Friday, March 27, 2015

The Boa Constructor

"Be ridiculous," the invitation had read. In fact, looking at the outlandish figures rattling and tattling around the rooftop, Naomi had to agree they had done a good job.

The simple terrace, which was closed off by the brick walls of the higher neighboring buildings, seemed overloaded with people. Elina, one of Naomi's housemates, was entertaining a mainly male group near a round table full of oddly colorful drinks. She didn't like dressing up, but she had painted her lips in dashing pink to match the polish on her long, pointy nails. She looked a little ridiculous.

Amber, Naomi's other housemate, had tried her best to compensate for Elina's lack of creativity. The bright red rouge on her cheeks flashed like stoplights at dusk, outshined only by her screamingly purple feather boa. In addition, she wore a glittery dark blue shirt resembling the starry sky, tight fitting washed-out jeans and her "fuck-me-pumps". 
Amber was a real gem.

Naomi snuck over to the table and pretended to socialize with Elina and the guys, while all she had in mind was a mojito. She didn't usually drink, but parties always made her uncomfortable. Shyness is a disease, she thought, gulping it down as if she were parched. Her curry was all gone already. Although people had to eat with plastic forks standing, it had been a hit. In a fit of creative genius she had mixed up a garlicky Andalusian recipe with chicken masala and despite her housemates’ skepticism it had turned out ridiculously tasty. The mojito was pretty good, too. Flakes of conversation reached her brain as she chewed on a mint leaf.

"... couldn't believe how cheap those rickshaws were in India!" one of the blue-eyed Italian guys exclaimed. Expectantly, Naomi glanced at her half-Indian friend, but Elina remained quiet. Another one, a stoned-looking guy with a head full of chestnut-colored curls, reminisced about his time at a Goan Ashram. Naomi enjoyed the mellow sound of his voice, despite the many idiocies and clichés that peppered his speech.
"Have you ever been to Asia?" he asked, as he leaned over her to fill his cup.
"Well yes", she replied, "I've been to Japan and China."
"That's awesome!" he cried, seeming really enthusiastic. "When I first came to Europe, I went to London, Paris, Rome and Venice! All just in one week! It's amazing how close everything is here!"
"Wow,” Naomi frowned. “That is quite a trip for just one week..."
 Amber jumped up and clapped her hands. "You know, when I was younger, I went hiking through the Amazon!” Everyone's eyes shifted to her.  “I even saw a real Boa constructor in the jungle!"  

Like the main attraction in a bizarre cabaret, her dark red cheeks seemed to be glowing. As if to emphasize the impact of her adventurous encounter, she was swinging the end of her feathery scarf.
"Wow! A boa con-STRUCT-or! How do they do that, construct a boa? With all the feathers, it must be really hard!" Naomi laughed as she reached for the purple plumage around her friend's neck.  
Amber's eyes, which had been shining with a sensation of superiority a second ago, grew wide. "A boa constructor!" Amber snorted through her giggles. "You know I meant constrictor!"
"Now that is what I call ridiculous!" their hostess called from across the terrace, clearly content with the course of her party. “Here’s to the boa constructor!”

by B.E. Seidl

Friday, March 13, 2015

Of Wagons and Greed

Price eyed a derelict sitting outside the hotel, stopped walking, and tipped his hat.  “I’m a man of no consequence,” the vagrant brayed, his despair palpable.  Price tugged on the rope tied to his rickety wagon and stepped toward him, but the man bowed his head and waved him on – red eyes, droopy as a bloodhound’s.  Beside him, there was a cracked styrofoam cup – “homeless and hungry” in black, curlicue letters. 
“I ain’t gonna bother you none, just wanna rest these ol’ bones.” 
As the final few stragglers hastened home from their empty days, the two strangers sat in silence, unnoticed, while the purple-blue gloaming shifted about them.  “Think I might put my arm around you a bit,” Price said, rubbing his grassy gray beard, “then I’m gonna walk on out of here.”  The broken man downed the last of his gin and stared straight ahead.  Under the comfort of a steady arm, he brought his head to his hands and wept.
Later, as Price wound through the sleeping borough and out into the woodlands, the coins clanked against the crumpled cup, spilling across the floor of his wagon.
The penniless man woke from his slumber, to mark the stolen silver.  His eyes glassed over like ice.  “Oh, Lord, you’ve forsaken me,” he murmured, his foggy breath billowed upward toward the stars, in tiny wisps. 
 And under the same violet sky, at the base of a hearty hemlock, the swindler cut to his knees, “God, have mercy on me,” he bleated.  His words split the night, like a blade.

by Chad Broughman

Monday, March 2, 2015


The shape of a fisherman's face, a blasted red mask of ancient hope,
stonecold to his wife and child, but cradling a fish in his hands and
praying, like an Indian, to the spirit he has just taken.
Prehistoric bluffs cut into the land by the mighty clash —
a high buffer against the wash of lashing waves
and on the other side the half-moon shape of the softsand curving beach
becomes the pink cup that holds the sparkling sea.
And you know a kind hello always hides a blistering whisper.

I fall asleep at night gently rising and gently falling
with the moontide that guides the thin strands of my blood,
and I think of the uncountable spinning islands floating through a universe
long since hardened and splendidly ordered from its loose bubbled beginnings.
I am awakened by a slice of noise, a sparkly crack in the dark air.
I find that a gull, sneering, the most playful of all birds,
has dropped a cold hardclosed shell onto the warm sloping asphalt,
the shards now cutting deep into the soft wet pool of life inside.

 by Lars Trodson