poem and turn this very good aspirin of yole into a mighty, mighty cop a couple of sea-born cleavage blasters!

THINGS MARRIED PEOPLE DO

Plant the flowers eat
them for dinner. Cut
the lawn gather the clippings

eat them all for dinner.
Buy the house own
the house. Look at the
lilacs the hand-shaped

lilacs. Ask if they are supposed
to be shaped like hands
and eat them for dinner.

Turn the ceiling fan on
low slow your breathing
or metabolism. Later we will go
to the fair and everything will
be still

until we eat nachos.

9 THUNKS I GLOW

9. I glow this essay and I don’t care how old it is. So, if you comment, that is old, I’m going to say, I know. French kissing is old, as is water. The earth is old, the earth is really just bunch of dirt and dust, and it’s old, yet still we enjoy the earth at times except for those times we do not enjoy the earth.

9. I glow hats made of corn that you can actually fill with salsa.

9. I glow the words of Sarah Levine. Read this flash at Smokelong. It will take you as long to read this story as it will to smoke a cigarette–thus the term, and title of the magazine, Smokelong.

Did you read the flash? It is conceptual. An idea is presented and carried along–possibly here, it’s liberal guilt (admitting it while satirizing it) and it builds, see the structure there, and then turn. If you are going to write flash, please understand the turn. You don’t have to use it, but know it. It comes right after the climax, here:

I jumped onto the kitchen chair and said, “Have you lost your mind? Are you threatening me over a fucking cheese slicer?”

Turns can be wonderful. They can make the entire flash. Here look at this Eggers turn. Yes, yes, it is Eggers but relax. He’s not going to come slap you in the Converse. It’s just his words. Read the whole thing, please. Then check that last line:

THE BOUNTY
In her kitchen, she saw many things she would like to eat. On the counter, there was a bunch of new bananas, yellow as a Van Gogh chair, and two apples, pristine. The cabinet was open and she saw a box of crackers, a new box of cereal, a tube of curved chips. She felt overwhelmed, seeing all of the food there, that it was all hers. And there was more in the refrigerator! There were juices, half a melon, a dozen bagels, salmon, a steak, yogurt in a dozen colors. It would take her a week to eat all of this food. She does not deserve this, she thought. It really isn’t fair, she thought. You’re correct, God said, and then struck dead 65,000 Malaysians.

Levine drives the turn like the sea drives a salt-plank. Glow. And wonder what they’re going to use that cheese for? Huh, huh? Don’t make me knock your ass out.

9. “The Serious Writer and Her Pussy” by Meg Pokrass.

As a serious writer, in mid-life, she must master speaking the word “pussy” with confidence and authority. She practices doing so out loud for her next book store reading. The serious writer is starting a book tour to promote her new novel which is bursting with ‘pussy’.

Indeed. And I’ve been reading Damn Sure Right. And you should, too. Meg Pokrass brings the flash. She eats away my shins, my underwear, and my taxidermy. She’ll eat yours too. Buy the book, freak-os!

I am beginning to notice my favorite flash writers are female. Elizabeth Ellen, Kim Chinquee, Amelia Gray, Nicolle Elizabeth, Kathy Fish, Lydia Davis, Diane Williams, Lindsay Hunter….I could go on. And on. Might be just me. Might be women are better at writing flash? Don’t know, but I’ll keep thinking on it.

[BTW, every time I type the words Amelia Gray I misspell some aspect of her name. I bet she has dealt with this her entire life.]

9. I like to write about Velveeta:

Velveeta Thuds on the Roof

In the dark. It shimmers in its wobble. Nothing between them but the cooling itch of shingle. It likes any angle or gravity suck. To embrace sway. It wants to push against itself—much like we. (Yesterday, sober, I dropped a wine glass of Cheetos and laughed at my own sudden blood. Under sink/in trunk of car/beneath futon—I have no hand towels.) On the back of its neck, thoughts gleam. It boasts its mind is a butterfly ashtray. As for doubt or nocturnal chills of the head, it claims to know very little. Yet it corrects me: shooting stars are not stars, you ask for shotgun slugs never bullets, to fall over is indeed a form of exercise. Oh, the type to wear an orange shirt. To perch above my Sunday sweating back and say cryptic, unhelpful words like, “If you are really going to dig that hole, dig two.” Or maybe: “Look at you, whipjack! Gargling coins again.” Packages arrive. Days of rain like fingernail taps. It sees me on my knees, vomiting in the tall, wet grass and says, “You are an empty tomato shack.” I think its mind is an ashtray full of butterflies. (Ah, so drunk now. Just to carry my head like a damn fiddler. A marble spinning round the rim of shattered glass, waxy hot pepper bits, charred People magazine—I mean to say the kitchen sink. What is a tomato shack?) A meteor claws the fleshy sky. In the dark. Velveeta thuds off the roof.

9. Funny words at PANK. Thank you, Jospeh Cassarra.You made me spill my coffee. I spilt my coffee. Spilt is not a word. You made me spill my coffee. You made me move.

9. Jason Ockert won the Dzanc Books Short Story collection contest.

Woot, woot. Here is an interview with the man.

Here is a story so you can bite his knuckles.

Good glow, Jason. Looking forward to the read.

9. Justin Bieber eating nachos.

Whoa, whoa. Hold up. OK. Did you see that? I could care less if this kid’s career is chomped by a murder of dead crows, but he does one thing correctly: HE MAKES HIS OWN SERVING of nachos.

9. My publisher and I have been working hard this week on the cover of my upcoming book, Fog Gorgeous Stag. The process has been glow. I enjoy the process. It’s a give/take/idea thing. It is indeed creative energy. I hope you will like the cover. I do. I will not give you hints about the cover. OK, I will give you one hint about the cover: yellow.

S


 

a treadmill balloon and Andy Devine and other meaningful objects

The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for their 2011 awards. My man Ander Monson rocks it with Vanishing Point.

Woot! Woot!

*

Readings can be dark or light. Cavern or cascade of whitewater. Tight walls. Drippy walls. Angles or smoosh. Smells of linseed oil, smells of urine. Cleavage or ankle bones. Skinny eyeglasses, striped hipster caps. Three minutes. Hair like an encasing dress. Mostly young. Much more older. Really long hair. Walls. Buzz cuts and beards. Bright. Aphotic.

Once at a reading I felt a fat fist in my throat. Like a toad.

Once I washed ashore wet as a clam’s ass.

Once I felt primary, sovereign, but it might have been the dank porter.

But I digress…

Andy Devine is reading in a bright art gallery.Wait, this photo isn’t bright. Let me rip one from Vouched. Ok, here we go:

As usual Andy insulted the audience and the other readers and insinuated we–Matt Bell, Aaron Burch, myself–were simply warming up for Andy’s majesty. Andy said his book was better than moving water, or watching the French Open while having sex, etc. He cackled several times, not a laugh, a cackle. I had an urge to punch Andy Devine. I curled my fingers into a health farm of a fist. I thought, “I will go rustic on your forehead!” This is the same man who recently bragged:

Also, once a year, for a few days, the city of Kingman celebrates Andy Devine Days and Andy Devine Avenue in Flagstaff is named after me.

Then Andy read. His words were like the sun asking the moon out on a date to the symphony and with a handful of Lorcet and golden half-light honey mead and later the sun and the moon make out in a tricked-out car in an alleyway made of circus. Andy put all of us in our place. We were warming up for Andy Devine. I felt waves of nausea. My writing life was a tragic joke, a wet napkin of nothingness, a fraud. In an odd way, I had to thank Andy Devine. He silenced me. I went home and deleted over 400 drafts of various flash fictions. I held a wet towel to the back of my sweating neck. I then opened a Word document and started anew. I wrote the word the. I slept for two days. I drove back out to Indianapolis to watch Aaron Burch eat nachos.

Now that is a happy man. Why? Nachos. I keep trying to tell you folks…

*

Parker Tettleton with a mesmerizing flash over at elimae.

*

The lift activator on my treadmill exploded. This is the second time. Fuck. Me. The first time mechanical dude wanted $110 to fix the lift activator. I paid him, sure, I had to–I needed hill training; I was about to run the Boston Marathon. But I watched him and took mental notes. So this time I replaced the lift activator all by myself. I had this surge of Wow I can fix things. It felt good.I felt less guilty about the generational putrescence of any actual skill. Like my grandfather could build a car out of an ear of corn and some baling wire. My dad could flip the stop lamp switch bracket and pour diet Pepsi into the radiator to cool it down. Me? I pay someone $35 to change my oil. But I did fix the treadmill. I repaired the treadmill. The treadmill, ready for the running, sir. Yes, yes, yes. I then ran MIXED INTERVALS like a fucking roller coaster goat.

Ive started to like the words “Mixed Intervals,” not sure why. Mixed intervals. Mixed. Intervals.

I went all:

6:00 mile pace X 3 minutes/6:00 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:56 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:56 mile pace mile X 3 minutes/Ran a 5:52 mile/5:49 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:49 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:45 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:45 mile pace X 7 minutes.

The last part was tough. I was grinding. I had to turn The Smiths on, and I rarely run to music. Since The Smiths are the only music I like, I had to go to them for extra verve, for a little thrusty-jump!

CROOOOONNNNEEERRRRRRRR…

It worked.

Can I just say I am tiring of everything breaking? My treadmill. Then this middle light of three lights in my dining room. It keeps going dark, like every other day. And I lost an earring last Tuesday. It just fell off my ear I guess. And then my .50 caliber muzzle-loader was recalled.

Knight Rifles has received a small number of reports from the field of Revolution muzzleloading rifles accidentally discharging as the user closed the action.

Exsqueeze me? You mean my rifle might just fire? That’s slightly deadly, sir. That’s slightly fatal, young lady. Whoops, I just fired off a .50 caliber weapon. Well, look at thar! Dern. So I have to send the rifle action away for repair. They are supposed to send me a box and pay for the mailing and whatever. We’ll see.

So I tire of this, all this breakage and loss. Everyone knows why. The tendency to degrade. The universal force. Entropy. As in: WE ARE ALL FALLING APART. I feel it as every day passes, it, shimmering in the air, and so do you. Fucking physics. What can you do?

I don’t know.

*

Peter Davis is reading in a dark bar. Peter read funny poems about Tina. I heard a girl next to me say, “Wait until Jared reads. Jared is loud.” Jared Sexton read. He was LOUD. He read a fabulous story about a man with a girlfriend and the girlfriend keeps mouthing off drunk in public and so the man has to get into various fistfights. He loves his girlfriend sober but is maybe frightened of what will happen when she drinks. It’s an interesting situation. Other readers on this evening were melancholy. In fact, I distinctly heard two melancholy sonnets. One reader I couldn’t hear too well. I think he said something about a monkey. Could have been money. Could have been Vivi, like a poem about a girl named Vivi? I don’t know:  the sound waves got caught in the mushy walls. Or maybe fell into the square pit of the bartender’s boxing ring. I noticed the bartender was overwhelmed and pouring very heavy drinks. She might have been an inexperienced bartender. The drinks were heavy. I drank a vodka and tonic. And then a tonic and vodka. They are not the same.

*

MEANINGFUL OBJECTS

Flash needs meaningful objects. What? Exactly. The cut-glass tumbler. The bowl. The red shoe. The big gob of phlegm. The blackberry. Creamy tops of glowing lantern in the night. The river rock. The paring knife. The cat. The canoe. The nipple. The paper plate. The solitary bean. The Turbo Dogs. The mockingbird.

They must connote, as in echo off the page. They exist to argue for their existence. You have to give the reader an opportunity.

Little Things by Raymond Carver. A domestic fight. Move to the kitchen (for all the obvious reasons–one of the finest places to have a fictional fight is in the kitchen). And:

Let go of him, he said.

Get away, get away! she cried.

The baby was red-faced and screaming. In the scuffle they knocked down a flowerpot that hung behind the stove.

What of that flowerpot? Doesn’t matter. You gave us an object. Now our minds will grapple for reverberations.

–flowers as already metaphorical. We don’t need pointy PhD hats for that. Flowers are not given/received due to  a sudden spike of interest in botany right around birthdays, first dates, and Valentine’s day.

–I just like the crash of the pot on the floor.

–He gave her that flower, man!

–Their love once grew like a flower and now it’s…

groannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

–Yeh, I’m with her, me too, and the dirt all bird-footed out, the way we can’t put it all back together.

–I don’t get how you hang a flowerpot. That’s some phony shit.

–I need to go to the bathroom.

–I think the pot is supposed to point us back to a better time for this couple. I mean it’s in the kitchen and its clearly not utilitarian. It’s not a spatula. It’s a flower.

–The pot is a manifestation of—

OK, OK, let’s move on. You’re all wrong and all right. Carver gave us a chance, is what I’m saying. We are all gods of our stories. Didn’t have to be a flowerpot. You could all place something else behind that stove. But give us a chance, folks. Give us an object.

Kathy Fish is one of my favorite flash fiction writers. Often she will use objects as a way to characterize. Watch now. You could form someone wary, yet open to experience, hard, but with an underlying sentimentality, a person who—

Or you could just dump out their backpack:

I empty my backpack onto my bunk: euros and condoms, a photo of my dog, digestive biscuits, a can of mace, and a bottle of spring water with a picture of a cow on it.

Objects, objects, objects. Sometimes they make me happy as a little stove.

Check out the opening of this recent flash (Go read it all–it is glow) by Mike Meginnis, over at JMWW:

This body can’t stop throwing up. Cheeto dust and Gatorade. Power bars. Granola. Macaroni. Cheddar. Grains of rice. Frito Lays. Taco Bell. Refried beans. Paper bag. Bendy straw. Fishing line. Dog food. Dog sick. Dog fur. Powerade. Lettuce leaves. Carrot peel. Orange peel. Jelly Belly jellybeans. Gummi worms. Taffy. Chewing gum. Fingernails. Cocacola. Cocacola. Cocacola.

In the toilet, on its rim, on the floor, in the grout. Pooling in this body’s shaking hands.

See? Things, people, things. Let me end this little constitutional with one of my favorite flashes and uses of objects, Four Hard Facts About Water, by Damian Dressick:

After your two-year-old daughter trips and falls unseen into the neighbor’s in-ground pool while you are in their summer house trying to find steak sauce…

Steak sauce. That’s why you weren’t there when your two-year old entered the pool. Steak sauce. Could Damian Dressick make a philosophical argument concerning the oft banality of human mortality? The very absurdity of how we enter, leave, die? How grief confounds even the most…Yes, yes, he could. Or he could give us a meaningful object.

See?

*

My favorite type of writing is the smashing together of the natural world (glow) and the artificial world, the world of media vomit, neon sign, advert (blar). What a touch, what a touch by Fausto Barrionuevo over at deComp:

BARN OWL

Pigeon coops, roach motels, mouse traps,
veiled by the billboards back-bending lamps,
veering out like tree snakes.
Hushed yellows on the backs of mosquitoes
by the Barn owl, steady on the scaffold.
Her shadow flying on tropical winds
above her bold profile.
A cold breath flows from her cracked beak,
thrusting seas running like waterfalls
through her cavernous lids.
Under the painted orange sky, a slogan in the sand:
All buffets open till midnight.
Rain drops snap onto granite
as clouds, black as pavement, roll by.
A herd of deer dashes across the interstate,
antlers charging into dark forest.

Flash 14!!

1. At elimae: Halloween by Elizabeth Ellen.

I like flash of detachment. I like how the genre lets us read off the page. I like homage to William Carlos Williams. Red wheelbarrow is off the page. I respect tone, control of tone. This reminds me of “Night” by Brett Lott, a cold sun of a flash found in this anthology. EE’s flash is the whisper of the space inches above a cold floor. That space exists. The sound of mist on a rooftop. It is a type of quite-ssssssssssss-Chiaroscuro, with a slash of red lipstick, a painting with a hint of violation, a caught breath, a dizzy drop of blood .

2. Kathy Fish at Smokelong Q

Startling juxtapositions here. Worlds of lives orbiting underground, under covers. Reading this I had a feeling of being cut off, apart, like maybe I was talk floated in its journey, fallen words like leaves. Or this ending:

He knows that someday Mattie will take to calling him Handsome Mole. That her skin will never wrinkle. That she will someday board a train with faulty brakes. He knows, but he is helpless to change things. The repair man will someday carry a backpack full of books to the Wife Saver but he will fail to open them. He’ll say, Mattie I’m frightened, but she won’t coo to him. And he will die alone on an ice morning, walking past the subway to church.

3. Tina Hyland at decomP.

I’m not a huge fan of the title, but most every word afterward  is a well struck chord. This one falls into the long history of flash as parable, as magical realism, remake of God, and I appreciate the understanding of the genre and form. These are tough to write. Easy to take in the wrong direction, the wrong tone. Hyland keeps it glow with precise phrasing:

See my heart, he said. It really goes.

It really goes, it really goes, this FF. We thank you.

4. Flash Master Bruce Holland Rogers discusses repetition.

A paragraph that says “rose” five times is probably just as clear as one that says “rose,” “flower,” “bloom,” “posy,” and “inflorescence.” In fact, the repetitive version may be clearer than the varied one, particularly if the pursuit of variety leads the writer to scour the thesaurus and find words that aren’t quite right.

He’s right. As a teacher, I note the thesaurus-scourer, too. A student writes, “He ingested his morning sustenance,” and I say “You mean he ate his cereal?” But then again I don’t want to put my students off the thesaurus, though there is a better way to glow/know words: read more books. But I digress…

Holland Rogers argues for repetition. He makes some fascinating points. For example:

If you are going to repeat in your prose, repeat often enough so that the reader can see that the repetition is deliberate and part of your design.

He also lists various types of repetition, varying techniques. It’s a smart essay, thoughtful, and passed my gold standard: It made me want to write.

As a teacher of writing, I think about repetition in a student’s technique. I mean to say students might try a structural flair, or a certain tone shift, a few notes, a hotel of words, or a look-ma-no-hands stylistic move. But they do it once. My feedback is always to say, “No, don’t do it once. Repeat the move.” As Holland Rogers notes above, give the move intent, voice, ownership.

5. Dan Sanders made beer blow out my nose over at Hobart. The rarest thing is to write funny, even rarer the funny flash. But wow. I coughed my spleen into discrete syllables.

We launch in four days. I am assured that my time here has been worthwhile. I feel better than I have in years. Yuri bought a Cadillac. He’s very excited. Every time he sees me he erupts into joyous laughter and says “Cadillac” in his thick Russian accent. He is the very best spiritual advisor a fifty year old man could have before being launched into space.

And this gem:

If you’re going to take people into space, provide them with something to do.

Indeed, sir.


6. Raymond Carver by Dan Choan.

This one is a nod to my students. Recently, I was teaching persona fiction, or fiction working the terrain of celebrities, personalities, stories told with their presence or through their eyes.This is a good assignment for many reasons, but it’s strength is that it forces students to understand the power of characterization.  Persona fiction provides a massive advantage for the writer–the characterization is already complete. The reader “knows” the character beforehand.

I gave them spiderman, a version of.

I gave them Paris Hilton and Nicole.

But they really locked onto Mr. Choan’s flash. Maybe because it’s so aware, such a Carver story about Carver about…I mean to say it’s glow.

7. Flash interview with Caia Hagel.

It is a challenge to write, to find the precisely right word after word and rhythm to keep the whole of it viscerally alive. I find that attractive.

8. You have from November 9, 2010 to January 31, 2011 to enter the Vestal Review flash fiction contest.

9. Time is odd and devastating. We’re trapped. Who asked for this? This life. Seriously.

Eric Higgins at wigleaf presents our deathly dilemma very well:

Because It Was Sunday
Eric Higgins

My father was reading Golf Digest in his chair. I was reading about ancient heroes (made up kinds). My father was my ancient hero. Mother passed through on horseback. Twigs and Spanish moss like grandfather’s beard in her hair tangled. She waved. We waved. Father did it without looking up. This was how we spent Easter Sunday, not because it was Easter but because it was Sunday.

Time must have passed because I was sautéing mushrooms next and draped with too-big gingham pants belted high. What’s for dinner, someone asked. What’s on your plate, I said.

Suddenly a nasty accident saved us.

Mother sold her quarter horses. Dad, his clubs. I turned over my skillets and books. We got to know each other gradually. Videos of us picnicking were made. This was a happy ending. This was a happy ending and over our food we prayed.

10. My flash advice is to write three of everything. That’s what I do now. Three. If one flash “works” I write two more, a series. I suggest you do the same.

I suggest compulsory masterminded attacks of vowels. Go almost taxi, like move your respect into the sky beyond the bridge. I suggest you kiss a pearl’s mother. An owl. I suggest beers the size of synagogues. I suggest lecturing your own brother. Or vikings! Or maybe you jump a fence and wrestle a deer. Or take a nature poem and drown it in yellow gouts of snot. I suggest you listen to the rain. Have sex in the basement of a boycott. Go ahead, take several eggs from the clutch. And suck them. I suggest you go about randomly shouting, “Is anyone here named Terry?!” You’re trapped. I suggest you caress your own earlobe. Remove the wax and sculpt someone who will be by your side when it’s finally your own time. Your own time is coming! Or picnic during an invasion. busyness, I suggest. Or, hell, go bet on dogs and feel horrible for betting on dogs. Cast your mind into turmoil. Gray slime. Flapping shadows. Create your own stamp from a block of hot sauce. Menu my body. HELLO MY NAME IS. Let out a screech. Check that. I hate the word screech. Mystery and imagination, our very few days. Whoops, I just lost another full minute of my lifetime. Drink whiskey, read the Times, etc. I suggest you shut the fuck up. Sorry, sorry, it’s this ghost in my stomach, a thing I once thought impossible. Glassed cabinets I call my eyes. Work one third of my fucking days. Sleep another third. I suggest you fast walk. Quick talk! Stalk out and remember yourself today. Fry in hell! Sorry…I know but one time around dusk I saw a coyote with its mouth full of bird and it was stalking a rabbit snagged on barbed wire, a screaming rabbit, one big spinning eye on me.

11. I also suggest The Party, a two-party gathering at 3 in the morning, a flash by Alan McCormick and a drawing by Johnny Voss.

12. I just remembered that I write flash fiction. Here’s one for the Elvis fan in all our greasy souls:

Elvis Presley Visits His Volatile Temperament

It was snowing the night they say I lost my mind, and I never shot no damn TV. It was too much Budweiser on top of codeine on top of valium on top of methaqualone and an argument with Sonny West about him cheating in racquetball that afternoon. Really it was just about me losing to a man so grossly out of shape, about self-image. I just looked in the mirror and something snapped. I tore the mirror from the wall and jumped on the bed until the bottom fell out and opened my big window and hurled all of this and one hell of a hi-fi set into the frozen swimming pool below (we never did get the cover on that year). Then I tossed a big blue lamp—some kind of glass sculpture thing—followed by a silver serving tray and a chair made to look like a leopard standing on its hind legs (given to me by Zambia’s Tourism Minister, Frederick Mwanawasa). It was all fine until I found my revolver. They’d removed the bullets (wrapped them in duct tape and hidden them in the downstairs freezer I found out later). I ranted and raved—“Where’s my ammo!” They held me down, until I passed out. The next afternoon, after I woke up on my bedroom carpet, I gave them all hell, my voice thick as cough syrup.

“Where’d my life go?” I demanded.

“In the swimming pool,” Sonny said, the rest of them nodding along.

“Oh.” I thought a moment. “Well, go get it.”

13. Jared Yates Sexton over at The Raleigh Review.

This is some gritty, fast-moving knife flash here. In dialogue, internal monologue–check this glass, glitter shard of, technique. Conflict ramped up, no waiting on the wind, no waiting, words glint of beer can off bits of bone, bits of skull. I keep saying to students, “Get the story started!” I show them things. Next time I say it I’m going to show them this Sexton flash.

14. Kim Chinquee is the Queen of Flash Fiction. Well, no shit.

In curt sentences detailing many unsettled lives, Chinquee constructs a mosaic of despair in modern day America.

Word.