“New South” March 2016

Estes-Bus-with-Reflection

 

 

Strange Towns

 

My sister came home from the bar and asked me to wash her hair. I was in the bath and she put her head over the side of the tub. Then she went to bed with it all wet in a tangled mess. I don’t know where she slept. Her boyfriend was in bed with another woman. But the girl was a friend and they were asleep, curled away from each other on the mattress. Maybe they got tired of waiting up for her. I can imagine who she was out visiting; an ex who always seemed to know what city she was in. And my sister said—“Is it wrong, to be sad when you see your boyfriend in bed with someone else?” “No,” I said. It was a girl they drank beer and rode bikes with. (How can people have such normal lives, I thought to myself). She— this normal girl— all golden hair and smiles, had helped me break in a pair of pointe shoes on a doorframe in Silver Lake on a warm fall evening. That night I said I wanted to stay inside, while everyone was out on the patio talking and laughing; I don’t know why. The music made me feel a certain way. When my sister was closing the door I said, “Leave it open so I’m not separated from you.” She rolled her eyes and floated away, drink in hand. The walls were green and the room seemed lopsided. There was the air conditioner whirring in the window frame. Christmas lights were strung up on the hill, palm trees silhouetted against the hazy Los Angeles skyline that seemed to drop off into nothing. I could never understand her for that; for living in such a strange town, where it’s hard to tell what happened in the past, where people disappear, walking in silence under the burning sun and violet clouds.

 

 

 

 

Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!The Indiana ReviewFourteen HillsThe New Orleans Review, Digital Americana, and other American literary journals. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by The Indiana Review and Short, Fast & Deadly . She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.

 

(image: Richard Estes)

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Short, Fast & Deadly Pushcart Edition March 2015

Re: (the nature of light is undecided)

 

In the old time of distant things
where we spoke and heard words,
where events were long and drawn out,
excruciating
and forlorn
everything had a sound,
even the day.
I knew there was going to be this great future,
thin
and shrunken—
no—
broad and delirious
I stayed out all night for it
and it burnt me up,
I’ve been burned alive by my own language
the one taught to me.
Do you know, I grew up on the edge of town.
It was
shouts and the smell of that dry weed that grows around the lake.

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Spencer Beach Park

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I was baptized in the waters of Spencer Beach Park, south of Kawaihae Harbor, my head arcing out to sea. It was late afternoon and the kids were playing in the ocean like seals. I could see them floating in the shadowy waves as daylight rushed over the deep. Streams of grainy light burst through the low clouds on the dark silver water. The ocean gleamed like a plain when we rounded the corner at the Queen’s Highway. I remember the thick mildew of the rainforest, cool like stones— the white heat at Hapuna, up in Hilo the grey rain. The place used to be called Ōhai ʻula.

One day, Tyson’s mom and her friend were swimming together in the waters of a he’e au where human sacrifices were flung. Sharks have been gliding there for hundreds of years. At the time, they didn’t know it.

I was baptized not far from the he’e au, though I did not know it then either. Like the women swimmers, it was told to me later.

 

 

http://www.deadlychaps.com/2015/03/sfd-winter-2015-pushcart-two.html

 

 

Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!The Indiana ReviewFourteen HillsThe New Orleans Review, and other American literary journals. Presently she has been nominated by Short, Fast & Deadly for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.

Fresno Poems: houselights, songs and weather

(Featured in Lungfull!, Backwards City Review, and Short, Fast & Deadly)

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We Lived

We lived in a sweltering heat, a bright dry heat burning the life out of the day. You could hear the high whine and hum of people running the air conditioning. We ran in and out of their houses. No one walked outside, just some soundless teenagers sometimes, in t-shirts. The streets were empty and glaring. The canals rushed and sparkled.

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west & vassar: how the san joaquin saved my life

 

when we show up these songs are already playing. everything is yellow and it is always in the way. some of it is broken and none of it is consequential. we leap through the house wearing a path between the inner and outer worlds. by daylight it disappears and all the objects are exhausted. the blinds are drawn over an indifferent scene. who says we weren’t tired and lonely? I came to the valley during its freeze and flew down blackstone high, catching something under the human heart, that dead and dying space. I’d brought his dumb memory to the world.

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subsolar mornings

we were watching an unfamous performer in pamela basmajian’s living room while the sun nailed itself through our heads in madera county. it seemed like life was going to go on this way forever: incessantly. during what we called the start of day, a hot smog stretched itself over the valley. everybody was going to church that summer. they said, make yourselves at home.

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Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!The Indiana ReviewFourteen HillsThe New Orleans Review, and other American literary journals. Presently she has been nominated by Short, Fast & Deadly for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.

Timber Journal Winter 2015

“The Story of Russell”

Russell was the darkest person I ever knew—I mean, the one who did the most drugs. He had lustrous black hair and petal-white skin. His neck smelled like pine tar, loam, and molasses.

He had lived with his girl in a flat for eleven years. In his matter of fact recountings he would say her name and I could never understand it. It just passed through the air between us, heavy and thudding. He opened the tall cupboards and brought out glasses for us. It was cold in summertime. He showed me the rooms they lived in. They were painted silver and blue. She had tried to kill herself in that very apartment. If I lived there, I wondered, would I sleep with Russell and try to kill myself too? It seemed like a natural progression.

The place was tepid and bristling. We were throwing ourselves through time. His songs were always playing: inscrutable men singing about spaced-out girls, love that ruins you, things that happened in New York. He took a man’s life on the street outside late one night. He said it had been an accident. Something about suffocation or strangulation. I don’t know which exactly. No one will.

This was on Twenty-Second Street, the corridor that leads from one man to another. Everything was starting and ending there and had been going on before anyway. The jasmine grew recklessly. The air was overbearing.

Russell was selling a short life filled with the rewards of an unweighted ascent. He asked me to marry him at city hall in February. The birds were singing crazily at midnight. The sky was the color of a cloudy white marble. We stood on the grey steps under the bare trees and ice-cold winter raindrops.

 

 

 

“the volunteer state”

is it hot in tennessee? she asked, smiling. the question contained a small joy. yes, but in tennessee they have air conditioners, he answered and turned away so that she could see a crease in the back of his head. even his shins were sweating. the sky had set. all the tires, every road and voice from open windows, the vague sound hung on a city. her legs fell asleep at night. not from a lack of circulation, but because they were dead. imagine this kind of pain in your heart. just imagine it.

 

 

 

JENNIFER E. BROWN

Three Pieces by Jennifer E. Brown

 

Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!The Indiana ReviewFourteen HillsThe New Orleans Review, and other American literary journals. Presently she has been nominated by Short, Fast & Deadly for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.

 

 

(image: Jennifer E. Brown)

“Short, Fast, & Deadly” Fall 2014

 

S. Miller

 

S. Miller married his wife twice. The first time wasn’t quite right. (She was making her rounds at the hospital and he was in love with another woman). I was there. It was in the cool rarefied air with spring snow and mud on the ground. They sang:         I am an orphan, on God’s highway. I couldn’t sing. I went to bed in my room. The whole mountain, the entire night, heaved in the dry muted expanse.

 

 

 

Ride

 “He must be waiting for his own Nausea or something of that sort.”

 

As I stepped out of the streetcar and walked away the men inside were still talking about how they knew the people they did and what they’d eaten earlier. They were going on to a place at which they would probably arrive. I watched the train speed from the station, on an escalator in a deserted tunnel under sallow lights. The cold wind was ripping in mid-summer and I thought: but I do want to live. The evening was broad and flat, as always.

 

 

 

Galaxias Kyklos

“In the high heavens there is a roadway…”

 

We were lined up on the beach in the dark as if we’d been ordered to. That’s how we fell about when we reached the spot after meandering unguided through the eroding sand path and overgrown brambles. Your head was next to mine; I could hear you sigh. “You’re a misanthrope,” I said as we all gazed up at the placid stars in their midnight. Someone asked why something was so bright and Walter said it was our galaxy, the long trail of nebular debris, cast off into black holes, unresolved bodies.

 

 

 

We Lived

 

We lived in a sweltering heat, a bright dry heat burning the life out of the day. You could hear the high whine and hum of people running the air conditioning. We ran in and out of their houses. No one walked outside, just some soundless teenagers sometimes, in t-shirts. The streets were empty and glaring. The canals rushed and sparkled.

 

 

 

 

 

J.E. BROWN

 

http://www.shortfastanddeadly.com/2014/12/fall2014echochamber.html

 

Jennifer E. Brown is a writer from San Francisco. Her work appears in Lungfull!The Indiana ReviewFourteen HillsThe New Orleans Review, and other American literary journals. Presently she has been nominated by Short, Fast & Deadly for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and works at Mills College in Oakland, California.

 

(image: Jessica Lange)