An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
Ownership of the Body
"Curtis," I said, "It's too crowded in here for both of us." He was taking up too much space like a fat uncle puffing a cigar, his elbows poking me, his breathing loud and heavy. "I like it here," he said, "and there's plenty of room if we don't get greedy." I thought of drawing a map and creating boundaries, but knew that neither of us would adhere to the boundary lines. "I'm not greedy," I said, but there should only be one occupant for every body." He thought about that for a second. "That may be the way people used to think about, but it's simply not the case now." He shook his head, breathing in my face. "I was here first," I said, "so by all rights the body should be mine." "You think I grabbed your heel and followed you into this world? Curtis said. "I've been here as long as I can remember, and as long as you, if not longer." As usual, in becoming emphatic, he bumped me with his plump belly, but this time, a little off balance, I fell backward, landing in a puddle. My backside wet, I jumped up and rammed my head into his gut, hoping that he would double over or that it might burst, but Curtis only laughed. He patted me on the shoulder as if I were his student. "We should be friends," he said. "There might be others here we don't even know about." Just then a small bird flew out of the shadows, and I heard a whistling, and metal clanking against metal.
What the Monkey Said
Memories come at night when I can't sleep. A man sweats under his fedora, trying to remove it from his head. A young blond woman balances a circus of parrots on her body as she tiptoes over the sizzling pavement. A monkey padlocks the cage where he keeps his bananas. Outside, he leaps from shoulder to shoulder, stealing earrings and necklaces. Whose memories? I wonder. The parrots carry the woman into the sky, where she vanishes in a cloud, long strands of blond hair burning up in the rays. "Help," the man shouts, "I hate fedoras," and the fedora wrestles him to the ground. Now the monkey sits on my chest counting his loot. I'm afraid to open my eyes, though the monkey knows I'm awake. "It hurts to forget," he says, "or remember."
The singers played their last song and bowed to enthusiastic applause. When they left the stage, we jumped to our feet and clapped loudly, shouting "encore, encore." They came back and played two more songs, then walked off, but we clapped and shouted even louder. They returned for another encore, but this time, they played four songs. After the fourth song, we just kept clapping so they turned around and came back before even getting to the stage door. Now they sang with hoarse voices, their faces red and sweaty, their shirts soaked through. The stage lights went from yellow to red to blue and back to yellow. Some of us tiptoed out, and some stopped clapping while a few fell back into their seats exhausted. The singers stomped their heels and strummed the guitars so hard it seemed the strings would burst. Half of us were now missing, and the rest sat. Yet they played on, though under the music you could hear that many were snoring. Then the lights dimmed, and all of us fell into a slumber. When we awoke early in the morning, the musicians played their last song and took a final bow, only now everyone knew better than to clap.
Jeff Friedman is from New Hampshire. His seventh book, Floating Tales, was published by Plume Editions/MadHat Press in 2017. His poems, mini tales and translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, New England Review, The Antioch Review, Sentence, Indiana Review, Poetry International, Plume, Hotel Amerika, Flash Fiction Funny, The New Republic, New World Writing, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, The Missouri Review, etc.