Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 4
Summer, 2011

Featured painting, Steakhouse Grand Opening, by Daniel Dove.

Featured Excerpt & Review

Kyle Hemmings

Cat People #14: Magicians

As a magician she was never lovelier then when she sawed you in half and never returned your parts. One part always longed for the clarity of winter. The other grew nostalgic for hissing summers, children selling lemonade on manicured lawns. Or the time she changed your blind turtles into laughing rain. Then you read in the news that a man cut his wife down to size, divided her. The right hemisphere kept in 2/3rds vinegar solution, the left in formaldehyde. When questioned by the police, he said It was the first idea he ever had of something being "clear and distinct." For years, you imagine someone outside your house throwing stones at your window. She demands you put her back together or at least give her what she once had. But children never really grow all the way up. And magicians never reveal all their secrets. You think about your wife in the basement, shining a flashlight on the cement cracks, the black water rising, caused by the neighbor's tree roots spreading under the foundation. After you open the window and yell out that you're married to someone else, to please not come back, you realize there is no one there. Just a black rain and this hard shell of a house where everything slowly disappears.

Cat People #12: Tell-Tale Nights in the Heart of the City

At the club, we're knee deep in dusk, pockets of post-despair. The D.J. is spinning a remix of Cash's Ring of Fire. But I and my cat brother, with his genius love of green, have already fallen in. We have codenames: He's Puma Boy; I'm Lucky Cat. Later, we'll rip off the straights, air brush tiger insignias on their leather jackets, now ours. Nothing is really ours unless it's under the skin, like connective tissue, like memories of disco strangers in my bed, my false confessions to them. Was it quick-spit love? All friendly fang and chipped tooth? I use to flatten their tires so they'd remember me. Later, Puma and I will have sex in Soho's back alleys. The pigeons will drop us condoms. We'll blush before strangers. The city is a tea cup that leaks us. I need some coffee. Deep, dark, Columbian. On the subway, girls without claws, ones with hollow eyes, stare out of windows. I study the curl and length of their fingernails. Not enough city love, too short, too pale. I need to paint them a green that glows in the dark. Long enough to scratch against the night.

Cat People #13: Noir

I wake up screaming. I can't remember the exact content, only the gross shadows and the girl falling from the wharf. She was young with a voice that could charm dolphins, kingpins. Was that girl me? I'm bleeding. I always cut myself when I dream. It's my way of telling myself: Hey, wake up! You're nowhere in sight. My white Persian with the blue eyes no longer answers to her French name: Jolie fille. The psychiatrist who speaks in shades of monotone, whose eyes scare me like ravens, says It's all the result of stress. Stop working so many hours he says. But I tell him: There's a war. There's a war going on. I suspect that in secret rooms with fly-a-way women, he's a fascist with heavy necrophilliac eyes. The phone rings. It's the same man I met yesterday at Frankie's diner. He said his name was Dana Andrews. He handed me his card. He said tailing people was his specialty and asked whether anyone was giving me a hard time. I watched Frankie sling some hash, yell out to 86 the ham steaks. Now I remember. Dana Andrews was the man in my dream. He pushed me in. I believe he did. Then he swam after me. On the moonlit dock, I was shivering. He held me, kept calling me by my childhood nickname: Bleau. His eyes looked through me. Hooked through me. He had the eyes of my cat.

She Sounds Like Joni Mitchell Singing in a Taxi whenever It Rains

I love the way she plays guitar. Behind alabaster walls, I'm almost blind but I won't fall down. An ear to the crack. Finger to fret, 3 octave range, the song about a woman who loved too hard and in the end could only see herself. Someday I'll work up the nerve to knock on her door and invite her in for Sweet Southern Tea. Set those chords free. I'm so rusty at conversation. How's this: Someday I'm going to run to Canada. Way up North. Do they have penguins on those arctic islands? I'll study their mating habits. I wonder if they can sing each other's voice. Or—Did you ever streak when you were young? I did. It's how I lost a good portion of my sight. I was chased into a brick wall by a jealous penguin. From then on, I could only see sideways. But I won't ask her in today. Today, like most days, I'll remain the nameless listener. She'll sing about her ex-lovers, cold islands, whistles in the night. I wish I could play guitar like her. Truth is I don't play guitar at all. Truth is there's probably no penguins in the Arctic. But at night, after the penguins have gone to sleep and Arctic Canada is one big hushed mother with arms outstretched, I fantasize. I'm a musician. I love to improvise. Early morning fog, she drops a coin in my hat. She says she has a day job. Off to Nova Scotia. Lots of men watching Impressionistic sunsets, islands within islands. She can't spend the day listening to sad songs. We might sing each other: her contralto is my baritone. I would love to play her piccolo.

Kyle Hemmings is the author of three chapbooks of poems: Avenue C (Scars Publications), Fuzzy Logic (Punkin Press), and Amsterdam & Other Broken Love Songs (Flutter Press). He lives and writes in New Jersey.