An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
He scrubs his hands until the soap bleeds on his fingertips, and then he scrubs them until the dispenser of pink soap is empty, and he holds his hands under the dryer, waiting for the new dispenser to be attached. Then he scrubs them again until he thinks the army of bacteria has fallen to its grave. Later, his white palms flash in the eyes of his followers as he silences the cheering and shouting. When he speaks into the microphone, he sneers and hisses. He is in command of the crowd and their anger, in command of the men with the automatic weapons pressing against their large bellies, in command of the air that parts around him and the sky that will rain hell on his enemies. He is surrounded, but avoids touching anyone or anything. He calls out to his followers and they call out to him. He reaches out as if to embrace each one of them, as if to take each one in his arms and send him out on a special mission. The sun squeezes his orange face—as the dirty hands of pickpockets steal through the crowd, lifting wallet after wallet.
The Boy at the Lake Beneath the Mountain
The boy threw a stone into the water and barely cracked the surface. Certainly he could do better than that. He picked up a rock and pitched it harder, and the water rose a few feet before the rock disappeared. Then he picked up a larger rock and hurled it. A fountain of water rose forty feet and fell soaking him. Now he was pleased with himself and confident. Next, he found a huge boulder, picked it up and carried it to the edge of the shore. Hoisting it over his head with a sudden strength, he heaved it into the belly of the water, and this time the whole lake flew into the sky, hovering over the boy as he ran through the crater gathering shells and coins as quickly as he could.
Hiding the Truth
After we memorized the truth, we put it in a box and buried it, so no one could steal it. At our
meetings, we repeated the truth so we wouldn't forget it, but over time, we remembered it
differently. At first there were small discrepancies, but then we couldn't agree on whole passages
or sections. "What good is the truth if we can't remember it precisely?" one of us asked. "Can't
there be a little give and take in the truth," one of us responded. "But what good is the truth if we
all have our own version of it," another said. And another asked, "What good is the truth if it's
buried?" We looked at each other, shaking our heads. We didn't have answers to the questions,
so we decided to dig up the truth. When we opened the box, it had broken down into phonemes.
We tried to piece the truth together, but then we discovered that there were whole phrases
missing, and finally, the truth just no longer made sense.
Jeff Friedman is from New Hampshire. He is the author of nine previous poetry collections, including Pretenders (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2014), Floating Tales (Plume Editions/MadHat Press, 2017), and The Marksman (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2020). His tenth collection, Ashes in Paradise, will be published by Madhat Press in March 2023. His poems, mini tales and translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, New England Review, Poetry International, Hotel Amerika, SurVision, Flash Fiction Funny, Flash Nonfiction Funny, Fiction International, New World Writing. The New Republic, SurVision, etc.