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 29, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

No News Today - Guest Post - John Kropa

When I was 16, I was a garbage boy. Me and my coworker, who was a couple years older and could lift more trash than I could, would spend hours sifting through bottles and trash-juiced newspapers for empty Cool-Whip canisters to inhale the fumes through the nozzle. The high was similar to laughing gas, or what I imagine laughing gas to be like. One day, after finding a fresh canister during our pick-ups in the park, we drove our golf cart deep into the woods where we would climb up the thinner trees until our weight would bend the narrow trunks and carry us down gently. The tree would be left with a bowed posture. We called it tree-surfing. My coworker, being older and stronger and wanting to impress what he thought of as his apprentice, was more ambitious than I was with tree-surfing. Whereas Cool-Whip fumes greatly enhanced his tree-surfing abilities, mine were significantly hindered—the slightest body motion could send my brain into a hazardous frenzy which caused me to feel wonderfully dizzy and keel over with painful laughter. On this occasion, he pointed to a tall narrow tree, twice as tall as any I'd ever seen surfed. He started toward it. I warned him that the tree was too tall, no matter how high on fumes he was, even if he climbed to the top, the tree would bend and fall into another and he'd be stuck—he was already halfway up. Of course, as he reached the top, the tree began to bend gently until it lodged itself into a massive oak. My coworker was dangling from what seemed like 100 feet of impenetrable distance. He was muscular and in an ROTC program so I figured he'd be able to climb down or jump or something. I took another hit of Cool-Whip to pass the time. As I watched, my coworker began swinging his body to grab a lower part of the trunk. His hand slipped and he fell in slow motion until he slammed into the ground with his his horizontal body.

Some time went by before I ran over and pushed him onto his back. I saw that a stick had impaled a part of his chest and was jutting out of his sleeveless t-shirt like a third mutated arm. My coworker saw this and passed out. I immediately assumed he was dead and looked around at all the bent trees. I was confused—my brain felt like a small heavy rock surrounded by static jelly. I thought I'd killed him. I thought no one would believe me if I told them he fell, I'd go to jail for murdering him, which I certainly had fantasized doing on numerous occasions, though always with a gun or blunt object to the face, never by stabbing him in the chest with a stick. I thought about the news article—LOCAL GARBAGEBOY STABS COWORKER IN COOL-WHIP FRENZY. They'd call me the Cool-Whip Killer. Cool-Whip would go out of business.

I thought about how killing someone isn't that different than fantasizing about killing someone. I walked away from the body and made sure to leave the Cool-Whip canister nearby thinking it would look more like an accident that way. I also left the golf cart and headed back to the park where I would say my coworker had dropped me off hours before. I began picking up trash with my little pokey stick and thought about the body in the woods. A while later, still unnerved since no one had confronted me about my coworker's absence yet, I saw the golf cart approaching, my coworker driving with a look of betrayal and a hand to his chest.

John Kropa is a recent graduate from Pratt Institute. His fiction has appeared in elimae. 

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.

Monday, May 7, 2012

No News Today - Guest Post - Sarah Rose Etter

After we left the party the house burst into flames when I woke up it was front page news a picture of the house smoldering covered in black hurt smeared in terrible blemished down to busted bad wood half the house chewed off by heat with teeth the headline said TWO DEAD AFTER PARTY FIRE then text about bodies stuffed with smoke wrapped in fire the police wheeling them under sheets out of the house where we danced where you kept me close but didn’t kiss me where that felt like it mattered but it didn’t you didn’t nothing did because flames ate through flesh red insides left the bones there were ribs exposed when the bodies came out of that house then went into the ground I knew they could have been felt they should have been us we were supposed to be devoured together never dancing again never kissing once it should have been our leftover spines under the white blankets we were supposed to be on the front page.

Sarah Rose Etter's short fiction collection, Tongue Party, was published by Caketrain Press. Her work has appeared in The Black Warrior Review, Salt Hill Journal, The Collagist and more. Find out more at www.sarahroseetter.com.