"Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry." -Jack Kerouac

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mat Black Online Magazine - April

Featured Authors

Nate Pritts

Brittany Fonte

Connor Blacksher

Mike Berger

(April 2011)


Nate Pritts

Nate Pritts is the author of four books of poems - most recently Big Bright Sun (BlazeVOX) & The Wonderfull Yeare (Cooper Dillon Books).  His fifth, Sweet Nothing, is forthcoming from Lowbrow Press in late 2011.  He is the founder & principal editor of H_NGM_N & can be found online at http://www.natepritts.com.



staying still                                     causes problems
that                         maybe            
line breaks can solve
I’m trying not to shake
covers or the table             a word
then a word                         then
                         some space
in between             you’re seeing
a few seconds       into the future
now you know what’s coming
now                         you know what
                            is coming             
it’s maybe this

            I have this                     tendency
to say                         good morning             broken


            reconcile                 me in my poems      burning
 you      in your dream
of killing            do you remember it’s spring
    in the morning                my brother screaming             his poems
over light or sunrise                         you & me                     not sharing
              coffee              across the table
        though we are
        we’re doing the best that we can               we’re hoping
for something             better                        taking a stance
for all it’s worth             we’re emotional                  not                        
     rational             your voice            a surprise            I’m basing
 what I’m                         saying                            on nothing
poems                   &       phone calls

today’s morning            chilly            Syracuse
unsure selections            I’m thinking
about                         confidence about                        
where I am                         back in Syracuse             morning

            all this sun
we notice the sun most                         in the leaves
where the green             is             a green             not
usual                        we talk             in third person
to bestow             authority             we             think

we have             figured out             how to
write             these                         morning songs
one long line                        broken                       
I             don’t think I                         know
     the best                         way to talk                         to you


slept through                         all the wanting           
eight messages in the night                         this morning
this sun             when did I decide            
to write these                        selections               
you say sad                         with a happy face on

in Syracuse            restless             my morning                        I’m
awake                         5:00 am             birds                         there are birds
you can’t know you’re not here            I’m not there
this morning                                    apology
the same worries            that you’ll                         love me
only                        if I’m there                        I wake up not there

Brittany Fonte

Brittany Fonte holds an MFA in Creative Writing.  She has published both fiction and poetry in journals such as: Literary Mama, 42Opus, Wrong Tree Review, and Breadcrumb Scabs.  Currently, she teaches Composition and Fiction and Non-Fiction Writing at two universities, as well as dabbles in poetry editing with Lowbrow Press.  Her drink of choice is caffeinated and sugar-free, as she and her partner have two children who may or may not be undercover Energizer Bunnies.

Cinderella: 2011
(For A.G.K. and K.E.F.)
I married young in a rabid display of hierarchical power and alcohol advertising; there were no other options for me: a pretty girl with no education and feral feet with crazy high in-steps.  I knew I wanted to be known- to try my hand at limb modeling, maybe commercials, maybe acting.  I didn’t know that marrying a man I hardly knew, however hung and gorgeous and rich, would turn out to be a tiara-ble problem, political et al.  So I wished for it fervently, then acted the rosy-cheeked bobblehead and squished my size-eight feet into a petite pair of glass pedi-pads when the wand came down.

There are no couples’ counselors in Happily Ever After, and if there were, a prince’s health insurance surely wouldn’t cover weekly meetings or Zoloft or the time it takes to pull my “handsome” husband off his just-for-show-and-visiting-toothless-(horny and desperate) peasant-women ivory steed.  It wouldn’t cover the drama necessary to pack the kids off to Her Highness Nana’s, the oats to drive to the next kingdom and argue the way back over about who said what, kept what, distorted all, and why, when I said, “I do,” I said “I don’t” to blow jobs and rear entry loving.  It wouldn’t make me forget that other woman’s smell on my husband’s white, embroidered lapel, or ignore her panties in the ball gown glove box of the pumpkin Prius.

I married young- twenty-one- and the tabloids saw it as a dream come true.  They noted I wore Vera Wang and Jimmy Choo; I had a train that knew no bounds and, with two bitty words and a tongue-less, pristine kiss, the exclusive rights to a kingdom without end.  What they didn’t say was that I’d never dated any man before, and had only ever seen my father and his Sunday caddy pulling clubs behind them as they left on Monday afternoons for the local tavern, the cathouse, the pharmacy.

I was naïve, my manual on man education without an index, without pictures and diagrams and penile instructions, without promise; my mother died when I was young, leaving me no happy housewife handbook, never giving me sex talks or morning-after prescriptions for that first, tumultuous tenure of marriage.  Before my fine sand slipper gala, I had resigned myself to a life of servitude in a dying cleaning business my step-mother owned on the wrong side of town; I had decided that washing windows whittled my waist and scrubbing floors felt virtuous.  The birds understood.  They built their nests each spring in my attic, despite my ne’er conditioned hair.

 But I fell for that ideal of a rich husband and a set of servants.  I fell after two margaritas and a glass of shiraz and some rolled paper that probably swaddled stale oregano.  There was a gay man, prettier than me, who wore gossamer wings and gave me a MAC eyeliner pen in the alley next to the “Clean as You Go” office; he told me to buy some Style Snaps and raise my skirt to properly frame my cat.  I gave in to that ignorant voice in me that pleaded for something more than Windex and Mr. Clean and Endust to end all dust in those dark and forgotten crevices that only spoke during ‘90210’ and close-ups of Luke Perry; I gave in with my tithe of one intact hymen, and learned a new in-bed vocabulary from a variety of internet sites.  I got breast implants and Restylane and took pole-dancing classes with the other frigid maidens of the merry endings moms’ club. 

I got divorced.

I Am Not Fresh Produce

I am graying and thirty-three; I am pushing forty and other people’s buttons and the borders of decency in pajama pants, also a rickety motorhome/stroller/carry-all cart in the produce section of an organic market.  My infant claps her dimpled hands-unaware of those dimples, unaware of her footed sleeper- at teetering apple pyramids.  She screeches joyfully at the man with the microphone who cannot talk with a human lilt, but smiles, anyway.

This man is here several times a week.  He enjoys the children who do not cry at his robotic voice, or those who do not laugh. Throat cancer beat his esophagus, but it did not tame his indignant optimism. He hands out coupons to busy moms and elderly couples; he hands out dollar bills to homeless men.  He sips coffee from earth-friendly paper cups because he does not, cannot work for this store of twenty-something vegans with titanium-filled cranial holes. 

I know I should learn the lesson he is here to teach, because I was a philosophy minor, and my middle-class privilege expects I dry-hump all that is logical and modest, masculine and old.  Still I feel my too-ripe stomach inching just a thumb’s inch over my too young jeans.  I pick up an avocado and molest its brown skin, wishing I had the money and the contacts to slice my own mid-section crosswise, like I’d do to such fruit to make guacamole: use a spoon to carefully remove the soft fat from the beaten pleather, discard a hard seed, pack the remaining flesh into a concave mold with ingredients that make me suck my cheeks in naturally.

I’d tell my wife: spoon me.  I’d direct: press harder HERE.  I’d stay green for fifteen minutes, then be eaten.  Whole.

When the man with the cancered past and the Servox asks me if I am interested in the mangoes today, I flinch, too fickle and feminist to disregard a kind man’s innocuous comparison.  I want to tell him: I’d rather ripe tomatoes.  I’d rather small and tight, unbruised- something that juices when you nibble it.  Something that mates well with vodka and yearns for unpasteurized goat cheese.  I want to point to the bright plums, then ask him when he started smoking and if he’d taught his children.

Instead, I grab my list from my child’s mouth:

Connor Blacksher

Connor Blacksher is a creative writing student at Concordia University, St. Paul. He has forthcoming and published work in "Ink Sweat and Tears" and "Indigo Rising Magazine" 

Nobody Likes What Happens at Cabins

He stands up amidst the proud trees, and they tell him: “This land is more than just where I was planted, it’s where I fell in love and froze my feet, so I would never have to leave.” 
This serves as a problem for the man, he’s worked for years with these trees, seen the yo-yo we call the sun and moon pass by him. “Rings,” he joked, “have not only married us, but given away your age” 
But tonight things are different. Paystub in pocket, tear in eye, he can do no more than shake his head in regret as metal unites with wood. Over and over again. 

Burnt Tongues are Worse than Burnt Toast

Tethered to the North Star I slide down the sunset to jump on the trampoline that is the horizon, but I know that your eyes are on the same sky. Splattered with the spilled blues and greens and the red that the sun is helping clean up. Maybe I was supposed to build a glass castle, or read about one, I’m not sure. Hopefully you won’t throw rocks or stones, even if they are considered the same thing, one is just classier than the other. Instead how about I throw back all those kisses you threw at me. No it’s not in the mood of spite or sprite or that little guy with the afro on those old commercials. I want to give you the ice picks for that mountain ahead of you. Mine may have been a mole hill in your eyes but that mole was the king and a royal pain if that’s what is being asked. Climb on towards the top, remove that flag put up there who knows how many years ago. This victory will be for you. Climb down the opposite side though, I’ll be waiting there with an iced mocha. 

Mike Berger

Mike Berger is an MFA, PhD. He is retired and writes poetry and short stories full time
He has been writing poetry for less than two years. His work appear in seventy-one journals. He has published two books of short stories and four poetry chapbooks .He
is a member of The Academy of  American Poets.

Twisted Black Mosaic
A black surreal landscape stabs
your eyes; it stretches out over
the distant hills. Gnarled black
silhouettes haphazardly dot the
scene, forming a bizarre tapestry.

Dry lightning exploded into fire; it
ravaged and raped the land. Pushed
by a devil desert wind, parched 
trees flared sending blazing embers
into darkened skies.

Shrouds of gray smoke hid the
flames, as they consumed. The
tortured junipers lamented with
canon roars. .

There was a tear in the sky and rain
poured forth. It fought with the evil
conflagration. The brutal villain finally
succumbed. Left in its wake was the
blackened ground and miles of
grotesque twisted monsters.