Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No News Today - Guest Post - Holly Tavel

Children? No children.
He is lying in a bed.
The bed is uncomfortable.
How many fingers am I holding up?
What’s your name?
Not that he actually remembers speaking.
But he’s sure he said no.
Too blurry around the edges.
Then he remembers.
Hold on wait a minute.
But by then it’s too late.

Out the window the sky darkens. A cloudbank rolls up. Droplets on windshields. Umbrellas. There is a flagpole on top of the school, but the school itself is not visible. A flag whipped by gusting winds. In the parking lot below, wrappers skim along the dark asphalt. A helium balloon floats to the ceiling.

He is sitting in the passenger seat of a Lincoln Town Car.
His brother, the Town Car’s owner, is wearing mirrored sunglasses.

He is short and bald.
He crumples something in his fist.
He squints out the windshield at the smeared sky.
Just a drizzle, says the brother. 
Nothing to worry about.

The feeling starts at the crown of his head.
It snakes its way down his body.
His toes curl like seashells.
His edges recede.
He doesn’t recognize his own face in the mirror.
He looks at the face, long and fraught.
Too crowded in there, he thinks.
How old am I? 
It is a serious question.
Thirty, laughs the nurse.
Same age as me.

Get well card one: seashore, distant ship. Get well card two: bouquet of flowers. Get well card three: Still life with fruit against dark wood. Get well card four: pensive cartoon woman, chin in hand. Get well card five: hopeful, frolicsome puppy. Get well card six: abstract shapes, cursive lettering. Get well card seven: peaceful meadow scene. Forget it.

He has a small spiral-bound notebook on his lap.
He is pressing the blunt pencil hard into the page.
The letters stare mutely up at him.
Let’s see, says the brother.
He hands him the notebook.
Pretty good, says the brother.
Only, here.

He takes the pencil and makes several quick marks.
You got the A and the R backwards.
Like this. See?
The brother holds the pencil in his stubby fingers.
Give it back.

Alphabet letters in a book. In alphabet soup. On TV, with eyeballs, talking to other alphabet letters. His father asleep in an armchair at four in the afternoon. Outside, the clouds have taken on a suspicious hue. Stop talking.

He has moved back in with his parents.
Their house is dark and strange.
A foreign country in a late-night movie.
He sits with his mother watching Match Game.
His room is drifting out to sea.
He no longer needs a wheelchair.
He likes looking at the old pictures of himself.
He is wearing a clip-on bowtie.
He is leaping from a dock into a lake.
He is posed beside a picket fence.
His children do not look like him.

In the garage: golf clubs, boxes. Picture frames awaiting pictures. A pair of old sneakers.

The garden has suffered badly this summer. Scorched. He does not recognize these people.

The headline reads, “Man, 30, Struck by Lightning”.

He is lying in a field.
He is lying face down.
He smells something burning.
The smell does not displease him.
He feels rain on his face.
It is soft and warm.
He no longer has a head.
His head has disappeared.
How did that happen?

Holly Tavel is a Brooklyn-based writer/artist/musician whose fiction has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Torpedo, Elimae, McSweeney's, The Brooklyn Rail, The Prague Anthology, Diagram and others. As the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in 2009, she moved to Prague, Czech Republic to research a novel-in-progress. Her visual work has been exhibited at Participant Gallery, NYC, and at Art Interactive in Boston.

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