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Every Creeping Thing That Creepeth Upon The Earth

by AJ Urquidi

Forgive me,

spider crawling

on the kitchen

sink last night

while I was

washing dishes—

too quickly

I’d invoked

the faucet’s deluge

to retract it,

watched you

clutch at any item

firmly fastened

to the basin,

refuge

nowhere to be

taken. Well,

goodbye then,

I pray

submerged you

think me less officious

than the followers

of Zecharia

Sitchin:

replacers

of creation

with intransigent

makeshift myths

that knock more

questions loose.

But who am I

to recant age-

old reason

absent my own

answers? Contrite

I’ve sluiced

your spotless

soul into the sub-

surface prison—

immersion,

like existence,

footling accident.

 

—–

AJ Urquidi hails from Monterey, California. He received his B.A. in Creative Writing and Film from UCLA, then studied guerrilla poetry for two years in the NYC streets. AJ’s poems have appeared in Westwind, autolycus, L.A. Telephone Book, Bird’s Thumb and CIRCLE. He is currently earning his M.F.A. from CSU Long Beach while editing the journals RipRap and American Mustard.

Me, Mother, and the Night

by Carla Wilson

Sleeping under a bridge seemed perfectly normal at the time. It was a refuge against a life I was unwilling to live. I didn’t know where I would land but I knew I would be happier. I had my bible, twenty bucks, and a picture of Steve Perry to keep me company. 

It was freezing that night. I had no blanket, just a tiny cropped jacket to keep me warm. As the sky darkened, I thought of her a few times and wondered if she even knew I was gone. Maybe she would come looking for me. I fell asleep on knobby slabs of cold concrete completely and absolutely alone.

She is strange and a stranger, a chronically unsatisfied creature. Living with mother meant being trapped in a perpetual web of disapproval, and I absolutely could not need. “I’m not buying your cap and gown for graduation,” mother told me. “Come to the racetrack and pick a winner and buy it yourself,” she offered.

Nine kids, and every one with very specific needs. Mother appeared overwhelmed with her large brood, and sadly kept her emotional distance. If we asked for something it had better not cost anything. I needed mother. She was my mirror, but when I looked at her there was no reflection. All I wanted was to graduate high school.

Dreadful is the word I would use to describe the minions running all over the place, trying to scratch out the most popular niche in high school. I was fourteen, shy and scrawny with nappy hair. I was smart, made the Dean’s List my freshman year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t useful. In high school everyone served some purpose, whether it was the jock straps needing to be seen with the prettiest and perkiest or the geek squad surrounding themselves with like-minded nerds. If you didn’t belong in some category you were basically nobody.

I was poor, and that meant excruciating days alone and countless hours hiding. The only thing the high school kids did notice about me was the same red beret and old pants I wore to school every single day. My pants were so worn I busted the crotch multiple times. John Bell, the most handsome boy in school, teased me mercilessly about my tattered attire. One day he knocked the red beret off my head in the middle of algebra class. No one had ever seen me without my hat. The entire class burst into laughter. I couldn’t have been more visible and infinitely invisible.

Just a couple of new shirts and three or four pairs of nice clean pants is all I asked. I went to mother and begged her to take me shopping. “No,” she said.  

“But mom, I can’t wear the same pants to school next year,” I pleaded. It wasn’t going to happen, so I drafted a plan. What if I ran away from home where I could start over? I could not face another agonizing year in high school with John Bell lurking in my shade. All I needed was money and the will. The will was easy; money was another story. Stealing from mother was a means to an end I reasoned, so I pinched twenty bucks from her wallet and waited for my family to fall asleep.

I was ready to bolt. I just needed a little inspiration, so I grabbed my headphones and blasted my favorite song, “Escape,” on the stereo and meditated. “I’m finally out in the clear and I’m free, I’ve got dreams I’m living for. I’m moving on where they’ll never find me. Rolling on to anywhere.” These lyrics were a call to action, and on a perfect summer night in 1983, I climbed out of my bedroom window and disappeared into the night.

(more…)

“West Coast” Kristen Fisher [Photography]

photos by Kristen Fisher

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—–

“Music and traveling have been on my plate for a while, but this is just the beginning of a long journey. And the photos that I take are a documentation of that road I am currently on.” — Kristen Fisher

You can also view Kristen’s first submission to lipstickparty mag here. 

 

 

Art in Commerce [Rolf Juario photography]

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Rolf Juario has been a wedding & event photographer since 2000, but has only recently started shooting “art” photos. Since May, he’s acquired an agent & his work is currently featured in four galleries.

He calls his latest project “Art in Commerce: a creative take on the commercial world”. With this project it’s his hope & desire to take what seems like everyday, almost ordinary items & locations and make them look extraordinary.

You can view more Rolf Juario photography on his event photography site or his Shutterfly portfolio.

Great-Grandpa and the Girls Club

by Toni Pecchia

Leon’s first language was Cat. He picked it up before English or the little snippets of Italian we learned at family gatherings. This would, if anyone believed in a human child’s ability to speak Cat, make him trilingual by the age of five.

I saw the poster, or maybe it was a greeting card, in the convenience store when Leon and I were watching the driverless cars ghost-ride by the window, pushed along by little orange skateboard wheels in the ground, getting coated in thick, pink foam, rinsed, then finally coated in yellow shining wax and rinsed again. It was a series of pastel-colored comics featuring old lady-friendly jokes on how to avoid telling your child about death. Replacing the dead dog with a live one, telling the kid that the graveyard is an outdoor market that sells nothing but stone slabs.

“Know what,” said Leon, turning away from the window with the look on his face that he got whenever he was about to share new-found knowledge with someone it wasn’t new to, “no one’s in those cars.”

“I know.” I said.

Two days later, purely by coincidence, Leon learned about death. Not in any real, jarring way. Our cat was still alive back then. Mom just outright told him when he started asking too many questions about Great-Grandpa Leonardo.

“That man, Great-Grandpa,” he began, “the one who talks funny, when is he coming over for dinner?”

We had been listening to scratchy old recordings of Leonardo telling stories and jokes, in his heavily-accente, broken English. He had one about how California means “hot oven”, among a few other gems.

“Oh Honey, Great-Grandpa isn’t ever coming for dinner. He lives up in the sky now.”

“On the clouds?”

“No,” Mom liked to mess with us any chance she got, even about something as serious as this. “on the sun. He always did love sunshine.”

It was soon after this that my little brother started talking to our family’s cat, Furbottom. She was an old bag of an animal, one year older than me and four years older than Leon, all bones and excess skin with intricate brown stripes and a very pink nose that stuck out like something rude. That nose alone prevented her from being a beautiful creature. It was all you could see when you looked at her.

It didn’t worry us even when Leon started crawling among the tomato plants on all fours munching on grass with her, reminding me more of a human cow than of a cat. Mom insisted it was normal for little kids to role-play and try to talk to their pets. He had always been closer to her than any of our family, babbling at her and mimicking her movements since before he could even talk, which is why I say his first language was Cat.

But one morning he woke me up by jumping onto my bed and rolling over me again and again until I woke up. I was a heavy sleeper and had been dreaming about breathing underwater, breast-stroking through a kelp forest off Catalina Island, surrounded by sea lions and Garibaldi fish who accepted me as one of their own. I wasn’t too happy about being pulled out of that sea.

“Dammit, Leon, I was having a really good dream! I never have those.”

“Quiet, Sister, or I’ll tell Mom you said a bad word. I have to say something.”

“What?”

“Last night, Furbottom climbed up my entire body, all the way to my ear. And she told me something really important.”

“Get to the point or let me go back to sleep.” I wanted to grab onto a retreating sea lion’s tail and let it pull me back into the dream ocean, if that were still possible.

“She said she was going to where Great-Grandpa Leonardo went. And that if I want to say something to him, I should tell her and she’ll bring him the message.”

“And where is that? Where’s she going?”

“To the sun!” He jumped up and down on the mattress. My stuffed panda bear, Mustard, fell off the bed and onto the floor.

Thanks a lot, Mom. I thought.

“Okay, Leon, you have fun with that,” I said. “And give me back Mustard on your way out. Don’t forget to say you’re sorry for bouncing him off the bed.”

“Sorry, Mustard!” He said, and ran off to breakfast, leaving the panda where it was. I tried to close my eyes but couldn’t nod off again. Everyone in the kelp forest moved on and forgot about me. (more…)


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