posted by Caroline Picard

What great news, I can’t hardly believe it. Two Green Lantern books were shortlisted in the IPPY Book Awards. Terri Griffith’s So Much Better is a finalist in the Gay/Lesbian Fiction category and Ashley Donielle Murray’s Fascia is a finalist for the Short Story Fiction category.

huzza!

You can see the complete list of titles/categories by going here.

MAKE magazine release!

March 11, 2010

ISSUE 9 “MYTH, MAGIC, & RITUAL” PARTY AT THE HIDEOUT!
readings and readings and rock

MAKE Literary Productions presents:

MAKE: A Literary Magazine Issue 9

“Myth, Magic, & Ritual” Party

Thursday, March 18, Doors at 8:00 pm

Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago

$8 / 21yrs+

+ Readings from contributors including poets Anthony Madrid, Nick Demske and Caryl Pagel. Also Paul Grens reads his new translation of a short story by Chilean author Luis Sepúlveda.

+ Music from Paul Cary (with newly-printed vinyl album) & the always impressive Death Ships headline

+ Intuitive Energy Healer Ryan Fukuda gives a short explanation of his craft and offers complimentaryreadings Sponsored by Ruby Room logo

+ Late-night dance party with DJ Joel Craig and guests

+ Issue 9 subscriptions and individual copies available for order at half-price and include complimentary electronic download key sponsored by Chicago Independent Distribution . Tote bags, posters, and other swag–as well as other give-aways and prizes–on hand.

Click here to view contributors.

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We’re currently accepting submissions for our Fall/Winter issue “At Play.”

posted and written by Caroline Picard

What Came from The Country of His Childhood

The Thing That Had Survived:

A Photograph of Moira and Stone in Venice in the famous square. It is just after the ware and he is in uniform. Both are smiling, he proud and she shy and bright and curiously uncomfortable. Her smile is intimate. Pigeons are all around them, a flock having just risen to the like with wings flapping, obscures, a little, Stone’s face.

*

Where the girls sat at the table, a worn wooden plank that was once a door, the light fell in a sunny sheet through the dining room window, dappling the table top with the pattern of the curtain and brightening the edges of their breakfasts. Anne had made two plates, an egg with toast on each. She chewed with apparent contentment, tearing up sections of her toast in order to soak up the yellow yolk, thick as cream.
Trilby cut with tentative strokes around the yolk on her plate, knife and fork raised almost perpendicular, she tried not to burst the egg sack. The young of the two sisters, she was fair and lean, and caught between ages, was inconsistently old and young at once. The way she buttered her toast, a task of deep concentration, was executed with the utmost grace. The way she left her crusts behind, a habit that belied her youth. Unlike Ann, Trilby’s plate remained clean save for a few crumbs.
“These eggs are perfect,” Trilby said. “I can taste now, how much I missed you.”
Anne smiled, a little smug. “Thank you. I’ve missed being home.”
Despite the surrounding desert, their mother kept a green garden outside. An apple tree that bore three different kinds of apples, a lilac bush, gardenias and herbs as well. The sisters had grown up within its verdant bound. Anne had been the first to leave for school. Trilby, on the other hand, never left and never graduated from high school.
Composed and matter of fact, Trilby sighed, “It is the perfect egg that has kept me single.” She reached for the salt. “No man has ever bested my eggs.”
“While I like your eggs best,” Trilby smiled, “I always associate them with you. I don’t care about how boys cook eggs. If they cook at all, I’m impressed.”
“That is likely why you never left home. You still have Dad to cook for you.”
Having been raised by professors, they indulged a mutual pleasure in language.
“Maybe if I didn’t have Dad, I’d end up with better boys.”

The night before Trilby came home with herpes.
“If you lie down with the dogs,” their father had said, borrowing the voice of his father, “you’re gonna get fleas.” Trilby rubbed her eyes, blubbering like a child. “You know what else Stone used to say, ‘Don’t eat at a restaurant called Ma’s. Don’t play poker with a guy named Doc, and don’t go to bed with anyone who’s troubles are worse than yours. Think about that Trilby, you can’t save everybody, but you can take care.”

Between the girls, next day, aside from the discarded newspaper and the crumbs of their parents’ earlier breakfast, a plate of cold venison lay on the table as well. The deer their father had killed. Brought up from down South, where he’d been raised. The meat was cut thick, and Anne took a piece to sop up the last of the yolk’s mess.
“Try this,” she said with the meat on her fork.
Trilby shook her head. “I hate leftovers.”
“It’s good. You should try it.”
Trilby, imitating the voice of their father in low tones, “At first there was nothing…Then the buck was there. He did not come into sight; he was just there, looking like a ghost;” here she developed a sing-song, waving her arms in a parody of his, “you never notice when they step into your line of sight. Faulkner’s right. They just appear, as if outta no where. I’d spent all day up there in that dang tree and nothing, when all a sudden I looked up and there he was and boy, my heart was banging n my chest I could hardly keep the rifle.”
The girls laughed, for the night before at the same table, Jeb exhausted an hour with the origins of their supper, and under the quiet permission of their mother, granted with the dark flashing of her eyes, his story of the hunt endured within, as the garden without dissolved in the dark. Their father’s voice, in the end, wine deep, trembled with a curious emotion.
“I never understood why he gets that way,” Trilby said, scolding. “Why does he insist on going South every year when every time he comes back he sounds strange and trembly?”
“He likes to go back to the place he came from. The place he was born. He likes to go hunting. He has Thomas there. He likes to see Thomas. They go hunting. Pretend to be boys.”
“Trilby rolled her eyes. “I think it just irritates me when he doesn’t talk like himself. I feel he sometimes borrows his dad’s voice to speak to me.” She leaned back and lifted her shirt just enough to look at her stomach. Pinched the skin into two small rolls, and tugged. “I think I’d like to go, I guess. Maybe that’s all. I’m jealous. I want to go sometime.” She put her hands on the table.
Matter-of-fact, Anne observed, “I don’t think we can go. I think he likes having his own world. A place where we don’t belong.”
“But why not? I want to go camping and wake up early and read books in the woods waiting for a deer in a stupid tree. And drink beer in the morning and eat grits for breakfast and see what Thomas looks like, hear his voice. I want to hear the stories they tell there. I don’t know why. Why do we live in a desert if he wants to hunt all the time?”
“Not all the time.”
“I’d like to got just once, even.”
Anne said nothing, but leaned over the newspaper, pointing to the headlines. “It’s funny that cigarettes only cost twenty-five cents in Russia. They don’t raise prices because they’re afraid of a revolt. That’s what it says.” She pushed the paper toward Trilby, but Trilby didn’t care. “I think it’s because he wants to protect us. I think he wants to keep us free of old sadnesses, on the one hand. On the other, I think he likes to keep the sadnesses all to himself.
“Did you know that they never said the word death or dead around us when we were little? I learned to spell it first because I wasn’t supposed to say it around you.”
“But then you taught me anyway,” Trilby said.
“And then I taught you. And Mom was mad.”
“Mom was mad?”
“Because Dad would get mad,” said Anne.
“Why would Dad get mad?”
“I don’t know!” exasperated, Anne stooped as though she might clear the plates away and end their breakfast. Her movements were hurried and tense and Trilby did not know why, though she had the impression of peeking over a wall she had not before been aware of.

On the other side of their yard the earth was scorched and pink and dry.

“I don’t understand,” Trilby said. “What is the matter? Why would Dad get mad?”
Anne sat back down. “Because. Because he spent four years sifting through the ashes of his home! His dad made him.”
“That’s not true,” Trilby cried. “Our house never burned down.”
“Not our house, his house. When he was a boy. They burned his house down and his dad took his brother and him to sift through the ashes every day to find things that had survived the fire.”

*

When Stone came home his house was on fire. The house they’d bought only four months earlier, his family—two sons and a wife—stood in the yard. Trees loosed sparks to the sky, embers like falling stars blown loose from the leaves that curled like the pages of a burning book. It was just January, but he could se the waxy perspiration on the faces of his children.

Neither the police nor the fireman came.
When he reached his wife, he spluttered, unable at first to speak. “Moira, I am so sorry,” he said at last in bellows.

Having recently taken a job with the state of Alabama, he’d desegregated the mental hospitals.

*

Something dark had come over Anne’s face and her chin was pressed to her neck.
Trilby laughed, perplexed and ruffled. Thrilled by a new secret. “Where is Dad’s brother now?”
“He killed himself,” Anne said.
“He killed himself?”
“Years ago. Before you. He jumped out of a window.”
“When?” asked Trilby.
“When I was two.”
“Do you remember?”
Anne shook her head. “No. But Mom said it was bad.”
“Why did he kill himself?” Trilby felt her heart hammering in her chest—as though she’d for the first time seen the ghost in the corner of their lives.
“I don’t know. No one knows. Dad thinks it was his fault, but he never says so.”
“Why?”
“For leaving? Who knows.”
“If I died would you think it was your fault?”
Without pause, Anne answered. “Probably.”
“Do you think it’s your fault I got herpes?”
“I hadn’t thought about it. Probably. I feel it would have been different had I stayed home.”
“It would have,” said Trilby.
“Of course it would have.”
“I probably still would have gotten herpes.”
Anne shrugged.
Instant, Trilby added, “Lots of people have herpes.”
“I guess so.”
“No, seriously. Lots.”

*

Moira died six months later of pneumonia. The boys were five and twelve respectively and Stone started drinking and Jeb slunk into a depression and stopped going to school. Randy, the youngest, didn’t know any better but he found the photograph with the pigeons in the ashes and brought it back on tawdry legs. He didn’t know any better but he was smiling.

*

Trilby took a piece of venison and inspected its edges. “Did Thomas know him? Dad’s brother? What was his name?” She smelled it.
“Randy. Thomas and Dad used to go hunting with him. When they were boys.”
“Is that why Stone started drinking?”
“After our grandmother died. That’s when he started taking the kids to the house to look for remnants.”
“For how long?”
“Five, six year? I don’t know. Too long.”
“Until?”
“Until dad went to school, finally. To get away.”
“Is that what made him want to be a professor?”
“I don’t know.”
“And then Randy killed himself.”
“Much later. When I was two.”
“And then I came,” Trilby said.
“Much later.”
“Did the photo in the living room come from the fire?”
“Yes,” Anne said.
“Was it Dad’s fault? Randy’s death?”
Anne shrugged and she started again to clear the plates, calmly this time. “I did meet one boy who made better eggs than I,” she said with a soft voice, “but I never admitted it. He was a traveling salesman and I didn’t like his suitcases. I did like his postcards, though.”

They had to save the water they used to wash the dishes. They saved it in a bucket in the sink, and when that bucket got too full, they poured it into a larger bucket in the garden. It had a special lid. It held ten gallons and their mother used the bucket to water her plants.
On Sundays their father napped there, when the world was quiet and calm and bright. Under the apple tree in the hammock, he forgot about the desert.

*

The thing that had survived:

The photograph, in a small frame, hung in the living room. It is just after the war and he is in uniform. Both he and she are smiling, he proud and she shy and bright and curiously uncomfortable. It is the awkwardness of her eye contact, ingenue and hestitant. She may as well be naked. Pigeons are all around them, a flock having just risen with flapping wings like a bouquet having just been thrown. From where they are place on the wall they see the garden and desert at once.