She said I’d be better off going with their ‘Premier Publication’ package – leave the decisions to the experts. For instance, had I taken into account: edge determination, modulation, minimum reflectance? Had I considered DataGlyphs, weighed up the advantages of continuous over discrete, closed system over interleaved? And what was my checksum determinant?
I thought you were just sent the barcode automatically. I didn’t realise there were so many… factors, so many choices to be considered.
That’s where a lot of people stumble, she added. Even before you’ve turned the first page you can see they’ve f***ed things up, down in the bottom left or bottom right corner, back cover. And though your average person won’t consciously notice it, they’ll know something doesn’t feel right. And so they’ll put the book down, move on. You don’t want that? I didn’t.
And the great thing about the ‘Premier’: it covers everything, even has barcode insurance bundled in as standard. That comes with £200,000 legal cover, a writ of inviolability, and you get to choose the first three numbers. It sounded very attractive.
It is! She’d published twelve novels herself, plus four ‘how to’ books – and so she now knew – not just thought, or believed – that if you get the barcode right all the rest falls into place. And don’t your stories deserve the best?
I knew one or two of them didn’t, but I said yes. And, on reflection, it’s comforting to know that the chances of me being successfully sued over my barcode are now very, very slim.
by Paul Tarragó
Paul Tarragó is an experimental filmmaker and writer living in London. Recent writings appear in The Wrong Quarterly, 2HB, decomP magazinE, Leopardskin and Limes, and Ink, sweat and tears. His most recent short story collection is ‘The Water Rabbits’ (2018). Before that came ‘The Mascot Moth and several other pieces’ (2013). Both are available from both good and bad booksellers.
RIP Kenneth Arrow, 23 August 1921- 21 February 2017
Bizarrely charged – not unlike Alfred inventing dynamite — often polarizing Noble Laureates taught me at Harvard and Stanford.
The repellant Brit who co-discovered DNA — their shared award had the prestige of a “once in a generation Prize” — was notorious for looking-up skirts bottom of a steep auditorium he always requested as his Harvard undergraduate lecture classroom…
A Stanford Medical student doing a cardiology rotation, I sometimes lunched in the clinic’s empty waiting room with one who’d been honored in both chemistry plus peace; his goofy smile offered strawberries or oranges or capsules of vitamin C…
Handfuls of Laureates invited us to tea; I sensed the Administration required it.
Several belonged to our family’s synagogue.
Two were father and son: the former nearly threw a microscope at me when as a freshman I said the Dean of Admissions told me (a non pre-med) during a recruitment interview I wouldn’t need to use one; the latter was a college classmate then faculty colleague.
None were women though a hematologist-aunt made the short-list, as did a neuroscience asshole uncle.
But the magnetic gentleman I recall most fondly — an “impossibility theorem” was named after him — instead of resting on his laurels remained active “to be of use” developing fundamental theorems of welfare economics that gave ballast to progressive government action.
This kind soul had a seemingly insatiable curiosity.
Although not particularly close, we were friends of the same couple so had infrequent cordial dinners. Once sitting next to him, I explained that because of G6PD deficiency, which led to my red blood cells breaking up if I took the required anti-malarial prophylaxis Primaquine, I couldn’t accompany my son on New Guinea field-work.
Listening intently, he didn’t say a word.
Two years later, he mentioned casually that he’d gotten interested in malaria. I read his article, “Making Antimalarial Agents Available in Africa.” His accomplishment demonstrated cost effectiveness of artemisinins derived from Chinese wormwoods to treat resistant malaria: that gave ammo to adding it as a benefit to a national HMO I ran.
When his equally substantial wife of seven decades passed, the professor-emeritus shrank from view.
Last night I saw this once straight-as-an-arrow attractive figure at a holiday party — now he hunched over while his caregiver wiped drool. Intimates smothered him with respect and love; those in outer circles like me whom he didn’t remember stopped by for a smile; others figured he was our host’s demented relative, simply gave wide birth.
by Gerard Sarnat
Gerard Sarnat has won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize and been nominated for Pushcarts. Gerry’s authored four collections: HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016) which included work published in magazines and anthologies including Gargoyle, American Journal of Poetry (Margie), Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, OCHO, Brooklyn Review, Lowestoft, Tishman Review, Tiferet, Fiction Southeast plus was featured in New Verse News, Edify, Poetica, Songs of Eretz, Avocet, LEVELER, tNY, StepAway, Bywords and Floor Plan. Among other publications, Deronda Review, San Francisco Magazine, Radius, Foliate Oak, Dark Run, Scarlet Leaf, Good Men Project, Veterans Writing Project, Anti-Heroin Chic, Aois, Poetry Circle, Tipton Review, Creative Truth, Harbor Village, Indian Ruminations, KYSO, Flagler Review, Poets and War, and Ordinary Madness’ debuted feature sets of new poems. Mount Analogue selected Sarnat’s sequence, KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY, for distribution as a pamphlet in Seattle on Inauguration Day 2017 as well as the next morning as part of the Washington DC and nationwide Women’s Marches. In May “Amber Of Memory” was the single poem chosen for Gerry s 50th college reunion symposium on Bob Dylan; the Harvard Advocate accepted a second plus Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Johns Hopkins accepted concurrent pieces. In August Failed Haiku presented his work first among over a hundred contributors. In January 2018, among other acceptances, six Sarnat poems were featured in True Living Documented Relentlessly [TL;DR], his work was front page in International Journal Of Modern Poetry, and pieces were accepted by Australian, Israeli, Canadian and Indian publications.
When Filmore turned thirteen, she took the test and flew. Filmore had no wings, experience, or knowledge of flying. She thought: Take the mandatory test and return home to Mom and Dad. When the examiners watched her fly, immediately they caged her so she could not fly away, and rushed her to the place for girls who fly. Her parents and girlfriends looked on helplessly and cried. In a few years they brought her home, an older and changed person. When the next mandatory test came, she knew how to fail. She also knew when to fly.
by D. D. Renforth
Since 2016, D. D. Renforth has published many short stories, poems and one-act plays in both print and online journals. Renforth graduated from Syracuse University, Duke University and the University of Toronto (Ph.D.).
An old woman stands on the corner of 5th and Wall, a book of poetry in her tattered wool jacket.
- She shouts to no one in particular.
- She used to be famous. I heard it from the postman.
- I think I knew her.
- She was my teacher in first grade.
- She was my Girl Scout leader.
- She is my mother.
- She is not my mother.
- It’s me. I am on the street corner and I am all alone.
- There is a white dog with scruffy fur in the alley. His front right paw is deformed and he limps. He is focused on his daily quest for food and sex.
- I call him goat dog.
- He protects me from the addicts.
Meanwhile, on the opposite corner.
A yellow haired man with whiskers is holding a fortune cookie and sobbing.
- He’s loved her since the day they met, at the office Christmas party. She had her hair in a bun, loosely tied with a gold and red garland.
- She doesn’t love him. She is ambivalent about love.
- It is raining outside. They are too busy with their mental chess game to notice. He wants her. She wants his job.
- The office is on the 15th floor and with a view of the street.
- He has a cold and left his raincoat in the car.
- She doesn’t have a cold.
- He wants to get married and start a family. That’s all he’s ever wanted. Being promoted to Director was never in the plan.
- He is terrified of ending up alone.
- She’s terrified that this is all there is in life.
- This is all there is in life.
by Sheree La Puma
Sheree is an award-winning Author, Producer, and Social Media Strategist. She holds an MFA in Critical Studies & Writing from California Institute of the Arts and has published articles/fiction/books on a myriad of topics. In addition, Sheree has over 30 years experience in the charitable non-profit sector, working as a social scientist, synthesizer, and wordsmith. In 2012, Sheree traveled to Ghana, Africa to meet with a child trafficking survivor. Changed by the experience, she spent the next two years writing about his journey. Passionate about women and the rights of the child, Sheree wants to reach out and inspire the voiceless.
When I was young I met a bird woman, who seemed just like a regular woman except she called herself differently.
“I’m not a woman. I’m a bird,” she told me. She was on her fourth glass of wine, which I figured was probably why.
“Well, I’m not a woman, either. I’m a… song,” I said, trying to play her game. She just looked at me with a soberness she couldn’t have felt and didn’t mention it again, not that night or the night after.
It was on the third night, when I tried to sleep with her, that she backed away nervously and I saw a flutter of what she meant.
“I can’t,” she said. “You’re a woman, and I’m a bird. It won’t work.”
We went our separate ways, though I couldn’t forget her. I tried to capture her with pen and paper, memory and dream.
A bird woman is a woman with hazel eyes. If you approach her, she flies. She builds her nest in the trees. She does not fit inside her skin. She is too expansive or too thin. She is more or less than her boundaries. She is impossible to catch.
I became a fan of bird watching, though I never saw another bird woman; still, memories of how I imagined we could have been would come to me unbidden on cold nights alone.
“What does a bird say,” I would have whispered. “How does a bird fly.”
And I would sigh and wonder who I was; if I was a bird woman, too, or something different altogether.
I put up a dream catcher, because my dreams would not stick. It was an imitation spider web with imitation dewdrops in the form of clear crystal beads.
Perhaps it was with that that I caught my man.
I met him at a bar. Playing darts. Winning.
I liked the fact that he was good at it, though he didn’t look like the type. But he was the handsomest of the group and he hit a bull’s-eye and then he caught my eye. Perhaps that was all the magic that was needed: the thrill of the win, and me seeing him.
We were wed, had two children, had full lives—full of things, activities and each other.
In busyness, it is easy to forget.
But time has a way of catching up.
In silences, maybe, in gaps, the distance we’ve crossed from there to here snaps, and that is what happened to me—
Suddenly I was as a mere girl again. Unwed. And lonely.
I still had my bird books. I remembered all their names. I watched them in the garden and scattered seeds and on the finest spring day of the new year of my new old life a perfect little bluebird landed right at my feet, and all I could think was:
Are you bird or woman? Woman or bird?
And I held my breath, not caring which, but hoping she’d stay.
by Dalena Storm
Dalena Storm holds a BA in Asian Studies from Williams College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Bennington. Her short fiction has appeared in PANK and The Scores. Her first novel, The Hungry Ghost, will be published in Spring 2019 by Black Spot Books. Learn more at dalenastorm.com.
(Based on a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood)
Identical red dresses and white winged bonnets crowded around the drugged man, the rapist. His pulpy face a mess of cuts and purpling bruises. His stench forced me to cover my nose and mouth. Sounds of retching and murmuring in the soupy air. Then, a shrill whistle signaled “Kill him.” Our pent-up rage surged: a red blur kicking, punching, pulling. Spilled blood blended into our Handmaid’s dresses. Later, trembling uncontrollably, I learned he was no rapist.
by Loreen Lilyn Lee
Currently tutoring English and writing at North Seattle College, Loreen Lilyn Lee is a Seattle writer fascinated by topics of personal and cultural identity and how we are shaped into becoming who we are. Her writing often reflects her three cultures: Chinese (ethnicity), American (nationality), and Hawaiian (nativity). She has received fellowships for a Hedgebrook residency and the year-long Jack Straw 2014 Writers Program. Her personal essay “Being Local” was published in The Jack Straw Writers Anthology. She has read her work in numerous venues in Seattle and Portland, including being selected for the Seattle performance of “Listen To Your Mother,” which was produced in 41 cities in 2016.