'Delirious' by Jim Davis-Rosenthal



Diana Abu-Jaber

"Hindee," from Memories of Birth
"Just the tinkle of the metal tongue against the buckle piece as it unhooked. So in later years, the sound of a lover undoing his belt was enough to ice her skin, make her eyes smart. She asked her steady lovers not to wear a belt."

Carolyn Alessio

Artichoke Hearts
"I nod, but I’m concentrating on the carrots. Since I moved in with Alex, I’ve prepared the vegetables every night. I take my sole chore seriously; every morning around eleven I walk over to the corner store. Often I spend over twenty minutes in the green grocer’s section: comparing fresh mushrooms, green beans, chard, onions, green and red bell peppers. I am quite familiar with vegetables—Jay was a vegetarian, and he loved to stir-fry meals. Some nights, when I stayed late at school working with the sixth-graders, Jay would leave warm, stir-fried vegetables in the wok he had loaned me. Now, when I choose vegetables for Alex, I think of Jay preparing meals in our kitchen, his long fingers chopping peppers and pea pods in even increments. Some days I hesitate so long in the green grocer’s that the built-in sprinklers come on, spraying light mist over the fresh produce and me."

Patricia Ammann

The Gift
"I think I will let myself fall into you for a while, with aplomb; I will try anything once, twice, three times if I like it. I decide I have changed my mind, you are delivering to me my new motto: in the vernacular of the present tense there is only one part of speech, the verb."

The Jacket
"In this jacket Lydia will fly from man to man as if they were exotic countries, as if she was a virus skipping hosts. Yet it is Lydia who desires disease. Her heart is as breezy as sax notes blown through trashy alleys; she longs for a heart of mercury, heavy memory, sand."

Deborah Batterman

"'Every man is a shoe fetishist,' says my friend Sasha. We are sitting in her loft, on the Navajo rug in front of her couch. On her coffee table are a bowl of grapes and a magazine open to a spread showing fashion designers in expensive suits and high heels. The fashion designers are men and they look silly in high heels and Sasha and I laugh. She passes me a joint, pulls out a pair of red suede slingbacks from the box on the floor next to us, slips them on. They are my shoes, and I'm showing them off to Sasha."

Samantha Coerbell

Little Boy Lost
"looking, as strangers do at one another, their eyes met and deflected. feigning familiarity, on cue they forged an agreement. Geenie stopped. turned to Louie. Louie picked up his lunchbox. stood. Geenie called, 'let's go, little...Antoine.' she could not guess at his name. Louie did not care about his name. only the call to him. he stepped, 'coming, mother.'"

"i took all of the mushes meandering through my mind and made an understanding. you want what you cannot have. not because you want it, but because it is denied you. i, maybe, knew this in the going in, and when going out, chose the in. in each moment that has indulged the bubbling swill of dramatic emotionalism, a pink ripply monster has been asking me to dance. i am giddy girl dervishing on checkerboard square."

Maimuna Dali

Expecting Nothing in Return
"She pulled her bag out of the car, and walked up to me. She looked at one of the fishes. Its mouth gaped open and its glassy eyes were sunken into the dried flesh. She ran a finger over the skin. It was hardened and tanned by the sun. 'Maybe I will ask to be dried after I die,' she said. She looked at me. 'Do you think anyone would like to keep me in their living room if I am preserved like this?'"

Jim Davis-Rosenthal

"The bread was easier to break than to cut, and broke into shapely but uneven sections. The golden crust was firm but not dry, and the inside was soft and chewy. The scent was hearty and warming, and for a moment it seduced the baker from his morning tasks. His own superstitions made him wonder if his ordinary sweetbreads would turn jealous of his attentions and would somehow fail to rise or turn out too dry, in protest."

Claine Helen Keily

extract from The Mechanical Ocean
"Crazy beat Kemp's heart, a bird caught between the glass of two closed windows, as Quin stretched out his hand stiffly towards him, not as one who lowered himself to the dirty darkened stage of that other, nor as one who sat crouched among the rows of empty seats offering him the warmth of a lighter with which to ignite a cigarette, no, rather he spread his hand towards him like a man destined to break the waves that Jesus had caused to make solid beneath him, all the while calling that tragedy a favour."

Mary Park

The Iron Lung Girl
"Sheryl was the first one to give me something like taste. Together, we made lists, we divided the world neatly down the middle. On one side there was our English teacher, a tiny, histrionic man, given to dramatic readings and clutching his beard. Kerouac, Ginsberg, Kesey. Lennon, Vicious, Exene. Our heroes. On the other side, the kind of kids who called people 'posers' or who talked about 'society'—As in, 'I won’t do all the things that society tells me to,' said Sheryl, her lips pushed out in a sneer. Haircut bands. Girls who cried at parties. Our principal, an ex-coach with a dim, startled expression, who pronounced his 's'es with a small but definite whistle. Our parents."

Michael Ramos

When the Soldier Sleeps in the Field
"Things are not so simple, my young friend. Let me tell you something. In a field of cogon grass the soldiers sleep beneath a mosquito net. Sometimes, even when you are careful, the rats will crawl underneath the net. Open the net, and the rats escape, but now a swarm of mosquitoes takes their place. So who is right, the one that sleeps with the rats, or the one that sleeps with the mosquitoes? What is your mother supposed to choose, when everything is so disagreeable?"

David Sims

"I know you wanted to run away with Babe, Joe, slap her awake, kick away the bottles, dump her clothes into an alfalfa sack, hit the road in your old Falcon and just keep on going. But neither of you could ever do that. Until what happened tonight, I guess. And whatever it was, it made you go alone."

WD Wetherell

How Bad Things Are
"She had no speech prepared, no remarks saved for just such an occasion. What she wanted to say was something else again — what she wanted to say came easily, the words rushing like a gin-colored current through the slushy rear areas of her brain. I have looked at the drawings done by your daughters, your sons and grandsons. I see by their evidence that things are a lot worse even than I thought."




Original Graphic, "Delirious," © 1999 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal

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