He searched by touch and found the GI Joe called Snake Eyes on his back with one leg buried up to the hip and his body bent around it in an excruciating way. He plucked Snake Eyes from the ground and washed away the soil and laid hands on the figure the way he had laid hands on Sally Martin when he made her knee better.
Tommy tended to each of his flock in turn—Gung Ho, Wild Bill, Ripcord—removing them from the mud and laying them in repose while he tended to their wounds. Cover Girl and Snow Job proved difficult. Snow Job was completely buried, and Tommy only found him by the invisible hand of God, which guided the boy the way it had guided him to Jami Reynolds, unconscious in a drainage culvert in the the woods past the hole in the play field fence. Cover Girl was bent in half and Tommy healed her back the way he had helped Andy Cummins feel his hands and feet again after diving head first through the hole at the top of the jungle gym.
i. You are the one solid the spaces lean on, envious—
your son, your father, your husband—
they were elusive as ether, and you were the fire
eating the dark in which they left you.
I take the first antidepressant of winter
and sit alone in my apartment,
watching the fire’s wavering wings,
and wait for you to rise.
Get your copy of RiverLit 13!
Writing by Teresa Vanairsdale, Brooke Matson, Nanette Avery, Kristine Iredale, Richard Miller, Dennis Held, Lauren Gilmore, Travis Naught, Luke Baumgarten.
Art by Heather Biggs, Giuditta Rustica, Christian Gastaldi, Austin Stiegemeier. Comic by Joshua Covey.
Wearing purple and green and rose, I looked pretty as a flower and was sexually harassed. My breasts were groped and he ran his little feelers through my hair, trying to make time. He tried that ‘look into my eyes’ stare from my nose. He was attractive but young. He probably still farted the Fly National Anthem together with his fly friends. He was so vulnerable and cute and so near death. I was flattered but I told him no. No matter how tingly he made me when he humped the hairs on my arm, we would never be lovers.
Might I just explain to her how this happens from time to time? Might I just tell her this: "Look, you will meet four or five men in your life that you could commit to and be happy with. It's all about timing. When the time is right take the one who appears next and stick to him. And if it works, don't be wooed by the next one. Because the next one will come. This thing we've got happens sometimes. I felt it before my wife once; twice since I married her; and now with you. Our chemistry comes and goes. But if you act on it every time you end up alone. It's a metaphysical rule or something. I've seen it happen."
For some reason I can't say those words, Joseph reflected. Too personal. Those revelations come after having tasted her lips, after the tempest of your bodies has blown away all mental barriers. Then you truly connect. Then you share such intimacies.
They never get it right. A stranger will always cross your path. The lines in your palm say you have a choice—you can go left and find love, or go right and play Pick-Up-Sticks with chaos and/or hardship. It's always Either/Or. If you're a man, your Satin Doll will be all holy days, spicy, gorgeous, prick-ready, to "die for." She's your virgin, double-wedding ring girl, but a tigress. Believe this: she'll love your birth sign, savor your mayo-mustard Subway (which she hates), even dare to ride Coney Island's cyclone.
I have yet to survey the Irish grit
of my grandmother’s hands, to ask after her first
stumbles with needle and thread—the awkward outline
of butterflies drifting the pillowcase. I’ve struggled
to conjure the deftness of her youthful fingers
thrust between the thorns, as she ate blackberries
straight from the bramble. Now I wish I’d memorized
her tenor of silence or chanced being the grandchild
crouched at the crack in the kitchen door
[...] Leslie shows up in a dirty white tee shirt, size XXXL, that says Pig Farmers Never Starve, and of course no bra, which means her boobs are playing rugby with each other whenever she moves, and she’s holding a Bucket O’ Soda, because a Big Gulp isn’t big enough. And she’s with her boyfriend Andrew—her husband Dave’s away in prison for armed robbery. Andrew, a good old boy from Autaugaville, Alabama with a face like a vanilla Moon Pie, weighs 300 pounds and is not wearing a shirt.
It’s too hot for a shirt, Dolly, he whines, flexing his chest muscles to make his breast tattoos shimmy.
From RiverLit No. 11
A honeybee stung him and he dreamed
of caves deep beneath the Earth,
ballads of silk and honey,
sweet oil that burned an eternal fragrance,
and two amorphous shapes battling,
the every contour of one
the exact opposite of the other.
"And they never even touched."
From RiverLit No. 10
Malcolm knew he might be mistaken, but he thought most women indulged in at least a few sentimental visions leading up to the birth of their children. When his sister got pregnant, she admitted to spending at least an hour per day staring at a wall and fantasizing about her impending motherhood. She pictured falling asleep in a rocking chair with the baby draped across her chest, building cityscapes with her child out of brightly colored blocks, the castles and skyscrapers stretching from one side of her apartment to the other. She laughed at how sappy she’d become.
Denise refused a rocking chair. Clearly, the baby would crawl beneath its gliders and be crushed like a road-kill possum. No building blocks. He’d turn into a python, unhinge his jaw, and cram the giant, baby-safe blocks straight down his throat.
"They call them 'blocks' for a reason," Denise said, right around the six-month marker. "They block airways. No thanks."
From RiverLit No. 9