Lovely on-line mag. See P. 102 for my story, “Halloween.” Hope you like it. October Ginosko Literary Journal
Lovely on-line mag. See P. 102 for my story, “Halloween.” Hope you like it. October Ginosko Literary Journal
I just discovered Ann Beattie’s “Snow,”–available on the net (click the word “snow”)–an amazingly powerful and impossibly tiny, almost a-prose-poem story.
For some reason, I can’t call it flash. It’s two and a half pages long and extraordinary in every way. Read it; you will love it.
Also read Louise Erdrich’s “The Shawl.” A story that is as good as “Snow.”
Wow, what a fabulous day of reading!
You’ll still be feeling it (in the best way) days later:
This journal first published “Mother of One,” together with one of my favorite stories, “Screwing Up, Importantly” in 2013 and get this…
Amazon still has it, for just four (4) bucks, right here! (Click this link)
You’ll like one or the other and possibly both. One is funny, and the other, the first story in How I Kiss Her Turning Head, is a “psychological thriller.”
They couldn’t be more different. So check them out. You do have time for “Screwing Up, Importantly,” you do.
Thank you for supporting your local crises of being and fish, and as always, thank you for supporting the arts!
My husband was a carpenter with hands so big he could wrap them all the way around me. Since I had put off getting my husband’s wedding ring until the day before the wedding, the artist made it for me in one day. He was not a jeweler. He made art with metal and stone. He made my husband a thick, wide, rounded ring.
This ring will always feel good on his hand, even when he’s working.
I inscribed it in my own hand. I made bronze sculpture, so I understood the crafting of metal. I watched the artist turn the little gold bar into a circle, join it together, and polish it to hide the weld.
I wanted to remember the heat that made this ring, so I asked him not to hide the weld on the inside. My inscription began there and ended there.
The weld inside is also the joining of lives.
The ring was heavy and warm like a ripe peach in my hand.
I made the ring with soft gold. When he gets old, it will tell the story of his life.
We were married in my husband’s house in the winter. He was an excellent hunter. He was proud of the huge antlers he hung on his walls. They were scarred and sometimes broken—courtship, clashes, close calls.
The only heat came from the woodstove my husband had built. It seemed strange to me that he had hidden and polished his welds on his stove—I loved the jagged scars welds made: I sought them out; I created them; I wanted to see the mystery of proud flesh healing in my work.
I uncurled my fingers when my husband said, “With this ring, I thee wed.” I was afraid to look at his face, so I watched the two cats sleeping under the woodstove instead. It occurred to me suddenly that my husband wouldn’t have hidden the welds underneath the stove.
He made his vows while he nudged a lacy antique ring over my knuckle. The ring was elegant and unusual. I thought it was perfect for me.
I stared at my new ring. I was silent. I looked up, searching for my husband’s face, but all I could find were the antlers. They had grown wild and twisted. Turns, forks, splits, scars, broken places. I lost my voice in the thicket.
When I could speak again, I said, “With this ring, I thee wed,” and made my vows. I slipped the heavy ring on my husband’s giant hand.
Whenever I saw that wide band on his hand, I remembered that we were just married, and I took him to bed.
Is that why you married me? Just to get me in bed?
My own beautiful ring hit a bone in my little finger, hurting me, so I took it off and my hand was bare. My husband still wore his ring.
A few months after the wedding, my best efforts to get him in bed began to fail because things had gone so wrong between us. We got a divorce.
But I couldn’t leave. The day the papers came, we sat silently at the picnic table in the back yard. As soon as it got dark, we began to make love, making love on the table, in the grass, in the kitchen, in our bed. Our marriage was better because we were no longer married. We made love all the time. We stayed together.
He had never taken off his ring and I was glad because I still loved him very much.
One summer day, walking hand-in-hand, we stopped to look in a jeweler’s window at a display of wedding bands. I wanted a plain, gold band. Simple and small and rounded at the edges so that it would always feel good on my hand.
Let’s get a wedding ring for me. Then we’ll both have one. I showed my husband exactly which one I wanted, and I asked him for it.
After the waiter brought the dessert to our table, my husband took a ring from his pocket and put it in my hand. I stared at the ring in my palm. It had a strange shape—it was round and elegant on one edge, sharp and square on the other. The ring was all wrong; the composition was unbalanced. I couldn’t understand why anyone would make a ring that way.
I went to the jeweler where we saw that ring in the window. I asked him to cut my ring half—one for you—
I only knew one way to cut a ring in half like that: the jeweler cuts the ring at the weld and opens it. Without changing the thickness of the ring, he straightens it so that it looks like a little gold bar again. He slits the gold down the thick part in the middle. Then he bends the two new bars into two circles and welds them closed again.
I looked at my husband’s wonderful hand and I saw that what he said about his ring was true. But I let him put the ring on my finger. The sharp edge of the ring and my half of the inscription cut into my skin. We walked around out of balance for a while until I left the misshapen ring on his kitchen table and moved away.
Printed with permission by Jennifer Woodworth, copyrighted by Jennifer Woodworth. This story was first published on the A Room Of Her Own Orlando Prize for Flash Fiction website, 2009 at http://tinyurl.com/JwTheRings
Monkey Puzzle Press, publisher of my chapbook, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, is sadly closed, but my little book is still available from me. Just drop me an email — jen at fish clamor )dot( com.
They’re $10, free shipping. You know you want it. :)
I recently read a review of Lee Martin’s Late One Night that sounded like just what I was looking for, and that’s not easy to find, so I ordered it and started reading it today. Speaking of hard to find, I thought the review was at Brevity Journal, but I can’t find it, or link you to it. Forgive me.
Anyway, the book has beautifully crafted prose, a great opening in terms of story-telling, and I’m totally committed after the first four chapters.
I got curious about the author, whose name sounded familiar, and discovered Lee Martin has a writing blog. Somehow I was looking for an article about comedy and writing he wrote, and instead I found a blog I’ll be visiting on a regular basis when working–if you’re a prose writer, you’ll probably like the blog, too.
A recent post about following a climactic moment has a great question to ask ourselves as we finish a story, with a piece of a crushingly beautiful story to illustrate. Other posts were similarly structured.
I love that–a little discussion of something very meaningful to me, and a short, fine piece of writing. Just what I wanted to find in the blog I didn’t know I was looking for.
More on the book later, after I read it.
Articles on comedy in writing, anyone?
A good poem is the news of a single soul; a good film is the news of maybe a thousand souls. This fact occurred to me a couple years ago and I’ve been trying to catch up on movies ever since.
So….drum beat….Fish Clamor Staff’s Favorite movie may well be Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. Watched it for the nth time last night.
As it happens, I came to movies late, and only through writing–Roger Ebert’s writing. I find his writing so amazing in itself that the film he’s reviewed sometimes seems almost irrelevant. I often read his essays, never seeing the films.
After I saw Days of Heaven, though, I read Ebert’s crushing Great Movies essay about it, and that’s when writing and film came together for me. Other people’s writing, I mean. I have no idea how to write a film review, but when I’ve seen a great movie I can direct you to a fine essay about it, probably by Roger Ebert.
Roger Ebert’s Great Movie Essays are all on the web together. It’s a treat to watch one of his 300 plus Great Movies and then read his essay. I highly recommend this double experience.
Ebert knew how to write about the news, that’s for sure.
Let’s pretend we’re teenagers, write our hardened selves into a wild drag race & fly down Main Street at dusk, straight on out of this town.
(This, slightly tweaked, still legal tweet in response to, and appreciating, @ReedsyHQ’s call for dangerous writing in 2016–thank you @ReedsyHQ!)
Maybe they are in dropboxes? Each with a different, obviously forgotten password… Aha! All but the most important, the just-this-minute-finIshed one–that one is actually printed!
Where is it? Where did it go? Oh, I see it; there it is.
Here’s to the printed poem about the clamoring fish that actually exists in the visible world.
And Theodore Roethke, here’s to the inexorable sadness, as you say, of stamps and SASE’s….the accoutrements of poems we can easily see.
So I bring you this one-of-the-best-ever poems from grad school
and before–Roethke’s magnificent “Dolor”: What would Roethke say about the loneliness of the password no-one can be bothered to remember hiding god knows how many gorgeous love poems while their author is out catting around, writing new poems…
by Theodore Roethke
I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplication of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.
Heikki Huotari’s New Book! Click here!My excellent friend and long-time writing partner extraordinaire, the wonderful lyric poet, Heikki Huotari, has a new chapbook, Truth Table, which is surely in the mail at this very moment.
I’ve watched several of these poems grow up, from birth through driver’s licenses (where are they now?) and they are often magnificent. (Details later.) Order yours today; you know you want it!
I’ve known him as Robert Huotari since we were both mathematicians; he has publications under both names, many of which are online, to be devoured whole, with milk, possibly very slowly with green tea, or just-right with Baby Bear’s cafe au lait.
and how the words work in poetry–are they strong, reminding you of your senses, like Germanic words are in English? Or not so much, boring you and making you wish the poem would just be over, like Latinate words can feel in an English poem…and speaking of Latin, I asked my Dutch friend, “Does ‘Who’s on First’ work in Dutch?”
“Not really.” said my friend. “They never play baseball there.”
(Thanks to Erik Wijtmans for my favorite joke all week).
Sometimes I run across something so wonderful I have to pass it on. I don’t really write real reviews very often, but love to share stuff that I’d want to know about myself along with some of the stuff i love about it… So i don’t wrote proper essays here or prove my outrageous claims (though i do that in other contexts sometimes!), but here is the loveliest fish i heard swimming by all day:
Alela Diane’s 2009 album To Be Still caught my attention while I had my good earphones on–what luck! I’d bought it years ago after hearing it somewhere, and I recall feeling utterly enchanted by this young woman’s strange, mysterious poetry inside her beautiful songs. There’s a link at the bottom so you can hear it, too.
From wikipedia, probably, I read enough about her to arrange this little story in my generally faulty memory: her dad’s a bluegrass musician, so she grew up doing music at his knee, and now he sings harnony when she records her music.
I see this album as evidence that we generally have a good bit of our mom or dad in us; as well as evidence that there is a god, who allows us to make ourselves completely ourselves; and possibly has a hand in helping us make ourselves different somehow from every single human being who has ever been born, before or after; as well as evidence that maybe, just maybe, this god is good…in spite of all of the scary, scary news…
Listening to To Be Still reminds me of Johnny Cash (possibly in part as her light to his shadow) with her mix of traditional form and sound with the sound of contemporary singer-song-writing, in a folk tradition, though what you walk away singing with is that thing that makes her writing (she is also a fine poet) and her music and album different from anything else you’ve ever heard, in the same way Johnny Cash made thst happen.
So check her out. There’s a youtube video i recall seeing: in it, she’s singing with her dad, recording this album, in an old falling-down church which is somehow flooded with bright sunlight. Of course it’s beautiful to see the two of them doing music together, and he is on her album as well, which is part of what makes To Be Still every bit as much her own thing as everything john cash ever made was his own thing.
I hope you can still find it and that my memory is mostly accurate. Ok, hey! I found a link after a search for “alela diane dad church dry grass and shadows.” Try Dry grass and shadows by Alela Diane Video in bright old church.
So my daughter is taking chorus & she is so excited! Somehow she arranged to get my guitar in my lap so I could play “age old blue” for her to sing to–by Alela Diane. And this morning, she made her first complete Manga comic strip with adorable Kawai’i characters and a complete story while we drew together (I made a terrifying and accurate portrait of her feral, fanged cat, now tamed, sleeping upside down, with all of her half-mustache shining in the winter sun).
And this was a dream-come-true day here at the Fish Clamor studio–drawing and doing music with my daughter in the same day? One of those “Best Days” for me, I say, accidentally thinking out loud.
Really? she asks, across the room, half-listening, half-playing some music app on my old phone.
Yes, baby. Yes, really.
Look what I found! A wonderful site, starring many prose poems and some others, too.
Beautifully curated; don’t miss it if you need a little snack.
Desert Love Poem by Dominika Wrozynski
This is our second Christmas, the make-it-or-break-it Christmas where we decide. I didn’t know whether I would still love you tomorrow. So today you’ve left on a hunt for a natural tree because we are both tired of talking and my mother is coming to spend her first Christmas in New Mexico, eat green chile rice at your parents’, get to know their Chihuahuas as the dogs hump her leg. I wanted her to have a tree, not from the Walmart parking lot, but a pine from the mesa, cut by you with a blunt axe—the only one we have. You will refuse to wear gloves, knick your thumb, swear into the year’s first snow. But you will bring it back, remember when you hunted trees with your father last year, how his beard caught the sudden storm, and how he dragged the prize through his asthma home to your mother. She cried that night, cursed him for almost killing you both. You will then understand how she leaned into your father after she was tired of talking, after there was nothing more to say.
The Unreliable Narrator is so much fun in 1st person! Not really. OK maybe. 3 liars walk into a bar & the 2nd one is a fish.
#failed_tweet 1, #amwriting
Monkey Puzzle Press announced the results of their 2013 Prose Chapbook contest in their blog, here. I was thrilled that my How I Kiss Her Turning Head (which used to have a different title) won an Honorable Mention. I’ve read dome of the other winners here–they are good. Happy to be in this company!
Small Press Picks reviews How I Kiss Her Turning Head, here, and I do not even know the reviewer. Check out the book discussion questions–what fun! Never in my wildest dreams.
Thank you Beth Castrodale! Thanks also to Small Press Picks for the commitment to writing fine proper essays about books printed by small presses.
My first prose chapbook, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, published by Monkey Puzzle Press, was released on May 31, 2014! Get yours now! Available from Monkey Puzzle Press. They have a free sample, too. Tasty!