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Issue 36 • April 2020
House & Home
edited by Emma J. Gibbon

Table of Contents

Editor’s IntroductionEmma J. Gibbon

New House • Rich Magahiz
The Patient Recounts the Houses in her Mind • Holly Lyn Walrath
Zodiac Girl • Carolyn Clink
Bone China • Gerri Leen
Municipal Ghosts • May Chong
Trailer in the Woods • Laura Cranehill
Witch House • Richard Leis
Before Spending the Night at the First Ancestral Estate You Come Across After Your Car Breaks Down in the Countryside and It’s Raining, Your Host Escorts You Down a Long Hall to the Room Where You Will Sleep • Juleigh Howard-Hobson
A Note: Just in Case • Angela England
The Paper Effigies Shop • Deborah Wong
(fragment found in the ruins) • David Barber
Depths of My Freeze • Purbasha Roy
<right at home> • LeRoy Gorman
Mirrorverse • Davian Aw
Asteroid Miners • Lauren McBride
Inside Odumegwu 26 • Solomon Uhiara
Qualitative Analysis of Time Travelers’ Movements • Frederick Charles Melancon
Everything Loved and Abandoned • Tim Fab-Eme
A Cup of Tea • Don Raymond
Remind Me What We Believe • William Doreski
Haiku for William Hope Hodgson • Andrew J. Wilson


new house

windows opened wide
still that dank smell
of mushrooms

—Rich Magahiz


The Patient Recounts the Houses in her Mind

I am checking my safeguards
in the summer when there should be jam
and cakes on the lawn in the sun
but they are all wrong.
The silver dollars I dig up
are all bones rattling in the box,
the book nailed to the pine
is a cat’s tail and it makes me scream
like this—
I’m afraid to dig up the doll.
Will it be her head?
I’m afraid to dig up the mouse.
Will it be alive?
When I rush down the dark path
the fence is all knocked down
and whatever walks in the house
walks alone.

—Holly Lyn Walrath


Zodiac Girl

Jupiter and Neptune creep
up through the floor
witness my birth
turn the hospital
in Medicine Hat
upside down

my Aries mother
and her Aries mother
would interpret my birth chart
if they were here
but I just stare at lines
blue and red
an architect’s drawing of a house
in a Spirograph wheel

I’m another Aries girl
without my mother’s
or my grandmother’s gifts
all this is just woo-woo to me
my empty 12th house means I’m a skeptic
the true node is in my 4th house
splits the rent
with Jupiter and Neptune
they are the worst
tenants

—Carolyn Clink


Bone China

“Have some tea,” Santa Muerte says
As she sweetens her cup
With a lollipop made of honey
She has no milk or lemon
No fancy rock sugar
“It's Darjeeling, autumn flush”
Because she likes it strong
Substantial in the mouth
Lingering in the finish
No evanescent spring flush for her
Or a somewhere-in-between summer flush

She hands me a cup with a bug
Printed on it (but no bugs in it
Because I check—one never knows
With her) and fills it from a
Clay teapot, the expensive kind
From Taiwan, and she smiles
As she sees me studying it
“I get around—did you think
I only stay in Mexico?”

And yes, I did think that
But I don't want to admit it
So I blow on the tea to cool it
And the odors of muscatel
Of stone fruits and the lovely basic
Tea smell of camellia sinensis
Waft back at me
“Honey?” she asks, holding out her
Lollipop with a smile that says she's
Well aware I don't like honey
Except on cornbread or biscuits
She puts it back on her saucer
With a wink

She waits, her appearance sliding from
Skeletal to flayed, her mouth open
As stars fly into it
“Ix Chel is more your speed,” she says
So casually, as if she's fine that my loyalty
Might be to a gentler goddess from
Another pantheon
“Mictecacihuatl frightens many”
But she's taken on more than
Simply watching bones
She's universal, not just Aztec
She takes souls now, grants favors
And apparently is quite the tea fan

She laughs, “You amuse me
I'm so glad you're dead”
I take a sip of her tea
It's delicious and as I swallow
I feel my body dissolving
The skin peeling off
As a conch sounds, as a jaguar
Screams, as a serpent hisses
It hurts, for a moment, but only
For a moment
“More tea?” she asks
I hold out my cup
With a skeletal hand
And enjoy teatime
In the home of the dead

—Gerri Leen


Municipal Ghosts

His pension still arrives
on the fifteenth, our nest feathered
with bureaucracy. For the service
of an esteemed municipal ghost.
Even in death Father is still
an ox at the plough, whipped dry
and unblinking. Respected
like he hadn’t been for seventy-three
years. For so many years
this street will draw strength
from the good bones he passed
down to us. Not one pothole
or lightbulb blown since he left
with a thumbprint of dried blood,
a contract to law beyond law
and promises
that we would be taken care of.
As long as it took. As long
as they take from him.

Behold the capital, built on skeletons
and mud uninterested in acquiescence.
Before they were stone tablets,
weren’t our ancestors swallowed
by this very earth? Did they not
slake the soil’s thirst?
Every year in the seventh
month, don’t the streets
boil and blister, restless?
Sometimes the city still screams
with collective hunger. Bones
break the same way underneath
all skin, never enough. But
we are taught well:
never scream back.
No good citizen encourages
the cry. No good
comes from refusing
that last binding contract.

When lights snap on/off/on/off
hands at odd hours and potholes
open oozing ulcers, the town council
papers over foulness with talismans,
dulls the air with droning,
imported holy waters and appeasements
in a minimum of four languages.
And yet
the word sorry is never said
in any of them. Never,
you did not dream of this.
Never was this dead end
considered a way out.
Look who they welcome
to serve, and who is left alone
to die as the dead should.
They only want the threats
who might turn from the land,
run to haunt kinder soil and water. Now
they can never leave. They shall
never break. Some day

when I go,
I leave myself to you, to go
with you. Not a city that cannot
love all its children, a nation
thumbing its flag at second
guests.
But if you need,
then pledge my bloody thumb
to any alley under your feet.
I will hold wildflowers and quiet for
you, as long as it takes. As long
as they take from me.

—May Chong


Trailer in the woods

A comfort to sit by the stove
and listen to the music.
Hell becomes us, once we remember
when the season comes. The dogs
in the back, growling
after they’ve been shot.
The door banging shut, mosquitoes
passing through the snags
in the screen
probing for blood.
It’s been a long time since
I crossed the threshold.
Bit by a rabid raccoon,
fever death, now
he whines outside my door.
I came here to find bluebells.
I came here to find a reason to live.
I came because you told me to.
Here is the meal.
The dark heart, the dark parts
of the rabbit, unfolding.
Life isn’t always a blessing,
and neither is death.
The canine silhouettes burning
changing and changing and reshaping
as they hunt through the moss and ruins.
But here there’s a fire
blue and tame around the coils.
There’s a hidden heart.
There’s tea and cookies
and a murderous fox.
Safe travels, my friend,
I hope you find your blessing.

—Laura Cranehill


Witch House

Little girls in white dresses skipping rope
& chanting singsong in slow motion we stole
from an 80’s horror film. The house on Prescott Street,
the one with its curtains drawn & colorful basic shapes
glued around the front door like constellations of lost
children’s gaping mouths, loomed two stories & fairy tale
over the late 20th century but was not in fact a witch house.
The woman inside was not so old & lonely as she was
in our cribbed story we told at recess to make the girls squeal
& shiver. Regardless, we hurried by every day on the way to school.
We had heard about women who lived alone from our fathers.
Vicious girls. Our poor mothers. An old woman ensorcelled in
any old house had bigger bodies to dissect than our pathetic
carcasses. Those of our missing fathers. Our eager mothers.

—Richard Leis


Before Spending the Night at the First Ancestral Estate You Come Across After Your Car Breaks Down in the Countryside and It’s Raining, Your Host Escorts You Down a Long Hall to the Room Where You Will Sleep

Oh, one last thing. We keep dark
spirits here: shadow
figured, stark

things that no one in this house
can stand. Unsettled
souls that shout

and wail. They died long ago,
we’ve no idea who
they were, so

we walled them up. Right
there. Good night.

—Juleigh Howard-Hobson


A Note: Just in Case

In jagged,
dangerous tin cans
boiling and freezing
against the only windowsill
in this rickety mouse house,
baby poinsettias flourish
sustained only by anger.

Roots climb over
barbed wire edges
every day getting larger
and closer
to where my neck rests
when I sleep.

I’m sorry (little) guys.

—Angela England


The Paper Effigies Shop

Angsana trees bow to greet the rain,
befriending lost reincarnated spirits,
midnight feeding, without prayer books,
black oily jinn, pontianak, hungry ghosts—
wallflowers crawling. Hold your breath!
Don’t say a word! We’re still very much alive.
The bride’s limbs—contorted,
strapped in recycled scrap materials
—partially breathing, half asleep!
Its guardian, the almighty Felidae,
piercing into greedy transparent beings,
look not into its abhorrent eyes,
if you couldn’t sing its anthem—
and weren’t born and bred
underneath the blooming pyramid.
As dawn breaks, they’re heading toward
the cremation garden, from papers to ashes
accompanying a nonagenarian's soul
and her 666 children and great grandchildren. 
Mama’s negotiating with the underworld,
delivering messages and talismans
for ghastly mansions, back and forth
with shapeshifter horses and faces of cows.
A dead woman tags along, together
with her son’s umbilical cord;
attached, tangled with bloodied mucous,  
he crawls to me, pointing at a paper-box car—
I write his name on the wintery sakura paper,
he smiles, watches and I fold the paper
into the military wagon with cornstarch,
reciting inches of bittersweet folklore.
A girl blows chilly air during closing time,
those almond-shaped eyes seal my parasitic wounds,
Mama kisses her pale cheeks, telling me—
‘come and hold your fraternal twin’,
transpiring negative chi to food for thoughts,
love burns until the last fermented cider. 

—Deborah Wong


(fragment found in the ruins)

… remain in your homes. Stay calm.
trust in those who lead you,
there is no cause for alarm.
Even now, research into the poisons
in our water is being planned
and experts believe these plagues will pass,
we have the situation well in hand.
Technology can lift this darkness from our land,
the future will be brighter than a thousand suns.
Meanwhile, ignore recent rumours,
your firstborn will come to no harm …

—David Barber


Depths of my freeze

looks for your warmth
outside realms of impossibilities
i cannot focus on horizons without you
billion time count fossilized at window- box
folding my body in salt
besides your absent inclination
turns me to a reflection. Trapped in a still fish-bowl
strange, the gold fish left an empty song to fit our lives inside
it is never enough to feel, every season pass through a single moment
nights now measures grid-shapes of ripped loneliness
of late, I sip silence through thinness of shadows
upon dappled walls

—Purbasha Roy


 

right at home
on a generation ship
worn-out genes

—LeRoy Gorman


mirrorverse

every hour is a constant fight
to keep the panic down. you tell yourself
you are home. you fixate on the couch,
glass tables, blank TV,
shift the fern
to the other side—there.

they tell you you are home.
discuss prescriptions
you cannot read
shake their heads, smile sadly
lock the doors.

they tell you you are home
that you have always written
with your left hand, that words
have always looked like that.

your children's faces
all look wrong.
they will not let you go.

—Davian Aw


Asteroid Miners

We used to joke
that we lived in our spacesuits
until DomeHome's life support failed
 
no one is laughing now
as we rush to make repairs
before our oxygen tanks run dry

—Lauren McBride


Inside Odumegwu 26

I am Sherugeru
Staying in Island Meters
Housing beeping generators and
time machines blending with
oscillating pendulums
Becoming loops, expanding voids
Say Sherugeru Anastacia
and all of a sudden elements
turn compounds, called the awakening,
into phase 2, computer generation
The last generation dismantling parts
and accessories
 
I picked the right machine
And left the exteriors for the interiors
of one-the only Odumegwu 26,
and levitated off cradle, and flew
through the shimmering plains, drifting,
navigating along a crescent moon
oscillating ruggedly towards a star, blinking
automatic light and silvery, faint blue,
fading gold, communicating frequencies,
aligning space and time, subtracting distance-
seen through the windshield of O26
 
Seen after midnight and
child bearing ceremonies of
a single light years for generating
the machine that relayed the story to I, Sherugeru,
through the passage of a dream
 
In the short distance is the portal
Two arms like doors spreading wide
From interior to interior to interior, deep
into pathway like perforator to see the things
that mattered the most in the world
in the name of happiness, love and the sun.

—Solomon Uhiara


Qualitative Analysis of Time Travelers’ Movements

most go home at some point
frozen outside familiar doors
hand extended to handles
burnished by grips now gone
next to near forgotten marks
sunk deep and sharp in wood
doors smaller than memory
some leave, others go inside

—Frederick Charles Melancon


Everything Loved and Abandoned

My last child’s a white whale fry perambulating
in the Niger Delta estuaries, an unemployed nurse
groping for hope in the detritus of humanity—
isn’t that the concealer you wear each time
you stretch your hand like a fiddler crab
taking more than you need to be alive?
She left me to cheer a lonely mangrove
who lost his friends in the last oil

spill that dug small graves and buried all
the things that tell tomorrow about our beginning.
After a chat on rising temperatures and water
levels and the stress of getting what had
always come easily to everyone, charmed by lullabies
of her host’s prop roots she wheeled herself
into a plastic bottle for a short sleep.

Perhaps, for the reggae of a good discourse
perhaps, for her veins that needed such rest
perhaps, for the norm of thanking a host
perhaps, for a word on the folly of greed
perhaps, for the joy of lighting a face
she loosened up and soon snored away.

A pot-bellied had washed chemicals into the sea
and the algal blooms dragged H2S and CO2
to the floors, infesting our cool water column
with anoxia, euxinia and the other foul things
she slipped into retrograde amnesia for a millennium.

She woke up yesterday with a head full
of myths and shards of half-sung love songs
and a body too big to wing out
of the bottleneck that called her a slave.

A little denial of climate change, a little
craving for your overgrown ego so will Earth
torment you with all the beauties you’ve mutilated.

Every day the sea’s canned in plastic graves
every day the soil’s stripped and called ugly

your estate becomes dodo, Franklinia, gravenche and kouprey.

—Tim Fab-Eme


A Cup of Tea

A spoon, inverted, holds
a future in its curves:
the cup, the saucer of
some galaxy-spanning
quicksilver ship suspended
in the kitchen’s cinnamon
space, sugar-spilling stars
into a liquid Milky Way.

As any cupboard holds
a world, waiting only
for imagination’s engines
to set it terraforming—
transforming the ordinary
into strange-winged birds;
wooden rockets landing
on unlikely fabric moons.

What’s true is hard to see;
what shapes our dreams
will take, the eye, as first
refuses to believe—but only
the impossible is worth
creation’s finest energies—
the real is merely
imagination’s finale—

—Don Raymond


Remind Me What We Believe

Last night, rain bruised so deeply
I arose with handfuls of blood
as if I’d been finger-painting
in every ghastly autumn color.
You want to inspect the basement
for leaks and weeping, but the pumps

stand silent in their sump holes.
You remind me that years ago
I dedicated mornings to writing
the unwritable tale of my life,
but now I waste the smoky dawns
parsing otherworldly topics.

Once I thought I would shape myself
after a famous Cézanne still-life.
But now I resemble a brushstroke
rendered offhand by Franz Kline.
Doesn’t matter to the sopping world
adrift at the kitchen window.

Doesn’t matter to the cat who died
last week after sitting in my lap
for three hours watching chipmunks
upholster their larders for winter.
I miss his smooth black contours
sculpted to cuddle against me.

The rain was his memorial.
You agree that his little spirit
likely danced the dark rain dance
all night as we lay in the filth
of the Anthropocene, a place
only nonbelievers would love.

Please remind me what we believe
before more rain billows over
places we thought we understood—
wooden houses, low rounded hills,
and a tremble of apprehension
when gray lichened boulders crack

—William Doreski


Haiku for William Hope Hodgson

on the borderland—
a phosphorescent fungus
a house of green jade   

—Andrew J. Wilson