Jeffrey Hecker

from Ark Aft

Boar & Cow

Boar notices Noah’s wife’s name varies depending on source text. Haikal
introduced herself to me as Percoba, says Cow, yet Vesta to Boar. You
think Emzara’s trying not to be identified? You think Norea doesn’t know
who Tytea is? asks Boar. Both ideas can be true, says Cow, I believe she’s
twenty names deep so we remember her husband, who never talks to us.

Ferret & Hamster

Ferret posts I feel everything I ever fancy or require within reach.
Ferret’s alcoholism perturbs me, posts Hamster. I clench apexes,
zeniths, vertexes, apogees, pinnacles, Ferret re-posts. Hamster
re-posts Ferret intakes so much Stolichnaya vodka, her eyelids
Alice blue, after a gown Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter danced once.

Hedgehog & Horse

Hedgehog wakes ready for a four-hour day of listening and smelling.
Horse wakes not quite ready for a twenty-two hour day of monitoring.
Hedgehog is lactose intolerant. Horse cannot vomit. Hedgehog road-
fatality is highest in Ireland. Ancient Egypt and Late Middle Ages ate
Hedgehog. Horse subtracts and adds up to four. Horse hates violin.

Hyena & Kangaroo

Male nipples aren’t broken doorbells, chimes Hyena. Kangaroo
contrasts more to evolutionarily defunct switches, perhaps once
allowing the chest cavity to unfasten or lock. Was the body too
open, and needed shut? Hyena says surgeons removed mine.
After non-profit research, I firmly reckon they were sand dollars.

Tiger & Lion

Tiger asks Lion what type fire should we be, if we die wise?
Lion answers the class D metal kind. Rain upon us, we just
accelerate. Lion asks Tiger what type water should we be if
we die dim? Tiger answers I want us triple filtered, reverse
osmosis, sprayed, Delta Maidenhead ferns convert us to air.

Mouse & Skunk

Mouse accuses Skunk of eating the whole honeybee population
in Brattleboro, Vermont. Skunk’s burrow is busted. Millions
of bee wings coat the inner walls like high-quality Muscovite
windows. The tubular house smells embalmed. Mouse cracks
a few wings for ventilation. Fertile clay sand silt buries us all.

Jeffrey Hecker is the author of Rumble Seat (San Francisco Bay Press, 2011) and the chapbooks Hornbook (Horse Less Press, 2012), Instructions for the Orgy (Sunnyoutside Press, 2013), and Before He Let Them Guide Sleigh (ShirtPocket Press, 2013). Recent work has appeared in La Fovea, LEVELER, decomP, Entropy, BOAAT, Dream Pop Journal, and DELUGE. He holds a degree from Old Dominion University. He’s a fourth-generation Hawaiian American and he currently resides in Norfolk, Virginia, where he teaches at The Muse Writers Center.

Brad Rose

What We Can Name

I have thoughts, but I don’t write them down. Something is watching me. I wasted most of my luck in the daylight. Once, I saw a horse drown in a lake. I don’t think it was acting. A lake is a body of water, surrounded by land. Water has no color or shape, it’s true no matter what it does. They say ants speak to each other with chemicals, even when they whisper. There are 120 thousand kinds of ants, some as big as a bullet, others no larger than a secret. When I called the help line, the voice said, Please continue to hold. So, I did. I’m clean-cut, even when time isn’t on my side. When they answered, I told them I needed to speak with an experienced attorney, one who knows about the death penalty. Most nights, I pretend to sleep. That way I don’t need to wake up. They say anything that can be done to a person will be done. Go ahead, turn the lights back on. We only see what we can name. By the way, what do your enemies call you?

After Dawn

I’ll bet the people in the car ahead of us have thoughts, although there’s no such thing as a perfect translation. Once, while hiding in my basement, I drew a picture of a whisper. I used an ordinary pencil. I had no choice. It’s quiet inside a mountain—coal-dark, the aftertaste of ants. Some people see God. Thirteen feet deep, I saw a hole in the light. I’m handpicked and reliable, no stranger to the undertow of chance. I’ve learned not to bite the hook that feeds me. Becky said they discovered human remains, but in a good way. You still have to boil them before they’re sterile. I’m an e-citizen in the digital world, I lead a quiet life. You can read about it in the Great Big Picture Book of Problems, or just send up a trial balloon. It can be any color you like, as long as it isn’t black. Be sure to keep an eye out. You wouldn’t want it to get tangled in the shadow puppets’ strings. They can be real mean. Just because the puppets don’t have bodies, doesn’t mean you can’t hear them thinking. Sure, they can be hard to hunt down, even harder to erase, but they’ll circle back this way, sometime after dawn. Don’t worry. This time, we’ll get them.

Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is a sociologist, and author of a collection of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015) His new book of poems, Momentary Turbulence is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. Brad’s website is: www.bradrosepoetry.com. A list of publications is available here: http://bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com/. Audio recordings can be heard at: https://soundcloud.com/bradrose1.

Howie Good

Murder! Fire! Plague!

The next morning you insisted, “There’s no such thing as love. There’s only fucking.” If you heard the gray gulls, their shrieks like symptoms of dementia, you gave no sign. It was a bit like that time the sun crashed down, flinging up dead cats and dung, and foreign words were blowing everywhere. There was this feeling among householders that something even more terrible — hooded gunmen with Kalishnikovs firing on police, a mom leaving her baby in a dumpster to freeze to death — would eventually happen. And, sure enough, darkness and flies entered despite the jar of buttercups on the table brightening the room.

The Heart of It All

Her eyes were sometimes blue, sometimes green with flecks of gold, all the things, restless things, I was instructed from early in life never to do. We found a high window filled day and night and laid down under it and moved slowly, so slowly that by morning we had rubbed each other as smooth as sea-smoothed shells. And when we rose up, the world looked strange. It was a place of beauty, I can tell you that, a circular path, spiraling even, and no one was really sure why but us.

From the Middle of Nowhere

No one could say when it was that the hospital began admitting children. At that time of night, the road is dark, and pedestrians don’t really go there. The next day only brought more illegibility, a slow-creeping rain during which bankrupts leaped out of windows. The police recommended calling if it happened again. Look around. A horse is not a metaphor. If I were you, I wouldn’t go out without a companion. What I assumed was the Atlantic, greasy and barely moving, a gull resting its head under a wing, may have been a new god seated on a throne of razor wire.

The Desert of the Real

It was a downtown full of ugly glass towers. I have never been able to understand the attraction to tall structures, have you? One evening I attended the city’s famous theater. A series of nudes rode across the stage on ostriches and camels under the admiring gaze of former Nazis in tuxedos. Afterward, in a reflective mood, I decided against taking the metro and to walk back to the hotel despite the fog and drizzle. A friend had recently killed herself. Pills. At her memorial service, the first eulogist had proclaimed, “To hell with facts!” I shook my head at the memory. About five minutes later, I stepped into the brightly lit lobby with an odd feeling of relief, only to discover that none of it had happened, that it was all merely a collection of words, some bandaged, others still bleeding.

Blip

No one had ever told us what would happen in the event of defeat. Then the tornados showed up, sometimes alone, more often in pairs and small groups. Even the crows fell — or, rather, were blown — out of the sky. At least one man in attendance regarded it as a baleful omen. The rest assumed it was just a blip. But, very soon, antediluvian gods faded into rain, the flickering surface of uproarious dreams.

Howie Good’s latest poetry collections are Bad for the Heart (Prolific Press) and Dark Specks in a Blue Sky (Another New Calligraphy). He is recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his forthcoming collection Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements.