“IF THERE WAS NO DESIRE, there would be/ no regret, but I’ve seen grief redden/ the lips and, soon enough, part them…”
World, meet Wendy McDowell. I know that I get excited about the work I find for Slush Pile, but listen: if you read one thing this issue, read her poem “Glossary of What You’d Sooner Forget.” Wendy and I had not spoken in some years when I woke up at five o’clock one morning thinking of this poem, specifically. So I tracked her down and asked her to be our featured poet. Luckily for you, she said yes.
In fiction this issue, I did some more “tracking down” to obtain Nic Brown’s story "Friend of the Sick," which was well worth the effort. We also have a piece of nonfiction this issue, from adventurer J.D. Riso, who takes us to the remote jungle, replete with small, scary planes and hairy spiders the size of fists. It’s called "And You Will Like It," which is funny because when it arrived in my inbox the subject read: Nonfiction submission from J.D. Riso And You Will Like It. Turns out I did! (read more)
A WHITE HORSE GALLOPED through her dream. She feared it would turn into a mouse, all her lace and silks into rags. “Stay, illusion,” she said but woke to find herself tossing by the ashes near the fireplace.
She patted her thin nightgown and pulled up the tattered quilt left by her mother. There were secrets sewn into it–on the right panel, truth... (read more)
GRIER WAS FIFTEEN AND ALMOST naked, standing in her underwear by the blinking light of the digital clock. It pulsed 4:17 AM, flashing red against a thin body just barely female, two mosquito bite breasts and no curves at all.
“Uncle Pete!” she called. “Uncle Pete!”... (read more)
WE CAME HERE TO SING, didn’t we? That’s what I said every morning and night, right before the warm Texas sun and colder Texas moon broke through our curtain-less windows. We lived in a small apartment downtown, a large room with a bed smashed up against the stucco wall, a stained, red-topped dinette table we’d inherited from the last tenant, a Southern Comfort drunk... (read more)
1. PREPARE CONTAINERS OF WATER before starting, soft cloths and Brasso.
The acrobat chews with an open mouth, drumming a floppy rhythm with his slipslops all through lunch. It’s the first of many tortures devised to annoy the tuba player who likes his sandals tight and his rhythm precise. Erratic noises make his aura clash orange zigzags and black spots... (read more)
THE DARKNESS BEGINS TO dissipate with no sign of the PMV to Ambunti. When the first sunrays appear, we trudge back up to Ralf’s guesthouse. My backpack is already weighing me down. It’s crammed full of my grungy clothes plus enough canned food for five days... (read more)
HOW TO BEGIN, WHEN I don’t even know
when a substance becomes a figment?
Should I start with when she kissed
his sunburned lips on the platform
and his breath was musty
as her grandmother’s attic?
Or should I choose a still point
of desire, like when she rested with him
in the garden after planting geraniums
and they said nothing together
as the flowers bobbed in the summer
air like red kayaks do in water? (read more)
FEATURED ARTIST Jamie Powell
“AS A CHILD OF THE 80s, I reveled in the highly saturated cartoons and sugary cereals of Saturday mornings. Memories of intense color, fractured narrative, and bouts of hyper-activity have influenced my work. My paintings combine the color, imagery and impression of commercial products into a personal system of ambiguous recognition and recollection.
For me the act of painting is an act of making the transient moments of life concrete.”