Poetry Wednesday

We can’t believe National Poetry Month is almost over, but we keep it going in our hearts every single day of the year! Keep celebrating with this poem by Richard Vargas, taken from his new (and Garrison Keillor-approved) collection Guernica, revisited.

strange fruit

she held out her hand, offered him a bite,

cupping what looked like a plump, bruised

testicle in the soft flesh of her palm.

he politely declined, remembered the

tree in his grandma’s backyard, how the fruit

would ripen and drop to the ground where the

rotting skin swelled and split in summer’s

heat as guts were left sticky and exposed.

the fat, black flies would come, hover for days,

feast and vomit like decadent Romans.

 

but she insisted, lifted the fig to

his mouth, teased his reluctant tongue. the taste

of its sweet red meat went down easy like

oysters. he licked his lips, asked her for more.

Spotlight on Prime Number Magazine

Prime Number Magazine celebrates poetry every month, but we’re taking some extra time to showcase it this month; today, check out “Another Icarus” by Lorene Delany-Ullman, and find more great poetry here.

Another Icarus
The disturbed hillside
and vacant lot breed 

 

black mustard; 
the hardpan soil welcomes

 

what is out of place.  
This morning, a heron 

 

thrusts his orange beak at a mirage
of quivering fish.

 

How his bluish-grey feathers
sharpen the complexion 
of yellow weeds. 

 

          He mustn’t give
wings to the exuberant child—
today he’s a small boy

 

listening for the afternoon trains, 
and soon will learn to ask for too much—

 

fish in an arid field, 
something desirable from weeds.

5 Questions, 3 Facts

Clifford Garstang recently won the Library of Virginia Award for Fiction for his novel-in-stories, What the Zhang Boys Know. He took a break from his busy schedule of editing Prime Number Magazine (gearing up for Issue #53!) to answer a few of my burning questions.                             image

P53: What initially drew you to short fiction?

CG: Honestly? I had just finished a draft of a novel that was my MFA thesis and I had one semester left. I had to write something for my workshop and I couldn’t bear the thought of starting another novel so soon! But then, once I began writing them, I discovered how much I enjoyed writing them, and how much fun it was to switch characters and voices from story to story. 

P53: What kind of movies do you like? What are the parallels you see between film and literature?

CG: I’m not a big movie buff because I have trouble sitting still that long, but I do like dramatic adventure films and psychological thrillers. Until I took a screenwriting class a few years ago I’m not sure I would have been able to answer the second part of that question, but it’s clear to me now that a compelling novel—and maybe a story, too—follows a three-act structure that is quite similar to a film. Films are ultimately derivative of literature, and yet writers can learn a lot from films about holding the attention of a reader and delivering a satisfying experience.

P53: When did you first truly feel like you were a writer?

CG: I tentatively felt like a writer when my first short story was published, but I only truly felt like a writer when my first book—In an Uncharted Country, from Press 53—came out in 2009. I feel a bit sheepish about saying that, though, because being a writer isn’t about being published. And yet I had a hard time identifying myself as a writer until there was something tangible to point to.

P53: You can only eat one food for the rest of your life; what is it?

CG: Salmon. I was going to pick something else, or try to be clever about it, but I realized that I almost always order salmon when I eat in a restaurant, so that must be my favorite thing. And healthy, too! (My mother would be so proud.)

P53: What is the one personal belonging you simply could not do without?

CG: My laptop—it’s my office, my filing system, my connection to the rest of the world, my source of information and entertainment. Take away all the rest, but leave me my laptop.    image

Three Facts About Clifford:

1. My mother wanted to be a writer, but she never pursued her dream.

2. Other than English, I’ve studied seven languages … and can’t really speak any of them.

3. The one project I remember most distinctly from my days of law practice is the leveraged buyout of Hills Brothers Coffee in the early 80s when I was a junior associate at my firm; you’ve never smelled anything so heavenly as the aroma of a whole building full of fresh-roasted coffee.

53-Word Story Contest Winner (March): Tom Fugalli

Congratulations to Tom, whose story “The Main Thing Is” was chosen by guest judge Roy Kesey as last month’s winner! The story will appear in a forthcoming issue of Prime Number Magazine, and Tom also wins the Press 53 book of his choice. Read the winning story, below.

The Main Thing Is

 Who the goddamn mail is from and why. What they don’t tell you is that one day the night arrives like a black velvet box with a feline figurine inside; onyx body and moonstone eyes. At least, that’s how it is when you stop expecting an answer. By the way, don’t open it. 

53-Word Story Contest with Prime Number Magazine: April

                 

This month’s guest judge is Dave ClapperDave Clapper is the Founding Editor of SmokeLong Quarterly and the Artistic Director of Interrobang?! Improv.

Dave’s prompt: Write a 53-word story set in a carnival.

Guidelines and Information

-53 words—no more, no less—titles are not included in the word count.

-1 submission per person.

-e-mail your submission directly to 53wordstory@press53.com by 5 PM Wednesday, April 30th Eastern Standard Time. The winner will be announced on May 14th.

-Each quarter, Prime Number Magazine, Press 53’s online literary journal, comes out with a new issue. All winning 53-word stories will be published in the journal!

-The 53-Word Story App is now available for download in the Android App Store (it’s called 53Words)! For those with other smart devices, check out the web app (developed by Daniel Krawiec) at 53wordstory.com

53-Word Story Contest Winner (February): Allan Moye

Congratulations to Allan Moyé, whose story “Looking Up” was chosen by guest judge Clifford Garstang as last month’s winner! Allan wins the Press 53 book of his choice, and his story will be published in Prime Number Magazine. Read the winning story, below.

Looking Up

It is usually a face.  When I drink too much it is Penelope who left crying with the iron still plugged in.  Sometimes it’s my old man who said I would amount to nothing. When I’m with Lola, sweet Lola from the far side of town, that ceiling stain is a palm tree.

53-Word Story Contest with Prime Number Magazine: March

                         

This month’s guest judge is Roy Kesey! Roy Kesey’s latest books are the short story collection Any Deadly Thing (Dzanc Books 2013) and the novel Pacazo (Jonathan Cape/Random House 2012). His other books include the short story collection All Over, the novella Nothing in the World, and two historical guidebooks. He has received an NEA creative writing fellowship, the Paula Anderson Book Award, and the Bullfight Media Little Book Award. His short stories, essays, translations and poems have appeared in more than a hundred magazines and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories and New Sudden Fiction.

Roy’s prompt: Write a 53-word story involving minor gemstones.

Guidelines and Information

-53 words—no more, no less—titles are not included in the word count.

-1 submission per person.

-e-mail your submission directly to 53wordstory@press53.com by 5 PM Monday, March 31st Eastern Standard Time. The winner will be announced on April 14th.

-Each quarter, Prime Number Magazine, Press 53’s online literary journal, comes out with a new issue. All winning 53-word stories will be published in the journal!

-The 53-Word Story App is now available for download in the Android App Store (it’s called 53Words)! For those with other smart devices, check out the web app (developed by Daniel Krawiec) at 53wordstory.com

53-Word Story Contest Winner (January): Anthony Cote

Congratulations to Anthony, whose story “We’ll Go Out” was chosen by guest judge Myfanwy Collins as last month’s winner! Anthony wins the Press 53 book of his choice, and his story will appear in a forthcoming issue of Prime Number Magazine.

We’ll Go Out

We lay awake at night under the boughs. The two of us slick from the heat. She tells me morning comes just after them birds rush out from under that piano. We’ll hear their wings crack and the hammers hitting the strings while our eyes are still closed. We’ll go out after them.

Poetry Wednesday

This Wednesday, take a break from the monotony and read a poem by Carmen Calatayud, taken from her collection In the Company of Spirits.

Dinner for Two

If you were alive

in my soup,

I would eat you.

Scoop you to my lips

with a silver spoon

and suck you

through my teeth.

 

I’m rude and loud,

just like you left me:

Howling like a manic coyote

underneath a broken moon,

even in this restaurant.

My tongue clicks

like castanets.

Still can’t take me

anywhere.

 

Damn this hot sauce choke

and the tears that coat my throat.

Nothing can rescue my taste buds.

They blazed away with you.

 

If I could slide you

down my esophagus,

I would. I’d beg you

to warm my belly

and never excrete

yourself again.