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.

Monday, March 26, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Melissa Broder

Blue and Green House

I am in a house
I can see the sofa from here
There are no pictures
He owns all the windows
There is no mother in the house
All the clocks are dead
Curtains are a reflex
Dinner is cardboard
I want to lay quiet
In a bowl of batter
I want to shine His hands
With my hair
He begins to cut
He saws and grunts
And takes off legs
My mouth is gone
I am too loud for a mouth
I am too wet for a crown
Every wire hangs
I spark and spark all over
The dog is burping dogshit
He loves and loves his master
I am afraid
Jesus is a man.

Melissa Broder's second poetry collection, MEAT HEART, is now available. Recent poems appear or will appear in Guernica, Redivider, Court Green, The Missouri Review online and The Awl. She edits La Petite Zine.

Monday, March 19, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Molly Tolsky

My grandfather wasn't speaking to me, so my bright idea was to wear him down. I bought three bottles of his favorite whiskey and brought them wrapped in newspaper to his Sunday night restaurant. I waited in the bar for him to arrive, wondering where all the peanuts had gone. They used to serve peanuts in little ash trays on the bar, according to all the TV shows I watched. I ordered a glass of the same whiskey that was waiting for my grandfather while I waited for him, too, never even thirsty. My heart was hurt.

He came in with a date. This was not nothing to me. He came in with the prettiest woman in the room, in the town, in and out of his age group. I cannot describe what she was wearing because I could not get past her face, all poignant and fluttery like an old shiny painting. If she were a painting, people would take a photograph of her and then paint a new painting from that photograph, just to say that they were a part of something beautiful. Something beautiful was holding my grandfather's cracked hands, and I watched as he shook her free to receive his gift from the hostess. His gift from me.

The old man and the beautiful woman took their seats in the center of the dining room. The bartender asked for my ID, even though he had served me minutes ago, even though the ice was already having a meltdown. You don't look your weight, he said. My grandfather unwrapped the present while I crossed and uncrossed my legs. If I could read lips, he might have been saying, "These are from my granddaughter," or, "This is from Kentucky," or, "That will not do the trick." He placed the box with the bottles underneath his seat and reached across the table to touch the beautiful hands. I tried to warn him about hovering over the candle by shifting the gravity of my eyebrows back and forth, but he was careful with his sleeve and nothing caught on fire.

I am never careful. He had caught me cheating. You can cheat at something or cheat on someone or cheat someone out of something and it doesn't make a difference. Your heart will hurt. In his day, people had respect for each other but mostly for themselves. People would not pay over two pennies for an orange and they only married folks who they thought would make nice babies. A person would love someone until someone died, and whoever died first, it didn't really matter.

My grandfather was in love. I wanted to go up to his table and congratulate him on turning out all right. I wanted to say, "Do you ever think about dead people, Grandpa? How they cheated life of everything, and get blamed for almost nothing?" The beautiful woman pulled her hand away to fix something on the back of her neck, and I watched my grandfather count the rings on her fingers, the dimples in her shoulders, the number of teeth in a mouth. He leaned back and folded his arms like it was nothing, to have a face and heart boxed up just for you.

Molly Tolsky is a fiction writer living in New York. Her work has previously appeared in The Collagist, The Fiddleback, Pindeldyboz and elsewhere. She once followed John Lithgow in a reading.

Monday, March 12, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Nicolle Elizabeth

Everybody Wants Brooklyn

I'd moved into a loft with seven people in Bushwick not far from businesses which once were. Textile warehouses, mirror factories all now converted into corporate sandwich meat packaging plants. In the mornings, fog rose from the furnaces like smoke signals writing “Here, there are ghosts” and at below freezing temperatures, seagulls still came to nest on the roof, huddling in the heat. In the winter, the street was a barren frozen wasteland few dared to cross. This was not a place for residency, but some artists had rented a flat, thrown un-permitted dance parties, and the renaissance, maybe fifty art student residents, within four blocks of buildings had begun.

The loft I had moved into was run by a woman in her twenties, named Ralph, who spent her time purchasing items from Salvation Army thrift stores and selling them for triple their worth on her website, headlined as “Vintage Chic.”

I'd known from the beginning that moving into her collective of bad attitudes was a risk, but my lease was up, and I was broke.

The loft itself had been featured on the cover of a frou frou magazine doing an expose on interesting dwellings in Brooklyn. Technically, just the bathroom had actually been featured. It had been built by Ralph's long term un-boyfriend. A man in his forties who had a relationship with a wealthy investor named Sunny. He lived in Sunny's apartment in the Village, but when he was bored, he came here to Ralph, and to check on the architectural integrity of the stairs in the loft.

“He built like every restaurant in the Lower East Side,” Ralph said to me once. Her eyes were wide blue like Big Sky and my chest had been a wreck, allergic to the fiberglass insulation in the ceiling. The apartment had giant windows, and during the day, I would sit and write by them and watch that smoke come up from the meat plant and write and overdose on coffee.

I sat quietly and listened to the other roommates' footprints patter up the inner wooden staircase in and out all day, all night. What they didn't know was that Ralph was overcharging each roommate by 200 dollars a month in rent. She was making an absolute fortune. She had wanted to go into fashion merchandising but she'd been expelled for cheating on an exam. “Why do all the work when it's inevitable someone else will?” She said to me once.

There I was, halfway into accessory to criminal behavior, freezing in the middle of a loft in Brooklyn. I'd begun sleeping with one of the roommates out of misery and that wasn't helping my problems at all because he was now in love with me. Poems posted on the mirrors, flowers in the refrigerator, it was a problem.

The day Sunny came over gave me some relief, because well, it could have been worse for me, I could have been Ralph.

“I will kick your miss priss ass,” I believe Sunny said into the door buzzer.

I stood with Ralph, paper white in the kitchen.

“Come on up,” Ralph buzzed her in.

Though funded through a healthy trust, Sunny had made her way in New York as a model, and there she stood, all six foot tall brunette expensive Chanel wearing coat of her.

She took off her faux fur hat, handed it to Ralph, and said, “Let's have a chat.”

I assumed my position on the couch by the window, feeling more insignificant than ever. This was what women did? They had affairs and smelled nice and yelled at one another?

“There's fresh coffee on the counter,” I offered.

“Stay out of this, lesbo,” Sunny spittled in my direction. “Where is he?” She asked Ralph.

“A lot of people live here,” Ralph didn't miss a beat, pouring coffee.

“He hasn't been to work in days,” Sunny took the coffee cup and I left the gals to duke it out at the table.

The walk through Brooklyn toward the nearest subway was over a mile and a half and it was eighteen degrees out but I had thinking to do. I had been commissioned to write an essay on the history of American protest music by a major magazine and the pressure was on to deliver something both interesting, but with quirk. I'd originally pitched an essay about jazz, specifically on Thelonious Monk, and how I'd been roped into a historical walk-through which inevitably would be met with scoff (music critics are brutal) was beyond me. I decided to walk to a bar that started serving $1.25 cans of beer at eleven in the morning and research there. Even in the middle of nowhere, there is always an oasis, and it always has internet.

“Long day?” The bartender asked me.

“I'll have a bloody mary,” I said back.

I looked at the giant map of the world on the wall behind him, and wondered what time it was anywhere else. I took out my notebook and started to review the list. Civil War hymns from both armies, how slave songs had turned into the blues. There was a band I'd seen at a party playing over the loud speaker.

“I know these guys,” I said to the bartender, (and I meant know, I'd made out with the drummer in an elevator)

“They're in Rolling Stone this month, can you believe that?” The bartender handed me my drink, no celery. “Everybody wants Brooklyn.”

I opened my laptop and started googling how one history turns into the next, when I saw him, walking past the window.

Ralph and Sunny's un-boyfriend was walking into this bar, with a date, what looked like a date, he had his arm around her. This is what happens in Brooklyn. They sat next to me at the counter. She was the kind of long blonde who laughed with her head back, also had expensive everything, she probably went to Pratt. They ordered plates of breakfast and talked while I listened. They were debating French literature, like that was a surprise, and he kept saying, Lydia Davis' translation of Pale Fire was a disaster, and it was all I had to not turn on my barstool and set them both straight, but instead, I watched, while he paid the bartender in a one hundred dollar bill and I felt more than ever, this is how it goes.

Nicolle Elizabeth's contributes to many fine publications. She is at work on a novel, is a bike mechanic, a baker, and a ballerina, but mostly a writer way before those other things and her mini website is this: www.thismighttank.com

Monday, March 5, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Ethel Rohan

Occupy Me

More news about Occupy Wall Street, Occupy San Francisco, Occupy Oakland, but no news today about Occupy Me. It’s bad, this butchered heart business. This he left me, but he stayed. He’s gone, but he fills me, marching and sign-waving.

I broke so many things in our apartment, mugs, plates, and framed photographs, reducing us to one. I swear pieces of the white turkey platter bought for our first Christmas together shattered into the letters of his name. I smashed those platter letters into smithereens and their dust recalled the fine white coat on his hair, lashes, and skin after sanding down walls all day long. He’d laugh, if he didn’t hate me, but I miss his paint-splattered overalls and the multi-colored granules they’d leave on the bedroom floor and on my bare feet like cupcake sprinkles. I miss his painter’s hands and what they could do to houses and to me. There’s something about a man who makes a living out of his hands, you know?

Our last conversation, Dad said I needed to be strong, said he’d never heard a girl cry so long or so hard, his voice disgusted-like and a little afraid. Dad doesn’t make his living out of his hands. He asked if I knew that this year Brazil had elected their first-ever female president. Dad lived in Madison and I in Berkeley, so why was he talking about some far away place and person? He repeated I needed to be strong.

“You wouldn’t do anything, would you?” he asked.
“Like what?” I said, knowing his last statement was as close as he’d go to anything hard to say.
Dad has stopped taking my calls, also in on the Occupy Me protests.

The other evening, my best friend, Sandy, brought over dinner—tri-tip and a salad with honey mustard dressing. My ex would have hated the dressing. Sandy and I drank a bottle of wine each, dark red that tasted like crushed blackcurrants. She told me about her new boyfriend, said he did things with his tongue—widest tongue she’d ever felt—that I wouldn’t believe. Said she could ask if maybe he had a friend.

“Well I hope he has at least one friend,” I said.

Sandy didn’t laugh. If my ex were there, he’d have laughed.

The truth is, Sandy and I drank two bottles of wine each. My second bottle tasted of licorice and chocolate and Band-Aid. Sandy said she wasn’t surprised he and I broke up. Said we were finished for a long time. That everyone could see. Said he’d always loved me more than I’d loved him, as if everything was my fault.

I told Sandy to get out. She left, but has haunted me ever since too, another sit-in at Occupy Me.

I keep going back to our last conversation together as a couple. I remember how wrong outside looked through the living room window. The enormous gray clouds appeared to be a mountain range growing out of the dark evergreen trees on the hill.
He’d let his hair grow and kept blowing his blond bangs out of his eyes. It wasn’t just his hair though, he was huffing and puffing, more furious than I’d ever seen him. Drown-in-me eyes like the Big Bad Wolf too.

“What’s the point to us then?” he repeated. “You don’t want to marry me, don’t want to have my children. So what? It’s been three years.”
“I want to just stay in the now. Now is okay, right?”
“Sorry, I need more than now and okay.”
“Now could be great if you’d only be content with what we have.”
“I don’t think we have a future together.”
“Who can say they have a future together? Who can know?”
He slapped his chest. “I’d die for you.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, and it was the first time my heart had ever talked.

Sometimes I imagine I get sick or I hurt myself, like lupus or a fall, and I’m collapsed on the kitchen floor. I see my ex shoulder down the apartment door. He drops to his knees next to me and rocks me in his arms.

“Baby,” he says into my long hair and I know he’s thinking how much he missed my papaya-scented shampoo.

In the emergency room, he tells the nurse I’m not his wife or the mother of his children and that’s enough. He says he should have known all along that was enough.

This morning, after more news about Occupy Wall Street, Occupy San Francisco, Occupy Oakland, but no news today about Occupy Me, I left for work and for playing at normal. I drove away from our apartment that’s now my apartment and beautiful terrible maple leaves of gold rot lifted from the windshield wipers and went flying falling. I drove faster, until all the leaves disappeared stayed.

Ethel Rohan is the author of Hard to Say (PANK, 2011) and Cut Through the Bone (Dark Sky Books, 2010). You can visit her at ethelrohan.com.