“Firecracker” now available in the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts

First the band tromping behind a ticker-taped pickup. Then children, stoic in their painted faces. Then men and women with saintly icons held tight and lovingly in their arms. All marching in a haphazard body. Now and then, wandering among them, an old man lights off a firecracker.

Written in the Casa Luis Barragán in Mexico City in the final days of October 2013, “Firecracker” owes it existence to the generosity and friendship of the artist-shaman Carmina Escobar.

“Windows Open in the Southern Cross Hotel” now available through Radio Silence

windows open in the southern cross hotelMy personal essay, “Windows Open in the Southern Cross Hotel,” on the late songwriter Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co., The Amalgamated Sons of Rest) is now available in Volume IX of Radio Silence, a San Fransisco-based journal dedicated to the crossroads of literature and rock & roll.

The story begins:

All indications were of a sinner testifying—not necessarily repenting but certainly under oath—before some silent power above. One that could save or damn him with the same disinterested stroke. Beyond the spotlight’s edge, the theater disappeared. There was no opening act and the room was mostly empty as Jason Molina played alone in a bright wash of white light.

The accompanying art is by Dan MacAdam, who not only designed many tour posters for Molina but in fact played on his seminal Magnolia Electric Co. record. Honor compounded upon honor.

“Poptimistic” out now through The Stoneslide Corrective

Joel sidled up to the bar and flashed his horrible teeth at the biker chick working the taps. I can remember when she used to be cute. I bet if you cut her leathery skin open now, all that’d pour out is cigarette butts and crumpled IOUs dusted in colorless ash. Joel ordered us each a shot and a beer, and somehow I knew right then that I was going to get stuck with the bill. Sometimes life doesn’t care what you want. In fact, it never does. The shots came and we touched glasses, and just as the cheap well vodka touched my lips, Joel toasted to the good old days, and all at once I felt like throwing up.

Written last summer at the Hewnoaks Artists Colony and told in the now-adult voice of Coleman (the teenage narrator of Brand New Moon), “Poptimistic” can now be read in its entirety, for free, through New Haven’s own Stoneslide Corrective, whose editors describe it as “a story of sin and suffering in a life in which redemption may or may not be possible.”

“Poptimistic” is part of an ongoing series of stories, mostly written as missives to an unnamed ex-wife, charting Coleman’s life from the rural scrape of his destitute upbringing to an adulthood punctuated by drug-use, transience, pan-continental hitchhiking, and an eventual attempt to make himself clean.

BRAND NEW MOON now available through Pilot Editions/PS Hudson

BNM Cover Scan Final

Ritualized basketball mishaps, complicated sex-acts, and improvised means of getting high define the lives of the young men in Douglas W. Milliken’s Brand New Moon. Set in the remote farmlands of northern Maine and told through the boisterously comic voice of Coleman, these three stories—much in the spirit of Jerry Moriarty’s Jack Survives—document the hooligans’ headlong drift through tragedy without a self-preserving flinch or wince, gleefully oblivious and giddy in the face of personal loss, maybe only fleetingly suspecting how deep their abounding trouble might run.

Available September, 2014 from Pilot Editions / PS Hudson.

And from now until October 31st, every online purchase of To Sleep as Animals comes with a free copy of Brand New Moon.

 

“James Taylor vs. the King” available now in Issue 14 of the New Haven Review

Photo641Born from a challenge to write a story about an unlikely team holding up a liquor store, “James Taylor vs. the King” was written as part of a fellowship with the Hewnoaks Artists Colony in Lovell, Maine. Set in the anonymous strip-mall-scape of urban Connecticut, the story features (in varying degrees of prominence) a can of sardines, a bowling ball in a bowling bag, and the sweaty thrust of Elvis Presley.

Here is an excerpt from the story:

Her smallness and her beauty were always weapons used against her. Most men simply thought she was theirs. Finders keepers. Defending herself so often against people’s wrong thoughts eventually built a callus around her. She had to remain hard to remain her own. This, too, she attributed to Ohio. Acting out against something outside herself that wanted her to be something else. On the night she met Jonas, when she smashed in the creep’s face with a beer glass, she was not thinking: Fuck this guy. She was thinking: Fuck Ohio. No matter where she went, Ohio always followed her there. Then she met Jonas, and Ohio was gone. She couldn’t explain how or why. But she knew that it was true. Jonas was her first new land.

The New Haven Review is a twice-annual journal of essays, poetry, and fiction. The current issue can be ordered here.

“Arena” now available in issue 7 of Tincture.

Written during a four-week residency at the I-Park Foundation in East Haddam, Connecticut, “Arena” charts the first moments of meeting between two men in an island prison, neither quite knowing his past connection to the other.

Here is a short excerpt from the story:

High above the concrete box of the prison, seagulls turn lazily in the sky, wings outstretched and gliding. Only their gun-turret heads are at work, looking here and then looking here, seeking any scrap to eat for which they will not have to work. The light of the sun paints the whole sky white and in some places, the water shines pure and white as well. As if ocean and sky have become the same thing. An island afloat in flawless white. These are things the boy saw before being led into prison. They’re things the old man has forgotten.

Tincture is a quarterly e-book journal based in Australia. All their issues can be purchased directly from their online store, or through Tomie, Kobo, Kindle, and Google Play.

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