Thursday, September 25, 2008

Three Lovers in a Forest (Revised and Extended)

Thank you for submitting "Three Lovers" to us. The Edge of the World specializes in publishing apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic poetry. Occasionally, we run drama and prose. If you can rework "Three Lovers" into a poem, The Edge of the World would consider placing it in our Oceanus section.


Three Lovers in a Forest

"We'll never pass the Caucasus."

"We'll never make the river."

"We're mired in the forest."

"We'll grow tall to reach the sun, heliotropes, and paint our faces with crushed red currants so we resemble flowers rather than women."


(They begin to fight about more quickly crossing the Caucasus.)


"It's the Land of Nod, if we wander here forever."

"Look at the bruisepink sky."

"Soon the sun will set."


I'm sorry. This still doesn't read as a poem.


Copyright, 2008, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pub, Bud, and Bets

[Beginning of recorded material]

Publisher: Give it some time, Budweiser. We want to make sure she's not just pretending to write literature, you know, filling in key words, using phrases linked to art ... If she lived in the city and wrote about having typed memos, that'd be one thing. No, we don't want to be hustled here, pandering crap. We're not shit-panderers, Bud.

Bud: Yeah, I've heard a lot of these whores learn fancy talk from their johns, slap it down the page, and bammo! ... That's it, the end of justice.

Pub: That's not happening this time, we're going to make damn sure. [Presses intercom button.] Betty, could you come in here a minute?

[Enter Betty.]

Pub: Betty, could you call the whore's agent and say we just don't know for sure, that maybe we'll wait till her second book is done? Can't be too sure nowadays. Whores can get their hands on everything.

Betty: Should I say the whore part?

Pub: No, no. Keep that between us. Wouldn't want to give her anything else to write about. [Phone rings.] I'll get it, Bets. You can go back to your desk. Hello?

Me: If you don't publish my books, could I give you free blowjobs?

Pub: I'm not paying.

Me: No, free blowjobs. I won't even charge for the type.

Pub: Nothing you could possibly do would be worth any money; not now, anyway.

Me: I'm not asking for money, not even minimum wage.

Pub: I'm not paying.

Me: I'll kill you when you're sleeping.

Pub: Send your resume to my secretary. Put "Attention: Publisher." We'll call you if we're interested.

[Hangs up phone.]

Bud: Now they're phone-soliciting!

Pub: Can't get your cock sucked nowadays. Everything costs something. You'd think we were running a charity, the way these artists want money.

Bud: We don't want to encourage prostitution.

Pub: We don't believe in whores.

Bud: Whores cost money, and life isn't free.

Pub: Let's call up the lunch wagon.

Bud: Gonna' ring Betty?

Pub: Yeah.

Bud: Hey, I wonder if she takes it up her ass.

Pub: Betty has been with us for years. She's a good gal.

Bud: You did her?

Pub: Nah, knows the wife.

Bud: That's a drag.

Pub: Well, what can ya' do?

Bud: Gotta live.

Pub: Don't ya'! [Rings Betty.] Betty, could you call the lunch wagon now? [Hangs up phone.] Betty has been with us for years.

[End of recorded material]


Copyright, 2008, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Narcissist (Slightly Extended but Revised)

Hmm.
I was thinking . . .
About?
Careful.
One minute.
There.
The lawyer poising, a finger on his mouth. His left eye swells puffed with three creases in his desertweathered skin, eyes glassy with red spiderweb lines. He makes himself looks like he's thinking, thinking only about creating this tableau of himself deep in thought. Taut skin over bones, dry and tan. A finger bulbous at a knuckle on his large though thin hand.
Hmm, he says again. Could I? . . .
Careful.
He turns his head in the other direction, facing a window in the underground. Against the black tunnel wall the glass mirrors him. That's good, he thinks, finally able to get past this show of consideration.
I have time to listen, if what you have to say is not about me, he says.
It's not about you, says the writer.
Well. What is it then?
Nothing.
I want to hear it.
As long as it's not about you.
She goes too far. He loathes her sarcasm.
Fuck me, he shouts. Fuck me.
Shadows from a passing train flicker across his face. A passenger rolls his eyes.
I've got to get to work.
I'm distracted.
If only . . .
Hmm.
The train doesn't go any faster.
Work, work, work, he says, maneuvering himself off the underground, walking briskly up the urinesmelling staircase and into a yellow day. He stands under a tree and lights a long, thin brownpaper cigarette. Tents housing the homeless form a grid on the grass in front of the government building. The lawyer looks toward them, but his vacant eyes show no sign of recognition. His gaze is one of someone staring into an abyss. He finishes his cigarette, throws the butt in a trashcan, and glances around himself as though deciding which way to go, though his destination at this stop is, as always, the courthouse. As he mounts the steps, he stops and turns, having heard a female voice call his name. A middle-aged woman dressed in black steps out of a cab.
What are you doing here?
What are you doing here?
[Laughter.]
I'm trying a case. You?
Oh, no. I'm just watching.
She appraises him.
First time in front of the 9th Circuit?
No, no. This is probably my 10th.
Are you a lawyer, she asks the writer.
No.
She's my girlfriend.
I came to watch too.
My boyfriend is in bed at the hotel in the East Bay.
[Laughter.]
She motions to his hand, which holds a pack of Nat Sherman's.
Got to watch him with those cigarettes.
She smokes more than I do. Me? . . . I only smoke a few a day. This was my first one.
She looks surprised.
Good luck.
Thanks. Good to see you.

Copyright, 2008, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Narcissist

Hmm.
I was thinking . . .
About?
Careful.
One minute.
There.
The lawyer poising, a finger on his mouth. His left eye swells puffed with three creases in his desertweathered skin, eyes glassy with red spiderweb lines. He makes himself looks like he's thinking, thinking only about creating this tableau of himself deep in thought. Taut skin over bones, dry and tan. A finger bulbous at a knuckle on his large though thin hand.
Hmm, he says again. Could I? . . .
Careful.
He turns his head in the other direction, facing a window in the underground. Against the black tunnel wall the glass mirrors him. That's good, he thinks, finally able to get past this show of consideration.
I have time to listen, if what you have to say is not about me, he says.
It's not about you, says the writer.
Well. What is it then?
Nothing.
I want to hear it.
As long as it's not about you.
She goes too far. He loathes her sarcasm.
Fuck me, he shouts. Fuck me.
Shadows from a passing train flicker across his face. A passenger rolls his eyes.
I've got to get to work.
I'm distracted.
If only . . .
Hmm.
The train doesn't go any faster.
Work, work, work. See ya', he says, maneuvering himself off the underground, walking briskly up the urinesmelling staircase and into a yellow day. He stands under a tree and lights a long, thin brownpaper cigarette. Tents housing the homeless form a grid on the grass in front of the government building. The lawyer looks toward them, but his vacant eyes show no sign of recognition. His gaze is one of someone staring into an abyss. He finishes his cigarette, throws the butt in a trashcan, and glances around himself as though deciding which way to go, though his destination stop is, as always, the courthouse.


Copyright, 2008, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 30, 2008

Three Lovers in a Forest

The Edge of the World specializes in publishing apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. Occasionally, we run poetry. If you reworked "Three Lovers in a Forest" into a poem, The Edge of the World would consider placing it in our Oceanus section.


"We'll never pass the Caucasus."
"We'll never make the river."
"We're mired in the forest."
"We'll grow tall to reach the sun, heliotropes, and paint our faces with crushed red currants so we resemble flowers rather than women."

(They begin to fight about more quickly crossing the Caucasus.)

"It's the Land of Nod, if we wander here forever."
"Look at the bruisepink sky."
"Soon the sun will set."


I'm sorry. This still doesn't read as a poem.


Copyright, 2008, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Viscera

Lunch. An agent and a publisher.

G. Mort: Yeah. I read "Viscera."
Agent: Did you like it?
G. Mort: Ed Winslow is onto something. A harrowing, intricate farm novel.
Agent: Good to hear.
G. Mort: Afraid I'll have to pass though. Unfortunately, I only enjoyed one piece of "Viscera":

"What time is it, Winslow Homer," I ask him sarcastically.

"Time to wake the chickens, my girl, and time for picking their feathers," the gritty man says, "the ones we put the knife to when the chopping block blade is dull. Have you met the girl who brings in the chickens, Jennifer? Have ya' met her yet?"

"Yes, I met her in the morning. She seemed to be moving forward, thinking of things ahead of time, and then lopping off their heads with her down-swing too low. She was awkward with her strokes, but consistent in them," I tell him.

"Yes, the chickens follow her around the grounds like she doesn't make them into giblets. They don't know she eats them," the gritty man says.

"Stupid fowl," I say.

"Yeah," he says, "those birds must be pretty dumb, not knowing she makes giblets from 'em."

Agent: It's a novel in itself; a mini-novel, if you will.
G. Mort: Won't find a publisher for it, not as it is. Maybe rewrite it like the excerpt. See how that goes.
Agent: More dialog then?
G. Mort: Oh, yes.

Copyright, 2008, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Correspondence

[Beginning of correspondence]

HELLO ALL -
we are seeking your best ficiton, non-fiction, poetry, and artwork for our winter 08 issue. www.dogzplot.com
also. new flash fiction stories posted tomorrow on the blog. check em out.
take care -
bg

Hi --
I'd be interested in submitting work to your online journal again; however, you unsubscribed to my blog, which makes me wonder if you've lost interest in my work. The last time I submitted something you asked for a submission from me. Let me know if you're still interested, and I'll send something your way.
Best Wishes,
Jennifer

dear jennifer -
no i have absolutely not lost interest in you or your work. my page was loading so sloooooooooowwwww, and i contacted the myspace folks and they said things like blog subscriptions, blog posts, html comments, number of friends, can all slow it down. so i cut back. likewise if you posted an html comment that is why you dont see it. even my b-day comments i got rid of - so sad. but yeah, please submit anytime. the responses to limp dick man were great. take care - bg

Hi --
Glad to hear you haven't lost interest. Here is a piece that I'd like to submit. Please let me know if this is the correct way to submit a piece to you, as I forget what the method was the last time. Let me know if you're interested in "The Other Woman" or not, as I have many more pieces I can submit. Thanks.
Best,
Jennifer

The Other Woman
Who cares whether or not the woman walking through the room is real? It's not difficult to touch her, only rare that she be touched. I've seen someone like this before, at the time when everything was other: everything was other until nothing was other anymore. It was all the same. A deep feeling of uneasiness fills her stomach. She faces the large buffet and sees there is spinach among the items. When she looks outside, wind blows sand against the window. No matter where I stand in the room there isn't enough light to see clearly. And if I could see more clearly, the shapes might not seem so dusty and alien. My anxiety is intermittent; but not for a second do I fail to discern the shape of complete dissolution. Trapped. Worse than an animal. She paces in a circle. If her head were cut off right now, her eyes would still glow a feral, yellowish shade. When you look at her from far away you'd be scared to look into her eyes; but when you would get closer they wouldn't be as awful. The insides of the yellow part might follow you as the eyes of a person might follow someone walking through a room. Her hair is short and dark. Her eyes have eyes inside themselves. The gleam in them is biting. When I see her eyes the next time, she has no bodily form. Her eyes are sewn into a small piece of dark blue cloth. There is a flap that folds over the top, and, when I lift it, her eyes are underneath, small, round, and crazy-looking.
Copyright, 2007, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

dear jennifer,
i read a lot of your stuff on your blog. the stuff i like the best is the kind that feels like someone has been slapped across the face, stung, bitten, etc. after i'm done reading it. this is more abstract. i dont necessarily like abstract. i prefer action and imagery. - bg

Hi --
Is the following piece more to your liking?

Prick-Lips and the Cock-Sucking Dick
Well, that one woman who sucked my cock, she came back over to suck my dick again. At least I thought she was coming over to let me stick my prick in her mouth. But she wasn't in a dick-prick-cock-sucking mood. She was in a "I'm a prick myself" mood. Like I said before, when she opened her mouth, she could be a real prick. She had all kinds of shit to say about what a cocksucker I am. She thinks cocksuckers should suck their own cocks, she told me. I wouldn't let her suck my dick then. She wanted to suck my cock later, but I said, "No, not now," to her. And she got upset about it and started crying. I wanted to slap her with my cock then, right across her face. I hate seeing anyone cry. "Fucking cocksucker," she said to me, hitting me in the arm. "I said I'd suck your fucking cock," she said. "It's too late now," I said. "You're a prick," I told her. I said, "You've got a penis mouth with words that spew like come." Prick-lips hit me again. I did nothing. "Hey, prick-lips," I told her, "get out." Then she started to throw plates around the kitchen. "Prick-lips! Prick-lips!" she yelled. "You're a fucking prick-lipped bastard." I guess I deserved that, for calling her prick-lips and all and not letting her suck my cock.
Copyright, 2007, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved
Best,
Jennifer

hello jennifer -
i really like the guys tone here, it works well, but theres too much cock here for my taste. whatever that means. what else you got? - bg

Hello bg --
Obviously, the whole point of "Prick-Lips and the Cock-Sucking Dick" was to use the word "cock" as much as possible to create an overall tone. I couldn't have achieved the tone you like without having used this technique. You seemed to like the "Limp-Dick Man on Date" piece previously on your page. I guess "cock" and "dick" are different, eh? Unfortunately, I think our styles diverge. You said you've read through my blog. If you want to post something that's on there, let me know. Otherwise, I'll find somewhere else for my work.
Best,
Jennifer

Author's Note: I sent "Correspondence" to "bg" with the following note:

Hello bg --
I call this "Correspondence." Perhaps you like this piece. It makes an interesting sort of meta-fiction, I think.
Best,
Jennifer

"Very nice," bg wrote.

[End of correspondence]

Copyright, 2008, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Meddle Shmeddle

January 8, 2008: Today is my dead brother's birthday. My mom says we're not going to celebrate his birthday or commemorate him because it saddens her. She's sick of people dying. First, my dad gets run over by a car. Then, my brother gets killed in Iraq by friendly fire when he stopped to speak Farsi to Iranians at a checkpoint. My mom tells me to shut up about friendly fire and let my brother be remembered as a war hero. Let's make a cake for him and blow out the candles, I say. You just want cake. No, it's not the cake I like but the friendly fire of the candles, goading her. Julius, she spouts, you were once a popular boy, before you told people your brother was killed by his friend during an unnecessary killing spree. What do you have to go around ho-humming for that his friend went and shot him? I just want people to know my boy didn't die for nothing. That's all I'm asking. So you don't have to be saying that he got killed by his friend, because I want his Purple Heart to be worth something more than just its metal. I won't meddle with his medal, I say. Meddle shmeddle. We're still not having cake. She smiles, but her cadaverous face, decomposing before my eyes, falls flat. No cake, again.

Copyright, 2008, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Broken Bionicles

December 5, 2007: I had my Bionicles set up in the kitchen, and my step-dad said to get them off the counter right away because he wanted to sit down and eat. "They're not in your way," I said. He pushed me to the side of the counter and shoved the Bionicles off it; they fell on the floor next to me, disassembled, with the parts all mixed together. My mom came in the kitchen. When she saw the broken Bionicles she told me to go outside and play with Kevin. Kevin said he heard about my brother on the news, that he was a war hero for stopping Iranian insurgents from blowing themselves up at a checkpoint. When I told him that my brother got killed by friendly fire, he didn't know what I was talking about. "His friend shot him," I said, "by accident. The Iranians weren't insurgents. They were just Iranian." Kevin didn't believe me. "My dad says your brother is a hero," he said, raising his voice a little. "Well, he's not a war hero. He spoke Farsi, and that got him in trouble," I said. Then I started to get upset about my Bionicles being thrown on the floor. Kevin thought I was crying because my brother died. "No," I told him, "my Bionicles are broken."

Copyright, 2007, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Farsi Shmarsi

November 23, 2007: Today we went to the mortuary. My mom said they put flags on all the coffins of dead soldiers, even ones like my brother who got killed by what's called friendly fire. I said to my mom, "But he wasn't even fighting the war when he was killed." And she said, "Yes, he was." I left it at that. She didn't like to think his best friend shot him by accident. My brother was standing next to a stopped car that the soldiers thought was going to explode. It didn't. But the soldiers shot all the passengers anyway, and my brother was trying to talk to the people in the car because he spoke Farsi -- they were Iranians trying to get back to Iran -- and got killed along with them. "I guess he shouldn't have studied Farsi in college then," I said, secretly gloating because now he was dead, and it didn't matter that he had spoken a language I never knew. "Farsi shmarsi," she said; and I figured it was as pointless to get her to take me to visit his grave as it was to get her to take me to visit my dad at the cemetery.

Copyright, 2007, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Julius' Diary

November 22, 2007: Last night someone from the Army came over. He told us that my brother got killed in Iraq. His face was blown off, he said, so we couldn't look at him. That made me sad, about his face being destroyed, probably because we looked alike, and now we don't anymore. I thought it was stupid for him to join the Army. I told him to play Army video games instead, but he wanted to defend our country, he said, and couldn't do it on a computer screen. So now I don't have a father or a brother. I have a mom and step-dad. My step-dad is nice, except for when he wants me to clean or take medicine. He told me to go to college instead of joining the military. He said, "Now you see your face can be blown to bits," and shook his head. "But they won't let me look at him," I said. "Yeah, good," he said. Then he went upstairs and cried. He'd been in Vietnam and has posttraumatic stress disorder. I think that's what the doctor called it. Sometimes at night he wakes me up because of his screaming. One of his feet had to be cut off during the war, and, when he dreams about it, he says it's like his foot is being amputated all over again.

Copyright, 2007, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Skeleton Shmeleton

My name is Julius. I'm 5-years-old. I don't look like my mother except for the color of my eyes. They're blue. I learned how to talk when I was 9-months-old. I know as many words as my brother who is in college. I do crossword puzzles faster. You should see me go. But I like to make Bionicles more than talk. We have a basement in our house. I put all the dead ones there. Mostly it's the good Bionicles who get it first. There are good guys and bad guys. I just throw the ones who got killed on the floor. My mother doesn't care.

My father is dead too. He got run over by a car when he was riding his bike to work one day. That was unexpected. We didn't know what to do. There were a lot of things that needed to get done that he usually did. So my mom married another guy. He's okay. Sometimes he tries to make me take medicine that tastes bad. My mom says the doctor prescribed it for me, but I think the new guy blends it up special to get me to gag.

We had a nice funeral for my dad. A year after he died we had the unveiling of his headstone. I got to keep the gauze veil that shrouded the stone. I keep it in my pillowcase. My mom says that I shouldn't keep the veil so close to me, that I should let her wash it and stuff. I told her it's not the same if you wash it. Then the smell of the cemetery will go away, and I don't want it to. I told her, "That's the smell of where Dad is." She said, "Your dad isn't really there." I said that his skeleton was there. She said, "Skeleton, shmeleton, go do your homework."

Copyright, 2007, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved