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96 IN THE HEAT
by Vincent Abbate


You step out of the shower onto the rough blue mat. The first sweat droplets form on your belly.

Where is she?

She said five minutes.

Dressing ... the hair? Leave it wet, what the hell. Not going anywhere, not seeing anyone. You look at today's mail without reading it. Maybe tomorrow. Is the iced tea cold yet? She put it in before she left. Said she'd be back in no time. Why does she do these things?

Because it's there, you sit down on the sheet on the sofa and read about those who froze on Everest. The line about hands clinking like glass is what journalism should be. But not the next article. All that confusing shit in the mideast.

A breeze. It blows in around the slanted red window, dust pollen stuff from outside but so what. Every breeze is good. What are the others doing? Others? Strangers. They're at the pools. Jogging. Running marathons. They're better-built humans, can take it. And still others have air-conditioning, live climate-controlled. It's a stupid thing, in winter you feel like picketing. Today you'd trade places.

That book. No, that book. No, okay, that book. Maybe.

Can't concentrate.

That's what she said too, earlier. And now you can't because where is she?

Something rumbles, letting you know there is a sky, an outside, a chance of rain. You step out, onto the city's roof. A magpie dips and ducks atop the house across the way. He squawks a manly, lonely squawk. The sky is both light and dark, every category of cloud is represented. In grade school you used to know a lot of things' names. Now you only know what they look like. You toss the ball (you found it lying there) against a wall, feeling the leather in your fingers. But it's PVC, and instead of feeling it as you bounce it you're thinking about where it was made and who stitched it together and how much money they were paid so that you could buy it for two-ninety-nine and bounce it pointlessly against this wall. And you hurl the ball at the magpie, saying goodbye to both forever.

The sky rumbles again. Angry, like you. But it'll wait till tomorrow to drop its rain. Tonight it will slumber and you won't sleep.

That book. No, that book again. Maybe.

Atop your satellite dish, a blackbird. He's been sitting there the whole time and you notice him now because he starts to sing. Another breeze, more pollen dust stuff, and the blackbird's song. Now ... this is alright, this is cool for the first time today. He's singing about the rain. Hah! The rain you can't see, the no-water rain, and you almost understand him but feel anyway what the bird feels, you feel yourself, and bad about Ariane blowing up, and the mudslide, and the plane full of people that fell from the sky like a stone and you think:

As bad as this is, it's still much much better than that.


vincent@3ampublishing.com



ANTEATERS
by Matt Devereux


Nature documentaries and Star trek episodes have much in common.

Both these programs set one to consider the universe.

Both these programs appear in that mid afternoon timeslot

And both these programs feature the voice of Leanord Nimoy (or someone who sounds much like Leanord Nimoy).

Today's nature show is questioning religion.

Well actually it is on anteaters.

......I am questioning religion.

Why would god create an ant and then an anteater?

Does he not like ants?

Or is it a "Lion king" thing.?

... A "circle of life" thing?

Or did god in his infinite mercy take pity on the creature with the long tubular nose and create something small and generally defenseless for it to eat?

Or is it more likely.....and blasphemous to state that god didn't want the ants at all!

Didnít want them getting too cocky and thus created a natural foe

....The anteater

.....Checkmate!

Ants have anteaters

Man has maneaters

Certain types of bears, Lions and Sharks are maneaters.

They have been nearing extinction since Film directors and Authors were given guns.

These maneaters can be found on the flags of professional sport teams or hostile countries.

Countries and sports teams like to choose maneaters because they are strong and fearless.

Ants are also strong and fearless but are never identified with national flags or contact sports.

An ant can carry something like ten times its weight.

It could carry ten other ants.

A lion, though strong could never carry ten other lions

Nor could a bear!

And if H.G Wellsís horrible predictions should ever come true and monstrous ants walked the earth, I am sure that they too would become maneaters and ...what the hell....they'd probably eat anteaters as well.

When I see banners with lions in sunglasses

Or sharks with hockey sticks

I am often curious as to why I do not see an ant representing a sport team.

An ant carrying a creature ten times its size and weight

In bloodied serrated mandibles.

One of its six legs would have a rugby ball as the other five scurry forward knocking aside bears, lions and alligators in its path.

It would stare out from the "Alabama ants" banner with cold, calculating eyes

and a raised tentacle that seems to transmit

"Hereís one for the collective"

"Let's hear it for the drones!!"

A team for the new millenium.

A new breed of hero.

The Louisiana Locusts, The Brooklyn bees . . . the Rochford roaches

And they would make a country proud, or a planet peaceful,

Soon all the flags for countries and sports teams would forget the pride and strength of the maneaters and anteaters, and adhere to the collective symbolism of the insect paying homage to determination,will and cooperation opposed to strength, pride and indiviuduality.

Yet, it seems that the anteaters have already lost the battle

For I have never seen an anteater, but I've seen plenty of ants and I donít see many maneaters either.

Except on nature documentaries and the occasional Star Trek episode.


matt@starskys.de



MANDIARGUEíS GREAT THEATER
by Greg Farnum


Many years ago, at the conclusion of the season, the Great Khan ordered that the triumphs of that season be preserved for posterity, and that a display be created which would let future centuries know the high standard which the drama of his age had attained. As a consequence, the actors and actresses were strangled, then disemboweled and mummified and stuffed inside their wax effigies.

Now these coldly elegant personages perform in their static way for several weeks each year. Eventually, however, the roof above the stage collapsed and for some reason it has never been repaired. The season, of course, extends through the fall to early winter, so when the curtain goes up the audience is, likely as not, greeted with a blast of cold air, or, on evenings when wind and rain join together, a cold mist or spray that intermittently advances from the stage like the patrols or probing attacks of a forward thrusting army.

Most dramatic are those evenings at the tail end of the season when the troupe presents the most famous works in its repertoire and flecks of snow drift from the stage outward, flying, hovering, then alighting on the heads and coats of the audience. The audience, of course, all wear coats—heavy coats late in the season, lighter coats in the early weeks. As the play proceeds they begin to fidget, or hug and pat themselves to keep warm, but few leave before the end.

There has been some talk that the seasons are not what they used to be, that the overall quality of the performances has declined. Some of these critics point to the curious reluctance of the Masters to renovate or replace the costumes, the backdrops, and the props. Wind, rain and snow have taken their toll on all of these. Though the Masters are assiduous in assisting the players to their proper places before the curtain goes up—they never fail to guide the performers to the exact spot which long experience has determined to best mime or approximate the full action of that particular play—they ignore the merely technical or non-human aspects of the performance.

One school of thought, by turns viewed as bafflingly avant-garde or hopelessly reactionary, commends this state of affairs; a contending school condemns it; most take no notice and express few opinions on the subject apart from some scattershot and partially formed preferences for colored spotlights, recorded music, more attractively printed programs, popcorn, and perhaps drinks served during intermission on the English model.

None of these things have come to pass, for the mass of people have preferences without passion, and anyway a whole new set of traditions has arisen to rectify these supposed defects. For instance, an amazing profusion of street vendors are to be found in the vicinity of the Great Theater, and the illicit consumption of alcohol during performances has evolved its own peculiar etiquette, a supple code which changes as to drink and means of consumption (flask, plastic bag, straw extending from hidden bottle) according to the play being performed. Of course these responses and customs have evolved slowly; the plays themselves evolve more slowly still ...


g.farnum@french-rogers.com



THE BOY WHO ATE BRISBANE
by Jason Borne


"I ain't gonna use a spoon to scoop and a fork to stir! That's just insane!" Screamed Phil down the collar of his pale blue hospital gown at no one in particular. At least he kept telling himself it was no one in particular because the person he was screaming at (he called himself Maxwell), in actuality, didn't exist. Although he was fairly convincing during their heated late night discussions about which utensils were best for stirring coffee, Phil remained adamant that spoons were the most effective, while Maxwell preferred forks for various reasons. He insisted that forks not only dispersed cream more efficiently, but it is common practice for delusionary voices to make irrational statements.

"What would you know about stirring coffee? I know for a fact that, being a fictitious product of my insane ravings, you've never drank a cup of coffee in your life." The ensuing violence was a common occurrence.

Maxwell often made a point of how ridiculous Phil must look conversing so vigorously with his left nipple, to which he took great offense.

"Ridiculous? If it wasn't for me being ridiculous you wouldn't even exist!" Raved the fully certified lunatic as he promptly bit his left nipple off.

The next day, under heavy sedation, Phil watched the news. Well... he didn't watch the news so much as he drooled profusely in the near vicinity of the news. On a level of consciousness he wouldn't be aware of for a few hours he perceived this news report:

"A giant delusional space amoeba, calling itself Phil, devoured the eastern Australian city of Brisbane today. There are reports that Phil believes he is a twelve year old boy confined in a mental hospital, and instead of ingesting an entire city and several hundred of its inhabitants, he believes he has simply bitten off his own left nipple. Details at eleven'.


galnocrappo@hotmail.com



SIMPLE STORY
by Greg Farnum


At night she struggled with this question:

what is the nature
of the moral responsibility
I owe to my insurance company?
If a tree falls in the woods
am I obliged to tell them?

Morning. Across the flat and still gray landscape the old man makes his way, his tall boots spattered with mud. At last he reaches the pumping station where he pushes forward the large iron lever then turns, slowly, the old iron handwheel.creak.creak .creak.and then the sluice gates are open and roaring, tumbling, sloshing forth comes the morning's supply of digital images. A sad eyed man standing on the bank watches the rolling, cascading mass. With nearly everything trapped in the flooding stream he's left only with simple little blocks of type with which to express himself. Pass your cursor over them and they will speak:

man come
man come to house/town
man have trouble
person-person trouble
man leave house/town sad

The computerized voice is fairly clear, if lacking in affect.

Silently turning from the bank he is startled by the sight of a fellow creature and feels compelled to talk to and about it. "Seagull!" he says and moves on with a lighter step.


g.farnum@french-rogers.com



AESOP FOR BEGINNERS
by Greg Farnum


Mouse.
Cat.
Poor man. Ass. Stick. Beating. Laughter.
Rich man. King.


g.farnum@french-rogers.com


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