Before the Baby Salty Jesus birthed us and we became our non-human selves—it is written that we had once been human. We were real live human beings that liked to kiss and tell and do the Holiest of the holies in front of the video. But that was before the spider incident which later conflates into the Satan incident, which follows:
Once upon a time, in the middle of winter, one winter when we were really fucking cold in our beds and wearing our see-through hot pink number without panties, somebody came to visit us in our rooms. It was the first night after the brand new white sheets and the first night of the spider who stared at us with his beady eyes on our bedspread—wherein we went—what the fuck?—why is that spider’s legs spread out like he is about to run the 100 yard dash and why do I feel like he is conscious and wants to talk to me about something quite important?
We were all ears.
On this night of the spider, we looked again and there was a man, this man was Satan.
Remember: Before this happened—We had known how to love one another without fear and we had understood that one text does not make or break any relationship of value and we had been unafraid to do what we liked because there was no fear to do the Happy.
But, what happened was we wanted to be cool, more than we wanted our hearts deepest desires and Satan knew that on some level when he came to us in the nighttime while we were fast asleep in our angelic poses in our beds without wrappers or crumbs but still in a cute outfit. On that night that Satan came, we opened up our beautiful orphan eyes and said to the Bad son of God because he was more competitive than Jesus and corrupted souls through deviant means:
Satan the Lord of Darkness had a little contract with him and he was charming and good looking.
and Satan goes: “hi.”
We felt our wholeness right then and there. We were no longer ordinary—we were visited by Satan and that fed our enormous but undeservedly so’s ego.
It was terrifying how like a human Satan seemed and how handsome and how we hoped he would text us the next day. (We smoothed our hair in the face of it).
But we weren’t scared of new things at that point, we were still innocent with pure hearts.
What Satan said was hey, you seem cool and I’ve been watching how everyone else kind of looks to you as the model of cool and how you have a hard time with commitment and significant others, so I was thinking you might want to join a club:
The Club of Not Feeling or Caring and Impure Hearts but Look Cooler Than Everyone Else Club.
We thought we might.
He made it sound so fancy.
So, Satan the Lord of Darkness made us sign a commitment to not feeling human emotions at the expense of our inbred coolness. So, we were like: “OK, what do we have to lose anyway, we are always trying to avoid feelings and stuff by eating too much or too little or buying shoes and obsessing on how to wear our hair in order to be neat and different.” But, really we just said, “OK.”
Because we want to be considered cool and like we aren’t over-thinking this shit.
And we signed.
The contract basically said, anyone who loves you from here on our will be seen as the enemy and Lo and Behold it motherfucking was.
After that our hearts were closed off. God and the Baby Salty Jesus were disturbed and kept sending us people who wanted to love us, but we only saw them as suspects in a larger scheme of our newfound paranoia of all things cute and adorable and we read into everything with the one thought: What can this person possibly want from me? Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear I’m Scared, Etc.
Only to be cured with copious amounts of anonymous sex and vast amounts of designer shoes for the girls or car stuff for the boys.
And that is how we became non-human and unable to love.
Please send $200 to Lisa Douglass at her PO Box
PO BOX 48342
Los Angeles, CA 90048
For this most important fact that is unchangeable and why we are all so fucked.
Lisa Douglass spent her summer watching a stalker through her window and wondered if she could go outside via the roof. Only, whenever she tried there were sheets of chocolate lining the stairs and it seemed so messy. Lisa became tired and unclean. She hoped the stalker was eating well and that he had a change of clothes, adult diapers and all. Lisa Douglass was trapped, and that meant eating copious amounts of Nutella and sleeping all day under her makeshift indoor rain device. Sometimes she had visitors and they got wet, but no one knows what she did with them after. Just that during the visitations they learned to talk in baby dinosaur language and how to fashion a trap for a medium sized human being.
The last days were difficult.
That central joist had been
Removed, and the big top
Fell, billowing, and he was
Not much further from us,
In truth, but transposed in
An uncertain way, become
A stranger. The words he
Spoke had an antic quality,
And his face moved beyond
Itself, as to the limit of its
Physical properties. The new
Medicine worked him down,
And he would cry bitterly,
As children do, without cause,
Unreasonable to himself,
And call to God and mother
Them perhaps to be one.
His brothers drank whiskey
And smoked and spat from
The porch and spoke softly,
Coming in to him and staring
For a few minutes twice a day.
The signal flame and its dark
Remnant. Fuel, and a caulk
Of wax petals, drooping out.
He wore a white nightshirt
Like a child’s, sweat it yellow.
An instant rose to him, one
Morning. He drew upright and
His mouth opened and he
Shuddered and smiled and
Fell back to his pillow—
“Es ist ein Traum,
Ich will ihn weiter träumen.”
Owen Lucas is a British writer living in Norwalk, Connecticut whose poems and translations have featured in journals and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. His recent work can be read in Agave, Off the Coast, Burningword, Pacifica, Electric Windmill, Clarion, and RiverLit. In September, Mountain Tales Press will publish his first chapbook, “Afterworks”. For more, visit owenlucaspoems.com
Europe, Iraq and the Arab Levante. He studied at NYU. When not raising
The 22 will be on break from June-August. We will be returning with Volume 4 (The Collage Volume) and the blog in September. While we will still continue to accept submissions for the blog, acceptance letters will not be sent out until September. Submissions for Volume 4 are closed. Volume 5 will be announced in September and the submission process for print will re-open at that time.
Thank you and enjoy the summer!
By David Moody
Lord, forgive all my foxiness. Remember us humans, us cruising
to nightclubs and not braking to dead stop, us stepping—
no hand rail—in black pumps and boot-cuts up to the slut box
then forgetting to dance. Us keeping secrets. Our leaving no tip.
Sometimes in a good fuck I speak carpentry—spackle and jack
tape, Jesus rib, caulk. I awoke this morning naked as a jay bird. Buzzed,
wearing glasses, I held on to no one but my body pillow, Sacagawea,
keeping her warm. Almost a godsend, God, almost.
I confess I want guidance. Guide me to the country of Charity,
that hard-knuckled woman, her deep ankle boots. Can she have red
hair or is black a must? I imagine her hips as I often do hips—chisels
and axes that hack at a crowd thralled to some DJ.
This woman shapes through body’s rhythm her own thrumming
god. Fox beast, incisors, torso warped thing. Its own twisted shape a way
of confessing. To choke without a throat, slowly, on praise.
From what is this thing we have gnawed happiness? How
has it tasted all of our lives? God of Smudged Chins. God of
Half-Virgins. We wedge fingernails into the gaps between backboard screws
and corner beams. With a wonderful quickness we know bed as world.
God, what I’m saying is that I suspect heaven
was planned with a right hand drawing blueprints on napkins,
the left hand still-buried in some idle fur.
Forgive me but nightclubs are like your mouth, like my bedroom
with its ceiling too low. The off-kilter whir of fan blades replace
any belief in collar-starch morals. Forgive the room’s stucco.
Forgive the drunk nothings this tile floor revibes. No,
nothing’s wrong with yesterday’s meats. Sometimes, though, I am
little more than gaps found between words—good and then
morning. A click-click that lingers. I cannot tell if its high heels or teeth.
If I am flea, Lord, and not a fox, I insist one thing: you must bite, hard.
David Antonio Moody writes out of Tallahassee where he pursues a PhD in poetics at FSU. Former poetry editor for SawPalm and Juked, David is production editor of Cortland Review and Southeast Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sweet, Eleven Eleven and Spillway.
by Nadra Mabrouk
You wanted to use a caterpillar as fish bait.
The soft fuzz of its pinky-long body
squirmed as though in slow motion
and you, not able to cut into its mouth, shivering,
threw it back in the grass.
And I thought we could take this bike anywhere -
Instead, we stop,
lay it on the ground near my chalky ankles.
a half naked woman’s shoulders near us, tanner than us — she is a bear:
waiting for the small gloves of fish
to tug, then grabbing them off the hook with large fingers
and swollen palms
as though her growth depended on them.
And what does our growth depend upon?
Exoskeleton? Thin needles inside fish?
The sturdiness of understanding the variations of the skeletal system?
I turn to prickling hairs on your thin-skinned elbow
and rub my cheek against your ribs.
You place your fingers on the sinking earth of my face
as though tracing hunger on the cheekbone
as the woman limps away.
She leaves with a basket of fresh bodies.
Something to slice open, squeeze lemon on,
cradle in your mouth and feel whole.
In a thought made of silk,
I am cutting softened peaches into puddles of vanilla,
a dessert, after salting the center of a cut salmon:
pink tongues on a refrigerated platter.
After we eat – a marinated silence
and hands, smelling of the river,
something swift to salvage us.
You fill your hands with the grainy metal of the handlebars
and walk ahead of me,
footsteps slow and dry in the heat.