Cologne – David Armand

 

It was a mirrored, wooden cabinet

hung at about eye-level so he could see

himself before he left for work

in the morning, when it was still dark out

and everyone else was asleep and warm.

 

And he kept nothing but cologne in there,

bottles and bottles of it: Brut, Old Spice,

Pierre Cardin, English Leather, Coty Musk,

Stetson, Aqua Velva, Afta, Skin Bracer,

Preferred Stock, Aspen. Cheap stuff

 

his kids gave him, or maybe he bought it

himself at the drugstore for under ten bucks

so he’d have some variety in the morning,

some choice in how he presented himself

to a world where he didn’t have many choices,

 

a world that was hard on him, and one he’d leave

far too soon: just after a meager Christmas one year

at only forty-two years old, all those cheap bottles

collecting dust now, their contents slowly evaporating

until the day comes when there’ll just be nothing left of him.

 

 

armand_lgDavid Armand is Writer-in-Residence at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he also serves as associate editor for Louisiana Literature. In 2010, he won the George Garrett Fiction Prize for his first novel, The Pugilist’s Wife, which was published by Texas Review Press. His second novel, Harlow, was published by Texas Review Press in 2013. In 2015, David’s third novel, The Gorge, was published by Southeast Missouri State University Press, and his poetry chapbook, The Deep Woods, was published by Blue Horse Press. David’s memoir, My Mother’s House, was published in March 2016 by Texas Review Press.

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The Crows – Candace Hartsuyker

 

The crows, inky black feathered dive and fly,

they are waiting for the dog to die.

The dog that used to hide 

in crevices and corners,

curled like a ball of yarn, 

afraid of feathers,

talons and shrieks.

 

The crows squawk and flap.

The dog sits, bones groaning

like the squeaking hinges on a rusty door,

Fur hanging off her body: carpet on a frame.

Gumless teeth refuse to eat,

head bows, a worn-out body thinks of sleep.

 

Magician crows never forget Bushtit,

Anna’s hummingbird, Yellow Warbler,

Mountain Chickadee, Cliff Swallow, Wrentit,

Western Bluebird, Mourning Dove, Sparrow,

California Quail, Mockingbird, Canary, Crow.

 

Conjuror crows never forget the dog

ears cocked forward, body still

slinking slowly, paws padding softly

crouching low, springing step, head shaking

back and forth, teeth breaking skin.

Bluish black feathers slick as oil. 

Wings spread out, claws curled. 

 

Trickster Crows never forget

Blood sunset skies, fractured wings,

eyes the color of a candle flame.

Death a god even crows can’t trick.

 

 

2017Candace_ProfilePicInspired by Margaret Atwood and Kelly Link, Candace Hartsuyker seeks to uncover hidden truths. She is a first-year fiction student in McNeese State University’s MFA Program.