feat. Andy Anderson, bb, Mickey Collins, Joe Galván, Sara Kachelman, Ariel Kusby, Olivia Olivia, Phoenix Singer, Piers Rippey, Robert Torres, and Katie Borak.
Dear travelers of the deep, dark woods,
We see you have a basket of breads and beautiful chocolates. We see you are nice in your heart and mean to do well by your grandma. But the trees are made of glass and there is an old soldier inside one. Be careful, friend.
Write a line about a character in a fairy tale setting. Pass to the left, continue the story.
Every Last One of Them
Armed with nothing but a big fork, I left the family farm.
My friend the talking cat meowed. She carried the matching spoon.
A healthy snack: an apple filled with absinthe.
Godmother beckons to me: Grab the knife out of my ass and I will grant you three wishes.
I took the knife and fork. I ate everyone. But it tasted like straw smells.
Have you ever walked into a village of strangers who all somehow know your name?
Everyone is burning an effigy of you and the effigy is a bloody rose.
I lost a friend. How could they all tell? They came up behind me, asking me what happened.
I struck them all with rosewater and the city bloomed axes, first through their skulls, then in their limbs, then thin slices.
The city is named after me now and I am the only one inside it.
Tommy (MADE OF LEATHER) trapped in a cave full of balloons.
Every night he dreamt that he had hands made of sewing needles.
Gold thread laced in pleather adorned his machine.
He woke up, still made of leather.
But no longer in a cave, nor a room, nor a tower, no, now squeaky safe in the arms of a lover.
George the Conversationalist
George, the world’s finest auto-mechanic is trapped in the world’s most boring conversation.
The wheel doesn’t turn.
It was his fault to start.
But it took two to tango, and George dropped his amateur dancing partner and her small talk.
Words took her over again, as he bandaged her knees.
The Littlest Insomniac
The little boy’s scabs opened bloody on the factory floor, his fingers barely holding on attempting to work the spindle.
The shift manager (also a white-haired witch) asked, Would he like to go to sleep forever?
Skinned knees, skinned fingers, and undone conscience the little boy didn’t cry but told his manager, Yes.
Still sleep wasn’t an option for the young insomniac.
He sat and stared as the wall turned white.
The god in his rompered-wisdom held up a hand and proclaimed, “CHAOS!”
Dear travelers deep into magical realms,
We love what you’ve given us. In our soft hands. Your heart, here represented by a glowing sewing needle.
Bestow a ‘magical object’ to the poet on your right. The magical object should be significant to you. You are potentially saving a friend with it. Write a fairy tale, line by line, passing the paper to the right.
Timbo is in a glass castle surrounded by a moat of really hot asphalt.
Timbo has a love-of-his-life trapped in a very nearby castle made of steel.
They can only communicate via tin-can phones, the kind held together by a taut string.
They talk about the storms.
Timbo says into the can, “I love you.”
Timbo’s love says back, “No.”
She hollered, “Help! I am stuck in a big hole!”
“It’s the biggest hole I’ve ever laid my eyes on,” he said.
“It is whispering sweetly something about me,” she said.
“I wish I knew what it was whispering. I don’t speak ‘Big Hole.’”
“I only speak Black Hole.”
Sebastien Is trapped in a cab sunken like a ship.
Bombed thrice, enough…
“Four is too many, two is too little,” said Sebastien.
“All the skeletons were blown apart like far-reaching explorers.
And their hopeful widows watched the horizons for their lost loves, forever more.”
Dear friends of Little Hans,
We are worried for Little Hans.
Write the first word you think of, on a small piece of paper, when I say … “Married Object” … then pass this small written object to the left. There is still warmth in my hands. Please unfold your object. Realize it was the only thing that ever mattered to Little Hans. But now somebody will take it away. That someone is you…
Pass back and forth between your many hands. You are the kind ruiners of Little Hans’ fate. How did he lose his fate?
I Only Wanted Eyes
Little Hans had no signal.
He wanted your eyeballs.
Your brittle hands were too weak
to stop him from prying open your lids.
Salt and Pepper Might Go Together but Rivers Washed My Love Away
Little Hans wanted pepper but instead got a river.
The river was the world’s only salt producer.
It wasn’t a river; it was an ocean!
Little Hans was so scared of all the massive potential.
My Mother and the Bees Both
Little Hans had a bouquet to obtain bees.
They swarmed slowly, trickling into his hollow
Little Hans led his little bees to his mother’s home.
His mother was allergic and thought that birthing Hans was a very bad deal.
Little Hans mined out a diamond.
Little Hans held it in the pocket of his heart,
an excavation tool.
He had no heart left.
Dear weary travelers,
We are all worried we are not created by something special, are we not? Are we worried we are not bewitched or cursed? Are we older than we look? We are afraid. We need answers.
Receive an object. Consider this object the spark of creation for an image of someone lodged into your heart, as if lodged into an egg, the egg into the stomach of the goose, the stomach in the pouch of a marsupial, and the marsupial in an ancient, crying tree. These are our creation myths.
The pop star in a pink dress, with a sequin sword—from her lips, a duet began.
No Diamonds Left
In a land devoid of diamonds or precious gems, the people gave each other objects of immense beauty to ask for marriage. A young man to woo his lover, sculpted the most beautiful tale he could imagine to give his lover an object of perfect beauty. His lover was infatuated. So infatuated that the young man almost believed that he really had come to life.
In the beginning, the world was water. And then it began to boil. Hot steamy bubbles. One bubble emerged and a young boy popped out. The young boy fell to his knees on the beach. He saw the sky, the mountains, the rivers, the city, all for the first time. The boy wept. For he was never meant to leave the ocean.
She was born in the leg of a great grey giant. She called upon the spiders to come and cut her out. She crawled up the giant, her father, shipwreck-still and unwatching, and saw that his chest was full of holes. Hundreds of holes shaped like her. Holes with arms and heads and legs. She climbed into one, but was immediately shoved out by fresh and now receding hands. She crawled further up her father’s chest toward higher holes. She tried to enter another one, also shaped just like her. And it too pushed her away. She tried every one of her father’s holes and every one shoved her away. She crawled down her father, down his chest and down his legs, and came to wander the barren earth for eternity.
With a mix of authentic vulnerability, relevant truth, and humor, Andy Anderson writes poems that immediately make you want to be their friend. They are a co-organizer of Byrony Blaze’s Queer Poetry Takeover in Portland, OR.
Born in northern New Jersey, Katie Borak escaped as quickly as she could. She can be found in Portland, OR pursuing an MFA in the PSU Creative Writing program, facilitating free creative writing workshops for underserved communities with Write Around Portland, or at Powell’s Books hawking children’s Bibles and barbecue cookbooks.
Mickey rights wrongs. Mickey wrongs rites. Mickey writes words, sometimes wrong words but he tries to get it write.
bb was a bookseller at Powell’s City of Books. They have specialized in aviation, philosophy, biology and Judaism in Purple, Red and Pearl rooms. But their heart is with the Rose room because it is a constant storm of book throwing and because kids books are the coolest. bb is a developmental editor, specializing in literary novels, YA and MG novels, realistic, science fiction, romance and fantasy. Their work is in Portland Review, Fiction Southwest, fog machine and SUSAN/The Journal. Their website is roberteversmann.com
Joe Galván has always written and sold his own books, but for two years in his junior and senior years of college, he sold textbooks at a small bookstore in Lubbock, Texas. A writer and reader since childhood, he has just finished a novel and is working on a series of zines on manners and etiquette for millennials. He can be reached on Twitter @fadopapi.
Sara Kachelman’s work has appeared in DIAGRAM, Fanzine, and Portland Review. She lives in a basement.
Ariel Kusby is a writer and bookseller based in Portland, Oregon. She currently works in the Rose and Orange rooms at Powell’s City of Books, where she pays special attention to children’s books about witches, odd cookbooks, and gnome gardening guides.You can check out her writing at http://www.arielkusby.com.
Olivia Olivia’s writing has appeared in Salon, The Rumpus, The Establishment, Ex-Berliner, and the Portland Mercury, among other places. Her speculative memoir set in the afterlife, NO ONE REMEMBERED YOUR NAME BUT I WROTE IT DOWN, is available through Impossible Wings Press. Prepare yourselves. You can follow her work at OLIVIAWRITES.COM, on FACEBOOK, and on TWITTER.
Piers Rippey is all about dogs these days. He draws dogs, thinks about dogs, walks dogs. He is a bookseller at Powell’s City of Books where he helps run the Purple, Red and Pearl rooms.
Phoenix Singer is a writer and theorist based in Portland. Their writing has appeared on Queen Mobs and The Establishment, and they are currently editing a Gender Nihilist anthology. Submit your thoughts and manifestos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Torres is a local writer and actor. Their work explores the changeable nature of reality and the trouble of having a body whether you like it or not. They have been featured locally at Á Reading, Salon Skid Row, and elsewhere. They have appeared on stage with Monkey with a Hat on.