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, July 7, 2015

No News Today - Guest Post - Kristen Millares Young

About The Fall

You have to go, he said, finally. 
Go where? I asked. 
I have to stay with him, and watch. 
Watch what?
Watch for Owen.
Is this him?
The chill flesh of the dead man’s palm began to register in my hand. 
No.  I don’t know this man.  Owen is out there.

It had become dark while I knelt, shivering and staring at the ground.  It was raining.
How long has it been? I asked.
Three hours.  A long time now. 
He snapped on a new pair of gloves.  My name is Paul.
Crouching to take my hand, he examined my fingertips.  Your nail beds.  They’re purple.

I swayed, fetal, and shook my head.  He stooped and cradled me into his arms, moving faster now that I was secured. 

I thought of my wedding day, and doorways, and the rumble of Owen’s chest.  His slanted smile.

I had seen my husband breathing hard and pulling at his knee, wedged between seats smacked together by the impact.  Saw gray water foam with purses and peanut bags and tug his curls toward the sky.  Saw silver bubbles cling to the corners of his mouth as he punched the seat in front of him.  Saw others struggle and go slack. 

I know he pulled himself free, felt him jerk his leg loose.  Shared his surge to the fast retreating surface.  Heard the air escape his mouth like a flock of doves.

I hear them flutter and coo.  Their gentle murmurs echo through my bathtub, where I am releasing my breath, burble by burble.  My legs squeak against the porcelain.

Did fish stop to smell his chest when they parted the waves of hair to nibble his freckles, as I did.  Did eels slip their tongues between his front teeth, as I did.

By now, a pair of steeltoed boots has attuned to his absence like a lover, emptied by a thousand mouths, the strange clicking and whirring of the sea his final song. 

I turn on my side and nestle next to him.

Kristen Millares Young is a writer and journalist whose work has been featured by the Guardian, the New York Times, KUOW 94.9-FM, City Arts Magazine, Pacifica Literary Review, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Miami Herald ,TIME Magazine and the Buenos Aires Herald. Kristen was the researcher for the NYT 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning story “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek,” which also won a Peabody. Kristen graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts from the History and Literature Department, and from the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Washington. www.kristenmyoung.com

Monday, March 16, 2015

No News Today - Guest Post - Edward Falco

Possum Dreams

(JAN brings dishes out from the kitchen and sets the dining room table neatly for two.  WALTER enters when she’s finished setting the table and is in the process of bringing out the makings for martinis and placing them on the counter.  He’s carrying a full book bag.)

These kids, Jan, they are totally––  These are English majors!  I’m: What universe is this?  You never heard of John Dos Passos?  Okay, you haven’t read him, fine.  Who reads Dos Passos anymore.  But you never heard of him?  (beat)  Where are the twins?

                        (carrying glasses and bottles for making drinks)
You were warned, Sweetheart.  You can’t say you weren’t warned.

(emptying several books and a laptop computer out of book bag.  He powers up the laptop and appears to be looking through files.)
I was warned . . .  What did you do today?

                        (making a martini, for Walter)
I went in to see Mrs. Weestock.

You went in to see Mrs. Weestock?

I went in to see Mrs. Weestock.

I thought we talked about this.  You can’t keep running interference for the kids.  You’ve been doing this since they were babies.  It’s got to stop, Jan.  They’re 18.  Vivian got a bad grade?  That’s it.  It’s got nothing to do with you.

(JAN brings WALTER his drink and kisses him on the cheek.  He returns the kiss dutifully.)

                        (making a drink for herself.)
I just had a little talk.  It was nothing.  I didn’t make a big deal

You didn’t make a big deal.  We talked about this.

Can we drop it, please, Walter, can we?  What about you?  How was your class?

Kid called me Wall today.


That’s what I said.  I said, Wall?

Playwright Ed Falco, the widely published author of literary fiction and poetry, is best known recently for his novel The Family Corleone, the New York Times bestselling prequel to The Godfather. The New York Times has favorably compared his short stories to the work of Raymond Carver and Andre Dubus, and The Notre Dame Review has called him "one of the most powerful short fiction writers of his generation." The recipient of the Robert Penn Warren Prize from The Southern Review, a NEA Fellowship, and two playwriting fellowships from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Falco teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Virginia Tech. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

No News Today - Guest Post - Kassie Rubico

Day 7: Trapped at the Museum

We gathered
as four 

for the panda 
but ended 
up watching 
Tamarins run 
through trees
then under 
scratching through 

black and white fur 
scent marking 
their way 
two hundred square feet 
of tropical forest 
behind glass,
caged in a see- 

Kassie Rubico is an essayist currently working on a memoir. Her work has appeared in Insight Academic Journal, Parnassus Literary Journal, the anthology, River Muse, Tales of Lowell and the Merrimack Valley, and Toska Literary Magazine. She has been a guest columnist for the Lowell Sun and a freelance writer for Coolrunning.com. She received a Master of Arts in Creative Writing and Literature at Rivier College and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Pine Manor College. She teaches writing at Northern Essex Community College.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

No News Today - Guest Post - Dawn Pichon Barron

Living Things

When I was eight we moved to another farm. Big red house but no barn. In the field behind the house I found a baby rabbit. I cocooned it in the bottom of my t-shirt and took it home. Mom and I made a bed from an old shoe box, and I wrote Hopper's House on the side with a felt tip marker.. I fed Hopper from a eye-dropper and set the box by the wood stove to stay warm. In the morning I ran to feed Hopper, wondering when I could bring him to show and tell, but the box was gone. I looked all over the house. Mom didn't know where it went. I got ready for school and stared at my soggy cereal until it was time to leave. On the front steps was the box—empty. Then I saw Dad walking up to the house from feeding the horse and chickens.

Necessary Bifurcation

Loosen up—you amazonian boa: supple, shiny smother monster. I'm screaming through crushed lungs, although itt doesn't matter for I've lost my voice. Synapses misfiring, connectors coiled around the ifs and could haves; finally, at mid-life, I'm fearful, dead awake afraid because I'm losing it in this fray. I'm manhandling a self twenty years past. Like when I heard that song from twenty years ago on the radio yesterday and sang everyword, the flood of nostalgia squeezing my heart muscle. My husband said, “this is classic rock now.”


Crutching up the front steps, entering the living room, cussing under my breath, I see two plastic lawn chairs, the hand-me-down sleeper sofa pushed to the back of the room. Mom smiling, “see your nice little place I made you.” I see my striped purple and white pillow, my faded flower bedspread. I point, “that one mine?” Mom nods. “That for you?” I point at the other chair. The toilet flushes, and in limps a man with yellow hair, yellow teeth and yellow beard. He holds his back with both hands. “This is Rod. He had back surgery. We are getting married.” I'd never seen this man in my life. I'd been gone one day having knee surgery. I cuss some more, loudly. Mom hands me a glass of water and pain pills. I close my eyes and hope to sleep for the rest of my life.

Dawn Pichon Barron teaches English, Native & Chicano Literature & writing to students at The Northwest Indian College~Nisqually Rez and Saint Martin's University. Her work can be read at Oregon Quarterly, Greenbeard Magazine, The Olympian, Of a Monstrous Child:  An Anthology of Creative Writing Relationships (Lost Horse Press), wordspace/The Black Front Gallery & at booksbeautybullshit.wordpress.com. She is founder and curator of the Gray Skies Reading Series in Oly, WA. She can be reached at pigeongirlsgot@gmail.com.

Monday, February 2, 2015

No News Today - Guest Post - Melissa Swantkowski

Something Useful

The pain in our teeth started gradually, and I was more focused on hers. “Soup doesn’t require chewing,” I told her. “Heated, just slightly, it won’t disturb the mouth at all.” We stocked up on Progresso, stacking cans two deep in the cabinets. We had in common a fear of the dentist, leftover from childhoods blighted by fillings in baby teeth, aggressive headgear and root canals by age nine. A few weeks in our relationship, we discovered we’d shared the same orthodontist.

Now, she had holes in her teeth, places where the composite fillings fell out, little white nuggets that she spit into her palm.

“Ow,” she said.

“Does it hurt?”

“Not really, but don't you think it should?”

“Is it tooth?”

“I don’t think so. Look for me.” She directed and I complied, bracing myself above her and lowering my face, the closest to sex we’d come in weeks.

“I see a hole. Where it came from.”

She rolled a chunk between two fingers. “Ugh, it’s disintegrating.”

“You should go to our dentist.”

She said she’d go tomorrow. She stopped asking me to look into her mouth, but I could tell when something was wrong. From the look on her face and the slowed pace of her chewing, I could tell.

Perhaps our first bonding agent wasn’t something unique. It was, after all, a small town. The man had yellowed teeth and halitosis, hairy wrists that poked out of the space between his white coat and too-tight latex gloves, and a booming business. He shoved wads of dry cotton into our gums and made a buzzing sound in his throat as he adjusted. He buzzed along to Top 40 hits and left glue on our canines.

My molars started to ache, really ache. It’s my sinuses, I reasoned. Something seasonal. I could tough it out. Just opening my mouth was a chore. I eased the toothbrush out to find the bristles bent and sticky, as if my jaws had attacked, given up, gifted me with a stranger’s effluvia.

But I went, and once in the waiting room, it seemed silly how hard it had been to get there. Then, in the chair, reclined half back, it seemed like a bad idea again. Had I moved on? I hadn't. The dentist cleaned and polished. He mentioned a referral to an oral surgeon. He flossed my teeth starting in the front. “You should start in the back though,” he said. “People have a tendency to get lazy by the time they get back there, and oh.” He pulled the floss from my mouth and wiped something yellow and gummy on my bib. He took a metal tapper from his tray. That’s all I can think to call it, a tapper. He tapped a molar, gently, then a little harder. “How does that feel?” 

“Mmm, okay,” I said, though I wasn't sure. He tapped another. He pointed a stream of air into my mouth, then suctioned. His third tap pulled at the contents of my stomach.

This couldn't exist as something that I, alone, experienced.

“Not good,” he said. “It seems, with the cleaning, I’ve uncovered a network of cavities. They start here,” he tapped, “and go all the way back here,” he tapped his way into a far corner of my mouth. I imagined mole tunnels. My teeth like an unkempt lawn. I think I saw a glint of drill-giddiness in his eyes. My stomach protested. “Do you need a moment?” he asked, sitting back, crossing ankle over knee and glancing at the Novocain. I closed my mouth cautiously, afraid of what I might find when my teeth met.

The dentist pursed his lips and pushed his hands back inside my mouth, prodding my gums and tapping. “It’s generally true that your front teeth, the adult ones, are in proportion to your face. There is a ratio that works out mathematically.” I wondered what he was trying to tell me and couldn’t ask him with my mouth wide open and his hands inside. I tried to recall, looking at my teeth, if they seemed somehow proportionally relational to my face, 1/50ththe size, or perhaps, at a distance, the same shape. I tried to recall looking at her teeth, the time that I’d held my face over her, as close as the dentist was now. I had only looked in the back, but surely I’d noticed her smile, could remember it, or at least bring it back up as an image. But what I saw instead was the soup, cans lined up in my pantry like a grin.

The dentist nodded as if he’d told me something useful. He turned away to ready his instruments. I wondered there was something off about my teeth that made them wrong, something different from teeth, in general.

Melissa Swantkowski is the fiction editor at Bodega Magazine and one-half of The Disagreement, an edited reading series based in NYC. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Joyland, The Mississippi Review, Monkeybicycle and elsewhere. You can read all of this again, and more, at melissaswantkowski.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

No News Today - Guest Post - Philip Shaw

Slept Like. Woke Like.

Then before our first reason to be alone together he was just my favorite teacher. And I found him. Then he said he needed my help because he was sick. And an internet search is all it took to find him. Then he took me into a storage room where he showed me how to jab the insulin needle into his ass. And I just went to see how he could be living with himself. Then the second time there was no needle. And the place is all his but he’s the only one working, just pushing drinks. Then I wanted him how only a thirteen-year old can want. And it’s built out of a few double-wides cobbled together and set down in a gravel lot off what is barely a highway. And there’s a decent jukebox. Then when I trusted him like I trust you now he said, ‘you’ll be better at everything she isn’t.’ And I am going to keep going, maybe again tomorrow. Then he said, ‘some day it can be just us because you’ll be old enough.’ And I will always just buy a couple drinks. Then his wife. And I just play a few songs on the jukebox. Then I slept like a dead girl. And I was ‘Just on my way to Sacramento.’ Then his kids. And the worse places always have the best jukeboxes because they deliver them stocked. Then I woke up like a dead girl. And the owners are too lazy to mess with the rotation. Then my parents. And I was ‘Just coming back from Sacramento.’ Then the church themselves. And every time I was the only one there. Then they were all taught to forget. And he lives in even worse of a shack out behind the place. Then none of them would bother with what I would remember. And he’s more than alone. Then there are no more promises. And all around is dark desert where you can’t see nothing. Then most of what I give you now still comes from him. And you know how sometimes something has to stop so things can be our own. Then you’ll want to make sure there’s none of me in all of this. And they’ll blame it on his pancreas. Then you walked out to where I waited for you in the dark. And what it’ll be like is just reading some news.

Philip Shaw is a creative director in the communication industry in Seattle, Washington. His poetry and prose has found homes at Kahini.org, the magazine Everywhere, and he was selected for the 2013 Wild Light Award, with the work forthcoming in the The Los Angeles Review. He visually explores his writing process at: www.aRoughDraft.com.

Monday, November 3, 2014

No News Today - Guest Post - Grace Campell

so much like in the story, if it was one, which it is, would be so bad it's funny.

in the story, the man who i met years ago surfaces from time to time.
in the story, he comes to my house, drunk, idling in the car he can’t afford, alongside the curb. in the story i tell him go away and in the story he goes away, then a few days later, he comes back.

but instead the story comes right up to my porch, 6'2" of inebriation and because I'm cast-iron i go out there, outside, go up to him, right up to that motherfucker and tell him go away.

i never fucked with this story but he thinks we're star-crossed lovers and i don't know why i forget this.

i'm telling you, it's some kind of biting sibilance, that moment the voice in your head tells you this is the story and shit is going down and it's not in your favor.

Grace Campbell was born, raised and educated in New York. She currently lives and works in Olympia, Washington.