Philly Flash Inferno: We Love Those Slothful Days of May-Issue Four
Philly Flash Inferno: We Love Those Slothful Days of May-Issue Four
Featured Pic: Sloth
Featured Photographer’s Bio: Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 15 year old photographer and artist who has won many contests: National Geographic, The Woodland Trust, The World Photography Organization, Winston’s Wish, Papworth Trust, Mencap, Big Issue, Wrexham Science, Fennel and Fern and Nature's Best Photography. She has had her photographs published in exhibitions and magazines across the world including the Guardian, RSPB Birds, RSPB Bird Life, Dot Dot Dash, Alabama Coast, Alabama Seaport and NG Kids Magazine (the most popular kids magazine in the world). She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run: See The Bigger Picture Global Exhibition Tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity, 2010. She was the only visual artist published in the Taj Mahal Review, June 2011 and the youngest artist to be displayed in Charnwood Art's Vision ‘09 Exhibition and New Mill's Artlounge Dark Colours Exhibition.
Poetry Pyre (For some sick reason we’re throwing hauntingly beautiful bird poetry down into the pit.)
Blackbird, Sweta Srivastava Vikram
Every morning, for two months,
it made melancholic movements
with its eyes, the solitary crow.
Bleeding its heart out in anguish,
pointing its sharp beak towards the sky
as if beseeching the angels.
“Don’t pay attention. Crows
are messengers of their solitude,”
said my friend, or was it her ignorance?
The police found bodies of five girls,
in the path of the crow’s cries,
each bludgeoned with fear in the eyes.
Bio: Sweta Srivastava Vikram (www.swetavikram.com) is an award-winning writer, poet, novelist, author, essayist, educator, and blogger whose musings have translated into four chapbooks of poetry, two collaborative collections of poetry, a novel, a nonfiction book of prose and poems (upcoming in 2012), and a full-length collection of poems (upcoming in 2013). Her scribbles have also appeared in several anthologies, literary journals, and online publications across six countries in three continents. Sweta has won two Pushcart Prize nominations, an International Poetry Award, Best of the Net Nomination, Nomination for Asian American Members’ Choice Awards 2011, writing fellowships, and was short listed for Independent Literary Awards. Taj Mahal Review describes her as "A poet with hauntingly beautiful talent." Sweta has held several artist residencies in Europe and America and worked on collaborative projects with artists from Zimbabwe and Australia. A graduate of Columbia University, she reads her work, teaches creative writing workshops, and gives talks at universities and schools across the globe. Sweta lives in New York City with her husband. You can follow her at the links below.
Little Bird, a Shape Poem, Catt Colborn, Hostess of Your Flash Hell
Tziporah, you sang to me, with
your gapingly toothy smile, as you traced peonies
in my palm. It was my last happy memory of you
before the soldiers stole away our sanctum.
I carried that flower everywhere, watering it with my heart
wound, until I found what I thought was your shallow grave
to sleep, and pressed the petals back to our pillow of ash-
hoping our mingling energy would pollinate a last lucid dream of afterlife.
“Please sing to me again, Little Bird,” I begged. “Please.”
The cherry petals began answering and tickling the lines
in my face, as they stuck like your whole notes, floating
us free, one-together towards a more peace-loving plane.
You sang to me, little bird, and I danced again.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Attn: Catt (in Subject Line)
Ravens’ Reaping Music, Akisha Mills
Do you see the tempo in the sky?
Black ravens are the notes,
the skinny clouds are the ropes,
That muffle out her cries.
Such music to my eyes!
Do you feel the moon's crescendo burning?
Owls in time harkening,
The sun's finale to its darkening,
Leaving her ghost’s musical yearning...
Of my own fate’s encore burning.
Bio: Akisha Mills is a new writer, student, and barista from Philadelphia. She admits she’s “not a morning person” even though she brews perfect coffee and that our repeated failed attempts to contact her is what landed her here months later. She’s quoted saying, “I knew Minos was coming to wrap that tail around me sooner or later, so I just hit snooze.”
[This proves that you cannot hide from your slothful ways...I’ll come get you. Hugs and Kisses, Minos]
|Fire is Greedy, Eleanor Leonne Bennett|
(First: An Honored Guest-Death Personified)
By Michael Pfister
By Michael Pfister
Carol was in the bathroom when I answered the door and welcomed Death.
“Well, I knew I wasn’t going to live forever,” I said as I took his coat and hat. “God, it is good to see you, Death.”
“It’s nice to see you too, Greg,” said Death with a mischievous smile on his face. “What have you been up to these days?”
I led Death into the parlor and offered him a seat. “Oh, just the same shit. Grading papers, teaching blank faces. Scotch?”
Death nodded and snapped his pasty fingers. I was saving the bottle for that particular day; it was a nice single malt that I purchased in the Highlands during the affair with Hannah. The cork came out with a thunk. I poured the scotch into my two finest rocks glasses and presented one to Death’s boney hand.
“Ah, this is nice,” said Death in between sips. “You’ve really outdone yourself this time.”
As I should. I’ve been trying to get Death to take me for years, but every time he’d have another excuse to leave. I wanted to make sure that this time he’d finish the job. Maybe get him a little drunk so he loosens up.
“How’s work? I said, stirring my glass.
Death took another sip and placed the glass on the table. “Business is well. You know how it is around the holidays. Everyone is depressed and my inbox gets flooded.” Death flashed a proud smile.“Yourself?”
“Grading papers. It leaves barely any time to write, and when I have the time, I can’t think of anything important. So I hit the bottle. You know that.”
Death winked a black eye. He wasn’t usually in such a playful mood. He tapped his foot and wrung his hands. Maybe he’d just collected someone particularly foul. It was difficult to figure out Death’s motivation sometimes. He never got into the nuts and bolts of his work, as much as I asked him about it.
“So you came unannounced this time,” I said. “I haven’t even had a drink yet.”
“Figured I’d surprise you, old sport,” said Death.
It was a good sign. All the other times I called the guy up, and I was flattered to have an unexpected guest. I finished my drink and fixed another.
“Need a refill?” I said as I set the bottle down.
Death cleared his throat. “Nah. I’m not staying long.”
“Oh please, make yourself at home. My wife needs to fix dinner. I wonder why she is taking so long. Damn woman.”
My guest scratched his ear. “You know,” he said, “I think you might take some things for granted, Gregory.”
Good old Death. Always speaking his mind.
“How do you mean?” I said.
“Most people aren’t thrilled to see me. And yes, sometimes I despise my area of work. Sometimes I have to take people who still had so much to live for, so much to accomplish, to create. But I didn’t make the rules, I just obey them.” Death shrugged.
I took a long pull from my glass. Who created the rules, anyway?
“But you,” said Death, pointing a finger at me, “you just want to destroy. You don’t feel like you serve any higher purpose. And that’s why you keep calling me.”
“I don’t have a higher purpose. I’m old. Worn out, dried up. I want you to take me with you.”
Death picked up his glass and examined it. “Alcohol is a vile thing. Makes men stupid.”
The bathroom door opened and Carol came into the parlor. She was dressed in her blue evening gown and wore her diamond earrings. She showed no surprise at the presence of our guest.
“Gentlemen,” she said.
“Why are you dressed up so nice?” I said.
Carol motioned to Death with a white, gloved hand speckled with a few growing scarlet stains. My mouth dropped open and a jealous rage filled me.
“You!” I said to Death. “You bastard!”
Death stood and walked to Carol. “I’m sorry, Gregory. But it’s just not your time.”
“But I don’t understand,” I said.
“I told you, I don’t make the rules, I just obey them. Take care of yourself, Greg. Lay off the sauce and do what you were born to do. Teach. Write. Inspire.”
Death took Carol’s hand and brushed a lock of white hair from her forehead.
“Darling, are you ready?”
Carol curtseyed. She turned to me and smiled. “See you in Hell.”
Then they left together, arm in arm.
It took me hours to clean up all the blood, but the real problem was dealing with the body.
Bio: Michael Pfister is a Creative Writing MFA student at Rosemont College in Pennsylvania. He enjoys writing about the supernatural, horror, and alcohol. Living next to a train station, Michael is prone to wanderlust.
|Okay Museum, Eleanor Leonne Bennett|
In the World of Tommy Aquinas
By T. Fox Dunham
“My son’s a sinner, got the devil in him. Get that devil away from me!”
I drop a newspaper and milk carton on the table next to Mom’s bed. I clear away the last seven issues of the Philadelphia Inquirer and old bottles. The milk spoiled, lumpy in the bottle. Staff at the Philadelphia State Home haven’t bothered to clear it away. She’s screaming at the wall. I’ve been a sinner for the last three years now since her mind wilted and died earlier than her body. Doctor Helsinki with two sinkholes for eyes mentioned a feeding tube.
Just let her die. Waste. Melt away.
Just let it all waste.
I dig around in my sweatpants and find three sticky coins in my pocket, not enough for a bus ride. I crawl in the shadows of the shattered brick buildings along Walnut Street. Several collapsed, leaving brick bones. The city’s left them.
I step over Slow Man Joe, careful not to touch him, to avoid the lice swarming in his hair and through the ratty wool blanket he wears to keep from freezing to death. Bev’s leaning on the staircase again and rubbing at her track marks. I pass her and climb to the second floor. I scan the hall for junkies waiting to rob me before opening my apartment. The roaches scatter under my boots. I lay out on the chair and wish I had cable. I used to watch M.A.S.H. with my pop during the day.
I hung his monochromatic photo on the wall, the only decoration in my shit hole. He’s standing in a gray anti-G suit in front of the left wing of a B-52—a Captain in the USAF flying for SAC in the ‘60s. On the Christmas morning when I was born at Willow Grove Airbase, Pop flew to his failsafe point outside of the Soviet Union carrying twin five megaton thermonuclear bombs in the belly of his beauty, ready to give birth.
I remember what he told me just before he pulped his brain with a bullet:
“They give the order. You don’t think. You set your course. You drop your load. You kill a million Reds. Flesh and blood gone to smoke.”
“Liar,” I said. I swallowed nails when I thought about what he’d told me. Dad collected toys for poor families during the holidays. He made us volunteer at soup kitchens. I had three foster brothers in Africa my father sponsored, made sure they had food and clothing. Then at night, he flew into the forever blue sky and juggled hellfire over innocent flesh and hearts.
“I’m going to take a long nap,” he said, grabbing his side arm from the safe. “After you hear it, come in and clean up before your mother comes home.”
I found the body. I didn’t bother mopping up the blood or covering it with a sheet. It felt like a lie.
I watched a documentary once on the bombing of Hiroshima. The crew flew their lone B-29 over Japan—just them and the angels. The captain named the plane after his mother, Enola Gay. After the show, I kept repeating in my head the checklist William ‘Deke’ Parsons, the navy munitions expert, used to arm the heart of fire:
1. Check that green plugs are installed.
2. Remove rear plate.
3. Remove armor plate.
Simple. Like baking a pie. He put it together then killed 100,000 people.
When they buried my Pop, the mortician forged an eternal grin on his face by stuffing cotton in his cheeks. Didn’t look right. He was a joyless man.
My cell phone bleats, ripping me from sleep.
“No one here,” I answer.
“Tommy Aquinas I presume?”
“Who wants to know?”
“Doctor Helsinki. I’m the on-call attending at Philadelphia State Home. Your mother.”
He’s slurring his words, spitting on the phone. He sounds like he had a few martinis at lunch, probably needed medicinal fortitude to bury himself everyday in that pit of lost souls. I pause and wait for him to continue.
“Dude,” I say. “Get on it with it.”
“A severe stroke,” he says. “I don’t think she’s going to make it through the night. You should come down.”
“Will she know me?”
“She probably won’t regain consciousness.”
“Then what would be the damn point?”
“We need you to sign some things,” he says.
I hang up.
I sit up in my sweaty work clothes. I pick the roaches out of my boots and then pull them on my swollen feet. Paperwork needs to be filed, or society throws a rod. I slip out of my apartment. The young Iranian couple across the way scream at each other. It sounds like he’s throwing her into the walls. The roaches scatter out of the cracks.
I descend the stairs and step out into raw winter. Slow Man Joe sleeps across the stoop. He blends into the falling night shadow. I trip over him.
“Watch it man,” he grumbles.
He scratches at his scalp till he draws blood.
“I could use coin,” he says. “I could.”
“Ain’t got no coin,” I tell him, feeling the three in my pocket.
He throws out a psalm like some preacher:
“Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord.”
My flesh petrifies. My muscles turn to stone—except my mouth.
“I might have some coin, but you got any words for me? Any miracle cures?”
“Acedia,” he says. “The fool won’t enjoy the Lord’s good works.”
I grab the coins—two pennies and a dime. I rain them down on Slow Man Joe. He lets them fall to the steps. They trickle down, and the dime lands on its side. It spins into the street.
I stroll slow to the State Home.
1. Check that green plugs are installed.
2. Remove rear plate.
The Van Messiah
By T. Fox Dunham
“I cracked your rib,” I said.
“Don’t care. She’s everything that is beauty. Lost. She needs to be saved.”
“She’s an actress. Remember? I looked it up. Emma Greenwell.”
“I know. Still.”
“Put some ice on it,” I said. “I’ll bring you home a milkshake.”
I spooned ice cream from the carton, letting it slide back and soothe my throat.
“You missed your oncology appointment,” Jimmy said.
“I blew it off. Burger King Corporation in its wisdom doesn’t offer its serfs medical benefits; though I get free fries if we fry too many before we close. Kings do have their graces. It’s bullshit, anyway. I’ll never do it again.”
I dressed for my shift. I slammed the front door. I ignored Officer Joe Misery in the stairwell dropping off a bag of brown powder to one of his street dealers. I didn’t make eye contact. Last idiot who did ended up shot while resisting arrest. I rode the bus to work.
Mom texted me on the bus.
Are you signing up for courses this fall?
I turned off my cell phone.
At work, the milkshake machine broke down again. Mac ordered me to repair it. I might make assistant manager in a few months if I kept working so hard.
I took a smoke break. Outside, Bruno grabbed my flannel sleeve and pulled me to the rusty Econoline van that’s been parked across North Street in an abandoned parking lot, atop pavement where weeds grew from cracks.
“Dude,” he said. “He’ll cure you.”
“You touch me again, and I’ll fucking rip your eyes out.”
He let go.
I’ve seen flocks congregating around the van—probably a dealer. Plenty of lost souls living in the derelict projects that choked the parking lot.
Bruno had covered the swastika tattoo on his neck with children’s Band Aids. He stopped shaving his head. I doubted it was because Mac was going to fire him for offending customers with racist slurs. Bruno had threatened to burn down the manager’s trailer home.
“Atomic bombs and mushroom clouds burned my eyes to ash,” Bruno said. “I hated my mom for being a whore. He freed me.”
He led me across the street. I followed, sucked in by his wake. A crack pipe snapped underfoot. I kicked off a used condom.
“What the hell are you talking about? Christ.”
He tapped on the backdoors.
“In the van, dude.”
The van double doors swung open. A foul odor of old meat left in the heat gagged me. Yet a sweet aroma, like pine sap, assuaged it. It tasted like Sunday mass, the smoke blowing from the incense burner carried by a priest.
His apostles had adorned themselves with white towels stitched with safety pins as robes. They sat by their messiah’s side in the van. They’d wrapped his stick limbs in dirty, white linen. His gray eyes told me mid-twenties, but addiction had aged his body, warped his flesh, evidenced by the track marks streaking up his arms. He’d leeched his life force right from his flesh, his blood, and now he’d become lost between this world and the next.
“We both see the woman draped in hoary bright veils calling to us,” the van messiah spoke.
“She’s a fucking lie. A siren.”
He slurred when he spoke his gospel. His face hung down the right side, probably from a stroke.
“You saw her staring into the face that eats faces, burning you with radiation, curing you with death.”
I pinched the fiery wick of one of the votive candles—set to burn, to purify, ignite and enlighten. My finger skin charred, but I felt no pain, little sensation after the chemo killed my nerve endings.
“No one can heal me,” I said.
He lunged out with his arm and grabbed my hand. His sweaty grip nearly broke my fingers—so desperate, stabbing me with a needle-piercing gaze from his pale eyes. I ripped free.
I jumped out of the van and ran to the sidewalk. I discovered a folded Burger King receipt in my palm. He’d slipped me a note. I could only read fragments of the scratchy, rusty writing.
Please . . . won’t let me die . . . I came back from the dead . . . St. Mary’s Mission and now they think . . . Jesus Fucking Christ . . . Written . . . own blood . . . Just want my Baptist’s Communion . . . no more pain.
At the bottom of the note, he’d pleaded in clear and thick strokes:
Save the soul from the flesh.
I collapsed on my knees and vomited chunks of flame-broiled meat and lettuce. We pleaded to a deaf God. I’d begged Him to end my raw suffering during radiation therapy. I’d nearly dumped a bottle of morphine down my throat, but my mother counted on me to fight, to stay alive. God didn’t give a damn. Miracle: I did.
I called Officer Mercy. After ten minutes, he pulled up in his patrol car.
“I can’t stand freaks on my streets,” he said. He combed his mustache. He tossed me a hypodermic needle rich with Baptist’s Communion, a street term.
“So pure, it’s ground up angel’s wings,” he said. “Their messiah used to be one of my best customers.”
He broke up their vigil and silenced any protests with his nightstick. I offered the van messiah the needle.
“No more pain,” I said.
“Bless you, sweet child,” he spoke.
His breathing stilled, and I left him to sleep.
I threw my apron at Mac. I stopped off at Penn campus to grab a course guide for next year.
Bio: T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia, PA. He’s an author and historian. He’s a cancer survivor. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal. He is a Copper Nickel 2011 Fiction Contest Finalist for his story, The Lady Comes in the Night. He also is the winner of Philadelphia WRAGSInk Anthology Contest for his story, The Realm of Ever Dusk & Dawn. T. Fox Dunham has been widely published but to name a few: Three Heads Zine (Literary) TriCon Nonprofit; Trenton Review (Literary); My Legacy (Fantasy); The Griffin (Literary) Gwynedd-Mercy College; Midnight Screaming (Horror); Blue Moon (Literary) and Art Review (Literary); Torrid Literature (Literary); Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonder (Sci-fi Steampunk); Forge Magazine (Literary).
His motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. To see his long list of accomplishments and get more information visit: http://www.facebook.com/tfoxdunham
Hot Philly Interview￼
Comic Culture: Drawing Thoughts from Inspiration with Newt Wallen, Nerds Girls Guns and Ghouls
|Photo Courtesy of Atlantic City Press|
CattFirst of all, Newt, thanks for agreeing to this interview. I see your book is called, Nerds Girls Guns and Ghouls. Is it the guns that get the girls in this book or are they battling along with the nerds? Tell us the gist of the story but without being too revealing.
NewtThe Nerds Girls Guns and Ghouls title was something I came up while driving to an Underbelly meeting for a script I wanted to write as a film. It just popped and got people interested in the story. It twisted into a comic. It’s sorta a mix of a lot of my fav things: Classic video games...cult movies…sexy ladies…zombies…monsters. You’re gonna have to wait and see, but it’s fun.
CattI’ve witnessed you Underbelly guys running around amuck for the internet in Batman and Pokemon costumes (to name a few). What gives you the right to have soo much damn fun? You’re supposed to work in a gray cubical, have a caffeine addiction, and high blood pressure, you know, the American Dream...
NewtI work my real 9 to 5. That dry grown up time pays for me to run around and play with the Underbelly and comic book stuff. As long as I can be somewhat creative, then I’m happy.
CattI’m going to sneak a two part question in here, because that’s what I do when I say, “Only six questions” ha. With so many characters and story lines in the comic and graphic novella universe today, do you ever feel like you have to rework a piece from the beginning to “get it to the people?” What advice do you have on revision for those who are newbies and want more than anything to get their comic published?
NewtI saw how popular the Scott Pilgrim film was among our target viewers, so I reworked the story to hit some of those beats but still very much be a Newt story. And as for tailoring a story, no matter how commercial you want something to be, it should always have personal elements, or what’s the point of writing it?
CattWhen I write interviews on craft, I’m careful for it not to seem like that’s the only important factor about any art. Crazy enough, there are those of us out there that love to draw or write things no matter if they get noticed. So, do you feel it’s beneficial to write everyday? Do you have your own quiet space? (Oh, another two-parter. I’m sorry, I am an Italiana that speaks with her hands on massive amounts of caffeine, ya know.)
NewtI live alone 2 hours away from everyone I know, so I write down here [Jersey Shore] by myself in an attempt to get things published or ready to shoot, so I can come be with my peeps up there [South Jersey]. It’s always rewarding to take what I did here alone and see it come alive with everyone.
CattYou have two minutes to “wow me” with a few words about your next great comic installment or graphic novella. How would you describe in a few words the images/inspiration that come to mind to promote the storyline?
NewtMy stuff is a mix of everything I’m into since I was a pup: Comics, Saturday morning 80’s cartoons, Classic Lit, bad TV, or music…I like to toss everything I’ve stored into the pot.
CattLastly, this is a fav quote from Stephen King that I’ve been throwing around for final comments. King says, “[For me] good description usually consists of well-chosen details that will stand for everything else.” What are your thoughts on that statement?
NewtKing is a brilliant mind. He has the ability to create characters and situation and make them feel real and relatable even in the most supernatural situations. I wish I could create characters and plots like that.
Thanks for the interview, Newt. I’m sure your techniques will help many graphic novel writers out there to get the courage to draw from humorous experiences, passions, or plain persistence.-CC
Check out and become a fan of: Newt Wallen: https://www.facebook.com/newt.wallen
Nerds Girls Guns and Ghouls: https://www.facebook.com/nerdsgirlsgunsghouls
Send us your short 5-7 question interviews for consideration!
Call For Confessions
|Maybe Dead Again, Paris, Catt Colborn|
PFI GEAR SHELVES
"OUR HELL IS ALWAYS OPEN"
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