Tag Archives: lit mag

Car Park by Shawn Van Tol

The car rolled up to the curb and stopped. Bob quickly hopped out and walked around the back side of the car to Catherine’s door. She smiled to herself, touched by the small act of chivalry, blissfully unaware that Bob was using those precious seconds to release gas pressure that had been building to dangerous levels over the last four minutes of the drive. He allowed the breeze to carry his flatulence away and then opened the door with a cool smile. She took his hand, extending lovely legs onto the sidewalk, and exited the car. Bob closed the door and pulled out his phone.

“Now watch,” he said, tapping at the screen. “The app tells the car where to park and how long to wait based on the time of the movie.”

Catherine snuggled in close to his body and peered at the screen. “That’s so cool!” she said.

“Yeah,” Bob said. “You can even instruct the car to park in the shade. The solar panel on top will trigger the car to move to a different spot if it’s sitting in direct sunlight for too long.”

“What time is it?” Catherine asked. “Are we late?”

“Oh, yeah. We’re cutting it close,” Bob said. “Let’s go.”

He tapped his screen, selecting the option for shade, and the self-driving vehicle pulled away and made its way toward the parking lot. Bob couldn’t help but smile as he saw Catherine’s beautiful legs leading the way into the theater. She was always so frisky during these midday matinees. They hurried through the glass doors and into the air conditioning of the large building.

Bob’s car, a brand new 2021 Nissan Soulare, wound its way around the hot parking lot. Sensors and GPS signals guided it safely along as it searched for a suitable spot of shade. But in every place, the solar panels indicated direct sunlight. It exited from the lot and drove itself down the street.

The car moved easily down Franklin Boulevard, rounding a sloping bend that led around a park. Two teenagers, well into their first experience with LSD, watched the driver-less car pass by. One saw the car as a UFO that split the sky open like a sheet while the other knew with absolute certainty that the vehicle was an orb of pure light coming to restore all that had been lost from humanity. The sensors of the Nissan Soulare found no appropriate places for parking and moved on.

Further downtown, traffic snarled around two lanes worth of construction. A hefty man, resting his ample belly on the handle of a jackhammer, spat on the window of the car as it passed by. “That’s for my brother, you piece of shit! He used to be a cab driver!” The Nissan Soulare sensed the foul discharge of moisture and began to spray its own windshield and activated the wiper-blades. The eyes of the hefty man went wide as he accidentally drove the jackhammer into his big toe. He fell to the ground in pain, and the car moved on.

The vehicle pulled into the vast parking lot of a Stuff Mart and began searching for shade. On the other side of the lot, another Nissan Soulare was doing the same. They scouted the lot like sharks following a faint scent until they both closed in on the same spot. The two vehicles simultaneously turned in, then, sensing the other’s proximity, stopped abruptly. Servos wound up and down. Sensors scanned and signals pinged. On a server based in Silicon Valley some seven hundred miles away, two sets of logic collided in an endless battle of zeros and ones for the final spot of shade.

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Shawn Van Tol is an amateur writer who is secretly training to become a lazy man. He hopes to one day conquer the literary world with books so that he can quit his day job and never wear pants again. More of his stories can be found here.

 

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All natural hairpieces for men by Hallie Bateman

hair_6 hair_1 hair_2 hair_3 hair_4 hair_5 hair_7

 

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Illustrator Hallie Bateman has two names with which to identify her. One begins with an “H” and the other begins with a “B.” She probably has a middle name, but we don’t know it. Find her blog Ridiculous Sister here and her website here.

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Sad Person’s Club by Ian Starttoday

The Sad Person’s Club meets once a week

in a cramped church basement

It doesn’t matter why you’re sad

It could be divorce it could be the death of a loved one it could be the supermarket no longer stocks your favorite kind of frozen yogurt

We make an effort not to judge

 

There was a woman named Shelly once who was really distraught about tomatoes

When we asked her to elaborate

she told us to back off

and flashed her teeth

That was weird

 

But it’s up to you whether you want to talk

or not talk

The only rule we have is that you be sad

If you smile even once

perpetually mopey-faced Bruce will escort you to the door

and then you leave

 

One of our longest running members

once got a call mid-meeting

that his daughter had been born

Bruce came to him

wished him congratulations

but informed him that he had to leave this instant

 

Halfway to the door the man became very gloomy about having to leave

and told us so

We’re not monsters

so he was invited to stay

 

Then two of our members admitted

they were feeling very happy about this man’s good fortune at having brought a healthy baby into the world

and they were asked to leave

 

It was all very complicated

and not particularly sad

which is our business.

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Interview with Darlene Campos, BHA Contributor

* Well, here’s something new. Back Hair Advocate is getting into the business of interviews. In our first one, we chatted with Darlene Campos, author of “The Operation,” which we posted to our site yesterday. Read it here.

 

1. (THE SERIOUS…)

 

Your story, “The Operation,” takes place on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. What attracted you to writing about the Lakota characters and lifestyle on the reservation?

During my first semester of college in 2009, I had a history professor who was very passionate about the Lakota tribe. He taught us a lot about the Pine Ridge Reservation and since I had never heard of it, I did my own research on the side. Eventually, I fell in love with the reservation and I felt compelled to write a story that took place there. I’ve never been to Pine Ridge but one day I would love to go and visit.

When did the idea for these characters come to you? What were you doing/where were you?

The Thunderclap family came to my mind one night at 3 am. I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote a short story about them as homework for my beginning fiction class. In the story, Jay Eagle (AKA Ate) died from his heart condition, leaving his wife and baby son all alone. My classmates enjoyed the story, but they were pretty pissed about Jay Eagle Thunderclap’s death and told me I was wrong to kill off such a loveable character. I took their advice and kept him alive in a subsequent draft. I also changed the point of view from 3rd person omniscient to Nimo’s point of view. And no, Jay Eagle Thunderclap will never die in the series. I promise.

You have written a number of other stories featuring these characters. Are you putting together a book?

Yes! I’m in the process of putting all the Thunderclap family stories together in one book. I’ve been editing it extensively for the last year, and I plan to start submitting to agents and publishers in a couple of weeks. I hope to write and produce a small television series about them sometime in the future. We’ll see what happens. 

What kind of research did you do to write these stories?

I read tons of fictional stories by Native American authors and loads of books on Lakota history and culture. I also took some college classes on Native American studies. Honestly, I get a lot of heat for writing outside my own culture, and I am frequently told to stick to my own, which drives me nuts.

Then in 2012, I got the opportunity to meet Sherman Alexie, a famous Native American author who wrote “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” I asked him what he thought about me writing from the point of view of a Lakota boy. He said it ultimately doesn’t matter what you write, all that matters is that your writing is good. He’s right.

Where do you write mostly? Please describe this place.

Even though I write in a variety of places, my favorite place to write is in bed. My most successful story titled “The Fork” was written this way. I fell asleep right after writing the final sentence, and my pen’s ink stained my sheets. Thank goodness for detergent.

What’s a flash fiction you read recently that knocked your socks off?

“Godoy Lives” by Daniel Chacon. It’s a beautifully written story about an impostor. 

What are two writing sites you visit and enjoy?

Aside from Duotrope and Newpages strictly for submission calls, I love Writer’s Relief and Writer’s Digest. They always have good advice on their sites.

What other things you do besides writing?

I like to ride my bike, go to the gym, read books, and spend time with those close to me, especially with my wonderful boyfriend, David.

 

2. (THE NOT SO SERIOUS…)

 

What movie franchise do you wish would just end already?

Back to the Future should’ve ended after the first one. It’s almost 2015, and we still don’t have hoverboards. We were lied to.

Donut or doughnut?

I live in Houston, and we have Shipley’s Do-Nuts headquarters. Donut is short for Don’t Mess with Texas.

Tell me everything you know about sea otters.

I know otter-ly nothing.

How did you celebrate your publication in Back Hair Advocate? Feel free to lie.

Huge make-out session with David, fireworks, and some Shipley’s Do-Nuts. It totally happened. Or did it?

The last thing you ate?

Trail Mix! Whoever invented it was a genius.

Worst piece of advice you ever got?

When I was fourteen, a relative told me I should stop writing because it’s not a ‘girl’s’ hobby. As you can see, I take advice from my relatives very seriously.

Worst job you ever worked?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been paid $800 for my stories, which isn’t much. Writing is demanding, difficult, and requires long hours. I hate the process of writing, yet I feel like I’m going to go crazy when I’m not writing. In a perfect world, my stories would earn me enough money to quit my day job and also provide me with a lifetime supply of trail mix.

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The Operation by Darlene Campos

My parents worked hard, but only when they could. Ate usually only worked temporarily, and Ina had a regular job that didn’t pay much, anyway. Not long after Ate got a steady job with good pay, Ina lost her job at the superstore.

“They said I used too many sick days this year,” Ina told us during dinner on the day she got fired. “But truth is I ain’t been absent since the day I gave birth to Nimo.”

“I still got my job, and Nimo’s got change in his piggybank. We’ll be okay,” Ate promised.

“What about your surgery, Ate?” I asked as I picked at my broccoli. “It’s next month.”

“Don’t worry about that, son — I’ll cut myself if I have to,” he said.

“Jay Eagle!” Ina cried and slammed her fork down on the table.

“What? I cut myself with my razor all the time. I think I can cut my chest open, too.”

Ate was born with aortic valve stenosis. It means his aorta doesn’t open as big as it should. He had surgery when I was three, but the doctor said he’d need surgery again, eventually. Now I was thirteen, and Ate was still alive, even though he could die any second. I didn’t like it when he took naps on the couch after dinner. I thought he might never wake up.

******

“Ate,” I said one night as he napped during an All in the Family rerun. “Wake up.”

“Not now, Josie, I still got all my clothes on for crying out loud,” he groaned.

I nudged his shoulder with my hand, and he turned to his left side.

“Josie, last thing I wanna do is knock you up after you’ve lost your job,” he went on.

“Ate, it’s Nimo!” I called out, and he jolted up from the couch.

“Nimo! You could’ve given me a heart attack! But hell, if I had one, I wouldn’t need to pay for surgery after all.”

“Sorry, Ate,” I said. “It’s past midnight, though, and Ina’s in bed waiting for you.”

“Is she wearing lingerie?” he asked with a big smile.

I shrugged my shoulders, and Ate ran to the bedroom. I stayed on the couch for a few minutes, relieved.

******

After two weeks, Ina still didn’t have a job, and Ate wanted to cancel his operation. They fell behind on the bills, and we were back to eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

“You’re not canceling your surgery,” Ina said at breakfast one morning. “Don’t you have benefits at work now?”

“They don’t kick in for another couple months, Josie,” he informed her. “I can live until then.”

The phone rang, and Ate got up to answer.

“Hello?” he said. “No, you can’t talk to Josie, she’s dead. You can’t talk to Nimo either ‘cause he’s in prison for killing Josie.” Then he hung up.

“Who was it, Ate?” I asked.

“Your grandmother,” he said, and Ina pulled on his ponytail.

******

The day before Ate’s surgery, Ina took me to the cash loan office just outside Pine Ridge rez. We waited in the lobby next to Ray Firebird, who wanted a booze loan.

“Hey Nimo,” he said. “I thought you was in the slammer for killing your mother.”

“He is, I need a loan to bail him out,” Ina said.

Ray Firebird nodded and pretty soon, he passed out on the floor, so we got to take his place when the clerk came out.

“I’m not sure we can give you a loan, Mrs. Thunderclap,” the clerk told Ina after they talked for a minute or two. “The computer says your credit score is substantially low, and your household has 15 unpaid credit cards.”

“Jeez Ina, what did you need that many credit cards for?” I asked.

“To raise you,” she said.

The clerk shook his head and said Ina was better off paying for Ate’s surgery with money borrowed from family.

“All of my family’s broke, why the hell do you think I came here?” she said.

The clerk grunted and gave Ina a sheet with the word DENIED in big letters.

“Ina, what about Leksi Gray Mountain?” I asked as we walked to the exit. “He’s a doctor. I’m sure he’ll lend us the money.”

“You’re right, Nimo,” she said, nodding. “But Ate doesn’t like asking his brother for cash. So I’ll do it for him.”

I waited in the lobby with Ray Firebird snoring next to me while Ina called Leksi Gray Mountain on the pay phone outside. She came back inside after about ten minutes, smiling. Leksi Gray Mountain said he’d send us a check, but not to tell Ate about it.

******

The next day, I sat in the hospital waiting room with Ate and Ina. Ate squirmed in his seat, so Ina whacked him on the head with a magazine.

“I’m about to get cut up, and you’re hitting me?” Ate protested.

“Yeah, to knock you out so we won’t have to pay for anesthesia,” Ina retorted.

Ate slouched in his seat, quiet and sweating from his forehead.

“Nimo, Josie,” Ate said after a few minutes. “In the worst case scenario, after this surgery, I’ll be dead. Nimo, you can have whatever I own, which is nothing. Josie, if you meet another guy you really like, marry him.”

“I already did, he lives in our basement, and he won’t come up until you croak,” Ina said.

Ate shook his head. Ina took hold of his hand, and she didn’t let go for a long time.

******

After Ate got called in, we all waited for the doctor inside a hospital room. Ate wore a big paper gown and wiggled on the bed so much that it rattled.

“Stop it, you’ll break the bed,” Ina scolded.

“If I wanted to break it, I’d bring you up here and make Nimo a sibling,” he said. “I’m starving, I ain’t eaten since yesterday. But I guess it’s good practice for how broke we’re gonna be after this damn surgery.”

“I’m hungry too, Ina,” I said.

“Okay, I’ll run down to the deli to get a sandwich for you,” Ina told me, patting my head. “If the doctor comes while I’m not here, tell him to wait until I get back. I’ll only be a few minutes. Okay?”

I promised I would, and she kissed Ate on his cheek before she left. I stayed at Ate’s side, watching the presidential debate on the TV with him.

“Turn it off, Nimo,” he said. “If I wanted to hear an idiot talk, I’d call your grandmother.”

I shut the TV off, and Ate slid further into the hospital bed. He was shaking, but he probably thought I didn’t notice.

“Nimo,” Ate said. “If I go, your ina will take good care of you. She always has.”

“Don’t say that, Ate, you’re gonna be fine,” I told him. “You survived the last surgery.”

“I’ve also survived a 15 year marriage, but I think I’m running out of strength,” he said. “Just promise me two things if I don’t make it out alive.”

I asked what he wanted, and he was quiet for a few moments. He put his hand on my shoulder to make sure I was paying attention.

“First, keep my wedding ring and do only that. You pawn it and I’ll come back from the dead and take you with me,” he said.

“I promise. What’s the second thing you want me to do?”

“Every single time your grandmother calls, heckle her.”

I laughed, and we did a pinky swear. He sat up in his bed and tugged me by my arm.

“You know something, son,” he remarked. “I’m still paying the hospital bill for your birth. I told your ina to go to the backyard and squat when you was coming out, and she hit me. If she had squatted, we wouldn’t have a bill for you.”

“Really?” I said, and he nodded. He admitted he and Ina couldn’t afford to have a baby when I came along, but did anyway because they felt like taking a risk.

“And everything went okay,” Ate pronounced. “Except for the bill. But you turned out better than we thought.”

Not long after, Ina was back with my sandwich, and the doctor followed after her. He wheeled Ate away down the hall. I poked my head out the door, watching him leave.

******

About five hours later, Ate was brought back into the hospital room, woozy and high on anesthesia, but alive. He saw me first when he opened his eyes, and he waved at me. But he didn’t recognize Ina.

“Hey son,” he said. “Who’s the burning hot nurse standing over there?”

“I’m your wife, you bonehead,” Ina told him. “And this is our son, Nimo.”

“We got a son?” he murmured, half awake. “So, you mean, we’ve done it?”

“Yes, that’s how we got our son,” Ina responded.

“That’s so awesome,” Ate announced. “Man, you’re the hottest nurse in the world. I should get surgery more often.”

He fell asleep right after, and Ina adjusted the blanket so that it was covering all of him.

“Nimo,” Ina said, turning to me. “Go home and tell my second husband in the basement to get lost.”

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Darlene P. Campos is an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Creative Writing Program. In 2013, she won the Glass Mountain magazine contest for prose and was awarded the Sylvan N. Karchmer Fiction Prize. Her work appears in Prism Review, Cleaver, Red Fez, Bartleby Snopes, Elohi Gadugi, The Writing Disorder, Connotation Press, Word Riot, Plain China, and many others. She is from Guayaquil, Ecuador, but has lived in Houston all her life. Her website is www.darlenepcampos.com.

 

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two poems by Rich Boucher

Entendre

Her eyes widened,
and she gasped
as I entered her

cubicle.

 

If Only

If I had a job driving my own ice cream truck,
I’d paint the thing jet fucking black
with an airbrushed execution scene on the sides
and the little loudspeaker up top
would blast Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”
as I drove through the neighborhood,
vending my delicious ice cream.

Actually, forget about the ice cream,
you know?

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Rich Boucher resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has published four chapbooks of poetry and once hosted a poetry slam series in Newark, Delaware. Since moving to Albuquerque in 2008, Rich has performed all over the Duke City, served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee, and is currently a member of the 2014 Albuquerque City Slam Team. His poems have appeared in The Nervous Breakdown, Apeiron Review, The Broadkill Review, Menacing Hedge and The Legendary, among others, and he has work forthcoming in the Write Bloody Publishing anthology MultiVerse, due out in the fall of 2014.

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Call for Submissions

Back Hair Advocate wants your submissions. We’re looking for humor, but what we truly want is great writing.

And one more thing — we’d like Back Hair Advocate to start putting out stories that take more of a nontraditional structure. So think letters, email correspondence, wedding announcements, personals, missed connections, math word problems, whatever really. We’re still going to publish stories with a traditional format, but we’d love to get some diversity in this area.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with, folks.

— Ian Starttoday

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Anthills by Jeremy Kniola

The colony burned. Flames scorched the mound of pine needles, smoking out workers from their subterranean dwelling. On the ground little black bodies smoldered. Those still alive scattered from the laser beam intent on eradicating their kind.

At the helm of his spacecraft, General Lance Litman watched the destruction unfold. Soon the aliens would surrender and Earth would be saved from invasion. The President would award him a medal for courage. His name would become synonymous with heroes in history books.

Through a magnifying glass Lance focused the sun’s white rays on an anthill at the edge of the patio. A mass genocide orchestrated by a ten-year old with a mean streak.

Die, alien scum, die, he shouted with glee.

The screen door flew open. His mom walked out in her dirty, checkered apron. Dust powdered her poofy auburn hair white. She pointed the ostrich feather duster at him.

With the sun behind her, she looked like a cowgirl challenging him to a gunfight. Lance swore he saw a tumbleweed roll between them.

Why aren’t you cleaning your room? she asked. I told you to do it an hour ago.

In Lance’s mom’s world, Sunday was cleaning day. Rain or shine, healthy or sick, she religiously performed chores like a good Catholic obeying the Sabbath.

But I don’t want to.

I don’t care what you want.

Lance reached for his pistol, but Mom was quicker on the draw. He clutched his heart, spun in circles, and collapsed to the ground, bellowing loudly — Aaagghhh! — until his last breath.

Mom stuck her hands on her hips like she was sliding her gun back into the holster. I’m not horsing around. You better hop to it or you can forget playing video games later.

Getting up, Lance stomped out the tiny fires and meandered into the house. As he entered, his mom handed him a garbage bag, a roll of paper towels, and a bottle of Windex. He started to make a fuss, but she wouldn’t hear it. Everybody has to pull their weight around here, she said, dusting the china cabinet. Lance headed toward his bedroom, or cell as he now pictured it, feeling the weight of the ball and chain attached to his ankle.

As he passed the kitchen, his older sister, S.A.R.A.H., or Stupid Analog Robot Algorithmic Humanoid, was scrubbing the fridge, wearing silver latex gloves that stretched to her elbows. Two antennas poked out of the top of her head. When she sneered, light gleamed off the metal in her mouth. She clunked across the tile to block his path, shoes squeaking like they were in need of oil.

Thanks for helping, dickwad, she said in her monotone automated voice.

Lance wished S.A.R.A.H. were installed with an OFF button. She could be so annoying sometimes. Calculating all the chores she got stuck doing. He tried to pass, but she wouldn’t let him through. When he told her to get out of the way, she retracted her arms and said, make me, numb nuts.

Raising the Windex bottle, Lance sprayed S.A.R.A.H. in the face. Sparks shot from her eyes and her body shuddered as her circuits malfunctioned. A warning alarm cried — Mom! — until it lost any semblance of the word. Mom! Mum! Muuuh!

Mom stormed around the corner, a tornado of indignation. Laaannnce!

Lance darted around his sister, hurdled over the vacuum, collided with the mop sticking out of the closet, regained his balance, ran down the hallway and dove into his bedroom to the cheers of the crowd in his head. He raised his arms in victory, but the victory was short lived. His mom called for him to COME BACK THIS MINUTE.

A mound of clothes lay on his floor. It reminded Lance of the anthill. Concentrating hard, he mutated. His chubby torso segmented into three sections. His skeleton turned inside out. Two extra limbs grew from his bellybutton. Claws morphed from his hands and feet. Feelers poked out of his forehead. They detected movement coming from the hallway. His mom approached. Through his compound eyes he watched her mouth stretch into a tube equipped with elongated tongue.

You’re in big trouble, mister, the anteater said.

Frightened, Lance dug a tunnel in the anthill. He burrowed deeper and deeper until he thought he was safe.

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Jeremy Kniola resides in Chicago, where you may find him writing at one of many local cafes. His fiction has recently appeared in Dogzplot, The Big Jewel, and Literary Orphans. He wears glasses.

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Across the Universe by Craig Towsley

I read your piece in a magazine that I found somewhere, probably this weird coffee shop my friend took me to, where you have to walk down this narrow alley to get in and then it’s just one big room with a guy running around filling up people’s cups with whatever concoction he’s just brewed up, and there are like seventy five cats just lying in the slashes of sunlight coming in from the windows that face this strange forgotten little courtyard that no one could access, at least from what I could tell, when I pressed my cheeks up against the glass and looked all around.

Anyway, where I read it isn’t important.

There was a line, shit; of course, now I have to go and forget the specific line, when I’d been repeating it over and over to myself ever since I first read it. I flagged the coffee giver down after first seeing it and asked if he had a pen, and then he said he didn’t believe in pens, that this was a pen-free space, not only pen-free, but there was to be no writing instruments, ever, in this little space he had carved out in the world.

I almost stole the magazine, but felt like people were watching me after the pen ordeal, so I started repeating the line, to memorize it, but I guess somewhere along the way I stopped, and something else happened, and I forgot.

I don’t even know your name, never even occurred to me to glance up a little and find  the author credit. I was just enraptured by that combination of four or five words or whatever it was, but I do think it was short. I’m going about this in the longest way possible, but basically all I wanted you to know was that something you wrote resonated with me.

Thanks for that.

So I figured I’d write this and send it out into the universe and maybe, somehow, you would find it and know.

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Craig Towsley writes flash fiction, but earns money by writing for video games. He lives in Montreal, QC, with his wife and dog.

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The House with No Door by Scáth Beorh

Down on Saint George Street

there’s a house with no door.

Outside there’s no chimney,

inside there’s no floor.

Upstairs there’s no attic,

no cellar below,

and if there are bedrooms

they choose not to show.

There once was a kitchen,

but it burned away

and left a huge hole where

raccoons like to play.

You can look for a parlor

‘til you damage your pride.

There is a small bathroom,

but it sits outside.

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Scáth Beorh is a writer and lexicographer of Ulster-Scot and Cherokee ancestry. His books in print include the novels Black Fox In Thin Places (Emby Press, 2013), October House (Emby, 2014), and Blood (Emby, 2015); the story collections Children & Other Wicked Things (James Ward Kirk Fiction, 2013) and Always After Thieves Watch (Wildside Press, 2010); the dictionary Pirate Lingo (Wildside, 2009); and the poetic study Dark Sayings of Old (Kirk Fiction, 2013). Raised in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast of West Florida, and having undergone rites of passage in India and Ireland, he now makes a home with his joyful and imaginative wife Ember in a quaint Edwardian neighborhood on the Atlantic Coast.

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