Battery Life

Battery Life by Daniel Schwartz

“Much we have to fear,

big-mouth beside me!”

—Osip Mandelstam

 

This could be any era, and

by any I mean none of them

swept under the loss

that was our decade

we remember the sky’s

oldest quotation marks

and the weeks of holding

our breath to keep other

people from our lungs—

other people and their

desire lines and funerals

and drawbridges and

heads and haircuts

and battery life and

notes scrawled on napkins

 

 

With so many hurt it would’ve

seemed foolish to pass over

the opportunity to mock

myself, yet I didn’t laugh

with my partitions exposed

to the onlookers who only

photographed me before

running away and all I could

do was stare until an ambulance

brought me to the hospital

 

I can only wonder if the

first operation explains my

tendencies, which strike only

at night when reality forces

shape out of static, to chisel

gaps in my teeth as if

every alteration marked

a new beginning

 

Which must be why I’m so

cruel to strangers:

I think I’m helping them

through the effervescence

of my dissections, surface-

bound but odd considering

that all I ever seem to want

is new anatomy and as yet

uncopyrighted odors on

whose occasional theft

I pride myself

 

Imagine that every risk

yields an oasis and

it all bleeds together—

positively Manichaean

or, sort of, I don’t know,

negatively Manichaean

in the way that my

computer’s either on

or off but the internet is

the city that never sleeps,

although it’s comforting

to know that someone

smart is paid to watch me

 


Oversight is all that’s left after

I’ve chewed the morning

away, “He rises,” she says

to the turf-war of an old

horror movie soundtrack

and I know it’s time to leave

but it’s cold outside and

seven a.m. is an ungodly

hour for a weekend, and

a winter morning—

to say nothing of the half-

finished glass of water that

sits above my side of the bed

which she tells me I can

save for later by pouring

into my pockets

 


The real truth is that

I’m not done wanting—

then again, I could hold

on to a rope that frays over

the course of my entire life

until the last thread breaks

and the fall will be just as

long as the fall from a rope

severed in a single cut

 


So I fall, and the second

operation is conducted

with all the chaos of a bank

robbery by a maddened surgeon

who recently left his first-

born on the side of the road

his garden dissolved in acid rain

now he wishes he were anywhere

and anyone else, brain-drained

breath held underwater while I

recharge, generate heartbeat

marksman calls one heaven’s

sake, cataract sigh cloth cut

from old book, my lips are

foundationally discursive, my

eyelids steel, pull me in close

hold on tight and spit out the tip

of my nose because I’m done

listening, I’m done listening, I’m

done lissome enough to calculate

and argue the numerological

gravitations that evaporate

the hair in my carpet

our names in permalink


Daniel Schwartz co-runs Inpatient Press, a small publisher of poetry and visual art, out of Brooklyn, New York. His writing has appeared in tNY Press, Blunderbuss Magazine, Buzz & Howl, Dead Beats, Sein und Werden, Compass Rose, The Bellow Literary Journal, and elsewhere.

Night Noise

Night Noise by Emma Moser

The pattern of your breathing changes,
and that is how I know we both heard it, that we are both stirring from a different darkness than the one which embraced us, hours ago, as we embraced, fading into sleep, and that the velvet of conversing breaths has been violated by something harsher, rawer,
alien and unwelcome as it scrapes its way into our warm and sacred silence.

Now we are both listening, I know we
are, both on our backs pretending not to see your ceiling as we listen to the shrieks, to the sharpness of voices, unmuffled even beneath your shag-rugged floor, your first-floor Canadian housemate and his girlfriend, again, as his thunderous
youfuckingbitch
shatters like a wave against her rigid godforbidyouasshole,
as their tones of rage suffocate us soft and quiet creatures, we who squirm under lover speech turned hard.

Why do we just lie here, why don’t we
speak, why do we remain in our separate bed-corners, pretending the other must be sleeping through the war downstairs, pretending their noise doesn’t crumble us inside, we whose words to each other have always been silk, and smothered under this noise I can’t

help but wonder what your voice would be at that volume, if it would shake me, and what contortions your face would wear, if it would frighten me, or if I too would yell, hiding behind an unfamiliar voice to shield myself from yours, and where is your arm,
and why doesn’t it reach over to me now.

There is a shift, the single crash of
a slamming door, and though the house is no longer shuddering, though the weight of their shouts dissipates from your room, silence begins to crowd our ears, colder than the one into which we had breathed, hours ago, and it outlines our stillness all the more,
our upturned faces that look at ceilings, and letting go of a sigh I begin a shift in my body, a slow rolling away from your undiscovered arms, to embrace the stillness instead.

But I never find it, because all at once
you are turned over and your face is touching mine, your lips feeling the shape of my forehead in the dark, your hand cupping my shoulder, and the pattern of your breathing changes, perhaps to say
iloveyou,
perhaps to let the silence say it for you, and sinking into your warmth, that is how I know: we are safe again.

 

An MFA candidate for fiction writing at Southern Connecticut State University, Emma Moser‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming at several venues, including Prairie Margins, Cheat River Review, The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, and Thoreau’s Rooster. As creator of the blog “Antiquarian Desiderium.” She is also a contributor at Writers Get Together.

Featured Artist: Dave Petraglia

The July 2015 featured artist of the month is Dave Petraglia. A Best Small Fictions 2015 Winner, Dave’s writing and art has appeared in numerous literary magazines and journals. His blog is at davepetraglia.com.

Tubes
Tubes by Dave Petraglia
Track
Track by Dave Petraglia
Sounding
Sounding by Dave Petraglia
Bitt
Bitt by Dave Petraglia
Sago
Sago by Dave Petraglia

If you’re interested in submitting artwork to Thin Air Magazine to be featured on this website, email Angele’ at angele [dot] anderfuren @ nau[dot}edu with “Thin Air Web Submission – Art” in the title plus a LINK to your artwork and short bio. Angele’ will contact you for further information. Please DO NOT attach art to your email. A new artist will be featured monthly June 2015-May 2016.

One-day Writing Retreat in Flagstaff

Saturday August 29, 2015 – 9am to 7pm

The Arizona Authors Association is sponsoring a one-day writing retreat in our beautiful city – Flagstaff, Arizona! Information from their website:

A retreat for everyone. Whether you already love writing or would like to find new ways to understand yourself and your world better. Writing in community opens up opportunities to tap into our unconscious minds and access the most creative parts of our brains. We will spend our time together writing in response to prompts and will practice various revising techniques. This retreat will also provide a chance to slow life down for a day in a beautiful setting and to have fun engaging in creative work with others.

Registration fee: $75 for members – $100 for non-members. Fee includes three meals and Arboretum entrance fee.

More info at azauthors.com.

Flight 2418

Flight 2418 By Paul Bergstraesser

“Sir?”

Was she talking to him? Who knew. He kept his eyes closed.

“Sir.”

Yeah, it was him. He took a deep breath and looked at the flight attendant. Her face was artificial-nice from corporate training but underneath he read sourness and disgust. Wasn’t the first time somebody had been repulsed by him.

“Sir, I hate to tell you this, but you’re going to have to disembark the plane. It’s just . . . we have weight restrictions on flights.” Her eyes moved to his stomach. They darted left and right, up and down, as though the landscape of his body was just too much to take in with a single glance. “We usually suggest that passengers of your stature purchase two seats. And the flight is full.”

Should he fight it? He refused to look down at himself, but he could feel everything: the armrests splayed out, digging into his hips; the seatbelt straining to hold tight his middle; the disgust seeping from the passengers on either side of him who had exaggeratedly pushed themselves against the window and out into the aisle.

Should he fight it? But then one of the pilots silently appeared behind the flight attendant, his cap full of authority.

“Okay,” he said. He rolled sideways a bit to extricate himself and everyone around him cleared out. When leaning to retrieve his bag from the overhead bin, his gut covered the side of the seat. It pushed into him. It hurt. What they didn’t realize was that he felt everything. Always.

Back at the gate, he surveyed the crowd. No one was really looking at him, but everyone was: he was the guy who had gotten kicked off the plane because he was just too fat. Hard to hide in a situation like that, but he tried his best, squeezing through a press of people and out into the open.

The next thing he did seemed too easy. She was distracted, looking down into her carry-on, digging for something, and he picked her phone right off the table and kept walking. He glanced around: no one had seen. He typed in the numbers.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“There’s a bomb on Flight—” he turned back toward his gate “—Flight 2418. Chicago to Cleveland. There’s a bomb on Flight 2418.”

“Where are you, sir?”

“I’m at O’Hare. The plane is gonna blow. Flight 2418.”

“Sir, could you please—”

He ended the call and dropped the phone into a trash can. And then he made his way over to a moving sidewalk and stepped on, the grooved rubber bowing under his feet. He thought: if I’m not going, they’re not either. He thought: this is what inconvenience is.

Paul Bergstraesser was awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship in 2012.  In addition, he has had his fiction published in Another Chicago Magazine, The Barcelona Review, Other Voices, Paradigm, and The Portland Review.  His nonfiction has been published in Sojourn.

An Interview with Nina de Gramont

By Christine Davis

author_photo2

Tell us a little bit about The Boy I Love, which came out Sep. 2nd.

It’s a novel for teens about prejudice, secrets, and friendship. I structured it around a situation that feels familiar at first – a love triangle – but tried to take it in new and different directions than the reader would expect.

How is this book different from what you’ve written in the past?

I have lived in the South for eleven years, but this is the first time I’ve set a book in the South. There are loblolly pines and Spanish moss and even an alligator.

What inspired you to write this latest book?

Oh, the state of the world, its divisiveness, and the ridiculous reasons people come up with to hate each other.

How would you describe your writing process? Where do you write? When do you write?

I try to write every morning, and my process is pretty straightforward. If I’m not under a deadline, I make myself write until I’ve produced 1,000 words. But if I’m writing under a deadline, or if I get inspired, I’ll write much more than that.

As to where I write, it varies. I have an office corner set up in our guestroom but I never use it. Usually I’m in the living room or at the dining room table. I tend to write first drafts in bed. It makes the process a little like convalescing, you can’t get up until the book is done.

What are you reading right now?

I’m teaching a graduate class in Young Adult fiction, so I’ve been rereading a lot of great YA. This week it’s Monster by Walter Dean Myers. So far we’ve read If I Love You Am I Trapped Forever? by M.E. Kerr, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Up next, The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Do you have any advice for writers hoping to publish their first book?

Work on the draft until you absolutely can’t work on it anymore, make sure it’s as strong as you can make it on your own. Read extensively, and research the authors whose work you think is similar to yours – the editors and agents who like their writing might like yours, too.

Are there any upcoming events or plans we should know about?

Mostly just writing and teaching and being a mom. I have a novel coming out next fall with Algonquin, the title is still a work in progress.

Nina de Gramont’s newest novel, The Boy I Love, is in stores now. Her previous titles include Meet Me At The River, Rogue Touch, Every Little Thing in the World, Gossip of the Starlings, Of Cats and Men: Stories, and Choice, which is an anthology she co-edited. Her accolades include the Booksense 76 New England Bookseller’s Association Discovery Award, a Booksense selection, A Pushcart Prize nomination and special mention, and recognition from the ALA for Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her work has appeared in Redbook, Harvard Review, Nerve, post road, and Seventeen. Nina de Gramont teaches at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. More information can be found at: http://ninadegramont.com.

BIRD BY DESERT-LIGHT

BY CHELSEA BIONDOLILLO

 

…It can’t store enough fuel to last the night

and hoist it from its well of dreams

to first light trembling on wet fuchsia,

nor break the hard promise life always keeps.

A lot of hummingbirds die in their sleep.

 

Diane Ackerman, Dark Night of the Hummingbird

 

 

Creeping home after midnight requires equal amounts of attention to detail and skill. After years of late nights, I know to take my shoes off before walking up to the door, so no heel sound will clatter on the steps. I secure my purse over my shoulder and tuck it under my arm to prevent it from jangling or bumping into door jambs. If I’ve been drinking, I take a couple of cleansing breaths to focus on the task at hand: getting the key into the lock with a minimum of fumbling. Stabbing blindly at the key plate is the sure sign of an amateur.

Tonight, however, I’m sober as a judge. My stealth is out of habit and courtesy rather than propriety: I don’t want to wake my parents. I’m every bit a guest in this house, and want to act it. Already I have figuratively slunk to their house in Phoenix after failing to beat the recession. Back in Texas, someone else is living in my house and someone else is doing the administrative tasks that I used to do, before my position was eliminated.

Continue reading BIRD BY DESERT-LIGHT

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRAINS

BY HSIEN CHONG TAN

When I was a little girl in New York, I loved to ride the subway. Back then, I didn’t care about the grime or the roaches. And the weirdoes on board didn’t scare me. I liked how a bunch of buskers would just pop on the train, play a song, and pop off at the next stop. I was too young to analyze this, to say that dirt was culture, to weigh comfort against surprise. Sometimes I would watch a passenger force open the doors between carriages and squeeze his way out. I imagined him disappearing, like magic. I know now that he was only squeezing his way through a second set of doors and into the carriage beyond, walking further and further away.

Continue reading MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRAINS

PRESENCE

BY BILL VERNON

 

I’m not even fishing, just standing on the bank of the Little Miami River, and the flowing seems to pour through me. It’s as if the future lies downstream and all I have to do is look there to see it. My eyes are like spools from which the lines of my being arc out, unwinding to catch on the surface, then slowly sink, gleaming like lasers cutting through the murk, spreading a light net over the deep. I’m so close the smell of the water seems to rise up from inside the earth.

Continue reading PRESENCE

A publication by Northern Arizona University's MFA Program