Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pick of the Week Archive - July 2010

Afer the War

She read him poems. Haikus on post-its. They were to-the-point, true and deep; what he deserved. Once done, she let the paper go in the breeze. Some would lift and leave with the wind. Others came back to her and stuck. It had been the same with his ashes. And over time, also their love.

--Susan McCloskey, Santa Cruz, CA


After Sales

I ran sales for 22 years, and the retirement party was unsettling. The day after, I bought a new bottle-blue BMW. White Ford sedans for fifty thousand miles every year damn near killed me.

--Doug Crawford, Los Gatos, CA


Job Interview

He said he’d tell me about the job over dinner. The plastic cup he handed me, “something for the road”. The crackle of gravel as we drove someplace. Where is the restaurant? Dizzy, numb, hot breath. Footsteps. A bright light. “Can I see her ID?” I blame myself. I can never tell my boyfriend.

--Kathleen Parvizi, Scotts Valley, CA


Happy Birthday

A card. From you. No return address. Unexpected, late, and over-filled with cheap, dollar-store glitter crap leaving me, once again, hands full of hearts, vacuuming stars and angels from the doormat.

--Heidi Alonzo, Watsonville, CA

Friday, July 9, 2010


Here they are, the Matchbook Story Issue No. 2 Exquisite Corpses. For those of you who missed it, the following matchbook stories were written collectively (three words per person, then pass...) by the beer-swilling attendees of the Issue No. 2 release party. What a night it was! Many thanks to all who put pencil to paper. Some of you are true poets. Some of you should be locked up. Enjoy!

Kick the ball! echoes across the field. I laugh demonically. Too many touches! Turn your phone off. Some drunkard yelled, I love men and my wife! Beyond the veil, friendly carousing men. My achilles tendon! God, my feet found the ball. Ball to net. Just pass it... Goal! Goal! Goal! I love men.

Bird nest hot and brittle with remnants of hair entwined in its condition of hope. A blue egg teetered precariously, then, instead of falling, tipped back in. My hand reached up and crack! My knuckles resounded against my head, a blended treat of yolk and fear. Fly, gravity can be found in hand.

Beautiful Santa Cruz red table top marked with a pint glass crescent ocean crashing. Run, fly, cry. What the fuck, oil is elsewhere. The night sky sucks my kiss. Then there was busted cloudy day. Marty McFly biffed but not gracefully. Opaline jet ebony gonna stay hard. It was marvelous!

Pop a wheelie! So would I fuck that shit? She was beautiful until she died. Duckets for sicking an Easter basket full of flowers. Should have fucked her while she was alive until she died. He was a happy jackass. What the hell is going on? Pointless Easter memories. Waking up would fumigate my soul.

Hello. How are my three children, A, B, and Sue? Kids in 3-D. The road goes on. Me? Slo-mo until the top blows up and hits the sky. Holy molé! Who? Me? What kind of aliens write this shit? Guys with purple teeth and gorgeous spiky chest hair. Why notice hip-hop? Listen. I think this tale begins now.

Brazilian bikini waxes on Orcas island make moms scream. The end rains all day. Why you ask below the belt, above the belt? What the fuck are we talking about? Women always ask whether the ends are sometimes shorter that the beginnings. I was cold as Christmas cake when I wrote my tropical tootsie.

All of us feel for the pulse of darkness. Sensual desire burns slowly, deep in our souls and organs. Please keep the flame alive and fart on it. Then be in the moment. Smell it. Until she died ensconced in pine. Trade Lebron James. It’s optimism, right?

Zip it, lady! She reached down and zipped his luscious red lips. Kick the ball! - a ridiculous slogan for women’s jeans. It would be nice to see the point of this long story. However, I understand when people speak about me that they really want my soul. If I could only forget it all.

All work is gonna kill me. This egregious transgression slices my artery. I relax mostly by bathing with Alex. Got blood red ink and used it in a cleansing ritual. I called him Bottoms-up last evening. What do you hear when you call the wind? I hear a semi driver sleeping. I hear the roar of lions.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


On “Day Laborer Love”

I think a lot about work. I think about all the many different forms of labor and how that labor is compensated. I think about the difference between cost and value, and how some of the most valuable things are the cheapest--food and clothing, for instance--and the least valuable things the most expensive--sports cars, furs, diamond rings--and how in the world it got that way. I think about how we compensate the people who produce these things, and how some of the best paid workers produce the least useful stuff and the worst paid workers produce the stuff we all need. I think about the relationship between time spent and money earned, and how some people spend very little time making lots of money while others spend lots of time making very little. I think about how we all ultimately work for the same reason, which is to be with the ones we love--to share a home with them, a meal together, a beer after work, a bed--but we don’t all get to enjoy these things equally because a bargain for some means long hours with low pay for others. And I think about how the world might be improved if we balanced these things out, how if everyone made a descent amount of money for a descent amount of work, then we’d all have a descent amount of free time to be with the ones we love. Maybe I’m naive, but I think about these things, and I wonder if other people think about them, too. I think they’re important, which is why I chose Arnoldo Garcia’s story for Issue No. 2.

All writing is political, fiction included. The worst kind preaches, condescending to instruct. The best kind discusses, working to reveal. In fiction, the rule is the same: show, not tell. “Day Laborer Love” does a great job of this. It’s a highly political story that takes place in bed. All and more of the socioeconomic issues mentioned above are at play here, shining an entire way of life through the keyhole of the bedroom door. The story contains some strong language, to be sure, which will elicit objections to Garcia’s and, by editorial extension, my verbal depiction of the female body. That said, the narrator (assumed to be male) expresses an undeniable love and tenderness for his partner in the last two lines. All in all, I believe “Day Laborer Love” is really a love story--maybe the most real kind. It’s neither fairy tale nor tragedy nor melodrama. Love is work, and that is life.

Arnoldo Garcia is a cultural worker and poet born in the mouth of the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande. He has worked as a migrant farmworker, janitor, courier, substitute teacher and, since 6th grade, as human rights organizer. He has published poetry, essays and short stories intermittently over the years. His last book, "XicKorea: rants, words & poems together" with Beth Ching and Miriam Ching Louie, was published in 2003. He works for the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in Oakland where he is the editor of their newsmagazine and heads up NNIRR's Immigrant Justice & Rights Program. He writes intensively on immigration policy, human rights and linking interior and border communities to dream together the changes the want and how to get them. He is currently finishing up a manuscript of poems and essays titled "La revolucion emplumada" that will come out before 2012.