Found slide photos by Unknown
Words by Chloé Leisure
Audio by Andrew Kramer
This house is like a movie. Dressed up in our fancy outfits, anything anyone says gets a big laugh. But the audience gets to leave when the curtains fall.
I didn’t do it. And they know I didn’t. But it doesn’t matter.
I get these flashbulbs in my head. I see my fist go through a window and shards of glass explode everywhere. I watch myself flip over the coffee table and bright pink cocktails splatter the carpeting. In my head, everyone stops and listens.
It’s like being stuck inside of a wall. And no one will pull me out.
Afterward, it didn’t seem right to stay. The crocuses would always announce the lengthening of days, their delicate purple crowns nudging through fecund soil. The oak tree would only grow taller, its branches thicker and stronger, its fallen leaves never to be raked into embracing mounds. The snow would blanket and silence. The aurora would shimmer and fade.
And so, boxes were packed but not labeled. Animal-shaped pieces of driftwood bedded down with kitchen utensils, candlesticks, and worn sheets. Late-night donations were made at St. Vincent de Paul.
Whether or not to lock the front door: this was not anticipated.
Photo by Arthur Kales (from The Denishawn Collection)
Words by Chloé Leisure
Audio by Maria Sans Jacoby
Draped in cool cloth, illuminated by heavenly spotlight, our shadows touch and tangle in negative space.
Our bodies search and discover. Hearts open, toes point, spines arch and match the curve of the moon.
We are long mythic limbs. We are never-ending moonshadows in a snowy forest.
Oceans are sailed. Imaginary children are named. Petals and words are pressed into books.
We move as one through music and breath. Arms follow arms, legs echo legs. We slowly swell like drops of water and gasp as we fall to the ground.
Some songs are amazing with Doppler, and we'd hope they might circle the block twice.
"Stop," you'd say,
"there it is, here it is, there it is."
I loved that. You’ve always made me feel like we're walking along a fence, wobbly behind and wobbly ahead, but presently on pitch, dancing the right steps with the proper partner and tune.
Some songs are amazing with Doppler, and we hope they might circle the block twice.
"Stop," you say,
"there it is, here it is, there it is."
I love that; it shows we picked the right spot, so you say.
When her hair is down it smells of Morocco, tight tall alleyways filled with strays and whitewash. Patience never belonged to her, especially when she owned so little she could pack like a soldier. She misses carpet on her feet, the way it absorbs smoke. Garters remind her of a childhood feather collection. Small pieces of fallen wing she confined in bottles, carefully placed on the windowsill between the bars her parents installed to protect her from the street. Now she keeps scraps of letters, notes scribbled on tissue, sized and added to her deck—a corrugated record of time.
Photo by Noah Bates
Words by Chloé Leisure
Audio by Andrew Kramer
Each person, including the children, was allowed to bring one item.
And so, as they had before, and would again, one by one they placed their papered regrets, their penned goals on the great cradle of boughs.
The trees bowed in reverence. The crows perched about, watching with golden eyes as the procession moved forward.
This year, a dark-eyed girl of thirteen was selected to strike the ceremonial flint. The lighting song was a mixture of mournful bellows and birdlike bells.
And when the whole year lit, the trees stood tall—ushering the collective offerings toward the cold, accepting sky.
I promised ye my first kiss, Johnny;
seeded the house with mistletoe.
But whilst revelers were many,
no sign was there of my beau.
The hall filled with neighbors and cousins,
Santa bounced kids on his knee,
carolers caroled by dozens,
whilst I wrung my hands waiting for thee.
I gave up on you ‘round midnight,
hid in a gabled window,
My heart grew dim as the moonlight
wearing a veil of snow.
When Santa appeared with the wine,
eyes sparkling wildly as thine,
what he wanted I could not but think,
'til a bough he produced with a wink.
Were it not for general celebrity worship and admiration, they would not stay at the top of their tree for long.
If you see a celebrity in person, however… extend some courtesy, and you can make the interaction a pleasant one for the celebrity and yourself.Nonchalantly approach him or her. Stay composed. Don't start freaking out and start screaming.
He was mine first.
Before the hair cut and fittings.
Before the serial code tattooed on his wrist.
When nights were polar in duration and dawn arrived with the splintering of boards pried loose off windows nailed shut, before they tore him from my hold, he was mine.
And though you dressed him for every season, like a shroud is perennial, and drilled his memory with rote equations for balanced structures, he will age a hundred years and more with my taste in his mouth—almonds and moist earth.
Still, and forever, bare branch tips remind him of my fingers.
Photo by Mélina Bernhardt
Words by Brian Hull
Music by Brian Hull
Every day I hold up Somebody’s Name at the airport like some jerk. I have no idea what I’m getting into when they climb into the backseat. Their faces empty, like blank billboards.
I gotta feel them out, test the waters.
“I don’t know about you, but I ain’t buying the whole global warming thing. There was the blizzard 2009. In 1996 you had cars buried in Virginia.”
Some come back with something cute. “They should call it ‘global weirding.’”
The tea baggers couldn’t agree more. Who cares? It’s just an act: a new sign, a new name.
The earth echoed with each footfall, cheering her on, applauding her speed and conviction.
Perhaps the root was waiting, a wet cedar snake arcing out of moss and rock.
Her bleeding kneecap lingered like a stubborn autumn leaf. The fog was cool and moist on her face. The way the coast will feel.
She’d never before stood still long enough to hear the beating of a bird’s wings. She marveled at the rhythmic whoosh, whoosh of crows as they passed over her and through the tall pines.
The horizon was somewhere. The rest was behind her. And so she ran.
The wagon played a cheerful tune before stopping in a wheat field at the edge of town.
Children gazed at the mirrored stairs and sequin-studded door. Who could resist such music and cotton candy smells?
Only a handful suspected that something might be wrong. Fortunately, the puppet clowns, dancing on their strings, distracted them until the last could be lured in. No one likes a frowny face.
“A miracle!” the parents exclaimed, arriving later. “To be young forever.”
Of course, tags had been attached to toes by that point, so each couple would know exactly which one belonged to them.
(If the music player doesn't show up for you, go to Psychomelodic and click play on "The Doll Maker.")
BIO: Todd Mitchell writes YA fiction and teaches at Colorado State University. His debut novel, THE TRAITOR KING (Scholastic 2007), was a Colorado Book Award Finalist.
To enter the drawing to win a signed copy of Todd Mitchell’s second novel, THE SECRET TO LYING, simply leave a comment below with a way for us to identify you (i.e. signed in user, or a name).
For official rules and ways to increase your chances of winning, go here.
She wasn’t like the other girls. On basketball trips, they’d all be rabbits at the salad bar, but she’d sit with us, the boys’ table, and actually eat. I didn’t fall all the way in love with her until summer, though, and, once school started, instead of me asking her to the Harvest Moon Dance, she asked me, said she had her dad’s truck, that we could sneak out to the old airstrip, watch the moon bob on the horizon. Yeah. So that’s where I’ll be tonight, out there with her. See you tomorrow. You won’t even recognize me.Soundtrack:
5 Prizes! Signed books by featured authors!
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“Hey, love the creepy photo and the music is so chilling I had to make hot cocoa!
I posted a link on my FB, Twitter, and this blog (http://sylsome.livejournal.com/). ~Syl”
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Contest closes at 11:59pm Pacific Time October 31, 2010. Winners to be announced November 1, 2010.
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Photo by Eric Morrison
Words by Chloé Leisure
Audio by Eric Morrison
When I was three, they found me in a cedar tree. I didn’t break the choke. I only pulled it like the pinball machine at the pizza place. When they yell, I become an owl. My wings are so wide. Mice, beware. I’ll gobble you up.
Once, I woke up in the root cellar and I knew the names of every constellation.
Once, I tied myself to the train tracks to see who would rescue me.
When the door slams, the house shakes and I yell Earthquake! and get in the bathtub. My teacher says the big one is coming.
The sun beats down on the man. He who has worked the fields for ten years must keep working. A toil of a different type this is. A lion watches from afar. War with thy neighbor? War for sustenance? The man paces back and forth gripping his ax. Whose blade of grass is this? Whose tree is that? Night falls and the new dawn breaks. Shadows once cast disappear. Is that fire in the distance? No. Light of a different color we see. Blood. The war hath been waged, and a victor declared. Body slung over a shoulder, heavy.
Consider that our eyes bring images in upside down. It’s for the brain to flip and process the input.
Ever wonder how even slowpoke gnats escape when you swat?
Compound lenses allow for optic flow. As the predator lurches, its facade jumps ahead. Ahead to the next hexagon, like a predictor, like seeing the future. Little probability machines.
Much like invented plotlines, inevitabilities of logical progressions. I already see you on the airplane buckled fast against the backdrop of forecasted storms, dodging the sweeping hand. Bare-knuckled you climb the ceilings of memories to see the world inverted right side up.
Photo by Tom Zidon
Words by Jen Zidon
Music by Susane Reis and Eric Morrison
Lyrics by Woody Guthrie
Dad drove the dusty hour on forgotten gravel roads to watch the old barn burn. The slacked clothesline and the overgrown lilac bush still framed the back corner of the house. Nearby, the outhouse had been choked by weeds for years. He used his pocket knife to help harvest the remaining raspberry bush free from encroaching prairie grasses.
Лæг кæрдзынæй дæр æфсæды
Рагæй нал фæци нæ гæды
Зæрдæ нал агуры хъазын,
Удхæссæг ын фестад зарын,
Амар æй фæлтау фырнадæй,
Акъах ын йæ цæст,
Фесаф æй бынтон, æгадæй, –
Бафсад æй æрмæст!
Йе стонгæн бæргæ ис цары
Иу нæртоны хос,
Фæлæ йæм фæндаг нæ ары, –
Аскъуыйа йæ бос! –
Галы фиу... Йæ бын мæхъийау
Фондз уæрдæхæй баст, –
Бурбурид ысси, фæткъуыйау,
Афæдзваг у раст!
Ие рагъ афасти фырнæрстæй,
Хус ысмаг хæссы...
Гъеныр дæр та йæм цъындцæстæй
Стонг гæды кæсы...
Куыдз дæлдæр хуыссы йæ цуры,
Бахудт æм æмæ йæм дзуры:
“Скастæ та йæм, цы?”
Гæды фестъæлфыд... фырмæстæй
Аныхта йæ сæр,
Ракаст йе знагмæ мæрддзæстæй, –
“Гъæ, зæронд сæлхæр! –
Загъта, – ма тæрс, æз мæ цардæн
Ма тæрс, гуыдынхъус, æз нал дæн
Photo by Chloé Leisure Her bulldog stance and capacity for scorn helped her ace the interview for the position of Guard. “You’re a tiptop candidate,” they said. She knew neither what she was guarding nor how to handle trespassers.
Words by Rebecca McGoldrick
Audio by Golden Gate Quartet (Public Domain)
Her bulldog stance and capacity for scorn helped her ace the interview for the position of Guard. “You’re a tiptop candidate,” they said. She knew neither what she was guarding nor how to handle trespassers.
First she was grateful for the job.
Then she wanted a uniform.
Then a sense of purpose.
Then cankers coated her heart.
“For your performance review,” they said, “we note deficits in focus and efficiency.” And, “there is no professional development available at present.” Then they left.
“I believe I’m meant for something nobler,” she whispered into the wall’s crevice. “And I shall pursue it."
Curtain opens. Front row teenagers text, feet on the railing.
Ball one (self). Ball two (marriage). The juggler smiles.
When ball three (baby) is introduced, nobody sucks in their breath. Even the juggler looks away, wonders where the third row woman gets her highlights done. Her fingers slip and three, it turns out, is enough to hold her own attention.
Four (a promotion), five (another child), ten (after-school activities, winning a Pulitzer/coffee mug with her name on it, getting children into Princeton/community college… spouse’s promotion).
Newton: Didn't you ever notice it was your mother who stood in the way of gravity?
Photo by Unknown (Morrison Family Archives)
Words by Molly Reid
Music by Mildred Bailey (Public Domain)
This was the last picture taken. I had to lay down in the back seat to get the angle. You can see it in his eyes can’t you, behind them: soul stitches busted, everything ripped wide open. Poor girl. My mother always said never trust a well-groomed mustache: they’re always hiding something. My buddy said he knew a guy who knew a guy who was there when they found her. She still had the dress on. All that lace and blood. Can you imagine. It looked staged, he said, like paint in a snowstorm, like the idea of murder rather than murder itself.
hoto by Ralf Kracke-Berndorff
Words by Chloé Leisure
Audio by Viviane Vasconcelos (aka Maria Sans Jacoby)
In preparation, she’s lifted all of the pressed flowers from her books and placed them on her body. Jungle flowers, forest flowers, wedding flowers, funeral flowers. Like butterfly wings or exotic postage stamps, they stick to her damp skin. A living illuminated text.
He speaks a new language. She simply listens. How can she tarnish his pure vocabulary with the callous words of this earthly world? She learns quickly, picking up each curious sound like a seashell. She presses them to her lips, turns and licks each syllable with her tongue. Repeating his words, she tastes an achingly familiar brine.
Photo by Ralf Kracke-Berndorff
Words by Lesa Alison-Hastings
Audio by Rota, Fellini, and Leisure
Words never mean what they should where seats grow weary of popcorn and sweaty nights—equal parts salt. A scene in the wrong show, she follows him to the janitor’s closet. He moves the mop outside so it can’t judge. Fostering shame, both are surprised how easily they give it up when the time comes. Hands grasp freckles, and her bones endure. All she can think of is the baby bird in the corner, fallen in the park and wrapped in her slip. Its corner-chirps are fading, a soundtrack behind film reels. She knows the words before they come. soundtrack:
“We weren’t her dream kids, I guess.” Naomi pointed to the sky. “I think I felt rain.”
A drop fell into my eye as I gazed at the ashen clouds above us. The trees whispered and danced with the salty breeze. As we continued to walk, the wind ceased and an eerie silence emerged.
“Why weren’t you her dream kids?” I asked.
She stopped, putting her finger to her lips. “You feel that?”
I dropped the stick and hugged my lunch box to my chest. “I feel cold. Are you going to answer my question?”
Harmonic Feedback is available for purchase here.
Shadows stretch across the pavement like long, inky brushstrokes. Like the everlasting atomic shadows in Nagasaki.
The wind blows dust and the aromas of sage and sweetgrass into the car. I think of that song: his brain was squirming like a toad.
He’s looking straight ahead. He says, “You could get lost here. You could hide, and never be found.”
I think of that photograph: a mountain of skulls. They say 60 million buffalo were slaughtered. All those souls, roaming.
Sunset. Headlights in the rear-view mirror. The ghost car passes us. We sing a mourning song beneath the full moon.
1. Bring papers, your journal.
2. Pedal past the stand with the curry fries and the spot where the strung out man barked like a dog and grabbed my leg. Past the gigantic couch sculpture.
3. Pedal past the bar with the big screen on the sidewalk, broadcasting the World Cup to a jittery crowd. The prostitutes from around the world, glowing in their black-lit lingerie.
4. Park your bike between two posts—XXX.
5. I’ll be waiting for you. In the graffiti-ed booth in the back of the smoke-filled room. With my stash, tea, and a hearty squinty-eyed embrace.
I saw the sign—warning me what to do. I kicked at the ground with the toe of my pink tennis shoe. I licked sticky cotton candy sugar from my hand—sweet dust.
I wanted to be the girl on the tight rope in leotard and rhinestones careless on the wire. I wanted to meet the shifting gaze of the boy whose hands controlled the fate of the Ferris wheel.
A man brushed by me wearing aviator goggles and a white scarf. I reached. Rusty metal and red paint splintered my fingers drawing tiny beads of blood. My skin sang.